« PreviousContinue »
(C) Ver. 1-22. Domestic duties, and the advantages of domestic piety.-The greater part of this chapter is devoted to moral duties, and especially those of social and domestic life. Wives are directed to be in subjection to their husbands, after the example of Sarah, Abraham's wife; and that not merely on the principle of moral duty, but with the special view, in case their husbands should not be already pious, of winning them over to the truth, by the meekness, modesty, and gravity of their deportment: not recommending themselves to public notice by the splendor and gaiety of their clothing, but exhibiting "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
On the other hand, as all moral duties are reciprocal, so husbands are required to cohabit with their wives "according to knowledge," that is, as knowing and observing their duty towards them; particularly honouring them as the weaker vessels, affording them every comfort and convenience which circumstances may admit, and considering them as "joint heirs of the grace of (everlasting) life;" and this particularly, that their mutual "prayers might not be hindered." The being "heirs together," or joint heirs" of the grace of life," says Archbishop Leighton,
is that which most strongly binds all these duties on the hearts of husbands and wives, and most strongly indeed binds their hearts together, and makes them one.".... But the breach of conjugal love, the jars and contentions of husband
and wife, do, out of doubt, so leaven and embitter their spirits, that they are exceedingly unfit for prayer .... And those who pray together should not only have hearts in tune within themselves in their own frame, but tuned together, especially husband and wife."
On the other hand, it is most certain that nothing contributes more to the peace of families, and especially between the heads of those families themselves, than the observance of mutual and family prayer. Their hearts must be bitter in deed, that can iudulge resentment against those with whom they are in the habit of daily uniting at the throne of grace.
Our apostle therefore strongly urges the "pilgrims and strangers" to whom be wrote, in all cases to "seek peace and pursue it"-to chase it, as if it were the most important game-to seek it, as it were gold and jewels. But if peace prove utterly unattainable, and Christiaus are called to suffer for conscience sake, then let them sanctify the Lord God in their hearts, and rejoice in "a conscience void of offence both toward God and man;" remembering, that it is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil; in which Christ is our example, "who suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God." One sentence particularly merits our attention, as it reproves equally a forward talkativeness, and a foolish backwardness in speaking on religious subjects: we are at all times to be " ready to give to every one that asks, a reason of the hope that is in us;" while, at the same time, instead of obtruding our opinions or
NOTES-Chap. III. Con.
therefore be consigned to hell, from whence they hold no deliverance; and, 2. These were so far from being delivered, that the apostle describes them as in prison when he wrote. See Fletcher's Lect. on the Rom. Cath. Religion, Lect. vii.
Ver. 20. Which sometime-Mackn. " formerly."
Were saved by water.-Doddr." Safely carried through the water:" and he adds, that Raphelius
abundantly justifies this sense of the particle (dis), when used with a genitive case.
Ver. 21. The like figure whereunto.-Doddridge, "The antitype unto which," meaning THE ASS But Macknight says, "The relative (which) being (in the Greek) neuter, its antecedent cannot be (kibotos) the ark, which is feminine, but (udes} water, which is neuter."
experience upon others impertinently or unseasonably, we must act with meekness toward them, and reverence before God.
This brings us to a passage of peculiar difficulty, and which admits of various interpretations, whereof we shall name but two. It is here said (ver. 19), that Christ by his Spirit" went and preached unto the spirits in prison;" but the questions areWhen, and where?
1. It was an early and very general opinion, that when Christ died, he descended into the place of punishment, and preached to the infidel inhabitants of the old world there imprisoned; in consequence of which some, or (as others think) all of them, were converted and delivered. But neither this, nor any other text that we are aware of, speaks of conversion after death; but the Scriptures universally represent the dead as waiting the event of the final advent, when all must " appear before the judgment seat of Christ:" nor does there seem either reason, or scriptural authority, for believing, that a whole generation of sinners, of the most abandoned character, should be privileged with a second opportunity of mercy-another day of grace. "To-day, if ye will hear his voice!-Now is the accepted time!-How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation!"
2. The general current of Protestant Expositors, among whom are Doddridge and Macknight, are therefore of opinion, that the preaching here referred to, took place in the days of Noah, by the iustrumentality of himself and some of his family, who vere inspired teachers. The following is he substance of their interpretation:For Christ also once suffered for sins, he just for the unjust (that he might ring us to God), being put to death in the
flesh, but quickened by the Spirit [of God]. By which [Spirit] also he [formerly] went and preached unto the spirits [now] in prison; which were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah [120 years], while the ark was preparing, whereiu few, that is, eight souls, were saved by, or through, the water." In the latter clause, we confess that we give preference to the common version, notwithstanding the critical authorities by which the other may be justified. For, 1. It was by the water probably that Noah and his family were, in the first instance, saved from the rage of that infidel, depraved, and persecuting generation. 2. It is more certain, that by the rising waters they were saved from the overwhelming effects of the deluge from above; from which, on land, it would have required a more signal miracle to defend them, when even the highest mountains were overflowed. And, 3. This sense of being saved by water, best agrees with the verse following: "The like figure," or "The antitype to which (even) baptism doth now save us:" for baptism was unquestionably the ordinance by which the first Christians were separated from the world, even as Noah and his family from their infidel neighbours.
Once more: On Baptism itself we remark, that the most essential thing is, not the washing or purifying of the flesh, but "the answer of a good conscience," which the best expositors suppose to refer to the questions publicly proposed to the candidates for this ordinance in the Christian church, and in their answers to which, they openly renounced the world, the flesh, and the devil, with all their works.
CHAP. IV. Ver. 1. He that hath suffered in the sh-That is, as St. Paul expresses it, "hath cruied the flesh." See Gal. ii. 20; v. 24; vi. 14.— ath ceased from sin-i. e. according to Doddr. From its habitual practice." Ver. 3. Revellings.-See Note on Gal. v, 21.
Abominable idolatries.-The adjective here used implies what is both unlawful and detestable; and is applied by Josephus to the unnatural lusts indulged in the Pagan worship. See Parkhurst's Lex. in Athemitos.
vellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries :
4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus
[under persecution. G
Christ, to whom be praise and domi nion for ever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, re may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an en doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters.
16 Yet if Christian, let but let him behalf.
any man suffer as him not be ashamed; glorify God on this
17 For the time is come that judg ment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
NOTES-Chap. IV. Con.
Ver. 6. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead.-Though we prefer the interpretation above given, it ought not to be concealed, that Doddridge, Macknight, and others, explain this figuratively, in reference to the Gentiles, who are said, Ephes. ii. 1, "to be dead in trespasses and sins."'
Ver. 8. Above all things have fervent charity(Gr. agape) i. e. love--For charity (or love), as in James v. 20-Shall (Marg. "will") cover the (Doddr. "a") multitude of sins."-Solomon (Prov. x. 12) says, all sins"-evidently meaning the sins, or faults, of those we love; for it is put in opposition to Hatred (which) stirreth up strifes."
Ver. 10. As every man hath received the gift—i. e. a spiritual gift, as of teaching, translating, heal. ing, &c.
Ver. 11. The oracles of God.-The Greeks used this term in reference to the responses received from their deities; or rather from their priests in their names. St. Stephen applies this term to the laws given to Moses, calling them lively, or living oracles, because delivered by the voice of God. Acts vii. 38.
Ver. 12. The fiery trial-Namely, of affliction, or rather persecution; alluding to the trial of gold in a furnace. See chap. i. 7.
Ver. 13. When his glory shall be revealedNamely, at the last day.
Ver. 14. Spirit of glory and of God-Alloding to
Isa. xi. 2.
Ver. 15. An evil doer.-Doddr. and Macka. " malefactor."-A busy-body-Lardner, Doddridge, and others, have remarked, that this character, fra its being associated with the worst criminals, m here intend something more than "a tattler." It properly means one that pries into affairs, with which he has, in fact, no concern; and must bere refer to public or state affairs, and, as we conceive, political busy-body-a fac tious or seditious person. The Jews were remark.
properly describes a
able for this crime.
Ver. 16. Suffer as a Christian.-The only pa sages in which this term "Christian" occurs are this verse, and Acts xi. 26; xxvi. 28.-Let him glery God on this behalf—i. e. as suffering for Christ's sake.
Ver. 18. Scarcely be saved.-Doddr. and Macin "Be saved with difficulty." This appears to be quoted from the Ixx., of Prov. xi. 31. The origin term rendered scarcely, signifies with difficulty,
in Acts xiv. 18; xxvii. 7, 8, 16.
Ver. 19. A faithful Creator-who will preserve their separate spirits, and restore to them their
bodies, at the resurrection.
■God a gracious]
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to
[and faithful Creator.
him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (D)
(D) Ver. 1-19. Christians exhorted to patience in suffering, and to care and fidelity in the improvement of their talents.It was the doctrine of St. Paul, repeatedly and earnestly inculcated, that believers being" crucified with Christ," have "crucified the flesh, with the lusts thereof;" which is also the doctrine inculcated in the opening of this chapter: "Christ having suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves (says St. Peter) with the same mind, for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from [the practice of] sin." And here it appears that he is addressing himself to Gentiles, for he says, "The time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness," &c.; "wherein they think it strange that ye [still] run not with them into the same excess of riot" as formerly. The apostle here couples himself with these once licentious Gentiles; yet, as we know that he was not a Gentile, so we have no reason to believe that he ever joined in such excesses; but he joins himself with them, as is not uncommon, in order that he might reprove them with
The first object of the gospel ministry is the conversion of sinners; for this end was it preached to the generations now literally dead, as it is also now preached to us. So Archbishop Leighton understands it; and, we think, justly; and, he adds, to be judged according to men in the flesh, is to die to sin, or that sin die to us (as in verses 1 and 2); and to "live according to God in the Spirit," is to live to his glory: "Not unto themselves (as Paul expresses it), but unto him who died for them, and rose again." (2 Cor. v. 15.) And to enforce this upon those to whom he wrote, he adds, "the end of all things is at hand;" which, though it may have a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, has also a farther reference to a greater event with which that is generally connected, namely, the second coming of our Lord. This, indeed, may be still at a distance; but our time to appear before his presence, "who is ready to judge the quick and the dead," to some cannot be far distant, and may not be to any of us.
But this event is here mentioned with a practical design: a threefold duty is here recommended-"Sobriety, watchfulness,
and prayer; and, of the three, the last is evidently the chief, and is here so meant." "Prayer," says the excellent Prelate above referred to, "is not a smooth expression, or a well-contrived form of words: not the product of a ready memory, or of a rich invention, exerting itself in the performance. These may draw a neat picture of it, but still the life is wanting. The motion of the heart Godwards, holy and divine affection, makes prayer real, and lively, and acceptable to the living God, to whom it is presented; the pouring out of the heart to Him that made it, and therefore hears and understands what it speaks, and how it is moved and affected in calling on him...... All other excellence in prayer is but the outside and fashion of it: this is the life of it."
St. Peter now proceeds to the moral virtues, at the head of which, like Paul (1 Cor. xiii. 1), he places charity, or love; "for charity (says he) shall (or will) cover a multitude of sins." How it does this, Archbishop Leighton thus explains :—1. It is skilful in putting the fairest construction on things doubtful. 2. Where the thing is plainly a sin, then will love consider what may lessen it most; whether it was by surprise, through ignorance, or human frailty. 3. All reproof will be sweetened by that compassion which flows from love. 4. What is wrong will be forgiven. "Those are grossly mistaken, who think it greatness of spirit to resent wrongs, and baseness to forgive them: on the contrary, it is the only excellent spirit, scarcely to feel a wrong; or, feeling, straightly to forgive it."-With Christian love, Peter, as his brother Paul had before done (Rom. xii. 13), associates hospitality; a virtue always excellent, but of peculiar importance in some countries, and in times of persecution.
The venerable apostle next proceeds to enforce the faithful exercise of all those
talents, with which they were intrusted, and for which, as stewards, they must give account. If any man speak as a public teacher, he is required to speak in consistency with the well known and authentic oracles of God: or if any man minister in the church in an inferior capacity, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth. all having in view one object, "that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ," to whom Peter (as Paul had
The Elders exhorted]
HE elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit
[to feed the Church.
yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
10 But the God of all grace, whe hath called us unto his eternal glory
EXPOSITION-Chap. IV. Continued.
often done) offers a doxology, expressive of faith in his supreme divinity.
St. Peter now warns his brethren of " the fiery trial"-of the dreadful scenes of persecution-which they must expect; but which he guards them against considering as strange and unprecedented, since all that they could suffer was, at most, partaking of only a small portion of the sufferings of Jesus Christ; which, at his appearing, would be rewarded with a rich participation of his glory and felicity. But," says he, "let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, a malefactor, or a factious or seditious person."
In warning Christians (both Jewish and Gentile) of these terrible calamities, our apostle states, that judgment is about to "begin at the house of God," that is, with his own people; as it is said, Ezek. ix. 6, "Begin at my sanctuary:" and the meaning seems to be, that the divine judgments
should first visit the Christians, for the purification of the church, and then fall with a weight of terrible destruction the unbelieving Jews. And if the righteous scarcely (or with difficulty be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" This, according to the venerable Leighton, "imports not any un certainty or hazard in the thing itself, to the end, in respect of the purpose performance of God; but only the great difficulties and hard encounters in the way, that they go through so many temptations and tribulations, so many fightings without, and fears within.. And yet through all these they are brought safely home. There is another strength than theirs, which bears them up and brings them through. But these things argue the dif ficulty of their course, and that it is not so easy a thing to come to heaven as most imagine."
CHAP. V. Ver. 1. Who am also an elder.-Hammond, "A fellow elder." (Gr. sum-presbuteros.) Ver.2. Which is among you.-Marg. or as much as is in you."-Taking the oversight thereof.Hammond, "governing it." Doddr. "discharge the episcopal office." Mackn. "The Bishop's office."
Ver.3. Neither as being lords.-Marg. " as overruling." Macknight, as "lording it." The word strictly means to tyrannize, or domineer. See Macknight, and compare Matt. xx. 25.
Ver. 4. The chief Shepherd.-In Spain, it seems, the flocks often contain 10,000 sheep, divided into