1 Peter 1:3-2:10, “Suffering, Behavior, and Identity”

Recap from 2 weeks ago

  • Letter is written to a group of Gentile converts in modern day Turkey
    • Undergoing persecution from their neighbors because the way they are living threatens the established order
      • Reminder – patron deities control everything, if one group refuses to give them their due then that group will take the blame if something goes wrong
    • The Letter answers two questions:
      1. Why is this happening to us (why is God letting this happen)?
      2. How should we live
        • If our attempts to live our faith have let to this then what’s the answer?


Suffering in the Bible

  • Three main reasons in the OT
    1. Consequence of sin – Genesis 3, David’s child with Bathsheba dies, the theory of Job’s friends
      • Job 22: 1-10
    2. Divine Education – you suffer so that you’ll learn something/faith will grow
      • Abram being asked to sacrifice Issac, Exile of Jewish nation (punishment and opportunity)
    3. Benefit for Others – your suffering helps others in some way – tangible or as an example
      • Joseph – what you intended for evil God used for good
  • Number 2 becomes most prevalent in the NT, and it’s the answer we see in 1 Peter


1 Peter 1: 3-12

  • Begins the body of the letter
  • Verse 6-7
    • Other translations – “unjust trials”
    • Answer to suffering – the suffering is to refine you – the same way fire refines gold
      • Comparison being made – if fire can purify gold, how much more can the fire of suffering purify the faith of those who are steadfast
        • When you come through to the other side of suffering your faith is going to be stronger and…
          • Verse 7 – it will result in praise and honor and glory when Christ comes
  • Other important idea being developed here – salvation is a future reality
    • Verses 3-5 – new birth into a living hope – hope of what – hope of an inheritance that is waiting in heaven
      • Implication – what is waiting for you is worth the things you face now
  • Other thing going on – Language of election – 10-13
    • The idea of being a chosen people is going to show up throughout the letter
      • Parallels with Israel
      • Helps with the hope in the face of suffering – if God has chosen you God won’t break the promises you’ve heard


1 Peter 1:13-22

  • “Set your hope on the grace to be brought” – focus on the future, prepare yourself for action that is focused on that future
    • What is that action – verse 15 – “Be holy because God is holy” – that’s the answer to the question “how do we live” – by being holy
      • How are you holy – by being different
        • Roman society built on “concordia,” being like everyone else
          • Roman army – a bunch of people doing the same thing at the same time
      • Where is they holiness going to come from – a couple of places


1 Peter 1: 23-2:10

  • First source of holiness – community
    • Practical – they’re going to stand up to persecution easier as a group
  • Second source – relying on their conversion – trust the decision you’ve made, don’t fall backwards
    • Why?
      • Verses 23-24 – it was based on the enduring word of God, on something timeless, on something unchanging
        • The Romans loved to add gods – when they met new people with their own gods the Romans just declared that they were probably the same gods they worshiped – one of the reasons the Romans and Jews/Christians had issues
          • From the beginning God has been offering salvation, that doesn’t change
  • Third Source – reimagining honor and shame
    • People think the stone is worthless – people think that Christ’s death is shameful – but really through that God is going to work which means it’s the most honor one can receive
  • Fourth Source of holiness – “chosen-ness”
    • Royal priesthood, holy nation, God’s chosen
    • You’re special to God, you’re set apart by God, lean in to that


We’ve gotten an answer to the two questions

  • Suffering is happening to refine your faith, and you are to live as people set apart, as holy people
    • Obviously there’s more coming
  • Where I want to end this week – he comes back to this idea of community
    • For Peter the audience’s identity as Christian was their identity. Before they were anything else they were God’s people.
    • On the census survey  – race, country of origin, gender, religion
      • Faith is just one of several identifiers
        • For Peter faith is the identifier – it is the one thing that describes the people.
          • Worth remembering in a world that focuses on all those other identities – we’re Christians before we are anything else and that makes a mark on how we live. It means we have a calling to be Holy, to live differently

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