The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 19, 2010


1) 1 Peter 2:1-3 (Tom Edwards) 


1 Peter 2:1-3
by Tom Edwards

In 1 Peter 2:1-3, Peter writes: "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."

God's word makes us aware of those things we are to put off, and of those things we are to put on, as a Christian.  It's interesting to note that this phrase "putting aside" in 1 Peter 2:1, or "laying aside," as the King James Version words it, is from a Greek word that William Barclay states "...is the word for stripping off one's clothes."  One example of this can be seen in Acts 7:58, "When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses LAID ASIDE their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul."  So, just as someone who has fallen into the mud would want to remove those dirty clothes to replace with clean ones, even so the Christian must be concerned about putting off the garments of wickedness in order to clothe himself with God's goodness.  This, of course, begins in baptism, as Paul shows in Galatians 3:26,27: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.   For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."  John also speaks of the need to have the right type of spiritual garments in Revelation 19:7,8: "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.  It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints."   This same Greek word for "putting aside" is used a total of 9 times in the New Testament.  For instance, "The night is almost gone, and the day is near.  Therefore let us LAY ASIDE the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Rom 13:12).  In Ephesians 4:22-25, Paul exhorts the Christian to "LAY ASIDE the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit...and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  Therefore, LAYING ASIDE falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor...."  To the Colossians, Paul wrote, "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth" (Col. 3:18).  The Hebrew writer exhorts the brethren to "...LAY ASIDE every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  James also uses this expression, by saying, "Therefore, PUTTING ASIDE all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls" (Jms. 1:21). 

Peter specifies several things that the Christian is to put aside (malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander): 

Malice, of course, is defined as "a desire to inflict harm or suffering on another" (Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary).  We can certainly think of Saul, in his jealous rage toward David, as an example of this.  But although "malice" has this specific definition, the Greek word "kakia," is actually used in a much broader sense.  It "includes evil of all kinds" (Albert Barnes).  According to Robertson's Word Pictures, "This old word...in the ancients meant vice of any kind."  Bullinger, in his Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, shows it to mean "badness...generically including every form of evil, physical and moral...vice generally, in all its forms."  It is the same Greek word that is used when Peter rebuked Simon in Acts 8:22, telling him to "Therefore repent of this WICKEDNESS of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you."  Simon's sin does not appear to have been malice.  Rather, he coveted the miraculous gift that the apostles had of laying hands on people to give them the Holy Spirit and even offered them money for that gift.  It is also seen as "wickedness" in James 1:21, when he instructs the Christians, by saying, "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of WICKEDNESS...."  In Matthew 6:34, this same Greek word is used by Jesus in speaking of each day that has enough TROUBLE of its own; and in Romans 1:29 it is rendered as "evil" and seen among a list of sins -- and one of them being "malice" from a different Greek word.  So we should not think of this Greek word in 1 Peter 2:1 being limited to only "malice."

Peter also shows that along with malice, "deceit" or "guile" is also to be put away (1 Pet. 2:1).  This is from the Greek word "dolos."  This word originally meant "a bait for fish, hence any cunning contrivance for deceiving or catching" (Bullinger).  So like many words, its literal meaning carried over to also a metaphorical rendering.   Strong defines "dolos" as "a bait, figuratively craft, deceit.  In the abstract, wile, craft, cunning."  Peter gives another exhortation on this in 1 Peter 3:10, where he states, "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."  Being without guile was a characteristic Jesus declared of Nathanael (Jn. 1:47); and Peter said of the Lord Himself that He "...committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth" (1 Pet. 2:22). 

Another sinful thing that Peter shows one is to put off in 1 Peter 2:1 is "hypocrisy."  Do you know what the word "hypocrite" originally meant?  The Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary shows that "hypocrite" comes from the Greek word "hypokrites" and means "a stage actor, hence one who plays a part, hypocrite."  Whom do we find Jesus referring to as hypocrites, more so than any other?  In Matthew 23, Jesus used the word "hypocrites" 7 times to address some scribes and Pharisees.  For many of them were a people who were just playing the part that they were highly religious -- and appeared that way on the outside -- but, inwardly, they were corrupt; and their hearts were far from God, as Jesus graphically describes in Matthew 23:25-28. 

Along with malice, deceit or guile, and hypocrisy, Peter also exhorts the brethren to put off "envy" (1 Pet. 2:1).  Envy can lead to many wicked and sinful actions.  In Matthew 27:15-18, Pilate knew it was because of envy that Jesus had been delivered up.  Bullinger shows that the Greek word for "envy" (phthonos) "is always used in a bad sense; jealousy of another's success, depreciation of his worth, envy of his excellence (associated by sound and sense, with phonos [which is the Greek word for murder], as envy led to the first murder)."  Envy has been described as "pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness in another" (Adam Clarke).  The same Greek word for "envy" is also used in Galatians 5:21, where it is listed among various specific sins referred to as "deeds of the flesh" that will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God.  So that certainly shows how serious and spiritually harmful this type of envy is.  It is also said to be "one of the most common manifestations of wickedness" (Albert Barnes).  We mentioned under the topic of "malice," the rage that Saul had manifested toward David with the attempts on his life.  But what engendered this "malice"?  Would it not have been envy?  For the women had been singing that "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."  As a result, Saul became "angry" and "displeased" and was also troubled over the thought of losing the kingdom to David (1 Sam. 18:5-9). Envy can undoubtedly lead to some terrible actions.  In James 4:1,2, James shows that envy can lead to fighting and quarreling; and he also shows what led to the envy: "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?  You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel...."  When we think of fleshly pleasures waging war in our members, we are reminded of the battle between the flesh and the spirit that Paul speaks of in Romans 8:5-9: “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”  So the answer to overcoming envy is found in letting God's Spirit dwell within us through the word, rather than yielding to sinful fleshly desire.  Paul also shows this in Galatians 5:13-17: "...walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."  We "walk by the Spirit" not by merely personal feelings, but by submitting to the instruction in God's word, which is "the sword of the Spirit" and the way He reveals, convicts, and guides (Rom. 10:17). 

Then after showing the brethren of the need to put off envy, Peter then brings to their attention another specific sin that they are to put aside; and that is "all slander."  The King James Version renders this as "all evil speakings."  It comes from the Greek word "katalalia," which Bullinger defines as "speaking against (implying hostility)." Thayer defines the Greek word as "defamation, evil speaking."  Strong also mentions these and includes "backbiting."  This particular Greek word is used just twice in the Scriptures: Here in 1 Peter 2:1 and also 2 Corinthians 12:20; but there are, in addition, a couple other Greek words that the New Testament uses to express slander.  Slander is a sin that must be put off, for it -- just as any other sin -- can keep one out of heaven. 

So after instructing the brethren to put all these sinful works of the flesh aside (in 1 Peter 2:1), Peter then exhorts them to be like a newborn babe and long for the pure milk of the word that they may grow thereby, in regard to their salvation.  Since we would not think of all these Christians as having recently begun their new life in Christ, it would seem that Peter is using this phrase ("like newborn babies") to not only express the innocence they should have with regard to these sins they were told to put aside; but, also, to express their zeal toward being fed with God's word, just as an infant would be toward milk.  For the Christian is to "hunger and thirst for righteousness" in order to be blessed and satisfied (Matt. 5:6) -- and, according to Psalm 119:172, all God's commandments are righteousness.  The King James Version renders this as the "sincere milk" of the word. This word "sincere" or "pure" comes from the Greek word "adolos."  We had just considered in 1 Peter 1:1 that the Christian is to put aside all "guile" or "deceit," and that that was from the Greek word "dolos"; so "adolos" -- with the prefix "a" -- is just the opposite of that.  It is that which is without guile or without deceit.  It is pure and sincere.  So to benefit from the pure milk of God's word, it cannot be contaminated by the false doctrines of man, as some have done.   Peter closes his second epistle with the exhortation for Christians to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..." (2 Pet. 3:18).

Peter then says in 1 Peter 2:3, "if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."  Both Strong and Bullinger show that though the Greek word for "tasted" (geuomai) means literally to taste, it also figuratively means to "experience."  It can pertain to experiencing either good or ill.  The same Greek word is also used in Hebrews 2:9: "But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone."  Christ was made "a little lower than the angels" not in rank, but by taking on a human body so that He could experience death for every sinner.  In Hebrews 6:4-6, the writer speaks of those who had "once been enlightened and have TASTED of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have TASTED the good word of God and the powers of the age to come...."  For they had truly experienced those things.  So Peter shows in 1 Peter 2:3 that those who have truly experienced the blessings of the Lord are the ones who can be motivated by that foretaste toward developing even more in the knowledge of Christ. 

God's kindness is for all, but receiving it and remaining in it is conditional.  Paul pointed out to the Romans that it is "...the kindness of God [that] leads you to repentance" (Rom. 2:4); and to Timothy, that one's salvation is seen in connection with "...when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared" (Titus 3:4).  But the apostle also taught that the same God who has shown kindness can also show wrath, depending on the individual's choice, in Romans 11:21,22: "for if God did not spare the natural branches [the non-believing/unfaithful Jews], He will not spare you, either [the Gentiles who would become non-believing/unfaithful].  Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off."  So part of continuing in God's kindness also involves our taking heed to 1 Peter 2:1-3 to put aside "all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander" and to truly love God's word and submit to it that we may grow in the faith as a result.  May this be ever so for each of us. 

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726
Sunday services: 9:15 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 4 PM (worship)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/audioser.html (audio sermons)


Take the Denham Springs exit (exit 10) off of I-12.  At the end of the exit ramp, turn north.  Go about a stone's throw to Rushing Road.  (You'll see a Starbucks, Circle K, and two other gas stations; with each on each corner.)  Turn left on Rushing Road, and go a little less than 0.3 of a mile.  Hampton Inn will be on the right.  We assemble in its "Meeting Room," which is very close to the reception counter.  Just walk pass the check-in counter; turn right at the hall.  The first and second doors on the left lead to where we meet.