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Be Holy Yourselves - Commentary on 1 Peter

"Be Holy Yourselves" - Commentary on 1 Peter

Abiding Bible Companion - Vol. 3 - eBook

This Epistle, as all of Scripture, had an uplifting and important message for early Christians. They needed this letter to help them through their crises of faith, to inform them of what the apostles and others united to them in faith taught and preached. First Peter fulfills the same function for us. It tells us how to be Christian, how to live and how to face the crises of our generation.

 

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Let's look at a few of the themes in First Peter

 

This Epistle, as all of Scripture, had an uplifting and important message for early Christians. They needed this letter to help them through their crises of faith, to inform them of what the apostles and others united to them in faith taught and preached. First Peter fulfills the same function for us. It tells us how to be Christian, how to live and how to face the crises of our generation.

The Person of Jesus

First Peter, rooted in Peters personal encounter with Jesus, has much to tell us about who Jesus is for all Christians. The Gospels tell us about the earthly ministry of Jesus. The rest of the New Testament adds to this knowledge of Jesus. First Peter deepens our awareness of who Jesus is for us.

 

He is the model for every Christian to follow and emulate. He suffered and we will suffer. He was glorified and we will be glorified. He faced many trials and we will face many trials. Jesus is our model, where He walked we must follow. He is our risen Lord. He will give us an imperishable inheritance.

 

Wherever you are in your spiritual journey today, you are chosen and destined by God to be a person leaning on Jesus, united to Him. You cannot fail if you rest on Him. Are you resting on Him today or have you fallen to the ground? Fear not. Jesus will lift you up again if you seek Him with all your heart.

 

Lord Jesus, teach me more of who You are everyday.
You have chosen me. I have a wonderful destiny to know
You and to make You known everywhere. I am one of Your
people. Lift me up. Let me rest firmly on You. Amen.

Baptism

The recipients of First Peter have been born anew (1 Peter 1:3) in baptism. They are like newborn babes. Scholars suspect that these early Christians were newly baptized and hungry for spiritual nourishment. Baptism for them was not an act beginning and ending in submersion in water. Baptism was an ongoing process. It began with instruction, and then submersion in the cleansing, healing, changing waters of their baptismal day. But for Peter, and for us, baptism is still affecting us even years later.

 

Baptism now saves you. (1 Peter 3:21). Do you think of your baptism as a process strengthening and affecting you in the past and even today? Are you hungry for pure spiritual milk or do you hungry to be fed by your culture, your own will, or the desires of others? Baptism has brought us to new life. It strengthens us for today. It empowers us to live in union and obedience to Jesus Christ.

Trials and Sufferings

These early Christians baptized into the life of Jesus are also baptized into His suffering. The Epistle speaks of various trials(1 Peter 1:6). and the fiery ordeal suffered by the recipients of First Peter (1 Peter 4:12). Suffering is part of the Christians life.

 

Jesus suffered. These early Christians suffered, and so do we. We are not alone in our sufferings. Jesus has endured all that we endure. More than that, our sufferings have value. They reflect the power and glory of God working in and through our trials to save us. Our sufferings benefit others who are drawn to God by the faith they see us live in our sufferings.

 

Suffering is unique to each individual, it is never in vain. It is part of the weaving of the fabrics of our lives. In suffering we turn to God and God answers us. When we suffer, aware of our union with Jesus suffering we can bring others, non-believers, to Jesus. When you suffer glorify God. First Peter has much to teach us about suffering!

Christian Conduct

Along with developing an extensive theology of baptism and suffering, First Peter gives readers many directions on how to live and act in a secular or pagan environment. The readers of First Peter were Christians living as a minority religion in the pagan Roman Empire. The Christian faith had at first been tolerated, but now, Christians were being persecuted. Their pagan neighbors scorned their values. Their morals and ethics brought down ridicule and suffering on their heads.

Name some attitude or activity that you consider pagan today.

 

Several Epistles, including First Peter, give Household Codes of Christian Conduct (1 Peter 2:13; 3:9; Ephesians 5:21-6:9; Colossians 3:18-4:1). These codes are still valid in part today. They tell specific groups (e.g. citizens, wives, husbands, slaves) how to act in conjunction with their faith. Although some of their sayings are outdated, others are relevant today.

 

This Epistle forcefully and frequently reminds us that Christians act differently from non-believers. Their moral lives are grounded in the example, life and sufferings of Jesus Christ. Pagans and secular society scorn Christian values. This was true in Peters day and it is true in our day.

 

We cannot accept the values of our pagan, secular culture anymore than Peters readers could. This Epistle condemns those who practice malice, insincerity, envy and slander. It condemns excessive drinking, returning evil for evil, and giving into unbridled passions. These were acceptable as pagan behaviors.

Christians cannot condone them. We are different. First Peter reminds us that we accept a Christ-like way of acting along with our acceptance of Christian dogmas and doctrines. What we believe is lived out in our actions.

The Bond between Jewish and Christian Scriptures

Peter was a Jew who became a follower of Jesus Christ. He knew the Hebrew Scriptures from his childhood and he remembered their inspired word. Time and again Peter quotes the words of the Jewish Scriptures and shows his readers that these writings are to inspire and instruct them as well.

 

There is a unity between the words and message of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures because the same God inspired them. Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures and quoted them frequently. Peter did, too. Gods words are true from generation to generation. What Jews are to know about God is what Christians are to know. How Jews are to act morally is how Christians are to act morally.

 

It is interesting to note that Peter and Jesus knew the Hebrew translation of the Jewish Scriptures. Yet the quotes in First Peter are taken from the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures. Silvanus, a pagan, non-Jewish convert, may not have been able to read Hebrew so he took Peters quotes and looked them up in the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

God inspired authors to write the Scriptures in Hebrew and in Greek, aware of the different backgrounds and needs of different readers. Be aware of the different English translations of the Bible and how each one is an attempt to translate the majesty and power of the living word of God for us today.

 

What translation of the Bible are you reading? Have you ever read a different one?

 

Exiles from Rome settled in the outer reaches of the Empire. We know that First Peter was written to pagan converts, not Jewish converts to Christianity because it talks about the passions of your former ignorance. Pagans preached and practiced Live for today, you may die tomorrow and Pleasure first. Neither Peter nor Silvanus considered the Jews as living in ignorance. They did see the pagans that way.

 

When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A. D., Jews and Christians had to flee. They knew that passions were a part of life and had to be directed to Gods good, not human selfishness or excess. Pagans did not know this and orgies and drunkenness were frequent occurrences in the pagan empire.

Silvanus, a pagan convert, had a background similar to the readers. They shared a common heritage. Silvanus knew how he had lived and what changes Christianity had made in his life. Peter, also, knew these pagan converts and loved them. He wanted to encourage them to keep the faith in their time of exile and persecution.

 

We, too, live in an environment that is sometimes hostile to our faith. Unbridled passions of anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust and selfishness threaten us as much as the dangers of their pagan culture threatened these early Christians.

This Epistle gave these early converts encouragement and the ways to fight evil.


It gives us answers on how to live and act too. Pagan cultures surround us, but they do not need to overwhelm us.