From: Teaching Guide to 1 Peter Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2017
Teaching Guide to First Peter
UNDERSTANDING 1 PETER
THROUGH TEXT, ALTERNATE TRANSLATIONS,
PERSONAL QUESTIONS AND POINTS TO
Roland H. Worth, Jr.
Richmond, Virginia 23223
Copyright © 2017 by author
Reproduction of this book for non-profit circulation
by any electronic or print media means is hereby freely granted
at no cost—provided the text is not altered in any manner
and author credit is given.
If accompanied by additional, supplemental material
--in agreement or disagreement—
it must be clearly and visibly distinguishable
from the original text.
The following public domain translations have been utilized in this volume:
American Standard Version (ASV) (1901)
Young’s Literal Translation (1898)
Two primary translations are provided of the entire text (copyright holders reserve all rights to their text):
God’s Word: Copyight 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society.
New King James Version: © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Individual words and phrases are quoted as alternative translations from the following versions (all copyright holders reserve all rights thereto):
* Contemporary English Version: Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society.
* Holman Christian Standard Bible: Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers.
*International Standard Version: Copyright Davidson Press, 1998.
* New American Bible: Copyright © 1970, 1986, 1991, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC.
* New American Standard Bible: Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.
* New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee.
* New International Version: Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.
* New Living Translation: Copyright © 1996 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.
* New Revised Standard Version: copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
* Revised Standard Version: copyright © 1952, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
* Today’s English Version: Copyright © American Bible Society, 1966.
This “Teaching” Volume
This volume brings together in one place a variety of useful tools to save the Bible student invaluable time and research—time being one of the most precious commodities in our modern world. It makes no claim to provide all that would be useful to know but to provide a quality introduction to the study of the book--one that will lay the ground work for future study if one wishes to pursue its subject matter in more detail.
This is accomplished through the use of several tools:
1. A concise commentary that emphasizes the central thought flow of the argument within each verse and how the various verses are interconnected in the development of various themes. To get maximum benefit from this tool it is recommended that you read the text in your own preferred translation and then compare it with the commentary. Although virtually any verse can be examined in far greater detail, it was thought best to zero in on a single central concept so that the reader can most quickly find something of personal value or interest in the text.
2. This is followed by the passage in two important contemporary translations. For the two full text citations, we blend the powerful strengths of the God’s Word translation (with its excellent ability to portray the intent and point of the text) and that of the New King James Version (and its effective preservation of the “word for word” approach to translation in the more traditional style).
3. Within the NKJV text, there are abundant alternative renderings from a number of other translations as well. The usefulness of the alternate translations as a commentary can not be overlooked. We become so used to a given word or phrase being rendered in a certain manner, the very fact that it has been altered (even though the substance, content, and intent are clearly identical) that the change forces our minds to work out the implications of the term that we have easily overlooked through long acquaintance with the passage.
These alternative renditions run the gauntlet from very “literalistic” to border-line (or crossing the line into) outright paraphrase. They share in common, however, the ability to goad our thinking. Very often prior acquaintance with the text causes us to “slide over” implications that a different wording brings front and center. The alternatives, in some cases, also imply interpretive possibilities as to the point being made though it is not explicit in the more traditional wording.
When multiple alternatives are given for one word or phrase they are normally given in alphabetical order based upon the first word of the alternatives: one that begins with “in,” for example, will normally occur before one that begins with “on.” In certain cases, the “flow” of the alternatives from one to the other leads to this practice being modified for the reader’s convenience. With rare exceptions, each verse contains at least two alternative translations.
When the tense in the translation does not match that which fits well with the current context it is modified with parentheses: for example, “ransom” becomes “ransom(ed).” Sometimes the alternatives are so close that they constitute virtually the same wording. In most such cases, the ultra-close alternatives are simply omitted in order to conserve space and only one representative example provided. Only when the cited part is exactly the same—with the possible exception of tense--are multiple translations referred to as the source of a specific reading.
Only a few decades ago, terms like “man” and “brethren” did double duty as both male-specific and inclusive language, depending upon the given context. In regard to “man,” where the Greek text uses explicitly inclusive language, it is now customary to find virtually all translations taking care to utilize such wording themselves. Past generations had no problem understanding the previous usage and it really ought not to cause a problem today. But ideologues of a certain type rule the day and the greater specification certainly does no harm—except when it harms the readability of the text.
A real problem arises with “brethren,” however, which is “male” language in the Greek but also clearly intended to cover both genders as well. Some translations retain the traditional usage on grounds of strict loyalty to the original text. Others feel that the broader significance of the expression can be easily missed—though earlier generations seemed to have no difficulty with the matter--and therefore substitute terms like “brothers and sisters.”
These cases, with rare exceptions, have not been noted in the comparative translations because they are so common and the true meaning immediately obvious to the user of various versions of the Bible. (Now that Communism has generally fallen into the annals of past history, perhaps translators should adopt “comrade”—which also does double gender description duty—in its place?)
4. Next comes interpreted cross references on most verses. This is based on the old adage that “the Bible is its own best interpreter.” In order to provide helpfulness to the less advanced individual and to encourage the thought of those already well versed in the scriptures, an introductory remark ties-in the cross-reference(s) with some point involved in the current text. These texts always come from the NKJV.
5. The last section on each verse or set of verses consists of observations, “thinking points,” and questions. No matter the specific form they take, they are all designed as tools to assist in the gaining of an insight into the practical meaning or application of the text. For those who are studying on their own, this provides a jumping-off point for further personal consideration of the matter.
For those who are utilizing this material in connection with their own teaching, it provides a query or remark to begin class discussion. Many teachers find that once they start talking, the rest comes far easier. This section is designed to do just that: to get the discussion going and overcome that difficult initial barrier. In many cases, one or more of the possible answers are printed in bracketed italics afterwards.
By the use of these various tools an individual is able to “self-study” at one sitting as much (or little) of this particular New Testament volume as one wishes. Bible knowledge, in the final analysis, is gained not by how much one studies at a time, but that one persists in doing so in a methodical and beneficial manner. These “self-study” volumes are intended to give the reader exactly that opportunity.
2017 Introductory Note: My best guess is that the following manuscript was completed somewhere in the first decade of the current century. Originally intended for submission to a commercial publisher, it is clear that I never did so. Rather than let it “go to waste,” I decided it would be the easiest and most practical thing to share this in non-print form, with the hope that a number of others would find it useful for either personal study or as a “jumping off point” for their own teaching of the book. I have simply made cosmetic changes and rechecked for any missed errors.
Roland H. Worth, Jr.
Abbreviations for Translations Utilized in This Volume
GW = God’s Word
NKJV = New King James Version
ASV = American Standard Version
CEV = Contemporary English Version
Darby = Darby New Testament
Holman = Holman New Testament
ISV = International Standard Version
NAB = New American Bible (Revised New Testament),
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NCV = New Century Version
NIV = New International Version
NLT = New Living Translation
NRSV = New Revised Standard Version
Rotherham = Rotherham’s New Testament
RSV = Revised Standard Version
TEV = Today’s English Version
Weymouth = Weymouth’s New Testament
Young = Young’s Literal Translation
The selected translations come from varied spectrums of the religious landscape. From very conservative translations theologically (such as the NKJV and the NASB) to those self-described as mainstream by their advocates (such as the RSV and NRSV)--though considered liberal by their critics. (One of the oddities of modern scholarship is that the term “conservative” is gladly accepted but no one seems to want to be known as a “liberal.”) Because of the increasing interest in the study of the Biblical text among contemporary Roman Catholics and because of the great strides made in Catholic Biblical scholarship, we have also included one of the best representations of this tradition, the New American Bible.
Introduction to First Peter
The author represents himself as the apostle Peter (1:1), one of the inner circle of apostles and one of the most important figures in the early church (Matthews 16:18; Matthew 18:18). He provides no indication of the date he wrote or the place he wrote from. The fact that he feels no need to explain who he is or justify his writing to them argues that his inherent apostolic authority went unchallenged.
The epistle itself is not a “doctrinal” one. The author has no thesis he is out to prove or heretics to refute. Instead he emphasizes a few key themes related to the proper life-style of believers:
1. Christian living in general--the need for it and how this lifestyle is far superior to the dissolute and irresponsible one we had before conversion.
2. Christian living is called for even when one lacks the official power that comes with holding an authoritative “position”—for example, servants and wives can live a constructive and beneficial life in spite of their perceived lack of “status” in their society when compared with masters and husbands.
3. Christian living is necessary in spite of the underlying temper of the times that opposes Christianity in general and is not above mocking individual Christians in particular.
Commentary and Thought Flow
1:1 Since there were many people named “Peter” in that age (as today), the author specifies which one he is, by stressing that he is “an apostle”--that, in turn, carried with it his right to speak. Peter may be writing to the geographic areas he selected because he had done missionary work there (as Paul, in writing 1 Corinthians) or because he intended to be there in the future (as Paul, in writing Romans).
1:2 The fact that Christians were both “elect” and blessed by “sanctification,” did not remove their responsibility to be persistently obedient and receive the purifying “blood of Jesus Christ” through their faithful discipleship. First Peter is intended to remind them of what some of these obligations are.
GW: From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To God’s chosen people who are temporary residents [in the world] and are scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. --
NKJV: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
Alternative Readings: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims [aliens, NASB; exiles, RSV, NRSV; chosen pilgrims, Rotherham; sojourners, Young; chosen sojourners, NAB; elect, ASV; exiles, ISV; God’s people, CEV; refuges, TEV; strangers in the world, NIV; temporary residents, Holman] of the Dispersion in [scattered throughout, TEV] Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
Cross-references: In a manner parallel with the Jews, the Christians were scattered over many regions. A hope of the Jewish people, after every occasion when they were dispersed by war or other reason, was that they might yet return to their homeland in geographic Palestine. Isaiah 11:12 speaks of this dream, “He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
Thinking points and questions: The provinces mentioned by Peter are all located within the boundaries of modern-day Turkey. Even though Peter’s current ministry was nowhere near them, he still retained an interest in their spiritual welfare.
1. The fact that the same letter could be sent to a number of areas shows that the apostolic message was intended for . . . ? [One and all. Cf. Matthew 28:18-20]
2. When we read of “Galatia” what Bible book does that bring to mind? [Paul’s epistle to that region]
GW: God the Father knew you long ago and chose you to live holy lives with the Spirit’s help so that you are obedient to Jesus Christ and are sprinkled with his blood. May good will and peace fill your lives! --
NKJV: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
Alternative Readings: Elect [Chosen, RSV, NRSV], according to the foreknowledge [destined, RSV, NRSV; purpose, TEV] of God the Father, in sanctification of [by, NAB] the Spirit [sanctifying work of the Spirit, ISV, Weymouth; his Spirit has made you holy, CEV; set apart by the Spirit, Holman], for [with a view to, Weymouth] obedience and sprinkling of the blood [sprinkling by the blood, NIV] of Jesus Christ: Grace [God’s special favor, NLT] to you and peace be multiplied [in abundance, ISV, NAB, NIV, NRSV; in full measure, TEV; in the fullest measure, NASB].
Cross-references: Paul also refers to how God selected us not just to be His people, but to live moral and pure lives as well, “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). God “chooses” us to be saved, but like a birthday gift it is up to us to decide whether to accept it or act like an ungrateful child and turn our back on it. He will willingly save anyone, but He will “impose” it on no one involuntarily.
Thinking points and questions: Discipleship and a moral life were designed to go hand-in-hand. When one fails to implement discipleship through a reformed lifestyle, we simultaneously show that we do not take our conversion very seriously either.
1. The “sanctification of the Spirit:” If we capitalize the “S” (in the original Greek words were written in all capitals or all lower case and not in a combination), then the reference would be to God’s Holy Spirit. In that case this would refer to . . . [God’s use of the Spirit to purify us of sin; for example, by revealing how to be saved]
2. If the spirit is lower case and refers to our human spirit, then it means that God intends for our inner person to be . . . ? [Purified, sanctified, made holy, forgiven]
3. In the Old Testament system, God’s people were made ceremonially pure by the “sprinkling of the blood” of sacrificed animals. Christ’s blood, which purifies the soul, is applied to God’s people through . . . [Seeking His forgiveness for our sins]
Their refusal to be spiritually broken
by ill-treatment would assure
their ultimate salvation (1:3-1:9):
Commentary and Thought Flow
1:3 It was God’s mercy that caused Him to utilize the resurrection of Christ to make it possible for us to be born again . . .
1:4 and to receive a heavenly reward that will never vanish no matter how long it may be before we receive it.
1:5 God’s “power” worked through their faith to secure the “salvation” that would be theirs when the world came to an end.
1:6 With this anticipation they were quite pleased, but they needed to remember that future rewards were no guarantee of the absence of current pains.
1:7 Those pains, however, would verify the “genuineness” of their faith and by surviving the “fire” of adversity this would prove their faith to be even more valuable and important than the gold which all long for.
1:8 Though they had not physically seen Jesus, yet they were filled with joy beyond human description . . .
1:9 because they knew they would receive the salvation of their souls as the “end” result and purpose of their faith.
GW: Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! God has given us a new birth because of his great mercy. We have been born into a new life that has a confidence which is alive because Jesus Christ has come back to life. --
NKJV: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Alternative Readings: Blessed be [Let us give thanks to, TEV] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His [in His, NAB] abundant mercy [boundless mercy, NLT; great mercy, ASV, Darby, ISV, NAB, NCV, RSV, NRSV, TEV; kindness, Young] has begotten us again [begotten us anew, Weymouth; caused us to be born again, NASB; gave us new life, TEV; given us new life, CEV; gave us a new birth, NAB; given us a new birth, ISV; regenerated us, Rotherham] to a living hope [ever-living hope, ISV; a hope that lives on, CEV; a wonderful expectation, NLT] through [by, ASV, TEV] the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Cross-references: All the spiritual blessings we enjoy are due to God acting through Christ, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
Thinking points and questions: Praise of God grows out of gratitude for the immense debt of sin he has forgiven and for all the blessings of this and the future life that He has promised. None of this could we have accomplished on our own.
1. God is to be counted as “blessed” (i.e., to be honored and glorified) because . . . [He showed His “mercy” toward us through Jesus. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.]
2. In this life we may place our “hope” in politics or a leader of some other type only to see it perish when their plans falter and fail. In contrast, in Jesus we have been giving a “living hope,” in other words . . . [A hope that is and forever will stay alive. One that can not fail us.]
3. We can have full confidence (“hope”) in the promises of the gospel because the resurrection of the dead has . . . [Proven that God has raised the author of the gospel and that Divine power lies just as much behind it as behind Christ himself]
GW: We have been born into a new life which has an inheritance that can’t be destroyed or corrupted and can’t fade away. That inheritance is kept in heaven for you. --
NKJV: To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.
Alternative Readings: To an inheritance [rich blessings, TEV] incorruptible [cannot decay, TEV; never decay, CEV; perish, NIV; cannot be destroyed, ISV, NCV; imperishable, NASB, NAB, RSV, NRSV, Weymouth] and undefiled [be ruined, CEV; corrupted, ISV; spoil, NIV, TEV; be spoiled, NCV] and that does not fade away [unfading, Darby, Holman, Rotherham, Weymouth, Young; cannot be . . . changed, ISV; disappear, CEV; lose their beauty, NCV], reserved in heaven [kept in heaven, Holman, NAB, NCV, NIV, RSV, NRSV; stored up in heaven, CEV] for you.
Cross-references: That reward is not just for a select few, but for all those who cultivate the right attitude and relationship with Jesus, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Thinking points and questions: One of the great frustrations of life is to see the things we cherish and value pass away. Automobiles become junk. Neighborhoods decay. In contrast, heaven is a place of unchangeable joy and happiness that no one and nothing can remove from us.
1. The “living hope” that we have in verse 3 is here described as the confidence in . . . [Receiving “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled” in heaven]
2. How long does our heavenly reward last according to this verse? [Forever: “does not fade away”]
3. How is this different from our normal earthly hopes? [All, sooner or later, fall apart or are fully completed and we move on to another goal. In contrast, heavenly rewards provide abiding pleasure on a permanent basis.]
GW: Since you are guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed at the end of time. --
NKJV: Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Alternative Readings: Who are kept [kept safe, TEV; guarded, ASV, Darby, RSV, Rotherham, Weymouth, Young; safeguarded, NAB; shielded, NIV; protected, Holman, ISV, NRSV] by the power of God through faith [God’s power protects you through your faith, NCV] for salvation ready to be revealed [ready for unveiling, Weymouth] in the last time [at the end of time, ISV, TEV; at the end of the age, Weymouth; in the final time, NAB].
Cross-references: God is always doing His part to protect us. As Jude puts it, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude, verses 24-25).
Thinking points and questions: God exercises His power on our behalf but it is exercised through our faith. If we let it dry up or languish, we deny ourselves the strength and ability God wants to give us.
1. Unlike non-Christians, believers are promised that God will exercise His what on their behalf? [His “power”]
2. Faith’s ultimate purpose is to . . . [Bring about our salvation]
3. Although there is salvation in the here and now, there is also an ultimate salvation that is only reached . . . [“In the last time.” We enjoy forgiveness in the here and now but heaven only in eternity.]
GW: You are extremely happy about these things, even though you have to suffer different kinds of trouble for a little while now. --
NKJV: In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.
Alternative Readings: In this you greatly rejoice [rejoice triumphantly, Weymouth; exult, Darby, Rotherham; be happy, TEV; very happy, NCV], though now for a little while [short time, Holman], if need be [you are compelled, Weymouth], you have been grieved [distressed, Holman, NASB; sad, TEV; compelled to sorrow, Weymouth; made to sorrow, Young] by various trials [different kinds of troubles, NCV; many trials, NLT; many kinds of trials, TEV; various kinds of trials, ISV].
Cross-references: Paul also speaks of how the painful in life should never be permitted to overcome our optimism over the good God has stored up for us, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 6:9). “In due season”--not necessarily immediately or in the short term.
Thinking points and questions: Discipleship is not a “bed of roses.” It never consists of unblemished “highs” and perpetual “triumphs.” There are inevitable disappointments and heartaches as well that are produced by a world unconcerned with spiritual matters. Yet we will be the true winners because we recognize that this life is but a short path that leads to an eternity where God will reward us.
* There are always two approaches to looking at things: The classic illustration is the question, “Is the glass is half full or half empty?” These Christians took the first approach to life: they “greatly rejoice[d]” even during adversity, the worst of times.
1. Does one have to enjoy adversity to be a good Christian? [No; these Christians “grieved” because of what they were going through.]
2. Most of our difficulties in life are like those described in this verse . . . [“For a little while”] It is a matter of getting through them rather than throwing in the towel needlessly.
GW: The purpose of these troubles is to test your faith as fire tests how genuine gold is. Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory, and honor to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again. --
NKJV: That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Alternative Readings: That the genuineness of your faith [proving of your faith, Rotherham], being much more precious [valuable, ISV] than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire [proved to be pure by fire, NCV; refined by fire, Holman, NIV], may be found to [may result in, Holman, ISV, Weymouth] praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ [when Jesus Christ returns, CEV].
Cross-references: Successfully enduring the hindrances and difficulties of life proves our love of Christ, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
Thinking points and questions: Literal “fire” purifies gold of its impurities and leaves the alloy pure and untainted. The “fire” of earthly difficulties can purify our faith of impurity as well. But to do so, we have to cling to that faith as to a life-preserver. With it, only good can come. Without it, disaster is certain.
1. The severity of some of the adversities we may encounter is illustrated by the intense heat of . . . [Fire]
2. The ultimate proof of the genuineness of our faith comes when . . . [Christ returns again.]
GW: Although you have never seen Christ, you love him. You don’t see him now, but you believe in him. You are extremely happy with joy and praise that can hardly be expressed in words. --
NKJV: Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
Alternative Readings: Whom having not seen [although you have not seen, TEV; without having seen, RSV; although your eyes have never looked on, Weymouth] you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing [trust(ing), Weymouth], you rejoice [exult, Darby, Rotherham; triumph, Weymouth] with joy inexpressible [which words can not express, TEV; indescribable, ISV, NAB, NRSV; unspeakable, ASV, Darby, Rotherham, Weymouth, Young; unutterable, RSV; a joy that can not be explained, NCV] and full of glory [glorified, Young; a joy full of glory, NCV; filled with glory, Rotherham; exalted joy, RSV; glorious joy, Holman, ISV; crowned with glory, Weymouth].
Cross-references: We can believe in Jesus without seeing Him, because those who did see Him left their record of what He said and did, “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ ” (John 20:27-29).
Thinking points and questions: Christians are not engaged in an endeavor based on blind faith. Rather it is faith based upon the evidence preserved by those who worked with Jesus and saw everything He did and heard everything He said.
* Just as a wife loves her husband though he is far away at war or on business, so Christians love Jesus even though they have never had the opportunity to physically see Him. Love (fortunately) can be independent of presence.
1. What makes possible our joy as Christians? [“Yet believing, you rejoice”]
2. Can all emotions and attitudes be adequately expressed in words? [No, “with joy inexpressible.” Yet that doesn’t change the fact that the feelings and beliefs are fully genuine.]
GW: As you obtain the salvation that is the goal of your faith. --
NKJV: Receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.
Alternative Readings: Receiving the end [goal, NAB, NCV, NIV; outcome, NASB, RSV, NRSV; purpose, TEV; reward, NLT] of your faith--the salvation of your souls.
Cross-references: Our ultimate goal is personal salvation, but on the way to that destination we manifest a way of life that prepares us for it, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
Thinking points and questions: To obtain a desired goal such as a college diploma or a promotion, we will invest countless hours of preparation, months or years of hard work, and overcome endless hindrances and obstacles. And that is good and desirable. Why then do we allow things to shake our spiritual perseverance that we would not permit to hinder us in obtaining an earthly goal?
1. Faith has a result in eternity and that is . . . [“The salvation of your souls”]
2. In what sense is this the “end of your faith”? [The ultimate purpose . . . but also our convictions will then no longer be based upon faith but upon what we actually see and hear around us]
The prophets of old had spoken of
the gift of salvation when
they wrote of the coming Messiah (1:10-1:12):
Commentary and Thought Flow
1:10 Though the prophets of the Old Testament were given their message by God, yet even they themselves had to study its text in order to understand all it taught.
1:11 In particular they were concerned with what “the Spirit of Christ” had revealed to them of His coming, His adversities, and ultimate glorification.
1:12 At least this much they did understand: that what they were writing was for the benefit of those alive at a later date--in the first century--rather than for their own generation. Just as the “Spirit” had spoken to those prophets (verse 11), at this current first century point, the Holy Spirit had also revealed the gospel that they had heard and accepted. The Spirit’s revelatory work was a “constant,” uniting both testaments into one revelation of the divine will.
GW: The prophets carefully researched and investigated this salvation. Long ago they spoke about God’s kindness [or grace] that would come to you. –
NKJV: Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.
Alternative Readings: Of this [Concerning this, Holman, NAB, TEV] salvation the prophets have inquired [searched, Holman; searched intently, NIV; sought, ASV; sought out, Darby, Rotherham; researched, ISV; tried to learn, NCV] and searched carefully [diligently, ASV; hard, CEV; investigated, ISV, NAB; carefully investigated, Holman; closely searched, Weymouth], who prophesied of the grace that would come to you [the way you would be saved, CEV; this salvation, ISV].
Cross-references: The Old Testament prophets looked forward to the fulfillment of their predictions, but did not live long enough to see those concerning the Messiah come true. As Jesus said, “ ‘For assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it’ ” (Matthew 13:17).
Thinking points and questions: Inspired men were given a message. They were not always given all the information they desired, such as when and how it would specifically be fulfilled. So, in spite of being made an oracle by God, they still had to do what you and I do--read and re-read the text in an attempt to fully understand just what was the message God had planted within it.
1. What does this imply about the success of our Bible study? [That sometimes we will not find the answer: some texts are understood only when we see their fulfillment rather than at any time before.]
2. Some parts of the Bible message are intended for the current age and some parts . . . [are intended for the future. One of the basic tests of accurate understanding of the scriptures lies in the ability to distinguish between these two points.]
GW: So they tried to find out what time or situation the Spirit of Christ kept referring to whenever he predicted Christ’s sufferings and the glory that would follow. --
NKJV: Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
Alternative Readings: Searching [investigating, NAB; tried to find out, TEV] what [when the time would be, TEV; when this would happen, CEV; what era, ISV], or what manner of time [circumstances, Holman, NAB, NIV; how this would come, TEV; specific time, ISV; the characteristics of that time, Weymouth], the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating [pointing, Rotherham, TEV] when He testified beforehand [in advance, Holman, NAB, NRSV; when predicting, RSV] the sufferings of Christ [the sufferings Christ would have to endure, TEV; the messianic sufferings, Holman] and the glories that would follow.
Cross-references: The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:1-5 vividly pictures the kind of pain and anguish Jesus endured, “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness: and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”Heh
Thinking points and questions: The rejection of Jesus--even His sufferings and death were not unexpected phenomena if one truly understood the prophetic texts. Being predicted did not make the foul treatment either honorable or proper, however. It only meant that God used it for His own ends. Power-seeking religious leaders crucified the Messiah, but God “trumped” their power by resurrecting Him from the dead.
1. Where did the true prophets get their message from? Was it mere human hope or did they receive external guidance? [The latter: “the Spirit of Christ who was in them” provided the message. He could have been this in two ways: (1) The Spirit was talking about the Christ to come; (2) also quite possibly He played a role in the sending of the Spirit just as He did in the New Testament: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you . . . All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:7, 15).]
2. What two elements of Jesus’ life are mentioned as being the subject of prophecy? [(1) “The sufferings of Christ” (2) “the glories that would follow” His sufferings, i.e., resurrection and reward by God.]
GW: God revealed to the prophets that the things they had spoken were not for their own benefit but for yours. What the prophets had spoken, the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven, has now made known to you by those who spread the Good News among you. These are things that even the angels want to look into. –
NKJV: To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into.
Alternative Readings: To them it was revealed [God revealed, TEV] that, not to themselves [for their own benefit, TEV], but to us they were ministering [serving, Holman, NAB, NASB, NIV, RSV, NRSV; spoke (to) about, TEV; foretold, Weymouth] the things which now have been reported [announced, Darby, ISV, NAB, RSV, NRSV, Rotherham; openly declared, Weymouth] to you through those who have preached [declared to you, Darby] the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit [by the power of the Holy Spirit, TEV] sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into [are eagerly watching these things happen, NLT; would like to know more about, CEV; would like to understand, TEV].
Cross-references: It was also because of the Holy Spirit, that the apostles could be confident that their memory of Jesus’ actions and teachings was accurate and reliable, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, for He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:12-15).
Thinking points and questions: Just as the prophets of old were guided in their message, so were the apostles. In both cases, the result was a message that was trustworthy and dependable.
1. Did the prophets know that their message included predictions that would not be fulfilled until a later generation? [Yes: “to them it was revealed that not to themselves, but to us they were ministering. . . .”]
2. What important characteristic did the apostles and the Old Testament prophets have in common? [They were both guided “by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.”]
3. Things that were happening on earth that even _______ wished to learn more about. [“Angels desire to look into”]
Since they shared in this prophesied
gift of redemption, they should
have a lifestyle in conformity with it (1:13-1:21):
Commentary and Thought Flow
1:13 Since this was true they were to rally all their resources of mind and body and fully trust in the “grace” (favor) that would be bestowed upon them when Jesus came again.
1:14 Their mind-frame was to be one of “obedient” rather than disobedient “children.” The latter had been their state in their earlier lives when their “lusts” (= evil desires of all types) had been the controlling factor in all they said and did. This had reflected their “ignorance” rather than their insight or maturity.
1:15 Since the God who called them was morally pure, they, too, were to seek that kind of inner nature.
1:16 This was not some arbitrary apostolic imposition. Even the Old Testament had cited God’s nature as an example of the kind of character that must be found among His people.
1:17 Since God plays no favorites and treats everyone exactly as deserved, they were to be constantly alert (they were to “fear”) as to whether their lives measured up to that standard.
1:18 After all, in the past they had learned how to live by simply following the example (“tradition”) of their parents and others while now they were “redeemed” from all their sin and imperfection. This had been accomplished not with gold (which most could have provided little or none of) . . .
1:19 but by the blood of Christ whose sacrifice was like that of a lamb offered in the Temple for the “redemption” of the sacrificer.
1:20 That Christ would ultimately play this role had been decided even before the earth was created. Yet God’s plans are so long range that this intent had only been fulfilled in their own time!
1:21 By believing in the resurrected Jesus, one also expresses faith in the God whose vast power had been demonstrated by raising Him from the dead.
GW: Therefore, your minds must be clear and ready for action. Place your confidence completely in what God’s kindness will bring you when Jesus Christ appears again. --
NKJV: Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Alternative Readings: Therefore gird up the loins of your mind [be alert, CEV; prepare your minds for action, ISV, NASB, NIV, NRSV; have your minds ready for action, TEV; prepare your minds for service, NCV; think clearly, NLT], be sober [be self-controlled, NIV; exercise self-control, NLT; have self-control, NCV; discipline yourselves, NRSV; keep a clear head, ISV; keep alert, TEV; think straight, CEV], and rest your hope fully [unfalteringly, Weymouth; completely, Holman, ISV, NASB; with perfect steadfastness, Darby] upon the grace [the special blessings, NLT] that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ [when Jesus Christ appears, CEV; reappearing of Jesus Christ, Weymouth].
Cross-references: In the final analysis we are responsible for our own spiritual condition. We have to make the decisions and stick to them in spite of the obstructions of life. As Jesus warned His disciples, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34).
Thinking points and questions: At the heart of this verse is the idea that they were to take their discipleship seriously. It was not a game. It was not pretense. It was so important and so vital that they had to give it their entire mental and moral commitment.
1. Why is it so tempting to take our religion casually and treat it as of little concern? [(1) Humans tend to be “naturally” lazy; (2) most people have only modest religious interest; (3) we don’t want to seem to be pretentious and have a “holier/better than thou” attitude.]
2. Having done all we can do, we still must put our confidence in . . . [“The grace that is to be brought to you” at Christ’s coming; in this context the idea being the result of Divine grace, our ultimate salvation.]
GW: Because you are children who obey God, don’t live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn’t know any better. --
NKJV: As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance.
Alternative Readings: As obedient children [Behave like obedient children, CEV], not conforming yourselves to [act(ing) in compliance with, NAB; controlled by, CEV; shaped by, ISV, TEV] the former lusts [cravings, Weymouth; desires, CEV, Holman, ISV, NAB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, Young; passions, RSV; the evil things you wanted, NCV], as in your ignorance.
Cross-references: Peter returns to this theme later in his epistle, to re-affirm that our past mistakes should not keep us from doing the right thing in the future, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).
Thinking points and questions: The past does not have to determine the future. We are never the chattel slaves of fate. On the other hand, because we have the freedom to choose we are even more obligated to use that freedom in a constructive and spiritually beneficial manner.
* A person can be book smart but still morally ignorant. Because you know, for example, “everything” about science does not necessarily mean you have much insight into the difference between right and wrong.
1. A person who is walking according to their unregulated desires (“lusts”) is, according to this verse, self-indicted as being . . . [One who walks in “ignorance.”]
2. Give some examples of the trouble that ignorance can produce in everyday life. Should we expect anything else in regard to the next life? [a) ignorance can result in taking a dangerous dose of medicine, violating a traffic law that gets us a ticket, get us in serious trouble with our superior over the violation of a company policy we were unaware of, etc. b) Since God is beyond humanly imaginable levels of intelligence and insight, why would we expect Him to be any less upset with our lack of knowledge, when we could so easily obtain it if we tried?]
GW: But because the God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life. --
NKJV: But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
Alternative Readings: But [instead, NRSV, TEV] as He who called you is holy [in imitation of the holy One, Weymouth], you also be holy [must be holy, NLT] in all your conduct [in all you do, NCV, NIV, TEV; in everything you do, NLT; in all your behavior, NASB; in all your conduct, Holman; in all your habits of life, Weymouth].
Cross-references: This is not merely God’s request; rather, it is also His demand, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Thinking points and questions: It is natural to desire to be like our parents. Since God is our spiritual parent (and creator of the human species as well), it is even more natural that we seek out the moral excellence--the holiness--that is central to His essence.
* Human holiness is not sinlessness. It is not perfection. It is striving to abstain from sin as much as we humanly can even though we stumble and fall short of that goal.
GW: Scripture says, “Be holy, because I am holy.” --
NKJV: Because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
Alternative Readings: Because it is written, “Be holy [You must be holy, NCV, NLT], for [because, Holman, ISV, NAB, NCV, NLT, Rotherham, TEV, Weymouth] I am holy.”
Cross-references: God addressed a similar admonition to ancient Israel, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
Thinking points and questions: The New Testament builds upon the foundation of the Old. This is one of many examples where the moral demands it presents are repeated and reaffirmed.
1. God’s will is found in . . . [What “is written,” i.e., the Scriptures.]
2. Although much of what the Old Testament says is not directly relevant to modern Christians (such as animal sacrifices), what parts are relevant? [Moral principles such as this one to “be holy,” principles that are commonly repeated (though not necessarily in the exact same words) in the New Testament.]
GW: So if you call God your Father, live your time as temporary residents on earth in fear. He is the God who judges all people by what they have done, and he doesn’t play favorites. --
NKJV: And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.
Alternative Readings: And if you call on [invoke as, NAB, RSV, NRSV] the Father, who without partiality [by the same standard, TEV] judges [doesn’t have favorites, CEV; ha(s) no favorites, NLT; judges impartially, Holman, ISV] according to each one’s work [according to what you do, NLT; in accordance with each man’s actions, Weymouth; by what they do, CEV], conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here [spend the rest of your lives, TEV; this time of temporary residence, Holman; sojourning, NAB] in fear [reverent fear, NIV, NLT, NRSV; reverence, Holman, NAB, Rotherham, TEV; live with respect for God, NCV].
Cross-references: There is good fear and there is bad fear. Bad fear paralyzes. In contrast, good fear causes us to avoid that which is dangerous and foolhardy. As Proverbs 14:16 words it, “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident,” i.e., thinks he can get away with anything.
Thinking points and questions: We say we want impartiality. Often, though, we would actually prefer the opposite, so long as it is partiality in our own direction. God’s absolute impartiality is a reassurance (God will never be against us unless we are in the wrong), yet it is also threatening as well, because God will be against us--if we are in the wrong.
* None of us is ever perfect enough to put our feet up and say we’ve done all we need. Hence our text refers to live a life of constant spiritual concern (“fear” of doing wrong).
1. Although God certainly considers our intent, he will also judge us by . . . [What we actually do: “according to each one’s work.”]
2. Because our spouse is very religious or we have kin who are such will that be enough to keep God happy? [Judges “according to each one’s work.”]
GW: Realize that you weren’t set free from the worthless life handed down to you from your ancestors by a payment of silver or gold which can be destroyed. –
NKJV: Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers.
Alternative Readings: Knowing that you were not redeemed [ransomed, NAB, NRSV; rescued, CEV] with corruptible things [perishable things, Holman, ISV, NIV; something that ruins, NCV; something that can be destroyed, TEV; things that don’t last forever, CEV], like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct [empty way of life, ISV, NIV; frivolous habits of life, Weymouth; futile way of life, NASB; useless way of life, CEV; unmeaning behavior, Rotherham; worthless manner of life, TEV; worthless way of life, ISV] received by tradition from your fathers [handed down to you by your ancestors, ISV; inherited from your ancestors, NLT, NRSV; learned from your ancestors, CEV].
Cross-references: The lifestyle of many reflects that which they saw in their parents. If that lifestyle was spiritually or morally wrong, however, to follow it is folly. Ezekiel 20:18-19 warns, “But I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statues of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them.”
Thinking points and questions: Just because a lifestyle is the “inherited” one only guarantees consistency with what went before; it in no way assures that we are actually doing the right things.
* Why is it that children are so willing to defy their parents when their parents are urging restraint are yet so unwilling to defy their parents when the examples they set are characterized by excess and even violence? [(1) Evil seems more attractive to our baser instincts than good to our better ones; (2) we confuse respect for them as parents and respect for their behavior, which are two different things.]
GW: Rather, the payment that freed you was the precious blood of Christ, the lamb with no defects or imperfections. --
NKJV: But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Alternative Readings: But with the precious blood [lifeblood, NLT; costly sacrifice, TEV] of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish [without defect, Holman, TEV; pure, NCV; sinless, NLT; spotless, CEV] and without spot [defect, ISV, NIV; flaw, TEV; blemish, Holman; perfect, NCV; innocent, CEV].
Cross-references: Old Testament sacrifices were supposed to be of animals like this, with no physical defects, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats” (Exodus 12:5).
Thinking points and questions: What Peter is asserting is that on the moral plane Jesus was as perfect as the sacrificial lamb was perfect on the physical one. In other words, you could get no better. Hence the reason Jesus can be held up throughout the New Testament as an example for His followers to imitate.
1. Even in our age we recognize the value of blood: When and how? [(1) in blood drives the constant refrain is to “give bood because it is needed.” (2) We recognize that there are things only blood can do such as keep us alive.]
2. Why would the blood of Jesus Christ inherently be better than that of animals? [(1) Humans are more important than animals; (2) the parallel in the verse is between physical purity and moral: just as pure as an unspotted animal is physically, so is Jesus morally; (3) Jesus enjoyed a unique place in the Divine plan and, therefore, His blood, quite naturally occupied a unique place as well.]
GW: He is the lamb who was known long ago before the world existed, but for your good he became publicly known in the last period of time. --
NKJV: He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
Alternative Readings: He indeed was foreordained [chosen, CEV, NCV, NIV, TEV; destined, Holman, RSV, NRSV; foreknown, Darby, ISV, NASB, Rotherham; predestined indeed to this work, Weymouth] before the foundation of the world [before the world was created, CEV; before the creation of the world, TEV, Weymouth], but was manifest [appeared, NASB; revealed; Holman, ISV, NIV, TEV; sent to the earth, NLT; shown to the world, NCV] in these last times [last days, TEV, Weymouth; at the end of the ages, NRSV; at the end of the times, Holman; at the end of time, ISV; in the final time, NAB] for you [for your sake, NCV, NIV, NRSV, TEV; for all to see, NLT].
Cross-references: The pre-existence of Jesus is a doctrine more often associated with the gospel of John, especially its first words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
Thinking points and questions: Jesus is the ultimate example of long range planning. Unknown thousands of years before He was born, God had already determined His role in the ultimate redemption of the human race.
* Plans are useless unless carried out. Imagine how futile it would have been if God had had these plans for His Son but had never done anything about them. Is it any more foolish when we make “plans” and never get around to doing anything about them? Instead He prepared, announced his intentions, and, at the most appropriate time, carried them out. Likewise we need to combine planning with action.
GW: Through him you believe in God who brought Christ back to life and gave him glory. So your faith and confidence are in God. --
NKJV: Who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Alternative Readings: Who through Him believe [have confidence, RSV; trust, NLT, NRSV; are believers, Holman; are faithful, Rotherham] in [toward, Rotherham] God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in [directed towards, Rotherham; fixed on, TEV; resting upon, Weymouth; set on, NRSV] God.
Cross-references: It was contrary to God’s purpose to permit the crucified Jesus to remain dead, “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:23-24).
Thinking points and questions: Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we have powerful evidence that God stood behind whatever Jesus had taught. For that reason our faith and confidence in Christ are simultaneously faith and hope in His Father as well.
* The pagan might be brought to faith in the true God because of faith/confidence gained in Jesus. Similarly our false “gods” (pride, selfishness, etc.) can be destroyed by faith in Jesus.
The proper believer lifestyle is demonstrated
in one’s attitude and actions
toward fellow believers (1:22-1:25):
Commentary and Thought Flow
1:22 Their purification of soul was accomplished
by their obedience to “the truth” and the expression of that obedience and
purification was found in their “sincere love of the brethren.” To be “sincere” it had to be intense
(“fervently”) and without hidden self-interest (“with a pure heart”).
1:23 This was the expected, desired, and inevitable result of their “having been born again.” Hence if it was not present it threw into doubt their claim to be among the redeemed.
1:24 The “word of God” (verse 23) was authoritative because, in contrast, every single human being quickly dies—at least it seems quickly when one has reached an advanced age and wonder how things could possibly have passed by so swiftly. . .
1:25 while in contrast, God’s word endures “forever,” beyond my life time and yours and beyond those that come after us, on and on, century after century until our very name will have been forgotten. Furthermore this “word” of God that endures permanently was expressed in their day through “the gospel,” in contrast to the Law of Moses (which the text quoted from the Old Testament in verses 24 and 25 refers to). Hence they could no more safely ignore the gospel than the God-fearing Jew in David’s day could ignore the writings of Moses.
GW: Love each other with a warm love that comes from the heart. After all, you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth. As a result you have a sincere love for each other. --
NKJV: Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.
Alternative Readings: Since you have purified your souls in [by, Darby, Holman, Rotherham, TEV; through, Weymouth] obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere [genuine, NRSV; unfeigned Darby, Rotherham] love [affection, Darby, Rotherham] of the brethren, love one another fervently [deeply, NCV, NIV, RSV; earnestly, Holman, Rotherham, RSV, TEV, Young; intensely, ISV, NAB, NLT] with a pure heart [with all your heart, CEV, NCV, TEV].
Cross-references: The love that we have for our co-religionists is to be one that avoids mistreating them and which cultivates having the right attitude toward them and the kind of behavior that benefits and encourages them. As it is written in Romans 12:9-10, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”
Thinking points and questions: True religion is like a coin: it has two sides. One side is love of God. The other side is the love of our spiritual kinspeople. If either side is missing, the coin is either defaced or counterfeit.
1. What is the means whereby we are saved? [“obeying the truth”]
2. In life there is a profound difference between reality and pretense, though a good actor may be able to hide the difference from us for a while. What kind of “love” should we always strive for? [“sincere love”]
3. How does one develop this kind of “love?” [(1) Want to be sincere; try to be sincere: we tend to become what we want to become; (2) avoid looking for what we can “get out of it:” seeking something for ourselves alone is the best avoid to avoid sincerity.]
GW: You have been born again, not from a seed that can be destroyed, but through God’s everlasting word that can’t be destroyed. That’s why [Scripture says]. --
NKJV: Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.
Alternative Readings: Having been born again [regenerated, Rotherham], not of corruptible [perishable, Holman; Weymouth; something that dies, NCV] seed but incorruptible [imperishable, Holman, Weymouth; something that cannot die, NCV], through the word of God which lives and abides forever [continues forever, NCV; enduring word of God, NASB, NIV; ever living and enduring, Weymouth; living and enduring, Holman; living and everlasting, ISV]
Cross-references: The spiritual rebirth experience is described this way in James 1:18, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures.”
Thinking points and questions: Exposure to the “word of God” resulted in our conversion by being born again. Teaching anything else may, indeed, result in some kind of “religious experience” for the hearer, but can it produce the right relationship with God? Why not? [It is not born out of the right source: can you grow corn from carrot seed? If one bases one’s faith on anything else but the word of God, we may become religious but how can we possibly become Christians in the sense these people were?]
GW: “All people are like grass, and all their beauty is like a flower of the field. The grass dries up and the flower drops off. --
NKJV: Because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away.
Alternative Readings: Because “All flesh [human life, ISV; mankind, TEV, Weymouth] is as grass, and all the glory [beauty, NLT] of man as the flower of the grass [wild flowers, TEV]. The grass withers [dries up, CEV, ISV], and its flower falls away [drops off, Holman, ISV].”
Cross-references: The text quoted in this verse is derived from Isaiah 40:6-8, “The voice said, ‘Cry out!’ And he said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Thinking points and questions: This is a truth grasped on the emotional level only when a person has reached the half-century mark: how many years have gone by, but how short they seem in our human memory! It is as if it were only days or weeks. You can illustrate this from your own experience at almost any age: Think of an event as far back as you can remember. How long ago was it according to the calendar? How long ago does it feel?
GW: “But the word of the Lord lasts forever.” This word is the Good News that was told to you. --
NKJV: But the word of the Lord endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Alternative Readings: “But the word [declaration, Rotherham] of the Lord endures [abides, Darby; remains, NAB, TEV, Weymouth; live(s), NCV; stand(s), CEV] forever.” Now this is the word which by [as, Holman] the gospel [glad tidings, Darby; good news, CEV, ISV, NLT, RSV, NRSV, Weymouth; word of good tidings, ASV] was preached [announced, ISV, NRSV, Rotherham; proclaimed, TEV, Weymouth] to you.
Cross-references: The introductory words of the verse come from Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Thinking points and questions: An extremely long-lived person may live to a hundred, but compared to the centuries the word of God has survived it is as nothing. It was available for the spiritual well-being of those generations ago and if God permits the world to continue it will be equally available generations in the future. It is “forever.” You can illustrate this from your own life: How many years old are you? How many centuries old is the Bible? In comparison, which is “forever”?
* The Isaiah passage is speaking of the “word of God” as found in the Old Testament. Peter then stresses that the “word” they believed in was the “gospel;” in other words both testaments originated with God speaking His will and people like you and me listening to it and obeying it.
They demonstrated their commitment
by both what they didn’t do
(i.e., avoiding moral evil)
as well as by the positive action of spiritually growing
through God’s revealed word (2:1-2:3):
Commentary and Thought Flow
2:1 Since the word of the gospel was authoritative (1:25), they were to remove and throw away as if dirty and outworn clothing, all those evils and imperfections that so easily overcame them.
2:2 In contrast, they were act as if they were newborn children zealously seeking “milk” so that the body and spirit might grow and prosper.
2:3 In case any one wished to be contentious and argue that such did not necessarily have to be the course, Peter dismisses the concern by arguing that such a commitment to spiritual growth is inevitable “if” they had truly “tasted” God’s goodness and favor. In other words, they would make liars of themselves—or at least hypocrites—if they did not pursue greater knowledge of God’s word and greater imitation of His character.
GW: So get rid of every kind of evil, every kind of deception, hypocrisy, jealousy, and every kind of slander --
NKJV: Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.
Alternative Readings: Therefore, laying aside [put away, RSV; rid yourselves, NRSV, TEV] all malice [being hateful, CEV; evil, ISV, TEV, Young; ill-will, Weymouth; malicious behavior, NLT; wickedness, ASV, Holman], all deceit [deception, ISV; guile, ASV, Darby, RSV, NRSV, Young; trying to fool people, CEV], hypocrisy [insincerity, NAB, RSV, NRSV, Weymouth], envy [jealousy, ISV, TEV], and all evil speaking [backstabbing, NLT; insulting language, TEV; say cruel things about others, CEV; slander, Holman, ISV, NAB, NASB, NIV, RSV, NRSV],
Cross references: The need for a reformed life style is stressed by other New Testament writers as well, for example, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
Peter himself stresses the fact that past “enjoyment” of these provided more than enough examples of excess to fill a lifetime, “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3).
Thinking points and questions: The text begins with “so” or “therefore,” showing the point grows out of what has just been discussed in the preceding chapter. Note that the argument from verses 21-25 was that God saved us in order to produce a moral reformation within. Hence the argument is that because of this we are to avoid these various evils.
1. Note the use of “all-comprehensive” language--the repeated use of “every” or “all.” What is the lesson that kind of language conveys? [(1) that these things can occur in more than one form; (2) regardless of what form they manifest themselves they are to be avoided.]
2. Which of the things condemned describe our underlying attitude (as contrasted with actions)? [(1) “Malice;” (2) “envy.”]
3. Which of the things condemned describe misrepresentation of what we are truly thinking and intending? [(1) “deceit;” (2) “hypocrisy.”]
4. Which of the things describe overtly doing wrong to others? [“Evil speaking.”]
GW: Desire God’s pure word as newborn babies desire milk. Then you will grow in your salvation. --
NKJV: As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
Alternative Readings: As newborn babes [infants, NAB], desire [crave, NIV, NLT; desire earnestly, Darby; eagerly crave, Rotherham; long for, NAB, NASB, RSV, NRSV; thirst, ISV; thirsty for, CEV; always thirsty for, TEV] the pure [spiritual, CEV, RSV, TEV; unadulterated spiritual, Holman] milk of the word that you may grow [grow up, TEV, Weymouth] thereby,
Cross references: The positive attitudes of being child-like were endorsed by Jesus, “And said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matthew 18:3-4).
The negative connotations of being child-like, however, are to be avoided, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20).
Thinking points and questions: The dominant image we have of babies are innocence, purity, and the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams. Hence the metaphor serves as a fine example of what Christians should aspire to be.
1. What reason is given in this verse for the command to “desire” to know more about God’s word? [“That you may grow thereby.” One may become more “religious” by the study of one’s sectarian historic documents, but one becomes more Christian by the study of the scriptures.]
2. What happens if a baby does not drink milk? What is the intended parallel with believers? [A child dies without milk; a believer “dies” without the nourishment he or she needs as well.]
GW: Certainly you have tasted that the Lord is good! --
NKJV: If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Alternative Readings: If indeed [for, NAB; since, Holman; surely, ISV] you have tasted [examined and seen, NCV; found out for yourselves, TEV; had any experience, Weymouth] that the Lord is gracious [good, Darby, Holman, ISV, NAB, NCV, NRSV; kind(ness), NLT, TEV].
Cross references: The spiritually dedicated under the Old Testament recognized this fact that God is on the side of those who partake of the “divine banquet” of being part of those dedicated to God, “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalms 34:7-8).
Thinking points and questions: The text asserts that God has treated us so well that that this fact should be self-evident. In your life, what are some ways that you have been blessed by God? [(1) Temporal blessings; (2) recuperation from disease and ill-health; (3) escaping the schemes of those who would do us harm at work or in our neighborhood, etc.]
Pivotal to true spirituality is an on-going
commitment to Jesus (2:4-10):
Commentary and Thought Flow
2:4 In approaching Christ they should admit that many had rejected Him though He had actually been selected by God and was counted by Him as valuable and important (“precious”).
2:5 They themselves also played a part in God’s plan: if Christ was the “living” foundation stone (2:4), they themselves were “living stones” that could be utilized to build “a spiritual house” in which they (shifting the image) could serve as a “holy priesthood” by presenting “spiritual sacrifices” to God. For those brought up in Judaism--in which to be a priest and offer sacrifices meant one was part of the spiritual elite--this meant that they, too, could be part of God’s new spiritual elite priesthood—restricted by neither ethnicity, nationality, age, or gender.
2:6 This was the contemporary application of the ancient scripture that spoke of how God would lay a new “chief cornerstone” that would be so “elect” and “precious” that whoever believed on Him would never have a cause for shame.
2:7 The attitude toward this cornerstone/Jesus is determined by whether one believes or is disobedient. If the latter, one has rejected the Divinely ordained “chief cornerstone” . . .
2:8 . . . and (shifting the image from building block to something smaller) God’s anointed “stone” has become one that causes “stumbling” and “offense.” Those who refuse to obey God’s will are thereby Divinely “appointed” to reject Jesus for faith in God and faith in Christ are bound together as an irrevocable whole in God’s sight.
2:9 All Christians now served in the role that Israelites had done in the day of Moses: as a special and selected “generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” The purpose of being so chosen was that they might honor God for His redemption of them.
2:10 Things had not always been this way: before they had received God’s “mercy” they were counted as outsiders rather than as part of God’s people.
GW: You are coming to Christ, the living stone who was rejected by humans but was chosen as precious by God. --
NKJV: Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.
Alternative Readings: Coming to Him as to a living [ever-living, Weymouth] stone, rejected [disapproved of, Young; cast away indeed as worthless, Darby] indeed by men [people of the world, NCV], but chosen by God [in God’s esteem, Weymouth] and precious [highly honored, CEV; held in honor, Rotherham, Weymouth; valuable, Holman, TEV],
Cross-references: Being rejected by others is no proof of being rejected by God (also see verse six below). For that we have the prophecy about Jesus Himself, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalms 118:22-23).
Thinking points and questions: Just because one is “rejected” does not mean that one lacks value and importance.
1. Can you think of a time or situation in which people “rejected” (looked down upon, scorned, made fun of you) when you had the better idea or were doing the right thing in spite of the discouragement from other people? [No need to answer this aloud. Just think about it for a few seconds and I suspect every one of us has encountered such situations.]
2. Why do we hate being “rejected” when we know we are in the right? [(1) It is part of human nature to want to be accepted; (2) we often fall into the trap of “proving” that a belief or practice is right because others share in it rather than because we can point to book, chapter, and verse to vindicate it.]
GW: You come to him as living stones, a spiritual house that is being built into a holy priesthood. So offer spiritual sacrifices that God accepts through Jesus Christ. --
NKJV: You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Altlernative Readings: You also, as living stones [like living stones, NAB, RSV, NRSV], are being built up [into, NAB] a spiritual house [temple, TEV], a holy priesthood, to offer up [so that you may offer, ISV] spiritual sacrifices acceptable to [that please, CEV; well-pleasing, Rotherham] God through Jesus Christ.
Cross-references: In an age when there was a temple in Jerusalem served by a priestly class, the prophets spoke of how the ideal was that the entire people would consider themselves equally part of the Divine priesthood, “But you shall be named the priests of the Lord. They shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast” (Isaiah 61:6).
Thinking points and questions: The fact that we are collectively a “holy priesthood” indicates that we have obligations and duties that people in general do not have. What are some of them? [We normally think of a “priesthood” as especially devoted to the ideals of spirituality, purity, and service to God. In the previous verses, Peter had stressed the aspects of moral purity (verse 1) and knowledge of God’s word (verse 2). In Christianity, these are not the obligations of just the “elite” but of all who would serve the Lord.]
GW: That is why Scripture says, “I am laying a chosen and precious cornerstone in Zion, and the person who believes in him will never be ashamed.” --
NKJV: Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame."
Alternative Readings: Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion [in Jerusalem, NCV, NLT] a chief [chosen, Holman, ISV, NAB, NIV, NLT, RSV, NRSV] cornerstone, elect, precious [valuable, Holman; held in honor, Weymouth], and he who believes on Him will by no means [never, Holman, TEV] be put to shame [be disappointed, CEV, NASB, NLT, TEV].”
Cross-references: The text quoted comes from Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.’ ”
Thinking points and questions: Why can the Christian be confident that faith in Jesus will never be a reason for legitimate sorrow or shame? [(1) Due to Jesus we will live forever and nothing and no one on earth can accomplish that result; (2) nothing He demands or expects of us is evil or demeaning while that of rival religious systems and human philosophies often become so self-serving that they become virtual rationalizations for such behavior.]
GW: This honor belongs to those who believe. But to those who don’t believe: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” --
NKJV: Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone."
Alternative Readings: Therefore to you who believe, He is precious [worth much, NCV; of great value, TEV]; but to those who are disobedient [those who do not believe, ISV, RSV; NRSV, TEV; those who refuse to follow him, CEV; those without faith, NAB; unbelieving, Holman], “The stone which the builders rejected [tossed aside, CEV; cast away as worthless, Darby] has become the chief cornerstone [capstone, NIV; the most important, CEV, TEV].”
Cross-references: The text quoted comes from Psalms 118:22-23, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Peter also used this illustrative text to warn his listeners that Jesus had triumphed over their efforts to destroy Him, “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone' ” (Acts 4:10-11).
Thinking points and questions: Jesus was a clear and obvious “failure:” the leaders rejected Him and He was crucified though He had committed no crime. Yet His death led to His triumph over death in the resurrection. When can our “failures” lay the foundation for success? [(1) When they cause us to search for better means to accomplish our goals; (2) when they teach us that good intentions do not guarantee good results; etc.]
GW: “A stone that people trip over, a large rock that people find offensive.” The people tripped over the word because they refused to believe it. Therefore, this is how they ended up. --
NKJV: And "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
Alternative Readings: And “a stone of stumbling [a stone that causes people to stumble, NCV] and a rock of offense [a rock that makes them fall, NCV; a rock that trips them up, Holman].” They stumble, being disobedient to the word [disobey(ing) the message, Holman, NIV; did not believe in the word, TEV; do not listen to God’s word or obey it, NLT], to which they also were appointed [destined, Holman, ISV, RSV, NRSV; because they were doomed, CEV].
Cross-references: The text quoted at the beginning of the verse comes from the ministry of Isaiah, “He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken, be snared and taken" (Isaiah 8:14-15).
Jesus Himself used this kind of imagery as a warning to His listeners. After quoting Psalms 118:22-23, He then makes this application in Matthew 21:43-44, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."
Thinking points and questions: The person who rejects God’s revelation sooner or later stumbles and makes the wrong decision. Why? Consider Isaiah 55:8, “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.’ ”
GW: However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. –
NKJV: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Alternative Readings: But you are a chosen generation [race, NAB, RSV; NRSV], a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people [possession, NLT], that you may proclaim [announce, NAB; declare, RSV; show others, NLT] the praises [excellencies, NASB; mighty acts, NRSV; wonderful deeds, RSV] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous [wonderful, NAB] light.
Cross-references: Under the Old Testament, the Jewish people were called to have a similar view of themselves, “Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to b1e His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken" (Deuteronomy 26:18-19).
Thinking points and questions: Christians, collectively, are (a) “a chosen generation”—chosen by ourselves in our decision to become part of that people; chosen by God for He demands that we become such; (b) “a royal priesthood”--“royal” because its chief priest and king is royalty, i.e., Jesus; (c) “a holy nation”—a people with a higher standard of right and wrong than the world at large; (d) “a special people”—because only a minority of the population opts for the opportunity.
1. This verse pictures Christians as a special people with a special purpose. In this verse what special purpose is mentioned in particular? (For other purposes see the questions on verse 5.) [“That you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”]
2. However enjoyable our pre-conversion pursuit of our own interests may have been, it all reflected an inner and spiritual “darkness” because . . . [We were doing what we wanted rather than what God wanted and if we were doing the right thing it was because it appealed to our preferences rather than being rooted in consciously doing what God desired.]
GW: Once you were not God’s people, but now you are. Once you were not shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy. –
NKJV: Who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Alternative Readings: Who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained [received, NAB, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, RSV, NRSV] mercy [pity, CEV] but now have obtained [received, NAB, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, RSV, NRSV] mercy [kindness, CEV].
Cross-references: God never desired for the borders of His kingdom to be stagnant. Hence we read in Hosea 2:23, “Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!' "
Paul quotes this passage from Hosea in Romans 9:25-26 and uses it as part of his explanation why Gentiles (non-Jews) could come to be accepted as part of God’s people, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith” (Romans 9:30).
Thinking points and questions: Many people despair of ever becoming “good enough.” Only one person ever met that standard and He was crucified for the rest of us. What God does demand is that we do the best of which we are capable. That is enough of a challenge for any life-time! As in this text--and the Old Testament passage which is quoted--God is concerned with what we are and not what we were.
Since they were chosen to be as if mere
“sojourners and pilgrims” in this life,
they were ethically obligated to live in such a
positive manner that others and even
the government could recognize their good intentions
Commentary and Thought Flow
2:11 Since the earth was but their temporary home it was important that they not permit desires that came from fleshly motives to triumph over their souls.
2:12 Even though they might not be able to avoid criticism for being Christians, they were to live in such a morally upright manner that the charges would not be credible in the long term. The evidence of their character should be so strong that intellectually honest foes would ultimately feel compelled to concede them the respect they deserved.
2:13 Part of living in a manner beyond legitimate criticism was to carefully observe human law as determinedly as Divine law.
2:14 This was true whether the law came from the supreme ruler (2:13) or a provincial governor. After all it was his purpose to punish evil and to “praise” good so they needed to avoid doing anything earning his legitimate censure.
2:15 When others criticized them without reason, those people demonstrated both their “ignorance” and the fact that they were “foolish” since only people who are this way give criticism without justification.
2:16 Although being “free” is a ready excuse for excess and abuse, they were to never be guilty of such by always keeping in mind their role as servants of God. They owed God so much that the twisting of freedom to justify sin was a betrayal of that relationship.
2:17 Although “honor” (respect) is due all others, including our ruler, “love” is especially” due our brothers and sisters in the faith; reverential “fear” is due God, who has the power and might to punish our betrayal of such duties.
GW: Dear friends, since you are foreigners and temporary residents [in the world], I’m encouraging you to keep away from the desires of your corrupt nature. These desires constantly attack you. --
NKJV: Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.
Alternative Readings: Beloved, I beg you as sojourners [aliens, NAB, NASB, NIV, RSV; NRSV; foreigners, CEV, NCV, NLT] and pilgrims [aliens, NLT; exiles, RSV, NRSV; sojourners, NAB; strangers, CEV, NASB; NCV, NIV], abstain from [keep away from, NAB; not to surrender to, CEV] fleshly lusts [evil desires, NLT; evil things your bodies want to do, NCV; passions, RSV; sinful desires, NIV; worldly desires, NAB] which war against [fight against, CEV; NEV, NLT], the soul.
Cross-references: By stressing the things of the spirit, we gain strength to avoid giving into our weaknesses, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16-17).
Thinking points and questions: We have all heard of the adage, “When in Rome do as the Romans.” This makes real sense if “Rome” represents behavior that is morally neutral or if it is going to be our permanent home. The thrust of this verse is that since earth is not our permanent residence we should avoid living in a way that conforms to its worst aspects.
* “Fleshly lusts” covers everything of our existence in the flesh--from sensual desires to the desires of the intellect to be viewed as smart and intelligent. Hence even the honorable aspects of this life have to be kept in check lest they evolve from something desirable into a preoccupation that drives out our spirituality.
GW: Live decent lives among unbelievers. Then, although they ridicule you, as if you were doing wrong while they are watching you do good things, they will praise God on the day he comes to help you. --
NKJV: Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Alternative Readings: Having your conduct honorable [excellent, NASB; behaving properly, CEV] among the Gentiles [pagans, NIV; people who do not believe, NCV; unbelieving neighbors, NLT], that when they speak against you [malign you, NRSV; slander you, NASB] as evildoers [wrongdoers, RSV], they may, by your good works [good deeds, NASB, NIV, RSV; honorable behavior, NLT] which they observe, glorify [honor, CEV] God in the day of visitation [on the day of judgment, CEV; on the day when Christ comes again, NCV].
Cross-references: This illustrates Jesus’ admonition that our behavior can lead others to honor God, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Thinking points and questions: Others recognize good character even when
they reject that person’s religion. Sometimes the only door we have into their heart is through our conduct.
GW: Place yourselves under the authority of human governments to please the Lord. Obey the emperor. He holds the highest position of authority. –
NKJV: Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme.
Alternative Readings: Therefore submit [yield, NCV] yourselves to [obey, CEV] every ordinance of man [all human authorities, CEV; every human institution, NAB, NASB, RSV, NRSV] for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king [emperor, CEV, RSV, NRSV] as supreme [as head of state, NLT; as the supreme authority, NIV].
Cross-references: Jesus taught His disciples to recognize the power of earthly authorities even though they themselves were “free” and served a greater spiritual king, “And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?’ Peter said to Him, ‘From strangers.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you’ ” (Matthew 17:25-27).
Thinking points and questions: A person does not have to like a specific law to admit it must be obeyed. Why not? [(1) It can come out of respect that God ordains the orderly administration of earthly justice. (2) For those unwilling to recognize that standard, it can come from a recognition of naked raw power and the fact that we can not equal it.]
GW: Also obey governors. They are people the emperor has sent to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. --
NKJV: Or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.
Alternative Readings: Or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers [criminals, CEV; those who do wrong, NCV, RSV] and for the praise of [to commend, NIV; to honor, NLT; the approval of, NAB] those who do good [right, NASB; NCV, RSV].
Cross-references: When government is functioning the way it should, it not only punishes evil but encourages the good, “For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4).
Thinking points and questions: What are some ways that a government can “praise” and encourage those who desire to live an upright life? [(1) Awards and recognition; (2) tax breaks.]
GW: God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing what is right. --
NKJV: For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
Alternative Readings: For this is the will of God, that by doing good [right, CEV, NASB, RSV, NRSV] you may put to silence the ignorance [ignorant talk, NIV] of foolish men [those who make foolish accusations, NLT].
Cross-references: When the walls of ancient Jerusalem were being rebuilt by the Jews who returned from foreign captivity, Nehemiah urged that faithfulness to their God was the way to deal with the criticisms of their foes, “Then I said, ‘What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?’ " (Nehemiah 5:9).
Thinking points and questions: For those who misunderstand us, we can endeavor to correct the misunderstanding. For those who disagree with us, we can attempt to reason through matters to a decision we can both accept. Unfortunately, there are also individuals who are so “foolish” and hostile in their fundamental inability to accept a specific individual they don’t like, that the most we can hope for is a situation where they will keep their mouths shut.
* Note that “ignorance” and “foolish” behavior and accusations go hand-in-hand. This kind of “ignorance” has nothing to do with education and college degrees; it has to do with an understanding of the basic principles of right and wrong and good reasoning. For the truly “ignorant” it is enough that they don’t “like” it.
GW: Live as free people, but don’t hide behind your freedom when you do evil. Instead, use your freedom to serve God. –
NKJV: As free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
Alternative Readings: As free, yet not using liberty [freedom, CEV, NAB, RSV] as a cloak [covering, NASB; cover-up, NIV; excuse, CEV, NCV, NLT; pretext, NAB, RSV, NRSV] for vice [doing wrong, CEV; to do evil, NCV, NLT], but as bondservants of God.
Cross-references: Paul also dealt with individuals who were tempted to twist their spiritual freedom into an excuse to commit moral evil, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
Thinking points and questions: “Freedom” is not the same thing as “license,” the right to do anything and everything we desire. What are some differences? [Freedom works within the realm of things that are right in and of itself. For example, freedom involves the choice of the best honest job by which to support ourselves. License would be to choose a job that is illegal or hurtful to others, even if technically legal.]
GW: Honor everyone. Love your brothers and sisters in the faith. Fear God. Honor the emperor. –
NKJV: Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Alternative Readings: Honor [respect, CEV, NCV, NLT; proper respect, NIV] all people [everyone, NRSV]. Love the brotherhood. Fear [honor, CEV; respect, NCV] God. Honor [respect, CEV, NLT] the king [emperor, RSV, NRSV].
Cross-references: Respecting others as our equals or betters protects us from needless arguments or conflict over our relationship with each other, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).
Thinking points and questions: Even annoying people have some ability, skill, or talent that we can respect. By recognizing and remembering that—by giving them the “honor”/respect they deserve--we can avoid conflicts that would otherwise occur. We can’t control the ill attitudes others have toward us, but we can avoid our own lack of courtesy and respect that results in others being treated in that manner.
If their earthly status was that of “servant”
(the most common modern parallel would,
roughly, be that of employee)
then they were to obey orders and imitate
the example of Jesus in patiently enduring injustice
if unjust retribution came their way (2:18-2:25):
Commentary and Thought Flow
2:18 Those we work for are to be treated with respectful concern (“fear”)—they can, after all, either punish us or get rid of us—and this principle applies not just to those who are easy to get along with but also to those who do not practice moderation in their treatment of others.
2:19 If we become victims of abuse by those in power, it is “commendable” that we endure it with verbal restraint and without physical retaliation.
2:20 In fact, if we have done something deserving of punishment, who have we to blame but ourselves? Restraint when justly accused only demonstrates our lack of power rather than being a demonstration of our search for the virtuous life.
2:21 In following the path of restraint, we follow the example of Christ who also had to endure unjust pain and suffering.
2:22 Yet, just as the Old Testament said, He had done no moral evil nor had He been dishonest in anything He had spoken.
2:23 Though cursed and threatened with death, He avoided both verbal excess in response and physical retaliation as well.
2:24 By the wounds Christ suffered, He brought healing to our sin and made it possible for us to live a life centered on right-doing (“righteousness”).
2:25 There was no room for puffed up arrogance. They were like sheep who had wandered away but who had voluntarily “returned” to their Shepherd for safety, security, and forgiveness.
GW: Slaves, place yourselves under the authority of your owners and show them complete respect. Obey not only those owners who are good and kind, but also those who are unfair. --
NKJV: Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.
Alternative Readings: Servants, be submissive to [obey, CEV; accept the authority of, NIV, NLT, NRSV] your masters with all fear [deference, NRSV; respect, CEV, NASB, NCV, NIV, RSV], not only to the good [kind, CEV, NLT, NRSV, RSV] and gentle [considerate, NIV; equitable, NAB; kind, NCV; reasonable, NLT; thoughtful, CEV], but also to the harsh [cruel, CEV; dishonest, NCV, overbearing, RSV; unreasonable, NASB].
Cross-references: Paul explains that such behavior serves a very practical purpose, to maintain the respect of others for the faith we claim to have, “Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1).
Thinking points and questions: The ancient world had outright slavery--though it was not race based as was the case in the Americas in the 17th to 19th centuries. It was not a matter of whether slavery was “good” or “bad,” it was a social reality, like the twentieth century police states. One had to learn how to live honorably within a society and institutions that were not always desirable or honorable. The same is true today.
GW: God is pleased if a person is aware of him while enduring the pains of unjust suffering. --
NKJV: For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
Alternative Readings: For this is commendable [a credit to you, NRSV; approved, RSV; finds favor, NASB], if because of conscience toward [being loyal to, CEV; mindful of, RSV] God one endures grief [sorrows, NASB; stands the pain, NCV], suffering wrongfully [unfair treatment, NLT; unjust suffering, NAB, NIV].
Cross-references: Jesus taught in His Beatitudes that a person with this frame of mind has the character that will permit entrance into God’s kingdom, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
Thinking points and questions: The Bible is an extremely candid book. It shows life at the best and the worst. It makes no pretense that everything in life will be as it should. That comes only in the eternal kingdom, in which this earth’s excesses will have been purged away. Here there may well be pain, but not in eternity. Heaven is the “Divine equalizer” that no mortal foe can take away from us.
GW: What credit do you deserve if you endure a beating for doing something wrong? But if you endure suffering for doing something good, God is pleased with you. --
NKJV: For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
Alternative Readings: For what credit is it [You don’t gain anything, CEV] if, when you are beaten [punished, CEV] for your faults [for doing wrong, NAB, NCV, NIV, NLT; when you sin, NASB], you take it patiently? But when you do good [right, NASB, NLT, NRSV, RSV] and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God [God will bless you, CEV; God is pleased, NCV, NLT; this finds favor with God, NASB].
Cross-references: Peter recognized that just because you are a Christian does not guarantee that you will always live like you should. Hence he returns to the theme of this verse in 1 Peter 4:15, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters.” It was a temptation so strong that he felt a double repetition was needed.
Thinking points and questions: A sin does not become permissible just because a person has been “converted” to Christ. Yet how many people act and think the way they had before “conversion,” with the only difference being that they now attend Sunday services and make church members miserable!
* There is such a thing as deserved and earned retribution. If doing wrong to others brings trouble down on our own heads we have no one to blame but ourselves.
GW: God called you to endure suffering because Christ suffered for you. He left you an example so that you could follow in his footsteps. --
NKJV: For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.
Alternative Readings: For to this you were called [called for this purpose, NASB], because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.
Cross-references: Jesus’ sufferings were voluntary, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).
Thinking points and questions: Jesus does not make us endure mistreatment. He simply calls upon us to accept His example in enduring injustice rather than resorting to violence. Just as Jesus’ day of triumph came in spite of severe outward hindrances, so will ours.
* One of the great agonies of existence is that the just suffer. Yet even the Sinless One had to endure such so why should it really be a surprise if we—who fall so far short of that standard—endure similar injustice?
GW: Christ never committed any sin. He never spoke deceitfully. –
NKJV: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth."
Alternative Readings: “Who committed no sin nor was deceit [guile, RSV] found in His mouth [ever tell a lie, CEV; never deceived anyone, NLT].”
Cross-references: The reference is to the predicted Suffering Servant who would redeem Israel, “And they made His grave with the wicked--but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth” (Isaiah 53:9).
Jesus challenged His listeners on this point, “Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?” (John 8:46).
Thinking points and questions: Jesus’ challenge to His listeners (John 8:46, above) bears witness to Jesus’ character. Only a person against whom nothing legitimate could be even alleged would dare do such a thing. Jesus had so many enemies that if there was anything credible to effectively discredit Him, they would certainly have used it against Him—telling evidence against such modern fantasies as that Jesus was a revolutionary or promiscuous.
GW: Christ never verbally abused those who verbally abused him. When he suffered, he didn’t make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly. --
NKJV: Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.
Alternative Readings: Who, when He was reviled [abused, CEV, NRSV; insulted, NAB, NCV, NLT], did not revile [abuse, NRSV; insult, NAB, NCV] in return [never tried to get even, CEV; retaliate, NIV]; when He suffered, He did not threaten [threaten to get even, NLT], but committed Himself to [entrusted himself to, NIV, NRSV] Him who judges righteously [fairly, CEV, NLT; justly, NAB, NIV, RSV, NRSV; rightly, NCV].
Cross-references: Even while in agony on the cross (and being in agony during crucifixion was inevitable), Jesus did not yield to the temptation to verbally strike out at those being executed with Him nor at onlookers who mocked Him, “And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him” (Mark 15:29-32).
Thinking points and questions: Striking back with vicious words provides a flow of adrenalin. It makes one feel good--at least temporarily. But it is far more likely to inflame a situation than to change anyone’s mind.
* Think of a situation in which you were tempted to, literally and physically, strike out at someone? Would it really have done anything to change the situation for the better? Would it have caused your enemy to change his or her mind? Or would it just have given him additional excuse to hate you?
GW: Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval. His wounds have healed you. –
NKJV: Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.
Alternative Readings: Who Himself bore [carried the burden of, CEV] our sins in His own body on the tree [cross, NAB, NRSV], that we having died to sins [would stop sinning, CEV], might live for righteousness [start living right, CEV]--by whose stripes [cuts and bruises, CEV; wounds, NAB, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, RSV] you were healed.
Cross-references: The Suffering Servant was described this way in Isaiah 53:5-8, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.”
Thinking points and questions: “Wounds” (“stripes”) mean pain and crucifixion was designed to be the most painful means possible to make a person die. But Jesus did not endure it out of some kind of spiritual masochism. Rather He did it because it could result in the spiritual healing of others.
* Meditate upon how difficult it would be to endure punishment that we do not deserve in order to help some one else? Would there be many/any we would be willing to do that for? Imagine the worst person you’ve ever dealt with. Would it be possible to endure such a situation for that individual?
GW: You were like lost sheep. Now you have come back to the shepherd and bishop of your lives. --
NKJV: For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Alternative Readings: For you were like sheep going astray [continually straying, NASB; wandered away, CEV, NCV], but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer [guardian, NAB, NASB, NLT, NRSV, RSV; protector, CEV, NCV] of your souls.
Cross-references: Without a shepherd(s) whose authority is recognized, any group can far more easily be victimized. On a spiritual level this was true in ancient Israel as well, “So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them" (Ezekiel 34:5-6).
The danger is also alluded to in Zechariah 10:2, “For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.
Thinking points and questions: The leadership of Jesus over the entire people of God (and that of the local leadership over a congregation) is designed to avoid the danger of the people being victimized. Leadership involves far more than merely having a title; it involves active service to assure that the best interests of the group are maintained.