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1 Peter

May 18, 2009

Background

I. Introduction-You are Chosen I Peter 1:1-2

II. Five Elements for Abundant Living I Peter 1:3-25

  1. Praise God for Your Inheritance                 I Peter 1:3-5
  2. Rejoice in Your Faith                                       I Peter 1:6-12
  3. Prepare Yourselves for Service                   I Peter 1:13-16
  4. Live Reverently                                                  I Peter 1:17-21
  5. Love One Another                                             I Peter 1:22-25

III. Characteristics of the Chosen Ones I Peter 2:1-3:17

  1. Set Aside Your Sinful Nature                I Peter 2:1
  2. Crave God’s Word                                     I Peter 2:2-3
  3. Be a Living Stone                                      I Peter 2:4-12
  4. Submit to Rulers                                       I Peter 2:13-17
  5. Submit to Your Master                           I Peter 2:18-25
  6. Respect Your Spouse                              I Peter 3:1-7
  7. Live Harmoniously                                  I Peter 3:8-14
  8. Christ is Lord                                               I Peter 3:15-17

IV. The Work of the Lord I Peter 3:18-22

V. More Characteristics I Peter 4:1-19

  1. The Heart of Christ               I Peter 4:1-6
  2. The Mind of Christ                I Peter 4:7-11
  3. The Suffering of Christ        I Peter 4:12-19

VI. Instructions to Elders I Peter 5:1-4

VII. Instructions to Young Men I Peter 5:5-11

VIII. Closing I Peter 5:12-14

Background

Except for the writings of John, we are getting near the end of the Epistles
written by the Apostles. James the Apostle and James the brother of Jesus have
been martyred approximately 20 years earlier. Paul is most likely in prison for
the second time and about to be martyred. Commentaries have some good background information, much of it speculative, concerning the date this letter and the overall situation. There is little question as to who the author is and to the
letter’s canonicity.

Peter is his Greek name as is Simon. Simeon is his Hebrew name. He was also
called Cephas [rock] which is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word kepa.
He was introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew and called as Jesus’ first
disciple [John 1:42; Mark 1:16-18]. He was a fisherman from Bethsaida [John
1:44]who lived in Capernanum [Mark 1:21,29]. He was married [Matt. 8:14] and
his wife traveled with him [I Cor. 9:5]. He was one of the inner three disciples
of Jesus, a great preacher but not a prolific writer. Mark’s gospel is probably
Peter’s recollection of his experiences walking with the Lord.

I Peter is specifically addressed to the churches in northern Asia Minor.
This ministry was designated for Peter after he was chased out of Jerusalem
and is probably why the Holy Spirit directed Paul to go to Macedonia instead
of heading north into this area. I Peter is a warm and pastoral type of letter
filled with encouraging words of hope.

We wonder why Peter was in Rome when it was such a hotbed of persecution during
Nero’s reign. Perhaps he was carrying a personal message from those churches
to Paul or perhaps he wanted to visit Paul before he was martyred in that many
of Paul’s coworkers were leaving. Perhaps Peter was arrested too but he does
not mention it. But we do know that Peter lived in Rome and died there a martyr.
Catholics believe he came to Rome about 42 AD. That seems a bit early in that
the Roman church was forced to flee Rome [Priscilla and Aquilla fled Rome] and
Paul later wrote to the Romans. It seems it would have been quite unnecessary
for Paul to write if Peter was in charge. I think Peter arrived much later during
Paul’s second imprisonment. Clement, a leader in the church at Rome, became
the Church’s leader after Peter’s martyrdom.

In addition to encouragement and hope, there are six themes expressed in the
letter.

Salvation                   I Peter 1:3-5

Sainthood                  I Peter 2:9-10

Servant-hood            I Peter 2:13-16

Suffering                      I Peter 4:1-2, 12-14

Self-control                I Peter 4:7-9

Shepherd                      I Peter 5:1-4

Let me summarize this letter as follows:

We are chosen and given a new birth and a living hope as a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, to live harmoniously with others in love, humility, and compassion
so that we will be faithful and do good even in our suffering.

It also seems that Paul’s writing to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Romans
had a significant impact on the contents of this letter. There are many similarities.
As the Apostles disappear from the scene, those remaining begin to write forcefully
about standing firm in the faith and about being on guard for false teachers.
The purity of the gospel message was a definite concern in that the eye-witness
teaching of the Apostles was drawing to a close. Preserving their writings as
Holy Scripture was becoming an important task.

Introduction-You are Chosen                                                              I Peter 1:1-2

Peter begins his letter stating his position; an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
He is writing to all believers but in particular to the believers in NW Turkey.
They are chosen! Depending on your point of view, the term “foreknowledge
of God” can mean that God knew they would believe even before they were
born or it can mean that God’s plan of salvation through faith in Christ was
known before sin entered Adam. I prefer the later rendering even though God
is fully capable of the first. It seems more logical with the whole of scripture.
We who are chosen are being sanctified [set apart] by the Holy Spirit for obedience
to Jesus Christ in His work and ministry unto salvation. There would be no forgiveness
of sin without His spilt blood on the cross.

These first two verses together with being Chosen provides the lead-in for
what Peter writes in the remaining verses of Chapter 1.

Five Elements for Abundant Living                         I Peter 1:3-25

Praise God for Your Inheritance                          I Peter 1:3-5

Praise God! He is merciful. We have been reborn and have a living hope. We
have an inheritance. We are protected by God’s power. Our salvation is at hand.
Praise God! Our inheritance is assured and is imperishable. Praise God!

Rejoice in Your Faith                                               I Peter 1:6-12

Rejoice! Our inheritance is of infinite great value. Our faith is being proved/refined/made
sure. We love Him and believe in Him. Our faith and trust is in Him [Christ]
alone. We are to rejoice in our joy. We are saved. We have been served by those
who came before us, who told us of His plan, His grace. The Holy Spirit has
been sent to each of us who believe on His name. Rejoice! The angels are watching
in amazement. Rejoice!

Prepare Yourselves for Service                              I Peter 1:13-16

Prepare! Get ready for action. We are to study, learn, and understand. We
must know what we believe and why. We are to focus on the end result, our hope
and His grace; anticipating the completion of our salvation when we shall see
Him face to face. Prepare! We are to obey, being transformed and not conformed
to this world. We are to be like Him. We are to be Holy. Prepare to serve Him.

Live Reverently                                                           I Peter 1:17-21

Live reverent and humble lives! He is the just judge of our deeds. He gave
His life for us. He died for us. He gave His life for us in His incarnation,
in His death, and in His resurrection. He was faithful to us and to God the
Father and, therefore, glorified at the right hand of God. Our faith and hope
are in Him because of what He has done for us. We owe Him our lives by living
reverently. He is worthy of all our worship. We are not to have any other Gods.
Worship Him!

Love One Another                                                    I Peter 1:22-25

Love! Be sincere. After all, He loved us and redeemed us. It’s what real Christians
do [John 13:34]. He loved us first [I John 4:19]. Therefore, we are to love
Him and love one another. That’s what Christ did. Love sets us apart from the
world. Love one another!

Take heed of these five elements; Praise, Rejoice, Prepare, Live Reverently,
and Love. They assure us of having abundant life on earth and in heaven.

You are Chosen………..therefore:

Praise God because you are Chosen
Rejoice because you are Chosen
Prepare as a Chosen One
Be Reverent as a Chosen One
Love as a Chosen One

You are Chosen indeed!

Characteristics of the Chosen Ones                                       I Peter 2:1-3:17

Set Aside Your Sinful Nature                           I Peter 2:1

Because we have been chosen, because we desire to live abundantly in praise,
rejoicing, preparing, reverence, and love, we must jettison malice, deceit,
jealousy, and slander. It is impossible to live abundantly and still maintain
these sinful characteristics in our lives. They mix like oil and water. These
four sins cause strife between man to the point where love cannot be seen, heard,
or found. As Christians we are to love our fellow man and live peaceably. Malice,
deceit, jealousy, and slander guarantee hate and war. These sins can be removed
only by submitting to His power. Our commitment to Christ must be greater than
our commitment to self [our flesh].

Crave God’s Word                                                  I Peter 2:2-3

Spiritual milk is analogous to the Word of God [scripture] and the teaching
of the Apostles. It is the food we need to grow from infants into adults. God
is good. He gave His Son that we may have life eternal. Faith in Christ is our
salvation. He has promised us an inheritance in heaven. He has promised to be
faithful and never forsake us.

Therefore, we must study and learn just how great God is. We must share our faith
and knowledge with others. What He has promised us is also available to everyone.
As we grow, reproduction becomes natural. Grow up; reproduce! As we mature in
our faith we bear fruit. We will be known by our fruit. We will be known by
our praise, rejoicing, service, reverence, and love; not by any malice, deceit,
jealousy, and slander. Mature Christians possess a loving and peaceful nature.

Be a Living Stone                                                I Peter 2:4-12

Our maturing in Christ will change us to be just like Him. He is the Living
Stone. We are little living stones. He is the corner stone. We are building
stones. We are placed into His service for His glory; set apart/sanctified,
a royal priesthood. His Church, His disciples, His followers are the Levitical
Priests of the New Covenant. We serve the Chief Priest, Christ Jesus. Our spiritual
sacrifices are that of service to Him, proclaiming His truth. We are the living
sacrifice of Romans 12:1-2.

Jesus Christ is the stone born in Bethlehem and crucified for our sin in Jerusalem
[Zion]. There is no condemnation for those who put their trust in Him. He is
the precious stone of salvation. No one is saved unless they believe Jesus is
the Incarnate Son of God who died for our sins. He alone grants eternal life.
He is the one and only acceptable sacrifice for our sin. He died once for all.
He is the true capstone, the finished work of salvation. [The capstone is the
last stone completing a pyramid.] See also Matt. 16:15-18.

But this stone, the finished work of God causes man to stumble and fall. We
prefer salvation by works, not by the grace of God. We prefer a salvation based
on our merit instead of the merit of Jesus Christ. We must acknowledge we are
sinners, repent of our sin, place our faith in Jesus, deny ourselves, take up
our cross, follow Him, and participate in His resurrection unto eternal life
in heaven.

Living stones cry out and declare Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They proclaim
His mercy to all. We are living stones in His kingdom, His Building, His Church.
We are His royal priesthood, proclaiming and showing the way of salvation, and
offering praise to His Holy Name. We are His Holy Nation proclaiming His love
and mercy. We are His servants lighting the way in a world darkened by sin.
We are a people of good works proclaiming Him as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
Let us glorify God today and forever. Let others see and hear our testimony
and glorify His Name too.

Submit to Rulers                                               I Peter 2:13-17

You see, it’s not just what we don’t do [evil] but what we do that is even
more important. We have just completed a section of scripture exhorting us to
be living stones witnessing about our Savior, Jesus Christ. That is what we
do for God. These next verses concern what we as living stones do for man. Paul
wrote similar instructions to the Ephesians and Colossians. Peter writes to
the churches in NE Asia Minor [Turkey].

Peter starts by exhorting these churches/believers to be submissive to the
authorities [civil government] and rulers [see also Romans 13]. There is a string
attached, however. Governments and/or authorities are to punish wrong and support
those who do right. The real issue is “who determines what is right and
what is wrong”. In a democracy, we the people do. Dictators and Kings have
a greater say. Those who practice tyranny have all the say.

Even though the Christians real King and Lord is Jesus Christ, we are to respect
and submit to those in positions of civil authority. Acts of rebellion and disobedience
are off limits. We are not to be foolish or look foolish. We live as free men
but that freedom doesn’t authorize us to do wrong. That freedom authorizes us
to do what is right and to hold our leaders accountable to do what is right.
Therefore, we must continually pray that God would give us discernment concerning
our leaders or leaders to be.

Whether we agree with others or not, we treat people with respect. Our instructions
are simple; love the brethren, fear God, and honor those in positions of civil
authority. This is also to be our order of priority.

Although Timothy was instructed otherwise by Paul, there is a real need for
Christians to be involved in politics. As stated above, one of the responsibilities
of civil government is to do right and punish wrong. The authority for what’s
right and what’s wrong is the Bible. The Word of God should be quoted to support
the right positions. Use it and don’t worry if others discount its authority.
The Holy Spirit will make sure it is heard. Even as governments debate the rights
of homosexuals and the definition of marriage, it is important to treat those
with whom we disagree with utmost respect. One may debate but never argue. The
quieter our voice, the louder we are heard. The weak are loud. The strong speak
with quiet confidence, showing respect for all.

Submit to Your Master                                                    I Peter 2:18-25

The very same message is given to us with respect to our bosses [masters].
We are to submit to their authority regardless of whether they are a good or
bad. Anyone who suffers unjustly and endures such is commended before God. Respect
reigns. Christ was treated unjustly so we shouldn’t expect to be treated differently.
Look at the good that came out of Christ’s suffering. Our unjust suffering can
bring about good too. Be like Christ. Don’t run away from it. Don’t fight it.
Accept it and trust God. He has the power to redeem you and your situation.
Your testimony, without grumbling, will cause others to notice, drawing them
to Jesus Christ. Suffering is never fun, but it always brings forth good in
the life of a true believer. Look for the good and rejoice.

Respect Your Spouse I Peter 3:1-7

Keeping on with the theme of submission, wives are to be submissive to their
husbands, showing purity and reverence. In general, submission to those placed
in authoritative positions is a testimony to the Lord. Those who do not believe
in submission are likely unwilling to submit to the Lord. They want to be lord
over their lives. But God looks on the heart. Likewise, women are instructed
not to spend a lot of time and money on outward adornment. This is not a license
to be unkempt in appearance. They are to concentrate on their inner beauty;
a beauty that doesn’t fade; the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This gentle
and quiet spirit reflects what is meant by submission.

A submissive wife is not without voice. She possess a gentle quiet voice;
a voice of wisdom, a voice of respect, a voice of humility, a voice of knowledge,
a voice to be heard. Follow the example of Sarah, Abrahams wife. Do right, obey
the Lord, and live confidently in the grace of God.

Husbands are to be considerate [show respect] to their wives. Wives are a
significant part of a husbands’ life. They are also a significant partner. Wives
are equal to husbands in God’s eyes. Failure to respect your wife will hinder
your communication with the Lord. If you want to live well, treat you wife with
respect.

Live Harmoniously                                     I Peter 3:8-14

We are called to live in peace and harmony with one another. How do we accomplish
this? Peter writes:

  1. Be sympathetic and supportive.
  2. Love as brothers.
  3. Be compassionate and show concern.
  4. Be humble.
  5. Do not seek revenge.
  6. Be a blessing.
  7. Watch your tongue.
  8. Do good, not evil.
  9. Seek peace.
  10. Pray.

Christ is Lord                               I Peter 3:13-17

Peter closes with a short summary of what he has written thus far. In a nutshell:

  1. Do good and you won’t be harmed.
  2. You are a blessing even in your suffering.
  3. You have no reason to fear or be frightened.
  4. Always acknowledge Christ as Lord.
  5. Share your hope in Christ with gentleness and respect.

These are five principles for living harmoniously with all peoples as His Chosen
Ones. Memorize them, apply them in daily life, and experience the abundant life
promised by Jesus Christ.

The Work of the Lord                                                                   I Peter 3:18-22

Peter concludes Chapter 3 highlighting the work of Jesus Christ.

  1. Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, so we can fellowship with God.
  2. He died in the flesh and was resurrected by the Spirit, who has been active since the days of Noah.
  3. Real baptism is ones’ commitment to God.
  4. Christ’s resurrection power over sin is what saves us.
  5. Angels, authorities, and powers are subject to Christ in that He now sits at the right hand of God the Father.

There are many ways of interpreting I Peter 3:18-20. Most have some difficulties
in being consistent with all of scripture. The best discussion of these verses
I’ve found are in the notes of the Key Word Bible-NASB and in the Annotated
Bible commentary edited by A. C. Gaebelien copyrighted in 1915.

I think we make more of this passage than was intended, thereby my simplistic
approach taken in the five points above. However, I did take a more detailed
approach in my notes on Ephesians 4:7-9. Sometimes these two passages are referenced
together. These passages are similar but different. They may or may not relate
to one another. I’ve chosen to keep them separate. Remember, God is sovereign
and just. He gives us a lot of information but He doesn’t necessarily give us
all the information. Our understanding will not be complete until we see Him
face to face in heaven. And then it won’t much matter.

More Characteristics                                                                          I Peter 4:1-19

The Heart of Christ                                     I Peter 4:1-6

Peter has just written about the work of Christ and returns to define more
characteristics. We are to have the attitude of Christ. Even though Christ had
to suffer, He persevered to the end, obeyed the will of God, and died that we
might have life eternal. We too are not to live to please ourselves but live
to please God. We have done things such as debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies,
carousing, and idolatry and now it’s time to set aside our sinful nature [I
Peter 2:1, the first characteristic].

Many will ridicule, abuse, tease, chide, coerce, and attempt to influence
us to remain in our old nature. They don’t understand or comprehend the change
in our desires after committing our lives to following Jesus Christ.

So let us be steadfast and persevere through trials, temptations, and hardships.
Those who fail to follow Christ will be required to give an accounting before
Him. The real purpose of the gospel [for those who are dead and those who are
alive] is for all to have an opportunity to accept Christ’s work or reject it.
We will die in the flesh but we who accept Christ as Savior and Lord live on
in the spirit.

We have this gift of eternal life. Therefore, we set aside our desires and
pursue His will. That is our calling, our purpose; and it must be reflected
in our attitude. Our hearts must reflect the heart of Christ.

The Mind of Christ                                          I Peter 4:7-11

Peter declares that the end is in sight. We may have trouble with that concept
but we have to remember that close to 5000 years had passed at his writing and
we are just shy of 2000 years since. So yes, the end is in sight.

Since the end is near, we need to be clear minded, self-controlled, loving,
serving, proclaiming God’s grace, and in much prayer.

We are to rely on God to give us strength because we, as His disciples, have
that same purpose. That purpose is to see God be praised through Christ Jesus,
that He be glorified, and that His power will rule over all things from now
and into eternity.

The end is near. Focus on the objective. Focus on completing our assignments.
Focus on doing the best possible. Focus on serving, on loving, and on proclaiming
His Word, His Truth. Focus on His Glory and sense His power working in our lives.
In other words, have the mind of Christ as He began focusing on His redemptive
work on the cross.

The Suffering of Christ                                    I Peter 4:12-19

Because we suffer, feel persecuted, and are ridiculed, don’t be surprised,
hurt, or isolated. Instead rejoice because the world has seen fit to make you
worthy of Christ’s suffering. Rejoice because His Glory is soon to be revealed.
Persecution and suffering at the hands of men is a sure sign we belong to Christ,
that salvation is ours, and that His glory, peace, and Spirit is with us. Let
us not be ashamed but let us rejoice and praise God.

Judgment [purification] begins with us, His Church. His final judgment, which
is near, will follow. Just as Israel was persecuted by Egypt, judgment fell
on Egypt so that Israel would be preserved [saved]. So it will be for the Church.
The Church will pass through fire and be purified. The ungodly will be fired
throughout eternity.

Be grateful for we have been chosen; we know Him personally. We are to persevere
in serving Him and obeying His will. Those who attempt to be righteous through
good works have difficulty seeking and finding God. Those who make no effort
to acknowledge God or His ways and actually run from Him will never find Him.
Make no mistake, Christ continually seeks the lost, the unrighteous, and makes
Himself available but we have the choice. We have the choice to deny ourselves,
take up our cross and follow Him. We, who have chosen to follow Christ, must
continue to do so, persevering in persecution and doing good in His Name.

Instructions to Elders                                                                                  I Peter 5:1-4

Peter now changes course/audiences from those chosen to the elders and in
verse 5 to young men who will become elders. Peter instructs the leadership
he has left behind concerning their awesome responsibility. He was one of them
but he is now in Rome

. He reiterates his apostleship by
stating he is a witness to Christ’s sufferings. Even though he has left their
midst he is still one of them, chosen to share in the glory to be revealed.
Peter knows of this glory because he experienced Christ’s transfiguration and
His resurrection/ascension.

The elders are simply to be shepherds who willingly care and serve God’s flock
[congregations]. Refer to Peter’s personal instructions from Jesus in John 21:15-17.
The elders are not to be in it for themselves or for their benefit. They are
in it to serve, Serve, SERVE. They are not to be tyrannical, exhibiting power
but they are to be examples of love, compassion, and care. They are servants
first and leaders second. They are guaranteed a crown of glory from the Chief
Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The best and most revered leaders are servants. This is true in the workplace
and true in the church. Unfortunately, most of the leaders we see are leaders
who use their position and power to influence others and promote themselves.
Rarely do we see a true servant. Leaders with a servant heart are rare indeed.
We humans add to the problem and even create it because we are looking for leadership,
someone to look up to, a god. We fail to recognize and acknowledge that God
the Father and His only Son Jesus Christ are sovereign and in complete control.
God needs willing servants, not counterfeit competition.

This principle was made very clear to me in my last job before retiring. When
I began my tenure as manager over our research facility in Austin, I went before
all the people and laid out my objectives and expectations. I stated that I
was there to serve them and not myself. They thought it sounded nice but they
really didn’t believe me let alone comprehend what I meant. It took at least
two years of weekly staff meetings, plant-wide quarterly meetings, and a whole
lot of special meetings plus 2 personal appraisal periods before they understood
and believed what I had originally said and committed to them. But when they
grasped it I had loyalty from my people that others could not understand. We
had unity and commitment to each other. It became “what’s best for us all”
and not “what’s in it for me”. We accomplished things that others
thought impossible. When I retired I told them I would have taken them to any
plant in the world as a start-up team. We had built teamwork that others only
dreamed of achieving. That is what Peter is trying to instill in these elders.
Unity, teamwork, built on servant-hood is needed to advance the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Now let us go be servants of the King of Kings.

Instructions to Young Men                                                              I Peter 5:5-11

Peter now addresses the young men. They are the future leaders, the future
elders. They are to be submissive to the elders [this does not mean bowing down],
recognizing their position and responsibility.

The younger men naturally see things from a different perspective. They have
more ideas, they are more motivated and energetic, they are more aggressive
and ambitious, and they have less patience. They have a greater tendency to
be frustrated. So Peter exhorts them to be humble, to wait their calling [turn],
and to trust God. God cares for them.

They are to practice humility through self-control and to be alert, removing
any frustrations and criticisms in which Satan can gain a foothold and promote
disunity. They too are to be examples of faithfulness because their brothers/fellow-members
are suffering for the faith just as they are. Persecution is common. Humility,
self-control, and faithfulness are required to withstand persecution and suffering.
We must be submissive to God and His chosen leaders. We cannot afford to be
submissive to our own desires, our own thoughts, and our own ways. We must be
unified to stand firm. We must be humble and lean on Him. Unfortunately, this
is easier said than done.

But God is a God of Grace. He has called us to eternal glory. He will restore
us, make us strong, enable us to stand firm, and be steadfast. He alone has
the power. Don’t get anxious or frustrated. Wait on the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Closing                                                                                                           I Peter 5:12-14

Evidently Silas and John Mark are with Peter in Rome. Silas has helped compose
this letter and has endorsed its’ message. This is the first we have heard about
Silas since Paul’s second missionary journey. Evidently Silas left Paul and
struck out on his own, ending up in Babylon [Rome]. The church in Rome also
sends greetings. Tradition says the Church headquarters moved from Jerusalem
to Antioch to Rome. [Please refer back to my personal comments under Background]

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