1 Peter 3:8-9
8. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another;
love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
8. Denique sitis omnes idem sentientes, compatientes, fratern_ vos
diligentes, misericordes, humiles;
9. Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise
blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit
9. Non reddentes malum pro malo, vel convitium pro convitio; imo
potius benedicentes, scientes quod in hoc vocati sitis, ut benedictionem
Now follow general precepts which indiscriminately belong to all. Moreover
he summarily mentions some things which are especially necessary to foster
friendship and love. The first is, Be ye all of one mind, or, think ye
all the same thing. For though friends are at liberty to think differently,
yet to do so is a cloud which obscures love; yea, from this seed easily
arises hatred. Sympathy (sumpa>qeia) extends to all our faculties, when
concord exists between us; so that every one condoles with us in adversity
as well as rejoices with us in prosperity, so that every one not only cares
for himself, but also regards the benefit of others.
What next follows, Love as brethren, belongs peculiarly to the
faithful; for where God is known as a Father, there only brotherhood really
exists. Be pitiful, or merciful, which is added, means that we are not
only to help our brethren and relieve their miseries, but also to bear
with their infirmities. In what follows there are two readings in Greek;
but what seems to me the most probable is the one I have put as the text;
for we know that it is the chief bond to preserve friendship, when every
one thinks modestly and humbly of himself; as there is nothing on the other
hand which produces more discords than when we think too highly of ourselves.
Wisely then does Peter bid us to be humble-minded (tapeino>fronev,) lest
pride and haughtiness should lead us to despise our neighbors.
9. Not rendering evil for evil. In these words every kind of
revenge is forbidden; for in order to preserve love, we must bear with
many things. At the same time he does not speak here of mutual benevolence,
but he would have us to endure wrongs, when provoked by ungodly men. And
though it is commonly thought that it is an instance of a weak and abject
mind, not to avenge injuries, yet it is counted before God as the highest
magnanimity. Nor is it indeed enough to abstain from revenge; but Peter
requires also that we should pray for those who reproach us; for to bless
here means to pray, as it is set in opposition to the second clause. But
Peter teaches us in general, that evils are to be overcome by acts of kindness.
This is indeed very hard, but we ought to imitate in this case our heavenly
Father, who makes his sun to rise on the unworthy. What the sophists imagine
to be the meaning, is a futile evasion; for when Christ said, “Love your
enemies,” he at the same time confirmed his own doctrine by saying, “That
ye might be the children of God.”
Knowing that ye are thereunto called. He means that this condition was
required of the faithful when they were called by God, that they were not
only to be so meek as not to retaliate injuries, but also to bless those
who cursed them; and as this condition may seem almost unjust, he calls
their attention to the reward; as though he had said, that there is no
reason why the faithful should complain, because their wrongs would turn
to their own benefit. In short, he shews how much would be the gain of
patience; for if we submissively bear injuries, the Lord will bestow on
us his blessing.
The verb, klhrono>mein, to inherit, seems to express perpetuity, as
though Peter had said, that the blessing would not be for a short time,
but perpetual, if we be submissive in bearing injuries. But God blesses
in a way different, from men; for we express our wishes to him, but he
confers a blessing on us. And on the other hand, Peter intimates that they
who seek to revenge injuries, attempt what will yield them no good, for
they thus deprive themselves of God’s blessing.
1 Peter 3:10-15
10. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain
his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
10. Qui enim vult vitam diligere, et videre dies bonos, contineat
linguam suam _ malo, et labia sua, ne loquantur dolum;
11. Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue
11. Declinet _ malo et faciat bonum, quaerat pacem et persequatur
12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears
are open, unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them
that do evil.
12. Quoniam oculi Domini super justos, et aures ejus in preces eorum;
vultus autem Domini super facientes mala.
13. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that
which is good?
13. Et quis est qui vobis mal_ faciat, si boni aemuli sitis?
14. But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye:
and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
14. Verum etiam si patiamini propter justitiam, beati; timorem vero
eorum ne timeatis neque turbemini;
15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.
15. Sed Dominum exercituum sanctificate in cordibus vestris.
10. For he. He confirms the last sentence by the testimony of
David. The passage is taken from the thirty-fourth Psalm, where the Spirit
testifies that it will be well with all who keep themselves from all evil-doing
and wrong-doing. The common feeling indeed favors what is very different;
for men think that they expose themselves to the insolence of enemies,
if they do not boldly defend themselves. But the Spirit of God promises
a happy life to none except to the meek, and those who endure evils; and
we cannot be happy except God prospers our ways; and it is the good and
the benevolent, and not the cruel and inhuman, that he will favor.
Peter has followed the Greek version, though the difference is but little.
David’s words are literally these, — “He who loves life and desires to
see good days,” etc. It is indeed a desirable thing, since God has placed
us in this world, to pass our time in peace. Then, the way of obtaining
this blessing is to conduct ourselves justly and harmlessly towards all.
The first thing he points out are the vices of the tongue; which are
to be avoided, so that we may not be contumelious and insolent, nor speak
deceitfully and with duplicity. Then he comes to deeds, that we are to
injure none, or cause loss to none, but to endeavor to be kind to all,
and to exercise the duties of humanity.
11. Let him seek peace. It is not enough to embrace it when offered
to us, but it ought to be followed when it seems to flee from us. It also
often happens, that when we seek it as much as we can, others will not
grant it to us. On account of these difficulties and hindrances, he bids
us to seek and pursue it.
12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, or, on
the righteous. It ought to be a consolation to us, sufficient to mitigate
all evils, that we are looked upon by the Lord, so that he will bring us
help in due time. The meaning then is, that the prosperity which he has
mentioned depends on the protection of God; for were not the Lord to care
for his people, they would be like sheep exposed to wolves. And that we
for little reason raise a clamor, that we suddenly kindle unto wrath, that
we burn with the passion of revenge, all this, doubtless, happens, because
we do not consider that God cares for us, and because we do not acquiesce
in his aid. Thus in vain we shall be taught patience, except our minds
are first imbued with this truth, that God exercises such care over us,
that he will in due time succor us. When, on the contrary, we are fully
persuaded that God defends the cause of the righteous, we shall first attend
simply to innocence, and then, when molested and hated by the ungodly,
we shall flee to the protection of God. And when he says, that the ears
of the Lord are open to our prayers, he encourages us to pray.
But the face of the Lord. By this clause he intimates that the
Lord will be our avenger, because he will not always suffer the insolence
of the ungodly to prevail; and at the same time he shews how it will be,
if we seek to defend our life from injuries, even that God will be an adversary
to us. But it may, on the other hand, be objected and said, that we experience
it daily far otherwise, for the more righteous any one is, and the greater
lover of peace he is, the more he is harassed by the wicked. To this I
reply, that no one is so attentive to righteousness and peace, but that
he sometimes sins in this respect. But it ought to be especially observed,
that the promises as to this life do not extend further than as to what
is expedient for us to be fulfilled. Hence, our peace with the world is
often disturbed, that our flesh may be subdued, in order that we may serve
God, and also for other reasons; so that nothing may be a loss to us.
13. Who is he that will harm you. He further confirms the previous
sentence by an argument drawn from common experience. For it happens for
the most part, that the ungodly disturb us, or are provoked by us, or that
we do not labor to do them good as it behoves us; for they who seek to
do good, do even soften minds which are otherwise hard as iron. This very
thing is mentioned by Plato in his first book on the Republic, “Injustice,”
he says, “causes seditions and hatreds and fightings one with another;
but justice, concord and friendship.” However, though this commonly happens,
yet it is not always the case; for the children of God, how much soever
they may strive to pacify the ungodly by kindness, and shew themselves
kind towards all, are yet often assailed undeservedly by many.
14. Hence Peter adds, But if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake.
The meaning is, that the faithful will do more towards obtaining a quiet
life by kindness, than by violence and prompfitude in taking revenge; but
that when they neglect nothing to secure peace, were they to suffer, they
are still blessed, because they suffer for the sake of righteousness. Indeed,
this latter clause differs much from the judgment of our flesh; but Christ
has not without reason thus declared; nor has Peter without reason repeated
the sentence from his mouth; for God will at length come as a deliverer,
and then openly will appear what now seems incredible, that is, that the
miseries of the godly have been blessed when endured with patience.
To suffer for righteousness, means not only to submit to some loss or
disadvantage in defending a good cause, but also to suffer unjustly, when
any one is innocently in fear among men on account of the fear of God.
Be not afraid of their terror. He again points out the fountain and
cause of impatience, that we are beyond due measure troubled, when the
ungodly rise up against us. For such a dread either disheartens us, or
degrades us, or kindles within us a desire for revenge. In the meantime,
we do not acquiesce in the defense of God. Then the best remedy for checking
the turbulent emotions of our minds will be, to conquer immoderate terrors
by trusting in the aid of God.
But Peter no doubt meant to allude to a passage in the eighth chapter
of Isaiah; for when the Jews against the prohibition of God sought to fortify
themselves by the aid of the Gentile world, God warned his Prophet not
to fear after their example. Peter at the same time seems to have turned
“fear” into a different meaning; for it is taken passively by the Prophet.,
who accused the people of unbelief, because, at a time when they ought
to have relied on the aid of God and to have boldly despised all dangers,
they became so prostrate and broken down with fear, that they sent to all
around them for unlawful help. But Peter takes fear in another sense, as
meaning that terror which the ungodly are wont to fill us with by their
violence and cruel threatenings. He then departs from the sense in which
the word is taken by the Prophet; but in this there is nothing unreasonable;
for his object was not to explain the words of the Prophet; he wished only
to shew that, nothing is fitter to produce patience than what Isaiah prescribes,
even to ascribe to God his honor by recumbing in full confidence on his
I do not, however, object, if any one prefers to render Peter’s words
thus, Fear ye not their fear; as though he had said, “Be ye not afraid
as the unbelieving, or the children of this world are wont to be, because
they understand nothing of God’s providence.” But this, as I think, would
be a forced explanation. There is, indeed, no need for us to toil much
on this point, since Peter here did not intend to explain every word used
by the Prophet, but only referred to this one thing, that the faithful
will firmly stand, and can never be moved from a right course of duty by
any dread or fear, if they will sanctify the Lord.
But this sanctification ought to be confined to the present case. For
whence is it that we are overwhelmed with fear, and think ourselves lost,
when danger is impending, except that we ascribe to mortal man more power
to injure us than to God to save us? God promises that he will be the guardian
of our salvation; the ungodly, on the other hand, attempt to subvert it.
Unless God’s promise sustain us, do we not deal unjustly with him, and
in a manner profane him? Then the Prophet teaches us that we ought to think
honourably of the Lord of hosts; for how much soever the ungodly may contrive
to destroy us, and whatever power they may possess, he alone is more than
sufficiently powerful to secure our safety. Peter then adds, in your hearts.
For if this conviction takes full possession of our minds, that the help
promised by the Lord is sufficient for us, we shall be well fortified to
repel all the fears of unbelief.