The Exhortation to Grow: 2:1-3
Peter uses a metaphor here to exhort Christians to grow spiritually. They should desire the milk of the word of God. Christians are those who tasted the goodness of the Lord in salvation. They have been born again through the living word of God (1 Pet 1:23). It is a life giving word of grace (John 6:33). It is also a life transforming Word of salvation (Gal 2:20; John 10:10). Since we have tasted the grace of the Lord we should grow to maturity. Christians should put off their old nature and put on the new nature daily by growing in the grace (Eph 4:22-24). We must get rid of the sin of malice, hypocrisy, deceit, envy and slander daily. These sins can destroy the fellowship among believers and hinder our spiritual growth. Christ and sin cannot both look beautiful simultaneously. Christ will not taste sweet to us until sin taste bitter. As one rises, the other falls. Healthy babies long to be fed with milk. Here milk is a reference to the Word of God. Where there is no desire for milk, there is no growth. Only the pure Word of God gives proper nourishment. Adding water to the Word of God is destructive. Born again believers will have a passion for the Word of God (Psalms 42:1; 119:103). By God's grace we are born again and the same grace leads us to godliness. Godliness is the transformed life produced by the Holy Spirit as we grow in the knowledge of Christ.
The Spiritual House: 2:4-8:
Peter uses the metaphor of a building to show our position in Christ. He refers to the church in the same way the Old Testament referred to Israel. Christians are "a royal priesthood and a holy nation" (2:9). This indicates that, Jews and non-Jews find their identity in Christ and part of the church. They are redeemed to live a holy life. Christians are a spiritual house. Christ is referred as living stone in the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:16). Jesus made a reference to it when he was rejected by the Jewish leaders (Matt 21:42). Though the world rejected Christ he became the corner stone by his resurrection. Christ is referred as the "the living stone, the corner stone, the sure foundation and the precious stone" (Isaiah 28:16; 51:1; 1 Pet 2:4, 6 7; Rom 9:33; 1 Cor 10:4). Those who have come to Jesus Christ have received life through Him and become the living stones by which the the church is built. Church is not a building but the gathering of the called out people of God (1 Cor 3:16). It is built upon the Jesus Christ (Matt 16:18). Those who reject Jesus, he is a stone of stumbling and offense (Isaiah 8:14; 1 Pet 2:8). But to those who believe Christ, he is precious.
The Holy Priesthood: 2:9-10.
Christians are those who find their identity in Christ. They are a separated or holy people. Their behavior flows from their belief and relationship with Christ. Christians are chosen people to function as holy and royal priesthood. They are a holy nation and God’s own people (2:9). There is much misunderstanding about holiness and sainthood among Christians. In the scripture saint is the designation of every believer in Christ. They are saints because Christ has cleansed their sin and are clothed them with His righteousness. Christians are set apart for God’s use like the Tabernacle and Temple in the Old Testament. Also holiness speaks of our practice and attitude in our living. Scholars suggest that noun “saint” speak of our relationship with Christ, the adjective, holy means set apart for God’s use and the verb sanctify, speaks of our practice. The function of priesthood in the Old Testament was to offer animal sacrifices. They were chosen from the tribe of Levi. The New Testament Church is the holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices unto God (Heb 13:15). It is the privilege of all believers and not some selected few. The Old Testament also speaks about spiritual sacrifices such as sacrifice of praise, sacrifice of righteousness and the sacrifice of prayer (Psalms 50:23; 51:19; 141:2). Peter urges believers to live in a way that demonstrates the excellence of the God who saved them. They are set apart for the glory of God.
Christians should live in a Honorable life: 2:10-11. In the New Testament we read about many sacrifices. We are exhorted to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom 12:1). Our faith is referred as a sacrifice in Philippians 2:17. Our material gifts to the Lord is also referred as a fragrant sacrifice (Phil 4:18). Our praise and sharing with others are acceptable sacrifices unto God (Heb 13: 15, 16). Preaching the gospel is a priestly sacrifice (Rom 15:15). We are the chosen people of God. God saved us and made us part of his family (Deut 7:7-8). Christians are the royal priesthood because they are chosen to serve Christ. They should fear the Lord and obey His word. If we remain faithful, we shall reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12). Christians are a holy nation and God’s own people. They are born of God (John 1:13). That is how we become the holy people. Our true identity is weather we belong to Christ of not. He saved us to become zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Once we were not God’s people but we obtained mercy. When we experience God's mercy, it will always lead to live a new kind of life. Peter sums up here that we should declare the praise of God who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. God in His mercy has saved us to proclaim His praises. Do we proclaim God’s wonderful works in our lives? They are too numerous to be numbered (Psalm 40:5). What a merciful Savior! Do you know Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Christians should live Godly Life: 2:12-20.
Peter encourages believers to live a godly life. They should be example to others by loving one another. We live in a fallen world and battle against the flesh (Gal 5:24). So Peter encourages them to keep away from evil desires of the flesh. Paul also exhorts Christians to put on Christ that they make to provision for the flesh to satisfy its carnal desires (Rom 13:14). When we are satisfied with Christ we will not sin. Secondly believers are exhorted to have honorable conduct among gentiles so that they may observe our good conduct and come to Christ. Christians must submit to authority for the Lord’s sake because they are appointed by God (Rom 13:1). The Apostles refused to submit to religious leaders because their order was contrary to the will of God (Act 4:18-20; 5: 29). Peter also exhorts servants to be subject to their masters even if they are not kind and reasonable. This suffering is temporary and God is pleased when we endure it patiently. In the end, God will ensure that justice is done. Our good life will silence those who slander us. God rewards them for being faithful to their masters. Christian freedom should not be an excuse to practice evil but to serve others in love. They should show respect for everyone and love fellow believers. Christians are identified by their love for one another (John 13:35). They should fear God and show respect to authority (Matt 10:28).
Follow Christ’s Example: 2:21-25.
Peter exhorts believers that they should be humble and submissive. God's gracious purpose in suffering is that they do not get despair over suffering as if it were God's punishment. Christ himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we do not have to (2:24). It is comforting to know that our suffering is not a sign of God's anger (Rom 8:1). Christ suffered for us, leaving an example for us to follow His steps (2:21). The main purpose of Christ’s suffering was to save us. Even in that suffering He left an example to follow His humility and submission. Christ never sinned and never deceived anyone yet He suffered (Mark 3:21, 22; Matt 26:67). He did not retaliate but patiently endured the unfair treatment of the enemies. Verses 22-24 are quotation from Isaiah 53:4-9. Christ was obedient to His heavenly Father. Christ died on the cross for us so that we might dies to our self and live to righteousness. We have been healed from the sickness of sin by His wounds. This is a picture of our redemption from sin and not our physical healing. We will be ultimately healed and make perfect when Christ returns. Once we all were willfully wandering like lost sheep. Christ the good shepherd has gathered us to Himself. He is our great shepherd and the guardian of our soul. Do you know Him? Are you willing to take up your cross and follow Him? (Matt 10:38).