1 Peter Chapter 5

Here we are in the last chapter of 1 Peter. Here he wraps up his letter by talking to the elders specifically. He then uses that to talk about how others need to act and how we must be alert. Now, let’s dive in.

1 Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Here Peter takes the opportunity to remind the elders that they are supposed to be watching over the church. This is to be done of their own choice and not out of force. Moreover, this is to be done under God’s will, not just our own desire. He goes on to say that an elder is not to teach out of a desire for money, but out of eagerness to teach God’s words to others. They are to be in charge, but not to abuse that power or use it to intimidate. They are to be examples for other Christians to imitate. All of this is to be done, remembering that God will hold them accountable for how they lead. You may be wondering what your part is in this if you are not a leader. Your part is to make sure your leaders are doing what God has commanded them to and to know the standards they must follow, because most of them are applied to all Christians throughout the New Testament.

5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

Now here is something a little more specific to those who are not leaders. Peter reminds them that they are to listen to the elders and subject themselves to their judgement. Likewise, we are called to be humble to one another, knowing that God resists the proud, but will give underserved grace to those who humble themselves. This means treating others better than ourselves and not having a high opinion of ourselves. If we humble ourselves, God will exalt us in His time, be that in this life or in eternity. As part of this, God asks us to cast our cares and burdens on Him as He will strengthen and sustain us.

8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.

Now Peter gives an emphatic point. We are called to be aware and on the lookout for Satan and his attacks. He desires to destroy us, or if he cannot do that, to make us useless for the gospel. We must resist him, crying to God for strength. Hold firm, remembering that this is happening to all believers and it is not just you. You are not alone. God will restore us, establish us, strengthen us, and support us. There is nothing better than that, as everything is under God’s authority.

12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13 The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Here we get a small explanation as to why Peter wrote this letter. He was seeking to encourage the believers and testify to the truth of God’s grace. He tells them to take their stand in it. He then gives greetings and prays peace for all of them.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 Leaders, shepherd your people the way God has commanded, and everyone else must strive to meet the same standards and to know what their leaders are supposed to do.

2 Subject yourself to the elders of your church.

3 Continue to humble yourself, considering other people more important and seeking to serve them more than yourself.

4 Go to God in pray and tell Him of your fears, worries and burdens and ask Him for strength. If you pray and give Him these things He will strengthen you and give you peace.

5 Be on the lookout for the Devil and his schemes. He will try to tempt you from following Jesus or he will try to keep you from advancing the gospel. Stand firm, turn to God, and He will give you victory.

 

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1 Peter Chapter 4

Here we are drawing close to the end of another book. In this chapter, Peter continues his thoughts on suffering. If you recall, in the last chapter he told us that we are to suffer with Christ and now he explains more what that looks like. Let’s get right to it!

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin— 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged by men in the fleshly realm, they might live by God in the spiritual realm.

Peter tells us that we are to suffer in the flesh because Jesus has suffered in the flesh. We must have the same resolve and choose to suffer in the flesh rather than give in to fleshly desires. Thus we put sin to death and instead of seeking fleshly desire, we seek God’s desire. He reminds us that we have already wasted enough time of vain and lustful pleasure and that we must focus on God. The world is surprised by this. The world has no hope for the future, or else they believe what is done here does not truly matter, and so the only logical thing to do is whatever makes you feel good. They get drunk, they have sex outside of marriage, and they do drugs. Now obviously not all unbelievers participate in all of these, some may even abstain all together, but that is not the point Peter is making. He is not literally saying all unbelievers do all these things all the time, he is giving it as a general statement. His point is the world in general does these things, and they are surprised when believers do not. As believers, we are not to live wildly, not to be drunk, not fulfill evil desires, not to cause damage and mayhem, and not to participate in the unrestrained sexual experiences outside of marriage. If we keep from these activities, and others not listed here, then we will be slandered by others. I am sure some of your reading this have experienced that. They sayings things like, oh holier than though, or prude. However, what they say or think does not matter. God Himself will judge all that is done and He is by far more important. Remember that in all we do, the goal is to please God. That is why the gospel is given, so that man can be restored to God and seek His desires.

7 Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. 8 Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Here is a point many people get confused. 2 Peter 3:3-9 tells us that many will mock us, asking when the end times will come, but we must remember that God does not look at time the way we do, and that God is allowing more time so that more people may be reached. With that said the end really could come at any moment and as the Bible warns we must be ready. Peter tells us in light of the end we must be serious and alert. We are also called to be disciplined in prayer! How many of us suffer in this area? It is so easy to get distracted or busy, but Peter is highlighting its importance. God is coming back and He wants us to be in prayer. He also calls us to love each other, which means living in forgiveness. As Peter says, it covers a multitude of sins. We are also called to be hospitable to each other without complaining. Lastly, Peter talks about the various gifts we all have. Whatever our gift, we are to use it to serve God and others. It is not just limited to Peter’s list; any gift should be used for God. However, Peter gives a small correction to all of us that think it is by our strength, and reminds us that any service we preform is to be done by God’s strength as He is the one who accomplishes it. Since that is the case, we are also told we must glorify God for His strength. All glory and power belong to Him.

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 18 And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? 19 So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.

Now we go back to the topic of suffering. Peter tells us not to be surprised when ordeals come and we are to suffer. After all, as he already told us we are called to suffer with Jesus. What is even harder, we are called to rejoice in our suffering, something I confess I find difficult. What is even stranger is that being ridiculed for our faith is in fact a sign that God is with us. However, if we suffer because of our sin or wrongs that we have committed, then it is not a sign of blessing, but necessary discipline that we may come back to God. But, if we do suffer with a clear conscience, then we should not be ashamed. We instead are to glorify God for the name He has given us, because of which we suffer. Another point of interest is that judgement is first brought on the followers of God. We are judged by our love and obedience to Jesus before anyone else. It mirrors the operation of the church, being responsible for judging and remove those who are members, but not those outside of it who do not know God. However, Peter points out that in this judgement by God, judgement will come to the unbeliever. After all, that is God’s responsibility and not ours. Those who do not obey the gospel will find judgment, and since the righteous are saved with difficulty, what will happen to the unsaved sinner? Believers are called to entrust themselves to God and endure suffering.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 We are called to live out God’s desires and not to live wildly, get drunk, fulfill evil desires, cause damage and mayhem, or to participate in the unrestrained sexual experiences outside of marriage.

2 We are also called to be disciplined in prayer! Take time daily to talk to God in prayer. Lay your burdens on Him and tell Him your requests.

3 He also calls us to love each other, which means forgiving. Do not live in anger.

4 We are also called to be hospitable to each other without complaining. Invite a believer over and have fellowship.

5 Use your gift for God. Think through the talents and skills you have been blessed with and ask if they can be used at your local church, the answer is likely yes.

6 Depend on God, remembering His is the strength behind all we do, and as such praise and glorify Him for all of it.

7 When we suffer we are to rejoice, knowing God uses it to build our faith in Him.

8 Do not be ashamed of bearing God’s name, and be careful to obey the gospel.

Easter

Easter is without a doubt the most important event in all of Christianity. There are many reasons why, but it is best summarized as this. Easter is the main focus of the Biblical narrative and the climactic point to which everything builds and flows out of. What is that in English? Simply put, the Bible not only gives commands and directions, but tells a true story. The most important story ever recorded, man’s salvation. Have you ever stopped stopped think about the Bible as one continuing narrative? From Genesis to Revelations the Bible tells us about God and man’s relationship.

In Genesis we see the events of creation and the relationship that first existed between God and mankind, that they literally walk with God. We also see mankind’s choice to rebel against God. This action broke the relationship between God and mankind. However, even in the midst of such failure God offers hope. God tells them that one will be born from the like of Adam and Eve who would bring restoration. From there on we see examples of broken relationship with God, but we also see God reach out to fix the brokenness. God chooses Abraham from all the people in the world and promises to make him a nation. This nation only comes about from God’s intervention and through it God builds His nation. God sets them free of those around them and bring them to the land He promised. God gives them His law and the Passover, symbols of what is to come. He uses priests, prophets and judges to instruct the people and teach them about Himself. He also continues to tell the people of Messiah who will come to fix man’s relationship with God. Israel sins and draws far from God and finally He disciplines them, but still preserves a remnant. God brings them back to their land and is faithful to help them. Still they wait for the Messiah, who they think will bring His kingdom to Earth through military force, destroying all their enemies. However, God is focused on the Spiritual victory that they truly need, while as always, they only see the physical.

Finally, after thousands of years the Messiah comes. Jesus is born and fulfills every prophecy given by the prophets. He dies, taking all sin on Himself, and rises victorious over death. The whole Old Testament points forward to this. As Jesus said it testified to His coming. However, the story does not end there. Because of prophecy being fulfilled and the good news of a restored relationship with God, the disciples and early believers are mobilized by the Holy Spirit to bring the good news to all people. They suffer, preach, and most are killed for their faith. This too is rooted in Jesus. Everything they do and accomplish is because of His death and resurrection. The Bible as a whole is about this. The Old Testament looks forward to His coming and the New Testament reacts to the good news and the commands He gives. The Bible is the story of man’s relationship with God, how it was broken, and how God fixed it. Without Jesus, none of the Bible would matter as we would still be separated from God and without hope of restoration.

Easter is the time of year we remember the truth of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. We remember the astounding cost Jesus paid, and we must be thankful for the restoration with God. We were once separated from Him, but now we can call Him father. Do not just pass this day by, and do not read the Bible as just a collection of stories. Every passage, every book, every word points to Jesus and the restoration of man to God. Let this truth be part of your life every day, and never take the good news for granted. Have a happy Easter because He has risen.

1 Peter Chapter 3

Welcome back to 1 Peter, we will be picking up at chapter 3. Sorry for the delay, but I dropped my computer and cracked the screen so I had to wait for a new one to come so I could fix it. Anyway, think back with me to the end of chapter 2. Peter talks about how we have been called to suffer with Christ, how died to save us and how we have come under His authority, as he says returning to the shepherd. Chapter 3 picks up right here. Remember, these letters did not originally have chapters and verses, but were one continuous dialogue. Each chapter informs the next and every verse must be examined in light of the whole. Peter moves from submission to the shepherd (God) to submission in marriage. Let’s dig in and see what God’s word has to say.

1 In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live 2 when they observe your pure, reverent lives. 3 Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. 5 For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming. 7 Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

It is extremely important to note that Peter calls for all believers to be submitted to God before he talks about wives and husbands. This is not the kind of submission most people picture. When most women hear this phrasing, they see an overbearing husband that merely silences his wife with no regard for her. This is not the case. Peter first clarifies all believers must be submitted to God, which means all husbands must submit to God. If they do this they will not lord their authority over their wives, but as Paul says they will seek out her good (Ephesians 5:28-30). However, Peter is addressing another situation here. The idea is that women who were already married had turned to Jesus and had been saved, but their husbands had not. Peter calls on these women to submit to them, that by doing so they will be a constant witness to their husbands that may bring them to Jesus. There is a lot of debate that can come up from this passage, but I am not going to address all of it. I just want to point out what Peter is saying. Christians are called to join in suffering with Jesus. The kind of abuse, neglect and loneliness suffered by Him is incomparable. Jesus calls us to live sacrificially. Therefore, those that are married to an unbeliever are called to endure their ungodly and selfish leadership as a testimony of what God has done. Does this mean God commands that you must stay with an abusive husband? I do not believe so, but it gives you a guideline. Endure what you can in the hopes of leading your husband to the Lord, but on the same token Jesus never commands believers to stay in an abusive relationship. He told His disciples to leave towns that would not welcome them. Regardless of what you do and what happens, we are called to live a life worthy of the gospel as a witness to those that harm us or seek to destroy us. Is this easy? No, it is very hard, especially for us who have not endured persecution. Thankfully our strength does not come from us, but from God and He strengthens us to stand for His name.

Peter gives an example of submission in the form of Sarah. Now Sarah did submit to her husband, but Abraham did not lord it over her. He took care of her and listen to her. Submission of a wife is not permission for husbands to abuse them. It is the exact opposite. Peter tells husbands that if they are not treating their wives well it will hinder their prayers. Paul tells us we are called to love our wives as Jesus loved the church, willing to die for them. That is the kind of love and caring God expects of godly husbands.

8 Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. 10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and he must turn away from evil and do what is good. He must seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.

Peter then jumps into this next section, giving several instructions to the believers as to how they are to act. Peter calls for unity in the body, that they will be on the same page, be sympathetic of others, that they must love other believers, and that they are to be compassionate and humble. Humility is putting others first which includes not repaying wrongs, but loving and forgiving people who have wronged us. We are called not to lie or be deceitful. We are called to turn from evil and practice good. We are called to seek peace, because God is watching us. If we seek God’s will and do what He asks we can be confident that He is open to our prayers, but if we live in sin or wrong then God will be set against us.

13 And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will 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 for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.

Peter makes another point here saying, ‘who will try to hurt you if you are trying to do good for all?’ People we bless and care for are not likely going to attack us, but even if they do Peter points out that if we suffer for doing what is righteous then we are blessed. We are to suffer for doing good, but it is no benefit to us if we suffer because of our own sin. We are not to be afraid, but instead focus on pleasing God and being able to explain to people why we trust in God. We are not called to abrasively yell the truth at people, but to do so with gentleness. We are to do this remembering that Jesus suffered for us to make us alive through the Spirit.

19 In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison 20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 22 Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

Now this part is confusing and has met with much debate. Peter tells us that Jesus preached to the dead who were disobedient. Some take this to mean Jesus was preaching to give them a second, but this is not supported by the rest of Scripture. Others take it to mean that He descended to the land of the dead (or hell) to proclaim His victory over death, redemption for those who believed in Him, and to confirm that the sentence past on them was just because of His victory. There is endless debate over this point, but frankly it does not dramatically affect us here and now. Some take it to mean they too will get a second chance when they die, but if you do not want Jesus now, you will not want Him then. This live is where we set our course, if we reject Jesus here, we will always reject Him.

Peter then draws a connection between Noah and baptism. The water cleansed the people and saved them. However, Peter is quick to point out that the act of being submersed in what is not what saves us, but our devotion to Jesus. It is a symbol, an outward show of an inward condition. This is accomplished by Jesus’ resurrection. He now sits in heaven and everything is subject to Him.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 Wives with unbelieving husbands are called to submit to them as a witness of what Jesus has done in their lives. As long as your husband is not endangering your life or your children’s lives then you should stay with them, trying to bring them to Jesus through your actions.

2 We must love fellow believers, seeking to do good and be at peace. If we do so God will be open to our prayers, but if not He will be set against us.

3 Do not lie and do not be deceitful. Be honest and trustworthy in all you do so that people will see Christ in you.

4 Be prepared to tell people why you have faith and hope in Jesus, giving them the reason for your faith.

5 Enduring suffering as a testimony to unbelievers.

6 Be baptized, but remember it is not baptism that saves, but faith and devotion to God. It is way to express who we have become on the inside to the whole world.