knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 1 Peter 1:18 (ESV)
There are four elements:
1) Knowing: knowing the redemption is the basis for the imperative in v. 17
2) The readers were ransomed/redeemed
3) They were redeemed from a way of life
4) The purchase price:
Points 2 & 3 are the focus of this verse: points 1 & 4 connect it to the greater flow of the passage.
You were redeemed:
Luke 1:68 – God visiting and redeeming (cf. 1 Pet. 2:12).
Luke 2:38: waiting for the visitation 2:38
Luke 24:21: we hoped he was going to redeem Israel
Heb. 9:12: an eternal redemption
Jesus came as a ransom: Mark 10:45 – 1 Timothy 2:6
Compare the use of the word ἀγοράζειν (1 Cor. 6:20), “Ye are bought with a price;” and (2 Pet. 2:1). “The Lord that bought them;” also ἐξαγοράζειν (Gal. 3:13), “Christ hath redeemed as from the curse of the Law.” The Pulpit Commentary: 1 Peter, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004), 10.
The redemption is from vain traditions:
1 Peter 1:18
Vain associated with idolatry: LXX Lev 17:7; 1 Kgs 16:2, 13, 26; 2 Kgs 17:15; 2 Chr 11:15; Ps 23:4; Hos 5:11; Amos 2:4; Jonah 2:9; Isa 2:20; 44:9; Jer 8:19; 10:15.
1 Kings 16:2: provoked with their “sins” (ESV) vanities (LXX)
1 Kings 16:13/26: provoked with their “idols” (ESV) vanities (LXX).
From your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; literally, out of your vain manner of life or conduct. The word here rendered “vain” is used of idolatry in Acts 14:15, and also the corresponding verb in Rom. 1:21. St. Peter seems to be thinking mainly of Gentile Christians; he would scarcely deecribe the sinful conversation of Israelites as “handed down from your fathers” (Revised Version) without some qualification. The Pulpit Commentary: 1 Peter, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004), 10.
The ἀναστροφή of the readers’ past (cf. Eph 4:22) stands in sharpest possible contrast to the ἀναστροφή required of them now (v 15). Peter uses two adjectives for this former way of life, one derogatory and one merely descriptive. First, it was “empty” or “futile,” a common characterization of pagan religion among both Jews and Christians (e.g., Jer 2:5; 8:19; Esth 4:17b; 3 Macc 6:11; Acts 14:15; cf. Rom 1:21; Eph 4:17). Second, it was “inherited”; the adjective πατροπατάδοτος is found neither in the LXX nor elsewhere in the NT. It occurs with positive connotations (much like the English word “heritage”) in Hellenistic literature beginning with the letter of King Attalus III to the people of Pergamum in 135 B.C. (van Unnik, 133; Spicq, 67) and continuing in the Roman historians Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Antiq. Rom. 5.48.2) and Diodorus Siculus (Hist. 4.8.5; 15.74.5; 17.2.2., 4.1). Even in Judaism, the notion that pagan customs were handed down was at least a mitigating factor in the condemnation of pagans for their idolatry (Str-B, 3:763). Van Unnik observes (135–40) that in early Christian literature the term acquired an unfavorable connotation (e.g., Theophilus, ad Autolycum 2.34; Eusebius, Praep. Evang. 4.4.1–2). This is not invariably the case (Dionysius of Corinth in Eusebius, HE 4.23.10, is an exception), and some of van Unnik’s examples are questionable either because of date or because he is positing a Greek text on the basis of a Latin or Syriac translation. In any event, v 18 appears to be the earliest instance in which πατροπαράδοτος becomes part of a polemic against paganism. The reason this happens in Christianity rather than in Judaism may be that early Christianity still had a sense of its own newness (cf. vv 12b, 20), and in fact denounced Judaism as well for its “traditions” (cf. Mark 7:8–13). Spicq (67) comments that “Patroparadotos correspond à une mentalité juive,” citing as a parallel Josephus’s use of the phrase “the ancestral laws” (e.g., in J. W. 1.477, 648; 2.171, 192, 393). One of the major concerns of 1 Peter is to claim for Gentile Christians a heritage (i.e., the heritage of Judaism as reinterpreted in Christ), but πατροπαράδοτος represents instead the heritage they already have but wish to disclaim, the heritage of Greco-Roman paganism. Peter is not interested in the varied traditions within paganism, nor primarily in its religious beliefs. He sees paganism rather as a unified whole, and more as a way of life (ἀνας τροφή) than as a belief system. As a way of life, it stands in every respect contrary to the way of life required of the Christian communities in Rome and Asia Minor (cf. vv 14–15; 2:11–12; 4:2–5), and in fact constitutes a mortal threat to those communities. By linking μάταιος to πατροπαράδοτος Peter makes the point that the “former life not only is a state of ignorance (1:14) and debauchery (4:2f.) but even itsgreatness, in which they had rejoiced, is null and void” (van Unnik, 141; cf. Paul’s attitude in Phil 3:3–7 towardthe Jewish traditions in which he was raised). J. Ramsey Michaels, vol. 49, Word Biblical Commentary : 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 63-65.
The specific content of the vain traditions are found in 1 Peter 4:3-5.
Redeem us from all lawlessness
1 John 3:4: all sin is lawlessness.
14. Who gave himself for us This isanother argument of exhortation, drawn from the design or effect of the death of Christ, who offered himself for us, that he might redeem us from the bondage of sin, and purchase us to himself as his heritage. His grace, therefore, necessarily brings along with it “newness of life,” (Romans 6:4,) because they who still are the slaves of sin make void the blessing of redemption; but now we are released from the bondage of sin, in order that we may serve the righteousness of God; and, therefore, he immediately added, — John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries: Titus, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), Tt 2:14.
The ἵνα clause indicates with two verbs and a concluding phrase the purpose or intended result of Jesus’ giving of himself. The first intended result is “that he might redeem us from every lawless deed.” λυτρόω** (middle here and in Lk. 24:21; passive in 1 Pet. 1:18) means here “set free, redeem, rescue.” F. Büchsel (TDNT IV, 350f.) thinks that here the idea of ransom is present (as in 1 Pet. 1:18) because the previous words refer to the “ransom” saying of Jesus (Mt. 20:28 par. Mk. 10:45). ἡμᾶς, “us,” refers as before (vv. 12, 13, 14a) to those who know Jesus as Savior. Jesus’ self-giving for “us” is effective and thereby he redeems “us.”
ἀπὸ πάσης ἀνομίας, “from every lawless deed,” with λυτρόω may reflect LXX Ps. 129:8 (130:8 in English versions; αὐτὸς λυτρώσεται τὸν Ἰσραὴλ ἐκ πασῶν τῶν ἀνομιῶν αὐτοῦ), Ezk. 37:23 (ῥύσομαι αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν ἀνομιῶν αὐτῶν), or more likely a combination of the two (see below). By rendering ἀπό and the verb “to set us free from,” the NEB has caught the meaning well. Singular attributive πάσης with no article includes “everything belonging, in kind, to the class designated by the noun,” and thus nothing is excluded. ἀνομία means in its ethical sense, as here, “against the law,” so that Christ by his death sets us free from all deeds done against or in opposition to God’s law (cf. 1 Jn. 3:4). Christ liberates us from control by every kind of sin.
The second intended result is that Christ might “purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good works.” George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 327-28.
2:14 Having referred to Jesus Christ as our Savior in v. 13, Paul now described him as the one “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” The main components of this statement echo many of the themes Jesus himself taught concerning his own death, especially those found in the ransom saying of Mark 10:45. The voluntary nature of his death is emphasized by the words “gave himself” (edōken heauton).42 The fact that his death was for the benefit of sinners is contained in the words “for us” (hyper hēmōn). Whereas hyper may technically signify on behalf of, the parallelism of this phrase to that in Mark 10:45, which uses anti meaning in place of, certainly suggests the substitutionary nature of Jesus’ self-sacrifice.43 Paul stated that the purpose of Jesus’ self-sacrifice is twofold: redemption and purification.
Redemption is expressed in terms of ransom (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). Verbally, this echoes Mark 10:45 and closely parallels Ps 130:8, “He himself will redeem Israel … from all their sins” (Ps 129:8 in LXX, lytrōsetai … ek pasōn tōn anomiōn auton). This ransom payment delivers humanity “from all wickedness.” This phrase suggests deliverance from both the power of sin (cf. Rom 6:17–18, 22) and the penalty of sin (cf. Rom 6:23; 8:1).
Purification is the second purpose stated for Christ’s redeeming self-sacrifice. He “gave himself for us … to purify for himself a people that are his very own.” The term rendered “purify” (katharisē, to cleanse) echoes Ezek 37:23 (LXX) and suggests the cleansing by the “blood of the covenant” which was central to Old Testament religion (Exod 24:6–8) as well as the “blood of the new covenant” (Luke 22:20) shed by Jesus Christ for redemption and cleansing (Heb 9:12–14; 1 John 1:7). Just as redemption and cleansing made Israel a “treasured possession” (laos periousios, Exod 19:5, LXX), so by his sacrifice Christ purchased those for whom he died with the result that they are “a people that are his very own” (laon periousion). Finally, Christ’s own people will be characterized as “eager to do what is good.” Paul’s use of the noun “eager” (zēlōtēn) suggests the intensity with which Christians should pursue “doing what is good.” What Paul had in mind when he referred to “do[ing] what is good” may be understood from his other writings (cf. Rom 12:9–21; 1 Cor 13; Gal 5:13–26; Eph 4:1–3, 25–32; Phil 2:1–15; Col 3:8–17).
Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 314-15.