Peter wrote this letter as he worked in the church to help develop it. The first letter from Peter was written around 65 A.D. addressed to the strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Much of this letter is just Peter presenting hope and joy toward believers to help them in their sufferings. The Romans persecuted the Christians around this time, so Peter writes to the Christians that God is still in control, and that they should rejoice because of Jesus Christ’s suffering bring Him unto glory.
Peter begins as he notes that believers should rejoice through the heaviness of temptations, and that the trial of their faith should purify the faith so it can result in praise, glory, and honor unto the Lord. Peter instructs them to be holy as God is holy. Therefore, this talk is about the previous trial of faith and about previous blood. Through the previous trial of faith, the precious blood of Christ redeems us.
Peter identifies many promises in the first couple of chapters: Jesus Christ has begot us, we are heirs subject to an inheritance, we are kept by the power of God, we have salvation, we have a great hope, we are not ashamed, we’re born again by His Word, and we’re a chosen people. Peter advises believers on how to live a godly life. He says to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end.” This seems to mean – to be more like Christ. He then tells them to love one another (possibly referring back to the great commandment). Soon, he instructs (chapter 2) to lay aside all wickedness by trusting that God can help you do so. When believers (become a believer), they are like newborn babes, as Peter describes it. As newborn babes, believers can have the milk of the Word (probably rejecting the meat because it is too strong).
Next, Peter calls Jesus a living stone that is rejected by men, but precious unto God. Therefore, believers are stones too… “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation…” (2:9). Peter then tells them to submit themselves to every ordinance of man, like kings or governors, for example. Believers should “honor all men.” Also, to fear God and honor the king. Servants are charges to be subject to their masters with fear.
Christ should serve as the great example of believers, because He suffered for us, not sinning, but bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Believers are declared to be dead to sins, therefore should – instead of sinning – live unto righteousness. By Jesus’ stripes, we were healed. Notice it says we “were” healed, which means our healing is already complete – we just need to wait for it to come to pass in full circle. As sheep that have went astray, Christ returns believers unto Himself. Christ is the Shepherd and Bishop of believers’ souls.
Next, Peter instructs husbands and wives. He tells wives to be subject to their own husbands, recognizing his own leadership to family. Wives must be gentle and respectful with a quiet spirit. She should attempt to win her husband more by her behavior than her words. Wives need to also remain loyal to the Lord and His Word. Husbands should dwell (in honor) with their wives according to knowledge, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life. Overall, husbands should be considerate and loving also, showing that the wife is a high treasure.
Now, Peter tells believers ways to conduct themselves as Christians: being all of one mind with compassion and love for one another, being pitiful and courteous. People should also not render evil for evil, refrain his tongue from evil, eschew evil, do good, and seek and ensue peace. They should act as such, because “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (3:12).
Next, Peter talks about those who suffer for doing good, that they are happy, and should not be afraid of their terror or be troubled. Believers should be sanctifying the Lord God in their hearts. As Christ suffered for us in the flesh, believers should have the same mind as Christ, avoiding lusts, excess of wine, lasciviousness, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.
Peter then warns that the end of all things is at hand, so believer should be sober and watch unto prayer. Believers need love and hospitality among themselves without grudging. Therefore, if God love us, we need to love one another. Also, Peter notes that it shouldn’t be strange when Christians go through fiery trials, because they are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.
When Christ’s glory is revealed, we can be glad with exceeding joy. Jesus allows us to share in His sufferings, which is great because His suffering led to great exaltation into Heaven. So, why not us believers? If believers are reproached for His name, Peter writes, happy are you. Christians should not be ashamed in sufferings, but rather glorify God.
We learn from Peter that we should feed the flock of God, and be examples to the flock. Younger believers should act unto elders as subjects with humility. Also, that believers are to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt them in due time. By casting all cares upon God (because He cares), being sober, and being vigilant – we can resist the devil, who parades around like a roaring lion who seeks whom he may devour. God called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, making believers perfect and strengthened. Peter concludes the letter by wishing peace to the people.
Lessons and other notes from Peter
Through the death and resurrection of Christ, God gives Christians new life and promises eternal blessings. We can be assured of our inheritance when it comes, because it is incorruptible (or imperishable). We experience salvation at its fullest through the promised blessing of New Life in Christ. Overall, what inheritance incorruptible means is that there is an inheritance for us called Salvation in Christ, and it will never perish or go away.
Corruptible versus incorruptible seed: Corruptible seed is a seed that is corrupted that anything can grow out of it. Many times, a corruptible seed would be one that is buried in the earth, but quickly dies. Human seed is corrupt, and human nature comes from this corruptible seed – which causes an endless cycle of sin to pass from one to the next. Eventually, corruptible seed dies, especially when it completely weakens to not be able to survive.
Incorruptible seed, that is, God’s seed, is fully pure and can’t be corrupted. When it plants (in the hearts of men), out of it comes grace, love, joy, peace, and even more fruit. Incorruptible seed is imperishable, because there aren’t any vulnerabilities – it’s perfect!
Overall, things born of human origin die, however, things born of God live eternally.
Dealing with envy: Envy can be rooted in a grudge, where a person feels uneasy about the success or happiness of another. Holding a grudge or any other thing against a person – especially anger, can cause hate to flare up – however, we’re commanded in Mark 11:25, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Would we have forgiveness or assurance, if we held something against another?
We also see something directly related to the Great Commandment, however, this is in Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.” Of course, how can you have love if you bear a grudge? How can you let hatred fusion in your heart, and have love dwell as well? Proverb 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Hatred contrasts love in this example, and therefore, we must not envy, for it breeds hatred in albeit mysterious ways.
One of the examples from Scripture is noted in Acts 7:8-10 (which references Joseph’s story in Genesis), “And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.”
Peter’s spiritual transformation: Peter had always ministered to the Jews, especially as a Disciple (Matthew 10:2; Acts 1:15, 2:14); until one day that God had sent him to the Gentiles (Acts 10 vision, especially verse 45). Of course, in his normal attitude, he was disturbed by what the others might say about this, especially ministering outside of the Jewish Nation.
In the Gospels, he is impetuous (Matthew 14:28-31; 16:22-23; 19:27-28; Mark 9:5-7; Luke 5:4-5; John 13:6-11; 18:10-11; 21:7 — these could reflect other traits), courageous especially as a leader (Mark 1:36-37; 10:27-28; Luke 12:41; John 6:67-68; 13:24; 21:2-3; Acts 1:15-16 — these could reflect other traits), buoyant (Acts 4:13 is an example), quick to meet personal slight, and ambitious of Earthly power, however, in Peter’s Letters, we see him patient, restful, forbearing, trustful, loving, and with the old buoyancy and courage purified (we see that he preaches about the love of Christ in 1 Peter 1:22; and sought to glorify God before them in 2:12).
Peter experienced his own personal Pentecost, which came between the Gospel era and the writing of these letters, just as Jesus prophesied would come (this was in the Acts 10 vision account as well, especially verses 9-29). He already began showing transformation in the early days of the Church, to which, he took the lead when important issues came up (Acts 1:15; 5:3, 9). He was confident in the power of Christ (Acts 2:33; 3:6, 16; 4:10, 29-30). He was bold in his commitment to Jesus (Acts 4:8-13, 19-20; 5:18-21, 29-32, 40-42). He was a humble supporter of his fellow Apostles and Christians, especially Paul (as we see in Acts 15:7-11). The glorious Holy Ghost has renewed his mind, and helping him know how to think and act, so that he can preach and teach from a pure heart.
What Peter labels Jesus in his writings:
- The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world – God foreordained the redeemer for us, because if we were chosen before the foundation of the world, then Christ was destined to be our redeemer after all. He was thinking about me before He made the world – and that is special, just like all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
- The Chief Cornerstone – as Peter explains, that He is our chosen leader, savior, and helper.
- The Rock of offense – Christ was the object of the people’s stumbling, but not the cause of it, to which, they are just offended at Christ. This is likely brought on by envy of Christ and His Spirituality (see above on envy).
- The Example – Christ is the best example for us, because He was perfect in every way and representative of the Father.
- The Chief Shepherd – He knows how to shepherd people back to the Lord (and He demonstrates the entirety of Psalm 23).
- The Bishop of Souls – Sin has no power over me, because sin’s power was broken on the Cross. We are cleansed, given new life, and are under His Loving care, to which, He helps us learn, think, grow, and love as He does.
- The Suffering Savior – Christ suffered for us, left us an example, and showed us that He suffered for us so that we would have new life. He purposely suffered for us, to which, we didn’t have to suffer as hard. He even made a way for us to learn how to love, even in the midst of a chaotic world.
Peter’s Exhortations to living a spiritual life:
- Gird up the loins of your mind: When you do this, you take courage in the face of a fiery trial. The loin is the center of our being and the area of procreation. Keep the creative area of your mind intact to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God.
- Don’t pattern after your former sin life: We must be in obedience to the revealed Word and live a new life in Him, not as we once did in ignorance. We have been transformed from slavery in sin, to sonship and love in Christ.
- Pattern after God – Be holy: We are “called” unto Holiness, which should be in all manner of life, including conversation. Being holy involves knowing that He is holy and taking after His Example! (See just above of Jesus Christ being the Example).
- Fervently love one another with a pure heart: Love out of a pure heart, and do it with all that is within you! I love God and people from all that is within me, to which, I declare daily and practice daily!
Peter speaks to Christians as “strangers and Pilgrims,” because he realizes that Christians are no longer of this world, but are Heavenly Citizens – to which, we all belong to the Heavenly Kingdom as well. God’s People then and now are part of His Kingdom, not this world. Therefore, in this verse, we are admonished to flee from worldly lusts.
We use the liberty that we are given as the servants of God for good and love, and not for evil. We have the perfect Law of Liberty upon us that we should be fulfilling in loving our neighbor as ourselves. We do not transgress the Law of Moses, but we should do as we should to not transgress the Law of Liberty by doing evil and other things that are antithesis of love. What we do shall be done in love, for we should only do what’s good unto our neighbor.
The qualities of being hospitable and other instructions:
- People should have love for each other, for it covers a multitude of sins, meaning, it helps to prevent many sins we might commit against each other.
- People grumble when offering hospitality to a guest, because they may lack love for others, lack compassion, are lazy, or don’t have the means to offer hospitality (be it money or ability to function). The characteristics to display wisdom in hospitality involve being peaceable, gentle, easily intreated (persuadable), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
- On verses 10-11 (of 1 Peter 4), we see that those that are given the gift should use their God-given abilities with diligence, whether teaching the Bible or helping others. However, above all, people must work in a way that brings praise and glory unto God (and by all means, do it in love). Referencing Romans 12:6-8, we see that all should be diligent in carrying out the task for which God has assigned for them, no matter where they work – and to do it cheerfully.
We must be sober and vigilant, because our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour. (See 1 Peter 5:8)
Sober defined: 1. Temperate in the use of spiritous liquors; habitually temperate; as a sober man. Live a sober, righteous and godly life. 2. Not intoxicated or overpowered by spiritous liquors; not drunken. The sot may at times be sober. 3. Not mad or insane; not wild, visionary or heated with passion; having the regular exercise of cool dispassionate reason. 4. Regular; calm; not under the influence of passion; as sober judgment; a man in his sober senses. 5. Serious; solemn; grave; as the sober livery of autumn.
Vigilant defined: Watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety.
Listen would be Elders: Church elders should be sincere, understanding, and hard-working in overseeing the Church that God’s placed in their care, for they too are shepherds who should be interested in the welfare of their flock, and not because they want to make money. Their authority shouldn’t be used to force people to do something, but rather, it should be an example on how Christians should act. Elders should model Christ’s example, and then show that same example, so others can learn how to be more like Christ. They are answerable to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to which, they will have their work reviewed one day upon His Return!
These exhortations apply to our day, because this was how Peter (and albeit Paul and James, among others) modeled the Church for us. This is how we should act, because they were models of Christ’s work, and therefore, we too should be modeling after Christ’s work. We need to pass on the heritage of love upon each generation; doing it in a Christlike way. These great men of God showed us, and now we’re to do it and keep passing it on to further generations!
The Perspective in light of all this
Peter, just as James did, showed us a great way to be more like Christ, and to model after Him. He showed us so many different things that are remarkable to know about the Church and how it should operate. This was a man who truly knew what persecution was, similarly to Paul, and knew that people were tired and worn – and needed some encouragement and strength. He was also interested in ministering to so many scattered people, and hoping that everyone would be more in unity.
God gives believers new life through the death and resurrection of Christ, and this brings eternal blessings. We are awaiting and assured at the day of the return of the Lord, in hope to enjoy the promised blessings – and this is Peter’s exhortation, is for people to begin budding love between each other, and don’t limit our faith. We are cleansed and given new life through Christ, and therefore, we should live and walk in what Christ has prepared and given to us!
His People are God’s Living Temple, and Christ is the Chief Cornerstone, and we should know that God has chosen us for such a time as this, that we have God’s mercy and grace to tell people about how great He is – and to do it for His glory only! It’s not for our personal gain or achievement that matters, but it is for His Glory that matters in everything that we do. Our sinful ways and others acts in treating each other should be changed and we should repent of things we shouldn’t be doing, and do that things that we are called to do and express love the best.
He taught us that a bad attitude makes no difference, because God can help transform our attitudes, thoughts, and mind overall – especially in budding upon us love, peace, joy, and uprightness. We are part of His Kingdom, and He is giving us all that He desires to give us. We may desire sin, worldly things, or other things – but God desires for us to have love, righteousness, peace, and joy – which are part of the Kingdom of God. He wants to make us love, because we are in His Image and He is love, so we become love as well!