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Bailey Sadler Class
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE - 2014
Theme: Standing Strong In The Midst of Suffering
What This Lesson Is About:
focus of this lesson is on living a godly life in the midst of pain and
suffering so that others can be drawn to Christ by how they see believers
brings opportunities to point to Jesus.
1 Peter 3:13-16; 4:1-2
Harm, No Fear, Only Blessing (1 Pet. 3:13-14)
Choice and an Opportunity (1 Pet. 3:15-16)
Thinking with Right Purpose (1 Pet. 4:1-2)
OF FOCAL PASSAGE: 1
Peter 3:13-16; 4:1-2
this section Peter directly faced some of the difficult suffering of his
readers. He encouraged them to respond righteously to those who had caused
their suffering (3:13-17) by reflecting on Christ’s vindication despite
His suffering (3:18-22). He urged a full commitment to God’s will
(4:1-6), and he presented Christ’s return as an incentive for watchful
action (4:7-11). He demonstrated that a knowledge of future glory provided
an additional encouragement to obedience (4:12-19).
instructed his recipients that even if they suffered for righteous living
God would bless them (Matt 5:10). He urged them to serve the Lord even in
the face of unjust treatment, for that unjust treatment might be a part of
a divine plan to glorify Himself (3:17).
Peter issued a further call to holy living. He called on his readers to
arm themselves by a cocrucifixion with Christ so that sin would no longer
be an option for them.
Holman Bible Handbook; General
Editor David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville,
Mankind is born for trouble as surely as
sparks (from a fire) fly upward” (Job 5:7).
Wracked with pain, numbed by grief, and mired in misery, Job
succinctly stated one of life’s incontrovertible facts—suffering is an
essential part of life. To be
human is to experience suffering, to some degree.
What is unique is the ability some people have to not only endure
their suffering with grit and grace but to bring something good from their
suffering. Such people are to
be admired and emulated.
Some people suffer as a direct result of their
faith. This is true with many
religions; it is not unique with Christianity.
But there is a distinct way in which the redemptive suffering of
the follower of Christ brings glory to God.
Paul told Timothy, “All those who want to live a godly life in
Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Faithful Christians will inevitable experience some degree of
suffering, but how does that persecuted believers respond to his/her
suffering? Therein lies the
key. The believer who joyfully
endures suffering draws others to Christ.
And that is the focus of this week’s study—using our faith to
draw others to Christ!
Introduction is adapted from the following
The Herschel Hobbs Commentary;
Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay
Plaza, Nashville, TN.
Harm, No Fear, Only Blessing (1 Pet. 3:13-14)
13 And who
will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? 14 But even if
you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what
they fear or be disturbed,
Choice and an Opportunity (1 Pet. 3:15-16)
15 but honor
the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to
anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do
this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that
when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put
does suffering brings opportunities to point to
What do you think it means to honor the Messiah
as Lord in your hearts (v. 15)?
Do you think this is a critical action?
Why, or why not?
must I (a believer) be ready to give at any time (v. 15)?
Why do you think Peter urged believers to be
ready to respond to questions about their hope (v. 15)?
Do you think this is relevant for believers in
today’s society? Why, or why not?
What does it look like to share the gospel with
gentleness, respect, and a clear conscience?
do gentleness, respect, and having a clear conscience prepare a believer for
effective witnessing (v. 16)?
a believer, do think this approach for sharing the Gospel is best?
Why, or why not?
do you think this behavior on the part of a believer would put a persecutor of
Christianity to shame (v. 16)?
would this kind of behavior do that when some people think it is a sign of
am I (a believer) to go about defending my faith?
you think this is vital for a believer in today’s society?
Why, or why not?
impact may a serious witness have on those who denounce his/her faith?
Why do I believe in God? How
do I know what I believe about God? What
do I believe about God? Do you think you would be ready today to answer these
questions in the face of persecution? Why,
or why not?
Lessons in 1 Peter 3:15-16:
Christ is to be effectively represented in my testimony, He must be highly
exalted in my life.
reliable Christian witness is perpetually and thoroughly prepared and his
or her testimony is kept up-to date.
someone cannot observe Christ in me, they will not be curious about he
hope that I say is in me.
I disrespect those who need the gospel, I may be denied the opportunity to
share the gospel with them.
Thinking with Right Purpose (1 Pet. 4:1-2)
4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip
yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in
the flesh has finished with sin—2
in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human
desires, but for God’s will.
what earlier declaration in the letter does the opening clause of verse 1 refer?
was Christ able to successfully suffer in the flesh (v. 1)?
are believers to prepare themselves to face suffering (v. 1)?
do you think the word resolve implies
for the believer (v. 1)?
What does “ .
. . because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin . . . “ mean
to you (v. 1)?
would you describe Christ’s attitude toward suffering on our behalf?
what does a willingness to suffer give evidence?
am I (a believer) to develop the same resolve as Christ when it comes to
suffering for His cause (v. 1)?
is to shape the way I (a believer) live out my life here on earth?
are some things you think a believer must do to live
the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s
am I (a believer) to make living for God’s will the top priority in my daily
are some things I (a believer) must do to ensure the Holy Spirit’s help to
live for God’s will.
you think a believer could ever equip him/herself to suffer well as Jesus did?
Why, or why not?
Do you think trusting God in ever circumstance
of your life is possible? Why, or
What are some things that keep a believer from
this depth of trust in their life?
If suffering brings opportunities for me (a
believer) to point to Jesus, is this a hard thing for me to do during my time of
suffering? If so, why?
Lessons in 1 Peter 4:1-2:
suffering and death is the only means in which we also can experience
victory over sin and death.
follow Christ are following Him into battle.
experience the triumph of Christ over sin, we must adopt the mind set of
Christ about sin.
I am to live
my remaining days on earth in pursuit of God’s will and in denial of
believers, we have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves by doing good,
even in the face of hostility by those who would do us harm, question our
motives, and impugn our character. The
ability to continue doing good and to be faithful to the gospel, even
through suffering, does not come naturally.
It comes by having confirmed Christ as Lord, being confident that
our behavior honors Him, thinking in ways that reflect the mind of Christ,
and living according to God’s will, which has been revealed in Christ.
Notice that Christ is at the center of it all.
Without Him we are not able. With
Him we find strength to endure. He
becomes our message and He is the reason we have hope.
you reflect on this study, what are some things that stand out to you?
Is suffering in your life a source of blessing?
Or does suffering fill you with fear?
Does the suffering in your life provide you with a choice and an
opportunity for witnessing? On
a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how would you rate yourself on doing
good, even in the face of a hostile world?
Are you able to stand firm on your Christian values during times of
suffering? If your rating is
not what you or God would like for your life, ask Him to empower you
though His Holy Spirit to strengthen your witness during the times of the
trials in your life. He Will!
are the implications of these truths for your life?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!
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,
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study;
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Focal Passage from three different translations of
God’s Word: 1 Peter 3:13-16; 4:1-2
King James Version:
3:13And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that
which is good? 14But and if ye suffer for
righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their
terror, neither be troubled; 15But sanctify the
Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an
answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with
meekness and fear: 16Having a good conscience; that,
whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that
falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
4:1Forasmuch then as
Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same
mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2That he no longer should live the rest of his time in
the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (KJV)
3:13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do
good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you
are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be
prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the
hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping
a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good
behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
4:1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the
same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2As
a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires,
but rather for the will of God. (NIV)
New Living Translation:
3:13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?
14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward
you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.
15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if
someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience
clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what
a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
4:1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with
the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered
physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.
2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own
desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.
No Harm, No Fear,
Only Blessing (1 Pet. 3:13-14)
A Choice and an Opportunity (1 Pet. 3:15-16)
Right Thinking with Right Purpose (1 Pet.
Commentary for the focal passage
comes from three sources: “The Pulpit Commentary,” “Believer’s Bible Commentary,” and “The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)
The Pulpit Commentary; Volume
22: Peter-Revelation – 1 Peter
3:13. And who is he that will
harm you? The apostle, as he
began his quotation from Psalm 34, without marks of citation, so adds at once
his inference from it in the form of a question. The conjunction “and”
connects the question with the quotation. If God's eye is over the righteous,
and his ear open to their prayers, who shall harm them? St. Peter does not mean
— Who will have the heart to harm you? He knew the temper of Jews and
heathens; he knew also the Savior's prophecies of coming persecution too well to
say that. The words remind us of the Septuagint rendering of Isaiah 50:9, Κύριος βοηθήσει μοι τίς κακώσει με; None can do real harm to the Lord's people;
they may persecute them, but he will make all things work together for their
good. If ye be followers of that which is good; rather, if ye become
zealous of that which is good, with the oldest manuscripts. The Authorized
Version adopts the reading μιμηταί, followers or
imitators, which is not so well supported. The genitive τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ admits the masculine translation, “of him
that is good,” but it is probably neuter in this place (comp. ver. 11). With
the masculine rendering, comp. Acts 22:3, “and was zealous toward God (ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων τοῦ Θεοῦ).”
Verse 14. But and if ye suffer
for righteousness sake, happy are ye; better, but
although ye should suffer. St. Peter knew that persecution was coming; he
wished to prepare his readers for it. He recalls to their thoughts the eighth
beatitude, almost reproducing the Lord's words (Matthew 5:10). Such suffering (πάσχειν, lenius verbum quam κακοῦσθαι,” Bengel) would do
them no real harm; nay, it would bring with it a true and deep blessing.
“Righteousness” here seems synonymous with “that which is good” in the
last verse. Christians had often to suffer, not only because of their confession
of Christ, but because of the purity of their lives, which was a standing
reproach to the heathen. Compare St. Augustine's well-known saying, “Martyrem
tacit non poena, sed causa.” And be not afraid of their terror, neither be
troubled. From Isaiah 8:12. The genitive may be taken as objective: “Be
not afraid of the terror which they cause;” or as subjective, “with the
terror which they feel.” The former view is more suitable here.
Verse 15. But sanctify the
Lord God in your hearts. From Isaiah 8:13. The
reading of the best and oldest manuscripts here is Κύριον δὲ τὸν Χριστόν, “Sanctify the Lord Christ,” or,
“Sanctify the Christ as Lord.” The absence of the article with Κύριον is in favor of the second translation; but the
first seems more natural, more in accordance with the original passage in
Isaiah, and the common expression, Κύριος ὁ Θεός, is in its favor. Whichever translation is
adopted, St. Peter here substitutes the Savior's Name where the prophet wrote,
“the Lord of hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth” — a change which would be nothing
less than impious if the Lord Jesus Christ were not truly God. “Sanctify
him,” the apostle says (as the Lord himself teaches us to say, in the first
words of the Lord's Prayer); that is, regard him as most holy, awful in
sanctity; serve him with reverence and godly fear; so you will not “be afraid
of their terror.” The holy fear of God will lift you above the fear of man.
“Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isaiah 8:13; see also
Leviticus 10:3; Isaiah 29:23; Ezekiel 38:23). St. Peter adds the words, “in
your hearts,” to teach us that this reverence, this hallowing of the Name of
God, must be inward and spiritual, in our inmost being. And be ready always
to give an answer to every man; literally, ready always for an apology to
every man. The word ἀπολογία is often used of a formal answer before a
magistrate, or of a written defense of the faith; but here the addition, “to
every man,” shows that St. Peter is thinking of informal answers on any
suitable occasion. That asketh you a reason of the here that is in you;
literally, an account concerning the hope. Hope is the grace on which St.
Peter lays most stress; it lives in the hearts of Christians. Christians ought
to be able to give an account of their hope when asked, both for the defense of
the truth and for the good of the asker. That account may be very simple; it may
be the mere recital of personal experience — often the most convincing of
arguments; it may be, in the case of instructed Christians, profound and closely
reasoned. Some answer every Christian ought to be able to give. With meekness
and fear. The best manuscripts read, “but with meekness and fear.” The
word “but” (ἀλλά) is emphatic; argument
always involves danger of weakening the spiritual life through pride or
bitterness. We must sometimes “contend earnestly for the faith;” but it must
be with gentleness and awe. We should fear lest we injure our own souls by
arrogant and angry controversy; we should seek the spiritual good of our
opponents; and we should entertain a solemn awe of the presence of God, with a
trembling anxiety to think and to say only what is acceptable unto him.
Verse 16. Having a good
conscience. This word “conscience” (συνείδησις) is one of the many links between this Epistle
and the writings of St. Paul. St. Peter uses it three times; St. Paul, very
frequently. There is a close connection between this clause and the preceding
verse. A good conscience is the best reason of the hope that is in us. An
apology may be learned, well-expressed, eloquent; but it will not be convincing
unless it comes from the heart, and is backed up by the life. Calvin (quoted by
Huther) says, “Quid parum auctoritatis habet sermo absque vita.” That,
whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers. The Revised Version follows
the Sinaitic Manuscript in reading, “Wherein ye are spoken against,” and
omitting “as of evil-doers? It is possible that the received reading may have
been interpolated from 1 Peter 2:12, where the same words occur; except that
there the mood is indicative, here, conjunctive, “wherein they may possibly
speak evil of you.” They may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good
conversation in Christ; rather, as the Revised Version, they may be put
to shame; that is, “proved to be liars” (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:14). The
word translated “falsely accuse” is that which is rendered “despitefully
use” in Matthew 5:44. Luke 6:28. It is a strong word. Aristotle defines the
corresponding substantive as a thwarting of the wishes of others out of
gratuitous malice (‘Rhet.,’ 2:2). For “good conversation,” see 1 Peter
1:15, 18. The Christian's life is in Christ, in the sphere of his presence, he
dwelling in us, and we in him (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:17, etc.).
4:1. Forasmuch then as Christ
hath suffered for us in the flesh. St. Peter returns, after
the digression of 1 Peter 3:19-22, to the great subject of Christ's example. The
words “for us” are omitted in some ancient manuscripts; they express a great
truth already dwelt upon in 1 Peter 2. and 3. Here the apostle is insisting upon
the example of Christ, not on the atoning efficacy of his death. Arm yourselves
likewise with the same mind. The word rendered “mind” (ἔννοια) is more exactly “thought” (comp. Hebrews
4:12, the only other place where it occurs in the New Testament); but it
certainly has sometimes the force of “intention, resolve.” The Christian
must be like his Mustier; he must arm himself with the great thought, the holy
resolve, which was in the mind of Christ — the thought that suffering borne in
faith frees us from the power of sin, the resolve to suffer patiently according
to the will of God. That thought, which can be made our own only by faith, is
the Christian's shield; we are to arm ourselves with it against the assaults of
the evil one (comp. Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:11). For he
that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. The thought is that of
Romans 6:6-11. Some translate the conjunction ὅτι, “that,” and understand it as giving the
content of the ἔννοια: “Arm yourselves with
the thought that,” etc.; but this does not give so good a sense, and would
seem to require ταύτην rather than τὴν αὐτήν — “ this thought,”
rather than “the same thought.” Some, again, understand this clause of
Christ; but this seems a mistake. The apostle spoke first of the Master; now he
turns to the disciple. Take, he says, for your amour the thoughts which filled
the sacred heart of Christ — the thought that suffering in the flesh is not,
as the world counts it, an unmixed evil, but often a deep blessing; for, or
because, he that suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. If, when we are
called to suffer, we offer up our sufferings to Christ who suffered for us, and
unite our sufferings with his by faith in him, then those sufferings, thus
sanctified, destroy the power of sin, and make us cease from sin (comp. Romans
Verse 2. That he no longer
should live the rest of his time in the flesh. On the whole, it seems better to connect this clause with the imperative:
“Arm yourselves with the same mind, that ye no longer should live the rest of
your time;” rather than with the clause immediately preceding: “He that hath
suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live,”
etc.; though both connections give a good sense. The Greek word for “live” (βιῶσαι) occurs only here in
the New Testament. Bengel says, “Aptum verbum, non die fur de brutis.’ “In
the flesh “here means simply “in the body,” in this mortal life.
“The rest of your time” suggests the solemn thought of the shortness
of our earthly pilgrimage: bye for eternity. To the lusts of men, but to the
will of God. The datives are normal; they express the pattern or rule
according to which our life ought to be fashioned. God's will is our
sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). That will is ever the same, a fixed,
unchanging rule; the lusts of men are shifting, uncertain, restless.
Pulpit Commentary; Volume 22:
Peter-Revelation; Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
Bible Commentary: 1 Peter 3:13-16; 4:1-2
3:13. Peter resumes his argument with a question: "And
who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?"
The answer implied is "No one." And yet the history of the martyrs
seems to prove that enemies of the gospel do harm faithful disciples.
There are at least two possible explanations of
1. Generally speaking, those who follow a path
of righteousness are not harmed. A policy of nonresistance disarms the
opposition. There may be exceptions, but as a rule, the one who is eager for the
right is protected from harm by his very goodness.
2. The worst that the foe can do to a Christian
does not give eternal harm. The enemy can injure his body but he cannot damage
During World War II a Christian boy of twelve
refused to join a certain movement in Europe. "Don't you know that we have
power to kill you?" they said. "Don't you know," he replied
quietly, "that I have power to die for Christ!" He had the conviction
that no one was able to harm him.
3:14. But suppose a Christian should suffer
persecution because of his loyalty to the Savior. What then? Three results
1. God overrules the suffering for His own
2. He uses the suffering to bring blessing to
3. He blesses the one who suffers for His name.
Don't be afraid of men, or terrified by their
threats. How well the martyrs lived out this policy! When Polycarp was
promised release if he would blaspheme Christ, he said, "Eighty six years I
have served Christ and He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King
and my Savior?" When the proconsul threatened to expose him to the wild
beasts, he replied, "It is well for me to be speedily released from this
life of misery." Finally the ruler threatened to burn him alive. Polycarp
said, "I fear not the fire that burns for a moment: You do not know that
which burns forever and ever."
3:15. In the last part of verse 14 and in this verse,
Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:12, 13, which says: "Nor be afraid of their
threats, nor be troubled. The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be
your fear, and let Him be your dread." Someone has said, "We fear God
so little because we fear man so much."
The Isaiah passage speaks of The Lord of
hosts as the One to be reverenced. Quoting it, Peter by inspiration of the
Holy Spirit, says, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.
To reverence the Lord means to make Him the
Sovereign of our lives. All we do and say should be in His will, for His
pleasure, and for His glory. The lordship of Christ should dominate every area
of our lives—our possessions, our occupation, our library, our marriage, our
spare time—nothing can be excluded.
Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for
the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. This applies primarily to times when Christians
are being persecuted because of their faith. The consciousness of the presence
of the Lord Christ should impart a holy boldness and inspire the believer to
witness a good confession.
The verse is also applicable to everyday life.
People often ask us questions which quite naturally open the door to speak to
them about the Lord. We should be ready to tell them what great things
the Lord has done for us. This witnessing should be done in either case with
gentleness and reverence. There should be no trace of harshness, bitterness or
flippancy when we speak of our Savior and Lord.
believer must have a good conscience. If he knows he is innocent of any
crime, he can go through persecution with the boldness of a lion. If he has a
bad conscience, he will be plagued with feelings of guilt and will not be able
to stand against the foe. Even if a believer's life is blameless, the enemies of
the gospel will still find fault with him and bring false charges against him.
But when the case comes to trial, and the charges are found to be empty, the
accusers will be ashamed.
This was our Lord's experience in suffering for
well-doing. Men rejected Him, both in His pre-incarnate testimony through Noah
and in His First Advent as the Son of Man. He was baptized in death's dark
waters at Calvary. But God raised Him from the dead and glorified Him at His own
right hand in heaven. In the eternal purposes of God, suffering had to precede
This was the lesson both for Peter's original
readers and also for us. We should not be upset if we experience opposition and
even persecution for doing good, for we do not deserve better treatment than our
Savior had when He was on earth. We should comfort ourselves with the promise
that if we suffer with Him, we shall be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17).
Furthermore, the sufferings now are not worthy to be compared with the glory
that awaits us (Rom. 8:18). The afflictions are light and momentary; the glory
is eternal and weighty beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17).
4:1. There is a close connection between this section
and the preceding (cf. 3:18). We have been considering Christ as an
example of One who suffered unjustly. He suffered at the hands of
wicked men for the cause of righteousness. Since this was so, His followers
should arm themselves with the same mind. They should expect to
suffer for His name. They should be prepared to endure persecution because they
Whoever has suffered in the flesh, that
is, in the body, has ceased from sin. The believer is faced with two
possibilities—sin or suffering. On the one hand, he can choose to live like
the unsaved people around him, sharing their sinful pleasures, and thus avoid
persecution. Or he can live in purity and godliness, bearing the reproach of
Christ, and suffer at the hands of the wicked.
James Guthrie, a martyr, said just before he was
hanged, "Dear friends, pledge this cup of suffering as I have done, before
you sin, for sin and suffering have been presented to me, and I have chosen the
When a believer deliberately chooses to suffer
persecution as a Christian rather than to continue in a life of sin, he has ceased
from sin. This does not mean that he no longer commits acts of sin, but that
the power of sin in his life has been broken. When a man suffers because he
refuses to sin, he is no longer controlled by the will of the flesh.
4:2. During the remainder of a believer's earthly
life, he is not controlled by human passions but by the will of God.
He prefers to suffer as a Christian rather than to sin like the unbelievers. He
would rather die than deny his Lord. The rest of his time in the flesh
means the remainder of one's life here on earth. The believer chooses to live
these years for the glory of God rather than for the gratification of sensual
Believer's Bible Commentary; by William
MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald.
Database © 2014 WORDsearch.
Complete Biblical Library Commentary: 1 Peter 3:13-16; 4:1-2
word "and" shows cause and effect, basing verse 13 on the preceding
verse. Peter indicated that since the believers are righteous and God is
watching out for them, no one can "harm" them (kakösōn,
injure, damage, hurt; as in Acts 18:10, "No man shall set on thee to hurt
thee") as long as they continue to be "followers" (mimētai,
imitators; as in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also
am of Christ") of that which is good. Peter
did not want the believers to feel overwhelmed by persecutions. Though such may
come, God will never allow the testing to be more than His servants are able to
bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
said that if the believers, for righteousness' sake, should "chance to
suffer" (as Alford translates it), they are "happy" (makarioi,
supremely blessed, fortunate; same word as in Matthew 5:10). So they should not
fear their enemies' threats; they should not be made "afraid" (phobēthēte,
alarmed, frightened) by their "terror" (phobon, alarm, fear).
They need not be "troubled" (tarachthēte, disturbed,
agitated) nor live in fear of what might possibly happen. The Greek construction
("but and if") suggests that suffering pain for righteousness' sake
will be a rare thing; it may happen, but probably not. Believers should be
prepared whatever happens.
3:15. Peter told the believers how to deal with
opposition. "Sanctify" (hagiasate, hallow, make holy) is a word
the pagan Greeks used to describe the setting apart of a temple to be used only
for sacred purposes. "The Lord God" (kurion... ton Theon, God
as Lord) might be changed to "Christ as Lord" (kurion... ton
Christon, on the basis of very reliable Greek texts). Peter directed the
believers to set Christ apart as Lord in their hearts—as their only
Master—and be ready always to give verbal defense of their inner hope.
"Be ready" (hetoimoi, prepared, adjusted) at all times with an
"answer" (apologian, a clearing of oneself, defense; as in Acts
22:1, "Hear ye my defense"). They should be able to give the
"reason" (logon, word, utterance, verbalization) of their inner
"hope" (elpidos, happy anticipation, expectation).
The Greeks liked to debate issues of all kinds. Peter indicated the
believers should be ready to discuss their faith openly. This calls for a clear
understanding of their beliefs and for skill in presenting it. It does not
negate the need for guidance and inspiration by the Holy Spirit which Jesus
promised (Matthew 10:19). On the contrary, Peter said they should give their
witness not in a highhanded, cocksure manner but with "meekness" (prautētos,
humility, mildness) and "fear" (phobou, terror, fear, not of
man but of God; that is, with reverence and dependence on divine guidance and
Believers should not be surprised if they suffer in spite of the fact
they are living godly lives. They should be prepared to give the right kind of
answer in the face of rejection or persecution. They should not retaliate in
self-defense or seek revenge. The best "answer" they can make is to
live in such a way no one will believe the accusations.
3:16. In order to give an effective witness, Peter said
they need a "good conscience" (suneidēsin... agathēn,
guiltless moral consciousness). This sense of innocence will result from their
good "conversation" (anastrophēn, manner of life) in
Christ. There will be nothing in their lives to make them ashamed; but those who
"speak" (katalalōsin, speak against, as in 2:12) evil of
them will be "ashamed" (kataischunthōsin, dishonored,
confounded) in the very matter wherein they falsely accuse the believers.
"Whereas" may be translated "wherein." Their accusers will
be "put to silence" (2:15). "Falsely accuse" is the same
strong word (epēreazō) used in Luke 6:28; it means revile,
insult, slander, spitefully abuse. The answer to false accusations is a godly
next identified himself with the believers. In the light of how Christ has
suffered "for us," he told them to "arm yourselves" (hoplisasthe,
equip yourselves with armor) with the same "mind" (ennoian,
intent, thinking) as Christ. He "endured the cross, despising the
shame" for "the joy that was set before him" (Hebrews 12:2). This
same attitude of sacrificing self, enduring patiently, and rejoicing in
tribulation will equip the believers to face false accusations and to resist
sinful temptation. Peter indicated the reason they suffered persecution was that
they had "ceased" (pepautai, stop, come to an end) from sin. If
they had approved the loose living of their heathen neighbors, they would not
have "suffered in the flesh."
showed that the change salvation brings into a person's life is very real, a
complete about-face. No longer will the believer "live" (biōsai,
spend an existence) the remainder of his "time" (chronon,
while, season of time) in the "flesh" (sarki, physical body)
catering to the "lusts" (epithumiais, strong desire, craving)
of men. Instead he will yield himself to the "will" (thelēmati,
desire, pleasure) of God. Man is self-centered by nature and is under great
pressure to be concerned with his own comfort, pleasure, and security; but the
believer who copies Christ is concerned with pleasing God, not himself.
Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Acts. Database ©
2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.
Suffer—The Greek word Peter used for suffer in 3:14 is paschoite,
the form of which stresses the fact that suffering while real and perhaps
frequent, is not perpetual or permanent. The
possibility of suffering was a constant threat.
It could come at any time. But
it would not be an endless experience. Peter’s
use of this particular word would have served to encourage his readers.
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Suffer: The Greek word for suffer (v. 14) is pascho,
a word that suggests “to have been affected by something, the effect usually
being painful.” The word is used
in the gospels to refer to the suffering of Christ, such as in the passion
predictions (Matt. 16:21). In some
usages the word can imply death (1 Pet. 3:18).
Peter not only wrote of the suffering of Christ for the redemption of
sin, but he also indicated that suffering naturally befalls Christians.
They can be prepared for it by adopting the same attitude Christ had
toward it (4:1).
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
Blessed—“Happy” in the KJV for blessed in 3:14 is slightly misleading, for the Greek word makarioi
(as in 4:14) emphasizes not the effect of being blessed—happiness or joy—but
its motive. Makarioi
is the same word used in Luke 1:42 when Elizabeth exclaimed that Mary was “the
most blessed of women.” Mary’s
subsequent life could not be accurately characterized as “happy.”
Simeon’s prophetic declaration that Mary’s heart would be pierced
through as with a sword (2:35) would indeed come to pass, but she certainly was
uniquely favored as the mother of the Messiah.
The same intent is seen in Matthew 5:11: “You are blessed when they
insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because
of Me.” Being reviled, persecuted,
and slandered does not make one “happy,” but there is divine favor at work
“because your reward is great in heaven (v. 12).
The brunt of God’s reward will be realized only in glory, but the
assurance of eventually receiving it instills within the believer the
determination needed to persevere through the present pain.
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Greek word for happy (makarios, v. 14) is
also translated as “blessed,” as in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-11).
A person can be happy or blessed because of favorable life circumstances or because
of divine favor. Happiness based on
life circumstances will vary because the circumstances vary; happiness because
of divine bavor is constant, because the Lord is constant.
Persecuted Believers—The Lord Is Good
By Mark A.
Rathel is associated professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida,
WROTE his first epistle to Christians in Asia
Minor experiencing persecution. He
encouraged believers by reminding them of the nature of salvation, then hope
Christians experience in Christ, and the heavenly inheritance belonging to those
who follow Christ. In response to
their sufferings and persecution, Peter challenged his readers to a lifestyle of
personal and corporate holiness.
1 Peter 2:1-10, the apostle challenged his readers to a new understanding of the
church. The church is God’s chosen
people, a spiritual temple, and priests in His service.
Before proclaiming a radical understanding of God’s people, Peter
commanded his readers to mature in relation to salvation (1 Pet. 2:2).
He focused on the vital importance of the entire Christian community
growing spiritually together. All
the verbs in 1 Peter 2:1-3 are plural, addressing the entire Christian
community. Peter detailed two
specific matters in the spiritual growth of the community.
First, together believers must decisively put away attitudes destructive
to the development of the community, namely, wickedness, deceit, hypocrisy,
envy, and slander. Second, like the
strong cravings of babies for milk, believers must eagerly desire the spiritual
nourishment of the Word of God. The
Word of God is “pure” (uncontaminated) and “spiritual.”
The term “spiritual” means “reasonable.”
The encourage Christians to spiritual growth, Peter reminded believers
“the Lord is good” (v. 3).
is the meaning of the adjective “good,” the Greek word chrestos? What is the
background of the concept “good” in ancient Greek?
What is the meaning of “good” in Hebrew, particularly Psalm 34:8 that
Peter quotes? What does the
adjective “good” mean as a description of God?
The Greek Term
People used the ancient Greek term chrestos
(good) to describe things, people, and occasionally gods.
The corresponding verb chresteuomai,
which does not occur in secular Greek, means “to be good, kind, or
The adjective functions as a relational term to describe either the
standing of a person or thing in relation to others or the purpose to the person
Applied to things, the term described what was “useful, good of its
kind, serviceable.”3 In
particular, the term denoted something “superior for a particular purpose.”4
The term occasionally denoted the good as opposed to evil.
As applied to people, the term described people as “honest,”
“upright,” or “conforming to the rules” or simply a “good person.”
Yet, even as a descriptive moral term for people, chrestos
retained the concept of usefulness or fulfillment of purpose.
Hellenistic culture uplifted the ideal of morality as that which was
useful in society at large.5 Because a
“good” person reached the condition in which he or she possessed a genuine
goodness of heart, the individual possessed of heart, the individual possessed
the capacity to show or demonstrate kindness to others.
secular Greek the term rarely described the gods because the ancients regarded
the concept of a “good king god” with disdain and not a concept worthy of a
On the rare occasions in ancient literature in which the term “good”
(cherstos) was applied to a god, it
described the benevolence of a god who had supposedly provided wealth or
Hebrew and the Septuagint
In 1 Peter 2:3, Peter quoted Psalm 34:8
from the Septuagint, the Greek
translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Cherstos
serves as the translation of the Hebrew noun tob.
The usages of the Hebrew term parallel the usages outlined for the Greek
term as descriptive of moral goodness, practical good, and quality.8
The term most frequently described a person, especially in the ethical
sense. The most characteristic usage
of cherstos (good) in the Septuagint
occurred in the context of worship and praise of God.9
In contrast to the hesitancy at which Greeks applied the concept
“good” to a god, the Hebrew Bible frequently described God as “good,”
particularly in the Psalms. Rather
than “good” describing only an attribute of God, the Psalms primarily use
the word to highlight God’s actions on behalf of His people’s welfare.10
focused on Psalm 34:8. The psalm
celebrates God’s deliverance of the afflicted and highlights God’s
greatness, answered prayer, divine presence, and abundant provision.
The psalmist commanded his readers to “taste,” “see,” and
“fear.” To “taste” required
one to “examine by sampling.”11
Believers “taste” God by seeking shelter in Him (Ps. 34:8) and
submitting to God in fearful respect (v. 9).12
The New Testament
The Greek term chrestos
(good) occurs seven times in the New Testament.
The term describes Jesus’ easy yoke (Matt. 11:30), better wine (Luke
5:39), God being good to the ungrateful (6:35), Him showing kindness that leads
to repentance (Rom. 2:4), good morals (1 Cor. 15:33), and the act of being kind
(Eph. 4:32). Peter used chrestos
to describe God succinctly: “the Lord is good”
(1 Pet. 2:3, emphasis added).
central message of Psalm 34 correlates with four aspects of the message of 1
Peter to believing sufferers. First,
the psalm highlights God’s delivering the afflicted.
Second, the psalmist encouraged believers to hope (trust) only in God.
The noun or verb “hope” occurs five times in 1 Peter (1:3,13,21;
3:5,15). Third, David praised God
for deliverance from all his “sojourning,” a term the Septuagint
used (or “fears” in HCSB; Ps. 34:4), again a term describing the pilgrims
Peter was addressing (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11). Fourth,
both Psalm 34 and 1 Peter highlight the importance of the “fear” of the Lord
(Ps. 34:9,11; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:17-18; 3:2,14-15).13
appealed to the readers’ past experience of God’s goodness in salvation in
encourage them to further growth “unto salvation.”
The verb “taste” in a metaphor describing personal experience and
involvement in the past.14
In their Christian experiences, the readers had experienced the
“goodness” of God in His mighty actions on behalf of His people.
action did Peter urge from his readers? In
2:4, he encouraged them to come continually (proserchomai) to God, a term the Septuagint used to describe priests approaching God (here Jesus) to
Simon Peter’s was a reminder that, even in the face of persecution, the
Lord is worthy of worship.
to be good) in Spicq, Theological Lexicon
of the New Testament [TLNT], trans. Earnest, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA:
Hendrickson, 1994), 511. The verb chresteuomai
occurs only in 1 Corinthiand 13:4, “love is kind” (HCSB).
good) in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [TDNT], ed. Friedrich,
trans. and ed. Bromiley, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 483.
in Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English
Lexicon, rev. Jones and McKenzie (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940), 2007.
(chrestos) in Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains
[Louw and Nida], 2nd ed., ed. Louw and Nida (New York: United Bible
Societies, 1989), 1:623.
in Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian
Literature [BDAG], 3rd ed., rev. and ed. Danker (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1090.
in TDNT, 485.
in TLNT, 512.
good) in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. Harris (Chicago:
Moody Press, 1980), 1:345.
in TDNT, 485.
Speak: A Word Study of the Book of Psalms (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984),
“Psalms” in The Explositor’s Bible
Commentary, gen. ed. Gaebelein, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 284.
1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude., vol. 37 in The
New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadmen & Holman, 2003), 101-102.
(geuomai, to experience) in Louw and
(proserchomai, to come to) in TDNT,
ed. Kittel, trans. and ed. Bromiley, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 683.
Tribulation For Early Believers
By Dale “Geno” Robinson
Dale “Geno” Robinson is pastor of Madison
Avenue Baptist Church, North Highlands, California.
ROMANS 8:35, near
the end of his life,1 Paul put forth a song of victory over
persecution and tribulation:
separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or
famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
saw those difficulties as natural consequences of his faith, causing him pain,
but received with joy. Persecution
was the religious and legal punishment he and other believers received from Jews
and Gentiles because of their Christian faith.
Tribulation was their experience of persecution.
It was as the cost of doing missionary business, the ongoing hardship
they experienced because they proclaimed the gospel.
It was the pain and anxiety they suffered at the hands of their Jewish or
pagan neighbors because they were believers.
The Jews saw them as heretics. The
pagan on the street saw them as suspicious disturbers of society.2
Opposition at the Outset
The early believers were not surprised when
they were persecuted. Christ warned
His disciples they would be arrested, arraigned, and physically punished for
being His followers. He endured
resistance, hatred, persecution, and death.
He taught that His disciples could expect nothing less (Mark 13:9-13;
Luke 21:12; John 15:20-21).
Pilate, as Roman governor of Judea, limited
Jewish persecution of dissidents like Christians.
When Lucius Vitellius became Roman governor of Syria in AD 36, he deposed
Pilate. A period of benign Roman
neglect allowed the Jews to exert a greater police power than before.3
They imprisoned Peter and John. A
jealous conspiracy by Hellenistic Jews resulted in Stephen’s stoning death, an
action that would have been impossible under Pilate.
The Sanhedrin felt empowered enough to license Saul of Tarsus to harass
Christians as far away as Damascus (Acts 4:1-22; 7:54-60; 9:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:23).
Diaspora Jews regularly disturbed the common peace with rioting and
violence. Their public protesters were so disruptive in Rome that in AD 49, the
emperor Claudius expelled them all from the city.
Suetonius, the Roman historian, suggested that reaction against the
teaching of someone named “Chrestus” caused it all.
Many scholars assume this referred to the teaching of Christ. 4
Believers bore the brunt of Jewish anti-Christian rage.
In Thessalonica zealous Jews rioted because Paul’s preaching led many
to Christ. When they could not
locate Paul, they turned on his host, Jason.
They forcibly entered Jason’s home, beat him, and dragged him before
the magistrate. Though Jews had
caused the riots, Jason had to post the bail (Acts 17:9).
Pagans persecuted Christians because they, as
Christ’s followers, rejected the veneer of false religion that covered the
economic, cultural, and political life of that society.
The rioters in Thessalonica were correct: “These that have truned the
world upside down are come hither also.”5
Christian preaching was always a threat to some
group’s livelihood. In Philippi
Paul and Silas cast a “spirit or prediction” out of a slave girl (16:16-19,
HCSB), they seized Paul and Silas and marched them to the authorities for
Ephesus, which was the center of worship of the goddess Diana,
attracted thousands of tourists and worshipers.
The local merchants had a thriving trade in tourist trinkets and silver
replicas of the Temple of Diana (also called Artemis).
A problem arose because Paul was too successful in gaining converts
(19:1-41). The silversmiths and
other craftsmen feared that the growth of this new imageless faith was a threat
both to their livelihood and their religion.
They rioted; caused great public disturbance; and almost lynched Paul’s
helpers, Gaius and Aristarchus. Finally,
the magistrate was able to calm and then dismiss the disorderly crowd.
Paul wisely heeded the advice not to appear in public, and later quietly
left town. These Christians were
persecuted because their faith threatened the economic well-being of certain
By AD 64, government officials and pagan men on
the street alike recognized Christianity as a separate, yet suspect religion.
Christians had become numerous enough that some people saw them as being
a subversive threat.
Everything Christians did was counter-cultural to almost everything in
pagan society. By rejecting idol
worship and denying the reality of local deities, believers excluded themselves
from the civic life of their cities. They
would not attend public festivals that honored these gods nor would they
participate as local magistrates and priests—each of which was as much a
religious as a civic responsibility. Their
practices of sharing their goods and of remaining celibate ran against common
mores. A “tolerant” society that
expected everyone to live according to the cultural norms was repulsed by the
Christians’ adamant refusal to do so.7
Christian religious practice also seemed antisocial.
Their secret meetings in secluded places at odd hours caused some to
think they were plotting against society. Because
they spoke figuratively about drinking Christ’s blood and eating His flesh,
literal-minded pagans thought they were cannibals.
The practice of sharing a holy kiss between Christian brothers and
sisters at communion gave rise to whispers of incest.8
Pastor Clement of Rome writing about AD 94 remembered this
anti-Christian anger as “envy and jealousy.”
This jealousy led to the torture and death of Christians of all stations.
Persons carrying out vigilante “justice” persecuted believers like
the Danaids and Dircae (figurative terms for certain women who were martyred
because of their faith). Clement
tells us that “after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments,
[they] finished their course of faith with steadfastness.”9
Roman historians disliked Christians.
Tacitus (AD 55-120) reported they were “hated for their
(ca. 70-140) said they were “a class of men given to a new and mischievous
later, church father Tertullian (ca. 150-222) recalled that in times of national
anxiety, catastrophe, or raging inflation the mob would make Christians the
scapegoats. Inevitably someone would
raise the city, “Throw the Christians to the lions!”, as if that
would cure everything.12
The Roman government was at first indifferent
to Christians, but over time came to see them as atheistic threats to the
essential fabric of the Roman state. Nero
was the first emperor to persecute them. He
blamed them for the great Roman fire of AD 64, and punished them with ferocity
for the trumped-up charge of “hatred of mankind.”
He had them draped with animal skins and thrown to fierce dogs to be torn
apart. He crucified them or coated
them in tar and lit them to illuminate his garden at night.
Both Peter and Paul were martyred at this time.
This first imperial persecution was limited to Rome and lasted only a
Official persecutions receded into the background because of Roman
political upheavals and civil wars for the next 30 years or so.
The next such persecution occurred from 91-96 specifically in Rome and
Asia Minor. The emperor Domitian
declared himself a god equal to other Roman gods.
He had large statues of himself set up all over the empire and demanded
that each citizen offer obeisance to him at least once a year.
People who failed to honor his deity, including close relatives, were
killed outright. Christians, of
course, flatly refused to worship anyone other than Christ and thus faced
Following Christ in those first days of belief was no easy adventure.
It was a choice many made with the full knowledge of its difficulty.
The discomfort and pain were real, as both the neighbors and the
government persecuted believers. Because
Paul had set the example, however, all could sing, “We are more than
victorious through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37, HCSB).
About AD 54-59, Harold S. Songer, “Romans, Book
of” in The Holman Bible Dictionary (HBD),
general ed. Trent C. Butler (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 1991),
Heinrich Schlier, “Θλίβω
afflict, thlipsis, tribulation) in Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, ed. and trans. Geoffrey
W. Bromiley, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 143-48.
See also J. Vernon McGee, Reasoning
Through Romans, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible
Books, 1973), 155.
“Lucius Vitellius,” Livius.org [online;
accessed 04 October 2010]. Available
from the Internet: www.livi-us.org/rome.html;
Bo Reicke, The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible From 500 BC to AD 100 (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1968), 191-92.
Suetonius, “Lives of the Twelve Caesars:
Claudius 25,” quoted in C. K. Barrett, ed., The
New Testament Background: Selected Documents (New York: Harper and Row,
Publishers, 1961), 14.
Acts 17:6, KJV.
Acts 19:21—20:3; “Demetrius” in HBC, 352;
Mitchell G. Reddish, “Ephesus” in HBD, 424-28.
Arthur E. R. Boak & William G. Sinnigen, A
History of Rome to AD 565 (New York: Macmillan, 1965), 399; “Christian
Persecution,” UNRV History [online; accessed 21 July 2010].
Available from the Internet:
“Christian Persecution,” UNRV History
[online; accessed 21 July 2010]. Available from the Internet: www.unrv.com.
Clement of Rome, 1 Clement 5-6,
trans. Roberts-Donaldson. Early
Christian Writings [online; accessed 30 August 2010]. Available from the
Tacitus, Annals 15.44, in
Barrett, The New Testament Background:
Selected Documents, 15-16.
Suetonius, Nero 16, in Barrett,
The New Testament Background: Selected
Tertullian Apology 40.
Tacitus, Annals 15.44, in
Barrett, The New Testament Background:
Selected Documents, 15-16.
By Mark R.
Mark R. Dunn
is pastor of Crestview Baptist Church and adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist
University, both in Dallas, Texas.
OF THE INTERNET
This is the last page.
for visiting The End of the Internet.
There are no
You must now
turn off your computer
and go do
something productive . . .
Go read a
book, for Pete’s sake.”
while browsing online recently. Though
meant to produce a chuckle, these words, if true, would be devastating to many
Internet addicts. The suggestion to
do something productive, like reading a book, is intriguing.
The essential book to read is, of course, the Bible.
Its message regarding the end of time is far too important to ignore.
Innocently the suggestion above refers to “Pete;” ironically the
Apostle wrote: “Now the end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4:7)1 and had some productive suggestions to do before
is the theological study of “the end of all things.”
Eschatology presents the last category of theological inquiry, following
the grand doctrines of God, man, Christ, salvation, and the church.
As a discipline, eschatology points to a future time when history will be
changed so radically that a new state of reality must be described.2
includes individual concerns such as death, judgment, resurrection, and
afterlife, as well as cosmic concerns such as the end of history and the
transformation of the world.3
Among these issues, judgment is the central biblical concern.
Judgment looms as God’s final act in this era.
Peter taught that God’s pending judgment has grand implications for
life prior to the end of time. God’s
judgment will be serious for all and devastating for many.
From a biblical perspective, the impact of God’s judgment on one’s
life cannot be overstated. Thus
judgment is the most compelling reason to have godly productivity in one’s
earthly life. This expresses the
core of Peter’s eschatological message.
coverage of eschatological concerns is not exhaustive, yet both Petrine Letters
are saturated by an eschatological outlook.4
Peter crafted his epistles to
encourage readers to pursue the lofty goal of persistent righteous living
despite suffering persecution and enduring the scornful pressure of false
brethren. To encourage his readers,
Peter appealed to eschatological hope. Peter
showed that a basic eschatological understanding answers present challenges—to
the pursuit of righteousness and faith.
his letters Paul affirmed that things will not always be as they are.
Though the promised end of the age seems distant, 1 Peter 4:7 declares
its nearness—vindication and
judgment approach. God’s people
must anticipate the arrival of the end. In
his first epistle, Peter lightly referenced this teaching.
But responding to continued suffering, Peter’s Second Letter vividly
explains more about the approaching end of the world.
declaration “the end of all things is near” appears amid his discussion of
Christian suffering in a world saturated with immorality.
His remarkable statement implies that Christian suffering will soon
disappear. It follows the
announcement in 1 Peter 4:5 that the abusers of Peter’s readers will answer to
the judge of the living and the dead. Thus
judgment, the core eschatological theme, prompted Peter’s declaration that the
end of all things is near.
any biblical promise can be thought of as “near” is a troublesome concept
for many. Peter stated that scoffers
brazenly declare that life continues as it has since creation (2 Pet. 3:3-4).
How does one handle the concept of time when discussing its ending?
Peter asserted that God does not evaluate timing as humans do: one day
has the significance of 1,000 years and vice versa (v. 8; see Ps. 90:4).
This is hardly a concession to the skeptics.
God does not watch the clock and neither must His followers.
Far more important to God is human development.
Peter’s eschatological emphasis rests on how his readers should
productively use their earthly lifetimes and the end approaches.
declared the nearness of God’s kingdom in His ministry (Matt. 4:17; 10:7; Mark
1:15; Luke 10:9-11; 21:28-31). John
the Baptist made the same declaration (Matt. 3:2).
Paul asserted that salvation was now
nearer (Rom. 13:11). James
proclaimed that the Lord’s coming is near (5:8).
John twice stated that the prophesied events in Revelation were near
(Rev. 1:3; 22:10). Each of these
authors used the same wording as 1 Peter 4:7, showing the pervasive New
Testament witness that the end is eschatologically near.
Testament prophecy also refers to the proximity of eschatological events that
are distant in human terms.5
The end of time, with its dreadful events, influences present living
because of its certainty. Though
still future, its uncertain timing simply makes it too close for comfort.
Thus the prophets called people to repentance and holy living.
Both of these emphases appear among Peter’s
eschatological remarks. First,
Peter, a master at preaching repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19-20), gave the clearest
biblical explanation in 2 Peter 3:9 of the seeming delay in the end of time: God
has paused so people will have an opportunity to repent.
The final judgment will destroy ungodly people (v. 7).
People will have no chance for repentance after judgment.
Therefore, God delays. Second, Peter saturated his epistles with the word “holy,”6
quoting Moses’ command to be holy (Lev. 11:44-45) and appealing for holy
living at the climax of his description of events at the end of time (2 Pet.
Peter discussed the timing of the end.
He asserted it would come as a thief (v. 10)—sudden and unexpected.8
He acknowledged that its coming is both near and delayed.
His insistence on the unexpected nature of its arrival emphasizes the
biblical concern for human progress toward repentance and life transformation.
Heaven refuses to subject its spiritual objectives to the human demand
for time tables. Thus Peter
seriously taught that although the end is delayed, it is near and thus could
happen any time.
warn against complacency, Peter vividly painted “the end of all things” in 2
Peter 3:10-12. Fierce judgment is
portrayed by apocalyptic conflagration. The
heavens disappear with a “loud noise”—the “whizzing sound of rapid
motion through the air like the flight of a bird, thunder, fierce flame”9—resulting
from the countless elements of the universe exploding into nothingness.
Some think the word “heavens” refers to the sky and outer space;10
others see a reference to the unseen spiritual realm,11 governing human life in
this world. The word
“elements” is also vague, referring to the physical universe beyond the
earth in verse 10, but including the earth in verse 12 because a new earth is
needed in verse 13. The apocalyptic
vision is meant to be both vague and vivid to enhance the emphasis on judgment:
Earth has lost its covering—it is now exposed to the judgment that has drawn
near12—nothing hides its
occupants from the searching eyes of the judge.
is the tool of God’s judgment. Jesus
often spoke of fiery judgment (Matt. 13:40; 25:41; Mark 9:43-48; John 15:6).
The Old Testament had portrayed fire as a tool God used to bring judgment
and to purify sinfulness and uncleanness (Lev. 10:1-3; Isa. 6:5-7; 66:24).
The cosmic conflagration first burns away all elements to disclose the
works of humankind. Thus in an
apocalyptic flash, judgment faces humankind.
Peter revealed two important signs of the approach of the end (2 Pet. 3:1-9).
First, scoffers will challenge the truthfulness of Christ’s promised
return as Judge. Another sign is
people would ignore the significance of God’s Word.
By God’s spoken word, this world was created.
All who live benefit from God’s creative word.
By God’s word, the world was judged in Noah’s day.
God’s tool of judgment was water, an element of creation.
Now God’s Word promises the end of all things by fiery judgment.
Those who scoff at and ignore God’s Word will be unprepared when the
final day comes.
greatest contribution to eschatological study was his discussion of
eschatological ethics. First Peter
4:7-11 provides four exhortations about how to live as God’s people in light
of the approaching end. Prayer tops
the list, keeping open the vital link with the Lord and providing wisdom for
facing suffering and preparing for judgment.
Next, Peter told his readers to love others.
Christian love encourages the saints and answers worldly hostility.
Peter then commanded hospitality, echoing Jesus’ command to go the
extra mile even in the face of persecution.
Finally, Peter encouraged the use of spiritual gifts to serve others.
Instead of their watching the clock until the end of the age, Peter
wanted his readers to live for Christ among people whose empty lives were
getting alarmingly short.13
describing the end, Peter discussed essential actions dictated by the approach
of the end (2 Pet. 3:14-18). Believers
must live in peace with God and pursue pure living.
The believer’s objective is to be found spotless on the day the Lord
returns. Peter also warned his
readers to be on guard to avoid being carried away by immorality into spiritual
uncertainty. Above all, believers
must grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter’s final eschatological teaching was to glorify
Christ. The purpose of all
eschatological activity is God’s glory. God’s
followers must reflect the character of the coming final events.
The gospel message, Christ’s followers, and eschatological passages
have one goal: to glorify the risen Lord who has promised to return to receive
His children and judge the living and the dead.
All Scripture quotations are from the Holman Christian
See “Eschatology” in The
Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD), Freedman, ed., vol. 2 (New York: Doubleday,
Aune, “Early Christian Eschatology,” ABD, 594.
Davids, The First
Epistle of Peter (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1990), 15; Ericson, “Peter, Second, Theology of” in Baker
Theological Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 606.
See Isaiah 13:6,9; 19:19; 46:13; 51:5; Jeremiah 48:16;
Ezekiel 7:7; 12:23; 22:4; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1; 3:14; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah
1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:1.
Holiness was consistently on Peter’s mind; he used the
word “holy” 13 times in his 2 epistles.
The build-up to this climactic statement follows the
epattern of Peter’s speeches in Acts 2—3.
Jesus (Matt. 24:42-44; Luke 12:39-40), Paul (1 Thess.
5:2), and John (Rev. 3:3; 16:15) used the figure of a thief to describe the
unexpected return of the Lord.
Pictures in the New Testament, vol. vi (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933),
Green, The Second
Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1984), 137; Kistemaker, Exposition
of James, Epistles of John, Peter, and Jude in New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 336.
Moo, 2 Peter and
Jude in The NIV Application Commentary
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 189.
See especially Isaiah 21:1-3.
See also Job 20:27-28; Psalm 18:15; Isaiah 47:3; 57:12; Jeremiah 49:10;
Ezekiel 16:36-42,57-58; Hosea 2:2-3; Matthew 10:26; Luke 12:2; Ephesus 5:13;
McKnight, 1 Peter
in The NIV Application Commentary
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 237-239.
SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay
Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234;
Vol. 40, No. 1; Fall 2013.
What Is The Answer
To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? (08/03/14) Who
wanted most to live in the house of the Lord all the days of his life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple?
Answer next week:
The answer to last
week’s trivia question: (07/27/14) Which
honorable counselor was waiting for the Kingdom of God? Answer: Joseph of Arimathea; Mark 15:43.