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YOUTH WORKS BI BL E STUDY S E R IE S

Ne w T E S TA M E N T

1 Peter Out of darkness

Kristen Young 1 Peter.indd 1

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First published June 2011 Anglican Youthworks PO Box A287, Sydney South NSW 1235 Ph: +61 2 8268 3344 Fax: +61 2 8268 3357 www.cepstore.com.au Copyright Youthworks Press © Kristen Young This book is copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the Publisher. Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. National Library of Australia ISBN 978-1-921460-76-0 Author – Kristen Young Managing Editor – Julie Firmstone Theological Editor – Marshall Ballantine-Jones Designer – Rebecca Jee

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Introducing 1 Peter Conform or suffer? Where do you go when everything seems dark? How do you live in a world where everyone around you seems to hate everything you love? How do you survive in the middle of a disaster zone? 1 Peter speaks to people who are in trouble. They are Christians – they follow Jesus, the son of God who conquered death, but they’re in pain. People don’t understand them; they are suspicious of them, even hate them. 1 Peter provides encouragement to hurting people.

Who wrote 1 Peter? Chapter 1:1 indicates that the author is ‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ’. The writer is the same Peter we meet as a fisherman (Matthew 4) who followed Jesus through his ministry; denied and disowned Jesus (Luke 22); was restored by the risen Jesus (John 21); and who later preached to a crowd of thousands on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). This was generally accepted by writers for thousands of years, but more recently some people have suggested that the writer was only pretending to be Peter because the Greek (which was the language of the original letter) was too good for a Galilean fisherman. We can trust it’s from Peter because: a) Verse 1 tells us it’s from him. b) Galilee was a region where Jewish people interacted a lot with Greek-speaking people, so Peter could have known the language really well. c) It was common for writers to use scribes for their letters so, even if he didn’t know, he could have had help with the translation. d) People who lived closer to Peter’s time (that is, those who knew people who knew Peter personally) were more likely to know the truth than people who speculate thousands of years later, and it seems that early Christians accepted that Peter was the author.

What was happening at the time? We’re not exactly sure when Peter wrote the letter, but he was certainly talking to a suffering Church. The fact is that wherever the gospel went, persecution followed. You can read in Acts 8 how Christians were first persecuted and scattered from Jerusalem very soon after they began proclaiming the good news about Jesus. The persecution of Christians was usually in the form of mocking, verbal persecution or suspicion. But around 64AD, things got worse for Christians in Rome. At that time, a huge fire spread through the city and Emperor Nero used Christians as the scapegoat. The historian Tacitus described what happened next: ‘Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired’. (Annals, 15.44) While this was certainly a fiery ordeal (1 Peter 4:12), Peter most likely wrote his first letter before this time when the persecution against Christians wasn’t quite so violent. But through God’s inspiration, his letter provided great encouragement to others later on and even to us today. Kristen Young

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But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 vi

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YOUTHWORKS Bible Study series

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When the darkness seems heavy 1 Peter 1:1–12

Getting into it ... What’s it like being known as ‘a Christian’ in your school and at work? Tick the box that best applies to you: …… Great! All my friends are Christians and we have no problems at all. …… Pretty good. Some people don’t understand, but they generally leave me alone. …… OK. I hang out with Christian friends or tolerant people, but I get a bit of a hard time from other people in the school or at work. …… A little difficult. Some of the teachers (or managers) put Christians down, and the other students (or co–workers) think we’re stupid. …… Hell on earth. I just want to run away. …… Nobody knows I’m a Christian, so I look just like everyone else. …… Other: (specify) _______________________________________

The blurb As you’ll see in the first few verses, Peter was writing this letter to Christians who had been scattered over the known world. Now they were facing troubles, suffering and persecution. They must have wondered if God was really in control – it looked like God’s people were being destroyed. What did Peter have to say to Jesus’ followers here? Let’s read on and find out!

Read 1 Peter 1:1–2 How does Peter introduce himself? (verse 1)

Peter was writing to Christians. What words did he use to describe them? (verses 1–2)

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Think: Peter wrote to Christians who were in a difficult place – they were ‘exiles’, ‘foreigners’, ‘aliens’ or ‘strangers’. They were scattered around the world. Perhaps they were isolated in small groups. How is that similar or different to your group today?

‘Sanctified’: what does that mean? Hint: Made holy, washed clean, made right with God. (OK, that was more than a hint!)

As a Christian, you have a special identity. You are:

This is so that you can obey Jesus. Read 1 Peter 1:3–5 List the things God has given us: (See verses 3–4.)

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How does God look after us between now and ‘the last time’? (verse 5)

Read 1 Peter 1:6–9 What are ‘trials’? (verse 6)

Think: What sort of trials would Peter’s original readers have faced and what sort of trials do we face today?

Peter notes that the trials we endure cause us to ‘suffer grief’. (verse 6b) How do you feel, knowing that it’s OK to be upset by hard times?

What positive slant does Peter put on trials? (verse 7)

How does that help us to view our own troubles?

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What attitude did Peter’s readers have towards Jesus? (verse 8)

Why do you think they felt this way? (verse 9)

Peter tells us the goal of our faith is salvation. Is your life aimed at that goal?

Read 1 Peter 1:10–12 Here Peter is saying that we’re more privileged than the famous characters of the Bible, such as Moses and Isaiah. What special privilege do we have, living this side of the cross?

You are here Being a Christian can be hard. Peter knew the struggles his readers were having. He knew that everything wasn’t always rosy. Being a Christian can be fantastic. As verse 8 says, there are times when we are blown away by how amazing Jesus is. Whatever happens, don’t forget the big picture. Peter wants us to remember that we’re a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. The big picture is ...

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YOUTHWORKS Bible Study series

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Modelling me What things should define us as Christians?

What should we be looking forward to?

How should we think about hard times?

How should we respond to God?

Pray Here are some suggestions: Praise God for the things you’ve read in this passage. Pray that God would continue to shield you by his power until Jesus returns. If you feel comfortable enough as a group, pray for anyone who is experiencing a hard time at school, in their workplace or at home because of their faith in Jesus. Ask God to give you a ‘big picture’ view when you experience your own trials.

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You will need: Playdough or Paper/cardboard and textas or Whiteboard and whiteboard markers or A creative medium of your choice. What to do: Break off into small groups. Choose a phrase, concept or word picture from 1 Peter 1:1–12 (for example, ‘strangers scattered’, or ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade’ etc.).

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Illustrate the concept using the playdough (make a still scene or a moving one), or draw a picture/series of pictures. Get back together with the whole group and explain your scene to everyone.

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YWBS 1 Peter Sample