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Argument of First Peter

September 30, 2006

Here is an attempt to trace the argument of Peter’s first epistle:

As God’s adopted children, going through the in-between time can be tough: leaving behind our life that was, eagerly waiting for the awesome things waiting for us. We may get grief from outsiders, but in turn we show respect, set good examples, and give blessings, and mostly we remember that everything we do is for Jesus.

Part One: Who we are. (1:1-2:12)

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have chosen and redeemed us to be set apart from those around us to follow Jesus as Lord. (1:1-2)

Jesus’ resurrection has given us a new life as his children with a wonderful inheritance to come. We have not seen him yet, but we are thrilled and love him and trust him What is hard though is the negative reaction we get from those around us, since we no longer truly fit in. (1:3-9)

But we are right in the focus of God’s program for the world. The ancient prophets had only clues and speculation about the role you are playing, and the angels would love to be there, but weren’t chosen. (1:10-12)

So what we do is focus on the great things our Father has in store for us, and determine to live for him as respectful and obedient children, remembering that we have escaped the dead-end dysfunction of our old lives, only at great cost to Jesus who died and was brought back to life by God, who also enabled us to put our entire confidence in him. (1:13-21)

Now that we are children in a new family, we love our new brothers and sisters and treat them nicely, and we eagerly take in spiritual nourishment from God’s Word, so we can grow up big and strong. (1:22-2:3)

And we form a community in which each of us is a building block in one big temple dedicated to God’s service. The number one block is Jesus, who is of supreme importance to us as the cornerstone of our temple. But others won’t listen to him, and to them he’s just a rock they trip over. (2:4-8)

Together, as the people that belongs specially to God, we serve as his regal and spiritual representatives to the world, to declare how awesome is this Person who has brought us out of our darkness into the beautiful light with which he shines. (2:9-10)

So while we are here in this in-between time, we feel the tug from our old life, but we don’t give in because the ones we are here to serve are watching, and though they are bound to react and try to criticize us, they may ultimately see our good behavior toward them as the reflection of God’s goodness that it is. (2:11-12)

Part 2: What we do. (2:13-5:11)

A. We show respect. (2:13-3:17)

The government, for example, and others in charge—we respect their authority. After all God himself put them in place to stop evil and promote good. What God wants us to do is live free but honest and honorable, and respect our leaders. This will help keep idiots off our backs. (2:13-17)

If you have a master over you, respect his authority, too, even if he is a jerk. Even if he mistreats you, as long as you have kept to what is right, God will be pleased with your patient endurance. If you get in trouble through your own fault that’s another matter, but remember, you have Jesus’ example to follow. He always did right, but still suffered injustice, and by so doing took care of our sins and brought us to God. (2: 18-25)

Ladies, maybe your own husband is outside our community. The same thing applies, respect for his authority and good behavior will be more persuasive to bring him to the Lord than anything you can say. In fact there is a quiet gentleness that glows from within, which is one of God’s sweetest gifts and makes you more beautiful than anything on the outside. Ultimately, you are placing your confidence in God, not your husband anyway. And guys, remember your wife is an heir to God’s fortune too, so treat her delicately, else you may have problems with your prayers. (3:1-7)

The general principle is stick together in love and unity, and for injuries suffered from the world, return blessings and not retaliation. As the Bible teaches, suffering for doing good brings God’s blessing. It is all about Jesus, and a gentle and respectful explanation of our confident expectation in Him will serve to disarm those who attack us verbally. (3:8-17)

B. We behave ourselves. (3:18-4:11)

Our example is Jesus who was unjustly killed, but gave us our new life through his death. He was brought back to life, and has even announced his victory to those who died in disobedience way back in Noah’s day, and like that flood washed away the evil of the world, you were washed in baptism. The water is not the point; it is the transformation of your life through joining in Jesus’ new life from the dead and his return to his supreme position over creation. (3:18-22)

Now Jesus’ death is victory over sin, and we need to keep in mind that we are joined in his life and victory over sin. So we can leave behind all that baggage that wants to pull us back into the mess of our past. It no longer has a place in our lives, much to the amazement of those around us, and they criticize us for it. Yet they too are responsible before God, and only the good news can bring them transformation of life. (4:1-6)

Within our own community living sensibly and interacting with love, kindness and service as God empowers us will bring honor to the Lord. (4:7-11)

C: We look to Jesus. (4:12-5:11)

When outsiders react harshly to you, keep it in this perspective: it is about Jesus, because you are identified with him, and being dishonored with and for him is also to share honor with him. Just make sure they are reacting to his goodness not any of your own mischief. (4:12-19)

The ones in charge within the community should exercise leadership with sincere service and set good examples, and others should follow with humility. (5:1-5)

So be humble and wait on God’s timing, relaxing in the Lord’s care, but staying on guard for what the devil wants to do to you. Do not give in, and remember that you are not alone in your troubles, and that in the end God will make it all better. (5:6-11)

Love, Peter (and Silas too!) (5:12-13)

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