1 Peter 2

The Word Made Fresh

1Therefore, get rid of every hateful thought and every deception, as well as dishonesty, jealousy, and slander. 2Like newborn babies, long for pure, spiritual milk which will enable you to grow into salvation, 3for you will have tasted that the Lord is good.

4So, come to him, for he is the living stone that was rejected by men but precious and chosen in God’s eyes. 5You are like living stones, being built into a spiritual house to become a sacred priesthood who offers spiritual sacrifices approved by God through Jesus Christ. 6It says as much in scripture: “See, I am laying a stone in Zion that will be a precious chosen cornerstone. Whoever believes in him will never be afraid.” 7That stone is valuable to those who believe, but to those who don’t believe, “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.” 8It is “a stone on which they trip, a rock that causes their fall.” They stumble because they were destined to disobey the word.

9But you are a chosen race. You are a royal priesthood. You are a sacred nation of God’s own people so that you might tell others about the mighty deeds of the one who summoned you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s own people. And once you had not received mercy, but now you have.

11Friends, I encourage you as though you were aliens and exiles to refrain from the longings of the flesh that are at war with the soul. 12Always behave honorably among foreigners so that even if they think you are wicked, they might see the good things you do and glorify God when he comes to visit us.

13For the Lord’s sake, submit to every human authority, whether it’s the king, 14or governors who are sent by him to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do right. 15God wants you to do right and silence the ignorance of fools. 16You are God’s servants; you may live as free people, but you must not use your freedom as a cover for evil. 17Show respect for others. Love those who are believers. Fear God and honor the emperor.

18Those who are slaves should respect their master’s authority; not only masters who are kind and gentle, but also those who are oppressive. 19If you suffer unjustly, be aware of God and endure the pain, and that will be a credit to you. 20If you are punished for doing something wrong it is no credit to you, but if you suffer for doing what is right, endure it and receive God’s approval. 21You have been called to do this because Christ suffered for you and leaves you with this as an example, so you should follow in his footsteps, 22for “He did not sin, and his mouth spoke no deceit.” 23When he was beaten he didn’t fight back. When he suffered, he made no threats, but simply entrusted himself to the one who judges rightly. 24And he carried our sins with him on the cross so that we might be free from sin and strive to be righteous, for by his stripes you are healed. 25You had wandered astray like sheep, but now you are returned to the shepherd who is the guardian of your souls.


1-3: Many commentators see in the first 2 chapters of 1 Peter a description of the pre-Christian, the new Christian, the maturing Christian, and the future hope of the followers of Jesus, albeit not in any easily discernable order. Here, however, we do have a list of the kinds of behaviors believers are expected to overcome once they come to faith: hateful thoughts, deception, dishonesty, jealousy, and slander. And the new believer is encouraged to earnestly desire the basic teachings of the faith (“the pure, spiritual milk”) so that spiritual growth will continue.

4-8: The image of Christ as the “living stone” developed out of the identification of Christ with the “cornerstone” of Old Testament prophecy. The author describes the church as a building made with living stones (see Isaiah 28:16). Christ is precious to believers. To unbelievers he is the “stone the builders rejected,” now become the stone that holds the building together (Psalm 118:22). The cornerstone was the stone at the apex of the main doorway arch which literally held together that wall. Continuing the metaphor, he sees unbelievers “stumbling” over the cornerstone (Isaiah 8:14); that is, they cannot make progress toward salvation because they refuse to recognize Christ.

9-10: “Chosen race,” “royal priesthood,” “sacred nation” are all epithets applied to Israel in the Old Testament (for example, Exodus 19:5-6, Deuteronomy 7:6). The author now applies those terms to the church. Before Christ came, of course, Christians were “not a people.” Now, he says, Christians are “God’s people” (Hosea 1:10). It cannot be deduced from these verses that he means the church has replaced Israel, but it can certainly be argued that these verses point to the early belief that the church was called into existence to be God’s people in much the same way as Israel had been called (and, in the estimation of at least some New Testament writers, had failed in that calling).

11-12: In the same way, Christians were becoming aliens and exiles, just like their Jewish forebears. He urges them to conduct themselves honorably before unbelievers so that the good name of Christ would be protected.

13-17: There are a number of places among the letters of the New Testament where believers are urged to obey and respect the governing authorities (see, for example, Romans 13:1). Lawlessness was not to be engaged in; the reputation of the church was of the utmost importance, especially in those places where the Christian faith was not well established. For the survival and growth of the church it was necessary to silence the foolish, to honor everyone (particularly the emperor!), to love one another, and above all to fear God.

18-25: It is clear that the early church appealed especially to the poor and underprivileged because of its message of mercy and salvation. Slavery was common all around the Mediterranean world, and it is likely that a significant percentage of the membership of many congregations were slaves. It would have been extremely important not to develop a reputation of stirring up trouble among the slaves, and we find a number of places in the New Testament where slaves are urged to be obedient, even if they are mistreated. In fact, the author insists here that suffering under the heavy burden of a harsh master was a credit to the slave, because it was a way of emulating the suffering of Christ. So, they are encouraged to be like Christ, do their work well and practice no deceitfulness (Isaiah 53:9). Christ trusted God and did not return abuse for abuse but suffered willingly. Believers are therefore freed from sin and the burden of the law because they are healed by Christ’s suffering (see Isaiah 53:4-5), but it was important for the survival of the church — and of each individual believer — to live exemplary lives.


Our behavior, public and private, speaks to our faith.