First Peter

Chapter 2

Blaine Robison, M.A.

 Published 7 April 2019 (in progress)

Chapter 1 | 3 | 4 | 5


Scripture Text: The Scripture text of First Peter used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Other Scripture quotations may be taken from published versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Click here for Talmud Abbreviations.

Grammar: Unless otherwise indicated the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB."  The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament). The abbreviation LXX stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. The LXX with English translation may be found here.

Please see the General Introduction to the letters of Peter and the Introduction to First Peter for background information on the letter.

Chapter Outline

Call to Spiritual Growth, 2:1-3

Call to Holy Priesthood, 2:4-10

Call to Submission, 2:11-20

Call to Walk as Messiah, 2:21-25

Call to Spiritual Growth, 2:1-3

1 Therefore having put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisies and envies and all slanders.

Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then.' The conjunction connects the following exhortation to the previous chapter. having put away: Grk. apotithēmi, pl. aor. mid. part., to put off, put away, lay aside or rid oneself of. Its regular usage pertained to removing articles of clothing, but here the verb has a spiritual application. all: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. malice: Grk. kakia, moral offensiveness, whether as a general disposition or having malicious attitude toward others. In the LXX kakia is used to render Heb. ra (SH-451), bad, evil, or wicked, first in Genesis 6:5 for the evil inclination that pervaded the antediluvian culture.

and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). Conjunctions connect data or statements within verses, but in Hebraic fashion begin many verses also. The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of the Hebraic influence on the Greek language and grammar employed by apostolic writers.

all: Grk. pas. deceit: Grk. dolos, cunning that relies on deception for effectiveness; craftiness, deceit. and: Grk. kai. hypocrisies: pl. of Grk. hupokrisis, playing a role as in a theatrical production and used as a figure of speech for pretense or duplicity. Most versions translate the plural noun as singular, but Peter likely uses the plural to emphasize different forms of hypocrisy. and: Grk. kai. envies: pl. of Grk. phthonos, can mean to bear ill-will of a general kind, but more often to express the envy which makes one man grudge another something which he himself desires, but does not possess (DNTT 1:557). The noun does not occur in the canonical Scripture of the LXX, although the idea is apparent in such proverbs as "a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot" (Prov 14:30). The noun is used here clearly of a sinful character trait.

and: Grk. kai. all: Grk. pas. slanders: pl. of Grk. katalalia, verbal attack, disparagement, slander. Peter makes an incredible claim about the character of his readers before they experienced the transformation of the new birth. Paul also made a sharp contrast between the before and after life of Corinthian disciples (1Cor 6:9-11). The five evil activities listed by Peter point to dominance of the evil inclination. Yeshua made similar accusations of Judean leaders in Matthew 23.

2 Like newborn babies crave the thought-provoking pure milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation,

Like: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components, here with focus on the idea of a pattern or model; (just) as, (just) like, similar to, in the manner of. newborn: Grk. artigennētos, adj., just born, newly-born. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. babies: pl. of Grk. brephos may refer to (1) unborn offspring, or (2) a newborn or very young child. The second meaning applies here. Bible versions render the noun variously as babes, babies or infants. crave: Grk. epipotheō, aor. imp., have a strong desire for; long for, strain after, desire greatly, have affection for. the thought-provoking: Grk. ho logikos, adj., characterized by careful thinking, or thoughtful. The word occurs only twice in the apostolic writings, the other in Romans 12:1 (see my comment there).

The adjective does not occur in the LXX at all, but does occur in the Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC - AD 50) (DNTT 3:1118). In secular Greek philosophy logikos was used to describe man as a rational being and referred to (1) speaking or speech in eloquence, or suited for prose (2) possessed of reason, intellectual, logical (LSJ). A number of versions translate the adjective as "spiritual" (CEV, ESV, GNB, HCSB, NET, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TLV). However, Peter used logikos, not pneumatikos (verse 5 below). Some versions translate the adjective as "of the word" (AMP, CSB, CEB, CJB, KJV, MW, NASB, NKJV, WEB), for which there is no immediate antecedent, but commentators assume it to be found in the previous chapter (1:23-25). The point of the adjective is to emphasize what is grasped with the mind.

pure: Grk. adolos, adj., unadulterated, uncontaminated, pure. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. milk: Grk. gala, the liquid secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals, serving for the nourishment of their young. Metaphorically milk represents the elementary principles of discipleship (1Cor 3:2; Heb 5:12-13). One commentator suggested that Peter meant "mental milk." Stern interprets "milk" as alluding to the Word of God, which can mean (1) the written Scripture (1Pet 1:23-24), (2) the good news (1:25), (3) Yeshua (1:23, 2:4), (4) true doctrine (as in Heb 5:11–6:2), or (5) all of these. Just as Paul spoke of giving milk to the disciples in Corinth, Peter may be referring to his sermon on Pentecost as "milk."

so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. by: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," but also, as here, to mark the instrument or means by or with which anything is accomplished, owing to the influence of the Hebrew preposition בְּ (Thayer). it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here, alluding to the milk. you may grow: Grk. auxanō, aor. pass. subj., cause to become greater in extent or amount; grow, increase. In this context the verb alludes to the developmental growth and maturation from infancy (cf. Luke 1:80; 2:40).

into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit. salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath (Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5). In the LXX sōtēria translates six different Hebrew formations derived from the root verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206). In the religious sense sōtēria is deliverance from both the curse and consequences of sin. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Salvation is sometimes spoken of as a present experience (1Cor 1:18; Eph 2:5; Titus 3:5), but it is also a future expectation to be fulfilled by the Second Coming of Yeshua (Rom 5:10; 10:9; 13:11; 1Cor 3:15; 1Th 2:16; 5:9; 1Tim 4:16; Heb 1:14; 9:28).

Salvation is both individual and national in reference to Israel. Luke has already stressed the salvation of Israel in Zechariah's hymn of praise (Luke 1:69, "a horn of salvation"), in Simeon's prayer (Luke 2:30, "your salvation"), and in introducing the ministry of Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 3:6, "God's salvation"). These scenarios envision the Messiah delivering Israel from her enemies and establishing his kingdom to rule the earth. This Messianic hope was announced by the prophets (Isa 46:3; 51:5-6; 62:11; Jer 23:5-6; 30:7; 33:16; Ezek 37:24-28; Dan 7:13-14; Zech 9:9; 12:7-10; 14:1-9), and proclaimed by the apostles has having arrived (Acts 4:12; 13:26).

Works Cited

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.

Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.

Gesenius: Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Trans. Samuel P. Tregelles (1846). Baker Book House, 1979. Online.

Marshall: I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter. InterVarsity Press, 1991. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series.

Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.

Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.

Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.

Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997)

Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn and G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.

Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889. online

Copyright © 2019 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.