1&2 Peter Part One Deep Dive
FAITHFUL LIVING IN AN UNFAITHFUL WORLD
| Kate Forsyth
In the world we live in, believers can experience persecution, opposition or alienation in workplaces, schools and universities or, in some places or families, extreme hostility that threatens safety or even life. 1 Peter is addressed to believers living under intense persecution and trials and addresses the issue of how to live in the face of such hostility.
Even as Christ suffered and was then glorified, we too can anticipate the glory and blessing of God as we stay faithful through the suffering. A key is focussing on Jesus, receiving His empowerment through faith (1 Peter 1:5), following His example (1 Peter 2:21-23) with our future hope as the encouragement to persevere. 1 Peter 2:22-25 refers back to Isaiah 53, the prophet’s vision of Jesus' suffering, that went beyond that of any other, when He bore our sins in His own body, suffering the judgement due to us, and also bearing sickness and pain on our behalf. Whereas Isaiah 53:5 says 'by whose stripes you are healed', Peter now says, after the Cross, 'by whose stripes you were healed'. It has already been done for us! Jesus earned for us 'all things pertaining to life and godliness' (2 Peter 1:3) including salvation, forgiveness, healing, the power to die to sin and the old way of life and to live for righteousness as we receive that divine power that has been given to us.
The call to be holy (1 Peter 1:13-17), the pursuit to be like Christ, can only be possible as we stay receiving His divine power through faith, feeding on the Word of God ‘that we may grow thereby’ (2:2), keeping the fear of God, holding fast to the hope that we have that is to be revealed at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Peter encourages us, in the midst of suffering, to keep pointing others to Christ by living a godly lifestyle, doing good works, not retaliating, being a good example to an unbelieving spouse and to generate wonder in those, in whose lifestyle we formerly joined.
In 2 Peter, he then warns against false teachers in the midst of the church who would lead believers to stray from Christ. We are not to be carried away with teachings not grounded in the scriptures; convenient teachings that appeal to the flesh and don't require sacrifice; humanistic philosophy or half-truths that are just as destructive as the Gnosticism faced in the first century. They bring a tendency to worldliness and not a closer walk with Christ. False teachers lead people after themselves and don't bring people into a closer relationship and deeper love for Jesus. It is the knowledge of Jesus and His truth that sets us free and keeps us free.
It has been said to beware of the three 'G's- the greed, the glory and the girls/guys (and maybe a fourth- the ‘grog’ or any substances of abuse). These areas, where many Christians can be led astray, are the same ones addressed by Peter in 2 Peter 2. The love of money, pursuit or elevation of self, or immorality, lead the believer from living in the light to living in darkness again. Peter says to 'gird up the loins of your mind'- set your mind on Jesus, make Him your source and help- He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations- and know that you are chosen and special to Him, 'who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9).
Test the content of teaching against the 'incorruptible word' (1 Pet 1:23) that has been delivered to us through the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21) and the lifestyle of those who bring it. Don't go off after every new teaching but stay patiently steadfast, growing in the knowledge of God, and that being an experiential knowledge that results in a transformed life.
The last chapter is about the Second Coming and in view of the certain return of the Lord, the judgement of the ungodly, the removal of the current heaven and earth, and the bringing of the new, we should be motivated to pursue God and godliness, and not chase after the things of the world which are destined to perish.