Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 PETER - Chapter 1

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1 Peter 1

Supplemental Commentary:

Introduction  1, 1-12

1, 1-2:  Greeting.  The literary form of the salutation resembles that of the Pauline Epistles.    1.  Sojourners of the Dispersion: cf. note to text.  Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia comprise the greater part of Asia Minor.    2.  Man's election stated in relation to the most Blessed Trinity: sanctification is effected in time by the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4, 7 f) according to the eternal foreknowledge of God the Father (Rom. 8, 28 ff; Eph. 1, 4); in virtue of this man becomes the servant of Christ; he participates in the new covenant of grace through the blood of the God-man, Jesus Christ (cf. Ex. 24, 8).

1, 3-12:  Thanksgiving.  A doxology comparable to the great rhapsody upon Christian salvation (Eph. 1, 3-14).    3.  The living hope of Christians is eternal and divine because: (a) it is founded on divine mercy (Rom. 5, 8-11); (b) its source is the God-man who "dies now no more" (Rom. 6, 9).  Furthermore, this hope begets confidence.    4.  The essential character of the reward promised by this living hope is its incorruptible inheritance; from the viewpoint of duration it is everlasting (Heb. 9, 15); in view of its character, one undefiled and unfading.    5.  This reward depends neither on fortune nor human causes, for the power of God assures it (Matt. 6, 19 f), and the virtue of faith will maintain it through trial and temptation (Phil. 4, 13) ready to be revealed in the last time (7.13).    6.  Over this you rejoice: i.e., the prospect of a reward so great (Matt. 25, 34).    7.  The Greek text heightens the comparison between the value of gold and faith: gold, though refined by fire, perishes; a tempered faith endures forever.  But even as gold must be purified by fire so must faith likewise be tried in "the furnace of humiliation" (cf. Ecclus. 2, 1-5; Prov. 17, 3).  The revelation of Jesus Christ refers to the glorious Second Coming of Christ.    8.  The readers had not, as St. Peter, seen Christ.    9.  The salvation of your souls: this constitutes the reason for their joy unspeakable and triumphant (cp. 1 Cor. 2, 9).    10.  The activity of the Old Testament prophets demonstrates the importance of this salvation which is within reach of the readers of the Epistle.    11.  Dan. 9, 22-27 foretold the time of its advent; Isa. 9, 1-7; 11, 1-5 and Mich. 5, 2 prophesied its circumstances.  The prophecy of salvation disclosed to the people of Israel came by the Spirit of Christ, the eternal Logos (1 Cor. 10, 4.9).  The fact that Christ, the Son of God, trod this path of sorrow is consoling; His example is inspiring and encouraging.    12.  Those who preached the gospel, etc., refers to the events of the first Pentecost (Acts 2).  Into these things: i.e., the fruition of those graces foretold by the prophets.

I.  GENERAL COUNSELS OF CHRISTIAN HOLINESS  1, 13 -- 2, 10

1, 13-21:  Filial Obedience and Fear.     13.  Therefore: i.e., in view of this living hope (3).  To gird up one's loins: a metaphor based on the oriental manner of dress.  A cincture or girdle was an important article of men and women's apparel.  The loose robes were fastened closer to the body as a preparation for work.  This passage calls for preparedness in fighting the battles of life according to a Christian's knowledge of spiritual and material values.  Be sober: the exercise of cool, dispassionate reason.    14.  The Apostle counsels the readers against the immoral habits of former days; these contradict their present status in the household of God (Eph. 5, 8; Rom. 8, 12 f).    15.  An exhortation in keeping with the standards of their present character (Rom. 8, 14).    16.  The superiority of the New Covenant over the Old compels one to strive for greater holiness (Heb. 3, 4 ff; 10, 1; Gal. 4, 22-31).    17.  Father: with reference to the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6, 9 ff; Luke 11, 2 ff).  Behave yourselves with fear in the time of your sojourning: this cautions the readers against the error of the Israelites who believed that mere carnal descent from Abraham admitted one to the promises made to the children of Abraham (Luke 3, 8).  God's children must prove themselves such by God-fearing works (Matt. 5, 44 ff).    18.  The vain manner of life handed down from your fathers refers to an ethic devoid of moral and religious principles in which birth and circumstances had formerly placed the readers (Eph. 4, 17 ff).  Redeemed . . . not with perishable things: Christ alone was able to purchase man's redemption (Rom. 5, 18 f; Gal. 3, 22).    19.  A lamb without blemish, etc.: a reference to the Messianic prophecy of Isa. 53, 7, and to the preaching of John the Baptist (John 1, 29).  The animals used in sacrifice had to be without physical blemish (Lev. 1, 10; 3, 6); Christ is without moral blemish.    20.  Foreknown, etc.: the decree of man's redemption through the blood of Christ is from eternity; its fulfillment has been wrought and manifested in the last times (Luke 24, 25-27) for your sakes (John 17, 1-2).    21.  Through him you are believers in God: the resurrection of Christ and His subsequent glory have firmly established their belief in God; thus, faith becomes the guiding principle in life and the source of hope.

1, 22-25:  Brotherly Love.    22.  Once a Christian has purified his heart from selfish and worldly motives because of obedience to charity he must sincerely love his neighbor (1 John 3, 18).    23.  The duty to love one's neighbor is founded on the supernatural rebirth of a Christian from . . . seed incorruptible . . . through the word of God (i.e., the message of the gospel) sown in one's heart.    24.  The Apostle here invokes the testimony of Sacred Scripture to prove that God's word alone remains forever.  Vv.24 and 25 are a free rendering of Isa. 40, 6-8.    25.  Since the word of the Lord endures forever the Apostle insinuates that the obligation to love one's neighbor is forever incumbent upon Christians.


Confraternity Bible:

Greeting  1* Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, chosen 2* unto the sanctification of the Spirit according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto obedience to Jesus Christ and the sprinkling of his blood: grace and peace be given you in abundance.

Thanksgiving  3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has begotten us again, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto a living hope, 4 unto an incorruptible inheritance---undefiled and unfading, reserved for you in heaven.  5 By the power of God you are guarded through faith for salvation, which is ready to be revealed in the last time.  6 Over this you rejoice; though now for a little while, if need be, you are made sorrowful by various trials, 7 that the temper of your faith---more precious by far than gold which is tried by fire---may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  8 Him, though you have not seen, you love.  In him, though you do not see him, yet believing, you exult with a joy unspeakable and triumphant; 9 receiving, as the final issue of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  10 The prophets who foretold the grace that was to come for you made earnest inquiry and search concerning this salvation.  11 They searched what time or circumstances the Spirit of Christ in them was signifying, when he foretold the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that would follow.  12 To them it was revealed that not to themselves but to you they were ministering those things which now have been declared to you by those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  Into these things angels desire to look.

Filial Obedience and Fear  13 Therefore, having girded up the loins of your understanding, be sober and set your hope completely upon that grace which is brought to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ.  14 As obedient children, do not conform to the lusts of former days when you were ignorant; 15 but as the One who called you is holy, be you also holy in all your behavior; 16* for it is written,
"You shall be holy, because I am holy."
17* And if you invoke as Father him who without respect of persons judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves with fear in the time of your sojourning.  18 You know that you were redeemed from the vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, 19 not with perishable things, with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  20 Foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world, he has been manifested in the last times for your sakes.  21 Through him you are believers in God who raised him up from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope might be in God.

Brotherly Love  22 Now that your obedience to charity has purified your souls for a brotherly love that is sincere, love one another heartily and intensely.  23 For you have been reborn, not from corruptible seed but from incorruptible, through the word of God who lives and abides forever.  24* For,
"All flesh is as grass, and all its glory as the flower of grass;

The grass withered, and the flower has fallen--- 25* but the word of the Lord endures forever."  
Now this is the word of the gospel that was preached to you.
__________

*

1: To the sojourners of the Dispersion: a technical term among the Jews referring to the Jews resident outside Palestine.

2: Sprinkling of his blood: a metaphor based on the dedication of the covenant contracted at Mount Sinai (Ex. 24, 8).

16: Lev. 19, 2.

17: With fear: the reverential fear of children towards a just father.  Sojourning: life on earth is but a pilgrimage.

24-25: Isa. 40, 6-8.