The title for this message is taken from Lloyd C. Douglas's book by the same title. This short epistle of five chapters has been cherished by Christians throughout the ages. The overall theme of this book is "hope in the midst of trouble." God's children in every era of time have found in the book a trustworthy source of hope and knowledge needed by all believers. Even when ominous storm clouds gather, thus forming a backdrop around the people of God, though "fiery trials" may come the reader of this letter is assured of "triumph in the midst of trouble."
The writer sets in place a "jewel of hope" before his readers tear-stained questioning eyes when he wrote in 4:12, 13, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
Man cannot live without hope? The loss of hope can be so destructive. Hope does not depend upon outward circumstances, but rather hope, real hope is found in a reliable person. On many occasions hope has been manifested whenever there is the greatest of despair. Some of the world's greatest music ever written, some of the greatest sermons ever preached, some of the greatest masterpieces ever painted have been results of individuals whose lives have been tried in the "fiery trials of affliction and broken hearts." Hope has been defined as faith with its feet on the rocks and its face looking toward the morning. The hope of which Peter writes is found in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The Man, Simon Peter
The Greek name for the writer was Peter; he was also known by the Aramaic name Cephas. Both names mean stone or little rock (pebble). He is also called Simon (Matthew 4:18; Mark 3:16; John 1:41). In Matthew 16:17, Jesus calls him Simon Bar-jona or Simon, son of Jona(s). Truly he was an apostle, one sent out on a mission, for it was to him and the other Eleven that Jesus called to start the evangelization of the world (Matthew 4:18-22). In John 1:42, Jesus gave him a prophetic name, "a stone."
Peter is known as brave, impulsive, confident, unstable but affectionate. He became a leader and spokesman for the Twelve. Although he denied the Lord on more than one occasion, he was probably used of the Lord more than most of the apostles. The denier became a defender; the impetuous became the impregnable votary.
This is the apostle who boldly confessed his faith in the Lord and then when the Lord bade him come to Him on the water began to sink because of his lack of faith. This is
the apostle who said, "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee." But between this confession and the performance lay the arena of testing, and Peter with an oath said, "I know not the man." This is the very apostle who was bewildered by the glory of the transfiguration but who slept in the Garden of Gethsemane. A door of hope is opened to the apostle, however, after the resurrection when the angel's special instructions were to, "...Tell his disciples, AND PETER, that he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him" (Mark 16:7).
Through this open door of hope, the writer found restoration of fellowship and a bright hope for the future in the service of his risen Lord. On the day of Pentecost it is
through the preaching of this great man of God that 3,000 souls were saved in one day. The parallels between the PREACHING that we find in the book of Acts and the interpretations of the GOSPEL found in I Peter are particularly close and striking.
W.A. Criswell quotes a black man who said God took the cement, the sand, and the water, and He made out of Peter, a ROCK. "...Peter is the one I call out first and Peter is like the shifting sand. Peter blow dis way and Peter blow dat way. Oh!!! what I do wid Peter?...Peter is the one I count on most and Peter is like the changing sea. Peter move dis way - Peter move dat way. Oh!!! What I gonna do wid Peter? Oh, what a gwana do wid sand and water? Both of them slipping away. When dey's mixed like in Peter you can mold and shape, but how you gwana make it stay? Dey needs cement. Dat's the spirit of the Lawd. And notin' else can hold him fast. lfn it's poured in the sand and water now maybe Peter gwine to last. Oh, de sand and the water don make the rock. Dat's what I don wid Peter." He further states, "That is the marvelous thing about the Lord. He sees us now, as we are, but He also sees what we can be. He sees us at our best" (pp. 16,17).
2. The Recipients of the Epistle
"The strangers of the Diaspora (diasporas) scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" are the recipients of the epistle. By the time Peter wrote the epistle (probably about A.D. 64) the dispersed Jews were scattered throughout the Roman provinces of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). There were, no doubt, some Gentiles scattered among the Jews who had embraced Christianity (4:3). It was an encyclical letter; that is, it was to be circulated among the Christians. It may have been carried to the various churches by Silvanus (5:12). Even before A.D. 50 Christianity had been carried, above all by Paul, into the geographical center of Asia Minor, the highland region of the extended province of Galatia. Peter writes in 5:13, "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son." Thus Babylon on the Euphrates is the place of writing.
All of the converts were in the midst of cruel hardships and temptations. This epistle was written to encourage them and can be read by Christians today who look for hope far beyond the trials and temptations of this life. It points the believer to the blessed issues of trial, and teaches him to regard present darkness in the light of the future which is radiant with the visible glory of Christ.
Verse 2 speaks of these first century Christians as, "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." The spiritual status of the readers of the epistle was "chosen" or "elect." Some light is given here into the mystery of election. Election has as its SOURCE "the foreknowledge (prognosin) or forethought of God the Father;" its SPHERE is suggested by the phrase, "sanctified (agiasmo) or made holy by the Spirit;" and its SIGN is found "unto the obedience (hupakoen) or compliance and sprinkling of the blood (aimatos) of Jesus Christ."
So in the opening words of this epistle. Peter sets forth three great truths - the providence of the Father, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the atoning death of the Son. The entire Godhead has very definite activities in the salvation of our souls and the redemption of our bodies, and the Godhead is active within the interval between these two great events. The Christian's hope is based on the conviction that God is going somewhere. History is really "His story." God's purposes overrule and use all the events of history to move toward His purpose in the world. God began our history, and he will bring it to its proper goal. This is our HOPE.
Peter then closes verse 2 by pronouncing a benediction upon the readers. "Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." Grace is the very FOUNT of our salvation; peace is the very FRUIT of our salvation.
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The purpose of the epistle is to, "Stand fast in the faith." A practical appeal is made to courage, purity and faithfulness to Christ in the midst of suffering. It is an epistle of hope. Cramer writes, "Simply stated, the purpose of this epistle was twofold. First, it was designed to orient the Christians to suffering. There was need to understand the reason why suffering had become their lot, and to realize that they were thereby identifying themselves with Christ in His sufferings. Second, there was need to lift their eyes in hope from present, temporal circumstances to future, eternal realities" (p. 10).
A Living Hope in Salvation
I Peter 1:3 - 12
Many dream of an inheritance, possessions obtained by gift. Most people never inherit a sizeable fortune; however, all can have an heavenly inheritance. It is available to those who will by faith trust Jesus as his personal Savior. This inheritance is most valuable.
1. Salvation is Described - 3 - 5
The Apostle Peter continues his introduction with a burst of praise in verse 3. The writer eulogizes the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for His marvelous works in the act of regeneration. The eulogy takes the form of an Old Testament or Jewish prayer. The Apostle Paul did the same in II Corinthians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:3. Jehovah God is the Author of our salvation, and He is the God of Jesus since the incarnation and His Father from all Eternity. "Our Lord Jesus Christ" is the exultant cry of the redeemed. The exalted One is the Lord of the Church.
Jehovah God is the One Who begat us (anagennes); we are born again or born from above. He has regenerated us. Regeneration or the new birth which results in eternal life begins for the child of God when the Father imparts to him the kind of life which He possesses. The new birth has as its foundation and fountain the resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is the crowning point of God's redemptive work. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the valid foundation for all of God's saving work, both present and future. Hiebert says, "Our hope is anchored in the past - Jesus arose! Our hope remains in the present - Jesus lives! Our hope is completed in the future - Jesus is coming again!
The second aspect of salvation is that we have an inheritance (kleronomian); that which passes from father to child. In the Old Testament an inheritance was "a portion which one received by lot." Under law the inheritance was guaranteed by a legally binding promise that reflects the father-son relationship (1:10 - 12, 17). The risen Savior has engaged Himself to provide for the children of God a heavenly inheritance which is perennial (amaranton) or unfading. Some of the characteristics of this inheritance are: (1) incorruptible, that is, not subject to decay or dissolution; (2) undefiled, free from stain or uncontaminated; (3) never fades, unwithering like cut flowers. Our inheritance will never diminish nor lose its charm. It is death-proof, sin-proof and time-proof.
Because of Christ's resurrection, because He is alive - we can be triumphant in trouble; we have a hope that is steadfast. Hope is not wishful thinking but a living vibrant assurance. The risen Savior has engaged Himself to provide for the children of God a heavenly inheritance which shall not diminish nor pass away. It is reserved in heaven through faith. Our inheritance is certain because of God's watchful care. It is immune from earthly disasters. It is preserved in heaven beyond the reach of all destructive forces. The child of God has the assurance that one day he will enter into that inheritance of which there is no possibility of bankruptcy or misappropriation - this assurance is indispensable to hope in times of trial and suffering.
God guards (a military term) denoting the fact that God has thrown up a "garrison" in order to carry the believer through his troubles to the time of his entering into the glorious riches of heaven. Our faith activates God's power. What does "ready to be revealed in the last time" mean? Nothing is needful, no final touches need be applied. Our salvation which we now have in principal becomes our possession in reality when we enter the portals of heaven. "In the last time" (eschato kairo) means the right time, the proper time - the day when Christ returns to consummate all that God has willed to do. One of these days there will be a great "unveiling" (apokaluphtrhenai) or revealing when all the glories of our great salvation will be displayed for all to behold.
All of these blessings of which the apostle writes are results of faith - not only our faith but the "faithfulness" of God. It is that quiet, unshakable, unyielding confidence in the presence, resources and utter faithfulness of the Lord Who by His spirit lives within us. Surely Peter recalled the "faithfulness" of God as He dealt with Noah and his family in the pre-flood wickedness, Joseph amid the wiles and witcheries of a heathen house and a designing woman, and Daniel hard pressed by the allurements of Babylon. These Old Testament characters were "garrisoned" or (phrouroumenous) "guarded" by the power and faithfulness of a great God.
2. Salvation is Experienced - 6 - 9
Even though the saved individual enjoys the blessings and happiness of his salvation, sadness and gladness exist side by side. Although God has redeemed our souls, our bodies remain here in a sin-cursed world. While here on the earth, there is suffering and heaviness because of manifold temptations. God, whose policy is all-wise, has a reason for permitting Christians to suffer. Thank God, however, they are short-lived compared with the joy that awaits us. These trials or testings are to determine the nature and quality of our faith. This is within the Divine purpose of God. We suffer manifold (poikilois) many colored, many fold trials (peirasmois) and tribulations. The affliction is small because compared with eternal glory it continues but a short time. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
Now Peter says, "the trial of your faith (is) much more precious than gold that perishes (apollumenou) or destroyed, though it be tried by fire." Gold, one of the most precious metals, under testing is proven whether it is genuine or not. So faith is proved to be genuine when we respond to the message of God. As gold is tried by fire, faith is refined and purified by fiery trials. "And (God) will turn (His) hand upon thee, and thoroughly purge away thy dross, and take away all thy sin" (Isaiah 1:25). The ultimate aim that the trying of fire "might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." "Praise" meaning recognition of approval. "Glory" meaning that radiance of future life. And "honor" meaning positions of distinction.
God is in the "refining" business, and refinement is necessary to purify the believer and to establish his faith. There are three truths that the Christian should learn. First, trouble is something we should take for granted. There are certain kinds of suffering that belong to life in general. "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble" (Job 14:1). Secondly, trouble is something that will pass. Peter says that it is "for a season," or "a little while." There are brighter days ahead! Third, trouble is something that should not be wasted. It can be turned into good. Trouble comes to all, it sours some and it sweetens others. Some become so embittered against God and against others that they are miserable, and they make those around them to be miserable. Both joy and sorrow are necessary to the development of the Christian.
Verse 8 indicates that there can be exultation amidst distress. A vast majority of Peter's readers had not seen Jesus, nor have we; yet we love Him because of the Holy Spirit's presence. After the confession of Thomas, Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ can bring unspeakable (aneklaleto) and inexpressible joy. Until we see Jesus we will go on through this troublesome world - loving Him, believing Him, receiving Him and rejoicing in Him.
"Believing" is a most important word. This is descriptive of our continual and habitual activities toward Christ. We trust and keep on trusting. "Receiving" has to do with "acquiring for oneself" personal appropriation and enjoyment; the end (goal) of faith is the soul's salvation. "Rejoicing" expresses unspeakable and exalted joy now in the midst of trials, and as the consummation of a life of faith, the "salvation of your souls." In his eulogizing of God, Peter has brought together, in a living blend, the PRESENT and the FUTURE tenses of salvation.
3. Salvation is Explained - 10 - 12
With a communication with God that was supernatural, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophets expressed the mind of God but were forced to study (exezraunesan) or inquire diligently and search (exeraunesan) in order to understand the significance of the Messianic prophecies.
Yeager says of this passage, "Here we have one of the strongest statements possible of divine inspiration. The salvation, fully revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His ministry, death, resurrection and ascension and the subsequent complete revelation of the remainder of God's truth in the New Testament, by the Holy Spirit, was foretold by the Old Testament prophets. But foresight is never equal to hindsight. As they spoke, they realized that their message was pregnant with significance far beyond the sweep and scope of their current perception (XVII, p. 65).
"Peter says that they made diligent investigation into these matters in an attempt to discover their full portent. Their message was about the gift of God's grace which would be given to others long after they were dead. Those to whom Peter was writing were among those who would receive this grace of which the prophets spoke. A man who speaks only from his own mental resources understands all that he says. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the other prophets did not understand. They spoke as they were motivated by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:21) (Yeager, Vol XVII, pp. 65, 66).
God's revelation is progressive. The prophets received a partial revelation. They were told of the Messiah's coming, and its attendant blessing would not have historical fulfillment in their day. The Holy Spirit used the Old Testament prophets to predict Messiah's coming and also used New Testament preachers to proclaim the act of His coming. The same Spirit prompted and authenticated both.
Peter links the message of the Old Testament with that of the New Testament and thereby implicitly teaches the unity of the Scriptures. Peter looks at the Old Testament Messianic prophecies in the light of New Testament fulfillment. He confirms that Jesus has fulfilled these prophecies.
Simeon is a good example of those who searched the Scriptures to determine when Messiah would arrive on the scene. "And it was revealed unto (Simeon) by the Holy Spirit, that he would not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ" (Luke 2:26). He was assured that he would see the Messiah, and had he pieced together Old Testament scriptures with special attention to Daniel 9:24 - 27, he would have known also that Messiah would be born during his generation. Of course, God is the only One Who knows the future, and He may choose to reveal these things to Whomever He chooses.
The apostles and disciples of the first century who wrote the books of the New Testament were led to speak and write as God directed them by His Holy Spirit. They were even told and made to understand some things that were not completely understood by the prophets of old. Even angels desired to look upon some things that were revealed to the apostles and prophets. There is a distinct possibility that the Apostle John did not understand fully what he wrote in the Revelation. God led him to understand as much as he needed to know.
The Christian Life In Relation To God
I Peter 1:13 - 21
Men simply cannot live without hope. This is exactly the reason the loss of hope is so destructive. "Hope" increases in usage and depth as God's people go deeper into suffering. This gives us a key to biblical hope. It does not depend on outward circumstances.
Real hope must be in a reliable person. It can never be in words or deeds alone. One night God called Abraham outside of his tent to show him the uncountable stars of the heavens and to promise him a posterity as numerous; Abraham believed. He believed God, not in himself, nor in his own power. It was his hope in God which was entered into his record as righteousness.
1. A Life of Steadfast Hope - 13
After having given thanks to God for His wonderful salvation, the Apostle Peter urges his readers to conduct themselves according to their high privileges and glorious destiny. He admonishes them to be in the state of preparation for the future, to be in complete control of themselves which will keep them from falling into the enticements of sin. Though the Christian may be "trouble-encircled" he should be calm and collected in the Spirit. He is to focus his hope unalterably without doubting or despondency, upon the grace that is being brought to him at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
"Wherefore" or "therefore;" that is, in the light of what has been written before, or he means with regard to previous verses. "Gird up the loins of your mind," or as NIV states it, "Prepare your minds for action?" Decisive action is required. In the Orient the people wore long, flowing robes which were drawn up and tucked under the girdle (belt) whenever vigorous activity was requires; they were let down for repose. Peter wants his readers to bring all of their rational and reflective powers under control; he wants them and us to get ready for work, warfare, or the Christian race. This is necessary to be on guard against the forces of evil and in order to live a victorious Christian life.
He wants us to let nothing hinder our minds as we put it to work. A soldier may put on his armor and pick up his shield; a football player may put on his pads, his uniform and helmet. John Bunyan pictures pilgrim (any Christian) standing at the foot of a great staircase with heaven pictured at the top. As the pilgrim mounts and ascends upward he sees singers on the top of the staircase, welcoming the pilgrim in with much joy and glory. Many struggle to enter into the beautiful city, however, they are thrust away because the gate is blocked by men who would fight against those who would enter. He sees a man come with determination written on his countenance. The man walks up to the one at the gate and tells him to record his name. When his name is recorded, the man draws out his sword, ascends the steps, and fearfully combats those blocking the way. A great fight ensues, but the man conquers and makes a lane through those who hindered the progress of the Christian pilgrim, and he enters in triumph, conquest and glory (Criswell, p. 40).
Then Peter writes, "be sober" (nephontes) or calm. He wants us to be self-controlled, to have self-discipline and to have a level head. Then he writes, "Set your hope," which is an imperative. The Christian must rely upon what God has promised He will yet do for him. There must be a confident expectation. "Hope to the end (teleios) or complete for...grace." The grace that brought us an inheritance (4) and salvation (9, 10). Our inheritance, salvation and our hope are associated with the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. A Life of Personal Holiness - 14 - 16
Even those who are saved should continue to be obedient (hupakoes) or in submission; in fact, if we have hope in the coming Savior we should conform to his nature. We are to be children of obedience; obedience should designate our character. Just as the children of disobedience "walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2;2); now the saved should walk according to the Holy Spirit Who governs his life. The former practice of disobedience must be terminated; we have a new nature now. Just as the old pattern of life is related to evil desires (lusts), so our new pattern of life should be according to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Peter uses the same word that Paul used in Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed (suschematizomenoi) or fashioned to this world." Obedient children do not allow themselves to conform, or to be conformed to old desires.
Verse 15 begins with "but," a contrast, "But, as he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life." Herein is a positive call to holiness. God is the Model of all holiness; His standard is Divine. Peter is echoing what many of the prophets have written, "For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee" (Hosea 11:9). When the seraphim cried out in worship to God, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts," Isaiah saw himself as a man of unclean lips, and dwelling among a people of unclean lips. Peter's admonition is the "like Father like son" idea. God, our Heavenly Father is holy, so we His children should be holy in all manner of behavior.
The child of God should be morally clean, separate from all moral impurity. Because the Holy One has called us with "an effectual calling," we have a very powerful motive for being holy ourselves. Holiness as a state of the heart will manifest itself in the external life, in our manner of conversation (anastrophe) or our manner of living. The New Testament saints have received the imputed righteousness or holiness of Christ, and what Christian does not take comfort from this transaction. But the writer is pressing here for a holy life which demonstrates to all the grace of God within.
Verse 16 uses a common reference to the Scriptures with "Because it is written" (dioti gegraptai) or more literally, "Because it stands written," denoting the permanence of the record of Scripture. The writer could have had in mind at least three reference in Leviticus (19:2; 20:7, 26), in which God refers to His holiness and demands the same from His subjects. Of course, we recall Jesus' admonition in Matthew 5:48, "Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect."
3. A Life of Motivated Reverence - 17 - 21
What a blessing and privilege it is to call the Creator of the universe, "our Father." Indeed, all those who are recipients of His grace have that privilege. But we must remember that our Father is Judge as well; in fact, He is an impartial Judge. The phrase "without respect of persons" (aprosopolemptos) means literally, "without receiving of face" or showing partiality. He judges not on outward appearance or pretensions. Since He is Judge and moral Governor of the universe, then we must reverence Him for Who He is. There is a close connection between a life of holiness and a personal reverence toward God. If our lives are holy and moral, we have no need of fear; however, He does want our reverence. The writer learned this most vivid lesson when he saw God in action at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:34).
God is a loving Father, but He is also just, and can allow no unforgiven sin in His children; therefore, we should spend the brief time of our "sojourning" here, before we go to our heavenly home, "in reverence and holy awe." The words "in fear" speak of a reverential sense of accountability, allied to holiness. So it is necessary for the heirs of salvation to walk circumspectly before God. As pilgrims of God, our obligation is clear, a day-by-day conduct, full of holy awe, with no forgetting that here on earth we are being judged by heaven's light. How sad it is that some are so attached to this transitory life that complete purity in God's sight is not desired!
Charles S. Bell calls these verses (18 - 21) "one of the greatest redemptive passages of the New Testament" (Hiebert, p. 100). The word order stresses, negatively then positively, the precious means of our redemption. Negatively, we were not redeemed with silver and gold; slaves could be redeemed or set free by the payment of silver and gold. Positively we were redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ" the lamb unblemished and unspotted. "Our careful walk, which is inspired by reverence for God, our Father and Jesus Christ our Savior, is due, not to our fear of eternal damnation, for Christ's blood delivers us from that, but for fear of a loss of reward at the hands of an exacting Judge in a court which the issue is not salvation but rewards for faithful stewardship" (Yeager, Vol XVII, p. 77).
What is meant by the "precious" (timio) blood of Jesus. It is unique, of high value, highly esteemed; that which is held in honor. Our Lord's blood is of the quality that can protect us from the guilt of sin. His blood can cover every sin of the human race because he was the only Man who was impervious to sin. John Phillips says, "The cost of Calvary is beyond all human computation; the value of the shed blood of Jesus is beyond all our comprehension" (Hiebert, p. 103).
Furthermore, this redemption which Jesus accomplished was in God's plan before the world began, "(Jesus) verily was foreordained (proegnosmenou) or foreknew before the foundation (kataboles) or laying down of the world, but was manifest (phanerothentos) or declared in these last times for you" (verse 20). In this verse the writer implies that on the one hand, the verse looks back to Christ's transcendent origin (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4) and on the other hand, it looks forward to His redemptive appearance in history (John 1:14; Hebrews 9:26; I John 1:2). Our Lord was chosen in eternity but revealed in time.
It was Jehovah God Who raised up Jesus from the dead and gave Him the glory of Sonship; thus we can claim the promise of ultimate victory over death and the grave. God placed His stamp of approval upon His Son when He raised Him from the dead.
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This same Jesus has been raised from the dead, and has been exalted to the place of supreme power; through Him we know God, and on Him our faith and hope is based. God has demonstrated His victory over the powers of sin. God's Sacrifice for sin has appeared in the world for the good of all men; but with efficacious and eternal results only for those who believe. This means that for the child of God, our faith and our hope rests not only in the Creator-God but also in the Redeemer-God!! A scarlet thread runs throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; that scarlet thread speaks of the blood of Christ.
Growing Up in Christian Love
I Peter 1:22 - 2:3
The Apostle Peter now turns to a new subject - from the saint's vertical to the horizontal dimension of the Christian life. He emphasizes how the Christian is to love the brethren and how he should grow in the work of the Lord. In the light of salvation there are some practical aspects of the Christian faith. From the Godward aspects he turns to the manward aspects of Christianity. There are some inescapable demands upon the believer.
1. Exhortation to Christian Love - 1:22 - 25
Verse 22 contains another of Peter's imperatives - "love one another." His command, however, is prompted by our inner purification, "Now that you have purified (egnikotes) , in a moral sense, your (souls)." The "soul" is purified in forgiveness when the individual is saved, but the body needs cleansing also. "He that is washed needeth not save (except) to wash his feet, but is clean every whit (entirely clean); and ye are clean, but not all of you.. .Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 13:10; 15:3). The body is cleansed through daily confession of sins to God, and "by obeying the truth (John 17:19). When the individual hears the truth and submits to it, then the Holy Spirit does the purifying.
The saints are to love each other because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ? This concept was "the noblest jewel in the diadem of early Christianity," and the mark of the new birth (I John 3:14, 18, 19). The apostle used two words, both translated "love" in this verse. The first one (philadelphian) is the love that is mutual, a feeling of friendship. The second word for love is (agapasate) a deep abiding love that is sacrificial. The first is more a love of goodwill, while the second word desires the highest good for the one loved, even at the expense of self.
There was little or no difference between the word "neighbor" and "brother" in the Oriental mind; they were of equal standing. In fact, a neighbor was anyone who stood in need of something like food, water, clothing or one who was sick or in prison. Only hypocrites find it possible to divorce the theological gospel from the social gospel. Jesus taught this principle in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30 - 37). This standard of ethics is possible only from one who has been born again, and need not be expected from any other.
The new birth makes mutual love possible and demands it of the individual. "Being born again (anagegennemenoi) or having been born again, emphasizes the reality of regeneration. The sources of the new birth and the new life are described first of all negatively, "not of perishable (phthartes) or corruptible, that which is subject to decay and destruction, but "of imperishable (aphthartou) or the exact opposite of perishable. The supernatural source of the believer's new life is according to "God's creative grace." God uses the means and instrument of this birth - the Word of God (James 1:18). The word is life giving and life changing; it gives life and is never obsolete or irrelevant (Luke 18:11 - 15). Just as the nature of the seed, so the nature of the plant which springs forth. The good seed of divine life is implanted by the word, so the results come forth manifested by the divine love. This love is natural, for Christians share a common life; all have one Father and the spirit of sonship will be the spirit of brotherhood.
It seems clear that sincere, steadfast brotherly love implies two pre-requisites: (1) spiritual life; that is, we must be "born again," and (2) spiritual health; that is, we must have "purified souls." Therefore, because we have been saved and sanctified; we are to develop. We are to cultivate or manifest this affection for others. We are to love one another from the heart fervently. This God-kind of love, and this God-kind of life abides forever. It is intended for all periods of time, never to be superseded by human philosophy or human ingenuity. What is the reason for its eternality? It is based upon the eternal word of God. "Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away," said the Savior (Luke 21:33). Thus, even in heaven, it will be our study, with whatever additional word God may desire to give us.
In verse 24, Peter quotes from Isaiah (40:6 - 8) to show the transitory nature of man and the eternality of God's word. Peter waxes eloquent as he presents a poetic picture of that in which all men take pride - wealth, rank, talents, beauty, learning and apparel; all are short-lived compared to God's word. The word (rheme) means the spoken word (from the mouth of God), rather than the written word (logos). The term (rheme) is repeated in verse 25, "the gospel is preached unto you." Peter declares in these verses (24, 25) that God's word is not only written for men to read, but these are the "good tidings," the gospel which has been preached by the prophets during the Old Testament days and by the apostles of his day. This is the same gospel which was manifested by the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And now - to get back to the real thrust of the whole passage - one of the utterances from the lips of the Son of God was, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another" (John 13: 34).
So quoting this commandment is not enough nor is being sentimental about it enough. We are to act upon it, and if we are saved and sanctified by the Spirit of God in us we will manifest love for the brotherhood. Such love was needed for those early Christians amid the heat of persecution and pain, and such love is needed today where sorrows cast their shadows and where the night of grief and doubt deepens; it is the fragrant expression of the life of faith. It is the flower and the fruit of "the good tidings" concerning Christ!
2. Exhortation to Christian Growth. 2:1 - 3
This passage begins with "therefore;" that is, on the basis of what Peter said in the last section (1:22 - 25), he now draws a conclusion. So the "therefore" closely relates the last three verses in chapter 1 with the first three verses of chapter 2. The break between chapters one and two is unfortunate. The Godward and manward aspects of the Christian life make inescapable demands upon the believer.
In verse 1 Peter enumerates some hindrances to spiritual growth. The NIV translates the words "laying aside," "RID all malice..." (apothemenoi) or put off some things. Paul uses the same word in Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:8. Before the young Christian's craving for milk, he must rid himself of these hindering evils - "malice (kakian) or maliciousness, guile (dolon) or craftiness, hypocrisies (hupokriseis) or pretense, envies (phthonous) and all evil speakings (katalalias) or backbitings..." "Rid" is usually used for removing one's clothes (Zechariah 3:3, 4; Acts 7:58).
Explanations of the words used by Peter follow: (1) malice or moral evil, ill will, malignity; (2) guile or deceit, cunning, or craftiness (any falsehood, seduction or treachery); (3) hypocrisies or counterfeit acts. Of course, a hypocrite is one who all the time is concealing his real motives; a man who meets you with a face which is very different from his heart, and with words that are very different from his real meaning; (4) envies, displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others (Proverbs 14:30), (5) evil speakings or slander of any kind; that is, speech that "runs down" or disparages another (Heibert, p. 122). These sins are to be laid aside as the filthy garments of a carnal life.
Just as the physically healthy body is sufficiently strong to repel the attack of various germs and to forestall any infection which they might produce, so the spiritual man must be healthy in order to combat the "germs" or sins in the spiritual realm.
Verse 2 speaks of "newborn babes," probably those who have recently been saved. God tenderly cares for them in their guileless state (Matthew 18:3; Mark 10:15). This verse literally reads, "for the spiritual milk which is without guile, long ye." To desire (epipothesate), yearn or long for spiritual milk is an imperative (a command); these babes in Christ were to long for greatly or crave the spiritual milk (God's word). The word of God is to be craved for so that by it the newborn babe can grow up in his salvation. A Christian's responsibility is to diligently appropriate the word that produces the desired growth. Just as a mother constantly looks for evidence of growth in her child, so God wants to see continual growth in His children.
"For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age" (Hebrews 5:13, 14). Milk answers to the basic teachings of faith, while "meat" refers to the weigher and deeper insights into the truths of God. The apostle does not admonish his readers to "work and grow" which has some truth and much error, but rather to "study and grow" toward spiritual maturity.
"If you have tasted (egeusasthe)," or "Since you have tasted that the Lord is gracious," there should be a longing for growth in the Christian faith. The word "if" here does not imply doubt but "because," the believer has experienced conversion he should desire spiritual growth. The first experiences of the Christian life stimulate God's people to further efforts. God's amazing goodness and Christ's compassion has been experienced by the saint. Our God is habitually bringing all sorts of good and pleasant blessings into the lives of His children. Yeager says of this verse, "If, as a result of the first taste of the sincere milk of the Word of God, one has found that the Lord is gracious, he must be made to realize that the new life in Christ will lead him into a growth pattern that will dictate a totally different life style from that of the world" (Vol XVII, p. 90).
Life in the Christian Community
I Peter 2:4 - 10
The Christian life is lived in the community or to be more specific, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its vitalization is in union with Christ Who is the Head of the Church - the Body of Christ.
1. Incorporation into the Spiritual Temple and True Priesthood - 4 - 8
The King James Version concludes verse 3 with a semi-colon; however, it seems logical to end it with a period and begin verse 4 with, "To whom, coming as unto a living stone..." More literally the translation could read, "As you come to (the Lord); " believers come to the Lord for sustenance and fellowship. We also come to Him for guidance and direction. This coming is voluntary and repeated or habitual. E. E. Harrison wrote: "No other faith can claim a living founder who has passed through death and has risen to a triumphant station at God's right hand, there to be continually available to the immediate fellowship of each one who trusts Him" (Hiebert, p. 130).
"The living stone" (lithon zonta) is a Person pulsating with life, strength and coherence. We sometimes speak of something being "stone dead," but this is a living stone. So Peter uses this word "living" again. We have a LIVING hope (1:3), the LIVING Word (1:23) and now a LIVING stone. Peter seemed to have a fondness for the word LIVING. When our Lord asked Peter who He was. Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the LIVING God" (Matthew 16:16).
The word LITHOS (a stone) is one shaped for a place in the building. It is distinguishable from (petros), a loose stone in contrast to, for example, sand or metal. This stone of which Peter writes here was "disallowed (apodedokimasmenon) or rejected indeed of men but chosen of God, and precious." Jesus used this same Scripture in Matthew 21:42 in reference to Himself. Note the contrast, the stone was disallowed by men BUT chosen (eklekton) or elect of God. " (Jesus) came to his own (creation), and his own (people) received him not" (John 1:11). Jesus Christ was rejected by a godless society, because He did not meet their specifications. The greatest possible recommendation, however, is that God seated Him by His right hand (Psalm 110:1) because He is Chosen and given the unique position of prestige.
Peter probably quotes from Psalm 118:22 which reads, "The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner." The builders did not recognize the importance of this particular stone; but God selected HIM to be mankind's Redeemer. He is precious (entomon) or honored, prized and highly valued) of God the Father.
In verse 5 Peter writes that his readers are "as lively (living) stones ...built up a spiritual house (oikos pneumatikos)." Jesus said, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). It is through Christ, the living Stone that His followers are made lively (living) stones. The Apostle Paul must have had a similar idea when writing to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 12:12ff), in which he implies that each member of the Corinthian church is like the members of a human body. God sets each member in the body as it pleases Him, so each stone in the spiritual house is shaped and placed to fulfill its assigned task.
Peter speaks metaphorically here of the "spiritual house;" because it is not the stones but the individual members who form the household of God. Just as the church house is devoted to the worship of God, so our bodies are spiritual houses in which the Holy Spirit dwells. He states in 4:17 that the time is come when judgment must begin at the house (church) of God. Paul wrote, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).
Then the writer calls each believer "an holy priesthood" (hierateuma hagoion). "Every believer is a priest for himself before God. Every believer is also a priest for every other believer before God," so states Ray Summers. In terms of the Old Testament the priesthood should be holy, consecrated and set part as belonging and ministering to God. As believer priests. Peter states that the priest is, "to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." What are these spiritual sacrifices? Instead of the Levitical sacrifices of bulls and goats, the believer's sacrifices are to be expressions of worship by the redeemed, offered in gratitude and self-surrender.
These sacrifices seem to be characterized in five different ways: (1) the believer's body offered in service (Romans 12:1, 2), (2) the believer's praise (Hebrews 13:15), (3) the believer's voluntary acts of self-dedication (Philippians 2:17; Ephesians 5:1, 2), (4) the believer's good deeds (Hebrews 13:16) and (5) the believer's material possessions used for God"s service and transmuted by the Spirit into worthy sacrifices (Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16) (Hiebert, p. 134).
If the sacrifices are to be "acceptable to (euprosdektous) or well received of God," the true criterion for the evaluation of any sacrifice is the task of God. He seems to receive to Himself pleasure from our sacrifices; they are to be offered "through Jesus Christ," for He is the keynote of every Christian sacrifice. So the metaphor continues thus conveying the idea of a community of believers who as a holy priesthood present living sacrifices.
Peter again resorts to the Old Testament Scriptures as a basis for his reasoning. He quotes from Isaiah 28:16 which is slightly different in the Septuagint (LXX) from which
Peter was probably quoting, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tested (tried) stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste." Peter applies this passage to the Messiah (the Lord Jesus Christ), the Touchstone of human destiny. God acted directly to place the "cornerstone" in Jerusalem.
What is a "cornerstone" or (akrogoniaion) - from akros + gonia = extreme corner? It is the stone lying at the extreme corner of the foundation; it controls the lines of the building. From it two lines of the building are squared, and it determines the angle at which each piece of the building is added. When it is laid in the perfectly constructed building, each component is built into the structure in keeping with the blue-printed specifications of architect. Paul says of the church, "And (we) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner (stone)" (Ephesians 2:20). Furthermore, He is precious (entimon); that is, God counts Him as valuable and costly, and all believers should too. What does Peter mean that, "he that believeth on him shall not be confounded" (kataischunthe - from kata down upon + aischunomai ashamed) or ashamed? Believers who put their trust in Jesus as their Foundation will never be put to shame, or never will be disappointed because the stone never failed him. LXX reads, "Shall not be in haste," or flee in confusion and terror from danger hanging over him. "The one who rests his faith on the stone shall never hasten away in shame (disgrace) and confusion because his misplaced faith has ended in bitter disappointment" (Hiebert, p. 137).
To those who believe in the Messiah (the Lord Jesus), He is precious (respected and honored). Those who neglect to accept Him or who are disobedient are like the builders who disallowed Him; however, God has made Him the Cornerstone. Peter and his readers, who were familiar with the Psalms probably recognized the reference to Psalm 118:22.
What is meant by "the head of the corner"? Is there any difference between the cornerstone and the head of the corner (corner head)? Some think they are synonymous, while others view the head of the corner as the "capstone" or the one placed at the top of the corner. The Jerusalem Bible calls it a "keystone," as in an arch. The New English Bible calls it a corner stone or "the apex of the building." Unger says of the "corner stone;" it is a term equally applicable to the chief stone at the top or that in the foundation. Whether the Living Stone is at the top or the bottom of the corner, God has highly exalted Him, and we should do the same (p. 223).
Verse 8 speaks of "a stone of stumbling (skandalou), a rock of offense;" that is, "a stumbling stone and a rock to trip them." Peter is quoting from Isaiah 8:14 which reads, "And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin (trap) and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." Hiebert says of this stone, " (It) has been prepared for a specific place in the building, but since it is not being utilized, the passerby, unmindful of it, collides with it and injures himself" (p. 139). Peter makes a play on words, the stumbling stone is a (lithos), a shaped stone; while the rock to trip them (a petra skandalou) is a rocky mass or cliff. The rock of offense is a large embedded boulder, a great rock cliff. It is a large rock that human opposition cannot dispose of. "By rejecting God's "Stone," men only bring about their own injury and ruin. Men cannot evade Him by their unbelief. He meets them in unexpected and unavoidable ways. God established Christ, the living Cornerstone, as His divinely appointed way for human salvation; He has also ordained that men cannot reject His provision with impunity" (Hiebert, pp. 139, 141). "Either one sees and becomes "a living stone", or one stumbles, as a blind person, over Christ and comes to ruin" (Goppelt, p. 146).
2. Election of God's People and Their Mission in the World 9, 10
Verse 9 begins with BUT; note the contrast. Whether Jews, Gentiles or pagans, those who accept God's Messiah, His Cornerstone, have several privileges. The saved are called "a chosen generation" (yenos eklekton). In the Old Testament a people are referred to as a generation when they have a common ancestor, such as Abraham; they are a kindred or race. In the New Testament a generation refers to a people united by their common heritage through the new birth (1:23). Then Peter called the saved, "a royal priesthood" (basileion hieratauma) or a kingdom of priests. Doubtless, Peter intended to portray believers as kings and priests. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with (Christ); if we deny (Christ), he also will deny us," so reads II Timothy 2:12. Revelation 20:6 says that the saved will "reign with (Christ) for a thousand years."
Another privilege is being called "an holy nation" (hagion laos) probably with reference to Exodus 19:6. "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests..." Then we are a peculiar people (peripoiesin) or a people for his own; a people belonging to God. We are God's own private possession, belonging exclusively to Him. What is the supreme purpose of these privileges? Peter continues "that ye should show forth (exaggeilete) or publish the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." God's purpose in saving us is to reveal Himself to others through us. The RSV says, "the wonderful deeds of him who called you;" while the NEB reads, "the triumphs of him who has called you." The deeds mentioned here could be excellencies or perfections; that show Who God is and what He does (Acts 2:11).
From darkness to light denotes a critical change. The darkness is blindness of perception, the erring ill, decay likened to evil and death.
Verse 10 speaks of Israel who was not a people (ou laos), but now the people of God (laos theou oi). One is reminded of Hosea who so vividly was reminded of Israel's failure to measure up to God's standard. Hosea's wife Gomer bore a son whom he called Lo-ammi which means "not my people" (Hosea 1:9). Later he was called Ammi meaning "my people" (Hosea 2:1). "Israel's apostasy had made them spiritually equal to Gentiles in God's eyes; their promised restoration through grace establishes the depths of God's forgiveness that is now equally offered to believing Gentiles. The unlimited grace is now operative in Christ Jesus" (Hiebert, p. 146) .
Gomer's also bore Hosea a daughter whose name was Lo-ruhamah (1:6) meaning "no mercy" (ouk eleemenoi) but she later was renamed Ruhamah meaning "mercy" (2:2). Now Israel had been "mercied (eleethentes);" at a definite time God acted to bestow His mercy on them thereby terminating their former state. The Jews seemed to have no conscious experience of God's forgiving compassion.
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"In propagating His redemptive purpose and work, God is not inexorably bound to any one people. While He has never changed His purpose, He has often changed His people. We need God far more than He needs us! We should beware, lest through failing God we find ourselves rejected in favor of others who will be true to the conditions of His covenant" (Hobbs).
I Peter 2:11 - 17
Peter begins this passage with "I beseech (parakalo) entreat you..." denoting an introduction of a new subject. The Jewish Christians were scattered among many nations. How were they to conduct themselves as they faced various types of governments? Although free from sin, they were not free from constraint. They were to be subject to authority.
This whole passage is in direct antithesis to the spirit of the world; every individual and group demands its "rights." Liberty is not freedom from responsibility. Peter's exhortations enjoin upon his reader's conduct becoming Christians in their various relations to the state, to the family and particularly to the heathen society in the midst of which they were dwelling.
1. Appropriate Personal Conduct - 11, 12
Peter's audience was made up of Hebrew Christians, foreigners in an unfriendly world. They were outsiders, strangers (paroikous) or aliens and pilgrims (parepidemous) or exiles, particularly in the countries into which they had been driven by persecution. Peter drew his readers "closely to his heart with intelligent, purposeful love, a love that will call forth in them a corresponding love and a readiness to obey" (Hiebert, p. 153). He "beseeches," urges or appeals to them in tender love and compassion, like a shepherd would work with his sheep. His urging indicates the inner and private aspect of the appeal.
The people were "aliens and strangers." They were pilgrims and sojourners here on the earth who looked forward to heaven as their true home. As aliens they were scattered about and somewhat homeless, but they are dear to God. He has a permanent home prepared for them. They were admonished to "abstain from fleshly lusts." The word abstain (apechesthai) means to "hold off from" or "to distance themselves from" such. Clowney states that today we as God's children are bombarded by the compulsive urgings of hammering sexual music, the seductions of pandering commercials and the sadism of pornographic films and paperbacks" (p. 102).
Although the Jewish Christians may not have faced such blatant wiles of Satan, certainly they did face sinful cravings and desires. All Christians in every age have faced the fleshly lusts against which all Christians must struggle as citizens of the heavenly kingdom but strangers in this ungodly world. There is always this sin-ward pull. These sinful desires or cravings are contrary to the reader's spiritual welfare; they war against the soul. Not hand-to-hand fighting but an all-out confrontation with an occupation as its goal. "Christians are foreigners because they are called into eschatological existence and sojourners because they are to live their existence in history" (Goppelt, p. 156).
The varied activities of their daily life are supposed to show their contemporaries that Christianity is real. Peter wanted his readers to live their lives in such a way as to be attractive and winsome. The name of the church is at stake. One's manner of life and one's behavior should correspond to the summons from the "the holy One." "Be ye holy, as I am holy," said Jehovah God. Christians live in glass houses; they are always on display.
Since the world is hostile to the Christian, they will falsely accuse us. What should be our attitude toward false accusations? Mounce says, "Good deeds, even though they may be misrepresented and defamed for the moment, are still the best answer to the opposition of a hostile world." Christians, though misunderstood should not withdraw from the world, but rather continue to manifest purity of conduct. Christians are falsely accused because they are different. Their good life and good deeds are subject to ridicule because the lives of ungodly are evil; the Christian's life does not conform to earthly standards. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
2. Elements of the Good Way of Life - 13 - 17
"Submit (hupotagete) or subject yourselves to every ordinance (institution) of man..." means that every governmental official, every law and every ordinance (institution) should be respected and obeyed. Human government is of divine origin, "For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1). "By (God) kings reign, and princes decree justice" (Proverbs 8:15). So the Christian should obey all laws of the land - federal, state and local. What should one do when the laws of the land contradict to laws of God? Of course, God's laws should have superiority over the laws of the land; in that case, God's laws should be obeyed, and the Christian should expect to suffer the results. Christians should not, however, obey immoral laws or ones which come between them and God, but they must be prepared to suffer the penalty for such.
It should be observed that the Christian's task is not to reform human society in this age. His task is to be "salt" and "light" in the ungodly world. Reforming human society will take place only at the Second Coming of Jesus.
Yeager says, "The duty of government is to prosecute evil doers and commend those who properly conduct themselves. Man, and more especially Christians, are to submit to the laws in society, even though those laws are legislated and enforced by unregenerates because this is the will of God" (Vol. XVI, p. 104). So all who are in authority should be obeyed, kings and governors.
Obedience to laws and authority is the will of God, and in so doing we will put to silence the gainsayers. We will silence (phimoun) or muzzle them as Jesus did the Sadducees in Matthew 22:34. The Christian is not to return evil for evil but to "overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). We muzzle the mouth of the gainsayers when we obey the laws, even though we may think they are unjustified.
Verse 16 in the NIV reads, "Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God." The admonitions are to live such lives in conduct and character that our lives might silence the slanders of the opposition. The children of God are pilgrims on the earth; we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom (Philippians 3:20). Freedom in Christ must never be interpreted as license to sin or license to live as the flesh wants one to live. "Cover-up" (epikalumma) or cloak in this verse denotes "a veil thrown over something to conceal or hide it." RSV translated the word "cloak" as pretext (rationalization).
T. C. Cook says, "Judaizers claimed exemption from human law; Gentile sophists confounded liberty with libertinism, and held that grace implied deliverance from the restraints and penalties of divine law" (Hiebert, p. 169). The saved are "servants of God," so the Christian's freedom consists not in freedom from a master, but a voluntary submission to God Who is our rightful Master (Romans 6:22).
The scope of the Christian's submission or willingness to maintain even included everyone. Furthermore, we are to love the brethren, reverence God and honor the head of state. There are four ringing imperatives (commands) here: (1) show respect to everyone, (2) love the brotherhood, (3) fear God, and (4) honor the king.
Why are we to show proper respect (timesate) or honor to everyone? Honor mankind because man is created in the image of God. All are subject to regeneration and reconciliation to God. No one, regardless of race or nationality is left out. For that reason, murder is such a contemptible sin. C. S. Lewis has said "that if we could see a lowly Christian as he will be in glory, our temptation would be to fall down and worship him" (Clowney, p. 105).
Now Peter narrows down his scope by writing, "The brotherhood (adelphoteta) keep on loving." The brotherhood are those who call Jehovah God their Father. Peter may be referring to the "church community."
A third command is "fear (phobeisthe) or reverence God." Man should live their lives in reverential awe before God as Father and Judge (1:17). "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. ..The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward (perverse) mouth, do I hate" (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13).
The last command is "honor (timate) or respect the king" as the representative of civil authority. We should honor the government in our obedience to the laws of the land as well as pray for those in authority.
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It is of a truth that the MOST FAITHFUL servant of God would be the MOST PATRIOTIC supporter of the State!
Christ, Our Example of Submission
I Peter 2:18 - 25
Christian slaves constituted a significant element in the early Christian church (I Corinthians 7:21 - 23; Ephesians 6:5 - 8). Peter did not discuss the existing institution of slavery, but rather he gave instructions to the slaves in his day. In his continuing discussion on submission. Peter moves from the sphere of government to that of society. Although we do not live in the days of slavery the passage applies to the attitude of all employees toward their employers and bears upon the modern problems of labor and management.
Comfort and guidance to suffering believers were the aim of the writer in this passage. When we realize that probably in New Testament times fifty percent of the population were slaves, it makes this institution most important. The heart of Peter must have gone out to slaves who were mistreated in his day. He sets before them the example of the Lord Jesus Christ Who was the suffering Savior. Peter stressed the slave's Christian responsibilities rather than his rights.
1. The Position of Slaves - 18 - 20.
The word translated "servants" (oiketai) here is more like a domestic, or house-servant. In fact, the term could mean butler, cook, gardener, valet or maid. The "masters" were "despots" (despotais) or lords meaning they had unlimited power. The Christian servants had a responsibility to God which involved submission to their masters. God approved of their obedience; rebellion on the part of the servant meant increased trouble, and willing acceptance for and in Christ developed the Christ-like character. The servant would submit in all cases, whether his master was good and considerate or harsh. In fact, sometimes the master was morally perverse; he may have had a "crooked bent" in his management of the servants. He might be crooked (skoliois), twisted, surly, dishonest or unpleasant. "The passage does not say explicitly that the suffering is attributable to doing good, only that it is received in the course of doing good," so writes Clowney (p. 113).
In verse 19 Peter identifies the kind of suffering that is assured of God's approval. "The Christian servant's knowledge of God, shared with fellow believers, and his inner awareness of God's will and presence, stimulates and enables him to endure such (harsh) suffering" (Hiebert, p. 179). The unjust suffering of the slave might entail insult, torment, harsh discipline and even torture.
Yeager says of this verse, "Peter explains why a Christian should not react violently in his own defense. The reason is that if any Christian submits with patience and suffers griefs, because he is suffering unjustly and if this attitude is entertained because he is aware that God wishes him to so is an evidence of grace in his heart" (p. 111). The servant knows that God is aware of his suffering, of God's relationship to those who belong to Him and of His goal for them; this makes it possible for the servant to take upon himself grievous treatment.
In verse 20 Peter distinguishes two kinds of suffering, reminding those house servants that it is the latter kind that is assured of divine approval. Mounce says, "It is most extraordinary when an innocent person accepts unjust suffering with patience and equanimity. But then the Christian is supposed to be extraordinary" (Hiebert p. 181). If the Christian servant is sinning and gets beaten for his act, he cannot expect God to disapprove of his beating. But if he is beaten while doing the right thing, then God will reward him for his faithfulness, and the servant will have God's praises (Luke 6:33). In other words, God will give credit to His children who suffer unjustly, because we are called to emulate our Lord (Matthew 5:11, 12).
2. Submission is Motivated by the Example of Christ - 21 - 25
In this passage can be found one of the most striking references, outside of the Gospels, to the suffering of our Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ is our guiding Image in suffering as Christians whether we are servants or freemen. Since Christ suffered for us there is compelling motivation to accept suffering willingly while doing good. When the Christian remembers how our Lord suffered for us, it mitigates any bitterness that we might have toward our suffering. Peter never forgot how Jesus had suffered on the cross and prior to the cross experience.
After all, did not Jesus Himself repeatedly stress that being a disciple involved cross-bearing (Matthew 10:38; 16:24)? We can rejoice that the suffering of our Lord ceased at His death on the cross, and His exemplary experiences on earth terminated at His ascension. His footprints while here on the earth beckon us to follow; all saints are challenged to follow Him.
The word translated "example" (hupogrammon) or pattern is an interesting word. It literally means "underwriting;" just as a teacher prints faint outlines of letters for the student to trace or follow as he learns the alphabet, or as an artist sketches the outlines of his portrait, so the disciple is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Of course, as failing human beings, we cannot always place our feet fully in His foot prints; though falling short, we can follow where His tracks lead. "Like a little boy following his father through the snow. The father takes far too long steps for the boy to step in them, but he can go the same way his father went" (Niebor, quoted by Hiebert, p. 192).
Verses 22 and 23 focus on Christ's exemplary sufferings. The fact that He is our Model Sufferer is brought out in these verses both negatively and positively. Peter quotes for Isaiah 53 from the Septuagint, " (Jesus) did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." The word order really reads, "Sin not he did;" that is, not a single instance did Jesus succumb to an act of sin. Who could know any better than Peter who was with Jesus all during His personal ministry? In the realm of speech, there was no guile, (dolos) deceit cunning, subtlety or craftiness of which our Savior was guilty. Jesus is the personification of sinlessness and innocence (Matthew 12:33, 34). Christian servants were reminded that in their trials, they should look to the Lord Jesus and strive to copy His innocence and truth.
In the first part of verse 23 the patient endurance of the Savior is pointed out. It reads literally, "Who being reviled (loidoroumenos) or insulted was not reviling (anteloidorei) or talking back." The first word revile is to insult or heap abuse upon someone, the second word is the retaliate, trade insults or talk back. Our Lord did not retaliate against his enemies. On numerous occasions Jesus was insulted by being called by many names - a Samaritan, a glutton, a wine-bibber, a blasphemer, a demoniac, one in league with Beelzebub, a perverter of nations, a deceiver and one possessed with a devil. He was struck in the face, crowned with thorns, beaten with a reed, scourged, forced to bear His own cross, and finally, crucified. Jesus was railed upon and jeered, and when He suffered in the courts of Pilate and Herod and upon the cross. He could have retaliated and threatened with complete justice, but He never did so. Instead of retaliating, Jesus prayed for His enemies (Luke 23:34). Jesus knew His suffering was ordained of God the Father; so He committed Himself or "handed over" Himself like a criminal (Matthew 26:14 - 16). His example to the Christian servant was that they should avoid all retaliation because of unjust treatment, and leave matters in the hands of a just God. Mistreated servants were not to threaten revenge in some near or distant future.
The redemptive sufferings of Jesus are described in verse 24. Our Lord is not only our Model but our Mediator and Redeemer. Note His redemptive suffering, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." OUR sins makes this confessional. He "bore" them away (anenegken),or carried them up, much like the scapegoat of Leviticus 16. The Apostle Paul informed the Galatians that "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree'" (313). He was quoting from Deuteronomy 21:22, 23. Christ's death was redemptive and substitutionary in nature. His death was vicarious; Jesus did not die a martyr's death, for a martyr dies for a cause. The death of Christ was unique in that He gave Himself as an atonement for our sins; He took the sinner's place, suffering the agonies and pain which were due the sinner. Christ suffered the agonies of hell in our place! There was "redemptive value" in Jesus' death.
The sinner was dead in sins; Jesus took our place and paid our penalty; "that we, being dead to sins (apogenomenoi) or separated, should live unto righteousness" (24b). We were dead in trespasses and sin, but at our conversion we died to sin and were made to live for righteousness in our new relationship to God. This part of the verse literally reads, "That we might be utterly alienated from our sins." "By (Jesus') stripes (molopi) or wounds ye were healed (iathete), cured or made whole." By His bloody welts and wounds, by His bruises, the result of sharp blows to the flesh, "ye have been healed." The fellowship of a righteous God and a sinful man was restored through forgiveness of sins; we were healed and forgiven.
The prophet Isaiah is again quoted by the writer. Isaiah 53:6 reads, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." The lost sinner was headed in the wrong direction, away from God, but we were arrested and "turned about." We are told that when a sheep is lost and is cut off from the flock, it becomes bewildered; it lies down, is unwilling to move, and will wait until the shepherd comes to take it back to the flock.
It is significant in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, that the sheep is totally passive. All of the action belongs to the Shepherd. Peter, who probably heard this parable from Jesus' lips when He first spoke it, emphasizes the point by putting the verb in the passive voice. Thank God for our Shepherd Who searches for us, finds us and brings us to His fold! Christ Jesus the Lord is our Shepherd (poimena) or Herdsman and Overseer (episkopon) or (Bishop) of our souls. Christ not only leads, feeds and sustains His own (like a shepherd), but He also guides, directs and protects us (like a bishop or overseer should do). To be an overseer (bishop) means "to look after," "to care for" the sheep (Acts 20:28; I Timothy 3:2 - 7; I Peter 5:2 - 4). The word shepherd or herdsman is translated "pastor" in Ephesians 3:11.
* * * * * * * * * *
Our hearts have cause to rejoice and our lips to exclaim, "HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR!!"
The Behavior of Wives and Husbands
I Peter 3:1 - 7
Peter does not stress the rights of wives and husbands but rather the duties in relationship to one another. Parallels can be found in Ephesians 5,22 - 33; Colossians
3:18, 19 and Titus 2:4, 5. More space is given to the wives because many of them had unbelieving husbands. Peter did not seek to improve the social status of the women; he offered them a strategy that would enable them to avoid violence, and to disarm the opposition of unbelieving husbands and ultimately, to lead them to the Lord.
Submission to authority has been the keynote of this portion of the epistle. In the first century, slaves were cruelly oppressed, and women were ill-treated. Christianity has abolished slavery, and it has elevated womanhood. Oneness in the marital bonds, however, and man's position as head of the home constitute the two God-ordained pillars which support marriage and the home.
1. Duties of Christian Wives - 1 - 6
The writer begins this passage "in the same way" implying a new subject, but the subject was closely related to the preceding one of Christian submission. Of course the principle of Christian submission to God's will relates to every Christian, to every class and to every situation. The relationship between husband and wife is a very sacred relationship, and both should live lives of submission to God's will.
Peter, as well as the other writers in the Bible, were well aware of the position of man and woman since their beginning (Genesis 2 and 3). The Apostle Paul pointed this out in I Timothy 2:9 - 15. Hiebert quotes Wayne A. Grudem who wrote, "Submission to authority is often consistent with equality in importance, dignity and honor. Jesus was subject both to his parents and to God the Father" (p. 195). After all the home must have a head; however, all residents of the home are important. Subjection and affection go hand-in-hand.
Whether the husband is a Christian or not, Peter indicates that the wife still owes him submission. In fact, her willing submission might be instrumental in winning her unbelieving husband to the Lord. Even when he is far from deserving that respect the wife must not be quick to forget his position. If he is an unbeliever - even a defiant one - her attitude, her bearing and her demeanor will go further toward winning him to Christ that back-talk, bad temper or even pious-sounding pleadings and warnings. If the wife becomes a believer, she should continue the marital relationship and seek, by her godly life, to win over her husband to Christianity.
Ordinarily the wife was expected to embrace the religion of her husband; however, if she alone embraced Christianity, she placed herself in a difficult situation. Her chastity of life and reverence for God would be very influential in leading her unbelieving husband to Christianity. Nagging him would be detrimental, but a consistent Christian life could turn him to Christianity. Faithfulness and fear of God will increase the husband's trust in his wife. Even though the husband rejected the gospel he might be "gained" without preaching, as he reads sermons without words, sermons written in the eloquent language of pure conduct and chaste behavior coupled with fear. The wife should never let any occasion arise wherein her husband has reason to suspect her fidelity to him or to her marital obligations. The incentive for such loyalty is because she holds God in such high and reverent regard.
"In the same manner, ye wives, be in subjection (hupotassomenai) or subordination to your OWN husbands," Peter writes. This verse implies that the husband's and the wife's relationship should be one of closeness and uniqueness even to the stressing of marital fidelity (one woman for one man). Verse 2 states that the wife's chastity (hagnen) or purity should be coupled with fear or reverence to her husband because he is head of the household. The wife should yield to the opinion of her husband; those cases excepted in which she would sin by so doing. In yielding, she should feel herself not dishonored, but honored; because of doing precisely that which Christianity requires (Titus 2:3 - 5). Indeed, all of God's children, whether they are male or female, their actions should be "true. . .honest. . .just. . .pure. . . lovely. . .of good report...virtu(ous)" (Philippians 4:8).
In verse 3, Peter does not condemn the wives for making themselves as attractive to their husbands as they can, but he implies that inner beauty is more important. In the marital realm of life, admiration and affection can be retained not so much by the extravagant adornment of the body as by the irresistible charm of spirit and disposition. Men sometimes misread this passage if they think of it as constituting simply a ban on braiding hair, using gold or wearing fine clothes. The writer admonishes the wives to observe the duty of modesty. After all, what makes a wife desirable to her husband is not something as external as her coiffure but rather something internal as her character. A woman's love of ornaments can be the root of all kinds of evil, no less than the man's love for money.
There were three forms of outward adornment common in Peter's day. They were braided hair, gold jewelry and fine clothes. Incidentally the word translated adornment is the word from which we get our word "cosmetics." Braided (emplokes) or plaited hair denotes the elaborate use of hair styles demanding a professional hairdresser that resulted in a highly artificial and ostentatious hair-do. The wearing of gold jewelry about the neck, ankles, arms, fingers and suspending glittering adornments from the ears denoted a person of considerable wealth. See Isaiah 3:16 - 26.
Fine clothes is a third form of outward adorning denoting the frequent changing of an elegant variety of dresses. Putting on a "show" and a display of personal vanity is condemned. A preoccupation with the superficial extravagance and self-centered display are not becoming to the Christian life. The apparel that wears best and is never out of style is "the meek and quiet spirit." It never worries or causes worry; it is pleasing not only to men but also to God.
Verse 4 begins with "but;" note the contrast. Some translate this word "instead," which is also a strong adversative conjunction. A woman's inward spiritual beauty far exceeds the external gaudy and immodest adornment by which the world is characterized. God is more interested in a gentle and quiet spirit, and in His sight there is great worth in them. The hidden man of the heart means the inner self. Paul S. Rees says, "This beauty cannot be hung around the neck like a flashing pendant. It grows within like a lovely flower" (p. 72). The word "gentle" probably means that the woman should not be "pushy" nor "self-assertive," while "quiet" may mean not a noisy, boisterous attitude.
In verses 5 and 6, Peter calls forth an example of saintly wives; women in Israel especially Sarah. They put their "hope" and trust in God to adorn their godly lives. Peter could have had Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah in mind as well as Sarah (Genesis 18:12). "Hope" in God is true holiness. The godly wives were daughters of Abraham and Sarah because they had embraced their Messiah; they were "daughters of faith" (Isaiah 51:1, 2). If Abraham is called the "father of the faithful," why can't Sarah be called the "mother of the obedient?"
What does Peter mean in the latter section of verse 6, "as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement (ptoesin) or terror? As godly believers, wives should not allow any event to terrify them (to get a grip on them). External causes of fear might arise from the attitudes of society in general, the treatment received from hostile neighbors or the threats and intimidations of an unbelieving husband" (Hiebert, p. 204).
Peter may also be alluding to Proverbs 3:25 - 27:
"Be not afraid of sudden fear,
Neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh;
For the Lord shall be thy confidence,
And shall keep thy foot from being taken."
2. Duties of Christian Husbands - 7
Verse 7 is brief but comprehensive. The believing husband could expect his wife to follow him as he embraced Christianity. W. H. Bennet writes, "The spirit which made the wife 'meek and quiet' would make the husband kind and attentive" (Hiebert, p. 205). Rotherham translates this verse, "Be considerate as you live with your wife." Or literally, "dwelling with (the wife) according to knowledge." Masterman states that (this) expression "is the nearest equivalent in Greek to the English expression, 'making a home for'," (Hiebert, p. 205). The husband owes his wife a consideration that never forgets obligation; mutual interests are involved here. She is a partner to be loved, not a chattel to be mistreated.
The husband should understand his wife's desires, goals and frustrations; he should have a knowledge of her strengths and weaknesses in the physical, emotional and spiritual realms. She is an heir of grace as well as her husband. Both husband and wife are frail beings; however, the wife may be the more physically fragile of the two. Weaknesses or frailness does not imply inferiority, nor is it derogatory. The husband owes his wife a courtesy that never forgets her needs. She may be the "weaker" of the two, but she has a completely different function rather than of status. A chivalrous attitude is called for. "In the eyes of God the wife may be superior to the husband, not merely equal" (Robertson, VI, 111).
Together the husband and wife have the dignity of being joint-heirs or co-sharers of the gracious gift of eternal life. Both believe in the same Savior, they are redeemed by the same Redeemer, live by the same grace, and look forward to an eternal home in heaven. The husband owes his wife a comprehension that never forgets her spiritual equality with him. And he owes her a conscience that never forgets the danger of broken communion with God. "That your prayers be not hindered (egkoptesthai) or delayed," is the admonition in verse 7. All variance, jealousy and bickering are opposed to a prayerful life. He must remember - his responsibilities rather than his rights.
* * * * * * * * * *
Marriage is not an end within itself, it is a fellowship of both partners with the God of love and grace, that His glory may be realized. This does not mean that a Christian home is a perfect place in which to live, but it does mean that when imperfections and failures are acknowledged then problems can be worked out in prayer and obedience to the light that God gives in answer to prayer.
Exhortations to Purity
I Peter 3: 8 - 12
This passage is a continuation of the preceding one on the subject of exhortation. Herein Peter specifies how the Christian can produce a right impression upon a hostile world. Hiebert states, when the writer writes, "finally," he marks the conclusion of the second cycle of exhortations (2:11 - 3:12). The first cycle is entitled Exhortations in View of Our Salvation (p. 211). The "all of you" denotes the demands that rests on all Christians to silence and disarm the hostility of an unbelieving world.
1. Graces Leading to Christian Integrity - 8
How should a Christian conduct himself or herself with relationship to other Christians? After all, they reflect the grace, love and compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here Peter admonishes his readers to behave themselves in a way consistent with Christian integrity. Some five strands or threads are woven into an excellent pattern of Christian integrity.
First, he mentions a unity of mind, a like-mindedness which has a common longing, a common eagerness and a common concern which finds the hearts and minds of Christians like the heart and mind of Christ. "Be ye all of one mind" is the translation of one word (homophrones) meaning a call for unity of disposition or a call to unity of spirit (in agreement). The idea may even go back to the prayer of our Lord (John 17:21 - 23) in which He prayed, "that (the disciples) all may be one. ..one in (the Father and the Son) ...that (the disciples) may be one, even as we are one." Paul writes in Romans 5:8, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit (do mind) the things of the Spirit." The Psalmist wrote (133:1), "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
The second strand or thread is having compassion (sumpatheis) or sympathy one of another or sharing the sufferings of another; sharing fellow-feelings. If one is joyous, be joyous with that one; if the person is sorrowful, be sorrowful with him. It is the capacity of feeling alike or feeling together. When one Christian is able to put himself in another Christian's place; that is, to be in some measure emotionally identified with him. Then he can be of much help to his fellow Christian. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).
The third strand or thread is love the brethren (or sister) denoting a brotherly affection which is the badge of true discipleship. This kind of love was the hallmark of the early Christians. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). The Christians should take a peculiar delight in one another because they are fellow members of the family of God.
The fourth strand or thread is to be pitiful (eusplagchnoi), tender-hearted or to have heartfelt compassion toward the needs of others. Jesus is our supreme Example, "but when (Jesus) saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). "Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another" (Ephesians 4:30).
A fifth and last strand or thread is be courteous (tapeinophrones), modest or humble-minded. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart: and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29 RSV). Yeager says, "We have here a formula for peace and harmony in a local body of Christ. Doctrinal differences are to be ironed out in dialogue as we 'speak the truth in love' and 'perfect the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ'" (Vol. XVII, p. 131). "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation,...and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself (Philippians 2:5 - 8). Someone has likened these five graces to fingers on the hand, they radiate from one center and work together.
Rees states or enumerates the graces this way: (1) unity mindedness, (2) sympathy mindedness, (3) brother mindedness, (4) tender mindedness and (5) humble mindedness. This is the pattern we trace in that Christian integrity which is to be manifested by the believer as a person and by the people of God as a fellowship (p. 79 - 81).
2. Conduct Toward a Hostile World - 9
If a Christian possesses these aforementioned graces, what should be his conduct toward a hostile world? First of all, don't repay evil for evil. The Christian should not respond with an evil deed or word with another evil deed or word. This response may be habitual for the worldling, but it only multiplies evil.
"Railing for railing" involves an insult in word. "An individual may have enough self-restraint not to resort to active violence, but may yield to the less violent urge to use insolent and abusive language against another who has injured him. But Trapp remarks, "To render railing for railing, is to think to wash off dirt with dirt" (Hiebert, p. 214). Should not the Apostle Peter, who was quick with his tongue, know what the grace of God could do in this respect?
Instead of rendering evil for evil and railing (loidorian) for railing, the Christian should pronounce a blessing upon the perpetrator. Try invoking God's blessing. Blessing others could involve intercession for our enemies and beneficence toward those who insult us. Christians should bless others because we are recipients of God's bountiful blessings. Furthermore, it is God's will to do so, and it is our duty. We are to live above the old Mosaic LEX TALONIS - "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." Instead of retaliating, "we should give blessing for cursing, kindness for cruelty and mercy for meanness" (Rees, p. 82). "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake...Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you" (Luke 6:22, 27).
To render evil for evil is beast-like
To render evil for good is devil-like
To render good for good is man-like
To render good for evil is God-like
"Render to no man evil for evil," Paul wrote in Romans 12:17.
3. The Old Testament Speaks - 10 - 12
Peter probably quotes from memory from the Septuagint version. Psalm (33:12 - 17 - LXX) 34:12, 13:
"What man is there that desires life,
Loving to see good days?
Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
Turn away from evil,
And do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
Verses 10 and 11 tell of the pleasure and peace which comes to a child of God when he exercises the spirit of Christ. The Bible teaches practical holiness which can bring about earthly blessings as well as spiritual blessings. Peter calls his readers to holiness, such as becometh the obedient children who know God as their heavenly Father. God is holy, and therefore He demands holiness of all His children. Abstaining from evil is not sufficient to please God; however, the individual who pleases God also does that which is good. The farmer who merely abstains from sowing bad seed will reap nothing. If he expects to reap good seed, he must sow good seed. So the apostle says, "Do good. ..seek peace, and ensue it."
E. Y. Mullins calls this passage, "an ancient recipe for a happy life" (Hiebert, p. 219). Anyone wishing or desiring a life worth living in spite of hostility or good days should apply energetic restraint to his tongue when tempted to speak an evil word and perform an evil act. "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,...it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature: and it is set on fire of hell. ..the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:6, 8). "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16 - 19).
"Life is a gift from God and so are good days. Christians whose hearts are attuned to God and His Word participate now in the fulness of life here on earth and afterward with Christ in eternity" (Kistemaker, p. 129). "He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it" (NIV). In other words, the way of happiness involves both speaking and doing. The Christian must take evasive action (lean over or swerve aside) because of his holy aversion to evil. Replace the negative with a positive. Furthermore, the Christian should aggressively search for (hunt, chase after) peace conducive to happiness and the welfare of all. Psalm 34:15 - 17 in the Septuagint reads thus: "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, And his ears are open to their prayer: But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil, To destroy their memorial from the earth. The righteous cried, and the Lord hearkened to them, And delivered them out of their afflictions."
God responds to the requests of His people; His all-seeing Eye is over the persecuted, and He watches the actions of the persecutor. What a consolation for God's people! God is like an earthly father or mother who bows down to hear the faintest request of the child. He is watching His saint's behavior and listening to our prayers. God is a Friend to His children, but He is an Adversary to the evil.
Suffering for Righteousness
I Peter 3:13 - 17
The writer has just quoted from Psalm 34. The favor of God is of much more worth than physical blessings, and though the Christian must endure days of suffering, he may still enjoy good days in the truest sense. It is significant that Peter would call upon the Psalmist as a witness to God's goodness and mercy just prior to another of his "persecution passages" in verses 13 - 17.
Although trials, persecutions and troubles come our way, they should not turn our hearts away from God's goodness, for God will be pleased with goodness only. This is the idea here that God "turns away His face" from the wicked. For example, He will not bless them with happiness nor long life like He does His children.
All of humanity have a desire for long life and even remembrance after death; observe our delight in the building of monuments and the erection of other great edifices. Man has the desire for offspring and the establishing of our families. Although the reader does experience long life, it will be filled with troubles and trials. "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble" (Job 14:1). The writer instructs us as to our conduct or behavior in suffering. Our attitude should be that of being committed to
the sovereignty of God.
1. Unexpected Suffering - 13
"And who is he that will harm (kakoson) or hurt you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" There is a certain degree of immunity conferred upon a righteous and good individual. We are not immune to difficulty, but from damage. If God's eye is over the righteous, and if His ear is open to our prayers, who is there that can harm us. No one can do real harm to the people of God; they may persecute us, but He will make all things work together for our good.
The individual who suffers without faith may see harm in the trouble itself. He may suffer unpopularity, slander, misrepresentation, ill health and bereavement. For the Christian, however, none of these things cause harm, for with him only those things which affect his spirit, his character, and his devotion to God cause real harm. The believer can be touched by nothing that is outside the will of God, even though suffering IS sometimes God's will for His own.
From this verse (13) until we read through 5:11, Peter's central theme seems to be Christian suffering. Hiebert cites these verses as "the unnatural experience of suffering for righteousness' sake (3:13 - 17), elaborated on Christ's experience of suffering for righteousness (3:18 - 22), discussed the needed equipment for suffering as Christians (4:1 - 11); stressed the need for steadfastness in Christian suffering (4:12 - 19), and concluded with appropriate appeals to both leaders and members of the local churches in view of such sufferings (5:1 - 11)" (p. 219).
The writer does not promise the righteous that they will escape sufferings. Our Lord taught His disciples that they would suffer tribulation (John 16:33). Peter seeks to prepare his readers (and us) for the suffering that is forthcoming. Verse 13 reads, "And who is he that will HARM you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" To "harm" one denotes mistreatment, and it implies real damage done through the mistreatment. The other times the word is used includes hostile and injurious attitudes or activities that produce essential damage. Peter, no doubt, was referring to the fact that the active non-retaliatory attitude of the Christian would disarm those who might otherwise be hostile to the point of inflicting permanent personal injury. It was that sixteenth century Scottish Reformer who said, "With God on his side man is always in the majority."
"Being zealous for that which is good is the true basis for a reasonable assurance that God will protect Christians from evil" (Hiebert, p. 222). J. Allen Blair tells this story. "Years ago a tyrannical king commanded a Christian to recant and give up Christ." "If you don't, I'll banish you," he declared. "You cannot banish me from Christ," said the Christian, "for God says, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.'" "I will confiscate your property!" the king then angrily threatened. "My treasures are laid up on Heaven," the Christian replied. "You cannot touch them." "I will kill you" the king shouted with even greater anger. But the Christian quietly answered, "I have been dead in Christ to this world for forty years. My life is hid with Christ in God. You cannot touch it." The king turned to some of the members of his court and said in disgust, "What can you do with such a fanatic?"
2. Blessed are Those Who Suffer for Righteousness - 14 - 16
Even in suffering there can be great serenity. "But and if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled (tarachthete) or distressed." Peter attempts to make three things clear - first, ordinarily one does not suffer harm and mistreatment for doing good; second, if there be the rare exception to this principle, then the sufferer is truly blessed of God and happy; and third, the Christian thus armed with confidence, should neither fear nor be troubled by the evil workers. In verses 15 and 16, Peter gives the positive directive to fear. The Christian should always have a testimony that inspires. God should be reverenced as holy and when man fears God, this fact will make him superior to the fear of man. Great boldness will be evidenced before men because the Christian fears God more than he fears man. A convincing witness is given by a godly life as well as by word of mouth.
"But sanctify (hagiasate) or reverence the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh (aitounti) or requires you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear?" Clowney makes this remark concerning the word, "sanctify." "When the Lord sanctifies us, He makes us holy; when we sanctify the Lord, we set Him apart as the Holy One" (p. 146). Christ Jesus must be enthroned and worshiped as sovereign. "Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread" (Isaiah 8:13). This passage in Isaiah used the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH, "Jehovah" or "Yahweh." Peter applies this name to Jesus, the Jesus of the New Testament is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Christ Jesus is the incarnate fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies.
"In your heart enthrone Him,
There let Him subdue
All that is not holy,
All that is not true."
---Carolyn M. Noel
In the fact that Jesus Christ is God's Messiah, the believer has a HOPE that dominates his life. And we should be able and prepared to witness that HOPE to others. We should never be unprepared, unwilling or timid to respond to the unbeliever's questions concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian should be able to give his apology (his defense) when the occasion arises. The Apostle Paul did in Acts 22:1. Respond to everyone who makes an honest inquiry! Furthermore, to recognize God for Who He is, the child of God is sensitive to his responsibilities.
Verse 16 reads, "Having a good conscience(suneidesin); that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed (kataischunthosin) or dishonor that falsely accuse (epereazontes) or use despitefully your good conversation (anastrophen) or manner of life in Christ." NIV translates this verse, "BUT do this with gentleness and respect." The believer's "hope" should influence the manner of his Christian witness. "Gentleness" or meekness should be a governing factor in our witness. Most people are "turned off" by an overpowering or too aggressive a method. After all, the Holy Spirit convicts and converts, not the soul-winner. "He who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still," goes an old adage. A manifested spirit of gentleness, humility, courtesy and consideration is the hallmark of conscious witnesses.
"Keeping a clear conscience" is another requirement for the effective witness. Hiebert defines conscience as "that God-implanted ability to evaluate the moral quality of human actions, our own or those of others" (p. 229). In spite of our well-meaning intentions, some will speak maliciously against our good behavior in Christ. Misrepresentations, defamation and slanderous charges may be hurled at the believer. We can take consolation, however, in knowing that our Heavenly Father knows our hearts and our intentions.
3. Assurances Amid Suffering - 17
Verse 17 reads, "For it is better (kreitton) or best, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing." Suffering is never pleasant, but it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. If it is God's will that the Christian suffer, so be it! The suffering of God's people for well doing is not God's usual, but His unusual will for them. Under grace, His will is involved in whatever happens to us. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
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The Christian is to maintain a good conscience; and wear it as a "charm" of which he can be justly proud. Evil men may malign by ill treatment and embarrass by circumstance, or they may undermine the person's health, maim the limbs, rob the reputation, and even take away the life. They still cannot harm the Christian's influence for good. A good conscience or good behavior will put to shame the evil doers who seek to bring reproach upon the followers of Christ.
The Suffering Christ
I Peter 3:18 - 22
For the child of God, he must view all of life under the aspect of the cross of Christ. Even though trials, tribulations and persecutions may come our way, we must realize that these problems are a part of the Christian life. Christ Jesus our Lord is our Example in suffering as well as our Example for life. Because He endured the trials of life and the sufferings of death on a cruel cross, He is able to comfort us and to even be an inspiration to us.
The theme of this section is the undeserved sufferings of our Savior for righteousness. Doubtless, Peter cites Christ's suffering as an incentive and an encouragement to his readers (and to us) to persevere in their (our) own suffering. It also assures them of the coming triumph in Christ as risen and exalted.
The treatment of Christian suffering for righteousness in verses 13 - 17 prompted Peter to refer to Christ's undeserved suffering (18a); that elicited an involved treatment of the consequences of His suffering (18b - 21) and concluded with a declaration of its triumphant culmination (22) (Hiebert, p. 235).
1. The Character of Christ's Suffering - 18
"For Christ also hath once (apax) or once for all suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death (apethanen) or slain in the flesh, but quickened (zoopoietheis) or made alive by the Spirit." In this verse is found a summary for the meaning of the Cross of Jesus. Clowney says of this verse, "Our willingness to suffer for the sake of Christ is grounded in the wonder of Christ's willingness to suffer death for our sake" (p. 154).
Peter firmly declared Jesus' death as an historical fact which he strongly objected to earlier (Matthew 16:22). The phrase literally reads, "Christ also once for sins died." "Once" indicates the uniqueness of Christ's death affirming the triumphant vindication in John 19:30, when Jesus said, "It is finished." Salvation had been purchased once and for all time; no further sacrifice by Jesus or the sinner is needed. His atoning death was a once-for-all offering contrary to the repeated offerings each year on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:24 - 10:2).
The fact that Christ died for "our sins" makes it a unique death. Christ's death was not because of His sins, for He had none, but for our sins. "See I Peter 2:22 for the sinlessness of Christ as the one perfect offering for sin. This is what gives Christ's blood value. He had no sin himself. Some men today fail to perceive this point" (Robertson, VI, p. 116). His death was even more than exemplary. "His suffering gathered around or centered on the mass of human sins in a way that the sufferings of mortal men could never do" (Hiebert, p. 236).
"The righteous (One) for the unrighteous" shows the character of the Savior. No one, but He, could die for another. His unspotted, impeccable character makes Him able to die in the place of immoral, ungodly and tarnished sinners like us. His death conformed to the will of God that Christ Jesus was to be our Substitute for sin. A righteous God gave His Son that we might be saved (John 3:16).
The aim of Christ's suffering and death was to bring filthy sinners to God. A way back to God was needed by the entire human race because of Adam's sin; our Lord Jesus Christ was that WAY to a righteous God (John 14:6). So through His atoning death, sin-stained humanity could be restored to fellowship with God.
If Christ's death is all-important so was His resurrection. He was quickened by the Spirit. Thank God for a "resurrected Savior!" His resurrection makes Christianity unique. No other religion can authenticate the fact of a LIVING SAVIOR like Christianity.
2. The Consequences of Christ's Suffering - 19 - 21
Verse 19 reads, "By whom also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison (phulake) or ward." The word order in the original reads thus, "In whom also to the in prison spirits having gone he proclaimed" (Greek). The above "who" refers to the Holy Spirit, and the "He" is the Lord Jesus Christ.
"It was the Holy Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead, and it was by Him that Jesus preached to the antediluvians (Noah's neighbors and friends) perhaps to the carpenters who worked with Noah in building the ark. Our Lord before His incarnation, was the direct agent who preached through His indirect agent, the Holy Spirit through the lips of Noah, His human instrument, who was "a preacher of righteousness' (II Peter 2:5). The preaching was done in the days of Noah when the ark was being built (verse 20). It was because of their disobedience, as they rejected Noah's invitation to come into the ark that they were in prison when Peter wrote this passage. And they are still in prison and will remain there until the judgment of the great white throne at the end of the Kingdom Age (Revelation 20:11 - 15) (Yeager, Vol XVII, p. 146).
Verse 20 speaks of the disobedient spirits. Who were these spirits who disobeyed a long time ago? They are the spirits of the unsaved dead who failed to heed Noah's message while he was preparing the ark. Of the entire population of the earth, only eight souls were saved from the judgment of the flood waters; they were Noah, his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives. They were saved from the flood waters because they believed in the message of Noah, a preacher of righteousness.
These eight were saved "through" or "by" means of water. They were saved in passing through the flood waters. "Through water" means with water to the right and the left, forward and aft, from above and from the fountains of the great deep. To refuse to enter the ark was to be "baptized." To enter it, as Noah did, was to escape "baptism." Noah and the other seven were protected from the waters of divine judgment by the KAPHAR (pitch-atonement). Noah was not saved by the baptism in the water; he was saved by baptism FROM the water (Yeager, p. 148).
Peter understood the salvation of Noah and his family as a prefiguration of Christian baptism. Peter assured his afflicted readers that they likewise were recipients of that grace that saved Noah and his family. The parallel lies in the saving experience of Noah and his family in the ark passing through the flood waters to a new world, and Christian baptism is that which denotes the believer's passage from the old life to the new.
"Now" indicates the experience of salvation that characterizes the NEW era in which God is forming a NEW people from among the Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:13 - 18).
This union with Christianity in His death and resurrection, proclaimed in their baptism (Romans 6:3 - 8), should result in a present spiritual transformation to be consummated at the return of Jesus Christ.
"Negatively, Christian baptism is not the removal of dirt from the body. It is not the aim or function of baptism to remove physical filth (apothesis rupou) or laying aside dirt. Baptism is not a Jewish rite of purification; such illustrations were well-known in both Jewish and pagan religious practices and apparently form the background of Peter's expression. Positively, baptism is the pledge of a good conscience toward God" (Hiebert, p. 248). The word really means "a question," or "an inquiry." Some versions translate the word "interrogation."
The King James translation makes it clear that the believer's acceptance of baptism is his answer to the Spirit's questions that stir his conscience and result in his conversion. His answer is given out of a good conscience, a conscience purified by the blood of Christ and assured of personal acceptance with God. His baptism is his answer to the work of God in his heart, bearing witness before the world to what God has done for him. That forms a good contrast to the preceding negative" (Hiebert, p. 248 - 250).
3. The Culmination of Christ's Suffering - 22
Christ's position at God's right hand affirms His present triumphal exaltation (Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; 12:2) thus fulfilling Psalm 110:1. "Right hand" (dexia) signifies a position of honor and authority next to God. He is there in glory and ever able to aid His suffering saints. Peter includes angels, authorities and powers portraying the universality of Christ's dominion. This confirms what our Lord declared in Matthew 28:18, "All power (authority) is given to me in heaven and in earth."
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Verses 19 through 21 are a parenthesis. The time element involved in this passage is somewhat obscure; however, in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ preached to sinners during Noah's day. Those who heard the preaching, heard it when they were living in disobedience. Thus there is no room here for a belief in purgatory nor the opportunity to trust Christ as Savior after the death of the unbeliever. Nor is there an intimation that there will be a universal salvation. These heresies have no foundation in this passage nor any other passage in the Word of God.
With regard to verses 20 and 21 baptism is a vivid reproduction in figure, in symbol of the fact, already accomplished, that the soul having been regenerated by the Spirit of God, has been buried to sin and has been raised to holiness. Peter does not teach baptismal regeneration; that is, that the water washes away our sins and we are born of the water. Baptism is never spoken of in the Bible as a birth, but always a burial. The water does not give birth.
Most believers will agree that the Apostle Paul preached a complete gospel, yet the apostle testifies in I Corinthians 1:17, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." Paul is saying here that baptism is not a part of the gospel, but the gospel is the "death, burial and resurrection of Christ." Now Peter says of baptism - "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer (inquiry) of a good conscience toward God." Baptism as such has no effect in improving the outward man. Baptism does not wash away the filth of the flesh either in a literal sense, as a bath for the body, or in a metaphorical sense of the filth of the soul. So Peter makes it clear that without faith in Christ, baptism is ineffectual and meaningless.
Equipment Needed for Suffering
I Peter 4:1 - 11
The writer still has "suffering" as his subject. He links this section with the last by the use of "forasmuch" or in the NIV "therefore." Because the Savior was victorious over suffering. His followers can be victorious also. The emphasis, however, shifts to the related theme of willingness to suffer in order to avoid sinning. For the Christian, a life of holiness is a happy life. What is the proper attitude toward suffering?
1. The Needed Equipment in View of Present Suffering - 1 - 6
Peter calls his readers to remember the sufferings of Christ, and because of His sufferings they were to "arm (hoplisasthe) or furnish (them) selves likewise with the same mind (ennoian) or intent." A personal challenge is made here - since our Lord suffered for righteousness, the readers should have the same attitude or mind the Lord had. What was our Savior's attitude toward suffering? He was willing to suffer for righteousness because he was doing God's will. His determination was very evident - Luke 9:51.
For arming oneself with a suitable tool or weapon, see II Corinthians 6:7; 10:4. The Apostle Paul viewed the Christian life as a battle from start to finish, "Put on the whole armor of God...truth...righteousness...peace...faith...salvation and the word of God" (Ephesians 6:11 - 17).
"He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." The NIV begins this phrase, "because." Does Peter mean the same thing as Paul did when he wrote, "For he that is dead is freed from sin" Romans 6:7? Both Peter and Paul portray a note of triumph here. If the Christian is really dead to sin, it has no more dominion over him. Oh! he may commit acts of sin, but sin has no more dominion over him. The domination of sin has passed; the power of sin has been terminated.
Could Peter have meant martyrdom? Possibly so. Yeager says of this verse, "As horrendous as the prospect for martyrdom is, it has the consolation that, at least, it rids the Christian of the 'body of death' and assures a special reward in glory" (Vol XVII, p. 154).
Rees says that "The truth of this verse is paradox indeed. Apart from Him, wretched; in Him, blessed! Apart from Him, unholy; in Him, clean! Apart from Him, frazzled and frustrated; in Him, competent and steadfast! Apart from Him vanquished; in Him, victorious! Apart from Him, terrified; in Him, dauntless! (p. 97).
What is the result of man's death to sin? The remainder of his earthly life is free from the evil human desires to live a life of sin; he rather patterns his life after the will of God. The memory of the past life in sin goads the Christian against any tendency to relapse back into the sinful past.
Of course, "the rest of his time in the flesh" simply stresses the brevity of life. We should "redeem the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). "While living such a life, 'His will is our law. His word is our rule. His Son's life our example. His Spirit rather than our own should the guide of our actions'" (Hiebert, p. 259).
To endure suffering and attain victory requires strong motivation. The Christian has spent enough time, prior to salvation, living like a pagan or heathen. Now it is time to put away the sins that characterized that life. If the Christian briefly reviews his past sinful life, that alone should motivate him to orient his life around a new view of life, a new authority and a new dynamic available to them in Christ.
Verse 3 delineates at least six evils that characterized a life contrary to the will of God. In his use of the plural, Peter indicates the variety and frequency of these vices. The King James Version lists these sins as follows: (1) lasciviousness (aselgeiais), debauchery, or shameful conduct; (2) lusts (evil desires),depraved cravings or inner vicious desires of fallen human nature; (3) revelings (oinophlugiais), orgies or merrymaking (sometimes associated with honoring Bacchus) (5) banquetings (potpos), carousing or eating and drinking to excess; (6) abominable (athemiton) or detestable idolatries (eidololatriais), the worship of many gods and goddesses.
The Christian was abused and made fun of by these pagan practitioners for not participating in their evil practices. These pagans were surprised and astonished that the Christians were different. Their former companions in sin could not understand the behavior of the Christians. They heaped abuse and spoke reproachfully about the Christians. "Bigg observed the charges made by the heathen were not only false, but turned the Christian faith into impiety, the Christian virtue into vice, and involved a different and blasphemous idea of God" (Hiebert, p. 264).
Temperance in all things is the hallmark of the Christian. Even though he is misunderstood and criticized by the unsaved, the Christian remains in control of the situation at all times. He has the Holy Spirit Who is the only permanent cure for the depraved condition.
Non-conformity is largely responsible for the conflict between the Christian and his community. The Christian is estranged from his social community, and therefore, social discrimination against Christians has arisen (John 15:18).
The result of this discrimination was evident when Nero blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome. The NIV of this verse reads like this, "They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you." The flood here, indicates an overflowing or pouring out of a substance that springs up and flows down as lava from the crater of a volcano." 'Dissipation' actually means incorrigibility" (Kistemaker p.160).
The pagan's actions against the Christians remind Peter that they will be judged at a time that is forthcoming. The pagans will not only be judged for their sins but also for their malicious conduct toward the Christians. Jehovah God will judge the living evil-doers and also those who have died before Jesus comes again. The death of the evil-doers will not exempt them from God's judgment. The fact that they shall give an account to him "pictures a courtroom scene in which they will stand before Jesus Christ as the Judge" (Matthew 12:36; John 5:22). Johnstone says, "The next great manifest divine intervention in the affairs of the world will be the appearance of the Lord in judgment."
God has never been without a witness. Those who have lived in past millenniums who have desired more light, God has granted that light. Regardless of when an individual may have lived, he will be judged by the amount of light he received. There is enough manifestations in nature for the human being to know that there is a Creator (Psalm 19:1 - 14).
2. The Necessary Life in View of the End Time - 7 - 11
"The end is at hand." The present course of history is about to come to its consummation; the goal is nearing for this age to close out (I Corinthians 15:24 - 28). The "gospel age" is that period of time between the first coming and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Day of Judgment is "at the door" (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40). He stands ready to burst through those "outward swinging doors." The longsuffering of God is the only hindrance to the coming of our Savior (II Peter 3:8, 9).
Because Christ's coming is near. Peter admonishes the readers to be sober, watchfulness and prayerful. Sober (sophronesate) means sane or clear-mindedness; the word "watch" (nepsate) could mean calm, collected and circumspect. Prayerfulness is the Christian norm, but the idea here seems to be to pray more effectively and appropriately. NIV translates verse 7, "The end of all things is near, therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." The Apostle Paul says of the coming of the Lord, "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (I Thessalonians 5:6).
As the end of the age nears, Peter exhorts his readers to have fervent (ektene) or unfailing; the Christian should be charitable one to the other. "Above all, love each other deeply" (NIV). Peter places love at the apex as of paramount importance in Christian social relationship. Jesus did the same (John 13:35; 15:13). What did Peter mean - "Charity (love) shall cover a multitude of sins"? Love throws a veil over sins; it provides peace and harmony of the brotherhood. Love promotes unity and peace within the Christian community (Matthew 6:14, 15; 18:21, 22). Love for one another makes for a tolerant attitude toward the sins which, would otherwise, destroy the fellowship. Edwin A. Blum says, "Love is capable of being commanded because it is not primarily an emotion but a decision of the will leading to action" (Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. XII, p. 246).
"Use hospitality (philozenoi) or be friendly to strangers without grudging (gogusmou) Complaining spoils hospitality (Robertson, VI, p. 125). or murmuring." Hospitality is affectionate concern for strangers that may express itself by offering food and shelter. Before the building of safe public inns, the only place the Christian could go, while traveling, was the home of another Christian. Housing and feeding a fellow Christian should not be too costly, burdensome or irritating. The Christian should be hospitable without complaint. Clowney says of hospitality, we are struck by the realism of the DIDACHE, a Christian document perhaps as early as the first century. Speaking of traveling apostles (missionaries) and prophets, the DIDACHE gives these instructions: "But concerning the apostles and prophets, so do ye according to the ordinance the Gospel. Let every apostle, when he cometh to you, be received as the Lord; but he shall not abide more than a single day, or if there be need, a second likewise; but if he abide three days, he is a false prophet. And when he departeth let the apostle receive nothing save bread, until he findeth shelter; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet" (pp. 183, 184).
If the Christian had been given special gifts and graces from God, he should be willing to share with fellow Christians. Mutual Christian love and service to others are inseparably related. The Christian is a steward; he is an individual entrusted with administrative responsibilities for household affairs. We are to administer those "graces" which God has bestowed upon us. We are to be God's minister.
What is your gift? Is it speaking? Speak God's oracles; that is the Word of God. Is it ministering or serving? Serve in the name of Jesus Christ. As God grants various gifts and abilities, perform them to the glory of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Source of strength to carry out His service. All Christian living and service should have a sits goal, that of the praise and glory of the Godhead
Johnstone depicts eternity as "a series of ages flowing on endlessly, in each of which a number of other shorter ages are gathered up" (Hiebert, p. 278). Peter ends his doxology with a hearty "Amen," - so be it or a strong affirmation.
Steadfastness in Suffering
I Peter 4:12 - 19
Although trials and tribulations come to the saints of God, and they are SURE to come, we can be triumphant because Jesus suffered the same and He, too, was triumphant. If the Master was made to endure sufferings, it should not be regarded as strange that His servants are compelled to endure the same; we are to rejoice because, as we trust Him and are persecuted for His sake, we are really "partakers of Christ's sufferings. "
Peter again appeals to the hearts of his readers by addressing them, "Beloved" in the KJV or "dear friends" in NIV. In spite of their trials and tribulations they all belong to the blessed fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have all been recipients of God's matchless love. What should be their inner attitude toward suffering? Peter attempts to answer this question in this passage.
1. Attitude Toward Suffering - 12, 13
Peter forbids his readers to respond incorrectly to suffering. Don't be surprised or bewildered that you must suffer (John 15:20); Peter used the words me xenizesthe meaning don't entertain the thought about not suffering. Suffering and persecution come naturally! "Fiery trials" literally mean going through a process of burning, like fire; in the early Christian setting it could mean burning at a stake. God permits the Christian to go through a test to demonstrate what he can endure. "For thou, 0 God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried" (Psalm 66:10). A Christian's endurance during trial demonstrates the genuineness of his faith, and it helps to mold his character. Valuable metal is smelted in the furnace to bring out its brilliance.
Rees says, "Suffering in itself cleanses no heart, rectifies no wrong, purges no conscience. Only the grace of God can do that. But suffering can be employed as a means of humbling us, rousing us, bringing us to self-examination, as members of the body of Christ" (p. 118).
In verse 13 Peter says, "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings..." The "inasmuch as" means "in so far as," or "in the measure that." Some will suffer more than others, but all will suffer some. Suffering for the Christian should bring him in closer fellowship with Christ's sufferings (Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10). Our Lord's glory shown through at the Transfiguration (Matthew 16:28 - 17:13), and we shall one day see Jesus glorified, and, thank God, we shall have glorified bodies as well! In that day, "we shall rejoice, exulting." Exulting (the participle) adds to rejoicing. Lenski says it adds to rejoicing "the idea of exulting, jubilating, skipping and bubbling over with shouts of delight" (Hiebert, p. 286).
2. Ordeal of Suffering - 14 - 16
"If you are reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye" points out the nature of the suffering. "Reproach" (oneidizesthe) means insult, verbal abuse, slander and defamation of character. After all, verbal insults were hurled at our Leader (Mark 15:31, 32). The reason for these insults against us is because we go under the name of Christ (Matthew 10:22; Luke 21:17 ASV).
"Happy are ye;" that is, you are blessed (makaarioi) or fortunate (Matthew 5:11). Hiebert says, "Instead of hanging their heads in shame, they can lift them up with radiant faces; their experience of the sting of human and demonic rejection of that Name offered assurance and deep satisfaction in being united with that Name" (p. 287). If we willingly accept the abusive language, we will be glorified by the Spirit at a later date; no such blessings are forthcoming to the abusers.
Twice in this epistle Peter writes, "happy are ye," (3:14; 4:14). Both times the beatitudes are in the context of suffering. "If the harsh reality of verbal abuse is the one side of the proverbial coin, the reward of heavenly bliss is the other side" (Kistemaker, p. 176).
The last phrase in this verse (14) is a quotation from Isaiah 11:2 which reads, "...the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him..." Both the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God rests upon the individual in Christ. "As the Shechinah rested within and upon the tabernacle of long ago, the symbol of God's holy majesty and might in the camp of His people, so the Holy Spirit rests in strange splendor and astonishing power on God's suffering people, whose chief and crucial offence is that they have taken His Son into their hearts and His name upon their lips" (Rees, p. 120, 121).
Our suffering should be for doing good and not evil. Unworthy suffering results from murders, robberies and other evil deeds. Transgressors of the law should expect suffering. Such evils for Christians are despicable. The "busy-body" (allotriepiskopos) is a revolutionary, a spy, a mischief maker or an informer. The murderer, thief, criminal or busy-body deserves to suffer; however, God has no reward to compensate the Christian whose sufferings are the results of his own sins.
The word "Christian" occurs for the third and last time in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28). The name Christian (CHRISTIANOS) was first given in derision. Of course the word is built upon Christ with the suffix IANOS denoting a partisan follower. Christians are categorized as the followers of Christ or members of the Christ-party. To bear the name Christian is to glorify God; never should one be ashamed of the name. "Union with that name outwardly may involve an environment of suffering and disgrace, but inwardly it is accepted as an opportunity to praise God" (Hiebert, p. 291).
Peter knew that when a believer meets with scorn, ridicule and contempt because of his faith, shame often prevents him from witnessing further for Christ. The writer encourages his readers to overcome shame. The opposite of shame is praise. Peter should know how the Christian may feel; he denied Jesus three times in succession (Matthew 26:69 - 75).
3. Judgment in Suffering - 17, 18
Judgment of sin "must begin at the house of God," but it goes beyond to include the lost. If God judges His own people, what can the unsaved and the abusers expect? God judges every inconsistency in His own people; He judges justly. Those who do not obey the gospel will be judged and condemned to the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:20). The family of God will be judged by our obedience after we were saved and rewarded accordingly. All will be judged by "the gospel of God" which marks the depth of guilt.
This verse has a counterpart in both theme and formulation (II Thessalonians 1:4 - 10). it connects Christian suffering of persecution and future judgment of those who do not obey the gospel and persecute those who do.
The thought of judgment beginning with God's people is not new. A vision was given to Ezekiel that judgment would begin at Israel's most hallowed spot - the sanctuary. "Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and BEGIN AT MY SANCTUARY" (Ezekiel 9:6).
"And, if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" NIV "If the righteous receive their just due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner?" The idea here is - the arduous experience of the righteous in this life, and does not imply doubt as to whether he will be saved in the end" (Hiebert, p. 293). (See also: Acts 14:22; II Timothy 3:12). If on his way to glory the Christian must suffer, "what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
"There is no doubt that God saves the righteous from the penalty of sin, but the consequences of sin in the life of the Christian cannot be escaped, though the penalty is not eternal damnation. And since God holds Christians up to high ethical standard, how can those outside of Christ expect to survive?" (Yeager, Vol. XVII, p. 173).
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Verse 19 forms the conclusion. In adding to the Christian's suffering joyfully the Christian should commit himself to God's safe-keeping knowing that God is good and that He does all things well. He is the just Judge! Peter wants to assure his readers that their suffering is in harmony with the will of God. Continually entrust yourselves to His safe-keeping, Peter implies in verse 19. He (God) is Faithful. If He is great enough to create the world and humanity who lives upon it. He is great enough and powerful enough and just enough to handle the judgment of His creatures.
In the hour of suffering, as well as in times of prosperity, we are in the hands of a merciful and loving Father; we are to learn submission, not because the suffering is inevitable, but because it is according to His will, and His will is our sanctification and our salvation.
Peter would say, "Be quietly committed, even in death, as your Lord was when he said, 'Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit.'"
Perils of the Christian
I Peter 5:1 - 7
In this chapter the apostle writes concerning the perils of covetousness, the perils of conceit, and the perils of compromise. These perils are directed toward God's ministers. Because the writer was a fellow-minister or a fellow-pastor, he could give some special exhortation to the younger ministers, and since he must have reached an advanced age, his instruction would carry added weight.
The word translated "therefore" or "accordingly" is omitted from most translations, but it connects what follows; a hortatory section, with the preceding verses on the subject of suffering and on continuing to "do good," the concluding words of chapter 4. Or the first verses of chapter 5 could continue the subject of 4:11, "speaking and serving in the church.
1. The Peril of Covetousness - 1 - 4
"The elders which are among you, I exhort" identify the group to whom Peter directs these verses. Peter addresses the elders in their relation to the churches. Each of which may have had one or more elders in its midst. The term elder (presbuteros) applies to the men advanced in age who could serve as leaders (Luke 15:25), and also those men who were called of God to be pastors (Acts 14:23).
The word PRESBUTEROUS means an official (Acts 11:30; 20:28; James 5:14) - a religious leader in Israel, or one who had authority to establish and maintain religious practices. Peter makes his appeal as a fellow-elder; however, not as one of higher authority and power. "Peter did not consider himself as the 'head' over the apostles and preachers" (Hobbs, Baptist Standard, September 12, 1979 p.13). "If Peter was a pope, he never knew it," said H.A. Ironside.
The Apostle Peter did identify himself as "a witness of the sufferings of Christ" which did give him a unique position that his fellow-elders did not have; however, he does not flaunt his position. Peter does not "speak down" to his hearers or fellow-elders as a superior. The hallmark of an apostle was being a eyewitness to the Lord's ministry and death. The word witness comes from the word MARTUS (martus) - here is where we get our word "martyr;" for many of those in the first century and until the twenty-first century have given their lives or suffered martyrdom because of their testimony. In fact, we are told that more men and women have given their lives as a Christian testimony in the twentieth century than the previous nineteen centuries combined.
"And also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed" shows that suffering and glory were never far apart in Peter's mind. Barnes suggests that Peter's reference to Christ's glory refers to His "glories at His return to the earth" (Hiebert, p. 302). Peter, James and John had a preview of our Lord's glory at the Transfiguration (Matthew 16:28 - 17:13). (See also: II Peter 1:16 - 18)
"Feed (poimanate) or shepherd the flock (poimnion) or band of believers of God which is among you" or "Be shepherds of God's flock" NIV. The shepherd imagery, which is common in the Old Testament, is used here involving guiding and guarding, feeding and folding. The "flock" is owned by God and the shepherd is solemnly challenged to care for it; he was to never neglect or abuse God's flock who God had assigned "under his care."
"Taking the oversight thereof" or "Serving as overseers." The word "overseer" (episkopos) or "bishop" depicts the pastoral function of the elder, seeing and caring for those under his supervision. These two terms, "elder" and "bishop" are interchangeable in the New Testament.
"Not by constraint (anagkastos) or under pressure, but willingly: not for filthy lucre (aischrokerdos) or shameful gain, but of a ready mind (prothumos) or eagerly." Negatively and positively stated Peter guides the work of the elders. A man is not to be compelled or externally forced into the work of an elder, but willingly respond to God's call (I Corinthians 9:16). It is a matter of free will, but it may be by Divine compulsion. Those of us who have been called of God can identify with the following statement by Hiebert, "It is a divinely imposed constraint of God's sovereign will for his life that Paul willingly and wholeheartedly accepted. Such a constraint manifests itself in service...deliberately and intentionally, as a matter of free-will, like a volunteer who delights in doing the work. Personal love for the Lord and for His people promote willing service" (p. 304).
Personal gain should not be a governing motive for the Christian minister. Most who have served in this capacity know that most other callings and professions are much more lucrative, but there is a possibility that the devil or some other individual (pastor, father, mother or other relative) does call some into a ministry. Some get on the "band-wagon" for an ego trip, others join in because there is a desire for an audience; some may do so because of some selfish interest or social influence.
"Neither as being lords (katakurieuontes) or exercising dominion over God's heritage" or "Not lording it over those entrusted to you" NIV. The implication is that the elder does exercise a real authority, but he should do so with a pastor's heart. Preaching should not be a profession; it must be a passion. Peter warns against the misuse of authority. He was aware of his Master 's teaching (Matthew 20:25 - 27; Mark 10:42 - 44). Abuse of authority was a concern of the Apostle John (III John 9, 10).
The contrast of the abuse of authority is "being ensamples (tupoi), patterns or likenesses to the flock." Instead of a domineering spirit, the elder (pastor) should be a model whom the people can consciously follow. True shepherds led but do not drive. Athanasius said, "The life should command, and the tongue persuade." Hobbs says the attitude of the pastor or elder should be, "Follow me, as we do (a task) together," and not "You go and do it!"
Rewards are forthcoming to the undershepherd who patterns his life after the chief Shepherd. "And when the chief Shepherd (archipoimenos) shall appear (phanerothentos) or be revealed, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away (amarantinon) or never withers." At the Second Coming of our Lord, every Christian will receive his reward. Christ, to Whom the flock belongs, will be the One Who makes the awards for caring for the flock. The reward is "a crown of glory (doxes stephanon)." Crowns have been granted for various reasons, like the celebration of occasions of joy and victory. They consisted of various perishable materials, such as oak, olive or myrtle leaves, ivy, parsley or flower such as the rose. Various crowns are mentioned in the Scriptures - an "incorruptible crown" (I Corinthians 9:25); a "crown of glory" (I Thessalonians 2:19), a "crown of righteousness" (II Timothy 4:8); and a "crown of life" (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). The character of Peter's "crown of glory" is that it is a never-fading crown, a symbol of immortality. The amaranth, from which the Greek words "the unfading crown" comes, was a flower of such nature that it never withered or faded. When plucked it revived if moistened with water; hence, a symbol of perpetuity and immortality" (Yeager, Vol XVII, p. 179). This crown of heavenly glory goes to Christ's faithful undershepherds.
2. The Peril of Conceit - 5 - 7
"Likewise ye younger, submit (hupotagete) or subject yourselves unto the elder." "In the same way" points out a new series of exhortations. Peter now lays down a pertinent duty on younger members. They are to voluntarily submit to the older, most experienced, more mature and more knowledgeable ministers. Hiebert writes, "The young, with their eager energies, should guard against the impulse to thrust the aged into the background and insist on their own ideas or ways in the face of the more mature view of the elderly. Respect for age and experience contributes to harmonious relationships in the local congregation as well as in society, but it also assumes that older members reveal maturity and wisdom and offer the younger a goodly example" (p. 309). Of course, one must remember Paul's counsel to treat the "younger men as brothers" (I Timothy 5:1).
"Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed in humility (egkombosasthe) or wear the apron of a slave." Herein all members of the congregations are included as the KJV reads. The NIV reads, "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are elder." In fact, most recent translations place a period after "elder," and begin a new sentence with, "Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another." What is wrong with exhorting everyone to be humble? "Humility" or "lowly-mindedness" should be a characteristic of all Christians if we would be Christ-like! Put on "humility" like a garment; adorn yourself with the "apron" of service (John 13:4). The words translated "be clothed with" comes from two words in the Greek which literally translate "in a knot or in a tie." The garment was the white scarf or apron that slaves tied or knotted to the girdle of a vest (Yeager, Vol. XVII, p. 180).
Verse 6 reads, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty (krataian) or powerful hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." In this verse we find a duty that calls for immediate attention, "humble yourselves" or "allow yourselves to be humbled" under God's mighty hand (the verb is in the passive voice). This is a part of God's program of discipline, purification and training of His members. Because the true Christian loves God and has a ministering and serving attitude, he will have the assurance of exaltation when the Lord comes again. What consolation! Are the trials, troubles and tribulations worth it? Yea, a thousand times over! D.J. Kenyon says, "Part of humility is willingness to patiently wait for things according to God's timetable. "
In verse 7, Peter writes, "Casting all of your cares upon him; for he careth for you." If our God could led His people safely out of Egyptian slavery, isn't He powerful enough and knowledgeable enough to care for us when we turn ourselves over to Him? We can turn over individual cares and concerns to Him; our memories of the past, our pressures of the present and our fears concerning the future. We can cast or (epiripsantes), throw or hand over everything into His mighty hands; God has proven over and over and over that he cares (Matthew 6:25 - 34; Luke 12:4 - 7, 22 - 34). Cast everything into the hands of God like the people cast their garments on the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem (Luke 19:35). Concerning our anxiety and worry, some has said, "If you can do something about it, do it. If you cannot do anything about, worry will not help."
The Peril Compromise and the Conclusion of the Epistle
I Peter 5:8 - 14
The epistle now draws to a close. Peter, however, continues to admonish his readers to recognize certain dangers which lie along the pathway of life. Upon recognition of these dangers, the believer is to be armed against them. Various perils have been considered - the peril of complacency, the peril of consternation and the peril of covetousness. The final peril with which Peter deals is the peril of compromise.
If Satan cannot lead God's people astray with one peril, he will try another. Through the agency of everyday surroundings such as people, things and circumstances, the child of God must be discerning enough to see the "master mind" of all evil - Satan himself. He is the one who empowers, directs and uses many different perils to frustrate the grace of God. Peter refers to the devil as the Christian's adversary.
1. The Peril of Compromise - 8 - 11
Verse 8 admonishes the reader to "be sober (nepsate) or calm, be vigilant (gregoresate) or watchful." Peter continues what he said in 1:13 and 4:9; the Christian needs a balance of disposition, thought and action marked by spiritual self-control. We must be actively awake, both morally and spiritually. We are to know our enemy who is Satan and his demonic forces. Satan is on the prowl, like a lion seeking out prey. John called him the great dragon, that old serpent, the Devil and Satan (Revelation 12:9). After catching his prey, he roars in victory.
The word "walketh," shows how the devil is a peripatetic destroyer. He "walks around everywhere" seeking to influence God's people to engage in evil activities. One of Satan's activities is accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Peter says the devil, "seeketh whom he may devour." Devour (katapiein) can mean to "swallow up," or "to drink down." The word is used in Hebrews 12:29 where the Egyptian army assaying to (cross the Red Sea) was drowned. Satan seeks to destroy the influence of every child of God.
We need to "be awake" and "be alert." The life of the Christian is not an easy life; it is a battle with certain battle-lines drawn. We have an enemy with which to contend. We are involved in a spiritual warfare against a real, not a imaginary foe. Our Lord Himself called the devil the Christian's adversary. An adversary is anyone who pits himself in hostility against another. Christ Himself recognized the existence of a being, who, though once in possession of a will in harmony with God's will, is now hostile to the Creator, especially in his work of saving men through Christ. He is continually in motion, never resting, seeking to ruin everything and everyone who is good and godly. This is our foe, says the apostle, and we will regret the day we treat him frivolously or carelessly.
We should resist the devil and resist him we must with all the immovable firmness of our faith. We will be encouraged to know that we are not alone in the fight. Verse 9 says that we must stand firm (antistete) in the faith, as our Christian pioneer brothers and sisters, have done. A living faith (confidence in God) can do more to put Satan to flight than any one grace. Militarily, we are to stand in solid opposition to Satan, unyielding like granite. Join the mighty army of the past and present - all Christians are in the battle. Thank God, we are not alone! Others have endured and are enduring the same kind of trials, tribulations and troubles as we are. All over the world our brothers and sisters are standing steadfast.
Verse 10 begins with "but" - note the contrast! "But the God of all grace" is here for us. If God is "in our stead," how can we fail. Our victory is grounded in the Source of all grace; He is the God of all grace. He has "called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus." The purpose for which God saved us was for His glory, and He is going to share His glory with us by Christ Jesus.
Our suffering "down here" on the earth is very temporary compared to eternity. God will one day "make you (us) perfect, stablish, strengthen you." NIV translates the word "perfect" - "restore." He will make each one of us whole. He will perfect or restore us like a fisherman MENDS torn nets, like as a physician SETS broken bones (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19; Galatians 6:1). God makes His children "whole." He will make us strong, firm and steadfast. So God will "settle you;" that is. He will ground you upon an immovable foundation. So in God, the Christian has FITNESS, FIRMNESS, FORCEFULNESS, and A FOUNDATION. Compared with the glory which God has prepared for His saints, any suffering one is required to endure for Christ's sake is only for a "little while." The author speaks of God as the "God of all (pases) grace," or "the God of every grace." From the grace of justification to the grace of glorification - GOD IS THERE.
We cannot fathom what God has prepared for us who love Him and who work for Him. Someone has very ably listed some of our possessions: "A love that cannot be fathomed, a life that cannot die. A righteousness that cannot be tarnished, a peace that cannot be understood, a rest that cannot be disturbed, a joy that cannot be diminished, a hope that cannot be disappointed, a light than cannot be darkened, a happiness that cannot be interrupted, a strength that cannot be enfeebled, a purity that cannot be defiled, a beauty that cannot be marred, and a wisdom that cannot be baffled. Resources that cannot be exhausted." (Blair, p. 249).
In verse 11, we have another of Peter's doxologies. To the very God and Father Who acts on behalf of His people; to Him, and Him alone, all praise and glory and dominion is due. Herein is an expression of Peter's (and our) gratitude for every expression of His power and grace and love. Amen! - a personal seal upon this adoration is expressed by Peter.
2. The Conclusion of the Epistle - 12 - 14
Silvanus (Silas) must have served a Peter's amanuensis (scribe) or messenger; now Peter takes up the pen to write the final few words. The purpose of his epistle is - "exhorting (parakalon) or comforting, and testifying (epimarturon) or declaring that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand," (verse 12). The NIV uses the word "encouraging" instead of exhorting - Peter's message is an earnest and persuasive address bracing his readers to face their forthcoming trials. "Testifying" emphasizes the idea of confirmation.
The phrase, "the church that," is added in the KJV and is not in the original text. It reads literally, "the one (feminine) in Babylon..." Who is "the one," either literally or figuratively? Was she Peter's wife, an unnamed prominent woman, or "the church" as in the KJV? More than likely Peter refers to the church here. "At Babylon," - was this Babylon on the Euphrates, Babylon in Egypt or was Peter referring to the cryptic designation for the city of Rome? Incidentally, no record has been found that tells us that Peter was ever at Rome.
"Elected together" (suneklekte) could be "co-elect" as an echo of God's elect or chosen (1:1), with the members of the brotherhood of believers. "Marcus, my son" was probably John Mark, the author of the second Gospel and a fellow-laborer with Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey.
Verse 14 gives a display of brotherly love to one another, "Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity" (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20 and others). A kiss on the cheek was, and still is, a common form of Oriental greeting among friends. Probably because it was abused, it was changed to the custom now of men kissing men, and women kissing women. Today a hearty handshake serves the purpose. The practice of handshaking goes back to ancient days when men carried weapons of warfare. To show that one came in peace, he extended his open hand with no weapon in it.
"Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen is the Oriental benediction that one would expect.
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Thus ends Peter's epistle. This God of grace is the God Who deserves glory and dominion. His is the majesty, the honor, the holiness and victory Eternal. Implicit in this note of praise is the fact that God is sovereign, and is able to perform all that He designs; therefore, the believer can remain faithful and steadfast in the midst of the spiritual battle.