I was a bit surprised this morning when, so much of my devotional time, was focused on the writings of the Apostle Peter. Paul always seem to garner so much of our focus, but I found this mornings journey with Peter both profound and inspiring.
I do not normally don’t quote large sections of scripture. I tend to prefer to keep my quotes down to less than four verses. This article contains large sections of sequential verses, simply because I couldn’t find a place that made sense to stop.
What I have done is to break those larger segments into smaller bites and add comment with that segment. At times you will see passages outside of Peter’s text quoted where they associate with what Peter is talking about.
My hope is that by approaching the content in this manner will make the it more comfortable to read and maintain consistency as we step through some of words written by the man that Christ said of,
Matthew 16:18 (CSB)
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
1 Peter 4:1-2 (CSB)
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding — because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin — to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.
If not now, then later; all true followers of Jesus Christ will suffer percussion in one form or another. We don’t have to take Peter’s word for it; Jesus himself tells us that we are to expect persecution.
John 15:18-20 (CSB)
“If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
Our goal as followers of Christ is to emulate Him and his attributes as best we can. It is pure foolishness to think that if the world hated him, it will love us, as we take up our cross and follow him.
We are no better than our Lord and Master, so it only makes sense what Peter is telling us.
Going on with Peter’s words.
1 Peter 4:3-5 (CSB)
For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living — and they slander you. They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.
Christian’s seeking to emulate the world to allow the world to identify with us is the most ludicrous proposition possible.
Romans 12:1-2 (CSB)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
“Do not be conformed to this age (the world in which we live), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
We are to emulate Jesus, to be transformed into a likeness of Him. Not by trying to be like the world, but in shunning the world from our very existence.
1 Peter 4:6 (CSB)
For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards.
God’s standard; should be our standard. Our standard can’t be what the world sees as good, because the good of the world is pure filth in the eyes of God. Only His Son provides the example by which we can have confidence in pleasing God. Jesus is the only and correct standard for those who follow Him.
Peter was focused on the return of his Lord (The End times). He had heard like the rest of the Apostles the Master issue the Great Commission.
Mark 16:15-16 (CSB)
Then he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
I am certain of this; if Peter had written one of the Gospels he assuredly would have focused on these words of Jesus. Peter was concerned about the ‘End Times’ because he was acutely aware of the Great Commission. You see his concern here.
1 Peter 4:7 (CSB)
The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer.
“Head’s up Christians”, Peter is saying! Now is not the time to rest idle. Now is not the time to attempt to appease world and its corruption. It is time to focus on our business as Christ’s faithful and pray.
Especially note how Peter addresses this call to action. Prayer of course, is one of our mandates to begin with as followers of Jesus. Therefore, if this were a casual proclamation calling us to be focused on doing the will of Christ Jesus; he might have stopped here.
Instead he says, ‘be alert and sober-minded for prayer.’
In effect repeating the directive to pray. Not just our casual everyday recital we say over our meals. Peter is stressing that in addition to focus on obedience to Jesus, we need to be especially mindful of our prayer life as well; ‘Sober-minded’ in fact.
1 Peter 4:8-9 (CSB)
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
This is a prerequisite to the two verses to follow. Rather than simply say “While you maintain constant love for one another”, Peter elevates the importance of loving one another to something of paramount importance by saying “Above all”.
Peter drives at the same message Paul focuses on in the fifth chapter of Galatians, when he tells us that the greatest of the fruits of the Spirit is ‘love’. The significant difference here is the urgency and important of this fruit of the Spirit, especially directed to our Brothers and Sisters in the Lord.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (CSB)
Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen
Remember that ‘above all, maintain constant love’, while we apply these two verses. And we quickly see that Peter is talking about the full exercise of the gifts that we have been provided with.
“If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words”. “If anyone serves, let it be from the strengths God provides”.
This is far from the limitation of what gifts are to be use because Peter begins verse 10 with, “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others”. Not too, this is about good ‘stewardship’ as well. God gave each of us gifts and what Peter is saying is that as the day of the Lord’s return approaches we need to focus on these gifts and utilizing them to Glorify Jesus with every opportunity we can to not just the limit of our ability but empowered by the Holy Spirit acting with us with “the strength God provides”!
I want to reflect on something that Paul again also talks about related to ‘gifts’.
1 Corinthians 14:1-5 (CSB)
Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For the person who speaks in another tongue is not speaking to people but to God, since no one understands him; he speaks mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the person who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. The person who speaks in another tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. I wish all of you spoke in other tongues, but even more that you prophesied. The person who prophesies is greater than the person who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be built up.
While the crux of your attention I wanted to focus on is in the first of these five verses, I wanted to quote them all to understand the purpose of these gifts.
“Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts”, “so that the church may be built up”.
Do you see the consistency here? Leading with love. Exercising the gifts granted by God, to build up the church; the Bride of Christ. If you remember the context that Peter was speaking of he’s saying the closer, we get to the return of Christ the more focused we need to be on these things to build up His Church; His Bride; The Body!
Paul also reinforces this in the 12th verse as well.
1 Corinthians 14:12 (CSB)
So also you — since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek to excel in building up the church.
“Excel inn building up the church”! How? With the gifts that God blesses us with. Applying what fruit of the Spirit? Love!
2 Peter 1:3-4 (CSB)
His Devine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.
“By these he has given us”.
Who? Jesus! What? “Everything required for life and godliness” and “Very great and precious promises.” Why? “So that through them you may share in the Devine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world”.
That sure does not sound like conforming to the world, or trying to equate our behavior to that of the world, or our churches to the entertainment centers of the world. It simply doesn’t!
Why are we doing this? To attain the divine nature of Christ and prepaid His Bride for His return.
2 Peter 1:5-7 (CSB)
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Peter continues to exhort us, touching on the Fruits of the Spirit but going further to expand into areas such as ‘knowledge’, ‘endurance’, and ‘godliness’.
All serving to build up the church. To what end?
2 Peter 1:8-9 (CSB)
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.
To be fruitful, or as Peter phrases it, prevent you from being unfruitful. Remember the Fruits of the Spirit?
Galatians 5:22-23 (CSB)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
2 Peter 3:3-7 (CSB)
Above all, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” They deliberately overlook this: By the word of God the heavens came into being long ago and the earth was brought about from water and through water. Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded. By the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Scoffers, an interesting term. Some versions use the word ‘mockers’ instead of scoffers. In some commentaries these are considered false teachers. So, it would stand to reason that these are individuals who ridicule to tear down and replace with their teachings.
This makes sense because Peter states that “They deliberately overlook” the promises of God so that they can inject their own deceit.
The Take Away
Picking through this message that Peter is expressing in these two books and these passages what I take away from it is this:
- Peter is extremely focused on the return of our Lord.
- He stresses acting in love to all but especially our Brothers and Sisters in the Lord.
- Utilizing the Fruits of the Spirit and exercising the gifts that God bestows upon us, we are to do everything in His power (Christs power) to build the up the church, prior to His return.
- There will be persecution, as we do this and false teachers who will mock.
- But as always, we enjoy the Fruit of the Spirit and in the process developed the Devine Nature of Christ Jesus.
I must consider what Peter might have highlighted in a recount of the Gospel of Jesus if he had written one.
The apostle that denied Christ, bares a vivid contrast to the one who wrote these words. He takes seriously the words told him by our savior; “Feed my sheep!”