Bibliotheca Sacra 139 (1982) 32-45.

          Copyright © 1982 by Dallas Theological Seminary.  Cited with permission.

 

 

                                    Selected Studies from 1 Peter

                                                       Part 1:

 

 

                    Following Christ's Example:

               An Exposition of 1 Peter 2:21-25

 

 

                                              D. Edmond Hiebert

 

 

            For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered

            for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who

            committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and

            while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He

            uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges

            righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross,

            that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds

            you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but

            now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls

            (1 Pet. 2:21-25, NASB).

 

            These verses contain the fullest elaboration of the example of

Jesus Christ for believers in the New Testament. The confirma-

tory "for," with which verse 21 begins, establishes the fact that

the picture was drawn to undergird the call to the "household

servants" (oi[ oi]ke<tai) to submit, as believers in Christ, to suffer-

ing for well-doing (vv. 18-20). Peter confirmed the call to submis-

sive suffering by citing the example of Christ (v. 21) and then

depicted His exemplary and redemptive sufferings (vv. 22-25).

His picture contains various allusions to Isaiah 53, the prophetic

portrait of the Suffering Servant of the Lord.

 

            The Call to Suffering Confirmed by Christ's Example

 

            "For you have been called for this purpose" (v. 21) looks back

to what has just been said. "This purpose" (ei]j tou?to, lit., "into

this") has the same force as "this" in verse 19 and refers to

 

                                                            32

 



Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of 1 Peter 2:21-25 33

 

suffering for, and while, doing good. Williams rendered this

phrase, "It is to this kind of living that you were called."1 The verb

"called" (e]klh<qhte) looks back to the time of their conversion and

indicates that God Himself acted in calling them to such a life.

"You," a direct reference to the household servants being ad-

dressed, assures these suffering servants that God has given

them a new dignity, to suffer as God's people, and also a new

motivation, to follow the example of their Savior and spiritual

Lord. But since this call "applies to them not as slaves but as

believers, it holds true at the same time of all Christians."2 It is a

clear reminder to all believers that "through many tribulations

we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Jesus Himself

repeatedly stressed that being His disciples involved cross-bear-

ing (Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Luke 14:27).

            "Since Christ also suffered for you" (o!ti kai> Xristo>j e@paqen

u[pe>r u[mw?n) introduces a compelling motivation to induce

them voluntarily to accept suffering while doing good. "Also"

(kai>), standing emphatically forward, underlines the similarity

between Christ's sufferings and their own. "Nothing seems more

unworthy," Calvin observed, "and therefore less tolerable, than

undeservedly to suffer; but when we turn our eyes to the Son of

God, this bitterness is mitigated: for who would refuse to follow

him going before us?”3That Christ had Himself suffered unde-

servedly was an inherent element in the gospel message which

they had received; that fact, since the servant was not above his

Lord, carried a strong tug on their hearts to be willing likewise to

accept such sufferings. Christ's suffering "for you" (u[pe>r u[mw?n)4

made His example personal and compelling for them. The

preposition u[pe>r ("over") in context conveys the picture of Him

bending over them to shield them from danger and destruction.

He acted for their good, their personal advantage. The preposi-

tion was also used to convey the thought of substitution, a truth

brought out in the latter part of the picture (vv. 24-25).

            "Leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps" states

the abiding import of His example. "You" (u[mi?n,5 "to you"), stand-

ing emphatically forward, stresses the application of His example

to these servants. Christ's treatment as a much-abused slave

made His example especially significant for them. "Leaving"

(u[polimpa<nwn, "leaving behind"), a verbal form found only here

in the Greek Bible6 implies that Christ's experiences here on

earth terminated with His ascension, but the present tense

marks the abiding significance of His example for His followers.

 



34        Bibliotheca Sacra — January-March 1982

 

            Christ left His followers "an example" (u[pogrammo>n, another

rare term appearing only here in the New Testament), denoting a

model to be copied by the novice. The term, literally an "under-

writing," could refer to a writing or drawing which was placed

under another sheet to be retraced on the upper sheet by the

pupil. More probably the reference is to the "copy-head" which

the teacher placed at the top of the page, to be reproduced by the

student. Another possibility is the suggestion that the reference

is to an artist's sketch, the details of which were to be filled in by

others. Under any view, the example was not left merely to be

admired but to be followed line by line, feature by feature.

            "For you to follow in His steps" asserts the purpose in citing

Christ's example. But the asserted purpose changes the figure:

Christ's example now becomes the guide along a difficult way.

"His steps," elaborated in what follows, become the guide to

direct the course of their own lives. His footprints beckon them to

follow. Having accepted Him as Savior, they are challenged to

follow His example. Those footsteps lead into the valley of humil-

iation and pain, in fact, into the lowest and darkest depths; but

they also assuredly lead through the valley, ending at the throne

in glory.

            The words "follow in" render the compound verb

e]pakolouqh<shte, which means "to follow upon, to devote oneself

to" that which is followed, and so it denotes a close and diligent

following. The use of the aorist tense implies Peter's confidence

that his readers will actually follow the example set before them.

The preposition e]pi< ("upon") in this compound verb does not

literally convey the familiar rendering "follow in His steps."7  While

the force of the preposition might be regarded as intensive, to

"follow closely," it is more natural to take its force as marking

direction: they must follow "upon" the line that His footprints

mark out. This compound verb occurs also in Mark 16:20 and 1

Timothy 5:10, and in neither case does it denote stepping pre-

cisely in the footprints being followed. The picture is rather that

of following in the direction that the steps lead. In the elaboration

which follows it is soon obvious that failing human beings can-

not always place their feet exactly in the steps of the Lord Jesus.

Niebor aptly suggests that the situation is "like a little boy follow-

ing his father through the snow. The father takes far too long

steps for the boy to step in them, but he can go the same way his

father went."8 In his work on Patience Tertullian (ca. 160-ca.

2209) developed at some length the various aspects of Christ's

 



Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of 1 Peter 2:21-25 35

 

patient sufferings and concluded, "Patience such as this no mere

man had ever practiced!"10 Sinful men need more than a perfect

example; they first need a Savior.

 

                The Portrayal of Christ's Exemplary Sufferings

 

            In verses 22-25 Peter used four relative clauses to develop the

picture of Christ's sufferings. In verses 22-23 the focus is on His

exemplary sufferings. Peter's picture of the model Sufferer is

both negative and positive. In verses 22-23a he enumerates four

things He did not do, and verse 23b names the central feature in

what He did do.

 

WHAT HE DID NOT DO (vv. 22-23a)

            The first relative clause, setting forth two negative features

(v. 22), declares the unmerited character of His sufferings: "who

committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth. " "Who

committed no sin" (o{j a[marti<an ou]x e]poi<hsen) asserts His sinless-

ness in the realm of conduct. The aorist tense of the verb asserts

that not in a single instance did He succumb to an act of sin. He

performed many deeds but none that was sinful, falling short of

the divine standard. This testimony by one who was closely

associated with Jesus during His entire earthly ministry cannot

be lightly set aside. In 1:19 Peter declared Christ's unblemished

character; here he asserted His unique sinless conduct. Christ's

sinlessness is explicitly declared in 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews

4:15; 7:26; and 1 John 3:5. And it is asserted by Christ Himself in

confronting His enemies (John 8;46), and affirmed by Him before

His disciples just before His death (John 14:30). The testimony of

history has sustained the claim. He demonstrated His sin-

lessness under the most intense provocation and undeserved

suffering.

            Neither were His sufferings due to sinful speech: "nor was

any deceit found in His mouth" (ou]de> eu[re<qh do<loj e]n t&? sto<mati

au]tou?). The verb "found" is stronger than "was" and indicates

that His speech passed the most rigorous scrutiny of His ene-

mies. No evidence of guile, so characteristic of fallen man (cf.

2:1), could be detected in His words. "Sinlessness as to the

mouth is a mark of perfection"11 (cf. James 3:2). This confirms

the purity of His heart (Matt. 12:34-35). This aspect of Christ's

example was "particularly applicable to slaves in the empire,

where glib, deceitful speech was one of their notorious character-

 



36        Bibliotheca Sacra — January-March 1982

 

istics, adroit evasions and excuses being often their sole means

of self-protection."12 Christian slaves are reminded that in their

trials they must look to the Lord Jesus and strive to copy His

innocence and truth.

            The second relative clause, consisting of two further nega-

tive features (v. 23a), depicts Christ's patient endurance under

suffering, again in word and action. Both parts are constructed

alike, consisting of a present tense participle which pictures the

scene taking place, followed by an imperfect tense verb which

permits one to contemplate Christ's resolute refusal to engage in

the kind of response contemplated. Both are further manifesta-

tions of His uniqueness.

            "And while being reviled, He did not revile in return" (o{j

loidorou<menoj ou]k a]nteloido<rei) may more literally be rendered,

who, being reviled, was not reviling again." This would better

preserve the parallel with the structure in verse 23. This verb,

which denotes the hurling of insulting and abusive language at

an opponent, is not used in any of the Gospels to describe the

experiences of Jesus; but they do record various occasions when

His enemies spoke bitterly and viciously against Him. They said

"he was possessed with a devil. They called him a Samaritan, a

glutton, a wine-bibber, a blasphemer, a demoniac, one in league

with Beelzebub, a perverter of the nation, and a deceiver of the

people."13  While the present participle makes room for all these

varied charges, it seems that Peter had especially in view the

scene during Christ's trials and crucifixion, events during which

the normal human urge to "revile in return" (a]nteloido<rei) would

be especially strong. The use of this compound form creates a

wordplay not found elsewhere in the New Testament. When at

times the Lord did speak in severe words to His bitter opponents

(cf. Matt. 23), He was not simply returning abuse for abuse but

was seeking to convict them of their error. What He said was

never a mere outburst of personal hatred against His detractors.

            "While suffering, He uttered no threats" (pa<sxwn ou]k

h]pei<lei, "suffering, he was not threatening") climaxes His nega-

tive response in the realm of deed. While the linear action in the

verbal forms may again be understood of His habitual conduct,

the Passion scenes seem clearly in view. He was subjected to

severe physical sufferings: He was struck in His face, crowned

with thorns, beaten with a reed, savagely scourged, forced to bear

His own cross, and crucified, the most painful method of execu-

tion ever devised. Yet through it all He never threatened retalia-

 



Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of 1 Peter 2:21-25 37

 

tory revenge on His tormentors, nor even predicted that they

would be duly punished for it. It had been noted that some of the

early Christian martyrs could not resist the natural urge to

threaten their executioners with divine punishment. Even the

Apostle Paul on one occasion, when abused in court, did not

resist the temptation (Acts 23:3). Mistreated slaves at times

threatened revenge in some near or distant future.

            Peter's picture of what Jesus did not do seems clearly molded

by his memory of the messianic picture in Isaiah 53:6-7. Yet

rather than quoting that passage, he gave his own confirmatory

witness, thereby underlining the veracity of the prophetic por-

trayal.

            Viewed in the light of normal human reactions, such a nega-

tive response on the part of Jesus under the most intense suffer-

ing marks Him as unique. D. M. Stearns, after a forceful sermon

on "Christ Our Saviour," was accosted by a man with the chal-

lenge, "Why don't you preachers preach about Jesus as our ex-

ample?" Stearns replied, "And if I preach Him as example, will

you follow Him?" "Yes!" replied the man confidently, "that's ex-

actly what I believe, following Jesus as our example." "Fine,"

nodded the preacher, "let's see what the Bible says." Turning to 1

Peter 2:21, he read about Christ "leaving us an example, that ye

should follow his steps" (AV). "That's it," said the man, "that's

what I believe." "And will you walk in His steps as here enumer-

ated?" insisted the preacher. The man declared that that was

what he was trying to do. "’Who did no sin,’– the preacher read.

"Can you take that step?" The man's response was surprised

silence. "’Neither was guile found in his mouth’; can you take

that step?" The man stood in bewildered silence. “’Who, when he

was reviled, reviled not again': can you take that step?" Met by

total silence, Stearns emphatically declared, "Man, what you

need first of all is a Savior."

 

WHAT HE DID DO (v. 23b)

            "But" (de>) marks the transition to the positive. The particle

here does not stress contrast but serves to introduce a further

aspect of the picture. The sufferings of Christ are exemplary also

in what He did do.

            One statement gathers up the essence of His positive re-

sponse to unjust suffering: He "kept entrusting Himself to Him

who judges righteously." The imperfect tense underlines that He

did this repeatedly, as injustice after injustice was being heaped

 



38        Bibliotheca Sacra — January-March 1982

 

upon Him. The verb paredi<dou basically means "to hand over"

and was commonly used of delivering up a criminal to the police

or a court for punishment (Matt. 26:14-16; Mark 14:41-42; John

19:11, 16). Here it states Christ's own action of "entrusting" or

"handing over" and the dative of the One to whom the committal

is made. The form is active, not reflexive, yet no object of what is

handed over is added. Rotherham indicates this lack of a stated

object in his rendering, "was making surrender unto him that

judgeth righteously."14 Different suggestions as to the implied

object are made. Various commentators15 and versions16 agree

that "Himself" is the intended object. This addition agrees with

the nature of Peter's example, the Passion story in the Gospels,

the explicit use of the verb in Galatians 2:20 and Ephesians 5:2,

25; and it offers a parallel to the case of the suffering servants

being addressed. It is also acceptable to supply something like

"his cause"17 in keeping with the reference to the righteous

Judge. Kelly, who finds support for such an addition in Jeremiah

11:20 and in Josephus (The Antiquities of the Jews 4.33; 7.199),

asserts, "The point is, not that the Lord was concerned about His

own fate, but that, confident though He was of His righteous-

ness, He preferred to leave its vindication to God rather than take

action Himself against His enemies."18 Then the message to the

suffering servants is that they must avoid all retaliation for un-

just treatment and leave the matter in the hands of a just God.

Less likely is the suggestion of Alford that "them," that is, His

enemies, should be supplied. For support for this suggestion he

appeals to the prayer of Jesus on the cross, "Father, forgive

them" (Luke 23:34).19

            The active voice of the verb "kept entrusting" indicates that

this was the deliberate, volitional response of Jesus. And it is

precisely here that suffering believers can truly walk "in'' His

steps. As failing mortals they cannot fully place their feet "in" His

prior footprints, which manifest His sinlessness, but by His

grace they can resolutely commit themselves to follow His

example of unreservedly entrusting themselves to God in all

circumstances.

            Christ committed Himself "to Him who judges righteously"

(t&? xri<nonti dikai<wj), the One characterized as the righteous

Judge.20 Peter had described God in 1:17 as impartial in His

judgments, judging "without respect of persons." His judgments

are the outcome of His character. In judging "righteously" His

verdicts fully conform to the standard of truth and justice. With

 



Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of 1 Peter 2:21-25 39

 

this assurance believers, following the example of Christ, can

confidently commit their vindication to Him. Stibbs suggested a

different application of this entrustment on the part of Christ:

"Because voluntarily, and in fulfillment of God's will, He was

taking the sinner's place and bearing sin, He did not protest at

what He had to suffer. Rather He consciously recognized that it

was the penalty righteously due to sin."21 This view naturally

leads to a deeper aspect of Christ's sufferings.

 

               The Portrayal of Christ's Redemptive Sufferings

 

            For Peter a picture of the sufferings of Christ would be fatally

incomplete without a reference to His redemptive sufferings. For

him the suffering Christ "was not only a Model but a Mediator."22

At the heart of the gospel stands the message that man's salva-

tion was accomplished through His atoning sufferings. And His

redemptive sufferings have practical implications for believers.

Peter stated the nature of these sufferings (v. 24a), indicated

their redemptive purpose (v. 24b), and depicted the resultant

experiences of the redeemed (vv. 24c-25).

 

THE NATURE OF HIS REDEMPTIVE SUFFERINGS (v. 24a)

            "And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross"

declares the essence of these sufferings. In the original these

words, a third relative clause in the description of Christ the

Sufferer, mark a close connection between man's sins and Jesus'

sufferings: o{j ta>j a[marti<aj h[mw?n au]to>j a]nh<negken e]n t&? sw<mati

au]tou? e]pi> to> cu<lon ("who the sins of us Himself bore up in

His body upon the tree"). "Our sins" stands emphatically forward,

while “He Himself” stresses the personal identity of the Sufferer.

            The word a[marti<a ("sin") is "the most comprehensive term

for moral obliquity" in the New Testament.23  It basically portrays

a falling short of the target or missing the mark, and thus char-

acterizes sin as a falling short of God's standard and purpose for

man. But in the New Testament the concept is not merely nega-

tive; it also involves a positive element of willful disobedience to

the' known will of God. The plural "sins" embodies the multitude

of sins committed since man's fall. "Our" is confessional; Peter

united himself with his readers in acknowledging his own share

in this mass of sins.

            These sins “He Himself” (o{j . . . au]to>j) bore on the cross.

Alone He suffered to deal with these sins, "there being none other

 



40        Bibliotheca Sacra — January-March 1982

 

but Himself who could have done it."24  Unlike the imperfect

tenses in verse 23, "bore" (a]nh<negken) is aorist tense, depicting

not a repeated practice but a definite occurrence. This verb,

which means "to carry up, to bring from a lower place to a

higher," is a ritual term; in the Septuagint it is used of bringing a

sacrifice and laying it on the altar (Gen. 8:20; Lev. 14:20; 17:5; 2

Chron. 35:16; etc.). In James 2:21 it is used of Abraham bringing

his son Isaac up on the altar. Clearly Isaiah 53:12 was in Peter's

mind, "He Himself bore the sin of many." Peter's thought cen-

tered on the final sacrificial act, not the preparatory bringing up.

But he did not imply that man's sins were the sacrifice which

Christ laid on the altar; for him this would be an impossible

thought, since nothing unholy could be offered to God as a

sacrifice. Rather, Christ Himself as the sinless One (2:22) was so

identified with man's sins that as his Substitute He bore the

consequences of those sins. In the words of Selwyn, "He took the

blame for them; suffered the ‘curse’ of them (cf. Deut. xxi. 23,

quoted in Gal. iii. 13), which is separation from God; and en-

dured their penal consequences."25  "He made Him who knew no

sin to be sin on our behalf" (2 Cor. 5:21a). Christ's death was not

that of a heroic martyr dying for a rejected cause; it was redemp-

tive and substitutionary in nature.

            "In His body" does not mean that His redemptive sufferings

were limited to His body in contrast to His soul. Rather, His body

was the means through which His self-sacrifice was accom-

plished (Heb. 10:5). The crucifixion scene was naturally depicted

in reference to His body visibly suspended on the cross. The One

who suffered on that cross was no Docetic Christ who only

seemed to have a body. The mention of His physical body ties

these redemptive sufferings to the incarnate Christ of

history.

            "On the cross" (e]pi> to> cu<lon, lit., "upon the tree") is a typical

Petrine expression (cf. Acts 5:30; 10:39). The noun, which

means "wood," or "made of wood," can denote a wooden instru-

ment used for punishment, whether stocks for the feet (Acts

16:24) or as here a wooden beam on which a criminal was sus-

pended. Plumptre suggested that Peter "in writing to slaves, may

have chosen it as bringing home to their thoughts the parallel-

ism between Christ's sufferings and their own."26 But apparently

Peter used the term because, in the light of Deuteronomy 21:22-

23 (cf. Gen. 46:19; Josh. 10:26), it implied that the One thus

suspended on wood was under a curse (Gal. 3:13). It involved the

 



Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of :1 Peter 2:21-25            41

 

deep shame of implied criminality. He expiated the curse of sin

on the cross in man's stead.

 

THE PURPOSE OF HIS REDEMPTIVE SUFFERINGS (v. 24b)

            Christ's redemptive sufferings had a practical purpose: "that

we might die to sin and live to righteousness. " The former aspect

relates to the believer's sinful past, while the latter depicts God's

purpose for his present life. An experiential realization of the

release from sins makes possible a vital personal entry into a life

of righteousness. "That we might die to sin" marks the negative

purpose in Christ's redemptive sufferings. These words render

an aorist participial construction in the original:  i!na tai?j

a[marti<aij a]pogeno<menoi ("in order that from the sins having

gotten away"). The participle occurs only here in the New Testa-

ment and not at all in the Septuagint. Its root meaning is "to be off

from, to have no part in" something; by classical writers it was

used to mean "cease to exist" as a euphemism for death. The

aorist tense marks a definite break with sin and looks back to the

time of their conversion. The dative "sins" (tai?j a[marti<aij) indi-

cates the relationship that has been terminated: "to have ceased

in relation to the sins." The plural denotes all the sins in the

past, those for which Christ died. In the believer's union with

Christ, whose death effected the termination of sin's guilt and

domination, the believer has been freed from the demands of

sin on him (Rom. 6:2; Col. 3:3). In Him the power of the tyrants

of sin has been broken, enabling the believer, now to be done

with sins and, by the power of the indwelling Spirit, to enjoy

liberation (Rom. 6:11; 8:12-13).

            The redemption from sin is intended to have a practical effect

in daily life, "that we might ... live to righteousness." Peter's

word order, t^? dikaiosu<n^ zh<swmen ("to the righteousness

we might live") makes prominent the new relationship in this life.

The goal of the new life is "the righteousness," that righteousness

which God's righteousness and holiness require in His saints and

which the indwelling Holy Spirit works in and through His

people. The singular, "righteousness," in contrast to the plural,

"the sins," implies the unitary nature of this new life, marked by

submissive obedience to God and His will in daily life. "That"

(i!na) with the aorist subjunctive, "should live," means that the

redeemed must actually enter in on such a life of righteousness.

Only in this way is the full purpose of the Cross realized.

 



42        Bibliotheca Sacra — January-March 1982

 

THE RESULT OF HIS REDEMPTIVE SUFFERINGS (vv. 24c-25)

            Peter's fourth relative clause, "by His wounds you were

healed," turns to the result in the experience of the redeemed.

The words are an allusion to Isaiah 53:5, "And by His scourging

we are healed," but the change to the second person, "you,"

brings the whole picture sharply back to its application to the

suffering servants.

            The reference to the means of healing, "by His wounds,"

touched a tender chord in the hearts of these slaves; their Lord's

experience of the painful ignominy of scourging had poignant

appeal from the personal experience of many of them. The singu-

lar noun, here rendered "wounds," denotes the bruise or bloody

weal resulting from a sharp blow to the flesh, and is best viewed as

collective. The literal reference is to the scourging which

Christ endured, but possibly the picture may be understood as

including all the sufferings which terminated in His death.

            By Christ's stripes the wounds that sin had inflicted on their

souls "were healed" (i]a<qhte), not merely "will be healed." The

forgiveness of their sins in regeneration brought about their

experience of imparted spiritual wholeness. Peter's words involve

a striking paradox, well summed up by Theodoret (ca. 393-ca.

458) in his oft-quoted exclamation, "A new and strange method

of healing; the doctor suffered the cost, and the sick received the

healing!"

            "For" (ga>r) marks verse 25 as explanatory; it explains how

and from what state they came to their experience of spiritual

healing. "You were continually straying like sheep" pictures their

previous lost condition. This reference to straying sheep is an

allusion to Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray." But

"you" again applies the figure to the slaves, characterized now

not as slaves but as ordinary fallen sinners. Possibly Peter also

had in mind the Lord's picture in Matthew 9:36.  But this com-

mon biblical figure is not a complimentary comparison, since

sheep are notoriously stupid, prone to stray, and helpless to find

their way back.

            "But" (a]lla>), a strong adversative, marks the decisive

change that has taken place. "Now you have returned to the

Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." "Now" (nu?n) underlines

the contrast between their past and present states. "Have re-

turned" (e]pestra<fhte, "were turned about") implies that they

were headed in the wrong direction, away from God, but were

 



Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of .1 Peter 2:21-25            43

 

arrested and turned back. They have discovered "that the natural

place for the sheep is in the flock with the shepherd."27

            Their conversion brought them into personal union with

"the Shepherd and Guardian" (to>n poime<na kai> e]pi<skopon), one

individual identified under two aspects. In the New Testament

the shepherd is a familiar figure of Christ (Mark 14:27; John

10:1-18; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 7:17). While some, like

Mitchell, here refer the figure to "God the Father,"28  the natural

reference is to Christ who performs all the functions of the

shepherd in relation to His sheep.

            The term "Guardian," used of Christ only here in the New

Testament, is to be taken in close relationship with "Shepherd."

Derived from the verb, e]piskope<w, which means "to look at, to

care for, to oversee," the noun designates one who inspects some-

thing or someone and keeps watch over it or him; hence he is an

"overseer." In the New Testament the term is used in close asso-

ciation with the pastoral function (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Pet.

5:2-4)

            The double designation assured the afflicted readers of

Christ's full care for His own. He not only leads and feeds and

sustains His own, but He also guides and directs and protects

them. As Shepherd and Guardian He cares for their "souls," their

true inner selves. The Christian slaves addressed are reminded

that their bodies may be subject to the power and caprice of

harsh masters, but their inner life is under the constant watch

care of their Great Shepherd.

            The rich development of the teaching in this passage can

only leave the readers with a strong assurance of "the overflowing

fulness of the Christian message.... It is the glory of Christianity

not only that it is divine; it brings the divine to our level. It works

in clay, and transfigures it. It touches duty, and transforms it."29

 

                                                            Notes

 

1   Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Private Translation in the Lan-

guage of the People (reprint ed., Chicago: Moody Press, n.d.).

2   John Ed. Huther, "Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the General Epistles of

Peter and Jude," in Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New

Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. 1881). p. 138.

3   John Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, trans. John Owen

(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1948), p. 89.

4   The Textus Receptus reads h[mw?n ("us"). Modern textual editors hold that

manuscript evidence and transcriptional probabilities support the second per-

son, "you," as the original reading. For the evidence see The Greek New Testa-

ment, 3d ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1975).

 



44        Bibliotheca Sacra — January-March 1982

 

5   The Textus Receptus here also reads the first person. See note 4.

6   It is a by-form for u[polei<pw which occurs in the Septuagint as well as in the

New Testament.

7   "In His steps" is the rendering in NASB, NW, RSV, NEB, TEV; and in the

Rotherham, Darby, 20th Century New Testament, Weymouth, Montgomery, New

Berkeley, Kleist and Lilly versions. "Follow his steps" is the translation in the AV

and in Young, Moffatt, Goodspeed, and Williams. "Follow the way he took" is the

Jerusalem Bible rendering.

8   J. Niebor, A Practical Exposition of I Peter (Erie, PA: Our Daily Walk Publisher,

n.d.), p. 168.

9   The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. "Tertullian,"

by D. F. Wright, p. 960.

10   Tertullian Patience 3. 10.

11   Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical

and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, vol. 2: New Testament

(reprint ed., Hartford, CT: S. S. Scranton Co., n.d.), p. 506.

12   James Moffatt, "The General Epistles, James, Peter, and Judas," in The

Moffatt New Testament Commentary (reprinted. , London: Hodder & Stoughton,

1947), p. 127.

13   James Macknight, A New Literal Translation from the Original Greek of All

the Apostolical Epistles, with a Commentary, and Notes (1821; reprint ed.,

Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969), 4:464.

14   Joseph Bryant Rotherham, The Emphasized New Testament (reprint ed.,

Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1959).

15   Francis Wright Beare, The First Epistle of Peter (Oxford: Basil Blackwell,

1970), p. 149; Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the

Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, International Critical Commentary (Edin-

burgh: T. & T. Clark, 1910), p. 146; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the

Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book

Concern, 1938), p. 123; Allan M. Stibbs, The First Epistle General of Peter,

Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (London: Tyndale Press, 1959), pp. 118-

19.

16   “Himself” is used in the AV, NASB, NW; and in Young, Darby, 20th Century

New Testament, New Berkeley, Kleist and Lilly.

17   "His cause" is the wording in NEB, Weymouth, Montgomery; "His case" is

the Goodspeed and Williams translation; and "everything" is the reading in

Moffatt.

18   J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and of Jude, Harper's

New Testament Commentaries (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), p. 121.

19   Henry Alford, The Greek Testament (1859; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Baker

Book House, 1980), 4.354.

20   The Vulgate has the singular reading "to him that judged him unjustly," as

though the Greek adverb were negative, a!dikwj. With this reading the reference is

to Pilate, but the reading has no manuscript support.

21   Stibbs, The First Epistle General of Peter, p. 119.

22   Charles S. Ball, "First and Second Peter," in The Wesleyan Bible Commen-

tary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1966), 6:263.

23   W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 4 vols. in 1

(Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966), 4:32.

24   Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory,

p. 506.

25   Edward Gordon Selwyn, The First Epistle of St. Peter, 2d ed. (London:

Macmillan & Co., 1974; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), p.

180.



Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of 1 Peter 2:21-25 45

 

26   E. H. Plumptre, The General Epistles of St Peter & St Jude, The Cambridge

Bible for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1893), p. 119.

27    Ernest Best, "I Peter," in New Century Bible Based on the Revised Standard

Version (London: Oliphants. 1971), p. 123.

28   A. F. Mitchell, "Hebrews and the General Epistles." in The Westminster New

Testament (London: Andrew Melrose, 1911). p. 257.

29   J. M. E. Ross, "The First Epistle of Peter," in A Devotional Commentary

(London: Religious Tract Society, n.d.), p. 125.

 

 

 

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

            3909 Swiss Ave.

            Dallas, TX   75204          

www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu