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Devotions.1 Peter

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I Peter 1:1-12

“Hope in the Midst of Trials”

 

 

Introduction

 

Warm Up Question

In a minute we will see that Peter addresses this letter to “strangers in the world” (or exiles, aliens, temporary residents, foreigners). Have you ever been somewhere where you felt like a stranger or a foreigner?  Describe that experience.

- How did it feel to come back home?

  • Who is the author?  What do we know about him?

  • Who is receiving this letter?  à A mix of Jewish and Gentile Christians scattered throughout Roman provinces in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).  These provinces named begin in the NW corner of Asia Minor and then go clockwise to form a complete circle.  This letter is probably meant to be a circular letter delivered to the various provinces to be read (and perhaps copied).

One of the main themes of this letter is to encourage the Christians at these churches who are going through (or may go through) some type of suffering or persecution.

 

In the midst of whatever they are going through, Peter reminds them in v. 3 that followers of Jesus have a “living hope”. 

Q. Is hope important during difficult times?  Why?

From this passage we will consider 4 reasons the believer has hope in the midst of trials.  These principles apply not only to Christians back then, but to us today.

 

 

  1. You have hope:  Because God (Father, Son & Spirit) is at work in your life (1:1-2)

 

  • How is the Trinity described as working together in these verses?  What does the Father do?  What does the Spirit do?  What does Jesus do?

-         These verses say we are elect or chosen by the Father.  If you are going through persecution, is it a comfort to know you are chosen by God?

-         What do you think it means that the believer is sprinkled by the blood of Christ? (see Hebrews 9:13-14).

-         The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit has the idea of making the believer holy.  How do you think the Holy Spirit helps us in our holiness?

-         Connection between Holy Spirit making us holy and obeying Jesus Christ.

God is always at work in our lives, sometimes especially when we are going through hard times.  We can have hope that this is not wasted time, but that God will use this season to accomplish His purposes in us.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all present doing their work in us.

 

  1. You have hope:  Because if you’ve experienced the New Birth, you have an Inheritance beyond this life (1:3-5)

 

  • What kind of new birth do you think Peter is talking about (see John 3:1-8)?

  • Peter connects our new birth and living hope to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  Jesus rising from the dead is what gives us hope, and we are called to identify with Jesus.  In what sense is our new birth like a death and resurrection (see Romans 6:3-4)?

  • Peter says we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade[1].”  Typically, what is an inheritance?

  • How is this inheritance different?  When do we receive it?  [When we die or when Jesus returns]

  • What exactly is this inheritance?  What do we receive?

  • If we are foreigners, strangers, exiles in this world, then where is our true home? 

-         How can this be comforting when this world is hard or difficult?

  • Peter goes on to say that through faith we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.[2] (1:5)

-         In the Bible, salvation is sometimes described as something in the past, sometimes as something in the present, and sometimes as something in the future.  Here, the emphasis is on the future aspect of our salvation.  In what sense is the Christian awaiting his or her final salvation?

  • When you are going through trials or suffering of some kind, how does it help to know that you have a future hope that is beyond this life?

  1. You have hope:  Because your Faith is being Refined and Matured (1:6-7)

 

  • Peter says that these trials have come to test our faith.  How is our faith described as being precious?  To what is it compared?

  • What two positive results can happen when our faith is tested by fiery trials?  [may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed[3] ]

-         How do trials prove the genuineness of our faith?

-         How does tested faith that is genuine bring honor to Jesus? [demonstrates his worth above all else, even greater than enduring suffering]

  • See James 1:2-4.  According to this passage, what effect do trials have on our faith?

  • When you are going through trials, can it be comforting to know that God is refining and maturing you?  How is that comforting?

  1. You have hope:  Because you are receiving God’s Salvation promised long ago (1:8-12)

 

  • The object of our hope is Jesus, the promised Messiah and Deliverer who had come to rescue his people from the bondage of sin.

  • In loving Jesus, you are part of God’s unfolding plan of redemption promised long ago.

  • The Prophets of old spoke of the grace that was coming to you.  Why does Peter use the word “grace” (vs. 10) when describing our salvation?  What is grace?

  • Why is our salvation by grace? (see Ephesians 2:8-9)

  • When we are going through hard times, we take comfort in knowing that God’s grace has given us a salvation that even prophets and angels longed to see and declare.  We should be astonished by the amazing grace of God and our wonderful salvation.

 

 

Take Aways / So What?

 

  • Do you recognize that God is at work right now in your life, regardless of the circumstances?  This is not wasted time.  God is doing his work in you so that he can accomplish his work through you.

  • Do you live as if you have a hope that is beyond this life?  Are all of your hopes and dreams rooted in this world, or do you live as if you have an eternal inheritance?  Do you have a holy longing for your heavenly home?

  • When your faith is tested, how do you respond?  Do you fail the test, or do you allow the trials of life to strengthen and mature your faith?

  • If you have trusted Christ for your salvation, do you recognize the incredible gift of grace you’ve been given (loved by God, forgiveness of sin, an eternal inheritance, adopted child)?  Do you live with the knowledge of that grace, and respond in loving obedience?

1 Peter 1:13-2:3

“Response to Grace”

 

Introduction

In the previous verses, Peter has laid out the great hope of the Christian, the bountiful grace that has been shown to him or her through the gospel.

- How do we respond to such grace?

 

 

I.                   Pursue Holiness (1:13-25)

“Therefore” - Peter does not begin to exhort Christian pilgrims until he has celebrated the wonders of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. The indicative of what God had done for us (and in us) precedes the imperative of what we are called to do for him[4]

-         In light of this amazing salvation just described in the first 12 verses, here is the appropriate response.

Prepare your minds for action: literally, ‘Gird up the loins of your mind.’ The figure describes what a man wearing a long robe had to do if he were to go into action—gather the garment up between his legs and tuck it into his belt.[5]

-         What does it mean to prepare our minds for battle?

Be self-controlled – The result of a battle-prepared mind.  Self-control is the last fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5

Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.[6] – The Battle rages on until the return of Jesus à signifies the ring of the bell (boxing; fight) or the finish line (race). 

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance[7] - Compare vv. 13-14 to Romans 12:2. 

-         Both involve engaging the mind for battle and renewal in order not to conform to evil desires, or the ways of the world.   The battle against sin begins in the mind.

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”a[8] (quoting Leviticus 11:44-45) – We are called to reflect the character and likeness of our Lord.  As the Lord is holy, so we too are to be holy.

-         What does it mean to be holy?  [being set apart; not conforming to our evil desires; becoming more like Jesus; loving the Lord God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves]

II.                Reflect on the Precious and Costly Sacrifice of Christ (1:17 – 21)

 

  • Notice in v. 17, we have clues that our relationship with God should be both characterized by intimacy (“Father”) and reverent fear.  It’s not an either / or. 

-         We should beware of an intimacy that doesn’t include reverent fear.  We should beware of a fear of God that does not include intimacy.

-         Impartially has the idea of not looking at anyone else’s face to see whether they approve or not.[9]

-         Live your lives as strangers:  See v. 1:1.  What does it mean to live as a stranger in this world?

  • VV. 18-19: Peter describes our way of life before Christ as being empty.  What redeemed us from this empty way of life when we were rebels against God and pursuing things that could never ultimately satisfy?  Were we bought out of this slavery with silver or gold?  No, something far more valuable:  the precious blood of Christ.

-         Redeemed suggests the idea of offering something, usually money, in exchange for the freedom of a slave or a prisoner of war. God bought our freedom, paying for us with His Son’s life (v. 19)[10]

-         18–19 The language used here is reminiscent of Mk. 10:45 and Jn. 1:29[11]

-         Without blemish refers to the moral and without defect to the physical perfection of the sacrificial victim[12]

v. 20:  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake[13] : This pre-existent Christ was from the beginning and predicted by the prophets (see 1:10-12). 

v. 21: Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.[14]

- Our salvation is all of God.  He planned it, he accomplished it through the sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ, he brought it to us through Christ. Our faith and hope are therefore in God[15]

Part of responding to God’s grace is not only pursuing holiness, but also reflecting on the precious and costly sacrifice of Christ.  In meditating on Christ’s sacrifice, we see how God demonstrated his love toward us (see Romans 5:8) and see the example of Christ’s humility and exaltation for our sake (see Phil 2:5-11).  Jesus told us to take up or cross and follow him.  As we meditate on the cross of Christ, we understand our call to die to self and follow Jesus.

III.             Allow the Word of God to Transform you (1:22 – 2:3)

 

  • Word of God “that was preached to you” (v. 25) – Message of Christ; the Gospel; we may take it as the Bible

  1. So that you love others deeply from the heart (1:22-25)

 

The Christian is born of imperishable seed à one manifestation of this change is that you now have a sincere love for others, especially for brothers and sisters in Christ.

-         love that is sincere (literally “without hypocrisy”) and that is brotherly (pure, deep, that sees other believers as part of the family of God).

  1. So that you Experience Spiritual Growth (2:1-3)

 

Two Aspects:  One negative, one positive

 

  1. Negative:  Lay Aside

 

-         Rid yourselves of those things which belong to the old nature:  malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander à these things are the opposite of love, because they involve having ill will towards others.

  1. Positive: Long For

 

  • Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation[16]

-         Babies can only grow through proper nourishment and sustenance (milk).  Likewise, a Christian can only grow spiritually through proper spiritual nourishment.  The word translated “spiritual” is related to logos, the Word.

-         Part of spiritual growth is longing for the Word of God and allowing the message of Christ to transform us.

-         now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).  As the baby tastes the good milk that brings nourishment, so we “taste the Lord” – that is, have an intimate walk with him – and realize that He is good and will nourish our souls.

Take Away / So What? 

  • In response to all that God has done for you in Christ, are you pursuing holiness?  Are you trying to imitate Christ who is holy?  Are you preparing your mind for action, knowing that the pursuit of holiness entails a fierce battle?

  • Are you reflecting on the precious and costly sacrifice of Christ?  In response, are you denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Christ, even when it is costly?

  • Are you allowing the message of Jesus to transform you so that you have a sincere love for Christian brothers and sisters?  Are you demonstrating that love through desiring God’s best for others and giving yourself sacrificially to others?

  • Do you crave the spiritual nourishment that the Lord offers you (study of the Word, prayer, Christian fellowship, spiritual disciplines, etc.)?  Are you getting rid of all the things that hinder your spiritual growth (malice, envy, deceit, hypocrisy, slander, etc.)?

1 Peter 2:4-10

“A New Identity in Christ”

 

Introduction

 

In this passage we see a description of Christ and a description of the believer in Christ.

Two of the questions we will try to answer is “Who is Christ?” and “Who am I in Christ?”

Many metaphors used in this passage to describe Jesus and the believer

I.                   A Description of Christ

 

3 Descriptions of Christ as a Stone

 

  1. Living Stone – The Christian faith is not about memorializing a martyr, but rather worshipping a living Savior.  Jesus, as a living stone, is superior to the Old Covenant temple.  The status of Christians depends upon the status of Christ, for they are joined to him.[17] Jesus is the living stone and we are called to be like him, living stones as well, to build up a spiritual house

  1. A Chosen and Precious Cornerstone – In the building technique from which the figure is drawn, the cornerstone of the foundation would be the first stone to be put in place. Since both the angle of the walls and the level of the stone courses would be extended from it, the cornerstone must be square and true. Large and precious stones were cut for the foundation of Solomon’s temple.[18]

-         The whole foundation of faith and the Christian community rests on Christ.  He is the cornerstone.  Without him, everything crumbles and falls apart.

-         Jesus is chosen by God to be the Cornerstone and is precious to both the Father and to the believer.  Though he is the stone that many rejected, he is in fact the chosen and precious cornerstone.  He is the foundation upon which we build our lives and the church community.

  1. A Stone of Stumbling and Offense – The stone that people have rejected is the one that God has chosen.  Many in his time rejected Jesus as the Messiah and many do today as well.  If Jesus were a sage dispensing wisdom, if he were merely a teacher showing a way, many more would embrace Jesus and include him among the many voices to consider.  But Jesus does not leave this option open.  His teaching and his claims, as well as showing the way, also point to himself.

  • Why / How does Jesus cause people to stumble and take offense?

II.                A Description of the Believer

 

  • A living stone being built into a spiritual house à one stone among many à believers are part of the church, and all believers make up the spiritual house.  What happens when a stone is missing?

  • A holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ (see Romans 12:1-2).  The sacrifices we offer are our very lives. 

  • The Christian is an inheritor of the blessings of the Old Testament people of God:

-         A Chosen Race:  Irony is that the church is incredibly multi-ethnic.  The center of Christianity is no longer Europe or North America, but rather Africa and Asia.  This “chosen race” of people is made up of every tribe, tongue and nation on the face of the earth.

-         A Royal Priesthood:  We are a priesthood that functions in a ruling capacity, as kings[19]   There is a democratization of the priesthood à no longer only a select group of people, but there is now the priesthood of every believer à we can all approach God directly with prayers, service, and worship.  We need no human intermediary

-         A Holy Nation:  Of course, believers transcend every national and political boundary.  But we are a people called to be holy and set apart.  Our actions and behavior should reflect our God who is holy.

-         A people for God’s own possession:  We are a God-possessed people.  He indwells us through his Spirit and owns us.  We have the great privilege of being used by God for His great purposes.

 

Now that Peter has established our Identity as the people of God, he tells us our Purpose

-         “that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”[20]

To appreciate our identity as God’s people, we have to understand that we were once in darkness, once were not God’s people, once were not under his mercy.

-         Only if we understand that history and that “bad news” can we rejoice in the good news of the Gospel

-         We have now been called into his wonderful light

-         We are now the people of God

-         We have now received mercy

Why?  This is true only based on how we have responded to Jesus, the one God sent to save us from our sins.

-         Have we built our life on the chosen and precious cornerstone, who is Christ?  Do we embrace Jesus as the Living Stone who is more important than any temple built by human hands? 

-         Or, have we stumbled at Jesus and been offended by him?  Have we rejected him and failed to trust in him?

Take Away / So What?

 

  • Do I embrace Christ as a chosen by God and a precious corner stone even when the world takes offense at him and stumbles over him?  Jesus challenged his followers about whether they would confess him before men, or deny him before others?
  • Do I understand that I am a “living stone” needed to join others to build up the church?  Significance à I am a necessary part of the people of God.  What happens when there is a stone missing in the building?
  • Do I understand that I am a priest, that is, that I can come directly to God through prayer, worship and service?  Do I understand my responsibility of offering spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God (See Romans 12:1-2)?
  • Do I understand that I have been chosen and set apart by God for his purposes?
  • Do I live with the reality that I am possessed by God à God’s possession?
  • In light of this new identity in Christ, am I proclaiming the excellencies of him who called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light?  Do I live as a person who has graciously been reconciled to God by his great mercy and proclaim it to others?

 

 

1 Peter 2:11-25

“Follow the Example of Christ:  Relating to the World and those in Authority”

 

Introduction

At the end of this passage, starting in v. 21, we see that Christ is our example: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." (1 Peter 2:21, NIV)

Jesus endured unjust suffering without retaliating or making threats

-         How?  Why?  He entrusted himself to God who judges justly

à Because God is the final Judge and Supreme Ruler, we can endure the injustices of this world.

Jesus suffering served a purpose à He bore our sins in his body on the tree. 

-         In vv. 24-25, Peter tells us, in essence, that Jesus’ death accomplishes some of the following:  Atonement / Reconciliation / Justification / Sanctification

-         Do a word study, or theological study of these words.

Peter uses Jesus’ example to draw out the implications for how we are to relate to the world and to those in authority.  He discusses this in the previous verses and ends up by saying that the reason we are to relate to the world and authority in a certain way is because we are following the example of Christ.  Let’s go back and study these verses.

 

 

 

I.                   Relating to the World (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Peter gives both a negative and a positive way we are to relate to the world.

  1. Negative:  As exiles, abstain from the “sinful desires” “desires of the flesh” à which war against the soul.

-         The problem with sin goes beyond the way it affects our relationship with a holy God.  The Bible reminds us that indulging our sinful desires is a way of waging war against our own souls. 

-         The man who falls into some type of sexual addiction realizes that his soul is being ambushed and attacked

-         The woman who becomes obsessed with appearances and status and material things, finally realizes that her soul has paid the highest price of all, as sin has destroyed her soul.

-         We pursue sin thinking it will make us happy only to realize it is destroying us.

  1. Positive: Live such good lives that though the world accuses you of wrong à  they see your good deeds and glorify God.  Peter here is echoing the words he must of heard Jesus speak on the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5:13-16)

-         We are called to be “in, but not of” the world.  We are not of the world when we refuse to live by its values and indulge our sinful nature.

-         We are in the world to be a redemptive influence through our good deeds.

-         Question:  Are you “of the world”?

-         Question:  Are you “in the world” in the sense of being salt and light to impact the world for Christ?

II.                Relating to those in Authority (2:13-20)

 

The key word Peter wants us to know is “submission.”  It’s not a very popular word, and one in which our human nature and American individualism rebels against.

-         We don’t want anyone to have authority over us and tell us what to do, so we resist the whole notion of submission

-         Our submission is “for the Lord’s sake” or “because of the Lord.”  Ultimately, we are submitting to God and serving him.

  1. Submission to Rulers in Government (2:13-17)

 

  • Government is instituted by God “to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.”
  • Even in an Empire which was not always the model of perfect justice, Peter could still say that government was instituted by God à and because this is so, we are called to submit to governmental authorities

à There is the rare exception of civil disobedience, but only when obeying the governing authorities causes us to actively disobey God (see Acts 4:19-20 and 5:29).

  • In general, submission to government is the norm (see Romans 13:1-7)

  • v. 15 :  Compare with v. 12 à Good deeds are the best antidote to those who wish to malign followers of Christ. 

-         Illustration:  Hindu woman who is columnist for the Tennessean who sometimes is critical of Christians, spoke well of followers of Christ who are involved with helping the poor, sick, and victims of tragedy.

  • V. 16: True “freedom” is found in “serving” God à don’t use freedom as a cover-up for evil à we are under Christ’s authority

  • V. 17 Summary:  Honor everyone. Love x the brotherhood. y Fear God. z Honor the Emperor. a[21]

  1. Submission to Masters / Employers (2:18-20)

 

  • The world here is “oiketai” for servants, which means a household servant / domestic servant. 
  • Peter lived in a society where slaves (or household servants) had to be addressed.  Elsewhere in  the NT we see hints that freedom from slavery was desirable (see Philemon, 1 Cor. 7:21) and the foundation of slavery is undermined when Paul made the declaration that in Christ there is no distinction between slave and free (Gal. 3:28).
  • Because of the nature of slavery in the Greco-Roman world, there are probably more parallels to the employer / employee relationship than what we see in the more recent African slave trade that occurred in the West.
  • Therefore, these principles are helpful to consider for us as we look at how a Christian employee should behave.
  • Once again, Christ is our example of proper submission.
  • Employers should submit himself / herself to those in authority with proper respect.

-         Yes we can think of exceptions to this general principle – where an employer is asking you to do something illegal or immoral – but in general, a Christian employee should not be known for having a rebellious spirit or a failure to respect or come under the authority of those whom God has placed over him / her.

-         This is not always easy, and may in some ways be a form of suffering we are called to experience.  But God is at work, even in these situations.

  • Notice, the submission and respect are not dependent on the Master / Boss à both to the good and considerate and to those who are harsh.

-         Why?  It is commendable to bear up under the pain of unjust suffering because you are conscious of God and following the example of Christ.

  • But if you are punished for doing wrong, there is nothing commendable about that.

1 Peter 2:21 (HCSB)

21 For you were called to this,

          because Christ also suffered i for you,

          leaving you an example, j

          so that you should follow k in His steps.

-         Are you known for being someone who shows respect and can submit to authority? 

-         Remember, it is not dependent on the character of worthiness of those over you.  Proper respect is given “for the Lord’s sake” and in obedience to Him, not ultimately to any human being.

So What?  Take Away

 

  • Christ is an example of someone who suffered unjustly, being willing to suffer in order to honor and obey the Father.  As Christ followers, are we willing to serve him even to the point of suffering and / or persecution?
  • Do we follow Christ’s example in the way we relate to the world?  Do we follow the same values of the world, or do we fight against the sinful desires which wage war against our soul?
  • Do we let our good deeds shine before the world, that even though they may accuse us of wrong, our behavior and actions cause them to glorify God?
  • Do we practice submission to those in authority over us, whether it in the area of governing authorities or workplace authorities?  Do we do this, knowing that our ultimate submission is to Christ and that we honor him in all spheres of life?
  • Are we entrusting our lives to God so that, even in the midst of suffering, we believe He is at work and will ultimately be victorious and vindicate his people?

1 Peter 3:1-12

“Living in Harmony with One Another”

 

Introduction

 

We have seen how the follower of Jesus follows the example of Christ as he relates to human institutions, such as governing authorities, or those who oversee your work.

Now we see how the Christian honors Christ by living in harmony in the family and with other believers.

 

I.                   In the Family (3:1-7)

 

  • Marriage is to be a picture of the loving and harmonious relationship between Christ and his people (Eph. 5)

  • Submission in context:  In Ephesians 5:21, the context is mutual submission.  Here, the context is for Christians to conduct themselves honorably among Gentiles by submitting to human institutions, so that Gentiles might observe their behavior and be won over

  • A woman married to an unbeliever was to use her demeanor to win her husband to Christ.

  • The principle here is to pursue inner beauty that comes from the heart rather than merely outward appearance.

  • In v. 3, the issue is not that women cannot look attractive, the issue is the relative emphasis and importance of inner beauty versus focusing all attention, effort and identity on the outward.

  • The word “master” is elsewhere translated “sir” (John 12:21) or “husband” (Gen. 18:12).

  • Husbands were commanded to respect their wives, showing them honor.  The “weaker” vessel refers to being physically weaker and therefore more vulnerable.  A husband is to honor and protect his wife out of love.

 

II.                In the Family of God (3:8-12)

 

What creates community vs. what destroys community

What Creates Community                                         What Destroys Community

 

Describe both the positive and the negative à what it looks like?

 

Harmony                                                                      Disunity

Sympathy                                                                     Unsympathetic

Brotherly Love                                                 Lack of love or impure love

Compassion                                                                 Uncaring

Humility                                                                        Arrogance / Pride

Returning blessing for evil                                              Returning evil with evil / insult

Kind words                                                                  Evil words

Truthfulness                                                                  Deceitful speech

Seeking peace                                                              Creating conflict

So What? / Take Away

 

  • Are you loving your spouse in a way that honors Christ and brings harmony to the marriage?

  • Are you more concerned about inner beauty and good character, or outward appearance?

  • Are you submitting yourself to Christ first and then practicing mutual submission and respect?

  • Does your behavior and way of relating to others foster Christian community, or does it undermine Christian community?  Are words like sympathy, brotherly love, compassion, humility -- words that could be used to describe you?

  • Is your speech harsh, deceitful, or combative?  Is your speech kind, truthful, and one that returns blessing for evil?

 

1 Peter 3:13-4:6

“Being a Follower of Christ in a Hostile Culture”

Introduction

 

Are you a follower of Christ?

Is our culture ever hostile to Christianity?

How should we respond?

Questions from the Text

 

v. 13: Am I zealous / eager / passionate about doing good?  Are there other things I am more passionate about than pursuing Christ?

v. 14: In what sense is a Christian blessed for suffering for doing good?  What are possible benefits to the believer who suffers for righteousness?

v. 14: What allows me not to be frightened / troubled / disturbed when I suffer for righteousness?

v. 15: How do we prepare to give an answer for our hope?  Do you think it’s more about having an intellectual defense for our faith, or sharing a personal testimony about our hope in Christ, or something else?

vv. 15-17: What are some different ways today that Christians may respond to a culture hostile to their beliefs and values?  In vv. 15-17, what instructions does Peter give for how to respond?

v. 18: According to v. 18, what benefit resulted from Christ’s suffering?  If you had to explain how the cross benefits you personally, what would you say? 

vv. 19-20: Read the Introduction on “Difficult Passages” to address these verses.

 

vv. 18-22: The clear part of this passage is that Jesus died, resurrected, ascended into heaven, and is at the right hand of God with all authorities subjected to him.  How can this picture of Christ’s vindication help the believe who is suffering for doing the right thing?

4:1-2: Suffering in the body is therefore to be accepted because: it follows the example of Jesus; it unites the believer with his attitude; and it enables the sufferer to live for the will of God.[22]

 

Mention of baptism in 3:21 may have prompted Peter to follow the same sort of argument as Paul uses in Rom. 6. Baptism symbolizes the believer’s entry into the benefits obtained by Christ’s suffering and death. In undergoing it the person baptized is regarded as mystically sharing those sufferings and death. The consequence of such a death in Rom. 6:11 is to ‘count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus’. This is what Peter is stating here, adding a note of urgency by contrasting time spent in the past on indulging oneself with the opportunity for serving God in the future.[23]

 

4:3-4: How do people in our culture sometime respond when we choose to live a life of righteousness, differently than the way we lived before following Christ?

4:5: How does a final accounting, or final judgment, help us to persevere as a follower of Christ in a hostile culture?

4:6: If this verse seems confusing, read the “Difficult Passages” section in the Introduction.

 

 

Take Away / So What?

 

Am I eager and zealous to do good, even when it involves suffering, either because I am denying the flesh, or because I am going against the culture?

Do I have the spiritual maturity and toughness to endure suffering for following Christ and doing the right thing?

Am I prepared to share the reason for the hope I have in Christ?  Do I look for ways and opportunities to do this with those who don’t know Christ?

Do I ever silence people’s malicious talk of Christians by my good behavior, and in the way I treat people with gentleness and respect?

Am I willing to imitate the suffering of Christ in order to battle against both the temptation of sin within, and the hostile culture without?

1 Peter 4:7-19

“Following Christ Until He Returns”

 

 

Introduction

 

“End of all things is at hand” – We are living in the “last days” awaiting Christ’s return

-         “last days” à Period between Christ’s first coming and his second coming

Peter gives instructions for “End Times Ethics” or “Last Days Lifestyle”.  These are instructions for how we are to live today.

I.                   Living as a Christian (4:7-11)

 

  1. Pray: clear-minded [sober minded] and disciplined [self-controlled] à see 1 Peter 1:13

-         Prayer is battle:  “You’ll never know what prayer is for until you realize that life is war”

-         Do you pray?  If so, do you pray as if you are in a spiritual battle, and prayer is a necessary weapon?

 

  1. Love Others Earnestly: How does love cover a multitude of sins? 

-         Showing hospitality without grumbling is an outgrowth of loving others deeply.

  1. Use your Gifts to Serve one Another

-         EACH has a gift (no one is left out). 

-         The purpose of your gift is to serve others

-         Using your gift is necessary to being a good steward of God’s grace

-         The ultimate end of using your gift is that “God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

II.                Suffering as a Christian (4:12-19)

 

  • Trials should not be surprising.  We should not be shocked when they occur, but meet them expectantly, knowing that this is part of God’s process in our lives until Christ returns.

  • Why can we rejoice when we share in Christ’s suffering? [see vv. 13-14; see also Phil. 3:10]

  • Does Peter commend all suffering (see v. 15)? 

  • Compare 4:16 to Romans 1:16

  • What do we learn about suffering from 4:17-19?

Take Away / So What?

 

Which one of the practices we discussed do you need to focus on this week:  (1) Prayer, (3) Loving others earnestly, or (3) Using your gifts to serve others?

What trials are you currently facing?  Is this trial as a result of consequences for bad choices or something else?  Are you acting surprised by this trial?  What do you think God may want to do in your life through these trials?

 

 

 

1 Peter 5

“Humility”

 

Introduction

 

Is humility something valued in our culture?  Why or why not?

What is humility, rightly understood?

-         [Having a right understanding of ourselves – neither thinking too highly or too less of ourselves]

-         [Not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less]

What is the opposite of humility?

I.                   Humility in Leadership (5:1-4)

 

Key Concept:  Servant Leadership

 

  • Would you rather serve under an effective leader who demonstrates humility or who does not demonstrate humility?  Why?

  • How are the elders (leaders) of the church instructed to shepherd God’s people?  Peter uses some contrasts to describe proper leadership: 

-         Not because you must / Not out of compulsion, but . . . [freely, willingly]

-         Not greedy for money, but . . . [eagerly]

-         Not lording over those entrusted to your care, but . . . [being examples to the flock]

  • Do you serve others willingly, eagerly, and instruct through your example?

-         Or, in contrast, are you ever guilty of serving out of compulsion, out of wrong motives, or by lording over others?

  • What is the reward in v. 4 for the spiritual leader who serves with humility, dedication and pure motives?

-         See Matthew 20:25-27

 

 

II.                Humility in Submitting to Leadership (5:5)

 

Key Concept:  Respect

 

“Young men” or simply “you who are younger” (ESV)

  • Elders were both spiritual leaders and generally those who were older who had a degree of spiritual maturity

  • What is Peter’s instruction to this group?

  • Do you find it generally easy or difficult to submit to those over you?  Why?

  • What do you think Peter talks about being clothed with humility in this context? 

  • Peter alludes to Proverbs 3:34 saying “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Why do you think God gives grace to those who demonstrate humility?

III.             Humility in Depending on God (5:6-11)

 

Key Concept: Trust & Submission

 

  • According to vv. 6-7, how does humbling ourselves before God involve depending on him rather than ourselves?

  • According to vv. 8-9, why is it necessary to submit ourselves to God in our spiritual battles?

  • According to vv. 10-11, what is the end result of submitting ourselves to God? [Notice, there is both an earthly and eternal benefit]


----

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:4). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:5). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:7). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4]Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter : The way of the cross. The Bible speaks today (61). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[5]Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter : The way of the cross. The Bible speaks today (62). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[6]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:13). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[7]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:14). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

a Lev. 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7

[8]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:15-16). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[9]Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (1 Pe 1:13). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[10]Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (1 Pe 1:18). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[11]Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (1 Pe 1:13). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[12]Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (1 Pe 1:13). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[13]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:20). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[14]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 1:21). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[15]Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter : The way of the cross. The Bible speaks today (73). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[16]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 2:2). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[17]Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter : The way of the cross. The Bible speaks today (83). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[18]Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter : The way of the cross. The Bible speaks today (84). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[19]Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson's new illustrated Bible commentary (1 Pe 2:9). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[20]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 2:9). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

x 2:17 Rv 12:11

y 2:17 Heb 13:1; 1Pt 5:9

z 2:17 Pr 1:7; 24:21; Ac 10:2; Rv 14:7

a 2:17 Lit king

[21]The Holy Bible : Holman Christian standard version. 2003 (1 Pe 2:17). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

2:21 Mk 8:31; 1Pt 3:18; 1Jn 3:16

2:21 Jn 13:15

2:21 Jn 8:12

[22]Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (1 Pe 3:13). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[23]Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (1 Pe 3:13). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

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