1 & 2 Peter
Lesson 3: 1 Peter 1
As we begin our study of the text of 1 Peter, start by reading through the first chapter. Pay special attention to the word holy and how it is used. Remember back to lesson 2, holy (HAGIOS) means dedicated to God (Arndt). Also, keep an eye out for similar words such as sanctification. As you read, be sure to ask yourself what it means to be holy and why it is so important.
Peter refers to his readers in verse 1 as “aliens.” This word in the original Greek (PARAPIDEMOS) means sojourning or residing temporarily (Arndt). He appropriately starts this letter by reminding his audience that they do not belong in this world. They have been chosen for a greater purpose.
How can reminding ourselves that we are only “aliens” in this world help us keep a godly perspective in our lives?
At this time in the history of the church, there would have been many cultures and different types of people that normally wouldn’t have been of like mind. Sometimes this caused the problem of one group of people feeling superior to another. Peter reminds them that they are all chosen; this was not an accident, God always intended for all to have access to His grace.
In Exodus 24 Moses sprinkles the people with the blood of the sacrifice symbolizing their commitment to obey the law. In 1 Peter, the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood over us symbolizes our commitment to obey the new law. The Holy Spirit set us apart for the purpose of submission to Christ and His will.
Peter goes on in the following section to talk about the troubles that they would face; however, before that he wanted to put things into perspective for his readers. When we compare the difficulties of everyday life to the merciful God who saves us from death and gives us an eternal inheritance, their impact seems to diminish exponentially. No matter what happens to us in this life, we have a reason to rejoice!
Peter continues, insisting that they stand firm in the trials that they will face. The word translated trials here, PEIRASMOS, literally means temptation or enticement (Arndt).
Our ultimate goal is to have the proof of our faith result in praise and glory when Christ returns. The word proof (DOKIMION) used in verse 7 is not used the way we normally do. It refers to the process of burning out the impurities in metal to produce a pure product (Arndt). As imperfections are burned out of an alloy and it becomes purer it also increases in strength. Peter is telling us that these temptations are the catalyst for refining and toughening our faith.
Peter’s audience is at an exciting point in history; in verses 10-12 he reminds them that the prophets longed to see this day come. They searched and studied in hopes of understanding more fully who the Savior would be and when He would come. The angels even longed to be privy to full knowledge of the ultimate plan. We, just like the audience of this letter, are able to look back and see the fulfillment of these prophecies. We can see how God’s plan worked throughout history; this should give us enormous assurance and confidence in our heavenly inheritance.
Peter’s first command “prepare your minds for action” literally means “gird the loins of your mind.” This is terminology we don’t often use in our vernacular. At the time of this letter, most people wore long flowing robes. In order to run or participate in most physically strenuous activities, they had to tie up the bottom of the robe so they didn’t trip on it.
Peter encourages his readers to be like obedient children. Children don’t always know something is right or wrong, they are ignorant. As parents, our job is to train them to understand these differences and teach them the correct way to behave. Once they have learned this, children who wish to please their parents through their obedience will not return to the same behavior they have since learned to be wrong.
Instead of reverting to our former lifestyles, God wants us to be holy or set apart. In verse 15 Peter tells us to set ourselves apart specifically in the area of our behavior. An observer will usually define us by our actions. We can have the best intentions, but if we never act on those intentions we may not be the light to the world that we should be. People should notice that we are different based on the things we do. Christianity should stand in such stark contrast to the world that others can’t help but to take notice.
While God is our Heavenly Father and is preparing an eternal inheritance for us, He is also our judge. We must give God the respect and obedience He deserves, knowing that He will be determining our future. It was common at the time of this writing for slaves or prisoners of war to be bought back with silver or gold. God did this for us, He purchased our souls back from the prison of sin and death, but the cost was much higher this time. The cost was something perfect and imperishable, the blood of His son.
The command Peter gives in verse 22 is an interesting one. At first glance it appears as if he says: Because you love each other, love each other! It is important to note that Peter uses two different forms of the word love in this verse. The first is PHILADELPHIA or love between brothers and the second is AGAPAO which is an active love and affection (Arndt). His readers have been doing a good job of considering each other family, but they need to take this love one step further. They should be pursuing this fervent and active love from the heart. Peter knows with the upcoming temptations and sufferings that the church will face, they will need this kind of love and commitment to one another.
Many times, in the midst of our busy schedules and secular commitments, we lose sight of the importance of the relationships between us and our Christian brothers and sisters. In a world where we are all in our own little sphere and are taught to mind our own business, it takes a lot of effort to break through someone’s bubble. Let me guarantee you, it is worth it. We need to be making as many strong Christian friendships as we can. We should be caring for each other the same way the first century church was in Acts 2:42-47. Our Christian brothers and sisters are our lifeline and are intended to be there to help us through any difficulties we face on this earth.
We, as Christians, have been called to a higher calling. The Word of God will never pass away. It will never become obsolete! We can place our full faith and trust in His Word because it will endure forever. Living in a world of so many passing fads and fashions, this is an extremely comforting thought.
As go about your week, you will be tempted. Remember Peter’s words and use these temptations as chances to refine your faith. It won’t be easy and sometimes it will be painful, fire usually is; however, if you stand firm in your convictions, you will come out on the other side with a faith that is purer and stronger than you could have ever imagined. Remember, others’ will see your behavior and if you set yourself apart they will be able to view the awesome strength that faith in our steadfast Heavenly Father can produce.
Arndt, W., F.W. Danker and W. Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (3rd edition). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
*Note: The author uses the New American Standard Update for all quotations and references.
By Kristy Huntsman
Kristy is CFYC’s Finer Grounds Editor, a co-host of our podcast CFYC Espresso! and all-around right-hand-gal. She and her husband, Lance serve with the Southwest church of Christ in Ada, OK where Lance is the family minister. Kristy is a stay-at-home-mom to their two daughters Taylor and Makayla.