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.

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 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?

1 Peter Lesson Three

1 Peter 2:1-10 – Living Stones

2 So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture:

Look! I lay a stone in Zion,

a chosen and honored  cornerstone,

and the one who believes in Him

will never be put to shame!

So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving,

The stone that the builders rejected—

this One has become the cornerstone,

and

A stone to stumble over,

and a rock to trip over.

They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people for His possession,

so that you may proclaim the praises 

of the One who called you out of darkness

into His marvelous light.

10 Once you were not a people,

but now you are God’s people;

you had not received mercy,

but now you have received mercy. (HCSB)

The focus of Peter’s message in these verses is on community relationships. The previous passage focused on the need for love among fellow Christians. In chapter two, Peter begins with a call to get rid of actions that disrupt the community of believers.

Verse 1

  • The sins listed in the first verse tear at the social fabric of the church, ripping away the love that binds them together.
    • Malice – an attitude similar to hatred with a desire to inflict pain, harm, or injury to another person. It includes holding and acting on grudges.
    • Deceit – refers to deliberate dishonesty. Anything less than speaking the full and honest truth from the heart is deceit. This is a selfish, two-faced attitude that deceives and hurts others for personal gain.
    • Hypocrisy – a person who is acting out a part and concealing their true motives.
    • Envy – a desire to possess what belongs to someone else and a feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others.
    • Slander – to speak against someone, to run others down verbally, assaults the character of a person, speech that harms another person’s status or reputation.

Verse 2

The central theme of the paragraph is in this verse, “desire the pure spiritual milk.” There are several themes associated with the “spiritual milk” theme.

  • Consuming spiritual milk results in growth.
  • Newborn babies crave milk; believers should have just as strong a craving for spiritual milk.
  • Milk is the very substance of life that enables Christians to grow spiritually.
  • The need for spiritual milk is not an indicator that they are new believers.
  • The milk believers are to long for contain two characteristics.
    • Pure – unadulterated and uncontaminated. Contaminated milk can produce sickness or death.
    • Spiritual – the root of the Greek word used for spiritual is logos, which means word.
  • The spiritual milk here is nothing less than the Word of God. But an underlying warning is contained here.
    • Pure milk leads to healthiness and growth.
    • Contaminated mild would lead to sickness or even death.
    • Correct teaching/preaching leads to spiritual growth. False or heretical teaching leads to sickness or death. False or heretical preachers are sickening or killing their congregation with tainted Scripture interpretation. As believers, we must be careful that those we listen to are not tainting the message.

Verse 3

Those who have truly experienced the love, mercy, and grace of Yahweh should, as a result, actively pursue Him in worship and obedience. The desire to grow spiritually comes from experiencing the Lord’s kindness. The believer is filled with a desire for more, never fully satisfied that they have enough of the Word and Yahweh. This shouldn’t be interpreted as a sense of frustration but rather as desiring more of God.

Verses 4-10 The Living Stones

This next section focuses on the concept of living stones, both Jesus as the living stone and those who make up the church as living stones. This is an amazing and beautiful picture, which I’ll unpack, hopefully giving you a better sense of its full meaning.

Verse 4

This verse is a little tricky as there are connections to the Old Testament from verse 3, Lord, but in this verse called the “living stone” as well as references to the Old Testament in the following verses. The use of the Old Testament term being linked to the living stone is important from a Christological standpoint as it infers that what is true of Yahweh is also true of Jesus.

Jesus is the living stone.

  • Living because of His resurrection.
  • Rejected by man.
    • Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
    • Isaiah 28:16 Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakeable.”
    • Acts 4:11 This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone.
    • Romans 9:33 As it is written: Look! I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over and a rock to trip over, yet the one who believes on Him will not be put to shame.
  • Chosen by Yahweh.
    • This contrasts with the rejection by man.
    • He is exalted through His resurrection.
  • These two ideas follow the situation of the Christians Peter is writing to.
    • They were despised by the unbelievers around them.
    • They were chosen and honored in Yahweh’s eyes.
    • They are destined for vindication after their earthly suffering.

Verse 5

In verse 4, Peter identified Jesus as the living stone. In verse 5, he calls followers of Jesus “living stones.” Why does Peter use the phrase “living stones?”

  • Because of their faith in the resurrected Christ.
    • When we place our faith in Jesus, we are buried and resurrected into the resurrected life of Jesus in the present.
    • We also wait for our new body at the end of the age.
  • This is the only place in the New Testament that believers are called living stones.
    • In other places, believers are called God’s temple or house.
      • 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
      • Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.
      • Hebrews 3:6 But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household. And we are that household if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.
      • The illustration is of a house in which believers make up the stones of the building.
    • The house (believer) is spiritual because it is animated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
  • Peter is identifying the New Testament church as the new temple, replacing the concept of the Old Testament temple.
    • Believers, as living stones comprising a spiritual house, are being built up through the teaching and discipleship that occurs in the New Testament church.
    • The function of the “building” (believers) is to function as a holy priesthood.
  • The idea of a holy priesthood should not be viewed in an individualistic context. Instead, Peter views this as the corporate church whose members are a holy priesthood.
    • Western society tends to view the concept of priesthood in an individualistic mindset.
    • Under the New Covenant, all believers have a priestly identity.
    • All believers have direct access to God through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.
    • However, we should focus on the corporate body of Christ rather than individual members.
  • Priests offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.
    • Prayer.
    • Thanksgiving.
    • Praise.
    • Repentance.
    • Offering our bodies to God for His service.
    • Offering of financial gifts.
    • Loving service to others.

Verse 6

This verse is taken from Isaiah 28:16 Therefore the Lord God said: Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakeable.

The context of Isaiah 28 is a judgment on Ephraim for disobedience and unbelief. The theme that Isaiah emphasized throughout the book is captured here, those who trust in the Lord will escape judgment, those who don’t will perish.

  • Isaiah 28:16 is fulfilled with the coming of Jesus.
  • A cornerstone establishes the design and structure of a building.
  • Jesus is the fortress, refuge, and stronghold.
  • Those who believe in Jesus will never be put to shame.
  • Just as Jesus is chosen and honored by God, believers will also be vindicated on the last day.
  • Believers will not experience the embarrassment of judgment but the glory of approval.

Verse 7

Depending on the translation you use verse 7 could have the word honor, as in the HCSB, or precious. The correct understanding of the original Greek is honor.

  • Honor for believers on the day of judgment.
  • Eschatological honor for Jesus.
  • The stone (Jesus) rejected by the builders (unbelievers) is the stone that believers rest their faith on.
  • Unbelievers reject the Gospel, which is the cause of their stumbling or tripping. This should be interpreted as judgment and eternity in hell.

Verse 8

The ideas in this verse are the Gospel message, Jesus, and unbelievers.

  • Jesus and His message, the Gospel, is offensive to many.
  • When unbelievers choose not to believe the Gospel and place their faith in Jesus, the very message that could bring them life instead causes them to stumble.
  • Disobedience is the cause, and all disobedience is because they fail to trust in God.
  • The stumbling mentioned in these verses is not accidental tripping; it is a willful rebellion by refusing to submit to the lordship of Yahweh.
  • The same thing led to the crucifixion of Jesus, refusing to submit and fulfilling their own desires.

Verse 9

There’s a lot going on in this verse, which contains three main themes; a royal priesthood, holy nation, and purpose of God’s people.

  • Royal priesthood.
    • God has chosen them.
    • A reminder that we serve royalty.
    • It is predominately corporate in nature.
      • But it doesn’t deny the fact that individuals serve priestly functions.
      • A proper understanding is that believers have priestly functions but always as members of a group who exercise priestly functions.
    • Both Israel as a nation and the church of Jesus are identified as a royal priesthood.
      • Exodus 19:6 “And you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.” These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.
      • Revelation 1:6 And made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen.
  • Holy nation.
    • Holy means to be set apart.
    • Both Israel and Jesus’ church are to be different than the world around them. They will be set apart by their holiness in obedience to Yahweh.
    • A people for His possession.
    • Individual believers all make a valuable contribution to Jesus’ church.
    • Christians are the true people of God, continuing His purpose that began with Abraham and Moses.
  • Purpose of God’s people.
    • To proclaim the praises of Yahweh.
      • They were called out of darkness (death).
      • They now live in marvelous light (life).
      • 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
      • Conversion is an illustration of moving from darkness to light.
        • Acts 26:18 To open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that by faith in Me they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified.
        • Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
    • Isaiah 43:21 The people I formed for Myself will declare My praise.
    • Isaiah 43:7a Everyone called by My name and created for My glory.
    • Components of praising God.
      • Worship.
      • Evangelism.

Verse 10

The verse presents an amazing picture of God’s grace and mercy. There is also a connection to Hosea 2:23 I will sow her in the land for Myself, and I will have compassion on No Compassion; I will say to Not My People: You are My people, and he will say, “You are my God.”

  • This was a renouncing of Israel as God’s chosen people because of continuous sin. Yet, Yahweh vows to have mercy on them and restore them as His chosen people.
  • It is also the experience of the church of Jesus and Gentiles.
    • Gentiles once lived in darkness but have now been restored by the light.
    • Gentiles are now grafted into God’s chosen people.
  • Gentiles are the recipients of God’s grace and mercy through faith in Jesus.

Applications

  • Take the list of sins that is in verse one and do a self-assessment on whether or not you stumble in any of these areas. Even better, ask your spouse or close friends/co-workers. If you have sinned against anyone, you should apologize and ask for forgiveness. They may or may not give it, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are to ask forgiveness.
  • Do you desire spiritual milk for growth? With our busy lives, it can be challenging, but we should be reading Scripture every day. We should read through the entire Bible each year. The only way to know God, be obedient to His Word, and defeat the spiritual powers of darkness is by being immersed in Scripture. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He quoted Scripture.
  • Do our lives reflect being a member of a holy priesthood? Are we any different than the world around us? If not, we need to confess our sins and do a course correction.
  • Do we rest in the security of the fortress of Jesus? There is nothing in this world bigger than Jesus. If we really trust Him, we will be secure no matter what the world throws at us.

1 Peter Lesson Two

1 Peter 1:13-25 – Holy Living

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold,  19 but with the precious blood of Christ,  like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For

All flesh is like grass,

and all its glory like a flower of the grass.

The grass withers, and the flower falls,

25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.

And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you. (HCSB)

There are three imperatives in this passage.

  • Unshakable hope in Jesus, verse 13
  • Holiness, verse 15
  • Live in reverent fear, verse 17

Verses 13-16

Verse 13

The word “therefore” reaches back to the first twelve verses in the letter. The readers are encouraged to live a godly life because they have a foundation in God’s saving work explained in verses 1-12. Order is essential here.

  • What God has done for us.
  • How we should live our lives.

If the order is reversed, we have a works-based righteousness instead of holiness being a result of God’s grace and power and our response to the love Jesus displayed by going to the cross.

  • Minds ready for action – means to be ready to undertake serious work.
  • Be serious – some translations have “sober” here. Sober is to be understood as having clear minds not impaired, distracted, or controlled by the things of the world.

Verse 14

There are several ideas flowing beneath the surface of this verse.

  • Even as followers of Jesus, we struggle with the temptation of this world and the danger of falling away from God.
  • However, as God’s children, we are to fight those temptations by living a life of obedience through faith and in God’s power and strength.
  • Just as children often have similarities with their earthly parents, we are to be similar to our heavenly Father.

Verse 15

  • The idea of being “called” should not be viewed as an invitation. Instead, it is a picture of God’s power in drawing people from a life in darkness to a life of light, from death to life.
  • Once again, the order is important. God’s power has pulled us from darkness and now equips us to live in holiness if we are obedient.
    • God’s people are to live differently from the world.
    • God’s people separate themselves from the evil desires of the world.
    • To be holy means to be apart from evil.

Verse 16

  • Why are we to be holy?
  • Because God is holy, and if we are God’s people, we should reflect God’s character.
    • Leviticus 11:44-45 For I am Yahweh your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy. You must not defile yourselves by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. For I am Yahweh, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy because I am holy.
    • When thinking about Old Testament covenants, before Israel could be a blessing to other nations, they first had to be holy.
    • Holiness is the starting point for God’s covenant people.
  • Holy doesn’t mean sinless perfection. That is impossible in this life. It does mean to be set apart. If we are God’s children, then we should be acting like Him.

Verses 17-21 Theme is to live in reverent fear.

Verse 17

  • Believers are to live in fear of Yahweh.
  • The question is, what type of fear is Peter talking about?
    • Reverent fear – a feeling of utmost respect and honor towards Yahweh.
    • Terror fear – a feeling of trepidation and apprehension.
    • From the context of the passage and the general concept of the Christian life as being a life filled with joy, it seems clear that Peter is talking about reverent fear.
    • At the same time, we need to examine whether our reverent fear is still…reverent or if it has become dull over time.
    • A responsible and confident driver also has a healthy fear for the damage that their vehicle could inflict on others through reckless behavior.
  • Our loving Father will also be our impartial judge on the last day.

Verse 18

The first idea to note is that verses 18-19 together form a negative/positive couplet. First, Peter illustrates what does not redeem someone with what does redeem someone.

  • Redeemed
    • Signifies liberation.
    • In this verse, it signifies leaving the emptiness of life they inherited from their fathers.
    • In the Old Testament emptiness is often associated with the idol worship practiced by pagans.
    • In the New Testament, it illustrates pre-Christian life.
      • Romans 1:21  For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their senseless minds were darkened.
      • Ephesians 4:17  Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts.
    • The life of unbelievers is a life characterized by futility, emptiness, and chasing after false gods.
      • Pursuing money.
      • Pursuing possessions.
      • Both are temporary.

Verse 19

The details of the purchase price are now revealed.

  • In contrast to the temporary things the lost pursue, believers are purchased with the everlasting and infinitely precious blood of Jesus.
  • Jesus poured out His life to redeem sinners.
  • Early Christians believed that Christ’s sacrifice as the sinless lamb fulfilled:
    • The Passover.
    • The prophetic suffering servant.
    • The entire Old Testament sacrificial system.

Verse 20

There are two main thoughts here:

  • Before the foundation of the world.
    • It was not mere chance that brought Jesus into the world at that particular time and place.
    • It was part of God’s plan.
    • Ephesians 1:4  For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.
  • Revealed at the end of the times.
    • Followers of Jesus enjoy the blessing of living at the time God is fulfilling His saving promises.
    • “The end of the times” signifies the time that started with the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
    • This does not mean, and should not be confused with, the eschatological end times.
    • Peter indicates that Jesus’ birth, life, and death ushered in “the end of the times.”

Verse 21

  • We are believers in God through Jesus, not through any other means. John 14:6b  No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • Believers put their faith in God because of the finished work of Jesus.
  • Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of the living hope found in 1:3.
  • A holy life is a life that trusts in God’s promises.
  • A holy life is one in which God is prized above all things, in which believers trust and hope in His goodness.

Verses 22-25 The theme is a command to love each other.

Verse 22

  • Purpose of their conversion is to love fellow believers.
  • It is achieved by obedience to the truth – faith in God’s promises of salvation.
  • It rises from a pure heart that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
  • Peter uses two different Greek words for love in this verse.
    • One is brotherly love.
    • One is divine love, agape.
    • Unbelievers can display brotherly love to each other. However, it takes a Christian controlled by the Holy Spirit to show agape love.

Verse 23

  • Peter explains the origin of their birth.
    • Not of a perishable seed – human birth.
    • But of an imperishable seed – the Word of God.
      • Romans 10:17  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
      • Galatians 3:2  I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?
    • A seed and the Word have similar characteristics.
      • A seed is small but, once planted has the power of life in it and produces fruit.
      • The Word is small and seemingly insignificant. Yet, it has power and life within it. The Word must be planted to do good, but when it is planted in a person’s heart, it produces good fruit.
      • Fruit produced by the Word is lasting, eternal fruit, but things of the flesh don’t last.

Verse 24

  • Peter quotes the text from Isaiah 40:6-8 here.
    • Israel will be restored from their exile in Babylon.
    • Babylon was viewed as invincible at the time that Israel was taken into exile.
    • Those persecuting the recipients of Peter’s letter may have been viewed as invincible.
    • In both cases, Peter is saying that their power is short-lived and that Yahweh and His people endure forever.

Vese 25

  • God’s Word is enduring.
  • It is imperishable.
  • Nothing can overpower God.
  • The promises contained in Isaiah are fulfilled in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Applications.

  • Do you take your faith seriously and prepare yourself for spiritual work? Peter’s words at the beginning of this passage exhort us always to be prepared and to have the proper attitude towards our salvation.
  • Do you take the holiness of God seriously and have a reverent fear of God? We love to read the passages that tell us how loving and merciful God is, which is true. But we often neglect or ignore the passages that tell us that God is also our judge. An infinitely holy God can’t be in the presence of sin. Will our lives allow us to enter into God’s presence or will we be cast out of His presence? We would do well to remember Matthew 7:23 Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers.”
  • Do we immerse ourselves in the Word? We need to be reading the Bible daily, feeding on the truths contained in it. Those seeds of truth will plant themselves in our hearts and grow, producing fruit in our lives.
  • Do we have agape love for our brothers and sisters? Many countries have large megachurches, which in themselves are not necessarily bad. However, they often feel impersonal, and there is little to no connection with other believers. When we look back at the church in the book of Acts, we see a church that closely connected believers together. Make sure you are connected with a church that promotes connecting in smaller groups, replicating the intimacy that is found in the early church.

1 Peter Lesson One

A Living Hope – 1 Peter 1:1-12

Today’s lesson begins a study on 1 Peter. Before digging into the first passage to discuss, let’s set the stage with some background information.

Destination and Situation of the Readers: Written to the churches in Asia Minor who were faced with suffering and persecution for their faith.

Date: Likely around A.D. 62-63 before Nero’s persecution begins.

Author: The author claims to be Peter, and there is no evidence in the writer’s letter to disagree with his authorship.

Theme: To encourage believers to hold fast while they endure the suffering and persecution of the present evil age, knowing that they will receive a great reward on the day of salvation.

Theology: The author presents three theological lessons in this book.

  • Hope in the midst of suffering.
  • Christians belong to the ancestral people of God.
  • The blessings that believers enjoy now or hope to enjoy in the future, Christ’s death and resurrection, and Christ’s victory over all evil spiritual beings.

Now, let’s look at today’s lesson.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:

To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

A Living Hope

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy,  He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this,  though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things. (HCSB)

Verses 1-2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Some things to note about these first two verses.

  • The introduction is not in a standard format for letters of the period.
  • Peter introduces himself as an apostle of Jesus.
    • This should not be interpreted as being merely a messenger of Christ.
    • Jesus designated Peter as an authoritative messenger and interpreter of the Gospel.
    • This means that the letter is not just good advice; it is a binding apostolic word for the church.
  • The letter is addressed to “the temporary residents.” Other translations may say “pilgrims.”
    • Because they are “chosen” by God, they are residing temporarily on earth.
      • 1 Peter 2:11  Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.
      • Hebrews 11:13  These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.
    • Their true home is in heaven.
  • They are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.” This is a challenging concept to wrap our brains around, and there is much discussion and debate on the ideas of predestination and foreknowledge. The two main camps are the Calvinists and the Arminians, and what makes it even more challenging is that Scripture can support both of their positions. I won’t get into a lengthy and detailed discussion of the two camps, as that would be an entire lesson. The important point to reflect on here is that the recipients of the letter are believers of the Gospel.
    • Romans 8:29  For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:13  But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
  • This is a cyclical letter intended for each of the churches listed, located in modern-day Turkey.
  • The believers are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
    • Conversion is not just an intellectual understanding of the Gospel.
    • It involves obedience and submission to the Gospel.
  • They have been cleansed by the sacrificial blood of Jesus.
  • Entrance into the New Covenant has two parts.
    • Obedience to the Gospel.
    • Cleansing through the sacrificial blood of Jesus.
  • The Trinity is contained in the introduction, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • It closes with a prayer that grace and peace be multiplied in their lives.

Verses 3-5

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy,  He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Peter begins this section with the theme for the entire passage, praise for God.

  • Because He has given us a new birth.
    • None of us can take credit for the new birth.
    • It is entirely through God’s grace and mercy.
  • He has given us a living hope.
    • The resurrection of Jesus.
    • Victory over death.
    • Everything they could suffer in this world is insignificant compared with the future blessings of resurrection and eternity with God.
  • He has given us an inheritance.
    • In the Old Testament, the land was the inheritance.
    • In the New Covenant, Peter understands that the inheritance is the end-time hope that all believers have.
    • Our eternal home is in heaven.
    • It is still a physical hope: a new heaven and a new earth.
      • 2 Peter 3:13  But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
      • Revelation 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away, and the sea no longer existed.
  • However, the focus on salvation should be on our future glory.
    • Inheritance is another way of looking at our salvation. Our full and final inheritance will be received in the new heaven and new earth.
    • It will be revealed in the last time; our salvation is a future event.
    • Believers can rest in the assurance that God’s power will protect them through their trials here and bring them to salvation.
      • This doesn’t mean we won’t’ experience trials.
      • But God will preserve us so that we will receive our final inheritance.
      • This requires faith on our part.
      • God’s protection works in conjunction with our believing.
        • The root of sin is unbelief.
        • If we are faithful, God’s power protects us from unbelief and sin.

Verses 6-9

You rejoice in this,  though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

In verses 3-5, the focus was on praise to God. Now, in verses 6-9, the focus shifts to joy and love, even as they face various trials.

  • There are two types of trials.
    • Those brought on by our own poor choices.
    • Those that God allows us to experience to shape and mold us for greater works and keep us on the narrow path.
      • Acts 14:22  Strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
      • Romans 5:3-4  And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
      • James 1:2-4  Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
      • These trials are never enjoyable, but God is working out His plan through them.
  • The persecutions of Christians under the rule of Nero were starting at the time this letter was written.
    • Nero’s persecution was the first of nine conducted by the Roman Empire.
    • The persecutions lasted for about 250 years.
    • Peter’s death was likely during this first persecution.

Verse 7

Why does God allow us to suffer?

  • Suffering functions as the test for faith.
    • Those with genuine faith will persevere through the trials.
      • They will continue to trust God even in the deepest valleys of suffering.
      • Their faith will be strengthened and purified through the sufferings.
      • Their transformation into Christ-likeness includes the ability to undergo suffering to glorify God.
    • Those who have a shallow or false faith will not persevere through the sufferings. In the end, they will be seen as false Christians.
  • The trials of life test our faith to prove its sincerity. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. A person who abandons their faith when the going gets tough is only proving that they had no faith at all.
  • We also suffer because our “new life” values are in direct conflict with a fallen and sinful world. In our current world, this has led to secularism and pluralism negatively affecting the church-many hot topics in the world clash with the truth of Scripture.
    • Same-sex marriage.
    • All religions lead to the same God and heaven.
    • Relative truth, each of us has our own set of truth values, and we must accept and respect the truths of others.
    • The idea that some portions of Scripture are a fairy tale.
    • The lack of personal responsibility and accountability. I can do anything I want. I’m not at fault for my actions.
    • There are more, but in each case, the values of a follower of Jesus are in direct conflict with the world.

Verse 8

What is our hope based on?

  • The end of verse 7 answers that, the revelation of Jesus, and verse 8 expounds on it.
    • Our sufferings should not make us miserable.
    • Our lives should be filled with love for Jesus.
    • Jesus is precious to those who believe in Him.
    • The recipients of the letter, and us, have never seen Him, yet we believe in Him.
    • Believing is not based on seeing. John 20:29  Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
  • Peter’s main point here is that the hope of believers is not destroyed by the trials they undergo. Their lives are characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and joy while they wait for the eternal joy in anticipation. If we trust Jesus with our present salvation, we can also trust Him with our future salvation.

Verse 9

This expounds on the previous verse be defining the reward awaiting those who believe in Jesus.

  • The reason for the believer’s love and joy is the promise of future salvation.
  • We see from verse 5 that it will be completed “in the last time.”
    • This doesn’t mean that salvation isn’t a present-tense idea.
    • As in many places in the Bible, this is an “already, not yet” concept that will not reach its completion until Jesus returns.
    • Believers enjoy salvation now but will experience its fullness at a future date.

Verses 10-12

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

Verse 10

This verse builds upon the previous verse in expanding upon the idea of salvation.

  • The salvation that was prophesied in the past, the recipients of the letter were now experiencing.
    • Believers in Jesus are the fulfillment of prophecy.
    • The prophecy was intended for Peter’s readers.
  • This salvation was not experienced in the same way by the Old Testament prophets.
    • God’s grace through the New Covenant.
    • The prophets carefully investigated the salvation they prophesied about.

Verse 11

  • The prophets didn’t live in the time of fulfillment.
  • Their prophecies were inspired by the Spirit of Christ, indicating authority and accuracy.
  • The prophets predicted these events but didn’t know when they would occur.
  • They hoped to experience the fulfillment of their prophecies.
  • The recipients of the letter do live in the time of fulfillment.
  • The prophets discovered that Jesus would first suffer and only after that would glory follow.
    • Often, this is a pattern in our lives.
    • Suffering is not a sign that Jesus has forsaken us.
    • Suffering is a sign of our fellowship with Jesus.
    • Suffering does not reduce the living hope given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Verse 12

  • Although the prophets desired to live in the time of fulfillment, God revealed to them that they would not experience it.
  • The Old Testament prophecies do not apply to the recipients but were intended for them.
  • The prophets were guided by the Spirit of Christ, but those who evangelize the Gospel message do so through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Gospel fulfills what is contained in the Old Testament.
  • Believers are blessed to live in the time of prophetic fulfillment. Matthew 13:16-17  “But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.”
  • Angels don’t experience the Gospel in the same way that humans do since they are not the recipients of redemption.
    • Angels marvel at what God has done through the sacrifice of Jesus.
    • The recipients of the letter actually experience it.

Applications.

  • Do we consider ourselves “temporary residents” of the earth? As a follower of Christ, our identity is in Him and not our country, ethnicity, the school we attended, job, etc. This may be hard for some to come to grips with, but our true identity is not defined by anything on this earth.
  • As a follower of Christ, our future hope is secure. Do you really believe that, or do you struggle with the assurance of your salvation? If you believe in the infallible truth of Scripture, you should never doubt your salvation if you have placed your trust in Jesus. Doubting is the ploy of the enemy to hamper your work for God.
  • All of us will suffer trials as we go through life. Some of us will suffer more than others. Do you focus on the present trial, or do you focus on the future assurance?
  • Understand that biblical salvation is offensive to the culture we live in. As we share the Gospel message, we will face opposition. Some opposition may be minor, but some could be quite violent. Our task, both individually and corporately as the church, is to faithfully and boldly preach the true Gospel message whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Sermon on the Mount Lesson Seventeen

Keep Asking, Searching, Knocking – Matthew 7:7-12

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets. (HCSB)

This passage is easy to misunderstand and is often abused by the heretical teaching of those pushing the prosperity or the “name it and claim it” gospel. I pray that by the end of this lesson, you will understand that Jesus is not teaching that.

Another critical point is that in the context of this passage, as well as the entire Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking to the disciples. This is the first requirement in this passage on answered prayer.

Verses 7-8

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Let’s make some observations about these first two verses.

  • When we come to God in prayer, we should have an expectant attitude. Our heavenly Father is perfect and wants to bless His children.
  • The terms ask, seek, and knock are all metaphors for prayer.
  • There is symmetry in the structure of these two verses and the verbs used.
    • There is a triplet of commands: ask, seek, knock.
    • There is a triplet of affirmations: receives, finds, opened.
    • Ask, seek, and knock are all present tense verbs.
    • Will be given, will find, and will be opened are all future tense verbs.
    • Receives and finds are present tense while will be opened are future tense.
  • Although there is some disagreement on whether the terms ask, seek, and knock mean exactly the same thing, it appears a better conclusion is that there is an increasing level of intensity when praying to God.
    • Ask – suggests an attitude of humility and need.
    • Seek – suggests responsible activity in following God’s will.
    • Knock – suggests perseverance in asking and seeking.
  • Jesus is telling the disciples that they need to be persistent in their prayers.
    • Ask the Father continually in a spirit of need, understanding that everything comes from God.
    • Seeking God’s will on a continual basis to guide our lives.
    • Knocking with a relentless determination to receive an answer.
  • Since this passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, the contextual understanding and application must be made by applying everything that Jesus had said previously. This brings us back to the “Disciple’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13.
    • Verse 10b Your will be done.
    • Our prayers are answered when they align with God’s will.
      • Asking for a Mercedes likely won’t get answered…unless God really wants you to have a Mercedes. Even then, I would ask that you consider if you really need it or you just want it. Consider how you could bless Kingdom work by settling for a less expensive vehicle.
      • This same principle can be applied to anything that could be considered a battle between wants and needs.
      • 1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
      • 1 John 3:22 And can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight.
      • John 15:7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
    • God may answer our prayer in a way we didn’t expect.
      • We pray for healing for a family member or friend, and instead, they pass away. If that person is a believer, God has healed them in the most perfect way. They no longer experience pain or suffering.
      • We pray for a promotion or a particular type of job. We do get a job offer, but it was not what we were desiring.
    • God will answer our prayers, or maybe not answer them, in alignment with His will. When we pray in alignment with God’s will, we can be assured that it will be answered in His time.

Verses 9-11

What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

A quick summary of these three verses before digging into them more. If sinful parents know how to provide and take care of their children, how much more will a perfect and infinitely holy God provide for and take care of His children? This is especially true in today’s world, where there is so much abuse, neglect, and mistreatment from parents.

In these verses, Jesus uses imagery that would have resonated with the hearers of this message given along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

  • The stones along the shore of the sea were round limestone and in appearance were quite similar to the round loaves of bread common in Jesus’ day.
  • Although the term “snake” is used here, it is more likely that Jesus was referring to an eel, a snake-like fish. However, according to Jewish dietary laws, eels could not be eaten. Leviticus 11:12 Everything in the water that does not have fins and scales will be detestable to you.
  • In each comparative case, a parent would be mocking their child if they gave them a rock or eel to satisfy their hunger. In the first example, the stone is inedible, and in the second, they were forbidden by Jewish law to eat it.

God desires to give His children good gifts, but our behavior and actions prevent or delay the bestowing of these gifts. But just as being in the right relationship and desiring His will affects our prayer life, this also carries over into how He gives His children gifts.

Verse 12

Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.

This verse is known as the “Golden Rule” and advocates relationships built upon mutual respect and conduct.

As Jesus approaches the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, He describes Kingdom expectations in one principle. It also brings full circle the statement that Jesus made in Matthew 5:17 Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Jesus’ teaching throughout the Sermon on the Mount fulfills the Law and the Prophets, while the Golden Rule sums up the Law and the Prophets.

  • Leviticus 19:18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.
  • Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • Matthew 22:37-40 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

Paul also restates this principle.

  • Romans 13:8-10 Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and whatever other commandment – are all summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.
  • Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus’ teaching in the Golden Rule highlights two significant points about stability in the lives of Christians.

  • Stability increases as disciples understand and practice depending on their heavenly Father, the only unshakeable in this troubled world. Whatever needs a person may have, they must cultivate a healthy dependence on God. Loving God means we trust Him to take care of us.
  • Stability also increases as we develop a healthy commitment to sacrifice and help those around us. To truly love others means we help them. When mutual love exists, they can completely trust each other to satisfy their needs. When that love and trust are linked with trust in God, disciples should never have to think about their needs being met; they will be met in a loving community of fellow believers who radiate the Father’s commitment to take care of us.

In effect, this statement concludes the Sermon on the Mount as in the concluding verses, Matthew 7:13-27, Jesus calls upon all who hear the message to make a decision. Either they will follow Him, or they are against Him.

Let’s look at how we can apply this passage to our lives.

  • How is your prayer life?
    • Do you seek to pray in accordance with God’s will, or are your prayers of a selfish nature?
    • Are you persistent in your prayers, or do you give up easily?
    • Always remember that God may answer your prayer in a way you didn’t anticipate or even don’t like. Those moments are a test of our faith. Will we trust God that He knows what’s best for us or others, or will we complain or even become bitter because we didn’t get our way?
    • If sinful parents provide for their children, a perfect and loving God will certainly provide for our needs.
  • Do you live out the Golden Rule?
    • Do you treat others will love and respect?
    • Do you help those around you when they have needs?
    • Do you sacrifice for others?
    • If you could watch a video of yourself interacting with others, would you feel good about what you see, or would you hang your head in shame that didn’t shine the light of Christ?

Sermon on the Mount Lesson Sixteen

Do Not Judge – Matthew 7:1-6

In this lesson we’ll tackle the issue of being judgmental towards others.

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.  For with the judgment you use,  you will be judged, and with the measure you use,  it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs,  or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces. (HCSB)

The first thing to note about verses 1-5 is that they are one of the most misunderstood and misquoted passages in the entire Bible. Jesus is not making a blanket prohibition against any form of judgment or discernment against another believer. Jesus is saying that these should never be done in a spirit of self-centered pride and without first examining yourself for sinful behavior.

Verses 1-2

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.  For with the judgment you use,  you will be judged, and with the measure you use,  it will be measured to you. 

Jesus doesn’t state precisely what is being judged. However, we should interpret this in light of a general application of judging someone else. The Greek verb for judge, krino, has several different understandings depending on the context within which it is used.

  • Ordinary discernment of evaluation. Luke 7:43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one he forgave more.”
  • Judicial litigation. Matthew 5:40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well.
  • Bestow a reward. Matthew 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: In the Messianic Age, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • Pronouncement of guilt. John 7:51 Our law doesn’t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?
  • Absolute determination of one’s fate. Matthew 5:22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire.

Jesus is warning His followers of practicing the last two on the list. We are not to set ourselves over others and make a determination of their guilt before God.

This warning is also the opposite of the blessing Jesus mentioned in Matthew 5:7 The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy. It is also the fifth petition in the Disciple’s Prayer. Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

True followers of Christ will not exhibit a pattern of judging others, and displaying a pattern of judgment against others is an indicator that the person not a true member of the Kingdom of Heaven. When disciples develop a condemning and critical attitude as a pattern in their lives, it shows they have forced love out of their relationships with others.

Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about failures that make us apathetic in our Christian service. Those failures are the love of money and worrying. Both of these will make our witness ineffective as our focus is not on God or serving Him. However, a certain kind of zeal can also ruin our witness. That is a zeal for judging others, and it will turn the practitioner into a sharp and unjust critic of their Christian brothers and sisters.

Verses 3-5

Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Here Jesus is engaging in hyperbole to communicate His point. Let’s make a couple of observations before we discuss these verses further.

  • Jesus is addressing His followers when He uses the term “brother.” Although this shouldn’t stop us from addressing issues with unbelievers, we must remember that they have a completely different set of values as non-Christians.
  • Jesus is not forbidding us from addressing issues in the lives of others. However, Jesus is saying that there is a process to ensure we do it correctly.
  • This is a jab at the self-righteousness exhibited by the Pharisees.

As I wrote in the introduction, Jesus is not telling us we can’t correct our brothers and sisters when they stray from the path. But it has to be done in the proper spirit, the spirit of love and correction, so it doesn’t happen again, not in a spirit of condemnation. Jesus did this with the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11b “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” There are two important points to remember in this short statement.

  • Jesus is not condoning her behavior. Too often, believers focus on the first part, not being condemned. It’s wonderful that as a follower of Christ, we are forgiven when we fall and confess our sins.
  • The more important part of the verse is at the end in the form of a command, “do not sin anymore.”

When we confront a brother or sister who is sinning, the goal should always be restoration and not condemnation. Let’s consider some passages that illustrate the wrong and right ways to address sinful behavior.

  • Romans 14:10 But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the tribunal of God. The word “criticize” here is a condemning judgment.
  • Romans 2:1 Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. Here the word “judge” is a condemning judgment reserved for God and carried out by a hypocritical person.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:3 Therefore don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God. The word “judge” is used here in a judicial sense, as in a court of law. Another point is that we will likely never know the full details of the situation. To judge without full knowledge is foolish judgment. Only God can search our hearts and know the full truth.
  • Matthew 18:15 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. When a brother or sister is found in sin, there is a process to follow. Although rarely addressed in the modern church, there is a process for church discipline that Jesus laid out for us.
  • Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Restoration is to be done in the spirit of love.

There are three principles we should remember as to why we should never judge another person.

  • We won’t know all of the facts or the entire person; we can’t search their hearts.
  • It is impossible for fallen and sinful people, even the most devoted follower of Christ, to be completely impartial in our judgment.
  • None of us is good enough to judge another person. There is only one judge. James 4:12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

A succinct summary of verses 1-5 is, “Do not judge others until you are prepared to be judged by the same standard. And then, when you exercise judgment towards, do it with humility.”

Verse 6

Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.

At first glance, this verse seems misplaced. However, there is a connection between this verse and the preceding verses. In the first five verses, Jesus is warning against hypocritical judgment of others. In verse 6, Jesus is warning against naïve acceptance. Matthew 10:16 Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.

As Christians, we need to strike a difficult balance between the characteristics of a serpent and a dove. We will continuously need to make evaluations in our lives, and a balance must be struck. The serpent was the picture of wisdom, shrewdness, mental keenness, and the dove represented simple innocence.

  • Genesis 3:1a Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made.
  • Psalms 58:5 That does not listen to the sound of the charmers who skillfully weave spells.
  • Hosea 7:11a So Ephraim has become like a silly, senseless dove;

Without innocence, the keenness of the snake is crafty, a devious menace; without keenness, the innocence of the dove is naive, helpless gullibility.

We need to interpret this verse in two ways.

  • The early church was attacked from the outside (persecution) as well as the inside (heresy). Persecution is easy to understand. However, the potential for heresy came about because Christianity was in its infancy, and there were those who tried to fuse pagan beliefs into Christianity. The modern church is facing these same issues today.
    • Persecution against the church and individual Christians is on the rise.
    • There are false theological positions being promoted openly.
      • Those who believe Genesis chapters 1-11 are fictional. This opens up pandora’s box. If you don’t believe in the first 11 chapters, how can you honestly believe in the rest?
      • The overemphasis on grace and the underemphasis on obedience, judgment, and hell.
      • Biblical fact that God created two sexes, man and woman, to be joined as one in marriage. The Bible speaks explicitly against homosexual behavior. The only conclusion is that same sex-marriage is a false teaching and a perversion of Scripture.
  • It was used by the Jews to undermine the simplicity of the Gospel. They believed that God’s gifts and grace were solely for the Jews. They argued that anyone converting to Christianity needed to be circumcised and submit to Old Testament Law.

The thing that is holy and the pearls in this verse are the Gospel message. The dogs and pigs are likely unbelievers and active enemies of the Gospel. Jesus is not telling His followers not to share the Gospel, but He is saying that after prolonged rejection, reproach, and harassment, it is best to move on and share with others. This is precisely the methodology that Paul applied on his mission trips.

  • Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: “It was necessary that God’s message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles!
  • Acts 18:6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook his robe and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads!  I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
  • Acts 19:9 But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them and met separately with the disciples, conducting discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

How do we apply this passage?

  • When you judge others, because it will happen, examine the spirit in which you do it. Do you take a loving, humble, and restorative approach, or are you condescending, vindictive, and condemning?
  • Do you make sure your life is in order, and you are not hypocritical? If you’re not willing to walk the walk, you shouldn’t talk the talk.
  • Don’t shy away from the opportunities to correct and restore a fallen brother or sister. Just because we need to be careful in how we do doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
  • Don’t be naïve in dealing with a lost world. It’s a delicate balancing act, and there is wiggle room in how each of us would interpret and react to any given situation. At the same time, there is biblical support for withdrawing from those who are either unresponsive to the Gospel or are openly hostile to it.