1 and 2 Peter, 1 and 2 John, Jude


The award-winning Expositor's Bible Commentary, now available in this handy softcover edition, has established itself as one of the leading and most practical evangelical commentaries. Written for pastors and Bible students, it is scholarly and comprehensive without being overly academic. The seventy-eight contributors of The Expositor's Bible Commentary are committed to the complete trustworthiness and full authority of the Bible. They come from the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, and New ...

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The award-winning Expositor's Bible Commentary, now available in this handy softcover edition, has established itself as one of the leading and most practical evangelical commentaries. Written for pastors and Bible students, it is scholarly and comprehensive without being overly academic. The seventy-eight contributors of The Expositor's Bible Commentary are committed to the complete trustworthiness and full authority of the Bible. They come from the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand, and represent many denominations, including Anglican, Baptist, Brethren, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbyterian, and Reformed. In matters where marked differences of opinion exist, the contributors state their own convictions and deal fairly and without animosity with opposing views. The Expositor's Bible Commentary is based on the New International Version of the Bible, but may be used with any translation. Greek and Hebrew words have been transliterated to make the material accessible to readers unfamiliar with the biblical languages. Technical questions and textual issues are briefly dealt with in notes at the end of each section.

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1 & 2 Peter, 1 & 2 John, Jude

By Edwin A. Blum Glenn W. Barker


Copyright © 1996 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-20388-0

Chapter One

1 PETER 1:1-2

Text and Exposition

I. Salutation


1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 Peter begins by using his name in its most common NT form. His name in Hebrew was probably "Simeon" (Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1 [Gk. ]), the Greek equivalent of which was "Simon." He also had the Aramaic nickname of "Cephas" (John 1:42; Gal 2:11 [Gk.]). "Peter" is the Greek translation of "Cephas" or "rock." Cullmann suggests that to bring out the power of the nickname and to follow the common NT practice ("Simon Peter"), Peter should be called "Simon Rock" (TDNT, 6:101). "An apostle of Jesus Christ" indicates the dignity and authority as one selected by Jesus and given unique responsibilities of ministry in the establishment of the Christian church (Matt 16:18-19; Mark 1:16f; 3:16; John 1:42; John 21:15-19).

As is common in Greek letters of the NT era, the writer first identifies himself, then identifies the recipient, and finally gives a word of greeting. Peter begins by designating those he is writing to as "God's elect." In biblical teaching, election is a central theme and the foundation of spiritual blessing (cf. Deut 4:37; 7:6; 142; Ps 105:6, 43; Isa 45:4; Eph 1:4-5). No believer should ever feel threatened by the doctrine of election, because it is always presented in Scripture as the ground of comfort. So here the designation of "elect" reminds the scattered Christians in danger of persecution that God's purposes for them are certain and gracious. "Strangers in the world" (parepidemoi) points to the fact that Christians are "pilgrims" who do not reside permanently on earth. They belong to the heavenly realm (cf. Eph 2:19; Phil 3:20; Heb 11:13-16). The destination of the letter is "Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia." These were the Roman provinces north of the Taurus Mountains in what is today Turkey.

2 Peter next announces some basic themes of his letter ("foreknowledge of God the Father," "sanctifying work of the Spirit," and "obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood") that will later be expanded and developed. Here he reminds his readers of their Triune faith and of the Triune work of God. While Peter does not go into the developed theological form of the Trinitarian faith, the triadic pattern of the Christian faith is already evident in his words. The "foreknowledge of God" is more than God's simply knowing what will take place in the future, for it includes God's special relations with mankind even before creation (cf. 1:20; Amos 3:2; Acts 2:23; Rom 8:29-30; 11:2). The "special relations" include God's election and his special plans for his people (cf. TDNT, 1:714). The "sanctifying" of the Spirit is his operation of applying the work of redemption to the Christian, purifying him and setting him to tasks of service. The goal of election and redemption is obedience that grows out of faith (cf. Paul's reference to "the obedience that comes from faith" in Rom 1:5). The salutation closes with the wish for the multiplication of God's grace and peace to the believers.

II. The Privileges and Responsibilities of Salvation (1:3-2:10)

A. God's Plan of Salvation (1.3-12)

1. The praise of God for salvation


3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The first major section of Peter's letter concerns salvation (soteria), the key term of this unit that occurs at 1:5, 9-10 and 2:2 but nowhere else in the book. Its basic meaning is "deliverance," "preservation," or "salvation" (BAG, p. 808-9). In 1:9 Peter defines his use of it as "the salvation of your souls" (cf. below). The section closes with an OT quotation, as the next major division also does (cf. 3:10-12).

3-4 The nature of this salvation as a new birth according to the mercy of God evokes praise to God the Father, who is the source of salvation. The new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus taught in John 3:3-8. The Christian has a "living hope" because Jesus has been raised by the Father (cf. Titus 2:13). This hope is further described in v.4 as an inheritance "that can never perish, spoil or fade." The concept of inheritance is one of the major Bible themes and stresses family connection and gift. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, "God in his grace gave it [the inheritance] to Abraham through a promise" (3:18; cf 1 Peter 3:9; Matt 5:5; 19:29; 25:34; see also DNTT, 2:295-303). The inheritance is kept (teteremenen, perfect tense) or reserved by God for his people in "heaven."

5 God's people are described as "the ones being guarded" (tous phrouroumenous, present passive; NIV, "who are shielded"). This stresses the continued activity of God in their lives, while the phrase "through faith" stresses the believers' activity. The divine protection and the final salvation are only for believers. The salvation "ready to be revealed in the last time" looks at the final aspects or realization of what Christians already have and enjoy.

6 "In this" (en ho) probably refers to anticipation of the future deliverance. As the Christian longs for his inheritance, he can "rejoice" (agalliasthe, which is best taken as a present indicative). Bultmann says, "God's help is always the theme of [agalliae] which is a jubilant and thankful exultation" (TDNT, 1:20). The participle lypethentes (grieve) is concessive, as the translation "though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief" shows. The Greek emphasizes that the suffering is brief, for the present time (arti), and necessary (ei deon). The aorist participle also plays down the duration of the grief of the believer. That Peter uses peirasmoi ("trials") instead of diogmoi ("persecutions") or thlipseis ("tribulations") is significant. While they are not technical terms (cf. BAG, s. v. ), diogmoi or thlipseis are not found in Peter's epistles. Peter is thinking in terms of the broadest category of the pagans' attitude toward Christians rather than of specific actions, and this may be an evidence of the early dating of the book.

7 Gold is one of man's most prized objects. When it is refined, its impurities are removed by a fiery process. Though extremely durable, gold belongs to the perishing world-order. Faith, which is more valuable than gold because it lasts longer and reaches beyond this temporal order, is purified in the tests of life. Gold, not faith, is presently valued by men. But God will set his stamp of approval on faith that has been tested and show this when Christ is revealed. Then the believer will openly share in the praise, glory, and honor of God.

8 Faith is directed toward Jesus Christ and produces love and joy in Christians. Without seeing Jesus (either because they were second-generation believers or because they were geographically removed), Peter's readers have come to love Jesus because they believe he has loved them enough to die for them. Christians do not rejoice because of sufferings but because of the glorious expectation of their future with Christ. "This is a mystery of faith contradicting everyday experience, and so the joy is inexpressible" (italics his) (Kelly, p. 57).

9 "For you are receiving" (komizomenoi, a present causal participle) gives the reason for the paradoxical joy while stressing that the anticipated salvation is even now in the process of realization. The "goal" (telos) or consummation of faith is "the salvation of your souls." No soul-and-body dichotomy of Greek thought is implied. The "soul" is used in the Semitic biblical sense of "self" or "person." Therefore the thought of this section closes with the believers' enjoyment of the future salvation in this present age.

2. The prophecy of salvation


10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

10-11 This salvation was the subject of the OT prophecies of the messianic sufferings and glories. The prophets not only spoke to the situation of their contemporaries, but they also spoke of the longed-for messianic times. In predicting the future, they did not always understand their utterances. The clearest example is Daniel and his visions (8:27; 12:8) and his study of other prophets (9:2ff.). The prophets longed to see the messianic time and so searched into what they could know of it (cf. Luke 10:24). The motivating force in prophecy is not the human will (cf. 2 Sam 23:2: "The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue"; cf. also 2 Peter 1:21); it is the Holy Spirit. The content of the prophecies embraced both the "sufferings" and the "glories" of Christ (cf. Luke 24:26), Both words are plural. The gospels list various aspects of the predicted sufferings of Christ-e.g., hatred by his people, betrayal by his friend, being forsaken by his flock, his scourging and crucifixion, etc. His glories include his transfiguration (2 Peter 1:17), his resurrection (1:21), his glorious return, and his reign.

12 Through revelation the prophets learned that some of their utterances related to future generations. The writings of the prophets contain both "near" and "far" aspects. Yet the prophets were unable to understand the time significance of their prophecies or to understand fully the relation of the sufferings of the Messiah to his glory. Denial or ignorance of these things has led to denial of supernatural predictive prophecy. The word translated "serving" (diekonoun) is significant, for it points to the fact that the writings of the OT are of service to the new community-the church. The unity of the OT and NT writings centers in Christ and his salvation. This message of salvation has come to humanity through men under the power of the Holy Spirit, who has come from heaven.

The last statement of v.12 is especially significant-"even angels long to look into these things." The Scriptures reveal that the angels have intense interest in human salvation. They rejoice at the conversion of a sinner (Luke 15:10); they observed Jesus in his early life (1 Tim 3:16); they will rejoice in songs of praise at the completion of redemption (Rev 5:11-14).

The verb parakypto (NIV, "long to look") means "to stoop over to look." It implies willingness to exert or inconvenience oneself to obtain a better perspective. Here the present tense gives it a continuous aspect. The verb is also used in Luke 24:12; John 20:5, 11; and James 1:25. It means continuous regard rather than a quick look.

The Bible says nothing about salvation for angels. On the contrary, they learn about it from the church (Eph 3:10); and they serve the church (Heb 1:14).


Excerpted from 1 & 2 Peter, 1 & 2 John, Jude by Edwin A. Blum Glenn W. Barker Copyright © 1996 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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