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I Peter

HOW TO LIVE IN TOUGH TIMES WITH AN
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF
THE MESSAGE OF I PETER

 

Get an eternal perspective on your trials (1:1-12)

The eternal perspective's appropriate effect on our present life (1:13-5:10) (eternal motivation and eternally motivated exhortations)

Conclusion (5:11-14)

 

Introductory Information About the Book of I Peter

1. The author:  The author identifies himself in the first verse of the book:  "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia," (1 Peter 1:1)  He leaves little doubt as to his identity.  He is Peter the apostle that we learn so much about in the Gospels and in the book of Acts:  1) We learn of his calling to be a disciple (Mark 1:16-18).  2) He tended to be the first of the disciples to speak (Matthew 15:15, 18:21, 19:27).  He challenged Jesus' prediction of His coming crucifixion. (Matthew 16:21-23)  He said that he would never fall away from following Jesus, but he ended up denying Jesus 3 times (Matthew 26:33-35; 69-75).  He was the first of two disciples to see the empty tomb. (Mark 24:12; John 20:1-9)  Jesus restored him to the ministry after his denials (John 21:15-17).  He preached the gospel at Jerusalem and the church began. (2:14-41)  He learned through a vision that God wanted the church to include both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 10:9-11:8).  He was a leader in the Jerusalem Council. (Acts 15:6-11)

We learn from the writings of the leaders in the early church after the time of the apostles that they believed that Peter wrote the book in the Bible titled I Peter.  "There is no evidence that the early church had any doubts concerning the Petrine authorship of I Peter ["Petrine authorship = authorship of Peter].  In his famous Ecclesiastical History (published in    A. D. 326) Eusebius of Caesarea placed it among the homolgoumena (3.25), the books accepted by the whole church.  There is no indication that he knew any other view.  He explicitly says it 'was anciently used by the ancient fathers in the writings, as an undoubted work of the apostle.' (3:3)" "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  In II Peter, Peter refers to his first letter.  "Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking."

Some liberal scholars believe that the quality of the Greek used in I Peter is too polished to be the work of an unpolished Jewish fisherman.  "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)  The Evangelical scholars' response to this charge are persuasive.  (1) Galilean fishermen were able to speak Greek, for they lived in a "bilingual culture." "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."  2) I Peter was written at least 30 years after the beginning of the church.  For 30 years Peter had traveled outside his Galilean homeland and had focused on ministry rather than on fishing.  This was more than sufficient time for his use of the Greek language to improve.  3) It is also possible that Peter was assisted in his writings by Silas.  "With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it." (1 Peter 5:12)

2. The place:  Peter tells us where I Peter was written:  "She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark." (1 Peter 5:13)  There are 3 views of where this "Babylon" is that Peter is speaking of:  1) It was a city named "Babylon" in Egypt.  2)  It is the "Babylon" that was the central city in the Babylonian Empire. See Daniel 1-5  3) The Rome of Peter's time was called "Babylon" by Christians. See Revelation 16:19, 17 & 18 (particularly 17:9)  The majority of Evangelical scholars believe that Peter was writing from Rome, the central city of the world-wide Roman Empire that was just like the central city of the Babylonian Empire.  "The 'Babylon' from which Peter sends his greetings (5:13) can scarcely have been the desolate and ruined city in Mesopotamia."  "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."  "The view that Peter meant Rome in indicating the place of writing has ancient support.  As far back as the beginning of the second century, Babylon was the way to refer to Rome.  Eusebius indicated that this was the view of Papias (c. A. D. 80-155) and Clement of Alexandria (c. A. D. 155-215).  If the epistle was written from Babylon on the Euphrates, it is difficult to account for the origin of the other view and its acceptance by the early church Fathers." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute." 

3. recipients:  Peter describes the recipients of I Peter in 1:1-2:  "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance." (1 Peter 1:1-2)  These names can refer to Roman provinces or to the regional names that they had previous to the Roman Empire.  If the regional names were being used by Peter, he is referring to a smaller part of what is modern-day Turkey; if the political names of Roman provinces are being used, he is referring to a larger area—including the churches that Paul ministered to described in Acts 13-18.  An interesting possibility is that Peter's letter was written to Christians in the smaller area who had not been directly ministered to by Paul.  Then, Peter would be taking responsibility for and shepherding Christians that he considered as his apostolic flock; whereas, Paul had another flock.  Paul had this to say about his desire to reach out to the unreached:  "It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation." (Romans 15:20)

4. The date:  Tradition tells us that Peter was crucified by Nero.  Nero's reign ended in A. D. 68.  So, the letter of I Peter must, then, be dated before A. D. 68.  Dates of A. D. 62-67 are given as the date of the writing of I Peter.  "The most satisfactory date is a little before the outbreak of the Neronian persecution in A. D. 63 or as early as A. D. 64." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

5. The theme:   Peter's primary concern is to encourage and exhort those who are in the midst of difficult trials.  "First Peter  was written to meet no theological heresy; it was written to strengthen men and women in jeopardy of their lives."  "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  The Christians that Peter was writing to were going through suffering:   "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."           (1 Peter 1:6-7) See also 2:18-22, 3:16, 4:12-16  Throughout the book, Paul exhorts his readers to maintain their Christian conduct when it would be much easier for them to cave in to the pressures and to respond to their trials in a fleshly way. "The hortatory character of I Peter is one of its prominent features.  It was not written to expound momentous doctrinal truth, rather it is a practical appeal to courage, purity, and faithfulness to Christ in the midst of suffering for his name's sake." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

 

THE MESSAGE OF I PETER

Chapter 4 verse 19 sums up the theme of I Peter: "So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."  If you are going through a difficult time and could use some encouragement to maintain your Christian character in the midst of suffering and discouragement, allow the apostle Peter to encourage and exhort you.  I also will be seeking to benefit from the encouragements and exhortations in I Peter.

GET AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE ON YOUR TRIALS. (1:1-12)
When trials occur, it is very human to see only the trials.  We begin to look at the small picture and do not look at the big picture.  When I worked at a state boys' home, one of the counselors said that young people cannot see past lunch.  When trials come into our lives, we can also be like that—we can't see past our trials.  There is no time when we more need to be able to have an eternal perspective than when we are going through a time of trial.  It is only when we have an eternal perspective that we are able to endure our trials and continue to respond to people and to circumstances in way that brings glory to God.

1. Get an eternal perspective by looking back at God's eternal plan in eternity past. (1:1-2)
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance."

Thought Question:  According to these verses, what has God chosen to do and what are we to choose to do?

 

 

a. We are strangers in this world. (1:1)
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,"  What comfort these few words must have meant to those who were Christians "scattered" throughout what is now the country of Turkey: "The apostle Peter is concerned for me."  "The apostle Peter knows what I am going through and has some words of encouragement for me."  Behind Peter was Jesus Christ who was concerned for these Christians in this remote region of the world.  These words of I Peter are also words of encouragement from Jesus Christ to us today.

"To God’s elect, strangers in the world,"  How were they "strangers in the world"?  There is a line in a song that answers this question: "This world is not my home; I'm just a passing through."  As "God's elect," our home is in heaven with God.  He has chosen us to be members of His eternal family.  On this earth, we are aliens and are not at home.

"God's elect . . . scattered"  They may have felt that they were "scattered"—randomly and purposelessly scattered.  But they were "God's elect."  Each of them were "scattered" and planted where they were planted according to the eternal plan of God from eternity past.  We who are Christians are also "God's elect."  God has a purpose for us right where we are.  God also chose us from eternity past.

"chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,"  What does Peter mean by "foreknowledge"?  Consider how different forms of prognosin, the Greek word translated "foreknowledge" here, are translated in the following verses.  "This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)  "He [Jesus Christ] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." (1 Peter 1:20)  From these verses and from this verse, Peter's meaning is that God had a plan from eternity past and that these Christians that Peter wrote to were part of His plan, even before they were born.  And He has chosen us also to be part of His purposes and plans.

"Divine foreknowledge involves God's favorable regard for people as part of his deliberate plans and purposes." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  That does not mean that our choices were excluded from His plan.  As will see throughout I Peter and throughout the Bible, our choices are very much included in His sovereign plan for us.

"through the sanctifying work of the Spirit,"  Peter points out in these verses that the three members of the Trinity have a role in our salvation: "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood."  Now, we come to "sanctifying work of the Spirit."  "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior," (Titus 3:5a-6) 

Everyone who becomes a Christian is immediately and miraculously indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  From the moment on, he or she is set apart for God's holy purposes—the meaning of "sanctify."  The Holy Spirit sets us apart for God's holy purposes. 

"for obedience to Jesus Christ"  Here, Peter focuses on our part.  God's purpose in choosing us and sanctifying us is so that we will be those who choose to obey Jesus Christ as our Lord.  There is a controversy among Christians over whether you can be saved by believing in Christ as Savior alone and then later choose to make Him Lord of your life; or whether we only become Christians when we turn to Him in faith as both our Lord and Savior.  Here, Peter states clearly that true saving faith occurs when we go from disobeying Jesus Christ to choosing to obey Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.  "'Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”'" (Matthew 7:21-23)  "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)  We are saved by grace through faith, but repentance is also involved—going from hardened unbelief to recognizing our sin of disobeying God.  So, when we turn to God, there is a willingness to go from willful sin to obedience to God. 

Without this willingness, we have not truly turned to God. "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." (1 Thessalonians 1:4-10)
When God has truly moved in our hearts, we are convicted of our sin and we choose to turn from our life of hardening our heart to God to seeking to obey him.  "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;" (1 Peter 1:14-15)

"sprinkling by his blood"  The "sprinkling" of Jesus' "blood" speaks of the cleansing of our guilt before God.  Even though we seek to obey God, we all fail in so many ways.  Can we ever live with a clear conscience and a clean relationship before God?  The Bible says that we can through Jesus' blood.  "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 1:7-2:2)

The priests of Israel symbolized today's Christians.  The High Priest symbolized Jesus Christ.  When blood was sprinkled on the priests of Israel, it symbolized us being sprinkled with Jesus' blood.  "Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments." (Leviticus 8:30) See Exodus 290:20-21

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance."  Peter describes here what we all need.  We are not able to earn nor do we in any way deserve to be blessed by God.  We all fail in so many ways.  Apart from God's grace, we all would live in a continual state of God's just condemnation.  Our only hope is expressed here by Peter: "grace"!  We need God to bless us even though we do not deserve to be blessed.  And that is what God has done.  "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)  "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. . . .For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 1:3-7, 2:8-9)

"peace" is ours as we realize God's "grace" puts us in a position of favor with Almighty God.  "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

"in abundance"  God's "grace" and "peace" is greater than all our sin and greater than all the trials that we encounter.  "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21)  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

2. Get an eternal perspective by looking forward in eternity: we have an eternal and living hope. (1:3-5)
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

Thought Question:  What is there in these verses that encourages you as you are going through a time of trial or will encourage you when you go through a time of trial?

 

 

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"  "Praise" is elogetos which means to speak well of someone.  We get our word "eulogize" from this Greek word.  "In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope"  As we look back on our lives, we who are Christians remember that time when our life started anew—we were born again.  Heaven unexpectedly entered our life as the Holy Spirit took residence in our life.

 Peter immediately presses our focus forward onto the meaning of this new birth to our future because of it—we have a "living hope."  What is that hope?  We have already received the first installment of that hope:  "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)  Our hope is that one day we will be fully redeemed: "conformed to the likeness of his Son" and "be with the Lord forever." (Romans 8:29; 1 Thessalonians 4:17)

"through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"  The Christian hope is a "living hope" because Jesus is living.  When He burst forth from the grave, he became the first of those who would rise from the dead.  "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him." (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

Peter knew this "living hope" in a way that few others have known it.  He was one of the disciples who despaired and fled when Jesus died on the cross.  Then, he saw the risen Lord and his despair turned to great joy and to a "living hope" as he saw the resurrected and living Jesus Christ.

We are already experiencing this "living hope," since through the new birth we have gone from death to life.  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:1-5)

How did Peter's words here help those Christians who were going through painful trials?  These painful trials do not change what God has done in our life through the new birth; nor do they alter at all our "living hope."  Just as Jesus conquered death, so we will one day completely conquer death.  No trial or sorrow can change that!

"and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you"  In so many ways, we live in a very uncertain world.  At the time that I am writing these words, they are many uncertainties: the economy has plummeted and shows no sign of recovery; our enemy Iran is developing nuclear weapons; and Islamic terrorism is a constant threat.  Then, there is the uncertainty in our individual lives.  During the last few years, friends have learned that they had terminal illnesses and have died.  We live in a very uncertain world in so many ways.  The Christians Peter was writing to so many years ago were also facing uncertain times as well.  We cannot be sure as to what degree the persecution of Christians had reached their part of the world, but just as Paul faced persecution by the Jews and from idol worshipers, so we can be certain that they were facing persecution. See Acts 13:50, 14:19, 19:23-34  Peter comforts them by pointing their focus toward what was certain: their eternal "inheritance."

Peter describes our "inheritance" as one "that can never perish, spoil or fade."  Jesus admonishes us not to seek after treasures that do not last:  "'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.'" (Matthew 6:19-20)  In our present economy, there is the possibility that money that is deposited in a bank could lose its value or not be able to be withdrawn.  Our nation's debt could finally have a domino effect and all of us could be affected by it.  So, if we are living for this world, we could see our personal treasures collapse overnight.  But, if we are laboring for an eternal reward, nothing can take that away from us.  It will never "perish."  In this world, death prevails, but in heaven there is no death.  All that is there for us in heaven is indestructible.  It will never "spoil."  All of us in this life need to continually do maintenance on what we have: we repair cars, paint and repaint our house, throw garbage away, replace worn out appliances, clean the carpets, and the list goes on and on.  Environmentalists labor tirelessly to maintain mother earth.  They labor for the earth that will inevitably "spoil." See Isaiah 24:1-5  All of this is not true of our eternal "inheritance."  It will not "spoil."  It will never "fade."  We see new cars at the car dealer.  They are so shiny and bright.  But on the road we see faded cars that once were shiny and bright.  Our "inheritance" is now shiny and bright, and it will always be shiny and bright! See Romans 8:17 Ephesians 1:14; Colossians 3:24

In a world where there is death, rotting, and fading; it is hard to believe that we have an inheritance that will not "perish, spoil, or fade."  How can it be true?  It is "kept in heaven for you." Our "inheritance" is eternally safe because it is God who is keeping it safe.  "'Kept' translates a perfect passive participle (tetermenen).  The perfect tense denotes that the inheritance was placed under safe keeping and the preservation is still in force, and the passive implies that God is the One who preserves.  The verb means to watch over, to take care of, to guard against loss or injury, by keeping an eye on that which is being guarded.  The inheritance is certain because of God's watchful care."  "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute." 

"into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power"  "Shielded" is in the present tense, meaning that we are constantly "shielded" by "God's power."  "Not only is our inheritance kept for us; we are kept for our inheritance." "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."  Philippians 1:6 has been a comfort for many: "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."   Romans 8:28-30 has had the same comforting effect on us: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."  And, finally, we are comforted by the words of Jesus in John 10:27-30: "'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.'"  We are not weakly trying to hold on to God's hand, he is strongly and powerfully holding on to our hand!

How does God's power reveal itself to us?  God's power reveals itself through our faith: "who through faith are shielded by God’s power."  "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7)  We cast our concerns on God and trust Him with thanksgiving that He indeed is taking care of us.  What is the result?  Our hearts are guarded from anxiety and despair as these states of hopelessness are replaced by faith and peace. See I Peter 1:21, 5:6-7; Romans 8:31-39; I John 5:4-5

"until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."  All of us have had times when we were waiting for some grand event to finally happen.  As a child, for me it was Christmas or moving from the Midwest to southern California.  Then, what I waited for actually happened—Christmas with all its presents was actually occurring or we were in the car with all our belongings traveling west.  All of us who are Christians are also waiting for a grand event.  We are waiting for "the salvation" Peter talks about here. 

When the word "salvation" is used, it can refer to "salvation" from the penalty of sin, "salvation" from the power of sin, or "salvation" from the presence of sin—our future glorification.  Here, Peter is clearly speaking of a "salvation" that is yet future.   "And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." (Romans 13:11)  "So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:28) See also Hebrews 1:14

Why is this "salvation" such a great event?  At that time, we will be fully rescued from this present world with all of its sin, from Satan and his evil forces, from our fallen bodies, and from the curse that has come because of Adam's sin.  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:18-23)  It will be a grand event, and we wait eagerly for this "salvation" that will one day be a reality.

"that is ready to be revealed in the last time."  "'Ready' indicates that all that was needed for the realization of this salvation has been accomplished. . . Nothing need be added to God's preparation.  The salvation that God has got ready does not need a few final touches from us." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"be revealed in the last time."  The Greek word is a form of the word used in the title of the book of Revelation.  The book of Revelation is the revelation or unveiling of the glorified Christ-it is the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ.  The Greek word used here by Peter is a form of apokalupsis.  Peter is describing a "salvation" that is "ready" and waiting for us.  All that is needed is for it to be unveiled.  It will be unveiled "in the last time."

We are living now in a time when our "salvation" is still veiled.  It our "living hope."  It will be our full experience when the glorified Jesus Christ will be unveiled.  We now live by faith that our faith and our labors are not in vain. "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Romans 8:24-25)  "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:56-58)

3. Get an eternal perspective, so, we can rejoice in our present trials. (1:6-12)

a. We can rejoice in our present trials because they are refining us so that, in the end, our faith will bring God glory. (1:6-7)
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Thought Question:  How have trials in your past been used by God to improve your faith and your character?

 

 

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."  In these words there are what seems to be two opposites both existing side by side in a Christian's life: "suffer grief" and "greatly rejoicing."  How is it possible to be suffering "grief" at the same time one is "greatly rejoicing"?  Paul knew this experience: "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." (2 Corinthians 6:10)  James spoke of it in James 1:2:  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."  James gives the following reason why we can rejoice in the midst of painful trials.  "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:3-4) 

Peter says "in this you greatly rejoice."  What is Peter referring to that can enable us to "rejoice" in the midst of that which brings us "grief"?  It is because of all that he has just stated in the previous verses.  There are two realities: 1) our painful trials and 2) our hope.  The painful trials are real and so is our hope real.  In the midst of our trials, we are to keep our eyes focused on our hope.  Our hope is that our faith in the midst of trials will be richly rewarded when we receive our eternal inheritance.  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17)  See also 1:8, 4:13; Matthew 5:11-12; Romans 5:3-5

"The verb 'suffer grief' (lupeo) does not mean the affliction of pain but the inward feeling of distress or grief caused by outward circumstances." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute." 

"for a little while"  Peter is pointing out that trials only last a short time, rejoicing continues on for eternity.  In Alcoholics Anonymous they have a saying: "This too will soon pass."  Our trials will soon pass, but our rejoicing will not pass away.

"There is here full, frank recognition that earthly trials cause deeply felt mental distress." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

"These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."  Peter uses the refining process of gold to explain how God uses trials to refine us.  Gold was heated until the impurities came to the surface of the liquefied gold.  Then, these impurities were skimmed off.  This refining process removed the impurities and left only the pure uncontaminated gold.  Yet, Peter points out that even this refined gold will ultimately perish.

The refining process of trials in our lives removes our earthly reliance on self, on others, and on circumstances, and leaves us with only faith in God.  Unlike perishable gold, this faith in God is eternal. See Isaiah 1:25  We can tell if our faith is being refined by the degree to which we can "greatly rejoice" while we are in the midst of trials where we "suffer grief."  Is our focus only on the trial?  Then, there will be no rejoicing.  Is our focus firmly set on God's ultimate purpose for the trials and our future "hope"?  Then, we will "greatly rejoice"!

"and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."  Jesus will, on that day, be seen to have been fully worthy of our faith as we see that trusting Him was worth it all.  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)  Also, on that day, our faith in Him will be seen to have been "genuine."  "Praise"  "'Praise' denotes the recognition or approval that Christians will receive from the Judge.  It is the reward of public commendation, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' (Matt 25:21; I Cor. 4:5)." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  "Glory"  It will be a glorious time when we are fully transformed into His glory. See II Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:27; Philippians 3:20-21; I John 3:2  "Honor" At that time, we who have trusted Him through trials will be appropriately honored.  "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." (John 12:26)

In that day we will rejoice that we persevered and trusted Him, even though the many trials in our life made it difficult to continue in our faith.  In short, we need not to waver, though trials will come; for in the end our faith in God will be rewarded.  It will "result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."  Just as gold is proven to be gold after the testing and refining process, so our faith will be proven to be genuine faith after the testing process is completed.  Our perseverance and trust in God demonstrates today that we trust in God's love and faithfulness to His promises.  Hebrews 11:6 sums it up: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."  Our faith points to God and will lead to Him receiving glory, both now and on that day.

Paul uses a woman in childbirth to explain how we can rejoice even in the midst of great pain.  "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:22)  The future mother in the birthing process experiences both pain and joy.  There is the obvious physical pain of giving birth, but there is also joy knowing that her child is about to appear.  Soon, she will hold her new born baby in her arms!  We may be going through great pain now, but we can greatly rejoice at what is ahead of us.  We will stand in the presence of the Lord, who will appreciate that we trusted in Him even when it was very difficult to do so.  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

b. We can rejoice in our present trials because we bring God glory by our trusting in Him even when we cannot see Him. (1:8-9)
"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Thought Question:  Why do you trust in Jesus Christ even though you have never seen Him?

 

 

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him"  "We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)  These Christians that Paul was writing to in this second letter to the Corinthians had never seen Jesus Christ in the flesh, yet they continually loved Him and believed in Him.  Peter loved Jesus because he had walked with Him, ate with Him, and heard His personal words to him; but since Jesus' time on earth, we Christians have loved Him though we have not seen Him.  Jesus made this statement after Thomas would not believe in Him until he saw Him and the nail prints in his hands:  "Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" (John 20:29) 

Peter highlights this amazing aspect of Christianity-we believe in Jesus even though we have never seen Him.  Christians are those who have changed the whole direction of their lives because of their love for and belief in a Jesus Christ whom they have never seen.  He is and has been the unseen leader of millions of people.  A good friend of ours died this year.  She died at the age of 100 years old.  She never married.  The most obvious motivation in her life was her love for Jesus Christ.  But, she had never seen Him until now!

"and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,"  Peter expands on his words in 1:6:  "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."  My brother Lynn, who is four years younger than me, became a Christian before me.  I knew him as much as I knew anyone at that time.  When he visited me for the first time after he had became a Christian, I saw a joy in his life that had not been there before.  He could not express words that could explain to me what this joy was like, he just knew it was real—and I knew it was real.  Three weeks later, I had that same joy.  It is "an inexpressible and glorious joy."  "'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.'" (John 15:9-11) 

Walking with the Lord, even when we are going through great trials, will bring this joy into our lives.  We will rejoice as we reflect on God's       never-ending love for us, on our future hope, on the love of a Christian mate or friend, and on God's high purposes even in our trials.

"for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."  Peter, here, points our focus to the fact that all that is happening to us, even the painful trials, is leading to God's goal for us.  It is leading to our total salvation from the power of sin in our lives and one day to our salvation from the presence of sin.

Peter reveals, here, his own outlook on his life.  His life after Jesus ascended into heaven was tough.  He was jailed.  "They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day." (Acts 4:3)  "They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail." (Acts 5:18)    He was ordered not to preach about Jesus.  "Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, 'Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.  For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'" (Acts 4:18-20)  "Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 'We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,' he said. 'Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.' Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!'" (Acts 5:27-29)    Yet, Peter and the other apostles rejoiced.  "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name." (Acts 5:41) See also Acts 12:1-14

Peter's pattern of rejoicing greatly, even in the midst of great trials, is to be our pattern also; for we also share with him in the same hope.  He is already experiencing that hope; we will one day experience it as well.  In the meantime, we are experiencing the present work of God in us as we trust in Him; we are experiencing the salvation of our souls.  "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:1-5)

c. We can rejoice in our present trials because this salvation is the fulfillment of what the prophets predicted. (1:10-12)
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things."

Thought Question:  What do you learn here about how knowledgeable the prophets were and how knowledgeable the angels are about what is happening now and what is going to happen?

 

 

When unexpected suffering comes into our life, we can become perplexed and our whole perception of God and His love and rule over this world can be brought into disarray.  If God loves me and is totally in control of all that is happening to me, why is He allowing this painful trial to take place?  When Jesus said "that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Matthew 16:21), Peter could not accept it.  He "took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!'" (Matthew 16:22)  Our perception is often like Peter's perception-we do not see why suffering needs to be a part of our life.

The predictions of the Messiah by the prophets of the Old Testament included both His glorious victory and His sufferings.  The Jews, when they looked at the prophecies, saw only the victory and skipped over the sufferings.  But His sufferings were clearly predicted:  "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:3)  "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)  "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)  " . . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent." (Psalm 22:1-2)  "But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'" (Psalm 22:6-8)  "I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts— men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords." (Psalm 57:4)

In God's plans, suffering precedes glory.  "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,"  Peter wants the Christians to whom he was writing to realize the magnitude of the salvation that they were experiencing.  God also wants us to understand the magnitude of the salvation that we are experiencing.  We hold in very high esteem prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and others.  Yet, they did not understand as we do the first coming of Jesus Christ—His death and resurrection.  They did not understand the beginning of the church or the history of the church through the ages.  They did not know about what takes place all over the world as churches of every nation are taught God's word and worship together.  They longed to understand; we understand!

Today, we make the same type of search to try to understand the end times that are still ahead of us.  Countless books are written on the end times, but no one is absolutely sure of all that will take place.

"trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow."  "Few passages have more to tell us about how the prophets wrote and about how they were inspired." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."

We see Daniel the prophet's humanness as he seeks to understand the revelations of the future that were given to him.  "I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, 'My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?' He replied, 'Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.'" (Daniel 12:8-9)  Other prophets made the same type of search.  Undoubtedly, they poured over the Old Testament writings seeking to understand how and when the Messiah would come. See also Isaiah 6:11; Daniel 8:16-17

The prophets received from God the prophecies of the Messiah that we have in the Old Testament. See Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Micah 5:2  But they did not know the exact time the prophecies would be fulfilled or the exact person who would fulfill their prophecies.  Jesus' disciples also did not know.  "So when they met together, they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.'" (Acts 1:6-7)

"the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing"  The Spirit of the Messiah was in them predicting His future ministry on this earth.  Peter is stating that the preexistent Jesus Christ indwelt these prophets and that it was He who gave them the prophetic messages that we have today in the Old Testament.

"when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow."  It was predicted that Jesus the Creator would not be well received on this earth that He created.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-3, 14)  "'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.'" (John 15:18)  "Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me." (John 15:20-21)  "Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—" (Isaiah 52:14) 

The prophets also foretold the glories of Christ.  "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)  "Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:12)

"It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven."  The prophets learned by revelation from God that what they predicted was not meant to explain something that would occur in their generation, but it was meant for a future generation. "'Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.'" (Daniel 10:14)  It was for the people of the time of Christ and the church age that the prophecies were directed.  Their predictions pointed to the Christians of Peter's time and to the Christians of our time.

"that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven."  The gospel message that transformed our lives did not only come to us by the lips of men, but by the "Holy Spirit sent from heaven."  "Because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake." (1 Thessalonians 1:5)  "One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message." (Acts 16:14)

"Even angels long to look into these things."  "Long to look" "means to look with head bent forward, to look into with the body bent, to stoop and look into." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." See Luke 24:12; John 20:5,11

Angels are not all-knowing. They are spectators who are eagerly watching what is taking place on the earth—the drama that is before them as God works out His plan of salvation with mankind.  "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms," (Ephesians 3:10) See also John 15:10; I Corinthians 4:9

THE ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE'S APPROPRIATE EFFECT ON OUR PRESENT LIFE (1:13-5:10)

1. Eternally motivated exhortations (1:13-16)
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell you about how you, as one chosen by God, should live your life?

 

 

a. Be active mentally. (1:13a)
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action;"

This is the first, "therefore" in I Peter.  Paul tended to give longer sections of doctrine followed by a "therefore" or a "then." See Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 3:1, and Romans 12:1  Peter's pattern is to give a short teaching followed by a "therefore," and he continues this process throughout this book. See 1:13, 22, 2:1, 11, 4:a, 7, 19

Peter exhorts his readers in light of the eternal perspective that we were chosen by God in the eternal past and are destined to an eternal inheritance: that we should "prepare [our] mind for action."

"The NIV rendering . . . 'prepare your minds for action' eliminates the vivid imagery of the original, literally, 'having girded up the loins of your mind' (R. Young).  The figure, which may be confusing to those unfamiliar with oriental dress, is grounded in daily oriental experience. The long flowing garments were habitually drawn up and tucked under the belt in preparation for vigorous activity; they were let down for repose.  Shortening a garment helped to avoid impeding action and also gave support to the loins.  Girding the loins, as a metaphor of preparation for aggressive activity is common to both the Old and New Testaments (cf. Ex. 12:11; 1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 9:1; Jer. 1:17; Luke 12:35; Eph. 6:14, etc.)" "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute.  He quotes Young's translation."

As Christians who are in a constant warfare with an ever-present and tireless enemy, we are not to have lazy minds, but to constantly have active minds.  "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Why do we need to have an active mind?  Satan is a deceiver.  We need to know the truth and actively reject lies.  Our mind should determine every decision we make.  We are to make decisions based on thinking that is transformed by God's word and by God's Spirit.  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)  It is only as we actively begin to think God's thoughts that the salvation from the power of sin begins.  There is so much the enemy of our souls can use to occupy our minds that is destructive to us and others: worry, guilt, condemnation, temptation, and pride.  For example, in the Psalms, we see David actively battling with all these types of attacks on his mind.  The Christian, thus, needs to have a diligent and active Scripture-based mind to succeed in the Christian life.

b. Be self-controlled. (1:13b)
"be self-controlled;"

"'Be self-controlled' (nephontes), literally, 'being sober,' . . .   The present tense calls for a continuing state or habitual temper of sobriety. . . . It denoted a condition free from every form of mental and spiritual loss of self-control; it is an attitude of self-discipline. . . . It inculcates a calm, steady state of mind that evaluates things correctly." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. . . . Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 4:7, 5:8)

c. Be hopeful. (1:13c)
"set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Allowing ourselves to lose our hope leads us also to lose our ability to think clearly and to not be "self-controlled."  Peter knew this condition well, for he lost his "hope" when Jesus was crucified.  He learned his lesson well, for he became a person who kept clear-headed as he focused on that time when Jesus would once more physically reveal Himself to the world.

"Hope" is what keeps us going in many endeavors of ours.  College students continue in their studies because of their "hope" of graduating and receiving a better paying occupation at the end of their efforts.  We who are Christians continue strong in our efforts because we believe that there will be eternal rewards in the end.  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)  This verse comes at the end of a chapter that focuses on our ultimate resurrection from the dead.

We are to put our "hope fully" in the future revealing of Jesus Christ.  "Hope" that enables us to persevere through trials with love, joy, and peace cannot be half-hearted or uncertain or it will not be enough in tough times.  "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13)  "But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thessalonians 5:8)  We are to stand strong in the "hope" we have in Christ, so that we will also stand strong when the trials and temptations come.  "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:9-11)

"grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."  Our hope is not that we will get what we deserve, but that we will receive what we do not deserve.  Our future home in heaven with our wonderful relationship with God is not what we deserve, but what God will graciously provide for us.  As we look back to the cross, we see God's grace.  As we look forward, we also have a certain "hope" of God's grace. 

d. Do not conform to the old ways. (1:14)
"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance."

Although as God's children indwelt by God, our innermost desire is to be holy.  We can see here that it is nevertheless possible for us to allow the fleshly part of us to become the controlling part of us.  That is why Peter is exhorting these early Christians to be obedient to God and not to be obedient to their fleshly desires.  Paul exhorted the Roman Christians in the same way.  "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness." (Romans 6:12-13) 

What should characterize us as Christians is obedience to God.  "'If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)  "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.'" (John 14:21) See also I John 2:3-6, 3:24  Peter said in 1:1-2 that we were chosen "for obedience to Jesus Christ. See also John 12:36; I Thessalonians 5:5

"the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance."  Paul describes what our life was like before we became children of God:  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." (Ephesians 2:1-3)  We have been rescued by God from all of this, to live the life God has chosen us to live.  "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10) 

"lived in ignorance."  Without God's Spirit, we were "ignorant" of the things of God's Spirit.  "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)  Ephesians 4:17-19 eloquently describes our former "ignorance."  "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Outside of Christ, there is a voluntary rejection of God that leads to moral and spiritual darkness, hardness of heart, and disobedience to God. See Romans 1:18-32

e. Be holy. (1:15-16)
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"

Now, Peter describes what our behavior as Christians is to be like.  The "But" makes it clear that we are to act and be the very opposite of following the "evil desires" of verse 14.  We are to seek to be "holy" in all we do.

Some think of salvation and becoming a Christian as merely a way to not to go to hell, but to go to heaven—that salvation is primarily and only about forgiveness of our sins.  But, Peter gives a fuller picture of salvation in the verses.  All who have been "called" to be Christians have been "called" to "be holy."  Our life goal now is to "be holy," "because" God is "holy."  Salvation is not just salvation from the penalty of sin, it is salvation from sinning.  That is our calling.  "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)  "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3)  "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives." (2 Peter 3:11)  "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him." (2 Peter 3:14)

Complete and perfect holiness cannot be achieved in this life.  Paul after nearly 30 years of being a Christian was still striving toward this goal.  "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Philippians 3:12)  Nevertheless, holiness is our calling and it is what we are to strive toward.  Growth in holiness gives us confidence that we are one of those who have been called.  "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall," (2 Peter 1:5-10)

"for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"  "It is written" is in the perfect tense indicating something completed in the past which continues to be true.  Peter is quoting Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, and 20:7, 26.  Leviticus 19:2 follows the 18th chapter of Leviticus where God describes the perversions of the Canaanites who lived in the land that God had promised to Israel.  The Israelites were not at all to be like the Canaanites.  God said to them that they were to "be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)

The theme of the book of Leviticus is holiness.  In it are described what God declared as unclean and what He described as holy.  Also, within the book are directions given to the Israelites to cleanse themselves from uncleanness.  The unclean food and unclean substances dramatically point to how sin makes us unclean before God and how we need to be cleansed from sin and its effects before we can fellowship with a holy God.  God, through Jesus Christ's death and the presence of the Holy Spirit, has started the cleansing process in our lives.  Now, because of what God has done, we are to make it our premiere goal in life to "be holy" just like God is "holy." See Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 4:1; I Thessalonians 4:7

It is clear how this applies to us.  We live in a world where unholiness is looked upon as normal and acceptable.  We are never to accept the world's norms.  As the world moves more toward unholiness, we are not to just seek to be better than they are.  God's standard of holiness must always be our goal.  "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:5-7)

We can only truly represent God when we seek to "be holy" as He "is holy."  For this is the only way we can truly fellowship with Him.

2. More eternal motivation (1:17-22b)

a. God ultimately will judge us impartially. (1:17)
"Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear."

Thought Question:  What does this verse tell you about what a life will be like that is lived with an appropriate fear of God?

 

 

"Since you call on a Father"  Here, Peter describes each Christian.  We are those who "call on" God as our "Father."  If we believe in God as our "Father," we should live as if we are continually living before the "Father," for it is true.  God loves us with a father's love, but He also looks on us completely "impartially."  God is both our impartial judge and loving "Father."  "For God does not show favoritism." (Romans 2:11) See also Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 3:25   We can feel that, somehow, we are going to get some type of special treatment.  But that is not true.  The Ultimate One will tell it exactly like it is.

As we live on this earth, we tend not to think seriously that our life will ever change from what we are experiencing right now.  So, what will certainly occur in the distant future does not affect us much.  But, when we attend the funeral of someone we have known well, that certain future becomes more real to us for a little while.  But, whether we think about it or not, death and being accountable to God after death are certainly going to happen.  Not only will we stand before God's judgment one day, but He is observing right now all that we are doing.  He does not see what we are doing with all of our rationalizations, but His eyes of fire see right into our hearts and He sees our true motives. See Romans 2:1-2, 11, 16; Acts 10:35  The non-Christian will stand before the Great White Throne judgment seat. See Revelation 20:11-15  But we who are Christians will also stand before Jesus Christ to receive rewards or not to receive rewards.  "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10)  "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12)  "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
"live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear."  Peter describes here what our attitude as Christians should always be.  We are not to live as if this life is all that is important to us.  Rather, we are to live as those who are living in a strange land where our focus is on the One in the spiritual realm who is continually watching us.  This is reality; living as if there is nothing beyond this life is fantasy.  We are to live continually in the reality, not in the fantasy.

We see what it will be like to be in the presence of God and His absolute holiness in Isaiah 6:1-5:  "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”" (Isaiah 6:1-5)  If we realize that we are always in the presence of this holy God, we will always live "in reverent fear."  See Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Matthew 10:28; I Peter 2:17, 3:2

"This fear is self-distrust; it is tenderness of conscience; it is vigilance against temptation; it is the fear which inspiration opposes to highmindedness in the admonition, be not high-minded but fear.  It is taking heed lest we fall; it is a constant comprehension of the deceitfulness of heart, and of the insidiousness and power of inward corruption." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company" See Proverbs 1:7

b. For we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. (1:18-19)
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

Thought Question #1:  What does this verse tell you about how much God loves you?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How should the fact that we live constantly in the presence of One who loves us that much affect how you live before Him?

 

 

Hiebert introduces this section of his commentary on I Peter with these words: "The knowledge that motivates reverence." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  The One who continually lives before us is the One who made the greatest sacrifice of love that has ever been made and He made it for us.  How, then, should we live before Him?

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed"  A slave who was set free or "redeemed" from a life of slavery by "silver or gold" was very grateful to the one who made the monetary sacrifice to set him or her free.  "Redeemed" was a term used to describe a slave being set free when a ransom price was paid to procure that freedom: "'just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Matthew 20:28)

There is a view of Christ's ransom payment that says that the ransom was paid to the devil.  Jesus, though, died that the just penalty for our sins before a holy God was paid.  "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2)  "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)  "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:23-26)  The ransom price that Jesus paid was to take our penalty in our place—to take God's just wrath for our sins on Himself in our place.

"from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,"  Peter gives us one aspect of what we were redeemed from.  Through the blood of the Passover Lamb and what God did at the crossing of the Red Sea to rescue Israel from the evil pharaoh, God redeemed Israel from the empty life of slavery in Egypt. See Exodus 12-14  That life of slavery to the pharaoh in Egypt is a picture of our slavery to sin and to the devil.  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." (Ephesians 2:1-4a)

"handed down to you from your forefathers,"  The Christians that Peter was writing to were either Gentiles who came from a pagan background (idol worship, etc.) or Jews whose ancestors with a few exceptions tried to get right with God through their works.  Both backgrounds were "empty" ways "of life" and neither had led to a true relationship with God.

"but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."  In the Old Testament sacrifices it was required that the animal sacrifices be "a male without defect." (Leviticus 22:19)  Also, the Passover Lamb was to be "without defect." (Exodus 12:5) See also Deuteronomy 15:21  Only the blood of the infinite Lamb of God could completely pay for the sins of all mankind.  Jesus was the sinless and precious sacrifice on our behalf.  "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?" (John 8:46)  "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2:22) See also John 14:30; Acts 3:14; II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15, 7:26-28, 9:14; I John 3:5  How should what He did for us affect the way that we live?

d. Jesus Christ was chosen before the foundation of the world. (1:20-21)
"He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."

Thought Question:  How does the eternal perspective presented here motivate you to live the Christian life?

 

 

 "He was chosen before the creation of the world,"  "We are thus made aware that man's fall into sin and consequent bondage did not take God by surprise.  He had forseen it; and He had ready His remedy for it, and His way of redemption from it.  He knew beforehand what He would do when the need for it emerged.  What He knew, first of all, was the Person by whom He would do it, namely His own Son, functioning in this specially ordained capacity as God's 'Christ', so called because anointed and equipped for His task by God's Spirit, and fulfilling His appointed task by becoming in redemptive sacrifice the true Passover lamb.  So, not only the idea of a coming Messiah, but also the idea of a Messiah who should die to redeem His people, alike formed part of God's preconceived plan for this world before its creation (cf. Eph. i.4-10)." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (Revelation 13:8)

At one point in my life, just before I believed in Jesus Christ and became a born-again Christian, I felt like life was without purpose or direction.  Life, to me, was nothing more than an empty routine ending in nothing.  Now, I realize that there is a loving God who had a purpose for me all along.  Here, we see that God and His Son in love chose to provide a way whereby sinners like you and me could come into an eternal relationship with Him.  Now, I realize that every moment of life is part of that grand purpose that was conceived of and carried out by a loving and sovereign God, "but was revealed in these last times for" our "sake."  "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)  "This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)  Jesus' appearance to us was part of God's eternal plan. 

"Through him you believe in God,"  "'Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”'" (Acts 4:10-12)  "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)  During the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, young Christians pointing one finger toward heaven strongly stating their belief that there was only one way to receive a relationship with God and it is by belief in Jesus-in His death and resurrection for us.

"who raised him from the dead and glorified him,"  "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)  Saving faith is the faith that the Jesus of history died on a real cross in Israel, actually rose from the dead, and physically ascended into heaven where He resumed His original state of glory.  Peter states here that it was the Father "who raised Him from the dead and glorified him."  The resurrection and His glorification were essential to our faith; for because of them, we now believe not in a dead Jesus, but in a living and risen Jesus Christ.

"'Dead' refers not to a state of death, but to individuals who are dead.  Our Lord was raised out from among those who are dead.  They stayed in that condition called death, whereas He was giving life." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company"

"and so your faith and hope are in God."  Our "faith" both looks back to the lamb that was chosen "before the creation of the world" to be slain for us and forward in "hope" to the eternity that God has purposed for us.  It is God the Father who purposed and made possible our "hope."  We can not only be certain of Jesus' love for us, but we can also be certain of the Father's love for us.  Peter heard Jesus say these words:   "No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God." (John 16:27)

e. God's word purified us when we obeyed Him, leading toward sincere love. (1:22a)
"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers,"

Thought Question:  How do you believe "obeying the truth" purifies us?

 

 

"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth"  Purification is an essential requirement for Christian living and Christian love.  What do we need to purify ourselves from?  In a few words, we need to purify ourselves from selfish motives.  Love that is rooted in selfish motives is not love; it is hypocritical love.  James describes what occurs when our motives are not pure:  "But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." (James 3:14-16)  James gives this description of what occurs when our hearts are pure.  "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17)

How do we purify our hearts?  Once more, James describes how we are to do it.  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:7-10)  James gives us the same method of purifying our heart as Peter does: in Peter's words it is by "obeying the truth" and in James words it is by submitting to God.  We purify our hearts when we finally admit fully that what God says about our sinfulness is true—we are sinners who need a Savior.  We also turn from rebellious unbelief to acknowledging God's sovereign reign over us.  We "confess with [our] mouth that Jesus is Lord." (Romans 10:9) See 1:2; Romans 1:5

This obedience to "the truth" purifies our motives as we show by our submission to the gospel that we believe that we have been sinners from the heart.  "He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith." (Acts 15:9)  We have come to agree with the ancient prophets' description of our heart motives before we believed.  "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

"The perfect active participle, hegnikotes, 'having purified,' looks back to a specific past experience that has a present result. . . . The use of the active voice makes the experience of cleansing as a matter that involved the will of the readers.  They acted to receive the cleansing by placing themselves under obedience to the word of God."  "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

It is possible, though, to fall back into the former impure motives of the non-Christian life.  So, we need to regularly do what Peter exhorts us to do in 2:1-3:  "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (1 Peter 2:1-3)

This inner purification through obeying the gospel truth began in them a genuine phileo love for other Christians: "you have sincere love for your brothers."  They began to genuinely like Christians and to like being around them, where before they did not like to be around them.  Phileo describes a fondness for someone.  I at one time hated to listen to Billy Graham, whom my mother watched on television nearly every time he was on television.  Once I became a Christian, I immediately loved to listen to him.  New Christians have this type of transformation in how they look at Christians.  "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death." (1 John 3:14)

"Sincere love" in the Greek describes an un-hypocritical love.  The Greek word translated "sincere" is the Greek word from which we get our word "hypocrite" with an "a" in front of it.  Just like an atheist is a non-believer in God; so an a-hypocrite is a non-hypocrite.  Our word "transparency" captures this idea—he is someone who is what he says he is.  In other words, new Christians typically have a transparent and genuine fondness for other Christian.  "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9)

3. Another eternally motivated exhortation: love each other deeply. (1:22b)
"love one another deeply, from the heart."

Thought Question:  What is the difference between a love that is not deep and not "from the heart" and a love that is deep and "from the heart"?

 

 

In the first part of this verse, Peter uses the Greek work phileo which is translated as "love." It describes a warm affection for someone.  Here, Peter uses the Greek word agape which describes the unconditional love of I Corinthians 13:4-7.  What Peter is exhorting his readers to do is to so desire the best for someone that you are willing to make sacrifices to help them to experience God's absolute best in their lives.  God loved us in this way:  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)  "The command is an appeal to the will; Peter believed that Christian love can be commanded.  The believer should deliberately act to assure its operation.  "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

Purified love "excludes all pride, prejudices, grudges and bitterness.  It means getting rid of—cleansing those things that stand between brothers and sisters in Christ." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."

We are to love one another from a purified heart, for it is only from a heart purified of selfishness that true love can flow.  "The Textus Receptus reads 'out of a pure heart.'  'Pure' (katharas) has some good early manuscript support and may well be authentic, but most critical editors omit it." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"Love one another deeply" describes loving others without holding anything back.  In athletics, this type of effort is described by saying "I left it all on the playing field."  When the game is over, one has no energy left for all the energy he had was exerted on the playing field.  We are to love each other fully.  We are to wholeheartedly give all we can seeking the best for our fellow Christians.  From years of experience, though, we need to use wisdom in doing this.  For some can come to feel that what is actually their responsibility becomes our responsibility.  When this occurs, what we do in love can actually harm rather than help another. See I Peter 4:8; Hebrews 13:1

4. Another eternal motivation for obeying God's imperatives (1:23-25)
"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, 'All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.' And this is the word that was preached to you."

Thought Question:  What is there in these verses that excites you about your second birth?

 

 

"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable,"  We as Christians "have been born again" into a new life that will never end.  Our first birth is to a physical life that is "perishable" and will end.  Our second birth is "imperishable" and will never end.  "All men are like grass" "that withers" and like "flowers" that eventually "fall."  Our first birth leads to life that will eventually die; our second birth leads to a life that will never end.

As I write these words, it is November.  Leaves and blossoms have fallen and these dead parts of trees and "flowers" now litter the streets, sidewalks, and lawns.  They are a picture of what will one day be our physical fate.  But the new life that we have in Christ came to us "through the living and enduring word of God."  This new life in us was the work of God's Spirit and will never get old and die.  This new birth is to eternal life.  If this is true, how should it affect our lives? See John 1:13; Mark 13:31

Peter begins this section of verses with "For."  What does this "For" point back to?  It points back to "love one another deeply from the heart."  We are able to "love one another deeply from the heart" because we are "born again" and now have God's life within us.  Because of His love within us, we are able to love each other with genuine love. See Romans 12:9-13

These verses teach that the new birth comes as a result of the impact of God's word on us.  As we believe what the word of God teaches, we are born again.  This contradicts the beliefs of Calvinism that teaches that our regeneration or new birth precedes our response to the word of God.  "A cardinal point of Reformed Theology is the maxim: 'Regeneration precedes faith'. . . . We do not believe in order to be born again; we are born again in order that we may believe." "Taken from Chosen by God by R. C. Sproul pp. 72-73 .  Copyright 1986 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc."

5. More eternally motivated exhortations (2:1-3)

a. Get rid of unloving attitudes toward others. (2:1)
"Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind."

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe that the "Therefore" points back to?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  According to these verses, do we play a passive or an active role in the Christian life?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Although these verses begin a new chapter, the "Therefore" ties it to the "love one another deeply from the heart" and the fact that we ""have been born again . . . of imperishable seed."  We can love one another because we are new creatures in Christ.  But as new creatures in Christ, we can only "love one another deeply from the heart" when we have cleaned out from our "heart" that which is unloving.  Paul urged the Ephesian Christians to take the same action.  "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32) 

"rid yourselves"  James had something similar to say to the readers of his letter.  "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." (James 1:21)  "Peter's words picture someone flinging off a badly stained or infected garment. . . . the aorist tense of the participle, demands a break with sin, the Christian should remove it entirely." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  Earlier in I Peter, Peter exhorted his reader to "'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:16)  Seeking to be holy not only requires that we seek to do that which is holy, but it also requires that we seek to get "rid" of that which is unholy.  Just like we need to get rid of dirty clothes as part of cleaning ourselves up on the outside, so we need to get rid of what is unclean on the inside of us before we can purify our heart.  In this verse, Peter describes what we must get "rid" of.

"rid yourselves of all malice"  It is the Greek word kakia that is a Greek word for "evil."  There is disagreements among Bible scholars as to whether the Greek word Peter uses here that is translated "malice" in the NIV should be translated as evil or wickedness in general or if it should be translated "malice"—that ugly desire that evil will occur to others.  The Greek word clearly refers to "malice" in Ephesians 4:31:  "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."  In these words in Ephesians, it sums up some of the ways we can desire to do what is evil to others. See also Colossians 3:8

If Peter was referring to evil in general, it would certainly also include the desire that evil occurs to others.  Bitterness toward others results in the desire that evil will happen to them.  There should be no place in the Christian heart where this type of ugliness should be allowed to reside.  Do we desire that bad happen to any person?  That hateful spirit within us must be removed!  A Christian's heart is not pure and we will not love others from the heart until all of that type of ugliness is cleansed out completely.

"rid yourselves of . . .  all deceit"  It is what we call today, "the hidden agenda."  It is telling others what they want to hear to get something from them, such as money, power, popularity, etc.  Ananias and Sapphira were practicing "deceit" when they gave the impression they had sold some property and gave all the money they received from the sale of it to the church, when they were actually holding back some of it. See Acts 5:1-11 See also 2:22, 3:10, Matthew 26:4  Ridding ourselves of hypocrisy requires that we be scrupulously honest, transparent, and genuine as a pattern of life.

John describes a pattern of life before God and others in the following verses:  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:7-9) Peter was at one time accused of hypocrisy by Paul.  See Galatians 2:13

"rid yourselves of . . . envy"  "Envy" is resenting those who excel over us and/or have more of anything than us—money, prestige, etc.  We show we have "envy" when we enjoy it when someone loses some of their money, prestige, etc.  We should be pleased that they are doing well and saddened when troubles come their way.

"rid yourselves of . . . slander of every kind."  "Slander" is speech that deliberately tears down someone else.  It usually takes place when the person is not there.  It is in the plural here and describes many types of "slander."

"Malice" or evil, "deceit, "hypocrisy," "envy," and "slander of every kind" obviously must be removed from our heart before we can love others "deeply from the heart."  These other attitudes enable us to hate others deeply from the heart.  May we start our heart cleansing immediately by looking within to see if there is anything in us that we need to remove forever.  It is only then that we will be the type of Christian that will bring glory to God—when we have none of these attitudes in our heart. See 2:22

b. "Crave" God's word. (2:2-3)
"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Thought Question:  Would you say that your hunger for God's truth is like the way "newborn babies" "crave" after "milk"?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk,"  In verse 1, Peter tells us what we need to get "rid" of.  What, then, are we to do once the filthy attitudes are gone?  We are to "crave" after that which is "pure."  The only place that we will find that which is completely "pure" is in the word of God.  There is so much that is impure in this world that we are not to "crave."  What we can "crave" is God's word, for it is completely "pure."  The Greek word translated "crave" "speaks of an intense yearning." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company"  Peter uses the newborn baby craving his or her mother's milk as a visual aid to help us to see what our craving for God's word should be like.

The word translated "spiritual" in the NIV is translated "of the word" in the KJV.  It is the Greek word logikos.  The KJV translates the same Greek word "reasonable" in Romans 12:1.  The word "logical" fits the meaning of the word.  God's word can be very aptly called pure and divine logic.

Over the years, I have known those who have this craving and those who do not have this craving.  Jesus describes in Revelation 3 a church that did not have this craving.  "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." (Revelation 3:15-18)  They were lukewarm because they thought they did "not need a thing."  The newborn baby knows that it is desperately in need of its mother's milk to survive.  So, we also need God's word to survive spiritually.  This recognition of our need leads to a craving for God's word.

Peter is not speaking here of a baby Christian longing for spiritual milk (or "baby food") so that it has no application for mature Christians (those who seek spiritual meat). See I Corinthians 3:1-2; Hebrews 5:11-14  Every Christian should "crave" after God's word in this way.

"so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,"  Just as babies grow up as a result of their mother's milk, so a Christian's source of growth is the word of God.  Just as we start out as babies physically, so we start out the Christian life as babies.  Also, just as we do not remain physical babies but grow into adults, so we are to grow spiritually into adults.  That growth takes place through God's pure divine logic found in the word of God.  But, as Peter points out here, it does not stop at the baby stage of our Christian life.  We are to continue to grow through the word of God throughout our Christian life. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14)   Paul wrote these words after he had been a Christian for about 30 years.  See also II Peter 1:3-11, 3:18

"now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."  Here, we have what motivates us to "crave" God's word and to "crave" to grow as Christians: we "have tasted that the Lord is good."  That which we truly believe is harmful to us should repel us from it, but that which we truly believe is good for us will draw us to it.  If we have "tasted" and believe that God "is good," we will be drawn to Him.  Just as the early disciples were drawn to Him, so we are drawn to Him today.   "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8)

6. More eternal motivation (2:4-10)

a. We are "living stones" in a "spiritual house." (2:4-5a)
"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about how the church is viewed first by the world and then how is it to be viewed by us?

 

 

"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him,"  Peter pictures us who are Christians as those who regularly draw near to Jesus Christ as a our new pattern of life.  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)  "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)  We can boldly draw near to God because of the blood of Jesus.  It is no longer a throne of judgment, but it is a "throne of grace."  So, we can also draw near to Jesus Christ, "the living Stone" and the "capstone" (2:7) of God's spiritual house—His church.

Stibbs makes the following observation about the Greek word that is translated "come to him"-proserchesthai.  "The connected word 'proselyte', i.e. one who has drawn near, was used to describe a Gentile convert to Judaism, and outsider who had become a member of God's people." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

"rejected by men"  The picture Peter is painting is of a "Stone" that a group of human builders have examined and concluded that it does not measure up to what they want to use as the foundation stone for their building.  So, they rejected it and left it lying on the ground with all of the other stones that are useless to them in the building of their building.  The religious leaders of Israel and most of the people of Israel watched and listened to Jesus and concluded that He was useless to them for being their leader. See Matthew 21:33-44; Luke 9:22

How could men and women, then, end up valuing this rejected "Stone"?  Peter immediately answers that question: "but chosen by God and precious to him."  Men rejected Him, but He was actually God's "chosen" One for His "spiritual house."  By God's Spirit we are enabled to see Jesus Christ for who He is.  One day, "every knee" will "bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord . . . ." (Philippians 2:10-11) see Acts 2:23-24, 4:11-12, 5:30-31

"chosen by God"  "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1)

"precious to him"  "And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'" (Mark 1:11)  "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'" (Matthew 17:5)  "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again." (John 10:17)  Not only is the Son precious to the Father, He is also "precious" to us who have believed on Him.

"you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house."  Like Jesus is the "living Stone," we are "living stones."  God is in the process of building us into his "house."  We are a "spiritual house" for we are enabled by God's Spirit within us.  "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18)  "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Peter is saying that the church is not a bunch of stones scattered as stones can be scattered all over the place with no pattern whatsoever.  Instead, we are stones being shaped and built together into a building.  God is always at work in building us together into His building in which He dwells.  Like "stones," we are not much by ourselves, but together we fulfill God's plan for the church.  In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy is watching her favorite television show.  Charlie Brown comes in and changes the channel.  Lucy warns him that he had better change it back to her channel.  Charlie Brown asks, "Why?"  Lucy shows him her right hand and says "These fingers are not much apart, but when they come together they are a mighty force."  So, the church is not much apart, but becomes a mighty force when we come together as God's "spiritual house."  And that is what God is continually building—His home in men.  Our part is to draw near to Jesus the foundation "Stone," to keep an eternal perspective, and to seek to do all that Jesus, Peter, and the other authors of the Bible exhort us to do.

b. We are a holy priesthood. (2:5b-10)
"to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.' Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,' and, 'A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.' They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about how the church is viewed first by the world and then how is it to be viewed by us?

 

 

"to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."  Not only are we as Christians a "spiritual house," but we are also "a holy priesthood."  Peter colorfully mixes his metaphors to describe the privileges and blessings of the special place that the church now has in our relationship with God.

In the Old Testament, only a select group of people were priests.  In the church, contrary to the teaching of Roman Catholicism, every Christian is a "priest."  What are the "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God" that we are to offer up to God?  Romans 12:1 answers this question.  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."  The "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God" are our lives devoted to pleasing Him.  Even in the Old Testament, the acts that were done to please Him were "acceptable" "sacrifices" to God.  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:17)  "May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice." (Psalm 141:2)  Our worship of Him is an "acceptable" "sacrifice."  "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:16) See also Philippians 2:17; Ephesians 5:1-2  "Under the old dispensation the offerings brought were animal sacrifices; but the sacrifices of the Christian are spiritual sacrifices." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."

The Greek word translated "spiritual" is pneumatikos.  Peter is saying that we are sacrificing what is "acceptable to God" when we choose in our spirit to have an acceptable spiritual attitude before God.  When we, for example, choose to forgive rather than to be bitter toward someone that has offended us—that is a "spiritual" sacrifice that is "acceptable to God."

A distinctive coming out of the reformation began by Marin Luther was the belief in the priesthood of the believer.  We do not need to go to a man like the Roman Catholic priest to gain access to God.  Each Christian is a priest and has direct access to God through Jesus Christ.

"through Jesus Christ"  It is only "through Jesus Christ" that we have access to God.  "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," (1 Timothy 2:5)  He is the great High Priest who has gained access to God for all who believe in Him.  "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22) See also John 14:6

"For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'"  Peter looks back to what was predicted of Jesus in the Old Testament.  Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16.  This verse in Isaiah was also quoted by Paul in Romans 9:33.  Jesus is the "precious cornerstone" of God's church.  The "cornerstone" of a building determines where that building is going to be located and the direction of the building.  Jesus the "cornerstone" of God's church was chosen by God to determine the direction of the church.  He began the church and the church remains fully dependent on Him for strength and direction today. See Ephesians 2:20

"and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  When we put our confidence in Him, we are placing our faith in the One who is solid like a rock.  New York City is a city with many towering skyscrapers.  How can people ride the elevators, work in the offices many floors above the street, and feel safe?  It is because those buildings are built on trustworthy rock.  Those who put their faith in Jesus have put their faith on a trustworthy Rock!

"will never be put to shame."  There are times when our faith can become weak.  The Bible gives many examples of weak faith.  But the One we have trusted in always remains trustworthy.  "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)  "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." (2 Corinthians 2:14)  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)  Ultimately, those who have put their complete reliance on Him will find that He is completely trustworthy. See Romans 5:5

"Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.  But to those who do not believe, 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,' and, 'A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.'"  Jesus, the "chosen and precious cornerstone" is not that to everyone.  Here, Peter reveals that it was predicted that Jesus, the One promised to Israel would be seen as precious by some and completely spurned and rejected by the leaders of Israel—"The stone the builders rejected."  "The builders" certainly refers to the religious leaders of Israel.  Those skilled in building will recognize a stone that will make a good "cornerstone."  The religious "builders" of Israel should have recognized that Jesus was their Messiah—the "cornerstone" for God's building. Also, see 2:4: " . . . rejected by men."

"'A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.'"  This summer, I went on a number of hikes with a friend.  Sometimes, there would be a rock on the path that I thought was large enough that someone could trip on it.  I kicked many of them off the path so that a hiker that came after me would not trip on them.  In Peter's time, men walked everywhere.  Stumbling stones were very familiar to them.  Peter may also be referring to a stone that is embedded in the ground that cannot be kicked out of the way.  Peter's point is that to most people, Jesus was not precious, but he was a stumbling "stone."  Peter quotes Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14. See Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:7 where Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22 and Acts 4:11 where Peter quotes this verse earlier in his life.

There is disagreement among scholars as to whether "the capstone" is the "cornerstone" or if it is the stone placed at the very top of the building or at the top of an arch.  Regardless of how it is interpreted, the meaning remains the same.  The rejected stone has become the most important stone in God's building.

"They stumble because they disobey the message"  "They stumble" because their unified choice is to disobey God.  There are a number of places in the Bible that describe those who know the truth but willfully choose to defy what they know to be true.  Here are a few of those verses:  "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness," (Romans 1:18)  "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21)  "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen." (Romans 1:25)  "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28)  "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (Romans 1:32)  "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." (John 12:37)  "They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry." (Zechariah 7:12)  These verses, as well as others, declare that men know what they are doing when they reject God—they do it deliberately.

"which is also what they were destined for."  "Interpreters differ as to what they were destined for.  Some hold that the phrase refers to their unbelief.  Thus Calvin asserted, 'They had been appointed to unbelief.  Demarest said, 'God had determined not to give them faith in the Messiah.'  But surely Peter does not mean that those who rejected Christ were destined to do so apart from any choice to do otherwise." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  I agree with Hiebert's conclusion.  Peter did not mean that those who rejected Christ were unable to make any other choice but reject Christ because God had determined that they would do it.  Rather God knew that not everyone would receive His Son and that most would reject Him.  Their rejection of Him, then, did not catch God by surprise at all.  "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:1-3)  "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (Revelation 13:8)  "This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)

Peter appears to have added the words "what they were destined for" at this point because it would be helpful to his readers to hear it.  In 4:12, he says these words to his readers:  "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you."  Again, they needed to know that men's rejection of them was predicted in the Bible.  It did not shock and surprise God, and they should "not be surprised" by it also.

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

Thought Question:  What is there in these verses that helps you in feeling good about you self-identity?

 

 

"But you are a chosen people."  In Exodus 19:5-6, God says these words to Israel:   "'Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."  Israel did not fulfill the condition of obeying God fully and are not now "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."  In this verse in I Peter, we learn that we who are Christians "are a chosen people." 

In this single verse, Peter describes our new identity as Christians.  We "are a chosen people."  There are many different ways that we can use to determine how we look at ourselves.  As a youngster, someone important to us may have said something strongly to us, such as "You are dumb!"  Those words can get into the head of a person and it can be hard to get them out of there.  Christians are called all kinds of things in our society.  But even within a church, harsh words can be aimed at another Christian-either to their face or behind their back. Do we believe the harsh words or do we believe what Peter says in this verse?  Do we believe what very fallible people say about us or do we believe what the infallible God says about us?

God's word through Peter says we "are a chosen people."  On a school yard, many years ago, I was a sixth grader who had just moved from a small town in Iowa to Santa Barbara, California.  One day, during recess, 2 captains were chosen for a pick-up basketball game, and they chose their teams.  A few players were chosen and one of the chosen players pointed at me and said to the captain of his team: "He's a good player, choose him."  The captain took his word for it, and chose me.  I, then, became a "chosen" one.  Many years later, the gospel message was shared with me, I believed in Jesus Christ and what He had done for me on the cross, and I became "a chosen" one.  This time, though, I was "chosen" by God.  No matter what had happened to me before this moment or what has happened since, I am part of God's "chosen" team.  Every Christian is a "chosen" one, and part of God's people.  The moment we were born of God's Spirit, we were set apart as a child of God.   Now, each of us who are Christians are set apart from all others and each of us is a member of God's people.

"a royal priesthood"  In Old Testament times, kings could not serve as priests.  King Uzziah felt that he could be both king and a priest.  "But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. They confronted him and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God.” Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him." (2 Chronicles 26:16-20)

Jesus, according to the order of Melchizedek, was both a priest and a king, just as Melchizedek of Genesis 14:18-20 was both a priest and a king. See Hebrews 7 and Zechariah 6:13

Here, we are told that we are a part of a "royal priesthood."  We have direct access to God as priests, as well as being part of King Jesus' "royal" family.  As members of the king's "royal" family, we will also reign with Him.  "'You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'" (Revelation 5:10) See also II Timothy 2:12; Revelation 1:6  Whether or not you or I feel like we are a "royal priesthood," every Christian has been raised by God into this new exalted position.  "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus," (Ephesians 2:4-6)

"a holy nation"  We are a part of God's kingdom.  We have been brought into and continue to be part of His nation by the new covenant agreement made possible by Christ's blood.  We proclaim that we are part of God's "holy nation" when we practice the Lord's Supper together.  Much like every American who was born into this country or became a citizen at a later time is under the leadership of our President, so every person in the "holy nation" has been forgiven for his or her sins, is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

"a people belonging to God,"  "you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:20) see I Corinthians 7:23; Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2   We have become God's people at great cost to Him.

"that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."  Why did God choose us and lift us to this high position that has just been described?  We are not to live for ourselves, but to live for Him.  A friend of mine became a Christian through the influence of a dear Christian lady who died recently at the age of 100 years old.  My friend described her as always bragging on God.  Heibert prefers that "declare the praises" would be translated "declare the excellencies."  Our purpose is not to be silent, but be very vocal about who God is and about all He has done for us.  The world will know what a wonderful, merciful, wise, and loving God we know if we tell them

For this God has called us "out of darkness into his wonderful light."  We were blind to God because of the hardness of our heart, then God opened our eyes and we now see Him clearly, and it is wonderful what we see.  The world needs to hear about what we now see. See Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18

"Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."  Peter appears to be interpreting Hosea's words in Hosea 1:6-10 and 2:23 in a similar way to the way Paul interpreted them.  "What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea: ;'I will call them “my people” who are not my people; and I will call her “my loved one” who is not my loved one,' and, 'It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” they will be called “sons of the living God.”'" (Romans 9:23-26)

God predicted to Hosea that the people of Israel would, because of their spiritual adultery with other gods, no longer be His people, but later on they would become His people again.  Both Paul and Peter apply that prediction to the church of both the Gentiles and the Jews.

From these verses in Hosea, in Romans, and here in I Peter, we see that it is God's pattern to make those who are not His "people" into those who are His "people."  We can rejoice that this is true of us.  Because of God's "mercy," we who were not His "people" have become fully His "people."  "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:11-12)

7. More eternally-motivated exhortations: how God's people who are aliens in this world (2:11-3:9)

 a. As aliens in this world, "abstain from sinful desires." (2:11-12)
"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."

Thought Question:  How do you believe "sinful desires" "wage war against you soul"?

 

 

"Dear friends, I urge you,"  There are many ways that Christians can confront or exhort other Christians.  Here is the truly Christian way: "Dear friends."  Paul's pattern was the same: "You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children." (1 Thessalonians 2:10-11)  Exhortations without this type of love for those that we are exhorting is nothing more than our seeking to impose our will on others.  True Christian exhortation is urging others to choose that which gives both the fullest life for them and that will bring glory to God.

"His appeal came from a friend who had the true interests of his readers at heart . . . .The NIV rendering of this adjective of personal address seems too weak since more than an amicable relationship is involved.  It fails to convey the depth of the original beloved and is equally susceptible to becoming an empty formula.  Somewhat more acceptable is the translation of the JB, 'my dear people." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"I urge you,"  "True holiness is not procured by the application of compelling external authority, but by wakening and strengthening the personal desire and will of those appealed to." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"as aliens and strangers in the world," See 1:1,17; Genesis 23:4; Psalm 39:12; Acts 7:26  We truly are "aliens and strangers in this world."  The world system lives as if there is no God and no accountability to God for their actions.  Christians are "aliens and strangers" to this world, for we live believing that there is a God and that we will one day be accountable to Him.  We must not be like them and live as if we will not be accountable to God one day.  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2) 

We must live as those who are heading for heaven.  We must live as those who are citizens there and not here.  "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household," (Ephesians 2:19)  "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return." (Hebrews 11:13-15)  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." (John 17:15-16)

"to abstain from sinful [fleshly] desires,"  We live alongside those who are worldly, but we are not to live as they live.  How do they live?  "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:19) 

"In the New Testament flesh stands for far more than the physical nature of man.  It stands for human nature apart from God; it means unredeemed human nature; it means life lived without the standards, the help, the grace and the influence of Christ." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  Fleshly desires and the sins of the flesh, therefore, include not only the grosser sins but all that is characteristic of fallen human nature.  "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness," (Galatians 5:19-22)
 
"to abstain from"  According to Romans 8:5, we are not to have our "minds set on what that nature [fleshly nature] desires;" but we are to have our minds focused on what "the Spirit desires."  Paul gives the following instructions to Timothy: "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22)  Our flesh as Christians uncontrolled and unmotivated by the Spirit will still follow after the desires of the flesh.  We must continually choose the way of the word of God, the way of the Spirit within us, and the way of our Lord Jesus Christ.  "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Galatians 5:16)

"which war against your soul."  Peter pictures us at war with our sinful desires.  If we allow them to control us, our soul will be attacked and destroyed.  We must not allow these desires to take over and become the very center of who we are—our soul will then be destroyed by them.  If these desires take over, our very inner being will become perverted and distorted.  Our desires are not to take over and control us; we are to be in control of them as God enables us to do so. See also James 4:1

"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."  "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)  "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:5-6)  "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)  "Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)  "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" (Philippians 2:14-15)

The "good" at the beginning of the verse and the "good deeds" at the end of the verse can be translated "beautiful."  By abstaining from following after the desires of this world, our lives will be purified from that which is ugly and filled with that which is beautiful.

It is clear that we are to impact the world by the way that we live among them.  While the world around us grumbles and complains, follows after selfish indulgence, slanders their fellow man, and engages in many other worldly practices, we are to be different.  It is that difference that will make us stand out.  God will be glorified by us and people will be drawn to seek what we have.  "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," (1 Peter 3:15)

"though they accuse you of doing wrong,"  Barclay lists some of the accusations that were made against Christians of New Testament times that are found in the ancient writings that were written during the time of the early church.  They were accused of "immorality and even incest . . . tamper with family relationships. . . .turning slaves against their masters. . . hatred of mankind . . .disloyalty to Caesar." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  Those who hate Christians today are quick to find every fault they can find in Christians.  They also distort the truth to put Christians in the worst light.  Our best defense is to "live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse [us] of doing wrong, they may see [our] good deeds."  That is how the early church victoriously grew.  People saw how genuine and caring they were.  May we show our world that our Christianity is also genuine.

"on the day he visits us."  Peter contrasts his present time when the pagans were slandering God's people to the time when the "pagans" would "glorify God."  Some believe it is "the day" when Jesus returns.  But it also may refer to the day when Jesus makes Himself real to them—visits them spiritually.  Many of us who are Christians were influenced by the good lives of Christians we knew in our "pagan" days.  We later became Christians and went from those who reviled Christians to those who now "glorify God."

b. Submit to every authority and be good citizens. (2:13-17)
"Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

Thought Question:  What do these words tell us about government's place in God's plans?

 

 

"Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men:"  "In classical Greek ktisis ["authority"]is used of the human founding of a city.  Here, therefore, the phrase may refer to the common social institutions of ordered society (such as the state, the household, or a local social or industrial group, and the family) . . . In biblical Greek, however, ktisis and the verb ktizo are used exclusively of the products and activity of God, not man.  So ktisis is elsewhere rendered creation (see Mk xiii.19), or creature (see 2 Cor. v. 17).  It is, therefore, probably truer to biblical usage to understand the phrase here as meaning 'every divine institution among men'---thus ascribing the existence of such human institutions directly to divine initiative." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  Hiebert observes that "ktisis occurs  nineteen times in the New Testament, and only here it is translated 'ordinance' or 'institution." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"Submit yourselves"  It is God's design that we should put ourselves under the authority of others.  That is the meaning of the Greek word hupostasso.  The Greek word Peter uses here is a form of this word.  We see this type of divine ordering among the members of the Trinity.  God did not design us to be isolated and completely independent individuals. Instead, we were meant by God to have an orderly society with authorities governing us.  Our selfish and arrogant nature rebels against God's plan; but when we become Christians, we, as new creatures in Christ, are to voluntarily choose to put ourselves under the authorities that are over us.  "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." (Romans 13:1-2)  ". . . he said to them, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.'" (Matthew 22:21)

"For the Lord's sake"  "Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." (Romans 13:5)  For example, we should obey the speed limit not just so that we will not get a ticket, but because it is God's will that we do it; and because it will bring Him glory if we do it.

"whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him"  It is likely that Nero was emperor—"the king"—when Peter wrote these words.  Though Nero was an evil "king," the office of "king" was seen by Peter as being "instituted" by God.  The "governors" "sent by" Nero were also part of the authority system of God.  For example, Pilate was a governor. See Matthew 27:2; Acts 23:26, 26:30  Again, Pilate was not a good governor, but he was, nevertheless, holding an office that was part of God's administration of men.

"to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right."  Paul and Peter taught that government had this righteous purpose—to punish wrong and reward good.  "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." (Romans 13:3-4)  Here, Peter and Paul describe God's authorization of our punitive and penal system.  It began after the Genesis flood.  "'Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.'" (Genesis 9:6)

"to commend those who do right."  In the last week previous to the time that I am writing these words, our President publicly put the Medal of Honor around the neck of a young soldier for an unusual act of bravery in Afghanistan.  This is an example of our government's God-ordained role "to commend those who do right." 

The government does not always perfectly perform its role of punishing "wrong" and commending those "who do right," but without government we will be left with anarchy, chaos, and mob rule.  When communism fell in the Soviet Union, it did not result in immediate utopia.  Rather, for some time, ugly anarchy ruled.  Some, certainly, wished for the return of communistic rule.  We saw the same occur when Saddam Hussein's government was toppled.  Again, chaos reigned as Iraq attempted to form a stable government.

There are times, though, when Christians must stand against the government in power.  "Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 'We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,' he said. 'Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.' Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!'" (Acts 5:27-29)

"For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."  There is no Greek word for "talk" in the original Greek here.  The translators apparently added it because something needed to be silenced.  "The word for ignorance, agnosia, is a stronger word than agnoia, and indicates more than 'lack of knowledge'.  It suggests possible obstinate unwillingness to learn or to accept the truth.  The same word occurs in I Cor. v. 34.  'Some have no knowledge of God.'" "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  Unbelief is not a lack of knowledge, but an unwillingness to know the truth.  "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, . . . "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. . . . Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:18,21,25,28)

What will "silence" those who reject Jesus Christ and reject Christians?  It is not our arguments, but it is our actions.  Those who choose not to accept the truth have already rejected the obvious truth that we were created by an infinite Being.  What good will any of our arguments do?  But Christians doing good makes it even more difficult to ignore that a good God has enabled us to do good.

"Silence" can mean "muzzle."  That is what the same Greek word means in I Timothy 5:18.  "For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.'" (1 Timothy 5:18)  Those critical of Christianity are muzzled for a time when it is primarily only Christian organizations that respond to calamities in their region.  That is what I heard occurred in Indonesia after the deadly tsunami killed so many.  It is very hard to hate those who have risked danger, spent thousands, and worked tirelessly to help those in great need.

Many criticisms of Christianity have been silenced over the years by what good Christians have done.  Here, Peter appears to be referring to the "good" of being a submissive and good citizen.

"For it is God's will"  Doing good by seeking to be model citizens is not just a good idea, it is "God's will" that we be submissive model citizens.  This certainly was a surprising revelation to the early Christians.  They learned that God did not want them to rebel against their pagan rulers and slave masters, but he willed that they would be the very best citizens and slaves.  God's ways are certainly different than our ways.

"Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God."  We are told in a number of places in the Bible that we are "free."  "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)  "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)  We are free from sin, but we are not free to sin.  "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18)  "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13)

"Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil;"  Do not use the fact that the Bible says we are free to be a justification or a rationalization for sinning.  "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2)  Our freedom does not give us a license to sin.  Jude states that there were those that were doing just that.   "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." (Jude 4) See also II Peter 2:19

"live as servants of God."  Peter starts out his second letter with these words:  "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ," (2 Peter 1:1)  Paul refers to himself as a servant of God at the beginning of the books of Romans, Philippians, and Titus.  As Peter states here, all of us who are Christians are to now see ourselves as "servants of God."  Everything that we do is to be done out of service to God. 

"Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."  The NIV Bible gives the impression that we have here four imperatives of the same kind: (1) "show proper respect," (2) "love," (3) "fear God," and (4) "honor."  Hiebert, however, observes that the first is in the aorist tense which appears to describe the attitude that should be taken in the last three which are in the continuing present tense.  So, "show proper respect" and continually "love the brotherhood of believers," continually "fear God," and continually "honor the king."

"show proper respect for everyone" As a young boy, my father took me to see a baseball game where a visiting African American team was playing a local team.  Pitching for the African American team was one of baseball's best all-time pitchers, Satchell Page.  As a young men in the late 1940s or very early 1950s (I cannot remember the exact year), I had no idea what a privilege it was to see him pitch.  I was shocked, though, to hear what the local people shouted at him.  It was the worst disrespect I have ever heard.  They mocked, ridiculed, scorned, and vilified him.  They showed their hatred in every verbal way that they could.  Racism is the opposite of proper respect.

Ray Stedman once told a story about his attendance at a meeting of homosexuals.  He spoke at the meeting, showing respect for them though he did not agree with their lifestyle.  His respect for them won them over, and they were willing to listen to what he had to say.  They even applauded him.  As Christians, we need to "show proper respect for everyone."

"love the brotherhood of believers"  Peter heard Jesus give this command: "'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.'" (John 13:34-35)  Peter, in turn, admonished the readers of this letter to love one another.  He also repeats this exhortation in other parts of this letter.  "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart." (1 Peter 1:22)  "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." (1 Peter 3:8)  Here in this verse, they were told to "love the brotherhood of believers."  As Paul said in I Corinthians 13, Christianity without love is "nothing." (I Corinthians 13:3).  It is not Christianity at all.

"fear God"  In our country, we sadly hear words of disrespect toward God.  Instead of revering God, we hear verbal blasphemies as men regularly use God's name as a swear word or belittle him by calling him "the man upstairs."  Instead, we properly respect Him when we hold him in awe and reverent "fear." See Proverbs 1:7, 15:33; Psalm 112:1; Isaiah 33:6

"Honor the king"  Again, the king that Peter said they were to honor was probably the evil and insane Nero.  "Remember, in Peter's day the emperor wasn't a benevolent, pro-Christian monarch.  A percentage of the taxes Christians paid supported the construction of pagan temples and funded unjust wars.  Moreover the insane dictator, Nero, was notoriously cruel toward Christians . . . How does one . . . honor that particular king?  Shouldn't they refuse to pay taxes that support such an oppressive regime?  Or maybe take up arms and resist a government with such a leader.  Peter said no.  Nowhere does Scripture promote revolt and anarchy." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."  There are times where injustice needs to be protested against, such as in the war against slavery and in our pro-life rallies against abortion. See also Mark 16:17-19

c. Slaves, submit to your masters, even if they are harsh. (2:18)
"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."

Thought Question:  How do you believe that this verse applies to our world today?

 

 

"The word Peter uses for servants ["slaves"] is not douloi, which is the commonest word for slaves, but oiketai, the word for the household and domestic slaves . . . In the Roman Empire there were as many as 60,000,000 slaves . . . It was by no means only menial tasks which were performed by slaves.  Doctors, teachers, musicians, actors, secretaries. stewards were slaves . . . It would be wrong to think that the lot of slaves was always wretched and unhappy and that they were always treated with cruelty.  Many slaves were loved and trusted members of the family, but one great inescapable fact dominated the whole situation.  In Roman law a slave was not a person but a thing, and he had absolutely no legal rights whatsoever.  For that reason there could be no such thing as justice where a slave was concerned. "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."

Many and even most of those that Peter was writing to were slaves.  Some of them were slaves whose masters were "good and considerate" to them, but there were also those whose masters were "harsh" to them.  The Greek word translated "masters" is the Greek word from which we get our word "despots."

"with all respect"  The Greek word is phobo, from which we get our word "phobia."Peter appears to be continuing the thought about fearing God that he urged them to do in the previous verse.  A form of the same word is in the "fear God" of 2:17 and in the "with all respect" that is used here. 

These Christian slaves were to show their "fear" of "God" by not rebelling against their slave "masters."  Even when they were mistreated by them, they were not to rebel against them, but submit to them.  Paul also gave similar instructions to what Peter teaches here.  "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free." (Ephesians 6:5-8)  "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Colossians 3:22-24)

"all respect" "intensifies the thought: no half-hearted attitude will do." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  They were to submit to their masters from the heart.  Submitting on the outside and rebelling and seething on the inside would not do, for God can see our heart.

What Peter exhorted these Christian slaves to do is a very difficult teaching for us to receive.  Our American mindset is to protest against that which is wrong; we normally do not just accept it graciously.  We have protested against the wars in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  We protest against racism and abortion.  We do not accept injustice, we fight against it.  Shouldn't Peter and the other New Testament writers have encouraged them to protest against the horrible institution of slavery that turned people into things to be used and abused?  Peter, instead, gives Jesus' response to suffering as our pattern.  We now know that Jesus' pattern ultimately leads to greater change in society, for it leads to change on the inside of people, not change forced on them from the outside of them.

d. Follow Jesus' pattern. (2:19-25)
"For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."

Thought Question:  Where is there a situation in your life where these verses give you helpful guidance?

 

 

"For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God."  The Greek word translated "commendable" is charis, the Greek word for "grace."  The Christian is to choose to endure suffering in a gracious way because he or she believes it is what God desires to be done.  In the following verses, Peter will show that it was the example that Jesus gave to us.

"bears up under the pain"  "Bears up" is a present tense verb and conveys the idea of an ongoing experience of "pain."  What Peter encourages Christians to do, who are going through the "pain" caused by unjust suffering, does not remove the pain.  He, instead, encourages us to "bear up under the pain."  It is like a horse bearing up under the weight of the rider on his back.  We are to respond differently than the people of the world in the way we respond to injustice.  We, for example, are not to allow ourselves to hate even those who hate us.  "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)

"because he is conscious of God"  One could "bear up under the pain of unjust suffering" on the outside, but be seething in resentment on the inside.  Certainly, that was the attitude of most slaves who were mistreated by their masters.  They could not retaliate because they could not retaliate without being in danger of losing their life or of experiencing some type of horrible punishment.  But, Christians were to be different.  They were to "bear up under the pain of unjust suffering" with a gracious spirit—not wanting evil to come on those who had done evil to them.

As we are "conscious of God" who has been so gracious to us?   It enables us to be gracious to others.  Also, as Peter will state later in this section, we are aware that God will one day be the judge of all of us—those who are causing our suffering and we who are experiencing the unjust suffering.

"But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God."  We have learned, in recent years, through the development of DNA tests, that some who were serving sentences for felonies were innocent.  When we learned of their innocence, these men have become instant heroes; for they had endured imprisonment when they were completely innocent of the crime that they were imprisoned for.  On the other hand, there were many serving sentences in the same prisons as these men who are the opposite of being heroes, for they are getting what they deserve.

Peter teaches here that we are to be willing to endure unjust treatment in a gracious manner and that this endurance during unjust treatment is "commendable before God."  As we will see in the following verses, our willingness to endure suffering like this follows the example of Jesus and how He endured unjust suffering.

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."  According to Peter's words, we "were called" to suffering.  Paul taught his first converts on his first missionary journey that this would be true.  "Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said." (Acts 14:21-22)  Jesus taught His disciples that they would need to join Him in the same type of suffering that He had experienced.  "And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:38-39)   "Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also." (John 15:20)

"because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,"  When we go through some form of suffering, we can wonder about why a loving God who is all-powerful would allow this to happen to us when He easily could bring it to a stop at any time.  God the Father could also have brought Jesus' suffering to end, but He allowed it to continue because of His love for us.  Christ's willingness to suffer for us is an example of how we should respond to suffering.  "Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand." (Isaiah 53:10)

"The word Peter uses for example is very vivid.  It is hupogrammos, a word which comes from the way in which children were taught to write in the ancient world.  Hupogrammos can mean two things---an outline sketch which the learner had to fill in or the copyhead or copperplate handwriting in a writing exercise book which the child had to copy out on the lines below.  Jesus gave us the pattern which we have to follow.  If we suffer insult and injustice and injury, we have only to go through what he has already gone through.  It may be that in the back of Peter's mind there was a glimpse of tremendous truth.  That suffering of Jesus was for the sake of man's sin; he suffered in order to bring men back to God.  And it may be that when the Christian suffers insult and injury with uncomplaining steadfastness and unfailing love, he shows such a life to others as will lead them to God."  "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."

"that you should follow in his steps."  Jesus used the picture of following in his footsteps as a way of communicating the path He calls us to walk.  He was willing to follow a path of suffering that ultimately led to the cross; if we follow Him, we need to be willing to do the Father's will even if it leads to a path of suffering.  "Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer . . . " (Isaiah 53:10)  "And he said, 'The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.' Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'" (Luke 9:22-23)
"'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.'" See John 8:46, 14:30; II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15, 7:26; and I John 3:5 for other verses that teach that Jesus was sinless.  Peter is quoting Isaiah 53:9, the verse before the verse in Isaiah 53 that I quoted above.  Our suffering is never a complete injustice, for we cannot say what was true of Jesus—that we have "committed no sin and no deceit."  What happened to Jesus was a complete injustice; He gave those who persecuted Him absolutely no justification for the way they treated Him.  That is never true of us.  No matter how unjustly we are treated, there will always be some way that we have been wrong as well.

We are to get "rid of all deceit" (2:1), because we do have deceit in us.  Jeremiah made it clear that we have deceit in us.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)  Jesus, though, was completely without any "deceit."  The pure and sinless Lamb allowed Himself to absorb God's wrath for our sins and He also absorbed Satan's full hatred against God and us.  "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)

Are we willing to follow Christ on a path that will lead to suffering?  Jesus told Peter that following Him would also lead to a cross at the end.  "'I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, 'Follow me!'" (John 21:18-19)

It is unlikely that it was not long after Peter wrote this letter and II Peter that he, like Jesus, faced the cross that Christian tradition said that he died on.  Are we also willing to follow Christ, even if this takes us through times of suffering?

"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats."  Peter observed, firsthand during his time with Jesus, that He did not return evil when evil was done to Him.  On the other had, it is very human for us to respond to the evils that are done to us with some sort of evil in return.  We may respond immediately or we may return the evil later by gossiping about or slandering the person who has done evil toward us.  Peter saw the spirit in which Jesus responded to the bitter attacks that were made on Him.  He never saw Jesus respond to the hatred expressed toward Him by the Jewish religious leaders with bitter hatred toward them.  Even when He was hanging on the cross after men yelled "Crucify him" like an angry lynch mob and were mocking Him as he hung there on the cross dying, "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" (Luke 23:34)

In Matthew 23, where Jesus very strongly rebukes the Pharisees, it seems to contradict these words in I Peter that "he did not retaliate."  In Matthew 23, for example, He said these words: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?"  But we see the spirit in which He said these words in Matthew 23:37:  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."  In His heart there was not bitter vengeance, but compassionate love.  His heart's desire was that they would repent so that he could forgive them.  Notice that these strong words came at the very end of His ministry-after these religious leaders had shown the hardness of their hearts by purposely and continually rejecting Him as their Messiah.

Even Paul failed to do what Jesus did.  "At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, 'God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!'" (Acts 23:2-3)  Jesus faced the evil in the men who hated Him, taunted Him, and ultimately murdered Him in meek submission to the Father's will.  "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)

"Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."  Jesus perfectly did what Paul taught in Romans 12:19:  "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord."  He did what Peter himself taught:  "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:9)  When something is done against us, we normally feel that we need to do something back.  Peter teaches us, here, what we must do is entrust our self "to him who judges justly."  We must choose to believe that in the end the just Judge will prevail.  "Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; . . . Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken." (Psalm 37:1, 7-15)

We are not to take action ourselves against those who persecute us, for any action we take will likely be unjust and destructive.  Instead, we are to trust that only God's action will be totally fair and appropriate.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;"  Years ago, a speaker said that he used this verse to briefly share the gospel message.  He would ask, "According to this verse, where are your sins?"  And, then, he would go on from there.  This took place while I was an intern at the church where John MacArthur pastors.  After hearing this speaker, I was at a Sunday morning service and a church leader came up to me.  A fellow had been drinking all night and probably wandered onto the church property.  I was asked to share the gospel with him.  I thought this verse would be a good verse to share with him.  But I could not find it in the New Testament that I had been given which I was unfamiliar with, since I could not remember the exact verse number.  The drunken man consoled me for trying so hard to find it and for not being able to find it.  The drunken man was not receptive to what I shared with him; but because of my memory of that day, this verse is unforgettable to me.

So, I will begin by asking, "According to this verse, where are your 'sins' and my 'sins'"?  All of the infinite times we have fallen short of God's holy standards and deserve to be punished—all of the times our "sins" have separated us from God, the full penalty of our sins was received by Him fully on His "body on the tree" at Golgotha.  "Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:12)

"in his body"  Some were teaching in Peter's day that it only "seemed" that Jesus' body was absorbing the pain of the cross.  In other words, they taught that Jesus did not have a physical body like ours.  Peter clearly refutes that teacher.  Jesus' "body" "bore our sins."

"'On the tree' is a typical Petrine expression of the cross (cf. Acts 5:30, 10:39)  'Tree'(xulon), 'wood' or 'made of wood,' can denote a wooden instrument used for punishment, whether stocks for the feet (Actss 6:24) or a wooden beam on which a criminal is suspended, as here." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute." See also Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:10,13

"so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;"  The NASB translates the first part of this verse. "that, having died unto sins, might live for righteousness."  Clowney prefers this NASB translation.  This translation fits what Paul says in Romans 6:1-2:  "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"

As a result of Jesus dying for our sin, we have identified with His death and died to the sinful ways of the old life and are now to "live for righteousness."  "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:11-14) 

"by his wounds you have been healed."  Some use this verse to teach that the scourging that Jesus endured from the Roman soldiers and others (see Matthew 27:27-31; John 18:22, 19:3) resulted in the healing of all the sicknesses of those who trust Him for healing.  This part of verse 24 is a quote from Isaiah 53:5.  Isaiah 53 describes the healing that comes when Jesus takes the penalty for our sins on Himself.  That is the message of Isaiah 53.  There is nothing within the context of Isaiah 53 about healing from physical diseases, but the one emphasis throughout the chapter is on what Jesus would do to free us from the penalty for our sins.  "The verb 'healed' here does not denote physical healing, but rather 'denotes the restoration of divine fellowship through the forgiveness of sins, and all the saving benefits which accompany it.'" "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute.  He quotes The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament."

"For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."  Peter appears to draw much of the last two verses from Isaiah 53.  Here, what he teaches appears to come from Isaiah 53:6:  "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."  God is the Shepherd-comforter of all of us who have put our faith in Jesus.  "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." (Psalm 23:1)  "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11)  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)  "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." (John 10:14)  "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." (1 Peter 5:4) See also Ezekiel 34:23, 37:24; Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 7:17

At one time, we were "were like sheep going astray."  Now, we have returned to the "Shepherd and Overseer of [our] souls."  Apart from Jesus' guidance and oversight, we will always wander into all forms of selfishness and sinfulness.  As sheep wander into holes, mud, water, reptiles, predators, and all manner of situations that they are unable to deliver themselves from, so we can thoughtlessly get involved in all manner of sin and predicaments without God's guidance and oversight.  Is it not deeply comforting that we have One who has us on His heart and who desires to keep us from danger and to lead us along His paths of purity and righteousness?  He longs to guide us and to help us through all that might befall us. See Isaiah 30:18

e. Wives, submit to you husbands. (3:1-6)

(1) And you will win them without a word by your good behavior. (3:1-4)
"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." See Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; Titus 2:4-5

Thought Question:  According to these verses, in what ways is the Christian to be different in his or her pursuits from what the world pursues?

 

 

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands"  "Wives" are here taught how they are to follow Jesus' example.  Christians are, by definition, to be Christ followers.  They are, in the "same way" as Jesus obeyed the Father, to "be submissive" to their "husbands."  Jesus was willing to obey the Father's will and serve us even though it resulted in Him suffering while He was seeking after our good.

Wives in the culture of Peter's time had much the same status as a slave.  "Under Roman law a woman had no rights . . . She was entirely subject to her husband and completely at his mercy." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  What does Peter exhort Christian wives to do?  Just as he taught that Christian slaves should be the best slaves, so he teaches here that wives should seek to be the best wives they can be.

Now, there is an obvious problem here.  Some time ago, the Southern Baptist convention included in their statements coming out of their national Convention's annual meetings that wives were to be submissive to their husbands.  It began a national uproar.  The problem is that, in some people's minds, that means that the Southern Baptists of that time believed that a wife is to be a slave to her husband.  The Christian teaching, though, is that God has established who is to be the authority in the home.  Since, the Christian teaching is that it is God who has established that there be an orderly system of authority in our society and in our homes; we who are Christians are called to be willing to submit to the authority that He has established, even when that authority falls short of God's ideal.  In our country, Christians do not always agree with what our president does, but we are still to respect him as our President.  We may find orderly and lawful ways to express our disagreement, but we are not to become a rebellious army against him. 

Christ in us should not lead us to become rebels or to seek independence from difficult situations, but it should lead us to seeking to be Christ-like in our difficult situations.  The status of slavery and the treatment of wives in Peter's time were both completely wrong, but the solution that would bring about change was to seek to be godly and peaceful and not to become hostile toward their unjust status in society.

Even though the unequal status of women in Peter's society was not proper (see Galatians 3:28), God's pattern is that wives are to have a submissive role to their husband's leadership. See I Timothy 2:9-15  In every institution, there is the need for leadership.  In our world, there are presidents, governors, mayors, managers, group leaders, coaches, team captains, principals, teachers, and more who serve in leadership positions.  God has designated the husband to be the head of the home.  Peter states here that the wife is to submit to her husband's leadership, even when her husband is not living in obedience to God.

"so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,"  Even in our society, there are many Christian wives who have non-Christian husbands.  My first Sunday school teacher, as a new Christian, was a man whose two sisters had led his wife to the Lord before he had himself become a Christian.  His two sisters had tried to talk to him, but he had been resistant to them.  When his wife became a Christian through his sisters, they instructed her not to talk to him about her new faith, but to become a better wife to him than she had been when she was not a Christian.  That is what she did, and it got to him until he tried to disprove Christianity historically.  Instead, it led to him concluding that the history of Christianity was accurate.  Finally, he yielded and became a Christian—won over "without words" by the godliness of his wife.

The words "do not believe" translates a Greek word that can also be translated "refuse to be persuaded."  These husbands who were deliberately resisting believing in the gospel could be softened by their wives godly life until they were willing to believe.  This type of happy result, though, is not what always occurs.  Many a godly wife has led her children into belief in Christ while her husband has resisted even to his death.

"when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."  Peter gives two character qualities that will demonstrate to husbands that a Christian woman's faith is genuine: 1) her "purity" and 2) her "reverence."  "Purity" is to be a goal for every Christian.  "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (1 Timothy 1:5) See also I Timothy 5:22b; Titus 2:3-5  Christian wives are to seek after purity of motives.  "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17)

Next, "reverence" is also to be a goal for every Christian. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Proverbs 1:7)  "Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." (1 Peter 1:17)

"Reverence" may also refer to the wives' respect for their husbands.  "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:22)  A popular Christian book is titled Love and Respect.  Husbands are to love their wives.  Wives show their love toward their husbands by respecting them in their role as leader of the home.

Some are reached more effectively by the life we live than by the words we say.  Often, men and women are won over by the genuine character of the life of someone close to them.  Then, they can become receptive to the gospel presentation of someone they hardly know at all.  We have no idea how we are influencing relatives and neighbors by the "purity" and "reverence" in our lives.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair"  "History informs us that Roman women of that day were addicted to ridiculous extravagance in the adornment of the hair.  Juvenal says, 'The attendants will vote on the dressing of the hair as if a question of reputation or of life were at stake, so great is the trouble she takes in quest of beauty; with so many tiers does she build up her hair." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

"It goes without saying that the design of the passage is not to encourage slovenliness or sordid indifference toward female attire.  Neither does it constitute an absolute prohibition of braids or the use of any items of jewelry any more than it forbids the actual putting on of clothes.  It is a warning against extravagance and self-centered display." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"adornment" is a translation of the Greek word kosmos.  We get our word "cosmetics" from it.

Peter goes on to teach against an emphasis on seeking beauty by jewelry and clothes.  This type of emphasis is just as prevalent in our modern-day world.  Expensive clothes and jewelry are still the world's methods of seeking after beauty.  Hollywood trumpets the value of outward beauty as what the stars wear on the red carpet at movie premieres becomes the focus of such critical attention. 

"Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."  Christian women and men are to focus primarily on inner character and not on outward appearance; for it is the inner character that pleases God and brings Him glory.  "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'" (1 Samuel 16:7)  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)  "It may take only a few hours to prepare for an elegant evening, but it takes a lifetime to build an elegant character." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."

A fact that we humans need to face is that because the beauty of youth fades as we get older, outward beauty is temporary.  The inward beauty coming from our Christian character need not fade away.  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

"beauty [or quality] of a gentle and quiet spirit,"  James describes this spirit:  "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. . . . But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:13, 17-18)  We are to become in character like the soft gentleness of our Lord Jesus Christ:  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

(2) Follow the pattern of the holy women of the past. (3:5-6)
"For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe it was proper for Sarah to call Abraham "her master"?

 

 

"For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."  How did they "make themselves beautiful"?  They made "themselves beautiful: by being submissive to their husbands.  We have three descriptions of women of the past and why they are good examples for Christian wives to follow: 1) they were "holy," 2) they "put their hope in God," and 3) they made "themselves beautiful" by being submissive to their husbands.  How do these three qualities fit together?  Let's take "put their hope in God" first.  How can a wife submit to her husband when she feels that he does "not believe the word"?  She, then, could not trust that he will seek God's will for their lives.  I am thinking of one wife that I have admired for many years.  Her husband was an ardent evolutionist, yet she submitted to him and trusted the Lord.  Her children have been blessed by her perseverance in faith.  Because she put her hope in God, she was able to respectfully submit to her husband.

Next, let us consider what Peter means by "holy women."  Those who "put their hope in God" are those whose lives are set apart to God—they are "holy women."  The women in the Old Testament who put their faith in God were God's set-apart people.  Hebrews chapter 11 has been called the "faith chapter."  In this chapter in Hebrews, there is a list of people of faith.  Included in the list, we find women of faith: Moses' mother (11:23), Rahab (11:31), and "women" who "received back their dead, raised to life again" (11:35).  In the Old Testament, there were many women of faith—Ruth, Deborah, Sarah, Hannah, Esther, and others.  They were women who became "holy women" when they "put their hope in God." 

Finally, they made "themselves beautiful."  Women who are truly "beautiful" are those who, in faith, seek by obeying God to become the person God created them to be.  Women with a "gentle and quiet spirit" are those who are becoming the women that God created them to be.  I know this beauty, for I see it in my wife on a daily basis.  She is a woman who submits to my leadership, "puts her hope in God," and has a beauty that I often gaze at in amazement.

"like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."  We know that "Sarah" had human frailties.  The Bible reveals that she doubted that she could have a son when God said she would have a son.  She led Abraham to have a child by her maidservant Hagar. See Genesis 16:1-4a  Then, she became jealous of Hagar. See Genesis 16:4b-7  She laughed when God said she would have a son. See Genesis 18:1-15  But "Sarah" stayed with Abraham and submitted to him when it was not easy for her to submit.  She was willing to leave her home in what would be modern-day Iraq and go to the land God told them to go to. See Genesis12:1-5  She was willing to pretend to be Abraham's sister on two occasions when Abraham feared for his safety. See Genesis 12:1-20; 20:1-18  And she stayed in the land of Canaan though the promises to Abraham and her were not fulfilled in their lifetimes. See Hebrews 11:8-12, 39-40

"called him her master"  "So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, 'After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?'" (Genesis 18:12)  "At that time, 'the word master (or Lord) was commonly used as secular title of honor.  It reflected Sarah's respect for her husband.  It does not suggest a cringing relationship of servant to master.'" "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute. He quotes Mounce's commentary on I and II Peter."

"You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."  In our society, there are certainly many who see a wife submitting to her husband as fearfulness before her husband's intimidation.  Biblical submission, however, is the very opposite of this.  It is a sign of strength and of not giving "way to fear."  It is a wife putting her dependence on God, even when her husband is showing human weaknesses.  Only a strong woman of faith is able to continue to submit to God when circumstances become somewhat chaotic (as they usually do).  The strong woman of faith does not give in to panic, but continues to trust God.

f. Husbands, be considerate of your wives. (3:7)
"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe the wife is called "the weaker partner"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you think a husband's improper treatment of his wife hinders his "prayers"?

 

 

(1)  "Treat them with respect as a weaker partner." (3:7a)
"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life,"  In these words, Peter instructs "husbands" to 1) " be considerate" toward their "wives," 2) to "treat them with respect," and 3) to recognize their equality with him.

1) "Be considerate as you live with your wives."  The NASB puts it this way: "live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel."  Paul has a similar thought in Ephesians 5:28:  "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself."  Both Peter and Paul spoke of seeking to understand how what we do as husbands affects our wives.  Peter speaks of the opposite of insensitivity.  We all want to have a dentist that is concerned with causing us the least amount of pain as he works on us.  We do not want to have a dentist who is insensitive to the pain he is causing.  We need also to become sensitive and empathetic to our wife.  Treat her as if her body were our body.  But, even more sensitivity is required than that, for she is a "weaker" vessel.

"The Greek text literally states that husbands are to dwell together with their wives 'according to knowledge.'  This has nothing to with superficial knowledge, like her favorite colors or favorite food . . . No, Peter means a deep and understanding and appreciation of one's wife.  It includes perceiving her most intimate desires and personal needs.  It involves discerning her unspoken concerns and worries.  It includes assisting her in working through issues in a careful and caring manner."  "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."

Two likely ways that wives are "weaker" have been discussed.  First of all, she is "weaker" physically.  It is obvious that women are "weaker" physically than men.  We do not watch women playing college and professional football.  If a father required his daughter or wife to try out for a football team, we would look upon him as extremely lacking in sensitivity to the realities of the physical differences between men and women.  In spite of this fact, in some cultures men require women to do the most physical type of work.  This type of insensitivity can also be present in our culture.  Instead, when we men share duties with our wives, we need to take the heavier part of the work.

Another possible way a wife can be the "weaker partner" is that she is to be in the submissive role.  That is a role that the husband can exploit, just as a boss can be demanding and insensitive to his employees.  Whatever Peter meant when he called the wife a "weaker partner," we husbands need to be "considerate" of her and not in any way be a bullying and intimidating husband.  On the contrary, we are to treat our wives with "respect." 

Swindoll explains that what Peter is talking about here is treating one's wife as a "'delicate vase.'  The idea is that the husband's tendency may be to act like a bull in a china shop, handling situations in a masculine manner as he would treat his masculine colleagues.  Instead, he is treat his wife as a fine piece of china---tenderly, carefully with gentleness." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."

"treat them with respect"  The husband should honor his wife.  "Respect is not strong enough.  Peter uses the word translated 'precious' in 2:7; literally it means 'preciousness."  "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."  Everyone who observes the Christian husband should know by his words to his wife and his words about her the she is precious to him.

Finally, the Christian husband is to continually recognize her equality with him: "and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life."   In heaven, women will not be lower than men. "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." (Mark 12:25)  Today, women are not lower than men.  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)  We are all of equal value and of equal status before God.  In many cultures, women are seen as inferior to men.  Jesus and the teachings of the Bible did not teach this false view of women.  Husbands are never to communicate by their actions or their words that their wife is in any way inferior to him.  Instead, we are fellow "heirs" "of the gracious gift of life."  Both women and men are equal recipients of God's grace that has bestowed on us God's eternal quality of life.

This teaching of Peter about the equality of men and women does not sound startling to us today, but in Peter's time it was a radical teaching.  The culture of Peter's time demeaned women—much as women are demeaned in much of the Muslim world.  Christianity, on the other hand, was careful to respect and honor women as complete equals with men.  We husbands need to be careful that no one thinks by our words or by our actions that we are even in the slightest disagreement with what the Bible teaches.

(2) So that a husband's prayers are not affected (3:7b)
"so that nothing will hinder your prayers."  A husband's relationship with his wife that is not in harmony with the qualities that Peter has just described will also result in disharmony with God and in a inability to understand how God desires us to pray for others.

"The compound infinitive "hinder" (engkoptesthai) is apparently a military metaphor and means 'to cut in on, throw obstacles in the way' or, 'cut up the road' so that normal movement is impossible." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  James 4:3 describes what Peter is talking about here:  "You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."  When we are quarreling with our wife, we either do not pray because we intuitively recognize that God is not pleased with our angry attitude or when we pray we are absorbed with our self and what we pray for is selfish. See the following verses for other places in the Bible that speak of how sin affects our prayers: Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 21:13, 28:9; Isaiah 59:2; Mark 11:24-25

e. Live in harmony with one another. (3:8-9)
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

Thought Question:  According to these verses, what is required for us to be "in harmony" in the church?

 

 

When Peter says, "Finally," he is saying what the NASB says at this point: "To sum up."  Peter is about to "sum up" what he has been saying in the previous verses.  He appears to be summing up the ways that we as Christians should live so that the world outside of the church will recognize that we are not like them; we are instead God's people.

Peter lists five qualities that need to be present in our churches in order for us to demonstrate to the world that God's life is being lived out in us.  First of all, he says "live in harmony with one another."  The Greek word translated "harmony" is homophrones.  It speaks of being of the same mind—have one way of thinking.  That was characteristic of the early church.  "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." (Acts 4:32)  It is what Jesus desires for His church.  "That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:21-23)  Paul desired that it would be true of the church at Corinth:  "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Corinthians 1:10)  And he also desired that to be true of the church at Ephesus: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:3-6)  "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13) See also Philippians 2:1-5

"'Live in harmony with one another' (homophrones) is more a call for unity of disposition than uniformity of opinion." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  We do not need to agree on everything to have unity of heart.  Unity occurs when unity of heart and direction are more important than complete agreement on everything.  There will not ever be complete agreement on doctrine, for we have different levels of understanding of the Bible and different backgrounds.  But there can be unity of heart.  James 3:17-18 describes what unity looks like:  "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:17-18)  We may not be in agreement on everything, but there can be patience with each other and receptivity to any wisdom from God that we can gain from each other.  The result is "harmony."

Secondly, Peter says "be sympathetic."  "It connotes that readiness to enter into and share in the feelings that enables one to 'rejoice with them that rejoice' as well 'weep with them that weep' (Rom 12:15)." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  "It means literally, to feel with someone." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."  There always is Someone who feels with us.  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)  We are to follow His pattern and sympathize with each other.

Some time ago, I heard of a husband in a Scandinavian country who felt no need to tell his wife that he loved her.  "I told her I loved her when I married her, and unless I tell her differently what I said then still stands."  Christians are not to be like that with each other.  We are to "carry each others' burdens." (Galatians 6:2)  We are to feel each other's pain and share in each others joys.  Because we genuinely care for each other, we are to "always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)

Thirdly, Peter says "love as brothers."  It is the Greek word philadelphia, from which we get the name for our city, "Philadelphia."  It combines the word for love—phileo and the word for brother—adelphos; hence the city of brotherly love.  It is that human affection and fondness for one another as brother Christians.  "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart." (1 Peter 1:22)  "Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other." (1 Thessalonians 4:9)  In both of the two verses quoted, Philadelphia or brotherly love is the first love mentioned and agape love is the second word for love that is used.  It speaks of having a feeling of brotherly companionship between Christians.  Since we are indeed Christian brothers and sisters, it is appropriate that we have that fondness and warmth of feelings between each other.  "Philadelphos indicates a sense of loyalty just as strong as one's natural family relationships." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."

Fourthly, Peter says "be compassionate."  "'Compassionate' (eusphlangchnoi) which occurs also in Ephesians 4:32, depicts a warm and tender attitude---an affectionate sensitivity toward the needs of others.  The adjective is derived from the noun sphlanchna, the internal organs—the heart, lungs, and liver—which were thought of as the seat of the emotions . . .it denotes the deepest human emotions, especially love and compassion." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

The Bible tells us that Jesus had this type of compassion.  "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36) See also Matthew 14:14, 15:32, 20:34; Mark 1:41  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus illustrated to us that we are to also have this type of compassion toward others.  "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him." (Luke 10:33)  We are not to be like the priest and the Levite who lacked any compassion for the needy person in the parable.  God has been compassionate to us.  He has put His Spirit in us.  There is no question: we are to have His compassion toward each other and to those outside of the church.

It has disturbed me that I can hear of or see on the television news of people in other parts of the world going through a time of great suffering such as in the aftermath of tsunamis, earthquakes, or suicide bombers and not be hurting as the people who are suffering are hurting.  Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn." (Matthew 5:4a)  Compassion is part of Christ's life in us that is often not as much developed as Jesus wants it to be.  Sometimes, we even lack compassion toward those who are very close to us.  Compassion, though, is that aspect of the love of God that is most evident to the non-Christian world.  Christian ministries of compassion touch many loves outside of the church through groups like Samaritan's purse, World Vision, Christian hospitals around the world, gospel missions, Christian missionaries, and the compassionate outreach of local churches.  My brother Lynn leads an outreach of compassion called "Operation Reseda" that reaches out to their church's community in very practical ways—like painting the house of older man.  Those that did the painting of the house smiled as they saw a smile on this older man's face.

Fifthly, Peter says "be . . . humble."  Humility is not pretending that you are lowly when you know that you are not.  Humility comes from a true evaluation of our self.  It occurs when we do not think more highly of our self than we ought. See Romans 12:3  What is the truth about our self?        1) We are creatures of God who are completely dependent on Him.  "What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Corinthians 4:7b)  Apart from God's grace, we were justly heading toward hell.  Unless we purposely choose to depend on the Holy Spirit, we will revert back to our fleshly and selfish ways.  Any good that we do can only come from Jesus Christ.  "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)  Jesus said, "apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)  2) We are a great deal less of a finished product than we think we are.  We all have a long way to go and a long way to grow.  Paul acknowledged that this was true.  "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Philippians 3:12)  All of these truths should greatly humble us.  It will enable us to better handle the failings of others.

Next, Peter describes what our response as Christians is to be toward those who do evil to us.  "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing."  The natural and human response that occurs when evil is done to us is to retaliate and to do evil back to that person in return.  This returning of evil with evil is very characteristic of the world that we live in.  We see it in the Middle East where wars and hatred have continued for ages as evil is endlessly returned by even more evil.  It happens in the gang wars in our cities and even among gangs in our smaller communities.  Someone is shot by a rival gang.  The gang who had a fellow member shot horribly retaliates by killing members of their enemy gang.  But, it also occurs in marriages when the husband or wife says or does something offensive and the reciprocal hatred and caustic words are slashed back and forth until it is no longer a beautiful relationship, but now is an all-out war.

These types of ugly and hurtful reactions to evil are not to take place among Christians.  We are not to "repay evil with evil or insult with insult."
"When we are slandered, we answer kindly." (1 Corinthians 4:13a)   "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." (1 Thessalonians 5:15)  "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody." (Romans 12:17)  "“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matthew 5:43-44)

Hiebert makes this astute and concise statement about our responsibility when evil is done to us as Christians.  "To break the vicious chain, someone must voluntarily endure evil without retaliation."  His quote of John Trapp is worth sharing: 'To render railing for railing is to think to wash off dirt with dirt.'" "Trap's commentary on the New Testament."

"but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."  When evil is done to us, the Christian response is not just to let it go, it is to make a loving response.  If we do nothing, we can grow sour and bitter.  We must choose to be a blessing even to those who have done evil to us.  This type of response is not humanly possible.  How do we get to this place when evil has been done to us?  We must confess our human weakness and humbly seek God's enablement to do through us what only He can do.

"The verb eulogein, 'to bless', includes the idea of speaking well of those who speak ill of us, showing them active kindness, i.e.-bestowing blessings upon them and praying God's blessing upon them." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

"because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." See 2:21  God has blessed us even though we once rejected Him and chose a life of sin rather than following His ways.  Now, as His children, we are to bless those who have chosen evil over good.  We have become united with a God of mercy; we should now be, therefore, a people of mercy and grace.  "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 4:32-5:2)

"so that you may inherit a blessing."  Do Peter's words here mean that our blessing is conditional on us returning blessings when evil is done to us?  That appears to be what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15:   "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15) See also Matthew 18:32-35; Mark 11:24-26  It appears that God will bless us as we forgive and as we return good for evil.  But, if we return evil for evil, God will not bless us, but will allow us to experience the consequences of our choices.  Also, we will suffer loss when we stand before Jesus. See I Corinthians 4:10-15; II Corinthians 5:10 

Another possibility is that Peter is saying that because we will inherit a blessing, we should bless others.  Certainly, both possible interpretations are true, and both views should motivate us to want not to return evil for evil, but to return evil with blessings.  The words of the Psalm that Peter quotes in the next verses is more consistent with the first interpretation: that we will be blessed if we return good for evil.

9. More eternal motivation (3:10-14)

a. If you want to see good days, you must guard your speech. (3:10-11)
"For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.'"

Thought Question:  What is Peter's prescription for what will lead to a happy life?

 

 

"For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days'"  Peter has been presenting a Christian's proper and godly response to difficult situations.  Now, he makes a startling statement about this proper response to trials and persecutions: it will lead to a happy life.  In 3:10-13, Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-16

It is obvious that returning evil for evil will not lead to a happy life.  But, how will returning blessing for evil lead to a happy life and lead to our seeing "good days"?  Our culture's perspective on what will lead to a happy life is much different than what the Bible teaches.  In our culture, we are regularly told that happiness comes from living a life filled with pleasure, rich possessions, and successfully fulfilling the American dream.  Peter and David, however, provide a different blueprint for happiness: they teach that us that handling suffering, injustice, and persecution well will lead to happiness.

"must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech."  This pattern of life that will lead to one loving "life" and having "good days" includes restraining our tongues from doing anything evil and being careful that we are not deceptive in anything that we say.  The Bible has much to say about the ways that our tongues can do evil and ways we can be "deceitful."  "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18)  "A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful." (Proverbs 14:25)  "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil." (Proverbs 15:28)  "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." (Proverbs 16:28)  "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." (Proverbs 17:9)  "A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble." (Proverbs 17:20)  "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit." (Proverbs 26:20-24)  "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:6)

When evil has been done to us, it becomes very easy to speak evil of the person who did the evil to us.  Peter and David state that we must, at those times, become very careful about what we say. See Psalm 39, 141  We, as Christians, are to only say that which will build others up.  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)  We also are not to say one thing and deceitfully have something else in our heart.

How will this pattern of watching our tongue bring happiness?  We will not have allowed what another does to us to result in our also doing what is wrong.  Happiness does not come from what we do or what we have, but it comes primarily from who we are.  If, in spite of what is done to us, we are happy with what is in our heart, we have found true happiness.  "Blessed [happy] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:6-9)

"He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it."  When someone does evil to us, the normal human response is to seek after a war with that individual.  The divine response when evil is done to us is to seek after peace with that person.  "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)  "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." (Romans 14:19)  "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)  "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:17-18)

b. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. (3:12a)
"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,"

Thought Question:  Why should these words provide motivation for the way that we live?

 

 

These words of David that Peter quotes here explain why happiness comes as result of responding to evil with good: God is pleased with us when we do it, and He is "attentive" to our "prayer."

These words are a great encouragement to us when we feel, because our circumstances seem overwhelming to us, that God is not "attentive" to our prayers.  We pray and pray and nothing seems to change.  We can feel alone and abandoned even by God.  Here, we are promised that if we are choosing to make a merciful and gracious response to those who have done evil to us, that God is "attentive" to our "prayer."  We may not see answers that are visible to us, but we can be confident that God has heard us and that He has compassionately responded to our cries, for our good and His glory.  "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (2 Chronicles 16:9a)

c. For the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (3:12b)
"'the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'"

Thought Question:  Why should these words provide motivation for the way that we live?

 

 

"'Who do evil' (poiountas kaka), a present tense participle without the article, denotes those, whatever their personal identity, who persist in doing evil." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  Those who do evil have hardened their hearts to the fact that God is very aware of what they are doing and that He hates it.  In the book of James, James comforts Christians who are being mistreated by their rich employees and he states that those who are doing evil to them face the wrath of God.  "Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty." (James 5:1-4) See also Romans 1:18, 2:5-9

d. For who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? (3:13)
"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?"

Thought Question:  What is meant by "who is going to harm you"? (Have not many Christians been harmed, even killed?)

 

 

It is normally true that if we return good for evil that others will not return evil for our good.  "As a general rule, people are not harmed for acts of kindness." "NIV Study Bible note."  The earliest church, because they were doers of good, enjoyed "the favor of all the people." (Acts 2:47)  Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit and then says: "against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:23)  No one, normally, will be arrested for being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, and so forth. See 2:13-14  Swindoll points out that Peter has just described what doing good is like in the previous verses (3:8-12).  Normally, people do not do evil to those who are sympathetic, compassionate, and return good for evil.

Even if people do evil to us when we do good, as Jesus predicted would occur (see John 15:18-25), we can be confident that God is on our side:  "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)  "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies." (Psalm 118:6-7)  Though those who follow God can be physically persecuted and even killed, ultimately we will receive no eternal harm for God is on our side.  Tradition tells us that Peter, himself, was died by crucifixion at the hand of Nero.  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28) See Acts 18:10  In Acts 14:2, where the same Greek word that is translated "harm" here in 3:13, we do see examples of people returning evil for good.

e. For even if you suffer for doing good, you are blessed. (3:14)
"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 'Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.'"

Thought Question:  How do these words helpful to us when we are suffering?

 

 

"The Greek underlying but and if ye suffer [KJV] expresses a remote possibility." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  "Peter knew that aggressive well-doing did not always disarm the persecutor. 'Even if you should suffer' (ei kai paschoite)—one of the few instances in the optative mood in conditional sentences—indicates that such suffering, though naturally remote, may come upon believers.  The optative suggests that the readers were not to overrate the danger; it suggests a possibility, not a certainty." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"Suffer" is in the present tense and describes ongoing suffering.  Peter appears to be saying that if we continually do good to others, usually others will not continually do evil to us.  But if someone experiences harm in this way, even he or she is "blessed."  Jesus made the same promise:   "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)

Stibbs points out that our natural human reaction to unjust suffering is not to feel blessed: "When men have to suffer, their natural reaction is not only to feel unhappy, but also to regard themselves as underprivileged, unfairly treated and objects of God's neglect or ill-treatment." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

How are we "blessed"?  Jesus said that we are "blessed" because God will greatly bless us after our death.  "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:12a)  But how can we feel "blessed" right in the midst of the suffering?  We can only feel "blessed" if we see the big picture.  If we focus only on those who are harming us and the suffering we are experiencing, we will not feel "blessed."  We will only feel "blessed" if we look at the big picture.  Let's look at what is true of us when we are unjustly suffering for doing what is loving, good, and right.  The Bible says that it is producing good in our lives:  "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:10-11)  It is also producing good in the lives of others.  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)  Suffering for righteousness puts us in good company.  "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:12)  "Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. . . .But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’" (John 15:20, 25)  God also promises to draw even closer to us in these difficult times.  "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." (2 Corinthians 1:5)  God's comfort in our trials enables us to be better able to comfort others.  "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Also, when we experience unjust suffering, it results in our depending more on God and in our experiencing more of God's power in our lives.  "That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)  Also, most of all, we share in "the fellowship of sharing in his [Christ's] sufferings." (Philippians 3:10)

Many of the heroes of the faith went from looking at the small picture to looking at the big picture—Job, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul, and others.  I Peter is definitely a big-picture book.

"'Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.'"  Peter appears to be referring to Isaiah 8:12-13:  "'Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread,'" (Isaiah 8:12-13)  Peter exhorts them not to go into a panic when suffering comes upon them.

There is some question as to the proper translation of "what they fear."  It could mean "do not panic like others panic."  But the NASB translates it "and do not fear their intimidation."  Hiebert believes that this translation fits better with the context of I Peter.  He likes best the RSV translation: "have no fear of them."

Paul said that some persecution is inevitable for a Christian who is zealous for Christ's cause:  "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12)  A lady friend of ours who died recently at 100 years of age once told me that it disturbed her that she had not experienced persecution because of her faith.  After this time, though, she did experience persecution from the words of someone she deeply loved.  For the most part, she was respected for the type of life that she lived.  Also, in our country, up to this point, we have experienced little persecution because of our faith.  In other countries, however, Christians have suffered greatly because of their faith.  It was not too long after Peter wrote this letter that Peter died at the hands of Nero.  Shortly after Peter wrote these words, Christians became enemies of the Roman Empire and would die in great numbers.  Whether or not suffering is great or small, I Peter has been a wonderfully helpful book through the years for Christians who are suffering for the faith.

9. More eternally motivated exhortations (3:15-16)
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Thought Question:  What do these verses teach us about how we are to effectively reach the world with the gospel message?

 

 

a. Make Christ the Lord of you hearts. (3:15a)
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord."  We are not to fear those who oppose us, but we are to fear only God; we are to, from the heart, acknowledge that He is the Lord and the last word on everything that takes place in our lives.  Men are not in charge of what happens to us; God is in charge.

Peter had once been controlled by the fear of men.  He denied Jesus at the most crucial of times—when his faith in Jesus was tested at Jesus' trial right before His crucifixion.  But he later lost his fear of men and it was he who boldly stood for Jesus facing the same men who crucified Jesus.  "The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?' Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: 'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.'" (Acts 4:5-10) See also Acts 4:1-22, 5:12-42

Peter had once been intimidated by the very men he spoke boldly to.  What was the difference?  He did what he urges his readers to do: He "set apart Christ as Lord" in his "heart."

We can give mere men more power than they actually have.  In the book of Acts, men were successful in jailing and beating the apostles (see Acts 4:3, 5:18, 40, 12:1-3), but they were not able to stop the spread of the gospel through men and women who persevered in spite of suffering.

Although Peter does not say here that Christ is God, he does say He is "Lord."  After the resurrection, the disciples told Thomas: "We have seen the Lord!" (John 20:25)  When Thomas saw the risen Christ, he said: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)  Peter would not have called a mere man who had died, "Lord."  When he calls Jesus Christ "Lord," he is also calling him God.  It is only acknowledging "Christ" as "Lord" and trusting God that we can conquer fear as we share the gospel with the non-Christian world.

b. Be prepared to give an answer to non-Christians. (3:15b)
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."  If we show by our lifestyle that we believe that Jesus is Lord, others will notice.  An example of this occurring is found in Acts 16.  Paul and Silas were unjustly beaten and thrown in jail.  What was their response to man's power to beat them and jail them?  They praised God.  Then, God opened the doors of the jail.  The whole situation dramatically caught their jailor's attentions.  He asked Paul and Silas:  "'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.'" (Acts 16:30-31) See also Acts 16:16-40

The Greek word translated "to give an answer" is apologian.  It speaks of giving a defense.  "Apologetics" is a term used to describe an effort to systematically defend the beliefs of Christianity. See Acts 22:1; Philippians 1:7, 16; II Timothy 4:16 for other uses of this Greek word.

"Always be prepared"  In recent years, a young man was concerned that he was not able to defend his faith before his learned family members who did not believe in what the Bible teaches. He was so desirous of being able to defend what he believed that he wanted to borrow and read every book I could lend him on the subject of apologetics or the defense of the faith.  I believe he read every one of them.  All we who are Christians need to "always be prepared" to defend what we believe, for we never know when someone may ask us "the reason for" our "hope."

"But do this with gentleness and respect,"  "Respect" is the Greek word phobou.  We get our word "phobia" from it.  Clowney disagrees with translating it "respect."  He prefers that it be seen as a reverent fear of God rather than a fear of man.  It is a reverent fear of God that leads us to being very concerned that what we do and say is pleasing to God.

"with gentleness"  "And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." (2 Timothy 2:24-26)  Our Goal is to lead them to voluntarily choose God and His ways.  This requires that we be gentle and not quarrel with them.  "Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." (2 Timothy 2:14)  Our "reply should be made with 'gentleness' (prautetos) or ' meekness,' thus avoiding any suggestion of seeking to overpower the opponent with force of human personality or aggressiveness." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  "Man may be wooed into the Christian faith when they cannot be bullied into it." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  The well-known quote from an unknown source applies here: "Someone convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

c. Keep a clear conscience. (3:16)
"keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

"Keeping a clear conscience," or a pure, good, or clean "conscience," is of prime importance in the Christian life.  "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (1 Timothy 1:5)  "Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith." (1 Timothy 1:18-19) See also Acts 23:1; I Corinthians 4:4

We were created with a moral compass.  It tells us whether we are doing good or evil.  "(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)" (Romans 2:14-15)  When we ignore our "conscience," it can become hardened, seared, and calloused and no longer function to warn us when we are doing wrong.  "Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." (1 Timothy 4:2) See also Ephesians 4:19

Peter's concern is that they would allow the evil treatment that they were receiving to result in them responding to it with their own evil.  Instead, they were to continue to do right even though they were being unfairly treated.  They needed not to do or say anything that went against their conscience.  Then, those who did evil against them would be the only ones who were doing evil.  When there is a conflict and both end up doing what is wrong, the person who did the initial wrong looks at the other person he has wronged and sees him or her also doing wrong.  He or she, then, does not focus on the wrong they are doing, but on the wrong the other person is doing.  But if one person does what is wrong and the other person continues to do no wrong, it is more likely that the one doing the wrong will see that he or she is the only one doing the wrong.  Others also will see only one person doing wrong.

"so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."  Our natural human response to mistreatment is to want to respond in retaliation, not to respond with good behavior.  But, the most effective way to show that you are not the one doing the wrong is not to do any wrong.  "For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." (1 Peter 2:15)  "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (1 Peter 2:12)

We have no control over how we are treated by others.  From this verse and from our experience, we know that people can do evil to us even when we are seeking to do good.  They can lie about us and maliciously seek to do us harm even when we have not done harm to them.  But even though we have no control over how we are treated, we do have control over how we respond to them.  We should respond in such a way that our conscience remains clear before God.  Then, it is more likely that they will be ashamed of their bad behavior.  If this does not occur in this life, it will certainly be true when we all stand before Christ.  If we keep a clear conscience, we will have nothing to be ashamed of.  If they do not confess their wrong, they will have a great deal to be ashamed of.

10. More eternal motivation (3:17-22)

a. It is better to suffer for doing good than doing evil. (3:17)
"It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

Thought Question:  Why is it better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil? (It seems that it would be easier to suffer if you knew that you had it coming to you.)

 

 

The NIV omits the "For" that is in the Greek text and that is found in the NASB.  It "can be understood to introduce a substantiation for the call for a good conscience." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  It is better to suffer with a good conscience than to suffer with a bad conscience that continually convicts us that we are doing that which is evil.

Why is it "better" "to suffer for doing good"?  Peter has answered that question throughout the previous verses of I Peter.  Here are some of his answers:  1) When you are suffering for doing good, your "conscience" is clear (3:16).  2) When good has led to suffering, it will ultimately have a good effect: "you will silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." (2:15).        3) You "glorify God" (2:12).  4) You may win an opportunity to share the gospel (3:15).  5) It is "commendable" before God (2:20).  It is "commendable" before God because Christ also suffered for doing good.  So, it is much "better" "to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

"if it is God’s will,"  God did allow His Son to suffer for doing good, so it is sometimes God's will for us to suffer for doing good.  Hiebert points out that the optative mood that Peter uses implies that suffering for doing good is not "God's usual, but his unusual will for them." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  We are to do good; and in most cases, this doing of good will not result in suffering.  But, at times, it will lead to suffering.  At those times, we are "sharing in Christ's suffering." (Philippians 3:10)

b. For Christ suffered for doing good to bring you to God. (3:18-22)

(1) He was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit. (3:18)
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,"

Thought Question:  Why are the words, "Christ died for sins once for all" very important to us?

 

 

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."  Why should we be willing to suffer for doing good?  Jesus suffered when He, the "Righteous" One, died for us who are "unrighteous" to bring us to God.  When we suffer for doing good, we are in good company.  It is part of what it means to be a Christian.  We are to do what is best for others, even if it results in us needing to suffer.

There is some question among Bible scholars as to whether the best manuscript evidence favors Jesus "died" or "suffered" for sins.  The meaning of the passage is not altered by which word is used, for Jesus both "suffered" and "died" for our sins.

"once for all"  "The once-for-all offering of Christ stands in contrast to the annual sacrifice of the Jewish High Priest on the Day of Atonement and portrays the absolute sufficiency of His atoning work. (Heb. 9:24-28, 10:12)." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute." See Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27, 10:10  When Jesus died on the cross, He completely, "once for all," paid for all our sins.  There is no punishment left that we need to pay for our sins, for He paid for them all!

"the righteous for the unrighteous"  Jesus died in our place.  Years ago, I saw this emphasis in Isaiah 53.  A main theme in this chapter in Isaiah that is a prophecy of the coming Jesus Christ is that He died in our place.  A word describing someone doing something in our place is "vicarious."  So, each time there was a prediction of the Savior dying in our place in Isaiah 53, I put a "V" for "vicarious."  In that Bible, Isaiah 53 is filled with "V"s.  I could also put a "V" next to this part of I Peter 3:18: "the righteous for the unrighteous"-"V"! See also I Corinthians 15:3; II Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:4, 3:13, I John 2:1-2

"to bring you to God."  "The word 'bring' in the Greek text means literally 'to lead to.'  It was a technical word used of one who gained an audience at court for another.  He brought his friend into the good graces of a reigning monarch.  Just so, our Lord Jesus by dying on the cross and paying for our sins, satisfied the just penalty of the broken law which we incurred by our disobedience, and removed for us that which barred our access to God." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." See Romans 5:2; Ephesians 3:18, 3:12 where forms of the same Greek word for gaining access to or bringing someone to God are used.

"He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,"  Charles Swindoll believes that "the Spirit" is not God the Holy Spirit, but the spirit of Jesus contrasted with His physical body.  The NIV capitalizes "the Spirit," thereby interpreting the word as the Holy Spirit, but in the margin, the NIV translators give the option of "alive in the spirit."  Martyn Lloyd-Jones agrees that this verse in I Peter 3:18 should be translated: "He was put to death in the body and made alive in the spirit."  He sees Romans 1:4 as a parallel passage:  He sees the "spirit of holiness" as Jesus' spirit which is holy.  "After the flesh He was made of the seed of David, and came in weakness.  In His spiritual being He is Son of God with power and that is proved by the resurrection."  "Taken from Romans Exposition of Chapter I by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  He sees this view as being taught in Acts 2:24; I Corinthians 15:45; and I Timothy 3:16:  "But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." (Acts 2:24) (Death could not hold onto Jesus' divine spirit.)  "So it is written: 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit." (1 Corinthians 15:45)  "Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit [spirit], was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:16) See also I Peter 4:6; Matthew 26:41; I Corinthians 5:5 where man is divided into body and spirit.

(2) He declared victory over those who disobeyed. (3:19)
"through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison"

This verse is one of the most difficult verses to interpret in the Bible.  It is generally interpreted in one of three ways:  1) It speaks of Jesus preaching through the apostles to people imprisoned by sin and Satan.  Ephesians 2:17 does state that He-Jesus: "came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near," though this preaching was primarily the preaching of the apostles.  Jesus' preaching was primarily "to those who were near"; whereas the apostles preached to those who were "far away."  2) "Another view (which goes back as far as Augustine understands the spirits who are now in prison as being the disembodied souls of the people who perished in the Flood and argues that the preincarnate Christ preached to them through Noah, warning them of the coming Flood and urging them to repent." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  This interpretation fits in with verse 20: those "who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah" would then be the unbelievers who died in the flood.  This view sees Jesus as preaching through Noah.

3) The last of the common interpretations of this verse is that it describes Jesus declaring His triumph over evil to the fallen angels of Genesis 6:  "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. . . .The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:1-2, 4)  The "sons of God" are interpreted to be fallen angels who took on human bodies so that they could have sex with human women.  "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 6-7)  "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;" (2 Peter 2:4)

And so, in short, this view sees Jesus as declaring triumph over the wicked angels who were imprisoned prior to the Flood.  The Greek word Peter uses here is not euaggelizo-"preach the good news (evangelize)," but kerusso-"declare."

This view fits the theme of I Peter and it is the interpretation that I prefer.  His readers would have been encouraged by Jesus' declaration of victory over evil; this would have encouraged them to persevere in suffering, knowing that God will ultimately conquer evil.

Peter's transition to Noah in II Peter 2:5 fits Peter's transition to Noah in 3:20 of I Peter: "if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;" (2 Peter 2:5, NIV)  "who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water," (1 Peter 3:20)  Since in both cases Peter is looking back to Noah's time, it is not unusual for him to also be speaking here about the wicked angels at the time of Noah.  Also, the term "spirits" is used to refer to refer to evil spirits:  "“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek." (Mark 1:25-26)  There are many more examples in the Gospels describing fallen angels as spirits. See Mark 1:23, 26-27, 3:11, 5:2,8  See also Hebrews 1:14

Hiebert argues that we can see from the writings of that time that Peter's readers would have easily understood that Peter was referring to evil spirits—books such as the Book of Enoch, Tobit, II Maccabees, Jubilees, and Quman. See Book of Enoch 10:4, 12:4, 14:4-5 (You can find the book of Enoch on the internet)  It may have been their familiarity with these writings that made it easy for them to understand why Peter brought up a declaration of victory over the evil spirits who chose to be exceptionally wicked during Noah's time at this point in I Peter.

If this interpretation of this verse is correct, then, Jesus declared to these wicked spirits that their attempt to corrupt the entire human race was unsuccessful.  He was born and He triumphantly accomplished His purpose of freeing man from Satan, just as God planned for Him to do!

(3) Only a few were saved in Noah's time (during the time of disobedience before the Flood). (3:20)
"who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe there were only "eight" people saved from the Flood?

 

 

The wicked spirits who disobeyed long ago were unsuccessful in corrupting the whole human race and preventing the birth of the promised seed predicted in Genesis 3:15: "'And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.'"  Instead, eight uncorrupted humans were saved.  It may be that Satan's wicked angels were successful in corrupting all but the family of Noah.  "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Colossians 2:15)

"Eight" "were saved through water."  Peter will use the rescue of Noah and his family from the Flood that engulfed and destroyed the wicked people of that time to show the degree the world was corrupted by evil before the flood—"The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." (Genesis 6:5)

"when God waited patiently"  God "waited patiently" and allowed evil to continue for an "ark" "was being built."  That "ark" would save eight and from those saved in the "ark" would ultimately be born the Savior of the human race.  We can see why God needed to be patient.  His goal of ultimately saving the world was accomplished through the patient working out of His plans.  Then, as today, God "patiently" waits as He fulfills His plan. See Romans 2:4-5; II Peter 3:9

"in the days of Noah while the ark was being built."  We are not certain how long it took to build the "ark."  The 120 years in Genesis 6:3 may refer to the shortened age span of man after the Flood.  "Then the Lord said, 'My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.'" (Genesis 6:3)  But, however long it was, God "waited patiently" until the "ark" was completed.

"In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,"  The Christians that Peter was writing to undoubtedly felt like they were a few believers among a world who hated what they believed.  In Noah's time and at the time of the Flood, there were only eight believers left among a world of wicked people.  These Christians of Peter's time undoubtedly were encouraged that Noah and his family had it much worse than they had it.  Noah and his family also had it much worse than we do.

(4) The waters of the flood symbolize baptism saves us. (3:21-22)
"and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."

Thought Question:  Some use these verses to substantiate their view that we must be baptized to be saved and that we are saved as we are baptized—baptismal regeneration; what is your view of what these verses teach?

 

 

Here, we learn that Noah and the Flood are a symbol for our salvation.  Throughout the Old Testament, there are many symbols or "types" that point to our salvation through Jesus' death for our sins.  For example, the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed and its blood saved the first-born of Israel from the judgment that killed the first-born of Egypt was a type of Christ's sacrifice for us as the Lamb of God. See Exodus 12:1-30  "Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Corinthians 5:7b)

"and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also" 
The waters of the Flood saved Noah and his family because there was an ark that enabled them to stay above the waters.  The waters dealt finally with the sin and corruption that had thoroughly permeated the pre-Flood world.  On the other side of the Flood was a new and purified start for Noah and his family.  The waters of "baptism" symbolize a similar new start for us who are Christians.  The Christian has been cleansed from the pollution of his sins to start a new life.  "Baptism" by immersion symbolizes this new start.  "Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:3-4)

"not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God."  It is not the waters of "baptism" that save anyone.  "Water" can help to remove "dirt from the body," but it can do nothing for us on the inside.  What, then, does save us?  What saves us includes our part and God's part.  Here, Peter describes our part: "the pledge of a good conscience toward God."  ". . . eperotema [pledge] was at times used in a technical sense to denote the question and answer process in establishing a formal agreement . . . it was used to denote a legal contract.  That usage was also suitable to the solemnities related to Christian baptism, involving the questions asked of the baptismal candidate and his personal response concerning his faith and commitment. . . . It may be translated 'a pledge to God out of a good conscience." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  "This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order." (Hebrews 9:9-10)  "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)

"The word Peter uses for pledge is eperotema.  In every business contract there was a definite question and answer which made the contract binding.  The question was: 'Do you accept the terms of this contract, and bind yourself to observe them?'  And the answer, before witnesses was: 'Yes.'  Without that question and answer the contract was not valid.  The technical word for that question and answer clause is eperotema in Greek, stipulatio in Latin.  Peter is, in effect, saying that in baptism God said to the man coming direct from heathenism: 'Do you accept the terms of my service?  Do you accept its privileges and promises, and do you undertake its responsibilities and it demands?'  And in the act of being baptized the man answered, 'Yes.'"  "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  "In that pledge Christians agree with God's judgment on sin and on their sinful past." "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."

There is a part of the church that teaches that "baptism" is necessary for salvation.  These verses are some of the verses that are used to support their view.  This view is similar to the teaching that circumcision is necessary to be saved.  Paul refutes that in the book of Galatians and in other places as well.  "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God." (Romans 2:28-29)  "Baptism" also symbolizes what occurs on the inside of a person when he or she believes and is born again. See Romans 6:1-10 

"Peter is careful to inform his readers that he is not teaching baptismal regeneration, namely that a person who submits to baptism is thereby regenerated, for he says, 'not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.' . . . No ceremony really affects the conscience." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

"It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,"  Here is God's part of our salvation.  "Baptism" symbolizes our new identity with Jesus Christ that God makes possible—our identity with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.  Our salvation cannot be accomplished by what we do.  We are to believe in the gospel, but our belief in the gospel does not satisfy God's justice or regenerate us into becoming a new person.  Our faith expresses our recognition of our need, our willingness to be saved, and our desire to be saved; it is only God who can enable us to be saved.  The "resurrection of Jesus Christ" summarizes the power of God that saves us. 

Our salvation parallels the salvation of Noah and his family.  Their part was to get into the ark; God's part was to save them through the ark.  The ark symbolizes Jesus Christ.  We have entered into Him—into His death for our sins and into His resurrection to a new life.

"who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."  Jesus suffered, the Christians of Peter's time suffered, and suffering is part of our Christian life as well.  But Jesus was ultimately victorious.  Peter's point throughout the book of I Peter is that our suffering for doing what is right will also be victorious as well.  And this verse describes the victory of Jesus that we share in.  First of all, Jesus conquered His enemies when He rose from the dead.  His resurrection from the dead led to Him being raised to the highest position in the universe—to "God's right hand."  In that highest of high positions, "angels, authorities and powers" are "in submission to him."

There is One in heaven who is both fully God and fully man and is over all those who are in heaven.  "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!' The four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped." (Revelation 5:11-14)

And in our new position in Christ, we are seated with Him:  "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:18-23)  "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6-7) See Psalm 110:1; Acts 7:55; I Corinthians 15:24-28; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 1:4, 12:2

The division of angels into groups based on a hierarchy of authority is also found in Colossians 1:16, 2:10,15; Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12

11. Another eternally motivated exhortation: suffer in the body as Christ suffered in the body. (4:1a)
"Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude,"

Thought Question:  How do we "arm" ourself with "the same attitude" as Christ had? (Give an example, etc.)

 

 

In 3:18-22, Peter describes how Jesus suffered and died for us, and, then, how He was, in the end, triumphant.  Peter, here, exhorts us "therefore" to make a choice based on the example Jesus has set for us. See also 1:11, 2:21

According to Peter's words here, we as Christians are to purposely develop a willingness to suffer for the sake of righteousness.  And we are to make a choice to do this even before the suffering becomes necessary.  A soldier does not go into battle and afterwards determine that he should have brought a rifle, and he should have been trained to use it.  Instead, he goes into battle with the rifle and with the training on how to use it.  Peter exhorts Christians to be prepared before hand with a mind set of being willing to suffer for righteousness sake.  We also are in a war, and we also need to always to be ready to do what is necessary to be victorious in this war.  "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." (Romans 13:12)  "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:11-13) See also I Peter 3:17

12. More eternally-focused motivation (4:1b-4:7a)

a. He who has suffered in the flesh is done with sins. (4:1b-2)
"because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."

Thought Question:  What does Peter mean by "he who has suffered in his body is done with sin"?

 

 

What does Peter mean by "he who has suffered in his body is done with sin"?  Barclay gives 3 possibilities:  1) Suffering cleanses us of sin.  Here is Barclay's conclusion about this possibility: "But great as this thought is, it is not strictly relevant here."  2) When we are willing to suffer rather than give into sin, we will have conquered sin.  Barclays' conclusion: "But again it is doubtful if this thought comes in very relevantly here."  3) Baptism pictures leaving the old sin-enslaved life and rising with Christ into a new life that needs no longer be enslaved to sin.  "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:11-14) "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  When we were baptized, we were saying the old sin-enslaved person was buried with Jesus and we are "done with sin."  When we were baptized, we were saying that the old sin-enslaved life is behind us and we are seeking to live life characterized not by sin but by righteousness.  "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4)  "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24)  Barclay believes that this last option describes what Peter was saying here.

Hiebert, however, states that this third possible interpretation is "improbable."  He sees Barclay's second possible interpretation to be the correct one. He concludes that "suffered in the flesh" is referring "to actual physical suffering." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  I agree with Hiebert's conclusion.  "Suffering in the flesh" appears to me to refer to someone choosing, in their union with Christ, to forsake a fleshly life of sin to follow Christ's pattern of life.  In other words, "suffered in the flesh" refers to choosing to suffer by not giving in to the flesh; choosing against what the flesh desires even if it means suffering as one chooses what God desires—the desires of the Spirit.  Jesus "suffered" in resisting Satan's temptations.  For example, He did not turn the stones into bread, but instead, continued to go hungry rather than sin. See Matthew 4:1-4  "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Romans 8:5)  "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." (Galatians 5:16-17)

So, we are not to choose a sinful response to persecution and suffering—bitterness and retaliation.  The sinful choice is not appropriate for us who have identified with Christ who conquered sin by His death, burial, and resurrection.  Instead, we should choose before hand that we will do that which is characteristic of our new life-the righteous response to suffering.

"As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."  These words summarize the true Christian life—we are to live our lives seeking to obey God's will for us.  "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." (2 Corinthians 5:15) 

In these verses, there is a contrast between the life we lived before we became a Christian—we lived "for evil human desires"; and the life we are to live after we became a Christian—we are to live "for the will of God."  If we choose to suffer for Christ, we will not to do what we once did—allow "evil desires" to control us.  Instead, we are, as Peter has already taught: to "not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:9)

b. The pagans who sin will give an account of their behavior at God's final judgment. (4:3-5)
"For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."

Thought Question:  What is there in these verses that motivates you not to want to live as the world lives?

 

 

"For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry."  Peter here describes what living for "evil human desires" (4:2) is like.  Although Peter's list is not an exhaustive list of the sinful practices that result when people choose to live according to the evil desires of the flesh, but Peter does give a pretty thorough summary of the repulsive evil that we must choose to reject. See Romans 1:18-32; Galatians 5:19-20; Ephesians 4:17-19; and II Timothy 3:1-5 for other descriptions of the pagan life of pursuing evil desires.

"Debauchery" describes a life of excesses of all types: "an inordinate indulgence of appetites to the extent of violating a sense of public decency." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"Lust" describes a life controlled by cravings rather than a life with our cravings under our control.  A person enslaved to pornography is a person controlled by "lust."

"Drunkenness" describes a life controlled by alcohol and all that this addiction leads to.  Most of us know someone whose life is characterized by "drunkenness."

"Orgies" and "carousings" describes those who live the "party life" and all that goes along with it.  Since we live in a college town, we have heard what that is like.  At the present time, our college student neighbors do not have weekly parties across the street, but a couple of years ago they did; then, we heard what "orgies" and "carousings" sound like.

"Detestable idolatry" describes idol worship that in Peter's time included all of the above evil activities.

Peter's point is that for the Christian, all of these pagan sins that may have been in a Christian's past and are present in the non-Christian world are not to have any part of their Christian life.

"They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you."  Here, Peter describes the response of the non-Christian world when someone becomes a Christian and no longer runs with the old pack.  They find us "strange" and "heap abuse on" us.  They think that we are the "strange" ones; whereas, the truth is that we are seeking to live as we were created to live, and they are the ones who are strangely pursuing a path that is destructive to them and others.

Today, there are comedians who boldly and regularly ridicule Christians.  They are the most visible and articulate critics of Christianity in our society, but they also represent the non-Christians' typical response to the Christian who rejects the world's selfish pursuit of pleasure.  They use words like "puritanical," "fundamentalists," and "Bible-believing" as ugly words.

"the same flood of dissipation,"  "Dissipation" is the same word that Paul uses in Ephesians 5:18:  "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery [dissipation]. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."  It is the Greek word asotiaSozo is to save and asotia is the absence of anything that saves.  It is the foolishness of choosing an empty and valueless lifestyle that drains the life out of the one who chooses it rather than gives life to him or her. See Luke 15:13 where asotia is translated "wild living."

"flood" Peter describes the world being flooded with this pursuit of emptiness.  People outside of Christ "flood" the world with this despicable and vacuous lifestyle and cannot understand why we do not also jump in with them.  Why would we?  We see that they are not living it up, but dying it up.

"But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."  Peter makes a similar statement in his preaching to the Gentiles at Cornelius' home in Acts 10:42:  "He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead."  Paul presents a similar picture in II Timothy 4:1:  "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge."  Though Peter speaks of God's judgment in 1:17 and 2:23, it appears that in the context, Peter is here describing Jesus' judgment of men. See also Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:22,27

"the living and the dead."  Right now there are two categories of people: those who are physically "living" and those who are physically "dead."  Neither will escape God's judgment through Jesus Christ.  The judgment of the dead is described in Revelation 20:11-12:  "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."

"him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."  The word "Ready" appears to be saying that Jesus, who has completed his conquest of the devil and evil through His death for our sins and His resurrection, is now "ready" to return and judge the world.

Peter, here, points to a future reality that should affect the way that we live today.  It is our ultimate accountability to God for our actions and our motives.  One day, each of us will stand before Jesus Christ and be accountable for all we have done. See Matthew 12:36; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:1-11, 16, 14:12; I Corinthians 3:10-15; II Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 4:13; James 5:1-6; Revelation 20:11-15  We are fools if we ignore this reality and live as if it will never happen.  We are wise if we live each day remembering that we will be accountable for how we live today.  The non-Christian will be punished and the believer will either be rewarded or suffer loss.

c. For, the gospel was preached so men can go from death to life. (4:6)
"For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit."

Thought Question:  What do you believe Peter means by "those who are now dead"?

 

 

By the time Peter wrote these words there were many Christians who had died.  The gospel was preached to them and they believed, but then they had died just as others outside of Christ had died.  Peter assures his readers that though they had experienced the judgment of death that faces all men, they nevertheless, like Jesus, were made alive in the spirit.  See I Thessalonians 4:13-18

There are two other interpretations of this verse.  One view, that cannot be accurate, is that the gospel is preached to people after they die.  Hebrews 9:27 states that this cannot be true: "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."

The second view is that "dead" refers to people being spiritually dead. See Ephesians 2:1  This view does not fit the rest of what Peter says in this verse.  The interpretation given before these two alternate views, though, does fit in with the rest of the words in verse six and with the context of I Peter.  Peter had just referred of the judgment "of the living and the dead." (4:5)  Now, he explains about Christians who at that time were already among the "dead."  Though they were dead physically, they were alive to God—they experienced a physical death, but not a spiritual death.

The Christians Peter was writing to needed to be encouraged that choosing to obey God's will would be the best direction for their life, even if they died.  This encouragement would be helpful when skeptics challenged their beliefs.  "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'" (2 Peter 3:3-4)

By the time Peter wrote these words, many of his fellow Christians had died.  For example, James the apostle had been killed.  "He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword." (Acts 12:2)

d. The end of all things is near. (4:7a)
"The end of all things is near."

Thought Question:  How could "the end of all things" be "near" when, 2000 years later, "the end" is still not here?

 

 

Paul makes a similar statement in Romans 13:11-12a:  "And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here."  James and John also call attention to the same reality.  "You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near." (James 5:8)  "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." (Revelation 1:3)

How could Peter, Paul, James, and John words be infallible truth when we now know that more than 2000 years have occurred since they declared that the end is "near"?  The end they said was "near" has not yet come!  Peter gives the answer in II Peter 3:8-9:  "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."  Compared to eternity, these 2000 years are but like a couple of days.  When we are in eternity, we will look at man's total time on earth as a quite short period of time.

It is even truer for us that the time of Jesus' return and the end of all things is "near."  Life as we know it will not continue on forever.  Instead, there will be a day when life as we know it will culminate very dramatically and all men will suddenly know that all sin will be dealt with decisively by the glorified and awesome Son of God and Son of Man.  "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:44)  The Son of Man is now "ready to judge the living and the dead." (4:5)  This reality should affect how we live each day preceding this time.

13. More eternally motivated exhortations (4:7b-8a)

a. Be clear minded. (4:7b)
"Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray."

Thought Question:  When is someone "clear minded"?

 

 

What should be our attitude knowing that "the end of all things is near"?  We should be "clear minded."  "Clear" mindedness speaks of someone who is "reasonable, sensible, and prudent." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  "Clear minded" describes someone whose mind is cleared of all that clouds the mind.  We should act in response to clear thinking that comes from knowing the reality that there will certainly be a time when we will stand before the Son of Man to give account for the way we have lived our lives.

The Greek word translated "clear minded" is the opposite of being "out of our mind" in II Corinthians 5:13; the opposite of being insane in Mark 5:15; and the opposite of thinking too highly of ourselves in Romans 12:3.

b. Be self-controlled. (4:7b)
"Therefore be  . . . and self-controlled . . ."

Thought Question:  When is someone "self-controlled"?

 

 

Paul makes the same exhortation in I Thessalonians 5:4-8.  "But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet."  We are to be alert and do what we do based upon the wisest way to handle ourselves for God's purposes to be accomplished.  "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:5)

c. So you can pray (4:7c)
". . . so that you can pray."

Thought Question:  Why would not being "clear minded and self-controlled" prevent us from praying?

 

 

As Christians, we are to be alert and to continually be in prayer.  "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)  "pray continually;" (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  Constant prayer as a defense against our mutual enemy, prayer for the salvation of the lost, and prayer for the saints is to continuously characterize the lives of all Christians.   "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-4)  A "clear" mind and "self-control" are necessary, so that we can maintain this life of prayer.

A type of thinking that can affect even men like Moses, Elijah, Peter, and Paul is what I have come to refer to as narrowItis.  It occurs when we lose the big picture. See numbers 11:4-15; I Kings 19:1-14; Matthew 26:69-75; Romans 7:14-24; II Corinthians 1:8-10  Looking past our troubles to the Lord's return is one way we can return to seeing the big picture—it enables us to once again "be clear minded," "self-controlled," and continue with a life of prayer.

d. Love each other deeply. (4:8a)
"Above all, love each other deeply,"

Thought Question:  Why should we love "above all"?

 

 

Jesus had taught Peter that love was the primary way that the people would recognize who are and who are not His followers.  "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)  In I Corinthians 13, called "the love chapter," Paul explains that a church that does well at the business of being a church, but does not do it with love, is just so much empty effort.  So, as Peter says here: "Above all, love each other deeply," See also 2:2,17, 3:8

Hiebert quotes Rothertham's translation from the Greek: "keeping fervent your love among yourselves."  The reason it is more literal is that the Greek word for "love" is a noun and not a verb and "among yourselves" better translates the form of the pronoun used.  So, in short, a deep "love" "among" ourselves is to always characterize God's church.  Remove love from the church and we cease to have any reason to be called God's church.  We have been loved by the God who is love, yet we do not love as we have been loved.  "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8)  So, loving "each other deeply" is to be a Christian's, a local church's, and the universal church's primary pursuit!  It is what we are to seek to do "above all"!

What, then, does Peter mean by "deeply"?  Paul appears to explain what Peter meant by loving "deeply" in Philippians 1:9:   "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight."  However we "love" someone, our love has not reached the amazing depth and greatness of God's love for that person.  We must, in God's strength, seek to grow in our love for others.  We need more patience toward others, a greater ability to forgive, more compassion and empathy toward them, and a greater willingness to make sacrifices for them.

The Greek word translated "deeply" means "strained" or "fervent."  "It speaks of intensity and determination, like an athlete stretching to reach the finish line at the end of the final lap." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."  "The verb 'to stretch out' is used by Xenophon to describe a horse made to go at full gallop.  So the adjective suggests intensity, earnestness, exerting one's powers to their full extent." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." See Ephesians 4:13-19

14. More eternal motivation for love covers a multitude of sins.
"because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Thought Question:  How does "love cover over a multitude of sins"?

 

 

Barclay gives three possible meanings of these words:  1) It can mean that if we love someone, we will forgive a "multitude of sins" that they do.  He says, "It is much easier to be patient with our own children than with the children of strangers."  2) His second possible meaning is that our love for others will result in God overlooking "a multitude of sins" in us.  "We meet those who have no faults at which the finger may be pointed; they are moral, orthodox, and supremely respectable; but they are hard and austere and unable to understand why others make mistakes and fall into sin.  We also meet those who have all kinds of faults; but they are kind and sympathetic and they seldom or never complain."  He states that it is the second type of person who has his or her "multitude of sins" covered over.  3) Barclay's third possible meaning is that Peter is referring to those who truly love are those who fully understand that their "multitude of sins" were covered over when they believed in Jesus Christ. "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."

It appears to me that Peter is referring to the first of Barclay's possibilities—"Love covers over a multitude of sins" of others.   "Love "keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:5c)  "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." (Proverbs 10:12)  " We do not love others if we take delight in finding and exposing their faults and sins." "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."  True love seeks another's best, even though they sin against us or sin.  "The gracious activity of true love promotes the very opposite of hatred that deliberately exposes sin in order to humiliate and injure.  Only when Christians become mean and ugly do they favor the devil by dragging each other's failings out into the public and smiting each other in the face." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute.  Heibert Quotes from Lenski."
The second of Barclay's three possible meanings—that our love covers over a "multitude" of our "sins" has some basic problems.  First of all, we would be earning forgiveness by our love for others.  We would, then, be on a performance basis with God rather than a grace basis with Him.  Secondly, as Hiebert observes, if Peter meant that love "covers" our sins, "covers" would have been in the middle voice.  Thirdly, "love" covering a "multitude of sins" of others best fits the context where the emphasis in the previous verses and verses following verse 8 are not about a benefit to one's self, but are about the ways that we can benefit others.  The benefit of our love to others is that our "love covers over a multitude" of their "sins."
15. More eternally motivated exhortation (4:9-11a)

a. Be hospitable. (4:9)
"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."

Thought Question:  Why does Peter say "without grumbling"?

 

 

The Greek word translated "hospitality" is philozenoi is a combination of phileo-love and zenos-stranger.  It means lover of strangers.

With our church buildings, hotels, and motels, "hospitality" is not as vital to us as it was in Peter's time.  The inns of that time were places where immorality, drinking, theft, and uncleanliness thrived.  They were not a place where traveling Christians wanted to stay.  Also, church meetings took place in homes, not in church buildings. See Acts 12:12, 16:3-5, I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:5; Philemon 2  "Hospitality" was an essential part of the church at that time, and there was a need for Christians to regularly practice "hospitality."  Paul made the same exhortation: "Practice hospitality." (Romans 12:13b) See Matthew 25:35; Acts 10:5-6, 16:15, 21:15-16; I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; Philemon 22; Hebrews 13:2

"without grumbling"  Anyone who has opened their home to others know that it necessarily interrupts our comfortable routines.  The visitors may be sitting in your favorite chair at a time when you would like to sit in it.  For this and many reasons, "grumbling" can become a temptation.  But, "hospitality" combined with "grumbling" ceases to be "hospitality."  Does a person feel at home in your home if he or she knows that you are "grumbling" about him or her being there?  True "hospitality," as Peter states here, is "hospitality" "without grumbling."

"Hospitality" is not as essential as it was in Peter's time, but it continues to be a very important part of church life today.  Bible studies and church activities of some types can best take place in homes.  There is also a need at times to house a person or persons going through a difficult time or to house traveling Christians.  We also are to "offer hospitality" to one another "without grumbling."

16. Use your spiritual gift to serve others. (4:10-11)
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Thought Question:  What part of these verses most applies to you?

 

 

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms."  This is one of the main sections on spiritual gifts in the New Testament.  The other three are Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12-14; and Ephesians 4:7-16.  Peter exhorts each Christian to "use" his spiritual gift "to serve others."  He is assuming that every Christian has a spiritual gift given to him or her by God.  "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." (Ephesians 4:7)  "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)  In I Corinthians 12, Paul gives a list of spiritual gifts:  "To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)  Spiritual gifts are God-strengthened, God-motivated, and God-directed abilities to serve in some area of ministry.

"faithfully administering God’s grace"  Hiebert emphasized that the Greek words "'faithfully administering' . . . . may be translated as 'good stewards.'"  Christians are stewards, not owners of the gifts and means they possess." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  We are responsible as stewards for how "faithfully" we use the giftedness that God has given to us.

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God."  Some of the spiritual gifts are "speaking" gifts—apostles, prophets, teachers, encouragers, and tongues are examples of "speaking" gifts. See Romans 12:7-8 and I Corinthians 12:27-30  When a person speaks with the gifting from God for "speaking," he is not to draw attention to his "speaking" ability, but he is to speak as a representative of God and he is to speak "the very words of God."  We are ambassadors from God.  When an American ambassador performs his duty in another country, he is not draw attention to himself; he is to draw attention to his country and to speak what his country's leaders want him to say.  So, we are to represent God and say what He wants us to say.  The Bible teaches us that our words are to be limited to what God wants us to say.  The Bible teaches us that we no longer belong to ourself. See I Corinthians 6:19  So, we need to be continually careful that our words are limited to what God wants us to say and that they are said in the way God wants us to say them.

"If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,"  Paul lists a number of service gifts:  "If it is serving, let him serve; . . . if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." (Romans 12:7-8)

"he should do it with the strength God provides,"  "The one serving must avoid the conceit in thinking that the strength and ability to perform the service are his own." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute." "Anyone who has begun a ministry in Christ's name finds it perilously easy to shift the ownership of the enterprise.  It became his ministry, her organization.  Success demonstrates one own organizational skill and entrepreneurial genius." "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."

What is truly God's work can only be accomplished in the strength and motivation that God provides.  Paul gave God the full credit for all that he was able to do.  "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." (Colossians 1:28-29)  Any Christian service we are gifted for is only able to be done cheerfully and adequately because God enables us to do it.

"so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."  If a church's ministry is energized by God's Spirit as God's work gets done, people will be able, then, to see what God is like.  They will see tireless service, gracious giving, eloquent and impassioned teaching, mercy expressed cheerfully, and it will all be done selflessly pointing to God alone.  These expressions of love and truth will lead to God being "praised."  God will be praised as men see before their eyes what an amazing and marvelous God He is.  A church is not to bring glory to the pastor or to the people of the church, but it is to bring glory to the One who rescued us from the pit of sin and eternal judgment to be, in grace, His Spirit-empowered children.

"To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.The "him" could be Jesus Christ.  Here are some other places where the "him" that receives glory is Jesus Christ.  "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)  "and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." (Revelation 1:5-6)  But, since it is God who is to be "praised" in the words just previous to these words," Peter appears to be speaking of God receiving the glory.

"through Jesus Christ"  It is "through Jesus Christ" that we have been gifted so that we as a church can bring "glory" to God.  "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." (Ephesians 4:7)

17. More eternally motivated exhortations (4:12-13a)
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ,"

Thought Question:  Why do you think that a Christian would feel that the suffering that he or she is going through is "as though something strange" was "happening"?

 

 

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,"  A trial can come into our lives quickly from an unexpected source and in an unexpected way.  Recently, I have been reading a book written by E. V. Hill.  In one chapter, he says that when we are "surprised" that we are suffering, we need to "reread the contract."  We should not "surprised" at trials, for Jesus predicted that trials will come to Christians and the Bible also predicts trials.  They are a part of the "contract."  "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also." (John 15:18-20)

In another chapter, Hill asks the question: "Why the struggle?"  The answer is that it started when sin entered the world, and it will continue as long as sin is in this world.  There is no "struggle-free" church, nor is there a "struggle-free" Christian life. "Taken from Victory in Jesus by E. V. Hill. Copyright 2003 by Moody Publishers."  So, we should "not be surprised at the painful trial" that comes into our lives.

"painful trial" The Greek word is purosee which literally speaks of a burning.  In the NASB, it is translated "fiery ordeal."  It may point to the trials refining us as fire refines gold.  Peter spoke of this process earlier in this letter.  "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

"as though something strange were happening to you."  A question that is almost always asked when an unexpected trial comes our way is "Why?"  We ask, "Why would an all-powerful and loving God allow this suffering to come into my life?"  Certainly, Job asked that question.  Although the contract we signed up for included suffering, when it happens, we tend to be shocked and even angered when the trials come.  Paul, though, warns us that trials will be a part of following Christ.  "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12)  During the first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas returned to the new believers for the  purpose of "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith."  They told them: "“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”" (Acts 14:22)

"But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ,"  Jesus Christ chose a path of suffering for our sake.  While He lived on this earth He was greatly loved by those who saw their need for a relationship with God, but He was greatly hated by those who hated the light of His life.  His path of suffering led to the cross where He died even for those who hated Him.  If we choose to walk in the same path as he walked, we also will suffer.  Paul chose this path.  "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church." (Colossians 1:24) See Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10; II Timothy 2:12

But how does the content of this verse enable us to "rejoice" in suffering?  The Greek verb translated "rejoice" is in the present tense, which means that we are to continually "rejoice."  The suffering itself is not joyful but painful.  We can rejoice not in the pain, but in what will occur on the other side of the pain.  Jesus rejoiced while He was experiencing the pain because of what the pain would ultimately produce.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)  We also can rejoice because of what is on the other side of righteous suffering:  "These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:7)  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12)  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18) See Hebrews 11:26

Just as a mother endures the pain of childbirth because it will not be long before the child that has been in her for 9 months will be in her arms, so we are to bear the sufferings that come from following Christ because we will also one day receive the promised rewards.  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17) See 5:1

We also can "rejoice" because we "participate in the sufferings of Christ."  As we suffer as a result of following the same path as Jesus walked, we can realize that we are sharing in Jesus' mission and in the cost of that mission.  As I am writing these words, the Green Bay Packers have just won their way into the Super Bowl.  They are not the first Green Bay team to play in the Super Bowl.  They now share with all of the Green Bay Packer teams of the past.  When we suffer as a result of following Christ, we are not the first to suffer in this way.  We share with all of God's people of the past on this road of suffering.  Ultimately, we share with Jesus Christ.  In this we can rejoice; and we can rejoice that we will also share in His reward.

18. More eternal motivation (4:13b-18)
"so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”"

Thought Question #1: What is there in these verses that helps you to rejoice even when you are suffering because of your faith?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does Peter mean by, "it is hard for the righteous to be saved"?

 

 

a. Rejoice in suffering now and you also will rejoice when Jesus returns (4:13b)
"so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

As we share with Christ in the sufferings that are necessary in this period of time that precedes His first coming, we also wait with joyful expectation for His glorious second coming.  At that time, we will know a joy that far surpasses any joy that any man has ever experienced.

There actually are two words for rejoicing that are present in this part of verse 13.  In the KJV it is translated: "that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."  In the NASB, it is translated: "so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."

The "exceeding joy" in the KJV is a translation of a present tense verb-describing continual joy, and "may be glad" in the same translation is in the aorist tense—describing an exultant instance of gladness as we realize what we will certainly experience in the future.  Again, it is like the mother in birth pains who looks forward to the joy of holding her new-born child.

In short, we can rejoice in our sufferings only as we go from the narrow perspective of only looking at our present suffering to the expanded perspective in faith that also includes the future day of great rejoicing that is to come!  The expanded perspective on our suffering that includes the future reward enables us to genuinely rejoice even in midst of the suffering.

b. You are blessed for the Spirit of glory and of God is on you. (4:14)
"If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."

Jesus predicted that being associated with His name would result in persecution.  "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved." (Matthew 10:22, NASB95)  Peter describes what occurs when we are reviled for following Christ.  On the outside of us there are the insults and evil accusations, but on the inside there is the fellowship of God's Spirit resting on us.

"you are blessed,"  Peter uses the same Greek word for "blessed" that Jesus used in Matthew 5:3-11: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." (Matthew 5:10-11)  "Blessed" describes a happiness of the soul that cannot be disrupted by troubles and painful circumstances.  "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (2 Corinthians 6:10)  We are "blessed" because our trials have not taken away from us what is most important to us—our relationship with God; rather, our trials have resulted in our drawing even closer to God.

"for the Spirit of glory and of God"  When Jesus was being crucified, He cried out to His father:  "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" (Luke 23:34a)  When Stephen was being stoned to death, he uttered these words: "While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:59-60)  The people who either were responsible for their killing or were supportive of them being murdered were full of hate, but Jesus and Stephen who were empowered by the Holy Spirit continued to love them.  "The Spirit of glory and of God" rested on them.  We also can, through the same Spirit, continue to bring God glory by depending on God's Spirit in times when we are insulted for Christ's sake.

I just read an email by a campus pastor who has been willing to field questions about why Christians are opposed to gay relationships and gay marriages.  He knew that his answers to their questions were not the popular answers these days.  I know, though, that he continues to love those who strongly oppose his answers, in spite of the invectives he hears.  He is able to respond appropriately because God's Spirit rests on him.

"rests on you."  Wuest observes that the word translated "rests" is the same word Jesus used in Matthew 11:29:  "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  "The Spirit of Glory, even the Spirit of God, is resting with refreshing power up on the child of God, causing him to live a life which pleases God and toward which the world hurls its venom and hate." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

c. Praise God that you suffer in the name of Jesus. (4:15-16)
"If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

"If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler."  Some suffering is deserved: a "murderer," a "thief," and any "criminal" deserves punishment by legal authorities.  Even meddling in other's affairs deserves some type of painful consequences.

Over the years, we have learned that some well-known Christians have been involved in some type of crime.  In your hometown there may also have been similar tragic cases.  The punishment that they have received is deserved.  Also, we have probably seen Christians who have had some type of sinful pattern not punishable by law that has been exposed.  There usually is some type of consequence for this sinful behavior.  These types of sufferings are not what Peter is talking about in this letter. See 2:20

"However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."  This is the third and last use of the word "Christian" in the New Testament.  Usually, it was a term used outside of the church to describe followers of Christ.  "and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." (Acts 11:26) See also Acts26:28

"if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed,"  Any time we suffer as a result of others' actions or words, we can feel that we somehow must deserve it.  We can "feel ashamed."   Peter, however, exhorts his readers to "not feel ashamed."

Why is it so easy to "feel ashamed"?  It is exactly the way those who are insulting us want us to feel?  They wanted Jesus to feel that He deserved to be on the cross.  Those who hate Christians or a Christian have the same goal.  They want us to feel little, rotten, worthless, a reproach to society, ugly persons, and persons who deserve every evil that we receive.  With all of this coming at us, how can we not "feel ashamed"

"but praise God that you bear that name."  When Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi because of their mission to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, what did they do?  "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:25)  They were not overcome with shame though there was an attempt to bring them to shame through a public beating and through putting them into a jail.  Instead, they praised God that the beating and the imprisonment were part of what they must pay in their pursuit of following Christ's mission for them. See Acts 16:22-24, 5:40-41

After Peter's time, the Christians endured extreme suffering due to the name of Jesus and for being Christians, as the Roman Empire turned vicious against Christians.  Thousands of Christians lost their lives because they would not renounce the Lordship of Christ on their lives and worship the Emperor as their god.  Peter's letter prepared them for the multitude of martyrdoms and the persecution of those days.

d. Praise God that you are one of those obey the gospel and not one of those who disobey the gospel. (4:17-18)
"For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, 'If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?'"

"For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?"  God's main concern is the spiritual state of His church.  For that reason, He disciplines His church.  An example of His strong dealing with the church was his severe treatment of Ananias and Sapphira.  "Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.' When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, 'Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?' 'Yes,' she said, 'that is the price.' Peter said to her, 'How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.' At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events."

Those in the church at Corinth were also strongly dealt with by God:  "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep." (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)  God also disciplines all Christians for our good.  "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" (Hebrews 12:7)

If God judges and chastens His people who love Him and who have believed in the gospel, how severe will He be with those who live in rebellion against His ways?  The psalmist came to the same conclusion.  "The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming." (Psalm 37:12-13)  Paul, in II Thessalonians, describes the fate of the wicked.  "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10)

Peter appears to be quoting Proverbs 11:31 in these verses:   "If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!" (Proverbs 11:31)  Peter brings in to focus what we can often forget when we are being persecuted for our belief in Christ.  Though we are at the moment going through a difficult time, those who reject Christ who are persecuting us are in infinitely worse shape, for it is unlikely that they will ever repent and be saved from God's judgment on them for their sins.

"And, 'If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?'"  What does Peter mean by, "it is hard for the righteous to be saved"?  Are not the righteous saved by putting their faith in God's grace and forgiveness made possible by Jesus paying the penalty for our sins?  How is that "hard"?  Those of us who are Christians know that receiving Christ is not "hard," but there are many trials that we go through in the process of receiving God's salvation.  We just quoted what Paul had to say to some of his early converts to Christianity: "'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.'" (Acts 14:22)  As it is difficult for the Christian, it is infinitely worse for the non-Christian if he or she does not repent and seek God's mercy.  For, they will receive the full wrath of God's judgment for their sins and their rebellion against God.

19. Key verse: continue to do good and be committed to God in the midst of suffering. (4:19)
"So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."

These words appear to summarize and finalize what Peter has been saying throughout this letter so far.  He gives two responses that Christians should make when they are suffering some type of persecution, as they seek to obey God's will.  1) They "should commit themselves to their faithful Creator."  We are to give ourselves fully to God's work.  When trials come as a result of our pursuing the highest of goals, we are to trust that God will be faithful with what we have entrusted to Him.

This was Paul's pattern.  "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (2 Timothy 1:12)  Paul had been imprisoned a number of times, yet he trusted that God would faithfully use his life, his imprisonments, and his trials to accomplish His purpose for Paul.  For example, God's plan for Paul was not thwarted by Paul's imprisonments.  Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and II Timothy were written by Paul while he was in prison.  Paul's imprisonments emboldened other Christians of his time.  "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." (Philippians 1:12-14)  When we commit our lives to this faithful God and believe that He will honor and use our service to Him, He will support our ministry no matter what trials come into our lives.

2) "continue to do good."  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)  Though trials come into our lives, we are not to get bitter and forsake the ministry God has called us to.  We are to continue to do good.  "For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." (1 Peter 2:15)  "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:10)  "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:23-25)  "while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 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." (Titus 2:13-14)

20. Eternally motivated exhortations to elders (5:1-3)
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." See I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 for the qualifications for the office of elder in the church.  See Acts 20:18-31 and I Timothy 5:17 for a description of the role of elders in the church.  For examples of Old Testament elders, see Numbers 11:16-30; Deuteronomy 25:7; I Kings 20:8, 21:11; Ezra 10:8.  There were also elders in Israel in Jesus' time, see Matthew 16:21, 21:23
Thought Question:  What type of leaders are leaders in our churches not to be like?

 

 

a. Be shepherds, not because you must, but because you are willing. (5:1-2)
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;"

Peter addresses "the elders" as the senior leaders in the churches that he is writing to by giving three descriptions of himself: 1) He was "a fellow elder."  In John 21, Jesus commissioned Peter to be a shepherd of His church.  "When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.' The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.' (John 21:15-17)  Others were later chosen to be "elders" in the early church: "Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust." (Acts 14:23)

As a "fellow elder" and as a seasoned pastor, Peter appeals to the "elders" in the churches.  He does not command them as an apostle, he "appeals" to them as an equal and as one who shares in the same responsibility of leadership they have.  He sees them and him as being "on the same ministry team."  "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."

2) "a witness of Christ’s sufferings."  Peter, at the very beginning of his ministry, referred to himself as "a witness of" Christ's death.  "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (Acts 10:39-43)  The Gospels record that Peter was a personal witness to all that Jesus endured during His life and death.  "Though the thought of the Messiah suffering was once very distasteful to him (Matthew 16:22), he had seen those sufferings, and it was his task to bear witness to their reality and significance.  He repeatedly did so in the epistle (1:11, 2:21, 3:18, 4:1, 13)." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

What were the "sufferings" of Christ that Peter observed?  "Peter certainly did observe the agony of Christ at Gethsemane, saw Him bound and delivered into the hands of His enemies and observed some of the injustices heaped on Him in the court of the High Priest." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."    Peter was a "fellow elder" with the "elders" he was addressing, but he had a personal presence with Jesus Christ that they had not experienced.  This truth gave him credibility in his appeal to them. See I John 1:1-9

3) "and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:"  The suffering is only part of reality.  What we have not seen yet is the "glory to be revealed."  "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:17)  Peter had seen "Christ's sufferings," but at the time he wrote these words, he had not yet seen the full glory of Christ unveiled.  That "glory" is still in our future also.  We can endure the suffering because of "the glory" that will "be revealed." See 1:11

"Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers."  "Verse 2 doesn't tell the pastor elder to 'shepherd you own flock' but to 'shepherd the flock of God.'" "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."  It is easy for both the pastor and the people to see the church as the pastor's church.  That is harmful to God's purposes.  The pastor can become proud and see the church as an extension of himself.  Its success becomes his success.  The people also can believe it is his responsibility to make it successful.  Instead, an elder's role is a sobering responsibility, for the pastor/elder is to shepherd "God's flock."  "Jesus said, [to Peter] 'Take care of my sheep.'" (John 21: 16)

Elders, pastor-shepherds, and overseers-bishops are interchangeable terms.  Elders describe the qualifications of church leaders-they are to be spiritually mature.  Pastor-shepherds describe the responsibility of church leaders to care for the people of church as a good shepherd cares for each of his sheep.  Overseer-bishop describes the responsibility they have for leading, guiding, and administering over a church.  All three of these terms are used interchangeably here in I Peter 5:1-3. See also Acts 20:17,28

Two of the most well-known men in the Bible gained their preparation for leadership while acting as shepherds.  Moses and David were shepherds when they were called by God to lead his people. See Exodus 3:1-10; I Samuel 16:11-13; and Psalm 78:70-72  In John 10:1-18, Jesus describes His role with the church: He calls Himself the "good shepherd." (John 10:11,14)

How is a pastor to shepherd "God's flock"?  In short, the sheep are not there for him, he is there for them.  While I am writing these words, my wife and I have begun taking care of my 95-year old father.  When I was a child, he was there for me.  I was too young to take care of myself.  Now, because of his great age, we are here for him.  Pastor-elders are to be more spiritually mature than their flock.  They are to help them mature (see Ephesians 4:11-13), protect them from false teachers (see Acts 20:28-31), encourage them (see II Corinthians 4), correct them gently (see II Timothy 2:24-26; Galatians 6:1-5), and teach them God's word (see II Timothy 3:16-4:2).  The pastor lays down his life for the sheep.  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)

Pastor-elders do not force the sheep to lay down their lives for them.  Ezekiel describes what it is like when the sheep are forced to lay down their lives for the pastor-elders-the very opposite of what should take place.  "The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.”'" (Ezekiel 34:1-6)  Because we were born selfish, we tend to look at others as to what they can do for us, should do for us, and are not doing for us.  A shepherd has the very opposite focus-what can I do for them!

"that is under your care," "(en humin, literally 'among you.').  The phrase . . . points to a close characteristic relation between the shepherds and the sheep." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"Serving as overseers"  "Overseers" is used to describe church leaders in Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:2, and Titus 1:7 See also 2:25  Overseer describes the responsibility of management of the church.

Because, though, the term is used interchangeably with shepherd, it is not to be the cold and impersonal management of an Ebenezer Scrooge before he received the visions, but his compassionate management after he received the visions.

"not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;"  Over the years, I have known those who see being a church leader as a task that they do only because no one else will do it.  "The elder should not occupy the office as a reluctant draftee, doing an irksome task because he feels that he cannot escape it." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

On the other hand, a person should take on the ministry of elder because he is "willing, as God wants you to be;"  An elder should be one who has voluntarily chosen to align himself with the purposes of God.  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)  Paul preached and served with this type of willingness.  "Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16)  "For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)  "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy." (Philippians 1:4) See Psalm 110:3

Willingness, though, does not mean feeling that one has somehow earned and deserves the office of elder.  "Peter does not say conceitedly or irresponsibly eager for office, but that every Christian should be anxious to render such service as he can, although fully aware how unworthy he is to render it." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."

b. Be shepherds not because you are greedy, but because you are eager to serve. (5:2b)
"not greedy for money, but eager to serve;" See I Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7

 An elder needs to ask himself: "Am I looking at the church in any way 'focusing on what the flock can do [for me] rather than what [I] can do for the flock.'" "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan." See Titus 1:11

"but eager to serve;"  Jesus' disciples at first focused on what Jesus could do for them.  They saw themselves as on the verge of being elevated to high positions in His coming Messianic kingdom. See Matthew 18:1-5; Luke 9:46-48; Mark 1)43  Jesus demonstrated what they should be seeking to do when He washed their feet. See John 13:1-17  An elder should not be eagerly seeking some type of personal gain from the church, but he should be eagerly seeking to do that which will result in the eternal gain for those he serves.  "I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions." (Acts 20:33-34)

The Bible teaches that we should provide financial support for those who labor hard in God's work.  "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: 'Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.' Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ." (1 Corinthians 9:7-12)  "For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain, and 'The worker deserves his wages.'" (1 Timothy 5:18)  But, the elder should not be in the ministry for the money, but because he believes that God has called him to serve Him by serving in leadership in His church.  He should be "eager to serve," not eager for money.

c. Be shepherds by not lording it over the flock, but lead by being an example. (5:3)
"not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock."

"not lording it over"  "The elder is to accept office, not to be a petty tyrant, but to be the shepherd and the example of the flock.  Human nature is such that for many people prestige and power are even more attractive than money. . . The great characteristic of the shepherd is his selfless care and his sacrificial love for the sheep.  Any man who enters an office with the desire for pre-eminence, has got his whole point of view upside down." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  "Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Mark 10:42-45)

There is a lot of talk about those who are called "controllers."  It is a very human tendency when we are put in charge of a group of people.  We can become dictatorial in the way that we manage others.  If anyone has the power to be dictatorial, it is God; yet, He allows a world full of people to reject Him and to sin in cold defiance of Him and His ways.  When His Son came to earth, He did not come to demand obedience or else, but as a sacrificial and suffering servant.  Those who serve as elders are to be like Him; they are to be sacrificial and suffering servants.

In III John 9-10, Diotrephes provides us with an example of what an elder should not be like.  "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church."  Elders are not to be the kings of the church as Diotrephes was.

"but being examples to the flock."  In our society, extremely successful pastors and evangelists have been given prominence in the church at large and even in the world outside of the church.  Pastors can very easily pursue this prestige as a goal for themselves.  Then, the people and church staff become the means to their goal of achieving personal success.  But, this is the very opposite of what the role of a shepherd is to be.  The pastor is to lay down his life for the sheep; the sheep are not to lay down their lives so that the pastor can gain worldly prestige.

Paul led the early church through his example to them.  "From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: 'You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.'" (Acts 20:17-21)  "You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

"over those entrusted to you"  The church the elders serve has been assigned to them by God Himself.  They have a divine stewardship and responsibility from God.  They need to carry out this responsibility the way that God has sacrificially served us.

21. Eternal motivation for eldersyou will receive the crown of glory (5:4)
"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away."

"And when the Chief Shepherd appears,"  There are a number of references in I Peter to Jesus' glorious appearance in the future. See 1:11,13, 4;13, 5:1,10  Peter describes an event in the future when everything as we know it now will be changed.  That event is the sudden appearance of the glorified Jesus on our planet.  Human history was forever changed at the appearance of the humble Son of Man---God in human flesh---who came to die for us.  When Jesus returns in His full glory, this world will never be the same again.  At that time, those who have served as His under-shepherds in a humble and faithful way, carrying on the humble and sacrificial service that He began will be rewarded for their service by Him.

"you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away."  There are a number of places in the New Testament that refer to the future reward of faithfulness to Christ as a "crown." See I Corinthians 9:25; I Thessalonians 2:19; II Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10  See also Isaiah 25:5, 62:3

The Greek word translated "crown" is stephanos,which is not a royal "crown," but a "crown" that was presented to a victorious athlete at an athletic contest.  This Greek word stephanos is the word that is translated "crown" in all of the verses referred to in the last paragraph.  We do not know if this will be an actual "crown" or if it symbolizes Jesus' personal and public approval of the faithful service exercised by an elder in His church.

"crown of glory"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." (Hebrews 2:9)  Jesus' service resulted in Him being crowned with "glory and honor."  The faithful elder will receive a similar reward for his life of service.

"that will never fade away."  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)  What we work for here will only become so much "stuff" and so many empty and forgotten accolades when our lives are over.  But, what we earn as a heavenly reward will never end.  It will be a truly eternal reward.

The Greek word translated "will never fade away" is umarantinon or "made of amaranth," "a flower whose unfading quality was the symbol of immortality." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  The victory wreaths that were put on athlete's head in Peter's time faded away, but the "crown" that Jesus gives will not "fade away."  "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) See I Corinthians 3:10-15

 22. Eternally motivated exhortations to young men (5:5a)
"Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.

Thought Question:  Do you tend to have a respectful or disrespectful attitude toward those who are older than you?  Please explain why you believe it is so.

 

 

"In the same way" communicates that the young men are to be humble as the elders are humble.  As the elders humbly serve the church and lead by example, so the "young men" are to be humble to and to submit to these humble elders.  Some resent the Biblical teaching that teaches, for example, that the wife is to submit to her husband's leadership.  But, the teaching in the Bible teaches that the husband's service of leadership in the home is also to be done in the same spirit of humility.

Paul also taught that young men and women should treat older men and women with respect.  "Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity." (1 Timothy 5:1-2)  Even though Timothy was pasturing and leading the church, he was still to have a respectful attitude toward older men and women.

Three years ago from the writing of these words, my wife Shirley and me went on a short term mission trip to Uganda for 10 weeks.  I learned quickly that my grey hair and our age was an asset there.  We were immediately respected because of our age.  It was part of their culture.  We have also seen respect for the aged from the Japanese.  One young Japanese lady made a regular trek on her way from Japan to employment in Brazil to visit a godly elderly lady here in the middle of the state of Washington.  Respect for elders is part of some cultures.  It is also meant to be a part of the practice in God's church.

A young lady I once worked with humbly stated the words her mother once told her: "I wish I knew as much as you think you know."  Young people tend to think that they know more than older people know.  I know, for I once thought that myself.  Toward the end of my college years, previous to my Christian days, I said this to my dad: "Everything you taught me was wrong."  Nevertheless, elders have had a longer experience with life than the young have had.  Their experience and knowledge can be of benefit to them if they are humble enough to seek it.  Those who have a respect toward those older than themselves will be enriched by it.

23. Eternally motivated exhortation to the entire churchbe humble (5:5b)
"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,"

Thought Question:  How do you believe you can "clothe" yourself "with humility"?

 

 

Peter now focuses on the entire church: "all of you."  The Greek word pantes makes it clear that "the whole of the members of the church without distinction are now addressed." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute.  He quotes Huther's commentary on I Peter."

Peter pictures clothing yourself with "humility."  Jesus clothed Himself with humility when "he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist." (John 13:4)  He was about to wash His disciples' feet.  "After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." (John 13:5)  We are, in a similar way, to do that which leads to "humility."  "Recognition of our absolute dependence on God inevitably colors our image of ourselves and others.  Only those blind to the reality of God could be deluded in the myth of their own self-sufficiency or into treating others without respect or compassion." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute  He quotes Donald Senior."

24. Eternal motivation to put on humility (5:5c-6)
"because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."

Thought Question:  How do you believe you can tell whether you are humble before God or proud?

 

 

a. God gives grace to the humble (5:5c)
"because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'"

"But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" (James 4:6)  Both Peter and James appear to have quoted Proverbs 3:34:   "He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble."  If we want God to be for us and not against us, we need to heed these words.  Jesus sums up the difference between "the proud" and "the humble" in Luke 18:9-14:  "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'"  "The term [proud-huperephanois] portrays them as individuals who display an attitude of haughty superiority toward others, as those who proudly regard themselves as the standard of excellence, and disdain those who fall short of the standard.  As self-centered and self-sufficient, they ignore their need of God." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute." 

The word "proud" is the translation of the Greek word which means literally "to show above," and thus describes the "proud" person who shows himself as above others.

Humility, on the other hand, is a realistic and honest appraisal of the reality of our sinfulness, our many failures, and our total need for God to provide us with His life and salvation.  Apart from Him, our lives and works have no value at all.  Isaiah had this appraisal of himself and others in Isaiah 6:5:  "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'"  We also see his description of this type of humility in Isaiah 64:5-12:  "You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people. Your sacred cities have become a desert; even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. After all this, O Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?"

This is what occurs when there is a true revival.  Pride of accomplishment is replaced by an acknowledgment of our complete humble status before a holy God.  God's heart goes out to "the humble" and He is repulsed by "the proud."  "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)  "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:12) See Psalm 18:27; Luke 1:51-52

b. God lifts up the humble. (5:6)
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."

"Humble yourselves"  This verb in Greek is in "the passive voice, which means that the subject is in the hands of God and acted upon by Him." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  We need to acknowledge the truth that God is in charge of our circumstances and not us.  We need to humbly trust Him to direct us and lift us up in His time and His way. See Genesis 50:20

"under God’s mighty hand,"  Throughout the Bible, there are examples of God's people trusting God when there was no evidence that God would respond and, then, in God's time, He responds mightily.  Moses left the wilderness to confront the mighty pharaoh by telling him that it was God's people that he was persecuting.  Moses had big doubts that it would all turn out well, but he did go to the pharaoh and communicate to him God's commands.  In God's time and God's way, He mightily rescued Israel from the powerful army of Egypt.  "But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go." (Exodus 3:19-20) God's "mighty hand" is an expression used throughout the Bible. See Deuteronomy 3:24, 9:26; Ezekiel 20:34

We can feel that this type of thing happened in Biblical times but will not happen today.  God has not changed and God's ways of relating with men has not changed.  He still is mighty.  He still powerfully comes to the aid of the humble.  We should still "humble" ourselves "under God's mighty hand."

"that he may lift you up."  "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11)  "God lifts up those who cast themselves utterly upon his grace." "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."  Peter went from pride in proclaiming that he would never deny Jesus to humility as Jesus looked at him after he had denied Him.  But, Peter was lifted up by Jesus when Jesus appointed him a shepherd of His sheep.  Then, Jesus used Peter to powerfully lead 3000 to faith in Him at Pentecost. See Matthew 16:21-23; 26:31-35, 75; Luke 22:60-62; John 21:15-17; Acts 3:14-41

Does God still lift up those who humble themselves?  What applied to Joseph, to Moses, to David, and to Jesus Christ is still just as true today as it was in their time.  This promise is timeless.  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."

"in due time."  "Part of humility is the willingness to wait for things according to God's time table." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute.  Hiebert quotes Jay Adams."  "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)  Waiting for God to express His approval of our willingness to trust in His faithfulness is the essence of the Christian life.  It is the opposite of demanding or seeking to force the results that we want to happen.  It is trusting that God will accomplish the results He wants to occur even when it appears that nothing will ever change.  And He will do it in the timing that will best accomplish His purposes.

25. More eternally motivated exhortations (5:7-9)

a. Cast your anxiety on God. (5:7)
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Thought Question:  How do humility and what is taught in this verse go together?

 

 

Hiebert observes that the grammatical structure ties this imperative back to the "humble yourselves."  In other words, one way for us to "humble" ourselves is for us to "cast all" our "anxiety on" God.

"all your anxiety"  This included "all the readers' individual cares and concerns whether due to memories of the past, pressures of the present, fears concerning the future into one burdensome whole." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"cast"  We can either proudly carry our burdens—"I can handle this myself, thank you; I do not need your help or God's help." Or, we can take our burden of concerns and "cast" it on God's mighty shoulders.

"Cast" is the same word that is used in Luke 19:35 that is translated "threw"—as they "threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it."  We can throw our burdens and worries on God.

We are commanded to take each burden that is weighing us down and place it on God.  Sometimes, I have found it helpful to make a list of all that is troubling me and in prayer give them individually to God.  I have found it most easy to do with my big concerns, but I can allow small troubles to pile up.  But, Peter said, "Cast all your anxiety on him." A Christian leader was asked: "Can we pray for the little cares in our lives?"  The leader responded: "What care of ours is not little to God?"

Jesus said that He wants us to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness." (Matthew 6:33).  Then, we are to trust Him to take care of the rest.  "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34) See Matthew 6:25-34

Paul taught us that we are to choose to humbly pray about everything and to worry about nothing.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

We are meant to live a life of constant trust that God's "mighty hand" is always in control of our lives.  For that reason, we can "cast all" our "anxiety" on Him.

"because he cares for you."  At times, it can appear to us that God is the absentee god of the deists.  He does not appear to be aware or concerned with our trivial troubles.  And when a trial continues without change, we can feel abandoned by Him.  We think: "If He loves us, He would not let this trial continue."  We misinterpret the meaning of our circumstances.  Our bad circumstances do not mean that God does not care for us or that He is unable to do anything about our troubles.  But, how can we believe that God "cares" for us during those times?  First of all, it is the major message of the Bible that God "cares" for us:  "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." (Psalm 55:22)  So, if we do not believe that God "cares," for us; then, we do not believe the major message of the Bible.

Secondly, God's love was expressed to us in history:  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)  "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10)  We know if someone expresses that love to us in a persuasive and practical way. See I John 3:16-18  In history, God made the greatest expression of love.  "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Thirdly, God's love is in our hearts.  As we care for others, we are experiencing to a small degree how much God "cares" for us.  "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:12)  Fourthly, the Bible teaches that "God is love." (I John 4:8,16)  God's very nature "is love."  The Prodigal Son of Luke 15 felt guilt and shame as he returned to his father, but his father felt nothing but love for him.  The father, of course, pictures God the Father's constant love for us.  We may not, at times, feel like God loves us, but God's love for us is constant and ever present.  We can "cast our cares" and anxieties on him, because he "cares for" us.

When we are in the midst of a significant trial, we do not see God's love, but only the trial.  The Christians Peter were writing to were facing significant persecution and suffering.  Peter urges them to humble themselves and place their worries on God.  In the end, they would see God's loving hand lifting them up.  We, in our trials, are to do the same.  In the end we also will see God's loving and "mighty hand" lifting us up.

b. Be self-controlled and alert. (5:8a)
"Be self-controlled and alert." See 1:13 and 4:7

Thought Question:  Why do you think that it is very important that we "be self-controlled and alert"?

 

 

As a young Navy recruit, I attended boot camp at San Diego, California.  A major goal of this training was to transform us from lazy and irresponsible civilian teenagers into alert and responsible military men.  A part of the training was for us to work two hour shifts watching either the inside of the barracks or guarding the outside clothesline.  We did need to be "self-controlled and alert" because our company commander or the officer on duty could show up at any time.  If we were snoozing and not "alert," we knew that in this grown-up world that we had just entered into, we would be in big trouble.  They were training us so that we would be "self-controlled and alert" during war time when there was a real enemy.  As Christians, we are in constant war-time and we have a real enemy.

"self-controlled"  "The KJV (also in 2 Tim. 4:5) translates 'watch,' but it is a watchfulness as related to drunkenness, not sleepiness.  It is a call to remain alert and in full possession of their faculties and feelings." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

In a football game, the offensive line cannot make a move until the ball is hiked.  Too often, as far as the team's coach is concerned, an offensive lineman will have a loss of concentration and move before the ball is hiked.  The referee blows his whistle and his team gets a five-yard penalty.  The lineman, at that moment, was not "self-controlled and alert."  Peter explains in the rest of verse 8 why we need to always be "self-controlled and alert."

c. So, we can effectively resist the devil who wants to devour us. (5:8b-9)
"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Thought Question:  How should the truths in these verses affect the way that we live?

 

 

"Your enemy"  Because we do not see our "enemy," we can forget that we have one.  Paul tells us that we are in a constant struggle with the one who hates us and wants to destroy us.  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12)

"the devil" The Greek word is diabolos.  It has the meaning of one who slanders others.  When someone is slandering us by pointing out our faults to condemn and belittle us with the final purpose of destroying us, we can have no doubt about who is behind what is taking place.  It is our "enemy the devil."  It is "used not only of those who bring a false charge against one, but also of those who disseminate the truth concerning a man and do so maliciously, insidiously with hostility." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." See Job 1:1-2:10 for a description of slander in action.  See also Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 12:9-11  See Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-17 for a description of Satan's origin.  It is believed that Isaiah and Ezekiel in their descriptions of the kings of Babylon and Tyre move into a description of Satan, an archangel of God who chose pride and evil over God and fell from his high position in God's heavenly host to become the "enemy" of God.

"prowls around like a roaring lion"  "Like wanderers in the wild savannahs of Africa, we must always be aware that someone is hunting us.  The lion lurks quietly in the tall grass, stalking our every step, waiting for a moment to catch us off guard.  If we stray from the group, put down our weapons, or doze in the sun, he'll strike.  Satan knows our weaknesses and our strengths.  He's had thousands of years to observe humankind and has become an expert on human nature.  In fact, Satan knows the depths of your depravity far better than you do.  We must never forget that we are his prey and that this roaring lion is ravenous with hunger." "Taken from Swindoll's New Testament Insights by Charles Swindoll.  Copyright 2010 by Zondervan."  "The word roaring speaks of a beast in fierce hunger." "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

"looking for someone to devour."  Satan's purpose is not to harass, disturb, or distract; his main goal is to completely "devour" his opponents—devour us!  When Christians were placed in the Roman arenas that were filled with lions, the Christians were not harassed, disturbed, or distracted by the lions; they were devoured.  That is Satan's goal for us as well.

"Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."  "Resist him"  "The Greek word translated 'resist' means 'to withstand, to be firm against someone else's onset' rather than 'to strive against that one.'" "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1973 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  It has the same meaning as "stand" in Ephesians 6:11:  "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes."  We are not to allow the devil to get us to waver from our Christian stance in life.  We are to "resist"; we are to stand "firm" like an army strongly resists an enemy's continued attacks, and wins because it withstands the attacks.

Jesus had encouraged Peter to do what Peter now encourages his readers to do.  "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32)

How do we "resist" Satan?  The Bible gives us answers to this question.  "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.'" (Revelation 12:10-11)  "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:4-5)  "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:10-13)  "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

We are to continue to trust God, resist temptation, obey God, pray continually, and think and act according to the guidelines given to us in the Scripture.  We are to live in love and persevere in all of this, even though Satan is using all of his wiles to get us to retreat and give up.

"standing firm in the faith,"  "Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:7)  We can stand against the mighty devil and his wicked schemes not because we are trusting in our resources to stand against him, but we are relying on God and His resources.

"because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."  Why does Peter add these words?  How were they helpful to the readers of this letter?  Here are some ways they might have been encouraged by these words and they are also ways that we may be encouraged by his words:  1) When we are suffering, we are not alone.  We can feel that no one else is or has gone through a trial like we are going through.  Feelings of isolation can lead to us growing weak in our stance against the devil.  But, we are not alone in our sufferings.  Satan and his dupes are persecuting Christians throughout the world.  The reality that we are not alone should lead to us wanting to join together with them against our common foe.  We should stand with them and pray for them.  "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)  "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)

2) Suffering is a part of the Christian life.  Suffering is a common experience for all Christians.  We are not experiencing something unique to us, but we are experience what is true for all Christians who choose to stand their ground.  Paul teaches us that suffering is a part of following Christ.  "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12)   "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," (Philippians 3:10) See I Peter 4:13

3) Our suffering is not purposeless, but it is accomplishing eternal good.  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17)  "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." (2 Timothy 2:10)  "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church." (Colossians 1:24)

26. The final eternal-motivation (5:10-11)
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Thought Question:  In what ways are these words motivating to you?

 

 

"And the God of all grace,"  1) We are saved by grace.  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)  2) By God's grace, we now have a whole new status with God.  "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7) See Ephesians 1:3-14

3) We are now able to live the Christian life because of Gods' grace.  "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14)  "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" (Romans 1:17)  4) And our hope of future glorification is due to God's grace.  "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21) See Titus 2:11-14, 3:5-7

God is the "God of all grace," for His grace meets our every need and gives to us not what we deserve, but He gives and continues to give us what we do not deserve.

"who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,"  Peter description in these verses gives us the big picture.  In eternity past, God chose us to be His "elect"  "who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father."    (1 Peter 1:1-2)  In the present, God "called" us to be His own.  In the future, we will experience God's glory.  "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:17)  "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30)  "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)

"in Christ,"  It is only in our present identity "in Christ." that this "hope of glory" is possible..  "In Adam" our only hope was eternal judgment and condemnation.  "In Christ," we have been raised "with him in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 2:6)  God's grace comes to us "in Christ"!

"after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."  "Restore" is the same Greek work used in Ephesians 4:12: "to prepare God's people God's people for works of service."  It is the Greek word used to describe the mending of nets (it is also used to describe the mending of a broken bone).  Suffering works a mending effect on our lives if we respond to our trials in the correct manner.  "So suffering, if accepted in humility and trust and love, can repair the weaknesses of a man's character and add the greatness which so far is not there. . . Barrie tells how his mother lost her favorite son, and then says, 'That is where my mother got her soft eyes, and that is why other mothers ran to her when they lost a child.'  Suffering had done something for her that an easy way could never have done.  Suffering is meant by God to add the grace notes to life." "The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."

God uses trials and suffering in those who trust Him to work a restorative work in our lives so that we will become more the people God originally created us to be.  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)  "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3-4)  "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:10-11)

"and make you strong,"  In verse 9, a form of this Greek word is translated "steadfast."  It is the idea that one's life becomes solidly based on the strong foundation of a trial-tested faith in God. See Luke 22:32; II Thessalonians 2:17, 3:3

"firm" "It promises that the needed strength to firmly resist the devil, to be firm and hold one's ground in facing the roaring lion." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"and steadfast." The Greek word translated "steadfast" here is translated "established" in Ephesians 3:17.  It speaks, like all three terms Peter uses here, of stability.  Since the meanings of these three words are very close to having the same meaning, it appears that Peter is emphasizing by repetition that God will use our trusting and persevering during trials to stabilize and strengthen us to be better able in His strength to handle future difficulties and attacks.

"To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

We see in this verse where the power comes from that strengthens us.  "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." (Ephesians 6:10)  Our strength comes from God's eternal and almighty strength.  We need not topple under any type of trials, for God's strength is available to us.  If we agree, we can join Peter's "Amen" with our "Amen."

CONCLUSION (5:12-14)
"With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ."

Thought Question:  It is unusual that Silas and Mark are mentioned together in such a warm way; do you know why?

 

 

1. Final greetings (5:12-14)

a. He wrote the letter with the help of Silas. (5:12a)
"With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly,"

Silas was one of the key leaders in the early church.  The church at Jerusalem chose Silas as one of the two men to be the messenger to the church of Antioch after the Jerusalem Council decided what was to be required of Gentile Christians. See Acts 15:22,27  He was one of the prophets of the early church. See Acts 15:32  He accompanied Paul on his later missionary journeys. See Acts 15:37-40, 16:19,25,29, 18:5. See also II Corinthians 1:19; I Thessalonians 1:1; II Thessalonians 1:1  It may be that it was Silas' excellent Greek that we find in I Peter rather than Peter's Greek.  Peter, then, provided the content of the letter, but Silas provided the writing talent. At times Paul used others to write his letters. See Romans 16:22 

"whom I regard as a faithful brother,"  Some Bible scholars believe that Silas did not write the letter but delivered the letter.  So when Peter here calls him "a faithful brother," Peter is saying that the receivers of the letter can trust Silas' interpretation of the letter and his comments on it.  This conclusion would be more likely if the letter was written to one church.  Since, though, it is a general letter that went to a large region, it seems more likely that Silas had some role in the writing of the letter.  Nevertheless, either possibility may be true, or even both may be true—he had a part in writing the letter and he delivered the letter.  We can be sure that Silas had some role in the writing or delivering of the letter.  Peter just does not specify the exact role that he had.

"I regard as a faithful brother,"  Peter, after knowing Silas well and after a careful evaluation of him concludes that Silas was a man that was "faithful" to God and to Peter.  Silas had proven in his service to Jesus Christ to be someone Peter and his readers could trust.  In the turmoil that his readers were going through, they needed the stability of a man like Silas.  In the turmoil that we go through in our modern-day churches, there is also a need for the stability of men and women like Silas.

b. Peter wrote this letter to encourage them. (5:12b)
"I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it."

"I have written to you briefly,"  The author of Hebrews also saw his letter as a brief letter.  "Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter." (Hebrews 13:22)  Both letters would not be seen as brief letters today, but we have access to each other in so many ways and do not need to write long letters.  This was a brief letter because, as he states, he could have said much more and covered many more topics.

"encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God."  Peter wrote to encourage them in the trials that they were experiencing.  His message to them was that God's grace would enable them to stand strong, grow in Christian character in the trials, and ultimately accomplish His purposes in spite of the suffering.  The "God of all grace" (5:10) would accomplish all of this.  I Peter is certainly one of the primary books in the Bible directed toward helping us to see our trials from an eternal perspective.  We are discouraged when we see nothing but our trials; but when we see our trials as a part of God's eternal plan, we are encouraged.  I Peter provides this encouragement.

c. The final imperative (5:12c)
"Stand fast in it."

These few words express Peter's desire for his Christian readers.  "Stand" firm in God's grace.  Paul had the same goal for the Ephesian Christians:   "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13)  Peter's goal was that they would maintain their Christian conduct in the midst of persecution and suffering.  God's goal is that we, in the midst of whatever trial we are going through, will also "stand fast" in God's grace, maintaining our Christian way of living.  In the end, our lives will be purified of selfishness and an independent spirit.  "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:3-9)

2. Greetings from others (5:13)
"She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark."

Who is the "she" who sends her greetings?  One possibility is that it was Peter's wife.  He was married and his wife did go with him on missionary journeys.  We learn this from a couple of Scriptures.  "When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever." (Matthew 8:14)  If Peter had a mother-in-law, he also had a wife.  "Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?" (1 Corinthians 9:5)  It would seem odd, though, that he would refer to his wife as "she who is in Babylon."

Another possibility is that "she" was a very well-known lady that the readers would immediately know and recognize.  The problem with this view is that there is nothing that we know from the Bible and later writings about such a well-known lady in Babylon.

The most likely interpretation of the "she who is in Babylon" refers to the local church in the city from which Paul was writing this letter.  Hiebert comments that some ancient manuscripts of this verse "added the word church . . . Such a figurative designation is in keeping with the biblical imagery of the Church as the bride of Christ." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."

"Babylon"  See my introduction to this book for an example of why the evidence points to the view that the "Babylon" that Peter was referring to was Rome—the Babylon of his time.  If both the conclusions that have been just described are true, Peter was referring to the church in Rome.

"chosen together with you,"  The church are those who are the elect of God.  "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance." (1 Peter 1:1-2)

"and so does my son Mark."  John Mark, referred to here as "Mark," had become a respected leader in the early church; though, he deserted Paul and Barnabas in their first missionary journey.  "From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem." (Acts 13:13)  Barnabas wanted to take Mark, who was his cousin (see Colossians 4:10), on the second missionary journey and Paul did not want to take him.  This disagreement resulted in a bitter dispute between them.  "Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.' Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus," (Acts 15:36-39)  Nevertheless, Mark became a trusted servant of God to both Paul and Peter.  Here is what Paul thought of Mark just before Paul's death.  "Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." (2 Timothy 4:11)  And, here, Peter refers to him as his "son Mark."

"Mark" also wrote the gospel of Mark.  "Strong early tradition says that in producing his gospel record he was directly dependent on Peter." "Taken from The First Epistle of Peter by Alan M. Stibbs.  Copyright 1959 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  Clowney quotes Papias:  "Mark, as Peter's 'interpreter', set down accurately, although not in order, the teaching of Peter about the words and deeds of Jesus Christ." "The Message of I Peter by Edmund Clowney.  Copyright 1988 by Intervarsity Press."  "Christian tradition closely connects Peter with John Mark during the later years of his life.  'Son' thus indicates a spiritual relationship." "I Peter by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright 1984 by the Moody Bible Institute."  "Son" was used by Paul to refer to his spiritual sons.  "To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." (1 Timothy 1:2)  "To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." (Titus 1:4)  See also Acts 12:12,25; Philemon 24

It is interesting, as Charles Swindoll points out, that Mark and Silas were working together.  In 5:12, Peter says he is doing God's works with the help of Silas."  And here, "Mark" is referred to as Peter's "son."  Silas and "Mark" were on opposite sides of the issue that divided Paul and Barnabas, yet here they were on the same side. See Acts 15:36-41

3. Final words (5:14)
"Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ."

Today, we greet each other with a hug or a handshake.  The Christians of Peter's time were even more intimate and greeted each other "with a kiss of love."  "Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings." (Romans 16:16) See I Corinthians 16:20b; II Corinthians 13:12; I Thessalonians 5:26 See also Luke 7:45

Barclay gives examples from the writings of the early church where this "kiss of love" later created problems and was discarded as a practice in the church.  Nevertheless, in Peter's time it symbolized that there was love and peace between the Christians who exercised it.  It was an outward expression of the love that existed in the heart between fellow church members.

"Peace to all of you who are in Christ."  Peter had heard similar words from the resurrected Lord.  "While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" (Luke 24:36) See also John 20:19,21,26  It is God's desire that we be at peace with Him and at peace with our fellow Christians.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) 

And, so, Peter concludes his letter to the persecuted church of his time.  In this letter, we learn, as we do from the entire Bible, that suffering will always be a part of the life of those who choose to faithfully follow God's ways.  We learn from Peter that we are to continually seek holiness and love even while we are enduring all kinds of suffering and trials. See 1:6, 13-16, 22-5:3, 5-9,11  We can do this because, in the end we will be rewarded by Jesus Christ Himself both when we go to be with Him and when He returns. See 1:3-5, 7-12, 17-21, 5:4,10  Peter provided, in his life, an example to follow.  He is now enjoying his reward.  May we follow in his footsteps so we will one day enjoy our reward.

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Other Digging For Gold Studies

The Battle For The Sunshine Psalms Vol I
The Battle For The Sunshine Psalms Vol II
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 1-6
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 6-12
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 1-6
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 7-12
When God Seems Far Away Habakkuk
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 1-7
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 8-14
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 15-22
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 23-28
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 1-6
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 7-12
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 13-18
The Word Became Flesh! John 1-6
The Word Became Flesh! John 7-12
The Word Became Flesh! John 13-17
The Word Became Flesh! John 18-21
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 1-4
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 5-8
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 9-11
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 12-16
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 1-6
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 7-11
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 12-16
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 1-7
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 8-13
Rediscovering The Joy Of The Gospel Galatians
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 1-3
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 4-6
How To Be A Joyful And United Church Philippians
Pursuing Our Fulness In Christ Colossians
A Message To New Christians I Thessalonians
A Second Message To New Christians - A Wider Focus On The Christian Life II Thessalonians
God's Plan For Order In The Church I Timothy
How To Finish Strong In The Lord II Timothy
Doing What Is Good Titus
How To Motivate Others To Do What God Wants Them To Do Philemon
We Should Always Move Forward In Our Faith Hebrews 1-9
We Should Always Move Forward In Our Faith Hebrews 10-13
From Double-Minded To Single-Minded Christianity James
How To Live In Tough Times With An Eternal Perspective I Peter
How To Have Wholesome Christian Thinking II Peter
The Glorious Circle That Is Eternal Life I John
How Our Joy Can Be Complete &
Two Good Examples And One Bad Example
II & III John
What To Do When The Church Gets Off-Track: Contending For The Faith! Jude
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 1-5
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 6-11
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 12-16
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 17-22