December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander;
- like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation,
- for you have tasted that the Lord is good. 2
- Come to him, a living stone, 3 rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
- and, like living stones, let yourselves be built 4 into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- For 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."
- Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,"
- and "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.
- 5 But you are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises" of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
- Once you were "no people" but now you are God's people; you "had not received mercy" but now you have received mercy.
- 6 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners 7 to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.
- Maintain 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.
- 8 Be subject to every human institution for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme
- or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good.
- For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people.
- Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God.
- Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king.
- 9 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.
- For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace.
- But 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.
- For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered 10 for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
- "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." 11
- When 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.
- He 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.
- For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. 12
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1 [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  Tasted that the Lord is good: cf Psalm 34:8.
3 [4-8] Christ is the cornerstone (cf Isaiah 28:16) that is the foundation of the spiritual edifice of the Christian community (1 Peter 2:5). To unbelievers, Christ is an obstacle and a stumbling block on which they are destined to fall (1 Peter 2:8); cf Romans 11:11.
4  Let yourselves be built: the form of the Greek word could also be indicative passive, "you are being built" (cf 2 Peter 2:9).
5 [9-10] The prerogatives of ancient Israel mentioned here are now more fully and fittingly applied to the Christian people: "a chosen race" (cf Isaiah 43:20-21) indicates their divine election (Eph 1:4-6); "a royal priesthood" (cf Exodus 19:6) to serve and worship God in Christ, thus continuing the priestly functions of his life, passion, and resurrection; "a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6) reserved for God, a people he claims for his own (cf Malachi 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 Hosea 1:9; 2:23).
6 [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 Peter 2:11-12); respect for human authority (1 Peter 2:13-17); obedience, patience, and endurance of hardship in domestic relations (1 Peter 2:18-25); Christian behavior of husbands and wives (1 Peter 3:1-7); mutual charity (1 Peter 3:8-12).
7  Aliens and sojourners: no longer signifying absence from one's native land (Genesis 23:4), this image denotes rather their estrangement from the world during their earthly pilgrimage (see also 1 Peter 1:1, 17).
8 [13-17] True Christian freedom is the result of being servants of God (16; see the note on 1 Peter 2:18-23). It includes reverence for God, esteem for every individual, and committed love for fellow Christians (1 Peter 2:17). Although persecution may threaten, subjection to human government as urged (1 Peter 2:13, 17) and concern for the impact of Christians' conduct on those who are not Christians (1 Peter 2:12, 15).
9 [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; Phl. 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 Peter 2:20) of slaves to unjust treatment. Their patient suffering is compared to that of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21), which won righteousness for all humanity.
10  Suffered: some ancient manuscripts and versions read "died" (cf 1 Peter 3:18).
11 [22-25] After the quotation of Isaiah 53:9b, the passage describes Jesus' passion with phrases concerning the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 53:4-12, perhaps as employed in an early Christian confession of faith; cf 1 Peter 1:18-21 and 1 Peter 3:18-22.
12  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 (Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 23:4-5; Ezekiel 34:11-16) and of Jesus for all humanity in the New Testament (Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:4-7; John 10:1-16; Hebrews 13:20).
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