Monday, December 10, 2012

First Peter

Peter was the most prominent apostle.  We find in the Gospels and other New Testament references to him that he is typically listed first, indicating his position.  The apostles and the early church looked to him as a leader.  In the Roman Catholic, the office of Pope originated with him.

Peter was not a perfect person.  Though he had received a vision showing that Gentiles would be part of the church, he did not move to proselytize them.  That is probably why we see the shift in attention in Acts from Peter to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.  Peter fell in with the Judaizers until Paul confronted him.


Though he had weaknesses like the rest of us, he was a bold and passionate man.  He was the first to say aloud that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.  He stepped out of a boat to walk on the water with Jesus.

This letter is from a mature Peter.  To the passion of his youth he added gentleness and love.  Love is woven throughout the three themes of this letter to persecuted and scattered Jewish Christians: living before God, living before the world, and suffering.

Living Before God

As Christians, we have been bought out of the world and sin by the blood of Christ, who suffered and died to atone for our sins.  Because of this, we should be thoughtful imitators of Christ, seeking to be pure and love as He was pure and loving.  Instead of being dragged back into the sinful ways we practiced before, we should rely on the grace of God, exhibited in Christ, and do our best to do what is right, knowing we have help from above.

Living Before the World

Our relationship to God in Christ does not negate the importance of other relationships.  They are more important because God want to display uprightness, mercy and love through us.  Paul especially addresses relationships of authority and submission.  He reminds his readers to submit to authorities in government, work, and family.  The implication is that authorities should conduct themselves with similar uprightness, though we should do our best even if the authorities don’t.  Husbands are especially called out to treat their wives with understanding and honor.  In general, we should relate to others with compassion and courtesy.

Suffering

The people Peter wrote to were suffering.  They fled their homes because they were persecuted for their beliefs.  Peter says that if you must suffer, suffer for doing the right thing.  In fact, if you do the right thing you probably will suffer, because worldly people are more interested in satisfying there lusts and they will come against anyone who doesn’t go along.  In this, too, we can look to Christ as a model.  Christ endured suffering for a purpose, to save us and to glorify His Father.  Our suffering can also glorify God and purify us if we trust Him, continue to follow Him, and remember His faithfulness, for our suffering is temporary but our new life in Christ is forever.

If you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in

First Peter.  The Holy Bible.  New King James Version.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

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