2. Instruction on Christian living, 2:11-3:12
iv] Civil and domestic dutiesArgument
Peter now summarises his instructions to the Christian communities in Asia Minor to further help in their struggle to live a holy life within a hostile pagan environment. He provides a package of rule-of-thumb ethics covering love within the brotherhood and the proper response to aggression from without. He supports his instructions, particularly with regard to not returning evil for evil, with a quote from Psalm 34:12-16.
i] Context: See 2:11-12
ii] Background: See 1:1-2.
iii] Structure: Instructions on civil and domestic duties:
The virtue of compassion, v8
The virtue of kindness in response to aggression, v9
These are the virtues required of "the righteous", Psalm 34:12-16, v10-12.
Providing guidance on how to survive within a hostile pagan environment, Peter identifies a number key virtues, stressing the virtue of not repaying kind for kind - "repay evil with blessing." In support of his exhortation, he reminds his readers of a well founded Biblical principle, namely that conduct is related to eschatological reward. This contention Peter supports from Psalm 34:12-16.
The issue of divine reward: It is always somewhat unnerving when we strike a passage in scripture which promotes a conduct-for-reward line, given that salvation is totally dependant on the grace of God apart from a person's own graciousness / goodness / godliness (ie., salvation is realised through faith in the faithfulness of Christ apart from works). So, commentators, uneasy with a conduct-for-reward approach, read touto, "this", v9, as forward referencing, "to this you were called, namely, to inherit a blessing", rather than backward referencing, "to this you were called", namely "to repay evil with blessing iJna (in order that / with the result that) you may inherit a blessing", so David's, Kelly, Selwyn. Yet, it is not possible to skirt around the conduct-for-reward approach of the Psalm. And in any case, the word "blessing" can mean "the bestowal of honour", and the verb klhronomew, "to inherit", may well imply an inheritance which entails the promised blessings of the covenant. Given that Peters use of eiV touto in 2:20-21 is backward referencing, the majority of commentators argue that it is backward referencing here also, so Achtemeier, Best, Clowney, Elliott, Grudem, Jobes, Michaels.
When it comes to daily life, conduct-for-reward generally applies because God has designed a world where good follows good and evil follows evil. The wisdom of Proverbs details this truth, and the books of Job and Ecclesiastes tests it, so providing the qualification "it ain't necessarily so (the consequence of sin)." So, in practical terms, to repay "insult with insult" only makes things worse, whereas to "repay evil with blessing" may well make things better, ie., blessing follows blessing (generally speaking!). So, this may be the "blessing" Peter has in mind here.
When it comes to eternal / eschatological reward, conduct-for-reward still applies, but in a rather roundabout way. The Sinai covenant clearly explicates the link between law obedience / disobedience and divine blessing / cursing. Due to sin, we all face the same reward, a divine curse, rather than blessing. Thankfully, our God is gracious and covers us with the conduct of the one righteous man, in whose obedience we receive the reward of God's eternal blessing. When it comes to the eschatological awarding of honour, a "well done thou good and faithful servant", there is only one person who is due that honour, namely Jesus. Through faith in him, that honour is ours as a gift of grace. There is no way Peter would seek to undermine this truth.
Given that Peter cannot be promoting the earning of eternal merit by gracious speech, what is his point? Clowney puts it well: "God who calls us to inherit his blessings, calls us to follow the path of peace that leads to blessings. The Christian's knowledge of the blessing that he will receive from the Lord encourages and enables him to bless others, even his enemies." Peter is encouraging those who are the inheritors of God's blessing to bless when cursed - we who have received God's grace, have the wherewithal to be gracious.
Text - 3:8
Appropriate conduct for every believer, v8-12: i] The virtue of compassion, v8. The virtues are presented as five adjectives: one in thought, sympathetic, filled with brotherly love, compassionate and humble minded.
de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here probably copulative; "having the force of concluding something", Betz.
to .... teloV (oV ouV) acc. "Finally" - the end [all being]. The accusative is verbal, so "finally", but probably better, "In summary then, ......" An attendant circumstance participle of the verb to-be must be assumed expressing action accompanying the imperatives in 2:17, so Achtemeier, or even "submit", 2:13; "Finally, all of you submit to the commands by being of one mind." Selwyn and Michaels suggest that the following adjectives are in themselves imperatival, although such is very rare usage.
tapeinofroneV adj. "humble" - [of one mind, sympathetic, brother-loving, tenderhearted / compassionate,] humble minded. Predicate adjective. An important virtue defined by Jesus himself, Matt.11:29, 18:4, 23:12, ... Used in the sense of recognising a person's standing under God as a forgiven sinner.
ii] Do not respond in kind to hurt or insult, v9. The response called for here requires sensitivity. We well know that the worst thing we can do with a person who is angry with us is play the Mr. Nice Guy role, and this because it only makes them more angry. Until they calm down it's best to say very little. The point is, don't respond in kind, that certainly makes the situation worse. Respect the person and their opinions. Peter's exhortation here obviously reflects the harsh criticism faced by the Christian community at this time.
mh ..... de "[do] not [..... On the contrary]" - not ...... but/and [blessing] A negative-positive correlative construction.
apodidonteV (apodidwmi) pres. part. "do [not] repay" - paying back, rendering, repaying, returning. Attendant circumstance participle again expressing action accompanying the imperatives in 2:13, or 17, so, imperatival, as NIV.
anti + gen. "[evil] with [evil]" - [evil] for [evil, or insult, abuse, reviling for insult]. Here expressing substitution; "instead of, in place of." "Do not repay injury with injury, or abuse with abuse", Cassirer.
tounantion acc. "On the contrary" - [but/and] instead. This accusative construction, to + enantion is adverbial, expressing an emphatic contrast; "on the contrary, rather, instead", Dubis.
eulogounteV (eulogew) pres. part. "repay evil with blessing" - blessing. Attendant circumstance participle as above, so imperatival; "bless", ESV.
oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why we should repay an insult with a blessing.
eiV touto + acc. "to this]" - into this [you were called]. The preposition eiV is spacial, goal, or possibly purpose / end-view; "that's your job, to bless", Peterson. The close demonstrative pronoun touto, "this", is backward referencing / anaphoric, as NIV, but possibly forward referencing / cataphoric, "to this you were called, namely, to inherit a blessing"; see above. Forward referencing removes the false notion that by fulfilling the calling to bless in return for a curse we "inherit a blessing", but as Kistemaker notes, an inheritance is never earned.
iJna + subj. "so that" - that [you may inherit a blessing]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that ...", or consecutive, expressing result, "with the result that", or hypothetical result, "so that", ie., the envisaged outcome. The weight of such hina clauses is more consecutive / hypothetical result, "so that", than final.
iii] The virtues of "the just" are outlined in Psalm 34:12-16, v10-12. For the relation between conduct and reward, as expressed in this verse, see "Interpretation" above.
gar "for" - Here establishing a logical connection by introducing a quote, so best left untranslated, as Moffatt.
oJ ... qelwn (qelw) pres. part. "whoever would" - the one wishing, wanting. The participle serves as a substantive.
agapan (agapaw) pres. inf. "to love" - to love [life]. As with idein, "to see [good days]", the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb qelw, here serving as a participle. The sense of the verb in this context is "enjoy, take pleasure in", Dubis. "Whoever has a desire to lead a life he can enjoy and to see happy days", Cassirer.
apo + gen. "from [evil]" - [let him stop, cease the tongue] from [evil]. Expressing separation, "away from"; "then stop saying cruel things and telling lies", CEV.
tou mh + inf. "from" - [and lips] the not [to speak deceit]. This construction, the genitive articular infinitive, often serves to introduce a purpose clause; "stop ..... the/his lips so as not to speak deceit." Yet, it is more likely that with the negation mh, rather than ou, following a verb of hindering or stopping (here pauw, "to cease, stop"), expresses separation = apo, "away from." This is a rare usage, but note a similar construction in Romans 11:10 - purpose or separation? So, as NIV.
de "-" - Transitional, indicating the next step in the argument.
ekklinatw (ekklinw) aor. imp. "they must turn" - let him turn away from, avoid; "give up your evil ways", CEV.
apo + "from" - from. Expressing separation. A typical Koine Gk. example of repeating the idea expressed in the prepositional prefix of the verb.
kakou gen. adj. "evil" - evil [and let them do good]. As with agaqon, "good", the adjective serves as a substantive; "that which is good" for "that which is evil", "evil ways."
eirhnhn (h) "peace" - [let him seek] peace [and peruse it]. The accusative direct object of the verb "to seek." "Doing what is right involves the quest for peace in all its social, personal and religious dimensions", Elliott.
oJti "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why a person needs to turn from evil and pursue good.
kuriou (oV) gen. "of the Lord" - [the eyes] of the lord. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.
epi + acc. "on" - [are] on. Spacial, direction; "focused upon the righteous."
dikaiouV adj. "the righteous" - the righteous ones. The adjective serves as a substantive; "the righteous ones" = "the righteous." Peter uses this word in reference to Christ, 3:18, but here the sense is "the just", those who do what is right." Peter is not implying that the Psalmist is using the word in the sense of justification, of being set-right / declared-right in the presence of God.
eiV + acc. "to" - [and ears of him are] into = toward [the prayers]. Spacial, direction.
autwn gen. pro. "their" - of them. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, "their supplication", or verbal, subjective, "the prayers offered by them."
de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here to a contrasting point, so "but".
kuriou (oV) gen. "of the Lord" - the [face] of the lord. The phrase is commonly found in the OT and is used to indicate the presence of the Lord as he relates to a certain situation, here of the judgment of the wicked.
epi + acc. "is against" - is against. Here expressing opposition; "against".
poiountaV (poiew) pres. part. "those who do" - the ones doing [evil]. The participle serves as a substantive.