1 Peter 1
Wow, what a blessing it is to have two letters written by the Apostle Peter – and what an amazing work God did in his life. I think back to the time Jesus called him, but Peter told Jesus to depart from him, for he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8). Jesus didn’t depart, He encouraged Peter and told him not to be afraid, for He would make him a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19; Luke 5:10). And that’s exactly what He did. 1 Peter is one of my favorite books in the Bible, it is a well-rounded general letter on the Christian life.
Peter is writing to people who have been dispersed, scattered throughout the land, people who are suffering persecution. In v. 2 he calls them the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” If you ever hear people talking about election, take them to this verse so you can explain to them the basis of God’s election. God doesn’t elect people to be saved randomly, like a lottery. God elects according to His foreknowledge, He looks down the corridors of time to see those whose hearts are open to Him, He sees flawlessly into the future and He “elects,” He selects those for salvation. Salvation is based on God’s sovereignty, but somewhere in there, mysteriously is man’s responsibility.
Did you notice the teaching of the Trinity, all three members of the Godhead mentioned in v. 2 – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Peter praises God for the fact that these people have been born-again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a living hope so there’s hope for us on earth, no matter what our lot in life may be, and of course we have that hope of heaven, it’s incorruptible, undefiled, reserved in heaven for us, forever. I like to define hope as a “certain certainty” about the future – it’s good, because God is there.
Did you notice the frequency of the word “faith” in chapter 1? We are kept by the power of God through faith (v. 5). We go through trials to prove the genuineness of our faith (v. 7). We rejoice in receiving the end of our faith – the salvation of our souls (v. 9). Keep believing my friend; we read in Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”Just keep believing God’s Word from the heart, and loving God’s Son, even though we’ve never seen Him physically (v. 8) we love Him and we see Him spiritually (Hebrews 11:27).
We are beyond blessed to live in this dispensation. The prophets of the Old Testament wrote about it, but didn’t know all that it meant, and didn’t experience it; angels wonder about it – they don’t know what grace is, because they’ve never experienced it. May we realize how blessed we are beyond measure.
Peter reminds us that this great salvation should lead to a life of holiness. After all, we weren’t redeemed with sliver or gold, nor were we redeemed by the blood of lambs or turtle doves, no, we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus – from all our sins and aimless conduct – thank You Lord, I’ve been bought and belong to You.
1 Peter 2
The principle we find in the Scriptures is that we are to put off the old man and put on the new man (Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 4:22-24). The Greek word translated “laying aside” (v. 1) means to “take off your clothes,” so before we put on our new clothes, we must first take off our dirty clothes. God help us to be like newborn babes and desire the pure milk of the Word because we’ve truly tasted the amazing grace of God, but first we must take off the malice (ill will, desire to injure), deceit (craftiness), hypocrisy (acting), envy (resentment when others are blessed). These are serious sins and yet common in the hearts of many Christians. Do you struggle with any of these?
We are to come to Jesus who is the Chief Cornerstone and be those living stones He’s called us to be. The New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers, meaning that any Christian can stand in the gap and represent God to the people by loving on them with God’s Word; and any Christian can represent the people to God by praying for them. We can all serve and sacrifice or teach with our lips and our lives. All Christians now belong to the royal priesthood.
I pray the many prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament (over 300) never get old or commonplace in our hearts. Here Peter quotes from Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14 teaching us some important things about the Messiah. That He would be the Chief Cornerstone and yet rejected by the builders (the Jewish leaders); that all that would be required in the New Covenant would be simple faith in order to be saved; but this would be a stumbling stone for the Jews who valued the rules and regulations of religion over a simple relationship with God. It’s all there in the Old Testament.
Peter begs us to abstain from fleshly lusts so that we can be good witnesses while here on earth, knowing that this is not our home, we are simply passing through, as sojourners, and pilgrims. This witness has an interesting balance between our citizenship in heaven, and our citizenship on earth. We are to be submissive to the “king” unless it conflicts with our submission to the King of kings. Apparently, the Christians Peter is writing to are being maligned and mistreated; Peter doesn’t coddle them, he challenges them notto retaliate…but to be like Jesus.
Employees are to be submissive to their employers, even if they’re harshly treated. It’s hard to accept, but the truth of the matter is, that Peter is speaking to slaves who were being beaten. He tells them that if they’re beaten for doing good, and they take it patiently, it’s commendable before God. How many of us would be willing to be beaten and take it patiently? And yet this is the example Jesus gave us. This is how we were saved. John Stott said, “The Greek word for example here (v. 21) is unique in the New Testament. It denotes a teacher’s copybook on which children trace their letters when learning to write.”O children, let’s trace our teacher’s life in learning to love. This is not speaking of child abuse by a parent, or a wife abused by her husband, the context is public humiliation and degradation from non-believers. Let God guide you, He will also defend you. Sandy Adams advises, “Let us not swap insult for insult. The Christian is called to be a shock absorber. Let the hatred that passes from person to person stop with you. Jesus is our example. He bore our sin in His body without a word of complaint in His mouth.” We return to and trust in our Shepherd and Overseer of our lives.
1 Peter 3
In the book of Ephesians chapter 5, when Paul deals with husbands and wives, he spends the bulk of the passage on husbands. Here in 1 Peter 3, Peter gives more attention to the ladies – it’s amazing the Biblical balance! The primary point for wives is to be submissive. Submission doesn’t mean your only value is in bearing children barefoot in the laundry room. Submission means you allow your husband to run with that responsibility to lead the family – with the hopes that he will follow Jesus. When Paul deals with submission for the wives in Ephesians 5:22-24 he prefaces it with the command that we are to be submissive to one another. A healthy marriage will find husbands, for the most part, submitting to their wives, giving her her preference. But if a husband feels strongly about something he senses the Lord is leading in, it is here that the wife should yield, not kicking and screaming, but with an attitude of submission.
Peter encourages the wives whose husbands are unsaved to win them over, not with nagging, but with their chaste conduct (pure and reverent lives). If you want to attract your husband physically there is an outward beauty that has its place, but if you hope to attract him spiritually, then you’ll need that “inner beauty” Peter speaks about, a beauty unlike the outside, a million times more attractive…that never fades away.
Husbands may only have one verse here in 1 Peter chapter 3, but what a punch it packs. How we are to live with them (be present, pay attention) and do so with understanding (get to know her, be patient). Many husbands fail miserably in these areas. They have this mentality that takes their wives for granted, they’ve “conquered” they have her, now they move on to other things. No, we are to honor our wives – always – realizing that she’s the weaker vessel (this could be in reference to positional, emotional, or physical weakness). God wants husbands to realize that they’ve been given this life together with their wives – and if the husband mistreats his wife, his prayers will be hindered. That last statement almost sounds like spiritual suicide – where would I be without a strong and healthy prayer life?
Verse 10 is one of the most important passages in all of life!!!
Peter then goes back to the one of the main messages of his letter, to be open and willing to suffer for doing right (v. 17). We might suffer at the hands of non-believers and it will be an opportunity to witness to them – we need to always be ready to have an answer when they ask us the reason for the hope we have (v. 15). One of the best things you can do is equip yourself with what’s called “Apologetics.” How do you know God exists? How do you know the Bible is God’s Word? How do you know Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? I strongly encourage you to study apologetics and train your children and youth in it. A great Apologetics ministry you can find online is at http://www.alwaysbeready.com.
When Jesus died, He went into Hades where there were two compartments (Abraham’s Bosom (see Luke 16:19-31). He preached by declaring His victory, and although everyone heard His words, only those who were righteous were allowed to enter into heaven. Baptism doesn’t save us (1 Corinthians 1:17) but it’s a picture of our cleansing.
1 Peter 4
I like the way Peter calls us to “arm” ourselves with the same mind of Christ. So many of the battles we face are fought in the mind, our thoughts, our beliefs, our perspective needs to be girded with the truth of God’s Word.
It makes no sense at all to live the way we used to live when we did not know the Lord. Back then we didn’t knowHis will, we didn’t wantHis will, and we didn’t have the powerto do His will, but now – everything should be different. A Christian who goes back to a life of lust, days of drugs and drinking, indulging in those types of parties and idolatries, is like a dog returning to his vomit (2 Peter 2:22). Such a person needs that warning of Christ Who promised to vomit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).
Verse 6 is difficult to interpret. Some say the dead are those who are/were dead in their sins and have since been saved. Other’s believe it to be the believer who has died. They’ve been judged in the sense that they’ve tasted death, but now they live in the presence of God. “We must not interpret 1 Peter 4:6 apart from the context of suffering; otherwise, we will get the idea that there is a second chance for salvation after death. Peter was reminding his readers of the Christians who had been martyred for their faith. They had been falsely judged by men, but now, in the presence of God, they received their true judgment. “Them that are dead” means “them that are now dead” at the time Peter was writing…because there is no opportunity for salvation after death (Heb. 9:27).”– Wiersbe
How challenging it is to obey verse 7, as Peter calls us to pray seriously. If there’s one thing the enemy will fight tooth-and-nail it’s our prayer life. Friend, never give up that fight to pray seriously, wholeheartedly, watchfully, and obediently.
“Above all things…” Peter says in v. 8, we are to have that fervent love for one another. If we love, we’ll “cover” those sins, we’ll forgive from the heart, we’ll be hospitable, and faithful in exercising our gifts for the glory of God and the good of His people. What gifts or talents are you using for the Lord? O God give us agape love (Jn. 13:35).
One of the main themes of 1 Peter is suffering, or “pain with a purpose.” Sometimes we get that distorted mindset that thinks, “If I’m a Christian, I won’t go through hard times.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but Jesus promised that in this life we would suffer tribulation (John 16:33) so did Paul (Acts 14:22). Don’t think it strange or out of place – it’s all part of the plan. God doesn’t necessarily author these things, but He allows them to test us (reveal and refine who we are). Hold tight to Christ during those difficult days, let Him work in you, let Him draw you close to Him, and then you can rejoice, for one day you will be rewarded – if you suffer for righteousness sake.
I thought the list in verse 15 was very revealing – people can suffer from any sin ranging from murder to being a busybody (meddling where we don’t belong).
Judgment begins in the house of God in order to purify the church; Christian beware! And if the church is judged in such a way, what will be the fate of those who have rejected Jesus Christ? People get ready, Jesus is coming!
1 Peter 5
Peter begins the chapter by addressing the elders, the mature men called to be pastors. Peter doesn’t see himself as the Pope or anyone special there at the top of the line when it comes to leadership, he simply sees himself as a “fellow elder,” with a good word for us. His humility comes through loud and clear.
It makes sense that shepherds are to shepherd the flock – feed, lead, and protect the sheep spiritually speaking. We’re there to serve, not to be served; not because we “got to” but because we get to; not dishonestly, but eagerly; we mustn’t be a prophet for profit or power, we must have a heart to serve as examples to the people, after all sheep are not like cattle, sheep are to be led, not driven. On “that day” Jesus, the Chief Shepherd will reward faithful shepherds who are in it for the right reason with an unfading crown.
Sandy Adams summed it up this way, “As the Shepherd oversees the flock, likewise the elder oversees the church. His motivation is love, not duty – and God, not greed. He leads by example, rather than force. And he looks to God for his reward, rather than expecting it from the flock.”
Submission does have a structure, younger people are to be submissive to their elders, but even so, Peter reminds that we are ALL to have that heart of submission.
When I read those words to “be clothed with humility…”(v. 5) I think of Jesus who took a towel and girded Himself and proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). He told them (and us) John 13:14-15, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”That’s exactly what Peter is talking about!
Peter quotes from Proverbs 3:34 as does James (4:6). F.B Meyer said, “I used to think that growth in the Christian life was like steps we climb, higher and higher, but now I’ve come to realize that growth as a Christian is not a matter of climbing higher, but of stooping lower.”
How important it is that I give it all to God, that I cast all my cares upon Him – it’s too heavy for me or any other person, only Christ can carry them, and no one cares like Him.
These are not days to be drunk in disobedience or dancing with the devil, he’s a lion looking for the stragglers and strugglers whom he may devour. The devil would love to devour me, so I must resist him faithfully never thinking that “I’m the only one going through such hard times,” because that’s the lie of Lucifer that leads to pity-parties (which are not productive).
Peter closes with the theme of the letter, and a prayer reminding us that we are called to suffer “a while” so God will mature us, restore us, establish, strengthen and settle our souls. Let’s hang in there and never give up. God is doing a good work in our lives.