Peter’s readers are exhorted to put behind them their previous lifestyles — and the sins of that lifestyle are communal-distortions: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Getting rid of sins is not the whole story: growth in grace is both ridding ourselves of sin and acquiring something new. What is that something new?
Notice what Peter says in 2:1-3. In sum it is this: by feasting on the Lord Jesus they are to be nurtured into salvation. But this leaves us with a distinctive note in Peter’s letter: salvation is largely something in the future instead of something in the now. It is, to be sure, both now and later, but his focus is that salvation is something we await.
By feasting on the Lord, the way infants feast on milk, his readers are to “grow into salvation.” They’ve been purified, they’ve been sprinkled, they’ve been ransomed — but salvation is something they are growing into. And it is something they will find at the End of Time: 1:5 is a good example.
How to get there? Desire the Lord. Why? Because he is tasty. Peter’s language is clever and potent. They can expect that their yearnings for feasting on the Lord will lead to salvation because “you have tasted that the Lord is good.” The word translated here “good” in Greek is chrestos and it clearly a pun: The “Christ” is “chrestos” — sweet, good-tasting, good.
Good food leads to growth. The “goodest” food for these Christians was Jesus himself.
Peter’s strategy for living out the gospel in the Roman Empire was to create a community that feasted on the Lord for its growth and that learned to put social sins behind: put off and put on is Peter’s strategy.
What makes this emerging? Because Peter is working out a theology of how the Church relates to the State in his day and in his way. These are powerless people; powerless people have to be good if they wish to influence the State; Peter calls them, therefore, to be good. And they are to be good together — and this would lead to their salvation.