Readings on 1 Peter: 2

 •  25 min. read  •  grade level: 5
Reading 2
Ques. In verse 21, " Who by him do believe in God," is Christ looked at as the medium through whom we know God? I suppose so.
Ques. Then we have two things, God is the One who has raised up Christ, and Christ is Lord?
Ques. Is He looked at as made Lord?
Yes; but this statement is more general, and the effect is that our faith and hope are in God. I know God through Christ, and this gives a distinct aspect of God altogether. It means that I can trust in God in everything, for I know that God has come in on my behalf. I know the love of God in giving Christ, and I know that all my sins are gone, and that God Himself is my Savior. He is not here in the character of Judge, nor is it faith in Christ before God; but it is faith in God Himself who has raised Christ from the dead, so that it takes in everything between myself and God, and alters His whole character from that of Judge. I may believe in God as a righteous Judge, and so He is, but that will not save me, though there must be that for salvation.
Ques. Abraham believed God?
Yes, that was believing what God said, and we find various forms of that.
Ques. Does the hope connect itself with Christ's glory on high?
Well, not quite so much that; there is the Jewish expression " hope," but hope is often used as confidence, as, " In him shall the Gentiles trust," i.e., hope, and also in, " Hope thou in God." Hope is used as counting on a person; but He will give us glory, too; here, it is the general thought, namely, that we reckon on Him. Believing on Him, and believing in Him are different. ' I believe in God,' is a different thing. Believing on God shows the object and the confidence, that is to say, God is the object of the faith.
Ques. Is not this the Red Sea?
Yes, it raises Christ from the dead.
Ques. There is no knowing God any other way?
Well, only as Creator. I do not know God at all, save as I know Him in Christ.
Ques. When it says, " That know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," is that all one class? I do not know that.
Ques. " This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent," that is knowing God, is it not?
It is God the Father, not merely God. The other names of God do not give eternal life, but the Father sent the Son that we might live through Him, and that gives eternal life.
We have, then, first, the revelation in Christ, and secondly, the " obeying the truth through the Spirit." This sanctifies the soul. " Unto unfeigned love of the brethren." It is wonderful how the purifying of the soul and love go together. We may get hold of truth, but in man's hand it is always imperfectly so, and badly put together; but " obeying the truth through the Spirit " is quite another thing. Selfishness is at the bottom of sin; the opposite of selfishness is love, and we are purified from the selfishness of sin by divine love. Here, it is love of the brethren, and the love, too, which brings in holiness. We find the same thing in 1 Thess. 3:1212And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: (1 Thessalonians 3:12), " The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God." Love and holiness are here brought together. A wonderful power has thus come in in Christianity! The apostle adds, "At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." It is not to establish our hearts here, but he is looking at it in all its fullness when Christ comes. It is the power of the hope, too, for he " that hath this hope in him purifieth himself; even as he is pure." And therefore, in John 17, it is, " Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," and also, " For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." This takes us up into the other world.
Ques. " Even as we do toward you," would not that qualify it?
That is the pattern of it, but it is " one toward another," and " toward all." We never find it stated that Christ loved the world, or that God loved the church, because this latter refers to the relationship of Christ and the church, His body and His bride. When it speaks of " love as brethren," it is again the love of relationship.
Ques. Why " unfeigned "?
We do not want feigned love to the brethren, do we? It is just the opposite of that, it is real, not ' putting it on,' as men say. We have here the converse of that which is in Thessalonians. It is the bringing in of divine life, and of the Holy Ghost who is the spring that is in my heart. So it speaks, not about inconsistencies, but of love and of what is God's nature. A wonderful thing it is for us to look at Christ in our pathway down here, and then, in that sense, we could not know any man after the flesh. God is looking for purity and love here. As self is dead, consideration for others reigns in the heart according to God. And the recollectedness of God's presence is the great secret of this. I was struck some time back in seeing that, when the apostle describes in 1 Cor. 13 what love is, it is all subjective; not one atom of activity do we find in it, but it bears, endures, hopes, and so on, and that is all.
Ques. You would not say love is always subjective? No; but it is so in 1 Cor. 13
Ques. Is " kind," subjective?
Yes; I go and meet you, and you may look very glum at me, but I am kind from a sense of love towards you, what is that but subjective?
Ques. That chapter has sometimes been a kind of disappointment to me, for one finds there what love is not, rather than what it is?
You go and live it out, and see if other people will be disappointed!
Activity, of course, is all right too. God gives to us in the blessedness of His nature, He makes us enjoy Himself; but besides that, He gives us a share in the activities of His love. " See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." He will have these two things together-love and purity, and "fervently" too.
These instructions are drawn from the very depths of God's nature, and thus we have God and grace instead of self. Suppose I am giving way to bad feeling towards someone, well, the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. I ask myself how should I feel if I met that person at the door of heaven just going in. Would it not be nice to meet people here as we shall meet them there? Only, when we have to meet opponents, we must take care that it does not connect itself with anything of feeling as regards the individual. Look at Christ in an agony in Gethsemane. He asked His disciples to tarry, while He went further, but when He comes to them again, He finds them sleeping, yet He only says, " What, could ye not watch with me one hour? " And He goes back again into His agony; this was His way with them when He was thinking of meeting God in judgment.
Ques. Is it not, " See that ye... love," in verse 22?
No, that it is not; it is, " Love one another with a pure heart fervently." " Seeing ye have purified," etc., is the principle of it, let us then have the practice in all its extent! He is looking for fervent love with a pure heart, seeing that we have been brought into this relationship. God is light, and God is love, and having come down in light and love, He wants this divine nature, which has taken root in us, to come out.
Ques. How can " increase and abound " be brought about?
By our keeping nearer to God.
I have often thought that it requires great grace to see a little grace. If we go out in love, it will find some response. At one place, they complained that all was so dreadfully cold, and I could only say, why do you not go out in love and warm the rest?
" Born again," is divine life, for this connection of purity and love is by the Holy Ghost; it is divine love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
Ques. Is " born again " the same thing here as in John 3?
It is the same truth, but rather more specific in the passage in John which insists on its being altogether new (anothen), and so makes it more emphatic. Here, it is connected with the word, in John, with the Spirit. In John, too, we have the positive communications of the new life; in Peter, it is the practical effect and working, not the source. It is similar in 1 Peter 4:11Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (1 Peter 4:1), " He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin," whilst with Paul it is, " he that is dead "; it is the same truth, only the one gives the principle, and the other, the outward practical carrying out of it. As to the Jews, they must be born again.
Ques. " I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh," does that mean that they will not have a bad heart?
Oh! no.
Ques. Does not the word " born " imply more?
We are born of the Spirit and we receive a new life, but this brings in divine thoughts, so that we are cleansed.
Ques. Then sin remains in them, in Ezek. 36?
Yes, and so it does in us now. It is a great thing that the word lives, it comes from God in the power of the Holy Ghost, but then it brings in the things it tells about. In John 8:2525Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. (John 8:25), the Lord tells the Jews who He is. In the Authorized Version, it reads, " Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning," but the real force of this is, 'In principle altogether that which I also say to you,' i.e., His word expressed Himself.
And not only does the word live, but it judges also what is in us because it is true.
Ques. " If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature "? That is another idea; such an one is a new creation, and belongs to an entirely different state of things.
Ques. Is it the same in Gal. 6?
Yes, but it is there more applied to the individual. It is the thing so many will not have. Dr. Bonar openly ridicules the idea of two natures, but " that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit." Methodists always take wrong ground, having no thought of being born again at all, and this has run very much through the whole body of the Evangelical world.
Ques. What is the difference between " new birth," and " new creation "?
New creation takes in everything, new birth is our having a nature that is fit for it. If we take it in its full sense, new creation leaves nothing else.
Ques. I am the same man after I am born again?
I do not doubt you are, but you will find some difficulty in saying what the " I " now is. I have a life from Adam that is never mended one atom; but I have also a new life from Christ, which is a totally new thing: " He that hath the Son hath life." Adam had not that life, but I have the life of the second Adam.
Ques. Had not the Old Testament saints eternal life?
That is another question, and we will not hunt the two hares at a time. Adam innocent had not that life one bit more than Adam guilty. " That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit." God breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life, but Adam was not born of the Spirit. This is a new thing. " That eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." That is the Christ who has become my life through the operation of the word; a totally new thing it is, and one which does change the man.
As to the. Old Testament saints, eternal life formed no part of the Old Testament revelation, even supposing that the Old Testament saints had it. Light and incorruptibility have been brought to light by the gospel. Not that they have been brought to existence, but they have been " brought to light." And when He in whom life is, came down and died and rose again, then a totally new thing was brought out. Eternal life is twice found in the Old Testament, but in both the passages it is prophetic of the millennium. And therefore, in the Old Testament, we never get conflict between flesh and Spirit. We find, ' conceived in sin,' in Psa. 51, but there is no thought of flesh lusting against the Spirit. "I am crucified with Christ:" says the apostle, " nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," and there we find a contradiction twice over, and somebody else put in instead of " I." So again in Rom. 7, " What I hate, that do I," and, " It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me," though in the previous verse he had just said that he did do it! All that the Psalmist can say is, " Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." He takes the ground that if God wash him, he will be whiter than snow. In that passage, it is not a question of washing with the blood of Christ, and what I insist upon is, do not put into a passage what you cannot get out of it. The Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, i.e., those who are dead in sins are quickened, it is not the simple fact of receiving a new life; it is not the way Scripture speaks, to say, ' here is a living man, and I quicken him.'
Ques. ' Quickens' refers to both soul and body?
Yes, " quicken your mortal bodies." When we speak about quickening, it is always that of one dead. But " quickened us together with Christ " involves a great deal more. Christ was lying in death, where we were lying, and then was raised, and God has quickened us together with Him, but that is a great deal more than life. A man is changed, but the flesh is never changed. In the history of the flesh, I find it both an outlaw and under law, but it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; again, I find the flesh, with Christ presented to it, and man crucified Him; next, with the Holy Ghost come, and I find this, " ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye," and then I see what the flesh was in Paul after he had been caught up to the third heaven and Satan tried to puff him up about it. Dealing with the old nature formed no part of the Old Testament dispensation, though saints were quickened or born again; as regards eternal life, they ought to have this found out, and the Pharisees, as we know, had done so. When the young man came to Christ and asked, " What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? " the Lord, in answer to him, takes up the law upon its own footing, and says, in effect, " this do, and thou shalt live."
Ques. When it says, in John 20:88Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. (John 20:8), " that other disciple... saw, and believed," what was it he believed?
That Christ was risen, only, he believed what he saw, but he had no knowledge of the Scriptures that Christ must rise (v. 9); so he saw, and he believed that He had risen. They did not know this by faith in the word of God, but they believed when they saw.
Ques. Mary had more faith than any of them?
Ques. Does 1 Peter give us the new place?
No, it only gives us it in hope.
Ques. Some say the seed here is the divine life?
So it is, but it is by the word of God which is the seed of life; in verse 23, we are looked at as born again, but it is instrumentally by this word. This shows us the character and source of the thing, but the instrument is the word, and so the word of God is the seed. It " liveth and abideth forever." It is a great thing to see that clearly in the word. " He that doeth the will of God abideth forever." The word is the revelation of what is in God, in His nature and character, His love, His ways, in short all that He communicates. And this is what God uses to quicken. In verse 23, " forever," is left out by the editors.
Ques. Is there any difference between logos and rhema?
Logos is the deeper word, and the rhema is the giving of it out. Logos is that which is known in the mind and known by expressing it. I cannot think without having a thought, and logos is used for that and the expression of it, but rhema is the mere utterance, and is that which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Ques. Then what of the expression, " the word of the Lord "?
The word of the Lord is, I suppose, that which is in mediatorial communication, that is all. It is a great thing to see that character in the word, for if here, in this book, I have not an inspired word, the inspiration of God's mind, I have not got it at all.
Ques. Is the Bible the rhema?
It is the rhema written down. And the Lord gives importance to it when He says, " If ye believe not his [Moses'] writings, how shall ye believe my words? "
Ques. Then is it Christ here?
It is not Christ here, but it is Christ written down. In Heb. 4, we see the two thrown into one. And, again, " Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live "; so it is God's own mind, of course. In the midst of a world away from God, and which has rejected both God and Christ, there is one thing we have that is of God and from God, and that is the word of God, and that is all. God Himself is here, of course, but the word is the only thing that is of Him. And when everything else has passed away, God's word will remain until it is shown that everything it said is true.
Ques. " The word of God is living and operative," what is the force of " living " there?
That is the very thing, it is divine; it is not merely a word that I give out, and it passes, but a word that comes out from God which abides, and never changes, and never can change. It comes down into my heart, and shows me everything that is in it. In these days, it is a great thing for saints to carry with them the conviction that the word of God is the word of God, and that not only it can never be broken, but it endures forever. It is, and it ever will be, the truth; many of the things spoken of old have passed, and many others may pass, but the word of God will be the truth hereafter, just as much then as it is now. As for this world, and infidels and their reasonings, there will not be one atom of them left! Man's " breath goeth forth," and " his thoughts perish."
Then, in chapter 2: 2, we have another thing, and that is, growing by the word. It is the only thing here with is positively of God. Of course, in one sense, the creation is of God; that will, however, be all burnt up, but that which is of God nourishes. There is a. sense, too, in which we are all new-born babes; it is the new life in simplicity and purity that desires the sincere milk of the word, so that whenever I come to the word to get nourishment, I come to it as a new-born babe.
Ques. When he says, " desire," is not that exhortation?
Yes, of course it is.
Ques. What is growing up to salvation?
Peter looks at salvation as ready to be revealed.
Ques. Why, here, " if so be "?
It supposes one has tasted, or else one will not desire. The knowledge of the graciousness of Christ makes us desire to get more and more of it.
In verses 4 and 5, we have the house that Christ builds. It is in contrast with 1 Cor. 3, where the house is built on the ground of man's responsibility, " according to the grace of God which is given unto me," etc. Man is there viewed as in responsibility building the house. But in Matt. 16, the Lord says, " I will build my church "; that is still going on, and it is not yet built. Here, in Peter, it is not the responsibility of man, but living stones built together. In Eph. 2 it says, " Groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord," groweth, i.e., it is growing yet. Matt. 16 answers more to Eph. 2:2121In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: (Ephesians 2:21), verse 22 being a matter of fact; the one, "groweth unto an holy temple," the other, is a "habitation of God through the Spirit."
Ques. " Judgment must begin at the house of God," is that the broad view of it?
Yes. It is the confounding of these two things together which has brought in all the pretensions of Popery and High Churchism.
Ques. Is it ever said of the house of God that it is a body?
A house is not a body, the two ideas are totally different. It is Christ's body and God's house. In Heb. 3, it is, " Christ as Son over his [God's] house," I believe that the " own " in the Authorized Version ought not to be there. A person may be in the house, and not in the body; wood, hay and stubble will be burnt up, but no member of the body will ever be. People often ask if Christ is precious, but the terms, " elect, precious," give us His character, not our estimate of Him, and they are connected with the chief corner stone.
Ques. " Whereunto also they were appointed "?
So they were; the Jews were appointed to stumble at Christ, that was to be their judgment, but they were not appointed to be disobedient. Judas was not appointed to be a sinner, but, being a sinner, he was appointed to be a betrayer of Christ.
Ques. " The unjust unto the day of judgment "?
That is in this world; there is a day of judgment that comes upon them here in this world.
Ques. " Before of old ordained to this condemnation "?
That is not condemnation as people commonly think; it is to this condemnation. The stone of stumbling was such to the house of Israel.
You see we are all lost to start with; not that I believe in what is called reprobation, I do not, but God brings about His own way. Israel was appointed to stumble, as I have just said, and prophecy had declared that they would do this when Christ came, and then they stumbled upon Him; it was the form that their wickedness took in the purposes of God.
In Rom. 9 we have, first, the sovereignty of God, and if He chooses to make vessels for destruction, nobody can say " no " to Him; you cannot help it. Then, in verses 22 and 23, he takes up the ground, " What if God," etc., that is another thing. But when he comes to the good side, God prepares them, when he is on the bad side, God endured the vessels fitted to destruction.
Ques. Does " fitted " mean that they fitted themselves?
He found them fitted, you must not bring in what is not there. He finds things fitted for destruction, and He exercises endurance.
Rom. 9 is simply absolute sovereignty; people talk about national election there, which is the very thing the apostle is denying. You are the children of Abraham, are you? Very well, then, says the apostle, if you plead that, you must let in the Ishmaelites, for they were of Abraham. But they were slaves! That ground is gone. Then take Esau and Jacob" Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Then come to Israel, but if God had not been merciful, all of them would have been cut off except Moses' own children. God is, then, sovereign and so He can let in the Gentiles as well. It is a smashing argument to the Jews, for they had broken the law, and they could not deny it. Ah! says the Jew, but I have got the unconditional promises, and so I have a right to have them. And the apostle takes up that principle and shows that, in rejecting Christ, they had rejected the promises, too. And then he deals with the question of national election. When I was young, you might have found an infidel or two, but now, one may almost say, people are appointed to infidelity; though they were as bad then as now, one way or another.
Ques. Infidelity is often according to the increase of light?
Yes, very often it is, and the increase of light is often according to the infidelity.
Ques. The infidelity now is like that in our Lord's time? Yes, the Pharisees are the Puseyites, and one may find as well Nicodemuses and Josephs, or even Nathaniels.
Then, in verses 5 and 9, we have two kinds of priesthood, " holy," and now " royal." The " holy " is a kind of Aaronic priesthood, the " royal," more Melchisedec.
Ques. Does the Aaronic secure the going in and out, and finding pasture?
Going in and out, is liberty. One "fold " is a piece of wickedness in translating, to keep up an established church; it should be " one flock." We find three things there: eternal life, never perish, and saved; going in and out; and, finding pasture. Salvation, liberty, and God's sheep finding. No longer shut up in a fold, they are under the care of the good Shepherd who keeps them safe. So it takes first the image of the Aaronic priesthood. We are the epistles of Christ in our life, and words, and everything.
I take it to be an allusion to the offering up of the Levites in Num. 8
Ques. Why, " acceptable... by Jesus Christ " (v. 5)? They could not be so without Him, I cannot carry anything up to God except in Christ's name.
Ques. Is there any analogy between these two priesthoods and Rom. 12 and Eph. 5, the offering our bodies?
We have to offer our bodies, but he is not here speaking of that so much as of praises, and thanksgiving, and adoration. It is the same character as in Heb. 13, and that is more Aaronic. To show forth the praises is somewhat Melchisedec. It refers to Ex. 19, "a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation," and it puts these despised believers in the place formerly given to the nation of Israel who will have this place again, by and by.
Ques. How do you apply the wine of Melchisedec?
Melchisedec comes out with the blessing, up and down, and not with intercession, properly speaking, at all. In Hebrews, Paul takes Melchisedec as the mark which was to mark out Christ, but another priesthood there was that offered sacrifices, and so on, viz., that of Aaron.
Ques. Why " out of darkness "?
Darkness is always ignorance of God, and light is the knowledge of God.
Ques. Is such priesthood still going on?
Yes; and we have all the value of Christ's name and acceptance.
Ques. Some brethren think priesthood is advocacy, and presenting our worship?
Some of the brethren are very nice, but I do not think they gain much by such a notion. It is never said that Christ presents our worship, but that in the midst of the assembly He sings praises. Advocacy is a definite thing; priesthood in Hebrews is for grace to help in time of need. But this notion of Christ presenting our worship, as though we could not go in, does not give us the full character of Christian worship at all. It is " the Father seeketh," etc. Scripture does not speak of a priest with a Father. Christ is priest over the house of God, and so we draw near. We know He is there, and so we draw near with boldness. But that is not Father. Worship of the Father is peculiar for the Christian, but there is a tendency to bring worship down merely to Hebrews (there is no Father in Hebrews). " The Father himself loveth you "—one cannot bring in a priest here. In John, we have the obligation and necessity, and it is always Father; so our fellowship is with the Father, and that is the necessity of His nature.