The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary On 1 Peter 2:21-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 14, 2010

Besides the Bishop’s commentary on the verses of the reading, I’ve also included his summary of chapter 2.


In this chapter, the Apostle, alluding to the spiritual regeneration (1-23), by which the faithful contracted towards one another the relation of spiritual brotherhood, calls upon them to lay aside the vices opposed to the exercise of fraternal charity (1), and as they had lately received a new spiritual existence, to continue to covet the milk of the divine word (2), the sweets of which they already experienced (3).

He, in the next place, views them under a different respect, as living stones of the spiritual edifice, of which Christ was the chief corner-stone; and that eh was the corner-stone of his Church, the Apostle proves from Isaiah (4-7).  He shows, that while to the believers Christ is a source of glory and honor, by their incorporation with him, to the unbelievers, he is the occasion of ruin (7-8).

He applies to Christian converts, the exalted titles bestowed by God on his chosen people of old (9), and shows the magnitude of the blessings bestowed on them, by contrasting their present benefits, with their former deplorable condition (10).  He encourages them to subdue their passions, and to edify, by their good works, the unconverted Gentiles (11-12).

He inculcates the duty of subjection to temporal rulers, whether exercising supreme or subordinate authority, as both derive from God (13-14), and he enjoins this duty on the ground, that God will see it.  He also tells them not to make the liberty, unto which Christ asserted them, the pretext of insubordination, and of unrestrained licentiousness, (15-16).

He, then, descending to domestic obedience, enjoins on servants, the duty of obedience to their masters, even to such as are unkind (18).  He encourages them to suffer wrongs patiently after the example of Christ, he shows the great merit of such patience (19-24), and points out the great blessing of redemption through Christ.

Notes: Besides quoting the text of Scripture, the Bishop employs an interpretive paraphrase, a common practice among biblical scholars of his day.  These paraphrases follow the actual text and are in blue.

1Pe 2:21  For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.

For, it is a condition of your Christian vocation to suffer patiently, and endure evil for your good actions; since Christ, the predestined model of God’s elect, suffered thus for us, leaving you an example to follow by walking in his footsteps.

For unto this you are called, viz., to suffer unjust persecutions and wrongs patiently, even when doing good.  This is a condition of our call to Christianity.  “By many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  “All who wish to live piously in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”  “Because Christ also suffered for us” (literal Greek: for you).  He is the predestined model of God’s elect; and we must tread in his footsteps, and follow the example he left us, if we wish to share in his glory.

1Pe 2:22  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.

He suffered unjustly; for, he did nothing to merit it; he committed no offense either by deed or word.

He committed not sin either by deed or word.  The quotation who did no sin &c., is taken from Isaiah 53:9.  He did no sin; he was incapable of sin, whether original or actual; neither was guile that is, lying or deceit, found in his mouth, a Hebrew form of saying, there was no guile or deceit in him.  Hence, he suffered, unjustly.

1Pe 2:23  Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not, but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly.

He suffered patiently; for, when he was reproached and reviled, he did not recriminate or retort; when suffering, he did not threaten his enemies with the divine vengeance; but he delivered himself to Pontius Pilate, by whom he was judged and condemned unjustly.

He also suffered patiently; for when reviled, charged with being a “drunkard, a Samaritan, possessed by a devil, etc., he did not revile or recriminate.  And although he occasionally reproached his enemies, e.g., Jn 8:44), he did no do so, in a spirit of recrimination.  When he suffered, he threatened not; for, although, at times, he threatened sinners with eternal death (Mt 10:15; Lk 10:5, and elsewhere); still, he did not do so when suffering, lest it might savor of impatience or vindictiveness.  But delivered himself to him, that judged him unjustly.  According to which reading the meaning is, that he patiently and silently submitted to the unjust judgment of Pontius Pilate.  In the Greek the reading is him that judged him justly; the meaning of which is, that he committed his cause to the just judgment of his heavenly Father, by who he was charged with the full imputability of our sins, and justly punished as the victim of atonement for them.

1Pe 2:24  Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice: by whose stripes you were healed.

He bore our sins as to the imputability and the punishment due to them, in his body, extended on the wood of the cross, to the end that we, being dead to sins, having no more commerce with them than the living have with the dead, should lead a life of justice; by the stripes and marks inflicted on his body, you have been healed.

Who his own self bore our sins.  He had no sins of his own to bear.  He bore ours as to their imputability, and the punishment due to them, in his body upon the tree.  “The tree” of the cross, was his altar of sacrifice.  In this verse there is allusion to Isaiah 53, vere languores nostros ipse tulit…..ipse peccata multorum tulitThat we being dead to sins, holding no more commerce with them than the living hold with the dead, should live to justice.  The end of this suffering was, to effect our spiritual death to sin, and our resurrection to a perpetual and undying life of grace.  Hence, St Paul says, “let not sin reign in your mortal body,” &c.  “Let us live to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Let us exhibit our members as arms of justice to God.”  By whose stripes you were healed.  The Apostle changes the person, and says, “you.”  The word “stripes” is allusive to the bad treatment slaves sometimes receive from their masters, when scourged by them,  In such cases, they should remember and derive consolation from reflecting, that the Son of God was scourged and treated unjustly and harshly, to atone for their sins, while he was wholly innocent.  Oh! how it would alleviate the miseries in which we may often chance to be involved, owing to the injustice of men, were we after seriously reflecting that the Son of God suffered still more for us, to unite our sufferings with his, and to bear in mind, that, unlike him, we, at some time, deserved punishment-quoniam ego in flagella paratus sum, peccatum meum contra me est semper?

1Pe 2:25  For you were as sheep going astray: but you are now converted to the shepherd and bishop of your souls.

And you required healing; for, like sheep wandering abroad without a shepherd, you were wandering astray from God, from virtue, from heaven, rushing headlong to vice and eternal ruin; but now, through the bountiful grace of God, you are brought back to your good Pastor, who will feed you with the wholesome pastures of eternal life, and to the Bishop of your souls, who will watch over you, and guard you from straying away from him in the future.

For, you were as sheep going astray, owing to your spiritual disorders, and, therefore, required to be healed; but now you are brought back, as it were, to your original condition.  You were converted to the good Pastor, who will lead you into wholesome pastures, and support your souls with his heavenly word, his sacraments, and especially with his own most precious body and blood.  And the Bishop of your souls; he will watch over you, as the word “bishop” ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos) signifies, and guard you unless it be your own fault, from straying away any more from him.  Can anything so strikingly demonstrate to us the greatness of the benefits of our redemption, as the forlorn and wretched condition of those, from whom a participation in this blessing has been withheld.  This state of wretchedness is most clearly exhibited in the affecting idea which the Apostle gives us of it, when comparing it to the condition of sheep wandering and scattered abroad without a shepherd, to tend or protect them from the incursions of ravenous wolves.  Oh! what gratitude do we not owe the the infinite bounty and gratuitous mercy of our good shepherd, who has rescued us, at the price of such excruciating tortures, in preference to millions of his creatures, from this deplorable condition?  Who can enumerate the countless advantages we enjoy in the bosom of his holy Church, within the precincts of his saving fold?  What return then should we make him?  Quid retribuam Domine, pr omnibus quae retribuit mihi? From our mother’s womb he was our God (Ps 21:11).  And who can sufficiently comprehend all that he has done for us?  In loco pascuae, ibi, me collocavit. In this place of pasture has he placed us from our mother’s womb, without any claim on him, an the grounds of merit, actual or foreseen; for before we were born, or capable of good or evil, has he loved us with a love of predilection; while others he has left outside his saving fold.  See what immense sacrifice of feeling, of friends, of worldly position, of all that the world values or esteems, it costs the few, at one time placed outside his fold, whom his grace enables to return to the bosom of his church, while it costs us nothing.  We should, by sanctity of life, endeavor to correspond with his goodness, and seek by all means to promote the salvation of our brethren.  Si diligis me, pasce oves meas. This is the return he demands from each one, in his proper sphere and capacity.

3 Responses to “Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary On 1 Peter 2:21-25”

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