Continuing my series on 1 Peter, let us examine The New Life and Our Duty in a Hostile World from 1 Peter 1:13-25 and 1 Peter 2:13-3:12.
Holiness: The New Way of Life
In 1 Peter 1:13-21, Peter commends to his readers that their future inheritance should be an incentive to holiness.?? He exhorts his readers to godly living (1:13-2:3), commending them towards moral and spiritual actions that constitute a life of loyalty to Christ. The inheritance promised to followers of Christ (1:13-16) should motivate them to set their hope entirely on their future reward.?? More than that, Christians are called to live in fear of the God who redeemed them at the cost of his own son (1:17-21).
Respect: The Christian???s Duty in a Hostile World
Henceforth, those who hope in the grace of Christ???s revelation and fear God’s discipline and fatherly displeasure will consequently glorify God by behaving respectfully in the world they live. Through the familiar paraenesis of New Testament epistles, Peter now turns to a list of dutiful commands for Christians (2:11-3:12).?? His instructions primarily address how we must relate to others ??? how we as believers should live as exiles in the midst of a world that rejects our message.?? We are to bear witness to the gospel when we live in a way that pleases God, testifying to the Gospel in the way we order ourselves in society.Peter exhorts Christians to goodness as citizens (2:13-17), slaves (2:18-25), wives (3:1-6), and husbands (3:7). The section is summed up in 1 Peter 3:8-12: those who imitate Christ and pursue goodness will receive an eternal reward.
(1 Peter 2:11-12) As Sojourners and Exiles in a Pagan world
How are we to behave toward the surrounding unbelieving culture??? Christians are to abstain from sinful passions because they wage war against their soul (2:11).?? While the pleasures of the world are tempting and enticing, they must not hold on to those sinful desires for they bring spiritual harm to the believer.?? Hence, as sojourners and exiles awaiting our end-time inheritance, we are engulfed in a great struggle and warfare against such desires.Furthermroe, Christians are to live godly lives ??? even if they will be criticized by unbelievers (???Gentiles,??? 2:12).?? Believers will subsequently glorify God because when they do good deeds, some unbelievers will repent and believe in the gospel (cf. Matt 5:16).?? Those who become believers will glorify God at their conversion by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, as well as ultimately on the Day of Judgment.
(1 Peter 2:13-17) As citizens to the government
How are we to behave toward the state, in light of one???s simultaneous loyalty to God? Christians should accept the authority of those in government to be subject to every civil authority (cf. Rom. 13:1-7).?? In Peter???s day, the king was the Roman emperor. Christians were suffering in the hands of the state and would soon suffer more intensely under Nero. The punishment from government includes not just deterring evil but carrying out retribution against those who do evil (cf. Rom 13:4).?? By contrast, governments are to honor, praise, reward those who do good, thus encouraging more good behavior.?? Hence, submission to civil authorities and governments is the will of God, for godly lives of believers will put to silence any false charges raised against them.
(1 Peter 2:18-25) As slaves to masters
How are servants to behave towards their masters??? They are to submit to them respectfully, even if they are unjust (2:18).?? In the Greco-roman world, masters had extensive authority over slaves, and slaves were often mistreated by their masters.?? Nevertheless, Peter calls on slaves to be subject even to evil masters, with all respect masters (1 Cor 7:21).?? Why? God???s people will receive a reward from the Lord if they endure suffering righteously.?? Such is a ???gracious thing??? (v.19) in which God will give due credit (cf. v.20) for their patient endurance of suffering as evidence of God’s grace at work.?? The ultimate example of such gracious longsuffering is of course, Jesus Christ (2:21-25), whom we are called to imitate.
(1 Peter 3:1-7) In the Family: Husbands and Wives
Likewise, how are wives to behave toward their husbands (3:1???6) and husbands toward wives (3:7)??? Peter is insistent that if Christians are to witness to the gospel, they must submit to the civil order as well as the social order that God has designed.?? While women are in now way inferior to men, wives have been given a role which puts them in submission to the headship which resides in their own husbands.?? Husbands are to be the leaders in their homes (cf. Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19), and wives are to be subject to and follow their leadership (cf. 1 Pet 3:5???6).If a wife has an unbelieving husband who is disobedient to the word (i.e., the gospel), she shouldn???t abandon the husband (cf. 1 Cor 7:13-16), not necessarily preach to him (???without a word???, 3:1), or demand her rights (???be subject???, 3:1). Rather, the Christian wife should lovingly and graciously submit to her unbelieving husband as an evangelistic tool. Such modesty, meekness and respect for him will testify without a word to the truth of the gospel.For husbands, they are to live with their wives in accord with God’s will, which includes understanding the needs of a wife.?? Peter grounds this in the fact that men are in general physically stronger than women and may be tempted to threaten their wives through physical or verbal abuse.?? For if husbands do not treat their wives in a godly way, the Lord will pay no heed to their prayers.
Summary: Imitating Christ, Pursuing Goodness (1 Peter 3:8-12)
Peter sums up his exhortations by encouraging Christians to live honorable with fellow believers in the church.?? We are called to maintain inward unity of the heart, show brotherly affection to each other, and to be examples and purveyors of peace and unity, rather than disruption and disharmony (3:8; cf. Rom 12:16; 1 Cor 1:10).?? Such godly virtues are called to be exemplified in all believers at all times, for hose who bless others will receive a blessing from God (3:9-12; cf. Psalm 34:12-16).