Devotional: 1 Peter 2:1-25
I notice that this section starts with a variation of “therefore”. This time, it is “so”—“so get rid of all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all evil speech”. What does this logical statement reflect back to? Because we trusters in Christ (both Jew and Gentile) have been chosen, set apart by the Holy Spirit for obedience to God and His Word, cleansed by the precious shed blood of Christ, born again with an assurance of a future inheritance, tested and been found genuine in our trust, recipients of the entire Scriptures which predict our future deliverance (among other things), and because we base our very lives on the Word—because of all that, we are to rid ourselves of malice (“depravity”, “wickedness”; “badness in quality, an evil mindset”, “”the vicious character generally”), deceit or guile (“to decoy”, a trick as in “bait”), hypocrisy (“acting under a feigned part”), envy (“ill-will”, “jealousy”), and evil words (“defamation”, “backbiting” [“slander”]). Why is it important to rid ourselves of these in particular? Because they are characteristics of the Enemy. They are the exact opposite of what it means to be set apart for service to God.
I notice in verse 2 that salvation is not a static thing, but a growing in the relationship that was started when I “accepted Jesus as my Savior”. In fact, we have done a disservice to people by promoting that idea as the means to forgiveness and redemption. Somehow, a lot of people have gotten the idea that salvation is a kind of “fire insurance”. Sign up once and you are set for life. But over and over in the Bible, we see that there is much more to salvation than a few words. It is much more like a marriage. Look at John 17, where we read of Jesus’ praying for those who would come to trust in His sacrifice. He wants us to be one with Him, to be where He is. Like marriage, our relationship with Christ requires that we spend time with Him, getting to know Him and what pleases Him. Verse 2 shows us the best way of doing this: “long for pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow toward salvation.” The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We allow the Holy Spirit to transform our minds (and our characters) as we fill our minds with the Word of God, and as we follow His lead in applying it to our lives. We allow the Holy Spirit (a part of Christ Himself) to grow us in our love for our Redeemer and to not only teach us to do what pleases Him, but gives us the desire (the will) to do so (Philippians 2:13).
Verses 4-6 speak again of unity. This time the picture used is of stones being laid to create a building, a Temple of worship for God, with Christ as the cornerstone which sets the foundation for the whole building. Verses 6, 7 and 8 are quotes from the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:16, Psalm 118:22, and Isaiah 8:14). These quotes would have been familiar to Peter’s Jewish Christ trusters, but Peter is applying them to individuals now, instead of to the nation of Israel as a whole. The same thing occurs in verse 10, quoted from Hosea (1:10 and 2:23).
Verse 9 is interesting. It is a combination of a quote from Exodus 19 (verses 5 and 6)—again spoken by God to the nation of Israel—and a quote from Isaiah 42 (verse 6). I think that we need to look at some definitions to understand who Peter is referring to here. “Chosen people” is translated from two words that mean “chosen out or elect kindred or offspring or race.” “A holy nation” comes from two words that mean “a “race or tribe” “set apart for God’s service”. If nation had been in the plural, it would have indicated the Gentile nations; however, in the singular, it denotes the Jews. So, both of these phrases apply to the Jewish trusters in Christ specifically. Also, it was the Jewish nation that God purposed to be a royal priesthood, bringing the nations around them to God, teaching them by word and deed what it meant to put their trust in Him and live in obedience to Him. They have not fulfilled that purpose yet, but they will at some point in the future (see Zechariah 8:22-23). “A peculiar people” is translated from two words that means “people at large” that have been “obtained” or “purchased”. This is the first phrase in this sentence that refers to all Christ trusters, regardless of their race. Again, Peter (I think) is writing to primarily Jewish Christ trusters; we are reading mail directed for the most part to them, although we can apply it to ourselves in that we have been grafted into their root. The first part of verse 12 highlights my understanding of who Peter is writing to, “Keep your conduct honorable among the ‘Nations’”. As stated earlier, the use of the plural means it refers specifically to the non-Jewish nations, the Gentiles.
This doesn’t mean that we cannot apply these verses as Gentile trusters in Christ. We have been called out of the darkness and into God’s marvelous light (Acts 26:17-18, Colossians 1:11-14). We are chosen (Ephesians 1:4-6), purchased (Ephesians 1:7), called to be set apart for service to God (Romans 12:1, 15:16), and this has been done so that we Gentiles also may “proclaim the praises of the One who called [us] out of the darkness into His marvelous light.”
Verse 11-17 can apply to us as well. The Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, also called on Christ trusters to live lives worthy of the calling they have received (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27). Paul calls on Gentile trusters to submit to authority (Romans 13), to silence those who oppose us by living Godly lives before them (Titus 2:6-8), to use our freedom in a way that puts others first (Galatians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 8:9).
Verse 18 speaks of slaves, but I notice that Peter is neither supporting nor condemning slavery. Slavery WAS a part of life in Biblical times, and so both Paul and Peter address both slaves and slave masters concerning how they are to treat each other (see also Ephesians 6:5 and 9; Colossians 3:22 and 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:2-22). We can apply this as speaking of the relationship between bosses and employees today.
Verses 22-25 are once again quotes from the Old Testament: Isaiah 53 and Psalm 119:176. It is interesting to me that Isaiah 53 is a very clear prophecy of Jesus’ redemptive life right there in the Hebrew Bible, yet that chapter seems to be “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense” to a lot of Jewish people.
One final thought on verse 25: Peter says of his audience that they were like sheep going astray, but now they have returned to the Shepherd of their souls. This is very Jewish to me. Throughout the Old Testament, the Jewish nation would stray from following God and He would bring them back to Himself. They would “return to their God”. On the other hand, the Gentiles had no prior relationship with God to return to.
The good news is this: “the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25). When any person (Jew or Gentile) puts his or her trust in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, that person can learn and know that his or her sins have been born in Christ’s body, that they have been removed so that he or she can now live for righteousness, pleasing their Savior, Who Shepherds and Guards them—preserving them for the Day when all trusters in Christ will receive their promised inheritance (1 Peter 1:5).
Devotional reading to be shared on July 22nd: Matthew 17:1-13