1 Peter –Lesson 1
1. Who is Peter? (Read John 1:41-42 and Matthew 16:15-18)
Peter is one of Jesus’ Tweleve Disciples. God often renames those He calls to His service to reflect the nature of His calling on their life. This is true for Simon. Jesus renamed him Peter, meaning “rock.” Such name alluded to Peter’s steadfast faith in Christ as well as his role as the foundation for the burgeoning body of Christ in the world, the Church.
2. How is this name ironic? (Read Matthew 14:22-33; 26:69-75)
Jesus knew Peter would fail even before He renamed him the “Rock.” Peter failed to stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane and pray for strength to endure what was to come–Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Peter underestimated the weakness of his flesh. He feared for his life by being associated with Jesus. Yet, after Jesus arose from the grave, Jesus specifically instructed the women to “go tell Peter” of His resurrection. Jesus knew how repentant and sad Peter was for sinning against God. God’s grace and Peter’s repentance covered all Peter’s faults. Peter is not literally, but figurtively the foundation of the Church. As a receipt of God’s grace, Peter is a symbol of all Christians throughout time. It is only by the grace of God that we are saved. Not one is perfect, not even the “Rock” of the Church.
How encouraging for you and I that God would choose to use someone as faulty as Peter for His great service. God is quick to forgive and full of mercy and grace to those who humble themselves before God. Peter did. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. But He wants us to be humble enough to rely on God’s power and not ours; to repent and not be stubborn in our sin.
3. Who are the “elect exiles/strangers/sojourners” that Peter is addressing? (Read Hebrews 13:14; 1 Peter 2:11-12; John 15:19)
Sojourners means people who are resident for a time among strangers. Any Jew not in Jerusalem, dwelling among the Gentiles, is recognized as having been subject to The Dispersion. Peter is not only addressing Jews outside of Jerusalem, but Jews who have become Christians (“by the blood of Christ”). Thus, no matter where they go they will be living as strangers scattered among unbelieving Gentiles and Jews.
To that end, Peter was also not only addressing the Jewish Christians of the first century, but Christians throughout time. The world, scripture says, is not our home. Our fallen world resists and rejects the truth of Christ. Followers of the truth will not find belonging in this world. As such, we too (despite our outward circumstances) are “strangers of the Dispersion.”
4. What is the “living hope” to which Peter is referring? (See 1 Peter 1:3-5)
Peter sets forth the hope Christians have while sojourning in this world: 1) the mercy of God, 2) a new birth, 3) an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, and 4) a guarded life for a guaranteed salvation.
The hope is “living” because it is not an inheritance that might happen, it is a guarantee. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of believers’ living hope. Because Jesus is alive, our hope in Him delivering us from evil and atoning for our sins is alive. What we hope for, that is, the realization of the promises of God will come to pass.
5. What is the significance of the word “unfading” to describe our inheritance reserved for us in heaven?
Peter uses the Greek word amarantinon for “unfading,” which is only used one other place in the New Testament: 1 Peter 5:4. Such word is used specifically to contrast the fading nature of all that is earthly. According to Barnes’ Notes on the Bible,
The idea here, therefore, is not precisely the same as is expressed by the word “incorruptible.” Both words indeed denote perpetuity, but that refers to perpetuity in contrast with decay; this denotes perpetuity in the sense that everything there will be kept in its original brightness and beauty. The crown of glory, though worn for millions of ages, will not be dimmed; the golden streets will lose none of their luster; the flowers that bloom on the banks of the river of life will always be as rich in color, and as fragrant, as when we first beheld them.
Our inheritance is worth more than any material object or amount of money we could ever be promised to receive here on earth. Knowing this, we would be wise to invest in those things that do not fade away by heavenly standards.
1 Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, www.biblehub.com/commentaries/1_peter/1-4.htm, accessed July 17, 2016.
6. Why does Peter tell us to rejoice through various trials? (See 1 Peter 1:6-9; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15)
Peter tells us to rejoice through trials because trials test our faith. Just like an athlete who competes in preliminary competitions to gauge their abilities, Jesus wants us to condition for the race where we come face to face with our Creator and Judge at the end of our lives. We are to condition ourselves for greater endurance and strength like athletes who prepare for competition. Each trial trains us to be better prepared for adversity. It prepares us to respond according to God’s mercy and grace, rather than retaliation or even passivity.
A heart that loves the Lord serves Him even through suffering. A heart that perseveres through suffering proves to be a heart with true faith in God. And that faith allows us to love, believe and rejoice in Him no matter what curve ball life throws our way.
7. How does Peter convey the pricelessness that is our salvation? (See 1 Peter 1: 10-12)
Peter states that even the prophets inquired and examined the promise of salvation as foretold to them. That is, they longed for such salvation. Just a glimpse of what we Christians experience daily through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit made the prophets ache to behold the same. The Holy Spirit was not available to indwell in believers until after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven after His death and resurrection. Imagine prophets’ disappointment when, alas, it was revealed that it was not theirs to behold but for a future generation.
Furthermore, our salvation through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is something even the angels long to experience. Sometimes we perceive angels as greater beings with supernatural powers and abilities that overshadow our inheritance. But such is not the case. We have the greater inheritance, salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
8. What thoughts do Peter’s use of the word “therefore” (verse 13) connect?
“Therefore” connotes a relationship between the former and latter theme or thought. The former theme concerned the gift of salvation. The ensuing thought is our response to that gift. We are to obey God. We are to live not as the world tells us to live, but according to the grace of Jesus Christ: sacrificially and selflessly. The ways of the world, anything born of our own efforts, are futile and accomplish nothing of everlasting value.
But our salvation was bought with the precious blood of Christ. Through our faith in what Christ accomplished on our behalf we inherit things of eternal value. In response we defy the world, the flesh and the Devil’s responses to this life. We do not act according to our mood or emotions. We do not retaliate or seek revenge. We choose the narrow path, the path to righteousness. This is the call to holiness. We set ourselves apart from the world and dedicate our lives to service of the Lord.
9. Why did Peter point out that our salvation comes through the abiding Word of God that remains forever?
Peter is making the point that our faith in the living God is based on the promises of God. And the promises of God are not a fleeting fad or a fly-by-night offer. His word lasts forever. He will never go back on His promises. God does not ask us to suffer through various trials for no reason. The Word of God is true and unchanging because God is holy, true and unchanging. We can trust that what God says we will inherit we will in fact inherit and it will be better than anything this world can offer.
Dear Lord, help us to shift our paradigm on suffering; that we might thank you in the midst of our trials and rest in your promises for our well-being. Lord, we rebuke the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ who wants us to believe that a good God wouldn’t allow adversity. We trust you, God, that even our adversity you will work for the good. Help us witness this trust to the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Personal Application Questions:
1. Have you ever felt like a stranger in this world? Does the recognition that others before you in the faith felt the same comfort you? Is there a way you can connect with other believers to provide support and encouragement in your walk of faith?
2. How do you handle personal trials? Do you stand strong in your faith or do you cower to self-pity and resentment?
3. How do you show your trust in God?