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An Epistle of Hope for Persecuted Christians
The First letter by Apostle Peter, written in AD 64 to persecuted Christians. A title could be Grace Under Fire, or A Letter to Persecuted Christians. It is an Epistle of Hope. As John is known as the Apostle of Love and Paul is known as the Apostle of Faith, the Apostle Peter can be known as the Apostle of Hope. Biblical hope means future certainty.
The Apostle of Hope
This is the second of seven general epistles in the New Testament. All of them are titled according to the author who wrote them. They are not addressed to a specific church. They do not have the name of a city mentioned. Peter is the best known of all the Apostles, whom Jesus chose, during His life on earth, along with Paul, they dominate the New Testament dramatically. The Apostle Peter’s name is mentioned over 150 times in the New Testament. His brother was Andrew, who brought Peter to the Lord.
The Great Fire of Rome
1 Peter was written after the Great Fire of Rome. There was a general persecution by Nero, who was seeking to distract people from his crime of having burned down Rome in order to make space for his great building projects. The fire took place on 19 July AD 64. The Apostle Peter speaks about writing from Babylon, which is code amongst Christians for Rome. He speaks about the fiery trial they are facing. In order to distract the people from his own crime, Nero blamed the Christians and literally made Roman candles of the Christians, by dipping them in pitch and putting them up on poles in order to light up his garden parties at night, while he rode around in his chariot. Christians were also fed to wild animals in the colosseum. Peter was awaiting execution, which would be by crucifixion upside down on a cross.
To the Dispersed Pilgrims
Peter wrote an encouraging letter to Christians who were facing persecution, to the pilgrims dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, all in what is today Northern Turkey. These were churches where he already laid foundations and ministered to the people. (The Apostle Paul ministered throughout in what today is Southern Turkey).
Salvation and Suffering
Peter describes the privileges of Salvation and the blessings of election. He gives us a Theology of suffering. This is the best Book in the Bible on the relationship between Salvation and suffering, showing that the suffering of Christ under the Law, led to our Salvation and our Salvation now leads to suffering persecution. It is an Epistle of hope and of certainty. It deals with practical discipleship. It speaks of holiness, humility, submission and service. Suffering is mentioned 14 times. Joy and glory are mentioned 26 times. It speaks about joy amidst suffering and persecution.
Saved from Sin for Sanctification
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” 1 Peter 1:1-2. We are strangers to this world, it is not our ultimate home. We are dual citizens, but our real home is Heaven, the Kingdom of God. We see each member of the Trinity - Father, Son and Spirit involved in Salvation. We are not only saved from our sins, or from an eternity of condemnation in hell, we are saved for obedience, for sanctification. We see here a greater depth, height and vision. We are saved to be channels of God's multiplied blessing and to be set apart for service and obedience to the Lord.
Joy Amidst Persecution
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 1 Peter 1:3-8
A Living Hope Amidst the Fires of Tribulation
We have a living hope and abundant mercy. Many people in Rome lost their homes, churches, possessions and family in the fire. However, Christians have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled which will not fade away, as it is preserved safely in Heaven. Preserved is talking of the Perseverance of the saints. We see Salvation by the grace of God. Sola Gracia! Salvation through Christ alone. Solus Christus! Received by faith. Sola Fide! Our faith is tested to see if it is genuine. It is more precious than gold. Gold can perish and is tested by fire. How much more must our faith be tested by fire? We see the geniuses of a person’s faith when they persevere through trials and tribulations, through suffering and persecution. Joy inexpressible, genuine faith, tested faith and refined faith, is all being exercised.
Our God is Able to Save Us
When we think of faith being tested by fire, we think of Daniel 3, where Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego were commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to bow before his massive gold idol. Everybody bowed, expect these three. They stood firm and stood out like sore thumbs. They were given a second chance, to bow or they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. They did not bow and before they were thrown into the fiery furnace responded: “Our God whom we serve is able to save us and He will. But even if He does not, we still will not bow before your idols, nor will we serve your God!” They were not saved from the fire, they were preserved in the midst of the fire. The Lord was with them and they came our unharmed, even without any smell of burning on their garments. There is joy inexpressible, even under persecution.
The Fulfilment of Biblical Prophecy
“Receiving the end of your Faith - the Salvation of your souls. Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven - things which angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter 1:9-12. Peter writes about a Salvation that was foretold by the prophets for hundreds, even thousands of years, which is seen in the Salvation of our souls. The Gospel is not proclaimed in our own power, it is proclaimed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do Not Be Conformed to the World
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance.” 1 Peter 1:13-14. We are called to walk worthy of our calling, to gird up the loins of our minds. We are often told not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to be sober minded and think clearly. We have a hope resting fully on the grace that is brought through the revelation of Jesus. This should lead us to be obedient to God. There are so many callings particularly in this Book of 1 Peter, to be sober. We live in a world where many people are drunk. Not just drunk with alcohol or drugs, but drunk with a spirit of rebellion. This hostility towards God comes through secular education, Hollywood entertainment and the news media. There is a lack of soberness, where people scream and shout and throw out their slogans and sound bites, without even considering the facts and realities, or the Revelation of God.
Belief Affects Behaviour
“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’.” 1 Peter 1:15-16. Because we believe in a holy God, we must seek to be conformed to His character by living holy lives. To be set apart, like your toothbrush. It is for your personal use, nobody else uses it. God wants us for His own personal service, not for those of other gods, for the spirit of the age, other religions or worldviews. We are to be loyal to God. Your belief always affects your behaviour. Everybody does live in accordance with their beliefs. Although many are inconsistent with their stated beliefs, one is always consistent with your real belief. If somebody runs in and says: Your house in on fire! Or your car is being stolen! You are not likely to say, “I believe you” and stay seated. If you believe you will get up and do something about it. It is impossible to really believe something without it affecting your actions. People may say “I worship a holy God”, or “Jesus died for my sins”. If they really believed it, they would act with a gratitude and with a loyalty and devotion of those who understand the reality. People whose lives do not change, do not really believe.
Redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Lamb
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:17-21
Set Free to Serve Christ
We are pilgrims and living in the light of eternity. He who judges impartially. This verse reminds us of John the Baptist pointing to Jesus, saying “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus is the Lamb of God. Salvation is Solus Christus! Christ alone is the only Saviour and Redeemer, the only Head of the Church. We have been redeemed from our aimless conduct. If we think back to our lives before conversion, we were aimless. After we were saved the Lord gave us direction. Redeemed suggests that a person who is enslaved must be brought out of slavery with a price. We were redeemed from slavery to sin, satan and death, saved from hell. Not with corruptible things like silver or gold. We were redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ, which is far more valuable than all the gold of this world. We see faith and hope coming together.
Purified by the Truth of God’s Word
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever.” 1 Peter 1:22-23. Faith, Hope and Love is expressed here. Sincere love with a faith and a hope that is secure in God. This love should be fervent, coming from a pure heart. Seed that falls into the ground is corruptible, it will break down and die, but will bring forth a harvest. We have been born again, not by corruptible seed, but by incorruptible seed, the Word of God which lasts forever. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. God's Word never returns void, it always accomplishes what it has been sent out to accomplish.
The Word of God Endures Forever
“Because ‘All flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the Word which by the Gospel was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:24-25. Life on earth is short. It is transient. The glory of man is like the seasons that come and go, like leaves on the tree, that fall, like grass that withers, which is, so to speak, resurrected in spring. In contrast, the Word of God endures forever, in season and out of season, it always produces a harvest. This Word is that which is preached through the Gospel.
Feed Upon God’s Word
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1-3. When we become a Christian, we have a new life. Just like a newborn baby, who cannot do much for himself, first feeds off his mother’s milk. This provides all the nourishment necessary for health and growth. We, as new Christians, need to take in as much of the pure milk of the Word of God, which is spiritual milk and meat for our souls. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It is like a fire that burns within our hearts. It is like a hammer that breaks the rocks into pieces. Jesus says, “Whoever thirsts, must come unto Me and drink out of His innermost being, which flow rivers of living waters.”
Christ is the Chief Cornerstone
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.” 1 Peter 2:4. This is a key verse for Livingstone Fellowship. It reminds us of what Jesus said, that He is the stone which the builders rejected as worthless, but which God has made the chief Cornerstone. This is also seen in the vision of Daniel 2, the head of gold, the chest of silver, the stomach of bronze, the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay, representing all the empires of the world from the Babylonian Empire, Persian Empire, Greek, or Macedonian Empire and Roman Empire, which split into two, East and West, as indicated by the two legs. Then the Stone cut out without hands, strikes the base of the statue and the entire statue shatters into dust and the wind blows the dust away. A prophetic picture of the triumph of the Kingdom of God. Christ is the Cornerstone.
The Statue and the Stone
Jesus said, ‘If anyone falls on that Stone, he will be cut to pieces. But if that Stone falls on someone, it will crush them to dust.’ Those who attack Christ will be cut to pieces, utterly and completely destroyed. There is a picture of this in Solovetsky Island, the first concentration camp of the Soviet Union, where over 95,000 ministers of the Gospel were murdered by the Bolshevik Communist Party in the first prototype concentration camp, up in the Arctic Circle, in the White Sea at Solovetsky monastery. In Lubyanka Square, the Lubyanka, which used to be a monastery, was taken over by the KGB and turned into a place of terror, where tens-of-thousands of Christians were arrested, tortured and murdered. Outside is a large traffic circle with a statue of a massive idol on it, of Derzensky, the founder of the Checke, the Soviet Secret Police, which later became the NKVD and later the KGB. This iconic monument was toppled in 1991, as the Soviet Union was abolished. Christians brought a stone from Solovetsky Island and laid that stone in Lubyanka square to remind us of the victory of Christ. The statue is gone and the stone remains. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief Cornerstone. If anyone falls on that Stone, they will be cut to pieces. But, if that Stone falls on someone, it will crush them to powder. Those who reject Christ will find themselves utterly defeated, annihilated, absolutely wiped out and only powder and dust will be left that the wind will blow it away. Even the memory of them will ultimately be blown away.
Christ is Building His Church
“You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The Stone which the builders rejected has become the chief Cornerstone and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the Word, to which they also were appointed.” 1 Peter 2:5-8. We are called to be living stones in the Church that God is building, to be part of God's house. A priest is a bridge builder, he stands between God and man. He speaks to God on behalf of man with intercession and speaks to man for God prophetically. We are meant to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. Offer up yourselves as living sacrifices to God, acceptable sacrifices. Romans 12:1-2.
Build Your Life Upon the Rock of God’s Word
This reminds us that the wise man builds his house upon the rock and the foolish man builds his house on the sand. Jesus is the Rock. No other foundation can be laid, except that of Jesus Christ. We see that Christ is the cornerstone. He is the only foundation (1 Corinthians 3). We read that no other foundation can be laid, except with is Jesus Christ. He is the foundation.) We must build with precious stones. Those who build with wood and hay will find that burned up. Only that which is built on the foundation of Christ, the Rock, will stand on the Day of Judgement. Only that which is built with precious stones will endure. This speaks about our motives and the foundation of our life and work. But no other foundation can be laid other than Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:11).
Is Jesus Your Saviour or Judge?
1 Peter 2:7 was the text of Charles Spurgeon’s first sermon, aged 15. Is Christ Jesus a stumbling block to you? Is Jesus a rock of offense? To many people, yes, or, is he the chief cornerstone and Foundation of your life?
From Darkness to Light
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10. This reminds us of the giving of the Law of the first Covenant on the Mountain through Moses to the children of Israel. The nation was called to be a holy nation and a royal priesthood. Just as the Levites were to be priests to Israel, so Israel was to be priests to the whole world. Now we see that the Lord has transferred this to His chosen, elect, redeemed, regenerate, born-again believers, a chosen generation, holy and set-apart, a royal priesthood, we are to both rule and serve. We are to offer spiritual and living sacrifices. To declare the praise of Him who called us out of the darkness into His marvellous light.
After the Darkness - Light
This has especially been the history of the Reformation. Out of darkness of Catholic medieval superstition, indulgences and corruption, came the light of the Reformation. This is the motto of Geneva: Post Tenebras Lux (After darkness, light!). This is the theme and a recurring emphasis in the Reformation. We are called out of darkness to shine the light of Christ. During the Leipzig Prayer meetings and the movement that brought down the communist system throughout Eastern Europe, they used the symbol of a candle. They put candles in their windows to testify that light is more powerful than darkness. Not all the darkness can put out even a single candle. Truth is more powerful than lies, error, propaganda and indoctrination. Our Faith is greater than the power of unbelief. Ultimately it brought down the Soviet Union and opened up the Iron Curtain. It brought down the Berlin wall. Light is more powerful than darkness. This is our calling. We are saved to serve. We are called to seek first the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Peter cannot keep himself to one point in a verse, every verse has multiple points. You can see, that although he is an unlearned fisherman, they perceived this man had been with Jesus. Peter was transformed.
We Are Called to Be Different to the World
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:11-12. Expect to be criticised, slandered, misunderstood and have evil spoken of you. Jesus said, if they loved Me, they will love you also. If they hated Me, they will hate you too. If you were of this world, the world will love its own. But you are not of this world and therefore our conduct as aliens, sojourners, pilgrims in this world should show that you are living soberly in a drunken land, that we are living in the light in an age of darkness. We are living in the truth, in an age of deception and deceit. We should conduct ourselves so honourably among the gentiles that even when they speak evil of us, they will have to recognise the good works and without intending to, they will have to glorify God.
God and Government
“Therefore, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men - as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honour all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King.” 1 Peter 2:13-17. This includes a good description of the role of government. Peter deals with all aspects of discipleship, including our relationship to government. Civil government is called to be a minister of Justice, a servant, a minister, a deacon of God to punish evildoers and to praise those who do good. This lays out God's will, that by our good deeds we put to silence ignorant and foolish criticism. They can say what they like, but our actions should speak louder. We should be free, but not using our freedom as a cloak for vice. We should be bondservants, slaves to God. The Apostle Peter can put more doctrine into less words. Who else can punch ahead with so many important messages in every verse and every sentence? The Apostle Peter’s character comes through. We are set free to serve Christ.
Patient Endurance of Suffering is Commendable
“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.” 1 Peter 2:18-20. We must expect unfair treatment and take it graciously as unto the Lord.
Follow in His Steps
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:” 1 Peter 2:21. This is the verse that inspired one of the great Christian novels of all times: In His Steps, where the pastor was convicted to challenge his people for one year to do nothing without asking: “What would Jesus do?” What Did Jesus Do? What Did Jesus Say? Is even more important than what I think He would do. In His Steps was more objective, it was about what Jesus did and what Jesus said and taken from the objective position of Scriptures, we should try and answer our challenges, ethical and moral, on a daily basis. How we order our society should be in the light of Scripture.
There is the story in History that the Apostle Peter, as he was fleeing Rome, after the Fire of Rome, as Nero was trying to wipe out the Christians, he met the Lord Jesus going the opposite way and said: ‘Where are you going Lord?’ The Lord answered, ‘to Rome, to be crucified again!’ The apostle Peter was convicted that he should not be fleeing from persecution in Rome. Peter turned around, went back, was captured and ultimately was crucified upside down. This letter is written after he went back to be with his people who were being persecuted. The shepherd choosing to die with his sheep.
Christ Died for You – Live for Him!
“Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:22-25
Keep Focused on Jesus
The message is keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, on whom our Faith depends from beginning to end. Jesus is our example. He is our redemption. His sufferings led to our Salvation and our Salvation also involves suffering for Christ. Man’s problems began with a tree in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. Eating forbidden fruit. There was the tree of Calvary, upon which Jesus was crucified. There will be the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem. Sin entered through disobedience at one tree. Salvation was won on another tree. We will then have access to the Tree of Life.
God is Not Egalitarian
There are distinctions between people in Scripture. Servants, masters, wives, husbands, young people, older men, younger men, older women, younger women. There are distinctions in terms of class, age, gender and social status. We are told in Galatians that we are all one in Christ Jesus, neither slave nor free, male nor female, neither Jew nor Gentile. The Scripture here is speaking about the way of Salvation. However, it is not saying there are no more distinctions, that now a man can self-identify as a woman! We see in Scripture that on the last day in Heaven there will be people of every race, tribe, nation and tongue and they will all be singing. Even such national identities and linguistic distinctives will be recognisable in Heaven. Not some genderless, nationless, faceless kind of socialist mass. God has created so much diversity in nature and amongst his people. We are not meant to obscure this.
The Incorruptible Beauty of a Gentle Spirit
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the Word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.” 1 Peter 3:1-6. Instructions are given to women about chastity, modesty, humility, fearing God and God alone. It speaks against an obsession with make-up, jewellery and outward adornment. There are even those who think they need tattoos and body piercings! All of this is a distraction. We need to focus on the real character of a woman.
Compassion and Courtesy
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honour to the wife, as to the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender-hearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:7-12
Consideration in Conduct
Our prayer life and devotional life are affected by our relationships and there needs to be respect, honour, submission and consideration. We have relationships, our priorities and our behaviour. Our conduct affects our prayers. If we are living evil, rebellious lives against God, we cannot seriously expect grace. Our relationships are the same. If you have a child living in rebellion to their parents, whatever they ask is not likely to be given, until they make their relationship right and get their attitude straight.
Always Be Ready to Give a Defence
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:13-17
The Problem of the Heart
The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. We often have a cobra heart with snake-like poison. The solution is that we need a new heart through regeneration. We need the peace of God through justification. We need holy lives through sanctification. Always be ready, be prepared to answer skeptics. Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, or Frank Morrison’s, Who Moved the Stone? Challenging people with the facts. Always be ready to give an answer to anybody who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. Indeed, they should be ashamed if they defame us for no good reason. If we suffer it should not be suffering for self-righteousness sake!
The Just Died for the Unjust
“For 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, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the Ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” 1 Peter 3:18-22
Saved Through the Waters of the Flood
This passage has confused some people. Peter speaks about the Lord going and preaching to the spirits in prison, to the people who died in the days of Noah during the Flood. Peter mentions that the Flood is an anti-type of Baptism that the people who survived the Flood in the Ark, eight persons in total, were saved through water, which now saves us through baptism. Not the removal of filth from the body, but the answer of a good conscience towards God through the Resurrection of Christ whose has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with Angels and authorities in power to be made subject to Him.
God Now Commands All People to Repent
In Chapter Four it again, speaks about Christ preaching to those who were in prison and those who died in the Flood of Noah. It does seem Christ preached to the souls in prison. God is a spirit. It specifically says: ‘To those who died in the days of Noah while the Ark was being prepared, while a few were able to be saved.’ It is possible that the Lord actually did preach the Gospel to those who died in the Flood, who had not had the opportunity of the Gospel. Certainly, that seems to be the only interpretation that made sense, that during the time when His body was in the tomb, the Lord’s spirit went and proclaimed the Gospel to those, of previous times, who had not had the opportunity to hear the Word. This does not give any hope for our time, for people to suggest that there is a second chance since the Lord has died now. God commands all men everywhere to Repent! It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement.
Suffering Can Purge and Purify Us
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, 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. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles - when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason, the Gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” 1 Peter 4:1-6
Be Sober and Alert
When you are suffering physically, we don’t really have time for sin. There is something about suffering, whether it is physical, persecution outside, medical, or disease, it purifies the spirit. We are to live sober lives amongst this Dark Age, we are to stand out, to be different.
Do Everything to the Glory of God
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore, be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:7-11
Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
It is true, that love covers a multitude of sin, just like a parent will overlook so many faults of their own children, because we love them. You would not bring up something they did years ago. If there is love, there is mercy and forgiveness. It is no good giving hospitality, while worrying about the cost of everything and how much trouble you went through to prepare the meal. Being told how difficult it was to be prepared for the person visiting is like complaining when you’re trying to give a gift. Attitude is everything. Do all things with the right spirit. We are all called to practise hospitality, although some may have the gift. We have all been given more than one gift, or talent, of which we are stewards. We are answerable to God for it. We must be faithful. Soli Deo Gloria! Everything must be done for the glory of God alone. There is no room for boasting in the Reformed Faith. We did not choose God, He chose us. We did not find God, He found us. God saves sinners. Outside of Christ Jesus, we are lost! Salvation is all of God. All glory goes to Him.
It Is a Privilege to Suffer for Christ
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the Name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part, He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for Judgment to begin at the House of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’ Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:12-19
Judgement Begins in the House of God
It is a privilege to suffer for Christ. Let the blasphemers attack you. It is a glory for you to suffer for Christ. Sometimes people say that they are suffering for the Lord, but they are suffering because of their own sin. What you sow is what you reap. You are not suffering for Christ unless you are suffering for righteousness sake. There was a shame for someone executed by crucifixion. It was a criminal’s death, but we should not be ashamed of persecution by the world. If the righteous are scarcely saved, what will happen to the ungodly and the sinner? We who fear God should expect Judgement, because judgement must begin in the House of God. The Lord begins with His people. His people are being tested and tried, that we might come out purified, more prayerful, more powerful, more purged and more holy for the Lord. When Judgement comes to the wicked, it will not be for their salvation, it will mean destruction. We are called to be faithful.
Shepherd the Flock Faithfully
“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4
Do You Love the Lord?
It reminds us of the Good Shepherd, chief Shepherd, Jesus. Like coal fire is only mentioned twice in the Bible. The coal fire is mentioned outside the High Priest’s house, where the Apostle Peter went to on the night the Lord was betrayed. The coal fire was mentioned again after the Lord’s Resurrection by the Sea of Galilee, where the Lord was preparing the fish for His disciples after they had been fishing all night. Jesus said to Peter: “Peter, do you love Me? Feed My Sheep! Peter, do you love Me? Feed My Lambs! Peter, do you love Me? Feed My Sheep!” As Peter denied the Lord three times, so the Lord asks Peter three times: Do you love Me? Each time He tell him to feed My sheep. 34 years later, Peter is now saying to the Elders, shepherd the flock of God that is among you. Serve as overseers, not by compulsion, but willingly. Not for gain, but eagerly. Be examples. The Shepherd will appear and judge you. Not many should be teachers, as we teachers will be judged with greater strictness. We have a higher standard to maintain. There is a call to be faithful shepherds, following the Good Shepherd.
God Resists the Proud But He Gives Grace to the Humble
“Likewise, you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the Faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:5-11
Be Steadfast in the Faith
It is so important that young people don’t think too much of themselves, but be humble instead. God resists the proud. He gives grace to the humble. We are told not to worry about anything, but to cast all our cares upon the Lord and to pray about everything. Nero saw himself as a lion. A lion was symbolic of the Roman Empire, legions and particularly Nero. This verse says be sober, as your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion. Although Nero thought he was a lion, he was not. The devil acts like a lion. Jesus is the Lion. Resist satan and be steadfast in the Faith. Faith is a shield - strong like metal, substantial. It can put out the fiery darts of the enemy. It is part of the full armour of God to help us to resist the devil.
Love and Grace
“By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so, does Mark my son. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:12-14. Silvanus is another name for Silas. John-Mark receives a special mention. Sola Deo Gloria! Sola Gratia!
The key themes of 1 Peter are hope, grace, mercy, salvation, love, joy, soberness, fear of God, humility and the preciousness of our faith and the glory that awaits. Many things are mentioned as precious: Faith (1:7); the Blood of Christ (1:19); the Cornerstone (2:4-6); our Saviour (2:7); the Holy Spirit (3:4); our suffering (ch4); and the Crown we will receive (ch5). We have a living faith, a tested faith and a joyful love. We are part of a spiritual House, a royal Priesthood, a holy nation. We are called to eagerly desire the spiritual milk of God's Word. As living stones, we are being built into God's House, or Temple. As priests offer spiritual sacrifices, as pilgrims we are strangers to this world. We need to recognise that our ultimate home is in Heaven. We are to serve and submit to God and resist the devil. We are to fear God, not man. This will involve suffering for Christ. We are called to be faithful stewards of God's gifts and talents that have been entrusted to us by God. We are to speak the very words of God. We are to greatly rejoice, gird up our minds, be sober-minded, be obedient, not conforming to the former lusts and ignorance of the world. Be holy in your conduct. Love sincerely and fervently. Lay aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking. Offer up spiritual sacrifices, proclaiming the praises, of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. We are called to follow in Christs steps. To be compassionate and cautious. Always ready to give a defence for the hope that is within us. We are called to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. To serve for God's glory. To suffer for God's glory. To be serious and watchful in our prayers. To be hospitable without grumbling. To minister to one another. To speak so as to glorify God with all things. To submit to God and to resist the devil.
Chapter 1 deals with Salvation.
Chapter 2 deals with Relationships.
Chapter 3 deals with Relationships.
Chapter 4 deals with Suffering.
Chapter 5 deals with Community.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
The New Testament Survey book consists of 304 pages and includes 14 pictures, maps and charts and the New Testament Survey Audio and Data MP3 boxset (31 audio sermons & 1 PDF book) are available from CLB.
The Old Testament Survey book consists of 284 pages and includes 37 pictures, maps, charts and chronologies and the Old Testament Survey Audio and Data MP3 boxset (42 audio sermons & 39 PDF sermon notes - 28hrs & 18min) are available from CLB.
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