In this epistle Peter provides a lot of good advice for the Church as to how it can grow in Christ and maintain good relations within itself.
Notes on the First Book of Peter
- "Though you have not seen [Christ], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:8-9 English Standard Version)
- "[P]reparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct..." (1 Peter 1:13-15 ESV).
- "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart..." (1 Peter 1:22 ESV)
- We should desire the spiritual milk of the Lord that is pure and undefiled so that we may grow in Christ and into our salvation. (1 Peter 2:2). I think Peter is not saying that we are not already saved once we believe but that we must "grow" into our salvation by pure spiritual practices so as to receive the fullness of it (i.e. to be sanctified).
- We are the spiritual houses of the Lord, a holy priesthood that will offer spiritual sacrifices in Jesus Christ to the Father. (1 Peter 2:4-5). It is important to remember that the Lord was a living stone that was rejected by men and we are building on that cornerstone, so we too should expect to face rejection in our lives.
- "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. 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." (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV). Our identity is now in Christ and this is our primary identity which transcends sex, race, class, etc., we are holy as the Lord is holy and function as priests, forgiving the sins of others and offerings prayers on their behalf.
- We must abstain from passions and conduct ourselves uprightly in the world for the sake of our reputation and that of Christ. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
- We should be subject to authorities and honor all people. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
- We should bear with unjust supervisors and employers, for this is gracious to do. (1 Peter 2:19-21)
- "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV). God is the judge and he will protect his flock.
- Wives should be submissive to their husbands and modest in appearance, and husbands should honor their wives as weaker vessels in an understanding way, lest their prayers be hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-7). Peaceful domestic relations are important not just for their own sake but for the benefit of one's prayer life.
- "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9 ESV)
- Peter on doing good: "Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." (1 Peter 3:13-16 ESV). We should be bold in Christ and in proclaiming the gospel but always respectful. I do not support those who shout or harass people with the gospel or try to get in their face and I believe this advice from Peter supports this.
- "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, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water." (1 Peter 3:18-20 ESV). This Wikipedia article has more on the "spirits in prison."
- Baptism is not about washing away dirt but about asking the Lord to put a new heart and conscience in us that we may sin no more. (1 Peter 3:21). For more discussion on this see these commentaries.
- "Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God." (1 Peter 4:1-2 ESV). I think this promotes the value (although not necessity) of asceticisms, in particular fasting. If we endure suffering and denial of our fleshly wants this will help us to resist temptation and yield to sin.
- We should not be surprised if we are criticized by nonbelievers for not indulging in sinful activities but all will have to give an account to God so let us not yield to peer pressure. (1 Peter 4:4-5)
- "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace..." (1 Peter 4:7-10 ESV). What we have received from the Lord we should use to help our brothers and sisters and further the Gospel.
- "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV).
- "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler." (1 Peter 4:14-15 ESV) As Christians we must mind our reputations and know that we are blessed in our enduring of persecutions and revilings.
- "[L]et those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." (1 Peter 4:19 ESV)
- Elders should willingly oversee the Church without any motive for self-gain and the younger should submit to the elders. (1 Peter 5:1-5)
- "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV).
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