1 Peter 3:8-12 Lesson Seven Do No Evil

Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers,  z and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. 

10 For the one who wants to love life 

and to see good days 

must keep his tongue from evil 

and his lips from speaking deceit, 

11 and he must turn away from evil 

and do what is good. 

He must seek peace and pursue it, 

12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous 

and His ears are open to their request. 

But the face of the Lord is against 

those who do what is evil. (HCSB)

This passage represents the summary or conclusion of 1 Peter 2:11-3:7 and contains the following concepts:

  • Relationships in the community.
  • Response to evil.
  • Controlling the tongue is necessary.
  • Seek peace and turn from evil.
  • Yahweh’s favor rests on the righteous.

Verses 8-9

These verses address relationships between believers (verse 8) and unbelievers (verse 9), although verse nine could also be talking about believers who were acting in an improper manner.

Verse 8 – Ethics for General Relations in the Church.

Verse eight is in presented as a chiasm, an A B C B’ A’ pattern. This verse is directed at how believers should interact with each other.

A Harmony

    B Sympathy

        C Brotherly love

    B’ Compassion

A’ Humility

Harmony and humility are grouped together as the primary way that harmony is disrupted is by prideful action and self-assertion, the opposite of humility. Sympathy and compassion are almost synonyms and are hard to distinguish from each other. Brotherly love is the middle term, indicating it is the most important of the five virtues, and the other four are embraced by the call to love one another as a family.

A short look at the term “like-minded.”

  • Describes a unity of attitude.
  • Division within the body of Christ should be unthinkable.
  • It doesn’t mean that the members of a church, or different churches, won’t have different opinions due to the very nature of each believer possessing different spiritual gifts.
    • The key is how the differences are handled.
    • Not handled properly, they’ll divide the church.
    • Handled properly, they’ll enrich the church.
    • Each believer should primarily pursue serving God and loving others.

Verse 9 – Ethics for Relations to a Hostile Society.

Verse nine is mainly directed in how believers interact and respond to unbelievers but can also refer to the response to a believer who is not acting in a Christ-like manner.

  • Don’t respond to insults or evil actions in the same manner, even if it is tempting to do so.
  • This is rooted in Jesus’ teaching. Luke 6:28-29 Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  29 If anyone hits you on the cheek,  offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either.
  • We are called to bless others, even when our flesh wants to retaliate.
  • As Christians, we are expected to respond in this manner.
  • Supporting passages for what Peter is saying here.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. 
    • Romans 12:17 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.
    • Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies  and pray for those who  persecute you.
    • Ephesians 4:32 – And be kind  and compassionate  to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

10-12 – Foundation for Ethics: God is Watching.

Here Peter is citing Psalm 34:12-16. Peter altered the Psalm by switching from the second person singular to the third person singular. It is also critical to note that Psalm 34 focuses on suffering, and those who suffer will be delivered by the Lord. There are several essential points in why Peter picked this Psalm at this point in his discourse.

  • The Lord rescues His people when they suffer.
  • The Lord will judge the wicked.
  • The righteous display trust and hope in the Lord by renouncing evil and pursuing good.
  • The first word in verse 10, “for,” links verses 10-12 to verse 9.
  • Peter didn’t promise an easy life since trouble and persecution are to be expected.
  • Peter was giving a motivation for believers to bless their persecutors and live in a manner that promotes peace.
    • They are to refrain from speaking evil to obtain eternal life.
    • However, this doesn’t imply a works-based salvation or compromise salvation by grace.
    • Peter believed that the transformed life of a believer would provide evidence that they had been converted.

Verse 11

For Peter, the Christian life is not a life of passivity. It is through God’s grace that eternal life is granted to those who believe in Jesus. However, the primary place of grace in the salvation process is not an excuse to be idle. A life of righteousness doesn’t happen in a vacuum of seeking solitude in meditation away from others.

  • Believers must make a conscious effort to turn from evil.
  • Believers must devote themselves to doing good.
  • Believers must seek and pursue peace.
    • Peace is understood as an agreement between people.
    • “Pursue it” is a hunting term that denotes intensity, determination, and persistence. 
  • Believers must extend forgiveness to those who hurt them.

Verse 12

Peter explains why good behavior is important. He already touched on this in verse nine and the relationship between verse nine and verses ten to eleven.

  • The Lord’s favor is on those who live a righteous way.
    • They will be blessed with the inheritance promised in verses seven, nine, and eternal life noted in verse ten.
    • Their prayers will be heard if they truly are Yahweh’s people.
    • The Lord will turn away from those who practice evil.
    • The Lord will give eternal punishment to those who are disobedient.

Peter is not saying that believers will live a perfect life, nor that perfection is a requirement for salvation. He is saying that a transformed life is necessary as proof of salvation. 

Applications.

  • Make a decision to “love life.” We control how we view our lives. Do we display faith in God and see the best in every circumstance, or do we have a pessimistic attitude? We can choose to endure life, and it will be a burden. We can choose to escape life through alcohol, drugs, or other destructive pursuits. What we should do is enjoy life, secure in the knowledge that God is in control.
  • Do you have control over your tongue, or does your tongue control you? How often have you said the wrong thing at the wrong time?It happens to the best of us from time to time. Meditate on Psalm 141:3 – LORD, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.
  • Do you shun evil? That is much stronger than just avoidance. We must shun evil because we hate it, just like Yahweh hates sin. At the same time, we should actively seek out and do what is good. Do you pursue good and righteousness in your life?
  • It’s easy to find trouble. We read or see about it all the time in the news. As a believer, we should be seeking out and promoting peace. However, it is not peace at any price but rather peace based on righteousness. We should never compromise biblical truth in the pursuit of peace. At the same time, when we are challenged with situations that are in conflict with Scripture, it doesn’t mean we can protest in an angry or violent manner. We must seek dialogue and change through peaceful methods.

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