Studies in 1 Peter. Presentation 10. The Structure of the Book. 1v1-2 Salvation: grounded in the Godhead 1v3-5 Salvation: accomplished in their hearts 1v6-9 Salvation: confirmed by their suffering 1v10-12 Salvation: anticipated through history
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1v1-2 Salvation: grounded in the Godhead
1v3-5 Salvation: accomplished in their hearts
1v6-9 Salvation: confirmed by their suffering
1v10-12 Salvation: anticipated through history
1v13-21 Salvation: outworked in their lives
1v22-2v3 Salvation: and the Word of Truth
2v4-12 Living Stones - Chosen People
2v13-17 Submission to the State
2v18-25 Submission to Superiors
3v1-7 Wives and Husbands
3v8-17 The Believer and Suffering
3v18-22 Christ’s Victory
4v1-6 Responding to Christ’s Victory
4v7-11 Living for God
4v12-19 Suffering for Christ
5v1-11 Elders and Young Men
5v12-14 Final Greetings
Peter has exhorted his readership to disassociate themselves from their former sinful life, now in v7ff he presents the contrasting and positive qualities to be built into their life.
Instead of drunken debauchery we find that sober clear-headedness is to mark the Christian v7. Love not lust fills his heart v8. The Christian home is open for hospitality not orgies v9. And ministry replaces exploitation. v9-11.
There are three ways in which history is viewed:
1. First, we are going nowhere, human history is a roundabout. We do not learn from the past. We simply go round in circles. "I am unable to find any meaning in history." H. A. L. FISHER.
2. Secondly, the evolutionary model. History records our progress in science, technology, and political ideology. According to this view there is change for the better but there is no end in sight.
3. Thirdly, the biblical view. History is going
somewhere, it is leading somewhere. Indeed, it is being led by God the Lord of history who one day will draw a line in history and brings it
to an abrupt halt.
It is this third view that Peter reminds us of when he says 'the end of all things is near'. One day Jesus will return and he will do so as both Saviour and as Judge.
The whole of the N.T. emphasises the expectation of the Lord's return. Think too of this emphasis found in many of Jesus’ parables Mk. 13.32ff.
See also 1Cor.15.23, 1Thes. 4.15, Heb.9.28, 2Pet. 3.1-10
This recognition brings sobriety to the Christian’s use of time. ‘Self controlled’ is literally 'sober' . It is an attitude of mind which is set over against drunken delusion. It calls for watchful waiting and realistic living.
The term 'clear minded' describes a practical wisdom and it is often contrasted in Greek with the word 'mania', meaning ‘frenzy’. Knowledge of Christ's return is not to have us running around like headless chickens!
In Lk 12. 35 and 43, Jesus described the faithful servant as 'dressed ready for service' and busy as he waited for the return of his Lord.
Both ‘sobriety’ and ‘clear mindedness’ equip us for ‘prayer’. When we live in a world of delusion or run around in ever decreasing frenzied circles - like a dog chasing its tail - we are in no fit state to pray.
Notice that Peter does not think of prayer
as an automatic formal ritual or as a
means of inducing a state of ecstasy.
He sees prayer as sober, direct, thoughtful
communication with God.
Thoughtful and earnest prayer will seek
God's blessing on those whom we love
The climax of the passage is an appeal for ‘fervent love’. The word translated ‘fervent’ also means 'constant'. It describes something that is stretching. Hence stretching in terms of its depth and endurance. It sets no limits, no boundaries.
Courting couples separated by miles write many letters. One convention some adopt is to draw a little stick man
with arms outstretched at the end of the
letter, indicating there is no limit to their
love. This is the picture Peter has in
Mind here, a stretched out love [Eph 3.17-19].
It is the reach of God's love that in turn stretches
out ours. God is our heavenly physiotherapist
who helps and encourages us to stretch and
exercise the muscles of love.
Love grows as it is tested.
A parent's love is constantly tested. It has been said that, 'A toddler steps on your feet and a teenager on your heart.' Maturing children in turn may and indeed should grow in their love for their parents.
As adults they see the discipline which they received, as well as the faults and sins of their parents from a
new perspective and their love grows.
This also applies to other adult
relationships within the church family.
Love is something which God intends
to be stretched.
One of the ways in which we show our love is in our response to the sins of others. Love covers a multitude of sins cfProv 10.12. First, love will forgive the sins of others not grudgingly but generously. Do you remember Peter's question in Matt 18.21.. and the answer given in v22...? Love keeps no score of wrongs 1Cor 13.5-7.
Love also covers the sins of others
not by pretending they do not exist
but by refusing to broadcast them.
We do not hang the dirty washing
of others on the line for all to see.
We should not constantly cast up
the sins of others before their face
or in the company of others.
Love isn't merely being prepared to tolerate others while keeping them at a distance but serving them and in v9 we are
encouraged to offer others ungrudging hospitality.
In addition, we are to administer the various grace
gifts that God has given us for the common good.
Some Christian’s view spiritual gifts as a
means of self-fulfilment. They want to
discover their gifts in order to establish their
own identity. But here and elsewhere in
scripture the emphasis is not on
self-fulfilment but on serving others
and thereby bringing glory to God.
God has given a rich variety of gifts to his church. Peter does not list examples of the gifts of the Spirit here as Paul does in Rom 12.6-8 and 1 Cor.12. 7-11, 28-29, Eph. 3.11. Why? Is the reason perhaps to demonstrate that Gods grace gifts are inexhaustible? Paul's lists are not intended to be exhaustive.
Some Christians have failed to understand this and
have thought that if they did not possess one of the
listed gifts then they couldn't begin to
serve God and his people. Peter
names only two broad categories
of ministry; speaking and serving.
Behind each of these categories
the list is gloriously extensive.
The gifts that each Christian receives determines their function in serving the Lord. When Paul speaks 'of the grace given me' [Eph. 3.7] he is speaking as an apostle. This grace gift points to his office and calling. Clearly, some gifts imply some authority in the body of Christ and require public recognition. cf1 Cor. 14.37-38 Eph 4.7-13.
Gifts are discovered in service and not
through introspection. It is in service that
we discover the gifts that we have and
where they fit into church life. From
what Paul is saying in 1 Cor. 12.31 it
seems that we can desire additional
gifts but if our desire is motivated by
self-fulfilment rather than service
we will ask in vain.
Peter calls us 'stewards' or 'administrators' of grace. The term describes a servant with administrative responsibility [cf Joseph in Egypt]. The stewards office has two doors, one opens into his master’s presence to whom he is accountable, through the other door he exercises his responsibility in the house of God.
Peter may have the elders and deacons in view
since 'speaking the very words of God' have a
special reference to the shepherds of God's
flock 5.2. cf 2Cor 2.17. Preaching God's Word
is not a mechanical task. Human eloquence
without the Spirit's blessing is a waste of
breath. But by the Spirit, ministers of the
Word speak as though God were making
his appeal through us. 2 Cor.5.20.
‘Serve in the strength which God provides’v11. A reference to deacons? The word serve and deacon share the same Greek root. But the exhortation is applicable to all Christians whatever our gift and service. We are to engage in God's strength. There is the temptation to think,
“I may need the grace of God to preach
but surely not to take up the offering or
serve refreshments after the church
service for that is just a matter of rolling
up our sleeves and getting on with it”.
No! To do these things cheerfully, patiently
and ungrudgingly requires the grace of
God and only when it is done in this
spirit does it bring glory and
praise to God.