WRITTEN FROM ROME, A. D. 64.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy hath begotten us againto a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead--To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, preserved in the heavens for us. Who by the power of God are guarded through faith to the salvation prepared to be revealed in the last time. On account of this be exceeding glad, though for a little while still (since it is needful) ye are made sorry by divers trials; that the trying of your faith, (much more precious than of gold which perisheth, though proved by fire,) may be found to praise, and honour, and glory, at the revelation of Jesus Christ; whom not having seen ye love, on whom, not now looking, but believing, ye greatly rejoice in him, with joy unspeakable and full of glory--Receiving the reward of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Concerning which salvation the prophets inquired accurately, and searched diligently, who have prophesided concerning the favour to be bestowed on you; searching diligently of what people, and what kind of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify, when he testified before, the sufferings for Christ, and the glories following these.--To them it was revealed, that not concerning themselves, but us, they ministeed thse things; which things have now been reported to you by them who have declared the gospel to you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven: into which things messengers earnetly desire to look attentively. Wherefore, having the loins of your mind girded, and watching, do ye perfectly hope for the gift to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient chidlren, do not fashion yourselves according to the former lusts, in your ingorance. But as he who hath called you is holy, be ye also holy in all your behaviour. For it is written, "Be ye holy, because I am holy." And seeing ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; knowing that not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, ye were redeemed from your foolish behaviour, delivered to you by your fathers; but witht he precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot; predetermined, indeed, before the foundation of the world, but manifested in these last times for you, who through him believe in God, who raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God. Wherefore, having purified your souls by obeying the truth through the Spirit, to unfeigned brotherly love, ye will love one another from a pure heart continually; having been regenerated, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of the living God which remaineth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower of it falleth down; but the word of the Lord remaineth for ever. Now this is that word which has been proclaimed as glad tidings to you.
II. Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile and hypocrisies, and envyings, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, earnestly desire the unadulterated milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. Because, indeed, ye have tasted that the Lord is good. To whom coming, as to a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but chosen by God, and precous; ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual temple, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices, most acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ. For even it is contained in the scripture, "Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, selected and precious: whosoever trusteth in it shall not be ashamed." There is honour, therefore, to y ou who trust; but to the mistrustful, the stone which the builders rejected, is made the head of the corner; also a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. The disobedient stumble against the word, to which verily they were appointed. But ye are an elected race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, that ye should declare the perfections of him who hath called you from darkness into his marvellous light: who formerly were not a people, but now are a people of God; who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beseech you, as sojourners and travellers, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Have your behaviour among the Gentiles comely, that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, when they behold some of your good works, they may glorify God in the day of visitation. Be ye subject, therefore, to every human establishment of magistrates for the Lord's sake; whether to the king, as supreme; or to governors, as those sent by him for the punishment indeed of evil doers, but praise of them who do good. For so is the will of God, that by doing good ye put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as freemen; yet do not use your freedom as a covering of wickedness. But live as bondmen of God. Honour all your superiors: love the brotherhood: fear God: honour the king. Household servants, be subject to your lords, with all reverence, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is an acceptable thing, if any one from conscience of God's command sustains sorrows, suffering unjustly. But what praise is due, if when ye commit faults and are buffeted, ye bear it patiently? Yet if when ye do well, and suffer, ye bear it patiently, this is an acceptable thing with God. Besides, to this ye were called; for even Christ suffered for us, leaving us a patern that ye should follow in his footsteps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but committed his cause to him who judgeth righteously. He himself carried off our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being freed from sins, should live to righteousness: by whose own stripes ye are healed. For ye were sheep going astray, but are now returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls.
III. In like manner, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that even if any of them obey not the word, they, withou;t a word, amy be won by the behaviour of the wives, whenthey behold your chaste behaviour joined with reverence. Of these let the adorning be, not what is outward [only,] of plaiting of hair, and of putting round golden chains, or of putting on clothes. But let the hidden man of the heart be adorned with the incorruptible ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great value. For thus, anciently, the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands; even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord, whose daughters ye have become by doing well, and not being frightened with any terror. In like manner, husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honour to the wife as the weaker vessel, and as joint heirs of the favour of life, in order that your prayers be not hindered. Finally, be all of one mind, sympathizing, lovers of the brethren, tender-hearted, courteous.--Not returning evil for evil, or railing for railing; but, on the contrary, do ye bless: knowing that to this ye were called, that ye might inherit the blessing. For he who is desirous to enjoy life, and to see good days, let him restrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil, and do good: let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their supplication. But the face of the Lord is against the workers of iniquity. Besides, who is he that will do evil to you if ye be imitators of the good one? Nevertheless, although ye even suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed are ye. Therefore, do not fear their fear, neither be troubled.--But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be always prepared for giving an answer with meekness and reverence to every one who asketh of you a reason for the hope which is in you. Hold fast a good conscience, that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may be put to shame who arraign your good behaviour in Christ. For it is beter, as well-doers, to suffer, if the will of God appoints it, than as evil-doers. For even Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; being put to death indeed int he flesh, but made alive by the Spirit. By which also he made proclamation to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when the patience of God once waited in the day of Noah, while an ark was preparing, in which few, that is, eight souls, were effectually saved by water.--To which water, the antitype immersion, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) now saveth us also through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who having gone into heaven, is at the right hand of God; messengers, and authorities, and powers, being subjected to him.
IV. Christ, then, having suffered for us in the flesh, do ye also arm yourselves with the same mind: for he who hath suffered in the flesh, hath rested from sin; so that he no longer liveth his remaining time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time which hath passed of life, is a sufficient time for us to have wrought out the will of the Gentiles, having walke din lasciviousnesses, lusts, excesses in wine, revellings, carouses, and abominable idolatries. On which account they wonder that ye do not run with them into the same sink of debauchery, reviling you. They shall give account to him, who is prepared to judge the living and the dead. Besides, for this purpose the gospel hath been proclaimed even to the dead, that although they might be condemned indeed by men in the flesh, yet they might live eternally by God in the Spirit.
7. Now the end of all things hath approached. Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayers. And above all things have fervent love to one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another, without murmurings. Let every one according as he hath received a spiritual gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold favour of God. If any one speak, let him speak as the oracles of God require. If any one minister, let him do it as from the strength which God supplieth, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. Beloved, wonder not at the fiery trial among you, which is to you for a trial, as if some strange thing happened to you. But, seeing ye partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, that also at the revelation of his glory ye may rejoice, leaping for joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ ye are happy, because the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. By them indeed he is evil spoken of, but by you he is praised. Wherefore, let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a malefactor, or as a meddling person. However, if any one suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him even glorify God on that account. Indeed, the time is come that punishment must begin at the house of God, and if it begain first at us, what will the end be of them who obey not the gospel of God? And, if the righteous with difficulty escape, where will the ungodly and the sinner show themselves? Wherefore, let even those who suffer by the will of God, commit their own lives to him in well doing, as to a faithful creator.
V. The elders who are among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory which is to be revealed. Feed the flock of God which is with you; exercising the bishop's office, not by constraint, but willingly; neither for the sake of base gain, but from good disposition; neither as lording it over the heritages of God, but being patterns to the flock; and when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive the crown of glory, which fadeth not away.
5. For the like reason, ye younger persons, subject yourselves to the elders. Yea, all be subject to one another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth favour to the humble. Be humbled, therefore, under the strong hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxious care on him, because he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, is walking about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may swallow up. Him resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world. And may the God of all favour, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered a little, himself make you complete, support, strengthen, establish you. To him be the glory, and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen. By Sylvanus, a faithful brother, (as I conclude), I have written to you in few words, exhorting you, and strongly testifying that this is the true favour of God in which ye stand. The congregation which is at Babylon, elected jointly with you, and Mark my son, salute you. Salute one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.