The First Epistle of Peter
1 Peter 1:17 Our Sojourn
Even as Israel was told by Jehovah (Lev.25:23) that the land was His and they were merely sojourners in it, so it is right for us to recognize that we too are strangers and pilgrims here and need to "sit loose" while we await His pleasure.
I think the tendency, when we read about being pilgrims, is to think more in terms of heaven being our home and that we should not become too comfortable here where our tenancy is temporary. Let us take a bit different tack. The sense both here in verse seventeen and also in verse eleven of the next chapter has to do with present behavior as noted by the context which stresses conversation which is Old English for the way you busy yourself. (See 1 Tim.3:15 for a different translation of the word.)
Going back to the passage in Leviticus and the concept of the people being only tenants
may help us to understand the sense of the word "fear" in our verse. We own nothing and owe God everything. He is such a gracious Landlord, giving us tremendous privileges, so much so that we often forget that we are His vassals or liegemen. Should we abuse our tenancy we stand to experience His displeasure (Matt. 25:27 -30). This is certainly not to imply that we will lose our salvation but the sense of loss and failure will be great, hence we should "pass the time of (our) sojourning here in fear."
1 Peter 2:20 An Acceptable Sacrifice
One of the sins that we are positionally dead to is that of retaliation. When we are tempted to walk in the flesh and react as do most men (1 Cor.3:3), let us confess that tendency as sin (part of our Adamic bent) and, reckoning ourselves dead to it, (for we certainly are according to Romans 6:11), and presenting our bodies to the Lord "as those that are alive from the dead" (v.13), let us take the victory. The result of this action will reproduce the life of Christ who, "when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously". (Underlining mine)
Such was the advice of the apostle Peter to those who were in physical bondage to masters who might mistreat them.
Recently a brother shared with us about the grief he must take from his immediate superior where he works. To such a one this word breathes the air of heaven into an otherwise extremely unpleasant situation. How good to hear the word "this is acceptable with God" and to know that it is a part of our calling to experience such treatment. It brings to mind a verse like Col.1:24 but since we are here in 1 Peter, see his words in chapter four verse thirteen. In fact, we note the thread of this teaching winding its way all through this little book, so lets not fail to observe it and profit from it.
1 Peter 3: 1 The Life that Wins
Obviously the word likewise goes back to the passage in chapter two regarding servants which begins with verse eighteen. The subject is submission and one that both Peter and Paul felt strongly about. (Note Paul's thoughts beginning in Ephesians 5:21 and following.) Here the thought is especially directed to women with unsaved husbands of whom, unfortunately, there are many in our churches these days. It is, therefore, a very appropriate subject and while it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, most of us can think about some we know to whom it does apply and we can pray for them that they will handle the problem in a scriptural manner.
Again we see, attached to this subject, the word conversation which, we are reminded, refers to one's behavior rather than, though perhaps including, one's speech. Interestingly the phrase "without the word" implies again that the Bible lived out in one's daily life is a force that God uses in conversion and that we must not be always spouting verses at people. This concept is further strengthened by another verse in our currant chapter, namely verse fifteen. Observe that it is emphasized here that it is to everyone that asketh that we must be ready to give a witness. We see once again the admonition is based on the beholding of our behavior (conversation) (v.16).
Peter also likes to get after us on the subjects of meekness and fear. He reminds us of these concepts here in verse two, four and fifteen. We can also look back to 1:17 and 2:17 &18. It would seem that there is a strong connection between having a fear of God and having a meek attitude toward our fellows. It is certainly good for us to cultivate a meek and quiet spirit for it is in God's view "of great price". We know that it is a difficult price to pay for the servant (employee), the spouse, or any who may be suffering wrongfully, but if it results in someone being won it will be eternally worth it and besides, it certainly pleases the Lord so it is an attitude worth developing!
1 Peter 4:1 Armed with His Mind
If our beloved brother Peter were writing to us today as members of our respective churches there are probably some things he would stress that are similar to those in this epistle and some things that he may have left out or at least his emphasis would have been different. It is clear that the churches were suffering a great deal of persecution as evident in verses 1:6 &7; 2:19-21; 3:16-17; 4:12-17 and 5:10. In these passages, one of which we find in our present chapter, he calls his readers to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ as we note here in the first verse.
These admonitions have served believers throughout the church age and must be helpful today where there is much persecution, but as for churches in our nation at the time of this writing, it has practically no application. We suffer so little for the sake of Christ that it will only be due to the grace of God that we will be able to look our suffering brethren in the eye when at last we see them in glory. In preparation for that blessed event, to say nothing of our meeting with the Lord Jesus, let us count the wee bit of trial that we experience as very light affliction (2 Cor.4:17) and rejoice that our lines have fallen in such pleasant places.(Ps. 16:6). Conversely, there is a recurrent theme throughout this letter that is extremely appropriate for our churches these days. I speak of that seen in verse eight. If we might look back, we should see this in each preceding chapter viz. 1:22; 2:17 and 3:8. It is that we are to have fervent love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. This love will demonstrate itself by our attitude of submission to one another (5:5); our readiness to "cover sins"(4:8); our compassionate and courteous speech (3:8-11) and finally our ungrudging hospitality toward one another as emphasized in this chapter. These excellent alalone Gr. for "one another"), Petrine passages are wonderful additions to the many Pauline occurrences of the word. In total there are over fifty in the N.T.!
1 Peter 5:5 The Garment of Humility
We should note from this verse taken together with the next and especially is view of the
word therefore found in it, that there is a distinct relationship between "humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God" and being "subject one to another." This should not surprise us in that the principle is the same as the one found in 1 John where we are clearly taught that our love for God is measured by our love for our brother (4:20). So we might conclude, if we say we are in submission to God and yet not submit to one another that we are liars as John so boldly states.
Probably some might wonder in all practicality, exactly how we are to submit to one another. I hasten to make the point that we have not hardly begun to do so if we are not a part of a local assembly. If anything would convince us that saying we belong to the universal church and do not need to be a part of a local body of believers is wrong, it should be passages like this! It is impossible for elders to take "the oversight" of a particular flock unless there is a willingness on the part of individual sheep to submit to them. The next step is to realize that even being a member of a local church is , in a sense, to be in submission to the other members. It is those members who will be charged with the responsibility of disciplining us if need be (1 Cor. 5: 4&5 ). In decision making, we are called upon to submit to a majority vote in the congregation. How well do we wear the clothes of humility? Going back to our original thought, it is not possible to be submitted to God and at the same time be unwilling to submit to our brethren. The Greek voice of the words in v.6 "humble yourselves" is passive and might read "be humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God" and we might add, we should not expect His blessing if we are not willing to do the former (v.5). Rather, God will definitely resist those who do not go this route. And sometimes we wonder why things don't go better for us. Do we perhaps have blinders on when we read such passages?