Memorize Scripture: 1 Peter 4:1-2

Hiding God’s Word In Our Hearts

Once again, as 1 Peter 4 begins, Peter encourages his readers to stand strong in the face of persecution, and to continue living for God. In doing so, he makes some extraordinary statements! Take at look at the first part of this chapter in 1 Peter 4:1-2.

1 Peter 4:1-2

Peter realizes that the temptation for believers to fall back into their old lifestyles of sin is strong. As he begins this next section of his letter, he encourages his readers to stay strong, and to avoid that. It was true then, and is still true today, that the pull of our culture is a strong force. We feel the pressure to conform to the “norm,” regardless of what that may be. And when we stand up against it, our culture heaps abuse and torment upon us.

Peter’s encouragement here is to follow Christ in spite of this. Christ suffered “in his body.” This is a very similar phrase to what Peter wrote in 3:18, where he says Christ “was put to death in the body.” Peter’s connection is clear, and his point is that we need to arm ourselves with the same attitude that Christ had, and be willing to face such suffering when it comes. This sounds very similar to Paul’s admonition to take the same attitude as Christ in Philippians 2.

Peter’s next statement is a mind blowing concept, one which I think many present-day Christians forget all too often. He states that when we suffer for doing God’s will, we demonstrate that we are done living in defiance of God’s will, we are done with sin. We show the world that we are ready to live for God, even if it involves suffering and persecution. In other words, sin holds no power over us, because we belong to God. When we take up the same attitude as Christ, we long for his will, and no longer long for sin. We have decided to stop sinning.

Memorize Scripture: 1 Peter 3:21-22

Hiding God’s Word In Our Hearts

In this final passage of 1 Peter 3, Peter makes a very clear statement about baptism and draws a close connection to salvation. You can see this passage for yourself in 1 Peter 3:21-22.

1 Peter 3:21-22

Peter’s statement here is startlingly clear: “Baptism now saves you.” Peter connects baptism as an essential piece of the salvation process.

He has just spent the previous verses giving a comparison of Noah’s flood; here he connects the two and draws his conclusions. Peter uses a literary device known as a type and antitype. The type is the event that foreshadows the antitype, the reality. In this case, Noah’s flood foreshadows salvation through water, which for people in the New Testament age, is baptism. Peter shows how Noah’s Flood points forward to the reality of baptism.

Just how does Noah and the Flood point to the reality of baptism? This can be a difficult thing to understand, and many reject it out of hand. But what Peter states here is that Noah and his family were brought safely through the waters of the flood, and were saved. And while this, in itself, is very interesting, it is only the comparison. The question of how baptism saves has yet to be answered.

Peter knows this and gives his answer in the next sentence. Ultimately, it’s through the divine power of the resurrection of Jesus that this can effect our salvation. But in a more immediate fashion, Peter gives another comparison, a contrast. Baptism doesn’t save because it removes dirt from the body, but because it is an appeal to God for a good conscience.

Memorize Scripture: 1 Peter 3:18-20

Hiding God’s Word In Our Hearts

As 1 Peter 3 comes to a close, Peter uses an illustration from the earliest days of history, of the Flood and Noah’s acts of faith during that time. But before he gets there, he makes one of the most misunderstood statements of the entire letter. Take a look for yourself in 1 Peter 3:18-20.

1 Peter 3:18-20

Remember, this entire section of Peter’s letter has been on the subject of unjust suffering. He calls those who face persecution to bear it, and remember for whom they are suffering. He gives us the ultimate example, that of Jesus himself, and his suffering for our own sake. Christ triumphed over death. He was victorious! And his sacrifice was sufficient, once and for all.

That’s how Peter begins this passage, with the reminder that Christ’s death was a one time event that was good enough for all people, everywhere, and at any time. No longer were the repetitive sacrifices of bulls and goats needed. Christ was righteous, and did what only he could do, in order to bring us close to God. One of the interesting textual variants of this passage makes the statement that Christ “suffered” for sins once and for all. This conveys the thrust of this passage very clearly.

But Peter also implies that because Christ suffered, we should expect to suffer as well. And we should be willing to follow the example of Christ as he suffered for doing good, although Christ’s suffering was different in nature, due to the atoning sacrifice he made on our behalf, that we could never accomplish on our own. And that work is finished. The death, burial and resurrection fully accomplished our salvation.

Peter next states that he was killed physically, but made alive by the Spirit. Of course, this is the cross and the resurrection. But what Peter states next has puzzled readers for centuries. It is an obscure passage that even the likes of Martin Luther could not completely fathom. He stated: “This is a strange text and certainly a more obscure passage than any other passage in the New Testament. I still do not know for sure what the apostle means.”

Memorize Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15-17

Hiding God’s Word In Our Hearts

In verse 14, Peter cites a passage from Isaiah 8:12. In this week’s passage, he uses the very next verse in Isaiah, but adapts it to his context, calling his readers to set apart Christ as Lord. You can see this passage in 1 Peter 3:15-17.

1 Peter 3:15-17

We need to remember that this entire section of 1 Peter is on the topic of suffering and persecution, especially suffering that occurs for doing right. Peter’s encouragement to his original readers is something we need to hear today as well. In verse 14, he stated that it is actually a blessing to suffer for the sake of Christ, and that we have nothing to fear.

In verse 15, he gives us the alternative to fear: We are to set apart Christ as Lord. Those who cause the suffering are not to be feared, because ultimately, they are not in control. Christ is, and he alone is worthy to be revered as Lord.

The next statement Peter makes is interesting, and one that is quite often pulled from its context and used as a proof text for apologetics. To be certain, apologetics, the defense of the gospel message, is a worth study. But that is not Peter’s point here. Remember, he is speaking in the overarching context of suffering for doing good. And if you keep Christ as Lord in the midst of such suffering, people will take notice of that. And some of them will want to know why we behave in such a way in such dire circumstances.

Peter warns us that this will happen, and encourages us to be ready with an answer when the question comes. We need to be able to articulate clearly the reason we have for our hope. It’s also interesting to note that he uses the word hope here instead of faith. For Peter, hope carries an eschatological meaning, looking forward to the inheritance that awaits all believers. We definitely need to know what we believe, and why we believe it – faith – but Peter also encourages us to know the reason for our hope – the eternity with Christ that is ours to come.

Memorize Scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-14

Hiding God’s Word In Our Hearts

As 1 Peter 3 continues, Peter gives some encouragement to those who suffer for doing what is right. You can see this for yourself in 1 Peter 3:13-14.

1 Peter 3:13-14

This idea of suffering for doing right is a common theme throughout this letter. Peter will revisit the idea of staying strong in the face of suffering again in chapter 4, verses 12-19. His encouragement to his readers is to be prepared, and to be strong.

He begins with a rhetorical question: Who is going to harm you for doing what is good? The answer, of course, is no one. That seems to be at odds with what he is writing about though, and at odds with what his readers are experiencing. And later, he will state that suffering for doing good is nothing strange or unexpected (4:12 and 5:9).

So what does he mean by this statement? I think he is referring back to his use of Psalm 34, which he just quoted in the previous paragraph. In Psalm 34, we see that God is in control, and is aware of everything that happens to his people. He rewards the righteous, and ultimately, will allow no harm to come to them. This statement here is the conclusion of Peter’s use and exhortation of Psalm 34. It parallels Paul’s thoughts in Romans 8, where he states that nothing can separate us from the love of God, or, as Peter refers to it, our inheritance.

Memorize Scripture: 1 Peter 3:12

Hiding God’s Word In Our Hearts

Last week, we saw the first portion of an Old Testament quotation Peter used. Today, we see the rest of that quote. See it for yourself in 1 Peter 3:12.

1 Peter 3:12

Peter used Psalm 34:12-16, from the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, to reinforce his point. Last week, we looked at the first portion of his quote. This week, we’ll memorize the rest.

Like last week, here is the passage Peter uses in its entirety:

Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Memorize Scripture: 1 Peter 3:10-11

Hiding God’s Word In Our Hearts

In the last passage, Peter stated that live in unity and be a blessing to others. He supported that statement with a quote from the Old Testament. Read it for yourself in 1 Peter 3:10-11.

1 Peter 3:10-11

Peter states very clearly that we are to live our lives to a higher standard, and especially so when we are faced with suffering because of it. In order to reinforce this, he quotes the Old Testament book of Psalms, using the Septuagint version. The Septuagint was a Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, and Peter uses Psalm 34:12-16 from it to make his point.

Here is the entire passage:

Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.