1 Peter 1-2 (Ps 33) Lynne McCarthy 12/9/21
Observe Peter’s letter offers hope for the church suffering under persecution. They will enjoy salvation in the end times, for God’s promise through Christ’s death and resurrection is a reality for them.
The ‘elect exiles’ (1:1) are Gentile believers, God’s new chosen people, the Church scattered through the known world, known by God from the beginning. Peter acknowledges the Trinity and the atoning work of Jesus (2). Painful various trials test their love and faith, shot through with joy, salvation the outcome (1:6-8). Their faith-fiplled lives will end in praise and glory when Christ is revealed. As He suffered, so will his followers; as Christ sits enthroned in the heavens, so will his elect -- incentive to holy living as they set their minds on His grace. (13-16) God is Father, but on the last day He is also Judge (17). ‘Fear’ is not ‘terror’ but that reaction of sheer awe at His holiness. Taking His displeasure seriously, they will avoid sin.
Peter urges a stop to hidden sins that spring from the heart (2:1; Mt 12:34). The Lord’s goodness sets up a longing for Him. They are becoming God’s house, stone by stone, priests in a life of sacrifice; the passage from Isa. 28:16 is a reminder of their source of strength. (5,9) But unbelievers stumble by their disobedience.
For those who defy authority, Peter has crisp words: Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution… (13). Peter reminds his readers that they are free; in choosing to submit to authority, from emperor down, they serve the Lord and one another. They counter opposition by being mindful of God (19) while enduring injustice. (Being authors of their own suffering is also possible; there, punishment is just (20a).) Suffering without retaliation is a part of new life because Jesus suffered and died for His humanity (21-24) enabling a return to Christ, gracious Shepherd. (25)
Interpret At this time there were sporadic, localized bursts of persecution by Rome against Christians, as they would not bow to the emperor as god. In this, there were opportunities for believers to articulate reasons for their faith, to practise what Peter was preaching.
The priesthood of all believers is exactly that: all who submit to God’s authority and accept the Lordship of Christ in His sacrifice have access to Jesus, the great High Priest, humbly living under the constraints of this present life to witness to Christ’s Lordship
Peter references Isaiah 53:5c when he speaks of healing -- not physical (24), but Christ’s complete repair of all brokenness, His punishment enabling a confident return to the gracious Shepherd. (24-25).
Apply We’re not under Rome, but the culture we live in bears much resemblance, ‘bread and circuses’ as distractions from resolutely remaining in Jesus, our model and true Centre. We as a believing church are counter-cultural, but we can’t stay the course without His grace, corporate worship and prayer in His Spirit who is our Advocate.
We are meant to be witnesses, not just to our church enclave but to those far from faith. The way we live out our love for God and others will speak, as will gentle, persevering persuasion of the truth of the gospel. It takes grace and love, both abundantly supplied when we ask.
Ask How should I then live among unbelieving family members, neighbours or friends who may be indifferent, offended, or hostile to the Gospel? As I consider what Jesus has done for me, what steps will I take towards holiness? Do I want to be holy, set apart, different?
Pray Lord Jesus, in my short exile in this world, in the life You have bought for me by Your death and resurrection, You alone enable me to live Your life. I look to You as my High Priest, my Saviour, my King. Help me to humbly submit to human authority, however difficult, by grace submitting to Your authority. I entrust my life to You, with deep thanks.
Sing Ps 33 Unfailing Love - Jason Silver
1 Peter 1 I Want to be Holy - Matt Papa
1 Peter 1:1:9 (spoken) Shift Worship
1 Peter 2:24 By His Wounds
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.