Day 343 – Thru the Bible
Today we start First Peter. Here’s the overview video for First Peter.
Video – Read Scripture: First Peter
How does this video help you understand First Peter better?
1 Peter 1 – The apostle Peter’s first epistle is a treasure trove of gospel richness, and his greeting is no exception. What appears at one glance to be a customary “hello,” upon second glance reveals theological depth.
In verse 2 we see the Trinitarian shape of the gospel. We are reminded that all three Persons of the triune Godhead are active in the salvation of sinners: the Father purposes the saving work for all who will believe, the Son accomplishes the work by His blood, and the Spirit applies the work to the sinner. Here is how “practical” the doctrine of the Trinity can be: it is the Trinity that saves sinners, uniting them to Jesus.
It is no wonder that Peter then says, “Grace and peace be multiplied” to us. The wonder of redemption worked out for us by the triune God does not grant tepid or mild grace and peace; grace and peace are multiplied, proliferated, abundantly provided.
In this letter, Peter primarily approaches two difficult subjects: holiness and suffering. Peter would agree with Paul that holiness and suffering are vitally connected (see Romans 5:3–4).
The gospel of grace in which Peter exults is the fulfillment of the prophetic hope throughout the Old Testament. The gospel is not a new idea as Peter is writing; the redemption accomplished by Jesus is the pinnacle of all preceding human history. The prophets wrote of “the grace that was to be yours.” The Old Testament, too, is a message of grace. The whole Bible is the unfolding story of God’s redemption of human sinners—a redemption even the angels of heaven marvel to behold.
Peter now enters the more practical matters of obedience and endurance under hardship. And yet the grounding of the Gospel is his ever-present offering of help in these matters. Believers are first invited not to set their hope on their own efforts or their own strength but “fully on the grace” that will be completely and finally manifested when Jesus returns. We are granted grace here and now; and yet this grace will be publicly displayed before the whole world upon Jesus’ second coming.
The “precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb” makes “silver or gold” seem like rubbish. We have been ransomed by the imperishable blood of Jesus, which affords for us eternal life. And eternal life is just what it says it is: eternal! Therefore, the entire set of instructions to maturity and love in verses 13–22 is sourced in verse 23’s “since you have been born again.”
This is the rhythm of Christian living. Having been redeemed, we are freed to live a life of glad obedience. This is our true joy. Having been loved so well, our delight is to love in return. We are not loved because we obey; we obey because we are loved.
Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah’s words in verses 24-25 about the eternally enduring quality of the word of God (Isaiah 40:6, 8). Most of us have heard these words quoted with respect to the enduring dependability of all Scripture, and it is certainly true that the entire revelation of God’s written Word will endure forever. But notice that Peter says the word that remains forever is “the good news that was preached to you.” It is the gospel itself that, according to Peter, “remains forever.”
The gospel of grace is not a passing fad, not trendy, not temporary. It is the abiding hope of the world. Even though “the grass withers, and the flower falls” the gospel never will. The gospel that Christians believe has no expiration date!
How is the Gospel empowering you to follow Jesus?
1 Peter 2 – When we taste and see “that the Lord is good” (Psalm ), we “put away” the bitter fruit of unrepentance. It has been said that Jesus will not taste sweet to us until sin tastes bitter, and the reverse is true as well. Jesus and sin cannot both look beautiful to us; as the appeal of one rises, the other falls.
Once we have tasted the goodness of Jesus and His gospel, we will long for more, and it is this longing that fuels our continued growth. By “the pure spiritual milk” of the Word of God and especially the gospel, Believers “grow up into salvation.” Gospel grace not only converts us at a single point in time; it also changes us over time so that we become by practice what Jesus has already made us by grace.
Once more we see the pattern of gospel obedience: Believers “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Our sacrificial lives of devotion to the Lord are not what makes us acceptable to God. Jesus Himself made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf; in light of His great work of redemption, we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord of mercy.
In recalling prophecies like Hosea 2:23, Peter is likely referring to God’s gracious inclusion of the Gentiles in His saving purposes. It is important for the harmony of the church that both Gentiles and former Jews know that God has made a new people that transcends old divisions. “A chosen race” and “a holy nation” specifically includes the consecration of sinners into new creations.
Now that through the gospel the church is inaugurated and growing, Peter urges God’s people to exhibit their newness and freeness as a witness to their identity in Jesus. In verses 9–12, Peter reminds Christians that holiness means not just being set apart from something (sin and its worldly systems) but being set apart for something (God’s glory). God’s “mercy” leads to a certain kind of “conduct”.
Freedom in Jesus to worship Him as Lord does not preclude submission to earthly authorities. Rather, having been set free in Jesus to trust Him, we are now free to trust that earthly authorities are only in place by His permission (see also Romans 13:1–7). When we cling to Jesus’ sovereign lordship and eternal riches, we are free to submit to civil authorities, demonstrating that our hearts are not tuned to the world and its passing riches (Mark 12:17). In other passages the Bible will help Believers consider how to deal with unlawful authorities, or those who may be lawfully opposed. Here, however, the focus is on honoring the government (even one that may be antagonistic to Christians) that maintains a society’s order, thus becoming God’s instrument for facilitating the testimony and progress of the gospel.
Peter believes that holding to the gospel will make us not problematic revolutionaries but humble and honorable citizens. This underscores yet another distinction between Christians and those who trust only in the things of this world and who consequently are always seeking power and privilege (Psalm 20:7).
Why is it a “gracious thing” to suffer unjustly (verses 19–20)? Because, when we refuse to react to suffering in sinful ways, it makes us like Jesus and testifies to our confidence in Him. By Jesus’ redemptive suffering, we know that any injustice we suffer in this world is merely temporary.
We also must keep God’s gracious purposes in mind when we suffer so that we do not despair over our suffering as if it were God’s punishment. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” so that we do not have to. The punishment for our sin was taken by Jesus in His crucifixion. It is profound consolation in our suffering to know that it is not a sign of God’s wrath on us. As Paul reminds us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). As we suffer the wrath of those who revile us for our faith, our hearts can remain calm, for God has satisfied His own wrath in His own Son’s death for all who believe.
How does this chapter help you have a healthy and biblical view of suffering?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheBibleProject.com.
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