TSR walks through the entire book of 1 Peter in under an hour. Come join The Socially Remote!
In this episode, we flesh out our conviction that the Word of God is “living and active . . . piercing to the division of soul and of spirit” (Hebrews 4:12). We believe that the Word of God has the power to change lives, and since the three of us just finished teaching through the book of 1 Peter, we decided to read it through in its entirety and highlight the themes, topics, challenges, and encouragement we discovered along the way. Join us for an encouraging look at a practical book.
We began by discussing Sour Patch Kids Creamsicles , gummy bears in ice cream at Ryan’s, and the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral. Then Steven tried to get Matt and David to dialogue on Andy Stanley’s recent announcement to close his church through the rest of 2020. Next we acknowledged a few listener communications we had received (Josh Schaeffer and Rhys Gratz). Finally we summarized the past two episodes on discipleship as theology in community.
We believe the Word of God is living and active and has the power to change lives. So we are going to take a closer look at the book of 1 Peter. The three of us just finished teaching through it in our Sunday School class. So we think we can offer a condensed commentary on the letter.
For the Counselors
Matt taught the last portion of 1 Peter and feels that he can relate to Peter (a bit zealous, some might say over-zealous, for his faith). He appreciates how we get one picture of Peter in the Gospels and another, more mature picture in the book of 1 Peter.
David began our study of 1 Peter and mentioned then that he wasn’t sure how much we (in the West) could relate to it because Peter is writing to believers facing persecution. However, as we continued through the book, it became apparent that much of what they were facing (social ostracization, unfair treatment, etc.) is beginning to be experienced as the number and influence of Christians in the States decline. We will need to remind ourselves of the truths in this letter as society grows less favorable to Christianity.
Steven taught the middle portion of 1 Peter. He was challenged to live with boldness even if doing so results in persecution. He was also blessed by Peter’s discussion on the government and family, particularly in the time of COVID.
First Peter 1
Suffering is a key theme throughout the book of 1 Peter, and Peter opens with that concept. However, the theme of “hope” also begins to take shape very early in the letter, and Peter will repeatedly encourage these believers to maintain their hope in the midst of what they’re facing. First Peter is a very Christocentric book. In chapter one, Peter establishes Christ as both the reason that they are suffering and also the hope and example that they have in suffering. The focus needs to be on Christ, not on their present circumstances. He is our living hope.
There is also a section in this chapter on holiness. So how do we distinguish between legalism and striving to live a holy life?
Ultimately the difference between holiness and legalism is about the heart. Two people may be doing the exact same action, but one may be doing it out of thankfulness and worship, while the other is doing it out of desperation – trying to please an angry God. Holiness will also not always look the same between one believer and another.
Finally, there’s a huge emphasis on Old Testament symbolism throughout 1 Peter, and it starts in 1 Peter 1:1 (the the “elect exiles”). The idea of Christians living as exiles is a theme Peter returns to throughout the book. It is a label with which we can identify today. We are aliens in this world. Matt read a portion from the ESV Expository Commentary concerning this truth and indicated that we should see ourselves in this same light in the 21st century.
First Peter 2
Peter lays a philosophical foundation in the first chapter-and-a-half of this letter. He indicates that Christians are a new people and then begins to get practical in the second half of chapter 2. There are some really hard truths in 1 Peter, particularly in our current cultural moment.
Regarding the government, Peter tells us to be submissive (even to the point of injustice). Peter spells out the role of government in 1 Peter 2:14, and he tells us to submit to our governments, even unjust ones. Before we can object, Peter pivots and once again points to Christ. He reminds us that Christ suffered unjustly (1 Peter 2:21-25). Since this is an overview, we did not have time to dive into some of the nuances which might be culturally apropos; however, if this is an area that interests you, please reach out to us through our email address for continued dialogue.
Once again, Peter uses language to describe Christians that would normally be used of Israel in the Old Testament – a royal priesthood, a chosen race, a holy nation, a people for his own possession (1 Peter 2:9).
We also noted that there are several contemporary praise and worship songs that are derived from this chapter (and we would encourage you all to examine your worship music to make sure it is based on Scripture):
First Peter 2:17 provides a great summary of the chapter and a challenge for us today:
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.1 Peter 2:17
First Peter 3
Steven was convicted that so often we don’t want to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15-16); rather, we feel we need to provide an apology for our faith. Instead of speaking truth with boldness, we often settle for a milquetoast version of our beliefs.
Indeed, he even felt self-conscious reading this chapter, because some of what Peter teaches flies in the face of our culture’s thinking on different topics (at times, this is even true within our evangelical culture). And we aren’t naïve. We know that there is ongoing debate in the evangelical culture about complementarianism vs. egalitarianism, with many arguing that we should leave those labels behind. But we need to remember that Peter’s readers were living in a society that was extremely patriarchal, and he implores husbands to “live with [their] wives in an understanding way, showing honor . . .” (1 Peter 3:7).
To that end, we are linking to two resources. First, Steven is currently working on an article that more fully addresses the issue of submission. Once available, you can find here: Obedience, Submission, and The Word of God. Until then, check out the topic in his book The Relational God. Second, because 1 Peter 2 contains the difficult theology about Christ “descending into Hell” (as the Apostle’s Creed might phrase it), we are linking to an article Steven wrote when teaching this passage (available here: Holy Saturday).
Despite these controversies, Peter encourages us to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you. And Peter is laying a further foundation for why they should continue to persevere – it honors God, it reflects who we are, and it also opens up the door for us to proclaim Christ.
First Peter 4
Peter calls believers to be set apart from the culture they are in. That is what holiness means (being “set apart”). Just as God is wholly other – He is set apart – so we are to be set apart from the world we live in. In this portion of 1 Peter, we see Peter expanding on what that might look like, and he warns against suffering for the wrong reason (1 Peter 4:15). And one of those wrong reasons might be “meddling.” For us today, that might look like sticking our nose into a Facebook debate we have no right being in and saying things that won’t be received anyway.
This section of 1 Peter paints a clear picture of how we are to walk as believers. We do not take part in what our culture is engaged in (1 Peter 4:3-4). Instead our lives are to be marked by joyful hospitality and service. On the one hand, the focus is self. On the other, the focus is others. Peter also consistently speaks of being clear-headed (“sober-minded”) as a new way of living, one characterized by unity and love.
There are two other interesting things to point out in this chapter. The first is that this chapter has one of only two uses of “Christian” in the New Testament (1 Peter 4:16 and Acts 26:28). And the second is that there is a very clever allusion that is woven in from chapter three about the idolatrous culture in the times of Noah (1 Peter 3:20) and the flood of debauchery in the present day (1 Peter 4:3).
First Peter 5
Chapter 5 begins with an exhortation to leaders in the church, and there is a beautiful metaphor of “shepherding” at the outset of this chapter. It provides a different viewpoint of hierarchy (which our culture is currently pushing against). The hierarchy is meant to be a way to guide the faithful (not domineering or for selfish gain).
The idea of humility pervades this chapter, and that may be a throwback to the Old Testament as well. Humility is such a prevalent theme of the Old Testament, and we, too, are called to live humble lives. We cannot forget that our adversary is seeking to devour us. We’ve talked about deconversions in the past two episodes (Discipleship I and Discipleship II), and Peter points out the very real threat that Satan is out to destroy our faith. But we must persevere by looking to our hope in Christ. He will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
We are living in a culture that is becoming more challenging, and there are some applications in 1 Peter that we can use today.
We don’t have to be living in persecution to live out the truths of 1 Peter. We can live in humility; and we can have hope, peace, and unity with one another while pursuing holiness. And our hope is still in our eternal future.
This puts a neat bow on what we’ve discussed the past two episodes (Discipleship I and Discipleship II). We were only able to do this podcast because we were utilizing our gift of teaching. I also found it encouraging to remember how God redeemed Peter’s life and story. The same guy who denied Christ can now write a letter encouraging the church to stay faithful! Grace!
We only just scratched the surface of what is going on in 1 Peter, so we’d encourage others to dig in and study the Scripture for themselves. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out through our email. Also, if you enjoyed the show, please share it on your socials (because we don’t have them). I mean, come on . . . we gave this to you for free! If you don’t want to do that, rate and review us on whatever podcast platform you you use to listen to the show.
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About The Socially Remote
Does it ever seem like the longer you adult, the less social you become? The responsibilities of being a spouse, a parent, and an employee often leave us with little time for meaningful interaction outside our home and office. As a result, many of us aren’t even remotely social. We try to fill the void with outlets like Facebook and Twitter, but we soon discover social media isn’t as social as it sounds. And the effort we put into soliciting likes and comments doesn’t produce stronger relationships with other people like we’d hoped.
This podcast is an attempt by a pastor, a lawyer, and a generalist to combat the growing culture of social isolation by making time for meaningful conversations about life, theology, and the church. We want to create space in our lives to engage in regular discussion and debate with those around us, and we hope this podcast will encourage you to do the same.
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For the Lawyers
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