Notes on 1 Peter 2:18-25

by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

1 Peter 2:18, KJV Servants, (be) subject to (your) masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

Slavery was legal and practiced in the Roman Empire (and is still practiced today in certain parts of the wold). “Servants” means just that, and they were to give due reverence and respect to their owners. Some slave owners were like Philemon, apparently, but others weren’t, according to this verse.

19 For this (is) thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

Most likely this is a re-statement of verse 12 where believers were criticized, being called “evildoers”.

20 For what glory (is it), if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer (for it), ye take it patiently, this (is) acceptable with God.

Peter could truly speak about this personally. He brought suffering on himself when he denied the Lord three times, and before that even being so bold as to rebuke the Lord (Matthew 16:22, Mark 8:21)! He also suffered as a believer after Pentecost, when he and John were brought before the Council (Sanhedrin, Acts 4), then when all (apparently) the apostles were arrested (Acts 5), and even when he was about to be executed after Herod had killed James (Acts 12). Scripture is silent as to other types of persecution he endured but he knew the difference between what came upon him and what he brought onto himself. God allows trials and testings, but never more than any believer can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

There were many prophecies of a suffering Messiah, such as Isaiah 53, Psalm 16, and others. Herod even tried to have Jesus killed within a couple years of His birth (Matthew 2:16), and there were several times when people tried to stone Jesus to death (John 8:59, 10:31). Some of Nazareth even tried to shove Him off a cliff or hill (Luke 4:28-29).

After the Resurrection, Jesus Himself gave a personal Bible study to Cleopas and his companion in Luke 24, explaining to them how Christ had to suffer and then enter into His glory (Luke 24:25-26, paraphrased). Jesus also had warned the disciples in the Upper Room (John 13-16) that they would be hated because they followed Him and not the world-system any longer. Paul made it very clear that persecution would come upon believers who chose to “ . . live godly in Christ Jesus. . . (2 Tim. 3:12).”

22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

Jesus asked His opponents, “Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” in John 8:46. Nobody answered Him because nobody could find any sins He had committed (“convinceth” here means “convicts” or “can prove” someone had done something). Even Pontius Pilate declared “I find no fault in Him (Jesus)—Luke 23:4.

“Guile” means “deceit” and Jesus never spoke a word of deceit. On several occasions, groups tried to catch Him in “traps” of various kinds: witness the Pharisees and Herodians who asked Jesus if it was “lawful” to “give tribute—i.e., pay taxes—to Casear. You can imagine what might have happened if He had simply said, “Yes” or “No” so He gave a classic response: “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and unto God what belongs to God (Mark 12:13-17, paraphrased)."

23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed (himself) to him that judgeth righteously:

One wonders how long Jesus was reviled. Psalm 69:12 says “I was the song of the drunkards”, which could easily have been sung about Him. Probably everyone around Nazareth knew that Mary was pregnant before she and Joseph were married and Jesus was the first born.

He was also reviled in Pilate’s judgment hall. Think of all the lies told about Him, the beatings, the scourging, and He said nothing in return. Even when He was crucified, people mocked Him. The two thieves crucified with Him also asked Him to save Himself from the Cross. What sufferings He endured, all to bring redemption to sinners like you and me. What a Savior!

24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

How much of the actual crucifixion Peter saw is open to question but He surely saw the Risen Lord on resurrection day. John was there near the Cross, as was Mary, Christ’s mother, and any number of other people who loved Jesus, staying to the end.

This verse should also prove beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ paid the entire sin debt for all people. But it is only effective for those who believe it and accept the gift of salvation. So, there is no need for any person to try by works, or any other means, to merit salvation. Jesus took ALL our sins on His own body. Incredibly, at some time after this, there was a heresy or false doctrine that denied Jesus had a real human body. This verse clearly refutes that concept.

And there is a reminder that the unsaved are dead not only in sins (Ephesians 2:1) but dead to sin after becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. A saved person will never be dead in sins; there is no other description for those who are not saved.

The mention of “by whose stripes ye were healed” refers back to Isaiah 53:5. There has been considerable debate over what Peter meant when he quoted this verse. The most logical view, in this context, is that by His death, Jesus is bringing spiritual healing to those who believed. Except for those living when the Rapture takes place (1 Thess 4:13-18), saints and sinners alike will experience the pain of death. But the spiritual healing will last forever.

25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

This is another reference to Isaiah 53:6.Jesus had said , “I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)” and even in Psalm 23, David wrote “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want (Ps 23:1). The imagery of a caring shepherd looking after the flock was no doubt familiar to most people of that era.

Nowhere did Jesus claim to be the “Bishop” of our souls but we know that He is watching out for us. Peter is giving a word of praise for Jesus Christ as our spiritual overseer (literal meaning of “bishop”).

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)

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