1 Peter 2:1-3
1 Ἀποθέμενοι οὖν πᾶσαν κακίαν καὶ πάντα δόλον καὶ ὑποκρίσεις καὶ φθόνους καὶ πάσας καταλαλιὰς 2 ὡς ἀρτιγέννητα βρέφη τὸ λογικὸν ἄδολον γάλα ἐπιποθήσατε, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ αὐξηθῆτε εἰς σωτηρίαν, 3 εἰ ἐγεύσασθε ὅτι χρηστὸς ὁ κύριος.
We discover the four command in this series in v. 2 ἐπιποθήσατε. The writer places a great amount of information before the verb, including the direct object, an adverbial participle, and a simile. The adverbial aorist middle participle ἀποθέμενοι (ἀποτίθημι) defines an action that forms of the context of the imperative. It could be causal, temporal or circumstantial in nuance. The middle form indicates the involvement of the subject in the action, i.e., the sense of ‘removing’ something similar to an article of clothing. He marks this imperative with the particle οὖν indicating that it is the logical next step in this progression of commands, but assumes that they are now accomplished and so the next stage can be addressed. The content of the adverbial participle clause seems to reflect the call to holiness and to sincere love. The object of the participle is a compound noun structure comprising five different elements, all joined by the conjunction καί. In lists this conjunction serves to give a bit of emphasis to each element. Items 1°, 2°, 5° have πᾶσαν as a modifier, indicating total removal of this kind of action. Items 3° and 4° do not and this has led some to conjecture that these elements are intended to add detail to the second element, πάντα δόλον, using καί…καί both…and as a correlative (“both hypocrisies and envies”). These five lexemes describe internal thoughts and motives, as well as sins of communication. Why are these selected as primary examples of what Jesus’ followers no longer practice?
The writer introduces a simile using ὡσεί. The head noun in the comparison functions as the subject of an implied ἐπιποθήσατε. The attributive adjective ἀτιγέννητα “just-born, fresh-born” is rare, with one previous attestation according to LSJ (249) and this is its only occurrence in the NT. It resonates semantically with the previous ἀναγεννάω. Βρέφη describes a new-born infant. So this simile defines the subject of the verb in some sense. The direct object τὸ λογικὸν ἄδολον γάλα has a head noun and two attributive adjectives. ἄδολος fits the sense of γάλα, describing pure, unadulterated milk. Given the reference to new-born infant, presumably the image is a baby that is nursing from its mother. The first adjective, however, is surprising in this context. λόγικος is cognate with λόγος (used in 1:23) and overlaps somewhat in meaning with ῥῆμα (1:25). It would seem that the writer is referencing these earlier uses through this related adjective. The adjective means “related to speech or reason.” By using this adjective the writer demonstrates that he is not talking about literal milk, but metaphorical milk that nourishes believers spiritually and is related either to the gospel message or to the processing of this message such that it alters behavior.
The main verb ἐπιποθέω means “long for, desire.” The translator of Ps 41.2 used it to describe how a follower of Yahweh yearns for him, like a dear for fresh water. The verb occurs numerous times in the NT to describe how one person yearns to see another. The following ἵνα clause probably describes the purpose for this command. Such “nourishment” is essential for spiritual growth. ἐν αὐτῷ references the “milk” and describes means. The aorist subjunctive passive verb ἀυξηθῆτε (αὐξάνω) “grow, increase.” The passive form may have a middle sense here. εἰς σωτηρίαν defines the goal or end point of this growth. So the verb’s meaning needs to be taken metaphorically. For σωτηρία see 1:5, 9, 10 – the only uses in 1 Peter.
The conditional clause seems to be an allusion to Psalm 34 (33 LXX):9, a Psalm also quoted in 3:10-12:
γεύσασθε καὶ ἴδετε ὅτι χρηστὸς ὁ κύριος· μακάριος ἀνήρ, ὃς ἐλπίζει ἐπ’ αὐτόν.
The writer borrows wording and casts it as a first class condition. γεύσασθε, an imperative form in the Psalm, becomes an aorist middle tense form ἐγεύσασθε in 1 Peter, with the middle indicating the involvement of the subject in some perception. He links the idea of “tasting” with the metaphor of milk desired by a new-born infant, as well as with entrance of his audience into the people of God. Since the previous metaphor has to do with food, καὶ ἴδετε from the Psalm does not fit the context in 1 Peter. The ὅτι clause probably is a content clause functioning as the object of the main verb. It contains a nominal sentence. The predicate adjective comes first, perhaps for emphasis. χρηστός (טוב) in reference to food means “wholesome, nourishing” and in regards to persons “good, worthy, true, deserving.” There is probably a play on words with χρηστός/Χριστός that would have been pronounced the same. In the Psalm ὁ κύριος renders יהוה. Who is to be identified as ὁ κύριος in 1 Peter (cf. 1:3, 25)?
1 Peter 2:4-6
4 πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι λίθον ζῶντα ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων μὲν ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον, παρὰ δὲ θεῷ ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον, 5 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 6 διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ·
ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον, καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ’ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ.
Technically vv. 4-6 form an extended relative clause (πρὸς ὅν) whose main verb is οἰκοδομεῖσθε, functioning as an indicative, not an imperative. It is part of the complex sentence we evaluated in vv. 1-3. The adverbial, nominative plural, present participial construction πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι modifies the subject-verb complex οἰκοδομεῖσθε. It probably has a temporal function, indicating an action contemporary with that of the main verb it modifies. The adverbial phrase πρὸς ὅν describes “motion,” modifying the participle, but here is metaphorical indicating spiritual relationship with the referent of the relative pronoun, ὁ κύριος. This agent is further identified in the appositional accusative noun λίθον ζῶντα. The noun is qualified by an attributive present participle ζῶντα (cf. 1:3, 23; emphasized by the theme of resurrection and new birth). This noun has additional qualification in the following μέν…δέ contrast. The first element is an attributive, perfect passive participle ἀποδεδομιμασμένον (“rejected”; cf. 2.7) and the second is the phrase ἐλεκτὸν ἔντιμον (cf. 2:6), formed from two adjectives (for similar constructions see 1:7, 20). This terminology anticipates the quotations from Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 117:22. Also, consider how many perfect participles the writer has already used in the first chapter. Why so many? ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων defines the agent of the perfect passive participle. It is contrasted with the following παρὰ θεῷ. As with the previous ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις (1:1), we have two adjectives (ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον) either of which could be the substantive and the other the corresponding adjective. The adjectives are accusative singular, linking them with the prior λίθον. παρὰ θεῷ probably has the sense “in the judgment, perspective of.”
The subject of the present passive (or middle) indicative οἰκοδομεῖσθε is second person plural, referring to the writer’s audience. καὶ αὐτοί is a double emphatic with the ascensive καί and the self-referential pronoun αὐτοί, “even you, yourselves….” The subject has two additional modifiers. The first is the simile ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες (attributive present active participle), picking up the prior description of the Messiah in this verse (λίθον ζῶντα), and the complement, οἶκος πνευματικός. Its nominative form indicates to me that the verb is passive, not middle. The object-complement structure has become the subject, the normal passive transformation (οἰκοδομέω + acc. object + acc. complement = to construct/build something as a something). What is the writer claiming in applying the same descriptor to the Messiah as to his followers (i.e., “living stone”)? The repetition of the οἶκος language gives prominence to the construction metaphor and also can be interpreted as a familial metaphor, reflecting the “new birth, infants, sons, inheritance” language. Here it can reference a “new temple” or a “new family.” Consider the phrase ὁ οἶκος τοῦ θεοῦ used in 4:17. What does πνευματικός mean here? Something related to the Holy Spirit? Something that is not a literal house? Something that is part of the heavenly reality? Why is the adjective in the predicate position?
The writer defines God’s ultimate goal in this activity in the adverbial phrase εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον. So the οἶκος is equated with the ἱεράτευμα. This noun is not attested prior to its appearance in Ex. 19:5-6. I think it was created within the Alexandrian Jewish community of the 3rd century BCE to explain the “constitution and identity” of the Jewish people within the Ptolemaic kingdom, analogous to the term πολίτευμα (an organized political entity with its own laws). It defines the Jewish people as a community of priests formed around specific ethical values and religious rituals, but they are not a separate political entity, so that the Ptolemaic dynasty has nothing to fear from them politically. The writer of this letter uses this term now to define the emerging Christian community. Perhaps he has a similar concern related to the Roman authorities and suspicions about the nature of these house churches and this new religion. By using the term he shows that the Christian movement is no different from Judaism, a legal religion in the empire, and that it has no political pretensions.
The writer defines the purpose of this new entity strictly in religious terms, using an infinitive of purpose ἀνενέγκαι (aorist active infinitive of ἀναφέρω), used regularly to define the offering of sacrifices. In this case it is πνευματικὰς θυσίας. The predicate adjective εὐπροσδέκτους indicates that these sacrifices (however defined) are now “acceptable, well-pleasing” θεῷ (dative of reference). διά + genitive defines the intermediate agency by which such sacrifices are acceptable.
The writer provides a rationale for these declarations, based on a quote from Isaiah 28:16. The quotation is introduced by the formula διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ. The use of the present active indicative verb περιέχω in such a formula is unique in the NT. Josephus Antiquities 11.215 uses this verb to describe the contents of the edict Haman had the king authorize for the killing of Jews (Esther 3). ἐν γραφῇ describes the collection of documents in which this quotation is contained. (cf. Romans 9:13)
Isaiah 28:16 LXX ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐμβαλῶ εἰς τὰ θεμέλια Σιων λίθον πολυτελῆ ἐκλεκτὸν ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἔντιμον εἰς τὰ θεμέλια αὐτῆς, καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ’ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ.
[NETS “See I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him/it will not be put to shame.”]
MT הנני יסד בציון אבן אבן בחן פנת יקרת מוסד מוסד המאמין לא יחישׂ
[NRSV “See I am laying in Sion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. One who trusts will not panic.”]
The writer condenses the LXX text and in the case of ἐν Σιων seems to reflect the wording of the Hebrew text. ἰδού is a common translation for the Hebrew interjection הנה designed to attract attention of the audience. The writer uses the present indicative tense form τίθημι rather than the future έμβαλῶ, but it is unclear why he makes this substitution. ἐν Σιων is spatial, indicating location. The object is λίθον, modified by three successive adjectives. ἀκρογωνιαῖον describes something “lying in a corner.” The writer changes the word order from the Isaiah text, perhaps to parallel the prior ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον (v. 4). The substantive present participle ὁ πιστεύων functions as the subject of the verb καταισχυνθῇ. The adverbial phrase ἐπὶ αὐτῷ defines the person or thing in which confidence is placed. It is unclear whether it is masculine or neuter in gender. οὐ μή + subjunctive marks a strong prohibition. καταισχυνθῇ is an aorist passive subjunctive form. So the writer has adjusted the wording of the first part of the quotation so that it reflects his epistolary context and focused on the ideas that he wishes to emphasize. The Greek text seems to be Septuagintal in its basic form, but the writer may not have had immediate access to a scroll of Isaiah to verify the wording.
1 Peter 2:7-10
7 ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, ἀπιστοῦσιν δὲ λίθος ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας 8 καὶ λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου· οἳ προσκόπτουσιν τῷ λόγῳ ἀπειθοῦντες εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν. 9 ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν, ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς· 10 οἵ ποτε οὐ λαός, νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι, νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες.
Verses 7-8 provide commentary on the quotation from Isaiah in v. 6. The particle οὖν marks an inference, i.e., “so then,” and is usually postpositive in its placement in its clause. The initial clause is nominal, with a form of the verb εἰμι probably implied. The dative ὑμῖν probably is a dative of possession with ἡ τιμή functioning as the subject, i.e., “the honour belongs to you.” The writer used this noun in 1.7 to describe eschatological honour that will belong to believers when Christ returns. Because they are connected with the λίθον…ἔντιμον then already share in his τιμή. The dative pronoun is modified by the attributive present participle τοἰς πιστεύουσιν (cf. 1.8, 21), picking up the reference to the substantival participle ὁ πιστεύων from the quotation in v. 6.
The second part of v. 7 is marked by δέ and it emphasizes the contrast between τοῖς πιστεύουσιν…ἀπιστοῦσιν. The subject is λίθος (picking up the noun in vv. 4, 6), referenced in οὗτος ἐγενήθη. The prepositional phrase marks a move or change of location for this λίθος, namely εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας, or it may define what this stone has become. The genitive γωνίας defines which “head” is being referenced. λίθος is defined by a relative clause introduced by the accusative pronoun ὅν that functions as the object of the verb ἀπεδοκίμασαν “rejected.” The writer used this verb already in v.4 to describe the living stone as “rejected by men” (perfect passive participle). The subject of this verb is the substantival present participle οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες. These “builders” are contrasted with God who is building his new spiritual house (v. 5), with the Messiah as the initial stone. The clause λίθος…οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες…εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας is the same as text found in
LXXPs. 117.22 (118.22MT): λίθον, ὂν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας·
MT אבן מאסו הבונים היתה לראש פנה
The writer does not introduce this with a citation formula as in v. 6, but simply works it into his text. Jesus uses this same text in his conclusion to the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-12). The writer uses the Septuagint form of the quotation without variation.
Verse 8 incorporates phrases that are similar to wording found in Isaiah 8.14 and that continue the λίθος motif:
λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου
καὶ οὐχ ὡς λίθου προσκόμματι συναντήσεσθε αὐτῷ οὐδὲ ὡς πέτρας πτώματι
(and you will not encounter him (Yahweh) as a stumbling caused by a stone nor as a fall caused by a rock…. NETS)
[MT לאבן נגף ולצור מכשול “a stone one strikes against…a rock one stumbles over”]
While three of the terms are similar to wording in Isaiah 8.14, the syntax is different from the LXX version and reflects the syntax found in the MT version (bound constructions with אבן…צור being the head nouns. Aquila’s translation, done about 30-40 years after 1 Peter is written apparently rendered the Hebrew as εις λιθον προσκομματος…εις στερεον σκανδαλου, but there are variants. I suspect that the writer has some knowledge of the Hebrew text and paraphrases it using his own Greek terminology. Again the writer gives no indication that he is alluding to any OT texts. These phrases function as predicate nominatives, following ἐγενήθη and the dative substantival present participle ἀπιστοῦσιν defines for whom these obstacles occur. The genitives προσκομματος…σκανδάλου indicate the product.
The relative clause modifies ἀπιστοῦσιν with the relative pronoun serving as the subject of the relative clause. προσκόπτουσιν is a present active indicative tense form indicating incomplete aspect and it is cognate with the previous προσκόμματος. The dative noun λόγῳ could either describe that which causes the stumbling or offense (cf. 1.23-25) or it may mark the object of the following adverbial present participle ἀπειθοῦντες “disobeying the word” (cf. 3.1) This may an example of zeugma where one word functions in service of two different terms. The last relative clause indicates that his calamity of “stumbling” is the outcome (εἰς ὅ) to which “they have been appointed” – aorist passive indicative ἐτέθησαν – just as the Messiah has been appointed by Yahweh as the corner stone (v.6). The implied agent of the aorist passive verb probably is Yahweh. The ascensive καί may function to encourage readers to make this connection.
I think that vv. 9-10 also function as one unit. Having defined “those who do not believe” in the Messiah in vv. 7b-8, he now turns his attention to define believers, i.e., his audience. He marks this transition with δέ in v. 9 and the explicit subject ὑμεῖς. Using a nominal clause structure he lists a series of noun phrases to express the new identity of those who have attached themselves to the Messiah. Each of these phrase has prior usage in the Jewish Scriptures:
- γένος ἐκλεκτόν (Isa. 43.20 τὸ γένος μου τὸ ἐκλεκτόν) noun + adjective
- βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα (Ex. 19.6) adjective + noun
- ἔθνος ἅγιον (Ex. 19.6) noun + adjective
- λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν (Isa. 43.21 λαόν μου, ὃν περιεποιησάμην΄ Ex. 19.5 λαὸς περιούσιος) noun + prepositional phrase (of purpose)
In each OT context these phrase identify Israel as Yahweh’s people and express the unique nature of their position because of that relationship. The writer has used ἐκλεκτόν, ἱεράτευμα, ἅγιον previously. He does not signal that he is quoting material from the OT, but rather weaves it into his discourse in a natural fashion. However, probably he expects that some in his audience will hear these echoes and understand what he is claiming for them, as non-Jewish followers of the Messiah. This is the blessing that God has poured out on them through the death and resurrection of Jesus Messiah. περιποιήσις may mean “possessing, possession, property” (BDAG, 804.3; Eph. 1.14) or perhaps “preservation” (LSJ, 1384). Whether it is intended to equal λαὸς περιούσιος as LSJ indicates might be contested. περιούσιος an adjective meaning “being of special status, special” (BDAG, 802; Tit. 2.14). In Ex. 19:5 it defines Israel as “a people that is special beyond all the nations.” The nominal phrase has a slightly different sense, i.e., “a people for possessing/preserving,” and presumably Yahweh is the one possessing or preserving.
βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα – considerable discussion occurs in the literature as to whether this one unit or should be considered two separate and unrelated nominals, i.e., “a kingdom, a priesthood.” Wevers, in his Notes on the Greek Text of Exodus is quite adamant that it is one unit reflecting the bound construction in the Hebrew Vorlage. Scholars such as Elliot, however, can point to the usage in 2 Macc. 2.17 where God remits to all his people τὴν κληρονομίαν…καὶ τὸ βασίλειον καὶ τὸ ἰεράτευμα καὶ τὸν ἁγιασμόν (“heritage and the kingdom, the priesthood and holy way of life” translation by S. Tedesche). In my opinion, the two surrounding noun phrases function as units and this suggests that the one occurring between should be interpreted in the same vein. We should not necessary take 2 Macc 2.17 as our hermeneutical starting point. It represents one way in which the expression might be understood, apart from reference to the Hebrew text.
A second question is whether these noun phrases should be regarded only as collectives, i.e., they expression the identity of the Messiah’s people collectively, but not individually. Elliot, a Catholic scholar, argues this point. He does not accept Luther’s perspective that individual believers are priests in the kingdom of God. This continues to be a point of contention as different parts of the Christian family seek to define the relationship between clergy and laity.
At the end of v. 9 the writer places a purpose clause marked by ὅπως + subjunctive – used about 54 times in the NT, principally in Matthew, Luke-Acts, and Paul’s letters. The more usual way of marking purpose clauses is with ἵνα + subjunctive. It is unclear why a writer chooses to use one conjunction rather than the other in specific contexts. In some classical Greek writers it expresses a purpose that is limited in its manner in some sense (Smyth, Greek Grammar, 493. §2193a) but whether nuance is still operative in the time of the NT is unclear. This is its only usage in 1 Peter and so presumably the writer has chosen it for some reason. It is possible that the writer is paraphrasing part of Isa. 42.12 τὰς ἀρετὰς αὐτοῦ ἐν ταῖς νήσοις ἀναγγελοῦσι, but this is not a necessary conclusion. The writer places the object τὰς ἀρετάς before the verb, giving it prominence. The term may describe “virtues” or “virtuous actions” (BDAG, 130) and often expressed merit that individuals had achieved through civic benevolence. The verb is an aorist subjective active, second person plural tense form “proclaim, report.”
The object ἀρετάς is modified by a genitive, substantival aorist participle τοῦ…καλέσαντος, presumably another reference to God (cf. 1:15). The writer places the object of the participle between the article and the participle, as well as the adverbial phrase ἐκ σκότους. Separating nouns from genitives with the verb is an example of hyperbaton often found in more literary Greek documents. The ἐκ…εἰς construction defines a change in position. Their new location is τὸ θαυμαστὸν…φῶς. The contrast between their former way of life and their place in God’s family is expressed through this symbolism, commonly used in Christian teaching. In this case the light has its source in God (αὐτοῦ). There is some conceptual relationship between φῶς and δόξα.
οἲ looks like a form of the relative pronoun. However, the acute accent occurs because of the following enclitic ποτε. So οἱ is a definite article and in my opinion problem marks two structures that are appositional to ὑμεῖς in v. 9. Notice that the second οἱ does not have an accent and clearly is an article. The article can nominalize anything and here is enables ποτε οὐ λαός, νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ as a noun, i.e., “the ones at one time not a people, but now people of God.” He has identified followers of Jesus in his audience as λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν (v. 9), and now he proceeds to define what kind of λαός they might constitute. There is a temporal contrast marked by the ποτε…νῦν adverb, that underscores the negative-positive contrast. Because the article is not repeated with νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, it seems to be included under the previous article, indicating that we should treat this entire structure as one unit.
The language used in the first appositional structure has some affinity with the terminology used in the Septuagint translation of Hos. 1.9 οὐ λαός μου, διότι ὑμεῖς οὑ λαός μου. The prophet describes the “house of Israel” (v.4) in this way by using this phrase as the name for one of the children that his wife, Gomer, bears. Yahweh announces punishment upon the Northern Kingdom and its demise because of their idolatry. He declares that Israel is “not my people” (v. 9). However, despite the coming judgment, Yahweh declares that those “not my people…will be called children of the living God” (1.10; 2.1, 23(25MT)). The writer of 1 Peter applies this language to people in his audience converted from paganism to Christianity. He does the same thing in the second appositional structure, this time working with the phrases οὐκ ἠλεημένοι…ἐλεηθέντες (1.6, 8; 2.1, 23(25MT)). The first is a perfect passive attributive participle and the second is an aorist passive attributive participle.
1 Peter 2:11-12
11Ἀγαπητοί, παρακαλῶ ὡς παροίκους καὶ παρεπιδήμους ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν σαρκικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς· 12τὴν ἀναστροφὴν ὑμῶν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἔχοντες καλήν, ἵνα ἐν ᾧ καταλαλοῦσιν ὑμῶν ὡς κακοποιῶν ἐκ τῶν καλῶν ἔργων ἐποπτεύοντες δοξάσωσιν τὸν θεὸν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπισκοπῆς.
These two verses form an extended sentence. As the vocative ἀγαπητοί (cf. 4:12) and the 1st pers sg pres ind. act παρακαλῶ (“urge strongly, appeal to, exhort, encourage” BDAG,764.2) (5.1, 12) indicate, we are starting a new section. The writer uses no additional markers to indicate this. The verb is completed by an implied ὑμᾶς (acc.) and infinitive, forming an indirect command (cf. Rom. 12.1; Eph. 4.1). The writer defines the object using the simile ὡς παροίκους καὶ παρεπιδήμους, that is also acc. pl. παροίκους is an adjective that often functions substantively, as here, referring to “strangers” (cf. Acts 7.6 = Gen. 15.13; Eph. 2.19), perhaps more OT language. Here is helps to define παρεπιδήμους (cf. 1.1), perhaps suggesting temporary residents, visitors on official business (used in inscriptions according to BDAG, 775). Also used in the LXX (see comments at 1.1).
The main verb of the indirect command is a present mid. inf. ἀπέχεσθαι, with the middle voice indicating some moral, cognitive, emotional, or other engagement of the subject with the action, with the sense “keep away from, refrain from,” modified by a genitive complement (cf. 1 Thess. 4.3; Acts 15.29). The complement is τῶν σαρκικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν, i.e., desires that belong to the fleshly realm (note 1:24). Context has to determine whether ἐπιθυμία is good or bad. The writer defines these “desires” in the following relative clause. αἵτινες is a relative pronoun that has the sense “that are of the sort.” The main verb is a pres. ind. mid. tense form στρατεύονται that suggests current activity. What might the middle voice indicate here about these desires? Perhaps “negative interaction,” i.e., conflict imposed by one party on another.
[For middle voice and deponency see Neva Mille, “Appendix 2. A Theory of Deponent Verbs,” in Analytical Lexicon of the Greek NT. Timothy and Barbara Friberg. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000. Pp. 423-430]
κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς – adverbial phrase indicating the party attacked. κατά + genitive can describe hostile action. What does ψυχή mean here?
The first clause in v. 12 centers around an adverbial pres. act. participle nominative/vocative masculine plural, ἔχεντες, possibly referencing the previous ἀγαπήτοι or the subject of the infinitive (compare the structure in Eph. 4:1-3 where nominative participles follow an infinitive). It is probably causal providing a basis for the exhortation, but may function as attendant circumstance. The object is fronted and establishes the frame for the participle. The object of the participle is τῆν ἀναστροφὴν (cf. 1.18)…καλήν. The separation of the adjective from its noun indicates that we are dealing with an object-complement structure, with καλήν being the complement. What does καλός mean here and how is it distinguished from ἀγαθός (3.16)? ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν is a spatial modifier indicating where this conduct occurs. How should we translate this noun?
The last clause is a result clause introduced by ἵνα that incorporates a relative clause marked by the phrase ἐν ᾦ. The main verb in the result clause is an aor. subjunctive act. verb δοξάσωσιν, with ἔθνεσιν as subject (cf. 1.8; 4.11, 16). God is always the object as in this case τὸν θεόν. The adverbial phrase ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπισκοπῆς (Isaiah 10.3 καὶ τί ποιήσουσιν ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς; ליום פקדה “day of punishment – common phrase in OT prophets ) expresses dative of time in or at which this activity of glorification occurs. What does the anarthrous form of the phrase in 1 Peter signify in contrast to the arthrous phrase in Isaiah 10 to which it seems related? ἐπισκοπή “watching over, visitation” (LSJ, 657). Perhaps the genitive is merely descriptive. The main structure of the result clause is framed by a pres. act. adverbial participle ἐποπτεύοντες that defines an action contemporaneous with that of the main verb. However, it could also modify the main verb in the relative clause, i.e., καταλαλοῦσιν (“slander, defame speak evil of”; 1 Peter 3.16; James 4.11; cognate noun καταλαλία 1 Peter 2.1), and this seems more logical given the constant exhortation for Christians to “do good” even as they are being “defamed.” This is emphasized in the juxtaposition of ὡς κακοποιῶν (pres. act. part. gen. masc. pl. referencing ὑμῶν) and ἐκ τῶν καλῶν ἔργων, signifying source or cause. Note the repeated κα syllables – paronomasia? ὡς functions as a particle of comparison, i.e., “as if….” In many ways, the remainder of the letter is commentary upon the thesis expressed in this exhortation.
1 Peter 2:13-17
13Ὑποτάγητε πάσῃ ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει διὰ τὸν κύριον, εἴτε βασιλεῖ ὡς ὑπερέχοντι 14εἴτε ἡγεμόσιν ὡς δι’ αὐτοῦ πεμπομένοις εἰς ἐκδίκησιν κακοποιῶν, ἔπαινον δὲ ἀγαθοποιῶν, 15ὅτι οὕτως ἐστὶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ ἀγαθοποιοῦντας φιμοῦν τὴν τῶν ἀφρόνων ἀνθρώπων ἀγνωσίαν, 16ὡς ἐλεύθεροι καὶ μὴ ὡς ἐπικάλυμμα ἔχοντες τῆς κακίας τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἀλλ’ ὡς θεοῦ δοῦλοι. 17πάντας τιμήσατε, τὴν ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε, τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε, τὸν βασιλέα τιμᾶτε.
In this section vv. 13-15 form one sentence. Verse 16 could be the final part of this sentence or the introductory clause to the next sentence in v. 17. If we accept the punctuation in NA28 then the participle in v. 16 modifies the subject of the initial command. If v. 16 goes with v. 17, then the participle frames the following four imperatives. We have seen several times this writer fronting imperatives with adverbial participle clauses, and so it is quite possible that v. 16 does indeed go with v. 17.
Following the exhortation with its indirect command, the writer begins a new series of direct commands with the aor. pass. imperative Ὑποτάγητε that may have more of middle sense (“rank yourselves appropriately”) than a passive sense (“be ranked appropriately”). This becomes one of the writer’s theme words (2.13, 18; 3.1, 5, 22, 5). Its object is marked by the dative case πάσῃ ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει. πᾶς without an article usually is distributive in sense, i.e., every, each. κτίσις can mean “that which is created, creature or institution (i.e., founding of a city)” (BDAG 573.2). So is the reference to persons or institutions (such as are mentioned according to their leading representative in what follows)? The motivation for doing this is expressed in the adverbial phrase διὰ τὸν κύριον, presumably a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. Two alternative human authorities are marked by the correlative εἴτε….εἴτε “either…or.” Both nouns βασιλεῖ…ἡγεμόσιν are datives functioning in apposition to κτίσει. As well, each noun is modified by a comparison structure ὡς ὑπερέχοντι…ὡς δι’ αὐτοῦ πεμπομένοις. There is one king but many governors who serve under the king and by his authority. The pres. act. part. ὑπερέχοντι is probably attributive modifying βασιλεῖ, defining the ruler as “one who has power over, who is in authority” (BDAG, 1033.2). Governors exercise the authority of the king because they are “sent by him” (δι’ αὐτοῦ πεμπομένοις – pres. pass. part. dative masc. pl.). These rulers have two contrasting (δέ) purposes:
- εἰς ἐκδίκησιν κακοποιῶν. The preposition marks purpose or goal. κακοποιῶν is a pres. act. part. gen. masc. pl. functioning as an objective genitive.
- ἔπαινον δὲ ἀγαθοποιῶν. ἔπαινον is accusative object of the previous preposition είς. ἀγαθοποιῶν is a pres. act. part. gen. masc. pl. functioning as an objective genitive.
See similar constructions at 1.7; 2.4. Note the careful verbal parallelism in the two expressions.
The last part of the initial sentence (v. 15) is a causal clause marked by ὅτι. Within the causal clause we have an equative clause (ἐστιν) whose subject is τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, with θεοῦ being a subjective genitive. The article often marks the subject in an equative clause. The predicate is the adverb οὗτως, that is then expounded by the complementary pres. act. infinitive φιμοῦν (“muzzle, silence” (BDAG 1060); cf. καταλαλοῦσιν in 2.12). The subject of the infinitive is the pres. act. part. acc. masc. pl. ἀγαθοποιοῦντας, repeating the preceding participle (v.14). τὴν τῶν ἀφρόνων ἀνθρώπων ἀγνωσίαν is the object of the infinitive, with a qualifying genitive phrase placed in the attributive position. Note the alliteration. The phrase is probably a genitive of source.
We might take v. 16 as framing the imperatives in v. 17. The basic structure of v. 16 is two comparative phrases: ὡς ἐλεύθεροι… ἀλλ’ ὡς θεοῦ δοῦλοι, with the ἀλλ’ signaling a supplementary, alternative element that has to be considered alongside the first member of the contrast. The contrast is emphasized by the semantics of ἐλεύθεροι…δοῦλοι. The genitive θεοῦ marks ownership and its pre-positioning gives it prominence. The nominative plural cases probably function in apposition to the implied subjects of the following imperatives. The simile ὡς ἐπικάλυμμα reflects the clothing imagery suggested by ἀναζωσάμενοι (1.13); ἀποθέμενοι (2.2) – a cloak. It is qualifying the object of the pres. act. part. nom. masc. pl. ἔχοντες (cf. 2.12), namely τὴν ἐλευθερίαν. The article is probably deictic, i.e., the freedom implied in the previous ἐλεύθεροι. ἐπικάλυμμα is modified by the subjective genitive τῆς κακίας – or it could be an epexegetical genitive, i.e., a cloak that = evil.
The sentence then concludes with a series of four imperatives. The first τιμήσατε is aor. act. impt. 2nd. pers. pl. It follows the tense form and person of the previous ὐποτάγητε (v. 13). This initial imperative is followed by three pres. act. impt. 2nd . pers. pl. tense forms. Note the last repeats the initial verb. Why does the writer vary the tense form of the imperatives? The object of the first, πάντας, is very general and might provide a clue to this variation. Note that the object of each imperative is pre-positioned and so receives some prominence. Perhaps these four imperatives are intended to define what the scope of ὑποτάγητε comprises, given the various relationships that Christians experience. The first two and the last two might form related pairs.
18Οἱ οἰκέται ὑποτασσόμενοι ἐν παντὶ φόβῳ τοῖς δεσπόταις, οὐ μόνον τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς καὶ ἐπιεικέσιν ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς σκολιοῖς. 19τοῦτο γὰρ χάρις, εἰ διὰ συνείδησιν θεοῦ ὑποφέρει τις λύπας πάσχων ἀδίκως. 20ποῖον γὰρ κλέος, εἰ ἁμαρτάνοντες καὶ κολαφιζόμενοι ὑπομενεῖτε; ἀλλ’ εἰ ἀγαθοποιοῦντες καὶ πάσχοντες ὑπομενεῖτε, τοῦτο χάρις παρὰ θεῷ. 21εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ ἐκλήθητε, ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἔπαθεν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ὑμῖν ὑπολιμπάνων ὑπογραμμόν, ἵνα ἐπακολουθήσητε τοῖς ἴχνεσιν αὐτοῦ, 22ὃς ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἐποίησεν οὐδὲ εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ, 23ὃς λοιδορούμενος οὐκ ἀντελοιδόρει, πάσχων οὐκ ἠπείλει, παρεδίδου δὲ τῷ κρίνοντι δικαίως 24ὃς τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀνήνεγκεν ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον, ἵνα ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἀπογενόμενοι τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ ζήσωμεν, οὗ τῷ μώλωπι ἰάθητε. 25ἦτε γὰρ ὡς πρόβατα πλανώμενοι, ἀλλ’ ἐπεστράφητε νῦν ἐπὶ τὸν ποιμένα καὶ ἐπίσκοπον τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν.
The relationship between 2.13-17 and 2.18-3.7 is debated. Some consider the participles ὑποτασσόμενοι (18), ὑποτασσόμεναι (3.1), and συνοικοῦντες (3.7) to function as imperatives, continuing the instructions given in 2.13-17. Note that there is no connecting particle present in v.18. So one of the exegetical decisions to make is whether adverbial imperatives can function in this manner in Koine Greek and specifically in this letter. If not, then one has to assume that the writer is working with an implied verb, and logically this would be the general imperative in v. 17, τιμήσατε. The participles then would define specific ways in which different groups obeyed this general command. These participles are present participles, the first two middle voice, and the third active voice. The middle voice perhaps emphasizes the intentionality of this action, i.e., “voluntarily.” The subjects in each case immediately precede each participle. 2.18-25 deal with a group of Christians whom the writer categorizes socially as οἱκέται, domestic slaves.
If we assume that πάντας τιμήσατε is the implied verb of the sentence in v. 18, then the sense would be “domestic slaves [who are believers], honour all, by ranking yourselves voluntarily in all fear under the masters,…” The adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν παντὶ φόβῳ describes manner and παντί has an inclusive sense, i.e., “with complete fear [fearful respect?].” ὑποτάσσω marks its object in the dative case τοῖς δεσπόταις, a term used to describe slave-owners. Note that the writer bookends the major segment of the sentence with οἱ οἰκέται…τοῖς δεσπόταις, perhaps emphasizing the contrast in social position. The writer uses a οὐ μόνον…ἀλλὰ καί (“not only…but also”) correlative structure to define further τοῖς δεσπόταις contrasting, qualifying adjectives. Two categories of owners emerge, namely “those who are good and kind” and those who are “bent, unjust” (τοῖς σκολιοῖς). The writer does not explicitly identify one kind as Christian and the other as non-Christian.
The writer expands on the context for the general principle expressed in v. 18 with a series of explanatory γάρ clauses (vv. 19, 20, 21, 25). The use of χάρις is a bit unusual. It has the sense “favourable, gains credit.” He uses a nominal clause as the main clause in the first explanation and it functions as the apodosis of the conditional sentence. τοῦτο probably refers to the situation expressed in the following conditional clause. χάρις is the complement. This is a first class condition (εἰ + indicative mood). The subject of the conditional clause is the indefinite pronoun τις, positioned after the verb. The adverbial prepositional clause that precedes the verb is put in the focal point of the clause and expresses cause (διά + accusative). The noun συνείδησις occurs several times in 1 Peter and has the sense of “consciousness, moral/spiritual awareness.” In this case it is modified by an objective genitive θεοῦ. The phrase not only explains, but may also provide motive. The main verb ὑποφέρει is present active indicative, indicating a general truth. The direct object is λύπας and it is plural, suggesting multiple occasions. The clause ends with an adverbial present participle describing circumstance. πάσχω can mean “experience” or more specifically “suffer.” The adverb ἀδίκως indicates that this experience occurs in unjust circumstances.
The second explanatory clause is a rhetorical question marked by the interrogative ποῖον, a neuter nominative singular form, referencing κλέος “glory, fame, renown.” The question is a nominal clause, with the sense “what kind of fame is it….” This is the apodosis of a conditional sentence. The condition is another first class condition marked by εἰ + indicative and ὑπομενεῖτε (present active indicative) is the main verb. It is framed by two preceding present participles. The first is active (ἁμαρτάνοντες) and the second is passive (κολαφιζόμενοι) – “because you are doing wrong and being beaten…” and their action is contemporaneous with the main verb.
In the second part of v. 20 the writer essentially repeats the sense of v. 19, but adds the emphasis on “doing good.” ἀλλἀ marks an alternative to the scenario described in v. 20a. This time the writer begins with the protasis of a first class conditional sentence. The main verb of the conditional clause is ὑπομενεῖτε, as in v. 20a. It also is fronted by two adverbial, present active participles ἀγαθοποιοῦντες καὶ πάσχοντες, probably temporal in nuance, with the action implied as contemporaneous with the main verb. The apodosis is another nominal clause with τοῦτο as the subject, referencing the preceding conditional clause, and χάρις παρὰ θεῷ (cf. 2.4) functioning as the predicate nominative. The writer makes explicit who regards this kind of lifestyle as favourable. Note again the rhetorical sophistication as the writer uses τοῦτο γὰρ χάρις…τοῦτο χάρις to enclose the three conditional statements. These three clauses explain the principle expressed in v. 18.
The γάρ clause in v. 21 explains, in my opinion, why this response is acceptable to God. The writer uses the adverbial prepositional phrase of purpose εἰς τοῦτο to mark a new topic, that will follow. The phrase modifies the aorist passive indicative verb ἐκλήθητε. To what does this “calling” refer, who is the agent, and who is involved? The explanatory clause incorporates vv. 21-22. The ὅτι clause is causal and is the referent for εἰς τοῦτο. The writer gives prominence to Χριστός by placing it as subject in the focal point of the clause and modifying it by the ascensive καί. Given the sense of ἔπαθεν in reference to the Messiah (cf. 1:11), we should probably interpret the use of this verb in vv. 19-20 similarly, i.e., “to suffer.” ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν defines for whose benefit the Messiah suffered. ὑμῖν is the dative indirect object of the adverbial, circumstantial, present active participle ὑπολιμπάνων “leaving behind.” The direct object is ὑπογραμμόν, “pattern, mold.” Note the alliteration the writer uses with five sequential words beginning with the vowel υ. The ἵνα defines the purpose for the Messiah’s suffering and the writer relates it to Christian discipleship by using the verb ἐπακολουθήσητε (aorist active subjunctive). It is completed with a dative object τοῖς ἴχνεσιν αὐτοῦ. The genitive could be a subjective genitive, i.e., tracks that he made.
In v. 22 the writer uses a compound relative clause marked by ὅς to describe the Messiah’s response to his suffering. This is important because the writer has focused on the response of Christian household slaves to unjust treatment in vv. 18-20. However, the writer uses wording borrowed from Isaiah 53.9 to make his point:
ὅτι ἀνομίαν οὐκ ἐποίησεν, οὐδε εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ.
Apart from the substitution of ἁμαρτίαν for ἀνομία, treated as synonyms in some Septuagint contexts, the writer uses the exact wording of Isaiah 53.9b, even though he does not mark it as a formal citation. In the LXX word order, ἀνομίαν, the direct object, is placed before the verb in the focal point of the clause. The noun δόλος picks up the previous use of this noun in 2.1. ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ is a locative, adverbial prepositional phrase. The genitive pronoun here is possessive. The aorist passive indicative εὑρέθη has the sense of “occur, appear” (cf. its usage in 1.7). Who is the implied agent?
In my understanding of v. 23 we have two contrasted main verbs οὐκ ἠπείλει, παρεδίδου δέ, surrounded by two relative clauses in 23a and 24. It is of course possible that 23a continues vv. 21-22, with a second relative clause. However, I think the relative clause in v. 23a goes with οὐκ ἠπείλει and the one in v. 24 goes with παρεδιδου δέ. ὃς…οὐκ ἀντελοιδόρει defines the subject of ἠπείλει. Note the series of imperfect tense forms in v. 23. ἀντελοιδόρει suggests that the subject “was not responding with abusive speech.” The present passive participle λοιδορούμενος is adverbial and could be temporal or concessive and its action is concurrent with that of the main verb, which action it frames. In the main clause ἠπείλει is an imperfect active indicative form of the verb ἀπειλέω “to warn, threaten.” Again the present active participle πάσχων is adverbial, frames the action and could be temporal or concessive.
In v. 23b παρεδίδου is 3rd pers. sing. imperfect active indicative from παραδίδωμι “to surrender, commit, hand over” (cf. 4:19). The subject remains the Messiah, defined in the following relative clause. δέ marks a new topic and the lexical sense of the surrounding verbs suggests an adversative sense – “he was not threatening, but was entrusting.” The dative substantival present active participle τῷ κρίνοντι (cf. 1.17) marks the indirect object and is modified by the adverb δικαίως.
The relative clause in v. 24a is marked by ὃς, whose referent is the subject of the preceding verb. Once again the writer paraphrases Isaiah 53:4 to describe the Messiah’s actions:
οὗτος τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν φέρει
He changes the demonstrative pronoun into a relative pronoun, adds the explicit subject οὗτος and uses an aorist form of the compound verb ἀναφέρω, that is cognate with φέρει (Matthew’s Greek form of this text in Matthew 8.17). The LXX places the object prior to the verb, giving it emphasis. The aorist ἀνήνεγκεν describes a completed action. LXX Isaiah does use this verb in 53.11, 12. The verb is modified by two adverbial phrases. The first uses ἐν + dative for a spatial sense or perhaps to define the receptacle in which the sins were lifted up. ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον indicates the place on which the Messiah completes this action (cf. Deut. 21.22-23). The “tree” here presumably refers to the cross.
The writer uses a ἵνα clause to indicate the purpose for the Messiah’s death. In each of the clauses in v. 24 the writer places the object or dative of reference/means prior to the verb. ἀπογενόμενοι is an aorist middle participle, from ἀπογίνομαι “to die,” and its position prior to the main verb provides the topical frame for that action. The action of the participle is prior to that of the main verb. ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις is a dative of reference, used in contrast with the following τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ. ζήσωμεν is an aorist active subjunctive. The “dying to sin and living to righteousness” echoes Pauline language.
The last clause, also a relative clause, uses the language of Isaiah 53.5 (LXX):
τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς ἰάθημεν.
The writer forms it as a relative clause and changes the person to sec. plural, because he is addressing a specific group of people. μώλωψ means a “welt, bruise.” The genitive pronoun is objective genitive. The writer continues with the aorist passive verb ἰάθητε.
The writer frames v. 25 as another explanatory clause marked by γάρ. Although scholars are divided on this question, I think ἦτε…πλανώμενοι is an imperfect periphrastic verb form indicating an imperfect or incomplete action. Again the writer seems to paraphrase Isa. 53.6:
πάντες ὡς πρόβατα ἐπλανήθημεν.
The writer changes the person to suit his context and alters the tense form of the main verb to emphasize the past progression of their action of “wandering as sheep.” ὡς πρόβατα is a metaphor that modifies the plural subject.
ἀλλά marks the change that conversion has generated. ἐπεστράφητε is an aorist passive or middle form. It is modified by the adverb νῦν to indicate perhaps the recent change. ἐπὶ τὸν ποιμένα καὶ ἐπίσκοπον notes the person to whom these people have turned. It is a compound expression and the single article indicates that both nouns refer to the same person, presumably God who has sent the Messiah to accomplish his purpose. The genitive τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν may indicate subordination or it may be an objective genitive.
What are we to make of this remarkable incorporation of Isaiah 53 material into this extended description of the Messiah’s actions?
- The writer is using the Messiah’s engagement with his suffering as an example for these household slaves to imitate.
- The Messiah’s response to suffering fits the response of the suffering servant to his suffering as forecast in Isaiah 53.
- The suffering servant’s suffering and death occurs because of Yahweh’s will and intentions.
He employs this example for ethical purposes, but he does not separate the ethical from the salvific as vv. 24-25 indicate. Even in suffering Yahweh remains the believer’s shepherd and care-giver.