1 PETER Part 10
1 Peter 1:1–25; 1 Peter 5:12
Having been away from our study in 1 Peter for 2 months, it seemed reasonable to me to step back into our study by giving an overview of the letter once more – and then to draw some key principles out – helping us see our study in its context.
So I’ll begin by giving you a very broad outline of 1 Peter, and then we’ll look at some of the key concepts the Holy Spirit has provided here – aimed at equipping God’s People to live well for Him in a culture hostile to the Christian Worldview.
Some of the concepts might overlap a bit from chapter to chapter – but in general – the central idea in each is pretty easy to identify.
You might recall the confusion the Apostles faced in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion. John 20:10 – “fear of the Jews”
They had believed in Jesus as God’s sent Messiah.
And they attached to that understanding, a certain sense of how Jesus’ Messiahship would play out.
That view was somewhat informed by OT prophecies which spelled out what the final manifestation of God’s Kingdom would look like.
Those images are fabulous and filled with joy and perfection.
Unfortunately, those concepts were not informed by an understanding that the Messiah would come FIRST as a suffering servant, dying as God’s atoning sacrifice for human sin on the cross, then rising again – and then to establish the fullness of the Kingdom when He returns.
They had an anticipation of the Messiah breaking the yoke of Roman oppression, restoring Israel as an independent state, and ushering in the fullness of God’s Kingdom on earth was what they were operating on.
It was a lofty and all-encompassing vision, anticipating an immediate fulfillment of all its parts.
And this view was still there even after His resurrection.
Acts 1:1-5 carries the account:
But in vs. 7, Jesus redirects their thinking.
How and when and what the Kingdom would look like in time, was not to be occupying their thoughts.
Wait for the promise of the Spirit – and then be my witnesses.
This was to be their focus – being Spirit empowered witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – until He returns.
Coupled with the way He had unfolded what the intervening future would look like in Matthew 24 – they would know WHY they needed His indwelling Spirit so badly – because life for many if not most Christians was going to be hard, and filled with many pitfalls and temptations and trials and opposition in the years until He returned.
This is what Peter had to come to grips with, and now he was living it and so were those he was writing to.
As we’ve noted before, Peter’s audience was most likely comprised of Christians – mainly Jewish Christians – who had been ejected from Rome, and forcibly relocated to this vast, backward area in Northern Turkey.
As Karen Jobes in her commentary notes: “The picture that emerges of the regions to which Peter wrote is one of a vast geographical area with small cities few and far between, of a diversified population of indigenous peoples, Greek settlers, and Roman colonists. The residents practiced many religions, spoke several languages, and were never fully assimilated into the Greco-Roman culture (Frank 1932: 374; S. Johnson 1975: 143; Yakar 2000: 61–65)”
They looked funny to the peoples in these regions. Sounded funny, had strange customs and had a worldview unlike any of their new neighbors.
They truly were “exiles” and dispossessed of their previous homes, environment and lifestyle – not to mention their former Christian community – life was in total disarray, and dangerous.
How then were they to live?
More – how were they to live Christ – live as The Church in these places?
This was overwhelming and would no doubt tempt them to hopelessness and maybe even abandoning the faith altogether.
How to live out the Christian life in a place that didn’t understand Christianity in the slightest, and worse, would be hostile to it?
Welcome to where 21st century Christians will soon find themselves in this very country – as we see so many in foreign lands like Syria and other Middle-eastern societies – unless God intervenes.
OpenDoors is an organization committed to aide Christians in oppressive societies. Their website states: “According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians). Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.”
Additionally, in 2015: “More than 7,100 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, said Open Doors president David Curry.
Open Doors also calculates that 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged, more than double the number in 2014.”
Chap. 1 The internal struggles. Peter recognizes that those in such circumstances will suffer an identity crisis first of all.
How are they to think of themselves in this environment?
1 Peter 1:1–2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
RACE, CITIZEN, PRIESTHOOD
The Spirit writing through Peter says: Remember that though you are exiles – you are God’s exiles – still His elect. And these two realities are not contradictory.
Christians must settle it in their own hearts, that hardship and opposition and being marginalized in a secular or hostile culture is NOT somehow contrary to still being God’s eternally elect people, and living under the tent of His mercy and all-encompassing grace.
No matter where life finds us in God’s Providence, we are still His, still called to be holy, and still to fix our hope on Christ’s return, and not a change in our outward circumstances.
Chap. 2 How we are to relate to those around us – especially the unbelievers.
[[ IMAGE ]] 1 Peter 2:9–12 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Christians have this amazing calling and privilege to “proclaim the excellencies of His who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
And so they were not to simply buck the system of the government that persecuted this way – but to submit to it all they could as part of God’s appointment.
It is a bold and counter-intuitive call to live supernaturally for the sake of blessing those around us – even those who might persecute us.
To make the places we live in better places for all – because we are there.
This submission to secular authorities and governments was not absolute however.
As we saw in our study – if ANY AUTHORITY – Employer, Government, Elder or even a parent: REQUIRES us to do anything God’s Word forbids us to do…
FORBIDS us from doing anything God’s Word requires us to do – in those instances, we not only can, but we MUST disobey.
Yet this is done with honor and respect, and not in anger or retaliation.
Chap. 3 Personal relationships with both believers and unbelievers.
Beginning with husbands and wives.
Even when such relationships complicated when one is a Believer and the other is not.
Then with neighbors and any others we might engage with.
We have BEEN blessed, that we might bless.
1 Peter 3:14–18 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
Chap. 4 Continuing to minister to others tho opposed in circumstances. Do not leave off improving the graces in you by the Spirit. Employ them to bless others.
We do this for society as a whole – but ESPECIALLY toward other Believers.
1 Peter 4:7–11 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Chap. 5 Not abandoning “church” in troubled times.
1 Peter 5:1–5 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Those with shepherding skills, are not to stop serving in that capacity, nor are those who are being shepherded to cease from living in that relationship to the Church.
This then is what Christianity looks like, lived under less than optimal circumstances.
Let me draw out a few observations and principles then from this overview of 1 Peter.
1. Suffering is not contrary to the Gospel nor to be thought of as a defeat for the Christian.
Abraham Kuyper: The world after the fall is no lost planet, only destined now to afford the church a place in which to continue her combats; and humanity is no aimless mass of people which only serves the purpose of giving birth to the elect. On the contrary the world now, as well as in the beginning, is the theatre for the mighty works of God, and humanity remains a creation of His hand, which, apart from salvation, completes under this present dispensation, here on earth, a mighty process, and in its historical development is to glorify the name of Almighty God.
2. Love for the souls of lost people, and for those in Christ is not to be replaced by anger, fear, retaliation or rebellion.
3. Love and fidelity to Christ and His Church must continue.
4. Holiness is still to be pursued – not caving to the morals of the culture.
5. Being in difficult circumstances is to be co-opted by the Christian – because of Grace and the Indwelling Spirit, for displaying Christ in this dark world, and for learning how to deny self in combatting sin.
6. Our hope is to remain fixed on what will be ours when Christ returns – not in a change of outward circumstances.
7. Look at the amazing privilege Christ has purchased for Believers in His death, burial and resurrection. To live above the world in these ways, while still in it.
This a high, and amazing call.
It is one which will mark us out as so different from everyone around us, that they cannot help but wonder why we have such hope and peace. And why we do not retreat from the world to form our own little enclaves.
And such can ONLY be lived in the power of Christ’s Spirit – informed by His Word, and relied upon in utter reliance upon Him in prayer.
If God move us not, we cannot move: therefore, it is a most necessary part of our christian wisdom, to keep our subordination to God, and dependance on him; to be still in the path where he walks, and in that way where his Spirit doth most usually move. Take heed of being estranged or separated from God, or of slacking your daily expectations of renewed help, or of growing insensible of the necessity of the continual influence and assistance of the Spirit. When you once begin to trust your stock of habitual grace, and to depend on your own understanding or resolution for duty and holy walking, you are then in a dangerous, declining state. In every duty remember Christ’s words, “Without me ye can do nothing;” (John 15:5;) and, “not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to do any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” (2 Cor. 3:5.)
 Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 22.
 Baxter, Richard & William Orme. 1830. The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter. . Vol. 22. London: James Duncan.