Peter believes that his time on earth is nearly over, and he wants to leave a word of encouragement and warning for other believers. He asserts that he is a reliable source, because he is an eyewitness to the majesty of Jesus Christ as displayed at the transfiguration. He is guided by the Spirit to proclaim the truth, just as the prophets of the Old Testament were. He wants us to remember the precious faith we have been given, because if we don’t, we are blind and will stumble back into sin. We need to remember that we are called, elected, and cleansed, and God has given us everything we need for godliness! We have become partakers of the divine nature through the Spirit, so now we can add excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection, and unselfish love to our faith. How do we do that? By yielding to the Spirit as He directs us to obey the Word!
Elders, pastors, and leaders need to behave in a certain way if they expect a special reward when Jesus returns:
- They must care for and guide God’s people.
- They must lead willingly and not grudgingly.
- They must not be greedy.
- They must be humble.
- They must endeavor to be good examples.
And they deserve respect and obedience from those who are younger in the congregation. This respect is an act of humility, which we are all supposed to show towards one another anyway! We also show our humility by being willing to bring our burdens to God in prayer so that He can shoulder them. He cares for us! In addition to humility, we need to make sure that we are serious and watchful, because the devil is out there trying to get us to sin. He even uses our suffering to tempt us, but we can resist, knowing that what we are experiencing is no different than what others have endured. We can make it if they did! Thankfully our suffering is temporary, and God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. To Him belongs the power forever. Amen!
Peter ends the letter the way he starts it, with grace and peace.
God’s Plan for the Ages Ephesians 1:3-14 (7-10) I) Praise God for His ________________ II) Praise God for His ________________ III) Praise God for His _______________ IV) Praise God for His __________________ A) God has a ___________ B) He ____________ it to us B) He is going to ___________ all things in Christ 1) He will unite ____________ to Himself 2) He will unite ________ and __________ 3) He will unite a broken ______________ C) It will happen in His _____________
We all suffer for one reason or another, but suffering for the sake of Christ is special and different. When we suffer as Christians we are blessed and we should rejoice, because we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, and suffering for the sake of Christ changes our perspective. We become more concerned about serving Him. We fully commit to standing up for our faith. We completely leave behind the way we were, and the unsaved world can’t understand why. They end up vilifying us, but God’s judgement on them is assured. After all, we all die and face the judgement. Judgement actually begins at the house of God, but we will be saved! The gospel was proclaimed is so that those who believe will end up in glory. Not so for those who refuse to believe.
So, we as believers should persevere, and we do that by:
- Being self-controlled and sober minded so that we can be devoted to prayer.
- Keeping our love for each other fervent, which means we will be willing to forgive.
- Showing hospitality to each other without complaining.
- Serving beside each other by using our spiritual gifts.
- Speaking God’s truth.
- Relying on God’s strength to care for each other, thereby glorifying Jesus Christ!
To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen!
(1-7) Peter sees husbands as leaders in the home, and wives can have a big influence on them. It goes back to what he said earlier: “that they may see your good deeds and glorify God when He appears” (2:12). Being beautiful and pure on the inside is much more important than being beautiful on the outside, and that inner beauty helps draw others to God. Husbands are to act properly in marriage as well, recognizing as the stronger partner that they need to be gentle and caring. After all, husbands and wives are joint heirs of God and of equal worth in His sight! Either one acting improperly will affect their relationship with God.
(8-12) Peter uses Psalm 34:12-16 to remind us that God blesses those who obey Him. And He wants us to be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, humble, and kind to others.
(13-16) We will be blessed if we do good, even if we experience earthly suffering for it. We are to put Christ first, and always be ready to tell others about Him in a way that is winsome. We should never give others the opportunity to slander us.
(17-22) And even if we suffer, it should be because we are doing good, not evil. Christ also suffered for doing good. He was put to death for our sins (not His own), and was raised to sit at the right hand of God the Father!
What about the phrase, “preached to the spirits in prison“? Peter already talked about the “Spirit of Christ” preaching through the Old Testament prophets, and also calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” in 2 Peter 2:5. It seems best to see Christ speaking though Noah to proclaim the truth, and the disobedient are now the “spirits in prison” because they would not listen. Only 8 souls were saved through the flood, and this flood becomes a precursor of baptism, which is physical representation of what happens spiritually when we are saved. We have our sins washed away and we now have the “pledge of a good conscience to God.” We couldn’t possibly be good before, but we now have the power to be good living inside of us through the Holy Spirit, and it’s the resurrection reveals that power!
The Word nourishes, and it helps us get rid of evil, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander in our lives!
Jesus is our cornerstone! He was rejected by men, but accepted by God. When we finally receive Him – when we believe – we experience God’s mercy and are adopted into His family. We are now like Jesus. We are chosen, we are priceless, we are priests, and we are citizens of another kingdom. We are building a spiritual house as we offer up the sacrifice of obedience:
- By staying away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul. What an indictment against the world that explains why so many are soul sick!
- By living in such a way that non-Christians can’t complain about us!
- By obeying and honoring human authority, even when recognizing God’s ultimate authority and fearing Him. But we shouldn’t use God’s authority as an excuse to be unruly and disobedient!
- By honoring all, and especially remembering to love the family of faith.
- By willingly obeying those over us, even when it brings hardship. As difficult as it is to understand, suffering injustice brings us into solidarity with Jesus, and finds favor with God.
How do we understand the last point? Do we see this as a new understanding as opposed to an old understanding (OT vs. NT)? Are there times when we should respond to the evil around us, and times when we shouldn’t?
- We are on the safest ground when we are standing up for the rights of others, rather than ourselves.
- Our default as believers should be to obey and get along with others, unless we have a clear understanding from Scripture that what we are being asked to do is wrong or in conflict with God.
- We should always rely on the leading and guiding of God through His Word and the Spirit in all that we do.
- Jesus is our greatest example to follow. He was humble, compassionate, obedient, and willing to suffer. If he wasn’t, then we wouldn’t be saved!
Isaiah 53:3-12 “He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the LORD caused the sin of all of us to attack him. He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth. He was led away after an unjust trial— but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully. Though the LORD desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the LORD’s purpose will be accomplished through him. Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins. So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.“
Peter encourages us to endure through persecution. What we’re experiencing now is for a purpose and we can look forward to greater glory in the future!
- God saves us through Jesus Christ and gives us an eternal inheritance.
- Our salvation should bring us joy even in the midst of suffering.
- God uses suffering to achieve His purpose in our lives.
- So, even though we experience suffering, we can rejoice in it.
- Although we are saved now, we won’t experience the full effects until Jesus returns.
- And we look forward to rewards and an inheritance that are yet to come!
- It was foretold by the Spirit through the prophets.
- The prophets wrote it down for us, and this Word communicates God’s truth and salvation to us. His Word is eternal, living, and true.
- When the prophets wrote under inspiration, they had to search their own writings to try to figure out what God was doing.
- How should we respond to all that God has done for us? We need to be holy and obedient, and we need to love one another.
(1-6) James indicts the rich for living luxuriously and taking advantage of and murdering the righteous.
(7-12) He goes on to state that, if they are experiencing suffering at the hands of the rich, they shouldn’t allow their suffering to ruin their relationships with other believers. They shouldn’t grumble against each other or make stupid oaths. They need to be honest and true in their dealings with others. They also need to trust in the Lord! He is the judge, and the unrighteous will be punished. As the righteous, they need to be patient and endure.
(13-20) No matter what they are experiencing (good or bad) they need to turn to God. Prayer is powerful! God can heal, God will forgive, and they should be willing to lean on the community of faith when they need help. And, as a community, they need to be willing to challenge those who are wandering from the faith. Such action is done out of love, to help the person avoid issues, problems, sickness, sin, and even death!
Is there anything underlying theme that unites these injunctions? Well, they are all manifestations of pride. Thinking we are more important than others. Thinking that we know better than others. Thinking that we know better than God! James presents humility as the answer.
We end up fighting with each other because of our passions and desires. We want what we want, and when someone thinks differently, or keeps us from doing what we want, we fight. And the things we want aren’t the things God wants. Take adultery for instance. That’s something God doesn’t want us to do. It’s wrong, and it grieves God when we do it. We need to be humble and to submit to what God wants for us. When we submit to God, we resist the devil and he has no power!
The same is true of judging other believers. We should be most concerned about following the law ourselves, not setting ourselves up as judges. When we are constantly critical of others it’s usually so that we can look better, but how good do any of us really look when we compare ourselves to God’s Word? We need to humbly submit to the true lawgiver and judge, not seek to be a judge ourselves.
Submission also applies to our everyday decisions and actions. We even need to submit our daily schedules to God! Acknowledging He is in control rather than us should help us submit to Him in all areas of our lives! We know what is right to do, and if we don’t do it, we sin.
A true believer recognizes that controlling their speech is vital. In fact, it’s a symbol of control in the rest of life! And it goes beyond not saying evil or nasty things. It even goes beyond gossip and innuendo. We are to use our speech to teach true and right things, and the wisdom that comes from above (the Bible and the Spirit) will guide us. When we think too highly of ourselves, or think too little of other people, we will boast or tell lies because we are allowing our speech to be guided by the earthly and demonic. Speech guided by true wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, accommodating, merciful, impartial, not hypocritical, and brings forth good fruit. Verse 18 is a great guide for life as well as speech: “And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.” In other words, we reap righteousness when we speak and teach in a climate of peace. Condemning words for the culture we find ourselves in today!