1 Peter Archives

1 Peter 1

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 Peter 1:1-2


1:1    This letter is addressed to God's elect, strangers in the world, or to the Jewish Christians scattered throughout the world as a result of persecution against believers in and around Jerusalem.  The first believers and leaders of the early church were Jews.  When they became Christians, they didn't give up their Jewish heritage, just as you didn't give up your nationality when you became a follower of Christ.  Because of persecution, these believers had been scattered throughout the Roman world (this scattering is described in Acts 8:1-4).  Persecution didn't stop the spread of the gospel; instead, persecution served as a way to introduce the Good News to the whole empire.  Thus the churches to whom Peter wrote also included Gentile Christians.

1:2   Peter encouraged his readers by this strong declaration that they were chosen by God the Father.  At one time, only the nation of Israel could claim to be God's chosen people; but through Christ, all believers--Jews and Gentiles--belong to God.  Our salvation and security rest in the free and merciful choice of almighty God; no trials or persecutions can take away the eternal life he gives to those who believe in him.  This verse mentions all three members of the Trinity--God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.  All members of the Trinity work to bring about our salvation.  The Father chose us before we chose him (Ephesians 1:4).  Jesus Christ the Son died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:6-10).  The Holy Spirit brings us the benefits of salvation and sets us apart (sanctifies us) for God's service (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Praise to God for a Living Hope

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

1 Peter 1:3-6


1:3   The term new birth refers to spiritual birth (regeneration)--the Holy Spirit's act of bringing believers into God's family.  Jesus used this concept of new birth when he explained salvation to Nicodemus (see John 3).

1:3-6   Do you need encouragement?  Peter's words offer joy and hope in times of trouble, and he bases his confidence on what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.  We're called into a living hope of eternal life.  Our hope is not only for the future; eternal life begins when we trust Christ and join God's family.  No matter what pain or trial we face in this life, we know that it is not our final experience.  Eventually we will live with Christ forever.

1:4   The Jews had looked forward to an inheritance in the promised land of Canaan (Numbers 32:19; Deuteronomy 2:12; 19:9).  Christians now look forward to a family inheritance in the eternal city of God.  God has reserved the inheritance; it will never fade or decay; it will be unstained by sin.  The best part is that you have an inheritance if you have trusted Christ as your Savior.

1:5   God will help us remain true to our faith through whatever difficult times we must face.  The last time is the judgment day of Christ described in Romans 14:10 and Revelation 20:11-15.  We may have to endure trials, persecution, or violent death, but our souls cannot be harmed if we have accepted Christ's gift of salvation.  We know we will receive the promised rewards.

1:6   Why were Christians the target of persecution?  (1) They refused to worship the emperor as a god and thus were viewed as atheists and traitors.  (2) They refused to worship at pagan temples, so business for these moneymaking enterprises dropped wherever Christianity took hold.   (3)  They didn't support the Roman ideals of self, power, and conquest; and the Romans scorned the Christian ideal of self-sacrificing service.  (4) They exposed and rejected the horrible immorality of pagan culture.

7These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

1 Peter 1:7-12


1:7   Peter mentions suffering several times in this letter: 1:6, 7;  3:13-17;  4:12-19; 5:9.  When he speaks of trials he is not talking about natural disasters or the experience of God's punishments, but the response of an unbelieving world to people of faith.  All believers face such trials when they let their light shine into the darkness.  We must accept trials as part of the refining process that burns away impurities and prepares us to meet Christ.  Trials teach us patience (Romans 5:3, 4; James 1:2, 3) and help us grow to be the kind of people God wants.  As gold is heated, impurities float to the top and can be skimmed off.  Steel is tempered or strengthened by heating it in fire.  Likewise, our trials, struggles, and persecutions refine and strengthen our faith, making us useful to God.

1:10-12   Although the plan of salvation was a mystery to the Old Testament prophets, they still suffered persecution, and some even died for God.  In contrast, some Jewish Christians who read Peter's letter had seen Jesus for themselves and knew why he came.  They based their assurance on Jesus' death and resurrection.  With their firsthand knowledge and personal experience of Jesus, their faith could be even stronger than that of the Old Testament prophets.

1:11   The Spirit of Christ is another name for the Holy Spirit.  Before Jesus left his ministry on earth to return to heaven, he promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, to teach, help, and guide his followers (John 14:15-17, 26;  16:7).  The Holy spirit would tell them all about Jesus and would reveal his glory (John 15:26; 16:14).  The Old Testament prophets, writing under the Holy Spirit's inspiration (2 Peter 1:20, 21), described the coming of the Messiah.  The New Testament apostles, through the inspiration of the same Spirit, preached the crucified and risen Lord.

Be Holy

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
17Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

1 Peter 1:13-17


1:13    The imminent return of Christ should motivate us to live for him.  This means being mentally alert (prepare your minds for action), disciplined (self-controlled), and focused (set your hope fully).  Are you ready to meet Christ?

1:14-16   The God of Israel and of the Christian church is holy--he sets the standards for morality.  Unlike the Roman gods, he is not warlike, adulterous, or spiteful.  Unlike the gods of the pagan cults popular in the first century, he is not bloodthirsty of promiscuous.  He is a God of mercy and justice who cares personally for each of his followers.  Our holy God expects us to imitate him by following his high moral standards.  Like him, we should be both merciful and just; like him, we should sacrifice ourselves for others.

1:15, 16   After people commit their lives to Christ, they usually still feel a pull back to their old ways.  Peter tells us to be like our heavenly Father--holy in everything we do.  Holiness means being totally devoted or dedicated to God, set aside for his special use and set apart from sin and its influence.  We're to be set apart and different, not blending in with the crowd, yet not being different just for the sake of being different.  What makes us different are God's qualities in our lives.  Our focus and priorities must be his.  All this is in direct contrast to our old ways (1:14).  We cannot become holy on our own, but God gives us his Holy Spirit to help us obey and to give us power to overcome sin.  Don't use the excuse that you can't help slipping into sin.  Call on God's power to free you from sin's grip.

1:17   Reverent fear is not the fear of a slave for a ruthless master, but the healthy respect of a believer for the all-powerful God.  Because God is the Judge of all the earth, we dare not ignore him or treat him casually.  We should not assume that our privileged status as God's children gives us freedom to do whatever we want.  We should not be spoiled children, but grateful children who love to show respect for our heavenly Father.

18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For,
   "All men are like grass,
       and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
   the grass withers and the flowers fall,
        25but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:18-25


1:18, 19   A slave was redeemed when someone paid money to buy his of her freedom.  God redeemed us from the tyranny of sin, not with money, but with the precious blood of his own Son (Romans 6:6,7; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Colossians2:13,14; Hebrews 9:12).  We cannot escape from sin on our own; only the life of God's Son can free us.

1:20   Christ's sacrifice for our sins was not an afterthought, not something God decided to do when the world spun out of control.  This plan was set in motion by the all-knowing, eternal God long before the world was created.  What a comfort it must have been to Jewish believers to know that Christ's coming and his work of salvation were planned by God long before the world began.  This assured them that the law was not being scrapped because it didn't work, but that both the law and the coming of Christ were part of God's plan.

1:22   Sincere love involves selfless giving; a self-centered person can't truly love.  God's love and forgiveness free you to take your eyes off of yourselves and to meet others' needs.  By sacrificing his life,  Christ showed that he truly loves you.  Now you can love others by following his example and giving of yourself sacrificially.

1:24, 25   Quoting Isaiah 40:6-8, Peter reminds believers that everything in this life--possessions, accomplishments, people--will eventually fade away and disappear.  Only God's will, word, and work are permanent.  We must stop grasping the temporary, and begin focusing our time, money, and energy on the permanent--the word of God and our eternal life in Christ.

1 Peter 2

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-- 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
   "See, I lay a stone in Zion,
       a chosen and precious cornerstone,
   and the one who trusts in him
       will never be put to shame." 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
   "The stone the builders rejected
       has become the capstone," 8and,
   "A stone that causes men to stumble
       and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for.

1 Peter 2:1-8


2:2, 3   One characteristic all children share is that they want to grow up--to be like big brother of sister or like their parents.  When we are born again, we become spiritual newborn babies.  If we are healthy, we will yearn to grow.  How sad it is that some people never grow up.  The need for milk is a natural instinct for a baby and it signals the desire for nourishment that will lead to growth.  Once we see our need for God's Word and begin to nourishment in Christ, our spiritual appetite will increase, and we will start to mature.  How strong is your desire for God's Word?

2:4-8   In describing the church as God's spiritual house, Peter drew on several Old Testament texts familiar to his Jewish Christian readers: Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16.  Peter's readers would have understood the living stones to be Israel; then Peter applied the image of stone to Christ.  Once again Peter showed that the church does not cancel the Jewish heritage, but fulfills it.   Peter portrays the church as a living, spiritual house, with Christ as the foundation and cornerstone and each believer as a stone.  Paul portrays the church as a body, with Christ as the head and each believer as a member (see for example Ephesians 4:15, 16).  Both pictures emphasize community.  One stone is not a temple or even a wall; one body part is useless without the others.  In our individualistic society, it is easy to forget our interdependence with other Christians.  When God calls you to a task, remember that he is also calling others to work with you.  Together your individual efforts will be multiplied.  Look for those people and join with them to build a beautiful house for God.

2:6   Christians will sometimes be put to shame or face disappointment in this life, but their trust in God is never misplaced.  God will not let them down.  We can safely put our confidence in him because the eternal life he promises is certain.

2:6-8   No doubt Peter often thought of Jesus' words to him right after he confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:16-18).  What is the stone that really counts in the building of the church?  Peter answers: Christ himself.  What are the characteristics of Christ, the cornerstone?  (1) He is completely trustworthy; (2)  he is precious to believers; (3)  and, though rejected by some, he is the most important part of the church.

2:8   Jesus Christ is called the stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.  Some will stumble over Christ because they reject him or refuse to believe that he is who he says he is.  But Psalm 118:22 says that the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, the most important part of God's building, the church.  In the same way today, people who refuse to believe in Christ have made the greatest mistake in their lives.  They have stumbled over the one person who could save them and give meaning to their lives, and they have fallen into God's hands for judgment.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 2:9-12


2:9   Christians sometimes speak of the priesthood of all believers.  In Old Testament times, people did not approach God directly.  A priest acted as intermediary between God and sinful human beings.  With Christ's victory on the cross, that pattern changed.  Now we can come directly into God's presence without fear (Hebrews 4:16), and we are given the responsibility of bringing others to him also (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  When we are united with Christ as members of his body, we join in his priestly work of reconciling God and man.

2:9, 10   People often base their self-concept on their accomplishments.  But our relationship with Christ is far more important than our jobs, successes, wealth, or knowledge.  We have been chosen by God as his very own, and we have been called to represent him to others.  Remember that your value comes from being one of God's children, not from what you can achieve.  You have worth because of what God does, not because of what you do.

2:11   As believers, we are aliens and strangers in this world, because our real home is with God.  Heaven is not the pink-cloud-and-harp existence popular in cartoons.  Heaven is where God lives.  Life in heaven operates according to God's principles and values, and it is eternal and unshakable.  Heaven came to earth in the symbolism of the Jewish sanctuary (the tabernacle and temple) where God's presence dwelt.  It came in a fuller way in the person of Jesus Christ, God with us.  It permeated the entire world as the Holy Spirit came to live in every believer.  Someday, after God judges and destroys all sin, the kingdom of heaven will rule every corner of this earth.  John saw this day in a vision, and he cried out, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God (Revelation 21:3).  Our true loyalty should be to our citizenship in heaven, not to our citizenship here, because the earth will be destroyed.  Our loyalty should be to God's truth, his way of life, and his dedicated people.  Because we are loyal to God, we often will feel like strangers in a world that would prefer to ignore God.

2:12   Peter's advice sounds like Jesus' in Matthew 5:16:  If your actions are above reproach, even hostile people will end up praising God.  Peter's readers were scattered among unbelieving Gentiles who were inclined to believe and spread vicious lies about Christians.  Attractive, gracious, and upright behavior on the part of Christians could show these rumors to be false and could even win some of the unsaved critics to the Lord's side.  Don't write off people because they misunderstand Christianity, instead, show them Christ by your life.  The day may come when those who criticize you will praise God with you.

Submission to Rulers and Masters

13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
18Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
    22"He committed no sin,
       and no deceit was found in his mouth." 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:13-25


2:13-17   When Peter told his readers to submit to the civil authorities, he was speaking of the Roman empire under Nero, a notoriously cruel tyrant.  Obviously he was not telling believers to compromise their consciences; as Peter had told the high priest years before, We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).  But in most aspects of daily life, it was possible and desirable for Christians to live according to the law of their land.  Today, some Christians live in freedom while others live under repressive governments.  All are commanded to cooperate with the rulers as far as conscience will allow.  We are to do this for the Lord's sake--so that his Good News and his people will be respected.  If we are to be persecuted, it should be for obeying God, and not for breaking moral or civil laws.

2:16   We are free from keeping the law as a way to salvation.  However we are still to obey, out of gratitude for our free salvation, the teachings of the Ten Commandments, for they are an expression of God's will for us.

2:18-21   Many Christians were household slaves.  It would be easy for them to submit to masters who were gentle and kind.  But Peter encouraged loyalty and perseverance even in the face of unjust treatment.  In the same way, we should submit to our employers, whether they are considerate of harsh.  By so doing, we may win them to Christ by our good example.  Paul gave similar advice in his letters (see Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25), as did Jesus (Matthew 5:46; Luke 6:32-36).

2:21, 22   We may suffer for many reasons.  Some suffering is the direct result of our own sin; some happens because of our foolishness; and some is the result of living in a fallen world.  Peter is writing about suffering that comes as a result of doing good.  Christ never sinned, and yet he suffered so that we could be set free.  When we follow Christ's example and live for others, we too may suffer.  Our goal should be to face suffering as he did--with patience, calmness, and confidence that God is in control of the future.

2:21-25   Peter had learned about suffering from Jesus.  He knew that Jesus' suffering was part of God's plan (Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47) and was intended to save us (Matthew 20:28; 26:28).  He also knew that all who follow Jesus must be prepared to suffer (Mark 8:34, 35).  Peter learned these truths from Jesus and passed them on to us.

2:24   Christ died for our sins, in our place, so we would not have to suffer the punishment we deserve.  This is called substitutionary atonement.

1 Peter 3

Wives and Husbands

1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

1 Peter 3:1-7


3:1......   When a man became a Christian, he usually would bring his whole family into the church with him (see for example the story of the conversion of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:29-33).  By contrast, a woman who became a Christian usually came into the church alone.  Under Roman law, the husband and father had absolute authority over all members of his household, including his wife.  Demanding her rights as a free woman in Christ could endanger her marriage if her husband disapproved.  Peter reassured Christian women who were married to unbelievers that they did not need to preach to their husbands.  Under the circumstances, their best approach would be one of loving service: they should show their husbands the kind of self-giving love that Christ showed the church.  By being exemplary wives, they would please their husbands.  At the very least, the men would then allow them to continue practicing their strange religion.  At best, their husbands would join them and become Christians too.

3:1-7   A changed life speaks loudly and clearly, and it is often the most effective way to influence a family member.  Peter instructs Christian wives to develop inner beauty rather than being overly concerned about their outward appearance.  Their husbands will be won over by their love rather than by their looks.  Live your Christian faith quietly and consistently in your home, and your family will see Christ in you.

3:3   We should not be obsessed by fashion, but neither should we be so unconcerned that we do not bother to care for ourselves.  Hygiene, neatness, and grooming are important, but even more important are a person's attitude and inner spirit.  True beauty begins inside.

3:5   To be submissive means to cooperate voluntarily with someone else out of love and respect for God and for that person.  Ideally, submission is mutual (Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ--Ephesians 5:21).  Even when it is one-sided, however, the expression of submission can be an effective Christian strategy.  Jesus Christ submitted to death so that we could be saved; we may sometimes have to submit to unpleasant circumstances so that others will see Christ in us.  (Christian submission never requires us to disobey God or to participate in what our conscience forbids).  One-sided submission requires tremendous strength.  We could not do it without the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

3:7   When Peter calls women the weaker partners, he does not imply moral or intellectual inferiority, but he is recognizing woman's physical limitations.  Women in his day, if unprotected by men, were vulnerable to attack, abuse, and financial disaster.  Women's lives may be easier today, but women are still vulnerable to criminal attack and family abuse.  And in spite of increased opportunity in the workplace, most women still earn less than most men, and the vast majority of the nations' poor are single mothers and their children.  A man who honors his wife as a member of the weaker sex will protect, respect, help, and stay with her.  He will not expect her to work full-time outside the home and full-time at home; he will lighten her load wherever he can.  He will be sensitive to her needs, and he will relate to her with courtesy, consideration, insight, and tact.

3:7   If a man is not considerate and respectful of his wife, his prayers will be hindered, because a living relationship with God depends on right relationships with others.  Jesus said that if you have a problem with a fellow believer, you must make it right with that person before coming to worship (Matthew 5:23, 24).  This principle carries over into family relationships.  If men use their position to mistreat their wives, their relationship with God will suffer.

Suffering for Doing Good

8Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For,
   "Whoever would love life
       and see good days
   must keep his tongue from evil
       and his lips from deceitful speech.
    11He must turn from evil and do good;
       he must seek peace and pursue it.
    12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
       and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
   but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?

1 Peter 3:8-13


3:8   Peter lists five key elements that should characterize any group of believers: (1) harmony--pursuing the same goals; (2) sympathy--being responsive to other's needs; (3) love--seeing and treating each other as brothers and sisters; (4) compassion--being affectionately sensitive and caring; and (5) humility--being willing to encourage one another and rejoice in each other's successes.  These five qualities go a long way toward helping believers serve God effectively.

3:8, 9   Peter developed the qualities of compassion and humility the hard way.  In his early days with Christ, these attitudes did not come naturally to his impulsive, strong-willed personality (see Mark 8:31-33; John 13:6-9 for examples of Peter's blustering).  But the Holy Spirit changed Peter, molding his strong personality to God's use, and teaching him tenderness and humility.

3:9   In our fallen world, it is often deemed acceptable by some to tear people down verbally or to get back at them if we feel hurt.  Peter, remembering Jesus' teaching to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), encourages his readers to pay back wrongs by praying for the offenders.  In God's kingdom, revenge is unacceptable behavior, as is insulting a person, no matter how indirectly it is done.  Rise above getting back at those who hurt you.  Instead of reacting angrily to these people, pray for them.

3:10  For Scripture on controlling your tongue, see James 3:2-18.

3:11  Too often we see peace as merely the absence of conflict, and we think of peacemaking as a passive role.  But an effective peacemaker actively pursues peace.  He or she builds good relationships, knowing that peace is a by-product of commitment.  The peacemaker anticipates problems and deals with them before they occur.  When conflicts arise, he or she brings them into the open and deals with them before they grow unmanageable.   Making peace can be harder work than waging war, but it results not in death but in life and happiness.

14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

1 Peter 3:14-22


3:14, 15   Rather than fear our enemies, we are to quietly trust in God as the Lord as all.  We must believe that Christ is truly in control of all events.  When he rules our thoughts and emotions, we cannot be shaken by anything our enemies may do. 

3:15   Some Christians believe that faith is a personal  matter that should be kept to oneself.  It is true that we shouldn't  be boisterous or obnoxious in sharing our faith, but we should always be ready to give an answer, gently and respectfully, when asked about our faith, our life-style, or our Christian perspective.  Can others see your hope in Christ?  Are you prepared to tell them what Christ has done in your life?

3:16   You may not be able to keep people from slandering you, but you can at least stop supplying them with ammunition.  As long as you do what is right, their accusations will be empty and will only embarrass them.  Keep your conduct above criticism!

3:18-20   The meaning of preaching to the spirits in prison is not completely clear, and commentators have explained it in different ways.  The traditional interpretation is that Christ, between his death and resurrection, announced salvation to God's faithful followers who had been waiting for their salvation during the whole Old Testament era.  Matthew records that when Jesus died, the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people (Matthew 27:52, 53).  A few commentators think that this passage says that Christ's Spirit was in Noah as Noah preached to those imprisoned by sin (but now in hell).  Still others hold that Christ went to Hades to proclaim his victory and final condemnation to the fallen angels imprisoned there since Noah's day.   In any case, the passage shows that Christ's Good News of salvation and victory is not limited.  It has been preached in the past as well as in the present; it has gone to the dead as well as to the living.  God has given everyone the opportunity to come to him, but this does not imply a second chance for those who reject Christ in this life.

3:21   Peter says that Noah's salvation through water symbolized baptism, a ceremony involving water.  In baptism we identify with Jesus Christ, who separates us from the lost and gives us a new life.  It is not  the ceremony that saves, but faith in Christ's death and resurrection.  Baptism is the symbol of the transformation that happens in the hearts of those who believe (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12).  By identifying themselves with Christ through baptism, Peter's readers could resist turning back, even under the pressure of persecution.  Public baptism would keep them from the temptation to renounce their faith.

1 Peter 4

Living for God

1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

1 Peter 4:1-6


4:1, 2  Some people will do anything to avoid pain.  As followers of Christ, however, we should be willing and prepared to do God's will and to suffer for it if necessary.  Sin loses its power to defeat us in our suffering if we focus on Christ and what he wants us to do.  When our bodies are in pain or our lives are in jeopardy, our real values show up clearly, and sinful pleasures seem less important.  If anyone suffers for doing good and still faithfully obeys in spite of suffering, that person has made a clean break with sin.

4:3, 4  A person whose life changes radically at conversion may experience contempt from his or her old friends.  He may be scorned not only because he refuses to participate in certain activities, but also because his priorities have changed and he is now heading in the opposite direction.  His very life incriminates their sinful activities.  Mature Christians should help new believers resist such pressures of opposition by encouraging them to be faithful to Christ.  Dissipation refers to wasteful expenditure and intemperate pursuit of pleasure, especially drinking to excess.

4:5   The basis of salvation is our belief in Jesus (Acts 16:31), but the basis for judgment is how we have lived.  Those who inflict persecution are marked for punishment when they stand before God.  Believers have nothing to fear, however, because Jesus will be the final judge over all (John 5:22; Timothy 4:1).

4:5, 6   Many people in the early church had concerns about life after death.  In Thessalonica, Christians worried that loved ones who died before Christ's return might never see Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Peter's readers needed to be reminded that the dead (both the faithful and the oppressors) would be judged.  The judgment will be perfectly fair, he pointed out, because even the dead have heard the gospel.  The Good News was first announced when Jesus Christ preached on the earth, but it  has been operating since before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and it affects all people, the dead as well as the living.

 7The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:7-11


4:7-9   We should live expectantly because Christ is coming.  Getting ready to meet Christ involves continually growing in love for God and for others (see Jesus' summary of the law in Matthew 22:37-40).  It is important to pray regularly, and it is also important to reach out to needy people.  Your possessions, status, and power will mean nothing in God's kingdom, but you will spend eternity with other people.  Invest your time and talents where they will make an eternal difference.

4:10, 11  Some people, well aware of their abilities, believe that they have the right to use their abilities as they please.  Others feel that they have no special talents at all.  Peter addresses both groups in these verses.  Everyone has some gifts; find yours and use them.  All our abilities should be used in serving others; none are for our own exclusive enjoyment.  Peter mentions speaking and serving.  Paul lists these and other abilities in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; Ephesians 4:11.

4:11  How is God praised when we use our abilities?  When we use them as he directs, to help others, they will see Jesus in us and praise him for the help they have received.  Peter may have been thinking of Jesus' words, Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Suffering for Being a Christian

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
   "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
       what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
19So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

1 Peter 4:12-19


4:14-16   Again Peter brings to mind Jesus' words,  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me (Matthew 5:11).  Christ will send his Spirit to strengthen those who are persecuted for their faith.  This does not mean that all suffering is the result of good Christian conduct.  Sometimes a person will grumble, He's just picking on me because I'm a Christian,  when it's obvious to everyone else that the person's own unpleasant behavior is the cause of his or her problems.  It may take careful thought or wise counsel to determine the real cause of our suffering.  We can be assured, however, that whenever we suffer because of our loyalty to Christ, he will be with us all the way.

4:16   It is not shameful to suffer for being a Christian.  When Peter and John were persecuted for preaching the Good News, they rejoiced because such persecution was a mark of God's approval of their work (Acts 5:41).  Don't seek out suffering, and don't try to avoid it.  Instead, keep on doing what is right regardless of the suffering it might bring.

4:17, 18   This refers not to final judgment but to God's refining discipline (Hebrews 12:7).  God often allows believers to sin and then experience the consequences.  He does this for several reasons: (1) to show us our potential for sinning, (2) to encourage us to turn from sin and more constantly depend on him, (3) to prepare us to face other, even stronger temptations in the future, and (4) to help us stay faithful and keep on trusting him.  If believers need earthly discipline (judgment) from God, how much more will unbelievers receive it?  If it is hard for the righteous to be saved (only because of God's mercy), what chance do those have who reject Christ?

4:19   God created the world, and he has faithfully ordered it and kept it since the creation.  Because we know that God is faithful, we can count on him to fulfill his promises to us.  If God can oversee the forces of nature, surely he can see us through the trials we face.

To Elders and Young Men

1To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
5Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
   "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

1 Peter 5:1-5


5:1    Elders were church officers providing supervision, protection, discipline, instruction, and direction for the other believers.  Elder simply means older.  Both Greeks and Jews gave positions of great honor to wise older men, and the Christian church continued this pattern of leadership.  Elders carried great responsibility, and they were expected to be good examples.

5:1, 2    Peter, one of Jesus' 12 disciples, was one of the three who saw Christ's glory at the transfiguration (Mark 9:1-13; 2 Peter 1:16-18).  Often the spokesman for the apostles, Peter witnessed Jesus' death and resurrection, preached at Pentecost, and became a pillar of the Jerusalem church.  But writing to the elders, he identified himself as a fellow elder, not a superior.  He asked them to be shepherds of God's flock, exactly what Jesus had told him to do (John 21:15-17).  Peter was taking his own advice as he worked along with the other elders in caring for God's faithful people.  His identification with the elders is a powerful example of Christian leadership, where authority is based on service, not power (Mark 10:42-45).

5:2-5   Peter describes several characteristics of good leaders in the church: (1) they realize they are caring for God's flock, not their own; (2) they lead out of eagerness to serve, not out of obligation; (3) they are concerned for what they can give, not for what they can get; (4) they lead by example, not force.  All of us lead others in some way.  Whatever our role, our leadership should be in line with these characteristics.

5:4   The Chief Shepherd is Jesus Christ.  This refers to his second coming, when he will judge all people.

5:5    Both young and old can benefit from Peter's instructions.  Pride often keeps older people from trying to understand young people and keeps young people from listening to those who are older.  Peter told both young and old to be humble and to serve each other.  Young men should follow the leadership of older men, who should lead by example.  Respect those who are older than you, listen to those younger than you, and be humble enough to admit that you can learn from each other.

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:6-11


5:6   We often worry about our position and status, hoping to get proper recognition for what we do. But Peter advises us to remember that God's recognition counts more than human praise.  God is able and willing to bless us according to his timing.  Humbly obey God regardless of present circumstances, and in his good time--either in this life or in the next--he will lift you up.

5:7Carrying your worries, stresses, and daily struggles by yourself shows that you have not trusted God fully with your life.  It takes humility, however, to recognize that God cares, to admit your need, and to let others in God's family help you.  Sometimes we think that struggles caused by our own sin and foolishness are not God's concern.  But when we turn to God in repentance, he will bear the weight even of those struggles.  Letting God have your anxieties calls for action, not passivity.  Don't submit to circumstances, but to the Lord who controls circumstances.

5:8, 9   Lions attack sick, young, or straggling animals; they choose victims who are alone or not alert.  Peter warns us to watch out for Satan when we are suffering or being persecuted.  Feeling alone, weak, helpless, and cut off from other believers, so focused on our troubles that we forget to watch for danger, we are especially vulnerable to Satan's attacks.  During times of suffering, seek other Christians for support.  Keep your eyes on Christ and resist the devil.  Then, says James,  he will flee from you (James 4:7).

5:10   When we are suffering, we often feel as though our pain will never end.  Peter gave these faithful Christians the wider perspective.  In comparison with eternity, their suffering would last only a little while.  Some of Peter's readers would be strengthened and delivered in their own lifetimes.  Others would be released from their suffering through death.  All of God's faithful followers are assured of an eternal life with Christ where there will be no suffering (Revelation 21:4).

Final Greetings

12With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

1 Peter 5:12-14 


5:12   Silas was one of the men chosen to deliver the letter from the Jerusalem council to the church in Antioch (Acts 15:22).  He accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40--18:11), is mentioned by Paul in the salutation of Paul's letters to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), and ministered with Timothy in Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:19).

5:13   Babylon has been broadly understood by believers to be a reference to Rome.  Just as the nation of Israel had been under captivity to Babylon, so the Christians as the new Israel were exiles in a foreign land.  Mark, also called John Mark, was known to many of this letter's readers because he had traveled widely (Acts 12:25--13:13; 15:36-41) and was recognized as a leader in the church (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24).  Mark was probably with the disciples at the time of Jesus' arrest (Mark 14:51, 52).  Tradition holds that Peter was Mark's main source of information when Mark wrote his Gospel.

5:14   Peter wrote this letter just before the cruel Emperor Nero began persecuting Christians in Rome and throughout the empire.  Afraid for his life, Peter had three times denied even knowing Jesus (John 18:15-27).  But here, having learned how to stand firm in an evil world, he encouraged other Christians who were facing persecution for their faith.  Peter himself lived by the words he wrote, because he was martyred for his faith.  Those who stand for Christ will be persecuted because the world is ruled by Christ's greatest enemy.  But just as the small group of early believers stood against persecution, so we must be willing to stand for our faith with the patience, endurance, and courage that Peter exhibited.