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Bible: What Does 1 Peter 2 Teach Us About the Conduct of God's Elect?

Updated on August 21, 2016

The Apostle Peter


Peter encourages those who have experienced the new birth through believing the gospel and who thus “have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (v. 3) to replace all thoughts and deeds characteristic of the interpersonal relationships of the unregenerate nature with a childlike desire to learn Christian truth (“the pure milk of the word”) that will make them mature believers (vv. 1-2).

[“Malice” suggests an active ill will toward others; “deceit” points to treachery or dishonesty;

“hypocrisy” presents a façade meant to dupe others;

“envy” is an internal attitude that finds its root in discontentment with one’s own possessions, or in resentment toward others because they have what you want;

“evil speaking” or “slander” (NASB) hints at a wish to destroy another’s reputation.]

The Chief Cornerstone

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Living Stones and the Chief Cornerstone

Employing the figure of “living temple stones” to represent believers, Peter states that they have come to Christ in salvation as if to another living stone—a cornerstone which the Jews threw away, but which the Father chose and regarded as precious (v. 4).

From these living stones, God purposes to construct a spiritual house that will function as a priestly order set apart to make spiritual sacrifices the Lord will accept because of the finished work of Christ on its behalf (v. 5).

[To what “spiritual sacrifices” does Peter refer?]

As support for this contention, Peter cites a Scripture in which God foretells that He will begin to build a temple in Jerusalem with “a chief cornerstone, elect, precious,” and that those who believe on Him will not be disappointed (v. 6; cf. Is. 28:16).

For believers, Christ is precious; but for the disbelieving, He is the stone the temple builders set aside, a stone over which the Jews stumbled and a rock that caused them offense (vv. 7-8a; cf. Ps. 118:22; Is. 8:14).

Predestination to Hell?

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Their disobedience to God’s word caused them to stumble—an end to which God appointed them (v. 8b).

[Did the Lord predestine the Jews to fall as He preordained believers to trust in Jesus?

No. Predestination is a positive doctrine only; that is, God chose certain people from the “mass of perdition,” and permitted the rest to choose their own paths to destruction.]

On the other hand, the apostle’s readership stands among those whom God has chosen to minister before Him as members of the King’s family, as heavenly citizens set apart to serve Him, as people who belong exclusively to Him.

God has purposed them to proclaim His greatness to the world; He summoned them out of the realm of spiritual ignorance (“darkness”) and brought them into a state of being in which they know, understand, and believe God’s truth (“marvelous light”) [v. 9; cf. Deut. 10:15; Is. 43:20f; 61:6; 66:21; Ex. 19:6; Is. 42:16.]

Once out of favor with God, Peter’s audience now lives as His very own people; once existing apart from God’s mercy, they have now obtained it (v. 10; cf. Hos. 1:10; 2:23).

Civil Disobedience

Should believers engage in civil disobedience?

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Abstain From Fleshly Lusts

Addressing them as “Beloved,” Peter earnestly urges these resident aliens (“sojourners and pilgrims”) to refrain from indulging in “fleshly lusts” (that is, inordinate desires characteristic of their unregenerate nature) that conflict with their “soul” (v. 11).

He reasons that they should do good works when with Gentiles, for this righteous behavior will cause unbelievers (who will nonetheless slander the Hebrew Christians as enemies of the state) [“evildoers”] to bring honor to God on Judgment Day [“in the day of visitation,” cf. Is. 10:3] (v. 12).

In order for them to remain good testimonies of the Lord, Peter instructs his readers to obey every branch of government to which God has delegated the power of punishment and reward.

He tells them that God wills their good behavior to shut the mouths of foolishly ignorant men (vv. 13-15).

They should not use their freedom in Christ to hide wicked deeds, but exercise it as God’s slaves (v. 16).

The Cross and the Shepherd


Obey Those in Authority

Before moving on to another arena of life where they needed to submit themselves—the servant/master relationship—, Peter leaves them with four concise imperatives:

(1) honor everyone worthy of it;

(2) show love toward brothers and sisters in Christ;

(3) show reverence for the Almighty; and

(4) honor the emperor (v. 17).

Addressing all slaves, the apostle commands them to show reverence toward their masters and submit to them, regardless of the latter’s disposition (v. 18).

Ultimately, the Lord will praise all His servants who suffer wrongfully because He knows they persevered in His ways (v. 19).

Peter sees no reason to recognize a slave who patiently “took his lumps” for rendering poor service; however, he does foresee divine commendations for those who patiently endured suffering after doing what was right (v. 20).

God has called believers to follow the sinless Christ in His example of suffering.

Jesus did not curse His tormentors or promise to exact revenge upon them (vv. 21-23a; cf. Is. 53:9); instead, He kept entrusting Himself to the Father who always judges according to perfect righteousness (v. 23b).

The Lord Jesus carried believers’ sins in His body while on the cross, so that those whom God has separated from their sin nature (“we, having died to sins”) might live righteous lives.

Christ has healed their lives through the wounds of His Passion (v. 24; cf. Is. 53:5).

At one time, believers continually wandered away from the fold like dumb sheep; now they have come back to their Pastor and Overseer—the Lord Who cares for their souls (v. 25).

© 2014 glynch1


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