17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
if (v.17) = Since, in view of the fact
Peter’s readers were saved Jews. They did call on the Father.
The words “without respect of persons” are the translation of one word in Greek which means literally, “does not receive face.” That is, God does not receive anybody’s face. he is impartial. Outward appearance, wealth, culture, social position, family background, education, beauty, intellect, all things that more or less sway the opinions of man, do not count with God when it comes to appraising a person’s character or worthiness. “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). — Wuest, page 40.
There are two Greek words which mean “to put to the test,” one meaning “to put to the test in order to discover what evil or good there may be in a person,” the other, “To put to the test in order to sanction or approve the good one finds in that person.” The latter is used in our verse. …
I view of this impartial judgment of god, the [believer] is exhorted to pass the time of his sojourning in fear. The word “pass” is the translation of a Greek word meaning “to conduct one’s self, to order one’s conduct or behavior.” The word “sojourning” is from a word meaning literally “to have a home alongside of,” and refers to a person living in a foreign land alongside of people who are not of his kind. — Wuest, page 41
Wuest (above) says that Peter was referring to a Christian’s sojourn on earth, away from his true home in heaven. And while that is true, the context of Peter’s letter, written to Jews who had been scattered away from their homeland—and to Jews who will be scattered during the persecution of the Tribulation—makes a more direct application to them. Here’s Sadler’s take:
Seeing that the attractions of the world were drawing some of these saints back into its clutches, Peter warns them about the judgment to come. In this context, the apostle is making a clear reference to the judgment of Israel at the dawn of the kingdom age. As they pass under the rod, every man will give an account of himself before God (Ezekiel 20:34-37 cf. Malachi 32-2, 5). Consequently, they were to pass the time of their sojourning here with fear, not with dread which a prisoner has before his abusive captors, but a reverential fear that they might displease the Father. — Sadler, page 62.
fear (v.17) = literally “withdraw,” to flee (remove oneself) and hence to avoid because of dread.
The word “know” in the Greek text speaks of a self-evident, intuitive knowledge. The word “redeemed” means “to set free by the payment of a ransom.” The words “silver” and “gold” are in a diminutive form, referring to little silver and gold coins which were used to buy slaves out of slavery. The word “vain” is the translation of a Greek word which has in it the idea of an ineffectual attempt to do something, an unsuccessful effort to attain something. … Thus, the vain conversation [conduct] from which the [believer] is liberated is his manner of life before he was saved which failed to meet the standards of God. It was a futile life, in that it did not measure up to that for which human life was created, to glorify God. …
This futile manner of life was passed down to the son from the father through the channels of heredity, teaching, example, and environment. — Wuest, page 42.
precious (v.19) = costly in the sense of value, and highly esteemed, held in honor.
Another motive for godly living was the unfathomable cost of their redemption. … Historically, the chosen nation was required to redeem her children, twenty years of age and upward, with a half shekel of silver. The rich were not permitted to give more or the poor less (Exodus 30:11-16). The ransom price was the same regardless of their status. Those of the dispersion were already familiar with this process, but Peter wanted them to understand it was the blood of Christ, not silver, that had been offered to redeem them back to God, therefore, they were to live accordingly. — Sadler, page 63.
They were also redeemed from … a vain manner of life that had been handed down to them through the traditions of their Jewish fathers. … Our Lord demonstrated the deadening effect of the traditions and commandments of men from which they were now gloriously redeemed (Mark 7:3-9). Sadler, page 64.