2 Peter Lesson Two

2 Peter 1:16-21 Lesson Two – The Trustworthy Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory: 

This is My beloved Son. 

I take delight in Him!

18 And we heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (HCSB)

In this passage, Peter addresses the false teachers who didn’t believe in Jesus’ return and believed that life would continue as it always had. This false teaching had to be met head on as Peter’s instructions to the readers of living a godly life and receiving an eternal reward are pointless if heaven doesn’t exist. Peter defends the position of Jesus’ return by reminding the readers of the transfiguration and its anticipation of a future event, the second coming of Christ.

Verse 16

Peter is talking about the apostles in general by the use of “we” and the establishment of the New Testament church. He reasons that the churches were founded on their apostolic tradition and teaching the “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek words dynamis (power) and parousia (coming) need to be understood together, indicating the “powerful coming” of Jesus. When Jesus returns, it will be with power.

  • Matthew 24:30b and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:7b This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels.

The word parousia is often understood in the New Testament to indicate the future return of Jesus.

  • James 5:7a Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. 
  • 1 John 2:28 So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears  we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

The use of the word parousia in Hellenistic writing or understanding was often used to denote the arrival of a ruler or god.

The apostles preaching was the future coming of Jesus and the day of judgment where it will be decided who will enter into His eternal kingdom, with entrance reserved for those who lived godly lives (a previous lesson covered this). Again note, this is not works-based salvation but proof of salvation through a life of kingdom work. 

Peter defines two principles of apostolic teaching.

  • It was not based on cleverly invented stories or myths. The false teachers used the term “myth” in a derogatory manner; they saw no truth in their preaching and considered it a fable.
  • It was based on their eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. They saw first-hand the majesty of Jesus.

Verse 17

The main thrust of this verse is God’s declaration of approval placed upon Jesus, His Son. This approval came through the voice of God the Father, bestowing honor and glory on Jesus. In both the Old and New Testaments, God’s voice came from heaven.

  • Dan 4:31a While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven.
  • Revelation 11:12a Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them.
  • Revelation 16:1a Then I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary saying to the seven angels.

Honor is a description of the exalted status of Jesus.

Glory is a description of the brilliance of the light that shone from Jesus at the moment, the same brilliance that described the Father (Yahweh). 

Peter is referring to the transfiguration, a theophany similar to the ones on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20) and Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8-18). Peter is placing emphasis on honor and glory because it is a future vision that will occur again at Jesus’ second coming. The words spoken at the transfiguration point us back to Jesus’ baptism, where His ministry began, and He was commissioned as God’s Son (Matthew 3:17).

The transfiguration was the most supernatural event in Jesus’ ministry.

The transfiguration is an affirmation of the truth of Scripture.

  • Moses represented the Law.
  • Elijah represented the prophets.
  • Both pointed to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.
    • Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
    • Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance  of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

All three of the synoptic Gospels record the transfiguration after a declaration of Jesus’ return as being a demonstration of power and glory. 

  • Matthew 16:27-17:13
  • Mark 9:1-13
  • Luke 9:27-36

The transfiguration is a manifestation of Christ’s return and the establishment of His kingdom. This understanding also supports the passages in the synoptic Gospels where Jesus said that some of them would not die before they saw the glory of the Kingdom. The transfiguration was the glory of the Kingdom. 

As a final point, Peter is an eyewitness to the transfiguration event, lending credibility to its authenticity. 

Verse 18

Peter continues with his argument that he was witness to Jesus’ glory and hearing the Father’s voice while on the holy mountain. Verse 18 ties verse 17 into what follows in verses 19 and 20. 

Verse 19

The “we” once again refers to the apostles, which is confirmed by the context of the verse in the use of “we” and “you,” where the apostles have the truth that the church needs to pay attention to their message. The prophetic word must refer to the Old Testament because of the connection to the following verse’s use of “prophecy of Scripture.” The Greek word to denote Scripture here refers to writings, not an event. 

  • Isaiah 42:1 This is My Servant; I strengthen Him, this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him. I have put my Spirit on Him; He will bring justice to the nations.
  • Psalm 2:7 I will declare the LORD’s decree: He said to Me, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.”

It would appear that Peter is saying that their witness of the transfiguration confirms the prophetic nature of Scripture, the assurance of Jesus as Messiah, and His future coming to judge the world and establish His kingdom.

Peter then points the reader to Scripture’s truth and how it functions as a light on the narrow road. This is in contrast to the false teachers who had deviated from the narrow path and were leading people away from God’s truth.

  • Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and light on my path.
  • Proverbs 6:23 For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.

How long do we need to travel the narrow path? Peter’s answer is until Jesus’ return, “until the day dawns and the morning star rises.” This is the day of judgment and salvation. Those who love God will be saved, and those who opposed God will be punished.

  • Isaiah 13:6 Wail! For the day of the LORD is near. It will come like destruction from the Almighty.
  • Isaiah 13:9 Look, the day of the LORD is coming – cruel, with rage and burning anger – to make the earth a desolation and to destroy the sinners on it.
  • Ezekiel 30:3 For a day is near; a day belonging to the LORD is near. It will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.
  • Joel 1:15 Woe because of that day! For the Day of the LORD is near and will come as devastation from the Almighty.
  • Amos 5:18 Woe to you who long for the Day of the LORD! What will the Day of the LORD be for you? It will be darkness and not light.
  • Obadiah 15 For the Day of the LORD is near, against all the nations. As you have done, so it will done to you; what you deserve will return on your own head.
  • Zephaniah 1:7 Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD, for the Day of the LORD is near. Indeed, the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:14 As you have partially understood us – that we are your reason for pride, as you are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.
  • Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • Philippians 2:16 Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the Day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.

When Christ returns, we will no longer need the prophetic Word because the Morning Star will illuminate our hearts, and the prophecies that pointed to His return will have all been fulfilled.

Verse 20

There are two possible interpretations of this verse, and different translations will word it differently.

  • The first is found in the NIV, NET, and NLT, among others. They read, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.” 
    • The vision and the explanation both come from God, not from the prophet. 
    • A genuine prophetic word must contain both the vision and an accurate interpretation. 
  • The second is found in the HCSB, NKJV, and ESV, among others. They read, “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
    • Interpretation can’t be made to support the position you’d like or your own views. 
    • Peter was likely pointing to the false teachers he condemns in chapter 2, interpreting Scripture in such a way as to support their position that Jesus will not return. 
    • This practice is a danger in today’s church. 

From the context of both the passage and the entire letter, it appears that the second choice is the correct interpretation. The false teachers of Peter’s day, just like false teachers today, interpreted passages to satisfy their own views and desires. This is a dangerous practice and has led many astray and even resulted in the establishment of cults.

Verse 21

This verse provides the foundation for the previous verse. The apostle’s interpretation of prophecy does not come from their own minds; it comes through revelation from God. Peter makes two points in this verse.

  • The origin of all prophecies is from God. All of Scripture came from God.
  • The correct interpretation of all prophecies is from God. The Holy Spirit unveils the truth in Scripture, not our desires of what we want Scripture to say.

As believers, we need to grab hold of this and never let go. It is the basis for following characteristics of Scripture.

  • Authority – God’s Word conveys authority in how we should live our lives.
  • Infallible – It is incapable of being wrong.
  • Inerrant – It is without error.

Applications

  • Ask yourself if you believe in the authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture. If you have any doubts, pray for God to remove them. You aren’t alone in this struggle. Even the great evangelist Billy Graham struggled with the notion of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. However, after struggling in prayer over this issue, his doubts were removed.
  • Always double-check what you hear or read from preachers, pastors, bible teachers, websites (this one included!) to make sure they aren’t false teachers or twisting Scripture to support their agenda.
  • Hold fast to reading and applying Scripture in your life. It is the lamp to keep us on the narrow path.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to bring alive Scripture and guide you through its truth.

2 Peter Lesson One

2 Peter 1:1-15 – Growth in Faith

Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: 

To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature,  escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you. 

12 Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this bodily tent, to wake you up with a reminder, 14 knowing that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has also shown me.  15 And I will also make every effort that you may be able to recall these things at any time after my departure. (HCSB)

Verse 1

The use of the term “Simeon” instead of “Simon” is the first curious feature of the letter. The spelling of his name is Semitic and would be directed at a Palestinian setting. The only other place where Peter is called Simeon is in Acts 15:14, likely because of its Palestinian setting. 

In calling himself a slave of Jesus, he means that he’s placed himself under the authority of Jesus and submits to His lordship. It also implies a sense of honor to be Jesus’ servant. There is some Old Testament connection with the use of the term “servant.” 

  • Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Exodus 32:13a Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
  • Moses – Deuteronomy 34:5a So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab.
  • Samuel – 1 Samuel 3:9-10 He told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If He calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 
  • David – 1 Samuel 17:32 David said to Saul, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged by him;  your servant will go and fight this Philistine!” 

It was also used in the New Testament  for Paul, James, and Jude. It denotes not only humility but also honor in serving Jesus. Additionally, not only was Peter writing as a servant, but he was also an apostle of Jesus. Such a title would denote authority within the infant Christian church.

Verse 2

Peter’s greeting here is similar but not an exact copy of his greeting in 1 Peter. 

As we grow in our relationship with Jesus and God, our knowledge of them increases. We understand God’s unconditional acceptance through grace as we place our trust in Jesus. When this happens, a transformation begins in our hearts, which is evident in our behavior. As the transformation grows, we experience abundant grace and peace not only with God but also with others.

Verse 3

The first question to ask when reading this verse is, “who is Peter referring to with the term ‘divine power?’”

  • Jesus
    • Jesus is called “God” in verse 1.
    • Jesus appears last in verse 2, making a reference to Jesus natural.
    • Power refers to Jesus in verse 16 of this chapter.
  • Father
    • Due to holding the primary place in the Trinity.
    • Peter would likely view the Father as the one who possesses divine power.

Therefore, it is likely that Peter is referring to Jesus, although the ambiguous nature of the passage infers that Peter is not distinguishing between God the Father and Jesus.

The main point is that Jesus has provided everything that believers need for “life and godliness.” Also, the term “us” refers to all Christians and not just apostles or Jewish Christians. Additionally, salvation is accomplished by understanding Jesus’ glory and goodness, and they trust God with their salvation.

Verse 4

The phrase “by these” ties in neatly with “glory and goodness” from the previous verse. As believers, we inherit the promises of God as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus and become more like Him. 

The phrase “divine nature” creates a tension of already-not yet. When we become a Christian, we inherit a divine nature and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, we still have a sinful nature and won’t be fully perfected until we dwell in heaven. 

The word “corruption” refers to sin in the world and the way it corrupts everything, especially us. We escape corruption as followers of Jesus.

Verses 5-7

The phrase “for this very reason” links verses 5-7 to verses 3-4. However, holiness doesn’t happen by chance or inaction. Instead, it requires effort on our part to pursue holiness. The virtues presented, starting here and ending in verse 7, should not be viewed as a template to follow in order. However, we should take note of the first and last virtues in the list.

  • Faith – the root of all virtues.
  • Love – the goal and climax of the Christian life. 

Trusting God is the foundation on which all other virtues build. 

  • Knowledge – Rooted in God’s grace. True knowledge discerns the difference between truth and lies, right versus wrong.
  • Self-control – One of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:23 and a requirement for knowledge. It is the inner strength to control our sinful desires and cravings.
  • Endurance – The characteristic of endurance for a believer is found in numerous Scripture passages and is particularly important to the recipients of Peter’s letter. Courage to deal with difficult periods in our lives.
  • Godliness – Living a life of obedience to God’s commands. It is understood as reverence and obedience.
  • Brotherly affection – The love bond between fellow believers and the family-like care and devotion that should set apart the Christian community. 
  • Love – A spirit of love is the ultimate expression and proof that a person is a Christian. To share in each other’s burdens. Those who have love possess all the other virtues.

Verse 8

The phrase “these qualities” points back to the list contained in verses 5-7. There are three main points Peter is making.

  • The list of virtues needs to be apparent in the lives of believers.
  • There must be spiritual growth (increasing) through the process of sanctification. 
  • Unbelievers and false Christians will lack virtues listed in the preceding verses. 

Verse 9

Some translations use the term “nearsighted,” but a better translation is the one in the HCSB, shortsighted. Peter is saying that those who do not possess the virtues listed above have become blind to the saving grace and forgiveness of sins that they once embraced. They are not living as forgiven sinners but as unconverted people. Believers who live immoral lives signify that forgiveness of sins is not valued, while those who treasure being forgiven live in a way that pleases God. They are in a state of spiritual illness.

Verse 10

“Therefore” connects this verse to the previous one. Peter is exhorting the reader to hold fast to their faith through concentrated effort and not by being lax. We must be careful to understand that Peter is not endorsing work’s based salvation but evidence of salvation because of behavior and virtues that the believer displays. When a believer has an active faith that pursues God, they will not stumble. The correct understanding of “stumble” is not that we won’t sin but that we will not forsake God or commit apostasy. Believers who possess the virtues described in verses 5-7 are daily growing their relationship with God. Additionally, God has no doubt about our eternal state. Instead, the believer may have doubts about their eternal destiny, causing them to stumble.

Verse 11

Peter now turns to the eschatological kingdom, the one that believers will enter on the Day of the Lord and the one that the lost will never see. Peter is once again inferring that entrance into heaven is based upon salvation with works, much like James talks about. Salvation without works is either a bare existence salvation or a false salvation. For those who do enter heaven, the reward we will receive goes beyond anything that we deserve.

Verse 12

This is a simple verse but a stark reminder of how weak our faith and commitment can be. For those who have experienced the saving grace of Jesus, that should be something we never forget. However, how many of us do fall away or go through periods of intentional disobedience? How many times have we read of some ministry leader who has wandered from the path and fallen into sin? Think about the Exodus generation. They witnessed miracles first-hand yet were openly disobedient. We fool ourselves if we think that could never happen to us. Therefore, we need pastors, elders, deacons, family, and spiritual friends to constantly remind us and encourage us to stay on the narrow path. We need to do the same to those around us. It is easy to get complacent in our faith. Peter is calling for us to be focused and intentional to prevent this complacency. 

Verse 13

Peter is using an illustration, bodily tent, to denote his physical body. As long as he was still alive, he felt called to be a constant encouragement to those around him. He would rouse those who had fallen into a spiritual stupor to wake up and press into God.

Verse 14

Peter understands that this life is short, even if we live to 80 years. At some point, our “bodily tent” will give way, and we will pass into eternity through one of two doors. None of us know when that will happen to us; some may die young, and some may live a long time. Our next breath is never guaranteed. Additionally, in the context of this letter, Peter may have begun to observe the persecution that would soon fall upon the church from the Roman government, and he knew that danger was swiftly approaching.

Verse 15

Here Peter is basically restating what is contained in verse 12, that he will never cease to look after fellow Christians and steer them back onto the narrow path. There is also an inference that his writing will be a guide even after he has been killed.

Applications

  • We must ask the question, “Are we truly a Christian?” If the answer is yes, we all have the Holy Spirit living within us to empower and equip us to live a victorious life. If the answer is no, I pray that the truth of the Gospel will be revealed to you, and you will surrender your life to Christ.
  • Our spiritual state will only grow if we are intentional to cultivate it through: Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, and service. Just as the athletes we watch or the musicians we listen to, their ability was cultivated through countless hours, weeks, or years of dedicated practice. The Christian life requires the same, or even more, dedication.
  • We must take responsibility to pursue godliness. However, it isn’t done in our power but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Take an inventory of how well you display the virtues in verses 5-7. Then ask your spouse, children, close Christian friends, or co-workers how they would rate you. Then take that feedback and address the areas where you are lacking.

1 Peter Lesson Eleven

1 Peter 5:1-14 – Elders

Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because 

God resists the proud 

but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.  11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen. 

12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13 The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (HCSB)

As we conclude our study of 1 Peter, the focus is on leadership within the church. There are three possible reasons for Peter to address the elders specifically at the close of the letter.

  • Leaders may face the majority of the persecution, at least at the beginning.
  • It may be a reference to Ezekiel 9:6, where the judgment in God’s temple begins with the elders.
  • It may be because elders are the leaders of God’s people.

All are reasonable possibilities, and it may be that all three are a correct understanding of the passage.

Now, let’s define what a biblical elder is, as the understanding has changed in the minds of many since the church was first established. The term “pastor,” which is often used for the leadership of a church, is not a biblical term. What we today understand as a pastor is the same as the “elder” that Peter is talking about here. The Greek term is presbyteroi and was used to denote leadership positions in churches found in the New Testament.

  • Acts 11:30 They did this, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.
  • Acts 15:2 But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, the church arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy.
  • Acts 15:4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
  • Acts 15:6 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter.
  • Acts 21:18 The following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.
  • Acts 14:23When they had appointed elders  in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
  • 1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium,  especially those who work hard  at preaching and teaching.

Another thing to note about New Testament churches is that the term elder is always used in the plural. There was never one person in charge of a local congregation. I’m not suggesting you should leave your church if there is one pastor who is the sole authority figure. There are many other factors to consider in that decision. However, I am saying that a church modeled after the example in the Bible is led by a plurality of men who function like the term “elder” that Peter is using in this letter. 

Verse 2

Now that we’ve defined what an elder is let’s look at the responsibilities of an elder.

  • Elders are to shepherd God’s flock. This is a reminder that the congregation is not theirs, they belong to God, and God has placed the shepherd in a leading role. 
    • A primary task of shepherding is faithfully preaching the Word. 
    • Another task is raising new leaders within the congregation to carry on the work or plant a new church.
    • To ensure the flock is discipled in accordance with Matthew 28:19-20.
  • The term “overseeing” in Greek is the word episkopountes, signifying another role. 
    • From the context in this passage, the position of elder and overseer were the same in the New Testament church.
    • This is not necessarily true for the modern church. An overseer could be in an official position or as a lay helper in an area of the church.
  • They should never serve out of compulsion. If their heart is not in serving, they shouldn’t do it. Serving should be in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit and in line with God’s will. 
  • Serving should be a selfless act and not to try and become wealthy. There is always the danger that they could be tempted by the prospects of becoming wealthy through their ministry or even steal funds from the church. There are examples of the first in some megachurches and/or prosperity gospel churches. The New Testament has examples of false teachers driven by a love of money.
    • 2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not like the many  who market God’s message  for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.
    • 2 Cor 11:7-15 Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted,  because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by taking pay from them to minister to you. When I was present with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia  supplied my needs. I have kept myself, and will keep myself, from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do! 12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as our equals in what they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.
    • 1 Timothy 6:5-10 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness  is a way to material gain. But godliness with contentment is a great gain.For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 

Throughout the Bible, the relationship of leaders to those under them is often described as a shepherd-like relationship.

  • Psalm 23 – Yahweh’s relationship to David.
  • Isaiah 40:11 – Yahweh to Israel.
  • Jeremiah 23:1-4 – Israel’s corrupt shepherds will be replaced by faithful shepherds.
  • Ezekiel 34:1-10 – Yahweh will rescue His people from selfish shepherds.
  • Zechariah 11:4-17 – A caring shepherd is replaced by a worthless and uncaring shepherd.
  • Matthew 9:35-38 – Jesus appoints new shepherds for His people.
  • John 10:1-18 – Jesus is the good shepherd.
  • John 21:15-17 – Peter is to be a shepherd.

Verse 3

Elders are to act as examples and not as heavy-handed rulers. 

  • Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them.
  • Mark 10:42 Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate  them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. 

Followers of Jesus are to be servants and not heavy-handed rulers.

  • Matthew 20:28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life—a ransom for many.
  • Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man  did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life —a ransom  for many.

Verse 4

This verse ties back into verse one with the idea of suffering followed by glory. The implication is that those who serve faithfully will receive a great reward later. Peter calls Jesus “the chief Shepherd,” a term not used anywhere else in the New Testament or the Septuagint. By using this title, Peter reminds all ministry leaders that they are servants under Jesus. The “crown” could be an extra reward for being a faithful servant, or it could be eternal life. The other New Testament references of “crown” or in Greek stephanos talk about entrance into heaven, so we should interpret the term as signifying eternal life.

Verse 5

Although there are various interpretations of what Peter means by the term “younger,” in this case, the literal interpretation is the correct one. Younger people, in general, are more prone to act in a disobedient manner. At the same time, Peter is not condoning lemming-like obedience if the elders are not acting in a manner prescribed for them. However, Peter is saying that those who are under leadership should follow and submit to leaders without complaining or resisting the guidance of the leaders. This is critical to create a spirit of unity and harmony within each local church body. A vital component of this is by acting with humility. When each of us remembers that we are created beings and sinners, it is more difficult to complain about others. Pride, the opposite of humility, often gets in the way when we try and accomplish things in a group.

Verse 6

Peter uses terminology here, “mighty hand,” that is connected with God delivering Israel out of Egypt.

  • Exodus 3:19 However, I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go, unless he is forced by a strong hand.
  • Exodus 32:11 But Moses interceded with the Lord his God: “Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand?
  • Deuteronomy 4:34 Or has a god attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

Just as Yahweh delivered His people from bondage in Egypt, He will also deliver the recipients of Peter’s letter. The image of God’s mighty hand emphasizes the power of God.

Verse 7

Depending on the translation you use, it may read “cast” or “casting” all your care(s) on Him. The second option is a better understanding of the original Greek as it explains how we humble ourselves under God’s strong hand. There is a double implication in the text. Believers humble themselves by casting their worries on God, while those who are prideful will continue to worry. Worry is a form of pride in that when believers are filled with anxiety; they believe they must solve their problems in their own strength. They only trust a little “g” god, themselves. When we cast our anxiety on God, we demonstrate trust in Yahweh.

Verse 8

As Peter draws to a close in the letter, he continues to encourage his readers. In addition, Peter tells them to always be on guard.

  • Be serious.
  • Be alert.

Peter also uses a lion as symbology for Satan.

  • Roaring lion – used to strike fear into the hearts of God’s people. The roar is a metaphor for persecution to intimidate believers and cause them to abandon their faith. 
  • Devour – if Satan can cause believers to abandon their faith, then he has devoured them.

Consider the contrast between God and Satan.

  • God cares for His children. Asks them to bring their worries to Him. Promises to protect them.
  • Satan aims to bring terror to believers and tries to pile worry and fear on them.

Peter warns us that even though Satan is defeated, he is still a crazed enemy. However, if we don’t fear his bark (roar), we will never be devoured by his bite.

Verse 9

Peter continues his warning against Satan. In the previous verse, Peter warns us to be on our guard. In this verse, he encourages us to be proactive in resisting Satan. The Greek word for resist, antistete, is also used in an active tense in:

  • Acts 13:8  But Elymas the sorcerer (this is the meaning of his name) opposed  them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
  • Galatians 2:11  But when Cephas  came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned.
  • 2 Timothy 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres  resisted Moses,  so these also resist the truth, men who are corrupt in mind,  worthless  in regard to the faith.
  • 2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander  the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works. 15 Watch out  for him yourself because he strongly opposed our words.

This verse also adds weight to the argument that the persecution that the readers were facing was not governed officially by the Roman government or the emperor. Instead, this was widespread discrimination and abuse suffered in the Greco-Roman world by Christians because of their allegiance to Jesus and refusal to participate in many of the normal societal activities. 

Verse 10-11

These two verses conclude the body of the letter and summarize the main points of the letter.

Verse 10

Peter focuses on God’s strength as the means by which believers can persevere and obtain salvation. God’s grace impacts believers in the following ways:

  • Restoration
  • Establishing
  • Strengthening
  • Supporting

All this occurs regardless of the believer’s circumstances, but they are especially beneficial during times of suffering.

Peter is also saying that before we attain glory, each of us will go through periods of trials and suffering. The phrase “suffered a little” should not be interpreted as a short period of our earthly existence, although it may. Instead, it should be compared to our eternal glory and residence in heaven. When viewed in that light, our earthly suffering, no matter how intense or long, is short in comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Verse 11

God is the sovereign ruler over all of creation for all of time.

Verse 12

Silvanus is Silas who is mentioned often in the book of Acts as Paul’s partner in ministry and missionary journeys. Silvanus would deliver the letter and act as an interpreter if the recipients had questions as to the meaning of what was written. The phrase “to be a faithful brother” indicates that Peter had absolute trust in Silvanus’ ability to interpret and answer questions on his behalf.

Peter then gives one last encouragement for them to take their stand in the grace of God. Peter is also implying that failing to stand would indicate apostasy and judgment on the last day.

Verse 13

There are various interpretations of the church in Babylon. The one that makes the most sense from a contextual standpoint in Peter’s letter is that Babylon represents the church at large. All of us are foreigners/exiles while we are living in our physical body here on earth. Our true home is heaven, and once we die, or Jesus returns, our exile will end, and we will live in our true home.

The “Mark” referenced here is John Mark, who went with Paul on his first missionary journey. Peter is not Mark’s literal father. Peter is likely older, maybe much older, and feels affection towards Mark as a father would towards a son.

Verse 14

Although it would seem strange to many cultures today, in the Greco-Roman and Mediterranean world, greeting others with a kiss was common practice. This practice indicated respect and brotherly love for others and was devoid of any sexual overtones.

Finally, closing with a wish of peace was significant to the recipients of the letter. They were being tossed by persecution and discrimination. They were in need of the peace that only Jesus could provide.

Applications

  • If you are in any type of leadership position within the church, make sure you are doing it for the right reason – according to God’s will? 
  • If you are in any type of leadership position, make sure you are doing it with the correct attitude? 
    • Not for any type of financial benefit.
    • With a spirit of humility and not heavy-handedness.
    • Setting a Christ-like example by serving as a leader.
  • Regardless of whether you are in a leadership position or not, do you support those over you? We may not always agree with them, but as long as they are not in disagreement with Scripture, we have no biblical grounds to complain about their leadership. It is easy to get discouraged when the congregation is always complaining and nitpicking about leaders, and it is little wonder that the average life-span of an elder (pastor) in the Western church is just over three years due to burn-out.
  • Do you approach spiritual warfare with a serious attitude? Western culture can picture Satan as a little red guy with a pitchfork or some similar picture. However, a proper understanding of him should drive us to consider his evil intent and desire to see us fail as a Christian. We should immerse ourselves in reading Scripture, prayer, an accountability partner, and Christian fellowship.
  • Do we rest in God’s grace and the assurance that no matter what we go through, an amazing and indescribable eternity awaits us?

1 Peter Lesson Ten

1 Peter 4:7-19 Lesson Ten – End Times and Suffering

Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. 

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation  of His glory. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit  of glory and of God rests on you. 15 None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 

18 And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, 

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

19 So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator. (HCSB)

As we look at this passage, it is split into two parts. The first part contains verses 7-11 and deals with the end times. The second part contains verses 12-19 and deals with suffering.

Part One – verses 7-11

Verse 7

First, we need to define the concept “end of all things is near.” The birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus have ushered in the “last days.” Although we don’t have any idea when Jesus will return, and even He said only the Father knows, we do know His resurrection begins the last period before His second coming.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 
  • 1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist  is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour.
  • Romans 13:11-12 Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you  to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
  • James 5:7-8 Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Peter’s exhortations in this paragraph all revolve around the idea of the return of Jesus. Because He is coming back, and we don’t know when believers should live in a spirit of obedient expectancy.

Another point to remember about New Testament eschatology is that there are no passages that encourage the setting of dates or any charts that predict the future. Instead, eschatology is used to encourage believers to live in a godly way. Nor does Scripture encourage believers to withdraw because the end is near and look to the sky for Jesus’ second coming.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 About the times and the seasons: Brothers, you do not need anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in the dark, for this day to overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be serious. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord  Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. 

The truth that the end could happen at any moment has led some believers to act foolishly. Instead, we should focus on God and think about how short our physical life is compared to eternity. We should spend our time in prayer, realizing that at any moment, Jesus could return. Prayer also demonstrates our dependence on God and that any good that happens in the world is due to God’s grace.

Verse 8

Peter encourages the reader to maintain a spirit of love with each other, especially as the “end of all things is near.” Jesus also warned the disciples about this. Matthew 24:12 Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.

Verse 9

The theme of love continues here in the form of hospitality without grumbling. Hospitality was, and still should be, a central characteristic of Christians.

  • Romans 12:13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
  • Titus 1:8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled,
  • Hebrews 13:2 Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.

Hospitality was also a requirement for the early church as it often met in homes.

  • Romans 16:3-5 Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my coworkers in  Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life. Not only do I thank them, but so do all the Gentile churches. Greet also the church that meets in their home.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19 The churches of Asia  greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, along with the church that meets in their home.

Those who open their homes may become tired after a period of time. Therefore, Peter encourages hospitality “without complaining” to encourage continued hospitality.

Verse 10

Here Peter switches to a discussion on spiritual gifts. These gifts are bestowed by Holy Spirit through the grace of God to enable believers to contribute to the work of ministry. The verse also implies that every believer receives at least one spiritual gift after placing their faith in Jesus. These gifts should not be viewed as a privilege. Instead, we should view it as a responsibility on our part to utilize the gift(s) that we are given to build up the church and edify others. They are not to used to build up our self-esteem or make ourselves look good. Neither should we look at gifts in a hierarchal mentality, with certain gifts being viewed as better than others. Each of us should be thankful for the gift(s) that we are given and use them for God’s glory.

Verse 11

Peter continues his discussion on spiritual gifts. Here he breaks them down into two categories.

  • Speaking (Romans 12:6-7, 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28-30, Ephesians 4:11)
    • Apostleship.
    • Prophecy.
    • Teaching.
    • Tongues.
    • Exhortation.
  • Serving (Romans 12:8, 1 Corinthians 12:9-10, 28-30)
    • Giving.
    • Leading.
    • Mercy.
    • Helps.
    • Healing.
    • Miracles.

All of us must utilize our gifts through the power of God and not in our own strength.

Peter then adds a doxology, which has led some to believe the letter actually ended here. However, there are other New Testament letters that have a doxology before the ending of the letter:

  • Romans 11:36
  • Galatians 1:5
  • Ephesians 3:21
  • Philippians 4:20

It makes more sense to view the doxology as the end of a major section of this letter, 2:11-4:11.

Part Two – verses 12-19

The theme of suffering is central to this section. Peter uses “suffering” or “suffer” four times in this section. The term “fiery ordeal” is vague and could be interpreted in a couple of ways.

Verse 12

  • God uses trials to shape and mold believers for further service. This idea would follow Old Testament theology.
    • Proverbs 27:21 A crucible for silver, and a smelter for gold, and a man for the words of his praise.
    • Psalm 66:10 For You, God, tested us; You refined us as silver is refined.
    • Zechariah 13:9 I will put this third through the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say: They are My people, and they will say: Yahweh is our God.”
    • Malachi 3:1-4 “See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by. 
  • It could also be referencing the persecution that began under Nero. In Rome, Christians were being pulled from their houses, dipped in tar, and then lit on fire to provide light in Nero’s gardens. 

I believe the correct interpretation is to view the “fiery ordeal” as any trials that God allows us to experience in order to refine us for further/future service. Especially when we view the passage from Malachi 3:1-4 where God comes to purify His house (temple/church). When viewed in this light, the suffering should not be viewed as an absence of God but His purifying presence.

Verse 13

Peter is encouraging the readers to rejoice in present suffering so that later they will be able to rejoice when Christ returns. Acts 5:41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name. 

Peter is also implying that those who groan and complain now don’t truly belong to Jesus.

Verse 14

This verse builds on the previous. We are called to rejoice in suffering, but we are actually blessed by God when we are insulted by people for being a follower of Jesus. Peter is echoing Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:11-12 You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We are blessed because we have God’s favor through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 15

Not all suffering qualifies for a blessing. The first three sins listed here are easy to understand. Murder, theft, and doing evil are clearly sins. The fourth one listed, “meddler,” presents an interpretive challenge. The original Greek word used doesn’t appear anywhere else in the New Testament, the Septuagint, or any Greek literature written before 1 Peter. The most likely interpretation of “meddler” would be words like “agitator,” “disrupter,” or “troublemaker.” Those who act in this manner disrupt peace and harmony in the church and the community. Suffering for being a “meddler” in the business of others is not righteous suffering.

Verse 16

Peter has an implied charge in this verse. Those who would act in a shameful manner are actually denying Christ before unbelievers. Peter viewed this action as apostasy.

  • Mark 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful  generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
  • 2 Timothy 1:8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner.  Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.

Verse 17

The reference to “God’s household” is an Old Testament reference to the temple. However, under the New Covenant, there is no temple; each believer is the temple. God’s judgment will begin with His people to purify those who truly belong to God. There is also an unstated implication in this point. If believers, who fall under the grace of God, face suffering and trials before we receive our glorified bodies in the new age, how much worse will unbelievers suffer for all eternity as they face judgment and eternal separation from God? Unbelief leads to disobedience. Hence, those who disobey the Gospel display unbelief in the truth of the Gospel.

Verse 18

The “difficulty” Peter refers to here is not that the believer was saved at the last moment or that they barely escaped judgment. What he means is that believers must undergo trials and suffering to be purified. The salvation referred to here is an eschatological salvation. Just as in the previous verse, if the life of a believer is difficult due to suffering, how much worse will the eternal torment of those who disobeyed the Gospel be?

Verse 19

Peter states that the suffering we undergo in the refining and shaping process is all part of God’s will for our eternal benefit. Because God is the creator of everything, He is sovereign over it. We can take solace that God will not allow us to suffer beyond our limit and that He will provide the strength we need to get through it. We show our trust in God by continuing to do “what is good.”

This passage provides nine principles for us to follow.

  • We should not be surprised when we suffer shame because of our faith.
  • Suffering shame for Jesus should be viewed as a test in preparation for God’s final judgment.
  • We should welcome the opportunity to share in the sufferings of Jesus.
  • We should focus on the eternal rather than the temporal. Whatever we suffer through here is short in comparison to eternity.
  • Regardless of our trials, we should be thankful for the Holy Spirit, who guides us through this life.
  • When we suffer, we need to continue in our good behavior and not deny Jesus.
  • We should focus on God’s glory and not our shame as we face persecution.
  • Because we will be judged, we must strengthen our resolve to be obedient regardless of the suffering.
  • When suffering in the name of Jesus, we must continue to do good works as an expression of trust.

Applications

  • Do you live as if Jesus could return at any moment? Our lives should be covered in prayer, obedience to what is contained in Scripture (which means we read and now it), and loving others. 
  • Do you know what your spiritual gift(s) is/are? If not, you need to determine what they are. 
  • Do you use your spiritual gift(s) in serving others and glorifying God? If not, you need to start.
  • Do you stand firm in the face of persecution? This includes both physical and verbal. We will never truly know how we will react when it comes, but if you prepare yourself, you will be much better equipped to face the trials. Spend time each day reading Scripture, praying, and serving each other.
  • Do you trust God regardless of your circumstances? Although it can be challenging, we are called to trust God no matter how severe the trials we go through.

1 Peter Lesson Nine

1 Peter 4:1-6 Lesson Nine – Following Christ

Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve —because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin — in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged by men in the fleshly realm, they might live by God in the spiritual realm. (HCSB)

The majority of this passage is relatively straightforward and easy to understand. It is only the last verse that presents a challenge, but more on that later. By starting this passage with the word “therefore” Peter is tying this section into what was discussed in 3:18–22, that Christ’s suffering was the road to victory. Since Jesus suffered in the flesh, believers should prepare themselves to suffer as this indicates that they are no longer letting sin have control over them. 

Verse 1

Peter’s point is for believers to prepare themselves for suffering. The term “equip yourselves” is related to military preparation and its use in other passages compares the life of a believer to the life of a warrior.

  • Romans 6:13b – But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.
  • Romans 13:12b – So let us discard the deeds of darkness  and put on the armor of light.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:8 – But since we belong to the day, we must be serious  and put the armor  of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet  of the hope of salvation.

The military language implies that discipline and perseverance are needed to live as a Christian, with an attitude that suffering will come at some point. Just like soldiers prepare and train for battle, Christians must prepare for suffering.

The challenging part of this verse is the reference to “finished with sin.” The logical question is who this is referring to. There are three possible interpretations.

  • Jesus – The most apparent reason to reject this interpretation is that Jesus never sinned. Those who support this interpretation do so on the grounds that Jesus took on the sins of the world as He went to the cross. Still, this interpretation should be rejected.
  • Christians – Any believer who has died is freed from sin. Romans 6 says that believers have died with Jesus, via baptism, to the power of sin. However, this interpretation should also be rejected.
  • Christians who accept and embrace their suffering – These believers have finished with sin because they cease to participate in those activities and they endure the persecution that accompanies that decision. This commitment reveals a passion for a new way of life that is not yet perfect but is still different from the unbelievers around them. This is the correct interpretation.

Verse 2

Believers prepare themselves to suffer so that the remainder of their lives are a reflection of pursuing God’s will and not the desires of their flesh. However long they live, believers are to live with passion pursuing God. Pursuing God invests the remainder of our life in activity that is lasting and satisfying. However, following the world leads us to waste the remainder of life and face regret when we stand before Jesus.

Verse 3

For the person who has submitted to the lordship of Jesus, they’ve already spent enough time chasing the desires of the flesh. They are not to participate in those activities anymore. Peter gives a list of actions to be avoided.

  • Unrestrained behavior – Behavior completely lacking in moral restraint, often pertaining promiscuous sexual behavior.
  • Evil desires – To strongly desire what belongs to someone else, to covet or lust after the possessions of others.
  • Drunkenness – Means what it says, to be drunk.
  • Orgies – Out of control drinking parties with associated immoral behavior.
  • Carousing – Also describes out of control social drinking parties.
  • Lawless idolatry – Unholy and profane lifestyles.

The activities in this list were uncommon in religiously devout Jews, but were common place in the practice of Gentiles.

Verse 4

Because of the difference in behavior between the pagans and the Christians, they are now facing persecution for their faith. However, the persecution at this point is from individuals and not from any government or groups. The activities listed under verse three were normal and expected in the Greco-Roman culture and when people choose not to participate it was seen as going against societal norms. In the culture at the time of this letter public festivals, where the “gods” were celebrated was considered a civic duty of citizens, as well as worship of the emperor. Those who chose not to participate would be viewed as social outcasts. It is easy to envision that believers would be discriminated against and the object of abuse. 

Verse 5

As he does throughout this letter, Peter focuses the readers on the last days and judgment. At the present time for the recipients of this letter the pagans may have enjoyed the upper hand in society, with the perks of advancement and recognition. However, that was a temporal state that would be turned on its head on the day of judgment. Whatever advantages the pagans enjoyed at the moment was not to be desired by believers. By holding fast to the faith and pursuing the will of God they would be vindicated at the time of judgment. No matter how difficult the circumstances they must not fall back into old practices.

Verse 6

We now get to what I referenced in the introduction as the most difficult verse in the passage.

The first thing to note is that the word “for” links this verse to the preceding verses. At the same time “for this reason” points ahead to the purpose “so that.” But before moving on we need to determine what Peter meant by “the gospel was preached to those who are now dead.” Here are some possibilities.

  • Peter is referring to the spiritually dead. 
    • Avoids an interpretive problem of the Gospel being preached to those who are physically dead and agrees with Paul’s position that unbelievers are spiritually dead.
    • However Peter never used the word “dead” (nekros) to talk about spiritual death. Plus, the word “dead” in the previous verse is clearly talking about physical death.
    • Context doesn’t support this possibility.
  • Peter is talking about the physically dead.
    • Those who support this possibility often refer to 1 Peter 3:19. However, if you remember from the last lesson this verse talks about Jesus proclaiming His victory over sin and death, and not a proclamation of the Gospel message.
    • The verb “was also preached” talks about the preaching of Christ, not the preaching by Christ. This preaching was done by believers.
    • This view implies that the Gospel was preached to all the dead after their physical death. This would suggest a second chance for everyone. However, Scripture is clear that there is no second chance. Hebrews 9:27a And just as it is appointed for people to die once–and after this, judgment. 
  • Peter is talking about believers who have experienced physical death.
    • Unbelievers viewed the physical death of believers as proof that there was no advantage to being a Christian, as everyone dies.
    • However, the unbeliever’s viewpoint misses the understanding of the Gospel. A believer experiences physical death but receives eternal spiritual life in heaven. 
    • Physical death is not the last word. Rather, it is a new and eternal beginning.
    • We should embrace this interpretation as the correct understanding of the verse.

Applications.

  • Prepare yourself daily to live as a follower of Jesus. Every day the world slips further into depravity and sinful behavior. As a believer, we must spend time reading Scripture, praying, gathering with other believers, and sharing the Gospel with the lost. This won’t happen by itself, it takes preparation and dedication on our part.
  • Turn away from sinful desires and practices. Find an accountability partner or group to meet with and share your struggles. Don’t wait to ask for help as you might find yourself mired in sinful practices before you realize it. Challenge fellow believers if you see them participating in or even condoning sinful behavior.
  • We must never lose sight of the fact that we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Will we stand in assurance of salvation, or despair in eternal separation from God? Will we be rewarded for living fruitful lives, or will be ashamed of all the wasted opportunities? Regardless of what you’ve done before you can make a decision right now to living fruitful life, glorifying God in the process and resting in the full assurance of your salvation. 

1 Peter Lesson Eight

1 Peter 3:13-22 – Undeserved Suffering

13 And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah  as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused,  those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 

18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, 

the righteous for the unrighteous, 

that He might bring you to God, 

after being put to death in the fleshly realm

but made alive in the spiritual realm. 

19 In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits  in prison 20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 22 Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

This passage breaks down into two parts. The first is verses 13-17, and the second is 18-22. The first is relatively straightforward to interpret, while the second part is quite challenging, with theologians having dozens of interpretations of the meaning. 

Before we break down the individual verses, let’s summarize the first section. The promise of eternal fellowship with God overrides the trials and distress of the present life. When contrasted against eternity, the span of our lives is a mere blip on the timeline. That doesn’t mean that our struggles are easy, but when viewed through the lens of comparison, we should weigh future glory as priceless compared to the short-termed pleasure of ease of life.

Verse 13

Peter is presenting a rhetorical question. No one is able to harm believers on the day of judgment as God will reward them for their faithfulness. Yahweh will look favorably on the righteous but is against those who practice evil. A believer should never fear what the world can do to them for being obedient to God. Romans 8:31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

God will vindicate believers on the day of judgment.

Verse 14

The word “but” at the beginning of the verse provides further clarification and could be understood to mean “indeed.” Peter’s underlying point here is that regardless of what happens to our physical bodies or the trials we suffer through in this life, we are still blessed because of our future destination. There are two implications to Peter’s point.

  • Since believers are blessed (eternal implication) by God, they shouldn’t fear what unbelievers can do to them.
  • They should fear (respect) God and be obedient. True fear of Yahweh removes the fear of anything else.

Verse 15

A reminder from 1 Peter 1:22 and 3:4 is that the heart is the origin of our human behavior, and character and everything we do flows from our heart. Because of this, if Jesus occupies our heart, our behavior will reflect His character as we live out our faith regardless of our circumstances. Every believer should be able to explain why they have joy and hope regardless of their trials or struggles. We should be able to explain the basics of our faith. Our response to difficulties will be noticeable to unbelievers and demonstrate that our hope is in God and not anything of this world.

Verse 16

Will the previous verse explained what we should; this verse explains how to do it, why you do it, and the result of right behavior.

  • Always interact with others in a spirit of gentleness and respect.
    • We should never be arrogant.
    • We should never argue.
    • We aren’t prosecuting attorneys or a judge. There is only one judge, and none of us are qualified to sit on that throne.
    • The point isn’t to win an argument; it is to bring the lost to Jesus.
  • Believers do this because the Spirit of God lives within us, and we are to reflect the character of God in our lives.
  • When believers live in a righteous, not self-righteous, manner, those who abuse them will be ashamed. 
  • There are two viewpoints on what “shame” means in this verse.
    • It could be the shame of realizing that believers are acting in a righteous manner and the unbeliever is not.
    • It could be the shame and humiliation that unbelievers will experience on the day of judgment.

Verse 17

The correct understanding of this verse is that it is better to suffer in this life for doing good than to suffer on the day of judgment, and for all eternity, for doing evil.

Verse 18

Peter’s intention here is not that believers should focus on imitating Christ in their suffering, although we may suffer for being a follower of Jesus. Instead, Peter is calling on the reader to focus on Christ’s victory over suffering and death. 

  • We can never suffer to the extent that Jesus did as He bore the sins of the world.
  • Suffering is a prelude to future glory for each believer.
  • Emphasizing Jesus’ victory reminds us that our troubles are of a temporary nature, but our future glory is permanent.
  • Though Jesus suffered death, the Spirit raised Him. In the same manner, we will suffer a physical death but will share in Jesus’ resurrection.

Verse 19-22 The second portion of the passage is quite challenging, with many different interpretations. 

Verse 19 – The three main views are:

  • Descent into hell.
  • Preexistent Christ.
  • Triumphal proclamation over the spirit-world.

The third view is the most widely accepted, and a proper understanding of the text would lead one to agree. It also fits the overall context of vindication presented in the passage. 

In the New Testament, the word “spirit” is used to describe angels or demons, not humans. Peter also used the term “people” in verse 20, so to use a different term to refer to humans in both cases doesn’t make sense.

The point of verse 19 is that Jesus proclaimed His victory over evil.

Verse 20

The reason the spirits were imprisoned is that they were disobedient. The act of disobedience is not crystal clear, but some explanation is provided in Jude 6-7 and He has kept, with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, the angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling. In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as angels did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. 

It also ties into Genesis 6:1-4, indicating that angels had sexual relations with women. In this context, it is possible to view what occurred in Genesis 6 as the climax of sin, prompting Yahweh to release His judgment on the world. In the same way that the water killed almost everything on the earth, the water saved Noah and his family by separating them from the evil in the world. Once the waters receded, they entered a new life.

Verse 21

An important to bring up at the very beginning of the discussion on this verse is that baptism by itself does not lead to eternal life. Peter is using an illustration here. The flood serves as an illustration of baptism in the New Covenant and for the church. New Testament baptism should be understood and being immersed in water. Anyone who goes completely underwater will eventually die. The illustration is that baptism represents death to the old life, and once lifted from the water, the new life begins. Baptism doesn’t remove our sin (filth of the flesh), but it is an outward expression of an inward change (good conscience toward God). Placing our faith in Jesus and repenting of our sin is the only way to eternal life. Although baptism is something that every believer should do after placing their faith in Jesus, it is not a requirement for eternal life. The narrative in Luke 23 with the two thieves is proof of that. Jesus told the one that he would be with Jesus in paradise, but there was no chance for the thief to receive baptism.

Verse 22

The culmination of this passage, Jesus’ victory over His enemies. There is a reference to Psalm 110:1 This is the declaration of the LORD to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The conclusion to draw is that even in the suffering that believers experience, Jesus reigns and rules. By His death and resurrection, Jesus has triumphed over all the forces of evil, and His followers will reign with Him together for all eternity. The theme here is vindication. Jesus occupies a position of royal dignity and authority beside God the Father. Jesus has broken the power of evil. He has authority over good and bad spirits (good and bad angels), as well as authorities and powers in the spiritual realm. All of creation is subject to the lordship of Jesus.

A summary of the passage includes the following principles:

  • Jesus, as Messiah, has fulfilled the hope of Israel by defeating all the evil spiritual powers of the world.
  • All the wickedness and corruption from the beginning of time are overthrown.
  • Regardless of our struggles or persecution, we should never lose sight of the victory we share with Jesus. 
  • We need to be a witness of our hope and the truth of the Gospel regardless of our circumstances.

Applications

  • Are you committed to pursuing goodness and righteousness regardless of the cost or consequences? If you falter in this area, you may have a faith problem. Pray for your faith to be strengthened.
  • Are you bold in sharing your faith? Are you proactive in finding those opportunities, or are you reactive, only sharing when confronted or asked? We are called to be proactive in our witness and do it with a humble spirit and gentleness.
  • Do you have complete confidence and trust in the victory of Jesus? If not, pray that you would completely trust in Him. 
  • Your behavior should demonstrate a spirit of joy, victory, and humility to the world around you. Jesus doesn’t need arrogant or self-righteous victors. He wants victors who bask and are filled with love and joy at the victory He secured by going to the cross, paying our debt, and redeeming us from all unrighteousness.

1 Peter Lesson Seven

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.

1 Peter Lesson Six

1 Peter 3:1-7 Husbands and Wives

In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives. Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming.

Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. (HCSB)

Let me start by saying this passage challenges us and rubs some people the wrong way. However, a correct interpretation and understanding should eliminate any concerns the reader may have. This passage is split into two parts. The first, covering verses 1–6, pertaining to the wife. The second part, verse 7, relates to the husband.

Verses 1-6

Verse 1

Let’s note some key points in the first verse.

  • By starting with, “In the same way,” does not mean that Peter is comparing the husband/wife relationship in identical terms with the master/slave relationship. Not only is that a wrong interpretation, but it also perverts the idea of a man and woman becoming “one flesh” in the marriage covenant. Wives submitting to their husbands doesn’t mean inequality before God.
    • Galatians 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no ‘male and female’; you are all one in the Messiah, Jesus. I must make one note regarding this passage as it’s been hijacked by the LGBTQ community to justify same-sex marriage and to include anything that is not male/female. This passage doesn’t support more than two sexes or more than two sexualities.
      • Genesis 5:2a  He created them male and female.
      • God never changes, and His Word never changes. There are men and women…period.
    • Ephesians 5:22-33.
    • Colossians 3:18  Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
    • Titus 2:4-5 so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered.
    • Just as wives submit to their husbands, Christ submitted to the Father 1 Corinthians 15:28 And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son  Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.
  • The word “submit” does not mean that wives blindly follow their husbands. If their husband wants them to do anything contrary to Scripture, the wife has an obligation not to obey in those circumstances. Each Christian has an obligation first to God’s commands and then to earthly commands. If those two sets of commands don’t agree, follow Scripture.
  • Not all of the wives being addressed here have Christian husbands. Regardless of whether their husband was a believer or not, wives are expected to submit to their husband, except in the circumstances listed above.

Verse 2

This verse explains how unbelieving husbands are won to the faith. This is a short verse, but there are a couple of essential points.

  • The old adage “actions speak louder than words” applies here. Unbelieving husbands may tune out or ignore wives who witness with words. However, they may be drawn by the Christ-like lives of the wives.
  • The word “reverent” is understood in Greek to be “in fear.” But the fear is not towards the husband; it is towards God. The actions of the wives should be in reverent fear (respect) towards God. Wives submit to their husbands because of their relationship with and trust in God.
  • As in verse 1, this submission should never include doing anything against Scripture.

Verse 3

A few points about this verse.

  • A woman’s inward beauty should always outshine outward beauty. It is the character and love of God that are most important.
  • Peter is not prohibiting styling hair, nice clothes, or wearing jewelry. He is directing them not to spend too much on their outward appearance.
  • In today’s society, clothing can easily be an issue that conflicts with Peter’s instructions.
    • The need for expensive or name-brand clothing, when less expensive clothing, would suffice.
    • The wear of immodest or revealing clothing. I have personally seen some outfits at church that cause me to shake my head in disbelief, wonder what the wife was thinking (or not thinking), and how the husband could allow his wife to wear that particular outfit to church.

Verse 4

As noted in the discussion on verse 3, it is the inner beauty that is most important. Wives should focus on their relationship with God and their identity in Jesus, the inner self. Gentleness and a quiet spirit are characteristics of godly behavior that will draw husbands to faith in Jesus.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees,  for man sees what is visible,  but the Lord sees the heart.”

Verses 5-6

These two verses provide historical examples of women who submitted to their husbands.

  • Sarah
  • Just as Isaac and Jacob were considered patriarchs because of the tie to Abraham, the following women could also be considered matriarchs because of the connection to Sarah.
    • Rebecca
    • Rachel
    • Leah

Verse 5 also explains why they submitted to their husbands.

  • Not because they were inferior intellectually or spiritually.
  • Because they were confident that God would reward those who placed their trust in Him.
  • These women adorned themselves with the virtues of a gentle and quiet spirit and not focusing on the external.

Verse 6 gets more specific, and we should note the following implied characteristics.

  • Wives should submit to the leadership of their husbands. As always, being faithful and obedient to Scripture takes priority over obeying a wayward husband.
    • This could result in persecution from the unbelieving husband towards the believing wife.
    • Peter is encouraging them, in these circumstances, to place their trust and faith in God.
  • Paul also addresses issues of marital responsibility and care between the husband and the wife.
    • 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
    • We must be careful not to distort or twist this passage. In no way should marital sexual relations be forced on one of the partners or for them to be encouraged to do anything they aren’t comfortable with. God created sexual relations to be a beautiful and mutually satisfying act between a husband and wife. Anything that would make one of the partners uncomfortable stains the experience.

Verse 7

Husbands are to treat their wives with understanding, according to God’s will.

  • Wives are physically weaker (in most cases).
  • Both are heirs of the grace of eternal life.
  • Both will reside in heaven together.
  • Failure to follow these instructions will result in prayers that are hindered or not answered. God does not bless those in a position of authority who abuse those under them.
  • A husband who lives according to God’s requirement shows respect to his wife.

Before starting the applications, let’s summarize some key points and thoughts regarding this passage.

  • As Christian couples, where do we get our examples and guidance from?
    • From the world.
      • Hollywood examples.
      • Secular advice books.
      • Non-Christian counseling.
    • From the Bible and Jesus.
      • Willing submission.
      • Willing obedience.
      • Desire to serve the other.
  • Historical/cultural setting.
    • The world of the original hearers of this message lived in a male-dominated society.
    • Abuse was not uncommon.
    • Because of this, good behavior would be more effective than engaging in dialogue from the wife to the husband.

Even though the passage is heavily weighted with more instructions towards the wife, the applications will be balanced.

Applications.

  • Are our clothing and accessories modest and respectful, or is it expensive and extravagant?
  • Do we let our actions speak for our convictions and beliefs, or do we sound like a clanging gong?
  • If you are married or engaged to be married, use the following questions as an evaluation tool.
    • Are you partners or competitors?
    • Are you helping each other become more Christ-like?
    • Do you depend on the externals or the internals, the artificial or the real?
    • Do you understand each other better through time?
    • Are you sensitive to each other’s feelings and ideas, or do you take each other for granted?
    • Are you seeing God answer your prayers?
    • Are you enriched because of your marriage or robbing each other of God’s blessings?
  • Periodically going through these questions will almost certainly enrich and strengthen your relationship.

1 Peter Lesson Five

1 Peter 2:18-25 Submission of Slaves

18 Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. 19 For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God.

21 For you were called to this,

because Christ also suffered for you,

leaving you an example,

so that you should follow in His steps.

22 He did not commit sin,

and no deceit was found in His mouth;

23 when He was reviled,

He did not revile in return;

when He was suffering,

He did not threaten

but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

24 He Himself bore our sins

in His body on the tree,

so that, having died to sins,

we might live for righteousness;

you have been healed by His wounds.

25 For you were like sheep going astray,

but you have now returned

to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (HCSB)

Because of the potentially sensitive nature of the central theme at the beginning of this passage, slaves and slavery, it is essential that we have a correct understanding of slavery in the 1st century, as in many ways it is significantly different from modern slavery, especially the issue of slavery in American history.

Characteristics of slaves/slavery in the ancient Greco-Roman World.

  • Many slaves lived a miserable existence, especially those who worked in mines.
  • However, many slaves served in what would today be considered a professional occupation.
    • Doctors.
    • Teachers.
    • Managers.
    • Musicians.
    • Artisans.
  • It was not unknown for a slave to have a higher education than their master.
  • Many household slaves were loved and trusted by the family they worked for.
  • Some slaves owned their own slaves.
  • Slavery was not based on race.
  • Slaves could suffer brutal treatment from cruel masters.
  • Children born in slavery belonged to the master.
  • They were subject to any form of abuse one could imagine.
  • Manumission – the process of purchasing their freedom.
    • Required help from their master.
    • Usually only available for urban slaves.
    • Most slaves had no hope of this possibility.

Now that we have an understanding of what Greco-Roman slavery looked like, it is important to discuss the New Testament’s position on slavery.

  • It is not commanded to be part of the social structure.
  • It is regulated as part of the social fabric.
  • The argument that the early church should have vigorously fought against slavery ignores the fact that the early church had little power, and slavery was such a normal and accepted practice that the church would have been doomed to failure.
  • Instead, the early church’s focus was on the believer’s relationship to God, and they focused on the sin and rebellion of individuals against their Creator.
  • New Testament writer’s concentrated on a godly response of believers to their mistreatment.

As we move through this study, it will be essential for us to bring the underlying principle from the Greco-Roman world to our modern world. That principle is submitting to our boss, supervisor, or workplace requirements.

Verse 18

  • Believers are called to obey their masters, even if they are wicked.
  • However, there is a fine line implied in this command.
    • Peter is not saying that Christian slaves should participate in or follow a wicked master in the execution of evil.
    • Peter is saying that completing non-evil tasks are commanded even if their master is an evil person.
    • Let’s look at a modern example.
      • A Christian secretary’s evil boss asks them to type a letter that doesn’t contain any evil actions. That is ok to complete.
      • A Christian secretary’s evil boss asks them to type a letter that encourages and promotes abortion and gives details on how to get an abortion. In that case, it is ok for the secretary to refuse the command.

Verse 19

Peter now explains why believers are to submit, even if their master is evil.

  • It brings favor. The literal Greek word here means “grace.”
  • This same term concludes verse 20, indicating that the two verses should be viewed together in context.
  • Although Peter is addressing slaves here, it is also a model for how believers are to respond to social injustice.
  • Slaves who endure unjust suffering because of their relationship/obedience to God will be rewarded by God.
  • In the same way, believers today will receive a reward for unjust suffering because of their relationship and obedience to God.

Verse 20

This verse expands upon the previous, explaining under what circumstances believers can expect a reward.

  • Doing wrong (sin) that results in punishment will not result in a reward from God since they received what they deserved.
  • On the other hand, if the believer does what is good and receives punishment, they will receive favor (grace) from God.

Verses 21-23

These verses show the example of Jesus and how He lived His life. They also tie back into verses 19-20. We are to endure suffering for doing good because Jesus suffered at the hands of the authorities even though He lived a sinless life.

Verse 21

Christ is the example.

  • Jesus’s suffering serves as an example to all believers.
  • We are called to suffer through righteous living because Jesus set the example.
  • At the same time, we will never experience suffering to the level Jesus did.
    • Being crucified.
    • Bearing the sins of the world.
  • Godly living displayed by believers can win the lost to a life of faith.
  • Only Jesus’ suffering and death atone for sin.

Verse 22

Peter directly references Isaiah 53:9 and the suffering servant.

  • He committed no sin involves wrong actions in a general sense.
  • No deceit was found in His mouth involves not sinning with words or speech.

Verse 23

The sinless life that Jesus led was anything but easy.

  • He faced insults and severe suffering.
  • His silence in the face of persecution and suffering is an extraordinary example of His nonretaliatory spirit. This is especially true when we consider the events surrounding His trial and crucifixion.
    • The urge for revenge can be overwhelming when we feel wrongly accused or mistreated.
    • In the ancient world, people would demonstrate their innocence by arguing zealously against those accusing them.
    • Jesus’ silence demonstrated complete confidence in God vindicating Him.
    • Jesus’ lifestyle matched His teaching, love of enemies, and a spirit of nonretaliation found in Matthew 5:38-48.
  • Believers triumph over evil because they trust God will vindicate them and judge their enemies, righting all the wrongs found in Romans 12:19-20.
  • Jesus is proof that a person could be completely in God’s will and suffer unjustly.
  • Churches/pastors that teach believers they will not suffer if they are in God’s will are preaching a false message.

Verse 24

The unmistakable difference in the suffering between Jesus and His followers is now clarified.

  • The suffering and death of Jesus are unique and the foundation for our salvation.
    • He bore the sins of all who would place their faith in Him.
    • His sacrificial blood cleansed us.
  • The purpose of Jesus’ death was not merely to provide forgiveness.
    • It was also to provide His followers the power to live for righteousness.
    • Living for righteousness results in dying to sin.
    • We would experience freedom from the power of sin.
  • The idea of being healed does not refer to physical healing. Peter is talking about healing from the penalty of eternal separation from God because of sin.
  • Believers now live a new life.

Verse 25

We have to be honest and admit that living this way through adversity and persecution is not easy. Unfortunately, there are those who drift away from the faith when life gets hard, and they feel that they can’t cope anymore. However, there is safety and support by staying under the care of the shepherd instead of leaving.

This verse connects back to verse 24, with the idea of being healed in verse 24.

  • Healing involves the forgiveness of sins.
  • Believers are no longer lost sheep, following the ways of the world.
  • Believers have submitted to the care of the Shepherd and Guardian of their souls, Jesus.
  • Peter reminds the reader that their ruler is not the emperor or their master; it is Jesus.
  • There is also an implied reference to the church of Jesus.
    • Peter is illustrating Jesus’ authority here.
    • The word “Guardian” in the original Greek is episkopos. This term is used for those who had authority in the early church and is found in Acts 20:28, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:2, and Titus 1:7.
    • Christ is the ultimate authority in the church.
  • The truth that Peter wants us to understand is the following.
    • As we live godly lives and submit in times of suffering, we follow Jesus’ example and become more like Him.
    • We submit and obey for the following reasons.
      • As an example to the lost around us.
      • To show our love for Jesus.
      • So that we may grow spiritually and become more like Jesus.

Applications.

  • Do we respect and follow the requests of our boss, workplace, and organization as long as it doesn’t go against the commands of Scripture? There may be tasks or requirements that we don’t like, but we must do them. There may be bosses or co-workers we don’t like, but we must still treat them with respect. The only time we can go against the instructions of our boss or organization is when they go against God’s commands.
  • We should expect to suffer as we live our Christian lives. It is never fun, but we still need to persevere through those times by holding fast to Jesus. Suffering for doing good will be rewarded. Suffering for sinful behavior will receive its just punishment.
  • Our one and only loyalty is to Jesus. Anyone or anything that redirects our loyalty needs to be removed or adjusted. We will answer to Jesus on judgment day, not a person.

1 Peter Lesson Four

1 Peter 2:11-17 A Call to Good Works

11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor. (HCSB)

In this passage, Peter exhorts the believers in the church in Asia Minor to live godly lives, shine their light to the unbelievers around them, respect authority, and use their freedom for good.

Verses 11-12

In these two verses, Peter characterizes the identity of the recipients of his letter in four ways.

  • Peter has Christian affection for the recipients, addressing them with the term “dear friends.” Peter is invested in their spiritual growth and wellbeing.
  • In the first chapter, Peter had already identified the recipients as sojourners or aliens. By joining the two words, Peter reinforces the fact that as believers in a fallen world, this is not their permanent home, and to the lost around them, their behavior would make them stand out as being different (strangers) in comparison to them.
  • At first, it may appear peculiar that Peter would tell the believers living in Asia Minor to act in a Christ-like manner among the unbelievers around them. To the Jews, anyone who was not a Jew was considered a Gentile. However, Peter is making the point that believers are grafted into Yahweh’s chosen people. They are now different from those around them.
  • The recipients of the letter are facing persecution in the form of slander from non-believers around them. This is the first explicit mention of hostility directed at believers in the letter. Let’s consider several factors here:
    • What qualifies as “evil” is often subjective and depends on the person viewing the action. Because of Christian resistance to Roman traditions/laws, they were viewed as criminal or evil in their behavior.
      • Acts 16:20-21  20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews 21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.”
      • Acts 17:6-7  When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees,  saying that there is another king—Jesus!”
      • Acts 19:24-27  24 For a person named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis,  provided a great deal of business for the craftsmen. 25 When he had assembled them, as well as the workers engaged in this type of business, he said: “Men, you know that our prosperity is derived from this business. 26 You both see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods!  27 So not only do we run a risk that our business may be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be despised and her magnificence come to the verge of ruin—the very one all of Asia and the world adore.”
    • They are to resist the cravings of the world by Christ-like living.
      • The cravings that believers experience can often be strong as the enemy desires us to stumble or fall.
      • Believers are at war with the powers of darkness.
      • We should never underestimate the powers of darkness and do all we can to resist the temptations of the world.
      • Do we desire holiness or pleasure? The one we feed is the one that will take control.
      • Fleshly desires are motivated by a spirit of selfishness.
      • They make us spiritually weak and ineffective.
    • These verses start a section that is a call to missions.
      • They are to live among the Gentiles, engaging them and being a living witness to the power of Jesus.
      • They are not to withdraw and live a life of isolation.
      • Their incarnational living will draw the lost to submit their lives to Jesus.
    • Believers are not to retaliate or engage in self-defense against those persecuting them.
      • They are to pursue virtue and goodness.
      • By doing this, it would contradict the false accusations being placed against them.
    • The day of visitation is the moment of salvation for the Gentiles around them who submit to Jesus because of the witness of the believers.
      • Peter is convinced that some will convert because of their behavior.
      • The unbelievers may persecute the believers, but some will join Yahweh’s spiritual family because of their faithful lives.
      • God is glorified when this happens.

The summary of these two verses is this. Live holy lives in the middle of secular chaos, and let God take care of everything else. Peter is calling the churches in Asia Minor to live radically different from the surrounding culture to please God and cope with their circumstances. Peter’s point is a timeless point. In today’s world, the church also needs a call to holiness as the modern church, especially the Western church, is under heavy influence from the culture around us.

Verses 13-17

This section is challenging, if for no other reason, that in today’s world, there is an overall element of government/leader bashing. As we look at this section, there is an important divergent point in the discussion. Does the government/leader position go against Scripture, or does it go against your personal preference? The answer to that question is important both in how we understand this passage, and how it should affect our behavior. Now, let’s understand what Peter is saying.

  • Believers should submit to governing authorities.
  • It’s God’s will for believers to submit to authority.
  • Believers don’t submit to human authority with a subservient spirit but as one who is free in Christ.
  • Freedom doesn’t give license for evil.
    • Creating political chaos.
    • Moral irresponsibility.
    • Christians should choose to be orderly citizens.

Verse 15

By submitting to authorities, believers demonstrate the following characteristics.

  • They are good citizens.
  • They are not anarchists.
  • Unbelievers can’t criticize them for their disobedience.

Peter is not saying that authorities will always be on the side of believers or even recognize and reward them for good behavior. He is saying that such behavior will reduce the slanderous attacks on believers.

Verse 16

Peter is focusing on what motivates the behavior of submission. He uses three phrases to explain how Christians should live when subordinating them to governing authorities.

  • As free people:
    • The blood of Jesus has redeemed them.
      • Freedom from the power of sin over our lives.
      • Freedom from the guilt of our sins.
      • Freedom from the impossibility of earning God’s favor through obedience.
    • They no longer are subject to the futile lifestyle of the lost.
    • Their submission is not out of a position of weakness but strength.
  • Not engaging in evil.
    • Genuine freedom allows believers to do what is good.
    • Engaging in evil shows they were never free in the first place.
    • Wickedness is the definition of slavery.
  • Submit as slaves of God.
    • Believers are not given unrestricted freedom.
    • Freedom is exercised under the authority of Yahweh.
    • The understanding of New Testament liberty is the freedom to do what is right.
    • Only slaves of God are truly free.

Let’s draw some conclusions to the concepts of subservience and freedom, as is discussed in this passage.

  • Our ultimate submission is to God.
    • Governments don’t get a blank check pass in our submission to them.
    • Peter never intended his words to mean that we blindly follow governments.
    • As believers, we must weigh what governments are telling us against Scripture.
    • When those two sources of authority over us are in conflict, we must choose what is contained in Scripture.
    • Our ultimate loyalty is to God, not Caesar or any of our current leaders.
    • As believers, we are free from fearing our earthly leaders.
  • Under normal circumstances, governments will punish evil and reward good, as understood through Scripture.
    • At these times, believers can follow the dictates of their government with a good conscience. This is important to avoid unnecessary civil unrest.
    • However, Peter is saying that when governments propose what is evil of demand that believers can’t worship God, then we must not obey the dictates of the government.
    • Practical examples.
      • Abortion clinics – it is ok to protest peacefully against them.
      • Civil rights – again, peacefully demonstrate.
    • Tragically, most of the examples we see today of protests are violent and destructive in nature.

Verse 17

Peter concludes with four commands for the believers in Asia Minor.

  • Honor everyone – treat everyone with dignity and respect since we are all created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 26 Then God said, “Let Us  make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.  They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth,  and the creatures that crawl  on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.
  • Love the brotherhood – we should show love to all members of our spiritual family.
  • Fear God – only God is deserving of our fear (respect) in our actions. Matthew 10:28 Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
  • Honor the Emperor – we are to honor our leaders and show respect to the position they hold.

The famous preacher, Jonathan Edwards, had six points that follow Peter’s teaching on how the church should operate today.

  • Christians have a responsibility to society beyond the walls of the church. We must not engage in isolationism.
  • We shouldn’t hesitate to join hands with non-Christians in working towards common moral grounds. At the same time, we must not compromise our Christian beliefs in cooperative endeavors.
  • Christians should support their government but be ready to criticize when the circumstances dictate that.
  • Politics are not important in the long run. Our first responsibility is to Jesus and only then to our government. No matter how much we do or want to respect our government, we should respect the church of Jesus more.
  • Christians should be aware of nationalistic pride. In the history of the church, there’s never been a truly Christian nation. As a Christian, our identity is in Jesus…period.
  • Christians must display an attitude of mercy for those less fortunate. If our God is a God of compassion and mercy, then we as Christians need to display those same characteristics.

Three main points in summary before I list some applications.

  • As the church, we can’t isolate ourselves from the world. The early church didn’t do that; they engaged the world, often leading to martyrdom.
    • The early church faced mostly physical persecution.
    • In most parts of the world today, the threat isn’t overt physical violence; it’s a slipping away from correct teaching and doctrine, leading to weak or false Christians.
  • Holiness means in all areas of our lives.
    • It isn’t restricted to spiritual disciplines; Bible reading, prayer, attending church, bringing our offering to God.
    • It includes all aspects of our lives.
      • Sexual practices.
      • The words we speak/don’t speak, write/don’t write.
      • How we spend our money.
      • Recreational pursuits.
      • Vocation.
      • Theological decisions.
  • The church needs to call all of its members to holiness. They should collectively fight against the sin in our society.
    • Casual sex.
    • Drugs.
    • Alcohol abuse.
    • Discrimination of any kind.
    • Gambling.
    • Oppression.
    • There’s a multitude more, and they vary in different locations around the world, choose those that fit your context.

Applications

  • First, no matter our circumstances, we must remember that our lives on earth are temporary. When we go through difficult times, face persecution, or just resentment for being a Christian, we must not forget that we weren’t the first, nor will we be the last. Rest in the assurance that Jesus is our strong tower, and He has already overcome the world.
  • We must resist the temptations that the world throws at us and seek holiness in our lives. If we struggle in an area, do we put up safeguards? Do we have an accountability partner?
  • Do we engage the lost world around us with the truth of the Gospel message? Jesus didn’t tell us to avoid the world; He told us to take the Gospel to a lost and dying world.
  • Do we respect our leaders both in action and word (spoken/printed/social media)? Disagreeing with our leaders does not give us the freedom or right to disrespect or slander them. If their words or actions are in conflict with Scripture, we have the freedom and responsibility to disagree with them in a respectful manner and/or peacefully demonstrate against whatever they do contrary to Scripture. Acting in accordance with Scripture goes against everything the world would tell us. However, we must remember application point one above, we are temporary residents here, and our identity is Jesus. If we act like the world, nobody will confuse us with the description of a Christian in the Bible.
  • Do we treat everyone with honor and respect?
  • Do you demonstrate love to your spiritual family?