1th Kefa Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, of all deceit, hypocrisy and envy, and of all the ways there are of speaking against people;
2. and be like newborn babies, thirsty for the pure milk of the Word; so that by it, you may grow up into deliverance.
3. For you have tasted that Adonai is good (Psalm 34:9(8)).
Be like newborn babies, thirsty for the pure milk of the Word of God, which here can mean
1) the written Word, then only the Tanakh (1:24),
2) the Gospel (1:25), which implies the future New Testament,
3) Yeshua (1:23, 2:4),
4) true doctrine (as in MJ 5:11-6:2), or
5) all of the above (an understanding which works well here; see 1:23-25&N).
Alternate renderings: "Be in your speech like newborn babies, thirsty for pure milk" to flow from you; or: "Be like newborn babies, thirsty for pure spiritual milk." All three are possible translations of the Greek text because the word "logikos," the adjective formed from "logos" ("word"), can mean
1) "pertaining to a word (or words, or the Word)," as in the JNT rendering,
2) "pertaining to speech," as in my first alternate rendering, or
3) "logical, reasonable," as in Ro 12:1 and my second alternate rendering; this is the sense most versions give, but of the three possibilities it seems to me the one most weakly and vaguely related to the context.
If my first alternate rendering is correct, then the sense of vv. 1-3 is that because Adonai is good, a believer should earnestly desire to have the pure milk of the goodness which he has tasted in God's Word affect his own words, so that his speech consists of kindnesses and blessings instead of malice,... deceit, hypocrisy and envy (compare Ya 1:19-22, 26; 3:1-12).
4. As you come to him, the living stone, rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to him,
5. you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be cohanim set apart for God to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Yeshua the Messiah.
6. This is why the Tanakh says, "Look! I am laying in Tziyon a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone; and whoever rests his trust on it will certainly not be humiliated" (Isaiah 28:16).
7. Now to you who keep trusting, he is precious. But to those who are not trusting, "The very stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22).
8. also he is ‘a stone that will make people stumble, a rock over which they will trip' (Isaiah 8:14). They are stumbling at the Word, disobeying it — as had been planned.
The "chosen" theme appears first at 1:2 and is seen again at 2:9. See notes to these verses. A second theme developed in these verses is the "stone"; the same three Messianic "stone" prophecies are found also at Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10-11; Lk 20:17; Ac 4:11; Ro 9:32-33, 10:11,13.
9. But you are ‘a chosen people' (Isaiah 43:20; Deuteronomy 7:6; 10:15) the King’s cohanim (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6), a holy nation (Exodus 19:6), a people for God to possess! (Isaiah 43:21; Exodus 19:5).
Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
A chosen people, the King's cohanim, a holy nation, a people for Cod to possess (KJV "a peculiar people"). In the Tanakh these terms are applied to the Jewish people, Israel. Kefa applies them to the readers of his letter, who, according to 1.1N, are, firstly, Messianic Jews and, secondly. Messianic Gentiles who truly identify with them (compare Ro 1:16). Many Christian theologians have used this verse as evidence that the Church (the Christians) has replaced Israel (the Jews). If I am right about who the readers of this letter were, then these Christian theologians are wrong. Even if I am wrong about the readers, Replacement theology is inconsistent with Ro 11:17-26, Ep 2:11-22, and other references at Mt 5:5N. I would put it this way: Christians are indeed a chosen people, priests for the King, a holy "nation" (in a metaphorical sense), a people set aside for God to possess — not by way of superseding the Jews as God's people, but by way of being joined to them by faith in the same God and in the Jewish Messiah. A so-called "Christian" who opposes or looks down on the Jews as merely God's "former" people has missed the point altogether and is probably not a Christian at all.
On what it means to be God's chosen people, see Ac 13:17N. The Bible resolves doubts and questions about election by stating its true purpose: in order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light, namely, God. The word "Jew" in Hebrew is "Y'hudi" related to the words "hod" ("praise") and "todah" ("thanks"). To be a Jew, then, is to be one who praises and thanks God (see Ro 2:28-29N); the very name of the Jewish people reflects God's purpose in choosing us.
Gentiles grafted into Israel, and therefore sharing Israel's spiritual life through her Messiah, are chosen for the same purpose.
10. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; before, you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy (Hosea 2:25(23)).
Sha'ul makes a midrash on these same phrases, applying them not to Jews, as does Hosea, but to Gentiles (Ro 9:24b-26&NN). Here Kefa applies them to his Messianic Jewish and Messianic Gentile readers. Again, as at v. 9&N, there is no implication that the Gentiles or the Christians have replaced the Jews as God's people.
11. Dear friends, I urge you as 'aliens and temporary residents' (Genesis 23:4; 47:4; Psalm 39:13(12); 1 Chronicles 29:15), not to give in to the desires of your old nature, which keep warring against you;
Aliens and temporary residents not only in the Diaspora (1:1&N) but on earth (see MJ 11:9-10, 13-16&N).
Not to give in to the desires of your old nature. See Ro 8:3-13&NN.
12. but to live such good lives among the pagans that even though they now speak against you as evil-doers, they will, as a result of seeing your good actions, give glory to God on the Day of his coming.
Live such good lives among the pagans (or "Gentiles") that even though they now speak against you as evildoers, they will, as a result of seeing your good actions, give glory to God. That is, let your deeds be your testimony, as Yeshua counseled in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:16; see also 4:16 below and Yn 13:34-35). On the day of his coming, literally, "on the Day of visitation" or "overseeing"; compare Mt 7:21-23. Messianic Jews living amidst opposition from some of their non-Messianic Jewish brothers can apply this verse midrashically to their situation.
The message of this verse is applied in vv. 13-17 to the question of how believing citizens should relate to a government run by unbelievers, in vv. 18-25 to how believing slaves should relate to unbelieving masters, and in 3:1-6 to how believing wives should relate to unbelieving husbands.
13. For the sake of the Lord, submit yourselves to every human authority — whether to the emperor as being supreme,
14. or to governors as being sent by him to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do what is good.
15. For it is God’s will that your doing good should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
16. Submit as people who are free, but not letting your freedom serve as an excuse for evil; rather, submit as God’s slaves.
See Ga 5:13&N, Ya 2:12&N.
17. Be respectful to all — keep loving the brotherhood, fearing God and honoring the emperor.br> See Ro 13:l-7&NN.
18. Household servants, submit yourselves to your masters, showing them full respect — and not only those who are kind and considerate, but also those who are harsh.
19. For it is a grace when someone, because he is mindful of God, bears up under the pain of undeserved punishment.
20. For what credit is there in bearing up under a beating you deserve for doing something wrong? But if you bear up under punishment, even though you have done what is right, God looks on it with favor.
21. Indeed, this is what you were called to; because the Messiah too suffered, on your behalf, leaving an example so that you should follow in his steps.
22. "He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found on his lips" (Isaiah 53:9).
23. When he was insulted, he didn’t retaliate with insults; when he suffered, he didn’t threaten, but handed them over to him who judges justly.
To him who judges justly, or "righteously." God is referred to in the Jewish burial service as the "Righteous Judge," as in 2 Ti 4:6-8&N.
But handed them over to him who judges justly. The following is a modification of Yechiel Lichtenstein's note on this:
"The meaning here is not as in the Talmud, 'Let Heaven judge him,' that is, 'Let Heaven destroy my enemies.' For Yeshua preached the opposite: 'Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!1 (Mt5:44J. Not only that, but in the moment of utmost extremity, as he was hanging from the stake, he practiced what he preached, praying, 'Father, forgive them; they don't understand what they are doing' (Lk 23:34; compare Stephen at Ac 7:60). Thus the meaning here is that Yeshua gave his case over into the hand of the Righteous Judge, confident that God would decide to accept his prayer for them — as written in Lk 22:42, 'Not my will but yours be done.'"(Commentary to the New Testament, ad loc.)
Handed them over. The Greek text does not give a direct object for the verb, "handed over." Thus an alternative understanding of this verse would have it tell us that Yeshua, confident that his enemies' insults were nothing compared to God's eventual vindication, "handed himself over to him who judges justly." But since the rest of the verse gives two ways Yeshua did not deal with his enemies, it seems reasonable that Kefa would satisfy our curiosity and tell us how Yeshua did deal with them, thereby clarifying how Yeshua is an "example" in whose steps we should follow (v. 21).
24. He himself bore our sins (Isaiah 53:4, 12) in his body on the stake (Deuteronomy 21:22–23), so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness — by his wounds you were healed (Isaiah 53:5)
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 reads, in part, "If a man has committed a sin for which the penalty is death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a stake, then his body is not to remain all night on the stake; rather, you are to bury him that day, for he who has been hanged is cursed by God." In relation to Yeshua, the stake is the execution-stake on which he was wrongly put to death as a criminal (see Mt 1O:38N). This is clear from Ga 3:13, which says that although the Messiah was undeserving of punishment (compare v. 22). he "redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, 'Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.'"On rendering Greek xulon as "stake," and not "tree" as in KJV, see Ac 5:30N.
25. For you used to be like sheep gone astray, but now you have turned to (Isaiah 53:6) the Shepherd, who watches over you.
Kefa's advice to the household servants of 2000 years ago that they should bear up even under undeserved punishment can be applied, with the necessary changes, by today's employees. (One obvious and necessary change is that employees today have better means for improving their working conditions than were available to slaves seeking redress from their masters.) Compare Ep 6:5-8, Co 3:22-25.
In this the Messiah serves as our example (v. 21), since he fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the "suffering servant." The main such passage is Isaiah 52:13-53:12; vv. 22-25 quote it four times.
Shepherd. Greek poimen, often translated "pastor."
Who watches over you. KJ V has "bishop of your souls." Greek episkopos means "one who looks over," hence "supervisor, overseer." "Bishop" merely transliterates the Greek. In those Christian denominations which have them, the job of bishops is to oversee the work of the pastors of local congregations. But in the New Testament, "overseer," "pastor" and "elder" are used more or less interchangeably; see 1 Ti 3:1&N.
"Of your souls" is a literal translation; but the Hebrew way of thinking — Kefa's way of thinking — does not separate souls from persons; therefore, to say that Yeshua watches over your soul means simply that he watches over you.
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