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This Sunday School Study Guide is provided free of cost for personal study and as an aid for Sunday School teachers.  It contains copyright material and may not be reproduced in any form for sale, without permission from the copyright holders.  


Bailey Sadler Class

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE - 2014

 

Study Theme:  Standing Strong In The Midst of Suffering

What This Lesson Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

This lesson is focused on the need for believer’s to demonstrate their faith by being active in their service to God and to others so an unbelieving world can come to realize their need for a Savior—Jesus Christ!

 

 

July 13

Focused Faith

X

July 20

Active Faith

 

July 27

Enduring Faith

 

Aug. 03

Ready Faith

 

Aug. 10

Joyful Faith

 

Aug. 17

Victorious Faith

 

LIFE IMPACT:

Live a life that is set apart for God.

FOCAL PASSAGE:

1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25

LESSON OUTLINE:

I.    

II.

III.  

Live A Holy Life Because Jesus Is Holy (1 Pet. 1:14-16)

Live A Holy Life In Fear and Reverence (1 Pet. 1:17-19)

Live A Holy Life In Love and Obedience (1 Pet. 1:22-25)

OVERVIEW OF BACKGROUND PASSAGE:  

 A Demand for Holiness (1 Pet 1:13-2:3)

Peter explained that the character of God and the high cost of redemption were incentives to produce holiness in his readers. He also demanded that holiness show itself in earnest love for other believers and in a forsaking of all malicious attitudes.

Peter’s words are equivalent to saying, “Roll up your sleeves and go to work." He mentioned that the return of Jesus Christ was to give them hope and stability in the face of persecution. Christians would show their response to God’s holiness by leaving the “evil desires” of their past ignorance (v. 14) and by adopting God’s own behavior as their pattern.

In 1:17-21 Peter indicated that a proper reverence for God and an appreciation of the high cost of redemption demanded holy living. The readers would understand redemption as the freeing of a slave by paying a price. The payment that released Christians from an “empty way of life” was the “blood of Christ." Peter noted that God had determined the performance of this work of Christ before the beginning of time. He had only recently made His plan evident in the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of Jesus (v. 20).

Peter urged his readers to express their holiness by genuine love for one another (1:22-25). The quotation of Isaiah 40:6-8 (vv. 24-25) showed that the experience of this love came from the creative activity of God. Peter directed his readers to put aside malice and hypocrisy in their response to God’s holiness (2:1-3). He also encouraged them to grow as believers by appropriating the nurture inherent in the gospel message.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Handbook; General Editor David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

INTRODUCTION:

 We all want to be accepted by others.  This explains our tendency to follow trends and what’s “in” at the moment.  While many trends are amoral (neither good nor bad in a spiritual, moral, or ethical sense), our desire to be like others can lead us to compromise or to lose our distinctiveness as followers of Christ.  God calls us to holiness—to live separate and distinctive lives, set apart from what the world calls us to do.  He wants each believer’s light to shine with a holy influence so may come to know Him.  This lesson’s focus is on holy living so the light of a believer’s life will shine for a lost world to see and hopefully come to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

I.

Live A Holy Life Because Jesus Is Holy (1 Pet. 1:14-16)

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.  15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct;  16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.     What does having an active faith mean to you?

2.     How do you think being holy translates into an active faith?

3.     Why do you think so many people desire to blend into or follow the crowd?

4.     What are some things the average person considers holy or sacred?

5.     What is the implication of the word obedient on your life (v. 14)?

6.     How would you describe your former ignorance (v. 14)?

7.     What impact do you think a believer’s worldly behavior has on the Holy Spirit?  (See Eph. 4:30 [NLT].)

8.     What theme did Peter continue to use to describe the believer’s relationship to God (v. 15)?

9.     What contrasts in lifestyles are identified in these verses?

10.  What does it mean to be holy (v. 15)?

11.  Why are believers to be holy (v. 16)?

12.  Why do you think God was so adamant about this?

13.  How did Peter describe Christians in these verses?

14.  What is included in the Christian’s call to holiness?

15.  Who is the standard for holiness?  Why?

16.  Do you think a believer can serve God if they conform to social demands of society?  Why, or why not?

17.  How should the commands in verses 15-16 impact your daily life?

18.  As followers of Christ, why do you think our lives must reflect and model the holy Lord who deserves our reverence and awe?

 

Lasting Lessons in 1 Peter 1:14-16:

1.  God’s children are called to obedience.

2.  God’s children are called to separate themselves from their former, ignorant lifestyles.

3.  The one who has been called to salvation has also been called to holiness.

4.  Holiness is God’s character.

5.  Holiness is God’s command.

 

II.

Live A Holy Life In Fear and Reverence (1 Pet. 1:17-19)

17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence.  18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold,  19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

1.     What do you think it means to address God as Father (v. 17)?

2.     What is the relationship of God as Father and as Judge?

3.     What phrase indicates that God’s judgment is just (v. 17)?

4.     On what basis does He make His judgment (v. 17)?

5.     How is the believer to conduct him/herself (v. 17)?

6.     What do you think it means to conduct yourselves in fear (v. 17)?

7.     Do you think believers can take this idea of fear too seriously?  Why, or why not?

8.     Do you think believers can sometimes don’t take fear seriously enough?  If so, why?

9.     To what does temporary residence refer (v. 17)?

10.  If this world is our temporary residence, where is our permanent residence (v. 17)?

11.  Through what means was redemption secured (v. 18)?

12.  From what are God’s children redeemed (v. 18)?

13.  What requirement did Jesus meet that made Him an acceptable sacrifice for our redemption (v. 19)?

14.  With what were we redeemed (v. 19)?

15.  What motivates you to strive to live a holy life?

 

Lasting Lessons in 1 Peter 1:17-19:

1.  Because of Christ’s worthy sacrifice, the God who is the impartial judge is the believer’s Father.

2.  The believer’s conduct in this temporary life is to be regulated by a reverent attitude toward God.

3.  The believer’s previous life was one of inherent futility.

4.  It is only the death of Christ that makes redemption possible, for His is the only perfect sacrifice.

 


 

 

III.

Live A Holy Life In Love and Obedience (1 Pet. 1:22-25)

22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,  23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.  24 For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,  25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.  And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.

1.     What do you think being obedient to the truth means (v. 22)?

2.     Why would the believers be able to love one another (v. 22)?

3.     How are Christians to love one another (v. 22)?

4.     What do you think it means to have a pure heart (v. 22)?

5.     How does a believer gain and maintain a pure heart (v. 22)?

6.     What part do you think a believer’s attitude plays in sincerely and earnestly loving one’s Christian brethren (v. 22)?

7.     How do you think selfishness impedes a believer’s ability to love the brethren? 

8.     How can a believer guard him/her self against this “nearsighted” condition?

9.     What is the seed that produced new birth (v. 23)?

10.  How has the Christians been born again (v. 23)?

11.  What does the fact that God’s Word is both living and enduring mean to you (v. 23)?  Why?

12.  What are some of the unique characteristics of God’s word (vv 23,25)?

13.  What are some attributes of the word of God that Peter identified?

14.  What is the primary exhortation found in these verses?

15.  How can a believer tap the transforming power of God’s Word for truly loving Jesus and truly loving other people?

16.  What do you think believers must do to overcome deep-rooted prejudice that keeps them from truly loving other people?

17.  What are the implications of God tying our love to Him to our love for others?

18.  Based on these verses, how is a believer to please God?

19.  How can we support each other in living holy lives?

 

Lasting Lessons in 1 Peter 1:22-25:

1.  Love for one another is a sure sign of a new birth and a purified heart.

2.  New birth is produced by the imperishable seed of God’s word.

3.  While all that is evil is temporary, the word of God is eternal.

4.  The people of God have been given eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ.

 

CONCLUSION:

How can our lives point to a powerful, holy God? Consider which one of these applications God is leading you to begin this week.

Take one step:

Pray. Pray this week about one thing in your life you can leave behind in order to be more set apart for God. Maybe it’s a short temper, one hour of TV, or a fierce independence that prevents your seeking help when you need it. Whatever it is, commit to obeying His voice, and depend on His strength to overcome.

Reflect Christ. Memorize 1 Peter 1:15. Every time you see your reflection, whether it’s in a mirror at home or in the car, or in the glass of the door of your favorite restaurant or store, remind yourself of 1 Peter 1:15. Pray silently for God to strengthen you in every situation to reflect the love and character of Jesus.

Commit all to Him. As a part of your daily devotionals, make note of anything in your study that reveals God’s holiness. With this in mind, review with God your checkbook and your schedule for the day. Reflect on how your plans can glorify the Lord.

Holy living is all about God’s glory, not our own. When we love and serve Him, we will love and serve others, and people will be drawn to Christ.  So, on a scale of 1 (dim) to 10 (very bright), how would you rate the light your life shines in a dark world?  Is the brightness of your life pleasing to you and God?  If not, ask God what you must do to brighten the influence of your life.  He will help you if you ask Him in faith.

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.

 

Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.


 

 

COMMENTARY:

God Is Faithful — Lesson Outline & Commentary

Focal Passage from three additional translations of God’s Word:

King James Version: 1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25

14As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:  15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:   18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  


  22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:  23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.  24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.    (KJV)

New International Version: 1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25

 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  17Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.  18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.


22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.  23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.  24For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.  (NIV)

New Living Translation: 1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25

14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires.  You didn’t know any better then.  15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”  17And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites.  He will judge or reward you according to what you do.  So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.”  18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.  19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.


22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.  23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end.  Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.  24As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field.  The grass withers and the flower fades.  25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.”  And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.    (NLT)

(NLT: Eph. 4:30—30And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.)

 

I.

II.

III.

Live A Holy Life Because Jesus Is Holy (1 Pet. 1:14-16)

Live A Holy Life In Fear and Reverence (1 Pet. 1:17-19)

Live A Holy Life In Love and Obedience (1 Pet. 1:22-25)

(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: The Bible Knowledge Commentary,Believer’s Bible Commentary,” andThe Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: (1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25)

The New Birth’s Holiness (1:13-25)

The believers’ living hope based on their new birth should lead to a lifestyle of holiness. Those chosen for new birth are also called to be holy. Peter exhorted his readers to prepare to meet the challenge of obedience by adopting a new mind-set. The price paid for a believer’s redemption calls for reverence and obedience. Obedience involves purifying oneself and practicing holy living, while offering spiritual sacrifices as a royal priest.

The Preparation (1:13-16)

1:13-16. Peter now gave five pointed exhortations: prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope.… do not conform to… evil desires… . be holy. Actually in the Greek the first, second, and fourth are participles, which are subordinate to two commands: “have hope” and “be holy.” The participles either support the commands (i.e., have hope, with a prepared mind and self-control; and be holy, not conforming to evil desires) or they take the role of commands, as in the niv.

(1) “Prepare your minds for action” (v. 13). Obedience is a conscious act of the will. Christians in conflict need a tough-minded holiness that is ready for action.

(2) “Be self-controlled” (v. 13; cf. 4:7; 5:8; 1 Thes. 5:6, 8). This word nēphontes, from the verb nēphō (“be sober”) is used only figuratively in the New Testament. It means to be free from every form of mental and spiritual “drunkenness” or excess. Rather than being controlled by outside circumstances, believers should be directed from within.

(3) “Set your hope fully” (1 Peter 1:13). Holy living demands determination. A believer’s hope is to be set perfectly (teleiōs, completely or unchangeably), and without reserve on the grace (cf. v. 10) to be bestowed when Jesus Christ is revealed (lit., “in the revelation [apokalypsei] of Jesus Christ”; cf. the same phrase in v. 7; also cf. the verb “be revealed” [apokalyphthēnai] in v. 5). Four times Peter has already spoken of the Savior’s return and the accompanying ultimate stage of salvation (vv. 5, 7, 9, 13).

The strenuous mental preparation suggested by the three admonitions in verse 13 is needed so that Christians (4) do not conform to (syschēmatizomenoi, also used in Rom. 12:1) the evil desires (1 Peter 1:14) of their past sinful lives (cf. Eph. 2:3), when they were ignorant of God (cf. Eph. 4:18). Rather as obedient children (lit., “children of obedience”) they were to mold their characters to (5) “be holy” in all they did (1 Peter 1:15). Their lifestyle was to reflect not their former ignorance (agnoia), but the holy (hagioi) nature of their heavenly Father who gave them new birth and called them (cf. “called” in 2 Peter 1:3) to be His own. First Peter 1:15-16 do not speak of legal requirements but are a reminder of a Christian’s responsibility in his inner life and outer walk. Though absolute holiness can never be achieved in this life, all areas of life should be in the process of becoming completely conformed to God’s perfect and holy will. The quotation in verse 16 was familiar to all who knew the Old Testament (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7).

The Price (1:17-19)

The high cost of salvation—the beloved Son’s precious blood—calls for believers to live in reverent fear before God. Holy living is motivated by a God-fearing faith which does not take lightly what was purchased at so great a cost.

1:17-19. Obedient children know the holy nature and just character of this One who judges… impartially. Their right to call God Father leads to their obeying Him in reverent fear. So they are to live according to His absolute standards, as strangers (cf. “aliens” in 2:11) to the world’s shifting, situational ethics. “Reverent fear” is evidenced by a tender conscience, a watchfulness against temptation, and avoiding things that would displease God. Children of obedience should also be strangers to their former empty way of life (cf. v. 14) handed down from their forebears, since they have been redeemed (elytrōthēte, from lytroō, “to pay a ransom”) with the precious (cf. 2:4, 6-7) blood of Christ (cf. 1:2). That redemption is a purchasing from the marketplace of sin, a ransom not paid by silver or gold, which perish (cf. v. 7), but with the priceless blood of a perfect Lamb. Similar to the sacrificial lambs which were to be without… defect, Christ was sinless, uniquely qualified as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; cf. Heb. 9:14).


The Purification (1:22-25)

The response of holy living that should result from the new birth is now applied to three areas. Obedience to the truth purifies and produces (a) a sincere love for the brethren (1:22-25), (b) repentance from sin (2:1), and (c) a desire for spiritual growth (2:2).

1:22. Holy living demands purification. A positive result of obeying the truth is a purified life (cf. v. 2b). “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word” (Ps. 119:9). As trials refine faith, so obedience to God’s Word refines character. One who has purified himself by living according to God’s Word has discovered the joy of obedience.

A changed life should also be evidenced by a changed relationship with God’s other children. A purified life allows one to love purely those who share the same faith. Sincere (anypokriton) could also be rendered “without hypocrisy.” All evil thoughts and feelings regarding one’s brothers and sisters in Christ must be removed, for His followers are to love… deeply, from the heart. This kind of loving (agapēsate, from agapēcan come only from a changed heart, from one whose motives are pure, and who seeks to give more than he takes. This love is to be expressed not shallowly but “deeply” (ektenōs, “at full stretch” or “in an all-out manner, with an intense strain”; cf. ektenē in 1 Peter 4:8).

1:23-25. Peter again reminded his readers that they had experienced the new birth (cf. v. 3): For you have been born again. This supernatural event made it possible for them to obey the truth, purify themselves, and love the brethren. This change in their lives would not die, because it took place through God’s Word, which is imperishable (aphthartou, the word in v. 4 that described a believer’s inheritance), living and enduring. Peter supported his exhortation (v. 22) by quoting Isaiah 40:6-8 (1 Peter 1:24-25). All that is born of perishable seed withers and falls, but God’s Word stands forever. This imperishable Word was the content of Peter’s preaching (cf. v. 12). His hearers must be affected by its life-changing power, as indicated in 2:1-3.

SOURCE: The Bible Knowledge Commentary; An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty; New Testament; Based on the New International Version; Victor Books, A Division of Scripture Press Publications, Inc., USA Canada England

 

Believer's Bible Commentary: (1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25)

His Conduct in the Light of His Position

1:14.  In verses 14-16, the subject is the obedient mind. Obedient children should not indulge in the sins which characterized them in their former life. Now that they are Christians, they should pattern their life after the One whose name they bear. If they conform to the ungodly world, they are denying their heavenly character. The things they did in the days of their ignorance should be put away now that they have been illuminated by the Holy Spirit. The former lusts means the sins they indulged in while they were still ignorant of God.

1:15.  Instead of imitating the ungodly world with its fads and fashions, our lives should reproduce the holy character of the One who called us. To be godly means to be Godlike. God is holy in all His ways. If we are to be like Him, we must be holy in all that we do and say. In this life we will never be as holy as He is, but we should be holy because He is.

1:16.  Peter reaches back into the OT for proof that God expects His people to be like Himself. In Leviticus 11:44, the Lord said: "Be holy, for I am holy." Christians are empowered to live holy lives by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Old Testament saints did not have this help and blessing. But since we are more privileged, we are also more responsible. The verse Peter quotes from Leviticus acquires a new depth of meaning in the NT. It is the difference between the formal and the vital. Holiness was God's ideal in the OT. It has assumed a concrete, everyday quality with the coming of the Spirit of truth.

1:17.  Not only are we exhorted to holiness but also to a reverent mind. This means a respectful fear, a deep appreciation of who God is. It especially means a realization that the One whom we address as Father is the same One who judges His children impartially according to their deeds. As we realize the extent of His knowledge and the accuracy of His judgment, we should live with a wholesome fear of displeasing Him. The Father... judges His own in this life; He has committed the judgment of sinners to the Lord Jesus (John 5:22).

Lincoln writes: "He is looking on, taking notice of all, whether there is integrity of purpose, intelligence of mind, and desire of heart to please Him."

We are to pass the time of our stay on earth in fear. Christians are not at home in this world. We are living in a foreign country, exiled from heaven. We should not settle down as if this were our permanent dwelling. Neither should we imitate the behavior of the earth-dwellers. We should always remember our heavenly destiny and behave ourselves as citizens of heaven.

1:18.  Before their conversion, believers were not different from the rest of the world. Their talk and walk were as empty and trivial as that of men around them. Their unconverted days are described as your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers. But they had been ransomed from that futile existence by a tremendous transaction. They had been rescued from the slavery of world-conformity by the payment of an infinite ransom. Was it by silver or gold that these kidnap victims had been freed (see Ex. 30:15)?

1:19.  No, it was with the precious blood of Christ—like the blood of a perfect, unblemished lamb. Christ is a lamb without blemish or spot, that is, He is absolutely perfect, inwardly and outwardly. If a believer is ever tempted to return to worldly pleasures and amusements, to adopt worldly modes and patterns, to become like the world in its false ways, he should remember that Christ shed His blood to deliver him from that kind of life. To go back to the world is to re-cross the great gulf that was bridged for us at staggering cost. But even more—it is positive disloyalty to the Savior.

"Reason back from the greatness of the sacrifice to the greatness of the sin. Then determine to be done forever with that which cost God's Son His life."


1:22.  Now the Apostle Peter urges his readers to have the loving mind (1:22-2:3). First, he describes the new birth and points out that one of the changes that it brings is love for our brethren (1:22a). Next, he presses home the obligation to love (1:22b). Again he reverts to the new birth, and especially to the seed from which this new life has grown—the word of God (1:23-25). And once again he emphasizes the obligations that rest on those who have received the word (2:1-3).

In 1:22a, Peter first describes the new birth: Since you have purified your souls.... We understand, of course, that it is God who purifies our souls when we are saved; in the strict sense, we do not have the power for personal purity. But in this figure of speech those of us who have experienced purification are said to have attained it when we believed.

The means employed in this purification is obeying the truth. This is the second time Peter describes saving faith as an act of obedience (see 1:2). In Romans, Paul twice uses the phrase "the obedience of faith." In our thinking we should not try to separate belief and obedience. True faith is obeying faith. This can only be done through the Spirit.

One of the goals of the new birth is sincere love of the brethren. In a very real sense, we are saved in order to love all our fellow Christians. By this love, we know that we have passed out of death into life (1 Jn. 3:14), and by it, the world knows that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus (John 13:35).

So the exhortation follows quite naturally—love one another fervently with a pure heart. This is one of the many instances in the NT where a declarative statement becomes the basis for an imperative. The declaration is this: Since you have purified your souls... in sincere love of the brethren.... Then the command: love one another fervently with a pure heart. The positional forms the basis for the practical. Our love should be warm, wholehearted, with all our strength, earnest, unceasing, and pure.

The exhortation to love one another is especially timely for a people undergoing persecution because it is well known that "under conditions of hardship, trivial disagreements take on gigantic proportions."

1:23.  Again Peter takes his readers back to their new birth, and this time to the seed of that birth the word of God. The exhortations in 2:1-3 will be based on this.

The new birth is not brought about by corruptible seed, that is, it is not produced in the same way as a physical birth. Human life is brought into being by means of seed that must obey physical laws of decay and death. The physical life that is produced has the same quality as the seed from which it sprang; it too is of a temporary character.

The new birth is brought about through the word of God. As men hear or read the Bible they are convicted of their sins, convinced that Christ is the sole and sufficient Savior, and converted to God. No one is ever saved apart from the instrumentality in some way of the incorruptible word of God.

Samuel Ridout notes in The Numerical Bible:

... the three "incorruptible" things we have in this first chapter—an incorruptible inheritance (v. 4), an incorruptible redemption (vv. 18, 19), and an incorruptible word by which we are born (v. 23). Thus we have a nature which is taintless, fitted for the enjoyment of a taintless inheritance and on the basis of a redemption which never can lose its value. How the stamp of eternal perfection is upon all, and what a fitting companion to these is that "incorruptible" ornament of a meek and quiet spirit (Chap. iii. 4).

The word lives and abides forever. Though heaven and earth pass away, it will never pass away. It is settled forever in heaven. And the life it produces is eternal also. Those who are born anew through the word take on the everlasting character of the word.

In the human birth, the seed which produces a child contains, in germ form, all the characteristics of the child. What the child will eventually be is determined by the seed. For our present purposes, it is enough to see that as the seed is perishable, so is the human life which results from it.

1:24.  The transitory character of human nature is emphasized by a quotation of Isaiah 40:6, 7. Human life is as impermanent as grass. Physical beauty is as short-lived as the flowers of the field. The grass withers, and the flowers droop and die.

1:25.  In contrast, the word of the Lord endures forever (Isa. 40:8). Therefore, the new life of the believer is equally incorruptible. This incorruptible word is the message of good news which was preached to Peter's readers and which caused them to be born again. It was the source of their eternal life.

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.

 

The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: (1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25)

1:14. As "obedient children" of their Heavenly Father (hōs tekna hupakoēs, children of obedience, in contrast to "the children of disobedience" in Ephesians 2:2), believers are to be holy, no longer "fashioning" themselves (from suschēmatizō, to conform, as in Romans 12:2) according to the former "lusts" (epithumiais, strong desires). Formerly in their "ignorance" (agnoia, lack of knowledge) they indulged their natural cravings, but now they are enlightened.

1:15. "Be ye holy" is an imperative, a solemn command. Peter told believers that God who called them is "holy" (hagion, pure, blameless), and He is to be their standard or pattern in all "manner of conversation" (anastrophē, manner of life, behavior).

1:16. Peter called upon believers' reverence for the Old Testament by referring to Leviticus 19:2, "Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy." He says, "It is written" (gegraptai, it stands written). The written Word has special force, particularly the Scriptures. This was Christ's defense when tempted by the devil: "It is written" (Luke 4:4).

1:17. The Father, "without respect of persons" (aprosōpolēptōs, without partiality), judges "according to every man's work" (kata to hekastou ergon, according to the deed of each one). Therefore, if believers wish to call on God the Father, they should monitor their conduct and spend the time of their "sojourning" (from paroikeō, dwell as strangers as in Acts 13:17, reside as foreigners) here "in fear" (phobō, reverence). As a son fears his father and obeys him, knowing he will be disciplined if he fails to do so, believers should fear the Lord and keep His commandments; but they do not obey Him simply because they are afraid to do otherwise. They keep His commandments because they love Him (John 14:15), and they love Him because He first loved them (1 John 4:19).

Peter emphasized that believers are only "sojourning" on this earth as "strangers and pilgrims" (2:11). They are mere visitors on this planet, passing through as pilgrims en route like Abraham to their permanent home in that "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). Since they are bound for a holy place they should be holy people. They should not fix their hearts on worldly things or copy the people of this world, for it is not their native country.

1:18. Peter pointed to a further incentive to holy living beyond the holiness and justice of God by stressing the high cost of redemption. He reminded believers they were not redeemed with "corruptible" things (phthartois, decayed, perishable) such as silver and gold. If silver and gold were the ransom price, Peter would not have been set free, for he said, "Silver and gold have I none" (Acts 3:6). Slaves were set free by silver and gold, but a greater price was required to redeem believers from the "vain" (mataias, empty, profitless) "conversation" (anastrophēs, lifestyle, behavior) they had received by tradition from their fathers. Christ and His apostles taught a lifestyle superior to that followed by any non-Christians, whether they were Jews or Gentiles.

1:19. The ransom price was the "precious" (timiō, most valuable) blood of Christ. As a lamb brought to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), He was "without blemish" (amōmou, faultless, without blame) and "without spot" (aspilou, unstained), fitting the requirements of the Paschal Lamb (see Exodus 12:5). The "Lamb of God" (John 1:29,36) must be perfect. Any lesser sacrifice would be unacceptable (see Leviticus 22:20).


1:22. Believers have "purified" (hēgnikotes, sanctified, made clean) their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit (see 1:2), as evidenced by their "unfeigned love of the brethren" (philadelphian, fraternal affection, brotherly kindness). There is cleansing power in God's truth as it is believed and obeyed. "Brotherly kindness" (philadelphian) is mentioned again in 2 Peter 1:7. Peter also mentioned a greater kind of love. He urged them to "love" (agapēsate) one another "fervently" (ektenōs, intently, earnestly, as also in 4:8). Whereas philadelphia is a love based on sentiment, agapē is a love based on principle and duty.

Believers love Christ (1:8), and they also love their brethren. In doing this they fulfill God's original purpose for His people: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart... and thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27).

1:23. Peter's statement that the Word of God "liveth and abideth for ever" is repeated in 1:25. Believers are born of that incorruptible Word (as stated also in James 1:18). They have been "born again" (anagegennēmenoi, begotten again, as in 1 Peter 1:3), not by "corruptible seed" (sporas phthartēs, parental seed that is perishable), but by the everlasting Word (logou, utterance, communication, particularly the Divine Expression as in John 1:1,14; 1 John 1:1; 5:7; Revelation 19:13). They can obey the truth and love one another (1:22) because they have had this new spiritual birth. They no longer have empty, worthless lives like their natural fathers (1:18), for they have been born again into a new family and now they are the children of God.

The holy Scriptures are also the Word of God. When a sinner comes seeking salvation, his faith must be based on what they promise. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

1:24. Peter contrasted the frailty of human nature with the enduring character of God's Word by referring to Isaiah 40:8: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." All "flesh" (sarx, physical being, human nature) is as grass, and all the "glory" (doxa, dignity, honor) of man as the "flower" (anthos, blossom) of grass. The grass "withereth" (exēranthē, shrivels, dries up) and its blossom "falleth away" (exepesen, drops off).

1:25. The life of grass is very brief and the life of its blossom is even shorter. That is what man is like, even if he be rich (see James 1:11). But the "word" (rhēma, utterances, sayings) of the Lord "endureth" (menei, abides, remains) forever. This imperishable Word finds its expression in the "gospel that has been preached" (euangelisthen, good news that has been announced, declared) to them.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Acts.  Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.

 

DIGGING DEEPER:

Holy—That which is holy, verse 15, is that which either has a divine basis or a divine connection.  Kadhash, the Hebrew word, refers almost exclusively to God throughout Scripture or to persons or things that are connected with Him.  Holy is usually understood to denote separation from all that is impure and thus unholy.  God alone is truly holy, and the call to holiness is the call for things or persons to be set apart for usefulness to Him.  In the Old Testament, God called Israel to be holy, and that same call is given to the church in the New Testament.  Though perfect holiness can never be achieved, it is nonetheless the goal for all who would follow God.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Holy: Holy (v. 15, hagios) comes from a word that means “to set apart.”  Peter expressed his concerned that believers live as “separated ones,” that their new lives demonstrate freedom from the passions that once dominated their former way of life.  Hagios is also translated as “saint;” thus, a saint is “one set apart to God.”  We become holy, set apart, or saints, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

HOLY:  A characteristic unique to God’s nature which becomes the goal for human moral character. The idea of “holy” is important for an understanding of God, of worship, and of the people of God in the Bible.

Holy has four distinct meanings. First is “to be set apart.” This applies to places where God is present, like the Temple and the tabernacle, and to things and persons related to those holy places or to God Himself. Next, it means to be “perfect, transcendent, or spiritually pure, evoking adoration and reverence.” This applies primarily to God, but secondarily to saints or godly people. Next, it means something or someone who evokes “veneration or awe, being frightening beyond belief.” This is clearly the application to God and is the primary meaning of “holy.” It is continued in the last definition, “filled with superhuman and potential fatal power.” This speaks of God, but also of places or things or persons which have been set apart by God’s presence. A saint is a holy person. To be sanctified is to be made holy.

In the Old Testament “holy” is important in the parts related to priests and worship such as the Book of Leviticus, especially chapter 16. It is found in the prophets: Isaiah’s title for God, “the Holy One of Israel,” and the adoration of the Seraphim in Isaiah 6. The word is also found repeatedly in the Psalms.

God is holy. Fire is the symbol of holy power. Jealousy, wrath, remoteness, cleanliness, glory, and majesty are related to it. He is unsearchable, incomprehensible, incomparable, great, wonderful, and exalted. His name is Holy.

Holiness is in tension with relational personhood. Holiness tends toward separation and uniqueness. Personhood determines relations and close communion. Holiness inspires awe and fear. Personhood inspires love and the wish to be near. Both are in the Bible as necessary ways to think of and experience God. Both are necessary if one is to avoid shallow, one-sided thinking about God. Neither holiness nor personhood alone can do justice to the biblical portrayal of God. Both in their mutual tension help capture a more adequate doctrine and experience of God.

The biblical view combines these. Leviticus 17-25 presents all laws to be kept so that persons may be holy as God is holy. Holiness in God is seen as moral perfection in Psalm 89:35. Holiness in believing Christians was attained through the cross and is to be preserved in clean and moral living. Holiness comes to imply the fullness and completeness of God and godliness in all its facets and meanings.

Thus “holy” defines the godness of God. It also defines places where God is present. For the holy God to be present among His people special holy places were set apart where God and people could safely come together. The tabernacle and Temple filled this purpose. Special restrictions on access were established for the safety of the worshipers. Rules of sacrifice and cleanliness helped them prepare for this contact. A special place, the holy of holies, was completely cut off from common access. Only the high priest could enter there, and then only once a year after special preparation.

Holy also applied to persons who were to meet God. The priests had to undergo special rites that sanctified and purified them for service in the Temple. God wanted all His people to share His presence. They had to be instructed in the character and actions what would accomplish that. The Holiness Code (Lev. 17-25) commands the people to obey God’s laws in all parts of life in order to be “holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (19:2). Here holiness is seen to include a moral character as well as cultic purity. Sin and disobedience works the opposite and has to be cleansed or atoned by sacrifice (Lev. 1-7; 16).

An understanding of holiness is needed for New Testament study to appreciate the cross and the results of God’s work through the cross. The Gospels make clear that Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31-35). The crucifixion is portrayed as Christ shedding His blood and giving His body for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20). Faith in Christ is portrayed as acceptance of His full atonement for sin (1 John 2:2; 3:5; Rev. 5:9).

The Holy Spirit is the agent of holiness for the church and its leaders (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 5:32; 13:2-4). He keeps the church pure (Acts 5:1-11). He promotes holiness in its members (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Thess. 4:7).

Christians are called to holy living (1 Cor. 1:2; 3:17). They are saints who lead godly, righteous lives. Being sanctified, or made holy, is a work of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ’s atonement that calls for obedient submission from those who have been saved. Christians are holy because of their calling in Christ, because of His atonement for their sins, and because of the continual ministrations of the Holy Spirit. They are holy inasmuch as they receive and submit to these saving and sanctifying agents.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Fear—Fear, verse 17, can refer to the feeling or emotion of being afraid in a moral or physical sense, but there is also the more noteworthy fear of the Lord that is seen often in Scripture.  In that sense, fear is both an involuntary reaction and a divine imperative.  When we fall short of God’s requirements, we may fear God’s penalty.  Fear is also the response of one when he is made aware of being in the presence of God.  This creates an acute awareness of one’s sinfulness.  In stark contrast to God’s holiness.  Scripture also commands people to “fear the Lord,” which pertains to solemn reverence instead of abject terror.  Fear is a healthy, appropriate, and commanded response to a perfectly pure and omnipotent God.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Fear: The Greek word translated fear (v. 17, phobos) can be understood in two different senses: as “fear, fright, alarm” or as “respect, awe, reverence.”  While the first usage is found frequently in the New Testament, in the verse the latter is more likely.  Peter urged His readers to live holy lives because they stood in awe of and had the highest reverence for God as Father.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

FEAR: A broad range of emotions that embrace both the secular and the religious worlds. Secular fear is the natural feeling of alarm caused by the expectation of imminent danger, pain, or disaster. Religious fear appears as the result of awe and reverence toward a supreme power.

Terminology:  The English word “fear” is used to translate several Hebrew and Greek words. In the Old Testament, the most common word used to express fear is yir ah, which means “fear, “terror” (Isa. 7:25; Jonah 1:10, 16). In the New Testament, the word used most often to express fear is phobos which means “fear,” “dread,” “terror” (Matt. 28:4; Luke 21:26).

Secular Fear:  Secular fear arises in the normal activities and relationships of life.

Human Fear:  Animals fear humans (Gen. 9:2), and humans fear the animals (Amos 3:8); individuals fear individuals (Gen. 26:7), and nations fear nations (2 Sam. 10:19). People are afraid of wars (Ex. 14:10), of their enemies (Deut. 2:4), and of subjugation (Deut. 7:18; 28:10). People are afraid of death (Gen. 32:11), of disaster (Zeph. 3:15-16), of sudden panic (Prov. 3:25), of being overtaken by adversity (Job 6:21), and of the unknown (Gen. 19:30). Fear can reflect the limitations of life (Eccl. 12:5) as well as the unforeseen consequences of actions (1 Sam. 3:15). Fear can be the regard the young owes to the aged (Job 32:6), the honor a child demonstrates toward parents (Lev. 19:3), the reverential respect of individuals toward their masters (1 Pet. 2:18), and to persons in positions of responsibilities (Rom. 13:7). Fear also can be the sense of concern for individuals (2 Cor. 11:3) as well as the respect for one’s husband (1 Pet. 3:2).

Fear as consequence of sin:  Fear may come from a strong realization of sin and disobedience. Man and woman were afraid after their act of disobedience (Gen. 3:10). Abimelech was afraid when he realized that he had committed an offensive act by taking the wife of Abraham to be his wife (Gen. 20:8-9). This sense of estrangement and guilt that comes as consequence of sin produces in the heart of individuals the fear of the day of the Lord because they will appear before the judgment of God (Joel 2:1).

Freedom from fear:  Freedom from fear comes as individuals trust in the God who protects (Ps. 23:4) and helps them (Isa. 54:14). The New Testament teaches that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Christians are no longer slaves of fear, for Christ has given them not a spirit of timidity or cowardice, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).

Religious Fear: Religious fear is the human response to the presence of God.

Fear of God:  A prominent element in Old Testament religion is the concept of the fear of God. Most often the sense of fear comes as individuals encounter the divine in the context of revelation. When God appears to a person, the person experiences the reality of God’s holiness. This self-disclosure of God points to the vast distinction between humans and God, to the mysterious characteristic of God that at the same time attracts and repels. There is a mystery in divine holiness that causes individuals to become overwhelmed with a sense of awe and fear. They respond by falling down or kneeling in reverence and worship, confessing sin, and seeking God’s will (Isa. 6).

God as a fearful:  God The God of Israel is an awe-producing God because of His majesty, His power, His works, His transcendence, and His holiness. Yahweh is a “great and terrible God” (Neh. 1:5); He is “fearful in praises, doing wonders” (Ex. 15:11); His name is “fearful” (Deut. 28:58) and “terrible” (Ps. 99:3). The fear of God comes as people experience God in a visible manifestation (Ex. 20:18), in dreams (Gen. 28:17), in visible form (Ex. 3:6), and in His work of salvation (Isa. 41:5). God’s work, His power, majesty, and holiness evoke fear and demand acknowledgment. The fear of God is not to be understood as the dread that comes out of fear of punishment, but as the reverential regard and the awe that comes out of recognition and submission to the divine. It is the revelation of God’s will to which the believer submits in obedience.

The basis for God’s relationship with Israel was the covenant. The personal relationship that came out of the covenant transformed the relationship from a sense of terror to one of respect and reverence in which trust predominated. This fear which produces awe can be seen in the worship of Israel. The Israelites were exhorted to “serve the Lord with fear” (Ps. 2:11). Fear protected Israel from taking God for granted or from presuming on His grace. Fear called to covenant obedience.

Fear as obedience:  Deuteronomy sets out a relationship between the fear of God and the observance of the demands of the covenant. To fear the Lord is one of the ways by which Israel expresses its obedience and loyalty to Yahweh and to His divine requirements: “and now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deut. 10:12-13; compare 6:24-25; 10:20; 13:4). Fear becomes a demand that can be learned (Deut. 17:19). Fear of God was part of the religious life of every Israelite, where the acknowledgment of it required a specific behavior from each individual. Fear of God was a requirement demanded from every judge (Ex. 18:21). The kings of Israel should rule in the fear of the Lord (2 Sam. 23:3); even the messianic King would live in the fear of the Lord (Isa. 11:2). To fear God was the beginning of wisdom and thus of the pathway to true life (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33).

“Fear not”:  The expression “fear not” (also translated “do not fear” or “do not be afraid”) is an invitation to confidence and trust. When used without religious connotation (15 times), “fear not” is an expression of comfort. These words come from an individual to another providing reassurance and encouragement (Gen. 50:21; Ruth 3:11; Ps. 49:16). When “fear not” is used in a religious context (60 times), the words are an invitation to trust in God. These words appear in the context of the fear and terror that follows divine revelation. God invites His people not to be afraid of Him (Gen. 15:1; 26:24); the angel of the Lord seeks to calm an individual before a divine message is communicated (Dan. 10:12, 19; Luke 1:13, 30); a person acting as a mediator of God invites the people to trust in God (Moses, Deut. 31:6; Joshua, Josh. 10:25).

The “God-fearers”:  The “God-fearers” were those who were faithful to God and obeyed His commandments (Job 1:1; Pss. 25:14; 33:18). Those who fear God are blessed (Ps. 112:1); they enjoy God’s goodness (Ps. 34:9) and God’s provision (Ps. 111:5). In the New Testament “God-fearers” became a technical term for uncircumcised Gentiles who worshiped in the Jewish synagogue.

Fear in the New Testament:  Some Christians tend to de-emphasize the fear of God in the New Testament by placing the love of God above the fear of God. There is indeed a greater emphasis on the love of God in the New Testament. However, the element of fear was part of the proclamation of the early church.

Paul admonished believers to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). The early church grew in number as they lived “in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). The fear of God is related to the love of God. The revelation of God to people in the New Testament contains the element of God’s mysterious otherness calling for reverent obedience. The New Testament church stands in awe and fear in the presence of a holy God, for fear is “the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Word of the Lord—The Greek word logos, translated word, is commonly used in reference to Scripture—the Word of the Lord.  However, the word used in verse 25 is rhema, which denotes specific statements found within the Scriptures.  Being the word of the Lord, it is that which is written or spoken from God, and thus is a distinct category from a mere unity of human language.  The word of the Lord is holy, because God is holy; it is perfect, because God is perfect; it is eternal, because God is eternal.  As it is from God, His Word is to be read, understood, obeyed, and communicated.  It is to be heeded immediately and followed thoroughly.  Above all, it is to be adored, for it is the Word of the Lord that conveys His message of salvation.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Word of the Lord:  Word in verse 25 is not the more familiar Greek term logos that Peter used in verse 23.  This term is rhema, a word that means “that which has been or is being uttered; speech, discourse.”  In this setting the two Greek words are synonymous.  That it is the word of the Lord speaks of its source.  May Bible teachers equate Peter’s use of the word of the Lord with the gospel in this same verse.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING:

 

Holy A Word Study

By Francis X Kimmitt

Francis X Kimmitt is vice president for academic services and dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I

N LEVITICUS 11:44-45, the Lord commands His people to “Be holy because I am holy” (HCSB).  To the modern ear, those words are unsettling.  How can we be like the Creator and Sustainer of the universe?  What is God calling us to be when He tells us to “be holy”?

“Holy” is one of the most common Old Testament words.  The Hebrew verb form is qadash and occurs 171 times.1  The noun form, derived from the verb, is qodesh; it appears 470 times in the Hebrew Old Testament.2  The other common derivative of the verb form is the adjective qadosh, occurring 116 times.3  The basic meaning of the verb is to belong to the realm of the sacred, as opposed to belonging to what is common or profane.4  The noun and adjectival forms refer to and describe, respectively, people, places, and things which God deems sacred.

The biblical concept of “holiness” has its foundation in God Himself.  He is the source of the sacred; He imparts holiness to people, places, and objects.5  When God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3), He informed Moses that the ground on which he stood was holy because of God’s presence.  The Lord set the ark of the covenant apart as holy because the Holy One Himself was present there (1 Sam. 6:19-20).  The temple, in particular the holy of holies, was sacred because Yahweh placed His name there forever (2 Chron. 7:16) and because it housed the ark.

Exodus 31:12-17 explains the Lord made the Sabbath sacred for His people: “It is a sign forever between Me and the Israelites, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (v. 17, HCSB).  This establishment helps us understand the concept of holy.  The first six days of the week are common or profane.  They are days for working and for carrying out the normal activities.  The seventh day, however, is set apart.  No work of any kind is to be done.  To emphasize the seriousness of this command, the Lord specified that any Israelite who performed any kind of work on the Sabbath was to be put to death (v. 15).  That individual profaned or made common the Sabbath by the very act of working.  Because the Lord set apart the seventh day as sacred to Himself, a person who performed any act of work on the Sabbath not only disobeyed an explicit command from Him but denigrated God’s inherent nature.  The Lord established the Sabbath as a day of rest from all labor and as a perpetual sign of the covenant relationship He made with His people (vv. 16-17).

Since God Himself is holy in His essence, He therefore calls His people to be holy.  Throughout the Books of Exodus through Deuteronomy, He provided the instructions for how to become holy and how to maintain that holiness.  The Lord was the basis of mankind’s call and ability to be holy.  The presence of God will all believers enables them to live out their lives in a holy relationship with the One who created and saved them.  This holy relationship calls for a response from those who confess Him as Lord: live pure and clean lives.6

Arguably the most cogent biblical reference to this call is Isaiah’s temple vision (Isa. 6).  The prophet was in the Lord’s presence, in His holy temple.  The seraphim were worshiping and serving the King on His throne.  They continually called out to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth” (Isa. 6:3, HCSB).  The heavenly beings’ praise caused Isaiah to understand that God alone is holy, probably leading to his most common title for God: “the Holy One of Jacob/Israel.”  This passage teaches the believer that “what is holy is distinct from whatever does not pertain to deity.”7  The character of Israel’s God determined the meaning and understanding for Israel.  God is holy; He is not like any other being on earth or in heaven.  He is pure and good and completely without evil.  Thus, He demands the same moral and ethical behavior from His people.

When the Lord brought the Hebrews to Mount Sinai, He called them to be a “holy nation” to Himself (Ex. 19:6).  How did Israel manifest itself as God’s holy nation and not profane Him?  God gave all of the laws of the Pentateuch in order to show His people how to live holy lives and be sacred to Him.  Centuries later, the prophets called God’s people not to oppress those who were helpless (Jer. 34:16: Amos 2:6-7) and in so doing, not to profane God’s holy name.

In the same manner, today we are called, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.  But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16, HCSB).  We, too are called to be holy—and we can be holy.  We can be set apart and behave ethically because of the presence of God with us and within us.  We do not act in a manner that profanes and makes common our God and His relationship with His creation.  We behave ethically in all activities, and we obey His commandments.                                                       Bi

1.    Kohlenberger III & Swanson, The Hebrew-English Concordance to the Old Testament with the New International Version (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 1389-90.

2.    Ibid., 1390-93.

3.    Even-Shoshan, A New Concordance of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Jerusalem: Kiryat-Sefer, 1990), 999-1000.

4.    McComiskey, (qadash, be holy) in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. Harris (Chicago: Moody, 1980), 2:786.

5.    Dyrness, Themes in Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 51-52.

6.    Naude,(qds, be holy) in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, gen. ed. VanGemeren (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 3:882.

7.    Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1-39 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 180.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 40, No. 1; Fall 2013.

 

Pilgrim Motif In 1 Peter

By Bobby Kelly

Bobby Kelly is the Rowena Strickland associate professor of religion at Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.

The image of the Christian life as a journey and the Christian as a pilgrim on that journey was popularized most famously by the seventeenth-century British Baptist pastor and author John Bunyan.

B

UNYAN WROTE PILGIM’S PROGRESS while in prison for preaching in churches not sanctioned by the Established Church of England.  Bunyan’s allegorical portrayal of Christian on an adventurous and dangerous journey from this world, the “City of Destruction,” to that which is to come, the “Celestial City,” captured powerfully the life and struggle believers face in this present evil age.  The opening words communicate much: “As I walked through the wilderness of this world, . . . “1  The fictional character Christian was pointed on his way by Evangelist, opposed by Obstinate and Atheist, overcame the Slough of Despond and the Valley of the Shadow of Death, received help from Faithful and Hopeful, and finally entered the heavenly city.  Bunyan, however, did not invent the pilgrim motif.

That the early Christians saw themselves as pilgrims on a journey is evident by their earliest designation: people of the “Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22).  Similarly, Paul presented the Christian life as “a walk,” as in Galatians 5:16: “I say then, walk by the Spirit” (HCSB).  Thus, a consistent motif emerged in the New Testament of the Christian life as a journey, and those who choose to live the Christian life as pilgrims or sojourners in a foreign land but journeying into a future with God in heaven.  Nowhere is the motif more prevalent than 1 Peter.  Peter picked up on the notion of going to heaven, but unlike much popular theology, Peter did not focus on the conclusion of the journey “when we die,” but rather on the present experience of living as strangers journeying in a foreign land.  In order to capture the essence of how Christians were to live in a pagan society presently, Simon Peter employed the image of a pilgrim.

Greek Terms for Pilgrim

 Peter referred to his readers in 1 Peter 1:1 as “temporary residents,” using the Greek term parepidemos.  This term is a compound word combining the two Greek prepositions para (meaning “beside” or “along”) and epi (meaning “upon” or “over”) along with the  noun demos.  Combined, the prepositions have the sense of distant from something.  Demos originally had to do with “race” or “family” and later developed the sense of people living in a district or community.  Taken together the compound word meant stranger, sojourner, or one who resided in a place temporarily.  In essence, the term meant a stranger in a strange land.  Sojourners did not hold citizenship in the host country.  As aliens, they had few rights and privileges and were viewed suspiciously by permanent residents.

The term appears twice in the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament.  When Sarah died, Abraham requested a burial plot for her among the Hittites (Gen. 23:4).  He requested: “I am an alien and temporary resident  among you.  Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead.”2  Abraham and Sarah certainly knew what it was to be strangers in a strange land.  In response to God’s call (Gen. 12), they had lived their lives as resident aliens and pilgrims.  Their descendants, the people of Israel, like wise knew the experience of living as temporary residents, aliens, even exiles in Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon.  In light of their experiences, Sarah’s being buried in a foreign land seems appropriate.

The second usage of the term parepidemos in the Septuagint comes as a cry from the Psalmist:

“Hear my prayer, Lord, and listen to my cry for help;

do not be silent at my tears.  For I am a foreigner residing with You,

a sojourner (parepidemos) like all my fathers” (Ps. 39:12; LXX 38:12).

The psalmist lamented the transitory nature of life.  As a result he realized all that matters is one’s relationship with God.  While the psalmist was a current resident of this world, he was only a foreigner and pilgrim whose true home was with God.

In the New Testament, outside of 1 Peter the term appears only in Hebrews 11:13.  After defining faith as the firm conviction of certain realities even though they cannot yet be seen (Heb. 11:1), Hebrews offers an extensive list of examples of faithful people from Jewish history (11:2-40).  After listing Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, the writer paused and stated: “These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth” (11:13).  Although these Old Testament heroes had kept the faith, their journeys had not ended, for the full inheritance would be realized at Christ’s appearing.  Nevertheless, in God’s strength they had maintained the journey toward God’s promises with steadiness, run the race with perseverance, and pursued the imperishable city with vigor.  The faithful listed in Hebrews 11 are “the pilgrims, not the eperfect.”3

Pilgrim Motif in 1 Peter 1:1

Peter wasted no time introducing the image of the Christian life as a pilgrimage.  He began: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents of the Dispersion in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1).  Peter described his readers using the Greek term parepidemos.  They were “temporary residents”  who were scattered throughout Asia Minor.  As strangers in a strange land, these believers faced rejection and persecution at the hands of the nonbelievers of Asia Minor.  Because these Christians were sojourners in a foreign land, people viewed them with suspicion, distrust, and a fear that was rooted in ignorance.  The fact that these Christian “strangers” declined to acknowledge Caesar as Lord and refused to participate in pagan worship would have alienated nonbelievers.  Their acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord alienated Jews.  Thus, by living a life of commitment to Jesus they faced harassment, slander, and reproach.  Such is the life of strangers in a strange land.

Following the introductory greeting (1:1-2), Peter offered reassurances and hope for these persecuted and alienated Christians.  They had been given a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (v. 3).  Until the time when the living hope reached fulfillment at the final revelation of Jesus, they would find themselves in conflict with their society’s values.  Although this conflict would inevitably lead to suffering in various kinds of trials, the joy that comes from their new birth would far outweigh their grief.  In fact, the suffering indicated they were in the process of receiving the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls (vv. 8-9).  The proper response to God’s gracious action in Christ was to (1) set their minds fully on God’s grace (v. 13); (2) be holy as God is holy (vv.14-15); (3) love one another from the heart with total commitment (v. 22); and (4) crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s word (2:2-3).  These Christian pilgrims were living stones in God’s spiritual house, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God’s possession who have received God’s mercy (vv. 4-10).  Having offered encouragement and exhortation, Peter turned to the pilgrim motif once more in order to call his audience to live godly lives in a society that largely rejected God.

The Pilgrim motif in 1 Peter 2:11-12

Peter implored: “Dear Friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.  Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do evil, they may, by observing your good works, glorify God in a day of visitation” (2:11-12).  Returning to the pilgrim motif, Peter exhorted his Christian readers to live exemplary lives within their pagan society.  As holy citizens of God’s kingdom, they each had a moral responsibility to live a self-controlled life that bore witness to the truth of the gospel.  Peter did not deduce from their status as strangers and pilgrims in this world that they should seek to escape from this world.  The Christian pilgrim must walk a delicate balance between complete alienation from this world on the other.  We can easily miss that while John could say “do not love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15), he could also say “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16, KJV).  Peter’s writings also hold both together profoundly.  As Christians pilgrims journey in this world, they must avoid assimilation into the values and customs of a world that opposes God and refused to acknowledge Him as Creator.  And yet, they must not withdraw from the world and fail to shine forth the light of God’s glory and grace.

Understanding the etymology of the term parepidemos and seeing the way it is used in both the Septuagint and the New Testament should help us avoid romanticizing the idea of the Christian pilgrim.  To be a resident alien meant a person was outside of his or her homeland because of some political or economic disruption, or even military invasion.  It spoke of life in a foreign land where a person felt alienated and abandoned.  This is the plight of Christians as citizens of God’s holy nation living as temporary residents in a pagan society.  Yet, we do not sojourn alone, Jesus is the Pilgrim par excellence, the victorious One who leads His fellow travelers to their eternal destiny.  Jesus is the courageous Pioneer who goes on ahead to make sure that the road is safe for all who follow Him.  We can rest assured that He will lead us safely from this current evil age of destruction to our celestial home.                                         Bi

1.  Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, n. d.), 9.

2.  Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are the writer’s translation; emphases added.

3.  Brown, “Pilgrimage in Faith: The Christian Life in Hebrews,” Southwestern Journal of Theology, vol. 28, no. 1 [Fall 1985]; 33.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 40, No. 1; Fall 2013.

 

Peters Use of the Old Testament

By C. Alan Woodward

C. Alan Woodward is pastor, First Baptist Church, Ellisville, Mississippi.

S

IMON PETER wrote the first of his two biblical letters to Christians living in the area of modern-day Turkey.  He addressed believers in five Roman provinces: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.  The Books of Acts and Galatians record the spreading of Christianity in Asia and at least part of Galatia.  The Bible does not record the faith spreading into the other provinces.  Perhaps Peter, Silas, or Christians after the day of Pentecost took the gospel to the other provinces.

Why the provinces appear in this order is unclear.  Perhaps the best suggestion is that the order reflects the route the bearer followed as he delivered the letter.  If so, the bearer may have landed at a port in Pontus and made a clockwise loop through the named provinces.

Recipients of the Epistle

The apostle Peter called his readers “the temporary residents of the Dispersion” (1 Pet. 1:1).1  By doing so he reminded them they were but pilgrims, journeying toward a greater destination than any on earth.  They also were scattered geographically.  The Jewish people had been periodically scattered due to persecution.  Peter wrote to Christians who happened to be scattered and were facing persecution.

Peter’s readers seem to have been of varied social backgrounds.  Peter counseled slaves about their behavior (2:18-25).  Although he did not address masters, he did refer to the duties of citizenship (vv. 11-17), which suggests some of the readers were freemen.

The readers also were of varied racial and religious backgrounds.  Peter’s wide use of the Old Testament, his reference to the Dispersion (a Jewish term meaning “scattered”), and his warning for readers to keep their behavior honorable among the Gentiles (v. 12) strongly support a Jewish background for some of his readers.  Likewise, Peter’s references to their former way of life as one of ignorance (1:14), to their behavior as being typical of the Gentiles (4:3-4), and to their once being “not a people” (2:10) support a Gentile background for his readers.  However, some of the evidence for Jewish or Gentile readers could apply to either group.  The best conclusion is that the readers were of varied racial and religious backgrounds.  Some were Jewish, and some were Gentile—perhaps more were Gentile.

Peter wrote to a group of believers who were facing persecution. Opinions vary as to which persecution Peter meant in his first letter.  The persecutions under the Roman Emperors Trajan (AD 111) and Domitian (AD 90-100) were too late for Petrine authorship.  The persecution instigated by Emperor Nero in AD 62-64 is one possibility.  Another is a nongovernmental persecution instigated by a pagan culture threatened by the spread of Christianity.  Because of Peter’s injunction to honor the king (vv. 13-17), the persecution may have occurred prior to the time of Nero’s blood bath of Christians in AD 64.2

References in the Epistle

In addressing his readers, Peter quoted heavily from the Old Testament.  Have you ever wondered why quotations in the New Testament sometimes do not read exactly as they do in the Old Testament books from which they were taken?  One explanation is that maybe the differences in wording could be due to the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek.  However, Peter’s quotations reveal a good acquaintance with the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.3  Perhaps different Hebrew or Greek texts were available then that are not available to us today.  In addition, people in the ancient world were not always as rigid in their citation of quoted materials as we are today.  As a result, the primary concern of biblical writers sometimes seems to have been a new application rather than a verbatim citation of Old Testament passages.4

In light of these issues, we can identify quotations in at least 18 of Peter’s 105 verses.  From six different Old Testament books, he used no less than 26 quotations.  Peter’s most used source was Isaiah, followed by Psalms, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Proverbs.

We must ask, How did Peter’s use of the Old Testament help his readers?

The apostle addressed Christians of varying social, racial, and religious backgrounds who were facing persecution.  He wrote to encourage them to be faithful to Christ.  He used the Old Testament to reinforce his message by giving reasons for his appeals.  In doing so, Peter showed the continuity and fulfillment of Scripture.  The paragraphs that follow include references to the passages Peter quoted.

Peter’s letter reads like a carefully crafted sermon.  He challenges his readers to mature in faith and not to retreat into their former lifestyle.  They were to be holy because God, who provided for their salvation, is holy (1:16; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7).  Their salvation was make available through the living and enduring Word of God.  Life is short-lived, but God’s Word endures forever (1 Pet. 1:24-25; Isa. 40:6-8).  That “word” was the word preached to Peter’s readers, but the preached word was based on the written Word, the Old Testament.  Therefore, in his first two quotations Peter appealed to God’s character, which led to the sacrifice of Christ and to the written Word, which was the basis of the preached word.  These provided the foundation on which Peter’s readers needed to build their lives as Christians.

Throughout his letter, Peter challenged his readers to stand firmly in God’s grace (1 Pet. 5:12).  He urged them to set aside all manner of sin and to long for the pure milk of the Word (2:2).  They were to do this because they had tasted the Lord’s goodness (v. 3; Ps. 34:8).  Why should they yield to other appetites?

The apostle contrasted the lives of believers and nonbelievers.  Christians are living stones whose lives are build on Jesus Christ, the “chosen and valuable cornerstone” (1 Pet. 2:6; Ps. 118:22; Isa. 28:16).  They will not be disappointed.  However, those who do not believe in Him will stumble spiritually because of their disobedience (1 Pet. 2:7-8; Isa. 8:14).  Christians are set apart to be God’s own possession.  Their task is to proclaim the greatness of the One who called them from spiritual darkness into light (1 Pet. 2:9; Ex. 19:6; Isa. 9:2).  At one time they had not been God’s people, but now they were.  Once they had lacked mercy, but now they had experienced it (1 Pet. 2:10; Hos. 1:9-10; 2:23).

Peter urged slaves to obey their masters, in both fair and cruel treatment (1 Pet. 2:18-20).  In this way they would follow the example of Christ who suffered, yet was sinless (vv. 21-22; Isa. 53:9).  Christ bore their sins so they could live in righteousness.  Formerly they were like straying sheep, but now they had returned to the Shepherd (1 Pet. 2:24-25; Isa 53:5-6).

Peter urged the believers to control their speech and behavior.  The reasons are important: life is more gratifying that way; God’s blessings will be on those who do; and God hears the righteous but resists evil doers (1 Pet. 3:10-12; Ps. 34:12-16).

The apostle counseled his readers not to be afraid if they should suffer (1 Pet. 3:14; Isa. 8:12).  They should suffer willingly in obedience to God rather than follow fleshly desires (1 Pet. 4:1-6).  Peter told them to keep their love for each other strong because “’love covers over all offenses’” (v. 8; Prov. 10:12).  None should suffer for doing evil, but if any suffers as a Christian, he should praise God.  The reason why is incredibly important.  The righteous are saved with difficulty.  What will become of nonbelievers (1 Pet. 4:18; Prov. 11:31)?

Peter’s final question follows exhortations for the elders and the younger members to be humble toward each other.  They were to do so because “’God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet. 5:5; Prov. 3:34).

Reminders from the Epistle

Throughout his letter, Peter encouraged his readers to be faithful to the One who suffered for them—even if that meant they had to suffer for trusting in Him.  The Scriptures would bring comfort to Jewish Christians because they had always accepted God’s Word.  The Scriptures would give security and direction to the Gentile Christians in a world of many gods and uncertain values.  The Scriptures would remind slaves of their real Master, Jesus.  The Scriptures would remind all to use their freedom responsibly to honor Christ.  If the readers should suffer, the Scriptures would remind them that Christ suffered for them.  Peter repeatedly appealed to the Scriptures as the basis for their behavior.  That is superb counsel for us today—to live godly lives because the Bible tells us to do so.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bi

1.  All Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®

2.  Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, 3d ed.  (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1970), 796.

3.  E. M. Blaiklock, First Peter: A Translation and Devotional Commentary  (Waco: Word, 1977), 15.

4.  For a fuller discussion of this issue, see David McClister, “The Use of the Old Testament in 1 Peter,”  http:\\www.palmettochurchofchrist.org\ot-1pet.html accessed 8/07/03.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2004.

 

BIBLE CHARACTER TRIVIA

 

What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? Which three tribes camped on the northern side of the tabernacle in the wilderness Answer next week: 

 The answer to last week’s trivia question:  (07/06/14) (07/13/14)  Who smothered the king of Aram with a wet blanket so he could become king? (NLT)  Answer:  Hazael; 2 Kings 8:15.