1 Peter 1:13-25 – Holy Living
13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For
All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.
And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you. (HCSB)
There are three imperatives in this passage.
- Unshakable hope in Jesus, verse 13
- Holiness, verse 15
- Live in reverent fear, verse 17
The word “therefore” reaches back to the first twelve verses in the letter. The readers are encouraged to live a godly life because they have a foundation in God’s saving work explained in verses 1-12. Order is essential here.
- What God has done for us.
- How we should live our lives.
If the order is reversed, we have a works-based righteousness instead of holiness being a result of God’s grace and power and our response to the love Jesus displayed by going to the cross.
- Minds ready for action – means to be ready to undertake serious work.
- Be serious – some translations have “sober” here. Sober is to be understood as having clear minds not impaired, distracted, or controlled by the things of the world.
There are several ideas flowing beneath the surface of this verse.
- Even as followers of Jesus, we struggle with the temptation of this world and the danger of falling away from God.
- However, as God’s children, we are to fight those temptations by living a life of obedience through faith and in God’s power and strength.
- Just as children often have similarities with their earthly parents, we are to be similar to our heavenly Father.
- The idea of being “called” should not be viewed as an invitation. Instead, it is a picture of God’s power in drawing people from a life in darkness to a life of light, from death to life.
- Once again, the order is important. God’s power has pulled us from darkness and now equips us to live in holiness if we are obedient.
- God’s people are to live differently from the world.
- God’s people separate themselves from the evil desires of the world.
- To be holy means to be apart from evil.
- Why are we to be holy?
- Because God is holy, and if we are God’s people, we should reflect God’s character.
- Leviticus 11:44-45 For I am Yahweh your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy. You must not defile yourselves by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. For I am Yahweh, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy because I am holy.
- When thinking about Old Testament covenants, before Israel could be a blessing to other nations, they first had to be holy.
- Holiness is the starting point for God’s covenant people.
- Holy doesn’t mean sinless perfection. That is impossible in this life. It does mean to be set apart. If we are God’s children, then we should be acting like Him.
Verses 17-21 Theme is to live in reverent fear.
- Believers are to live in fear of Yahweh.
- The question is, what type of fear is Peter talking about?
- Reverent fear – a feeling of utmost respect and honor towards Yahweh.
- Terror fear – a feeling of trepidation and apprehension.
- From the context of the passage and the general concept of the Christian life as being a life filled with joy, it seems clear that Peter is talking about reverent fear.
- At the same time, we need to examine whether our reverent fear is still…reverent or if it has become dull over time.
- A responsible and confident driver also has a healthy fear for the damage that their vehicle could inflict on others through reckless behavior.
- Our loving Father will also be our impartial judge on the last day.
The first idea to note is that verses 18-19 together form a negative/positive couplet. First, Peter illustrates what does not redeem someone with what does redeem someone.
- Signifies liberation.
- In this verse, it signifies leaving the emptiness of life they inherited from their fathers.
- In the Old Testament emptiness is often associated with the idol worship practiced by pagans.
- In the New Testament, it illustrates pre-Christian life.
- Romans 1:21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their senseless minds were darkened.
- Ephesians 4:17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts.
- The life of unbelievers is a life characterized by futility, emptiness, and chasing after false gods.
- Pursuing money.
- Pursuing possessions.
- Both are temporary.
The details of the purchase price are now revealed.
- In contrast to the temporary things the lost pursue, believers are purchased with the everlasting and infinitely precious blood of Jesus.
- Jesus poured out His life to redeem sinners.
- Early Christians believed that Christ’s sacrifice as the sinless lamb fulfilled:
- The Passover.
- The prophetic suffering servant.
- The entire Old Testament sacrificial system.
There are two main thoughts here:
- Before the foundation of the world.
- It was not mere chance that brought Jesus into the world at that particular time and place.
- It was part of God’s plan.
- Ephesians 1:4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.
- Revealed at the end of the times.
- Followers of Jesus enjoy the blessing of living at the time God is fulfilling His saving promises.
- “The end of the times” signifies the time that started with the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- This does not mean, and should not be confused with, the eschatological end times.
- Peter indicates that Jesus’ birth, life, and death ushered in “the end of the times.”
- We are believers in God through Jesus, not through any other means. John 14:6b No one comes to the Father except through Me.
- Believers put their faith in God because of the finished work of Jesus.
- Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of the living hope found in 1:3.
- A holy life is a life that trusts in God’s promises.
- A holy life is one in which God is prized above all things, in which believers trust and hope in His goodness.
Verses 22-25 The theme is a command to love each other.
- Purpose of their conversion is to love fellow believers.
- It is achieved by obedience to the truth – faith in God’s promises of salvation.
- It rises from a pure heart that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
- Peter uses two different Greek words for love in this verse.
- One is brotherly love.
- One is divine love, agape.
- Unbelievers can display brotherly love to each other. However, it takes a Christian controlled by the Holy Spirit to show agape love.
- Peter explains the origin of their birth.
- Not of a perishable seed – human birth.
- But of an imperishable seed – the Word of God.
- Romans 10:17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
- Galatians 3:2 I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?
- A seed and the Word have similar characteristics.
- A seed is small but, once planted has the power of life in it and produces fruit.
- The Word is small and seemingly insignificant. Yet, it has power and life within it. The Word must be planted to do good, but when it is planted in a person’s heart, it produces good fruit.
- Fruit produced by the Word is lasting, eternal fruit, but things of the flesh don’t last.
- Peter quotes the text from Isaiah 40:6-8 here.
- Israel will be restored from their exile in Babylon.
- Babylon was viewed as invincible at the time that Israel was taken into exile.
- Those persecuting the recipients of Peter’s letter may have been viewed as invincible.
- In both cases, Peter is saying that their power is short-lived and that Yahweh and His people endure forever.
- God’s Word is enduring.
- It is imperishable.
- Nothing can overpower God.
- The promises contained in Isaiah are fulfilled in the proclamation of the Gospel.
- Do you take your faith seriously and prepare yourself for spiritual work? Peter’s words at the beginning of this passage exhort us always to be prepared and to have the proper attitude towards our salvation.
- Do you take the holiness of God seriously and have a reverent fear of God? We love to read the passages that tell us how loving and merciful God is, which is true. But we often neglect or ignore the passages that tell us that God is also our judge. An infinitely holy God can’t be in the presence of sin. Will our lives allow us to enter into God’s presence or will we be cast out of His presence? We would do well to remember Matthew 7:23 Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers.”
- Do we immerse ourselves in the Word? We need to be reading the Bible daily, feeding on the truths contained in it. Those seeds of truth will plant themselves in our hearts and grow, producing fruit in our lives.
- Do we have agape love for our brothers and sisters? Many countries have large megachurches, which in themselves are not necessarily bad. However, they often feel impersonal, and there is little to no connection with other believers. When we look back at the church in the book of Acts, we see a church that closely connected believers together. Make sure you are connected with a church that promotes connecting in smaller groups, replicating the intimacy that is found in the early church.