God’s House and People. 1* Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander;a 2like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, 3b for you have tasted that the Lord is good.* 4Come to him, a living stone,* rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God,c 5and, like living stones, let yourselves be built* into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.d 6For it says in scripture:
“Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion,
a cornerstone, chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.”e
“The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”f
“A stone that will make people stumble,
and a rock that will make them fall.”
They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny.g
10Once you were “no people”
but now you are God’s people;
you “had not received mercy”
but now you have received mercy.i
III. The Christian in a Hostile World
Christian Examples. 11* Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners* to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.j 12Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Christian Citizens.* 13Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supremek 14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. 15For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God.l 17Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king.m
Christian Slaves. 18* Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.n 19For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. 20But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered* for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.o
22“He committed no sin,p
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”*
23When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.q 24He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.r 25For you had gone astray like sheep,s but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.*
* [2:1–3] Growth toward salvation is seen here as two steps: first, stripping away all that is contrary to the new life in Christ; second, the nourishment (pure spiritual milk) that the newly baptized have received.
* [2:4–8] Christ is the cornerstone (cf. Is 28:16) that is the foundation of the spiritual edifice of the Christian community (1 Pt 2:5). To unbelievers, Christ is an obstacle and a stumbling block on which they are destined to fall (1 Pt 2:8); cf. Rom 11:11.
* [2:9–10] The prerogatives of ancient Israel mentioned here are now more fully and fittingly applied to the Christian people: “a chosen race” (cf. Is 43:20–21) indicates their divine election (Eph 1:4–6); “a royal priesthood” (cf. Ex 19:6) to serve and worship God in Christ, thus continuing the priestly functions of his life, passion, and resurrection; “a holy nation” (Ex 19:6) reserved for God, a people he claims for his own (cf. Mal 3:17) in virtue of their baptism into his death and resurrection. This transcends all natural and national divisions and unites the people into one community to glorify the one who led them from the darkness of paganism to the light of faith in Christ. From being “no people” deprived of all mercy, they have become the very people of God, the chosen recipients of his mercy (cf. Hos 1:9; 2:23).
* [2:11–3:12] After explaining the doctrinal basis for the Christian community, the author makes practical applications in terms of the virtues that should prevail in all the social relationships of the members of the community: good example to Gentile neighbors (1 Pt 2:11–12); respect for human authority (1 Pt 2:13–17); obedience, patience, and endurance of hardship in domestic relations (1 Pt 2:18–25); Christian behavior of husbands and wives (1 Pt 3:1–7); mutual charity (1 Pt 3:8–12).
* [2:11] Aliens and sojourners: no longer signifying absence from one’s native land (Gn 23:4), this image denotes rather their estrangement from the world during their earthly pilgrimage (see also 1 Pt 1:1, 17).
* [2:13–17] True Christian freedom is the result of being servants of God (16; see note on 1 Pt 2:18–23). It includes reverence for God, esteem for every individual, and committed love for fellow Christians (1 Pt 2:17). Although persecution may threaten, subjection to human government as urged (1 Pt 2:13, 17) and concern for the impact of Christians’ conduct on those who are not Christians (1 Pt 2:12, 15).
* [2:18–21] Most of the labor in the commercial cities of first-century Asia Minor was performed by a working class of slaves. The sense of freedom contained in the gospel undoubtedly caused great tension among Christian slaves: witness the special advice given concerning them here and in 1 Cor 7:21–24; Eph 6:5–8; Col 3:22–25; Philemon. The point made here does not have so much to do with the institution of slavery, which the author does not challenge, but with the nonviolent reaction (1 Pt 2:20) of slaves to unjust treatment. Their patient suffering is compared to that of Jesus (1 Pt 2:21), which won righteousness for all humanity.
* [2:22–25] After the quotation of Is 53:9b, the passage describes Jesus’ passion with phrases concerning the Suffering Servant from Is 53:4–12, perhaps as employed in an early Christian confession of faith; cf. 1 Pt 1:18–21 and 1 Pt 3:18–22.
* [2:25] The shepherd and guardian of your souls: the familiar shepherd and flock figures express the care, vigilance, and love of God for his people in the Old Testament (Ps 23; Is 40:11; Jer 23:4–5; Ez 34:11–16) and of Jesus for all humanity in the New Testament (Mt 18:10–14; Lk 15:4–7; Jn 10:1–16; Heb 13:20).