Daniel M. Doriani. 1 Peter (Reformed Expository Commentary). Philllipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014. 288 pp. $24.99.
Outside of the Pauline corpus, 1 Peter is probably my favorite epistle. As someone who keenly feels the agony of being a stranger and alien both in the earthly sense (as an Asian American) as well as spiritual (as one who’s citizenship is in heaven and from it eagerly awaits the Savior), I’ve always connected with the fact that this letter is addressed to exiles; and not just exiles, but elect exiles (1:1). And these themes of God’s sovereignty and the believer’s sojourn interweave and pervade the entire epistle. Very practical life issues such as rejoicing in the midst of trial, suffering in a way that glorifies God, conducting oneself in a holy way, submitting to authority, and relating as husband and wife are addressed from the ground of the gospel and the root of our identity as elect exiles.
In this volume, one of the newest in the Reformed Expository Commentary series, Dr. Daniel Doriani does with 1 Peter what the series has become known for by providing a passage-by-passage exposition of the text that is biblical, unashamedly doctrinal and confessional, redemptive-historical, and practical. Of course, what makes this volume and the series as a whole most unique is that it is Reformed (as the series title indicates). There aren’t many commentary series written from an explicitly Reformed perspective, and so readers who identify as Reformed and long for more resources from within the tradition will notice and appreciate the places where this theological orientation comes to the fore.
At various points, such as in Chapter 6 (page 71) in relation to election, in addition to Scripture Doriani also draws on the Westminster Standards. Another example of an explicitly Reformed bent is in Chapter 7: Pilgrims and Citizens (1 Peter 2:11-17). Here, in expounding upon the Scripture’s call for believers to conduct ourselves as aliens and strangers in the world, Doriani mentions that in terms of the relationship between Christ and culture the Calvinist view is Christ transforming culture. He fleshes out what it means to live in the world as aliens and strangers, engaging and creating culture, but also offers a few caveats. Doriani also doesn’t shy away from the controversial sections of 1 Peter such as slavery (chapter 8) and submission of wives to husbands (chapter 9), but instead illuminates the cultural background and then expounds upon the enduring principles.
This volume is very clearly the work of a pastor-theologian who loves the Church. Doriani distills the best of biblical scholarship into a lay-accessible package that preserves the key details without getting bogged down in technical detail. Doriani’s commentary is pastoral, practical, and devotional. 1 Peter in the Reformed Commentary Series is a great book for devotional reading alongside the epistle. It’s also an important resource for those doing in-depth, technical study of the epistle, whether for teaching, preaching, or personal learning. Alongside the technical commentaries, Doriani’s should be utilized as a supplement to help us see the big picture and to combat the myopia that can result from in-depth study of each verse, phrase, and word. 1 Peter is an immensely practical epistle where direction and implication abound for Christian living, and Doriani helps us see how the first century prescriptions should be applied by elect exiles today – those foreknown by the Father in the sanctification of the Spirit for obedience to Christ.
Many thanks to my friends at P&R for sending a free copy in exchange for an honest review!