19. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience towards
God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
19. Haec enim est gratia, si propter conscientiam Dei quispiam molestias
ferat patiens injust_.
20. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults,
ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it,
ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with
20. Qualis enim gloria, si quum peccantes alapis caedemini, suffertis?
sed si bene facientes et in aliis affecti suffertis, haec gratia apud Deum.
19. For this is thankworthy. The word grace or favor, has the meaning
of praise; for he means that no grace or praise shall be found before God,
if we bear the punishment which we have by our faults deserved; but that
they who patiently bear injuries and wrongs are worthy of praise and accepted
by God. To testify that it was acceptable to God, when any one from conscience
towards God persevered in doing his duty, though unjustly and unworthily
treated, was at that time very necessary; for the condition of servants
was very hard: they were counted no better than cattle. Such indignity
might have driven them to despair; the only thing left for them was to
look to God.
For conscience towards God means this, that one performs his duty, not
from a regard to men, but to God. For, when a wife is submissive and obedient
to her husband, in order to please him, she has her reward in this world,
as Christ says of the ambitious, who looked to the praise of men, (Matthew
6:16.) The same view is to be taken of other cases: When a son obeys his
father in order to secure his favor and bounty, he will have his reward
from his father, not from God. It is, in short, a general truth, that what
we do is approved by God, if our object be to serve him, and if we are
not influenced by a regard to man alone. Moreover, he who considers that
he has to do with God, must necessarily endeavor to overcome evil with
good. For, God not only requires that we should be such to every one as
he is to us, but also that we should be good to the unworthy and to such
as persecute us.
It is not, however, an assertion without its difficulty, when he says,
that there is nothing praiseworthy in him who is justly punished; for,
when the Lord punishes our sins, patience is certainly a sacrifice of sweet
odour to him, that is, when we bear with a submissive mind our punishment.
But to this I reply, that Peter does not here speak simply but comparatively;
for it is a small and slender praise to bear with submission a just punishment,
in comparison with that of an innocent man, who willingly bears the wrongs
of men, only because he fears God. At the same time he seems indirectly
to refer to the motive; because they who suffer punishment for their faults,
are influenced by the fear of men. But the reply already given is sufficient.
1 Peter 2:21-23
21. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered
for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
21. In hoc enim vocati estis; quoniam Christus quoque passus
est pro vobis, relinquens vobis exemplum, ut sequeremini vestigia ejus:
22. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
22. Qui quum peccatum non fecisset, nec inventus esset dolus
in ore ejus;
23. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered,
he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
23. Quum probro afficeretur, non regerebat; quum pateretur,
non comminabatur; causam vero commendabat ei qui juste judicat.
21. For even hereunto were ye called. For though his discourse
was respecting servants, yet this passage ought not to be confined to that
subject. For the Apostle here reminds all the godly in common as to what
the condition of Christianity is, as though he had said, that we are called
by the Lord for this end, patiently to bear wrongs; and as he says in another
place that we are appointed to this. Lest, however, this should seem grievous
to us, he consoles us with the example of Christ. Nothing seems more unworthy,
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?
But we must notice the words, Leaving us an example. For as he treats
of imitation, it is necessary to know what in Christ is to be our example.
He walked on the sea, he cleansed the leprous, he raised the dead, he restored
sight to the blind: to try to imitate him in these things would be absurd.
For when he gave these evidences of his power, it was not his object that
we should thus imitate him. It has hence happened that his fasting for
forty days has been made without reason an example; but what he had in
view was far otherwise. We ought, therefore, to exercise in this respect
a right judgment; as also Augustine somewhere reminds us, when explaining
the following passage,
“Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.”
And the same thing may be learnt from the words of Peter; for he marks
the difference by saying that Christ’s patience is what we ought to follow.
This subject is handled more at large by Paul in Romans 8:29, where he
teaches us that all the children of God are foreordained to be made conformable
to the image of Christ, in order that he might be the first-born among
many brethren. Hence, that we may live with him, we must previously die
22. Who did no sin. This belongs to the present subject; for,
if any one boasts of his own innocence, he must know that Christ did not
suffer as a malefactor. He, at the same time, shews how far we come short
of what Christ was, when he says, that there was no guile found in his
mouth; for he who offends not by his tongue, says James, is a perfect man.
(James 3:2.) He then declares that there was in Christ the highest perfection
of innocency, such as no one of us can dare claim for himself. It hence
appears more fully how unjustly he suffered beyond all others. There is,
therefore, no reason why any one of us should refuse to suffer after his
example, since no one is so conscious of having acted rightly, as not to
know that he is imperfect.
23. When he was reviled, or, reproached. Here Peter points out
what we are to imitate in Christ, even calmly to bear wrongs, and not to
avenge wrongs. For such is our disposition, that when we receive injuries,
our minds immediately boil over with revengeful feelings; but Christ abstained
from every kind of retaliation. Our minds, therefore, ought to be bridled,
lest we should seek to render evil for evil.
But committed himself, or, his cause. The word cause is not expressed,
but it is obviously understood. And Peter adds this for the consolation
of the godly, that is, that if they patiently endured the reproaches and
violence of the wicked, they would have God as their defender. For it would
be a very hard thing for us, to be subjected to the will of the ungodly,
and not to have God caring for our wrongs. Peter, therefore, adorns God
with this high attribute, that he judgeth righteously, as though he had
said, “It behoves us calmly to bear evils; God in the meantime will not
neglect what belongs to him, but will shew himself to be a righteous judge.”
However wanton then the ungodly may be for a time, yet they shall not be
unpunished for the wrongs done now to the children of God. Nor is there
any cause for the godly to fear, as though they were without any protection;
for since it belongs to God to defend them and to undertake their cause,
they are to possess their souls in patience.
Moreover, as this doctrine brings no small consolation, so it avails
to allay and subdue the inclinations of the flesh. For no one can recumb
on the fidelity and protection of God, but he who in a meek spirit waits
for his judgment; for he who leaps to take vengeance, intrudes into what
belongs to God, and suffers not God to perform his own office. In reference
to this Paul says, “Give place to wrath,” (Romans 12:19;) and thus he intimates
that the way is closed up against God that he might not himself judge,
when we anticipate him. He then confirms what he had said by the testimony
of Moses, “Vengeance is mine.” (Deuteronomy 32:35.) Peter in short meant
this, that we after the example of Christ shall be more prepared to endure
injuries, if we give to God his own honor, that is, if we, believing him
to be a righteous judge, refer our right and our cause to him.
It may however be asked, How did Christ commit his cause to the Father;
for if he required vengeance from him, this he himself says is not lawful
for us; for he bids us to do good to those who injure us, to pray for those
who speak evil of us. (Matthew 5:44.) To this my reply is, that it appears
evident from the gospel-history, that Christ did thus refer his judgment
to God, and yet did not demand vengeance to be taken on his enemies, but
that, on the contrary, he prayed for them, “Father,” he said, “forgive
them.” (Luke 23:34.) And doubtless the feelings of our flesh are far from
being in unison with the judgment of God. That any one then may commit
his cause to him who judgeth righteously, it is necessary that he should
first lay a check on himself, so that he may not ask anything inconsistent
with the righteous judgment of God. For they who indulge themselves in
looking for vengeance, concede not to God his office of a judge, but in
a manner wish him to be an executioner. He then who is so calm in his spirit
as to wish his adversaries to become his friends, and endeavors to bring
them to the right way, rightly commits to God his own cause, and his prayer
is, “Thou, O Lord, knowest my heart, how I wish them to be saved who seek
to destroy me: were they converted, I should congratulate them; but if
they continue obstinate in their wickedness, for I know that thou watchest
over my safety, I commit my cause to thee.” This meekness was manifested
by Christ; it is then the rule to be observed by us.
1 Peter 2:24-25
24. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,
that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes
ye were healed.
24. Qui peccata nostra ipse pertulit in corpore suo super
lignum, ut peccatis mortui, justitiae vivamus: cujus livori sanati estis.
25. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto
the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
25. Eratis enim tanquam oves errantes; sed conversi estis
nunc ad Pastorem et Episcopum animarum vestrarum.
Had he commended nothing in Christ’s death except as an example, it
would have been very frigid: he therefore refers to a fruit much more excellent.
There are then three things to be noticed in this passage. The first is,
that Christ by his death has given us an example of patience; the second,
that by his death he restored us to life; it hence follows, that we are
so bound to him, that we ought cheerfully to follow his example. In the
third place, he refers to the general design of his death, that we, being
dead to sins, ought to live to righteousness. And all these things confirm
his previous exhortation.
24. Who his own self bare our sins. This form of speaking is
fitted to set forth the efficacy of Christ’s death. For as under the Law,
the sinner, that he might be released from guilt, substituted a victim
in his own place; so Christ took on himself the curse due to our sins,
that he might atone for them before God. And he expressly adds, on the
tree, because he could not offer such an expiation except on the cross.
Peter, therefore, well expresses the truth, that Christ’s death was a sacrifice
for the expiation of our sins; for being fixed to the cross and offering
himself a victim for us, he took on himself our sin and our punishment.
Isaiah, from whom Peter has taken the substance of his doctrine, employs
various forms of expression, — that he was smitten by God’s hand for our
sins, that he was wounded for our iniquities, that he was afflicted and
broken for our sake, that the chastisement of our peace was laid on him.
But Peter intended to set forth the same thing by the words of this verse,
even that we are reconciled to God on this condition, because Christ made
himself before his tribunal a surety and as one guilty for us, that he
might suffer the punishment due to us.
This great benefit the Sophists in their schools obscure as much as
they can; for they prattle that by the sacrifice of the death of Christ
we are only freed after baptism from guilt, but that punishment is redeemed
by satisfactions. But Peter, when he says that he bore our sins, means
that not only guilt was imputed to him, but that he also suffered its punishment,
that he might thus be an expiatory victim, according to that saying of
the Prophet, “The chastisement of our peace was upon him.” If they object
and say, that this only avails before baptism, the context here disproves
them, for the words are addressed to the faithful.
But this clause and that which follows, by whose stripes ye were healed,
may be also applied to the subject in hand, that is, that it behoves us
to bear on our shoulders the sins of others, not indeed to expiate for
them, but only to bear them as a burden laid on us.
Being dead to sins. He had before pointed out another end, even
an example of patience; but here, as it has been stated, it is made more
manifest, that we are to live a holy and righteous life. The Scripture
sometimes mentions both, that is, that the Lord tries us with troubles
and adversities, that we might be conformed to the death of Christ, and
also that the old man has been crucified in the death of Christ, that we
might walk in newness of life. (Philippians 3:10; Romans 6:4.) At the same
time, this end of which he speaks, differs from the former, not only as
that which is general from what is particular; for in patience there is
simply an example; but when he says that Christ suffered, that we being
dead to sins should live to righteousness, he intimates that there is power
in Christ’s death to mortify our flesh, as Paul explains more fully in
the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. For he has not only brought
this great benefit to us, that God justifies us freely, by not imputing
to us our sins; but. he also makes us to die to the world and to the flesh,
that we may rise again to a new life: not that one day makes complete this
death; but wherever it is, the death of Christ is efficacious for the expiation
of sins, and also for the mortification of the flesh.
25. For ye were as sheep. This also has Peter borrowed from Isaiah,
except that the Prophet makes it a universal statement,
“All we like sheep have gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6.)
But on the word sheep there is no particular stress; he indeed compares
us to sheep, but the emphasis is on what the Prophet adds, when he says
that every one had turned to his own way. The meaning then is, that we
are all going astray from the way of salvation, and proceeding in the way
of ruin, until Christ brings us back from this wandering.
And this appears still more evident from the clause which follows, but
are now returned to the Shepherd, etc.; for all who are not ruled by Christ,
are wandering like lost sheep in the ways of error. Thus, then, is condemned
the whole wisdom of the world, which does not submit to the government
of Christ. But the two titles given here to Christ are remarkable, that
he is the Shepherd and Bishop of souls. There is then no cause to fear,
but that he will faithfully watch over the safety of those who are in his
fold and under his care. And it is his office to keep us safe both in body
and soul; yet Peter mentions only souls, because this celestial Shepherd
keeps us under his own spiritual protection unto eternal life.