John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap-
...
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7.20.14.active.faith.1.pet.1.cont. commentary

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1 Peter 1 Continued. Commentary

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7.20.14.active.faith.1.pet.1.cont. commentary

  1. 1. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 1 July 20, 2014. Session 8—Active Faith. Commentary. 1 Peter 1:14-19,22-25 The Point: Live a life that is set apart for God. The Bible Meets Life: We all want to be accepted by others. This explains our tendency to follow trends and what’s “in” at the moment. While many trends are amoral (neither good nor bad in a spiritual, moral, or ethi- cal sense), our desire to be as others can lead us to compromise or to lose our distinctiveness as followers of Christ. God calls us to holiness—to live separate and distinctive lives, set apart from what the world calls us to do. The Setting: Peter sought to encourage persecuted first-century believers by emphasizing to them their call to holiness. They had been set apart from the lifestyles of those around them to live as reflections of holy God. Though their lives of obedience might initiate or increase persecution, Peter reminded these brothers and sisters in the Lord that this earthly life would quickly fade, but God’s call for holiness would endure for- ever. A Demand for Holiness (1 Pet 1:13-2:3) Peter explained that the character of God and the high cost of redemption were incentives to produce holi- ness in his readers. He also demanded that holiness show itself in earnest love for other believers and in a forsaking of all malicious attitudes. Peter’s words are equivalent to saying, “Roll up your sleeves and go to work." He mentioned that the return of Jesus Christ was to give them hope and stability in the face of persecution. Christians would show their response to God’s holiness by leaving the “evil desires” of their past ignorance (v. 14) and by adopting God’s own behavior as their pattern. In 1:17-21 Peter indicated that a proper reverence for God and an appreciation of the high cost of redemption demanded holy living. The readers would understand redemption as the freeing of a slave by paying a price. The payment that released Christians from an “empty way of life” was the “blood of Christ." Peter noted that God had determined the performance of this work of Christ before the beginning of time. He had only re- cently made His plan evident in the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of Jesus (v. 20). Peter urged his readers to express their holiness by genuine love for one another (1:22-25). The quotation of Isaiah 40:6-8 (vv. 24-25) showed that the experience of this love came from the creative activity of God. Peter directed his readers to put aside malice and hypocrisy in their response to God’s holiness (2:1-3). He also encouraged them to grow as believers by appropriating the nurture inherent in the gospel message.
  2. 2. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 2 1 Peter 1:14-16 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. 1 [Paul also addresses this same subject in, perhaps a more familiar passage, Romans 12:1,2. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Throughout his epistles, Paul consistently refers to the addressees, God’s people in {the region] as “holy.” James goes even further in James 1:2,3,12. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. . . . Blessed is the one who perseveres un- der trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.] KEY WORD: Holy (v. 15)—Separated or set apart for God. By nature, God is distinct, different, set apart, and holy. Similarly, believers are to live distinctly, too. Obedience is the hallmark and cardinal virtue of the Christian. God’s children, having been born again and the recipients of His inheritance (vv. 3-4), are to take on the nature of their heavenly Father, separated from evil in all that they do. It begins by not conforming to the desires of the former life. Conformed indi- cates a pattern or lifestyle that is ever changing; it is casual and fleeting. This would be like clothing fash- ions that constantly change from year to year and even season to season. Peter’s readers were not to con- form to the desires or natural appetites that do not satisfy or bring fulfillment. These desires were the bad habits that were practiced when they were unbelievers. Ignorance—lack either clear thinking or knowledge of God’s law—characterized these unholy pursuits. Ignorance of truth always leads to indul- gence, propelling a person down a path to degradation and ultimately destruction. Instead of pursuing unholy natural desires, God’s children, in order to refrain from evil, are to strive for holiness. This pursuit begins at conversion. Called is a reference to conversion. God calls or invites people to salvation. 1 Editor’s note.
  3. 3. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 3 With that summons comes the call for His people to live a distinct life of holiness, set apart from sin, striving for moral purity. Believers are to pursue this distinctive life because God, the One who called us, is holy—like Father, like child. God calls His people from sinful life to a new pattern of life found walk- ing with Him. God is the Source of all holiness. Holiness is an essential part of His nature. God is distinct, unique from all of creation. He is in a class all by Himself. He wants His people to follow His lead and His example. The command to be holy reveals that God’s people are to live differently. Holy means to be set apart, separated from sin, from the natural appetites of the pagan lifestyle, blameless, and pure. Holy also reveals that believers are not just set apart from sin; they are also set apart to God for His use and His pleasure. The temple is holy because it is different from other buildings; the Sabbath is holy because it is differ- ent from other days; the believer is being different because he or she is set apart from other people. Just as God and the things of God are set apart from all creation and from every act that is considered sinful, He calls His people to be different, to be distinct from the world. This is God’s goal for all His people. A holy person is not an odd person, but a different person. A holy person has a quality about life that is radical. The believer’s present lifestyle is not only different from the past lifestyle, but it is different from the life- styles of the unbelievers around him or her. A holy person takes Jesus Christ and His word seriously. Anything short of absolute holiness is an un- acceptable goal. God’s holiness should increasingly replace the natural desire for lust and evil appetites. A spiritual transformation takes place where our sinful character is replaced by God’s holiness. In time, be- lievers become more and more like Jesus. Why are we to be holy? The Bible commands it. Peter quoted from Leviticus (11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7,26): Be holy, because I am holy. Just as the nation of Israel was called to be holy—distinct, separated from the pagan nations around them—so God’s people are to live in a way that is distinct from the pagan cultures around us today. As God is distinct, let us as His people model our lives after God Himself. 1 Peter 1:17-19 17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. KEY WORD: Fear (v. 17)—Not terror but reverent awe or proper respect toward God in light of the respon- sibility to live holy and to live consciously of God’s judgment. Peter provided motivations for holy living. One, God will judge the believer’s works. Peter launched this motivation with the word if, provoking readers to consider whether they call God their Father. Peter knew
  4. 4. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 4 they would answer in the affirmative. Father is from Jesus’ teaching regarding the model or Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus emphasized the fatherhood of God. Interestingly, Peter mingles the tenderness of God, His love, with the toughness of God, His judgment. Judges here refers to God’s assessment of the believer’s works, not with whether the person has salvation or not. God’s calling to holiness ought to result in our holy, or good, works on our part. We are God’s children due to God’s mercy that has given us a new birth (v. 3), but our Father is an impartial judge. Impartially (rather than taking bribes or showing favoritism) was a standard and key characteristic for judges in Hebrew culture. God’s judgment will be based on each one’s work or “conduct” (v. 15). Knowing this judgment is coming, Peter urged his readers to conduct themselves in fear or reverence. The reverential person never loses sight of the fact that he or she is in God’s presence. This reverence or fear (the English phobia comes from the Greek word used here) is not paralyzing terror but a healthy fear that prevents the believer from giving into unholy living. Believers are to live in reverential awe of a holy God who will judge their deeds. Until that judgment or during the time of your temporary residence, the believer, therefore, is to pursue holiness at all costs. This earth is not the believers’ home. They are strangers, sojourning here. Life for believers is lived in light of eternity. As long as believers are in this world, they are to conduct life with a sense of awe and reverence. Peter reminded the recipients of a second motivation for living holy: what they were. They were slaves to sin who had been set free or redeemed. The word stirred a special meaning in Peter’s readers. In history, it reminded them of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. In the present, it reminded them of individual slaves being freed. Slavery was rampant in their society. Many slaves became believers. A slave could purchase his own freedom or a friend or relative could pay the price for his freedom, thereby, setting him free. Re- demption was a precious act that liberated people. In this case, the people were liberated from their empty way of life. The former life was filled with pagan pursuits and natural appetites that failed to satisfy. This life was handed down from the fathers—generation to generation. Theirs was a cycle of sin coming from a slippery slope of selfishness that resulted in a pattern of dysfunction. The cycle had to be broken. The third motivation for living holy is that God had redeemed them by Christ’s blood. Peter not only reminded them of who they were—slaves in need of being set free; he reminded them of what Christ had done—purchased their freedom by dying on the cross. They were not redeemed with perishable things, like silver or gold. Peter reminded his readers that silver and gold are perishable, temporary, not lasting. The means of redemption was the precious blood of Christ, not money. Christ’s blood was the ransom price for their freedom. It was precious (the only means of life), not perishable. It cost the life of Jesus. Blood has always been used for atonement. When the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, blood was sprinkled on doorposts so the death angel would pass over the house, sparing the first-born. Later, the blood of the sacrificed animals on the Jewish altars made atonement for the sins of the people. Here it was Jesus’ shedding His blood for the ultimate redemp- tion of those who trust Him.
  5. 5. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 5 The shedding of blood signifies death. Jesus gave up His life to death so sinners could be saved. He was the perfect sacrifice; the lamb without defect or blemish. Identifying Jesus as a lamb would have re- minded Peter’s readers of the Old Testament practice of substitution, in which the life of an innocent vic- tim was given as a substitution for that of the guilty party. 1 Peter 1:22-25 22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the liv- ing and enduring word of God. 24 For, All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you. KEY WORDS: Word of the Lord (v. 25)—The gospel or good news that God uses to bring people new life that His people are to proclaim. God’s children are to take on God’s nature—holiness—and are to express God’s nature—love. This comes by obedience to the truth. The phrase is a synonym for conversion, a submission to the truth or the gospel. Believers long for God’s Word, seeking to live it out in complete submission to its teaching. This results in a purified life. In the Old Testament, ceremonial washings were common for people to purify themselves for spiritual or moral purposes. When one obeys God’s Word, is moved by the power of the Spirit (some manuscripts add “through the Spirit”), and purifies oneself daily, it leads to the apex of the Christian life—love. Love is the hallmark of the Christian’s conduct. Peter used two different words for love: love of the brothers () and love one another earnestly (agape). The word love (agape) describes goodwill, working for the greatest good of, valuing at the highest level. The words are used synonymously here. This love expressed in the believers’ community is characterized in three ways. One, believers’ love is sincere, meaning genuine or unhypocritical. To love sincerely is to love without false pretense, like God Himself. Second, believers are to love earnestly. Sometimes this word is translated fervently. It is an athletic term, meaning “striving with all one’s energy.”1 Believers are to love with all one’s strength reminiscent of Jesus’ great commandment (Mark 12:30). Christian love is not a matter of feeling; it is a matter of the will. To forgive, to overlook offenses, to be kind to those who have hurt you takes great will power. Third, believers are to love from a pure heart.
  6. 6. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 6 Though we often think of love in romantic or emotional terms, Peter spoke of love in practical or voli- tional terms. Real love is pure or cleansed. When holiness is pursued, God’s nature is revealed in believ- er’s hearts, healthy fear is realized, then the heart is cleansed and love is pure. Just as love must come from God, so must a pure heart. Loving others sincerely, earnestly, and with a pure heart comes from a radical conversion: since you have been born again. Obedient love is natural for believers since they possess a new nature. Children in- herit and learn from their parents. Born again means begetting anew with the focus on God who brought the new life into being. This new life comes not from perishable seed but of imperishable. The term seed is used symbolically for the pro- creation of new life. This seed is imperishable or indestructible and untainted. This new life from God’s imperishable seed stands in sharp contrast to the seed of a human father that is perishable and decaying. Even when such seed fulfills its function and produces children, they themselves will die. Those who have been born again from God’s seed will live eternally. They have the promise, hope, and certainty of eternal life. The seed is the living and enduring word of God. The word of God means all of Scripture, but espe- cially the gospel, the heart of Scripture. The word of God spoken is the means of evangelization that leads to the new life, being born again. Using the word living, Peter underscored the life-giving nature of God’s Word. Using the word endur- ing, Peter reinforced the imperishable quality of God’s seed. Peter used the word living because the Word brings life. He used the word enduring because the new life will never perish. With the Isaiah 40:6-8 quotations, Peter sought to explain his statement in verses 22-23, drawing on the Old Testament to support the claim that God’s Word is imperishable. God promised comfort to Israel. God fulfilled His promises. He delivered His people from exile. All flesh refers to people in their natural state. The people or nations of the world are like grass and their glory like a flower of the grass. All that we might take pride in from a natural or physical perspective will fade and be no more as surely as the grass withers. In the end, they cannot stand under the Lord’s judgment. Peter may have been thinking about the pagan persecutors of the day—though they appeared mighty and invincible, their persecution would be short-lived. The word of the Lord endures forever. This confirms the living and enduring (v. 23) nature of God’s Word. It will never decay or disappear. No nation, regardless of strength, and no persecutor, regardless of cruelty, can thwart God’s promises or His power. Believers have this promise and this power within as they face the enemies and attacks from without. This is the word refers to the gospel. It was preached or proclaimed. The English word evangelism comes from the word translated preached. The living and enduring word of God is the word that was preached or spoken in order to evangelize the lost.
  7. 7. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 7 Ultimately, the promises in Isaiah are fulfilled in the proclamation of the gospel or good news. The word of the Lord is synonymous with the gospel. Believers have confidence and security because of the gospel. Peter personalized his message to his readers, to you. He spoke the truth with sterling clarity. You are to be like Jesus, live holy lives. You are to live in fear and reverence to God with a deep consciousness of His presence daily. You are to evidence a holy life, set apart for and used by God through acts of love and obedience. LIVE IT OUT How can our lives point to a powerful, holy God? Consider which one of these applications God is leading you to begin this week. Take one step. Pray this week about one thing in your life you can leave behind in order to be more set apart for God. Maybe it’s a short temper, one hour of TV, or a fierce independence that prevents your seeking help when you need it. Whatever it is, commit to obeying His voice, and depend on His strength to overcome. Reflect Christ. Memorize 1 Peter 1:15. Every time you see your reflection, whether it’s in a mirror at home or in the car, or in the glass of the door of your favorite restaurant or store, remind yourself of 1 Peter 1:15. Pray silently for God to strengthen you in every situation to reflect the love and character of Jesus. Commit all to Him. As a part of your daily devotionals, make note of anything in your study that reveals God’s holiness. With this in mind, review with God your checkbook and your schedule for the day. Reflect on how your plans can glorify the Lord. Holy living is all about God’s glory, not our own. When we love and serve Him, we will love and serve others, and people will be drawn to Christ.
  8. 8. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 8 DIGGING DEEPER: Holy—That which is holy, verse 15, is that which either has a divine basis or a divine connection. Kadhash, the Hebrew word, refers almost exclusively to God throughout Scripture or to persons or things that are connected with Him. Holy is usually understood to denote separation from all that is impure and thus unholy. God alone is truly holy, and the call to holiness is the call for things or persons to be set apart for usefulness to Him. In the Old Testament, God called Israel to be holy, and that same call is given to the church in the New Testament. Though perfect holiness can never be achieved, it is nonetheless the goal for all who would follow God. Holy: Holy (v. 15, hagios) comes from a word that means “to set apart.” Peter expressed his concerned that believers live as “separated ones,” that their new lives demonstrate freedom from the passions that once dominated their former way of life. Hagios is also translated as “saint;” thus, a saint is “one set apart to God.” We become holy, set apart, or saints, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. . HOLY: A characteristic unique to God’s nature which becomes the goal for human moral character. The idea of “holy” is important for an understanding of God, of worship, and of the people of God in the Bible. Holy has four distinct meanings. First is “to be set apart.” This applies to places where God is present, like the Temple and the tabernacle, and to things and persons related to those holy places or to God Himself. Next, it means to be “perfect, transcendent, or spiritually pure, evoking adoration and reverence.” This ap- plies primarily to God, but secondarily to saints or godly people. Next, it means something or someone who evokes “veneration or awe, being frightening beyond belief.” This is clearly the application to God and is the primary meaning of “holy.” It is continued in the last definition, “filled with superhuman and potential fatal power.” This speaks of God, but also of places or things or persons which have been set apart by God’s presence. A saint is a holy person. To be sanctified is to be made holy. In the Old Testament “holy” is important in the parts related to priests and worship such as the Book of Leviticus, especially chapter 16. It is found in the prophets: Isaiah’s title for God, “the Holy One of Is- rael,” and the adoration of the Seraphim in Isaiah 6. The word is also found repeatedly in the Psalms. God is holy. Fire is the symbol of holy power. Jealousy, wrath, remoteness, cleanliness, glory, and majesty are related to it. He is unsearchable, incomprehensible, incomparable, great, wonderful, and exalted. His name is Holy. Holiness is in tension with relational personhood. Holiness tends toward separation and uniqueness. Per- sonhood determines relations and close communion. Holiness inspires awe and fear. Personhood in- spires love and the wish to be near. Both are in the Bible as necessary ways to think of and experience God. Both are necessary if one is to avoid shallow, one-sided thinking about God. Neither holiness nor personhood alone can do justice to the biblical portrayal of God. Both in their mutual tension help capture a more adequate doctrine and experience of God.
  9. 9. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 9 The biblical view combines these. Leviticus 17-25 presents all laws to be kept so that persons may be holy as God is holy. Holiness in God is seen as moral perfection in Psalm 89:35. Holiness in believing Chris- tians was attained through the cross and is to be preserved in clean and moral living. Holiness comes to imply the fullness and completeness of God and godliness in all its facets and meanings. Thus “holy” defines the godness of God. It also defines places where God is present. For the holy God to be present among His people special holy places were set apart where God and people could safely come together. The tabernacle and Temple filled this purpose. Special restrictions on access were established for the safety of the worshipers. Rules of sacrifice and cleanliness helped them prepare for this contact. A spe- cial place, the holy of holies, was completely cut off from common access. Only the high priest could en- ter there, and then only once a year after special preparation. Holy also applied to persons who were to meet God. The priests had to undergo special rites that sancti- fied and purified them for service in the Temple. God wanted all His people to share His presence. They had to be instructed in the character and actions what would accomplish that. The Holiness Code (Lev. 17- 25) commands the people to obey God’s laws in all parts of life in order to be “holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (19:2). Here holiness is seen to include a moral character as well as cultic purity. Sin and disobedience works the opposite and has to be cleansed or atoned by sacrifice (Lev. 1-7; 16). An understanding of holiness is needed for New Testament study to appreciate the cross and the results of God’s work through the cross. The Gospels make clear that Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31-35). The crucifixion is portrayed as Christ shedding His blood and giving His body for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20). Faith in Christ is portrayed as acceptance of His full atonement for sin (1 John 2:2; 3:5; Rev. 5:9). The Holy Spirit is the agent of holiness for the church and its leaders (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 5:32; 13:2-4). He keeps the church pure (Acts 5:1-11). He promotes holiness in its members (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Thess. 4:7). Christians are called to holy living (1 Cor. 1:2; 3:17). They are saints who lead godly, righteous lives. Be- ing sanctified, or made holy, is a work of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ’s atonement that calls for obedient submission from those who have been saved. Christians are holy because of their calling in Christ, because of His atonement for their sins, and because of the continual ministrations of the Holy Spirit. They are holy inasmuch as they receive and submit to these saving and sanctifying agents. Fear—Fear, verse 17, can refer to the feeling or emotion of being afraid in a moral or physical sense, but there is also the more noteworthy fear of the Lord that is seen often in Scripture. In that sense, fear is both an involuntary reaction and a divine imperative. When we fall short of God’s requirements, we may fear God’s penalty. Fear is also the response of one when he is made aware of being in the presence of God. This creates an acute awareness of one’s sinfulness.
  10. 10. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 10 In stark contrast to God’s holiness. Scripture also commands people to “fear the Lord,” which pertains to solemn reverence instead of abject terror. Fear is a healthy, appropriate, and commanded response to a perfectly pure and omnipotent God. Fear: The Greek word translated fear (v. 17, photos) can be understood in two different senses: as “fear, fright, alarm” or as “respect, awe, reverence.” While the first usage is found frequently in the New Testa- ment, in the verse the latter is more likely. Peter urged His readers to live holy lives because they stood in awe of and had the highest reverence for God as Father. FEAR: A broad range of emotions that embrace both the secular and the religious worlds. Secular fear is the natural feeling of alarm caused by the expectation of imminent danger, pain, or disaster. Religious fear appears as the result of awe and reverence toward a supreme power. Terminology: The English word “fear” is used to translate several Hebrew and Greek words. In the Old Testament, the most common word used to express fear is yir ah, which means “fear, “terror” (Isa. 7:25; Jonah 1:10, 16). In the New Testament, the word used most often to express fear is photos which means “fear,” “dread,” “terror” (Matt. 28:4; Luke 21:26). Secular Fear: Secular fear arises in the normal activities and relationships of life. Human Fear: Animals fear humans (Gen. 9:2), and humans fear the animals (Amos 3:8); individuals fear individuals (Gen. 26:7), and nations fear nations (2 Sam. 10:19). People are afraid of wars (Ex. 14:10), of their enemies (Deut. 2:4), and of subjugation (Deut. 7:18; 28:10). People are afraid of death (Gen. 32:11), of disaster (Zeph. 3:15-16), of sudden panic (Prov. 3:25), of being overtaken by adversity (Job 6:21), and of the unknown (Gen. 19:30). Fear can reflect the limitations of life (Eccl. 12:5) as well as the unforeseen consequences of actions (1 Sam. 3:15). Fear can be the regard the young owes to the aged (Job 32:6), the honor a child demonstrates toward parents (Lev. 19:3), the reverential respect of individuals toward their masters (1 Pet. 2:18), and to persons in positions of responsibilities (Rom. 13:7). Fear also can be the sense of concern for individuals (2 Cor. 11:3) as well as the respect for one’s husband (1 Pet. 3:2). Fear as consequence of sin: Fear may come from a strong realization of sin and disobedience. Man and woman were afraid after their act of disobedience (Gen. 3:10). Abimelech was afraid when he realized that he had committed an offensive act by taking the wife of Abraham to be his wife (Gen. 20:8-9). This sense of estrangement and guilt that comes as consequence of sin produces in the heart of individuals the fear of the day of the Lord because they will appear before the judgment of God (Joel 2:1). Freedom from fear: Freedom from fear comes as individuals trust in the God who protects (Ps. 23:4) and helps them (Isa. 54:14). The New Testament teaches that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Christians are no longer slaves of fear, for Christ has given them not a spirit of timidity or coward- ice, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).
  11. 11. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 11 Religious Fear: Religious fear is the human response to the presence of God. Fear of God: A prominent element in Old Testament religion is the concept of the fear of God. Most often the sense of fear comes as individuals encounter the divine in the context of revelation. When God appears to a person, the person experiences the reality of God’s holiness. This self-disclosure of God points to the vast distinction between humans and God, to the mysterious characteristic of God that at the same time attracts and repels. There is a mystery in divine holiness that causes individuals to become overwhelmed with a sense of awe and fear. They respond by falling down or kneeling in reverence and worship, confess- ing sin, and seeking God’s will (Isa. 6). God as a fearful: God The God of Israel is an awe-producing God because of His majesty, His power, His works, His transcendence, and His holiness. Yahweh is a “great and terrible God” (Neh. 1:5); He is “fearful in praises, doing wonders” (Ex. 15:11); His name is “fearful” (Deut. 28:58) and “terrible” (Ps. 99:3). The fear of God comes as people experience God in a visible manifestation (Ex. 20:18), in dreams (Gen. 28:17), in visible form (Ex. 3:6), and in His work of salvation (Isa. 41:5). God’s work, His power, majesty, and holiness evoke fear and demand acknowledgment. The fear of God is not to be understood as the dread that comes out of fear of punishment, but as the reverential regard and the awe that comes out of recognition and submission to the divine. It is the revelation of God’s will to which the believer submits in obedience. The basis for God’s relationship with Israel was the covenant. The personal relationship that came out of the covenant transformed the relationship from a sense of terror to one of respect and reverence in which trust predominated. This fear which produces awe can be seen in the worship of Israel. The Israelites were exhorted to “serve the Lord with fear” (Ps. 2:11). Fear protected Israel from taking God for granted or from presuming on His grace. Fear called to covenant obedience. Fear as obedience: Deuteronomy sets out a relationship between the fear of God and the observance of the demands of the covenant. To fear the Lord is one of the ways by which Israel expresses its obedience and loyalty to Yahweh and to His divine requirements: “and now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God re- quire of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deut. 10:12-13; compare 6:24-25; 10:20; 13:4). Fear be- comes a demand that can be learned (Deut. 17:19). Fear of God was part of the religious life of every Isra- elite, where the acknowledgment of it required a specific behavior from each individual. Fear of God was a requirement demanded from every judge (Ex. 18:21). The kings of Israel should rule in the fear of the Lord (2 Sam. 23:3); even the messianic King would live in the fear of the Lord (Isa. 11:2). To fear God was the beginning of wisdom and thus of the pathway to true life (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). “Fear not”: The expression “fear not” (also translated “do not fear” or “do not be afraid”) is an invitation to confidence and trust. When used without religious connotation (15 times), “fear not” is an expression of comfort. These words come from an individual to another providing reassurance and encouragement (Gen.
  12. 12. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 12 50:21; Ruth 3:11; Ps. 49:16). When “fear not” is used in a religious context (60 times), the words are an invitation to trust in God. These words appear in the context of the fear and terror that follows divine reve- lation. God invites His people not to be afraid of Him (Gen. 15:1; 26:24); the angel of the Lord seeks to calm an individual before a divine message is communicated (Dan. 10:12, 19; Luke 1:13, 30); a person acting as a mediator of God invites the people to trust in God (Moses, Deut. 31:6; Joshua, Josh. 10:25). The “God-fearers”: The “God-fearers” were those who were faithful to God and obeyed His command- ments (Job 1:1; Psalms 25:14; 33:18). Those who fear God are blessed (Ps. 112:1); they enjoy God’s goodness (Ps. 34:9) and God’s provision (Ps. 111:5). In the New Testament “God-fearers” became a tech- nical term for uncircumcised Gentiles who worshiped in the Jewish synagogue. Fear in the New Testament: Some Christians tend to de-emphasize the fear of God in the New Testa- ment by placing the love of God above the fear of God. There is indeed a greater emphasis on the love of God in the New Testament. However, the element of fear was part of the proclamation of the early church. Paul admonished believers to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). The early church grew in number as they lived “in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). The fear of God is related to the love of God. The revelation of God to people in the New Testament contains the element of God’s mysterious otherness calling for reverent obedience. The New Testament church stands in awe and fear in the presence of a holy God, for fear is “the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). Word of the Lord—The Greek word logos, translated word, is commonly used in reference to Scripture— the Word of the Lord. However, the word used in verse 25 is rhema, which denotes specific statements found within the Scriptures. Being the word of the Lord, it is that which is written or spoken from God, and thus is a distinct category from a mere unity of human language. The word of the Lord is holy, be- cause God is holy; it is perfect, because God is perfect; it is eternal, because God is eternal. As it is from God, His Word is to be read, understood, obeyed, and communicated. It is to be heeded immediately and followed thoroughly. Above all, it is to be adored, for it is the Word of the Lord that conveys His message of salvation. Word of the Lord: Word in verse 25 is not the more familiar Greek term logos that Peter used in verse 23. This term is rhema, a word that means “that which has been or is being uttered; speech, discourse.” In this setting the two Greek words are synonymous. That it is the word of the Lord speaks of its source. May Bible teachers equate Peter’s use of the word of the Lord with the gospel in this same verse.
  13. 13. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 13 ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING: Holy A Word Study By Francis X Kimmitt, vice president for academic services and dean of the School of Theology and Min- istry at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee. IN LEVITICUS 11:44-45, the Lord commands His people to “Be holy because I am holy” (HCSB). To the modern ear, those words are unsettling. How can we be like the Creator and Sustainer of the universe? What is God calling us to be when He tells us to “be holy”? “Holy” is one of the most common Old Testament words. The Hebrew verb form is qadash and occurs 171 times.1 The noun form, derived from the verb, is qodesh; it appears 470 times in the Hebrew Old Tes- tament.2 The other common derivative of the verb form is the adjective qadosh, occurring 116 times.3 The basic meaning of the verb is to belong to the realm of the sacred, as opposed to belonging to what is common or profane.4 The noun and adjectival forms refer to and describe, respectively, people, places, and things which God deems sacred. The biblical concept of “holiness” has its foundation in God Himself. He is the source of the sacred; He imparts holiness to people, places, and objects.5 When God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3), He informed Moses that the ground on which he stood was holy because of God’s presence. The Lord set the ark of the covenant apart as holy because the Holy One Himself was present there (1 Sam. 6:19-20). The temple, in particular the holy of holies, was sacred because Yahweh placed His name there forever (2 Chron. 7:16) and because it housed the ark. Exodus 31:12-17 explains the Lord made the Sabbath sacred for His people: “It is a sign forever between Me and the Israelites, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (v. 17, HCSB). This establishment helps us understand the concept of holy. The first six days of the week are common or profane. They are days for working and for carrying out the normal activities. The seventh day, however, is set apart. No work of any kind is to be done. To empha- size the seriousness of this command, the Lord specified that any Israelite who performed any kind of work on the Sabbath was to be put to death (v. 15). That individual profaned or made common the Sab- bath by the very act of working. Because the Lord set apart the seventh day as sacred to Himself, a person who performed any act of work on the Sabbath not only disobeyed an explicit command from Him but denigrated God’s inherent nature. The Lord established the Sabbath as a day of rest from all labor and as a perpetual sign of the covenant relationship He made with His people (vv. 16-17).
  14. 14. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 14 Since God Himself is holy in His essence, He therefore calls His people to be holy. Throughout the Books of Exodus through Deuteronomy, He provided the instructions for how to become holy and how to main- tain that holiness. The Lord was the basis of mankind’s call and ability to be holy. The presence of God will all believers enables them to live out their lives in a holy relationship with the One who created and saved them. This holy relationship calls for a response from those who confess Him as Lord: live pure and clean lives.6 Arguably the most cogent biblical reference to this call is Isaiah’s temple vision (Isa. 6). The prophet was in the Lord’s presence, in His holy temple. The seraphim were worshiping and serving the King on His throne. They continually called out to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth” (Isa. 6:3, HCSB). The heavenly beings’ praise caused Isaiah to understand that God alone is holy, probably leading to his most common title for God: “the Holy One of Jacob/Israel.” This passage teaches the believer that “what is holy is distinct from whatever does not pertain to deity.”7 The character of Israel’s God determined the meaning and understanding for Israel. God is holy; He is not like any other being on earth or in heaven. He is pure and good and completely without evil. Thus, He de- mands the same moral and ethical behavior from His people. When the Lord brought the Hebrews to Mount Sinai, He called them to be a “holy nation” to Himself (Ex. 19:6). How did Israel manifest itself as God’s holy nation and not profane Him? God gave all of the laws of the Pentateuch in order to show His people how to live holy lives and be sacred to Him. Centuries lat- er, the prophets called God’s people not to oppress those who were helpless (Jer. 34:16: Amos 2:6-7) and in so doing, not to profane God’s holy name. In the same manner, today we are called, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16, HCSB). We, too are called to be holy—and we can be holy. We can be set apart and behave ethically because of the presence of God with us and within us. We do not act in a manner that profanes and makes common our God and His relationship with His creation. We behave ethically in all activities, and we obey His commandments. Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 40, No. 1; Fall 2013. Pilgrim Motif In 1 Peter By Bobby Kelly, associate professor of religion at Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma. The image of the Christian life as a journey and the Christian as a pilgrim on that journey was pop- ularized most famously by the seventeenth-century British Baptist pastor and author John Bunyan. BUNYAN WROTE PILGIM’S PROGRESS while in prison for preaching in churches not sanctioned by the Established Church of England. Bunyan’s allegorical portrayal of Christian on an adventurous and dangerous journey from this world, the “City of Destruction,” to that which is to come, the “Celestial
  15. 15. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 15 City,” captured powerfully the life and struggle believers face in this present evil age. The opening words communicate much: “As I walked through the wilderness of this world, . . . “1 The fictional character Christian was pointed on his way by Evangelist, opposed by Obstinate and Atheist, overcame the Slough of Despond and the Valley of the Shadow of Death, received help from Faithful and Hopeful, and finally entered the heavenly city. Bunyan, however, did not invent the pilgrim motif. That the early Christians saw themselves as pilgrims on a journey is evident by their earliest designation: people of the “Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22). Similarly, Paul presented the Christian life as “a walk,” as in Galatians 5:16: “I say then, walk by the Spirit” (HCSB). Thus, a consistent motif emerged in the New Testament of the Christian life as a journey, and those who choose to live the Christian life as pil- grims or sojourners in a foreign land but journeying into a future with God in heaven. Nowhere is the mo- tif more prevalent than 1 Peter. Peter picked up on the notion of going to heaven, but unlike much popular theology, Peter did not focus on the conclusion of the journey “when we die,” but rather on the present experience of living as strangers journeying in a foreign land. In order to capture the essence of how Christians were to live in a pagan society presently, Simon Peter employed the image of a pilgrim. Greek Terms for Pilgrim Peter referred to his readers in 1 Peter 1:1 as “temporary residents,” using the Greek term parepidemos. This term is a compound word combining the two Greek prepositions para (meaning “beside” or “along”) and epi (meaning “upon” or “over”) along with the noun demos. Combined, the prepositions have the sense of distant from something. Demos originally had to do with “race” or “family” and later developed the sense of people living in a district or community. Taken together the compound word meant stranger, sojourner, or one who resided in a place temporarily. In essence, the term meant a stranger in a strange land. Sojourners did not hold citizenship in the host country. As aliens, they had few rights and privileges and were viewed suspiciously by permanent residents. The term appears twice in the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. When Sarah died, Abraham requested a burial plot for her among the Hittites (Gen. 23:4). He requested: “I am an alien and temporary resident among you. Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead.”2 Abraham and Sarah certainly knew what it was to be strangers in a strange land. In response to God’s call (Gen. 12), they had lived their lives as resident aliens and pilgrims. Their descendants, the people of Israel, like wise knew the experience of living as temporary residents, aliens, even exiles in Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. In light of their experiences, Sarah’s being buried in a foreign land seems appropriate. The second usage of the term parepidemos in the Septuagint comes as a cry from the Psalmist:  “Hear my prayer, Lord, and listen to my cry for help;  do not be silent at my tears.  For I am a foreigner residing with You,  a sojourner (parepidemos) like all my fathers' (Ps. 39:12; LXX 38:12).
  16. 16. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 16 The psalmist lamented the transitory nature of life. As a result he realized all that matters is one’s rela- tionship with God. While the psalmist was a current resident of this world, he was only a foreigner and pilgrim whose true home was with God. In the New Testament, outside of 1 Peter the term appears only in Hebrews 11:13. After defining faith as the firm conviction of certain realities even though they cannot yet be seen (Heb. 11:1), Hebrews offers an extensive list of examples of faithful people from Jewish history (11:2-40). After listing Abel, Enoch, No- ah, Abraham, and Sarah, the writer paused and stated: “These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth” (11:13). Although these Old Testament heroes had kept the faith, their journeys had not ended, for the full inheritance would be realized at Christ’s appearing. Nevertheless, in God’s strength they had maintained the journey toward God’s promises with steadiness, run the race with perseverance, and pursued the imperishable city with vigor. The faithful listed in Hebrews 11 are “the pil- grims, not the eperfect.”3 Pilgrim Motif in 1 Peter 1:1 Peter wasted no time introducing the image of the Christian life as a pilgrimage. He began: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents of the Dispersion in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1). Peter described his readers using the Greek term parepi- demos. They were “temporary residents” who were scattered throughout Asia Minor. As strangers in a strange land, these believers faced rejection and persecution at the hands of the nonbelievers of Asia Mi- nor. Because these Christians were sojourners in a foreign land, people viewed them with suspicion, dis- trust, and a fear that was rooted in ignorance. The fact that these Christian “strangers” declined to acknowledge Caesar as Lord and refused to participate in pagan worship would have alienated nonbeliev- ers. Their acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord alienated Jews. Thus, by living a life of commitment to Je- sus they faced harassment, slander, and reproach. Such is the life of strangers in a strange land. Following the introductory greeting (1:1-2), Peter offered reassurances and hope for these persecuted and alienated Christians. They had been given a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (v. 3). Until the time when the living hope reached fulfillment at the final revelation of Jesus, they would find themselves in conflict with their society’s values. Although this conflict would inevitably lead to suffering in various kinds of trials, the joy that comes from their new birth would far outweigh their grief. In fact, the suffering indicated they were in the process of receiving the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls (vv. 8-9). The proper response to God’s gracious action in Christ was to (1) set their minds fully on God’s grace (v. 13); (2) be holy as God is holy (vv.14-15); (3) love one another from the heart with total commitment (v. 22); and (4) crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s word (2:2-3).
  17. 17. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 17 These Christian pilgrims were living stones in God’s spiritual house, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God’s possession who have received God’s mercy (vv. 4-10). Having of- fered encouragement and exhortation, Peter turned to the pilgrim motif once more in order to call his au- dience to live godly lives in a society that largely rejected God. The Pilgrim motif in 1 Peter 2:11-12. Peter implored: “Dear Friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do evil, they may, by observing your good works, glorify God in a day of visitation” (2:11-12). Returning to the pilgrim motif, Peter exhorted his Christian readers to live exempla- ry lives within their pagan society. As holy citizens of God’s kingdom, they each had a moral responsibil- ity to live a self-controlled life that bore witness to the truth of the gospel. Peter did not deduce from their status as strangers and pilgrims in this world that they should seek to escape from this world. The Chris- tian pilgrim must walk a delicate balance between complete alienation from this world on the other. We can easily miss that while John could say “do not love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15), he could also say “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16, KJV). Peter’s writings also hold both together profoundly. As Christians pilgrims journey in this world, they must avoid assimilation into the values and customs of a world that opposes God and refused to acknowledge Him as Creator. And yet, they must not withdraw from the world and fail to shine forth the light of God’s glory and grace. Understanding the etymology of the term parepidemos and seeing the way it is used in both the Septuagint and the New Testament should help us avoid romanticizing the idea of the Christian pilgrim. To be a resi- dent alien meant a person was outside of his or her homeland because of some political or economic dis- ruption, or even military invasion. It spoke of life in a foreign land where a person felt alienated and abandoned. This is the plight of Christians as citizens of God’s holy nation living as temporary residents in a pagan society. Yet, we do not sojourn alone, Jesus is the Pilgrim par excellence, the victorious One who leads His fellow travelers to their eternal destiny. Jesus is the courageous Pioneer who goes on ahead to make sure that the road is safe for all that follow Him. We can rest assured that He will lead us safely from this current evil age of destruction to our celestial home. Peters Use of the Old Testament By C. Alan Woodward, pastor, First Baptist Church, Ellisville, Mississippi. SIMON PETER wrote the first of his two biblical letters to Christians living in the area of modern-day Turkey. He addressed believers in five Roman provinces: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithyn- ia. The Books of Acts and Galatians record the spreading of Christianity in Asia and at least part of Gala- tia. The Bible does not record the faith spreading into the other provinces. Perhaps Peter, Silas, or Chris- tians after the day of Pentecost took the gospel to the other provinces.
  18. 18. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 18 Why the provinces appear in this order is unclear. Perhaps the best suggestion is that the order reflects the route the bearer followed as he delivered the letter. If so, the bearer may have landed at a port in Pontus and made a clockwise loop through the named provinces. Recipients of the Epistle The apostle Peter called his readers “the temporary residents of the Dispersion” (1 Pet. 1:1).1 By doing so he reminded them they were but pilgrims, journeying toward a greater destination than any on earth. They also were scattered geographically. The Jewish people had been periodically scattered due to persecution. Peter wrote to Christians who happened to be scattered and were facing persecution. Peter’s readers seem to have been of varied social backgrounds. Peter counseled slaves about their behav- ior (2:18-25). Although he did not address masters, he did refer to the duties of citizenship (vv. 11-17), which suggests some of the readers were freemen. The readers also were of varied racial and religious backgrounds. Peter’s wide use of the Old Testament, his reference to the Dispersion (a Jewish term meaning “scattered”), and his warning for readers to keep their behavior honorable among the Gentiles (v. 12) strongly support a Jewish background for some of his readers. Likewise, Peter’s references to their former way of life as one of ignorance (1:14), to their behav- ior as being typical of the Gentiles (4:3-4), and to their once being “not a people” (2:10) support a Gentile background for his readers. However, some of the evidence for Jewish or Gentile readers could apply to either group. The best conclusion is that the readers were of varied racial and religious backgrounds. Some were Jewish, and some were Gentile—perhaps more were Gentile. Peter wrote to a group of believers who were facing persecution. Opinions vary as to which persecution Peter meant in his first letter. The persecutions under the Roman Emperors Trajan (AD 111) and Domitian (AD 90-100) were too late for Petrine authorship. The persecution instigated by Emperor Nero in AD 62- 64 is one possibility. Another is a nongovernmental persecution instigated by a pagan culture threatened by the spread of Christianity. Because of Peter’s injunction to honor the king (vv. 13-17), the persecution may have occurred prior to the time of Nero’s blood bath of Christians in AD 64.2 References in the Epistle In addressing his readers, Peter quoted heavily from the Old Testament. Have you ever wondered why quotations in the New Testament sometimes do not read exactly as they do in the Old Testament books from which they were taken? One explanation is that maybe the differences in wording could be due to the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. However, Peter’s quotations reveal a good ac- quaintance with the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.3 Perhaps different Hebrew or Greek texts were available then that are not available to us today. In addition, people in the ancient world were not always as rigid in their citation of quoted materials as we are today. As a result, the primary con- cern of biblical writers sometimes seems to have been a new application rather than a verbatim citation of Old Testament passages.4
  19. 19. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 19 In light of these issues, we can identify quotations in at least 18 of Peter’s 105 verses. From six different Old Testament books, he used no less than 26 quotations. Peter’s most used source was Isaiah, followed by Psalms, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Proverbs. We must ask, How did Peter’s use of the Old Testament help his readers? The apostle addressed Christians of varying social, racial, and religious backgrounds who were facing per- secution. He wrote to encourage them to be faithful to Christ. He used the Old Testament to reinforce his message by giving reasons for his appeals. In doing so, Peter showed the continuity and fulfillment of Scripture. The paragraphs that follow include references to the passages Peter quoted. Peter’s letter reads like a carefully crafted sermon. He challenges his readers to mature in faith and not to retreat into their former lifestyle. They were to be holy because God, who provided for their salvation, is holy (1:16; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7). Their salvation was make available through the living and endur- ing Word of God. Life is short-lived, but God’s Word endures forever (1 Pet. 1:24-25; Isa. 40:6-8). That “word” was the word preached to Peter’s readers, but the preached word was based on the written Word, the Old Testament. Therefore, in his first two quotations Peter appealed to God’s character, which led to the sacrifice of Christ and to the written Word, which was the basis of the preached word. These provided the foundation on which Peter’s readers needed to build their lives as Christians. Throughout his letter, Peter challenged his readers to stand firmly in God’s grace (1 Pet. 5:12). He urged them to set aside all manner of sin and too long for the pure milk of the Word (2:2). They were to do this because they had tasted the Lord’s goodness (v. 3; Ps. 34:8). Why should they yield to other appetites? The apostle contrasted the lives of believers and nonbelievers. Christians are living stones whose lives are build on Jesus Christ, the “chosen and valuable cornerstone” (1 Pet. 2:6; Ps. 118:22; Isa. 28:16). They will not be disappointed. However, those who do not believe in Him will stumble spiritually because of their disobedience (1 Pet. 2:7-8; Isa. 8:14). Christians are set apart to be God’s own possession. Their task is to proclaim the greatness of the One who called them from spiritual darkness into light (1 Pet. 2:9; Ex. 19:6; Isa. 9:2). At one time they had not been God’s people, but now they were. Once they had lacked mercy, but now they had experienced it (1 Pet. 2:10; Hos. 1:9-10; 2:23). Peter urged slaves to obey their masters, in both fair and cruel treatment (1 Pet. 2:18-20). In this way they would follow the example of Christ who suffered, yet was sinless (vv. 21-22; Isa. 53:9). Christ bore their sins so they could live in righteousness. Formerly they were like straying sheep, but now they had re- turned to the Shepherd (1 Pet. 2:24-25; Isa 53:5-6). Peter urged the believers to control their speech and behavior. The reasons are important: life is more gratifying that way; God’s blessings will be on those who do; and God hears the righteous but resists evil doers (1 Pet. 3:10-12; Ps. 34:12-16).
  20. 20. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 20 The apostle counseled his readers not to be afraid if they should suffer (1 Pet. 3:14; Isa. 8:12). They should suffer willingly in obedience to God rather than follow fleshly desires (1 Pet. 4:1-6). Peter told them to keep their love for each other strong because “’love covers over all offenses’” (v. 8; Prov. 10:12). None should suffer for doing evil, but if any suffers as a Christian, he should praise God. The reason why is incredibly important. The righteous are saved with difficulty. What will become of nonbelievers (1 Pet. 4:18; Prov. 11:31)? Peter’s final question follows exhortations for the elders and the younger members to be humble toward each other. They were to do so because “’God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet. 5:5; Prov. 3:34). Barclay’s Commentary2 THE CHRISTLESS LIFE AND THE CHRIST-FILLED LIFE (1 Peter 1:14-25) 1:14-25 Be obedient children. Do not continue to live a life which matches the desires of the days of your former ignorance, but show yourselves holy in all your conduct of life as he who called you is holy, because it stands written: "You must be holy, because I am holy." If you address as Father him who judges each man according to his work with complete impartiality, conduct yourselves with reverence throughout the time of your sojourn in this world; for you know that it was not by perishable things, by silver or gold, that you were rescued from the futile way of life which you learned from your fathers, but it was by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. It was before the creation of the world that he was predestined to his work; it is at the end of the ages that he has appeared, for the sake of you who through him believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope might be in God. Now that you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth--a purification that must issue in a brotherly love that is sincere--love each other heartily and steadfastly, for you have been reborn, not of mor- tal but of immortal seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for, "All flesh is grass, and its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever." And that is the word, the good news of which was brought to you. There are three great lines of approach in this passage and we look at them one by one. (1) Jesus Christ Redeemer And Lord It has great things to say about Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Lord. (i) Jesus Christ is the emancipator, through whom men are delivered from the bondage of sin and death; he is the lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19). When Peter spoke like that of Jesus, his mind was going back to two Old Testament pictures--to Isaiah 53:1-12 , with its picture of the Suffering Servant, 2 Barclay, William. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1:1". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1". 1956-1959.
  21. 21. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 21 through whose suffering the people were saved and healed and above all to the picture of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:5). On that memorable night when they left the slavery of Egypt, the children of Israel were bid- den to take a lamb and slay it and mark their doorposts with its blood; and, when the angel of death went through the land slaying the first-born sons of the Egyptians, he passed over every house so marked. In that picture of the Passover Lamb there are the twin thoughts of emancipation from slavery and deliverance from death. No matter how we interpret it, it cost the life and death of Jesus Christ to liberate men from their bondage to sin and to death. (ii) Jesus Christ is the eternal purpose of God. It was before the creation of the world that he was predestined for the work which was given him to do (1 Peter 1:20). Here is a great thought. Sometimes we tend to think of God as first Creator and then Redeemer, as having created the world and then, when things went wrong, finding a way to rescue it through Jesus Christ. But here we have the vision of a God who was Redeemer before he was Creator. His redeeming purpose was not an emergency measure to which he was compelled when things went wrong. It goes back before creation. (iii) Peter has a connection of thought which is universal in the New Testament. Jesus Christ is not only the lamb who was slain; he is the resurrected and triumphant one to whom God gave glory. The New Testament thinkers seldom separate the Cross and the Resurrection; they seldom think of the sacrifice of Christ without thinking of his triumph. Edward Rogers, in That they might have Life, tells us that on one occasion he went carefully through the whole story of the Passion and the Resurrection in order to find a way to represent it dramatically, and goes on, "I began to feel that there was something subtly and tragically wrong in any em- phasis on the agony of the Cross which dimmed the brightness of the Resurrection, any suggestion that it was endured pain rather than overcoming love which secured man's salvation." He asks where the eyes of the Christian turn at the beginning of Lent. What do we dominantly see? "Is it the darkness that covered the earth at noon, swirling round the pain and anguish of the Cross? Or is it the dazzling, mysterious early- morning brightness that shone from an empty tomb?" He continues, "There are forms of most earnest and devoted evangelical preaching and theological writing which convey the impression that somehow the Cru- cifixion has overshadowed the Resurrection and that the whole purpose of God in Christ was completed on Calvary. The truth, which is obscured only at grave spiritual peril, is that the Crucifixion cannot be interpret- ed and understood save in the light of the Resurrection." Through his death Jesus emancipated men from their bondage to slavery and death; but through his Resur- rection he gives them a life which is as glorious and indestructible as his own. Through this triumphant Res- urrection we have faith and hope in God (1 Peter 1:21). In this passage, we see Jesus the great emancipator at the cost of Calvary; we see Jesus the eternal redeeming purpose of God; we see Jesus the triumphant victor over death and the glorious Lord of life, the giver of life which death cannot touch and the bringer of hope which nothing can take away. (2) The Christless Life Peter picks out three characteristics of the Christless life.
  22. 22. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 22 (i) It is the life of ignorance (1 Peter 1:14). The pagan world was always haunted by the unknowability of God; at best, men could but grope after his mystery. "It is hard," said Plato, "to investigate and to find the framer and the father of the universe; and, if one did find him, it would be impossible to express him in terms which all could understand." Even for the philosopher, to find God is difficult; and for the ordinary man, to understand him is impossible. Aristotle spoke of God as the supreme cause, by all men dreamed of and by no man known. The ancient world did not doubt that there was a God or gods but it believed that such gods as there were quite unknowable and totally uninterested in men and the universe. In a world with- out Christ God was mystery and power but never love, there was no one to whom men could raise their hands for help or their eyes for hope. (ii) It is the life dominated by desire (1 Peter 1:14). As we read the records of that world into which Christi- anity came we cannot but be appalled at the sheer fleshliness of life within it. There was desperate poverty at the lower end of the social scale; but at the top we read of banquets that cost thousands of pounds, where peacocks' brains and nightingales' tongues were served and where the Emperor Vitellius set on the table at one banquet two thousand fish and seven thousand birds. Chastity was forgotten. Martial speaks of a woman who had reached her tenth husband; Juvenal of a woman who had eight husbands in five years; and Jerome tells us that in Rome there was one woman who was married to her twenty-third husband, she herself being his twenty-first wife. Both in Greece and in Rome homosexual practices were so common that they had come to be looked on as natural. It was a world mastered by desire, whose aim was to find newer and wilder ways of gratifying its lusts. (iii) It was a life characterized by futility. Its basic trouble was that it was not going anywhere. Catullus writes to his Lesbia pleading for the delights of love. He pleads with her to seize the moment with its fleeting joys. "Suns can rise and set again; but once our brief light is dead, there is nothing left but one long night from which we never shall awake." If a man was to die like a dog, why should he not live like a dog? Life was a futile business with a few brief years in the light of the sun and then an eternal nothingness. There was nothing for which to live and nothing for which to die. Life must always be futile when there is nothing on the other side of death. (3) The Christ-filled Life Peter finds three characteristics of the Christ-filled life and for each he finds compelling reasons. (i) The Christ-filled life is the life of obedience and of holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16). To be chosen by God is to enter, not only into great privilege, but also into great responsibility. Peter remembers the ancient command at the very heart of all Hebrew religion. It was God's insistence to his people that they must be holy because he was holy (Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7; Leviticus 20:26). The word for holy is hagios whose root meaning is different. The Temple is hagios, because it is different from other buildings; the Sab- bath is hagios because it is different from other days; the Christian is hagios because he is different from other men. The Christian is God's man by God's choice. He is chosen for a task in the world and for a desti- ny in eternity. He is chosen to live for God in time and with him in eternity. In the world he must obey his law and reproduce his life. There is laid on the Christian the task of being different.
  23. 23. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 23 (ii) The Christ-filled life is the life of reverence (1 Peter 1:17-21). Reverence is the attitude of mind of the man who is always aware that he is in the presence of God. In these five verses Peter picks out three reasons for this Christian reverence. (a) The Christian is a sojourner in this world. Life for him is lived in the shadow of eternity; he thinks all the time, not only of where he is but also of where he is going. (b) He is going to God; true, he can call God Father, but that very God whom he calls Father is also he who judges every man with strict impartiality. The Christian is a man for whom there is a day of reckoning. He is a man with a des- tiny to win or to lose. Life in this world becomes of tremendous importance because it is leading to the life beyond. (c) The Christian must live life in reverence, because it cost so much, nothing less than the life and death of Jesus Christ. Since, then, life is of such surpassing value, it cannot be wasted or thrown away. No honourable man squanders what is of infinite human worth. (iii) The Christ-filled life is the life of brotherly love. It must issue in a love for the brethren that is sincere and hearty and steadfast. The Christian is a man who is reborn, not of mortal, but of immortal seed. That may mean either of two things. It may mean that the remaking of the Christian is due to no human agency but to the agency of God, another way of saying what John said when he spoke of those "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). More probably it means that the Christian is re- made by the entry into him of the seed of the word; and the picture is that of the Parable of the Sower (Mat- thew 13:1-9). The quotation which Peter makes is from Isaiah 40:6-8 and the second interpretation fits that better. However we take it, the meaning is that the Christian is remade. Because he is reborn, the life of God is in him. The great characteristic of the life of God is love, and so the Christian must show that divine love for men. The Christian is the man who lives the Christ-filled life, the life that is different, never forgets the infinity of its obligation, and is made beautiful by the love of the God who gave it birth.

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