First Peter

FIRST PETER: EPISTLE OF SUFFERING

 

Caravaggio-Crucifixion_of_Peter

Peter’s crucifixion by Caravaggio
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons

BY

 JIM GERRISH

All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the holy Bible, New International Version, except where noted (published by Zondervan Corporation, copyright, 1985)

 Copyright © Jim Gerrish 2014 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

First Peter was obviously written by the Apostle Peter himself.  The early church fathers as well as other early Christian leaders believed that the letter came from Peter, the most prominent of the Twelve Apostles.  In the first century this was without serious dispute.1  It is possible that the very early work, the Didache, refers to First Peter and it may well be that Clement of Alexandria and Irenaeus both refer to his book. 2  Of course, Peter himself says that he wrote it and that he was witness to Christ’s suffering (cf. 5:1). First Peter was listed by the fourth century church historian, Eusebius, as belonging to the “undisputed books” of the New Testament and a true letter from Peter. 3

However, as usually happens, some hyper-critical modern scholars have denied that the book could have been written by Peter.  Some of their reasoning runs like this: First Peter displays some of the finest Greek in the New Testament, and an “unlearned” fisherman like Peter thus could not have written it.  These scholars seem to forget that Peter was a businessman and had contact with many people.  They forget that within approximately five miles (8 km.) of his birthplace in Bethsaida or his workplace in Capernaum, was the Decapolis, a thoroughly Greek-speaking area on the Sea of Galilee’s eastern coast.  They also seem to forget that most letters were dictated to scribes, who had to know their Greek, since it was the lingua franca of the age.

Quickly, some other primary reasons scholars give for their doubts are these: That Peter quotes from the Septuagint Greek Bible and not from the Hebrew Bible; that the letter is noticeably Pauline in its theology; that the letter says little about the historical Jesus; and that there was no empire-wide persecution in Peter’s day— that this only came in the reign of Domitian (AD 81-96) or that of Trajan (98-117). 4  There are a number of very good answers for these objections: The Septuagint was the popular Bible of the day; Peter had spent time with Paul and was familiar with his works (2 Pet. 3:15-16); James, the brother of Jesus, in his book also says little about the historical Jesus; finally, the persecution of First Peter is never said to be empire-wide. 5  As usual, God eventually has the last laugh at the ridiculous, skeptical opinions of some scholars.

After being written by Peter, the book was probably sent from Rome (codenamed Babylon).  It was likely written shortly before Peter was martyred by Nero.  The book is traditionally dated around the years AD 64-66. 6   The epistle declares that it was sent to several areas in today’s northern Turkey.  It was thus a cyclical epistle and is sometimes referred to as a “catholic” (general) epistle.”   The recipients were predominantly Gentile, as is clear from several passages (cf. 1 Pet. 1:14, 18; 2:9). 7

Peter’s epistle was written to encourage Christians who were suffering serious persecution for their faith.  We might call it an epistle of suffering or one of encouragement to those who are suffering.  Because of the content in this little epistle, it becomes a popular one for those many Christians who are being persecuted for their faith today.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,  1 Peter 1:1  

This letter is from Peter (Simon), the Galilee fisherman, son of Jonah and brother of Andrew.  Peter was born at Bethsaida in the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, but later made his home in Capernaum.  Jesus called him to be the chief of the disciples and renamed him as we see in Matthew 16:18, And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  His new name “Peter” was the Greek form of the Aramaic name “Cephas” which meant “stone” or “pebble.”  It appears that Peter’s apostleship was never questioned in the early church. 1

Peter was a key person in the church.  He was the primary leader from Pentecost onward.  Although he had a mission to the Jews (Gal. 2:8), he nevertheless opened up the church to the Gentiles.  In a real sense he possessed the “keys” to the kingdom of God (Matt. 16:19).  He realized the unity of God’s new people through his vision and experience in Acts chapters 10 and 11. Like Paul, in Ephesians 2 and 3, he develops the concept of Christians coming together to make up God’s spiritual house and temple (2:19-22).

The apostle here describes God’s new people as “strangers” who are “scattered” throughout the world.  William Barclay, the Glasgow Professor of Divinity, remarks here, “…the outstanding thing about this passage is that it takes words and conceptions which had originally applied only to the Jews, the Chosen Nation, and applies them to the Gentiles, who had once been believed to be outside the mercy of God.” 2  These concepts of being chosen are seen in early verses like Deuteronomy 7:6 and 14:2.  Although there were undoubtedly some Jewish people in the congregations, they were made up largely of Gentiles. 3

These Christians were described as the “elect” (eklektois) as “sojourners” (paredipemoi) and as people who were “scattered” (diasporas) throughout the nations.  Interestingly, the word “diaspora” to this day still describes the Jewish people who are dispersed to all the nations of the earth, as was spoken of in Deuteronomy 28:25.  Likely, during the time of Peter there were perhaps a million Jews living in the Holy Land and from two to four million living outside of it. 4

While some have sought to describe “sojourners” used here as an underprivileged and dispossessed people in the natural sense, the obvious truth is that God’s people are sojourners in a metaphorical and spiritual sense.  This was the case with our spiritual forefathers, Abraham (Gen. 23:4) and Jacob (Gen. 47:9). We can say with all the confidence of the old gospel song, “This world is not my home I’m just a passing through…”  As Lutheran commentator, Paul Kretzmann, says, “…the entire life of all believers here on earth is but a time of preparation for the citizenship in the real Homeland above.” 5

We see that these scattered strangers were located in the areas of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.  Today these provinces mostly make up the northern areas of the modern country of Turkey.  Since Pontus was located on the Black Sea at the northeastern section of today’s Turkey, several commentators have pointed out that these ancient provinces were likely covered in a journey from Rome as they are listed here in a clockwise manner.  So, the bearer of the epistle would likely have traveled from Pontus in a circuitous route all the way back to Bithynia, which is also on the Black Sea, but on the western side, near today’s Bosporus strait. 6

 

GOD’S CHOSEN AND SANCTIFIED

 

…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.  1 Peter 1:2  

Like God’s people of old, believing Gentiles have now become “chosen.”  There is a possibility for great error in our interpretation here.  It has been fashionable from the early centuries of the church to exclude the Jewish people and to adopt some form of replacement theology.  Such a theology basically says that God is through with the Jews and has replaced them with Gentiles.  However, this does not fit with the many Scriptures which claim that God will never forsake his chosen people (Jer. 31:36-37; Lev. 26:44-45; Rom. 11:1-2).  In Romans 11:17, we find that we Gentiles are actually “grafted” into the old olive tree of Israel.  Also in Ephesians chapters 2 and 3 we learn that God’s new house or temple will be made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers.

God chose us according to his own foreknowledge.  The Greek word here is prognosis, and it simply means that God foresaw those whom he would elect or choose.  This was a choice God made before the creation of the world (v. 1:20). 7  Peter tells us that choice was not the only factor in the process.  After salvation, God determined that we should be totally sanctified and obedient to his will.  Let us examine these two things.

Sanctification (hagiasmos) is first of all part of the saving process.  When we are saved, the Holy Spirit of God sanctifies us completely (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; Heb. 10:14).  The blood of Jesus covers all our sins.  We might call this positional sanctification.  However, we must add to this what we might call progressive sanctification.  God does not just want to declare us holy but he wants to really make us holy.  We see this lifelong process of being made holy in a number of places, even in this little epistle (cf. 1:14-16; 2:1-2; 9-10, 11-12, 4:3-4).  The process God uses is by his word (Jn. 17:17) and by the continuing actions of his Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13).  It is for good reason that the Spirit within us is called “Holy.”  I can think of several times in my life where the Spirit has strongly urged me to stop some certain sin.  In each of these occasions I have found myself saying, “Yes Sir!” to Jesus.  So we see that obedience is connected with sanctification.

Modern and postmodern Christianity both have a lot to learn about obedience.  When we come to Jesus he not only becomes Savior but he becomes Lord.  Since he is Lord, he wants total control of our lives.  To bring this down to every-day experience, Jesus wants the steering wheel of our lives.  Obedience is very central in God’s saving work.  Jesus himself had to “learn” obedience through all his suffering (Heb. 5:8).  We must follow his example and become “obedient children” (1 Pet. 1:14).  In the Book of Romans we see what is called “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:19, 26).  This is the “flip side” of faith and it is not so well known or understood today.

Fuller Professor, Thomas R. Schreiner, says here: “Conversion involves obedience and submission to the gospel…Sanctification, obedience, and the sprinkling of blood are three different ways of describing the conversion of believers in this context.” 9  The sprinkling (hrantismos) of blood is a picture direct from the Old Testament (Exo. 24:1-11: 29:20-21; Lev. 8:30; 14:6-7).  We see the fulfillment of this type or pattern in Hebrews 9:13-14.  The Old Covenant was established with the sprinkling of blood and the New Covenant is established the same way as we read in Hebrews 9:23-24.  We Christians are a blood splattered people and we must take great care today that the concept of the blood covenant is not taken away from us.  As the old hymn of Robert Lowry (1826-1899) says:

     What can wash away my sin?
     Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
     What can make me whole again?
     Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
     Oh! precious is the flow
     That makes me white as snow;
     No other fount I know,
     Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

With the glorious and saving thought of Jesus’ blood, Peter wishes grace and peace to his hearers.  Both these things can only be possible after the sprinkling of the blood.  English Baptist commentator, Peter Pett, describes grace this way— “(G-R-A-C-E = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense).”  10

 

OUR LIVING HOPE

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,   1 Peter 1:3  

Because of the great theology of this section, Peter breaks forth into doxology.  He praises or blesses God (eulogetos), as Jewish people are still prone to do today.  No doubt Peter’s Hebrew blessing would have been with words like, barukh atah Adonai Elohenu melek ha olam…(Blessed are you O Lord our God King of the Universe…!).  Barclay says of this section: “It will take us a long time to appropriate the riches of this passage, for there are few passages in the New Testament where more of the great fundamental Christian ideas come together…. [it is] doxology with a difference.” 11

Peter praises God who has given to his people a living hope. It seems that he is very fond of this word “living” (zaō).  He uses the word in its various forms in 1:23; 2:4 & 5; 2:24; 4:5. 12  One cynical editor, H. L. Mencken, dared to define hope as “a pathological belief in the occurrence of the impossible.” 13  We know today that all things are possible if we can only believe (Matt. 19:26; Mk. 9:23).  Because Christ was resurrected from the dead our hope is living.

In this verse Peter speaks of the new birth (anagennaō).  This word appears only here in the New Testament, although it corresponds well with other words like those found in John 3:3, 7, 2 Tim. 1:10; and 1 Thess. 4:14. 14

God’s saints are born again, “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1:4-5). We have an inheritance that can never perish or be corrupted  (aphthartos).  It cannot be ravaged by an invading army. 15 We live in a world that is under a curse from God. Everything in it is in the process of being corrupted or fading away. The scientists claim they can tell the age of organic matter by measuring the degree to which it has degenerated over the centuries. As the old hymn by Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847) states it so well:

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see:
O thou who changest not, abide with me!

This verse tells us that we are shielded or protected (phrourein) by God’s power unto the coming salvation (Matt. 5:10-12).  This is a military term meaning that our lives are garrisoned as God acts as a sentinel over us until the end of our days. 16  The thing that makes possible God’s shielding is our simple faith in him.  Even that, in the last analysis, is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8).

In these two verses we get a clear understanding of how the earliest Christians viewed eschatology or the last things.  They believed that they were saved but that the saving process would not be complete until the revelation of Christ at the last day (1 Jn. 3:2; Rom. 8:29-30).  They believed that there were two ages, the present evil age and the age to come.  The age to come was God’s golden age. 17  Although they lived in the present age dominated by Satan, they were anxious for the coming age to arrive.  They knew that this present age would end with great trouble and judgment and that God would somehow keep them through it all.  They well knew that Christians might suffer or even be martyred, but they believed it would all be worth it all when Christ appeared and that they would be glorified and made like him.  Their foremost desire was to greet their coming Master in victory.  

The goal was for these last-day saints to continue faithful until the end as Christ had said, “…he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mk. 13:13).  It is amazing that modern and postmodern Christians have almost totally lost and forsaken this understanding of the end-days.  We are victims of bad theology which falsely assures us that we will be snatched away before we are required to stand or suffer for Christ on that day.

 

ALL KINDS OF TRIALS

 

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:6  

Obviously Peter is referring back to the previous verse that speaks of the coming salvation that is ready to be revealed in us on that last day.  In light of this we can rejoice right along with the earliest Christians, that is, providing we get our theology all straightened out.  In light of the glorious event of Christ’s coming again, our small amount of suffering should be considered as nothing.

We need to be aware that all the suffering we encounter is under God’s control.  The Canadian professor, Peter H. Davids, says of it, “Suffering may not be God’s desire, but it is not outside his sovereignty.” 18   Popular commentator, Warren Wiersbe, adds: “When God permits his children to go through the furnace, he keeps his eye on the clock and his hand on the thermostat…It has been said that the Eastern goldsmith kept the metal in the furnace until he could see his face reflected in it.” 19   We remember the words of the ancient sufferer Job who said, “…when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10).

We in our western world we may not be able to comprehend Peter’s message of suffering for Jesus.  Chicago Professor, Scott McKnight, has a good deal to say about our situation.  He says that our age of toleration and pluralism certainly retards the chances of our getting persecuted.  He continues, saying that our lack of suffering is because we do not have the backbone to challenge our contemporary society with the message of the cross, nor do we have the courage to live up to the teachings of Jesus in this era.  He maintains that suffering should be like the wake following after salvation’s boat. 20

The New Testament makes no bones about it and says that we must suffer to enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-5; & Jas. 1:2-4). Peter says that we must suffer “all kinds” of grief.  The Greek word used here is poikilos, and it has the meaning of many-colored. 21  In other words, we will not get bored with the trials facing us if we are valiant Christians.  They will come in many colors, shapes and sizes.  God will allow these varied trials to come upon us to prove us.  It is not that God doesn’t know whether we can stand the test, but the truth is that we need to know that we can stand the test.  We can say, “I’ve been there and done that, and with God’s help I can get through it again.”

We must not forget the fact that trials come in many kinds as Peter mentions.  Satan can test us in our physical bodies; he can test us on our jobs; he can test us in family relationships.  Many of these are small trials, but when we successfully deal with them we gradually become prepared to face the really big, and even life-threatening trials.

Today Christianity is not predominately white and English-speaking as it once was.  Christianity now is made up of many skin colors and languages.  John Allen Jr. says, “Three-quarters of the world’s population, meaning 5.25 billion people, live in countries with significant restrictions on religious freedom.” He adds that “Christians are the target of 80 percent of all discrimination.” 22  Allen notes “While all sorts of different religious communities suffered in these countries…only one group found itself under attack in all sixteen of the world’s worst offenders: Christians.” 23

“These have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1:7).  Here again we have an analogy comparing the testing of faith with the refining of gold.  It is obvious in this verse that faith is worth a lot more than gold.  True faith remains, but even the most precious gold can perish.  Gold that is minted into coins can obviously wear away with usage. Scientists tell us that while gold is unaffected by most of our corrosive agents it can still be dissolved in aqua regia or solutions of sodium or potassium cyanide. 24   Of course, even gold will not survive through the end of this age. 

Our faith is proved genuine and is strengthened by testing and by suffering.  We see this many places in Scripture (cf. Gen. 22:1; Exod. 15:22-25; 16:4; Deut. 8:2,16; 13:3; 2 Chr. 32:31; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1-2; Rom. 5:2-4; Heb. 5:8-9; Jam. 1:2-4).  The words “refining” or “testing” used here are the nouns dikimon and the participle dikimazō.  Both of these Greek words present the idea of testing with the view of strengthening and in the end being finally approved. 25

Once again the Bible conveys the clear idea that God’s saints must endure great tribulation and that they will be found faithful in the last day.  Wiersbe says there is something about the Christian philosophy that “carries with it a present dynamic that can turn suffering into glory today.” 26   We should not forget that the great desire of New Testament saints was to endure through the end-days and meet the Lord in victory.  Today a lethargic and self-indulgent church waits to be rescued from defeat.

 

BELIEVING IS SEEING

 

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9  

Thomas was a doubter and would not believe in the risen Christ until he could see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands.  Jesus said to him: “…Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29).  Today it is rather astounding that hundreds of millions and even billions of Christians have believed in Jesus without seeing him.  The early Christian bishop Oecumenius (writing c. 990) said: “If you love him now when you have not seen him but have only heard about him, think how much you will love him when you finally do see him and when he appears in his glory!” 27

So, we Christians walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  Yet, while we so walk we are “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”  The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, used to say, “Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.” 28   Someone once asked an elderly person if he was going to heaven.  He replied in surprise, “Why man, I live there!”

Peter speaks here about the goal of the Christian faith.  The goal is the full salvation of the soul.  We see throughout the New Testament that salvation is not only an immediate heavenly grant to the individual but it is a process that is only complete when Jesus appears and the body is resurrected in glory.  This is the end (telos) of our faith.  From that point on we will have arrived at spiritual reality and mere faith will no longer be needed.  We will be like him and we will see him as he is (1 Jn. 3:2).  We will be with him forever.

In that day the salvation of our souls will be complete.  Perhaps we should clear up a matter that has caused some confusion in the church. The Greek word for soul (psuchē) is defined as: “a Hebraic idiom for the entire person. Humans are not two-part or three-part beings, but a single unity (cf. Gen. 2:7).” 29  Some have defined persons as made up of body, soul and spirit, but the word of God simply does not fully bear this out.

 

THE PROPHETS’ UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

 

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 1 Peter 1:10  

The prophets were often dealing with profound mysteries.  They were sometimes dealing with types, shadows and patterns of the reality that was to come.  We see here that they searched through these mysteries and no doubt intently questioned God as to their meaning.  Still it was hidden from them because the time of the pouring out of God’s grace in the gospel had not come.  Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 3:5-6.  He says: “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.”  What was hidden to Old Testament prophets was made known to New Testament prophets and to the apostles as well.

What a blessing we have today, in that the mysteries of long ago are now revealed to every Christian (1 Cor. 2:9-10).  Jesus said to his disciples: “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matt. 13:16-17).

Calvary Chapel pastor and prolific commentator, David Guzik, asks: “Can you imagine how excited Isaiah would have been to read the Gospel of John?  The Old Testament prophets knew so much, yet much was hidden to them, including the character of the church (Eph. 3:4-6) and the very essence of life and immortality (2 Tim. 1:10).” 30 Nevertheless, we should note that the prophets diligently searched the word of God about these things.  There are two Greek words used here.  The first is exezetesan, which means to seek out or inquire.  The second is exereunaō, which means to search diligently. 31  This should be an encouragement to Bible students today, knowing that people in ancient times searched diligently to find out the wondrous truths that are freely revealed to us today.

Peter says that they were “trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow”(1:11).  It is interesting that the prophets of Israel understood that the Messiah would have to suffer (cf. Psa. 2:1-12; 16:8-11; 22:1-31; Isa. 52:13-15; 53:1-12). Yet, for some strange reason Israel did not understand this and crucified the Lord.

 

THE ANGELS ARE SEARCHING TOO

 

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 1 Peter 1:12  

Apparently the prophets eventually understood that the revelation passed through them belonged to the church that would only come about centuries downstream in history.  This truth is made clear many places in Scripture (cf. Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 9:9-10; 10:6-11).  Wesleyan-holiness evangelist, William Godbey, says of this: “The antediluvian world had skylight, the patriarchal age starlight, and the Mosaic church moonlight.  Day dawned with John the Baptist, the sun rose when Jesus was born, and the glorious noonday culminated at Pentecost, never to wane, but to brighten into the perennial glory of God’s millennial day.” 32

In this verse we have an astounding truth.  Angels long to look into the mysteries revealed to the church.  The Greek word used here (parakupsai) is very descriptive.  The word means to stoop forward with head and body bent and to carefully and curiously inspect the church.   It is almost like the cherubim bending over the Ark or the Mercy Seat.  Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest, goes on to remark how the church is teacher of the angels and that the church is actually a university for the angels. 33  There are several other Scriptures that bring out this truth (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; Eph.2:7; 3:10). McKnight says that the angels are “like wedding attendees attempting to steal a glance at the bride before her appearance.” 34 We thus see that angels are not omniscient.  They are learning things from the church.  Of course, at the same time they are serving the church (Heb. 1:14).  We see that in the end we Christians will judge the angels (1 Cor. 6:3).  No doubt this refers to the evil angels.  There may be a sense in which this is already happening.  We Christians are faithful— the evil angels were not.

 

PREPARING OURSELVES FOR ACTION

 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:13  

In some older translations, like the King James Version, this verse reads, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind…”  There is an ancient picture of dress represented in this verse.  In Bible times persons normally wore a long flowing robe.  When any type of strenuous action was required, they would shorten the robe by pulling it up under the broad belt that was also worn.  This would give them freedom of movement to run or to fight (cf. 1 Ki. 18:46; 2 Ki. 4:29; 9:1; Jer. 1:17; Lk. 17:8).  Today’s equivalent would be something like the expressions, “rolling up one’s sleeves” or “taking off one’s jacket.” 35

This expression reminds us of Jesus’ words in Luke 12:35, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…”  We see something like this in the story of the Passover supper long ago.  As they ate the supper they had to do so with their shoes on, with their loins girded and with a staff in hand (Exo. 12:11).  They had to be ready to travel.

In a similar sense Peter tells us that we need to gird up our minds and be prepared for action.  Pett says that this involves “gathering yourselves together and tightening up the discipline of your minds and wills, thus avoiding all loose thinking.” 36  It might well involve adding some knowledge to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5).  McKnight says it involves a “loose grip on this world and a tight grip on the world to come.” 37   The word self-controlled or sober (nephontes) means “to be calm and collected in spirit, to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.” 38

Peter tells us that we must set our hope on the grace that is coming to us when Christ is revealed.  Here it is again.  It is the thing that really excited early Christians, that they would be able to endure tribulation and meet the Lord in victory on that last day.  Then they would be changed to be like Christ and to receive the crown of righteousness.  As I have said, we have almost totally lost that hope today.  We have lost it because of a faulty theology of the end days.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” (1:14).  The ancient world was a cruel world.  There was much horror and unhappiness in it because of sated lusts.  Barclay, who was very familiar with the Roman and Greek worlds gives us a quick summary:

Chastity was forgotten. Martial speaks of a woman who had reached her tenth husband; Juvenal of a woman who had eight husbands in five years; and Jerome tells us that in Rome there was one woman who was married to her twenty-third  husband, she herself being his twenty-first wife. Both in Greece and in Rome homosexual practices were so common that they had come to be looked on as natural.  It was a world mastered by desire, whose aim was to find newer and    wilder ways of gratifying its lusts…. Catullus writes… “Suns rise and set again; but once our brief light is dead, there is nothing left but one long night from which we never shall awake.” If a man was to die like a dog, why should he not live  like a dog? 39

Christianity was a breath of fresh air, indeed a breath of life to the ancient polluted and hopeless world.  Peter warns that Christians should in no way return to such a lifestyle.  How foolish it is for Christians to say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” 40  We should always be careful in adopting the fashions of the past, or those of this present evil age.

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1:15-16).   It is really an astounding idea that the God of the universe is holy.  This was quite untrue of the pagan gods.  Many times they were unholy and were sometimes just as evil and depraved as humankind.  Certainly, their worship generally led people to much evil and depravity. 

The word for “holy” in the Greek has a root meaning of “different.”  It is that kind of difference that was seen in the Holy Temple of old or in the Holy Sabbath.  Thus the Christian is called to be holy and different from other people.  Others should notice this difference.  For the true Christian is a “shadow of eternity” for all to see. 41

Then the Bible gives us an awesome command, that we should be holy because our God is holy.  St. Augustine once said, “Let the acts of the offspring indicate similarity to the Father.” 42  This command refers us back to Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26 (cf. Exo. 19:6; 22:31; Deut. 14:2, 21; 26:19).  Kelcy says, “Thus it is seen that holiness is basic to true religion in both the Old Testament and the New Testament; without it, no one shall see the Lord (Heb.12:14).” 43   There is a well-known rule of religion that we tend to become like that which we worship (Psa. 115:8).  Idols have a “dumbing down” effect upon humanity.  They make us senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless, etc.

 

GOD’S GREAT REDEMPTION

 

Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 1 Peter 1:17  

The Father is judge of the whole earth but he is our Father, providing we know Jesus his Son.  God will judge the world with righteousness and truth (Psa. 96:13; Rom. 2:2).  But we children of God are not to be terrified with his judgment.  Stephen Travis says, “The final judgment means God’s underlining and ratification of the relationship or non-relationship with him which men have chosen in this life.” 44

We so seldom see truly righteous judgment in our polluted world.  It is clear from Scripture that all of us will be judged.  However, the Christian will not stand before the Great White Throne of judgment as the wicked will do.  The Christian will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (cf. Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:9-10).  In this judgment we will see our lives in their true perspectives.  We will be rewarded for the works we have performed in Christ.  There is no idea of abject fear and terror with this judgment.  It seems to be more on the style of a debriefing than of a court setting.

Once again in this book we are referred to as “strangers,” and we are instructed to live our lives on earth in this fashion.  Davids describes the life of being a stranger or sojourner saying, “it is used in the Old Testament to indicate those who do not have the rights of citizenship but are temporary foreign residents of an area (Lev. 25:23; 1 Chron. 29:15).” 45  We met this idea in the first verse of this chapter and we mentioned how some scholars try to describe this as some sort of social dislocation.  However, the idea Peter is bringing out is that we are spiritual pilgrims on earth.  It is always a bad sign when we settle in and get too comfortable here.  Wiersbe notes: “It was when Lot stopped being a sojourner and became a resident in Sodom that he lost his consecration and his testimony.  Everything he lived for went up in smoke!” 46

In view of all this we are to live our lives in reverent fear of God.  Again, this has no idea of terror that the lost may experience but is more of a reverent awe of God and his Messiah.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1:18-19).  We have already spoken how precious metals, even the most precious gold, can perish.  But here we are told that we were not redeemed with such perishable things.

We are redeemed from our own sin and Peter makes clear that we are also redeemed from “the empty way of life” handed down by tradition from our forefathers.  James Burton Coffman, the prolific writer and churchman, exclaims here: “Handed down from your fathers … Ah, here is the secret of most of the error on earth.” 47  Long ago the prophet Ezekiel railed against Israel saying, “…Do not follow the statutes of your fathers or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols” (Ezek. 20:18).  Tradition is a two-sided thing.  There are evil traditions of our fathers and there are good traditions of the apostles.

The apostle reminds us that we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ.  The word “redeemed” is elutrōthēte in the Greek.  It is taken from the old verb lutroo and it has the meaning of being ransomed from slavery (Matt. 20:28).  There are abundant examples of this in ancient writings and in the Bible (cf. Lk. 24:21; Tit. 2:14). 48   It could be a picture of a near kinsman coming and paying off the debt of one held for ransom (Lev. 25:47-48).

Unfortunately, the true human condition is much worse than mere slavery.  We are slaves to our sin and lost beyond any natural means of recovery.  Really, how can a lost human soul be ransomed?  Jesus asks in Matthew 16:26 “…what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” It would have to be something precious beyond our understanding.  The answer is the precious sacrificial Lamb of God who shed his blood for us all.  In the pattern of the Old Testament offerings, he was without blemish and perfect in every way (Exo. 12:5; Lev. 22:19-20; Deut. 15:21; Heb.7:26).  Barnes says, “The universe had nothing more valuable to offer, of which we can conceive, than the blood of the Son of God.” 49

We recall a section of Scripture that has been long hidden from Israel.  Isaiah 53:1-12 makes clear that the Suffering Servant (whom we know as the Son of God) would come to earth and give his life to redeem all those who would believe in him.  His royal blood would become our redemption (Mat. 20:28; Mk. 10:45; Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7).

Coffman mentions all the ways that Christ redeemed us: He came to save us from our sins (Matt. 1:21); to give his life a ransom for many (Mk.10:45); to suffer and rise again (Lk. 24:46); to take away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29); to be a propitiation for sin (Rom. 3:25). He came that we might receive the reconciliation (Rom. 5:11); to buy us with a price (1 Cor. 6:19); to give himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:5-6); that he might redeem us from all iniquity (Tit. 2:14); that he might purify unto himself a people (Tit. 2:14). He came to bear the sins of many (Heb. 9:27-28); to put away sins by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:26); to offer one sacrifice for sins forever (Heb. 10:12). He came to redeem us with his blood (1 Pet.1:18); to bear our sins in his body on the tree (1 Pet.2:24); to suffer for sins that he might bring us to God (1 Pet.3:18); He came to take away sins (1 Jn. 3:5): to loose us from our sins by his blood (Rev.1:5). 50

Coffman goes on to add: “Therefore, salvation by the blood of Christ is the crimson thread that runs from Matthew to Revelation, and there is no adequate theology that fails to take this into consideration. 51

 

JESUS, CHOSEN BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN

 

He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  1 Peter 1:20  

The Bible says a great deal about being chosen here.  First of all it tells us that Christ was chosen from before the creation of the world.  In Revelation 13:8, we see that he was and is “…the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”  In a very real sense, the solution to the sin problem was arranged by God before sin ever came into existence.  This is a deep secret hidden in the universe but it is now made plain to us through the gospel.

There is more about the mystery of being chosen.  In Ephesians 1:4-6 we read: For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”  So not only Christ was predestined to give his life as the Lamb of God, but we were predestined to believe in him and be saved.  We may not understand these deep mysteries, but we certainly must not dismiss them.  Godbey says here: “This statement settles forever the absolute and unconditional foreknowledge of God.” 52

“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1:21).  Here is the gospel plain and simple.  Jesus through his sacrifice, resurrection and glorification has opened the way for us to believe in God.  It is the way of faith and hope in him for our salvation.  There is no other way and no other name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).

 “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1:22).  Peter, like Paul never neglects to bring in the ethical implications of his deep theology.  In the New Testament, orthodoxy and orthopraxy always go together.  Because we have been purified through believing and obeying the gospel we must go on to express sincere love for our brothers and sisters.  This love must be a deep love and it must come from the heart.

Interestingly, the Greek words for brotherly love (phileō) and godly sacrificial love (agapaō) are both used here.  Sometimes these words are used interchangeably, and sometimes they convey different aspects of love (Jn. 21:15-17). 53  The matter of sincerely loving our brothers and sisters is a real challenge.  The reformer, John Calvin, says, “nothing is more difficult than to love our neighbors in sincerity.” 54

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1:23).  Here the word of God is compared to a seed, to an imperishable seed.  We know in the natural world that some seed can last for hundreds of years and still germinate.  In this verse we have the living word of God as a seed that will always germinate and produce fruit.

In the Bible we know that Jesus is the eternal Word of God (Jn. 1:1, 14).  However, in this verse it seems to be referring to the gospel, which is often the meaning in the New Testament (e.g. Eph. 1:13; Phil. 2:16; Col. 1:5; 4:3; and 1 Thess. 1:8).55

Perhaps it would be good for us at this point to think on some things concerning the word of God and how it is different from other words.  In John 1:1 we see that God and his word are one and the same.  God does not get separated from his word like we do.  God’s word is eternal.  It will stand forever.  Jesus says in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  Paul once based his teaching about the compensation of God’s ministers (1 Cor. 9:9) on the dusty ancient law of Deuteronomy 25:4.  This law forbids the muzzling of an ox as it is treading out the grain.  No, God’s word does not pass away, but it continues on to be profitable for all teaching and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

God’s word is alive (Heb. 4:12).  How different this is from all other words we read and hear. How this contrasts with yesterday’s newspaper.  We would scarcely waste our time reading it since it is already outdated and a thing of the past.  God’s word is never a thing of the past, outdated or dead.  Again, in one sense, God cannot even speak in the past tense since he is ever living.  What he said he is saying; what he commanded he is commanding, what he hated he still hates and what he loved he still loves.   Sometimes it may appear that a certain word of God is dead. But we must not be fooled.  God’s word is like a seed.  It can lie dormant for a thousand years but when it is mixed with faith – poof!   Suddenly new life springs forth.

God’s word is contemporary and relevant, as is any other living thing.  For something to be true in the deepest sense it must be contemporary and relevant.  God’s word is literally bursting with creative energy.  In the Hebrew language, the expression for “word” is “davar.”  How interesting that davar also means “thing.”  There is a very close connection between the word and all created things.  God spoke, and all things came into existence.  When God speaks, things happen.  This was true in the creation of the world, and it is true for us today.

We are begotten again by this eternal word of God.  The 17th Century Anglican commentator, John Trapp, says of this, “a man shall never have the occasion to curse the day of his new birth.” 56

“For, ‘all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you” (1:24-25).  Here Peter is quoting from Isaiah 40:6-8. Man and his great philosophical opinions are like grass that withers (cf. Psa. 37:2; 119:89; Jas. 1:10-11).  Man is like a Morning Glory, the little flower that blooms early but fades in the hot noonday sun.  In Isaiah 40:7, we see that the grass and flower fade because the Spirit blows upon them.  Indeed, the Spirit of God is like a hot desert wind that blows upon all the fair opinions and works of humankind.  They promptly fade away and disappear.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 1 Peter 2:1  

Because of the things Peter affirms at the end of chapter one— because we are born again by the word of God, the word that lasts forever— therefore we should begin to lay aside evil parts of our fallen Adamic nature.  The Greek word Peter uses here for “rid yourselves” is apothesthai, and it has the meaning of stripping off one’s clothes.1  As we begin stripping off the filthy old ragged clothes of sin, let us first take off malice.  The word translated malice is kakia.  In the Greek language it is a word generally used for wickedness, and is very inclusive of wicked things and actions. 2

A second thing we need to strip off is deceit (dolon).  Deceit is tricky talk used in baiting people.  It often lets people believe a lie without actually telling them one.  It seems to work well at first, but the Bible assures us that deceit will eventually make us sick and even kill us.  In 1 Peter 3:10, the apostle warns us, “…Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”  Perhaps this tricky business raises our blood pressure or gives us ulcers.

Next we must strip off all hypocrisy (upokreises).  This sin involves a form of play-acting where we appear to be something we are not.  It seems that the US is particularly plagued with this sin.  Authors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell bemoan this fact saying:

American culture’s focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy.  We have phony rich people (with interest-only mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures),    phony athletes (with performance-enhancing drugs), phony elebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with $11 trillion of government debt), phony feeling of being special    among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem), and phony friends (with the social networking explosion). 3

Next, we are to strip off is envy (phthonos).  Barclay notes: “It may well be said that envy is the last sin to die…Even at the last supper the disciples were disputing about who should occupy the seats of greatest honor (Lk. 22:24).” 4  The American author, Mark Twain, sums up envy in his humorous tongue-in-cheek manner: “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” 5

The last old rag to cast aside is slander (katalalia).  This might be described appropriately as back-biting, or saying things to people’s backs that we would be ashamed to say to their faces.  Davids says of this sin: “Envy often works itself out in slander.” 6  In all the long history of the Lord’s people this sin has been frowned upon.  In Leviticus 19:16, it is written: Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.”

Schreiner remarks of these social failures, “The sins listed tear at the social fabric of the church, ripping away the threads of love that keep them together.” 7   In another sense these social sins tear down the magnificent spiritual house and holy temple that God is building in our midst.

 

THE PURE SPIRITUAL MILK

 

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 2:2-3  

The most natural thing for a newborn baby is for it to try to nurse from its mother.  Our oldest granddaughter is autistic and at birth she could not figure out how to nurse.  This brought great concern for her mother and the baby was rushed back to the hospital until nursing became a possibility.  My wife and I remember another occasion where a newborn could not nurse and we still remember the pitiful little cries of that poor baby.  In short, if a baby cannot nurse that baby will likely grow weak and eventually die without proper care.  We can understand by this how important it is for new believers to immediately begin ingesting the pure and holy word of God, which is our spiritual nourishment.

We never outgrow our need for milk.  It is the essential food, the substance of life. Although we may eat strong meat and a variety of other foods, even as adults, the average person will still regularly consume a good quantity of milk each day.  We drink milk with our food and we pour milk on our cereal.  We use milk in cooking.  We eat ice cream and drink milk shakes.  It is good for us to remember that the land of Canaan, which represents our spiritual heritage, is called a land flowing with milk and honey (Exo. 3:8).  The drinking of spiritual milk is regarded by some as the central command of this paragraph . 8  Davids says, “Indeed some view this as the central imperative in the whole book.” 9

We should note that the milk spoken of here is pure and has no additives.  As Trapp says, it is “guileless, unmixed milk, not sugared or sophisticated with strains of wit, [or] excellency of speech…(1 Cor. 2:1).” 10  Long ago the church father, Irenaeus, charged the heretics with mixing chalk with their milk. 11

 

THE LIVING STONE

 

As you come to him, the living Stone— rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 1 Peter 2:4 

Now Peter quickly changes metaphors and begins to speak of stones and buildings. He would have been greatly interested in this subject since Jesus once called him a stone or rock (Matt. 16:18).  Peter first speaks of Christ as the Living Stone.  This is the only place in the Bible where Christ is called by this title, but it is an extremely important title and picture.  Indeed, this might well be one of the richest sections of Scripture.

We must understand that Jesus is the one and only Living Stone.  There is no other like him.  Later in verse 5, we will see that believers are not “living stones” themselves but are only “like living stones.”  The idea of the living stone here is a large dressed stone and one that can be used in building.  It is a special stone that is life-giving and vibrant.  It’s unique and life-giving properties have come about through the resurrection of Christ. 12

We immediately see an amazing thing about this precious, living and life-giving stone.  This critically important building stone and cornerstone was totally rejected by the Jewish builders, or the religious leaders of Israel. He was rejected although he was long prophesied to come.  Only those few who deemed him precious could thus be built upon him and begin to form that spiritual house and holy spiritual temple God was building.

As we look at this critically important passage, it is almost necessary that we go to Ephesians chapters 2 and 3, where we see this spiritual house and spiritual temple also described.  In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul tells how the two peoples (Jews and Gentiles) are being brought together in Christ into “one new man” (Eph. 2:15).  He next describes how the Gentiles, who were without hope, were made members of God’s household and built together with Israel on the foundation of the prophets, apostles with Christ himself as the chief cornerstone.  He describes how the household grows to become a holy spiritual temple (2:21) and a dwelling where God lives (2:22).  Paul treats this as a great mystery that has been hidden for ages but is now clearly revealed.

In Ephesians 3:6, he makes this secret plain saying: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”  This mystery was revealed almost two thousand years ago.  It seems incredible that today, after all this time, most people in the church do not have an inkling whatsoever of this mystery.  God’s work today is greatly impeded by our gross spiritual ignorance.

 

GOD’S SPIRITUAL TEMPLE AND PRIESTHOOD

 

…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5  

So we see that God’s people, Jews and Gentiles, are being built into a spiritual house and temple.  This is the kind of temple that God always wanted.  He never wanted a temple made with hands, like those of the various pagan religions (Isa. 66:1-2).  God knew the people would insist upon building such a temple just as they would insist upon having a king, like the nations.  Therefore, we see God issuing commands to David about the coming temple.  In Acts 7:48-49, we read of Stephen being martyred for pointing out God’s true wishes concerning the temple to Israel’s leaders.  Although the temple was beautiful, it was controlled by a band of unscrupulous priests.  It was a den of robbers (Matt. 21:13), a house of merchandise (Jn. 2:16).  It would be left desolate in the end (Matt. 23:38). Of course in AD 70 the temple was totally destroyed by the Romans, along with its corrupt priesthood.

Coffman says, “It was the secular temple that, more than anything else blinded Israel to the recognition of the Messiah.” 13   We can probably add that it was the temple that primarily resulted in Christ being crucified.  Jesus was greater than the temple, but the Jews could never acknowledge that fact (Matt. 12:6). Jesus said that if the temple were destroyed he could rebuild it in three days (Jn. 2:19).  This infuriated the Jews.  However, Jesus was speaking of the spiritual temple of his resurrected body, the church (Jn. 2:21). We cannot fail to notice that in the New Jerusalem there will be no temple (Rev. 21:22).  The Lord himself and the Lamb will be the temple.

This spiritual temple is of critical importance to believers, but it is poorly understood today.  God is building his house with those who are like living stones.  It is a spiritual house and an eternal house.  It is made up of Jews and Gentiles.  This information should cause us to rethink the whole structure and function of the church.  We must change our attitude toward the Jews for starters.  Then we must realize that we Christians are being built together to form this majestic structure.  Can we even imagine this?  In all these centuries man has been seeking a dwelling in God but God has been seeking a dwelling in man.  In the end we will dwell in God (Psa. 90) and God will dwell in us (Rev. 21:3).

Unfortunately, the big problem with those who are like living stones is that they wiggle around a lot.  They run from one church to another, all the time refusing to lay themselves down that other lives can be built upon them.  Cranfield writes: “The free-lance Christian, who would be a Christian but is too superior to belong to the visible church upon earth in one of its forms, is simply a contradiction in terms.” 14   Wiersbe states it, “All true Christians belong to each other as stones in God’s building.” 15  Godby adds: “You see how every saved soul becomes a constituent stone in that grand and majestic superstructure, destined forever to stand towering among the angels, the delight of cherubim and seraphim, and the admiration of the universe.” 16   Unfortunately, when believers do not wholeheartedly join in this building, they often become mere stumbling blocks instead of building blocks.

Barclay relates this account that comes from ancient Sparta:

There is a famous story from Sparta. A Spartan king boasted to a visiting monarch about the walls of Sparta. The visiting monarch looked around and could see no walls. He said to the Spartan king, “Where are these walls about which you boast so much?” His host pointed at his bodyguard of magnificent    troops. “These,” he said, “are the walls of Sparta, every man a brick.” 17

Not only is God building a spiritual house, but he is also raising up a spiritual ministry. Israel had her priests but they had long since become corrupted, just as the temple was corrupted.  The high priestly offices were bought and sold like some sort of merchandise.  It was always God’s plan to bring about a holy, spiritual, eternal priesthood after the mysterious order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:17).  Again, this is something that the church as a whole has never understood.  So often, Christians have looked to earthly priests to intercede for them with God.  Such a thing is almost a disgrace to the heavenly priesthood.  The Bible says that there is only one Mediator between us and God and that is Christ (1 Tim. 2:5).

As holy priests of God serving under the great High Priest, we offer up spiritual sacrifices to him and through him (cf. Exo. 19:5-6).  In response to the all-important sacrifice of Christ, which was made once for all for our salvation, there are some sacrifices we can make.  There is our sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psa. 116:17).  Then, there are the sacrifices of prayer and praise (Heb. 13:15-16; Psa. 50:23) and the sharing together in fellowship. There is the sacrifice of our gifts (Phil. 4:18); and the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart (Psa. 51:17).  Finally, there is the concept of the whole life offered up to God as seen in Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of  God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this  is your spiritual act of worship.” If we want to know how meaningful our religion is, we should count up what it is costing us in offerings, and that will be a good indicator.

 

THE CORNERSTONE

 

For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6

This is a quote from Isaiah 28:16.  We see that this precious cornerstone is laid in Zion.  This tells us that we must never turn our backs on Israel or Jerusalem.  Our faith springs from Zion (Psa. 50:2; 53:6).  At the end of this age the law of God will go forth from Zion to the whole world (Isa. 2:3).  God’s redeemed are even now returning to Zion (Isa. 51:11).

While some have interpreted the stone in this passage to be the keystone, it is much better understood as the cornerstone.  We see that it is laid in the earth and later we see that it can become a stone to stumble over.  Of course, Christ, the head of the church, was laid or buried in Jerusalem.  The church was formed there and the gospel was first preached there. 18

We should take time to realize that some of the building stones in New Testament times were massive.  Some of the stones in the present Western Wall weigh from 200 to 400 tons.  When those massive stones were laid they were not moved.  They could be depended upon to bear the weight.  At one point in the wall it is possible to look down and see seventeen layers of these great stones going all the way down to bedrock.  With this picture we realize that sometimes we must lay ourselves down unseen for the building of God’s glorious temple to proceed.

Christ our rock is always faithful.  He was the spiritual rock that followed the Israelites in their desert wandering (1 Cor. 10:4).  He sustained them and he will sustain us.  Various other translations read: “and he who believes in him will not be disappointed” (NASB); “no one who relies on this will be brought to disgrace” (NJB).  What a picture for us today when our postmodern philosophers have sought to remove every semblance of a foundation from our present age.  What a time for us to restore the age-old foundations (Isa. 58:12)!

 

BELIEF AND UNBELIEF

 

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone….”  1 Peter 2:7  

Coffman relates an ancient legend that has to do with this stone:

In the building of Solomon’s temple, the first stone that came down from the quarry was very remarkably shaped, having been marked and cut at the quarry. The builders of the temple did not know what to do with it, and it was dragged to a place apart and became finally hidden by debris and rubbish. “It was afterward found to be that on which the completeness of the structure depended, the chief corner stone where the two walls met and were bonded together.” 19

It seems incredible that the “builders,” the religious leaders of Israel, would fail to recognize the cornerstone of the temple, but that is exactly what happened.  The stone was quickly recognized as “precious” or “honored” (timeh) by simple believers like Anna and Simeon. (Lk. 2:25- 38).  It was recognized by the disciples and a few hundred other believing souls throughout Israel.  The common people believed in him but the leaders, with few exceptions, did not believe.  Probably, to their utter amazement, the stone they rejected was made the capstone or the head of the corner. This section is rich in biblical quotations and references such as Psalm 118:22-23, which says, The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

The Jewish leaders and rabbis not only missed the cornerstone but they missed the whole concept of the spiritual temple.  The idea of the spiritual temple was understood by the contemporary Dead Sea Community at Qumran.  They were totally disgusted with the temple in Jerusalem and with its priesthood.   In 1QS 5:6, they speak of “those in Israel who have freely pledged themselves to the House of Truth.”  In 8:5 it is called, “a House of Holiness for Israel, and Assembly of Supreme Holiness for Aaron.”  In1 QH 6:25-28; 4 QpPs37 2:16, they talk of the Teacher of Righteousness as the house into which the community is built. It will be a “spiritual house,” formed by the Spirit and it will not be a physical house.20

It is clear from the New Testament that we believers cannot be the house and temple of God unless we hold on to our courage, hope and confidence (Heb. 3:6, 14).  We must always remember that the house and temple of God is a corporate thing.  We see it in many other places and we see it here in 1 Peter 2:5-9, that plural pronouns are used for us as we make up God’s dwelling. 21  We cannot be the temple of God by ourselves.

Peter adds: “…and, ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message— which is also what they were destined for”(2:8).  Clark says, “he was a stone of stumbling— he was poor, and affected no worldly pomp; in the other he was a rock of offense, for his gospel called the Gentiles to be a peculiar people whom the Jews believed to be everlastingly reprobated, and utterly incapable of any spiritual good.” 22  Pett adds to this: “As they wander round the building site they trip over the very stone which should be the foundation of their lives” (cf. Isa. 8:14). 23

Today in the 21st Century many are still stumbling over the cornerstone and a good number of them are called Christians.  Godbey remarks about this saying: “In all ages the people have stumbled over the Christhood….We are living in the time of the devil’s last war against the Christhood…The fallen churches, like the wicked world, are everywhere stumbling over the glorious Christhood in the person of the Holy Ghost.” 24   How true the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:44, He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

 

CHRISTIANS AS THE CHOSEN PEOPLE

 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  1 Peter 2:9  

It is astounding that the titles being applied to the church here are the exclusive titles the Lord gave to the nation of Israel.  McKnight says: “There is no passage in the New Testament that more explicitly associates the Old Testament terms for Israel with the New Testament church than this one.” 25  We must understand however that God has not done away with Israel and neither has the church replaced Israel. Guzik remarks about this saying: “Peter’s idea isn’t that God has abandoned Israel or that they have no place in his redemptive plan, but that Christianity is in no way inferior to Judaism…He is building something out of us together.” 26  Schreiner adds: “The church does not replace Israel, but it does fulfill the promises made to Israel; and all those, Jews and Gentiles, who belong to the true Israel are now part of the new people of God.” 27

Let us look at these titles briefly.  As Christians we are now the chosen people (genos eklekton).  Israel was originally God’s chosen, or his elect (cf. Deut. 7:6; 10:15; Isa. 42:1; 43:20-21; 45:4).  However, it becomes obvious in Scripture that only those who respond positively to the covenant make up the true chosen people (e.g. Isa. 4:3-4; 6:11-13).  Pett says, “The essential point was that ‘Israel’ was made up of those who were, at least theoretically, truly committed to the covenant, of whatever nationality. And in contrast any people of Israel who rejected the covenant by their words and actions were ‘cut off.’” 28  Christians are thus a people who continue to uphold and respect the covenant which in our case includes the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31).

Christians are now a royal priesthood (basileion herateuma).  In Israel during Bible times it was impossible for a person to be both king and priest.  One person tried it and God struck him with leprosy (2 Chron. 26:16-21).  Yet, in Exodus 19:6, we see what appears to be a prophecy that Israel eventually was to be a “kingdom of priests” (cf. Isa. 61:6).  We see this fulfilled in Revelation 1:6, where we read that God “…has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…”  Truly we are to follow after Jesus who became both priest and king after the pattern and order of Melchizedek
(Heb. 7:1).

In addition, we are to be a holy nation (ethnos hagion).  We see this title of Israel in Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy. 7:6; 14:2, 21; and 26:19.  Our holiness is not derived from our acts but from the cleansing blood of Jesus which he shed for us on the cross.  It is clear in Scripture that this shed blood continues to cleanse from our sinful acts throughout our lives (1 Jn. 1:9).

Last of all, we are called “a people belonging to God” (laos eis peripoiēsin).  We see this and other related titles given to Israel in several Old Testament passages (cf. Exo. 19:5; Deut. 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; 26:18 and Mal. 3:17). In Deuteronomy 7:6, Israel is called in Hebrew, “am segulah.” This denotes a people of God’s possession and this title is often heard in Israel today. Interestingly, we Christians were once without hope and cut off from God’s covenants (Eph. 2:12).  Now, we through Christ have become the people of God (Eph. 2:19).  The Swedish biblical scholar Bo Reicke makes plain here: “It is also affirmed that the Christians have received the special privilege of appropriating the names of honor with which Israel was favored in the Old Testament.” 29  We must note again that we do not replace Israel but in a real sense we join with the true Israel and continue on with her in fulfilling God’s great and magnificent plan. 30

The purpose of God’s new people is to shed his glorious light on those who remain in darkness.  McKnight says here: “From day one, the church of Christ was involved in spiritual formation and evangelistic outreach.  In fact, one might contend that these are the two primary human-oriented missions of the church, alongside the primary task of bringing glory to God through corporate and individual worship.” 31

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (2:10).  Peter was writing primarily to Gentiles, as we have said earlier.  The Gentile situation is clearly described in Ephesians 2:12 which says, “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Now, all this has been reversed in Christ.  We have now received mercy.  Ephesians 2:19-20 says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”

Long before the prophet had said, “…I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’ and they will say, ‘You are my God’” (Hos. 2:23).  It is clear in Romans 9:25, that Paul applies this prophecy to the Gentiles. 32

 

LIVING GOOD LIVES

 

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11  

Peter again refers to these Gentile believers as “strangers” in the world just as he did in 1:1.  They were just pilgrims and passers-by in the world and really could lay no claim upon it.  Like their father Abraham of old, they too were looking for a city with foundations, one built by God (Heb. 11:10).  In order to stay clear of the world and its system it was imperative that they guarded against all lusts of the flesh.  In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul gives a pretty comprehensive list of these lusts: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Today these sins of the flesh are all around us.  It is as if we were drowning in a cesspool of wickedness.  We want to cry out, “Lord, rescue us from this present evil age— an age of— Christ spurning; Bible hating; Israel bashing; truth twisting; pleasure seeking; spouse cheating; sex obsessing; baby killing; blood shedding; drug abusing; and money loving.”

Dr. James Kennedy in his book Why The Ten Commandments Matter says: “One of the tragic things about all sin is that it is addictive.  Whether it’s sex, drugs, alcohol, overeating, or gambling— it doesn’t matter what sin you fall prey to, it is addictive.  And the more you do it, the stronger the addiction becomes.” 33  As we see in this passage, sin wars against our souls and it drags down our souls into the mud and mire of this present evil age.  Jesus says to us: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

Peter advises: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (2:12).  The church has been called “a countercultural alternative to society and culture.” 34  Precisely because it is countercultural, the true church can expect to be resisted and persecuted by our fallen society.

Early Christians were suspect in the Roman society and often treated with scorn.  They were also the subject of many false charges.  Because of the mention of the body and blood of Christ in communion, they were charged with cannibalism.  They were accused of immorality because of their love feasts. They were suspected of turning slaves against their masters and interfering with normal trades (Acts 19:23-41). They were charged with hatred of the human race, since the church and the world were diametrically opposed to each other.  Perhaps worst of all, they were accused of disloyalty to Caesar because they would not offer incense to him as a god. 35

In spite of all their persecution, Peter charges them to live “good lives.”  The Greek word for “good” is kalos.  Barclay says “In Greek there are two words for good. There is agathos,  which simply means good in quality; and there is kalos… which means not only good but also lovely, fine, attractive, winsome.” 36  So the “good” Peter speaks of here is something beautiful, something that attracts and wins people.

Peter assumes that believers will suffer persecution because of their holy lives.  After all, holiness is always a judgment on the surrounding pagan world and it makes people uncomfortable.  He does not try to alleviate their persecution and suffering, since Christ had been an example of suffering to them and they were obliged to follow in his steps.

McKnight says, “Peter’s essential message here is: Live holy lives in the midst of secular chaos, and let God take care of the final results.” 37  On the day of visitation (hemera episkopes) they would be rewarded.  Albert Barnes, the 19th century Presbyterian theologian, describes the Greek word used here for visitation as, “…the act of visiting or being visited for any purpose, usually with the notion of inspecting conduct, of inflicting punishment, or of conferring favors. Compare Matthew 25:36; 25:43; Lk. 7:16; 19:44.” 38  Schneider says that it refers to the day of God’s salvation and the day of his judgment. 39

 

AN ATTITUDE OF SUBMISSION

 

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 1 Peter 2:13-14   

The Bible makes it very plain that we cannot detach ourselves from the authorities of this age.  Instead we must submit ourselves to these authorities and view them as being established by God (Prov. 24:21).  We should even pray for them (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  But is this submission total?  It is certainly not.  When the demands of the secular government override the commands of God, it is necessary that we defy the government. 40  We should do so even if it costs us our lives (e.g. Exo. 1:17; Dan. 3:13-18; Acts 4:18-20; Heb.11:23).

Martin Luther summed up the Christian response very well saying: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” 41  In the New Testament period, particularly in Asia Minor, there were several attempts at revolt against the authorities.  This included the revolt of numerous industrial workers. 42   Of course, there was the long-simmering revolt in Israel against Rome that burst into flames in AD 66 and ended with the almost total destruction of that nation.  The early Christian church father, Tertullian (born c. 160) said: “Pray for kings, because when the kingdom is shaken, all its other members are shaken with it, and even if we stay aloof from tumults we shall have some part in the resulting misfortune.” 43

God desires that order be maintained and for this purpose he has established laws and governments during this long Gentile period of history.  These authorities are obviously not perfect in their governing.  However, “Those who have basically been set up by God to bring law and order, even if imperfectly, are to be seen as preferable to lawlessness.” 44  We are therefore to submit ourselves to them.  The word for submit (hupotagete) is a Greek military term.  It means “to arrange in military fashion under the command of a leader.” 45 Polkinghorn considers that “submit” is a key word in the whole epistle and notes that it occurs in 1 Peter 2:13, 18; 3:1, 5, 22, and also in in 1 Peter 5:5.  It thus occurs six times in the book. 46

“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.  Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (2:15-16).  Jesus our Master went around doing good (Acts 10:38).  We should follow in his steps.  Good deeds often take the air out of trumped-up charges against us.  The ancient writer, Pliny, in his letter to the Emperor of Rome said of the Christians, “I have found in them nothing else save a perverse and extravagant superstition.” 47    “The need for Christians to abstain from unacceptable cultural practices will excite enough criticism; no need to make it worse with acts unbecoming
decent folk.” 48

By doing good deeds we can put to silence ignorant talk.  The Greek word for “put to silence” is the word (qimoun), which means “muzzle.” 49  Our freedom in Christ must never be used as a cloak to cover up our own evil.  The church father Hilary of Arles (403-449) once said: “If we have a form of religion on the outside but inside we are opposed to the rulers of the church as well as to kings and princes, we are using our faith as a pretext for evil.” 50   We need to heed that word in our present society.

“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (2:17).  We must respect every person because each person is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).  We cannot treat people like things, as is being done in the new Darwinian Ethics.  Of course, we must respect other believers because they are very special in God’s sight.  They are part of our spiritual heritage in Christ (Eph. 1:18; Psa. 61:5).

And as Peter has already said, we must honor those in authority.  We see this same instruction in the Old Testament in Proverbs 24:21, where it says: “Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious…” In Romans 13:1-7, Paul has a whole section dealing with our submission to governing authorities.  He says in verses 1 and 2, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

 

SUBMISSION OF SLAVES

 

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.  1 Peter 2:18  

Slavery was a very common thing in the first century.  Barclay estimates that there were sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire, and that they formed the greatest segment of the Christian church. 51  While some slaves held rather high positions like that of doctors, teachers, accountants, secretaries and so forth, many were considered only human machines and worked at menial tasks.  Barclay cites Aristotle who writes, “There can be no friendship nor justice towards inanimate things; indeed, not even towards a horse or an ox, nor yet towards a slave as a slave. For master and slave have nothing in common; a slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave.” 52

Perhaps we should note that the word for “slaves” here is not the regular douloi but rather it is oiketai, or domestic servants.  Calvin feels that there is little difference as the word is used here.53

Peter as well as Paul felt it important that Christian slaves or servants submit to their masters, respect them, and perform their duties in an impeccable manner (cf. Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22; Tit. 2:9). This instruction applied even to those masters who were harsh and cruel.  In this way Christianity would receive a good name.  Then the false reports and slander of the church would be lessened and turned into praise.  It was certainly futile for Christianity to teach against slavery at this point in history.  McKnight says, “The Roman and Greek worlds anchored their entire economic system in this institution.” 54  Slavery was almost like the engine that propelled ancient economies. For Christians at this point to come against slavery would have brought about an economic disaster for the empire and disgrace to the faith.

On the positive side we can say that Peter and Paul broke with longstanding tradition in even addressing slaves.  This would have been startling to the ancient world since slaves had no status. 55  By addressing them the apostles gave them status and began the long process of lifting them up and at last bringing their freedom. In New Testament times people fell into slavery in many ways.  They were born slaves; they were captured in war and thus became slaves; they were kidnapped and forced into slavery; they volunteered to be slaves; and they fell into slavery due to their debts.  It is sad today to realize that many people are falling into a sort of economic slavery due to the oppression of the poor and working classes.

“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (2:19-20).  Wuest thinks this passage reflects Peter’s memories of the awful night Jesus was abused and beaten. 56  Certainly Christ suffered unjustly as the prophets foretold (Isa. 52:13-14; 53:7).  Peter feels that we too should be willing to endure unjust suffering as we follow in the footsteps of Christ (Matt. 5:10).  But if we suffer or are beaten (kolaphizo) because of our own wrongdoing, that is to no glory for ourselves or for Christ.

 

FOLLOWING IN THE PATTERN OF CHRIST

 

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.   1 Peter 2:21  

Peter makes clear that the church is called to suffering.  In Philippians 1:29, Paul also makes this very plain saying: For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him…”  It is our grant or gift from God that we get to suffer on behalf of Christ.   Jesus said in John 15:20, “… If they persecuted me, they will persecute you…”

The early church father Tertullian (AD 160-225) said: “We are daily beset by foes; we are daily betrayed!  We are oftentimes surprised in our meetings and congregations…You put Christians on crosses and stakes…We are cast to the wild beasts…we are burned in the flames…We are condemned to the mines…We are banished to islands.” 57  He also said, “If a Christian is pointed at, he glories in it.  If dragged to trial, he does not resist.  If accused, he makes no defense.  When questioned, he confesses.  When condemned he rejoices.” 58

It is amazing that the first time Peter heard of suffering he met the idea with a rebuke (Mk. 8:31-33). 59  Now after a life of suffering for the Master, he not only accepts it but recommends it to the church.  Tradition says in the end he was crucified like his Master, but at his own request he was crucified upside down.

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (2:22).  Here Peter is alluding to Isaiah 53:9.  It is abundantly clear in the New Testament that Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life (cf. Jn. 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Jn. 3:5).  There was also no deceitful speech found on his lips (Isa. 53:9).

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (2:23).  It is unbelievable what the King of the Universe so suffered at the hands of sinful and depraved humanity.  They stripped him, mocked him, spat upon him, struck him (Matt. 27:28-30).  In all this abuse, and in all the dreadful things afterward, Jesus did not retaliate nor did he make threats as was apparently customary with condemned criminals.  He left the whole matter of vengeance to the Lord (cf. Rom. 12:19).

 

JESUS THE SIN-BEARER

 

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  1 Peter 2:24   

Here we have a very simple and clear statement of the atonement.  Jesus bore our sins in his body.  The word “bore” is the Greek word used in the Septuagint (LXX) to describe a priest carrying the sacrifice to the altar.60  Jesus was not only the priest but the offering.  He died on the cross as one accursed on our behalf (Deut. 21:23).  Now, in the pattern of his death we must die daily to the sins that are in our lives and live for him.

Today in Charismatic ranks, the words “by his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5) are often used in regards to physical healing.  Scholars have pointed out that the context of this verse has to do with spiritual healing and not physical healing. 61  Physical healing is promised in Scripture but it is not promised in this verse.

“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (2:25).  Here Peter seems to keep the picture from Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  People are like sheep.  We are not very bright and cannot take care of ourselves well.  We like real sheep need a shepherd.  One of the oldest pictures of God in the Bible is that of a shepherd. The shepherd saves his sheep and carries the weak in his bosom (Isa. 40:11). 62   We see this picture in the beloved Psalm 23.

Interestingly, the word used here for “overseer” is the Greek word episkopos.  In some versions it is translated “bishop” (ASV, KJV).  In the Greek language it had the meaning of someone who protected public safety, or an overseer of public morals or of law and order. 63  In the Scripture it is sometimes used for pastor (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:7).  The truth is that Jesus is our Pastor and our Shepherd.   Wiersbe in meditating on this remarkable truth says: “In the Old Testament, the sheep died for the shepherd; but at Calvary, the Shepherd died for the sheep (Jn. 10).” 64

 

CHAPTER 3

 

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 1 Peter 3:1-2  

Much of chapter 2, beginning with verse 13, was dealing with the general subject of submission.  Peter now continues with this theme in speaking of the wives.  Wives were to be submissive to their husbands.  This advice goes over like the proverbial “lead balloon” in our 21st century western world.  There is hardly a subject we could mention that would bring forth more argumentation and divisiveness than this one.  To teach on this subject is much like walking through a minefield.

It is thus imperative for us to stop here and try to realize the strong undercurrents of opinion that are influencing the ideas of western women regarding the matter of submission to men.  Because of several decades of radical feminist teaching, women have been taught to demean and sometimes even despise their husbands.  Here are just a few statements from radical feminists teachers which have brought on our present problem.

These statements are taken from the author David Kupelian, in his book, The Marketing of Evil: Gloria Steinem said plainly, “We have to abolish and reform the institution of marriage…”  Feminist author, Vivian Gornick, tenured professor at the University of Arizona, said, “Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession…”  Author, scholar, and university lecturer Germaine Greer added, “If women are to effect a significant amelioration in their condition it seems obvious that they must refuse to marry.”  Radical feminist and author Andrea Dworkin even said, “Like prostitution, marriage is an institution that is extremely oppressive and dangerous for women.” Jill Johnson concluded: “Until all women are lesbians, there will be no true political revolution.” 1

Now we need to pick up the pieces of reality after this false and misleading philosophy has thoroughly invaded our society.  Pure biblical teaching links the submission of women to the divine pattern, particularly to the Book of Genesis (1:23-27).  The Bible, in several places, makes plain that the wife is to be submitted to her husband.  This is God’s order from the creation forward.  Paul says in Ephesians 5:24, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  In Colossians 3:18, he says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

Let us look closely at the word submission, hupotage from the Greek hupotasso.  This is a military term.  So in one sense, submission under the man’s teaching and in marriage is somewhat like submission in the military.  In fact the Greek word used has the meaning “to be under rank.”  In the military the private may be much smarter than the general, but he is “under rank” to the general, not because he is a person but because he is the general. 2   Things can run smoothly in the military, in the nations, in the church and in the family only when there is submission to God’s prescribed order of things.

There is a prescribed order in the whole of creation.  God made it that way.  When we see a flock of geese or ducks there is always a leader (Job 12:7).  The same is true when we see a school of fish.  There is one person who is leader of a country; one general who is leader of an army; one pastor who is leader of a church and one man who is leader of a family.  In the case of the family, that person is the husband.  It has been said that “there never was any kind of effective organization that functioned without a head.” 3

In the matter of marriage for instance, Paul makes it clear in several places that the wife is to submit to the husband and his spiritual headship (cf. Eph. 5:22; Tit. 2:5). This submission has nothing to do with inferiority, lack of talent or intelligence on the part of the wife.  But rather it has to do with mission.  There is a spiritual mission to marriage and this mission is involved with bringing glory to God.  For this mission to succeed there must be “submission.” 4

One of God’s purposes in wifely submission is the winning over of unsaved husbands.  This was an exceedingly difficult task in the first century.  Barclay says that it was even unthinkable for a Roman woman to change her religion from that of her husband.  The Roman woman had no rights.  She was totally under the authority of her husband and in some cases could even be killed for her transgressions. 5  The woman was to win over her husband by godly submission.  She was to do it without words or without nagging.  There was one outstanding example of this in Roman times.  Monica, the mother of the great Augustine, by her godly behavior, won her husband 6  and had a great influence on her son’s coming to the Lord.

 

TRUE BEAUTY

 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4  

Wealthy first century women not only braided their hair but they piled it up excessively into several layers.  To these extravagant coiffures they added combs of ivory or gold studded with precious gems.  Pearls were also loved as embellishments. 7   The church father Clement of Alexandria commented that women were reluctant to even touch their hair lest they disturb it, and of course, sleep came to such as these with an almost terror. 8

It was also customary in the first century for women to wear expensive and highly decorated clothing.  Once Pliny noted that the wife of Caligula was wearing a dress with so many pearls and emeralds that it would have cost in excess of a million dollars. 9  Women were also fond of wearing an abundance of gold, not only in their hair but on their dresses, fingers, arms and ankles.

Peter makes plain that God’s women should not be arrayed in such a vain manner.  Wiersbe says of this: “Glamour is something a person can put on and take off, but true beauty is always present.  Glamour is corruptible; it decays and fades.  True beauty from the heart grows more wonderful as the years pass.” 10  The display of vanity attracts only other men but the true beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit attracts God.  Paul says in 1Timothy 2:9-10, I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”  Also, the Scripture said long ago, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Pro. 31:30).

We should understand that Peter is not saying that a Christian woman cannot look good.  The word Peter uses for adorning is the Greek word kosmos.  It is from this that we get our English word “cosmetic.”  It has the meaning of being orderly. 11   All of us should do the best we can to make ourselves presentable.  However, real beauty is an inward thing.  Wuest points out how fur-bearing animals produce their beautiful fur from the inside.  He also notes how birds grow their attractive plumage from within.  He concludes that a Christian woman’s adornment should also come from within. 12  Her adornment is to be a reflection of Christ.  She is to put on Christ as she would a garment (Rom. 13:14).

In the church, over the years, I have noticed that godly women often get a certain glow about them that surpasses their natural beauty.  This is surely what God is looking for.  Estee Lauder, the cosmetics magnate insists that “a good mirror is the most important accessory in a woman’s life.” 13  Perhaps she is right about some women but not all.  We see in Exodus 38:8, that the ministering women at the Tabernacle apparently offered up their brass mirrors in order that the brazen laver could be built.  Obviously, they had found a better way to make themselves beautiful by serving the Lord.

It is interesting that the only way in which the Lord Jesus ever described himself is with the two words “meek” and “lowly” (Matt. 11:29).14  Yet, Jesus was described by others as beautiful and glorious (Isa. 4:4), even as a lily of the valleys (Song of Sol. 2:1).  Long ago the African church father Tertullian instructed women: “Clothe yourselves…with the silk of piety, with the satin of sanctity, with the purple of modesty; so shall you have God himself to be your suitor.” 15

“For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,” (3:5).  Guzik remarks here: “A woman can trust her ability to influence and control her husband, or she can trust God and be submissive.” 16  These holy women were set apart from the world’s ways and devoted to God’s way.  For instance, we think of the prophetess Deborah, who is an example of a submissive heart.  She refused to lead the army of the Lord but insisted that Barak do so.  It turned out to be one of the greatest victories Israel ever won, and in the end Deborah was lifted higher (Jud. 4:1— 5:31).

“…Like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear” (3:6).  We are challenged as faith people to look to Abraham and also to Sarah (Isa. 51:1-2).  These are spiritual rocks from which we are hewn. 17  Sarah referred to her husband as “lord,” giving him utmost respect as the spiritual leader.  Peter challenges godly women to do the same, to look to the husband as the spiritual head of the home.  The godly wife is told not to yield to fear (Psa. 23:4; 27:1; Pro. 3:25-26).  As we have seen, first century wives must have had a lot of fear regarding their husbands, who literally held the power of life and death over them.  They no doubt had the fear that they would be banished or divorced for taking on a religion other than the one held by their husband .

 

A WORD TO HUSBANDS

 

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  1 Peter 3:7  

Peter is here doing a very unique and strange thing in admonishing husbands to honor their wives.  Such a thing was not done in the Greco-Roman world. 18  Ashland professor David DeSilva summarizes the position of the first century wife saying:

The Greco-Roman and Jewish consensus regarding the “ideal wife” is that she should submit to her husband’s authority rather than try to dominate him, remain in private spaces as much as possible, remain silent in public gatherings and reserve her speech for her husband, conduct herself with all modesty, and preserve her chastity…A particular sign of submissiveness concerned the wife’s adoption of the husband’s religion…The door must be closed to strange cults and foreign superstition.19

We can thus see how Peter’s advice to husbands was quite revolutionary. He counsels husbands to be considerate and treat wives with respect.  Husbands are to realize that the wife is weaker physically (2 Cor. 4:7; 1 Thess. 4:4).  Our postmodern society has tried its best to obscure this plain fact of nature.  It really does not take a rocket scientist to discern that women are physically weaker than men.  Reality brings this fact home over and over.  Coffman says:  “as long as golf courses have one set of rules for men and another for women, every country club on earth bears continual witness to it.” 20

However, the woman is endowed with many graces from God.  A.J. Mason says that women, “have the power no archangel has, to bring human beings into existence.” 21  Adam Clarke, the British Methodist theologian, adds: “Roughness and strength go hand in hand; so likewise do beauty and frailty. The female has what the man wants – beauty and delicacy.” 22  We remind ourselves again that the term weaker (asthenesterōi), has nothing to do with intellectual or moral weakness but purely with physical weakness. 23

When the system of Christian marriage is in place it becomes a reciprocal arrangement.  The husband is considerate of the weaker vessel, treating her always with utmost love and respect.  Mcknight comments: “Thus, when the Christian wife is seeking to love her husband with her whole being and the husband is seeking to love his wife with his whole being, the issue of submission never emerges.” 24   The husband, being the stronger, is to love, protect and provide for the wife (1 Tim. 5:8).  We might ask the postmodern “liberated” woman, “What is really so bad about that?”

The relationship between the Christian husband and wife is a “one-another submission” (Eph. 5:21).  It is a union designed to bring glory to God as well as supreme happiness and fulfillment to the Christian couple.  Together the husband and wife share equally in the grace of God (1 Cor. 11:11ff; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 5:23-33) and in the eyes of God regarding salvation there is really no difference in either of them.

While the husband is the spiritual head of the family the wife is the help-meet to make a happy marriage and family possible.  Wiersbe describes it this way: “The husband must be the ‘thermostat’ in the home, setting the emotional and spiritual temperature.  The wife often is the ‘thermometer,’ letting him know what that temperature is.” 25

When husbands do not realize the delicate relationship they have with their wives their prayers are hindered.  If anyone doubts this, just try praying after having an argument with your wife.

 

CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8  

Christians are to live in harmony with each other.  For years I have played a little autoharp with 36 strings.  It has such a pleasant sound when all these strings are in tune.  However, if even one string is out of tune it affects the whole sound of the harp.  So it is in the church of the Lord.  We all need keen ears to hear if one string is not doing well and we need to help that one to get back into harmony.   We need to be of one mind and sympathetic to each other.  The word sympathetic is sumpatheis and it means having understanding of others or sharing the same feeling (Heb. 4:15; 10:34).  It is like rejoicing with those who are happy, and weeping with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). It is being tender-hearted and full of pity for others (Col. 3:12).

We are to love as brothers (philadelphoi).  We must remember that we are all bound together like cells in the human body.  We are to be compassionate (eusplagchnoi).  This word reflects what ancient people believed, that the lower viscera was the seat of all emotions (cf. 2 Cor. 6:12; Phil. 1:8).26   It is like having a “gut feeling” for the problems and needs of other people, especially those in the church. At last in this verse Peter mentions humility.  This is indeed a rare jewel in this narcissistic age of ours.  It was even a rare thing in the days of Peter.  In the ancient world it was felt that humility was a thing for slaves and thus it was scorned throughout the Greco-Roman world.27   Christianity took this despised virtue and lifted it to great heights, almost making it a core virtue from which all others flowed.

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (3:9). It does not take a mathematician to see that when we repay evil for evil or insult with insult, we have essentially doubled the amount of evil.  Christians cannot live in such a way (Rom. 12:17; 1 Thess. 5:15).  Wiersbe says, “We can return evil for good, which is the satanic level.  We can return good for good and evil for evil, which is the human level.  Or, we can return good for evil, which is the divine level.” 28

As Christians, we are priests of God (Rev. 1:6; 5:10) and it is the job of priests to bless others.  Besides this, we are called to inherit a blessing (Gen. 12:2; Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:3).  We are even commanded to bless those who curse us (Lk. 6:28-29).

“For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.’”(3:10).  Today a lot of people are “health nuts,” constantly trying to extend their days on earth.  Peter gives us a sure way to extend our days and that is to control our tongues.  James also says that if we do not control our tongues all the rest of our religion is worthless (Jam. 1:26).  James tells us that no man can control the tongue (Jam. 3:8).  Only the Lord Jesus, through his Holy Spirit living within us can tame the tongue.  If we fail to control the tongue it could shorten our lives or even kill us.

The particular tongue sin Peter is dealing with here is deceit (dolos) or guile.  We cannot help but remember the tragic case of Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10).  They made the mistake of trying to deceive Peter and the church about a gift they had partially given.  Their deceit cost both of them their lives that very day.  We need to pray like the Psalmist did in Psalm 141:3, Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Long ago the church father Chrysostom said of guile, “…It is the friend of the enemy of truth, that is, Satan, the father of lies.” 29

Peter says of the righteous person, “He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it(3:11).  We note that this whole passage, with some slight variations, is taken from Psalm 34:12-16.  The righteous person is to turn away from evil.  In the case of some serious sins like sexual immorality the Bible even tells us to flee (1 Cor. 6:18).  Instead of being involved in sin, we need to do good as we have opportunity, especially we should do good to those who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).  It is of note here that the good life does not simply happen.  We must seek it (setesato), and as far as peace is concerned we must pursue it (dioxato). 30

At this point we are reminded of that righteous man in the land of Uz by the name of Job. It is said of him, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1).

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (3:12). In the Book of 2 Chronicles 16:9 we read, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…”  With these words the prophet Hanani rebuked good King Asa for not depending upon the Lord to help him in battle.  Instead, he sought aid from the king of Syria.  Asa was assured from that foolish decision onward he would be at war (2 Chron. 16:9b).  How true it is that“Misfortune pursues the sinner…” (Prov. 13:21).  Paul also says that “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil…” (Rom. 2:9).

 

SUFFERING AS GOD’S PEOPLE

 

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”  1 Peter 3:13-14  

Peter says we will not be harmed if we are doing good.  We can be certain he is not speaking in a physical sense, because many in the first century suffered severe persecution and some even death for Christ’s sake.  He was, in fact, writing to people who had already suffered some persecution.

No doubt he is speaking in an eschatological sense. 31  He probably has reference to the Day of Judgment in which evil people will be ashamed of their acts and where the righteous will rejoice. We are not to fear physical abuse and harm but rather we are to fear spiritual harm.  In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Spiritual loss is eternal loss.   Peter notes that we should be eager or zealous (zelotai) for good works, even in the face of persecution.32  It was Sir John Seeley who said, “No heart is pure that is not passionate; no virtue safe which is not enthusiastic.” 33

Perhaps it would be good for us to look briefly into the kinds of suffering that we may face.  Let us say, first of all, that there is a suffering that is simply a part of living in a curse-infested world. This suffering may manifest itself in many ways, such as conflict, corruption, frustration, anxiety, drudgery, sickness, death, etc. There are thorns and thistles in man’s path as we see from Genesis.

Then there is suffering that we strictly bring upon ourselves.   Sometimes we just do dumb things, thus causing suffering for ourselves and others. Often, we have wrong attitudes and opinions about ourselves or others.  This type of suffering is an extremely painful and intense kind to bear.  When we fail to ask the Lord for guidance, we often suffer for it.  Then there is the suffering brought on by our deliberate sin. When we disobey the Lord and walk contrary to his way, we suffer as a result (Heb. 12:6).

The most interesting, mysterious and puzzling suffering is that which we experience for the sake of God’s kingdom.  Israel has long suffered in this way.  Psalms 124 and 129 are hymns of praise to God for his deliverance of the nation through such times of suffering.

The clearest pattern for this kind of suffering is, of course, Jesus (Yeshua).  He came to earth for the express purpose of suffering and dying for sinners (Heb. 2:9).  Although perfect and without sin, he still suffered the death of the ungodly on a cruel cross.  He thus left us an example of suffering. In the next chapter (1 Pet. 4:1) Peter will say, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude….”  In Philippians 1:29 it is said, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him…”  It is a grant to us, our gift from God, that we sometimes get to suffer for his kingdom.  Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” 

We need to understand that serious Christians will be persecuted.  In an early letter to Diognetus, sent by an unknown disciple, it is said of believers: “They love all men, and are persecuted by all.” 34   Today we are told that most Christians in the world are living in nations where persecution is common and often even life-threatening.  So we in the west, particularly, need to get used to the idea of persecution, since it is headed our way.  In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus advises us to rejoice when we are persecuted for righteousness sake, for our reward will be great in heaven.

Peter advises us not to fear what others fear.  This seems to be a reference to Isaiah 8:12-13.  No doubt the threats and intimidations of the godless could strike terror in some hearts, but not the hearts of the righteous.35  Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (Jn. 14:1).

 

BEING PREPARED

 

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15  

Christ should be sanctified and set apart in our hearts.  Pett tells us: “People often had places in their houses set apart for the gods, such as a ‘god-shelf.’  But the Christian looked on himself as the sanctuary of Christ his Lord. He was a ‘God-shelf
on which Christ abode.” 36

Barclay says here: “A cultivated Greek believed that it was the mark of an intelligent man that he was able to give and to receive a logos [word] concerning his actions and belief. …The Christian must go through the mental and spiritual toil of thinking out his faith, so that he can tell what he believes and why…” 37   The actual Greek word used here is apologian.  In our culture today the word “apology” has more to do with making an excuse for something.  However, in the First Century and even in later times it meant making a defense for something, particularly for one’s religion. 38   A number of early Christian writers are called “apologists” because they wrote articles and books defending the faith.  The word could also be used of courtroom interrogations.

We are told to present our faith with gentleness or meekness and with respect to those who are hearing.  There is the story of an overly zealous witness in the college cafeteria who boldly and publicly asked this question to a person casually eating at the table, “When you die are you going to heaven?”  The man was silent for a moment, then he asked his questioner, “Are you going to be there?”  The bold witness assured him that he would be there.  At that, the man replied, “Then, I think I would rather not go.”  We cannot be in people’s faces with our religion.  We must respect them and their opinions.  We need to listen to them.  Coffman says: “A lack of meekness can prejudice judges, if one is in a court of law… A lack of it can antagonize earnest questioners whose seeking after the truth can be easily frustrated by an arrogant, overbearing, or discourteous attitude.”  39

The early Coptic Christian theologian Didymus the Blind (c. 313-398) commented:  “For whoever says anything about God must do so as if God himself were present to
hear him.” 40

Peter goes on with his instruction:  “…keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (3:16).  Our conscience (suneidēsin) is much like a fine compass that gives us true direction in life.  It tells us what is right and wrong.  The French bishop, Hilary of Arles (c. 403-449) once said, “Your conscience is the part of you which embraces what is good and which rejects evil.  It is like the doorkeeper of a house which is open to friends and closed to enemies.” 41  If we are obeying our conscience we will eventually put our accusers to shame.

 

THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST’S SUFFERING AND DEATH

 

It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,   1 Peter 3:17-18   

Our suffering for the sake of the Kingdom is always based upon the suffering of Christ.  He is our pattern.   We must always make sure that we are suffering for Christ and not for our own sin and foolishness.  There is no glory in that.

What we have here is the basic statement of the gospel.  Christ died once for all for our sins.  He was righteous but he died for us, the unrighteous.  He died in order to bring us all to God.  Although he was put to death in his body he was resurrected by the Spirit.  Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3; Gal 1:4). The Bible makes plain that he died “once for all.” (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 9:26; 10:10).  The death of Jesus will never be repeated.  He is now resurrected in body and alive forever.  The outstanding Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, quips here that the death of Jesus was “once for all” and not “once upon a time.” 42

The purpose of Jesus’ death was to bring us to God.  The Greek word here is prosagoge and it has the meaning of “access” (cf. Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18).  Barclay says, “…At the court of kings there was an official called the prosagogeus, the introducer, the giver of access, and it was his function to decide who should be admitted to the king’s presence and who should be kept out. …” 43   Only through Jesus will we be given access to the heavenly courts.

There has been a long discussion among commentators concerning the word “Spirit,” as to whether it means the Holy Spirit or the human spirit.  As we see, the NIV here capitalizes it to mean the Holy Spirit.  Coffman says of the various translations, “…There is thus little doubt, therefore, that it was the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, and the translators could have saved a lot of misunderstanding if they had capitalized Spirit in this passage [cf. Rom. 1:4; 8:11].” 44

 

CHRIST’S VISIT TO THE UNDERWORLD

 

…through whom  also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,   1 Peter 3:19-20  

In Psalm 16:9-10 it is written: Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave [Hebrew Sheol], nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”  We know that at his death Jesus went down into the abode of the dead (Sheol or Hades).  This fact was mentioned in the older versions of the Apostle’s Creed.  We cannot know all of his activities in this place but we can know some things about his visit there.  We see here that Jesus preached to the spirits in prison.  It is specifically said that he preached to those who disobeyed in ancient times, particularly the times of the flood.

This is a very difficult Scripture.  Barclay says of it: “This is not only one of the most difficult passages in Peter’s letter, it is one of the most difficult in the whole New Testament.” 45  The great reformer Martin Luther says: “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” 46    Since we realize that this is a difficult passage, let us go slowly, looking carefully at the words used.  Let us always remember in our interpretations to compare the obscure passages with the obvious passages.  We never want to hang a doctrine solely on an obscure passage.  As an example, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory was erroneously founded on this Scripture alone.47

Christ, through the Spirit, preached to the spirits in prison.  The word “preached” used here is the Greek ekēruxen from kerusso, and not the more common euangelizo (proclaim the gospel or good tidings)The question we must answer is what did Jesus preach in Hades?  Did he preach to the unrighteous dead, offering them a “second chance” at salvation?  Or did he proclaim his victory to fallen spirits?  The Greek scholar Wuest says here that this word was used in secular Greek indicating an official announcement or a proclamation made by a government representative.  He claims that the word alone does not indicate the content of the message but that a qualifying phrase must be used with it.  The word alone does not indicate that Jesus preached the gospel to his recipients. 48

Schreiner adds: “The majority view among scholars today is that the text describes Christ’s proclamation of victory and judgment over the evil angels.  These evil angels, according to Gen 6:1-4, had sexual relations with women and were imprisoned because of their sin.” 49  In the Scripture humans are never spoken of as spirits. 50

Let us pause and examine some things about the revolt of angels in Genesis 6:1-4.  Being allured by Satan, they left their heavenly estate because of their lust for women.  We know that the world was exceedingly evil at this time and that the preaching of Noah for 120 years did not gain a single soul outside his own family.  It is likely that some women were deeply involved in sorcery and may have, through this evil art, attracted rebellious angels or demons into a sexual relationship.  In the Genesis passage it seems that God is angrier with humanity than with angels.

So, we likely have gross evil on the part of humans as well as fallen angels.  In any case this was a perversion of God’s intention.  Pett describes it saying that evil angels, “had sought to break down the God-ordained difference between spirits and men in defiance of God. Now they were faced with one who had broken down that difference, but in a way ordained by God, by becoming man and then being raised in a spiritual body, so that all men could enjoy full spiritual life.” 51   The devil, through rebellious angels, may have been trying to preempt the incarnation. 52    Had he succeeded, the work of Christ would have not been possible.  How could Christ have come to earth to save humans if they were no longer humans, but a mixture with fallen spirits?

Davids says of this situation, “Thus it seems likely that this passage in 1 Peter refers to a proclamation of judgment to the imprisoned spirits, that is, the fallen angels, sealing their doom as he triumphed over sin and death and hell, redeeming human beings.” 53

In the times between the testaments there was a great deal of writing and discussion on this subject.  In the books of 1 Enoch, Jubilees, Testament of Reuben, and Testament of Napthali, this same event is mentioned. 54  These books are not in the Bible but they are books of Jewish tradition.  We cannot discount the fact that God spoke to some people between the testaments.  Occasionally (as also in Jude 1:6), the Holy Spirit picks up some of this tradition and adds it to the Scriptures.

We obviously do not know the whole account of Jesus’ visit into the abode of the dead, since he was there three days.  In 1 Peter 4:6, we are told that Jesus also preached to the dead.  We have to rule out the idea that the dead were given a “second chance” at salvation since it is found nowhere in Scripture.  Schreiner comments here, “It makes no sense contextually for Peter to be teaching that the wicked have a second chance in a letter in which he exhorted the righteous to persevere and to endure suffering.” 55   Also, the Scripture is clear in Hebrews 9:27, where it is said: “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…”  Clarke adds: “… there is no ground to believe that the text speaks of Christ’s going to hell to preach the gospel to the damned.” 56   

The early church fathers had a great deal to say about Christ’s descent and preaching in Sheol or Hades.  Melito (c. 179) said “Christ rose from the place of the dead, and raised up the race of Adam from the grave below.” 57  Irenaeus (c.180) commented: “The Lord was made ‘the First-Begotten of the dead.’  Receiving into his bosom the ancient fathers…” 58 Hyppolytus (c. 200) says, “He preached the gospel to the souls of the saints.  Through death, he overcame death.” 59   The Scripture does say that Jesus was given the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18).  It also says in Ephesians 4:8, When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men” (cf. Psa. 68:18).

Peter says that these were the people, “who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,” (3:20).  In ancient times God waited patiently, even as long as 120 years.  God is doing the same today because he is, “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).  Noah’s ark was a picture of the church.  It was no doubt a smelly thing since it contained so many animals, but it was much better than treading water.

To sum up, what we may have here is Jesus making a proclamation of victory over fallen angels as well as a proclamation over rebellious human beings from the times of Noah.  As a part of his activities he then proclaimed the full and complete gospel to the saints of old who were being held captives in the abode of the dead (1 Pet. 4:6).  Then with his resurrection he delivered them from the realms of Sheol.

Only Noah and his family were saved in the ark (only 8 souls).  No doubt the rest of humanity scoffed and ridiculed.  Reicke says of this: “In those days the number eight was regarded as a symbol of completeness and perfection.” 60  In like manner, the number of the saved today, though small, is also a symbol of perfection.  Those on the ark were “saved through water” (di’ hudatos) or “by means of water.” 61  Davids adds: “The picture is clearly that of passing through the water, not of the water as a means of salvation.” 62

 

THE SYMBOL OF BAPTISM

 

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also— not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,   1 Peter 3:21  

Peter says that baptism is a symbol or antitype (antitupon).  In the Greek language there is the word tupos, which has the meaning of a seal.  Then there is the word antitupos, which means the seal’s impression.63   These words come over into English as type and antitype.  Calvin says: “…that Noah, saved by water, had a sort of baptism. …our baptism is an antitype… to the baptism of Noah.” 64

In the Scripture there are some verses that seem to connect baptism with the removal of sin. (cf. Acts 2:38; Tit. 3:5).  Obviously, this is not the whole picture as we see in this verse.  Peter hastens to clarify that baptism has nothing to do with removal of dirt from the body.  He has already said that it is a symbol or picture of something.

Robertson comments, saying that baptism is after a true likeness (antitupon) of Noah’s deliverance by water, which was the tupon (Heb. 8:5) or type.  He says, it is only symbolic, not actual, as Peter quickly explains. 65   Wuest adds, “Water baptism is the outward testimony of the believer’s inward faith…Peter is careful to inform his readers that he is not teaching baptismal regeneration….” 66   Trapp quips, “A man may go to hell with baptismal water on his face.” 67

This does not mean that we can take baptism lightly.  It is a very serious matter. Baptist commentator, Bob Utley, remarks about this: “…The New Testament knows nothing of unbaptized believers. In the New Testament baptism was inseparably related to one’s profession of faith.” 68

What else does baptism symbolize?  We see in this verse that it symbolizes “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.”  In Hebrews 10:22, we read the admonition, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

The word “pledge” used in 3:21, is the Greek word eperotemaBarclay tells us that in Bible times every business contract had a required question and answer, which was necessary to validate the agreement and make it binding. The question was: “Do you accept the terms of this contract, and bind yourself to observe them?”  The answer before witnesses was “Yes.” If there was not such an agreement the contract could not be valid.69

With this information in mind we can see how baptism is in a sense a seal to the agreement.  Before witnesses, a person is saying to Christ “I do.”

We realize that the saving thing here is that Christ is resurrected and has ascended to heaven.  He will likewise raise us up.  It is important that we emphasize the matter of conscience regarding baptism.  Many people refuse baptism or make light of it.  Those who do so will not enjoy a good conscience toward God.

I was converted as a small boy and baptized at the time.  However, I did not remember my baptism.  I only remembered playing in the river while many others were being baptized.  That bothered me over the years and the problem seemed to get worse with time.  Finally, I became a minister and went to seminary, still with the nagging problem of my baptism or lack of it.  I noticed other pastors were getting churches to serve but there was none for me.  Finally, I broke down and asked for baptism as a believer.  When I went under the water it seemed like chains fell off me and the same week I received an invitation to go to a small church in view of a call to minister there.  I pastored that church and I did so with a clear conscience concerning baptism.

Finally, Peter speaks of Jesus, “who has gone into heaven and is at God’ s right hand— with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (3:22).  This is no doubt a reference to Psalm 110:1.  This is a heavily quoted Psalm in the New Testament.  In several places Jesus even applies the Psalm to himself (cf. Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Mk. 14:62; Lk. 22:69).  We have seen in this chapter how the underworld was submitted to Jesus and now we see that the angels and authorities in the highest heavens are also submitted to him.

 

CHAPTER 4

 

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  1 Peter 4:1-2  

As we mentioned when we began our study, 1 Peter is an epistle of suffering.  Peter has already brought up the subject eight times and he will mention it 9 more times in the remainder of the little book.

He wants us to understand that the pattern for our suffering is that of Christ, who suffered on the cross as an innocent person in order to redeem us by his blood.  Paul Achtemeier says:  “Suffering was, therefore, not a regrettable accident but a virtual necessity; until society itself was transformed, Christians could expect the same hostility to be directed against them that was directed against Christ.” 1  The great F.B. Meyer comments here saying: “Sometimes God employs the acid of persecution or suffering to eat away the bonds that bind us to our past.  Let us accept these with a willing mind. The one condition of reigning with the enthroned Christ is to submit to his cross.”   2      

We note that we are commanded to arm ourselves with the attitude of Christ.  The word used here speaks of being heavily armed rather than just having light armor. 3   The Bible is clear that we are facing a great battle in the spiritual realm (cf. Eph. 6:10-20; Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:8).  One of the chief pieces of armor we need is the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17).  This has much to do with our way of thinking.  It is very similar to having the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5).  This, of course, is having a mind to suffer.

Peter says, “…he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”  Barclay tells us that there is a strong feeling in Jewish thought that suffering is a great purifier.4   We are reminded of the many texts where suffering is pictured as a good and helpful thing for the believer (cf. Psa. 94:12; Job 5:17; Heb. 12:6).  The Venerable Bede (c 672-735) says, “Who would have time to think about sinning if he were being crucified, stoned, thrown to the lions, burnt at the stake, buried alive with scorpions or whatever?” 5

Once people come to Christ they cannot live any longer as they have lived.  Kretzmann says that our previous unconverted behavior is more than sufficient to pay any debt we thought we owed to the flesh (a little irony is reflected here). 6    Popular 20th Century commentator, John Dummelow, adds that man ceases from sin (Rom. 6:2, 11) and that suffering is a mind bracer to keep temptations from ruling in the life. 7   After all, we can’t very well enjoy that which made Jesus suffer and die for us on the cross can we? 8

 

EVERYDAY LIFE IN PAGANISM

 

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do— living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 1 Peter 4:3 

Pagans lived in a flood of dissipation and wastefulness.  They lived in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, drinking parties, revelries, and abominable idolatries.  Added to this, they were eaten up with envy, greed, anger, lusts and so forth.  Godbey calls all these things, “diabolical debaucheries.” 9

Let us take a closer look at this lifestyle.  We see that there was licentiousness  (aselgeiais). This was accompanied by lusts (epithymia).  Likely this is a reference to sexual sins. 10  There was debauchery or excess of wine (oinophlugia).  This has reference to an overflowing of wine. 11  This along with the next words komois (carousals) and potois (drinking bouts) pretty well sums up the pagan life. Barnes describes all this as, “carousing or merrymaking after supper, the guests often sallying into the streets, and going through the city with torches, music, and songs in honor of Bacchus [the god of wine]…” 12

The list of evils here, especially the mention of idolatry, is once again an indication that Peter was writing mostly to Gentiles rather than to Jews.  The Gentile lifestyle was horrible and designed to bring destruction and heartache to all involved in it.  One of the big problems with sin has always been that it never works.  As Barnes says, “…The fruits of sin are always disappointment, tears, death, despair.” 13

“They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (4:4-5).  Wiersbe says, “Let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!” 14  Coffman adds: “No one is any more unpopular at a drinking party than a teetotaler; and the same is true of all abstainers from popular sins.” 15   Even Jesus’ own family thought he had gone crazy (Mk. 3:21).  The truth is that sin likes company, sinful company.  That sinful company temporarily eases the fear and certainty that judgment is coming upon the wicked.

 

JESUS JUDGES THE WICKED AND DELIVERS THE RIGHTEOUS

 

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.  1 Peter 4:6  

We saw in 1 Peter 3:19-20, that Jesus at his death went and proclaimed victory over the spirits (angels) in prison and probably over the wicked dead who so defiled themselves in the days of Noah.  Now we see something a little different and a diverse word is used for preaching or proclamation (euēggelisthē from euaggelizō).  This word means the preaching of the gospel.  Perhaps Guzik has the best summary of what went on in Sheol:

Apparently during this same time, Jesus also preached a message of salvation to the faithful dead in Abraham’s Bosom (Lk. 16:22) who anticipated the work of the Messiah for them…This preaching to those who are dead was not the offer of a second chance, but the completion of the salvation of those who had been faithful to God under their first chance…. Jesus fulfilled the promise that he would lead captivity captive (Psa. 68:18; Eph. 4:8) and would proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isa. 61:1 and Lk. 4:18). 16

The fact that Jesus went to Sheol or Hades is proof positive that his death was no sham as some have supposed. 17   Jesus really died on the cross for our redemption.

 

THE APPROACHING END

 

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  1 Peter 4:7  

Peter speaks a great deal about the second coming of the Lord Jesus (cf. 1 Pet. 1:5; 4:13,17;  5:1). With that coming, there will surely be a fiery judgment released on the ungodly, with a purging of the earth and of the present evil age by fire.  Unfortunately, many Christians have backed off from this understanding.  Although they may not have been burned by the end day, they have been seriously “burned” by the teaching of false prophets.

In place of the fiery judgment and the end of this age, modern and postmodern Christians have adapted a new and novel approach.  “In the place of the final judgment, the modern Westerner has substituted what sociologist Christopher Lasch has called the ‘Myth of Progress.’” 18  Science will thus bring us “better things for better living through chemistry,” as the old DuPont advertising slogan had it. This is a feeble idea that things will get better and better through scientific advances and computer know-how.  Macknight says of it, “…Christians today seem to have lost much of their moral nerve about the end of history climaxing in a judgment that will decide the fate of all people…The fact about the world of technology constantly improving has been transferred by the majority of Westerners to moral and social realms.” 19

Still, Jesus tells us that he is coming soon (Rev. 1:3; 22:20), and the Bible affirms that this is the last hour (1 Jn. 2:18), and that “…the Lord’s coming is near” (Jam. 5:8). Perhaps it would be good for us to get some understanding of the end days as the Bible speaks of them.  Daniel 9:24 is perhaps the most mysterious verse in all of Scripture (read vs. 24-27 for the whole picture).  In this one verse God encapsulates history by dividing it into a period of “seventy sevens.”  These are probably seventy time-segments of seven years each.  This very long period most likely began with the Second Decree of the Persian king Artaxerxes in 445 BC.  In this passage we are dealing with a total of 490 years.  However, by the time Christ appeared, clearly sixty-nine of the seventy time periods of seven had elapsed.  Only one period of seven years remained.  We can now understand why New Testament people felt they were living in the last days.

Were they mistaken?  Two thousand years have now elapsed and the end has not come.  How do we explain this?  It is important for us that the decree of the King Artaxerxes had to do with rebuilding Jerusalem.  It seems likely that when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem as well as the Temple in AD 70, the divine time clock stopped.  After two thousand years we are still living in the last days and still approaching the end of the age.  We can guess that the restoration of Jerusalem in our time, as well as the final rebuilding of the Temple sometime soon, will bring on the end of this period and usher in the last day.  This is called the Day of the Lord, or the consummation (cf. Matt. 13:39-40; 24:3 ff.; 28:20).  Until that time, we continue to live in the “times of the Gentiles” as Jesus mentioned (Lk. 21:24), and the “last days” or “end of all things” as Peter speaks of here.  

Barnes says, “Everywhere in the Scriptures it is represented that it will come at an unexpected hour, as a thief in the night, and when the mass of people shall be slumbering in false security, Matthew 24:37-39; 24:42-44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Luke 21:34.” 20

Because we are living in the end of history it is important that we keep our sanity or preserve sound minds.  There are a couple of terms used here.  The first is sōphroneō and it refers to calm, stable and vigorous thinking.  The second is nēphō and it is concerns drunkenness, which we should avoid.  This first term is used figuratively for rational and sound thinking (cf. 1 Thess. 5:6, 8; Tit. 2:2; and 1 Pet. 1:13; 5:8). 21   When we keep a sound mind it will enable us to pray according to God’s will.  We will not be carried away by mythology.

When Peter wrote that the day of the Lord was certainly on the way, he could have counted the years on one hand until the great persecution of Nero.  Thousands suffered a flaming death as they became the emperor’s torches to light his gardens, or were fed to beasts, or were crucified and beheaded. 22  At that time, Peter himself would be crucified upside down, according to his own request, as tradition tells us.  Paul would suffer beheading under Nero, since Roman citizens could not be crucified.

Even in this doubting postmodern age we will all have to agree that the time is near for us.  Each of us will die, if the Lord does not come first, and that will bring us to the end of our time.  So, for all of us the end is near.23

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (4:8).  We know from the Book of Revelation that keeping our love aflame will be a big problem for Christians in the end days (Rev. 2:4).  Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:12, that the love of most Christians would grow cold in the last days.  This is something we must guard against vigilantly.  We need to ask the Lord to help us love each other deeply (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22) and to love the Lord with all our hearts (Mk. 12:30).

We see that love covers over sins.  Grudem says, “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts…to Satan’s perverse delight.” 24    The above passage is no doubt taken from Proverbs 10:12.  It has nothing to do with the atoning for sins of either party.  That was only done by Jesus on the cross.

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (4:9).  We see many places in Scripture where God’s people are requested to be hospitable (cf. Exo. 22:21; Matt. 25:35; Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8; Heb. 13:2). Barclay says of this grace:

Without hospitality the early church could not have existed. …inns…were impossibly filthy and notoriously immoral. Thus we find Peter lodging with one Simon a tanner (Acts 10:6), and Paul and his company were to lodge with one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple (Acts 21:16). Many a nameless one in the early church made Christian missionary work possible by opening the doors of his house and home…. For two hundred years there was no such thing as a church building …Thus we read of the church which was in the house of Aquila and  Priscilla (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19), and of the church which was in the house of Philemon (Phile. 1:2 ). 25

We know when Christians welcome a stranger there is a chance they are welcoming an angel (Heb. 13:2) or even the Lord himself (Matt. 25:43).  It would help us to listen to some early Christian testimony concerning hospitality.  In the Letter to Diognetes (c. 125-200) the writer described early Christians: “When they see a stranger, they take him into their homes and they rejoice over him as a very brother…but if they have no spare food to give, they fast two or three days in order to supply the necessary food to the needy.” 26

Clement of Rome around AD 96 said: “Many, too, have surrendered themselves to slavery, that with the price they received for themselves, they might provide food for others.” 27.  Chrysostom once wrote: “Abraham received passers-by and travelers just as they were.  He did not leave them to his servants.  On the contrary, he ordered his wife to bring flour, even though he had domestic help.  But he and his wife wanted to earn the blessing.” 28

 

USING OUR HEAVENLY GIFTS

 

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  1 Peter 4:10  

We note first of all here that each Christian has at least one spiritual gift (charisma) to use for the benefit of the Body of Christ and for others (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7).  Listings of these spiritual gifts are found in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; and in Ephesians 4:7.  Davids says, “It is clear that the New Testament cannot conceive of a fully initiated Christian without spiritual gifts.” 29  If we are believers and are not aware of our spiritual gifts we should ask the Lord to reveal them to us.  It is important that we start using these valuable gifts.  We need to begin getting “interest” for the Lord on his investment and not allow the gift to be buried in the earth (Matt. 25:18).  Utley says, “Spiritual gifts are not ‘merit badges’ but ‘service towels.’” 30

“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (4:11).  Our spiritual gifts and even our natural gifts need to be energized by the Holy Spirit.  We should be especially careful in using our speaking gifts.  We should speak as if it were the words or oracles of God (logia theou).  This has reference to a divine communication as we see in Romans 3:2 (cf. Rom. 12:6-8; Heb. 5:12).

I have served as a minister of the gospel for over fifty years and the longer I serve, the more I desire to honor and respect the word of God.  Usually, when I read the Bible to the church I begin by saying something like this: “Listen to the holy and eternal word of God!”  I have learned that when I speak as a minister I must do my very best to communicate the word.  This takes much prayer, preparation and practice each time. I find myself almost trembling at the word as I deliver it.  I fear that not all preachers take the word seriously.  Trapp says, “Every sound is not music, so neither is every pulpit discourse preaching.” 31 Calvin says of the minister: “let him reverently in God’s fear and in sincerity perform the charge committed to him, regarding himself as engaged in God’s work, and as ministering God’s word and not his own.” 32

Coffman summarizes here: “The whole duty of Christians is classified under the general heading of ‘speaking’ and ‘doing;’ but it is actually God who does both!  He supplies the words which the speaker is to speak, and the means or strength by which the minister does.” 33   It is all of God, and he alone must receive all the glory.

Peter’s words in this passage sound like a doxology and it appears that he is ending the letter.  However, we see this kind of thing often in the epistles (Rom. 11:36; Gal. 1:5; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 4:20).  It is not uncommon for biblical writers to have a doxology before they write the conclusion. 34

 

PAINFUL TRIALS OF FAITH

 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13  

Christians should not be surprised that suffering comes their way because of Christ.  The word used for “painful trial” here is the Greek purosei and it means “fiery trial,” or “burning ordeal.”  This reminds us of the many prophecies that God’s fire will bring about the end of this age (cf. Mal. 4:1; Matt. 3:10-12; 2 Thess. 1:7; 2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 12; Rev. 8:5, 7; 9:18).  No doubt, God is making his saints “fireproof,” so that they can endure this end time.  In 1 Corinthians 11:32, Paul tells us: When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”  In 2 Timothy 2:12 we read, if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us…”  In John 16:33, we are promised: “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Unfortunately, in the western world we know little of the suffering of which both Peter and Paul speak.  This is not the case on the rest of the planet.  Approximately three fourths of the world’s population, or about 5.25 billion people, live in countries where there is persecution.  Christians account for about 80 percent of all discrimination in the world today. 35    N.T. Wright comments on such persecution saying: “You don’t get to share God’s life and escape without wounds.” 36

We might ask, “What does suffering for Christ do for us as Christians?   F.B. Meyer says of this:

Suffering educates sympathy; it softens the spirit, lightens the touch, hushes the tread; it accustoms the spirit to read from afar the symptoms of an unspoken grief; it teaches the soul to tell the number of the promises, which, like the constellations of the arctic circle, shine most brilliantly through the wintry night; it gives to the spirit a depth, a delicacy, a wealth of which it cannot otherwise possess itself. Through suffering he
has become perfected. 37 

John Allen reports how, at his funeral, someone recalled the favorite saying of the deceased Jesuit priest, Munzihirwa.  He had protected the people of Rwanda in 1994.  The priest had said, “There are things that can be seen only with eyes that have
cried.” 38

Today our pastors concern themselves with church growth and expansion.  However, there are many instances where persecution has brought about an amazing church growth, much like that which we see in the Book of Acts.  Carl Moeller and David Hegg give us this account:

In 1982, the communists overthrew the government of Ethiopia and persecution of the church began.  Along with other groups, the Mennonite churches had all their buildings and property confiscated.  Many of the leaders were imprisoned and the members were forbidden to meet.  The church went underground without any leaders, without buildings, without the opportunity to meet together publicly or use any of their public programs.  While underground, they could not even  sing out loud for fear someone would report them to the authorities.  Ten years later, the communist government was overthrown, allowing this church to come out of hiding.  The church leaders were amazed to find that their 5,000 members  had grown to 50,000 in that ten-year period. 39

Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Jesus’ brother in James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

We can see how Peter’s words were truly prophetic regarding the upcoming persecution of Nero.  Depending on dates, it is possible that Nero’s persecution was about to begin in Rome.  As we have mentioned, in a very short while Christians in that city would suffer a fiery trial as they would become torches to light the gardens of the maddened emperor.

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (4:14).   Wiersbe says, “Suffering” and “glory” are twin truths that are woven into the fabric of Peter’s letter. 40   Much suffering can come our way in the form of insult.  Sometimes an insult is much harder to bear than outright persecution.  In the Middle East there is still much of an honor-shame culture.  This is especially true among the Moslems, but was true also with other first century people.  In such a culture an insult was a serious matter. 41

For those who are insulted for Christ’s sake Peter says “the Spirit of glory and of God” will rest upon those persons.  The words “rest upon” in Greek is a picture of a farmer giving his land rest by sowing a light crop upon it. 42  There is a clear picture that after insult, there will be glory, peace, blessing and joy.

“If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler” (4:15).  Obviously, a Christian cannot be a murderer (phoneus), a thief (kleptes) or an evildoer (kakopoios).  Neither can a Christian be a meddler.  In the Greek language this last word is a compound (allotriepiskopos).  It is only found here in all of the Greek literature. The compound is made up of two Greek words allotrios, which means that which belongs to another, and episkopos, which means to inspect.  It has to do with someone who meddles in the affairs of another person, or who is a busybody. 43

“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (4:16).  No doubt Peter in making this statement must have remembered his shameful denial of Jesus on that dreadful night in Jerusalem.  Wiersbe says, “In the furnace of persecution and suffering, we often have more light by which we can examine our lives and ministries.” 44  We note in this verse that the name “Christian” (Christianos) is attached to believers.  It is a name that honors Christ.  We see this designation also in Acts 11:26 and Acts 26:28. God’s children are now called by a new name, one that the mouth of the Lord would give them (Isa. 62:2).  Despite what many say, Hervey claims that there is no evidence that this name was given to them in derision.45

 

GOD’S COMING JUDGMENT

 

For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  1 Peter 4:17  

God’s judgment will begin with God’s people.  It has always been that way.  We remember in the days of Ezekiel the prophet when judgment began at God’s house (Ezek. 9:6) and moved outward to the people.  The prophet Malachi spoke of the Lord’s coming yet he asks the question, “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap” (Mal. 3:2).  Malachi promised that the Lord would refine and purify the Levites like gold and silver (v. 3).  Then the offerings of Israel would become righteous and acceptable (vs. 3-4).  God is not hypocritical and will not overlook sin among his people as he comes to judge the world.

The early Coptic theologian Didymus the Blind says: “When the time comes for God’s judgment to begin, it will start with the best and work its way downwards, that is to say, it will commence with those who believe and belong to the church of God.” 46

“And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’”(4:18). Here Peter likely has reference to Proverbs 11:31 in the Septuagint.  Peter is aware that the cost of salvation is high (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24; 3:18; 4:1).  It is something that only God can accomplish. 47  We remember again the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:26, “…what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Wiersbe feels this section may be a reference to the story of Lot in Genesis 19:15-26.  Lot was considered a righteous man (2 Pet. 2:7), but it took great effort to save him.  He argued with God and lingered in dear old Sodom.  Finally the angels had to take him by the hand and drag him out of the city.  He was saved as by fire, no doubt like some Christians will be saved on that day (1 Cor. 3:9-15). 48

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (4:19).  Peter may have prophetically seen his own death which was coming shortly, or he may have had in mind the destruction of Jerusalem which would come in AD 70. It was truly a dangerous world for Christians.  For believers to “commit themselves” is the Greek word paratithesthai, and it means to make a deposit of money with a trusted friend.  There were no banks in Peter’s day and this was often the way money was handled. Such an arrangement was considered a most sacred trust.  To break such a trust was considered a mortal sin.  Interestingly, it was this word that was used by Jesus when he committed his spirit to the Father in Luke 23:46. 49

We are in good hands with Jesus.  He will not let us suffer more than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).  Long ago the Psalmist said: “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth” (Psa. 31:5).  Martin Luther once said, “God, having created our souls without our worry and assistance, is surely able also to keep them safely to the end.” 50   Yes indeed, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psa. 124:8).

 

 CHAPTER 5

 

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:  1 Peter 5:1  

Scholars feel that it is a special mark of humility that Peter uses the term “fellow elder” (sumpresbuteros).  After all, he was Christ’s chief apostle and the one to whom Christ gave “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:19).  Although Peter had denied Jesus at the trial he was reinstated by the Lord (Jn. 21:15-17) and soon regained his position of leadership in the church.

Since Peter greets the elders here, it would be well for us to look at New Testament leadership.  That leadership consisted first of apostles and some apostolic helpers like Timothy and Titus. The apostles carried on mission work, founded the churches, taught sound doctrine and appointed elders.  Then, there were the elders or presbyters themselves (presbuteros).  It is of note that elders always functioned as a plurality.  We do not clearly understand how this worked.  It is obvious that there was an elder over each house church in a city (Acts 20:17) thus making a plurality in that city. 1  It is also highly likely that there was a number of them in each church with one serving as the chief elder.

The term “elder” has a long history, going back to the days of Israel’s wilderness wanderings.  When Moses became overwhelmed in judging the thousands under his care, seventy elders were chosen to serve as judges under him (Exo. 3:16; 12:21; Num. 11:16-30).  From that point on, the office became a permanent fixture in Israel.  Each Israelite village had its elders and they sat in the city gates administering justice (Deut. 25:7).  Elders also were in charge of the synagogues.  They exercised discipline and kept order, although they did not necessarily preach. 2   We often see Jewish elders in the gospels (Matt.16:21; 21:23; 26:3; 27:3; Lk. 7:3).  Elders were most often chosen for their age and maturity since age carried with it much influence and respect in the ancient Mediterranean world. 3    It appears that the church patterned its leadership after the Jewish model.  Barclay says of it, “When a man enters the eldership, no small honor is conferred upon him, for he is entering on the oldest religious office in the world.” 4

Peter says that he himself was a “witness” (martus) of the Lord’s sufferings.  Obviously, Peter watched the Lord suffer in Gethsemane as he poured his soul into prayer.  He had also witnessed Jesus’ trials with their brutality.  After Jesus had suffered much, he even turned and looked directly at Peter (Lk. 22:61).  Meyer thinks that Peter, even after his great denial, may have joined with the crowd that stood at a distance and watched the Savior die.5  Peter looked to share in the Lord’s glory, but he had already done this to some extent when the three disciples witnessed the transfiguration (Mk. 9:1-8; 2 Pet. 1:16-18).

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers— not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;” (5:2).  Here Peter directs the elders to shepherd the flock of God or to feed and care for it.  The word for “shepherd” in the New Testament is the Greek poimēn and it also means “pastor.”  In Mark 6:34, we see Jesus’ boat landing along the sea and him having great compassion on the people because they were like sheep with no shepherd.  In John 10:11, Jesus proclaims: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  No doubt Peter was remembering these words and word pictures from Jesus.

Shepherding the sheep of God is no easy task, since “Sheep are notoriously ignorant and prone to wander away if they do not follow the shepherd…The shepherd always went before the flock and searched out the land so that there would be nothing there to harm his flock.  He would check for snakes, pits, poisonous plants, and dangerous animals.” 6

Here Peter says that the shepherd or pastor is to look out for the sheep.  The various other titles used here and in other places tell us that the pastor had a big job. He is called presbyter  (presbuteros) as we have seen.  He is also called “bishop” (episcopos) or overseer.  It is interesting that in the First Century all these terms were used interchangeably.  In Titus 1:5 Paul charged Titus to appoint elders, but in verse 7 he calls them “overseers.” 7   In Acts 20:17 and 28, we see the three Greek words presbuteros, episkopous and poimainein used together, describing the one office.  It was not until the second century that there began to be a clear hierarchical organization 8  with a bishop ruling over other bishops.

Pastors must serve out of a willing heart and not by compulsion.  They must have their eye on the sheep and not on the money to be made (filthy lucre).  The word here describing “greed for money” is aischrokerdes.  It was a term and concept greatly loathed by the Greeks.   In the First Century, there was no official salary for pastors such as there is today, but they were blessed by the offerings of the people (1 Cor. 9:1-7; 1 Tim. 5:17). They were likely sustained much like the priests and Levites of the Old Testament.  No doubt some had to labor at other jobs as well, just like Paul often did in his apostolic work.

Peter says to them that a pastor should serve, “…not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (5:3).  The pastor cannot rule by force (cf. Luke 22:25-27).  He cannot beat on the sheep or “fleece the flock” for his profit as many do.  He must love them and serve them.  The famous saint and French abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153), once wrote rebuking the Pope: “Peter could not give thee what he had not: what he had he gave: the care over the church, not dominion…A monstrosity it is to see the highest rank joined with the meanest mind, the first seat with the lowest life, a grandiloquent tongue with a lazy life, much talking with no fruit.” 10

It is interesting that “those entrusted,” is the Greek word kleros.  It means something that is “allotted” to a person.  In Deuteronomy 9:29 (LXX) we see that Israel is the kleros of God.  Israel is assigned to him and has become his heritage by his own choice.  In like manner the congregation is the assignment of the elder. 11  It is also interesting that this Greek word is the basis for our modern words “clergy,” “cleric,” and “clerk.” 12

The pastors or shepherds should model themselves after the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, today many shepherds are driving the sheep, lording it over them, and abusing them.  Like the wicked shepherds of Israel, they are treating the sheep harshly and even brutally (Ezek. 34:4). 13  They fleece the flock, slaughter them, chop up their bones and make lamb stew for themselves.  Wiersbe puts his finger on one big problem for pastors in this postmodern age.  He notes what one Christian leader said to him: “The trouble today is that we have too many celebrities and not enough servants.” 14

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (5:4).  Clearly, the shepherds work under the direct supervision of the Chief Shepherd (archipoimenos), or the Lord Jesus (Heb. 13:20).  Some seem to have forgotten this fact, but all will give an account to him at the end of this present day.

The crown of glory mentioned here is stephanos, the prize of Greek games.  This word describes the Olympic crown or wreath which was made up of ivy, parsley, myrtle, olive, or oak leaves woven together. 15   Of course, it was a crown that would eventually fade away.  Peter says that the crown of glory the Lord gives will never fade away.  The word he uses here is amarantos, and it referred to a flower called the Amaranth.  This flower is very slow to wither and it revives when moistened.  It was used as a symbol of immortality in ancient times. 16

 

SUBMISSION AND HUMILITY

 

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5  

When Peter addresses the young men he is likely speaking to men under the age of 40.  He is probably speaking to younger people and not necessarily lower officials. 17   First he charges them to be submissive (hopotagēte) to the older men.  This was a very customary thing among the Jews.  Youth were even expected to stand when older men came into their presence (Lev. 19:32).  We should however remember that submission is often a two-way street, especially in the New Testament. Ephesians 5:21 says, Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

We are next to be clothed with humility.  This is like putting on humility or putting on the nature of Christ.  When the playwright John Fletcher was asked what the most important grace was he replied, “Humility.” To a second inquiry he said, “Humility.” To a third he answered, “Humility,” as the inquirer desisted. 18    Wiersbe says, “Humility is not demeaning ourselves and thinking poorly of ourselves.  It is simply not thinking of ourselves at all!” 19  We can thus see how far our society has moved away from humility.

Let us look a little closer at the matter of clothing ourselves with humility.  The garment to be girded on here (Egkombōma) was likely the apron or outer garment of a slave or servant. 20    With this picture we remember the Lord Jesus girding himself as a servant and then bowing to wash the disciple’s feet (Jn. 13:4-10).

It is amazing to think that humility was almost despised in the Greco/Roman world. Patrick Glynn in his book, The Evidence: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World notes: “Moreover, after philosophy, or intelligence, pride was the core virtue of the classical philosophical outlook, the ‘crown of the virtues.’…In the classical understanding, the strong, the beautiful, the intelligent, the rich were not just better off but morally better than the weak, the poor, the meek, the downtrodden.” 21   Jesus turned this totally around and made pride despised and humility praised.  Later, “John Wesley pronounced pride the great mother sin, whose daughters curse the earth and fill hell.” 22

We see an eternal rule of heaven mentioned here.  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” God can recognize the proud afar off (Psa. 138:6).  He also begins to work against the proud person to bring that one down to repentance.  In Proverbs 3:34 we read: He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (5:6).  Humility is a strange thing in our age of Narcissism.  The motto of our age has become, “It’s all about me.”  Ross Douthat, in his book, Bad Religion, How We Became A Nation of Heretics, mentions the following:

Between 1982 and 2006, sixteen thousand American college students filled out the Narcissistic Personality Inventory…The trend was consistent: the average student in 2006 had a higher narcissism score than 65 percent of college students a  generation earlier….In the 1950s only 12 percent of teenagers identified with the statement, “I am an important person.”  A half century later, it was 80 percent.23

Jean M. Twenge & W. Keith Campbell, in their book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, give us statistics from 37,000 college students.  They tell us that students with narcissistic personality traits rose at about the same rate as obesity from the 1980s onward.  24

So, we have a problem with humbling ourselves, at least in the US.  We need to always remember to look for the lowest chair in any situation and promptly place ourselves in it, as the Lord has instructed us (Lk. 14:10).  If God wants us higher he will then honor us and lift us up.  We note that there is a time for us to be lifted up.  No doubt, it will be at that point that we have begun to learn about humility.  In Luke 14:11 Jesus warns us, For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Peter advises us: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (5:7).   We are told to cast all our cares and anxieties on the Lord (cf. Psa. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-30).  It is usually because of cares and anxieties that we try to exalt ourselves anyway.  Wiersbe says, “Anxiety is a self-contradiction of true humility.” 25   We need to remember Psalm 9:4, where it is written, For you have upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.”

 

RESISTING THE DEVIL

 

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8  

The first imperative Peter uses here is nepsate, and  it means “to be sober.”  The second is gregoresatae, and it means “to watch.”  This last word is used in an eschatological context. 26  We should not only be watching for the Lord’s return but watching for the wolves and lions who like to sneak up on us.

Here the devil is compared to a roaring lion.  Commentators have long said that the lion roars to frighten its prey.  However, those who have experience with lions assure us that lions roar to communicate and to establish their territory.  They do not roar to catch prey but rather they rely upon their great stealth to do that.  When we hear the lion roar we can know that the beast may be marking off for himself some of our territory. 27   Meyer says, “Perhaps the figure of a roaring lion suggests an outburst of persecution…” 28   In the Book of Job we see the devil walking around looking to cause trouble for God’s saints (Job 1:7; Job 1:12).  When Jesus hung on the cross he spoke from Psalm 22:13, about roaring lions opening their mouths and tearing his body.

When we are watchful and alert we can deal with lions like David did.  When as a youth he faced the Philistine giant, he reminded King Saul that he had already killed a lion and a bear as he guarded his father’s sheep (1 Sam. 17:34-36).  Our struggles against Satan, the lion, will make us stronger so that we can face giants when they taunt us.  The word “Satan” has the meaning of “the accuser” or the slanderer.29  This reminds us that we never want to do the devil’s mischief by accusing and slandering other people.  Trapp gives us a hint why Satan is so opposed to the human race.  He says, “Satan envies our condition that we should enjoy that paradise that he left, the comforts he once had.” 30

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (5:9).  James, the Lord’s brother gives us a sure-fire plan to defeat the devil.  He says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jam. 4:7).  We note that the first requirement is to be submissive to God.  Many have tried to resist the devil without submitting themselves to God and have made a mess of things.  Hilary the Bishop of Arles (c. 403-449) said: “If you resist God, he will destroy you, but if you resist the devil, you will destroy him.” 31   It is no doubt one of the great New Testament promises that if we resist Satan he will run from us.

Peter requires not only resistance but he requires “standing firm in the faith.”  Standing firm or being firm in the faith is the Greek word stereos.  It means to be solid like a foundation (2 Tim. 2:19). 32  Peter tells us that the whole Body of Christ all over the world is undergoing suffering.  We talked about this earlier, how some three-fourths of the world’s population is now exposed to suffering for its faith.  Barnes says, “If we knew all, we should find that thousands— and among them the most wise, and pure, and good— have endured sufferings of the same kind as ours, and perhaps far more intense in degree.”33

 

GOD’S GREAT PROMISE TO US

 

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 5:10-11  

What a precious promise this is!  God, who has called us to eternal glory, is watching the thermometer and gauge of our suffering, so that we can be completed and so that we will not suffer more than we can bear.  In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Paul tells us: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.   So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

After our suffering, God will restore us.  This word (kartarizein) was one commonly used for setting a fracture.  It was used in other ways for mending nets, fixing what is broken or supplying that which is missing. 34  The next words, “make you strong,”  is the Greek sterixein, and it refers to making one settled and as solid as granite. 35   The idea of being firm is the Greek sthenosei, and it means to “cramp and bind every part, so that there shall be no danger of warping, splitting, or falling.” 36  The last word, steadfast, is the Greek themeliōses.  Barnes describes this as an allusion to a house so firmly fixed on a foundation that it cannot be moved by winds or floods (c. Matt. 7:24). 37  When we see what the Lord is doing to make us stable and steadfast, we think of that wonderful Scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9 which assures us: “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”  To this great truth Peter gives his “Amen,” effectively ending the body of his epistle.

 

FINAL GREETINGS

 

With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.  1 Peter 5:12  

This final greeting was likely written in Peter’s own hand as we see Paul often doing in his letters. (cf. 2 Thess. 3:17; Gal. 6:11-18). 38  There has been a long debate among scholars as to whether or not Silas was the actual amanuensis, and whether or not the letter was dictated to him.  If he was, it would likely solve the mystery of how 1 Peter was written in such excellent Greek.  However, evidence seems to point to the fact that Silas was rather the one who delivered the letter. 39    Silas or Silvanus is often mentioned in Scripture and is primarily linked with Paul (cf. Acts 15:22, 27, 32, 40; 16:19, 25, 29; 17: 4, 10, 14-15; 18:5).

We cannot help but note that in these final greetings Peter quickly summarizes the purpose of his letter.  It is clear that he had written the letter to encourage the people and to bear witness to the grace of God. 40   He had encouraged them to stand fast in their time of persecution.

“She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark” (5:13).  There has been a great deal of discussion about this verse.  First of all, what or where is Babylon?  Some commentators are certain that Peter was speaking of the ancient city itself.  The problem with that is that the ancient city had shrunk to insignificance and was virtually in ruins by the time of Peter. 41  Others are certain that Peter, by using “she,” was somehow speaking of his wife.  No doubt the best explanation is that Peter was speaking symbolically, and that Babylon was meant to be a code word for Rome (cf. Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21).  Barclay says, “Peter is definitely connected in tradition with Rome; and the likelihood is that it was from there that the letter was written.” 42

Peter affirms that Mark is also in his presence and that he too sends greetings.  This is obviously John Mark whom Peter knew in the early days of the gospel.  John’s mother had opened her house to the first church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12-17).  Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their initial missionary trip but for some reason had turned back.  Paul was grieved with this and would not allow Mark on the second journey.  However, in time Paul and Mark seemed to make up (2 Tim. 4:11).

Now we see Mark with Peter in Rome. Apparently Mark became part of Peter’s team (cf. 1 Pet. 5:13) and is even called his “son.”  Very early traditions relayed by the church historian, Eusebius, tell us that Mark was Peter’s interpreter and that he wrote his own gospel apparently from Peter’s experiences.  He relates: “And John the Presbyter also said this, Mark being the interpreter of Peter whatsoever he recorded he wrote with great accuracy, but not however, in the order in which it was spoken or done by our Lord…” 43

“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ” (5:14).  It was customary in the First Century Mediterranean world for people to kiss one another.  On one occasion we note that Jesus was offended because the host did not give him the customary kiss of greeting (Lk. 7:45).  Paul mentions the holy kiss on several occasions (cf. Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26).      

We might wonder if this practice is still in vogue particularly among the Jewish people.  In Israel, the kiss as a greeting is probably more popular than a handshake.  It is very common to see Jews of both sexes giving a greeting kiss, but the kiss is quite unlike our Hollywood erotic style of kissing.  When two people meet, the greeting kiss and light embrace is given gently and simultaneously by both parties and both sides of the face are kissed.  Each person is actually kissed three times, to one side and then the other and finally returning to kiss the side that one began on.  There is nothing sensual about this kiss even when it is done between a man and a woman.  We might hasten to add that such a kiss while practiced commonly with Arab men would never be given by a strange man to an Arab woman.  The same is true in regard to Orthodox Jewish women.  In these cases even a handshake is usually out of order.  There should in fact be no handshake unless the woman initiates it.

As we can imagine, in time the holy kiss began to be abused.  Later, Clement of Alexandria complained, “…Some do nothing but fill the church with noise of kissing.” 44  Eventually, kissing was confined to men kissing men and women kissing women.  Finally the custom died out altogether in the church.

Peter ends with the expression “in Christ,” and we cannot help but note that this was an  expression of Paul on numerous occasions (Rom. 6:11; 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:22; Eph. 1:1). In fact, Paul uses the expression over 80 times in his letters.  It might be the shortest and most concise statement of what it means to be a Christian.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

___________

 

Several sources I have cited here are from the electronic media, either from websites or from electronic research libraries.  Thus in some of these sources it is not possible to cite page numbers.  Instead I have cited the verse or verses in each chapter of 1 Peter (e.g. verse v. 3:1 or vs. 4:1-2) about which the commentators speak. 

 

INTRODUCTION

1.  David A. DeSilva, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary, 1 Peter (Colorado Springs CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2005), p. 291.

Gerald Bray adds: “With few exceptions, the Fathers believed that this letter was written by the Apostle Peter…” (Bray p. 65).

2.  Thomas R. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), p. 22.

Schreiner also says: “When we read Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians, we have the first evidence of dependence on 1 Peter and the date of Polycarp’s letter is quite early (probably ca. AD 112-114). p. 22.

3.  Bob Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, Introduction. http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL02/VOL02B_01.html

4.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, pp. 23-24.

5.  Ibid., p. 30.

6.  DeSilva, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 293.

7.  Ibid., p. 290.

CHAPTER 1

1.  James Burton Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, (Abilene TX:  Christian University Press, 1983-1999), v. 1:1. http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

2.  William Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible. 1956-1959, vs. 1:1-2. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=2.

3.  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT (Colo. Springs: David C. Cook, 2007), p. 893.

DeSiva comments: “While we may assume some Jewish-Christian presence among the congregations addressed, the letter itself presupposes Gentile Christians as well, perhaps even predominantly……the author references to the addresses’ past way of life (1 Pet 4:14)…Jewish scruples about sexual indulgence and excesses in drinking, alone make it unlikely that this could refer to Jews, but the inclusion of ‘abominable idolatries’ clinches the case.  The addresses’ former way of life is a Gentile way of life…the author describes the addresses as formerly ignorant (1 Pet. 1:14), as having inherited a ‘futile way of life’ from their forebears (1:18), as only recently having come to believe in God (1:21), and as having formerly lived in darkness (2:9),” (DeSilva p. 290).

4.  Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), p. 47.

5.  Paul E. Kretzmann, Commentary on 1 Peter, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary
1921-23, v. 1:1. http://www.studylight.org/com/kpc/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

6.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:1.

7.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 53.

8.  Scott McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), p 54.

9.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 56.

10.  Peter Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible, 2013, v.1: 2.  http://www.studylight.org/com/pet/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

11. Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 1:3-5.

12. A. T.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, (Nashville: Broadman Press 1932-, 33, Renewal 1960), v. 1:3. http://www.studylight.org/com/rwp/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

13.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 894.

14.  Albert Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 1870, v. 1:3. http://www.studylight.org/com/bnb/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

15. Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 1:3-5.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid.

18. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 56.

19. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 896.

Schreiner adds: “God’s power does not shield believers from trials and sufferings, but it does protect us from that which would cause us to fall away” (Schreiner p. 65).

20. McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, pp. 74-76, 80.

21. Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:6.

22. John L. Allen Jr., The Global War on Christians (New York: Image, 2013),
pp. 35, 33.

23.  Ibid., p. 35.

24.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold.

25.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1: 7.

Schreiner says here: “Sufferings function as the crucible for faith.  They test the genuineness of faith, revealing whether or not faith is authentic. (Schreiner p. 67).

26.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 896.

27.  Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2000), p. 72.

28.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 897.

29.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:9.

Schreiner says: “The word ‘souls,’ however, refers to the whole person and does not suggest in any way that the body is left out…” (Schreiner, p. 71).

Pett adds to this: “…‘The salvation of your souls.’ This does not mean that a small part of us called our ‘souls’ will be saved. It means that we will be saved in all that we are. It refers to our very lives. We will be saved spirit, inner man and body.”
(Pett 1: 8-9).

30.  David Guzik, Commentary on 1 Peter, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, 1997-2003, vs. 1:10-12. http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

31.  Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:10.

32.  William Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, William Godbey’s Commentary on the New Testament, v. 1:12.  http://www.studylight.org/com/ges/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

33.  Kenneth S. Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1942), p. 32.

34.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, pp. 73-74.

35.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 1:13.

36.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:13.

37.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 86.

38.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 35.

39.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 1: 14-25.

40.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p. 77.
(A statement of Theophylact of Ohrid  c. 1050- c. 1108).

41.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 1: 14-25.

42.  Robert Jamieson; A.R. Fausset, & David Brown, Commentary on 1 Peter, Commentary Critical and Explanatory, 1871, vs. 1:15-16. http://www.studylight.org/com/jfb/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

43.  Quoted in Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 1:16.

44.  Quoted in McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, pp. 88-89.

45.  Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 71.

46.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 900.

47.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 1:18.

48. Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 1:18.

49. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:19.

50. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 1:19.

51.  Ibid.

52.  Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:20.

53.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 1:22.

54.  John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, 1840-57, v. 1:22. http://www.studylight.org/com/cal/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1

55.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 95.

56.  John Trapp, Commentary on 1 Peter, John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868, v. 1:23. http://www.studylight.org/com/jtc/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

1.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:1-3.

2.  Ibid.

3.  Jean Twenge, Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (New York: Atria Paperback, 2009), p. 80.

4.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:1-3.

5.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 638.

6.  Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 81.

7.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 98.

8.  Ibid

DeSilva comments: “The single-minded fixation, newborn babies have for their mother’s milk, which is also to be the desire of the believer for the spiritual nourishment God provides.”  (DeSilva p. 299).

9.  Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, pp. 81-82.

10.  Trapp, Commentary on 1 Peter, John Trapp Complete Commentary. v. 2:2.

11.  Jamieson, et al. Commentary on 1 Peter, Commentary Critical, v. 2:2.

12.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:4.

13.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 2:5.

14.  Quoted in Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:4-10.

15.   Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 902.

16.   Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:5.

17.   Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:4-10.

18.   Adam Clarke, Commentary on 1 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, 1832,
v. 2:6.  http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1.

Schreiner says here: “The word ‘cornerstone’ (akrogoniaion) is understood by some as referring to the top stone in a building or the keystone in an arch.  This interpretation should be rejected, for the reference to stumbling in v. 8 indicates that a stone on the ground is intended.  Furthermore, the Septuagint makes clear that the reference is to the foundation (themelia).” (Schreiner p. 109)

19.  Quoted in Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 2:6.

20.   Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 87.

21.   Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:5.

22.   Clarke, Commentary on 1 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 2:8.

23.   Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:8.

24.   Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:8.

25.   McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, pp. 109-110.

26.   Guzik, Commentary on 1 Peter, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible,
vs. 2:4-5.

27.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p.115.

28.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:9.

29.  Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude (NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), p. 93.

30.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:9.

31.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p.119.

32.  Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, v. 2:10.

33.  D. James Kennedy, Why The Ten Commandments Matter (New York: The Warner Book Group, 2005), p. 129.

34.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 136.

35.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:11-12.

36.  Ibid.

37.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 135.

38.  Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:12.

39.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p.123.

40.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 144.

41.  Ibid., p. 149.

42.  Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude, p. 96.

43.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p. 92.

44.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:13-14.

45.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 60.

46.  Quoted in  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 2:13.

47.  Jamieson, et al. Commentary on 1 Peter, Commentary Critical, vs. 2:15-16.

48.  James L. Mays, Gen Ed., Paul Achtemeier, 1 Peter,  Harper’s Bible Commentary, (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988), p. 1282.

49.  Clarke, Commentary on 1 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 2:15.

50.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p. 93.

51.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:18-25.

McKnight adds here: “This suggests that Peter’s churches were composed mainly of slaves and women, with few (if any) masters and only a few believing husbands.” (McKnight p.154)

52.  Quoted in Ibid.

53.  Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, v. 2:18.

54.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 165.

55.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 2:18.

56.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 66.

57.  Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, V. 3 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., pp. 23, 28. 

58.  Ibid., pp.109-110.

59.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 167.

60.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 68.

61.   Ibid., p. 70

Utley adds here:  “‘by His wounds you were healed.’ This is an aorist passive indicative.  In Isa. 53:4-6, this speaks of our spiritual healing, not that physical healing.  I do not deny physical healing as an ongoing act of a gracious God, but I do deny that it is a promised aspect of the atonement of Christ” (Utley v. 2:24).

62.   Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 2:18-25.

63.   Ibid.

64.   Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 907.

 

CHAPTER 3

 

1.  David Kupelian, The Marketing of Evil, (Nashville: WND Books, 2005), pp. 111-112.

2.  David Guzik, Commentary on Ephesians, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible. 1997-2003, Comment on Ephesians 5:22. http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=5.

3.  James Burton Coffman, Commentary on Ephesians, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, (Abiline, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 1983-1999).  Comment on Ephesians 5:22. . http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=5″.

4.  David Guzik, Commentary on Ephesians, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible. 1997-2003. On Ephesians 5:22. http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=5.

5.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:1-2.

6.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 908.

7.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:3-6.
“Wigs were worn, especially blonde wigs, which are found even in the Christian catacombs; and hair to manufacture them was imported from Germany, and even from as far away as India. Hairbands, pins and combs were made of ivory, and boxwood, and tortoiseshell; and sometimes of gold, studded with gems….Purple was the favorite color for clothes. …Diamonds, emeralds, topazes, opals and the sardonyx were favorite stones… Pearls were loved most of all…A Christian wife of those times lived in a society where she would be tempted to senseless extravagance.”

8.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 75.

9.  Coffman (v.3:9) citing William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 221.

10.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 909.

11.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 3:3: Rob3)

Robertson notes: “Whose adorning (…hōn kosmos)… an orderly whole.” (Robertson v. 3:3).

12.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 79.

13.  Frances Taylor Gench, Hebrews and James (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), p. 98.

14.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 78.

15.  Quoted in Trapp, Commentary on 1 Peter, John Trapp Complete Commentary.
v. 3:4.

16.  Guzik, Commentary on 1 Peter, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible,
vs. 3:5-6.

17.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:1-7.

18.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 161.

19.  DeSilva, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary, 1 Peter, pp. 303-304.

20.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 3:7.

21.  Quoted in Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 3:7.

22.  Clarke, Commentary on 1 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 3:7.

23.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 3:7.

24.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 189.

25.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 910.

26.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 3:7.

27.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 163.

28.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 911.

29.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p. 102.

30.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 167.

31.  Ibid., p. 169.

32.  Ibid., p. 179.

33.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:13-15.

34.  Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, V. 1 (Edinburgh, T&T Clark; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., p. 27.

35.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 172.

36.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 3:15.

37.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:15-16.

38.  Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 3:15.

39.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 3:15.

40.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p.104.

41.  Ibid., p. 105.

42.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 3:18.

43.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:17-18.

44.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 3:18.

Wuest adds: “The word ‘spirit’ in 1 Pet 3:18 is not capitalized in Nestle’s text, which indicates that he thought that the word referred, not to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit of the Lord Jesus…The problem is therefore purely one of interpretation and not at all of textual evidence.” (Wuest p. 95)

45.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:17-22.

46.  Quoted in McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 215.

47.  Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 3:19.

48.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 100.

49.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 185.

50.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:19-20

Schreiner says: “The word ‘spirits’ (pneumasin) fits much more plausibly with a reference to angels than to human beings, for ‘spirits’ (pneumata) in the plural almost without exception in the New Testament refers to angels…The normal use of the plural ‘spirits’ points toward angels, not human beings…That the evil angels are imprisoned is clearly taught in Jewish tradition (1 Enoch 10:4; 15:8, 10; 18:12-14; 21: 1-10; 67:7; 2 Enoch 7:1-3; 18:3; Jub. 5:6).” (Schreiner p. 187).

Davids adds: “Normally deceased humans are referred to as “souls”…not as ‘spirits.’” (Davids p. 140)

51.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:19.

52.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 105.

53.  Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 141.

Wuest remarks: “The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news.’  But this word is not used here.  Our Lord made an official proclamation to these fallen angels.  It was not the gospel.  Angels are not included among those for whom Christ died.  Hebrews 2:16 says ‘For verily He took not hold of angels: but He took hold of the seed of Abraham’” (Wuest p. 101).

Schreiner adds: “All motivation to endure would vanish if Peter now offered a second opportunity after death…The best solution, therefore, is that the verse proclaims Christ’s victory over demonic spirits after his death and resurrection”  (Schreiner p. 188).

54.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:19.

55.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 188.

56.  Clarke, Commentary on 1 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 3:19.

57.  Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, V. 8 (Edinburgh, T&T Clark; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., p. 757.

58.  Ibid., V. 1, p. 455.

Godbey comments: “Jesus was the first one to raise from the dead, receiving the resurrection body. It was pertinent that all the Old Testament saints should be detained in that Intermediate Paradise till the plan of salvation was literally consummated by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. David (Psalms 24) catches a prophetic vision of this wonderful ascension” (Godbey 3:20).

Coffman says: “There is absolutely no hint whatever in the entire New Testament of any spirits, at any time whatever, ever having been saved, or for that matter, even preached to” (Coffman 3:20).

Coffman quoting Nicholson adds: “The passage holds out no hope for the impenitent; it forbids the notion that those who during their earthly life refuse the gospel of God’s grace may have a second chance in the world beyond, and may be ultimately saved” (Coffman 3:20).

Wuest says: “Josephus, Jewish historian of the first century, speaks of the sons of God of Genesis 6 as angels, and in such a way as to indicate that that was the commonly accepted interpretation in his day” (Wuest p. 104).

59.  Ibid., V. 5, p. 209.

60.  Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude, p. 112.

61.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 3:20.

62.  Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 142.

63.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3:20-22.

64.  Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, v. 3:21.

65.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 3:21.

66.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 109.

67.  Trapp, Commentary on 1 Peter, John Trapp Complete Commentary. v. 3:21.

68.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 3:21.

69.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 3: 18-22.

Schreiner says: “Similarly, one can understand the text to refer to the promise or pledge made at baptism…it seems more likely that baptism is associated with an appeal or request to God for a good conscience” (Schreiner p. 196).

 

CHAPTER 4

 

1.  Mays, Gen Ed., Paul Achtemeier, 1 Peter,Harper’s Bible Commentary, p.1284.

McKnight comments: “The present passage, the main thrust is the moral value of suffering, a thrust that is largely outside the normal experience of the vast majority of Western Christians today.” (McKnight p. 229)

2.  Frederick Brotherton  Meyer, Commentary on 1 Peter, F. B. Meyer’s ‘Through the Bible’ Commentary, 1914, vs. 4:1-11. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbm/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=4.

3.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 110.

4.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 4:1-5.

5.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p.112.

6.  Kretzmann, Commentary on 1 Peter, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary,
vs. 4:1-6.

7.  John Dummelow, Commentary on 1 Peter, John Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible, 1909, v. 4:2. http://www.studylight.org/com/dcb/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1

8.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 917.

9.  Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 4:3-4.

10.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 202.

11.  Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 4:3.

12.  Ibid.

13.  Ibid.

14.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 917.

15.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 4:4.

16.  Guzik, Commentary on 1 Peter, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible,
vs. 4:3-6.

17.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 4:6.
       “The idea of the New Testament is not that Jesus descended into hell but that he descended into Hades. Acts 2:27, as all the newer translations correctly show, should be translated not: ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,’ but, ‘Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades.’”

18.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 240.

19.  Ibid., pp. 240-241.

20.  Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 4:7.

21.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 4:7.

22.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 4:7.

23.  Ibid.

24.  Quoted in Guzik, Commentary on 1 Peter, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, vs.  8-11.

25.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 4:9-10.

26.  Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, (Edinburgh, T&T Clark; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., V. 1, p. 26.

27.  Ibid., V. 1, p. 20.

28.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p. 117.

29.  Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 160.

30.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 4:10.

31.  Trapp, Commentary on 1 Peter, John Trapp Complete Commentary. v. 4:12.

32.  Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, v. 4:11.

33.  Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 4:11.

34.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 216.

35.  John L. Allen Jr., The Global War on Christians (NY: Image, 2013), p. 35, 33.

36.  N. T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, Rethinking Heaven,The Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper, Collins, 2008), p. 280.

37.   F. B. Meyer, The Way Into The Holiest. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/meyer/into_holiest.txt

38.  Allen Jr., The Global War on Christians, p. 49.

39.  Carl Moeller and David W. Hegg, The Privilege of Persecution (And Other Things the Global Church Knows That We Don’t), (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011), p. 58.

40.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 921.

41.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 249.

42.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 120.

43.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 4:15.

44.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 921.

45.  Citing Hervey, Coffman, Commentary on 1 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, v. 4:16.

46.  Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI, p. 119.

47.  Pett, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 4:18.

48.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 922.

49.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 4:17-19.

50.  Quoted in Kretzmann, Commentary on 1 Peter, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary 1921-23, vs.4:15-19.

 

CHAPTER 5

 

1.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 5:1.

Schreiner comments: “Every piece of evidence we have shows that elders were widespread in the early church…It is also likely that elders functioned as a plurality in the churches since the term is always plural…” (Schreiner p. 231).

Pett adds: “At this point in time each church had a number of ‘bishops’ (although Peter calls them elders. (Pett vs. 5:2-3).

2.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 5:1-4.

3.  DeSilva, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 311.

4.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs.  5:1-4.

5.  Meyer, Commentary on 1 Peter, F. B. Meyer’s ‘Through the Bible’ Commentary, 1914, vs. 5:1-7.

6.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 924.

7.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 234.

8.  DeSilva, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 311.

9.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 5:1-4.

10.  Jamieson, et al. Commentary on 1 Peter, Commentary Critical, v. 5:3.

11.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs.  5:1-4.

12.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 5:3.

13.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 233.

14.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 925.

15.  Kretzmann, Commentary on 1 Peter, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary, v. 5:4.

16.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 5:4.

17.  Utley, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 5:5.

Davids remarks: “There is little evidence that ‘younger men’ ever meant deacons or other lower officials in the church” (Davids p. 183).

18.  Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs. 5:5-7.

19.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 926.

20.  Clarke, Commentary on 1 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 5:5.

21.  Patrick Glynn, God, The Evidence: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World (Rocklin CA: Prima Publishing, 1997), p. 155.

22.  Godbey, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 5:5.

23.  Ross Douthat, Bad Religion, How We Became A Nation of Heretics (New York: Free Press, 2012), pp.  234-235.

24.  Cited in David Kupelian, How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America (New York: Threshold Editions, 2010),  p. 80.

25.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 129.

26.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 241.

27.   https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090818080436AA0vrcm

28.   Meyer, Commentary on 1 Peter, F. B. Meyer’s ‘Through the Bible’ Commentary, 1914, vs. 5:8-14.

29.  Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 927.

30.  Trapp, Commentary on 1 Peter, John Trapp Complete Commentary. v. 5:8.

31.  Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, V. XI (Downers Grove, Inter Varsity Press, 2000), p. 125.

32.  Robertson, Commentary on 1 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 5:9.

33.  Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 5:9.

34.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs.  5: 6-11.

35.  Ibid.

36.  Clarke, Commentary on 1 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 5:10.

37.  Barnes, Commentary on 1 Peter, v. 5:10.

38.  Mays, Gen Ed., Paul Achtemeier, 1 Peter,Harper’s Bible Commentary, p. 1285.

39.  McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 Peter, p. 279.

40.  Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37, p. 249.

41.  Ibid., p. 250.

42.  Barclay, Commentary on 1 Peter, vs.  5:13.

43.  Eusebius Pamphilus, The Ecclesiastical History, Popular Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955), p.127.

44.  Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament, p. 133.