Flyover of 1 Peter
1 Peter Lesson #003
February 5, 2015
Open your Bibles with me to 1 Peter. The major theme in 1 Peter is living in light of eternity. This is expressed so many different ways by Peter. There’s such a spread of vocabulary: words like hope, inheritance, and future judgment. All of these ideas and many others relate to this whole issue that we see in terms of living today in light of where God is taking us as Church Age believers.
We are in boot camp. If you go into the military today as I understand it, you’ll be tested and evaluated in many different areas as you go through boot camp. If you show certain aptitudes, then you will be given various MOS’s so you can be trained in certain areas of specialty. That is like what happens in the Church Age. As we grow and mature, we are developing capacity to assume responsibilities related to our role in the future kingdom. What we’re doing today isn’t just learning how to live today and face and handle situations today, but it is building our character, our honor, and the virtue in our souls so we are prepared to assume those responsibilities that God would delegate to us, that Christ would delegate to us during the Millennial Kingdom.
1 Peter is a book that focuses on the fundamental spiritual skills that we have to master in order to face and handle the adversities of life. As I indicated in my prayer and in the past, we have two levels of opposition we face. We face overt opposition and persecution which is like those living in a Muslim country, or those living in Europe where they can even be jailed or imprisoned for hate speech just for talking about the fact that homosexuality is a sin and homosexual marriage is a sin. That’s a preview of coming attractions in this country, I believe. That’s overt which can lead to overt persecution, even to the loss of life.
But we also in many ways in our lives face a much more covert opposition. We face an opposition that comes from the angelic conflict. This is one we can’t trace its origin. Often it just presents itself in terms of a lot of different ways and a lot of different manifestations. Often we deal with people around us who, because we’re Christians, have become more and more vocal. They may make snide remarks here and there. They may treat us with a lower level of respect. They may ridicule other Christians in our hearing so we know they are, in fact, ridiculing and demeaning us. We may get more vocal opposition from family members and from business associates and from clients and from people for whom we work. That may express itself in a lot of different very, very subtle ways.
The way we handle it is fundamentally based upon grace. This is why there is an important thread all through 1 Peter dealing with the grace of God because that is a foundational skill. If you don’t learn grace orientation and humility, then all of the other spiritual skills can’t fully develop because they’re all grounded on humility and grace orientation.
When we look at any book in the Bible, any book whether epistle, gospel or Old Testament narratives, there’s usually an introduction and a conclusion. It’s not always that way in some of the historical books in the Old Testament. Samuel really doesn’t have an introduction or a conclusion. It just starts right in on the story. Most books, though, have an introduction and a conclusion, and that’s where we look to get clues as to what the writer is going to be emphasizing and what he is talking about.
But when we look at an epistle, though, we usually find a salutation. This is just the opening statement which indicates the writer of the epistle gives us some orientation to his position or his authority as to why he is writing. In this case Peter identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. The salutation also expresses the destination of the epistle. He is writing to the “resident aliens”, as I would like to translate that term of the diaspora, the Jews which are scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia which is the area of northern and western modern Turkey.
Now that sets the Epistle up. He identifies those who are selected or singled-out ones. We’ll have to deal with what that term “elect according to the foreknowledge of God” means. This always raises the specter of how we understand election and foreknowledge and of Calvinism. It’s very interesting. I’ve been doing more study on that term, both in terms of EKLEKTOS, which is the word for elect as well as PROGNOSIS which is the word for foreknowledge. As you look at 1 Peter 1:2, you have a Trinitarian statement there based on three different prepositional clauses. We’ll have to look at those prepositions to identify their significance and meaning. All three of those relate to that word elect. We’re elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, elect by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, and elect for the purpose of obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. So all three of those statements relate to elect. We’ll have to look at that.
Then Peter says, “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” This is the first use of the word grace which is used twelve times. It’s not always translated grace, but it should be. This tells us this is a significant theme in this Epistle. When we come to the closing comments, in 1 Peter 5:12–14, he says it’s “by Sylvanus [Silas, Paul’s traveling companion who was jailed with Paul in Philippi], our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly.” Silas is the amanuensis, the one to whom Peter dictated the Epistle. Silas may have edited it under Peter’s supervision and brought it to its final form.
“I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying to you that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.” I think that is the key term that is important for understanding this Epistle. It’s not just the grace of God when we think about this. The grace of God is just sort of a static concept. When I express and identify the themes and the purposes of an epistle, I like to identify it in a more dynamic way. We’re to stand in the true grace of God. That’s the focal point. How do you handle adversity, which is the major theme of the book, by standing in the true grace of God? We have to learn what it means to stand, to live our life on the basis of the true grace of God. We’ll see that the way to do that is to live today in light of eternity.
He closes out, “He who is Babylon, elect...” Singled out would be a really good translation for that word elect. “Singled out together with you, greet you and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.” Love is another key word that is used about seven times, both the verb and the noun. “Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus.” Notice he brings both those themes together, grace and peace, in his conclusion telling us that there’s something significant about these terms other than the fact that they’re just a normal way which someone in the ancient world would open or close a letter.
In the Greek, CHARIS is the common greeting. In the Hebrew, shalom is a common greeting; but the writers of Scripture used these terms in a much more pregnant way. They are using them with a theological nuance. They are talking about something much more than just using them in the everyday sense of grace and peace. We have an introduction beginning in 1 Peter 1:3 and goes through verse 12. That’s the introduction which emphasizes standing in the grace of God so that we can rejoice in the midst of present fiery trial because our love for God enables us to focus on the glories to come. That captures the essence of what that says in these ten verses.
Standing in grace means we can rejoice in the midst of the present fiery trial. That term comes up later on in the book but he mentions these trials and tests here in the first part of the introduction. Standing in grace means we can rejoice, have real joy, in trials. One question you ought to ask yourself is when you face adversity in life, large or small which can always accumulate so you don’t have the charge of one mosquito, but it’s usually a whole mess of them that are bothering you and you just go nuts, but ask yourself how you handle adversity which is a real sign of our spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. Certainly it shows whether or not we are walking by the Spirit. We can get out of fellowship, and you never know what will happen. That is a sign of a distinction for Christians. Not only do we have love for one another, but how we handle adversity by standing in God’s grace.
This is what Peter argues here, that how we handle adversity is a testimony to the grace of God in our life and is part of our testimony. I would say, looking at what Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 that we need to be ready to give an answer to those who ask us why we have this hope, that that is what it’s based on. We live differently. We handle adversity and suffering in a much different way than unbelievers around us, and our life is our ultimate apologetic. It’s our love for one another and our walk by the Holy Spirit that make people wonder what in the world is different about believers.
As we look at this, 1 Peter 1:3–12 is basically the paragraph which pulls together several sentences all related to the same topic. The topic here is how we can have joy in the midst of suffering. The first sentence goes from 1 Peter 1:3–5. It is a statement of praise. When we see the words “blessed be God.” We’re not blessing God, because creatures can’t bless God. The word bless often has the nuance of praise. So that should be translated praise. That’s how the word blessed is used many times in the Psalms. When we bless the name of the Lord, we are praising the character of God.
These verses begin, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again.” What doctrine is that? Regeneration. It’s very important because we’re going to see regeneration referred to again and again. Why? Why is this so important within the structure of this theme? It’s because in regeneration we get a new life. We have a new nature. A fundamental change has taken place that should manifest itself in how we live differently from others. Of course, it can only do that when we grow spiritually.
“Because He [God the Father] has begotten us”, again to what? To a living hope. That ties it to resurrection which comes up numerous times throughout this epistle. Hope is a confident expectation, a certain expectation. It always focuses us on the future, so it brings in that spiritual skill of living life in light of eternity which is our personal sense of our eternal destiny. We need to understand what the end game is so that the end game motivates us. This of course is a very important factor for Peter because Peter has seen the end game on the Mount of Transfiguration when he went up on that mountain with the Lord Jesus Christ and James and John. Then Moses and Elijah appeared there with Jesus, and Jesus was revealed in all His glory. Peter put his foot in his mouth again and suggested they build a little hut for Elijah and Moses and Jesus. He just lumped Jesus in as a prophet with the other two and immediately God the Father said He wasn’t putting up with this nonsense [that’s in the Greek]. He said, “Peter, this is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” So God shut that down right away. You don’t lump the Lord Jesus Christ in with a couple of human beings.
Peter saw the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. He saw the end game, so that gives him great motivation to handle difficulty. We’re born again to this living hope and to an inheritance in verse 4, “incorruptible, undefiled, that doesn’t fade away.” That’s our end game, living for this inheritance; and we’re reminded that “we’re kept by the power of God through faith for salvation”. That is going to be an end-game term: salvation, which is the ultimate conclusion.
“And is ready to be revealed…” When? “In the last times.” So again we have to look at that term, but it’s throwing our focus to the future. We’re living in light of eternity. The key doctrines we see here refer to regeneration, hope, resurrection of Jesus Christ, inheritance, our personal sense of destiny, and the phases of salvation. It emphasizes that the present understanding and application of our future salvation is critical to living out the Christian life today.
Then we come to 1 Peter 1:6–7, “In this you greatly rejoice…” You rejoice in that great salvation mentioned already so we can have great joy, exuberant joy in the midst of the most difficult situation. He goes on, “So now for a little while, if need be, you’ve been grieved by various trials.” That word for grief indicates real sorrow and heartache, difficulty, and sadness. Just because you’re a Christian and you’re supposed to be joyful, doesn’t mean you won’t ever be sad or grieved or have heartache.
The same word is used to describe the Lord Jesus Christ as He looked forward to and anticipated the cross in Gethsemane. He went through emotional turmoil. He didn’t act on it which would have been sin. Same thing we experience. We can experience grief and heartache and sadness and sorrow but we’re not going to act on it. We’re going to act on the Word of God instead because our experience is defined by the Word of God. Our experience doesn’t define the Word of God. We have to make sure that the Word of God is more real to us than our experience.
He goes on to say that the genuineness, the DOKIMION, of your faith [your doctrine]. The language in all these verses is reminiscent of James 1:2–4, so we get a full bore expression of the whole doctrine of suffering. “The genuineness of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes, though it’s tested by fire.” That indicates the intensity and perhaps the pain and the suffering that may come with those tests, “may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:8 says, “Whom having not seen you love.” This is the first time we see the verb. It is used four times, and the noun is used twice for a total of six times. Peter saw Christ. Thomas saw Him. They loved Him. The difference with us is that none of us have seen Him, but we love Him. “Though now you do not see him, yet believing [the key issue] you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith [your doctrine is the end game], the salvation [phase 3 glorification] of your souls.”
There are key doctrines here that relate to the problem solving devices, the spiritual skills: adversity; faith as the content of what we believe and not just the act of believing and the purpose of testing in the Christian life; and joy. We’ll have to go through a study of the ten spiritual skills and the motivational aspects of our unconditional love for God. Then in 1 Peter 1:10 we read, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully for the grace that would come to you.” It’s a future orientation, the grace that would come to you. So grace is emphasized there as something important to us as well as the Old Testament prophets who were looking into that.
What’s interesting here is that just as the prophets in the Old Testament were carefully looking into and investigating and searching when the Spirit of Christ would come, we also learn in 1 Peter 1:12 that the angels desire to look into these things. We are living right at the center focus of the whole angelic conflict and all of human history in the Church Age. We are in the super bowl of spirituality in all of human history. We have to understand what these dynamics are. Part of what we have to investigate in verses 10–12 is just exactly why there are references all of a sudden to these Old Testament prophets in the middle of this introduction.
At the end of the introduction, we’re going to shift gears and go into the first major section which emphasizes standing in grace by girding up the loins of our mind, which basically means to get rid of all the mental distractions that keep us from focusing like a laser on spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. In the ancient world where they wore very loose clothing, and they wore robes they had to tie all up and get out of the way in order to run a race, that’s the idea of that idiom, to get rid of all our distractions. “Gird up the loins of our mind and be sober.” That doesn’t mean not to be drunk. It means to think objectively. So it’s get rid of the mental distractions, think objectively. And that is based on living in light of eternity.
This section begins in 1 Peter 1:13 where Peter says, “Gird up the loins of your mind and be sober, rest your hope…” There’s the main imperative right there. The thrust here is to rest your hope or have hope, focus your hope by girding up your loins and by being sober. We fulfill the command by girding up our loins and having an objective way of thinking while our hope is fixed fully on the grace that is to be brought to us. So we stand in grace, and that is wrapped up with thinking: not emotion, and not experience.
That first command we see there has to do with resting our hope on the future by girding up our loins and being objective in our thinking. The next command comes down in 1 Peter 1:15. We are to be holy in all of our conduct. That’s the second way we’re going to be able to stand in grace, is by to have a transformed character and a transformed life. We live as a set-apart, distinct people. Holy doesn’t mean to live a morally pure and perfect life. You can’t do it, and I can’t do it. Holy doesn’t ever refer to moral perfection. It refers to being set apart to the service of God, and as such, it means conforming to His righteousness experientially.
The word holy in the Old Testament kadosh also referred to those who were set apart to the gods Baal and Ashtoreth as temple prostitutes. That didn’t have anything to do with morality, did it? Don’t confuse holiness with morality. It may be moral, but it’s more than that. It’s not a synonym. It indicates being set apart to the service of God in all of our conduct, which of course excludes immorality.
Then the third thing he says is to conduct yourself in fear. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” That’s why this is here. Notice 1 Peter 1:17, “Conduct yourselves during the time of your stay here in fear.” So that’s our third command in this section. Fear is used four times in 1 Peter. It’s a critical thing. The fear of the Lord is more than just respect. Respect just minimizes it a little bit. I often think of fear as those times when I was a little kid and I would do something wrong, and my mother would say, “I’m not going to deal with that. Your father will when he comes home.” You remember those days? Yeah, that’s what fear means. It’s much more than respect. It’s a recognition that there’s going to be negative accountability. And that’s what living in light of eternity is all about.
We’re living in light of the coming judgment seat of Christ. We’re living in the light of the fact that we’re answerable for how we use our time and energy on this earth. We live in the light of the fear of our Lord. That’s connected with verse 18 with a causal participle that says, “Because you know you are not redeemed with corruptible things.” That fear of the Lord is directly tied back to our understanding of our justification. One reason it’s important to hear the gospel all the time is because the more you hear it, the more you understand that what Christ did for us on the cross is what motivates us to push on to spiritual maturity.
The next command is in 1 Peter 1:22, “Love one another since you purified your souls by obeying the truth through the Spirit through the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart because you have been born again.” This indicates being in fellowship. The idea of purity is the idea of being cleansed. Here we go back to that concept of regeneration which we first saw in the introduction. See how these go together.
Then the fifth command comes in 1 Peter 2:2. I memorized this verse when I was a little kid but I never really understood that the force of this verse is in that imperative, “desire”. We are to desire the sincere or pure milk of the Word like a newborn baby. The command there is to hunger and thirst for the Word of God, to desire it, to demand it, to crave it, like a newborn baby screams demanding to be fed. And when that baby isn’t fed, like any of us who go on a fast, we lose our appetite and starve to death. I think that’s the case of a lot of modern evangelicals. They haven’t been fed anything from the Word of God for so long that they’re on a spiritual fast. Before long they’re just going to starve to death. That’s our fifth command.
The rest of that section going from chapter 2:1 down through verse 10, relates to this whole concept of spiritual growth. The principles laid down in verses 2–3 point out that it says, “If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” It isn’t the word CHARIS there, but it is one related to mercy and brings in the concept of grace orientation. So we’re to grow on the basis of the Word of God. We have this illustration like “living stones being built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” in verse 5. That is a depiction of spiritual growth.
That should remind you of Romans 12:1: that we are to dedicate ourselves and live our lives as spiritual sacrifices. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” This is clearly talking about spiritual growth and spiritual maturity and our life as a spiritual sacrifice. If your life is not a spiritual sacrifice, then you are not growing spiritually. Every time you make a decision to come to Bible class, you’ve given up doing something else. You may say, “Well I really don’t want to do something else. I’d rather be in Bible class.” Some people get the idea that sacrifice means pain and heartache, that you’re really suffering to give something up. That’s not the nuance of the word at all. You’ve done one thing positive instead of doing something else. That is a sacrifice, giving up something that a lot of people would perhaps want to do so that you can pursue spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. This section from 1 Peter 2:4–10 focuses on this spiritual edifice that’s built upon the stone that the builders rejected. Incidentally, that whole quotation coming out of Psalm 118:22 was used by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 21:42, and that’s where Peter understood the application and the interpretation of that particular verse.
That brings us then to the next major section, which focuses on standing in grace. That means humble obedience to unjust authorities. The prime example of this is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is in chapter 1 Peter 2:11 to 3:12. This is a hard section for a lot of people. There’s one section in here that’s really hard on wives. It’s a tough section, but if we’re going to really put this in context, Peter is talking to a group of Jewish believers who are facing opposition or persecution. A lot of people want to put this within the Neronian persecution, and that’s possible. It’s not necessarily an Empire-wide persecution.
But I think instead that what we have here is that this is written to Jewish-background believers who are trusting in Jesus Christ as Messiah in the midst of a Jewish community that is rejecting Jesus as Messiah. Because of that, they are involved in relationships: in work relationships, in family relationships, in community relationships, and in authority relationships where they are under opposition. What Peter is saying is that they need to live their life to the glory of God and do everything they do to the glory of God, not in opposition to the authorities over them. Those authorities may be mistreating them because they are not believers; and these believers are to exemplify the humility of Jesus Christ who learned obedience by the things that He suffered. He was completely submissive to unjust authorities as He was taken to the cross. This is the focal point in this particular section.
When we get to this section, we see that standing grace means humble obedience to even unjust authorities. That runs counter to everything that’s part of us. I think part of the arrogance of our sin nature is when we’re treated unjustly, we want to react. We want to stand up for ourselves. We want to say, “You’re wrong. I’m right, and I’m out of here.” But that is just the opposite of what’s being emphasized here.
In 1 Peter 2:11, he says, “I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims [Jewish community terms] abstain from fleshly lust which war against the soul.” First of all he’s saying not to live on the basis of our sin natures, our lusts for recognition, our lusts for approval, and our lusts for power and authority. We’re not to yield to those because they war against the soul. Instead, he says, “Have your conduct honorable among the Gentiles.” Gentiles doesn’t mean unbelievers. It means non-Jews which are Gentiles. “Have your conduct honorable among the Gentiles that when they speak against you as evil-doers…”
Remember what Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 10, “If they call the father of the house Beelzebub, they’ll call the children Beelzebub.” He was saying, “If they call me evil, they’ll call you evil.” “When they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works which they observe glorify God in the Day of Visitation.” What is the Day of Visitation? That’s when they stand before the Throne of God and will be forced to glorify us.
See, there is justice. It may not be in this life, but it will come. That is the general principle: that we are to live honorably no matter what the situation is, so that by our honor we will glorify God and our good works, our righteous deeds, our lack of retaliation, and our lack of vindictiveness; and positively, our generosity, our hospitality, and love for those who are treating us unjustly, we are to glorify God. We are to do this so God will be glorified in the Day of Visitation.
There are some key doctrines we see here having to do with our sin nature, the lust patterns, living honorably and virtuously in terms of the spiritual life, living in light of a future judgment, and the role that good works plays in the spiritual life. These would be the good works that are produced by God the Holy Spirit. In 1 Peter 2:13 it says, “Submitting yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” He didn’t say submit yourself to most ordinances. He didn’t say submit yourself to the ordinances you think are just. He says a very difficult statement, that we are to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. You’re doing it to obey the Lord, not to obey a wrong government.
He goes on to say, “Whether the King is supreme or to governors or to those who are sent by Him for the punishment of evil doers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God.” Most Christians run around most of their lives wondering what the Lord’s will is. Sometimes it’s very clearly stated in Scripture. It’s God’s will to obey government even when you don’t think it’s a just law. He goes on to say, “By doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men as free and not using liberty as a cloak for vice but as bondservants of God.”
“Honor all [people is assumed to be there]. Love the brotherhood, fear God [the beginning of wisdom, authority orientation] and honor the King.” Key doctrines we’ll deal with here relate to government and other authorities; and addressing this issue of what is the will of God especially when those authorities are unjust. In 1 Peter 2:18 Peter talks to servants. The word DOULOS could apply to employees, slaves, or to those who were what we would call indentured servants. He says, “Be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh, [not only when they’re treating you well but when they’re not treating you well].”
What we want to do is obey the guy as long as he’s treating me well but when he’s unjust, when he’s beating me, whipping me, treating me maliciously, then I’m not going to obey him. The Bible says, “No, you obey him no matter what; whether he treats you well or harshly”. “For this is commendable.” The word there is CHARIS. Peter is saying this is grace. It’s grace orientation to treat the person, the unjust authority, in honor and respect when they don’t deserve it. That is grace orientation. It’s a whole new dimension.
Maybe some of us haven’t thought about it in terms of what grace orientation means. This is grace. In verse 19 he says, “This is grace if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully…” How many of us want to sign up for wrongful suffering? Not anyone. But we live in the devil’s world and that’s the game plan. He goes on, “What credit is it if when you are beaten for your faults you take it patiently?” Implication: you deserve it because you’ve done wrong. “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is grace before God. This is a whole new concept of grace so we’ll need to look at grace orientation and how that relates to being in an unjust situation.
Then he gives the ultimate example in 1 Peter 2:21–25, which is the Lord Jesus Christ who suffered unjustly. The laws of the Jews were perverted. The laws of Rome were perverted. Jesus Christ suffered in an extremely illegal act when he was crucified and died on the cross. Peter uses this as the example, “For in this you were called; Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that you should follow in his steps.” It’s not optional. He didn’t say that it might be a good idea. He says this is what you should do. He set the example of how to deal with an unjust authority. “He committed no sin nor was deceit found in His mouth.”
It’s the doctrine of the impeccability of Christ. “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” He put Himself in God’s hands. Later on, Peter will sum it up, “Casting all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” Jesus did not react. He did not return evil for evil, but good for evil. My mother always said “two wrongs don’t make a right”, but I’m telling you that we live in a world today where no one understands that. Two wrongs never make a right. Christians always have to respond the right and honorable way no matter what it costs. “When He was reviled, He did not revile in turn, when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously who Himself bore our sins on His own body on the tree.”
We’ll deal with substitutionary atonement and the complete and final payment for sin on the cross. “That we having died to sin…” See, we died to sin in the baptism by the Holy Spirit. “Might live for righteousness.” We’re saved for that purpose as Paul says in Ephesians 2:10, “The purpose of good works.” Then we’re reminded that it’s by His stripes or His whipping we were healed. So we’ll look at the suffering of Christ on the Cross. Then Peter explains, quoting from Isaiah 53, “For you were like sheep going astray but have now returned to the Shepherd, the overseer of your soul.”
Then he applies this to women. I can imagine that perhaps the situation at this time was that you had women who had trusted in the Messiah, and they were married to an unsaved Jew or unsaved Gentile; so life had become difficult for them. They are being abused, perhaps emotionally, or even physically mistreated by husbands who are not saved. The context here is that the husband is not saved. It says, “You wives likewise [just like Jesus Christ] be submissive to your own husbands that even if some do not obey the Word [the gospel] without a word may be won by the conduct of their wives when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.” The context is really clear here that it’s related to the gospel. There are exceptions to this. If some woman is in a situation of physical abuse where her life is threatened, and there are some other exceptions to this, then it may be time to pack your bags and go down the street so things can be worked out. But other than that, there needs to be submission to the husband who is the authority.
Then also he addresses their comportment. “Don’t let your adornment, arranging the hair, rather let it be the hidden person, the heart.” He’s saying the real issue here is your character. Not how you are on the outside, but how you are on the inside. In verse 5 he says, “For in this manner in former times the holy women who trust in God also adorned themselves being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” She was recognizing he was the head of the house and he was the one who set the course and direction whether he was right or wrong.
So we’ll get into key doctrines here dealing with different roles in marriage, that God made male and female both in God’s image, but He made them different. Their parts aren’t interchangeable. No matter what our mayor may think. We have to look at this in the whole role distinction thing which runs counter to everything your children and grandchildren have been taught. They’re taught that the roles are completely interchangeable. They don’t know any different, so when you take this Biblical position, you’re going to be running counter to everyone around you probably.
Then Peter addresses husbands, “Husband, likewise [just like Jesus], dwell with them in understanding giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel as being heirs together the grace of life so their prayers will not be hindered.” He brings in the concept of heirship, saying to husbands, “if you’re not treating your wife with honor and respect, it doesn’t matter how many times you confess your sins; your prayers are not going to get higher than the ceiling. You’re just bouncing in and out of fellowship.”
This is one of the clearest statements in Scripture. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Here it says very clearly that your prayers will be hindered if you’re not treating your wife with honor. 1 Peter 3:8 says, “All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another. Love as brothers. Be tenderhearted. Be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling.” Husbands, that means when your wives revile you, you don’t revile back. Wives, that means when your husband does something evil, you don’t do evil back. “But on the contrary, blessing, knowing that you were called to inherit a blessing.”
Let the reality of the future shape how you respond to adversity in the present. Then Peter quotes from Psalm 34:12–15 as transitional to shift us from the topic of submission in the midst of difficult situations to the next topic, which is standing in grace, which transforms how we face adversity. This is the third major division of this Epistle. It starts off in 1 Peter 3:13, “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of that which is good?” His whole point is that if you do what is good, you shouldn’t suffer harm. But if you do, it’s better to suffer harm for doing the right thing rather than for doing the wrong thing. If you suffer for doing the wrong thing you’re just getting what you deserve. But if you suffer harm for doing the right thing, then that glorifies God.
In 1 Peter 3:17 he says, “It is the will of God to suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil.” In the middle of that he says, “But sanctify [set apart] the Lord God in your hearts [your thinking] and always be ready to give a defense [a well-reasoned answer–apologetics] to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you [that confident expectation that takes you through the hard times] and do that with meekness [humility] and fear [of the Lord], having a good conscience that when they defame you as evil-doers those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
Lots of times they’re not ashamed. But they will be. They’ll get theirs. Verse 18 says the example is Jesus Christ. It’s so easy for us to forget that we’re to respond to opposition the way Jesus did. Peter reminds us again, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.” We’ll get the whole doctrine of the victorious proclamation here as Jesus announced to the demons who were in Tartarus and the Abyss that there condemnation was sealed by His payment for sin on the cross.
Then he goes on using an analogy from Noah’s ark, talking about a type of baptism that is related to Noah’s ark, those who were identified with Noah were the ones who were saved and delivered. That is a type of our identification with Christ. So we get into several key doctrines again related to suffering and atonement, putting to death the sin nature, regeneration, and baptism of Noah and the victorious proclamation.
Then in the first part of chapter 4 Peter focuses again on Christ’s suffering. We’re to think like Jesus thought when we face unjust and undeserved suffering. Therefore, when Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourself also with same mind. That means to think like Jesus thinks. “For he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men but for the will of God.” There should be a transformation in our lives. Once we’re saved and understand grace, we’re going to live differently. We’re living for God and not for ourselves. That’s the thrust of those verses.
Then in 1 Peter 4:7, he focuses on the end-game again. “But the end of all things is at hand, therefore, be serious and watchful [objective clear thinking in relation to your prayers] and above all things have love for one another.” This is the third time he’s emphasized loving one another “for love will cover a multitude of sins.” When we love each other it doesn’t matter.
Have you ever noticed that? When you like a certain person in office, like if you’re a Republican and you have a Republican president and you hear all the bad things he does, you just ignore it on the news until they talk about the Democrats. If you’re a Democrat, it’s the other way around. You’ll hear all the bad things Obama did, and it just goes over your head. Why? You love that person so you’re going to minimize whatever flaws they have. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” That’s what grace orientation is.
“Be hospitable to one another.” That’s another aspect of grace orientation, opening up our homes and our lives to help others and to provide for them. Peter goes on to describe this grace orientation; because when you’re in adversity, one thing you don’t want to do is help others. You think you’re too busy healing your wounds. You’re too self-absorbed with your trouble to be open and generous to others. “As each one has received a gift minister to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Here we have our fifth use of grace. “If anyone speaks, let him speak as oracles of God.” In other words, watch your tongue. “If anyone ministers let him do so as God supplies that in all things God may be glorified.” Notice all through this section, it’s glorified and glory. Look down to verse 14: you have glory and glorified. Verse 16 has glorified again. We have to look at what it means to glorify God and understand that in relation to suffering. That’s going to be a key in this particular section.
Then this last section ends with a focus on the end game, the Judgment Seat. He says, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” Now that’s talking about suffering and adversity that God’s going to use to purify the local believers in time. This is going to be used to purify Christians and to bring them to purity. Then Peter says, “It begins with us first; what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” Eventually, they will go under discipline.
That idea of obeying the gospel of God doesn’t mean works. John 3:36 equates obeying the gospel with faith. The command of the gospel is to believe. It’s a present active imperative, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” So you are to obey that command. It doesn’t mean to obey the Law. You always have to look at the context. What are you being asked to obey? The command to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is to obey the gospel.
Then he says in verse 19, “Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good to a faithful Creator.” This brings in the doctrine of creation. Then Peter shifts to talk about spiritual leadership of the elders and the pastors who are among you. “I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and witness to the suffering of Christ [this tells us he had to be one of The Twelve] and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.” See, he was there on the Mount of Transfiguration. “He says, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not by dishonest gain but eagerly not as being lords over those who trusted you but being examples to the flock.”
That brings us down here to the end of that last section and then we come to our conclusion which focuses on the principle of grace again. I would say the key verse in this section from 1 Peter 1:1 down to 5:10 is “May the God of all grace who called us to eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered awhile, perfect, mature, establish, strengthen, and steady you.” So then there is the conclusion where he says, “This is the true grace of God in which we stand.” So by standing in the grace of God, understanding grace orientation and in humility, we will then develop our personal sense of eternal destiny of living today in light of eternity. We can glorify God both here and forever. Next time we’ll begin with the opening and start to dig into 1 Peter.