November 22, 2015.
Daily Reading: I Peter 4-5.
Background: I Peter 1-3.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Being transformed: As Peter gave the example of Christ’s suffering for righteousness sake in the previous chapter, he builds off the symbolism of the rebirth of baptism to show how we as Christians are to be dead to their old lives dedicated to human (sinful) passions and made alive to righteousness and the will of God (see Romans 6:1-11). He seems to be talking specifically to an audience that heavily partook in these practices before they were converted to Christianity, and their friends maligned them now because they no longer would partake in their debauchery. As Christians, they were not to be conformed to the world, but rather transformed (see Romans 12:1-2). This is why the gospel was preached, that people who were once dead in their sins would be made alive in the Spirit. Thus Peter gives his audience charge to be self-controlled and sober minded, holding earnest love for one another above all. This love was demonstrated through their sincere hospitality and being stewards of God’s grace. As God had given them such grace, so were they to give to others. Whether we are speaking or acting, we are to do so in the will of God that He may ever be glorified through Jesus Christ.
2. Christian suffering: Peter then turns to his audience and tells them not to be surprised if they are persecuted for righteousness sake, for Jesus Himself was persecuted. Rather, the were to rejoice in their suffering, as they will be glad when the glory of Christ is revealed to all. He says that those who are insulted for the name of Christ are blessed, and the one who suffers as a Christian is not to be ashamed, but rather to glorify God in the name (it should be noted that the term ‘Christian’ was probably used as a derogatory term by those outside the faith at this time). Peter assures those being persecuted that judgment is coming for their oppressors, but also reminds them that judgment is coming for all. He quotes from Proverbs 11:31 to indicated that if indeed the household of God was to be judged, then certainly the unrighteous and sinners would be as well, and they without the redemptive blood of Christ through the obedience to the gospel. We are to entrust our souls to the faithful Creator, as Peter says here. It should be noted that Peter not only talked the talk here, but he lived out this message from the earliest days of the church. He was no stranger to persecution and suffering. Yet he indeed, with the rest of the apostles, rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Christ (see Acts 4, 5:17-42).
Final exhortations: Finishing up his epistle, Peter gives some final exhortations to his audience to encourage their walk with Christ. He first addresses the elders, as he is an elder, to shepherd the flock of God willingly, eagerly and in sincere intention. They were not to domineer over the flock, but rather be examples to them, just as Jesus (the chief Shepherd) is the example for us. In doing so, they would receive a crown of glory that never fades when Jesus appears. Peter exhorts the younger to be subject to the elders, clothing themselves with humility toward each other. Then he uses the point of humility to transition into addressing everyone, as we are all to humble ourselves before God and cast our cares and anxieties on Him. Note the peace that these words should bring to us: Christ cares for us. He then warns his audience to be sober-minded and watch for the adversary, for he is constantly seeking someone to devour. We are to resist him firm in the faith, taking encouragement that Christians around the world are suffering in the same kinds of ways. But the present suffering is nothing in comparison with the glory that is to come. This is the hope that we have in Christ, what we look forward to when our Savior returns. Thus let us stand firm, ever looking to Jesus, and telling the world the good news of His salvation.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Deuteronomy 7-9.
How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of him who brings good news.