1 Peter 2
LIVING STONES FOR GOD’S HOUSE
We visit friends who live in rural Ontario once or twice
each year and always enjoy the ride through the quaint countryside. Many of the
homes and churches there are quite old and are built of brick or stone. They
are sturdy and beautiful buildings, with solid foundations. We love to look at
them as we drive through the countryside. Many of these buildings have been
there since the 1700s or 1800s. One can be sure these homes and churches have
withstood many storms and have seen many generations of people born and die
within their walls. As the saying goes, “If
walls could talk, these walls would have much to say.” In this next section of Scripture Peter
compares the Church with a building, a building with “living stones.” And we can wonder as we listen, “What should the living stones of our
church building be saying?”
Peter actually began setting up for this idea of living
stones in chapter 1 when he expressed praise to God, who has in His great mercy “given us new birth into a living hope”
(1:3). Other writers of the New Testament also talked about this idea. Paul
taught in Ephesians 2 that the spiritually dead
were raised to a resurrection kind of life in Christ Jesus. And in Colossians,
Paul said, “God made you alive with
Christ” (2:13). This belief was shared by the writer to the Hebrews.
If you have confessed to Christ that you are a sinner in
need of a Savior and believe His death on the cross was payment for your sins,
you have been freed from the fear of death, and have become a member of God’s
family (Hebrews 12:7–10). You have also been called to keep on loving each of
your brothers and sisters (13:1). This provides the foundation on which you can
become holy and grow in holiness.
A Christian’s desire for growth, as we will see in verses
1-3 in 1 Peter 2, is to “grow up in your
salvation.” This involves being obedient and avoiding sin. People who
follow Christ are “living stones” in
a temple that God is building, and the foundation of this temple is Jesus
(verses 4–8). As God’s chosen people, called
out of darkness to glorify Jesus, we are to live as aliens in a foreign land so
that the residents can see an example of how the people in Heaven live.
One way a believer demonstrates his/her heavenly citizenship
is to obey earthly laws, submitting to rulers and doing good as we will learn
in verses 13–17. Slaves are to submit even to harsh masters, for Jesus
subjected Himself to injustice and we are to follow His example according to
verses 18–23. Having been redeemed, saved by Jesus, we turn from a life of sin
and commit ourselves to a life of righteousness, according to verses 24, 25.
with that background and overview, let us now take a closer look at 1 Peter 2.
1 Peter 2:1 NLT:
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.
Believers have been ransomed by the blood of Jesus.
Therefore, Peter tells them to get rid of all their evil behavior. Peter then
listed five sins of attitude and speech that could cause confrontation
between believers. The first refers
to any and all evil actions and thoughts,
then he zeroes in on some specific ones, possibly ones that he was aware his
readers were particularly struggling with. The
second is deceit, deliberate
dishonesty; then we have hypocrisy which means to put on a false front, a big
act to make people think you are something that you are really not; envy means a jealous resentment; and slander means lying behind someone‘s
back, or conversation that tears the other person down. None of these behavioral
patterns should have any place in the life of a believer. Believers are
expected to live in obedience to the Word and believers are also expected to
make a clean break with the past.
1 Peter 2:2-3 NLT:
Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will
grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,
3 now that you have had a taste of the
Peter wanted his readers to desire the Word of God as much
as babies desire milk. After a
believer discards the evil behavior Peter described in verse 1, they then need
to change their diet and begin consuming wholesome spiritual food that produces
growth. They are to crave it so much that they cry out and beg for a fuller
knowledge of the Bible. God’s Word does not mislead anyone and neither should
anyone who claims to be a child of God.
Verse 3 refers to the fact that having had a taste of Christ
through salvation, those who follow Christ should desire more of Him. A new
Christian needs to feed himself/herself daily from God’s Word in order to grow,
just as a baby needs to be fed in order to grow physically. This means
protecting our minds from anything that could draw us off the path of
following Christ and filling our minds with whatever might keep our eyes
focused on that path. In this way we can progress toward the goal of full
salvation. Remember what we have often said: “What you put into your mind is what you become.”
It is most discouraging when Christians have no taste for
God’s Word and prefer a diet of entertaining preaching and entertaining religious services instead. Or they would rather read books about the Bible,
rather than the Bible itself. As we grow, we discover that the Word is milk for
babies, as well as filet mignon for the mature.
also referred to as bread (Matthew 4:4) and honey (Psalm 119:103). When
Christians are growing in the Word, they are peacemakers, not troublemakers,
and they promote the unity of the church.
1 Peter 2:4 NLT:
You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.
Peter’s readers, having been purified by the grace of God
through their faith in Christ, were prepared to practice holiness. No longer
babies, they were to grow up together to serve Christ as a chosen “royal priesthood.”
1 Peter 2:5 NLT:
And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual
temple. what is more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of
Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
It is important for Christians to realize that they need
to grow together as well as individually; a point that Peter is about to
address. By constant communion with Christ, the
Living Stone, through reading His Word and prayer, Christians will become
like Him, living stones. By itself a stone is of little use, but joined with
others it becomes part of a building. Peter’s thought then switches from the
structure (presumably the temple) to those who function in that building. Their
responsibility as members of God’s spiritual household is two-fold: 1) to worship, offering spiritual sacrifices
(verse 5) and, 2) to witness, declaring the praises (verse 9).
Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18: “On this rock I will build My church.” Now Peter clearly identifies
Christ as the Rock on which His (Christ’s) Church is built. Believers are not
only the stones that are used to build the Church, but they also serve in it,
ministering as a holy priesthood,
offering spiritual sacrifices. All believers are priests
and need no mediator other than Jesus Christ to approach God directly. Such
priestly service requires holiness (1 Peter 1:16, 22). Praise to God and
doing good to others are spiritual sacrifices that please God (Hebrews
13:15). However, “living stones” may
also offer themselves as “living
sacrifices” according to Romans 12:1, acceptable to God through Jesus
The words here and in verse 9 are rich in meaning for God’s
people from the Old Testament. Their use shows the connection between those who
respond to God under the old covenant in the Old Testament and Christian
believers in the New Testament. The emphasis in verses 9 and 10 on belonging to
the people of God could have been a great encouragement to those who felt their
position as “temporary residents and
foreigners” in verse 11. Christians individually (1 Corinthians 6:19) and
the Church corporately (1 Corinthians 3:16) are seen as God’s new temple, a spiritual temple because it is inhabited by His Holy Spirit. It is on the basis of this verse and verse 9 that
Christians have stressed that since Jesus has made the once-for-all sacrifice
only sacrifices now to be offered
are spiritual ones.
These are to be offered by all believers who are all considered equal by God. The
only ministry (or, office) the New Testament sees as set apart in any way is that of the
elder appointed to leadership, teaching and pastoral care. The phrase, Because of Jesus Christ, can be taken
either to say: how the sacrifices are offered, or why they are acceptable.
you may be asking yourself, “What exactly
is a spiritual sacrifice?” That would include a number of things,
such as praying regularly, praising God
in every circumstance, submitting to His will in every way, telling others
about the Lord, showing love to the hard-to-love people. There are many ways we
make “spiritual sacrifices,” but
they do not necessarily include giving up chocolate for 40 days during
1 Peter 2:6-8 NLT:
As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for
great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those
who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the
8 And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes
them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so
they meet the fate that was planned for them.
Peter encouraged his readers with a sure scriptural
promise of ultimate victory for those who trust Christ.
Two prophecies are
drawn together in verses 4 and 6–8: the foundation stone of Isaiah 28:16 and
the rejected capstone of Psalm 118:22. Jesus applies the latter reference to
Himself in Mark 12:10 and Peter quoted Him before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:11.
Jesus is both the foundation cornerstone on which His Church is built, and the
capstone up to which it grows
(the word can mean both). A cornerstone, of course, is that essential part of a
building which provides stability so that the rest of the building can be
built. A capstone on the other hand is the final stone in the building; it is
that which brings the building to completion. So this is another way that Jesus
Christ is “the first and the last” (Revelation 1:11, 17; 22:13).
These verses present a sharp contrast between those who
believe and those who do not. Christ is “precious,” to those who believe. But those who have rejected Christ stumble over Him
because of their disobedience. This happened to the chief priests and Pharisees that Jesus was referring to when He quoted
Peter also quotes Isaiah 8:14. Rejection of Jesus Christ is fatal and is
connected with disobeying the message of God’s Word. To disobey the message is
to reject it; and to obey it is to believe it. All who do not receive Christ
as their Savior will one day face Him as their Judge. Because of sin, all
disobedient unbelievers are destined for a “stumbling,” which will lead to eternal condemnation and Hell.
There is only one Savior, Jesus Christ, and only one
spiritual building, the Church. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of
the Church (Ephesians 2:20), holding the building together. Whether we agree
with each other or not, all true Christians belong to each other as stones in
God’s building. In His first mention of the Church, Jesus compared it to a
building: “I will build My church”
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18. Believers are living stones in His church
building. Each time someone trusts Christ, another stone is cemented by grace
into the building.
Peter wrote this letter to believers living in five
different provinces, yet he said that they all belonged to one “spiritual temple.” There is a unity
of God’s people that includes all local and individual assemblies and
fellowships. We belong to each other because we belong to Christ. This means
that we must not permit our differences to destroy the spiritual unity we have
in Christ. We ought to be mature enough to disagree on less essential points without
allowing disagreements to separate us. This should be possible if we base our
beliefs on the total teaching of the Bible. It is all too easy to distort the
message of the Bible if we try to use a single verse here and there to prove
what we would like it to mean rather than what it actually means, or if we do
not take the entire teaching of the Bible on that subject into account in our
interpretation of a specific verse.
A contractor was building a house and the construction of
the first floor went smoothly. But when they started on the second floor, they
had nothing but trouble. None of the materials from the lumberyard would fit
properly. Then they discovered the reason. They were working with two different
sets of blueprints. Once they got rid of the old set, everything went well and
they built a very solid house.
All too frequently Christians hinder the building of the
Church because they are following the wrong plans. When Solomon built his
temple, his workmen followed the plans so carefully that everything fit
together on the construction site (1 Kings 6:7).
If all of us would follow God’s blueprints given in His
Word, we would be able to work together without discord and build His Church
for His glory.
Peter describes Jesus as a Living Stone because He
was raised from the dead overcoming sin and death. He is the chosen stone of
the Father and He is precious. In
quoting Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22, Peter pointed out that Jesus Christ, though
chosen by God, was rejected by men. He was not the kind of Messiah they
were expecting, so they stumbled over Him. Jesus referred to this same
Scripture when He debated with the Jewish leaders.
rejected by men, Jesus Christ was exalted by God. The cause of this Jewish
stumbling was their refusal to submit to the message of Christ and the
knowledge they had of the Old Testament teaching of the Scripture. Had they
believed and obeyed the Word, they would have accepted their Messiah and been
saved. People today still stumble over Christ and His cross (1 Corinthians
1:18ff). They keep wanting to find some other way to Heaven other than to
accept the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins. They are
uncomfortable with that and would rather say that entrance to Heaven depends on
their own good works or whether or not they “lived
a good life.” That is stumbling over the cross of Christ. Those who
believe in Christ, however, will never regret it.
1 Peter 2:9 NLT:
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal
priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can
show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into
his wonderful light.
In contrast with the unbelievers, Peter shows how the
Christian Church has inherited the privileges promised to the Old Testament
people of God. Peter emphasizes the biblical principle that privilege
involves responsibility. Those who inherit Israel’s blessings have Israel’s
work to do and are to praise the
God who has done so much for them by the way they live their lives.
A “holy nation” and
a “royal priesthood” refers to the
Church as a royal priesthood united with the Royal Priest, Jesus Christ. As
believers we are not only royal priests that belong to and serve the King, but
it also means that one day we will rule with Christ during His kingdom.
the Old Testament none of the kings of Israel served as a priest; and the one
king who tried was judged by God (2 Chronicles 26:16–21). Our God is a God of
grace from whom we are able to obtain by faith all that we need in order to
live for Him and serve Him. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the
Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the
same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will
receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
And in Hebrews 10:19-25 NLT:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place
because of the blood of Jesus.
20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain
into the Most Holy Place.
21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,
22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting
him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make
us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be
trusted to keep his promise.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage
one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Each individual believer has the privilege of coming into
the presence of God. We do not come to God through any person on earth,
but only through the one Mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:1–8). Because He
is alive in Heaven interceding for us and within us by the presence of the Holy
Spirit, every follower of Jesus can minister as holy priests. This means that
we should live as though we were priests in Christ’s temple.
Peter emphasizes the privilege of offering “spiritual sacrifices.” Christians today
do not obviously bring animal sacrifices to God as people did in the Old
Testament; but we do have our own sacrifices we can present to God. We should
give our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1–2), as well as praise
through the things we say (Hebrews 13:15) and the good things we do for others
(Hebrews 13:16). The money and other material things we share with others in
God’s service is also a spiritual sacrifice (Philippians 4:10–20). Even the people we win to Christ are sacrifices
for His glory (Romans 15:16). We offer these sacrifices through Jesus Christ,
for only then are they acceptable to God. If we do any of this for our own
glory, then these things will not be accepted by God.
God wanted His people Israel to become “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6), messengers to tell the whole
world about Him. But Israel failed God.
Instead of being a positive influence on the godless nations
around them, Israel became like those nations and adopted their
practices. Therefore, it was necessary for God to discipline His people many
times for their idolatry, but they still resisted living according to God‘s
plan. It is important that believers, as God’s priests, do not adopt the
world‘s standards. We must segregate ourselves because the world needs our
influence and witness. Even though we live in the world we must not allow it to
change us into its mold or ways of thinking and living.
The fact that each individual believer can go to God
personally and offer spiritual sacrifices should not encourage us to isolate
ourselves. We are priests together, serving the same High Priest, ministering in the same spiritual temple.
While we need to maintain our personal relationship with God, we also need
to combine our gifts with fellow believers in serving God.
The emphasis in our pluralistic culture (truth can be
different things to different people) today is that life is all about me. This same attitude is growing in the
Church. Too much of the church music centers on the individual and ignores the
fellowship of the church. Many books and sermons focus on personal experience to the neglect of ministry to the whole body. We
of course must care for ourselves but we must balance it with caring for others.
1 Peter 2:10 NLT:
“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once
you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”
The description of the Church in verses 9 and 10 is similar
to God’s description of Israel in Exodus 19:5–6 and Deuteronomy 7:6. This does
not suggest that God is through with Israel, for He will still fulfill His
promises and His covenants and establish the promised kingdom of Israel. But it
does mean that the Church today is to God and the world what Israel was
meant to be. The Church is an assembly of God‘s people. God did not choose
Israel because they were a great people, but because He loved them (Deuteronomy
7:7–8). God has chosen us purely because of His love and grace. In John 15;16
Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I
Believers throughout the world combine to form a holy
nation. we have been set apart to belong exclusively to God. Our citizenship is
in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), so we live according to Heaven’s laws and seek to
please Heaven’s King. Israel began to think that she was a holy nation because
they were such special people, and began to break down the walls of separation
that made her special and set apart. God commanded them to put a “difference between holy and unholy, and
between unclean and clean” (Leviticus 10:10); but they ignored God‘s
commands and disobeyed Him.
Those of us who have placed our faith in the work of
Christ on our behalf are now the people of God. In our unsaved condition, we were not God’s people because we
belonged to Satan and the world (Ephesians 2:1–3, 11–19). Once you place your
faith and trust in Christ you become a part of God’s people. We are a “people of His own special possession,” or “God’s people” (depending on your
translation) because He purchased us
with the blood of His Son (Acts 20:28). All of these privileges carry with them
one big responsibility. We are to reveal the wonder of God to a lost world.
Because the world is living in the dark people do not know the perfection of
God, but they should see His perfection in the way we live our lives. Each
future citizen of Heaven is a living advertisement for the virtues of God and
the blessings of the Christian life. Our lives should radiate the wondrous
light into which God’s grace has called us. After all, we have obtained mercy
from God. If it were not for His mercy, we would be lost and on the way to
eternal judgment in Hell. God reminded Israel many times that He had delivered
them from the bondage of Egypt in order that they might glorify and serve Him,
but the nation soon forgot and the people drifted back into their sinful ways.
Believers are God’s chosen people only because of His mercy, and because of
this we should conduct our lives in a manner that demonstrates to the world
that we are faithful to Him.
We are living in enemy territory and the enemy is constantly
watching us, looking for opportunities to move in and take over. As future
citizens of Heaven, we should be united. We should present to the world a
united front demonstrating what the grace and mercy of God can do. We belong to
one family of God and share the same divine nature. We are living stones in one
building and priests serving in one temple. We are citizens of the same
heavenly kingdom and it is Jesus Christ who is the source and center of this
unity. If we center our attention and affection and obedience on Him, we will
be able to walk and work together. If we think primarily of ourselves we will only cause division.
Unity, by the way does not eliminate differences. Not all
children in a family are alike, nor are all the stones in a building identical.
In fact, it is variety that gives beauty and attraction to a family or a
building. The absence of differences is not unity, it is sameness and such uniformity is boring. It is great when the choir sings
in unison but it is preferred that they sing in harmony. Christians can differ and still get along. As
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT:
are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of
them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve
the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the
same God who does the work in all of us.
We can do things in different ways, there is no requirement
that every congregation be carbon copies in how they do things. The essential
thing is that we serve the same Lord Jesus Christ and that we each follow His
will. All who cherish their unity of faith and who seek to honor the one God can love each other and walk
together (Ephesians 4:1–6). God may call us into different ministries or to use
different methods, but we can still love each other and seek to present a united
witness to the world. After all, one day all of us will be together in Heaven
(John 17:24). So it might be a good idea if we learned what it is like to love
each other down here.
1 Peter 2:11 NLT:
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away
from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
Peter reminds them that they are
dearly loved by God. The term “temporary residents and foreigners” is
the translation of a Greek word meaning “to
have one’s home alongside of pagans,” thus a “sojourner.”
The term describes the Christian’s position in this world. He has made his home
alongside of the unsaved and settled down among them, a sojourner and one that
is a stranger to them because he is different from them. The urging to stay
away from fleshly lusts is based on the fact that Christians are living right
in the middle of the unsaved, and earthly lusts are still part of their nature
that can spring up out of nowhere and tempt them at any time. As a believer you must always be on guard
against them. We are told to hold ourselves back from doing the things which we
did naturally before we were saved.
Do you have a plan as to what to do when Satan attacks you
at your most vulnerable point ten minutes from now? Do you have a bad temper?
Perhaps he will have someone cross your path that infuriates you. Do you tend
to lie to keep yourself from getting into trouble? Then he might have a situation prepared to
tempt you to lie. Do you have some other kind of disobedient habit? Rest
assured Satan is planning how to pull you into it. Prepare yourself now as to
how you will keep from following your normal pattern of behavior, and react as
an ambassador of Christ. Whatever your weakness you can take it to the bank
that Satan will attack you at your weakest point. Be ready for it and you will
be pleasantly surprised at the self-control you can use through the power of
the Holy Spirit.
Christ Is Our Perfect
1 Peter 2:12-25
Sunday evening Bible study we have been talking about growth in Christlikeness.
This passage in 1 Peter relates directly to that theme as we look at the
example Christ set for us for how to respond to suffering and other difficult
If we are going to become like
Christ, who is our Perfect Example, we have to start with a cleansing from sin
and an eager desire to "grow up in
your salvation" (1 Peter 2:1-3). We are "living stones" in a spiritual temple God is building on
the foundation of Jesus (1 Peter 2:4-8). As God's chosen people, called out of
darkness to glorify Him, we are to live as foreigners in this world, such clear
examples of Heaven's citizens that even those who are hostile to the Gospel
will see our good deeds, and when Jesus returns be forced to admit our deeds
were good (1 Peter 2:9-12).
We will see now that one way we
exhibit our heavenly citizenship is to obey earthly laws, submitting to rulers
and doing good (1 Peter 2:13-17). Similarly employees are to submit even to
harsh bosses, for Jesus subjected Himself to injustice and we are to follow His
example (verses 18-23). Having been redeemed by Jesus we renounce sin and
commit ourselves to live for righteousness (verses 24-25). Peter had prefaced
this section with a call to remember where our citizenship really is, so we
will include verse 11 with verse 12 as we resume looking at chapter 2:
1 Peter 2:11,12 NAS:
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain
from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.
12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that
in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of
your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
As Christians, we must constantly
remind ourselves who we are and Peter did this in 1 Peter 2:11. To begin with,
we are God's dearly beloved children. Eight times in his two epistles, Peter
reminded his readers of God's love for them. There is nothing we can do on our own to earn God's love.
He loves us because of Jesus Christ. Peter remembers in 2 Peter 1:17 being at
the Transfiguration and hearing God's words about Jesus: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." It
is because of a person's faith in Jesus that God lavishes His love upon us
And when God loves us what should we give in return? Because
God loves us and because Jesus loves us so much that He suffered and died for
us, that should be reason enough for us to live obedient lives. In John 14:15
Jesus said: “If you love me, obey my
commandments.“ And in John 14:23 Jesus said: “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we
will come and make our home with each of them.”
Not only are we God's beloved
children, but we are also "strangers
[sojourners] and pilgrims" in this world. We are "resident aliens" who have our citizenship in another
country, Heaven. If you have ever lived in a foreign country, you know that the
people there tend to be critical of your behavior because you just do not "fit in." We have a tendency
to do the same thing to foreigners in our country who follow their own
traditions and keep to their own culture because they do not "fit in" with us and our
We wake up each
morning on a spiritual battlefield. You do not dare get out of bed without putting on the armor of God because
there are sinful desires that attack us when we least expect it. Listen to
Paul’s advice concerning this in Ephesians 6:10-17 NLT:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all
strategies of the devil.
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil
rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark
world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist
the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s
15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will
be fully prepared.
16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery
arrows of the devil.
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is
the word of God.
Satan is out to get us whenever and wherever he can
(Galatians 5:16–26). The real battle is with the passions within us. D.L. Moody
said, “I have more trouble with D.L.
Moody than with any man I know.” If
we give in to these earthly temptations we will start living like the unsaved
people around us and we will lose the ability to influence them for Christ. We
must constantly be on our guard. Unsaved people are watching us, speaking
against us (1 Peter 3:16; 4:4), and looking for excuses to reject the Gospel.
If we are going to have a positive impact on the unsaved
people around us, we need to live righteous lives. This involves more than just
telling the truth and doing the right thing. Our behavior should be admirable
and honorable. We need to back up our “talk” with our “walk.” There should
be nothing in our behavior that will give the unsaved any opportunity to attack Christ and the Gospel. Rather the behavior of a Christ follower should reveal
the purest, highest, and most excellent kind of goodness. In Matthew 5:16
Jesus said: “let your good deeds shine
out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” This
is what the Bible is all about.
Unfortunately, there are not too many Christians and
churches that practice living such lives today. I know many unbelievers who do
not want anything to do with the Church because of bad experiences they have
had either with Christians or with a church, or both.
Peter encouraged his readers to witness to the unsaved by
word and deed, so that one day when God visits them, which is the meaning of
the “day of visitation” in verse 12,
they would gladly receive Him. In the Old Testament this phrase advised that
God would be drawing near to people either for judgment or blessing. Here,
Peter is saying that when the grace of God visits the heart of an unbeliever,
he/she will respond with saving faith and glorify God because he/she remembers
the testimony of believers they had known and observed. When unbelievers come
to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, it is very likely that they do so because
of believers whose behavior was consistently honorable, even when those
unbelievers made life difficult for the Christians.
As we learned a few pages back, the early Christians were
falsely accused of rebellion against the government. They were falsely accused
of burning Rome to the ground; being atheists because they did not worship the
emperor and other Roman idols; cannibalism because of their observance of the
Lord’s Supper which was interpreted to mean actually eating Christ’s body and
drinking His blood; immorality because of the love they professed for one
another; damaging trade and social progress; and leading slaves into rebellion.
When we live in obedience to the
teachings of Jesus, our lifestyle becomes a most effective way of allowing
the unbeliever to become aware of their sin (Matthew 5:16). An honorable
(or, good) life is one in which a person does good things as a result of the
Holy Spirit within them,
and thus glorifies God.
Such a life can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring
unbelievers to faith in Christ.
1 Peter 2:13-17 NLT:
For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as
head of state,
14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish
those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so do not use your freedom as an
excuse to do evil.
17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear
God, and respect the king.
Now here is where the rubber meets
the road. Peter gets very specific about how Christians are to live. When we
look around at many of our leaders and see that they include governors who are
sent to prison, legislators accused of taking bribes, and judges who re-write
the laws from the bench, we may feel they do not deserve our respect. But what
is God saying though Peter in verses 13 and 14? Respect your leaders anyway.
Now that Does not make sense to us on one level. But let us look more closely
at what God is saying because it really boils down to, "can we trust God?" Verse 13 puts this in context when it
says, "for the Lord's sake." Note also that whether or not we can approve of the lifestyles and actions of
our kings, presidents, governors, legislators, etc., we are to respect the
offices they hold because, as we are told in Romans 13:1, all such offices are
held because God ordained it.
Romans 13:1, NIV
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established. The
authorities that exist have been established by God.
Christians are expected to obey
the laws of the country in which they live.
Peter urged those who read
this letter to obey such laws. The reason for doing this is to honor God.
Christians are to obey the laws as long as those laws do not conflict with
the teaching of Scripture (Acts 4:19).
According to what Peter says in verse 14, the purpose of
legal authority is “to punish those who do wrong and to honor
those who do right.” A
believer’s best defense against slanderous, unjustified criticism is good
Christians are to respect
everyone (Romans 12:10; 13:7). Believers should be aware that God has
uniquely created each human being in His image. Christians also are to love their brothers and sisters in
Christ, their fellow believers. Christians are also to fear God. The verb “fear” (phobeisthe) here does not mean to be in
terror, but awe and reverence that leads to obedience.
first needs to respect God before he/she is capable of respecting other people.
Finally, believers are to honor the
king. The respect due to all is especially to be given to those God has
placed in authority.
As Christians, we should submit to
the authority of government. Verses 15-17 give us directions on how to "fight back" against
injustice, not in our human ways but according to God's way.
Note there is no reference here to suggest we are to
submit to every individual law. It suggests submission to the institutions that
make and enforce the laws. It is possible to submit to the institutions and
still disobey the laws if, and only if, those laws are directly contradictory
to an explicit command of God.
For example, when Daniel and his three friends refused to
obey the king’s dietary regulations, they disobeyed the law. But the way that they did it proved that they
honored the king and respected the authorities (Daniel 1). They were not rebels
and they were careful not to embarrass the official in charge or get him into
trouble; and yet they stood their ground. They glorified God and, at the same
time, honored the authority of the king.
Peter and the other Apostles faced a similar challenge
shortly after Pentecost (Acts 4–5). The Jewish council commanded them to stop
preaching in the name of Jesus, but Peter and his associates refused to obey
(Acts 4:19; 5:29). They did not cause a rebellion or in any way question or
deny the authority of the council. They submitted to the institution but
they refused to stop preaching. They showed respect to their leaders even
though these men were opposed to the Gospel.
It is important that we respect the office even though we
cannot respect the man or woman in the office. As much as possible, we should
seek to cooperate with the government and obey the law; but we must never allow
the law to make us violate our conscience or disobey God’s Word.
Peter named the offices we are to respect. “The king” meant “the emperor.” In democratic nations, we have a president or prime
minister. Peter did not criticize the Roman government or suggest that it be
overthrown. God’s church has been able to live and grow in all kinds of
political systems. The “governors,” as
referred to in some translations, are
those under the supreme authority who administer the laws and execute justice.
Ideally, they should punish those who do evil and praise those who do good.
This ideal was not always reached in Peter’s day (Acts 24:24–27), nor is it
reached in our day. Again, we must remind ourselves to respect the office even
if we cannot respect the officer.
When we do something in the will of God and as the servants
of God, then we are doing it “for the
Lord’s sake.” God has taught us to silence our critics by doing good, not
by opposing the authority. The word “silence” in verse 15 literally means “to muzzle,” suggesting that these
critics were like a pack of vicious dogs.
A true Christian submits himself to authority because he is
first of all submitted to Christ. He/she uses this freedom as a tool to build
with and not as a weapon to fight with. A good example of this attitude is
Nehemiah, who willingly gave up his own rights that he might help his people
and restore the walls of Jerusalem.
1 Peter 2:18-20 NLT:
18 You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all
respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but
even if they are cruel.
For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and
patiently endure unfair treatment.
20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing
wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is
pleased with you.
The Greek word for slaves here is not the common word for
slaves, but rather the Greek word that means household or domestic servants.
Servants and slaves made up a high percentage of the membership in the first
century Church, and undeserved punishment and suffering was common for these
slaves. Peter told them to submit to and respect those masters even if they
In verses 18-25 Peter is speaking to the Christian slaves in
the congregations, and again he stressed the importance of submission. Some
newly converted slaves thought that their spiritual freedom also guaranteed
personal and political freedom, and they created problems for themselves and
the churches. Paul dealt with this problem in 1 Corinthians 7:20–24, and also
touched on it in his letter to his friend Philemon.
There are no Christian slaves today but what Peter wrote
applies to employees. We are to be submissive to those who are over us, whether
they are kind or unkind to us. God is honored when an employee, treated
unjustly, accepts their poor treatment with faith in God’s sovereign care,
rather than responding in anger or rebellion.
Sometimes a Christian employee may be wronged by an
unbelieving coworker or supervisor. For conscience sake, he/she must “take it” even though he/she is not in
the wrong. A Christian’s relationship to God is far more important than his
relationship to men or women (Matthew 5:10–12). Anybody, including an
unbeliever, can accept criticism when they are wrong, but it takes a dedicated
Christian to “take it” when they are
in the right. God can give us the grace to submit and “take it” and in this way glorify God.
Of course, the human tendency is to fight back and to demand
our rights. But that is the natural response of the unsaved person, and we must
do much more than they do (Luke 6:32–34). Anybody can fight back; it takes a
Spirit-filled Christian to submit and let God fight his/her battles. Let us
read what Paul wrote in Romans 12:16–21 NLT:
Live in harmony with each other. do not be too proud to enjoy the company of
ordinary people. And do not think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone
can see you are honorable.
18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the
20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give
them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on
21 do not let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
At first, Peter had opposed Christ’s suffering on the cross
(Matthew 16:21ff); but then he learned the important lesson that we lead by
serving and serve by suffering. He also learned that this kind of suffering
always leads to glory.
Wherever and whenever a Christian is made to suffer without
cause, the right thing to do is to accept it knowing that Christ is right there
with you giving you the strength to endure. If you do something wrong and are
punished, you deserve the punishment. But to put up with undeserved punishment
results in God’s approval because it reflects His grace and mercy and love. Let
me give you a for instance. Suppose the company you work for suspends you for
three days without pay for being late three days in a row. You know for certain
that you were not late but cannot prove it. You could rant and rave, pound your
fist on the desk, and storm out of the building muttering under your breath
what a rotten company it is. You certainly could do any or all of those things.
But what kind of a message do you think that would send to those who punished
you unjustly? It would probably confirm to them that you are the kind of
discontent who most likely was guilty in spite of all your protestations. In
fact they might even hope that you might quit over the incident rather than
having to put up with your sophomoric behavior in the future. And if they know
you are a Christian they can say without reservation: “Those Christians are all alike. If that is the way a Christian
behaves, I do not want any part of it.”
But suppose you said something like this: “I do not believe I was late. Perhaps there
is some misunderstanding here. However, if that is the company policy and I
have no way of proving I was not late, I’ll see you on time Thursday morning.” How
do you think that would play out for your accusers. They might say something
like: “What a surprising way for Ron to
react to our decision. He is really a pretty decent guy. When he gets back on
Thursday let us give him some encouragement and suggest we put the incident
behind us. By the way, you know how he is always talking about that faith of
his? Based on the way he handled this, maybe there is something to this Jesus
thing.” What do you think? We believe it is something we might want to
consider very carefully.
1 Peter 2:21-23 NLT:
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as
Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his
22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he
suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges
Admit it. If you are human, your
first instinct when someone insults, criticizes, or slanders you is to defend
yourself, to "set the record
straight." So it gets really tough when we are in a situation such as
Peter is describing and the Christ-like action is to keep quiet and not get
Peter backed up his statement to slaves by reminding them of
Christ’s example in His own unjust suffering. Christians are called to follow Christ, to follow His example regarding character and
conduct. In verse 22 Peter quotes from Isaiah 53:9: “He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried
like a criminal.”
All that Jesus did on earth, as recorded in the four
Gospels, is a perfect example for us to follow. But he is especially our
example in the way He responded to suffering. In spite of the fact that He was
sinless in both word and deed, He suffered at the hands of the authorities.
This connects, of course, to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:19–20.
Jesus proved that a person could be in the will of God, be
greatly loved by God, and still suffer unjustly. There is a misguided brand of
popular theology today that claims that Christians will not suffer if they are in the will of God. Those who promote such
ideas must not have a very good understanding of the cross or of the theology
Jesus’ humility and submission did not suggest weakness,
but power. Jesus could have summoned the armies of Heaven to rescue Him.
His words to Pilate in John 18 are proof that He was in complete command of the
situation. It was Pilate who was on trial, not Jesus. Jesus had committed
Himself to the Father, and the Father always judges righteously. Listen to what
Jesus said in John 18:33-38 NLT:
Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought
to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests
brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my
followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders.
But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king.
Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who
love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told
them, “He is not guilty of any crime.
We are not saved by following Christ’s example, because each
of us would stumble over 1 Peter 2:22: “He
never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. ” Sinners need a Savior, not an
Example. But after a person is saved, he/she will want to follow closely in
Jesus’ steps and imitate the example of Christ.
1 Peter 2: 24-25 NLT:
24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can
be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your
Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
Jesus died as the sinner’s Substitute. All of these
verses we have been studying today reflect that great “Servant Chapter,” Isaiah 53: 5–7, 9, 12 NAS:
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our
iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His
scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a
lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its
shearers, So He did not open His mouth
His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His
death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the
booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered
with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for
Jesus did not die as a martyr; He died as a Savior, a
sinless Substitute. The Jewish people did not crucify criminals; they stoned
them to death. But if the victim was especially evil, his dead body was hung on
a tree until evening, as a mark of shame (Deuteronomy 21:23). Jesus died on a
tree, a cross, and bore the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13).
Christ was wounded that we might be healed. He died that we
might live. We died with Him, and thus we are “dead to sin” (Romans 6) so that we might “live unto righteousness.” The healing Peter mentions in 1 Peter
2:24 is not physical healing, but rather the spiritual healing of the soul
(Psalm 103:3). One day, when we have glorified bodies, all sicknesses will be
gone; but meanwhile, even some of God’s choicest servants may have physical
It is not Jesus the Example or the Teacher who saves us, but
Jesus the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John
In the Old Testament, the sheep died for the shepherd; but
at Calvary, the Shepherd died for the sheep (John 10). Every lost sinner is
like a sheep gone astray: ignorant, lost, wandering, in danger, away from the
place of safety, and unable to help himself/herself. The Shepherd went out to
search for the lost sheep in Luke 15:1–7 and eventually He died for the lost human sheep. He died for you and
that is the only reason He came. He did not get any earthly riches or power by
coming. His only reward, and all He wanted, was to save lost sinners and He
still wants that today.
Now that we who have believed have been returned to the fold
and are safely in His care, He watches over us lest we stray and get into sin.
The word bishop simply means “one who watches over, who oversees.” Just
as the elder-bishop oversees the flock of God, the local church (1 Peter 5:2),
so the Savior in glory watches over His sheep to protect them and perfect them
Here then is the wonderful truth Peter wanted to share: as
we live godly lives and submit in times of suffering, we are following Christ’s
example and becoming more like Him. We submit and obey, not only for the sake of those who do not yet believe and
for Jesus’ sake, but also for our own sake, that we might grow spiritually and
become more like Christ.
Christ was the perfect example of how one can put up with
unjust suffering. He did not argue, threaten, or fight back. During Christ’s
trial and crucifixion He suffered in silence, committing Himself to God. Peter
explains in verse 24 why Jesus tolerated the pain and humiliation of the Cross.
It was because God was judging our sins which Jesus bore (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus’ death made it possible for believers to be free from sin and to live for
righteousness in service to Him (Romans 6:2, 13). Christ suffered in order to
provide Christians an example to follow. Jesus showed us how to suffer and at
the same time live righteously. In verse 24 Peter makes a reference to our
salvation: “by His wounds you have been
healed,” which comes from Isaiah 53:5. Christ’s suffering, His wounds,
refer to Jesus’ scourging and death, which provided for our healing, the
salvation of every individual who trusts Jesus as his Savior.
The unsaved world is watching us,
but the Shepherd in Heaven is also watching over us; so we have nothing to
fear. We can submit to Him and know that He will work everything together for
our good and His glory.
Keep those thoughts in your
heart the next time you are treated unfairly by someone else.