“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
I took a little detour with my last blog post to write about a verse from this section that is often taken out of context. “By his wounds you have been healed.” Today we are going to put it back into its context and go over the whole section. Let’s start with the beginning of the verse.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. This is the gospel message right here. Wayne Grudem writes in his commentary, “The fact that Christ bore our sins means that God the Father counted our sins against Christ and, in a way not fully understood by us, laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa. 53:6).” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 21, “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin[e] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus’s sacrifice accomplished our salvation.
Peter chose the word ‘tree’ here to recall the verse from Deuteronomy. “If anyone is found guilty of an offense deserving the death penalty and is executed, and you hang his body on a tree, you are not to leave his corpse on the tree overnight but are to bury him that day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). Peter used this word again in front of the Sanhedrin and high priest in Acts 5: 30. “The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging him on a tree.” And lastly, Paul reminds us in Galatians 3: 13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Jesus broke that curse. His death brings forgiveness to everyone who trusts in him.
The next part of that verse reads “so that having died to sins, we might live for righteousness.” Notice, here, the change in pronouns. Up until this point, Peter has been addressing slaves. He has been using the second person plural (you). Now he switches to the first-person plural (we). This redemptive work is for everyone. And because Christ has died for our sins, we have died to our sins, and we now need to live for righteousness. Paul puts it this way in Romans 6: 1-4. “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.” Sam Storms, in his commentary for the Gospel Coalition, puts it this way. “His death, however, was designed to accomplish more than our deliverance from divine judgment. It was to enable us to die to sin and live to righteousness.” Friends, how are we living our lives? Are we dead to our sins and living for righteousness?
Peter returns to the second person plural with his next verse. “By his wounds you have been healed.” This is an allusion to Isaiah 53:5. “But he was pierced because of our rebellion, because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.” He is once again talking directly to the slaves. These slaves would have possibly suffered at the hands of cruel masters. In their book, A Handbook on the 1st Letter from Peter, David Aricea and Eugene Nida write, “The Greek word for wounds describes a bruise or a wound trickling with blood, but more specifically the marks left on the flesh when a person is scourged. Scourging was not an uncommon experience among slaves of that day, and the Christian slaves are reminded that even Jesus suffered in the same way. But again, his suffering is vicarious it is by his wounds they have been healed. The healing is not limited to physical wounds, but includes moral and spiritual healing.”
It is important to keep this verse in context. It comes right after Jesus bearing our sins in his body, and before “for you were like sheep going astray.” Sin is the theme that connects these two verses. The phrase “by his wounds you have been healed” only makes sense when applied this way. Wayne Grudem writes, “Peter applies the words morally; by Christ’s wounds we have been healed from sin. Here again is the idea of the punishment of a substitute: the punishment deserved by us Christ took upon himself and thus made us (spiritually and morally) well.” Sam Storms puts it this way. “The ‘healing’ that the wounds of Christ procured (cf. Isa. 53:5) is primarily a reference to the way in which his redemptive work enabled us to reverse course from our sinful ‘straying’ and be reconciled to God, ‘the Shepherd and Overseer’ of our souls.”
One day we will have new bodies and our healing will be complete. Philippians 3:21 says, “He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.” But here in this life we will suffer sickness and disease. It came with the fall. But Jesus provided a way for us to be reconciled to the Father. Remember, our inheritance is not in this life it is in the one to come. “Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3b-4). Nowhere (other than this verse 2:24B, which is an allusion to the Isaiah verse) do we read about our salvation being connected to physical healing. It is clearly a healing from the rift that we had from God, that has now been restored through Christ’s death on the cross.
The last verse in 1 Peter 2 reads “for you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” This is a clear reference to Isaiah 53:6. “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him forthe iniquity of us all.” Jesus referred to himself as the shepherd of the lost sheep of Israel in many places. in Matthew 10:6, he tells the disciples, “Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” In Matthew 15:24, he says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” In Mark 6: 34, it reads “When he went to shore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” These are just a few of the many references. In the Old Testament, there are references of a shepherd who will rescue God’s people. Jesus fulfills these Old Testament prophecies. Roger Raymer, in his commentary on 1 Peter, writes “Christ not only set the example and provides salvation, but He also gives guidance and protection to those who were headed away (like sheep going astray) from Him, but who then “turned about” (rather than returned) to the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls. ‘Shepherd’ and ‘Overseer’ stress Christ’s matchless guidance and management of those who commit themselves to his care (cf. Ezek. 34:11-16).”
We have come to the end of chapter 2. This chapter has covered how we are now to live as people of God and what that looks like. We have been challenged to a new behavior before the world. It described what our conduct should look like as witnesses, as citizens, as slaves (or in our case workers). In the next chapter, we will look at what this should look like in our family relationships.
Grace be with you!