Introduction to 1 & 2 Peter

By James M. Rochford

Authorship

Critics contend that Peter did not write these letters. Yet numerous reasons support the assertion that Peter wrote both of these letters traditionally ascribed to him:

First, these letters both claim to be written by Peter the apostle. Both letters open with the claim that these were written by Peter (1 Pet. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1). In his second letter, Peter writes, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you” (2 Pet. 3:1). The author also calls himself as a “witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Pet. 5:1). We should believe in the self-identification of the author, unless there are good and sufficient reasons not to. Indeed, the author himself rejects lying and criticizes being deceitful (1 Pet. 2:1, 22; 3:10).

Second, 1 Peter 5:13 aligns with the record of the early church. If we take Peter’s mention of “Babylon” to refer to Rome, this would fit with Peter being in Rome during this time. Moreover, the mention of “Mark” fits with early church history as well. These “throw away comments” are undesigned coincidences that fit with Peter’s authorship.

Third, there are a number of similarities between the Petrine letters and Peter’s speeches in the book of Acts. Blomberg writes, “Some writers have detected various similarities between the style and contents of 1 Peter and Peter’s various sermons in Acts or sayings in the Gospels.”[1]

Fourth, the early church fathers cite these letters early, or ascribe them directly to Peter. Several attestations are important:

  • Clement of Rome (AD 95) cites from the letter. Clowney writes, “The attestation of the letter in other writings is early and strong. The earliest is the reference in 2 Peter 3:1. Clement of Rome (before the end of the first century) quotes from the letter, although he does not identify his quotation.”[2]
  • Didache (AD 95) cites from 1 Peter 2:11 (Didache 1:4).
  • Polycarp (AD 130) cites portions of 1 Peter in his Epistle to the Philippians.[3]
  • Papias (AD 110) cited portions of 1 Peter according to Eusebius (Church History, 3.39.17.).
  • Irenaeus (AD 180) cites 1 Peter 1:8 (Against Heresies, 4.9.2).
  • Tertullian (AD 200) attributes authorship to Peter (Tertullian, Scorpiace 12).
  • Origen (AD 250) attributes authorship to Peter according to Eusebius (Church History, 6.25.8).
  • Eusebius (AD 325) accepted the letter. Grudem writes, “Writing in AD 325, Eusebius includes 1 Peter among those books everywhere recognized as belonging to the New Testament (EH25.2.). Wherever it was circulated, it was accepted as genuine.”[4]

This is interesting to consider, because the so-called Gospel of Peter, Revelation of Peter, and Acts of Peter were all rejected by the early church. And yet, both of these letters were accepted. If the early church did not care about phony authorship, then they would have much preferred a longer book (or books) written by “Peter,” rather than a couple of measly letters.[5] Michael Kruger summarizes the data,

Justin Martyr makes a striking allusion to 2 Peter 2:1 in his Dialogue with Trypho (Dialogue, 82.1), Irenaeus appears to cite it (Haer. 5.23.2), and Hippolytus also seems to show knowledge of it (Hippolytus, Haer. 9.7.3; 2 Pet. 2:22). Clement of Alexandria wrote a now-lost commentary on 2 Peter, Origen cited it six times and clearly received it as canonical Scripture, and Eusebius considered it to be part of the ‘disputed’ books in the canon that were nevertheless known to most of the church… It was widely received by such figures as Jerome, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Augustine.[6]

Despite this evidence for Peter’s authorship (i.e. Petrine authorship), critics have challenged the authorship of the letter. For instance, Beare writes, “There can be no possible doubt that ‘Peter’ is a pseudonym.”[7] Let’s consider several arguments advanced by the critics.

ARGUMENT #1: The Greek is too polished for Peter to have written it.

In his book Forged, NT critic Bart Ehrman writes,

[1 Peter was written by a] highly educated Greek-speaking Christian who understood how to use Greek rhetorical devices and could cite the Greek Old Testament with flair and nuance. That does not apply to the uneducated, illiterate, Aramaic-speaking fisherman from rural Galilee, and it does not appear to have been produced by a secretary acting on his behalf.[8]

This is probably the most popular argument against Petrine authorship. But does it hold water? A number of observations can be made:

First, Acts 4:13 does not teach that Peter was illiterate. In Acts 4:13, we read, “As they [the Sanhedrin] observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed…” This passage does not teach that Peter and John were illiterate; it teaches that they were unschooled. Grudem writes, “Although agrammatos can at times mean ‘illiterate, unable to read or write’, it can also mean ‘not formally educated’, and would readily have that nuance next to idiotēs, ‘common man, layman, non-expert’ in Acts 4:13.”[9] Remember, the religious leaders held this same view of Jesus, claiming that he was also uneducated by the standards of their day (Jn. 7:15).

The Sanhedrin (who had condemned Jesus to death; Mark 14:55) probably did not consider Peter’s years spent with Jesus as a formal education because they hated Jesus. By the standards of the Sanhedrin, Peter was not highly educated. This would be similar to Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting (1997), stumping an Ivy League student in math or history. While his character is brilliant in the film, he only had a high school education. Therefore, it would be within the rights of the Ivy League brat to call Will Hunting “uneducated.”

Grudem notes that Hellenization from Alexander the Great had progressed throughout Judea for four centuries at this point. Many of the cities around Galilee spoke and wrote in Greek, and hundreds of Jewish ossuaries (or bone-boxes) have been uncovered that were written in Greek and Hebrew, showing that the people were bilingual.[10] According to Josephus, even slaves learned Greek (Antiquities, 20.263).

In addition, this is a lot to hang on one verse of the Bible. In this short exchange with the Sanhedrin, they couldn’t have known if Peter was actually illiterate because he never tries to read anything! Finally, if Peter was truly illiterate, then why isn’t this mentioned anywhere else?

Second, thirty years transpire between Acts 4:13 and 1 Peter. By modern standards, this would be enough time to get three PhD’s. Consider Peter’s role in the early church during this time. Peter was one of the central leaders in the early church, and he was expected to debate and teach publicly throughout the ancient world (Acts 2:14ff; 3:12ff). Is it not possible that Peter gained a better education in this three decade gap of time? Maybe this is even why he waited so long to write a letter. It’s possible that he didn’t feel competent in writing until he had become better educated toward the end of his life. Furthermore, D.A. Carson writes, “Rabbi Akiba was apparently unlettered until the age of forty, and then became one of the greatest rabbis of his generation; it would not be surprising if some of the leaders of the church, decades after its founding, had devoted themselves to some serious study.”[11]

Third, Peter also could have used an amanuensis (pronounced uh-man-you-EN-sis) to write this letter. Indeed, Mark was Peter’s amanuensis who wrote his Gospel (Eusebius, Church History 3.39.15; Jerome, Letter to Hebidia [Ep.] 120.11). In 1 Peter 5:12, we read, “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly.” In other words, Peter may have utilized Silvanus as his scribe to help write his letter. Similarly, Paul used an amanuensis in writing the book of Romans (Rom. 16:22). In first century culture, it was common to utilize a scribe to write a letter like this. Others argue that this language simply implies that Silvanus (Silas) was a letter carrier—not a letter writer.[12] Grudem writes,

This sentence gives little support to the view that Silvanus was involved in the actual writing of the letter. The Greek phrase meaning ‘to write to someone by someone else’ is nowhere else clearly seen to mean ‘to dictate a letter with the help of someone else’. Kummel notes, ‘No-one has yet proved that graphō dia tinos can mean “to authorize someone else to compose a piece of writing”‘. On the other hand, there are clear cases where this same Greek construction is used to designate the messenger who carries a letter to someone: note Acts 15:23, for example (Greek text: ‘through the hand of them [Judas and Silas]’).[13]

However, Green notes that Peter wrote by Silvanus “briefly.” This doesn’t refer to a letter carrier, but a letter writer.[14] For this reason, this final point carries less weight. However, this still would not preclude Peter using an amanuensis, which was a common practice at the time.

ARGUMENT #2: The persecutions mentioned in 1 Peter occur after Peter’s death.

Peter refers to the “fiery trial” (1 Pet. 4:12), which was occurring “throughout the world” (1 Pet. 5:9). Critics argue that this must refer to the empire-wide persecutions of Rome, which would late-date this letter after the apostle Peter had died (~AD 67).

This argument does not hold much weight. Worldwide persecution in the Roman Empire did not occur until the end of the second century. However, 1 Peter was quoted in the beginning and middle of the first century by the early church fathers. Blomberg writes, “No period within the first 150 years of Christian history saw empire-wide persecution of believers; this would take place only much later. Yet 1 Peter is quoted by early-and mid-second-century Christian writers, so we know if had to have been written by then.”[15] Peter’s mention of persecution could simply be hyperbolic language about the persecution of the Roman Empire—similar to Paul’s hyperbolic language of the gospel reaching the “whole world” (Rom. 1:8). For a case that Peter was writing the letter from Rome, see comments on 1 Peter 5:13.

Date

Peter wrote these letters sometime between AD 62 and AD 68.

After AD 62. Peter wrote from Rome (1 Pet. 5:13), and he wrote his second letter immediately before dying. Yet Paul never mentions Peter in his prison epistles—written from Rome. Grudem writes, “If we date Paul’s prison letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon) between AD 60 and 62, when Paul was in prison in Rome, it is interesting that he nowhere in these four letters mentions Peter.”[16] If Peter was in Rome with Paul, it’s odd that Paul would write, “I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:20-21). Apparently, Peter hadn’t made it to Rome until after these letters were written. Hence, Schreiner dates the latter sometime around AD 62-63—before the Neronian persecution.[17]

Before AD 68. The early Christian leaders held that Peter died by persecution under the Roman Emperor Nero, who committed suicide in AD 68. Dionysius (the bishop of Corinth, AD 170) wrote, “[Peter and Paul] also taught in Italy in the same place and were martyred at the same time” (Cited in Eusebius, Church History, 2.25.8). In the context of writing about Rome, Tertullian (AD 200) wrote, “How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s!” (Against Heretics, 36). Eusebius also recorded that Origen (AD 250) claimed that Peter was crucified upside down, and Paul was beheaded in Rome under the reign of Nero (Church History, 3.1.2-3). Eusebius adds that Peter “composed this [1 Peter] in Rome itself” (Church History, 2.15.2), and Eusebius states that he received this information from Papias (AD 110).

Audience

While Peter was at first associated with Jewish evangelism (Gal. 1:18; 2:7-8), there are many reasons to believe that he led in Gentile-dominated churches later in life. Peter was initially an “apostle to the Jews” (Gal. 2:8 NLT), but he was not permanently an apostle to them. Peter made his way to Greece, which was a predominantly Gentile church (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5). Moreover, after Peter breaks out of jail, the book of Acts mysteriously tells us: “Then he left and went to another place…” (Acts 12:17). Peter pops up at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:7). However, besides this reference, we simply don’t know where Peter served.

Peter specifically mentions Christians in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1), but these could be either Jewish believers or Gentile believers. However, when we read through his letter, we find many references to Gentile Christians:

(1:14) As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.

(1:18) Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.

(2:10) For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

(4:3) For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.

For these reasons, we should infer that this was a Gentile-dominated church.

Peter’s relationship to Paul

Peter makes a reference to having difficulty reading Paul’s letters (2 Pet. 3:15-16), so we know that Peter had copies of Paul’s material. Paul wrote his letter to the Romans in the winter of AD 56-57, and Peter was in Rome immediately after this time. In 1 Peter 2, Peter seems to be interacting with Romans 9-10. In fact, he quotes the same string of OT verses that Paul does. This is such a “coincidence” that it leads us to think that Peter was reading Paul’s work. It would be like seeing the “coincidence” of two term papers with the same citations in it: you would conclude that one was copying from the other.

  • Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:6 both quote Isaiah 28:16 (“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”).
  • Romans 10:11 and 1 Peter 2:6 both quote Isaiah 28:16 (“Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed”).
  • Romans 9:25 and 1 Peter 2:10 both quote Hosea 1:10 (“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people’”).

These are all signs that Peter had a copy of Romans in his hand when he wrote his book.

Table of Contents

Authorship. 1

Date. 5

Audience. 6

Peter’s relationship to Paul 6

Table of Contents. 7

Commentary on 1 Peter. 7

1 Peter 1 8

1 Peter 2. 23

1 Peter 3. 37

1 Peter 4. 49

1 Peter 5. 62

2 Peter 1 73

2 Peter 2. 78

2 Peter 3. 81

Commentary on 1 Peter

Unless otherwise stated, all citations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

1 Peter 1

(1 Pet. 1:1-12) What’s so Great about Christianity?

Peter is an old fisherman, writing during a time of persecution. He was a man who walked on water, but a man who also sunk. He was the first disciple to recognize Jesus’ identity, and the one whom Jesus rebuked as Satanic for trying to stop Jesus from going to the Cross. He was a wild card! Yet we see a stable man in his two letters, demonstrating God’s power to change lives.

(1:1) “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen.”

“Aliens.” Peter is writing to scattered Christians from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. The term “aliens” (parepidēmos) is similar to our modern term “foreigners” or “illegal aliens” (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:13). It refers to travelers or sojourners, or a “man without a country.” As Christians, our “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). In a comforting message, Peter writes that while believers are “aliens,” they are still “chosen… of God.”

“Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” These are all Roman provinces “south of the Black Sea, in what today is called Asia Minor, mostly in modern Turkey.”[18] This was likely the route through which the letter travelled.[19]

(1:2) “[Believers are chosen] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

“Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.” God didn’t choose us arbitrarily, but he chose us based on his foreknowledge of future events.

“To obey Jesus Christ.” Grudem understands this to refer to our moral obedience, and when we fail, we are “sprinkled with [Jesus’] blood.”[20] However, the imperatives don’t begin until verse 13. So, if this is a command, then it would be out of step with the rest of the context. Moreover, if we obey Jesus morally, then we have no need for his blood to forgive us. This interpretation smuggles in the idea that we will fail in our obedience to Jesus (something that is certainly true!). But this concept is not the statement of the text itself.

Instead, we understand this to refer to the response of the believer when they come to faith in Christ at justification: That is, we obey Jesus Christ by accepting the truth of the gospel (cf. Jn. 3:36; Rom. 1:5; 15:18). This fits with the context—namely, being “born again” by God (v.3). Therefore, Peter is describing what we are as Christians, rather than what we do. We were foreknown and set apart so that we could come to faith in Christ. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, none of us would become Christians.

(1:2) Are some “chosen” for heaven and others “chosen” for hell?

(1:3) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

“Blessed by the God and Father” (eulogētos) means to speak well of God. Peter will speak a lot of the suffering of these Christians, and he himself would be crucified within a couple years. Yet, he opens his letter with, “Praise God!”

“Born again” (anagennaō) carries baggage in our culture. Many people think of street preachers draped in cardboard signs that say, “YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN!” Yet the term is a beautiful concept that wasn’t inaugurated by bearded street preachers, but by Jesus himself. In talking to a religious leader named Nicodemus, Jesus said, “You must be born again” (Jn. 3:3). Those who meet Christ are a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17 NIV). Just like we were born physically, we need to be born spiritually. Meeting Christ is like starting our lives all over again: a clean slate and a fresh start. No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, Christ can cleanse and change you.

“To a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Even though we are dead to sin, we have been “raised up with Him” (Eph. 2:6). While billions of people have died, only Jesus has risen from death. This is our “living hope.”

(1:4) “To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”

Christians are “aliens” on Earth, but we have a future home in Heaven. Peter describes the great wealth that we will receive one day.

“Inheritance” (klēronomia) shows that we have much to gain by being children of God (i.e. being “born again”). Because we are children, we inherit everything that the Father possesses, and our heavenly Father is wealthy beyond measure! When we die or when Christ returns, we will inherit the kingdom from the King.

“Imperishable” (aphthartos) means that our future inheritance is incorruptible and immortal. Everything else in our lives is going away: Our money will rot (Lk. 12:33), as will all the silver and gold in the world (1 Pet. 1:18). But our future inheritance will never perish.

“Undefiled” (amiantos) means that our inheritance is perfect, being “unstained by sin.”[21]

“Will not fade away” (amarantos) means that it will never diminish or cease to exist. It is as firm of a reality as anything that we have ever hoped for.

“Reserved in heaven for you.” Schreiner writes, “The passive of the word ‘kept’ (tetērēmenēn) is a divine passive, referring to God as the one who reserves the inheritance for believers. Peter emphasized in the strongest possible terms the security and certainty of the reward awaiting believers.”[22]

(1:5) “Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

“Protected” (phroureō) was a term “frequently used in military contexts.”[23] It was used of protecting cities with garrisons of soldiers (see Judith 3:6; 1 Esdras 4:56; Wisdom 17:16; cf. 2 Cor 11:32; Phil. 4:7).[24]

In this passage, God himself is the one who protects us—not some military garrison. Moreover, the use of the present participle implies a continual protection from God, and the object of this protection is not the inheritance, but Christians themselves (who are protected”).

How likely is it that I’m going to lose eternal life? It’s the same likelihood that a thief could break into God’s house and steal from him! While everything else in this world is shakable and breakable, our salvation is imperishable, undefiled, and “protected by the power of God.”

“A salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We are being protected by God, but for what purpose. Peter clearly sees the purpose as being our glorification in heaven. God already protects us, but it will be “revealed” at the end of human history.

Those who deny eternal security note that our security is conditional, because we need to keep it “through faith.” That is, if we cease having faith, then that means that we either lose our salvation (i.e. Arminianism), or we never had it in the first place (i.e. Calvinism). Thus J. Ramsey Michaels writes that “faith” should be “understood as continuing trust or faithfulness.”[25] Likewise, Schreiner writes, “Peter did not conceive of faith as a single isolated act; genuine faith persists until the day of redemption.”[26]

We respectfully disagree. Grammatically, “faith” (pistis) is a noun—not a verb. While it could theoretically be true that we need to keep ongoing faith, this passage simply doesn’t speak to this. Once again, we need to point out that the imperatives do not begin until verse 13, and Peter is merely describing the advantages that we have by being Christians. He is not smuggling in a threat that we could lose our salvation. Indeed the entire tenor of these opening twelve verses is here to encourage the believer—not threaten him. Karen Jobes writes, “Peter’s choice of verbs here suggests that though the heirs may be in peril, nothing less than the power of God himself watches over them. Paradoxically, it is their faith in Christ that has put them in jeopardy with respect to their society, but it is that very faith in Christ that identifies them as legitimate heirs, whom God powerfully protects.”[27]

(1:6) “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.”

“In this.” The pronoun is masculine, and it doesn’t refer to the term “salvation” mentioned earlier, which is feminine. Rather, the pronoun refers to everything that God has secured for us in verses 3-5.[28]

During suffering, we are still able to rejoice or give thanks. We don’t give thanks for the suffering, but for our identity in Christ as outlined in the previous five verses (“In this you greatly rejoice…”). They are rejoicing at the very same time that they are “distressed.” This shows that rejoicing is an action—not necessarily a feeling. Yet, rejoicing begins to create joy in our hearts which outweighs the depression and drudgery and despair that can infect our souls. Grudem comments, “Peter thus shows simultaneous grief and joy to be normal in the Christian life.”[29]

(1:7) “So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Proof of your faith… though tested by fire.” In the ancient world, gold was superheated and smelted in a crucible. As a result, the impurities would float to the top, and the impure film or dross was skimmed from the surface. The more times the gold was smelted, the purer it would become. Peter uses this concept to describe the purification, strengthening, and revealing of our faith. After various “superheated” trials, we develop and reveal a trust in God that we never had before.

The concept of God testing us like a smelter with precious metal is found throughout the Bible. The Psalmist writes, “You have tried us, O God; you have refined us as silver is refined” (Ps. 66:10). The Proverbs state, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts” (Prov. 17:3). Isaiah writes, “I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10). Peter will later return to this metaphor in 4:12 (cf. Jas. 1:3).

The term “proof” (dokimion) refers “the process or means of determining the genuineness of something, testing, means of testing” or “genuineness as result of a test, genuine, without alloy” (BDAG). The LXX uses this term for metallurgy (Ps. 12:6; Prov. 27:21). In the ancient world, it was used to refer to “good gold.”[30] The testing of our faith is currently revealed and refined through suffering, but it will eventually be revealed at the “revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The fire of suffering both reveals the faith, and it also burns away the impurities. God doesn’t apologize for allowing this to happen. Instead, we learn what it is that we are actually trusting in (e.g. personal confidence, people’s opinions, accolades, money, etc.).

Who will receive the “praise and glory and honor”? Jesus Christ deserves all of the “praise and glory and honor” in the universe and beyond, and we will surely offer him such things for all eternity. But this passage shockingly teaches that we are the ones who will receive the praise, glory, and honor from Jesus. Commentators agree on this incredible conclusion:

Edwin Blum: “God will set his stamp of approval on faith that has been tested and show this when Christ is revealed. Then the believer will openly share in the praise, glory, and honor of God.”[31]

Wayne Grudem: “It seems more likely that the initial thought is of praise which God gives to his people, since in this context Peter is encouraging his readers to hope in their heavenly reward.”[32]

I. Howard Marshall: “Christians will receive recognition from God; their faith in him will be vindicated.”[33]

Thomas Schreiner: “‘Praise, glory and honor’ are given on that day to the person whose faith has been tested and approved by fire (cf. Rom 2:7, 10, 29; 1 Cor 4:5).”[34]

It is right to think that we should suffer for the praise, glory, and honor of God. But according to God, he wants to heap the glory, praise, and honor on us! Because God is a giver, he has set his entire plan in motion to give away glory to those who least deserve it. As Paul writes, “We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory” (1 Cor. 2:7).

At this very moment, we can’t see the spiritual reality of eternity, and all that God has waiting for us. Yet, because we know Christ through his word, these realities can become incommensurably precious to us. This is the subject to which Peter next turns.

(1:8) “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”

“You have not seen Him… you do not see Him now.” Believing is not necessarily based in directly seeing (cf. Jn. 20:28; 2 Cor. 5:7). Many people saw Jesus, but didn’t believe him. Many others did not see him, but have trusted in the direct drawing of the Holy Spirit, the evidence for Jesus, the reality of supernatural love in Christian community, and a palpable sense of his presence in their lives. These Gentile Christians in the AD 60s had never seen Christ, but they trusted in the apostolic message. So too, modern people trust in this same message, coming to faith through evidence, personal experience, prayer, the love of Christians, and many other means.

“You love Him… believe Him… you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” We don’t always have gushing feelings for God during times of suffering. But if you’ve never felt any emotions for God, that’s a red flag. We have access to inexpressible joy—even when our circumstances are poor. Schreiner writes, “Their sufferings have not made them morose and miserable. They are filled with love for Jesus Christ. He is precious and lovely to them.”[35] When we travel through times of suffering, we experience love for God in a unique way.

(1:9) “Obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

Salvation refers to justification, sanctification, and glorification. That is, the penalty of sin (justification), the power of sin (sanctification), and presence of sin (glorification). Here the “outcome” of our faith is in the ongoing tense, which implies that sanctification or spiritual growth is in view.

(1:10-11) “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”

The prophets knew many of the facts surrounding the coming Messiah, but key portions were omitted. Specifically, they didn’t know that the Messiah would come to suffer and die for humanity (see “Why Did Satan Crucify Jesus?”).

(1:12) “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”

Why does Peter bring up God’s plan in this part of the letter? He seems to be showing that we are incredibly privileged to inherit the culmination of this plan. Consider a family planning a wedding for their daughter. The time and resources involved show the importance of the wedding day. Similarly, God has been working his plan for eons, and now we are currently inheriting it.

Peter also brings this up at this point to show how God’s people in the past were given limited knowledge of the future, and God’s work (through Christ) far exceeded what they could’ve ever imagined. Similarly, suffering believers today can’t see how God is going to use their suffering in the future, but if the past is any indicator, we will be blown away.

We are simply in an incredibly privileged position to live in the new covenant. Jesus said, “Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Mt. 13:16-17). The OT prophets longed to the coming of Christ, and the angels continue to marvel at it. But Christians get to live it.

Discussion Questions

What might happen if a Christian never suffers?

We could be insulating ourselves with materialism (Jas. 4:4).

We have no opportunity to depend on God (2 Cor. 1:9).

We would be shallow and superficial (Phil. 3:10).

We would have low empathy and weak skills at serving God (2 Cor. 1:4; 4:12).

Was Peter using this hope of heaven as an “opiate of the people”?

Karl Marx argued that the bourgeois (i.e. the rich) used religion to keep the proletariat (i.e. the poor) in a state of submission. That is, the poor wouldn’t rise up in revolt, because the rich told them fairy tales about an afterlife that didn’t exist. Is that what’s happening here?

Not at all. Jesus was poor. Peter was poor. Jesus’ closest followers often encountered poverty. These men were not lulling people into obedience with false hopes so that they could retain all of the wealth. Instead, they were offering real hope—in the strongest of terms—to hurting and suffering people. Schreiner writes, “Many of those who are suffering in this world find no relief and no justice. Marx offers nothing to them, since his only paradise is a worldly one—a paradise that most in this world never experience.”[36]

(1 Pet. 1:13-22) I want to be different

HOW do I become different?

(1:13) “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Therefore…” This looks back to all of the indicatives in verses 1-12. Peter explained:

  • We never have to doubt God’s love (v.2).
  • We have a permanent clean slate (v.3).
  • Our place in eternity is secure (vv.4-5).
  • God will heap rewards on us (v.7).

All of this is true of the Christian. But now what? What’s our role in spiritual growth? Not surprisingly, all of this begins in the mind…

“Prepare your minds for action.” A change of life begins in our mind and thoughts about reality. The word “prepare” (anazosamenoi) means to “bind up” or “gird up.” It refers to the binding “of long garments to facilitate work or walking” (BDAG). Peter applies this concept to the sharpness of our thinking. Schreiner comments, “Hope will not become a reality without disciplined thinking. Thinking in a new way does not happen automatically; it requires effort, concentration, and intentionality.”[37]

“Sober in spirit” (nēphontes). This at least refers to drunkenness, but it has a broader range of application. Kittel defines this word in this way: “What is in view is the unequivocal and immediately self-evident antithesis to all kinds of mental fuzziness.”[38] Schreiner writes, “There is a way of living that becomes dull to the reality of God, that is anesthetized by the attractions of this world. When people are lulled into such drowsiness, they lose sight of Christ’s future revelation of himself and concentrate only on fulfilling their earthly desires.”[39] Peter uses this same word (nēphō) to describe being alert in prayer and spiritual warfare (1 Pet. 4:7; 5:8).

Do our thoughts really affect our feelings or emotions? Absolutely! When I was trying to lose weight a few years ago, I began with doing some reading. I learned that one small scoop of ice cream is equivalent to a pound of freshly cut strawberries. After I read that, I simply couldn’t look at ice cream the same way. Before we change our actions, we need a change of mind. Indeed, the most successful psychological treatments focus on challenging cognitive distortions, or false beliefs, about the world.

Most people must not believe this, choosing mental lethargy. On average, the US adult spends 7.25 hours on a screen every day. That’s roughly 50 hours per week—a full time job! Over the course of 60 years, this is 9.5 million minutes, 159 thousand hours, 6,630 days, or 18.1 years.[40] By contrast, how long does it take to read the Bible from cover to cover? Only 70-85 hours. It’s amazing that Christians can honestly say that they “don’t have time” to read their Bibles.

“Fix your hope on the grace.” Everyone sets their hope on something: career advancement, the stock market, the approval of people. Take your pick. Our role is to “fix our hope completely” on heaven. The biblical concept of hope doesn’t refer to “wishful thinking.” Rather, the term (elpizo) means “to look forward to something, with implication of confidence about something coming to pass” (BDAG). Indeed, Paul writes, “Hope does not disappoint” (Rom. 5:5).

In WHAT WAYS will I be different?

One of the greatest barriers of spiritual growth is misconceiving what we will become. Will I become a boring person? A judgmental person? Peter explains the goal of spiritual growth in clear terms.

(1:14-16) “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

“As obedient children.” This doesn’t speak of a Master-and-servant obedience, or even a Boss-and-employee obedience. Rather, Peter intentionally uses the language of a relational obedience between a Father and a child. Good parents discipline their children, but only out of love. Furthermore, a strong relationship is the context for change—not the fear of punishment.

“Do not be conformed to the former lusts.” Some people are scared to break from conformity. But as followers of Jesus, we’re supposed to be counter-cultural in the best sense. Our lives are to be filled with love for God and others. This call is similar to Paul in Romans 12:1-2, where the change and transformation begins in the mind—not just the behavior. Without a change of mind, we will still imitate cultural norms.

Most people reject that they are conformists. “After all,” they might argue, “I listen to indie rock, wear vintage clothes, drink PBR, and am very ironic!” We could pick on hipsters all day long, but that really isn’t the point. Even if you truly are unique in areas like fashion, who cares? These are the most superficial areas of non-conformity. What about areas like your values, your purpose, and your overall worldview? It’s amazing that people will strive to be a non-conformist in superficial areas, but will fall right into line in areas of ultimate importance.

“Passions” (epithumia) comes from the two root words roots epi (“over” or “on”) and thumia (“desire”). Thus, this is an “over desire.” We could translate this as a “great desire” or “inordinate” desire (BDAG). Sensual experiences aren’t bad. The problem is with our supercharged desires. We turn sensual experiences into the meaning of life, and this leaves us and other picking up the wreckage.

“Holiness” (hagios) carries the meaning of “uniqueness.”[41] Other synonyms would include being distinct, different, separate, or set apart. In the OT, the term “holy” (qadosh) means “marked off” or “withdrawn from common, ordinary use.”[42] Moses writes, “Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11) In the context of 1 Peter, the term “holy” refers to being separate from the “former lusts” and the way of life that we knew before.

How should Christians be distinct or different? Should it be in the movies we watch? The music we listen to? The books we read? Not at all! Jesus was called the “Holy One,” but in him we do not encounter a culturally bizarre and unloving man. Instead, we see the embodiment of love, truth, and compassion for lost people. Similarly, as Jesus’ followers, we should be distinct in our love, our purpose, and our worldview!

“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” This concept of holiness derives from the OT, and Peter cites particularly from the book of Leviticus (Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26).

WHY should I be different?

(1:17) “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.”

“Each one’s work.” The use of the singular (“work”) implies that it refers to the entire scope of a person’s work in life. That is, God looks at their whole career of Christian work to issue rewards.

“Should we ‘fear’ God?” While we have much more to say in our article below, this “fear” (phobos) refers to living “reverently,” and not in “abject terror.” After all, this horrifying fear “does not fit with the joy and boldness of the Christian life”[43] that Peter has been describing thus far. Furthermore, we are following God as our “Father,” not as some sort of malevolent or capricious dictator. Peter is saying that we should live our daily lives knowing that God is watching. If no one was watching, we would slack off and get into God knows what. But if God is really present at every moment of my life, then my actions take on new meaning and value.

(1:17) Are we supposed to fear God or not? (cf. 1 Jn. 4:19)

(1:18) “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.”

Many people fall right into line with the faith, values, and worldview of their parents without really thinking through their faith for themselves. Peter encourages this group for choosing the harder path—namely, choosing for the truth of Christ.

“Redeemed” (lutroō) is used in the LXX for God rescuing the people from Egypt (Deut. 7:8; 9:26; 15:15; 24:18) and for God rescuing individual people as well (Pss. 25:22; 26:11; 31:5; 32:7). This can be a rescue through being simply liberated, or from being purchased from slavery. The term was used “in secular contexts of purchasing freedom for a slave or a hostage held by an enemy.”[44] Since the context refers to be redeemed from things unlike “silver and gold,” the concept of being purchased seems to be the primary focus.

“Futile way of life” (mataias) pertains “to being of no use, idle, empty, fruitless, useless, powerless, lacking truth” (BDAG, p.621). It was the term used in Ecclesiastes, and is also used for worshipping idols (which are worthless).[45] It speaks to a loss of purpose or significance. These false values and false religions “are greatly valued by human beings but end up being vain and useless, even to satisfy in this life.”[46] Why is it that people during the pandemic were suffering from mental health and addictions so severely? It’s because life was so damn boring! There were no relationships and no sense of purpose. Consequently, we fill our lives with stimulation just to pass the time.

(1:19) “But with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

Someone can buy you a gift, give you money, or speak kind words to you. That’s nice. But we’re reading about a love far deeper than this. After all, what would make you feel more loved: (1) If I sacrificed to give you money or (2) if I sacrificed to give you my life? Many people grew up with parents who showered them with gifts, but they were never relationally or emotionally present with us. They didn’t want another present from the store… They wanted time with their mom and dad. Now, as adults, they realize that they wouldn’t even want to spend regular time with their parents, because they never built a substantive relationship.

Jesus didn’t just give us gifts, but himself. He didn’t merely tell us that he loves us, he showed it, dying naked on a Roman Cross. This language of a “lamb unblemished and spotless” harkens back to the OT sacrificial system, the Passover (Ex. 12:5), and the predictions of the Suffering Servant (Isa. 53:7; cf. 1 Pet. 2:21-25). We agree with Schreiner that it’s probably “best to think of Peter as seeing the death of Christ as embracing all three ideas.”[47]

(1:20-21) “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

There is an incredible privilege to be in the Church Age. God’s plan hasn’t always had the privileges of having such a radically personal relationship with God through Christ. The resurrection is the hope of the Christian faith: Just as Jesus was raised, we will be raised with him.

How can I start to be different?

(1:22) “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.”

“Purified your souls.” We agree with Schreiner[48] that this refers to conversion. We agree. For one, the word “purified” (hēgnikotes) is a perfect participle which communicates a past action with ongoing effects. Second, the context refers to conversion in verse 23. Third, Peter is assuming that all of these Christians have “purified their souls,” and this is the indicative upon which the imperative is grounded—namely, “fervently love one another.” We love because he first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).

Does this refer to sanctification? Grudem states that we cannot “be certain that this is in view.”[49] Indeed, he writes, “This ‘purification’ then signifies some clear progress in gaining more purity from the moral pollution of sin, a concept very similar to that of James 4:8 and 1 John 3:3.”[50] Grudem gives several arguments for this view:

For one, he notes that Peter elsewhere uses the perfect participle to refer to sanctification (1 Pet. 4:1; 2 Pet. 1:12). However, 1 Peter 4:1 is a quite difficult passage to interpret in general, and in our estimation, we shouldn’t place a lot of weight on the use of the perfect participle there. Moreover, 2 Peter 1:12 refers to how these believers already “know” these truths about sanctification, but this seems to prove our point—namely, they know something that has ongoing consequences. Furthermore, Peter uses the perfect participle to refer to being “born again” (anagennaō) in the next verse, which favors the justification view.

Second, the term “obedience” (hypakoē) never “clearly means initial saving faith.”[51] This argument isn’t cogent in our opinion because words have meaning in their contexts, and in this context, justification is in view (v.23). Moreover, the term obedience can refer to coming to faith in Christ in Romans 1:5, thought Grudem calls this reference “ambiguous” (see his footnote).

Third, Peter uses the term “obedience” (hypakoē) to refer to moral obedience. However, see comments on verse 2 above. We argued that Peter was actually speaking of an indicative—not an imperative. That passage speaks of coming to faith in Christ.

Fourth, Peter uses the term “purify” (hagnizō) which refers to moral cleansing when used figuratively (Jas. 4:8; 1 Jn. 3:3). However, this uses the perfect participle which more naturally fits a past event with ongoing result—namely, loving the brethren.

Fifth, the context refers to holiness (vv.14-16). Yet, our call to be holy would naturally come from being made holy by God (i.e. justification).

Sixth, the idea that we purify our souls is unbiblical. Grudem writes, “Christians are never in the New Testament said to be active agents in God’s initial cleansing of their souls at conversion.”[52] We are sympathetic to this argument, but the text says that our purification is predicated on the fact that we purified our souls “in obedience to the truth.” That is, we came to faith in Christ, and our faith is the means through which we purified our souls—not moral effort.

“Sincere” (anypokriton) means to not be hypocritical or “literally not play acting” (BDAG). Christian love isn’t supposed to be a plastic smile we tattoo onto our face. It’s an authentic commitment to others.

“Love of the brethren” (philadelphia) speaks of our love for fellow Christians.

“Fervently” (ektenos) pertains to “being persevering, eagerly, fervently, constantly” (BDAG). It’s the word used of Jesus praying fervently in the garden of Gethsemane, while he sweat drops of blood (Lk. 22:44).

“Love” (agapao) intensifies the earlier statement to have love for the brethren. This type of love for fellow Christians is described and prescribed as an other-worldly, Christ-like love.

Discussion Questions

Based on verses 4-5: If we didn’t have security in our salvation, how might this affect our relationship with God day to day?

Based on verse 6: Why do you think that Peter brings up the security of our salvation in relationship to suffering? How does reflecting on the security of our salvation affect our ability to suffer victoriously?

Based on verse 14: Play the clip from the show South Park about the conformity of even “non-conformist” groups like goths. Then ask, “How would we know if we are conforming or being a conformist? What would be some signs of being a conformist?”

Is it wrong to conform? If not, where do we draw the line?

What would you say to someone who said, “Why should I resist conformity? I’m comfortable conforming!”

(1 Pet. 1:23-2:3) The Word of God

Peter finished speaking about spiritual growth (1:13-22). Here he speaks to the engine that generates spiritual growth: the word of God.

The Word of God brings SPIRITUAL BIRTH and SPIRITUAL GROWTH

(1:23) “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Peter is reflecting on how we came to faith or were “born again.” How did this happen? Through God’s word.[53] Just think of God creating the universe. He spoke a word and, BOOM! With just a word, the universe sprung into being from nothing. Likewise, consider Jesus speaking to Lazarus’ cold corpse in the tomb. With just a word, energy surged through Lazarus’ body, and he gasped awake. The same is true for us. God used his word to bring us to faith—whether by reading the Bible, hearing it taught, or listening as someone who communicated Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness to us. As Paul writes, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

The word of God is so powerful that it can bring spiritual growth. Once God plants this “seed,” it will begin to grow. It must have been mysterious for ancient people to watch plants grow. Even today, as you plant and water a seed, it grows slowly but surely on its own. The same is true when we receive from God through his word. Just like watching a plant grow, growth occurs slowly. It may even take few weeks or months of time in God’s word before we notice any change, but then, to our great delight, we start to see him transforming us. Simply reading the word builds our faith (Rom. 10:17). When we sit under the word long enough, it begins to change us. It’s amazing to watch skeptics sit through several weeks or months of Bible teaching, only to discover how much it changes their attitude toward God.

The Word of God is ETERNAL

(1:24-25) “For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you.”

Peter cites Isaiah 40:6-8 to show that Scripture has an eternal impact and quality. As we read through Scripture, we are understanding the thoughts and mind of God. This means that the Bible is stable, immutable, and powerful. It is in God’s words that God discloses the great truths about the future: God’s eternal value of human beings, his imminent return, our home in heaven, etc.

Imagine a stock broker gave you a tip about an up-and-coming business. She tells you that the value of the stock is about to sky rocket in six months, and now is the time to invest. If you were confident that this information was true, you wouldn’t necessarily invest every single dollar in your possession. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to pay the bills or put food on the table for your family in the intervening months. At the same time, you would invest as much as you could in this company because of its imminent value.

The same is true for investing in eternity—only this illustration really doesn’t go far enough. What if you knew that your assets were going to be seized sometime in the next six months—but you didn’t know when? Your money could be gone at any minute. Wouldn’t it make sense to invest your money before it’s too late? Peter says that the same is true of the human condition. We are like grass that “withers” and “fades” (cf. Jas. 1:10-11). We are facing the certainty of death, and we don’t know when our time will be up. It only makes sense to invest our time, talent, and treasure in eternity now before it’s too late.

1 Peter 2

Our role is to CHANGE OUR ATTITUDE in order to receive from God’s word

(2:1) “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”

Peter describes a necessary prerequisite as we come to the word. We need to have the right attitude, desiring to hear from God. We need a willingness to follow God to benefit from the word. These things (“malice… deceit… hypocrisy… envy… slander”) can cloud our view of the word, which is mentioned in verse 2 (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). When you approach the Bible, do you want to hear from God? Or have you made your mind up already on your own views of the world? The Bible is not a magic book of incantations; it is a living a breathing document. When we are in a state of heinous, stubborn, and unrepentant sin, our minds are clouded. We can’t expect to hear from God in such a condition. Instead, we need to come to the Bible in faith, surrendering our stubborn way of life.

“Putting aside” (apotithēmi) implies that we need to drop a number of poisonous attitudes that can inhibit the word. Peter uses the same language as Paul: putting off and putting on. This isn’t self-willed change, but instead, we put off the old self by turning to the truth of Scripture. As we read, study, and meditate on what God says about us, God works in us to effect change (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22, 25; Col. 3:8; Heb. 12:1; Jas. 1:21).

“Malice” (kakia) means “a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition” (BDAG).

“Deceit” (dolos) refers to “taking advantage through craft and underhanded methods” (BDAG, p.256).

“Hypocrisy” (hupokrisis) was originally a term used for Greek actors who were “playing a stage role.” It refers to creating “a public impression that is at odds with one’s real purposes or motivations, play-acting, pretense, outward show, dissembling” (BDAG, p.1038).

“Envy” (phthonos) or jealousy (NLT) is a state of mind that is obsessed with desiring what others have. We might not actively steal what they have, but we would if there were no consequences!

“Slander” (katalalia) is “the act of speaking ill of another, evil speech, slander, defamation, detraction” (BDAG, p.519).

(2:2-3) “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

“Long for” (epipotheō) is a word that “suggests an intense personal desire (note its use in Ps. 42:1 (lxx 41:2), of longing for God; Ps. 84:2 (lxx 83:3), of longing for the courts of the Lord; also Phil. 1:8; 2:26; 2 Tim. 1:4).”[54] In contrast to the sinful attitudes of verse 1, our longing is the healthy way to approach God’s word. We can read the word, but not long for it. Longing implies a relationship—namely, longing to meet with our Heavenly Father.

This word is an imperative built on a metaphor: a nursing baby. Before we had kids, I had no idea that babies needed fed every couple of hours, and they would let you know if it had been too long! The same true for the follower of Jesus. When we drift from God’s word, we discover a breakdown in our lives that we never knew before. This dysfunctional condition was normal to us before we met Christ. But now that we have “tasted the kindness of the Lord,” such a state seems distorted and dysfunctional.

“Pure” (adolon) refers to being “unadulterated” (BDAG, p.21). Unlike us (v.1), God’s word contains no errors, deceit, or falsehoods.

“Word” (logikon) is the root from which we get our English term “logic” or “logical.” Indeed the term used by ancient Greek philosophers to refer to a rational person or using rational speech.[55] Paul is the only other NT author to use this term when writes that sacrificing our lives for Christ is our “spiritual [logikon] service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). In our estimation, Peter could be using this term as a deliberate contrast to babies who desperately need to grow in wisdom, intellect, and knowledge. Schreiner writes, “The means by which God sanctifies believers is through the mind, through the continued proclamation of the word. Spiritual growth is not primarily mystical but rational, and rational in the sense that it is informed and sustained by God’s word.”[56]

Paul and the author of Hebrews use the word “milk” to describe the immaturity of their readers with regard to the word (1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12-13). They contrast “milk” with “solid food.” But that is not Peter’s usage here.[57] Peter uses the same terms, but he is referring positively to these believers—young or old—to all dive deeply and regularly into the word.

Babies don’t make themselves grow. Instead they cry out for their mother’s milk, and the milk grows them quickly. Indeed, my son nearly tripled in size from his birth until his first birthday. The same is true of us when trying to grow spiritually.

Discussion Questions

Read 1:22-2:3. What do we learn about the Bible from this section?

Read 1:23-25. Why do you think Peter compares studying the Bible to plants growing? In what ways is reading the Bible similar to growing grass? In what ways is it different?

Read 2:2. Why do you think Peter compares studying the Bible to a baby drinking his mother’s milk? In what ways is this similar? In what ways is it different?

What is our role in reading the word versus God’s role in speaking to us?

(1 Pet. 2:4-10) Christian community

Peter has already addressed the great privileges that come from being a Christian (1 Pet. 1:1-12), the importance of the mind in appropriating and applying these timeless truths (1 Pet. 1:13-22), and consequently, our essential need for the Bible in spiritual growth (1 Pet. 1:23-2:3). What comes next? It shouldn’t surprise us that Peter addresses our need for other Christians. We can’t grow spiritually on our own. We need other Christians! As we look at this passage, we can ask three central questions:

(1) What is the Church? (vv.4-6)

(2) How do we become a part of the Church? (vv.7-9a)

(3) What is our mission as a Church? (vv.9b-10)

(1) What is the Church?

Imagine interviewing people on the street, and asking, “I say church… you say… what?” Many people would think of a highly adorned building fixed with crosses and beautiful architecture; others would think of worship services; still others would think of boredom. Surprisingly, all of these images come from Christian culture, and none come from the pages of Bible! Consider how Peter explains this often misunderstood subject.

(2:4) “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God.”

“Coming to Him.” This participle describes how we come to Jesus—not to the physical Temple—to enter God’s presence. Jesus is the true Temple.[58]

“Living stone.” The Temple in the OT was a beautiful architectural structure, but it was only a foreshadowing of what would come about in Christ. Just as people would gather in the Temple to meet with the raw experience of God, now people come directly to the New Temple: Jesus Christ. He is not made of dead inert rocks like the old Temple of Solomon or Herod. Rather, he is a “living stone.” Most commentators connect this with Jesus’ resurrection. Stones and rocks are dead, but Jesus is alive. Grudem writes, “The fact that Christ is the living stone shows at once his superiority to an Old Testament temple made of dead stones, and reminds Christians that there can be no longing for that old way of approach to God, for this way is far better.”[59]

“Rejected by men… choice and precious in the sight of God.” Even if seven billion people reject Jesus, God’s view far outweighs the scales. Peter appeals to Psalm 118:22 to show that people can reject what God considers costly. Peter appealed to this verse in Acts 4:11 to argue that Jesus is the only way to find forgiveness from God. Indeed, Peter likely learned to use this citation, because Jesus himself used it (cf. Mt. 21:42; Mk. 12:10­-11; Lk. 20:17).

(2:5) “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

“You also, as living stones.” In the OT, people gathered to the Temple to experience God. Here, we see that this was also a foreshadowing of the Church. We are the Temple. Hence, when people want to see what God is like, they gather in Christian community. That is, instead of seeing God in a stone building, people currently see God in the lives and faces of Christians.

“Being built up as a spiritual house.” This isn’t an imperative (contra NRSV), but a passive verb, making it an indicative. God is building believers as the new Temple of the Holy Spirit.

“For a holy priesthood.” Peter begins to mix his metaphors here. Not only are believers in Jesus the Temple, but we also serve in the Temple. In the old covenant, only the Levites (one of the tribes of Israel) could be priests. They would take people’s sacrifices to the Temple to make the people right with God. But now, Peter says that all believers in Jesus are priests.

“To offer up spiritual sacrifices.” In our estimation, the “spiritual sacrifices” refer primarily to evangelism (cf. 2:9-10). That is, we bring non-believers into the presence of God through evangelism, making them right with Him.

(2:6) “For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’”

How is Christian community similar to a Temple?

The most essential stone in the Temple was the cornerstone. Ancient architects took time to select a perfect cornerstone that would serve as the plumb line for the rest of the structure. It was massive in weight, perfect in its angles, and solid in its foundation.

Building on this concept, Peter states that Jesus is our cornerstone (v.6). Paul writes, “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

The rocks that make up the Temple are all heavy and valuable. Labor was cheap in the ancient world, but not stone. Kings would bring in working men from all across the nation to gather, transport, and place these heavy stones into place.

Similarly, Peter calls Christians “living stones” (v.5). Just as Jesus is the ultimate “living stone” (v.4), we are little “living stones” (v.5) who possess incredible value. God moved heaven and earth to bring each Christian into this new Temple.

The Temple requires an Architect. When we look the size, scope, and specificity of a Temple, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that someone designed it. The stones didn’t just happen to fall into perfect places, but rather, they were intricately designed to fulfill a specific purpose.

In the same way, we “are being built up as a spiritual house” (v.5). Since this is a passive verb, it implies that Someone is doing the building, placing us exactly where he wants us. As Paul writes, “God has put each part just where he wants it” (1 Cor. 12:18). My role, my function, and my location are not some cosmic accident. Rather, God placed me to play an important part.

Each stone in a Temple has significance. How does a Temple compare with just a pile of rocks on the ground? If you took away a rock from the pile of rocks, what would you have left? A pile of rocks! The picture wouldn’t change all that much. But if you took away a stone from a Temple wall, it would be a disaster.

The same is true for a Christian’s involvement in community. Sadly, in many churches today, no one even knows your name, and wouldn’t notice if you weren’t there. How different this is from the biblical picture! In Peter’s mind, each stone needs to be in place, holding up its part of the wall.

Each stone in the Temple is unique and diverse. Modern builders use bricks stamped out of a mold. They are all uniform and identical. Not so with ancient builders. Ancient stones were hewn with distinction, and any two stones were not the same in size, shape, and weight.

We see the same phenomenon in Christian community. We each have different strengths, different gifts, and different backgrounds. Christianity isn’t for one racial or ethnic group, but it is comprised of all different types of people, coming together to create a beautiful creation.

The whole is greater than its parts. Separately, a bunch of stones doesn’t add up to much. It’s just an eyesore hogging up the ground. But a carefully crafted Temple? It’s breathtaking and beautiful! It’s only as the rocks are shaped and formed together that we see its beauty.

The same is true for Christians. As an individual, we might not look like much, but when we gather together for one purpose in love, we stand out (Jn. 13:34-35; 17:21-23; Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 14:23-25). I’ve often heard people say, “I don’t believe in Christianity, but I’ve never seen anything like this group. You guys are really great people!” Whenever I hear this, I hasten to say, “No, no, no. I think you must be confused. It’s not us! We didn’t teleport from some other dimension. We’re just like anybody else. I think what you’re sensing is God working in and through the people here.”

(2) How do we become a part of the Church?

Many people believe that we become a Christian by choosing a good church. But this is backward: We choose Christ and we become the Church—the mystical union of believers in Christ. Moreover, Peter tells us what it means to come to choose Christ in this way.

(2:6) “For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’”

(2:6) Why does Peter add “on him” to Isaiah 28:16?

(2:7) “This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone.’”

(2:7) Did Peter properly cite Psalm 118:22 (c.f. Mt. 21:42)?

“For you who believe.” This doesn’t say, “For those whose parents are Christians” or “For those who go to church.” Merely entering a church doesn’t make you a Christian: You can stand in a garage, but that doesn’t make you a mechanic; you can stand in a kitchen, but that doesn’t make you a chef; you can wear a tutu, but that doesn’t make you a ballerina! In the same way, you can stand in a church, but this doesn’t make you a Christian. Many people have been “going to church” for their entire lives, but they have never heard this message.

“For those who disbelieve.” We have a choice to make, and the stakes are high. You wouldn’t want to be wrong about this, minimize this, or ignore this. If we choose to reject Christ, then we will face judgment.

(2:8) “And, ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

(2:8) Does this passage teach that some people are “appointed” to hell?

(3) What is our mission as the Church?

(2:9) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” Jesus is God’s “choice” (eklektos), and because he is our “living stone,” we are also “chosen” (eklektos). Peter is drawing all of this imagery from the OT (Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; Isa. 43:20-21; Hos. 2:25), where God chose the Jewish people to be a light to the world. How do we do this?

“So that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Some massively misunderstand this text. The NIV doesn’t capture this passage correctly when it states that we should “declare the praises of [God].” This makes it sound like God moved heaven and earth to bring us together to… sing. But as we argue below, this term “excellencies” (aretē) refers to moral virtue—not praise. Hence, our mission as a church is to share about the goodness of God with those who don’t know him.

(2:9) Is our mission “singing and praise” or “evangelism?”

(2:9) Are Christians “chosen” for heaven?

(2:10) “For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

In order to inspire us to share about the goodness of God, Peter cites Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 (cf. Rom. 9:25-26). In the context of Hosea 1-2, God explains how the northern kingdom (Israel) has already been invaded and judged. Then he explains how the southern kingdom will likewise be judged. Yet in these two passages, God tells the people that he will never abandon them. Even though they were being judged, he promises to return to them.

Conclusions

The church is not a place. It’s people.

Our primary purpose on Earth is to share Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness with a hurting world.

We do not become a Christian by joining a church, but by personally trusting in Christ. If you make that decision, you will never regret it! As Peter writes, “He who believes in Him will not be disappointed” (1 Pet. 2:6).

Discussion Questions

Based on verse 5: Why does Peter compare the Christian community to a temple? In what ways is the Church like the Temple in the Old Testament? Possible answers below:

  • The best stone in a Temple is the cornerstone. Jesus is the best of the living stones and structures the rest of us in line with him.
  • Each rock is heavy and valuable.
  • A temple is different than a pile of rocks. If a stone is missing from a pile of stones, no one misses it. If a stone is missing from the middle of a temple, the entire edifice will crumble! Likewise, in Christian community, we need each other to show up and use our gifts (Heb. 10:25).
  • Each stone is uniquely hewn and placed with distinction (1 Cor. 12:18).
  • Each stone holds up other stones (i.e. each has a role).
  • A temple needs an Architect. God is the Great Architect that places us together in Christian community (1 Cor. 12:18).

Based on verse 9: What might happen if our church turned inward and lost its zeal for reaching lost people for Christ?

George Barna wrote, “There has been ‘no growth’ in the proportion of the adult population that can be classified as [Bible-believing] Christian. The proportion of… Christians has remained constant at 32%.”[60] Why do you think Christianity is growing in other parts of the world, but has screeched to a halt in the United States? How might our topic tonight play a role in assessing this pressing issue?

Based on verse 7: People are still stumbled by the Cross of Christ today. How would you react to these statements from critics and skeptics of the Christian faith who reject the importance of the Cross of Christ?

John Shelby Spong (retired Episcopal bishop): “Seldom did Christians pause to recognize the ogre into which they had turned God. A human father who would nail his son to a cross for any purpose would be arrested for child abuse. Yet that continued to be said of God as if it made God more holy and more worthy of worship.”[61]

Julie M. Hopkins: “It is morally abhorrent to claim that God the Father demanded the self-sacrifice of his only Son to balance the scales of justice… A god who punished through pain, despair and violent death is not a god of love, but a sadist and despot.”[62]

Christopher Hitchens: “I am told of a human sacrifice that took place two thousand years ago, without my wishing it and in circumstances so ghastly that, had I been present and in possession of any influence, I would have been duty-bound to try and stop it. In consequence of this murder, my own manifold sins are forgiven me, and I may hope to enjoy everlasting life.”[63]

(1 Pet. 2:11-17) Submission to the Government

As Peter wrote this letter, one-third of the population were slaves. Emperor Nero—a homicidal maniac—sat on the throne in Rome. On July 11, AD 64, Nero started a great fire in Rome,[64] and he did so in order to create real estate for his building projects. As the inferno decimated the city of Rome, mysterious gangs (sent from Nero?) stopped anyone from putting out the fire.[65] After public upheaval, Nero needed a scapegoat, and he blamed the fire on the burgeoning Christian community. He arrested Christians in the city of Rome, lighting them on fire to illuminate his garden parties.[66]

At one point, Nero even castrated a young boy named Sporus, and then married him publicly.[67] Apparently, he did this because Sporus looked like his dead wife, Sabina, and Nero would even call the young boy by his dead wife’s name.[68] It’s into this setting that Peter writes his letter on how to navigate such a fallen world.

(2:11) “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”

Why does Peter refer to Christians as aliens and strangers? We are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20); we have transferred from this world (1 Jn. 5:19) into God’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). Since we have this new identity, we aren’t going to fit in with the world—just as Christ didn’t fit in (Jn. 15:18).

Our first lesson of living in a fallen world doesn’t begin outside in the world, but inside our own heart. Before we’re ready to take a stand in the public arena, we need to see our identity as belonging to another world: The New Heavens and Earth. Once we see our citizenship firmly established in eternity, we see our world through new eyes.

“Fleshly lusts” (epithumia) comes from the two root words roots epi (“over” or “on”) and thumia (“desire”). Thus, this is an “over desire.” We could translate this as a “great desire” or “inordinate” desire (BDAG). Peter already spoke to this in 1 Peter 1:14, where we studied how our passions can become so out of control that they end up controlling us. Indeed, Peter states that our own passions “wage war” (strateuō) against our souls. This is obviously a military term, and what is interesting is the fact that our own lusts are seen as the enemy that is killing us.

(2:12) “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Peter likely took this concept directly from Jesus himself, when he said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16). The best weapon against slander is a lifestyle of love and good deeds. It’s hard to continue slandering people when we see that they are good and loving people. The Roman Emperor Julian (AD 332-363) wrote,

Atheism [i.e. Christian faith] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well, while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.[69]

“Glorify God in the day of visitation.” This must mean that these good deeds played a role in leading these people to faith. “Glorifying God” is most often closely associated with coming to faith (Acts 13:48; Rom. 4:20; 15:7, 9; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; 2 Thess. 3:1; Rev. 5:12-13). Indeed, a little common sense is in order: There is no way that these non-Christians would be “glorifying God” at the end of history if he was sending them to hell! Hence, this is an evangelistic passage.[70]

(2:13-14) “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”

First, submission is not absolute. Peter was not naïve about the evil of human government: The authorities killed Jesus, and they killed James of Zebedee (Acts 12:2). Within a few years of writing this letter, the Roman government had him executed (1 Clement 5:4-5). Peter writes that the ideal of government is the “punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.” God instituted government, but not its corruption. Moreover, government is far superior to anarchy.

We should not obey any government mandate that requires us to do something immoral (see Prioritized Ethics). For instance, “Peter and John answered [the authorities] and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). Later, “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29; cf. Acts 17:6-7). Truly, it is “impossible to imagine that one would obey commands that contravened God’s dictates ‘for the Lord’s sake.’”[71]

Second, submission is subtly subversive. In a culture that venerated the emperor as a god, Peter offered a subversive message: The king was just a creation of the one true God. Indeed, Peter’s expression “every human institution” (pasē anthrōpinē ktisei) is literally “every human creature.”[72] Josephus uses this to refer to the settlements of Jewish exiles (Antiquities, 18.373), and Plutarch also used this term to refer to cities (Moralia 435D). So, while “institution” is a good translation, Peter seems to be alluding to the fact that these are all mere creations—not the Creator. As Schreiner comments, “Peter reminded his readers at the outset that rulers are merely creatures, created by God and existing under his lordship.”[73]

Third, submission is the best way for the gospel to thrive under a tyrannical government. Peter writes that we are supposed to submit “for the Lord’s sake.” This seems to mean that we are submitting to advance the cause of Christ—not our own selfish agenda. We are freely choosing to surrender our rights in order to advance God’s will on Earth. By refusing the path of sedition or revolution, Christians would avoid drawing attention to themselves, and consequently, they would avoid far worse persecution. We might not like submission, but it looks quite good compared to persecution!

Fourth, submission is an act of strength—not cowardice. In God’s eyes, we are “free men,” and ultimately, “servants of God” (v.16 NIV). We belong to his kingdom in heaven (v.11). Yet, we freely choose to submit “for the Lord’s sake.” It’s quite easy to respond with hatred, contempt, and violence when we are hurt. Yet this isn’t brave, but brutal. Peter advocates a far more difficult and courageous path: Freely choosing to submit our rights in order to proliferate the cause of Christ on Earth.

For a more robust response to this subject, see our earlier article “Social Ethics” and our comments on Romans 13:1-7.

(2:15) “For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

It would’ve been easy for the surrounding culture to believe that Christians were seditious insurgents. Yet when they showed their love for the world, it had a silencing effect on their slander. Moreover, by submitting to the government, Christians “demonstrate that they are good citizens, not anarchists.”[74]

(2:16) “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.”

Peter states that we have a choice in this matter. Will we choose to use our freedom for “evil,” or to benefit the cause of Christ?

(2:17) “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

“Honor all people.” The term “honor” (timaō) means “the recognition of the value of each man in his place as the creature of God.”[75] This is because all people are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

“Love the brotherhood.” Earlier, Peter wrote, “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). Instead of focusing our mental, physical, and emotional energy on the government, we should keep our focus on building up the people God has placed in our lives.

“Fear God, honor the king.” This is quite different than the OT, where we read, “Fear the LORD and the king [of Israel]” (Prov. 24:21). Here, Peter only says to fear God—not the king (cf. 1 Pet. 1:17). Moreover, the “king” is honored alongside “all people.” This shows that he is one of many. In fact, Peter tells us not to fear fellow humans: “Do not fear their intimidation” (1 Pet. 3:14; cf. 1 Pet. 3:6). Thus, Peter “subtly implies that, contrary to the claims of Roman emperors to be divine, the emperor was by no means equal to God or worthy of the fear due to God alone.”[76] To summarize, we should reserve “love” for God’s people and “fear” for God alone (cf. Mt. 10:28).

(1 Pet. 2:18-25) Submission to Slave Masters

See our earlier article, “The Bible and Slavery.”

(2:18-19) “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”

“Servants” (oiketēs) is not the common term “slave” (doulos). But given the context, these terms are “nearly synonymous.”[77] Yet, the institution of Greco-Roman slavery wasn’t equivalent to slavery in the antebellum South.

First, slaves were not uneducated or unskilled laborers. Slaves were often “managers, overseers, and trained members of the various professions (doctors, nurses, teachers, musicians, skilled artisans).”[78]

Second, Roman law regulated the treatment of slaves. Indeed, slaves were “normally paid for their services and could expect eventually to purchase their freedom.”[79]

Third, slaves could purchase their freedom. This occurred through what is called manumission. Though this was rare,[80] it is different from modern day slavery.

Fourth, slavery was not based on race—but class. Roughly 25% of the Roman Empire were slaves, and this class consisted of various ethnicities.

“Be submissive to your masters with all respect.” The “respect” (phobos) mentioned here is the fear of God—not the masters—as the context makes clear: “For the sake of conscience towards God (v.19).

This is not absolute submission. Peter’s point is that a slave cannot be exempt from serving if his master was evil. Schreiner gives an apt analogy: “A secretary cannot refuse to type a letter for a manager simply because the manager is an evil person. Refusal to type the letter would be defensible only if the contents of the letter are evil.”[81]

“Unreasonable” (skolios) is the root for “scoliosis,” which is a twisting and curvature of the spine. Here, it refers to “being morally bent or twisted, crooked, unscrupulous, dishonest” (BDAG, p.930). Clearly, these masters were evil men.

“For this finds favor.” The word “favor” (charis) is normally translated as “grace” in the NT, and it is an inclusio with the final clause of verse 20. By serving their masters in love, slaves showed grace to these unrighteous people.

“If for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.” This demonstrates that the principle of serving love applies to all believers—not just slaves. It also shows that the Christian actively turns to God during suffering (“conscience toward God”), rather than passively accepting it. This rules out any forms of “resentment, rebelliousness, self-pity, or despair.”[82]

Silence is not affirmation. The NT never commends the institution—nor does it give theological reasons for the submission of slaves. This is because it is not rooted “in the created order, as if slavery is an institution ordained by God.”[83]

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”

It’s easy to be patient when we suffer for our own sin, but not when it’s due to the sin of others. This is true patience! This parallels Jesus’ teaching on loving others. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount” (Lk. 6:32-34).

See our earlier article, “The Bible and Slavery.”

(2:21) “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.”

Christ is the ultimate example of suffering under the regime of an unjust religious and political system. Jesus didn’t cry, “It’s not fair!” as the nails were being driven into his hands. Instead, he yelled, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34).

(2:22) “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.”

Peter cites Isaiah 53:9. His argument is that Jesus suffered the ultimate injustice at the Cross. Yet, he refused to sin against his enemies. Really, this entire section is drawing from the description of Jesus in Isaiah’s Servant Songs.

(2:23) “And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Jesus didn’t retaliate. Instead, he trusted God for his vindication. As followers of Jesus, our worldview teaches that the scales of justice will be balanced in the end (cf. Rom. 12:19-20).

(2:24) “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

Peter cites Isaiah 53:4, 11-2. The use of the word “cross” (xylon) is not the typical word, and is more accurately translated “tree” (NIV). This is an allusion to Deuteronomy 21:23, where Jesus was the bearer of the curse of God.

(2:25) “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Peter reminds us that we were all crooked sinners before we met Christ. He also reminds us that we have no human owner. Rather, God is the “Shepherd and Guardian of [our] souls.”

Discussion Questions

Based on verse 12: What are some healthy ways we can respond to slander when we encounter it? (Possible answers)

  • Expect it (2 Tim. 3:12; Rom. 3:8)
  • Do your fair share of communicating (Prov. 26:4-5; 1 Cor. 4:13)
  • Don’t dwell on it (Phil. 4:12)
  • Be proactive with good deeds
  • Don’t be intimidated, but argue your case (1 Pet. 3:14-15)

How might God use persecution to further spread the gospel?

Read verses 18-20. What is the difference between voluntarily suffering and being a passive doormat that people walk all over? Is Peter prescribing weaknesses here?

1 Peter 3

(1 Pet. 3:1-9) Submission in Marriage

Summary. Peter was writing into a specific historical context: Christian women were married to unbelieving husbands in a society that didn’t tolerate women having their own religious views or their own friends. Thus, if a Christian woman was leaving for a Bible study, this would bring heavy suspicion from an unbelieving husband. Furthermore, if the woman was dressed up as she was leaving the home (vv.3-4), this would bring even further suspicion regarding potential adultery. Peter writes to women in this historical and cultural context to show them how to honor God in a broken marriage. His ultimate solution is for Christian wives to voluntarily submit to their husbands, rather than being disrespectful, demeaning, or domineering. Finally, Peter exhorts husbands to treat their wives with this same attitude of love and honor. (For more detail regarding the historical and cultural context, see comments on 1 Peter 3:1.)

(3:1-2) “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

What does it mean for wives to submit to their husbands?

Peter writes, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands.” But what exactly does it mean for wives to “be submissive”? For clarity, we should begin by clearly defining what this does not mean:

(1) Submission does not mean inequality. Paul writes, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28; cf. Gen. 1:27). Peter writes that a wife is a “fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7). The man is no more superior in value to his wife, than the Father is superior to Christ (1 Cor. 11:3). Indeed, both husbands and wives need one another deeply. Paul writes, “In the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman” (1 Cor. 11:11).

(2) Submission does not mean that a woman should submit to every man. Paul writes, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands” (Eph. 5:22). There is no place in Scripture where we read that a woman needs to submit to the authority of every man—only her husband. Obviously, this is because the husband has a loving relationship with her, while the other 3.5 billion men on Earth do not.

(3) Submission does not mean unqualified authority. The Bible never affirms unqualified submission to anyone other than God himself. In other words, both spouses submit to God and his will as revealed in Scripture. This means that if a husband told his wife to do something immoral, then the wife would actually be morally bound before God to disobey.

(4) Submission does not mean patriarchal domineering. The Bible simply doesn’t define leadership as authoritarian. In fact, Jesus defines leadership as humble sacrificial love (Mk. 10:42-45). Indeed, this is how Paul describes the responsibility of husbands: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her… Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Eph. 5:25, 28). Elsewhere, he writes, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them” (Col. 3:19). Peter writes that husbands should be gentle to their wives and show them “honor” (1 Pet. 3:7). Here is a clear picture of the Bible’s view of leadership: sacrificial and costly love for the sake of the other.

(5) Submission is never forced or involuntary. Wives need to wrestle before God over this passage, because God wrote this directly to them. It’s as if God mailed a letter to wives, and they need to read this and voluntarily respond in faith. But it would be inappropriate for husbands to “read the mail” of their wives, because this isn’t addressed to them. Instead, husbands need to focus on being the best leaders that they can be in the home. That is, they need to “read their own mail” in verse 7, and make that their focus. Hence, Schreiner writes, “Voluntary submission is in view here. Husbands do not have the responsibility to ensure that wives submit to them.”[84] Indeed, no leaders have the authority to coerce or force others to follow their leadership.

People in our culture assume that leadership refers to power and authority, but under the biblical definition, leadership means sacrificing our needs and desires for the good of the other. Consequently, as the leader in the marriage, the husband is responsible to initiate love; he needs to be the first to apologize when wrong; and he needs to take responsibility for making difficult decisions that aren’t clearly defined in Scripture. When we properly understand the biblical view of leadership in marriage, we find that this isn’t a privilege for the husband; instead, it is a serious and sobering responsibility! By contrast, we can capture various principles of what it means for wives to submit to the leadership of their husbands.

Why should wives submit to their husbands?

Disrespectful wives would result in persecution. In this historical setting, a disrespectful wife was seen as a threat to the social order. Jobes writes, “The Egyptian Isis cult was viewed as a threat to the Roman way of life because it permitted a woman authority over her husband.”[85] As Peter has been arguing all along, Christians need to submit to the authorities in order to avoid persecution. This included submitting to the government (1 Pet. 2:13), as well as to slave masters (1 Pet. 2:18). Peter doesn’t approve of totalitarian governments, nor does he approve of slavery. But what should people do in such situations? Rebel? Revolt? Such a response would only lead to worse suffering and the stomping out of the burgeoning Christian movement.

All Christians are told to submit to one another in love—not just wives. Paul writes, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21). Submission isn’t a form of weakness, but a heroic act of love.

The husbands in this passage are unbelievers. Indeed, Jobes,[86] Schreiner[87] and Grudem[88] all agree that this is the case. Peter writes that the goal of submission is to “win” the husbands who “are disobedient to the word” (cf. 1 Pet. 2:8). This implies that these are non-Christian husbands whom the wives are trying to lead to faith in Christ. According to Peter, the best way to win an unbelieving husband is through a loving lifestyle (“observe your chaste and respectful behavior”).

The spread of Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness is the ultimate value of every dedicated Christian. Women in this situation yearn for their unbelieving spouses to come to faith. This is why Peter tells these women to do whatever they can (barring disobedience to Jesus) in order to win their husbands to faith.

How should wives win their husbands to faith?

(3:1-2) “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

#1. Follow the example of Jesus (v.1). Peter states that wives should submit “in the same way” that Jesus submitted to sinners (1 Pet. 2:21-25). Jesus doesn’t just offer us ethics to follow, but instead, he gives us a perfect example. Rather than be domineering or asserting his authority, Jesus showed how to submit to others for the purpose of the highest ethic: love. Far from being weak, Christian women were demonstrating the same courage of Jesus by loving their husbands.

#2. Live a lifestyle that is attractive and winsome (vv.2-4). Earlier, Peter wrote, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12; cf. 3:16). The same principle is in view here—namely, wives should win their husbands through their works—not just their words. Schreiner comments, “Unbelieving husbands may be alienated by wives who constantly beg them to become Christians. A better course is to live a faithful Christian life, and as they see the transformation of their wives, they are more likely to be inclined to adopt the faith of their wives.”[89] Peter expands on this principle in several specific ways:

“Chaste… behavior” (hagnos) refers to being “pure” (BDAG, p.13). Men can easily be insecure, jealous, and even paranoid that their wives are being faithful to them. This was especially true in the first-century world (see below for more detail). By being “pure” in their lifestyle, these righteous women would demonstrate their fidelity and commitment to their husbands. This virtue would be incredible medicine to soothe the fragile ego of an unbelieving husband.

“Respectful behavior.” Women often don’t realize that men are quite insecure. Much of their blustering and boasting comes from a place of profound fragility—not confidence. Most men won’t admit it openly, but they desperately and deeply desire the affirmation and encouragement of their wives. Genesis refers to Eve as Adam’s “helper” (Gen. 2:18). Far from being demeaning, this implies that men need help! By demeaning and disrespecting their husbands, wives only negatively contribute to their insecurity. In our poisoned thinking, we think that we can gain respect by disrespecting our spouse. This leads to a vicious cycle of verbal abuse, and never results in a peaceful marriage.

We aren’t being strong when we are rude and belittling to our spouse. Disrespect comes naturally to us. Instead, it takes a heroic act of strength to be respectful and supportive toward our spouse—especially when they deserve it the least. Wives can break this toxic cycle of contempt by showing “respectful behavior” to their husbands.

(3:3-4) “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses. 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

#3. Avoid needless suspicion. Men in the first-century interpreted cosmetics and beautification to be a sign of infidelity or promiscuity (see 1 Peter 3:3). Thus, if a wife dressed up to go out to her Bible study, the husband would be suspicious and jealous. Imagine this scenario for a moment to capture what this might’ve been like:

UNBELIEVING HUSBAND: “Where are you going, honey?”

CHRISTIAN WIFE: “I’m just meeting up with my Christian friends for a Bible study this afternoon.”

UNBELIEVING HUSBAND: “Again? How many of these are you going to go to every week? And why do you feel the need to do your hair, wear your necklaces, and put on your best clothes before you leave the house? And is that Chanel Number 9 that I smell…?”

CHRISTIAN WIFE: “Honey, don’t be paranoid! The people there are really great.”

UNBELIEVING HUSBAND: “People? Does that mean that there are men at these Bible studies too?”

CHRISTIAN WIFE: “Yes, men and women are both people! And yes, both come to our house church. What’s the problem?”

UNBELIEVING HUSBAND: “The problem is that my wife leaves the house multiple days a week, and she’s dressed up so she can spend time with a bunch of men that I don’t know!”

(Didn’t we say that men have fragile egos and deep insecurity?) In this culture, women would engender an enormous amount of persecution from their unbelieving husbands if a scenario like this transpired. Consequently, Peter redirects Christian women toward what is truly important: a virtuous character of love.

#4. Trust in your love—not in your looks. Christian wives may have thought that their outward beauty would be the way to win their husbands. Perhaps they believed that being physically attractive was a form of power and influence. How sad that not much has changed in 2,000 years. Today, our culture places tremendous pressure on women to look airbrushed to perfection. But Peter doesn’t objectify women in this way. Instead, the character of a woman is the ultimate commodity:

“Gentle” (praüs) is not a term of weakness. Jesus described himself as “gentle” (Mt. 5:5; 11:29; 21:5). This term means “not insistent on one’s own rights… not pushy, not selfishly assertive… not demanding one’s own way.”[90]

“Quiet” (hesuchios) means “quiet, well-ordered.” This likely relates to winning their husbands “without a word by [their] behavior” (v.1).

“Precious in the sight of God.” The term “precious” (polyteles) shows the true value of a woman. Her loving character is “precious” and “imperishable.” Her looks and clothing are not. The Proverbs state, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels… Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:10, 30).

(3:5-6) “For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. 6 Just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

Sarah called Abraham “lord” in Genesis 18:12. She did this behind his back as she was talking to herself. Peter seems to be noting that Sarah had a high respect for her husband, even when he wasn’t around (see comments on 1 Peter 3:6 for more detail).

#5. Trust in God—not people. Peter extols those women of the past “who hoped in God.” The reason that these women submitted to their husbands was vertical—not horizontal. This is an active participle, which implies ongoing and repeated hope. Moreover, these wives should not be “frightened by any fear.” It would be quite easy for wives to be afraid of their unbelieving husbands. But we are not supposed to fear humans (1 Pet. 3:14), only God (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:17). Women in difficult marriages shouldn’t simply submit to loving their husbands externally; rather, they should be bold and courageous internally.

How should husbands treat their wives?

(3:7) “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

Husbands should love their wives “in the same way” as Jesus loved us. The same language applies to both men and women (v.1, 7). This implies that husbands should care for their wives with all of the love, humility, and kindness that Jesus showed humans in dying on the Cross (1 Pet. 2:21-25).

Husbands should be “understanding” toward their wives. The term “understanding” (gnōsin) could refer to loving their wives according to the “knowledge” of God, as revealed in Scripture.[91] On the other hand, it could refer to a husband deeply understanding his wife (e.g. her needs, desires, longings, goals, etc.). Or perhaps, both are in view—namely, husbands should gain an understanding of God and learn to be understanding of their wives.[92]

Husbands should be gentle—not domineering. Peter states the obvious that men are generally stronger than their wives (“husbands… live with your wives… as with someone weaker”). Like holding an expensive piece of art in your hands, a husband is to treat his wife with the utmost care. Many grew up with fathers who used their strength to intimidate or frighten the family. But a godly father and husband uses his strength to provide security and safety for his wife and children.

Husbands should treat their wives as those who possess inestimable value. Peter states that wives should receive “honor” (timēn), which is the same word he uses for Jesus receiving honor from the Father (2 Pet. 1:17). Husbands need to honor their wives for what they are—not for what they do. That is, they are a “a fellow heir of the grace of life.” They are equals who are created in the image of God, and people for whom Jesus died. Schreiner comments, “The admonition to husbands to honor their wives is unique in Greco-Roman literature.”[93]

If the husband hurts his wife, he hurts himself. God will refuse to answer the prayers of a man who treats his wife like trash (“so that your prayers will not be hindered”). Paul writes, “Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself” (Eph. 5:28). In other passages, elders are not fit to lead the church, if they do not lead their households well (1 Tim. 3:4-5).

EXCURSUS: What does it practically mean for a husband to lead his wife, and for a wife to submit to her husband?[94]

The husband cannot justify leadership decisions that are selfish, entitled, or authoritarian. The husband is called to lead and love his wife in the way that Jesus leads and loves the Church (Eph. 5:23, 25). Jesus didn’t live to “please himself” (Rom. 15:3), and any husband making selfish leadership decisions in the home has immediately disqualified himself as a leader. Put simply, the husband should only use his authority only for the sake of God’s will, which is always “good, pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2 NIV). Thus, his decision should ultimately be in the best interest of his wife and family—not self-interest.

The wife should be actively involved in decision-making—not passive or compliant. The wife should express herself and her thoughts regarding decisions in her marriage and family. She should appeal to Scripture, reason, and Christian community. Dialogue, discussion, and debate should accompany difficult decisions that confront a husband and wife. Moreover, the husband should be humble enough to listen to his wife, as both strive to be “subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21).

The Bible doesn’t teach that wives should submit because they are naturally indecisive, emotionally driven, less wise, etc. Sometimes, the wife is more decisive than her husband. Other times, the wife has a gift of leadership that her husband does not. In such cases, the husband should be a good leader by deferring to his wife’s input, instincts, and intellect if he thinks this is best.

The husband should only exercise leadership with “grey issues” or confusing judgment calls. If someone in the marriage doesn’t have the authority to make a decision, then this would result in a persistent gridlock or stalemate, where no decisions are made. After all, when a couple is at an impasse, it isn’t as though they can take a vote! Instead, someone needs to bear the responsibility to make a difficult judgment call, and the husband needs to bravely decide in faith, while also taking responsibility for whatever call he thought was best.

The husband should not be exercising his authority frequently. Good leaders seek to persuade those they lead through their godly example, prayer, and sound reasoning. The husband should invest in his wife spiritually, emotionally, practically, financially, and relationally. A leader like this will not often need to exercise his prerogatives as a leader, because his family will naturally trust and desire to follow a leader like this.

Does this mean that submission in marriage is only for this specific context?

No. The rest of the NT teaches that wives should submit to the leadership of their husbands (Eph. 5:22, 24; Col. 3:18). Paul teaches mutual submission in marriage (Eph. 5:21), and husbands should lay down their desires out of deference to the needs of their wives. At the same time, we never read that husbands should submit to their wives—only the opposite. Additionally, Peter writes “even if” the husbands are unbelievers that the wives should submit. This disqualifies the idea that only unbelieving husbands are in view. Therefore, while Peter is speaking to a believing wife and an unbelieving husband, there are principles in play for God’s design of Christian marriage in general.

Discussion Questions

What are some ways we might prepare for marriage before entering into it? (Remember, it’s less about finding the right person, and more about becoming the right person.)

(1 Pet. 3:9-22) Responding to intimidation

(3:8-9) “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

These two verses stand in contrast to each other. The first is the thesis, and the second is the antithesis. Do these qualities in verse 8 describe you, or do the qualities in verse 9 describe you?

“Blessing” (eulogeo) means “to speak well of.” Thus, prayer could be in view (Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 4:12).[95] Peter likely picked up this concept of blessing those who are evil from Jesus himself (Mt. 5:44; Lk. 6:27-29, 35; 23:34; cf. Rom. 12:14, 17-21; 1 Cor. 4:12).

“That you might inherit a blessing.” Peter could be saying that we will receive this “blessing” from God in this life, and this is why he cites from Psalm 34 (vv.10-12).[96] This would also explain his use of the subjunctive (“that you might inherit a blessing”). It’s also possible that Peter is referring to the “blessing” we are glorified, and these acts of blessing would be a demonstration of our justification.[97] This latter view seems like a stretch of the text. Consequently, we hold to the former view.[98]

(3:10-12) “For, ‘The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”

Why does Peter cite Psalm 34:12-16? In the context of the psalm, David experiences a sense of relief and euphoria because he escaped death while he pretended to be insane in the court of Abimelech. David credited God with this rescue. Peter must see a similarity between our rescue from hell, and David’s rescue from death. David learned that God saved him to bring a blessing to others. The same is true for the follower of Jesus. Our desire to bless is based on the indicative that we are already blessed. Carson and Beale write, “Just as God delivered David from the dangers implicit in his sojourn among the Philistines, so also God will deliver Peter’s Christian readers from their sojourn among their pagan communities.”[99]

(3:13) “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?”

Does Peter honestly think that Christians will never face persecution? Obviously not. Peter knows that Christians will face “harm” for doing what is right (as the next verse makes clear). Instead, he is summing up the argument that he began in 2:11 onward: The Christian’s best strategy in a fallen world of government, slavery, and marriage is to “prove zealous for what is good.”

(3:14) “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled.”

Peter cites Isaiah 8:12-13. Earlier, he cited Isaiah 8:14 (1 Pet. 2:8), so he must see something in this text worthy exploring. In its original context, King Ahaz was facing military threats from the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Aram (Syria). They were threatening to depose him, and take over the Southern Kingdom of Judah. This caused Ahaz tremendous fear (Isa. 7:2) despite the fact that Isaiah the prophet was encouraging him to remain steadfast in his faith. In Isaiah 8:11-15, God tells the people to fear Him, rather than these wicked nations.

“Fear their intimidation.” Regarding fear and intimidation, John Stott writes, “Fear is like fungus: it grows most rapidly in the dark. It is essential, therefore, to bring our fears out into the light and look at them, especially in the light of the victory and supremacy of Jesus Christ. For he who died and rose has also been exalted to his Father’s right hand, and everything has been put ‘under his feet.’ So where are the things of which we were previously afraid? They are under the feet of the triumphant Christ. It is when we see them there that their power to terrify us is broken.”[100]

(3:15) “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” Rather than succumbing to fear, we need to make Jesus our focus. He needs to fill our hearts during these times. This means “to believe that Christ, not one’s human opponents, is truly in control of events,” as well as to “maintain continually a deep-seated inward confidence in Christ.”[101]

“Always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” There are many reasons for the use of apologetics. In this context, Peter states that apologetics help us from being bullied, intimidated, and pushing around. While we should never attack others, we should argue with them, provided we are being respectful and gentle.

(3:16) “Keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”

Slanderous words were the central persecution that these Christians were facing: “distresses and trials” (1 Pet. 1:6), “rejected by men” (1 Pet. 2:4), “they slander you” (1 Pet. 2:12), “insults” (1 Pet. 3:9), “intimidation” (1 Pet. 3:13), “unjust treatment” (1 Pet. 2:20), “reviled” (1 Pet. 2:22), “evil” (1 Pet. 3:9), and “harm” (1 Pet. 3:13). The goal is to silence these accusations through good deeds, leading these people to faith in Jesus (1 Pet. 2:12, 15).

(3:17) “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

If God “wills” for us to suffer, then we should be willing to stand for Christ and suffer if need be. The subsequent verses show that Jesus suffered for what was “right,” and he did this for the same reason: to bring people to God.

(3:18-20) “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” The only way for us to come to God was by Jesus taking our place at the Cross. We received his righteousness, and he received our guilt.

(3:18-20) Where did Jesus go during the three days in the grave?

(3:21) “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

(3:21) Can baptism save us?

Does this refer to water baptism or spiritual baptism? The NLT renders this as, “That water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you.” But is “water” in view here? No. The parallel is not between the water of the Flood and the water of baptism, as Peter makes clear (“not the removal of dirt”). While Grudem[102] and Schreiner[103] see water baptism here, we disagree. They see the “water” as a symbol of death, being lowered into the water in the ritual of water baptism. They defend this by erroneously appealing to Romans 6:4, which deals with spiritual baptism—not water baptism. Indeed, the non-believers were “baptized” in the water in Noah’s day! (2 Pet. 2:5) By contrast, Peter sees other parallels entirely.

The Ark protected Noah and his family from God’s judgment. In the same way, when we come to Christ, we are protected from the judgment of God through spiritual baptism into Jesus. We are put “in Christ,” and therefore, we no longer face the wrath of God. We are washed of our sins when we come to faith in Jesus (Heb. 9:14; 10:22).

Noah’s family was a minority among the people (“eight persons”). Likewise, the Christians were vastly outnumbered in the first-century world. But the majority are not always right. Truth is not up to a vote.

The people in Noah’s day wrote off God’s judgment as preposterous. After all, how could a flood come through the desert? While Noah built the Ark, Peter tells us that he was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). He was telling people about the coming judgment, but the people rejected his warnings. Noah must’ve looked silly constructing an ark in the middle of the desert. The people likely laughed at him as he built this ship. But all of this changed in a moment when the flood came. Five minutes before the Flood, the non-believers thought they were in the right. But five minutes after? It was clear that Noah’s trust in God’s word was ratified.

In the future, many people will live their lives with utter disregard for God’s judgment. Yet judgment will come nonetheless. Jesus said, “Just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building” (Lk. 17:26-28).

Noah endured this for years. It took Noah roughly a century to build the Ark. Similarly, we will need to endure over time.

Get in the boat! Just as Noah’s family needed to get into the Ark to be rescued, we need to get into the safety and security of the Cross.

(3:22) “[Jesus] is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”

Jesus currently rules and reigns at God’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Eph. 1:20-21). Everything in heaven and earth is subject to his authority. Schreiner comments, “The message for Peter’s readers is clear. In their suffering Jesus still reigns and rules. He has not surrendered believers into the power of the evil forces even if they suffer until death. Jesus by his death and resurrection has triumphed over all demonic forces, and hence by implication believers will reign together with him.”[104]

1 Peter 4

(1 Pet. 4:1-6) Arm yourself to suffer

(4:1) Can Christians gain sinless perfection?

(4:1) “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

The word “arm” (hoplisasthe) is a military word used for preparing for battle. Josephus uses it to refer to David getting ready to fight Goliath (Antiquities, 6:187). When you’re getting ready to go to war the next morning, you’re making up your mind in advance that you’re ready to fight—not retreat. For the Christian, we also decide in advance by counting the cost to serve and suffer for Christ.

(4:2) “So as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

“Lusts” (epithumia) comes from the two root words roots epi (“over” or “on”) and thumia (“desire”). Thus, this is an “over desire.” We could translate this as a “great desire” or “inordinate” desire (BDAG). Sensual experiences aren’t bad. The problem is with our supercharged desires. When we turn sensual experiences into the meaning of life, this leaves us and others to pick up the wreckage. Moreover, we find that we can’t even enjoy the pleasures the way that we used to: drinking alcohol turns into misery and addiction; sex turns into bouncing from one meaningless hookup to another; money turns into our identity in life. Activities that were intended to be pleasurable end up being intensely painful.

Peter further elaborates on what it means to “cease from sin” (v.1). This isn’t completely negative (i.e. rejecting sin), but rather, the focus is positive (i.e. living for the “will of God”). It might seem odd that Peter places this verse here (i.e. choosing for selfish lusts), but this is usually the quickest “escape plan” for the Christian during suffering. When they are in the midst of suffering, it feels easy to choose for pleasure-seeking. But Peter tells us to refrain from self-medicating or dulling our senses. Instead, willingly choose to step into battle.

(4:3) “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”

Peter argues that they have already gotten their fill of life apart from God. They’ve had enough of that, and know where it leads: despair, depression, broken relationships, etc. After all, why do people feel the need to do these things? A lack of love and purpose.

(4:4) “In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you.”

“They are surprised” (xenizontai) means that they “think it strange that Christians have forsaken their past lifestyle.”[105] So, we have two perspective in conflict: One says that orgies, drunkenness, and idol worship is strange; the other says that love and a changed life is strange.

“Run with them” (syntrechontōn) means “to be in league with, go with” or “to be in harmony with, agree with” (BDAG, p.976). The concept of “running” implies a fast, frantic, and “frenetic pace of their continually disappointing search for true pleasure.”[106]

“The same excesses of dissipation” (tēs asōtias anachysin) can be understood as a “flood of dissipation.”[107]

“They malign you” (blasphēmountes) is obviously the root word for “blasphemy” or “blaspheme.”

In its original context, these non-Christian idol worshippers hated the idea that Christians would not engage or agree with the normal social practices that were “woven into almost every dimension of their lives, from life in the home to public festivals to religious observances and even social occasions.”[108] This might be similar to living during the 1950s during Joseph Mccarthy’s “Red Scare.” It would be like seeing a person refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or taking off your hat at a baseball game during the National Anthem. People at that time would look at the person with suspicion: “What are you… a Commie!?”

This passage spoke to me when I left the party scene. When you meet Christ, your friends might call you names, tease you, and generally scoff at your way of life. Sometimes this social pressure can feel lighthearted, while other times, it feels pretty intense. Yet most of this comes from the stark change in your life and their “surprise” at how much you’ve changed. It creates tension in relationships when they see that you are no longer conforming. This tension can lead to anger, but it can also lead to curiosity, leading people to faith in Jesus.

(4:5) “But they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

Instead of focusing on the judging words of our non-Christian friends, we should focus on the ultimate Judge. Peter uses “courtroom language”[109] to describe what will face the non-Christian on judgment day.

(4:6) “For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.”

(4:6) Do the unsaved dead get a second chance to hear the gospel?

(1 Pet. 4:7-11) Using our gifts while you still have time

(4:7) “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”

“The end of all things is near.” Peter doesn’t say the end is here, but that it’s near (see comments on 1 Peter 4:7). Peter lived as though Jesus could return during his lifetime, but not that he would return during his lifetime. This didn’t lead Peter to “set dates” for the Second Coming, or to quit his job and spend his life staring into the clouds, waiting for Jesus’ return. For Peter, the return of Jesus had very practical consequences.

“Sound judgment and sober spirit.” These two terms are “virtually synonymous.”[110] The concept of being spiritually “sober” occurs earlier and later in Peter’s letter (1 Pet. 1:13; 5:8). The term “sober in spirit” (nēphontes) at least refers to drunkenness, but it has a broader range of application. Kittel defines this word in this way: “What is in view is the unequivocal and immediately self-evident antithesis to all kinds of mental fuzziness.”[111] Schreiner writes, “There is a way of living that becomes dull to the reality of God, that is anesthetized by the attractions of this world. When people are lulled into such drowsiness, they lose sight of Christ’s future revelation of himself and concentrate only on fulfilling their earthly desires.”[112]

Drunk people can’t see that their actions could have serious ramifications in the future. They can’t see that a sexual hookup could lead to creating a human life; they can’t see that driving drunk could lead to a car crash; they can’t see that inhibition could lead to years of embarrassment later on. Why can’t they see these things? They’re drunk! They aren’t thinking beyond the immediate moment.

In the same way, most people live as though they are mentally intoxicated. The end of the world is on its way, and they act like everything is just fine. They can’t see that their decisions will have an impact beyond their lives and into eternity. They aren’t as bad as the drunk person, because they can look ahead years instead of moments. But they are still finite in their thinking.

When we reflect on Jesus’ return, we are at our most sober. We realize that we could go home to Jesus, or he could return to us. And this could literally happen at any moment. We realize that our time is short, and then our window of opportunity is over. Forever. Because Jesus could return imminently, we need to live for Christ immediately.

“For the purpose of prayer.” The Second Coming of Jesus is out of our control (Mt. 24:36). The end of our lives is out of our control (Ps. 139:16). This is why we need prayer so much, because this is the way that we actively depend on God in a world that is out of our control. Many of us lack urgency to pray, and it feels like the last activity on our list of things to do. But if we really believed that this world could come to an end at any moment, prayer would suddenly shoot to the top of our to-do list. In eternity, we will shake our heads in astonishment that we did not pray more.

(4:7) Did Peter think Jesus would return soon?

(4:8) “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

Peter returns to his earlier imperative: “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). Apparently, he didn’t get tired of repeating himself on this crucial and essential imperative. This wanes over time. So, we need to keep fervent in our love over the long haul.

“Keep fervent” (ektenēs) is “pertaining to being persevering, with implication that one does not waver in one’s display of interest or devotion, eager, earnest” (BDAG, p.310). It can be understood as “outstretching”[113] or being “stretched out” (Acts 27:30; Lk. 22:53; Jn. 21:18).

Does love atone for sin? Surely not. Peter is drawing from the OT when he writes this. There, Solomon writes, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Prov. 10:12). Solomon’s point is that hatred makes conflict worse, but love is a cure for strife. Blum comments, “In the proverb the meaning is that love does not ‘stir up’ sins or broadcast them. So the major idea is that love suffers in silence and bears all things (1 Cor 13:5-7). Christians forgive faults in others because they know the forgiving grace of God in their own lives.”[114] Elsewhere, Solomon writes, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11 TNIV). Schreiner states that the expression means that “the sins and offenses of others are overlooked.”[115]

In what way does selfless love cover multitude of sins?

We need to be close enough to others to experience a “multitude of sins.” If you are shocked when you see one sin in a Christian roommate or friend, what about a “multitude” of them? We shouldn’t romanticize Christian community, as if there were no problems. Peter tells us just the opposite: We need to get close enough to experience other people’s sins and love them anyway.

We need to have a love focus—not a sin focus. Without an atmosphere of grace, Christian community needs an atmosphere of grace. People won’t take risks if they think everyone is going to criticize them.

We need to become easy to please and hard to offend. For many Christians, we are just the opposite: Hypersensitive when others hurt us, but insensitive when we hurt others.

When we’re engaged in selfless love, we don’t focus on other people’s sin. Our focus is not on our own hurt feelings, but on giving out love to others. Moreover, when we love others, this begins to build affection. It’s hard to be in prayer and thoughtful love for others, and also be embittered and hyper-sensitive at the same time!

Surely, no one is perfect in this area, but are making progress? Consider a baseball player with a 300 average. While this is a good batting average, this means that he strikes out 70% of the time! In the same way, we want to do our best to connect with others, knowing that this will build affection over time—even though we’re not perfect. As the world system becomes more selfish, followers of Jesus need to become more loving. This loving center of gravity attracts people. But this requires enough time-investment to “fervently love one another” in order to “cover a multitude of sins.”

(4:9) “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

“Hospitality” (philoxenos) is technically the love of strangers, but here, Peter states that we should be hospitable to “one another” (i.e. believers). In the early church, it was emphasized a lot (Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; Heb. 13:2). In one sense, it was emphasized because travelling teachers needed room and board (Mt. 10:11, 40; Acts 16:15; 3 Jn. 7-11). In other sense, it was emphasized for home Bible studies, where it was necessary for people to open their homes in an ongoing way (Rom. 16:3-5, 23; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phile. 2).

If you are going to show hospitality, then don’t complain. The term “complaint” (gongysmou) refers to an “utterance made in a low tone of voice… behind-the-scenes talk” (BDAG). Some people show hospitality, but complain about it. They invite you over to their house, but complain about dirty dishes, stains on the rug, and trash left over. If you’re going to show hospitality, then do it out of love for others—not based on duty or obligation!

If you are going to host, commit to loving people more than your things. Many people treat their homes like a museum: You can’t touch anything, create any sort of mess, or relax. Do you want a clean house or do you want friends? Have you dedicated your house for God’s use in ministry, realizing that it belongs to him? (Ps. 24:1)

If you are going to host, create a good environment. No one enjoys coming to a messy house that has sticky surfaces, trash strewn across the floors, and a smell like a wet dog or a Porta Potty! You might not care about these things, but others do.

(4:10) “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

For a full treatment of how we discover our spiritual gifts, use our spiritual gifts, and even the dangers of spiritual gifts, see our earlier article “The Spiritual Gifts.”

“Each one has received a special gift.” Every single Christian has received at least one spiritual gift (“each one”).

“Employ it in serving one another.” This captures the essence of spiritual gifts: USE THEM FOR OTHERS! If you’re gifted, don’t use this as a way to glorify yourself. Take yourself out of the picture, and think of others.

“Good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” We do possess these spiritual gifts, but they are on loan. We do not own them. God has told us to manage them as “stewards,” and we will be held accountable for how we chose to use them (Mt. 25:14-30; Lk. 19:12-27).

Word and Works ministries

(4:11) “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God.” Peter is referring to speaking the words of the Bible to each other. But surely we need to share more than purely Scripture when teaching, counseling, or building others up. This implies that God will give us words to share in building others up. We often say that “God was speaking through me.” Do we mean it? This passage states very clearly that the Holy Spirit will take over and speak through us when we are engaged in serving others (cf. 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Cor. 5:20).

“Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies.” When we choose to live a life of sacrificial love, we often wonder who will love us. Here we find the answers: God! God himself promises to supply the power as we step out in faith.

We need God to support our ministry. We speak with God’s words; we serve with God’s power. This implies ongoing dependence on God. This is why we pray before we teach, share, encourage, or lead others. We need to talk to God about our friends more than we talk to our friends about God.

“So that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Since Jesus is the giver of the gifts and the source of power, he is the one who should get the glory. Many Christians think that God gets glory from our singing or praise sessions. Perhaps, but that’s not what this passage teaches. Here, Peter states that God is “glorified” through our words and our works.

Discussion Questions

Based on verse 7. Why does Peter connect the return of Christ with such practical aspects of the Christian life? What’s the connection between the return of Christ and being sober in spirit?

(1 Pet. 4:12-19) What does Jesus have to offer those who suffer? Where is God when it hurts?

(4:12) “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”

“Do not be surprised… as though some strange thing were happening to you.” Modern Western people are often shocked when suffering strikes. Suffering happens to “other people” and “other families,” but never to me or mine. Yet, the Bible is a very realistic book, and the pages of Scripture reflect reality—not fantasy. Suffering is a grim certainty the confronts all of us.

How might we respond?

“I don’t want to suffer.”

When confronted with the subject of suffering, many people say, “Oh, no thank you.” It’s as if they are being offered a second helping of dessert after dinner, and they are politely declining. Sorry, but you don’t have a choice!

Right at this moment, suffering is hurdling toward you at 100 miles an hour. It might be unemployment, disease, death, assault, theft, accidents, or broken relationships. I don’t know, and neither do you. Only God knows the specifics. But we do know that in the future you are going to face one or more of these forms of suffering.

Suffering will strike whether or not you’re a Christian. How do you plan on dealing with these things? Are you equipped to handle the suffering that you are going to face? How are you going to face it? As a good leader, Peter wants to snap people out of disillusionment, and into reality. He wants them to prepare their minds to suffer.

“I’ll avoid suffering.”

Some suffering is avoidable (v.15), but some suffering isn’t. In life, we have the options of suffering well or suffering poorly, but we don’t have the option of escaping our suffering. Indeed, many of our attempts to avoid suffering simply result in mutating a different species of suffering and pain. For example:

  • We can flee some suffering, but only by creating various neuroses and phobias (e.g. avoiding confrontation leading to anxiety).
  • We can numb our pain through self-medicating, but this only leaves us more fragile and dependent (e.g. the “rebound effect” of self-medicating with marijuana).
  • We can avoid the pain of relationships by withdrawing from people, but this kills something human inside of us.

Let’s face it. Suffering is unavoidable. And, consequently, the question is not whether you will suffer, but how you will respond when you do suffer.

“I didn’t choose this!”

We don’t have a choice of whether or not we live in a fallen world. To illustrate, imagine if a teenager’s parents took him on a cruise ship. Halfway through the week, the captain crashes the ship, and the passengers are plunged into the turbulent ocean. As the young man is treading water, the Coast Guard arrives and throws him a life preserver, and they yell to him, “GRAB ON! WE’LL PULL YOU OUT!” But the teen indignantly replies, “No way! I didn’t choose to come here, you know… If it was up to me, I’d still be safely at home on the couch. It’s not fair that I would have to go through this! IT’S NOT FAIR!! I want the president of the company to personally come down here and pull me out of the ocean, I want a public apology, and I want someone to scold my parents for bringing me into this situation in the first place.”

Of course, the young man is in no position to make demands. He has two choices: (1) complain and die or (2) grab the life preserver and live. The same is true for us when we endure suffering. We can throw a temper tantrum for as long as we want, but it won’t change our circumstances in the slightest.

“I don’t deserve this!”

What exactly do you think that you deserve? What can you demand of God? What do you have to negotiate with? The answer to all of these questions is, NOTHING! We can either have justice, or we can have mercy. We can have one or the other, but we cannot have both.

  • “I want mercy.” If we choose this option, then we can no longer stand on what we “deserve.” Mercy isn’t based on what we deserve.
  • “I want justice.” Ah, it’s justice that you want? As a moral violator of God and others, you deserve complete and exhaustive judgment. If you choose this option, you won’t get a fender bender or a flat tire; instead, you’ll get eternity in hell. Any single moment that you aren’t being exhaustively judged for your moral violations, you are experiencing mercy—not justice.

Many people (most people?) can’t seem to grasp this simple, yet deep, concept. Yet, when I understand this concept:

  • I stop asking for what I deserve, because I realize that I’ve been living off mercy every second of every day for my entire life.
  • I stop demanding that God would fulfill my expectations, because demanding anything presupposes that I deserve something.
  • I stop comparing my circumstances to others, because I realize that neither of us deserves anything from God.
  • I stop negotiating with God, because I realize I have nothing to bargain with.
  • I stop being bitter and complaining, because I know that anything good in my life is a gift.
  • I start to get closer to God, because I begin to focus on the wealth of good things in my life, rather than the bad—which is utterly disproportionate.
  • I start to pray big prayers, because I realize just how little I deserve and yet how well I’ve been treated. This must mean that God is far more loving than I can imagine.
“I want to be prepared to suffer.”

“Do not be surprised.” The word “surprised” (xenizō) means to react to something as though it was “new or strange,” or to be “astonished” and filled with “wonder” (BDAG, p.684). In our theology, we know that we will suffer. But in practice, it is often surprising.

Peter describes the suffering of these Christians as a “fiery ordeal” (pyrōsis). This is the root word from which we get our modern terms “pyro” or “pyrotechnics.” Some argue that this refers to the literal fires of Nero’s great fire in AD 64. If Peter was indeed writing from Rome (1 Pet. 5:13), then he would know all about the persecution from Emperor Nero. However, Peter is writing to Christians across the scope of Asia Minor—not just Rome. And Nero’s persecution was not a “concentrated empirewide campaign against Christians.”[116] Even in AD 112, we do not see a systemic persecution of Christians in the correspondence between Pliny and Trajan (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96; see “Persecution of Christianity”).

At this point, these Christians were merely being “insulted” or “reviled” (v.14). Thus, Peter was referring to persecution using metaphorical usage. Earlier, Peter used this same imagery to refer to how God tests our faith through “fire.” He wrote, “The proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7). Schreiner warns of “overreading the metaphor.”[117] He cites numerous OT examples of this exact language. For instance, the Proverbs state, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised” (Prov. 27:21 NLT; cf. Ps. 66:10; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:1-4).

Testing

“[This suffering] comes upon you for your testing.” The word “testing” (peirasmos) is “an attempt to learn the nature or character of something” (BDAG, p.793). Through this suffering, God reveals something about who we are.

Gratitude

(4:13) “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”

“To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing.” It’s not that God has abandoned us to suffer, but we are sharing in his suffering. When we suffer, we realize he suffers with us (Col. 1:24; Acts 9:4). Moreover, we rejoice as far as we have suffered. We see this practiced throughout Scripture (Acts 5:41; 16:25; Rom. 5:3; Col. 1:24; Heb. 10:34; 12:1-2).

“Keep on rejoicing, so that the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” We will have extra glory for suffering for Christ (Rom. 8:17). Indeed, Jesus used these same words (charēte kai agalliōmenoi) to tell his disciples to “rejoice and be glad” (Mt. 5:12). There will come a time when others will realize we were in the right.

Some people interpret this as a burdensome task. Their thinking goes like this: “When I suffer, I not only need to endure it, but now you’re telling me that I’m expected to thank God at the same time? Can’t you see that I’m already suffering enough… Why does God expect one more thing out of me?” But this toxic thinking only reveals the heart of the problem:

For one, we cannot simply shut off our thinking during suffering. We cannot keep our minds blank (at least for very long), and we will eventually choose to think about something—either grumbling or gratitude. The suffering is bad enough. Why would we add fuel to the fire by choosing to whine and complain? In other words, the physical agony is bad enough, why add psychological and spiritual agony to the mix?

Second, gratitude is not an additional burden, but the key to effectively carry our burdens. Yes, the pain is real, but gratitude helps us to focus on the various good gifts we’ve been given. Gratitude is a “mental break” from the pain, placing our suffering in its greater context (e.g. Denzel Washington’s broken pinky finger).

Third, gratitude shows that our emotional state isn’t controlled by our circumstances. Wouldn’t it be awful if our emotions were determined by how people, fate, and chance treat us? We’d be complete and utter victims of circumstance. Yet the Bible teaches that gratitude denies all of this. It tells us that we have access to a transcendent joy no matter how we’re treated or what circumstances we are in. We always have access to joy. This is not a burdensome message, but a liberating one.

Examples of how to express gratitude during times of suffering

“God, more than anything, I want to make an impact on people’s lives. I knew that dedicating my life to you would bring about suffering (2 Tim. 3:12; Lk. 6:22-26). But I chose to follow you anyway. I want to reaffirm that decision to follow you today. Since I’m going through suffering, that must mean that you’re answering my prayer to make an impact for you. I want to thank you for answering my prayer—even when I can’t yet see the outcome. I look forward to how you will use this suffering for the good of others, and to make me more like you in the process (Rom. 8:28-29).”

“God, I don’t feel happy about this suffering. In fact, right now, I feel awful, and this hurts like hell. If I could remove it, I would. But I’m not you! If you allowed this pain to enter my life, then I’m trusting that there will be some good that you are bringing out of all of this. I can’t see what that is yet. But I’m choosing to trust you to see what you’ll bring out of it.”

“God, my mind has been racing as I think about this suffering. My mouth has been running as I’ve been talking to people about it. But I realize that I haven’t talked to you about this directly. I’ve been using canned clichés in prayer, rather than really talking to you. I want to change that right now, and ask that you would personally encourage me through the power of your Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13). And I look forward to how you’re going to answer that prayer.”

The Happiness of the Holy Spirit

(4:14) “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

“Reviled” (oneidizō) means “to find fault in a way that demeans the other, reproach, revile, mock, heap insults upon” (BDAG, p.710). These Christians were under the microscope in this culture, and they were being verbally abused.

What does it mean to be “blessed” (makarios)? This word means “fortunate” (Acts 26:2), “happy” (Rom. 14:22; 1 Cor. 7:40), or “privileged” (BDAG, p.610). This is the word used by Jesus throughout the Beatitudes, and Jesus states we are “blessed” or “happy” when we serve others (Jn. 13:17; cf. Acts 20:35). Even in intense grief, we can feel intense joy. Of course, we cannot demand God to give us the feelings, but we can trust that the feelings will come, nonetheless. We don’t expect this because of justice, but because of God’s goodness. Paul wrote, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 NLT).

“The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” During suffering, we can pray that our Advocate, Comforter, and Encourager will personally come and encourage us.

(4:15) “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler.”

Some people complain about suffering that is actually self-inflicted (e.g. sinful relational patterns, getting fired for being lazy, poor spending habits, etc.). One guy was fired multiple times for not showing up to work. He moped around saying that God was really putting him through some testing. No way, pal! God isn’t testing you, but you are definitely testing God!

This is extreme, but very similar to our own experience. To be honest, most of my suffering likely fits into this category. While I’d like to think that I’m suffering so much for the cause of Christ, I’m sure that a lot of it simply comes down to my own poor choices (e.g. egotism, selfishness, overdoing it with work, worrying, comparing myself to others, placing demands on God, etc.).

“Troublesome meddler” (allotriepiskopos) means “one who meddles in things that do not concern the person, a busybody” (BDAG). Peter adds our gossip to a list of sins that includes theft and even murder… Wow! This suffering is not righteous suffering, but actually suffering for our self-righteousness! The “troublesome meddler” is always at the center of conflict, because they stir up conflict through their involvement.

Don’t bend to shame or insecurity

(4:16) “But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.”

In this context, suffering as a Christian means to keep withstanding the bullying and peer pressure (1 Pet. 4:4, 14).

How do we “glorify God” during suffering? For one, we glorify God by refusing to succumb to the shame and insecurity. Instead, keep standing tall. Furthermore, this must mean that we continue to serve in the cause of Christ without backing down.

(4:17-18) “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?”

(4:17) Will Christians be judged?

If you think what happens to us is bad, wait until you see what happens to them!

(4:19) “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

 “Those also who suffering according to the will of God.” Peter’s reference to “God’s will” means that “all suffering passes through his hands.”[118] This refers to God’s permissive will—not his active will. God is not the cause of suffering, but he does allow it.

“Entrust” (paratithēmi) means “to give to someone for safekeeping, to turn over to someone to care for.”[119] This is the word Jesus used to “commit” his spirit to God at death (Lk. 23:46). He entrusted himself to the Father at death (1 Pet. 2:23). We shouldn’t trust ourselves in suffering, but God. Grudem writes that in “this one verse is summarized the teaching of the entire letter.”[120] Is God trustworthy or not?

How would you know if you entrusted your life to God during a time of suffering? We entrust ourselves by “doing what is right.” We refuse to quit; we refuse to back off; we refuse to unrighteously numb the pain; we refuse to harbor bitterness or grudges with God or others. Instead, we entrust ourselves in times of prayer, gratitude, and continuing to put one foot in front of the other in serving Christ and others.

Discussion Questions

Has anyone had experience in rejoicing during suffering? What was it like?

Read this excerpt from Watchman Nee. What is your response to his thoughts?

Watchman Nee: “God does not exempt His children from trial or chastisement; indeed, trial and chastisement are necessary to secure their growth to maturity. But what we wish to call attention to here is an aspect of suffering frequently referred to in the Word of God which is the deliberate choice of those of His children whose consuming desire is to be of service to Him. It is not something imposed upon them to which they reluctantly submit, but something they willingly choose. But if you have not cultivated this disposition you will give way to fear in the face of difficulty; and if you harbor fear you will fall an easy prey to the enemy. He will put upon you the very thing you fear, and you will be vulnerable to his assaults because your mind is not safeguarded by the determination to suffer. The question is not one of the amount of suffering we may be called upon to meet, but of our attitude toward the suffering we meet. Alas! the rank and file of Christians, and many Christian workers too, seem to go on splendidly as long as circumstances are propitious, but the moment any affliction befalls them they come to a halt. The trouble is, they are not inwardly prepared to suffer. If it is a settled matter that we have willingly accepted the way of suffering for the sake of our Lord, then trial never takes us unaware. There are some Christians who endure suffering, but they have no conception of the preciousness of the suffering that is their lot. They go through it without any sense of gratitude to the Lord and only hope for the day when they will be delivered out of it… Do not take for granted when you are bearing affliction that you are suffering for the Lord’s sake. The question is not: How much suffering have you been through? But, To what extent have you rejoiced in the suffering?”[121]

1 Peter 5

(1 Pet. 5:1-7) Humble Leadership

Why do we need leaders? First, this is a biblical teaching. God is our ultimate leader, but he delegates leaders to human agents. Second, groups suffer under a vacuum of leadership. People are happy under good leadership. Third, all of us are going to lead (i.e. influence) others in varying levels of spiritual leadership. Moreover, we will lead or influence our friends, families, kids, etc.

(5:1) “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed.”

How old were these leaders? We don’t know. The term “elders” (presbyterous) is relative to the spiritual maturity of the group. We reject the idea that “elders” refers to the biological age of a person. We don’t pick elders based on their age (1 Tim. 4:12), but based on their spiritual maturity (1 Tim. 3:1-7) and their leadership of others (1 Tim. 5:17).

“Fellow elder” (sympresbyteros) is the first use of this term in Greek literature, and it was probably invented by Peter himself.[122] Peter identifies himself as a fellow leader. Indeed, this speaks against the Roman Catholic view that Peter had some sort of primacy as a pope. Earlier, Peter called himself “an apostle” (1 Pet. 1:1), not “the apostle.” Here, he calls himself a fellow elder,” not “the elder.”

“Witness of the sufferings of Christ.” Peter isn’t claiming that he viewed all of Jesus’ suffering. After all, he betrayed Christ and presumably fled the scene before his crucifixion. Instead, Peter is referring to the plural “sufferings” of Christ, which would include his life in general. We know that Peter saw at least the verbal abuse that Jesus endured—not to mention the torture on the morning of his death.

“A partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed.” Peter will share (koinōnos) in the glory along with these other believers (1 Pet. 1:7, 11; 4:13).

(5:2) “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.”

Peter covers the spectrum of sins that confront Christian leaders—everything from laziness and a lackluster spirit to greed and a lust for power. He also gives practical instructions to keep leaders on track: love your people, look after them, and live as a good example for them.

“Shepherd the flock of God.” To begin, Peter states that the people in the church do not belong to the leadership. They are the “flock of God.” These people belong to God. Anyone under our spiritual care belongs to God, and we need to remember this. God paid an incommensurable price for each person we lead. Paul uses similar language when he told the Ephesian elders, “Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Peter’s words interlock with John’s gospel. Peter wrote this book before John’s gospel was written (~AD 67 versus ~AD 95). And yet, Peter uses the same language that Jesus used when he told Peter to shepherd the flock (poimainō; Jn. 21:16). This words from Jesus stuck in Peter’s mind for decades, and he clearly used them to teach other leaders.

“Among you.” The pronoun “you” is plural—not singular (“y’all” 0r “you guys”). Thus, Peter speaks of plural “elders” overseeing a singular “flock.” This speaks of plurality in leadership (cf. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5).

Why is plurality of leadership so important? We can think of a few reasons:

  • Because of a fallen human nature, leaders can go wrong just like anybody else. We need each other for mutual accountability.
  • Leading on a team sharpens our views by hearing multiple perspectives.
  • Team leadership helps us work through conflict. Of course, the way that “iron sharpens iron” is through friction (Prov. 27:17). So, we shouldn’t be surprised to see sparks flying from time to time! This is where we learn to debate, disagree, and defer in a healthy manner.
  • We learn humility by leading on a team. We get our say, but we don’t always get our way. If you’re too immature to work on a team, then you’re too immature to lead.

“Exercising oversight” (episkopountes) comes from the roots epi (“over”) and scopos (“to see”). This further defines what it means to “shepherd the flock.” It means to watch over them, look out for them, and seek to lead them well.[123]

We don’t lead based on “compulsion” or “grudgingly” (NLT) or “merely as a duty” (NET). Instead, we lead “voluntarily” (hekousiōs). In other words, it’s not that we have to lead, but rather, we get to lead and want to lead (1 Tim. 3:1). Leadership is a privilege—not an obligation.

Leadership is a privilege.[124] As leaders, we want to see our people thrive, grow, and reach others with Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness. But this is not our foundation for service. Paul states that he does not “lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:1) and is “always of good courage” (2 Cor. 5:6). But why? The Christians in Corinth were suspicious of him, viciously accusing him. How could Paul have such an upbeat attitude when he wasn’t seeing tangible results in this group? Paul tells us: “Since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:1). Did you catch that? Paul viewed Christians service as a “mercy” and a gift from God. Elsewhere, Paul writes that he was “made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace” (Eph. 3:7).

As we argued above (see comments on 4:12), the Christian should know better than to operate out of a desire for “justice” or what he deserves. We should never stomp our feet, and feel like we deserve a thriving ministry, better treatment, or more favorable circumstances. We deserve nothing. In fact, we deserve worse. We deserve judgment. When we experience anything above an eternal life-sentence in hell, we shouldn’t be praising God for his “fairness” toward us, but for his “mercy.”

Discussion Questions

For each compulsory belief on the left, supply a reinterpretation on the right.

Compulsion

Voluntarily

“I need to change my character in order to lead.”

“If it wasn’t for leadership, my character would be far, far worse!”
“I need to build relationships with people that I don’t naturally like.”

“Most of my best friendships have come from people I’ve led alongside.”

“I keep facing one bad circumstance after another.”

“I realize how little I appreciated or deserved the good seasons.”
“Nobody is responding to my efforts.”

“Many continue to grow despite my many faults.”

“I deserve better.”

“I deserve nothing.”
“Leading others has taken time away from my marriage.”

“Leading together has drawn us closer together, keeping us from living parallel lives.”

“God has used leading others to teach us sacrificial love.”

“It’s a been a real difficulty to balance leading and parenting… It’s a real labor to drag my kids around.”

“My kids will grow up seeing me serve—even when it’s tough.”

“My kids enjoy seeing fellow Christians.”

“I don’t hear my kids complaining.”

“According to the will of God” shows us that we lead by appealing to God’s word—not our own novel opinions. It could also be by God’s power, or even to the fact that God has placed us in leadership. It isn’t an accident that you’re a leader. If you’re complaining, it’s really complaining against God’s will.

“Not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.” Paul rules out “sordid gain” (aischrokerdōs) when he refers to elders as well (Titus 1:7; cf. 1 Tim. 3:3). This demonstrates that greed is a big danger. The term “sordid gain” literally means “shameful” gain, which would refer to money, power, or getting an inflated ego from doing Christian work (see “PreachersNSneakers”).[125] One way to spot a false teacher is to see a love for money (2 Cor. 2:17; 11:7-15; 1 Tim. 6:5-10; 2 Pet. 2:3, 14-15; Jude 11). Jesus warned us that the “hired hand” leaves the sheep when the wolf comes (Jn. 10:12-13). Another subtle way to see this is when leaders grumble and become embittered when they don’t see the results that they want. We all desire to see God’s kingdom grow. But can we serve with joy and eagerness even when we don’t get what we want? If we are only serving for the money, the glory, or the results, then we are leading for “shameful gain.”

“Eagerness” (prothumōs) comes from the words “towards” or “face” (pros) and “feeling” or “heat” (prothumōs). Paul writes, “He who leads, with diligence” (Rom. 12:8).

(5:3) “Nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”

“Lording it over” (katakyrieuō) refers “a harsh or excessive use of authority.”[126] It can refer to being power hungry, or being bossy and controlling (e.g. 3 Jn. 9). This is further interlocking with the gospels. Peter supervised the writing of Mark, and in Mark’s gospel, Jesus says, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you” (Mk. 10:42-43).

“Allotted to your charge” (kleros) is where we get the term “clergy.” In its biblical context, it simply referred to the people God had entrusted to those who lead. As Paul writes, “We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you” (2 Cor. 10:13 NLT). Likewise, the author of Hebrews writes, “[Your leaders] keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account” (Heb. 13:17).

“Be examples to the flock.” We reject the teaching that Christians leaders lack authority. Cleary, they do have authority over how to run the ministry (1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:17; Titus 2:15; 1 Cor. 16:15-16, 18). Of course, this authority is limited to running the ministry—not running people’s lives (e.g. marriages, families, careers, etc.). At the same time, godly leaders don’t flaunt their authority. Instead, they generate influence through their way of life. Even as they seek change in the lives of others, they look to their own spiritual growth to be a model. When people can witness true spirituality in a leader, it often has a transformative ripple effect, rubbing off on those around them (1 Tim. 4:11-16; Heb. 13:7). Modeling is a major theme in Scripture: We should follow example of Paul (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:7-9), Timothy (1 Tim. 4:12), Titus (Titus 2:7-8), and other Christian leaders (Heb. 13:7).

(5:4) “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

“Chief Shepherd” (archipoimenos) is a “rare term that occurs nowhere else in the New Testament or in the Septuagint.”[127]

“You will receive… glory.” As Christian leaders, we do not get the glory now, but we will later. Those who hog the glory for themselves have “their reward in full,” as Jesus taught (Mt. 6:2, 5, 16).

“Unfading crown of glory” (stephanos) refers to the leafy crowns that were given to athletes (Martial, Epigrams 2.2; Pliny, Natural History 15.5; Dio Chrysostom, Orations 8.15) or victorious soldiers (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 7.14). Of course, those crowns wilted, but not the crowns that Peter is describing. These are “crowns of glory that will never perish. The NT uses this language frequently to describe our rewards in heaven (1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8; Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10; 3:11).

(5:5) “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

“Younger men” (neōteroi) could refer to spiritual age—not biological age. Here, we disagree with Schreiner who holds that this refers to “those who are literally younger, perhaps because younger.”[128] Peter doesn’t tell these men to be respectful, but to “be subject” (hypotassō) to these elders. This “implies submission to an authority, not just deference or respect.”[129]

“Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Following other people’s leadership sometimes grates against our pride. This is why Peter brings up humility. Indeed, this is a command for all believers to practice toward “one another,” not just those in leadership. Without humility, Christian community would fall apart.

It’s hard to see where Peter is quoting from exactly (Prov. 3:34; Jas. 4:6), but many passages teach on the subject of pride and humility:

(Prov. 11:2) When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

(Prov. 13:10) Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

(Prov. 16:5) The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

(Prov. 16:18) Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

(Prov. 16:19) Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

(Prov. 21:4) Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin!

(5:6) “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”

Once again, Peter learned these leadership lessons from Jesus, and he was likely citing from Jesus here (Mt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). God will ultimately exalt us at the return of Christ, but this could also refer to being exalted in this life as well. If we are ambitious for leadership, that’s a good thing (1 Tim. 3:1). But we should pray that we desire this for the right reasons (i.e. serving others), and that God would raise us up at the right time (i.e. when he thinks we’re ready).

(5:7) “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

In Greek, this is a continuous sentence with verse 6. The term “casting” (epiripsantes) is an “instrumental participle” that “explains how believers can humble themselves under God’s strong hand.”[130] Accordingly, anxiety is a form of pride because we are trusting in ourselves to solve our problems. Anxiety is prideful because we think we can control all of our circumstances. Anxiety also springs from a low view of God, where we think that God isn’t “mighty,” he isn’t “caring,” and he won’t “exalt [us] at the proper time.” We think that we would fix things better than him, and we think that our timeline is better than his.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him.” What must God be like if he is willing to listen to our worries and respond to them?

Leadership comes with anxiety. Paul regularly experienced anxiety for the churches he led, and he wrote of the “daily pressure… of concern [merimna] for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). It’s no wonder, then, that Peter has instructions on how to handle anxiety in this section.

“Cast all your anxiety (merimnaō) on God because he cares (melei) for you.” Did you notice the play on words in the Greek? Both words come from the root word melō which means “to be concerned, be worried about.”[131] Therefore, the same word used of our “anxiety” is also used for God’s loving “care” for the anxious. Thus, we could render this passage as, “Give your anxiety to God, because he is anxious for you.” It’s God’s job to worry about our needs and problems—not ours. Our job is to trust that he doing all of the concern and care—not us. In fact, it is actually an act of pride (v.5) to worry about our circumstances and try to control them.

(1 Pet. 5:8-14) Satan

For more on this subject, see “Satanology.”

(5:8) “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert…” This is the same exhortation that Peter used earlier: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).

Biographically, Peter had failed to “be alert” of Satan’s schemes. On the night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:31-32). Jesus had told Peter to “remain here and keep watch with Me” (Mt. 26:38; cf. Mk. 14:34). But Peter had fallen asleep instead (v.40). Peter uses the word “alert” (grēgoreō) that Jesus used (“keep watch”). The term means “to stay awake, be watchful… to be in constant readiness, be on the alert” (BDAG). Paul uses this same term for being “alert” in prayer (Col. 4:2). Peter learned from his failure, and likewise encouraged believers to stay “alert.”

“…Your adversary…” The term “adversary” (antidikos) refers to “one who brings a charge in a lawsuit, accuser, plaintiff” (BDAG; cf. Mt. 5:25; Lk. 12:58; 18:3). Elsewhere, John refers to Satan as the “accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Satan is the attorney from hell!

“…the devil…” The term “devil” is the translation of the Hebrew “Satan” (śāṭān), which means “slanderer.” So, this prosecuting attorney will not fight fair. He stands in utter contrast to God who will take our anxiety and care for us (v.7).

“…prowls around…” This implies that Satan works in covert ways. In Job, God asks Satan where he has been, and Satan replies, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (Job 1:7). This is why Peter tells us to “be on the alert.”

“…like a roaring lion…” This implies that Satan works in overt ways (“roaring”). This could refer to intimidation, where Satan tries to “induce fear in the people of God.”[132] Amos writes, “The lion has roared—so who isn’t frightened?” (Amos 3:8 NLT). This could look backward to the tendency of “sheep” to scatter in panic when a lion roars (1 Pet. 5:1-5). Lions stalk their prey from afar, but then strike without mercy. Could the same be true of Satan?

What chances do humans have in fighting a lion?[133] Zero! Similarly, Christians cannot stand up to Satan on their own power, but only through the power and authority of Jesus (“resist him, firm in your faith”). Regarding the Suffering Servant, Isaiah writes, “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame” (Isa. 50:7 NLT).

“…seeking someone to devour.” Satan wants to “ensnare” Christians (1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26). If a real metaphysical being like Satan exists, we should surely be “sober” and “alert” to how he might be operating in our lives and ministries!

(5:9) “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”

“But resist him…” The term “resist” (antistēte) is the same term used by Paul (Eph. 6:11-13) and James (Jas. 4:7). James adds the promise that if you resist, then “[Satan] will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7; cf. Mt. 4:11). Satan will “flee” from us in the same way that we “flee” from sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18).

How do we resist Satan? Later Peter writes, “This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” (v.12). Paul elaborates even further in Ephesians 6:10-18. This would include verbal rebuke (Lk. 10:17; Acts 16:18).

“…firm in your faith…” This refers to the faith of the believer—not the objective faith of all believers.[134] Though, Howard Marshall writes, “What Peter is talking about is not putting strength into believing but drawing strength from what we believe.”[135] Our response to Satan is not fear—but faith.

“…knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren…” This is encouraging to read, because it shows that “their circumstances are not unusual but in fact to be expected by Christians everywhere.”[136] Elsewhere, Peter tells his readers to not “be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you” (1 Pet. 4:12). Part of Satan’s tactic is to make us feel like we are unique and lonely in our efforts to serve Christ.

When we endure spiritual attack, we often feel isolated and lonely, like no one can understand how we’re feeling. As we open up to other believers, it’s refreshing to simply hear others share similar struggles and the pain that comes from spiritual warfare. It’s also encouraging to know that believers are suffering all over the world—not just us (1 Cor. 12:26; Jn. 15:18-20; 16:33).

“…who are in the world.” The “world” (kosmos) is currently owned and operated by the Evil One (1 Jn. 5:19; Jn. 14:30; Eph. 2:2)

(5:10) “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

“After you have suffered for a little while…” This harkens back to the beginning of the letter: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” (1 Pet. 1:6). This is because “the end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4:7).

“…the God of all grace…” We might fail, but we can count on God being gracious toward our failings.

“…who called you to His eternal glory in Christ…” Suffering for a “little while” is contrasted with “His eternal glory in Christ.” (cf. 2 Cor. 4:17)

“[God]… will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” The only condition here is that we “resist” and “stand firm” in our faith.

  • “Perfect” (katartisei) means “to cause to be in a condition to function well, put in order, restore” (BDAG). This term usually relates to character growth. Davids writes, “The focus is on their character. Through their suffering God will produce a fully restored or confirmed character in them.”[137] Marshall writes, “God will restore or repair whatever is damaged, so that the believer will be fully complete to face up to whatever lies ahead.”[138]
  • “Confirm” (stērixei) means “to fix firmly in a place, set up, establish, support… to cause to be inwardly firm or committed, confirm, establish, strengthen” (BDAG). Davids writes, “The idea is that God will make them firm in their faith.”[139] God will impart “courage and strength to weak believers.”[140]
  • “Strengthen” (sthenōsei) means “to strengthen or make strong” (BDAG).
  • “Establish” (themeliōsei) means “to provide a base for some material object or structure, lay a foundation, found… to provide a secure basis for the inner life and its resources, establish, strengthen” (BDAG). Davids writes, “This is an image of security, of people who cannot be moved no matter what comes against them.”[141]

Davids argues that we shouldn’t splice apart these terms. Peter is basically piling up a number of results of their restoration by God, and we shouldn’t split hairs over the meaning of each word.[142] Schreiner[143] and Marshall[144] agree with this approach.

God will restore us and strengthen us after we encounter suffering—not before. If we opt out of suffering before God does his intended work, we are effectively pulling the plug on the Holy Spirit’s ability to transform us.

This restoration could refer to our earthly life or to our eternal life. Schreiner[145] thinks Peter is referring to eternal glory, but Jobes takes a middle view that is refers to both: “God’s Spirit indeed strengthens, empowers, and secures Christians, imparting the courage and confidence to live well through this ‘little while’ of suffering. Because what we believe about our future shapes how we live today, Peter concludes the body of his letter with an eschatological statement that puts all of today’s realities into the perspective of eternity.”[146]

(5:11-14) “To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12 Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.”

“Silvanus” is most likely Silas (2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; Acts 15:22 through 18:5). He carried an apostolic letter before (Acts 15:22), and he carried this one as well.

“She who is in Babylon” is likely a reference to the church—not an individual woman (cf. 2 Jn. 7), according to Schreiner[147] and Grudem.”[148] It’s difficult to believe that all of these dispersed Christians would know a single, anonymous woman. The closest we might conjecture is Peter’s wife, but this seems unlikely.

“Babylon” is most likely a cloaked reference to Rome.

“Mark” was an associate of Peter. He had lived in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), and he knew Peter fairly well. Eusebius states that Mark wrote his gospel under the supervision of Peter (Church History 2.15.1-2; 3.39.15; 6.25.5).

(5:13) Was Peter really in Babylon?

(5:14) Should we greet each other with a holy kiss?

2 Peter 1

(2 Pet. 1:1-9) God changes lives

In this first chapter, Peter opens with the fact that God wants to transform us. People often get worried about this, wondering what God will do in our lives. In what way will God change my life? Angela from The Office? Flanders from The Simpsons?

Not at all. Instead, God will transform us into a more loving, Christ-like person. The picture Peter paints for spiritual growth is a beautiful vision for each and every one of us.

(1:1) “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…” God transformed Peter from being an arrogant, self-absorbed, coward into a stable and strong leader. As Peter discusses the subject, he stands as a trophy of God’s grace, and writes with real authority.

“…to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours…” We all have the same faith as believers. The object of our faith is Christ’s work.

“…by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

(1:1) Does this passage support the deity of Christ?

(1:2-3) “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” When it comes to doing God’s will, he offers all of the power that we need. He does this according to the “true knowledge” (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). While God’s word doesn’t answer every problem that we have (e.g. filling a tooth, unclogging a toilet, etc.), it gives us everything that we need to live a godly life.

Notice that this power and identity is a past tense event (“[God] has granted to us everything”). This means that we need to cash in on the power and identity that has already been given to us.

(1:4) “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” What does it mean to be a partaker of the divine nature? The term for “partaker” (koinonia) means “to share.” The term “nature” (physeos) means “condition or circumstance as determined by birth, natural endowment/condition, nature” or “the natural character of an entity, natural characteristic/disposition” (BDAG). This would mean that we share in God’s character—not his divinity—as the further context makes clear. This is in contrast to the world-system (kosmos).

(1:5-7) “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” Peter lists many different character qualities. If we’re missing one of them, it compromises the entire picture.

None of these character qualities are new to us (hopefully!). Yet these slowly slip away from our minds and hearts. We need to be “stirred up by way of reminder” (1:13).

“Diligence” (spoudē) normally translated as “haste, hurry, or earnestness.” This is the opposite of apathy and indifference. Read Spurgeon’s chapter on “Earnestness” from Encounter with Spurgeon for good reading on this quality.

“Moral excellence” (aretē) is usually given in the context of God’s own character. Moral goodness matters to God and to spiritual growth.

“Knowledge” is integral to the Christian life. Some Christians are suspicious of knowledge. They might say, “I don’t want to get into a real heavy knowledge trip…” But what is the alternative? An ignorance-trip? A stupidity-trip? Knowledge in itself doesn’t change us, but knowledge is necessary for change.

God works through the transformation of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). Our knowledge is what battles the false beliefs that fuel our sin nature. This could be why it precedes “self-control.” We need truth to battle the mental distortions that lead to giving in to our impulses and desires.

“Self-control” (egkrateia) stops us from going to excess in moral or even non-moral areas: addictions, over-eating, etc. Wouldn’t it be great to have control of your desires, rather than having our desires controlling us? (cf. Gal. 5:23) When we lack self-control, it weighs us down. This could stop us from being able to “persevere.”

This might precede “perseverance” because we will hit “speed bumps” in our walk with Christ, we need to be patient and keep moving forward without choosing for sin. Also, part of having “self-control” is being willing to wait on God’s provision in temptation.

“Perseverance” refers to being steadfast and stable. Some believers have spurts of spiritual growth, but then they have equal times of crushing discouragement. God wants to form us into a consistent, dependable person. Peter himself was a vacillator, but God turned him into a “rock.”

“Godliness” refers to reverence and a consciousness of God. After all, what is the point of being so preserving and self-controlled if it isn’t leading to becoming more like God? After persevering over time, we get a track record of how God has come through in the past. This grows our reverence and love for God even more.

Up until this point, these qualities could be just for us. Spiritual growth would just be a self-improvement project. But the Christian view isn’t merely about transforming myself, but also directed outward, transforming the lives of others. This is why this section ends with “brotherly kindness” and “love.” The goal of spiritual growth is learning how to give out in love relationships.

“Brotherly kindness” (philadelphia) literally means “love” (phileo) for the “brothers” (adelphe). This is the opposite of coldness, and it implies learning to feel for others.

“Love” (agape) is a form of love that is “next level love.” It’s higher and deeper than love for our brothers; it includes love for even our enemies. Paul puts love at the top of his list as well (Gal. 5:22; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Tim. 1:5).

Having our character change is a gradual process—not typically transformed overnight. If God sovereignly chooses to change a certain area of our lives, this is his prerogative. Yet he doesn’t promise this.

(1:8) “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Knowledge and spiritual growth are closely tied together. Usually, we think of knowledge coming first, but in this case, the qualities come first. It must be that when we have the right attitude toward God that we gain in our knowledge of Christ.

(1:9) “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” Our transformation is tied to remembering and trusting in our identity in Christ. It’s only as we remember our identity that transformation occurs (Jas. 1:22-25).

(1:10) “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.” We need to be grounded in our calling and choosing, which is a part of our identity. It seems that we grow in this by acting on the truth (practice these things”).

(1:11) “For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” We will be richly rewarded for our faithfulness in spiritual growth and our love for others.

(1:12-13) “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.” We usually don’t need novel insights into spiritual growth. We need to hear the same bread and butter of God’s timeless truth. As leaders and influencers of others, it shouldn’t both us to be “glorified reminders” of one another.

Discussion Questions

What do you think is our role in spiritual growth versus God’s role? When can we tell if we’re taking on too much in our role? When can we tell if we’re not playing our role well enough?

What might happen if we took one of the qualities of spiritual growth out of the equation? How would the picture of spiritual growth differ?

(2 Pet. 1:14-21) The stability of the word

(1:14) “Knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” Peter realizes that he will die soon. Most commentators relate this insight to John 21:18-19, where Jesus predicted Peter’s death. However, this doesn’t fit. There, Jesus predicted how Peter would die, but here, Peter writes that he knows when he will die (“imminent”). How did Peter get insight into this? How did Jesus “make this clear” to Peter? A vision? An intuition of his circumstances?

(1:15) “And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” It’s interesting what people tell us from their deathbed. They are often in their most honest moments, and they want to pass on what they’ve learned in their lives. What is Peter thinking about in his final moments on Earth?

(1:16-18) “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” Peter starts thinking back to his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt. 17; Mk. 9; Lk. 9). He emphasizes the truth of Christ (“we did not follow cleverly devised tales). The term “tales” (muthos) is where we get our modern word “myth.” Are we supposed to ground our faith in experiences like this?

(1:19) “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” The NASB footnote states: “We have the even more sure prophetic word.” This means that the Word of God is more sure than even these incredible “mountaintop experiences.”

The “morning star” (phōsphoros) appears only here in the NT, but the use of “star” for the Messiah occurs in Numbers 24:17 (“a star … out of Jacob”). Related expressions, such as “the rising sun” (Lk. 1:78) and “the bright Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16) imply that Peter is referring to Christ.

(1:20-21) “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Some authoritarian churches use this as a proof text for how individual Christians cannot interpret the Bible on their own (“…no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation…”). Therefore, they need someone (e.g. a spiritual leader/clergy/other sacred writing/authoritative translation) to teach them.

We disagree with this erroneous (and dangerous!) view for a number of reasons. For one, the context refers to the prophets writing Scripture—not believers reading Scripture. The connecting word “for…” makes this connection. Moreover, the term “interpretation” can also be rendered “imagination” (NET) or “understanding” (NLT). Peter is claiming that prophets were moved along by God’s inspiration to write exactly what he wanted.

The term “moved” (pherō) is sometimes used of animals being moved by their masters (Lk. 15:23; Acts 14:13). It can mean “to cause to follow a certain course in direction or conduct, move out of position, drive… literally by wind or weather” (BDAG). For more on this important passage, see “Verbal Plenary Inspiration” and “Inerrancy.”

Discussion Questions

Based on verse 19: In what way is the Bible more certain than subjective spiritual experiences? Why would Peter place the Bible over his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration?

Compare and contrast the valid use of experiences and the invalid use of them:

The Role of Experience

Valid

Invalid

Gives motivation and clarity during drought

Gives me the basis for why I follow Christ
Appreciation

Expectation

Experience is natural in any relationship (marriage)

Experience dictates whether I’ll stay in the relationship
Valuable for a long time afterward

Invaluable after the fact

Given in addition to the evidence or truth

Given in the absence of the evidence or truth
Humbling: often given in preparation to serious suffering (Acts 18; 2 Cor. 12:7). If you’re going to get the trip to the third heaven, your ticket is the thorn in the flesh!

Boasting: often people make this the center of their spiritual lives, and brag about their experiences.

2 Peter 2

(2 Pet. 2:1-22) Counterfeit Christianity

False teaching is an oft-repeated theme of the NT, mentioned in 17 of the 22 NT letters if we include the seven letters of Revelation 2-3 (e.g. Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 15:12; 2 Cor. 2:17; 11:13-15; Gal. 1:6-9; 5:10-12; Phil. 3:2; Col. 2:16-23; 2 Thess. 2:1-2; 1 Tim. 1:3ff.; 4:1-5; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:1-8; Titus 1:10-16; 3:9-11; Heb. 13:9; 2 Pet. 2:1-22; 1 Jn. 2:18-26; 4:1-6; 2 Jn. 1:7-9; 3 Jn. 1:9-10; Jude 1:4ff.; Rev. 2:2, 15, 20).

Jesus reserved his harshest words for false teachers, unleashing a verbal flamethrower on the Pharisees in Matthew 23. What will Peter have to say about false teachers?

(2:1) “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” False teachers do not appear through a portal from another dimension. They come from “among the people” and “among you.” They arise from inside the Body of Christ (c.f. Acts 20:29-30; Gal. 2:4).

They are highly covert—not overt. No false teacher ever introduces himself by telling you that they are going to ruin your spiritual life! Instead, they secretly introduce destructive heresies” (c.f. 2 Cor. 11:14; Gal. 2:4).

They deny the person of Christ (“denying the Master who bought them,” c.f. 1 Cor. 15:3ff; Gal. 1:6-9).

“Bringing swift destruction upon themselves…” What is the “destruction” (apōleia) mentioned here? The term “is not a simple extinction of existence… but an everlasting state of torment and death.”[149] Blum adds, “It will be ‘swift’ because it will descend on them suddenly either at their death or at the return of the Lord.”[150]

They also deny the work of Christ. At the end of the book, Peter writes, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:17-18).

(2:1) Do false teachers lose their salvation?

(2:2) “Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned.” Denying the truth leads to sexual immorality (c.f. Rom. 1:21-32). This term (aselgeia) refers to those who are given over to blatant sexual immorality and other corrupt behavior.

Satan floods the market with phonies so that “the way of the truth will be maligned.” With so many counterfeits in the market, people become cynical of the real thing. This is similar to getting countless SPAM emails, “You’ve won one million dollars… Just fill out your information here!!” After being taken advantage of, we are hesitant to trust in even reliable offers.

(2:3) “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” We can recognize false teachers from their doctrine, but also their deeds. Peter states that in their greed they will exploit you.”

“False words” (plastos) is the root from which we get the word “plastic.” False teachers add or subtract from Scripture (c.f. Rev. 22:18-19).

(2:4) “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” The Greek word for “hell” (tartaroō) only occurs here in the NT: “Tartarus, thought of by the Greeks as a subterranean place lower than Hades where divine punishment was meted out, and so regarded in Israelite apocalyptic as well” (BDAG). In Greek mythology, this was the place that the gods would be judged. Of course, Peter isn’t using this term to affirm Pagan mythology. Instead, he is contextually using their term to make his point. This was an appropriate word to describe a place where angels will be judged in hell.

(2:4) What is Tartarus?

(2:5-11) “And did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.”

Noah was rescued by God through the Flood during a time when everyone’s thoughts were only continually evil (Gen. 6:5).

Sodom and Gomorrah became examples for generations as to what God would do with unbridled evil.

“Righteous Lot…” This doesn’t mean that Lot was a righteous man in his actions. After all, he offered his virgin daughters to a rape mob, and he became so drunk that he had sex with them! No, Lot wasn’t a righteous man. Peter likely means that Lot was positionally righteous because of his faith. This would be similar to Paul considering Abraham and David “righteous” (Rom. 4; Gen. 15:6; Ps. 32:1-2), even though they were unrighteous at times.

Peter cites a number of examples of God’s judgment in the OT. In this way, he is showing that God’s solution for false teachers is judgment.

(2:12) “But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed.” If we strip the spiritual component to humans, what is left? We are just relatively advanced primates (“…like unreasoning animals…”).

(2:13) “Suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you.” This refers to God’s passive wrath until the day of judgment. Solomon writes, “They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. 31 So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be satiated with their own devices” (Prov. 1:30-31).

(2:14) “Having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children.” The term “trained” is the word that usually relates to athletic training (“gymnasium”).[151] Peter is saying that these false teachers have created such serious sin habits that it’s almost as if they have been through “training” in sin!

(2:15-16) “Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.” Balaam was a classic “prophet for hire.” The enemies of Israel wanted Balaam to curse Israel, and they paid him to do this. Yet, Balaam never brought a curse against Israel, but a blessing instead. At the same time, Balaam was far from a good man. He took money and taught immorality (Num. 31:16). In fact, the donkey had more spiritual insight than the prophet! Christian teachers should guard themselves against greed or even accusations regarding money (2 Cor. 8:19-21).

(2:17-18) “These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.” We expect to get water out of a spring to quench our thirst. What is the use of a spring without water? It’s a contradiction in terms and completely worthless! Peter understands the message of the false teachers to be the same way: Their teaching like taking a big gulp of salt water!

(2:19) “Promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” There is a certain irony of promising freedom when they are themselves really enslaved (cf. Jn. 8:34). We’re now free to sin, but we’re no longer free to stopping sinning. Sin leads to terrible addictions.

(2:20) “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” What makes them worse off? Is it more agonizing? Do they more of a hardened of heart? Are they more responsible? All of the above?

(2:21) “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” This implies that judgment is the key issue.

(2:22) “It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.’” They had no inner heart change (Prov. 26:11). Peter compares their behavior to dogs and pigs, which were unclean in this culture.

Discussion Questions

Read through 2 Peter 2: What are ways to identify false teachers from this passage?

Conclusion

We should discern false teachers through their doctrine (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6-9) and their deeds (Titus 1:16; 3 Jn. 1:10; 2 Cor. 11:15; Mt. 7:15-20; 11:19; 23:3; 1 Jn. 2:6; 2 Pet. 2:18-19; Jn. 10:12-13).

Don’t allow counterfeit Christians to make you cynical of the truth! Otherwise, they will have accomplished their demonic mission.

2 Peter 3

(2 Pet. 3:1-18) The end of human history

(3:1) “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.” This is why we call this letter Second Peter.

(3:2) “That you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.” Peter places the words of the OT prophets on par with NT apostolic teaching. In verses 15-16, he equates Paul’s letters with Scripture. So, this might even refer to the growth and recognition of the NT canon in the first-century.

(3:3) “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts.” Peter predicts that people will become cynical of the Second Coming as we reach the end of history. (Sound familiar?)

(3:4) “And saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” People will argue that everything has stayed the same over the millennia. Yet when we look at history and current trends, we see that trends are heading to a drastic conclusion (see our book, Endless Hope or Hopeless End: The Bible and the End of Human History ).

(3:5-6) “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” Peter’s point seems to be that God has brought judgment before, and he will do it again. He cites Genesis 1:6, 9.

(3:5) Did Peter believe that God created the universe from water or from nothing as Genesis teaches?

(3:7) “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Does this mean that God will annihilate the universe and create a new one? Or simply incinerate the evil within the universe, and restore the old one?

(3:8) “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” While a lot of time has transpired, God’s timeframe is different than ours.

(3:9) “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” God wants to wait for the maximum number of people to meet Christ in the premium amount of time. If Jesus returned 100 years ago, it would’ve ended war and violence, but it also would’ve meant that millions of people would missed out on eternal life.

(3:9) Does this passage invalidate limited atonement?

(3:10-11) “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” Blum writes, “The “elements” probably refers to the ‘celestial bodies’ on fire. Tēketai (‘melt’) occurs in the LXX of Isaiah 34:4.”[152]

In view of God’s judgment, how should this connect to our practical living?

(3:12) “Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”

(3:11-12) Can we speed up Christ’s coming?

(3:13-14) “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” This could refer to our current condition when Jesus returns. We don’t want to be found screwing around when Jesus returns. Instead, Jesus repeatedly taught, “Be ready!” John writes, “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).

(3:15-16) “And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Even Peter had a difficult time interpreting Paul’s words! While the Bible is perspicuous (or essentially clear) in regards to its main message, it is sometimes unclear in regards to its details.

(3:17-18) “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

[1] Craig Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2006), p.441.

[2] Emphasis mine. Edwin Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross. The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; InterVarsity Press, 1988), p.19.

[3] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 22-23.

[4] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 23.

[5] Gregg Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 44.

[6] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 271.

[7] F. W. Beare, The First Epistle of Peter (Oxford: Blackwell, 1970). 29. Cited in Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 17.

[8] Bart D. Ehrman, Forged: Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (New York: HarperOne, 2011), pp.138-139.

[9] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 26-27.

[10] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 28.

[11] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 74). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[12] Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Second ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. 645.

[13] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 24.

[14] Gene L. Green, Jude and Second Peter: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), p.146.

[15] Craig Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2006), p.442.

[16] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 37.

[17] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 36.

[18] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 53.

[19] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 53.

[20] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 58.

[21] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 62.

[22] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 63.

[23] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 63.

[24] Citations are from Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 64.

[25] J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter, vol. 49, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1988), 23.

[26] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 64.

[27] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 87.

[28] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 65.

[29] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 68.

[30] This is attested in papyrus scraps. See footnote. Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 68.

[31] Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 221.

[32] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 69.

[33] I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 1 Peter 1:6.

[34] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 68.

[35] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 69.

[36] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 63.

[37] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 78.

[38] Otto Bauernfeind, “Nēphō” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 937.

[39] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 79.

[40] Source: eMarketer (2019).

[41] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 311.

[42] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 311.

[43] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 81.

[44] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 88.

[45] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 84.

[46] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 85.

[47] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 87.

[48] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 92.

[49] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 92.

[50] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 93.

[51] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 92.

[52] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 93.

[53] We see many other examples of referring to the gospel as God’s word in the NT (e.g. Eph. 1:13; Phil. 2:16; Col. 1:5; 4:3; 1 Thess. 1:8; 2:13; 2 Thess. 3:1; 2 Tim. 2:9; 4:2; Titus 1:3; 2:5; Heb. 13:7; Jas. 1:21; 1 Pet. 2:8; 3:1).

[54] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 100.

[55] G. Fries, B. Klappert, and C. Brown, “Λόγος,” ed. Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther, and Hans Bietenhard, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 1118.

[56] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 100.

[57] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 100.

[58] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 103.

[59] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 104.

[60] Barna, George. Marketing the Church. Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO, 1990.

[61] John Shelby Spong, Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile: A New Reformation of the Church’s Faith and Practice (San Francisco, CA, 1998), Chapter Six “Jesus as Rescuer.”

[62] Julie M. Hopkins, Towards a Feminist Christology: Jesus of Nazareth, European Women, and the Christological Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 1995), p. 51.

[63] Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve, 2007), p.209.

[64] While this is somewhat disputed, this was the view of Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars Book VI, Nero 38. Tacitus claims that it could’ve been either an accident or Nero. Annals 15.36-38.

[65] Annals 15.36-38

[66] Annals 15.44.

[67] Suetonius, About the Life of the Caesars, chapters 28-29.

[68] Cassius Dio, Book 62, Chapter 28, Section 2.

[69] Cited in Neill, Stephen. A History of Christian Missions. 2nd ed. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1986. 37-38.

[70] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 124.

Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 125.

[71] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 128.

[72] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 128.

[73] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 128.

[74] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 130.

[75] Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 234.

[76] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 131.

[77] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 131.

[78] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 132.

[79] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 132.

[80] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 135.

[81] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 138.

[82] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 135.

[83] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 136.

[84] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 148.

[85] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 183.

[86] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 204.

[87] While the wives of unbelievers is the focus, Schreiner does state that “it is likely that all wives are in view as well.” Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 147.

[88] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 145.

[89] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 152.

[90] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 148.

[91] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 160.

[92] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 151.

[93] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 161.

[94] For further reading, see Tim and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Penguin Books, 2011). Appendix: Decision Making and Gender Roles.

[95] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 164-165.

[96] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 157.

[97] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 165.

[98] In our estimation, Schreiner struggles to maintain a consistent eschatological reading of the text down through verse 16. He considers all of this as referring to the final judgment. Then, in verse 17, he holds that Peter switches to the present moment—not the final judgment (Schreiner, p.178). We simply do not consider his view plausible.

[99] D. A Carson and G.K. Beale, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 1037.

[100] John R. W. Stott, The Contemporary Christian (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 51.

[101] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 160.

[102] Grudem supports his view by erroneously appealing to Romans 6:4. Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 171.

[103] Schreiner supports his view by claiming that Noah’s family was saved from their wicked generation, who were destroyed by the waters. He writes, “Noah’s ‘salvation’ was brought about by the same act of judgment that destroyed the wicked.… The way God rescues the righteous is by destroying their enemies.” Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 193. By contrast, the waters stand for God’s judgment against sin—not against enemies—as the context makes clear.

[104] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 198.

[105] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 203.

[106] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 177.

[107] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 203.

[108] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 204.

[109] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 205.

[110] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 211.

[111] Otto Bauernfeind, “Nēphō” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 937.

[112] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 79.

[113] Ernst Fuchs, “Ekteino,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), 460.

[114] Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 246.

[115] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 213.

[116] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 220.

[117] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 218.

[118] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 229.

[119] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 192.

[120] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 191.

[121] Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Ft. Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1961), pp.90-95.

[122] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 232.

[123] Incidentally, this adds to the strong case that “elders” and “overseers” were the same role in the early church (cf. Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7; 1 Tim. 3:1-2; 5:17).

[124] I am indebted to my friend Gary Delashmutt’s unpublished paper “The Privilege of Being a Home Group Leader” for many of the insights in this section.

[125] See Rick Rojas, “Let He Who Is Without Yeezys Cast the First Stone,” The New York Times (April 17, 2019).

[126] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 196.

[127] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 236.

[128] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 237.

[129] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 199.

[130] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 240.

[131] The term melei is the third person singular form of melō. J. Goetzmann, “Care, Anxiety,” ed. Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther, and Hans Bietenhard, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 276-277.

[132] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 242.

[133] I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 1 Peter 5:8.

[134] Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), pp.191-192.

Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 252.

[135] I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 1 Peter 5:8.

[136] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 204.

[137] Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), p.195.

[138] I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 1 Peter 5:10.

[139] Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), p.195.

[140] I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 1 Peter 5:10.

[141] Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), p.196.

[142] Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), p.196.

[143] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 245.

[144] I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 1 Peter 5:10.

[145] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 245.

[146] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 317.

[147] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 250.

[148] Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 208.

[149] Oepke, A. (1964-). G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 1, p. 397). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[150] Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 277.

[151] Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 280-281.

[152] Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 287.