Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let him eschew evil.—Literally swerve out of the way from evil. The two former clauses dealt with the domain of word; these two with the domain of action. It suits St. Peter’s intention better to take the verse, not as an exhortation to virtue in general, but as an instruction how to behave under provocation and in danger. The “good” which the man is to do is what is kind, not merely what is virtuous; and so, by contrast, the “evil” to be eschewed probably means chiefly what is malicious.
Seek peace, and ensue it.—“As much as in you lieth,” says St. Paul, “live peaceably with all men.” It is to be a matter of diligent search; and if it seems to flee away it is to be “ensued”—i.e., pursued. The active practical measures here prescribed confirm the surmise that “blessing” in 1Peter 3:8 covered more ground than benedictory prayers.Job 1:1.
And do good - In any and every way; by endeavoring to promote the happiness of all. Compare the notes at Galatians 6:10.
(1) A peaceful spirit - a calm, serene, and equal temper of mind - is favorable to health, avoiding those corroding and distracting passions which do so much to wear out the physical energies of the frame; and,
(2) such a spirit will preserve us from those contentions and strifes to which so many owe their death. Let anyone reflect on the numbers that are killed in duels, in battles, and in brawls, and he will have no difficulty in seeing how a peace fill spirit will contribute to length of days.
ensue—pursue as a thing hard to attain, and that flees from one in this troublesome world.Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him not only in general avoid all sin, and exercise himself in all well-doing, (as the prophet’s meaning, cited in the margin, seems to be), but particularly, let him avoid all sin against his neighbour, not recompensing evil to him, and doing him all the good he can, and overcoming evil with good; and to this the apostle accommodates the prophet’s words.
Let him seek peace; not only with God and his own conscience, but with his neighbours, which is here especially meant.
And ensue it: either seeking and ensuing signify the same thing, viz. an earnest desire of peace, and use of all lawful means to obtain it; or, ensuing it may signify the difficulty of obtaining it; when we seek it, it may seem to fly from us, men may not let us have peace when we would have peace, Psalm 120:7, and therefore we must follow it, Hebrews 12:14.
and do good; everything that is good, all good works, according to the will of God, in the exercise of faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God; and without trusting to them, and depending upon them for life and salvation; and particularly do good for evil; do good to all men, acts of kindness and beneficence, even to enemies, and especially to them that are of the household of faith. The Jewish interpreters (w) on the psalm from whence these words are taken observe, that in the first of these clauses are contained all the negative precepts, whose number with them is three hundred, sixty, and five; and in the latter of them, all the affirmative precepts, which amount to two hundred and forty eight:
let him seek peace and ensue it: "or pursue it"; let him seek after it, in the world, and with all men, as much as possible, yea, with his very enemies; and live a peaceable and quiet life, in the kingdom, city, town, and neighbourhood where he is; and particularly in the church of God, and with the saints; which he should seek with all diligence and eagerness, and pursue with all rigour to the utmost of his power; and endeavour to cultivate all he can, and follow the things which make for it. The note of one of the Jewish commentators (x) on this passage is, "seek peace", in thine own place; "and pursue it", in another place,Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. let him seek peace, and ensue it] Better, perhaps, pursue or follow after, as in 1 Timothy 6:11. The verb “ensue” has ceased almost, if not altogether, to be used transitively. It implies, both in itself, and by its position in the verse as a climax, the strongest form of seeking.Verse 11. - Let him eschew evil, and do good; literally, let him turn away from evil. Let him seek peace, and ensue it. Let him seek it as a hidden treasure, and pursue it as if it might escape from him.
The old word eschew is from the Norman eschever, to shun or avoid. It reappears in the German scheuen, to be startled or afraid, and in the English shy, and to shy (as a horse). The Greek word here occurs only twice elsewhere (Romans 3:12; Romans 16:17), where Rev. renders turn aside and turn away. It is compounded of ἐκ, out of, and κλίνω, to cause to bend or slope; so that the picture in the word is of one bending aside from his course at the approach of evil. Rev., turn away from.
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