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1 Peter 1:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 knowing that it was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you were redeemed from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
For as much as you know. This is an argument for a holy life, derived from the fact that they were redeemed, and from the manner in which their redemption had been affected. There is no more effectual way to induce true Christians to consecrate themselves entirely to God, than to refer them to the fact that they are not their own but have been purchased by the blood of Christ.
That you were not redeemed. On the word rendered redeemed, (λυτρόω—lutroo,) see Notes, Titus 2:14. The word occurs in the New Testament only in Luke 24:21; Titus 2:14, and in this place. The noun (λύτρον—lutron) is found in Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45, rendered ransom. For the meaning of the similar word, (ἀπολύτρωσις—apolutrosis,) see Notes on Rom. 3:24. This word occurs in Luke 21:28; Rom. 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7, 14; 4:30; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:15, in all which places it is rendered redemption; and in Heb. 11:35, where it is rendered deliverance. The word here means that they were rescued from sin and death by the blood of Christ, as the valuable consideration on account of which it was done; that is, the blood, or the life of Christ offered as a sacrifice, effected the same purpose in regard to justice and to the maintenance of the principles of moral government, which the punishment of the sinner himself would have done. It was that which God was pleased to accept in the place of the punishment of the sinner, as answering the same great ends in his administration. The principles of his truth and justice could as certainly be maintained in this way as by the punishment of the guilty themselves. If so, then there was no obstacle to their salvation; and they might, on repentance, be consistently pardoned and taken to heaven.
With corruptible things, such as silver and gold. On the word corruptible, as applicable to gold, see Notes on ver. 7. Silver and gold usually constitute the price or the valuable consideration paid for the redemption of captives. It is clear that the obligation of one who is redeemed, to love his benefactor, is in proportion to the price which is paid for his ransom. The idea here is, that a price far more valuable than any amount of silver or gold had been paid for the redemption of the people of God, and that they were under proportionate obligation to devote themselves to his service. They were redeemed by the life of the Son of God offered on their behalf, and between the value of that life and silver and gold, there could be no comparison.
From your vain conversation. your vain conduct or manner of life. Notes on ver. 15. The word vain, applied to conduct, (ματαίας,) means properly empty, fruitless. It is a word often applied to the worship of idols, as being nothing, worthless, unable to help (Acts 14:15; 1 Kings 16:13; 2 Kings 17:15; Jer. 2:5, 8, 19,) and is probably used in a similar sense in this place. The apostle refers to their former worship of idols, and to all the abominations connected with that service, as being vain and unprofitable; as the worship of nothing real (comp. 1 Cor. 8:4, ‘We know that an idol is nothing in the world;’) and as resulting in a course of life that answered none of the proper ends of living. From that, they had been redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Received by tradition from your fathers. The mode of worship had been handed down from father to son. The worship of idols depends on no better reason than that it is that which has been practiced in ancient times, and it is kept up now in all lands, in a great degree, only by the fact that it has had the sanction of the venerated men of other generations.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews