We are doing an Expository Teaching of the entire Book of 1st Peter because this Book is so completely relevant to us exactly where we are in our society today. Written to Jew and Gentile Christians alike just 30 years after Jesus' Death and Resurrection, as many Christians fled Jerusalem and surrounding areas due to the intensifying persecution there—only to be unaccepted and persecuted where ever they traveled to escape.
This letter was written by Peter to the Christians who fled to five Roman provinces in Asia Minor, or present-day Turkey. Their welcome was not warm and accepting, and immediately the culture began to reject and mistreat them. At the time of the Letter they were in the early stages of this persecution. The Roman Government, though tolerant of many religions, viewed Christians—as did the public at large—as rebellious, hateful, arrogant, and judgmental for trying to live a Holy Life to Christ. Angry because Christians would not worship Roman gods or swear allegiance to the Emperor or participate in the debauchery of society. False rumors spread of Christians' so-called abominations, saying they ate the body and drank the blood of their God and had incestuous relations with one another in love-fests. As persecution progressed over the years to come, Christians were lied about, accused of crimes falsely and imprisoned, mistreated, and unaccepted in society, and eventually executed in extreme numbers for declaring their faith in this very area to which Peter wrote his Epistle. And to these people, in these early stages of false accusations, societal rejection, and growing hatred—much like the trend today—as Christians who realized they did not truly fit in anywhere, Peter wrote with the intentions of helping them understand their True Identity—who they were in Christ; the reality behind this seemingly dark situation in which they found themselves; the true mission behind the craziness and troubled times; and the awesome, sacred torch they carried from generations past. We need to realize two very important things as we delve deeper into this Epistle or any Epistle in the New Testament: 1) these Books are not like most of the OT Books we have studied because each one was written carefully with a single purpose, communicating a theme, goal, idea; and they are most powerfully studied as a whole like we are doing now. 2) it was a major undertaking to get a letter like this to even one recipient, much less five. The letter was carried hundreds of miles over sea and land, by a personal messenger, devoted to this task for weeks, or months, taking much time, risk and expense. This letter, may very well have been carried by Silvanus—another calling of the name, Silas (the one who traveled with a Paul and was arrested, beaten and imprisoned with him in Philipp). Silas was the secretary for Peter as this letter was written. With such care, time, and expense given for a single letter, you can be assured that Peter agonized over every thought and word communicated. There were no idle or flippant thoughts in his message because these letters were read, preached, and taught by for long periods of time as their only new source of the Word. We should give the same great care and attention to each word and idea written, knowing nothing was flippant or wasteful in its creation.
Because Chapter Two begins with a "Therefore...", we must look again at the end of Chapter One to see what the "Therefore", is there for? 1 Peter 1:22-25: Peter set the stage in by helping these persecuted Christians focus on who they were and what their purpose was in Christ. Now, at the end of this Chapter, and into the next, he focused on what their relationships should be with God, and with one another through the trials they were experiencing. And how they should live as "Pilgrims" in a foreign land, saying, "Since you have obeyed God's Truth and become His, Love one another powerfully!" Because you have been changed by an eternal word, and because our lives are faulty, frail and temporary here on earth, we are to spend our days following these eternal truths. 1 Peter 2:1-3: Knowing these Christians came from a sinful background themselves and were surrounded by a spiteful, selfish, pleasure-driven society, Peter knows these traits are embedded into their minds and hearts deeply. He begins by telling them of all the things they need to consciously purge themselves to love as Christ loves. Take this message with the utmost sincerity today, knowing that we are under the same influence from the world around us. We surely need this message just as much right now. Let's look at this list honestly and thoughtfully, because most Christians read over this list casually and thoughtlessly, never truly applying the intent of the words to their own lives. Every one of these issues listed has the common origin of "secret sin"—matters sprouting from the hidden condition of the heart, even when we "play Christian" on the outside. "Laying aside all malice…" (Feelings of dislike so intense, it demands and desires action against them. Lashing out, destroying reputation, suffering loss, hurting emotionally, physically, legally or materially). [We see this in society all around us. If we offend someone, threaten their status, even simply disagree with them—there is no agreeing to disagree, no loving through differences. The world is ready to be done with us, destroy us, punish us, watch us pay for our evil ways—silence us.] [Don't think we as Christians are immune to this attitude for a moment. How often have you wished someone would suffer failure, hard times or mishaps, because you were angry with them? How many times have you even refused to show compassion or forgiveness unless they suffered for their wrongs first? Stop fooling yourself; stop justifying your feelings because you were done wrong. This is never an acceptable attitude. It is one thing to want someone's wrong doings stopped, or to want someone to become broken before God and repent. But it is pure selfishness and arrogance that hopes someone will be hurt or humiliated because "they deserve it”. If we are really trying to serve Christ—really trying to love as He loves, care as He cares—it is all a matter of the heart. Our goal, our desire should be to see them changed; to see them forgiven and loved—not destroyed or rejected.]
"Laying aside all deceit..." Often, we as "Christians" condemn telling lies, but we will leave out parts of the whole truth or twist our words with the objective of deception and then play lawyer with our defense later. As long as we can "technically" say we didn't actually lie, we justify that we were still being honest. This again, is a matter of the heart. If the desire and goal was to deceive someone from truth, the sin of lying has occurred. Another way we do this is by letting someone believe a lie simply because you remain silent. To take on the appearance of ignorance or innocence when in fact you know truth, or are guilty of wrong is to pretend.
Hypocrite. If our heart is right, we should be compelled to honesty, no matter the consequences, not compelled to act out innocence and righteousness. This will show our love and respect for another over our desire to protect ourselves and our reputation. If we love as Christ, our goal is to be known as trustworthy and dependable; and most of all, to be close to, and in good standings with our God. Complete honesty shows that we care for others more than self and allows our yes to be yes and our no to be no. You should never have to pin a Christian to the wall with 20 questions to get the real truth. Lying, deceiving, acting innocent in hypocrisy, are all gateways which enable many other sins. Meaning, if we know we can hide something in deception, we will be tempted to go through with things we may otherwise resist. But if we are compelled to remain honest and true, it will often deter us from unwanted acts. Rather than playing legalistic games in truth; rather than finding ways to act and look righteous in hypocrisy—try striving to really be honest and sinless from the heart. Your goal is to please God is to live righteously before Him—not just look blameless outwardly. Try actually turning from the world's ways rather than hiding in them.
"Laying aside all envy..." This one sin brings so much anxiety, depression, strife and division into our lives and our churches. The sin of envy completely consumes the thoughts, decisions and moods of many Christians daily. Tainting their every action and decision; justifying sinful acts (stealing, lying, adultery...), causing them to make choices based on bitterness or competition, rather than in their need or calling; causing them to speak evil or slander others in their jealousy because if they can't have it, achieve it, or enjoy it, they will be sure to bring those down who do. They will ruin, expose or stop any who seem to get more or get way with more. Eventually making their heart dark and cynical until it becomes their mode of thinking all of the time—completely revolving around self. Again, the root cause stems from the hidden condition of the heart. Envy can only take root when we have lost all focus or care for what God wants, expects, plans or thinks of us; for what He is doing in our lives to draw us near, grow us, to use us to do his will in a unique way. And instead we focus on “I/my/me”. Do you want an instant and total freedom from envy? It is revealed to Peter when Jesus meets him that faithful morning by the campfire after His resurrection, and He forgives Peter for his sin of denying Christ three times. Jesus tells Peter to now "Follow Him" in His calling to feed the sheep. And Jesus tells him that one day he would have to suffer a martyr's death for Him. Peter, even after all his failures, turned to look at John—whom he knew Jesus also loved dearly—and in a moment of envy, Peter wanted to know if John would be used the same? Have to suffer this same fate? And this was the response: John 21:20-22. And Peter heeded those words, focusing on Jesus' calling for entire his life from that moment onward. Do not compare yourself to one more person on earth again. Focus on what God has called you to do rather than ruining your life chasing the plans or blessings of another. Pour yourself into His plan for your life to excel where He places you; to be what He wants you to be. There you will find purpose and contentment like no other place. It is your special purpose like no other. And then be content and thankful in what He has given you. There is more joy in walking with God where He called you, with what He has given you—much or little—than in anything you could attain in the emptiness without Him. He is the joy. A life lived for Him is the treasure. It’s not what others think or what they have (many very blessed, rich, successful people are miserable). John 4:32-34.
Peter writes to those Christians living in a dark, godless society which ridicules, harasses and judges them for their faith. And he says to them, rather than worrying about what they are saying and doing to you; rather than worrying about what you suffer or miss out on in life: Worry about how much of their very heart you still carry as my children; worry about how you love and treat one another within the Family of Christ; learn to look no further than my love, my calling, my purpose as your purpose, your identity, your success, your reason for joy. And let your thankfulness come from knowing that I will be near to you. I will use your life like I use no other person in history. After Peter had reminded them of who they were in Christ, this was his starting place—for teaching them how to survive in the fallen, hostile world around them, as it should be for us here today. Start by working to change your heart and mind from the ways of the world, rather than simply hiding them in your heart; through lies, deceit, jealousy and anger—being inwardly devoured and controlled by them. Start by finding joy and success based upon a completely different standard from the world. Start by creating real love, support and unity within this body of believers that is different from the world.
If we don’t start here—if we don’t start by honestly and passionately changing the hidden intent of our hearts from the ways of the world—we won't have to worry about resisting the hostility of the world. We will soon join with them anyway. And we certainly won't change or help the world because they will never truly see Him in us. These are the direct Commands from God to a family of believers living exactly where we are today. Evaluate yourself by them. Act according to them. Live them out in our day. Because He is worth it; because He is our whole purpose—not this world. Even if you become
an Enemy of the State.
Looking for something specific? Use our search bar below