Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 2:19 - 2:23

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 2:19 - 2:23

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1Pe_2:19-23. This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.

THE practical nature of the Gospel meets us through every part of the New Testament, from the beginning to the end. Our Lord’s sermon on the mount was wholly of this character; as are also his addresses to the seven Churches of Asia, in the book of Revelations. Nor are the epistles, which were written by different Apostles, at all different in their scope and tendency: they do indeed insist more on doctrines: but yet the preceptive parts of them are singularly minute and full; and are distinctly addressed to persons in every situation and relation of life. The passage before us is a peculiar address to servants, to shew them how they are to conduct themselves towards their masters, who shall be embittered against them for embracing the Gospel of Christ.

But the Apostle did not intend this instruction to be limited to servants; for, in the close of the chapter, he extends it to all, who “like sheep have gone astray, but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls.”

His words suggest,

I.       A precept for our observance—

It is here taken for granted that persons in every age will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake—

[And the whole history of mankind fully justifies this assumption: for from the time of Abel to the present hour it has been verified. The lovers of darkness hate the light; and will endeavour, when it lies in their power, to extinguish it [Note: Joh_3:19.]. The whole life of David tends to illustrate this: “They that render evil for good are mine adversaries,” says he; “because I follow the thing that good is [Note: Psa_38:20.].” And what shall I say of him who was greater than David, even the Son of God himself? Surely his wisdom precluded a possibility of any fault being found with him; whilst his goodness suppressed, in every bosom, a disposition to find fault. But this was by no means the case: on the contrary, in proportion to his superiority above all the sons of men, was the inveteracy of the carnal mind against him. Can we, then, hope to escape their malignity? No; “The disciple cannot be above his Master, or the servant above his Lord: if they have hated him, they will hate us also [Note: Mat_10:24. Joh_15:18.]:” we, like him, must have our cross to bear [Note: Luk_14:26-27.]: and “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution [Note: 2Ti_3:12.].”]

But, whatever be our trials, and however undeserved, we must “take them patiently”—

[“We are called to them” by God himself; who has wisely and graciously “appointed [Note: 1Th_3:3.],” that, by means of them, our graces should be both elicited and improved, and our fidelity to him be placed beyond a doubt. He has ordained too, that by means of these trials, glory shall accrue to him, and everlasting good to our own souls. They give to us an opportunity of shewing how highly we regard his favour, when, for his sake, we are willing to endure all that men or devils can inflict upon us. They display, at the same time, the power of his grace, which can uphold us under such circumstances; and the excellency of his religion, which shines so bright in contrast with the spirit and conduct of our ungodly persecutors. They are the means, too, of augmenting our happiness in the eternal world; since there is not a sacrifice which we are called to make, or a suffering to endure, which shall not be richly recompensed at the resurrection of the just [Note: 1Pe_4:12-16.].

If it be said, that it is an intolerable hardship to suffer, when we have given no occasion whatever for man’s displeasure; I answer, your innocence should operate rather to lighten, than to aggravate, your affliction; since it administers sweet consolation to your own soul, and serves as a testimony in your behalf before God. If your punishment were merited, you would have no ground for approbation, either before God, or in your own minds, for submitting patiently to if: but, if you suffer patiently for well-doing, you evince a truly gracious disposition, and render an acceptable service to your God.

This, then, we are to consider as a precept given to us, under whatever injuries we may be called to sustain: we must “possess our souls in patience [Note: Luk_21:19.];” and “let patience have its perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing [Note: Jam_1:3-4.].”]

To this precept the Apostle adds,

II.      An example for our imitation—

Not one of all the children of men was ever so blameless as our Lord Jesus Christ—

[“In him was no sin [Note: 1Jn_3:5.];” “nor was any guile found in his mouth [Note: Isa_53:9.].” He appealed even to his bitterest enemies; “which of you convinceth me of sin [Note: Joh_8:46.]?” With all the disposition to criminate him that the most inveterate malignity could cherish, his accusers were all put to shame, and his judge proclaimed his innocence [Note: Luk_23:4.].]

Yet, never was man so evil-entreated as he—

[Scarcely was he come into the world, before his life was sought; and for the sake of securing, at all events, his destruction, thousands of poor innocents were slain. During the four years of his ministry, there was nothing too malignant for his enemies to say concerning him: “He was a deceiver [Note: Mat_27:63.]:” He was “a devil, and was mad [Note: Joh_7:20; Joh_8:48; Joh_10:20.].” The efforts made to take away his life were continual: and the more good works he did, the fiercer was men’s rage against him: nor did his enemies rest, till they had attained their end, and nailed him to the accursed tree.]

But how did he conduct himself under his trials?

[Not so much as one hasty word escaped him; nor one angry feeling betrayed itself in him: “when he was reviled, he reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” Truly “he was as a lamb led to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so opened he not his mouth [Note: Isa_53:7.].”

In all this, he was an example to us: “He suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps.” He submitted to all those indignities, on purpose that he might shew us how to act under similar trials: and God permits us to be brought, in some small degree, into similar circumstances, on purpose that we may “be conformed to his image [Note: Rom_8:29.],” and be “made perfect in the very same way” that he was [Note: Heb_2:10; Heb_5:8.], and enter into glory by the very same path [Note: 1Pe_4:19.]. To this, then, must our minds be made up: we must be willing to endure sufferings for well-doing; to submit to them, however great they be, with unruffled patience; and to “commit ourselves to God in well-doing, as into the hands of a faithful Creator [Note: Heb_12:1-2.].”]

Let us learn then from hence,

1.       How we are to regard the Lord Jesus Christ—

[Many who profess to believe, and even to preach, the Gospel, confine their views of Christ almost exclusively to him as dying for our sins, or as reigning in glory to carry on and perfect his work in our behalf. This, doubtless, is a most important view of him: it is the very foundation of all our hopes. Yet is it by no means a complete view: and they who confine themselves to it are greatly deceived: and, whether willingly or not, they grievously dishonour him. He must be regarded as an example: nor is he less glorious in that view, than in any other. Nay, if we omit to regard him in that light, we suffer an irreparable loss.

Would we know what treatment we must expect, if we will faithfully serve our God ? Look at him. Not all the wisdom of his lips, nor all the blamelessness of his deportment, nor all the wonders which he wrought, could avert from Him the hatred, the contempt, the cruelty, of an ungodly world. Who then are we, that we should hope to escape these things?

Would we know how to conduct ourselves under sufferings inflicted on us for righteousness’ sake? Look at him. Behold his meekness, his patience, his long-suffering, and forbearance; yea, and hear him praying for his very murderers: and then say, whether this be not the spirit that becomes you.

Would we know the issue of such a life? Look at him; and see him seated at the right hand of God, and all his enemies become his footstool. Such shall be the end of all who tread in his steps: “having suffered with him, they shall surely reign with him [Note: 2Ti_2:12.].”

Take him then, beloved, as your example; and be content to “suffer with him, that you may also be glorified together [Note: Rom_8:17.].”]

2.       How we are to approve ourselves his faithful servants—

[If we are to bear injuries from others, we must, beyond all doubt, be “good and gentle” ourselves; “shewing all meekness to all men:” and, however injured by others, we must endure unto the end. We must not draw back through fear of sufferings; or faint under them, when they are inflicted on us. If we enlist under the banners of an earthly prince, we expect to fight his battles: we do not, when we hear of an enemy, desert and hide ourselves. We do not, when we meet him in the field, lay down our arms. We rather gird ourselves to the fight, and say, ‘Now is the time for me to display my zeal in the cause I have espoused, and my fidelity to him whom I have engaged to serve. Thus, then, must you do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You must not be ashamed of wearing, if I may so speak, his uniform; and of shewing, in the face of the whole universe, on whose side you are.

Yet, remember that it is with his armour only that you must go forth to the battle. You must “be armed with righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” Your breast-plate, in particular, must be of that material: “your helmet must be the hope of salvation;” and your sword, “the sword of the Spirit, the word of God [Note: Eph_6:14-17.].” It was “by death that the Lord Jesus Christ overcame death [Note: Heb_2:14.];” and it is “by patiently enduring, that you also must obtain the promise of an eternal inheritance [Note: Heb_6:15.].” Keep, then, your eyes fixed on the “Captain of your salvation;” and, “being faithful unto death, you shall receive at his hands the crown of life [Note: Rev_2:10.].”]