The First Letter of St Peter the Apostle.
Live Exemplary Lives.
3. Make sure there are no grounds for any accusations brought against you. (Christians in Peter’s day had to live down unsavoury rumours that they practiced incest, held sexual orgies – even that they were cannibals.) Obey the civil authorities. (Peter writes this with Nero ruling the empire!)
1 Peter 2:11-17.
Christ Endured Suffering.
4. Slaves, harshly treated, find their model in Christ, who endured undeserved suffering without threat or argument in his own defence. As God, ‘the righteous Judge’, brought blessing for all from the suffering of Jesus, so he will bless those who suffer because they want to do his will.
1 Peter 2:18-25.
Husbands and Wives Are Equal.
5. Wives, too, are to submit to their husbands’ authority, and win over unbelieving husbands by their conduct. They are to take as their examples, not fashion models, but women of faith – women like the matriarch Sarah, who radiate inner beauty. They are not only to live good lives, but to be free of fear and worry. Christian husbands, for their part, will show consideration to their wives. In terms of God’s gift of new life, husbands and wives are equals. A good relationship is vital, not only for their happiness but for spiritual health too, for prayer withers in an atmosphere of friction. 1 Peter 3:1-7
Pay Back Good for Evil.
6. Be loving, be kind, be humble. Pay back good for evil. Do good: keep a clear conscience. There is no need to be anxious or afraid. It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong. Christ suffered death, the blameless for the guilty, in order to bring us to God. The risen Jesus, now at God’s right hand, enables us to stand before him in good conscience, washed clean of sin. 1 Peter 3:8-22.
When Suffering Comes.
7. Peter anticipates a time of suffering and persecution for his readers. When it comes, they will need to be ready – level-headed, alert, prayerful and unfailingly loving to others. The life of the past is done with. Now each of Christ’s followers is given grace for some special service. It should come as no surprise to Christians to suffer for Christ’s sake. It is a cause for joy, not discouragement! Christ’s suffering led to glory – a glory Christ’s faithful followers will share. 1 Peter 4:1-19.
For the Ministry.
8. As a leader himself – and a witness of the crucifixion – Peter appeals for a real ‘shepherd spirit’ in all church leaders. The younger people must respect their authority. Christians need to acquire a genuinely humble spirit. They also need stout hearts to face formidable and unrelenting opposition. But God never ceases to be concerned for his people. Suffering is only for a little time: God’s strength and power are endless.
1 Peter 5:1-14.
The Second Letter of St Peter The Apostle.
Knowing God and the Truth.
1. God’s purpose for his people is that they should come to share his own nature and character – nothing less. So to faith must be added other qualities. In this way knowledge of Christ is translated into action. Peter does not hesitate to refresh his reader’s memory of truth already known, especially as he sees his own death approaching. 2 Peter 1:1-15.
Sovereignty of Christ.
False Teachers and Their Fate.
3. The argument of this chapter is closely paralleled in Jude 4-16. To be forewarned is to be forearmed – so the writer warns his readers against false teachers who have already disrupted other Christian groups. They are anti-authority. They respect no one. They teach self-gratification, and their dissolute lives deny the Lord and shame his church. They trade in false hope, promising freedom from enslavement. Their punishment is certain and terrible: the rescue of God’s people is equally sure. The writer takes Old Testament examples: the flood, and the rescue of Noah; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the rescue of Lot.
2 Peter 2:1-22.
The Second Coming.
4. Years have passed and still Christ’s expected return had not happened. The created world runs on as it always has done. What then of God’s promise? There are always people ready to scoff. But God’s word, spoken through the prophets and apostles, will prove dependable. His word commands such power, it brought our whole world into being. If God ‘delays’ it is out of mercy, not weakness. There is no difference of opinion between Peter and ‘our dear brother Paul’: both speak of these matters in the same way. Of course, says Peter, we all find some of Paul’s teaching a bit hard to understand! The certainty that Jesus will come, that it could happen any day, is the strongest possible incentive to Christian living. The writer’s closing instruction is to be ready: ‘Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 3:1-18.