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ch. Who is to the faithful precious, but to the disobedient a stone of stumbling
21-25 .. to husbands
iii. 1-6 [reciprocal duty of husbands]
iv. 1-7 :
12--19. Elders, tend His flock, for His sake
1-4: younger, be subject : all, be humble
5, 6: full of trust: watchful: resisting the devil
7-9: and may He who has graciously called you, after short suffering, strengthen and bless you
10, 11. The bearer and aim of the Epistle: salutations ; concluding blessing
CHARACTER AND STYLE.
1. Some Commentators who have impugned the genuineness of our Epistle, have objected to it a want of distinctive character, and have alleged that it is less the work of an individual mind than a series of compilations from the works of others, mainly St. Paul and St. James.
2. This however has been distinctly, and as it seems to me successfully denied by others, and especially by Weiss in his work on the Epistle. It is hardly possible for an unprejudiced person to help tracing in the character of it marks of individuality, and a peculiar type of apprehension of Christian doctrine. That St. Peter was well acquainted with St.
Paul's teaching is certain, not from this Epistle only, but from the latter Apostle's own declaration in Gal. ii. 2, where he says, “I imparted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those of note," of whom St. Peter certainly was one. That he had seen, and was familiar with, many of St. Paul's Epistles, is equally undeniable. The coincidences in peculiar expression and sequence of thoughts are too marked to be accounted for by any participation in common forms of teaching and thinking, even had this latter been the case, which it was not. The coincidences now before us are of an entirely different nature from those in the Epistle to the Hebrews, with the exception perhaps of that one where an Old Test. citation is apparently taken from the Epistle to the Romans.
3. If we seek for tokens of individual character and independence, we shall find them at every turn. Such are, for instance, the designation of the whole Christian revelation as grace of God,” and treatment of it as such, which prevails throughout the Epistle. Compare ch. i. 3, where it is described as the power of regeneration : i. 10, where it is the salvation promised by the prophets : ii. 19, where it breaks forth even in sufferings : iv. 10, where it is distributed in spiritual gifts: v. 10, where it is the pledge of continued divine help: iii. 7, where it is itself the inheritance of life: i. 13, where it is the material of the revelation of Christ at His coming. And connected with this same, is the way in which 1) God's acts of grace are ever brought forward : e.g. i. 20, His foreordination of Christ: v. 10, i. 15, ii. 9, His call of His people : i. 3, 23, His new-begetting of them by His word through Christ's Resurrection : iv. 14, the resting of His Spirit on them : iv. 11, i. 5, v. 6, 10, His care for them in ministering strength to them, and guarding them by His power to salvation : and 2) the connexion between God and His people insisted on : e. g., ii. 9, 10; iv. 17, v. 2, generally: iii. 21, where Baptism is “an enquiry towards God :" ii. 19, where “conscience of God," an expression nowhere else found, is a motive for enduring sufferings: iv. 11, where His glory is the ultimate motive of Christian action.
4. And in accordance with this constant setting forth of the reciprocal relation of God and His people, we find our Blessed Lord ever introduced as the Mediator : e.g. of things objective, as i. 3, of Regeneration ;
6 The following are a few of the most remarkable parallel passages : The address, as compared with that of Rom., 1 Cor., 2 Cor., &c.: ch. i. 5, with Gal. ii. 23: i. 21, with Rom. iv. 24: ii. 1, with Col. iii. 8 (James i. 21): ii. 6, with Rom. ix. 33 (x. 11): ii. 13, 14, with Rom. xii. 1-4: ii. 16, with Gal. v. 13: ii. 18, with Eph. vi. 5, Col. iii. 22: ii. 21, with Rom. vi. 18: iii. 1 ff., with Eph. v. 22, 1 Tim. ii. 9, 1 Thess. iv. 4: iii. 8, 9, with Rom. xii. 10 ff. : iii. 22, with Rom. vii, 34, Eph. i. 21, 22: iv. 1, 2, with Rom. vi. 7: iv. 10, 11, with Rom. xii. 6–8: v. 1, with Rom. viii. 18: v. 8, with 1 Thess. v. 6: v. 10, 11, with (Heb. xiii. 20, 21) Phil. iv. 19, 20: v. 14, with Rom. xvi. 16, 1 Cor. xvi. 20, 1 Thess. v. 26.
iii. 21, of Baptism : of things subjective, as i. 21, of faith and hope ; ii. 5, of acceptable works for God; iv. 11, of the power to glorify God. The central point of this mediatorial work is His Resurrection, i. 3, iii. 21; in subordination to which the other facts of Redemption are introduced, even where they occur without any necessary reference to it, as e.g., i. 11, 19-21, iii. 18, ii. 24, 25. And those particulars of Christ's agency are principally brought forward, which are connected with the Resurrection : e. g., His preaching to the imprisoned spirits, iii. 19 ff. ; His Ascension, iii. 22 ; His lordship over His people, ii. 25; His future Revelation, i. 7, 13, and that with judgment, iv. 5. Every where it is less the historical Christ, than the exalted Christ of the present and of the future, that is before the Apostle ; the Eternal One, i. 11, ïi. 25. Even where His sufferings are mentioned, it is ever “ Christ,” or “the Christ :” not so much the humiliated One, as the glorified and anointed One of God, ii. 21; ii. 18 f.; iv. 1, 13. And this, partly because their present belief on Him, not their past experience or knowledge of Him, is that which is emphasized, i. 8; partly for the reason next to be noticed.
5. Another original and peculiar feature of our Epistle is, its constant reference and forward look to the future. This has been indeed by some exaggerated : as, e. g., Mayerhoff. Huther and Luthardt have considered hope as the central idea and subject of the Epistle: and Weiss adopts for St. Peter the title of the Apostle of hope. But the fact itself is not to be denied. Wherever we consult the Epistle, it is always the future to which the exhortations point: whether we regard the sufferings of Christ Himself, as pointing on to future glory, i. 11, iv. 13; or those of His followers, i. 6, 7, 9. Salvation itself is "the end of faith,"i. 9; is the object of living (i. 3) and certain (i. 13) hope, i. 3, 13, 21, iii. 15. The same expectation appears as expressed in "honour," ii. 7; "life," iii. 10 (compare i. 3); “ glory," v. 4, 10: and as a constantly present motive, ii. 2; v. 4. The nearness of this future blessedness throws the present life into the background, so that God's people are “strangers" and “sojourners," i. 1, 17; ii. 11. This is ever before the Apostle ; both in reference to his readers, iv. 13, and to himself, v. 1.
6. Brückner, from whom in the main the foregoing remarks have been adopted, and who goes much further into detail in following out the same, lays stress on several interesting points of individual peculiarity, even where the modes of speech of St. Paul appear to be adopted by St. Peter; e.g., in the comparison of our ch. ii. 24 with Rom. vi. 8—14, where St. Paul's“living to God” would have been equally available for St. Peter, who uses “living to righteousness," which on account of the close comparison with Christ in St. Paul, would not have been so apposite for him: where again the “dying to sin” (a different word) of St. Paul is not adopted by St. Peter, though quite as well adapted to his purpose as “to cease-to-live
to sin,” which he has used. In St. Paul, the death to sin is more a consequence of our union with Christ : in St. Peter, of Christ's having done away sin. The latter, as in other places, approaches nearer to St. John's form of thought and diction.
7. He shews the same with regard to the idea of the Christian calling of God: to that of “ hope ;” of “obedience ;" of Christian liberty, as in the one Apostle (Gal. v. 13) the occasion, in the other the cloke of sin (ch. ï. 16), and besides found in James i. 25, ii. 12, and in John viii. 36 : to that of the spiritual gifts ; of the Christian reward; and several other cases which at first sight seem alike. In all these there is reason to believe that our Apostle, though speaking sometimes exceedingly like St. Paul and possibly from reminiscence of his Epistles, yet drew from another fountain within himself, and had a treasure of spiritual knowledge and holy inspiration distinct from that of St. Paul, incorporated with his own individual habits of thought.
8. And this is confirmed by observing, that it is not with St. Paul only that such affinities are found, but as before observed, with St. John, and with other of the New Test. writers?. And by seeing, that in many expressions St. Peter stands quite alone S. Add to which, that in several glimpses, which in the course of treatment of other subjects he gives us, of things mysterious and unknown, we evidently see that such revelations come from a storehouse of divine knowledge, which could reveal much more, had it seemed good to Him by whom the hand and thoughts of the Apostle were guided o.
9. As regards the style of our Epistle it has an unmistakeable and distinctive character of its own', arising very much from the mixed
7 Compare ch. i. 23 with 1 John iii. 9: i. 22 (ii. 2) with 1 John iïi. 3: ii. 24 with 1 John üi. 7: jj. 13 with 3 John 11: v. 2 with John x. 16: iii. 18 with 1 John ii. 1, ii. 7: i. 19 with John i. 29: iv. 2 with 1 John ii. 16 f.: ii. 24 with Heb. ix. 28, 1 John ïïi. 5: i. 2 with Heb. xii. 24: v. 4 with Heb. xii. 20 : iii. 18 with Heb. ix. 28: ii. 5 with Heb. xiii. 15. In almost all of the supposed imitations of St. James, Old Test. citations are the material which forms ground common to both Apostles. This is the case with i. 6 f. compared with James i. 2: i. 24 with James i. 10: v. 5 with James iv. 6, 10: iv. 8 with James v. 20.
8 As e.g. “ gone to heaven,” ch. iii. 22: "a kiss of love,” v. 14: “conscience of God,” ii. 19: "living hope,” i. 3: “ an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, unfading,” ib. 4. See a copious list given in Davidson, p. 386.
9 See cb. i. 10, 11; iii. 19, 21; iv. 6, 17; v. 1, 8.
1 The similarity between the diction of the Epistle and St. Peter's recorded speeches in the Acts, has been often noticed. Compare 1 Pet. ii. 7 with Acts iv. 11: i. 12 with Acts v. 32: ï. 24 with Acts y. 30, x. 39: v. 1 with Acts ii. 32, ii. 15 : i. 10 with Acts iii. 18, x. 43 : i. 21 with Acts iii. 15, x. 40 : iv. 5 with Acts x. 42: i. 21 with Acts iii. 16: ii. 24 with Acts iii. 19, 26. In connexion of sentence with sentence also (see below par. 10) there is great similarity: compare Acts iii. 21, “Christ Jesus, whom it behoves of all things which He spoke
” besides the same spirit, and view of the Gospel facts and announcements, being manifest throughout. Compare
nature of the contents, and the fervid and at the same time practical rather than dialectical spirit of its Writer. There is in it no logical inference, properly so called: no evolving of one thought from another. The word “ wherefore" occurs only in connexion with imperatives introducing practical inferences: “because" only as substantiating motives to Christian practice by Scripture citation or by sacred facts: "for" mostly in similar connexions. The link between one idea and another is found not in any progress of unfolding thought or argument, but in the last word of the foregoing sentence, which is taken up and followed out in the new one?.
10. It has been noticed that the same thought is often repeated again, and in nearly the same words'. This is consistent with the fervid and earnest spirit of the Apostle: which however, as might be expected from what we know of him, was chastened by a sense of his own weakness and need of divine upholding grace. There is no Epistle in the sacred Canon, the language and spirit of which come more directly home to the personal trials and wants and weaknesses of the Christian life. Its affectionate warnings and strong consolation have ever been treasured up close to the hearts of the weary and heavy-laden but onward-pressing servants of God. The mind of our Father towards us, the aspect of our blessed Lord as presented to us, the preparation by sufferings for our heavenly inheritance, all these as here set forth, are peculiarly lovely and encouraging. And the motives to holy purity spring direct out of the simple and childlike recognition of the will of our Heavenly Father to bring us to His glory.
11. All who have worthily commented on the Epistle have spoken in similar strains of its character and style. “Wonderful is the gravity and alacrity of Peter's discourse, most agreeably holding the reader's attention,” says Bengel. “ This Epistle has the vehemence agreeable to the disposition of the chief of the Apostles,” says Grotius. And Erasmus calls it "an Epistle quite worthy of the chief of the Apostles, full of apostolical authority and dignity, sparing in words, fertile in thoughts, &c.” And recently Wiesinger sums up thus his characteristic of the Epistle: "Certainly, it entirely agrees in tone and feeling with what we have before said of the character of the Apostle. His warm self-devotion
e.g. the summary of that part of his first speech which is not recorded, “save your. selves from this crooked generation," Acts ii. 40, with the frequent exhortations in our Epistle to separation from the heathen world. 3 See e.g. ch. i. ver. 4, "you"
ver. 5, “who are”
ver. 8, “whom" ver. 9, “ salvation"
ver. 10, “ of which the prophets" ver. 12, “unto whom”
&c., &c. And so we might proceed through the Epistle.
3 Compare ch. ii. 1 with ii. 16, and with ii. 1: iv. 3 with i. 14 and ü. 11: iv. 12 with i. 6-9: iv. 14 with iii. 14, 17, and with ii. 20: v. 8 with iv. 7, and with i. 13.