Last night we continued our study through 1 Peter. Here’s the outline:
Peter takes the concepts he was working with in the first chapter and a half of the letter and applies them to our most fundamental, everyday relationships. In 2:9-12 we really get a synopsis of the whole letter: You’ve been given a new identity as the people of God, which creates alienation from the cultural climate around you (the “strangers” theme), therefore live in such a way that, even though people misunderstand what a Christian is, if they observeyour lives, they can be won over to become God-praisers themselves. Key to this idea is that we all must “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
Now, from 2:13 to 3:12, Peter moves through these social contexts to show, practically, how these lives of “honorable conduct” and “good works” actually look.
How our new identity will be lived out in ordinary life. (Or, what is the “honorable conduct” that will lead to non-believers glorifying God in the realms of…)
2:13-17 Christians and the Government: Submission & good works. God is the ultimate authority…then king, then governor…
2:18-25 Servant Christians and their Masters: Submission after Christ’s pattern. See especially the letter to Philemon, and 1 Cor 7:20-23.
The center: Christ (v.21-25). Christ took the lowest possible place. He accepted what the Romans called “the slaves death” and allowed God to use Him to accomplish purposes which would ultimately undo all oppression and bondage. So a person who submits to circumstances he can’t change is following in the same pattern Christ laid down, and is the example for what all Christians should be. And, just like in 2:13-17, God is the true King (so we submit to an earthly king) in 2:25, Jesus is the true Shepherd and Overseer, above all other earthly masters we may have to serve.
3:1-6 Christian Wives and their husbands: Submission and a Godly heart
- The goal is to win the husband (v.1)
- Sometimes words are not needed (v.2)
- Inner beauty is the ark of a Christian woman (v.3-4)
- Pick good role models (v.5-6)
- Give up anxiety (v.6)
3:7 Christian Husbands and their wives: Giving honor in understanding
3:8-12 Christians and other Christians: Unity and love. Let the world see the society we would create if we had our way.
Observations & Exhortations.
- Our new identity cuts both ways: towards God, privilege and high status, towards society, loss of privilege and lowered status. We live out our lives on the basis of these two axes. They have a correct order as well: namely, that we allow our “vertical” identity control how we view and live out our “horizontal” identity.
- We accept our social status as “strangers” and “foreigners” and we live accordingly. We accept the responsibility of proving out the value of what we say we believe.
- We take Christ as our great example, especially in His submission to God and to what God had planned for Him in the world.
- We see ourselves as “sent” into situations rather than “stuck.” We see we are plants, by God, in every place He scatters us. Our goal is that they would glorify God (2:12), commend us (2:14), be put to silence (2:15), be won (3:1).
- In a world that acknowledges no final authority for how humans should live life, we know where to find ours.