BIBLE STUDY The Book of
This study notes provide the core content of a group of bible studies on the Book of 1 Peter. While the core message of the study has been captured for you to read, written text can not fully express the sense of anointing upon the discussion of the word or the joy of corporate fellowship. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.
THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER * was written (dictated) by Peter & scribed by Silas (1 Peter 5 v 12) (It is consistent with the content of Peter’s sermons in Acts) * was addressed to exiled Christians, scattered in what is now Turkey (who had fled persecution) and was also written for us * was written in the expectation of the Coming of Christ to a people undergoing trials (dating it at around AD 65 - 70)
Chapter 1 Peter reminds the Christians of their hope and calling in Christ Jesus based on his experience
WE ARE CHOSEN (v 1) Peter knew personally what it was to be chosen. He had no hesitation in calling Christians including the Gentiles - God’s ‘elect’, God’s ‘chosen’ ones. With this distinction comes rights and responsibilities. However, the message is not exclusive but inclusive. We can be chosen but we still need to respond
Look up: Matthew 4 v 18-20 Mark 9 v 2 Mark 14 v 33 John 21 v 15-19 Acts 10 v 11-16; Acts 2 v 17-21
From the references we see that Jesus chose Peter to follow him; he chose him with James and John to see him transfigured; he chose him to watch with him in the Garden of Gethsemane; after his resurrection he chose Peter on the beach to “feed his sheep”; he chose Peter to take the gospel to the gentiles; and he chose Peter to speak on the Day of Pentecost, thus establishing his church. Q. Do you know that Jesus has chosen you? Can you, like Peter, think of times in your life when you have been aware of this? WE WERE PREDESTINED (v 2) according to three things: 1) the (fore)knowledge of God the Father 2) the consecrating work of the Spirit 3) sprinkling by the blood If you couldn’t answer question 1, read Psalm 139.
Look up: Psalm 139 Hebrews 9 v 13, 14 .. ..
WE HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN (v 3) & ARE HEIRS TO ETERNAL LIFE ( v 4) As Christians, we are born once physically and once spiritually. Our physical bodies are destined to die, but our spiritual body is destined to take its place with Christ in Heaven. Just as Christ was chosen from the beginning of the world to die for our sins, rise again and rule for eternity, so also have we been chosen, to live and reign with him. The reminder of these truths sets the context for the next verses. (Consider Ezekiel and John’s visions of the Temple and the New Land.) Our inheritance is “imperishable, unspoilable and unfading” (v 4). 2
WE ARE PROTECTED ( v 5) Faith is our shield and our sure hope. Peter says Jesus is our “living hope”. And Paul says we can arm ourselves with the shield of faith (Ephesians 6v16). GLORIOUS (v 6, 7) AND JOYFUL (v 8, 9) Trials are meant, not to take the strength out of us, but to put spiritual strength into us and so that we can bring glory and honour to Jesus. This is like the process of tempering iron in the fire to make it strong. (The bigger picture is the salvation of our souls.) Trials can come from Satan or from the Lord or simply from the world. Trials from Satan are destructive. Trials from the Lord are sent to refine and strengthen – and Peter says joy should result as we see God building us up in our salvation. PROPHETS AND ANGELS BROUGHT THE MESSAGE ( v 10 - 12) Salvation has come through prophecy, preaching and evangelism. Peter, a humble fisherman quoted the scriptures surprisingly often. Peter refers to, and quotes, the prophets and scriptures: If you have time look up these verses from Acts: 1v20; 2v17-21; 2v25-28; 2v34-35; 3v22&23; 3v24-26; 4v11; 4v25-26. BE PREPARED, SELF-CONTROLLED AND FOCUSSED (v.13-16) * Gird up your loins (KJV)/Roll up your sleeves/ Pull your thoughts together/ Prepare your minds for action (v13). Q. As Christians what is the best way to prepare our mind? We can be keen to be busy doing God’s work but sometimes we forget to prepare our minds in prayer before we act. * Be sober minded (KJV)/ Be calm and steady/ Be self-controlled (v13) Weigh in your mind the things you read and hear about spiritual matters so that you are disciplined in what you believe. Q. What is the best way to know what we believe? The written Word of God is the standard by which we measure everything else – even prophecy. Reading it every day will help keep our minds under control. * Hope to the end (KJV)/ Know where your hope is (God’s grace)/ Be focussed on God’s goal which is the coming of his Kingdom. Q. How do verses 14&15 say we should live out this hope? The result of a right mindset (being prepared, self-controlled and focussed) is that we will live out this hope in grace and holiness. That is, as God’s children we have his grace and his holiness at work in us as we spend time with him. God’s holiness is a part of his nature and should become a part of ours (v16). Our lives should match our calling. When we are born again we no longer need to conform to our old patterns of thinking which may hold us back. Peter is saying we should get rid of those things which hinder us and move forward in God’s will. BE SET APART FROM THE WORLD - AND REMEMBER THE PRICE PAID BY JESUS CHRIST (v.17-21) You can usually detect if someone is a foreigner. There might be a clue in their accent or their grammar. There might also be a clue in the food they prefer or a difference in lifestyle. Peter says we are to live as strangers or foreigners during our time on earth. It has been said we are to be in this world but not of this world. Getting on in this world should be less important than getting on in the world to come. This follows on from the command to be holy in the previous verse. People should be able to detect that we are different, and the clue should be in our speech and our behaviour, but also in our focus. 3
Q. What does Peter mean by ‘reverent fear’ (v17) We are to be in awe of what Christ has done. Verses 18-21 remind us that Jesus paid the price with his own blood to exonerate us from the penalty of sin. And he didn’t just pay the penalty – he also completely blotted out our sins. KEEP PURE - LOVE ONE ANOTHER (v.22-25) We can be prepared, self-controlled, focussed and set apart (holy) but we are not complete or pure without the love of God in our hearts for one another. Not just in words, but deeply from the heart (v22). Peter reminds us that we have been born of imperishable seed – the seed of the Holy Spirit which plants God’s nature in us – and like children we inherit our parent’s traits. Q. So what can you do if you find it hard to love someone? Think again about verse 13!
1 Peter chapter 2 Having just established that we have all been born again of the One Seed by the Spirit of God, Peter sets out the implications of this. We are united as family – children of God (Read verses 1-3) And as family there are things we should and shouldn’t do. We are to get rid of things inherited in our “flesh”: Malice – having the intent in our mind to hurt someone Deceit – having the intent to mislead someone Hypocrisy – pretending to be virtuous when we are not Envy – discontent or grudging about others’ possessions or achievements Slander – attack someone’s good reputation unjustly And we are to take in those things that are of the Spirit: “Crave” pure spiritual milk. Grow up spiritually by praying and reading God’s Word. We are united as stones in a building (Read verses 4-8) Peter quotes from Isaiah and from the Psalms to make the point that Jesus Christ is the corner stone of God’s building. Jesus himself said “I will build my church”. Verse 5 says we are living stones – part of this building. Not petros – a small rock; not petra – the bedrock; but lithos – a stone ready for building. The implications are that: We rely on the support from each other We are built onto the foundation stone of Christ New Christians are built onto the same foundation but also are an integral part of us. Christians are “cemented” together in unity We do not build, we are the stones (in Greek, lithos) which have been prepared by the master builder! We are also united as priests Read verses 5 & 9 In other words, we join together to accomplish God’s work. We are a Royal Priesthood (v9) because we are children of the King. The Latin word for priest is pontifex, which means bridge-builder. The priest’s function is: to be a bridge between God and those who do not yet know Jesus to pray to God on behalf of others to bring offerings to God 4
As priests we are working together for God in His Holy Temple, which is His living building, where he dwells amongst his people. We are also united as citizens of a Holy Nation (Read verses 9-12) Through our natural birth we are British – or whatever. But through our spiritual birth our nationality is: a people belonging to God (v9) – we are members of God’s Kingdom of Light. He called us out of darkness and now we walk in the light. Through His mercy God gave us status as citizens of His Kingdom. In the flesh we are in the world, but spiritually we are as aliens and strangers in this world (v11). Whether we wanted to be or not, the fact is that as Christians we ARE UNITED as family, as living stones, as priests and as citizens. Peter concludes this part of his argument by reminding us that our relationship to each other and to Christ should be enough to motivate us to live Godly lives: lives which will encourage other Christians; lives which will let non-Christians see that God can make a difference; and lives that will bring glory to His Name as we live together in unity. Q. What is the difference between unity and uniformity? What is good about unity and what is not so helpful about uniformity? ............ Having considered us as citizens of the Kingdom of God, Peter now reminds us that we are still citizens in our physical environment – in our case, our communities in Great Britain. Q. Does this leave us with an allegiance problem; can we have dual allegiance? Where do we draw the line? The Christians of Peter’s day would have been expected to say, “Caesar is Lord”, but there can only be one Lord of our life. SUBMISSION AND RESPECT (Read verses 13-17) As Christians we are to submit to rulers and masters (including Nero and other dictators!). We are to live in submission to others as servants of God (v16), remembering that, as Christians in society, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. John Sentamu, the Arch Bishop of York said, “Christian citizenship today involves being willing to participate at every level in the societies in which we are based, whilst holding fast to the values of Christ’s Kingdom”. Q. So how do we address situations that conflict with our beliefs? It is possible to submit to the institutions and still disobey the laws. (Wiersbe Commentary) This can be done by showing respect for the office of the person in authority but at the same time explaining why we cannot obey them – if their request would cause us to break God’s law. We earn this right by doing good (v15) and by living good lives. When Peter talks about submission he does not mean blind submission, but, as he says in verse 13, submitting for the Lord’s sake so as to be a good witness for him.
SLAVES AND SERVANTS (Read verses 18-20) When Peter wrote this letter there were 60,000 slaves in the Roman Empire, many of whom had greater learning and superior skills to their masters. Roman slaves were quite often doctors, musicians, actors, secretaries etc. but nevertheless, in Roman Law they were not people but things. The Romans subjugated the people of every nation that they controlled. Peter pointed out that Christians may have been slaves in the physical sense but that they could still be free in Christ. They could reveal their humanity by doing good and following Christ’s example. 5
Q. What do we understand by slavery in the world today? How is it different from Roman times? What should we be doing about it? Here, Peter is not suggesting the status quo should be changed, but rather that Christian slaves should ask for grace to submit to the authority of their masters, and glorify God. Most of us will have to interpret these verses in relation to being employed, but the fundamental truths are the same: we are to submit to those who are over us, whether they are kind or unkind, we are not to retaliate, we are to ask God for grace to do this – and we should be working for our master as unto the Lord.
SUBMISSION AND SUFFERING IS A CALLING (Read verses 21-25) Here we are challenged to look at suffering in a different way. Jesus acknowledged the authority of the Romans and said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”. And even though he was innocent of any crime (v22) he submitted himself to death on the Cross – the “suffering servant”. Painful though it may seem, we can serve God’s purposes by accepting suffering. Verse 21 says: To this you were called (to suffering). Q. Why? And how can this be what God would want? (Think about our relationship with God, our walk with God and our witness to others; and think about the outcomes and the result of Jesus’ suffering.) Our true service is to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (v25)
1 Peter chapter 3 Wives and husbands (Read verses 1-7) Continuing his theme of submission and respect, Peter now addresses Christian couples. The meaning behind submission (in the original Greek) is that things are arranged in an orderly manner, so that the husband is the one who is over the family unit. This is a Biblical principle:
God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit
Governments, appointed leaders, citizens
Husbands, wives, children
These are God’s ideals for a smooth running society. And whilst there are bad fathers, bad employers and bad governments, we are still expected to adhere to this order, unless it conflicts greatly with our Christian conscience. Q.What 3 qualities (in verses 2-4) are required in a Christian wife? Peter cites the example of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Q.What 3 qualities (in verse 7) are required in a Christian husband? Note: there is no suggestion that the wife is inferior to the husband, or that the servant is inferior to his master. They are heirs together of God’s grace and eternal life. Indeed, the one who submits is called to be like Jesus who submitted to the will of his Father. 6
Live in harmony (Read verses 8-12) What a checklist! We are called to
Live in harmony, in unison, not arguing, sometimes deferring
Be sympathetic, understanding, patient, listening
Be loving, as if we are family, forgiving
Be compassionate, caring, trying to help others
Be humble, (submissive!), putting others first, serving
Repay evil with good, bless others, let go of wrongs
Peter quotes from Psalm 34v12-16 to back up his argument.
Suffering for doing good (Read verses 13-17) Remember, Peter was writing this at the time when Christians were greatly persecuted – and often suffering unjustly. (Our sufferings are often very small compared to those of the persecuted church). His advice to them and us is
to remember that Christ is Lord
to be prepared to give a word of testimony
to not retaliate
The eternal work of Jesus (Read verses 18-22) Christ died once for all (verse 18). The “all” includes everyone throughout all history, including those who walked the earth in the days of Noah. One example given is how that the spirit of Jesus spoke through Noah to those who would not repent before the flood. 1 Peter 1 v 10 shows how that God sent prophets to those under the Old Covenant so that they would have a chance to repent and believe. Those who believed and sacrificed according to Old Testament Law were saved, not through their sacrifice but because it represented the sacrifice of Jesus. So that they were saved by the blood of Jesus in the same way that we are. (See also Hebrews 9v23-28 and Revelation 13v8)
Peter goes on to liken Noah’s Ark to the vehicle of salvation. They were saved through water. And our baptism of water is a response to Jesus’ saving grace and the resurrection to new life that he brings.
Jesus won the victory through suffering. Noah suffered, but he and his family were saved. We are called to accept suffering as a way to victory.
1 Peter chapter 4 Living for God (Read verses 1-5) In these verses there is a contrast drawn between our natural human desires and following the will of God. Indeed, our purpose on this earth is to live in the will of God. Earlier, in chapter 2v15, Peter says that doing the will of God is “doing good” – living according to God’s standards, walking in Jesus’ footsteps – even if that means suffering. Q. When we pray, “thy will be done” what are we actually saying? If we are not always sure that we are in God’s will there are checks that we can put in place: Is this good and constructive? Is there anything about it in Scripture? Is this about me or about God? Has God shown me that he will provide? Do I have a sense of the Holy Spirit’s leading? Do I have peace about this? If we are in tune with God a feeling of discomfort or unrest can be an indicator that we are not in God’s will.
God’s judgment (Read verses 6-11) We are judged according to the Gospel of Christ, i.e. whether or not we have received his free pardon, which through his grace he purchased for us on the Cross. The logical conclusion of our repentance and salvation is that we will walk in God’s will on earth and eventually be assured of our place in Heaven. Chapter 1v17 reminds us that God is impartial and unbiased in his judgment. We are not graded against each other, but judged according to our relationship with Jesus. That is the thing we have to get right, because the closer we are to Jesus the more like him we will be. Q. In what ways should our lives reflect Jesus? (verses 8 & 9) Peter goes on to say that suffering is also part and parcel of following Jesus and walking in his footsteps. His will isn’t always cosy!!
Suffering for being a Christian (Read verses 12-19) Suffering is common to all. To some degree we all suffer physically, mentally or emotionally and even spiritually. Suffering is ‘par for the course’, it is part of our every day mortal life – a result of The Fall of Adam and Eve. But here, Peter talks specifically of suffering for being a Christian. In his day Christians were suffering awful things at the hands of the Romans and were in an age of severe persecution (being thrown to lions etc.).
Around the world today, in many countries Christians suffer for following Christ. This happens particularly those countries with rigid regimes like Communist dictatorships, for example North Korea; or under Islamic Sharia Law, for example Middle Eastern countries; but also where there is conflict in India, Africa and South America. But it also happens in the West when conflict of allegiance arises. Peter says here, “Don’t be surprised”! After all Jesus himself set this as a pattern for Christian behaviour. He didn’t dodge suffering, although he could have done. Q. In verses 13 & 14, how does Peter say we should respond?
Suffering is: Being like Jesus – following his example – being Christlike – participating in his suffering A normal part of being a Christian, and not to be shunned – in fact, to be welcomed Not surprising, and therefore to be welcomed (rejoice!! – verse 13) Meaningful – because it is in Christ’s name – it will bear results – it has a purpose A place where Christians can experience Christ’s glory Temporary – in the light of eternity
Peter’s experience Read Acts chapter 5. Peter knew all about suffering for the sake of the gospel.
Coming back to the beginning of the chapter: are we prepared if it should be God’s will for us to walk the path of suffering and persecution? Verse 19 reminds us of our commitment to our Faithful God. How serious are we about that commitment?
1 Peter chapter 5 The role of elders (Read verses 1-4) Who are the elders? Elders within churches may or may not be given that title (they may have been designated by other leadership titles) but it is their role which is important. Q. What attributes must an elder have (verses 2-4) Although they are in leadership their role is to serve. Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ (i.e. one personally sent out by him). He was head of the church in Jerusalem and a pioneer church planter. But he describes himself in verse 1 as a fellow elder – a shepherd of God’s flock. Despite his high status in the church he maintained the humility and obedience that he learned from Jesus, especially in his encounter with Jesus on the seashore after the resurrection. (Read John 21v15-19) It is implied in the next few verses that all older Christians should have eldership qualities. As we grow in the faith, like Peter we should serve more and become more humble. The role of younger Christians (Read verses 5&6) Peter returns to the theme of submission. The young should be submissive to the older Christians and humbly learn from them. Q. What is the reward for those who humble themselves? (v.5,6) 9
What to do about anxiety (Read verse 7) At first glance this verse seems to be out of context with the preceding verses. It makes more sense as an introduction to Peter’s next line of thought. We all have anxieties. We need to know that we can and should give them to Jesus because there is an enemy out there who will try to play on our anxieties and rob us of our faith.
Know your enemy (prosecutor) and know your defence (Read verses 8-11) Satan is not a symbol or a metaphor – he is a real created spirit being who was cast out of heaven and now roams the earth (like a roaring lion) with a hierarchy of evil spirits to do his bidding. However, although he is in opposition to God, he is not God’s opposite because he was part of Creation - whereas God transcends Creation. He always was and always will be; his power far exceeds that of Satan. Satan’s ultimate fate has already been sealed through Christ’s victory on the Cross, but in the meantime he can be likened to a dangerous prisoner who has been set loose causing untold damage, but who will one day have to serve his sentence. God has the ultimate power and will have the last word (v.11) See add-on sheet (next page) for more information
Peter’s final Greetings (Read verses 12-14) Peter acknowledges the help he received from Silas in scribing for him. Peter was still the uneducated fisherman who needed help with reading and writing. How amazing it is that God had been able to use him in such a powerful way to build his church. That thought should encourage us when we feel we are not good enough to work for the Lord. “She who is in Babylon (=Rome)” and “my son Mark” could refer to Peter’s wife and son. But many believe it refers to The church in Rome and to John Mark (who wrote the gospel of Mark), probably using Peter’s firsthand experience of Jesus for his material, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Know Your Enemy – and Know Where You Stand in Christ Satan – names and roles Abaddon(Hebrew)/Apollyon(Greek)
Jesus – who fights for us Jesus offers us Life in abundance
Rev 9v11 – means destroyer of life Accuser Rev 12v10
Jesus erases our guilt by his blood sacrifice
He tries to pile guilt on us Adversary – 1 Peter 5v8
Jesus is our friend who justifies us
Our opponent – our enemy One who masquerades as an
Jesus is the true Light of the World
Angel of Light – 2 Cor 11v14 Beelzebub – (means Lord of the Flies) Matt 12v24 – pollut- Jesus makes us clean and sanctified ing Belial – means he makes us worthless 2 Cor 6v15 Jesus says we can “hold our head high” – we are complete in him The Devil – from diabolos meaning slanderer, false witness Jesus is the truth The Dragon and Large Serpent Jesus revealed himself as he truly was Rev12v9 and Gen 3v1 - Cunning The enemy – one who hates you
Jesus IS love - John 3v16 - and showed it by his sacrifice
The evil one – John 17v15
Jesus is the GOOD shepherd
Father of Lies – John 8v44 – deceiver and falsifier The god of this world – 2 Cor 4v4
Jesus is the truth Jesus is Creator and King of all creation
Builds his empire King of Babylon Babel = confusion
Jesus is the King of Peace
Isaiah 14v4 Little (limited) horn. Horn = power.
Jesus has unlimited power and the authority of God the Father
Daniel 7v8 Lucifer – means light – his pre-fall condition Isaiah 14v12 (He is the false morning star) The power of darkness – casting a shadow Col 1v13 The prince of the air – his sphere of influence. Eph 2v2 The proud one – Isaiah 14v12-14 Satan – means adversary or foe.
Jesus’ title is the Morning Star Jesus’ title is the Light of the World Jesus is the King of all Kings everywhere and Lord of Lords Jesus showed us he was meek and humble, serving others Jesus , by his Holy Spirit, is our comforter and advocate
Most common name. Matt 4v10 Son of Perdition – meaning one who destroys and ruins. John 17v12 The tempter - Matt 4v3 – he entices us away from the right path Wicked one – Matt 13v19 – he is fundamentally evil
Jesus is the Son of God – goodness personified Jesus is the Way. He leads us in righteousness Jesus is perfect
Anne O'Brien examines the book of 1 Peter.