©2012 Dr. Irene Bonney Faulkes DD
FOREIGNERS IN THE WORLD
In these two letters that Peter wrote, we are struck with the spiritual tone they contain. This is despite the fact that he wrote to believers many of whom were suffering. Some faced ordeals of physical torture and persecution, even the loss of possessions. Others, who were slaves, daily met with abuse, both verbal and physical, from their masters. Many wives with unbelieving husbands would have known sharp words and threats with physical abuse even to beatings from their heathen husbands. One understands this would have been the case from observing what occurs today in countries such as in many countries.
Nevertheless, Peter did not address such situations in a way many preachers and churches world wide would do. He did not incite or advocate any political or social action. He was not following a social gospel, rather the Spiritual one it always was meant to be. He did not overlook their conditions but in recognizing them, he gave exhortations that were Spiritual and heavenly in nature and suited to the then national and political clime of the Roman Empire. Immediately we are forced to recognize that Peter viewed the church as being in the world as it was but needing to live in and rise to a higher dimension. The calling to individual believers was heavenly and Spiritual, largely coloured by the eternal prospect. Living in this world with its natural ways, environment and importance as believers, pre-empted the glorious hope of the everlasting life and joy that was laid up for them.
He commences as an apostle of Jesus Christ, meaning he was sent by the Lord with credentials to have such a ministry. Many say there are not any apostles today. Such preachers will instruct their congregations in the ways of helping fellow-members naturally and spiritually. That is in obedience to Ephesians 4:12 that reads “to prepare God’s people for works of service”. Yet by stating there are no apostles today, they have eliminated verses 10 and 11 from the Bible. These state, “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers”.
If preachers accept verse 12 for today, they must accept the other verses are also for today. If they do not, they place themselves and their listeners at variance with the Scriptures. One might well ask, “Where is the portion in the Bible that states verses 10 and 11 are not for today”? Such leaders are teaching incorrectly.
There are also verses such as 1 Corinthians 12:18,24 that show there are still apostles today. Both verses commence with “God did set in the church”. The first one is in relation to members of the Body of Christ. The second one refers to apostles. If some people wish to eliminate apostles from the church today, they must also eliminate that there are ordinary members of the body of Christ. These form the majority of the church. Therefore, there would not be any church at all, seeing it would have no members of the body, the Spirit-filled church.
In this case, all the chapters, 1 Corinthians:12,13&14 may as well be cut out of our Bibles. Of course, multitudes have in effect removed most of 1 Corinthians 14, so it would not seem to be much of a problem to remove the other two chapters, the three being connected. The love chapter would also have to go as it is in the midst of the three! Preachers would have to cease preaching on love, as they often do!
Indeed, there are members of the
body of Christ today and there have to be , of necessity, apostles and the other
gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:24. How leaders do love to tamper with the
given Word of God in order to suit their preconceived and learned slants, the
doctrines coming down through various denominations and groups. It really is a
serious matter to do this. Jesus said, “To him who has shall be given and to him
who does not have, shall be taken away”.
It is no wonder that the church world-wide is in a backslidden, modern, worldly, secular, social and unscriptural position. However, not everyone who goes under the name of an apostle is indeed one!
What would an apostle today be? Certainly many, but not all, who go out as missionaries to other lands. Many are not apostles but some are. Those who are have certain qualifications. They are “sent” by the Lord. They are given ministries that include preaching truths from the Gospel that are new and promoting the experience of these truths in new areas geographically or in church based congregations. They preach the truths of the gospel and “God confirms the Word with signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Ghost” as in Hebrews 2: 3,4. There is a wondrous exposition of gospel Truths accompanied by Holy Spirit ministrations as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
There are those with apostolic ministries scattered in our own country. Such, if they truly emulate Paul, would even be despised and often thought of no account. Sometimes he was not recognized as a true apostle. Rather, others who were false, as now, were given the prominence in what was preached and taught, as at Corinth and in Galatia. There are those like Peter in Galatians 2 who make their mistakes.
Peter was addressing his letter to believers who were living in various places. Their lives, as indeed are ours today, were mundane but even in the midst of their afflictions they were to be heavenly-minded. This epistle would seem not to be relative to the situations in our modern churches. It was written around AD 63, just prior to the beginning of the sorrows predicted by Jesus as they happened to the nation of Israel, its priesthood, its people and the Temple. This occurred from AD 66-73 with AD 70 bringing on the total and one hundred percent destruction of the Temple, with not one stone remaining, prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24:2 and of the city of Jerusalem, in Luke 19:42-44.
They were “aliens” or “sojourners”. Their true citizenship was in heaven, as is ours, and were looked at by Peter as temporary residents of those parts of Asia. We too are temporary residents in this world. It is not our home. No part of it in any century or time is the true home of a believer. Our home is in heaven and never on this earth. One day we will live on a “new earth” that Peter later on tells us about.
The believers were spoken of as being “the elect”, “the chosen”. The Greek word used means “to pick out; to select out of a number”. This verse alone negates the belief that our salvation depends on our own personal and individually willing choice of Christ. It shows that God did the electing and the choosing.
God had the “foreknowledge” which according to Wuest’s Expanded Translation as read from the beginning of the thought is, “chosen-out ones, this choice having been determined by the foreordination of God the Father, those chosen out to be recipients of the setting-apart work of the Spirit”. This is the correct meaning when we consider, e.g. Ephesians 2:8, “By grace you have been saved by faith, and that (the faith) not of yourselves it is the gift of God”. Complete salvation was effected by Christ on the cross where He said, “It is finished”. Any act on our part, of good works or choice, could never be added.
Believers have been sanctified or set apart for God. We do not belong to ourselves, the world or the Devil. We belong to God through Christ. As His sacrificial blood has been sprinkled upon us, we are to give Him obedience and allegiance. This blood is living, in heaven, taken there by Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek, when He ascended to the Father in His Spirit while His body was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb. The Holy Spirit is the One who does this Spiritual act of sprinkling.
There is to be an abundance of grace and peace in our lives, whatever the situation or condition, whether poverty, ill-health, sorrow, family problems, unsaved loved ones, global catastrophes or immediate ones that arise. It may be persecution as many face in third world countries, of death or utter deprivation of the necessities of life itself.
Peter speaks praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Already we hear mention of the Three Persons in the Trinity, the Father, the Spirit and the Son. Through God the Father and His love (and God in the New Testament always means the Father) we have been born again and have been given a life-giving hope. This is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That is the corner stone of our faith. Jesus Christ is risen and lives forever!
God has given us riches that are not of this world. We have an inheritance that is heavenly and waits us there. It has commenced for us, now. Its fruition will be shown to us at the end of time, at the end of this world – and not an experience of laughing that was “new and now” as was taught under the so-called “Toronto Blessing”! God’s power is keeping us for this event and already His power is working within us.
Now there is an intrusion of negativity into this scene. Believers are sad. They have various trials that actually are for a “short time”. There is a grand purpose by God for allowing this and probably sending those very trials.
They have a faith that is imperishable and not like gold that will perish when the world ends. Believers are tested as gold now is tested in the fire to discover how much percentage of gold there is in the nuggets or gold discovered. When believers go through the test and come out of it, there is to be “praise redounding” for them when the time arrives that Jesus Christ is revealed to open the eternal door of heaven for the saints, living and dead, who will be clothed with bodies of glory and immortality.
These believers and us do indeed love the Lord Jesus despite never having seen Him with physical eyes. Their faith caused them to “exult” in Him “with a joy ineffable”, i.e. inexpressible, and “all-glorious”. True joy from heaven therefore cannot really equate to loud and raucous laughter by the saints, supposedly from the Spirit! This joy is so deep that it cannot be expressed, either in word or in laughter.
There is a reason for this joy, as in verse 9. They already have eternal life that has begun now but finds its consummation in a life of glory in heaven forever and ever.
When the Old Testament prophets by the Holy Spirit were writing about this salvation, this “wealth” for us, they made intensive searching and enquiry into what it was. They could not find the exact answer. They were prophesying by the Spirit of Christ within them. Christ had not yet been born into this world, yet His Spirit came into them. This is the eternal Holy Spirit of God, or the Spirit of Christ, One Person of the Triune God.
There is a difference concerning the Holy Spirit since Jesus was born. Christ Himself became the reservoir and conduit as it were of the Holy Spirit. Such it is in our experience of salvation, of sanctification, of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and His gifts and of understanding spiritual and scriptural matters. He was in those prophets.
The prophets knew Christ was to suffer. The Jews should have known, When Jesus questioned Peter as to whom he thought He was, Peter should have known as in one chapter alone, Isaiah 53, there was a preview of the crucifixion and death of Christ, as there also was in Psalm 22. Of course, Peter listened to his own natural wisdom of man that was really of Satan. “That which is of man is of Satan”, Jesus has said.
In addition, these prophets desired to investigate further the glorious splendours that were to follow after Christ was crucified. The real thing they were entrusted with was that their revelation was about those believers Peter was addressing and indeed all other saints. They knew it would be those who would live in a time future from that of the prophets.
The things they wanted to know were hidden to them and all others until after the resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Then the teachings of Christ became clear to the disciples with added revelation given by the Spirit. Also, Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles was given comprehension never given before or since. Much of it was even hard for Peter to understand. We today can know fully, if we seek it out as one digs for treasure and are filled with Spirit so that He helps us. A babe or immature one in Christ can gain some understanding. It is for the mature and all of us, to realise more and more about heavenly things.
LIVING HOLY LIVES
Peter exhorts them to deal with their minds being ready for all that lies ahead in their lives. We “have the mind of Christ”, 1 Corinthians 2:16, in that His mind has been revealed to us through the New Testament in particular. We see this by reading vvs.6-13 of that chapter.
We get the picture through this verse: “No mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed those things to us by his Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God” ISV (vvs.9,10).
Those born again of the Spirit have a disclosure of the truths of the gospel. It is because we have the Spirit of Christ: ‘But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness’ GW (Rom.8:10).
His Spirit is in our spirits because they have been re-created with life. This is according to: “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence” GW (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“… And the one who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit” ISV (Romans 8:27). The mind of the Spirit is in our spirits.
Being ready in mind would involve having the word of Christ of such importance that it would become Spiritual bread for them. Then when troubles arose, as indeed did occur, they would not waver. Instead, they would be thinking of the hope that was theirs, of the wonderful grace that would be given them when Jesus Christ would reveal Himself. That day is the one the believer anticipates.
They would be submitting to God and His way of holiness of life and not giving way to the carnal nature within. That nature is one of rebellion, unbelief, sin and uncleanness. This latter was the manner in which they once lived as do all unbelievers. They were to be holy in living, whatever happened. That is to be our way of life today.
Our God is a “consuming fire”, even One to be looked at in awe or as said here: ‘After all, our God is a destructive fire’ GW (Hebrews 11:29). How can churches allow the ungodly music and dancing as performed in the Western Rock scene, to be part of a supposed worship to the God deserving and desiring reverential fear and wonder? Conduct before God is to be appropriate at all times. This is to happen throughout the believers’ time on earth as strangers and pilgrims. Believers do not fit in to this world’s scene. They are foreigners to it and although in the world of sin are not part of it.
The kind of life the worldling or unbeliever lives is futile. It is the kind of life, in whatever form, that has been handed down, generation after generation, in country after country. There are the traditions of ungodly culture from which we have been redeemed or ransomed. Believers have been redeemed from such living. There has been a ransom paid for our freedom. It is not silver or gold but the precious shed Blood of Christ on the cross. He offered Himself like a lamb, without protest, for us. He was without any stain or any blemish, a perfect sacrifice of atonement, without any touch of sin within.
He, the Son of God, was given this task before the world was founded. It was an eternal action. It was only in “these last days”, says Peter, that He has been revealed in this sacrifice of Himself. When we speak of “last days” as being the closure of it all with the “rapture”, Tribulation, Anti-Christ and millennium reign of Christ, we are not being Scriptural. Obviously the “last days” were the days that were ushered in by the coming of the Messiah for the appointed sacrifice in crucifixion. Those latter days continued for centuries even until our day.
What wondrous love! What a wonderful gift in grace! What a consuming sacrifice! It was all for those believers and for we all who have faith in Christ. It is through Christ that faith and hope rests in God alone.
Submission to the truth of the gospel produces a love within that is not of this world but from God. With this love, Peter encourages them to love one another deeply.
Then he goes on to explain the new birth. There is nothing perishable in this miracle. The seed giving place to a natural birth is perishable. The resultant life has death in it. In being born anew, there is “an imperishable seed-bed”. It is the “life-giving and enduring word of God”. This seed is planted within as the gospel or the good news is proclaimed. It may be a brief proclamation but there must be a proclamation. This is by some form of preaching and not by singing or mere signs.
This preaching is shown as in Romans 10:8: “But what does it say (Deuteronomy 30:14,15) “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is the word of faith that we proclaim)”. The word of faith is not about natural prosperity or wealth. It is the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose again. It is the word to do with salvation from sin, eternal death and hell. We note with interest that there is a quotation from Deuteronomy which proponents of the “Health and Wealth Gospel” diligently declare – but wrongly! It really prophesies about the gospel. Verse 14 reminds us: “How are they to believe in One of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone proclaim Him’?”
Yes, it is Jesus Christ who is to be proclaimed. It is His gospel and this proclamation is to become the imperishable seed-bed of the chosen. It produces eternal life and the Word as seed within, is the ever-enduring Word of God. Christ and His Word are One.
There is a quotation from Isaiah
40:7,8 about the grass and the flower of the field that wither and fall. This is
likened to “whatever partakes of flesh”. It disappears. The flesh nature
disappears in physical death and in spiritual death. It is striking to notice
that the chapter in Isaiah is about the comfort God has ordained. It started
with the coming of John the Baptist in the wilderness, preparing the way for the
Messiah. Flesh will never endure. However, the “Word of our God will stand
This Word has become seed in the heart of the believer that has caused the new birth. The carnal nature is crucified with Christ. This flesh of the human body will not last. However, the Word, the Seed, Christ, within is everlasting. It endures within the believer and on into the new life in heaven forever.Therefore, when troubles kept coming to those recipients of Peter’s letter and to us in this life, we have the most wonderful hope and cheer, even joy within. The real person within, the new creation sprung out of the Seed of the Word, will last forever. It is the wondrous hope and even sobering ecstasy of the believer. What a comfort! How exultant we are even as we face whatever God allows for us in this life. We are in Christ, who is in God and even the Devil can never touch this!
How wonderful, how marvellous, This my song shall ever be, How wonderful, how marvellous is my Saviour’s love for me.
NEW LIVES AS A NEW NATION
This chapter continues about the word. Because they have been born anew of the seed of the word, they must put away for all time, every kind of wickedness and craftiness, hypocrisies and envies, and all slanderings. These things were part of their former evil ways. They are to have no part in their present Spiritual living. They have purified their souls through obeying the truth of the gospel and having faith in Christ. Now they are to act as newborn infants would, that even cry until their needs are satisfied. There is pure milk for believers who are born of the seed of the Word. It is the Word itself, as found in particular in the gospel truths.
It is in this way that they will grow and progress in their Christian faith.
They need this nourishment. They have tasted of the Lord Himself and found Him kind and loving. Therefore they must continually be drawing near to Him.
There were indeed men who tested Christ and repudiated Him. Some translators say that the Jewish leaders tested Christ and despite finding nothing that would disprove His Messiahship, they nevertheless denied Him. The reason was that they did not approve of such a Messiah. They wanted a natural King who would defeat the Romans and exalt the Jewish nation.
Nevertheless, this Christ is a Living Stone, says Peter. In God’s sight He is chosen-out, highly honoured and precious. The believers also are living stones built together into a Spiritual temple as a priesthood. Their offerings are Spiritual and not material. These can only be acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, our Mediator.
Verse 6 points out an Old Testament Scripture. God says “I lay in Zion a Stone, one chosen out, a Cornerstone, highly honoured and precious, and the one who rests his faith on Him shall positively not be disappointed.
“To believers, He is precious. To unbelievers, this Stone, a Head Corner-stone, is one upon which they are cut and which trips them”.
Wuest reads liked this: “Even to those who because they are non-persuasible, stumble up against the Word, to which (action of stumbling) they were indeed appointed.” This again shows the election of God, even as occurred between Esau and Jacob, stated in Romans 9:13-15. This was also the case with Pharaoh, verses 16-18 – that include: “So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses”. Paul then speaks of God as potter having right over the clay, making one person for special use and another for ordinary use. He makes some objects of His wrath but He does this “to bestow the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy”.
The glorious truth is that God ordained those Jewish leaders and nation to stumble against Christ as stated above, “to which they were indeed appointed”. No man could install Christ as Head of His church, His gospel order, His priesthood of believers. Only God could do that, as said in verse 5, “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house”. God is the One who builds the house, having Himself laid the cornerstone, verse 6.
These and all believers are different from those Jews, as Peter says: “You, however, are a nation specially chosen, a royal priesthood, a people consecrated to God and claimed by him as his own.” All this is the will and choice of God Himself, without any effort of man.
There is a God-given purpose for this new and Spiritual nation of Israel, that besides consisting of believing Jews, includes believing Gentiles. It is for those consecrated ones to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Once they were never a people but now are God’s people. Previously His mercy, only possible through the coming of Jesus Christ, was not revealed but because He had come, God’s mercy could thus be given.
These verses appeal again to the believers as being strangers in this world. Because of this, they were to “keep away from those appetites which originate in the flesh-bound part of our nature”. Those appetites are always warring with the Spiritual part. There is a war in which we are engaged. Too much emphasis is laid upon a supposed war between the believer and the church with Satan. He is a wily foe. He is our enemy. He does go about as a roaring lion, as Peter says further on. However, the real warring is within. That is the reason we are to “walk in the Spirit and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh” as in Galatians 5.
Particularly because they lived in a heathen society where evil and the filth of paganism prevailed, they should ensure their lives were blameless before those heathen unbelievers. They were persecuted and verbally abused by their neighbours who if they saw the blameless way of life would change their minds and in particular when the judgment day came, these heathen would give praise to God. Maybe Peter was speaking about the days of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that he had heard from the lips of Christ Himself would occur in his generation. Perhaps he felt the day was near as indeed it did commence three years later.
These believers were under the rule of the Roman Caesar and the empire’s laws. They were to submit to this authority. By their obedience they would halt the slanderous talk of the unbelievers against them. They were to love their Christian brethren and to honour the rulers.
SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY AND ABOUT SLAVES
Now we come to a portion of Scripture that often is misread and wrongly taught. We should examine it.
The passage is about slaves. It was the custom in the Roman Empire when at war, to bring into captivity the conquered for their use as slaves. Many had become believers in Christ. Peter has a special word for them as obviously he had noticed how sometimes they were cruelly treated.
To all slaves he said they were to respect their masters highly. This was not towards only those who were kind but also towards those who acted harshly. If they had done wrong, they would be beaten and even then they should bear it bravely and be submissive.
However, if a slave having done right, is to be beaten nevertheless, he should still bear it stoically and be submissive. In acting like that, he would be like Christ. This was the Christian challenge Peter gave to them. It was never about social action by anyone, which in any case would have been impossible and useless. Rather, the challenge was to act like Christ.
Christ suffered as the sinless Man, God incarnate, come to redeem even these slaves in a Spiritual way. They were to imitate Him. He did no sin whatsoever and His speech was perfect in godliness. He was reviled but did not answer back. They were to act as He did. Christ committed Himself to God. They were to do likewise, knowing God their Father was a Judge who is Just.
Then Peter goes on to speak about Christ, telling the slaves what He did on the cross. He says, “In his own body he carried our sins up to the cross”. This did away with “our” sins, says Peter, including himself with the slaves. This means we all are to follow righteous living. Peter said “they” received healing through His wounds. The sins of the slaves were removed in a great healing act resulting from what Christ suffered. They were now suffering from cruelty but they did have healing from sin. This should alleviate their physical sufferings. All was right with them Spiritually. They were suffering in their bodies but they had been healed from their sinful condition. This was from the wounds of Christ.
Now Peter returns solely to addressing the slaves in their captivity. They had been like sheep who had gone astray, slaves to their own lusts if we refer to previous verses. That captivity had ceased because as Peter says, “But now you have turned to him who is the shepherd and guardian of your souls”. That is freedom within and not captivity as they are now under the care of the Shepherd whose sole purpose is to care for them, His sheep. Their masters might be cruel and uncaring but they have the Guardian or Keeper of their souls. As Jesus had said in Peter’s hearing: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Peter uses “you” because he is addressing the slaves. When we consider all the above verses, we have to say that it is error to use “By whose stripes you were healed” as the basis of there being healing for the body in the atonement. Peter is basically addressing the slaves. Millions have heard this teaching and believed it as I myself did for many years. It is far better to follow what the Bible really says than to believe an unfounded doctrine that is really a myth. We are still prone to sickness and disease. At any given moment all of us have about twenty diseases beginning in our bodies.
It can readily be seen that Peter is really pointing out the effect of the atonement on sin. Through it there was healing for their inner beings and one day when Jesus comes there will be complete healing for the body in that it will be redeemed then. Christ will make a new body out of the atoms of the old one. “Mortality will put on immortality” for healing in the atonement for our bodies.
The disease and sickness that really afflicts us is sin. This is made clear by Isaiah 33:24 “And no inhabitant will say, ‘I am sick’; the people who live there will be forgiven their iniquity.” The word “iniquity” relates to being “sick”. The people had sickness but this disease of sin was cured because they were forgiven. The whole chapter is about Zion, that heavenly city, prefigured by Isaiah’s imagery.
He speaks of the Lord being exalted, dwelling on high and filling Zion with justice and righteousness. This is under the grace of the gospel. It is about the heavenly city, Zion, the church of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 12:18-22. Isaiah says He will be the abundance of salvation. Christ indeed is made unto us “wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”, 1 Cor. 1:30.. He is our salvation. As Simeon said in Luke 2:30, “My eyes have seen your salvation” as he held baby Jesus in his arms. Jesus is God’s act of salvation.
The chapter exults in this Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, that eternal city. No city on earth will be eternal, not even the Jerusalem of ancient Israel. It is about those who have come to this city because they have been drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. It speaks about not only while they are on earth but also about when they get to heaven.
I say this as one who knows Christ does perform physical healings and miracles through Gifts of the Spirit. We have experienced them and seen numerous occurrences of these things in our ministry over a period of forty years. We are still prone to sin. We are still prone to illness and diseases, afflictions and death in the body.
Peter gave great hope to these slave believers who in the midst of their captivity and floggings, had One whose example they could follow and Whose care they could expect.
Too many beloved believers and their loved ones, have thought there would be healing until the final hour of death. Far better to be thinking of going to be with Christ, is it not?
The chapter closes with these wonderful words, again in relation to salvation. Peter says: “For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian (overseer) of your souls”. He points out there former wayward sinfulness. Then he expresses the truth of their return to the great Shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Spiritual part.
However, he must include their present earthly condition. They are going through much difficulty, sorrow and trouble, even to the point of physical abuse. Their wonderful Shepherd, Jesus, is also He who not only gives eternal life as the Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.
He also watches over their daily lives. He sees their pain and suffering. Their souls, the centre of mind and emotions, are greatly afflicted. It is as if Peter says: “Cheer up, be comforted”. They should know that this great Shepherd cares and loves them in the midst of the troubles. He gives abundant grace to bear whatever it is might come their way. Their situation is naturally not good but the Saviour will bear them up in His arms. He will pour oil on the wounds of their innermost beings. He will heal their hearts and emotions. He will give cheer and hope.
On this note, Peter then gives attention to wives in that cruel society.
As a life-long Pentecostal who has received and seen many healings and miracles, I would like to comment on the matter of Divine healing as seen by the millions of that particular persuasion.
Healing not being in the atonement is covered by the atonement as indeed are all the spiritual and physical blessings that come to us as believers in Christ. Jesus died for our sins and not for our sicknesses. He took our sins on His own body and by His stripes we are healed’ is surely the answer to the sin problem (Isaiah.53:5). Isaiah 53 is all about our sins and iniquities. We were astray like lost sheep and bogged in sin.
‘By His stripes we are (were) healed’ is relative to the stripes He bore that occurred not on the cross but before He went to that wonderful death of glory.
The Lord healed the sick not to announce healing was in the atonement but to signify He was the Son of Man, or the Messiah. When John was in prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus because He was doubting then that this Man was the Messiah. Here is the reply:
‘Jesus answered John's disciples, "Go back, and tell John what you have seen and heard: Blind people see again, lame people are walking, those with skin diseases are made clean, deaf people hear again, dead people are brought back to life, and poor people hear the Good News’ GW (Luke 7:22).
In vvs.34 &49, He emphasized that He was the Son of Man and as such, had power to forgive sins. God had revealed Himself previously to Israel as Jehovah-Rapha, ‘I AM the LORD who heals you’. He healed every sickness so that they left Egypt without any sick person in all of their tribes. Their departure out of that land was a type of our being translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light when we believe on Christ. Egypt is the land for us of the antitype, as Sin. We are redeemed from sin as Israel was taken out by their Jehovah Redeemer (Colossians 1:13). He came to bring the gospel:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is with me. He has anointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin’ GW (Lk.4:18). See Mt.11:5 where He announces literally He heals the sick but His message of liberty is to the fore.
In that same chapter where He does much preaching, we find the account of His healing the mother-in-law of Peter.
Jesus who is the same today, does indeed heal sick bodies. We are waiting for the redemption of our bodies when this mortality will put on immortality at the return of the Lord. He performs this through the gifts of the Spirit and will do so on occasions in answer to the prayer of faith. Faith is of God, by the Spirit who not only gives gifts but fruits, one fruit being faith. There is also a faith arising from the Word of the Living God, the gospel as brought by Christ whose authority we are under, as follows:
‘So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ … Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me" ESV (Romans 10:17,20)’.
The assembly could have faith in
what James said about the sick or those labouring under disease. He said the
elders or pastors when called, were to anoint or rub with oil and pray. It is
apparent that medicinal remedies are enjoined with prayer in faith to God. The
prayer then, of faith, ‘shall save the sick’ and if there are sins they will be
forgiven. Then James writes:
‘… Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working’ ASV (James 5:16).
Having seen this all my life, with
the majority not healed, one has to arrive at certain conclusions. They are all
maybes as one cannot really discover the reasons. There could be, lack of faith
due to a sparse experience with the Holy Ghost in the elders; perhaps and only
perhaps, there is sin that will not be forsaken, as exemplified in these words
to the man at the pool:
‘You're well now. Stop sinning so that something worse doesn't happen to you’ GW (John 5:14).
Then again, these words indicate disease was not a result of sin:
‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned. Instead, he was born blind so that God could show what he can do for him’ GW (John 9:3).
We cannot make a judgment about anyone who does not receive healing. Jesus came as Messiah. We are told to lay hands on the sick as we preach the gospel and that signs, including healing, will follow. Obviously, this would be by the gifts of healings and miracles. Signs are to follow the preaching of the gospel because Jesus (not us) has all authority (Matthew 28:28):
‘God verified what they said through miraculous signs, amazing things, other powerful acts, and with other gifts from the Holy Spirit as he wanted’ GW (Hebrews 2:4).
Then again, the church is indeed commanded to preach the gospel even to the extent of including bodily healing:
‘Teach them to do everything I have commanded you’ GW (Mt.28:30). The everything includes healing for the body, at some point with some person with all preachers. There are various ministries and gifts.
It all calls for obedience to this word of Jesus:
‘So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you should say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. And all things, as many as you may ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive”. EMTV (Matthew 21:21,22)’.
Jesus had just replied to Peter as we read: ‘And Jesus answering saith to them, “Have faith of God” YLT (v.22)’ not found in Mark’s Gospel. A few versions use the word ‘of’, revealing that it is not what we would call faith and think is faith being something ordinary but rather faith from God by the Spirit. The source is this faith of God and not our will. Surely it relates to the power gifts of the Spirit rather than the various kinds of faith all of us have access to for ordinary living. It would appear that therein lies our lack, if any. There also is this as said:
‘A body that doesn't breathe is dead. In the same way faith that does nothing is dead’ GW (James 2:26).
There seemingly cannot be a final judgment on the whole matter. Nevertheless, healing does come from Christ.
Our answer to the ‘why’ in many of life’s situations can be summed up in these words of Jesus to Peter regarding John:
‘Jesus answered, "Maybe I want him to live until I come. That should not matter to you. You follow me!" ERV (John 21:22).
We all are of faith and have ‘a measure of faith’ given each one by God (Romans 5:2). It calls for being Spirit led.
Let us follow the example of all the great men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11 and that because we are those ‘who have something better’. It is found in this verse:
‘For how many soever be the promises of God, in him is the yea: wherefore also through him is the Amen, unto the glory of God through us’ RV (2 Corinthians 1:20); or ESV ‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory’.
WIVES, HUSBANDS, SUFFERING AND A SUMMING UP
1 PETER 3:1-17
Wives have the injunction to act in a similar way. They are to “submit to the authority of your husbands”. We notice the word “similar”. Peter is dealing with a society quite different from ours. There was slavery. Thus slaves must recognize the authority of their masters and act in a submissive and Christian way as a response. This was in the bondage of slaves to masters. Also, there was the bondage of wives to the authority of husbands. One sees in various societies today, the autocratic behaviour of husbands and their treatment of wives. Some wives are second-class citizens.
A widow aged about forty visited me once. She sadly said to me, “I lost my husband. He was a husband who truly loved me. Indian husbands do not show such love as he did to their wives. They even love their children better”. Wives are beaten, even wives of Pastors!
Wives in the days of Peter were in a similar situation or even worse. Peter instructed them as he had the slaves, not to take social action (that was impossible to do anyway) but to submit to their husbands, even to the cruel ones.
He then went on to say that their humble, submissive and Christian behaviour could result in the conversion of unsaved husbands. The wives should have the beautiful character of gentleness and not one of loudness and retaliation. This would be precious in the sight of God. In itself it would give them beauty.
Therefore they did not need the costly luxury of fixing their hair with jewels, a multiplicity of gold bangles, ear-rings, finger and toe rings or necklaces. Such adornments would not add to any beauty that was within and reflected by their attitude of submission.
Peter related the story of Sarah’s obedience to Abraham, even calling him “lord”! These Christian women if they followed Peter’s instructions would be her daughters, provided they followed the pathway of goodness before their husbands. They were not to live in fear.
Then he gives an injunction to Christian husbands. They were to act to their wives in the manner in which he had instructed wives towards their husbands! Husbands, take note! Furthermore, they were not to be overbearing but rather were to give honour to their wives. After all, were not wives together with husbands, heirs of the eternal life given by the grace of God? Christian husbands were not to act towards their wives as did heathen ones.
Wives physically were weaker, e.g. they bore children and had the burden of menstruation, pregnancy and the giving of birth. Also, they were unable to exert the muscular strength given to men. They were not built strongly enough to be able to put up physically or emotionally with the beatings of husbands. They were unable to defend themselves.
Husbands should consider this in their treatment of their wives and not have “hardened hearts” towards them as did those in the day of Moses, according to what Jesus said.
Consideration should be given today to the fact that our culture is different. We do not live in the days of slavery or legal domination of men towards women.
In a final counselling, Peter informs them that as a body of believers all should be in unity of spirit and be full of love. Under any circumstance they should never repay evil or abuse with evil or abuse; on the contrary with a blessing. The believers’ calling is as inheritors of a blessing.
Then Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-16. He closes this portion regarding their suffering, whether by persecution or as slaves or wives, by saying that they could not be seriously harmed if they only followed the good. They should not be frightened when threatened, nor confused. Rather they should ‘enthrone Christ’ in their hearts. They should always be ready when asked to explain their Christian hope.
He gets on to what their behaviour should be in the face of even domestic abuse. It should be considerate, respectful and living holy lives. Peter says it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong.
I think that if Christian husbands do abuse their wives physically or emotionally, their wives have the Christian right to exhort and teach their husbands to follow what the Scriptures say about love of husbands to wives.
CHRIST’S SUFFERING, THE FLOOD AND BAPTISM
1 PETER 3:18-22
These verses have been the point of misunderstanding by many. After very much investigation and thought one has come to the following conclusions that seem to be the correct ones.
First of all, Peter explains how Christ even died, to pay a ransom once and for all the believers, to atone, as he says, “for our sins”. The Lord did this so that He might bring us into the presence of God. Otherwise, we would be far from God.
Cassirer is read as: “In his mortal nature he was put to death”.
Another translation is followed that then says: “He went through death in life”.
This means that His Spirit lived at all times during His mortal death. In fact, His Spirit ascended to the Father. Christ is “the Life” and in His Divinity, could never be touched by death.
Jesus Himself said that He would be so ascending, shown as follows:
Jesus, as our High Priest, took His
blood into heaven. This was typified by the Aaronic order where the High Priest
“went into” the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, with blood. Then he
“came out”. Jesus “went into” heaven and “came out” from that Holy Place to
enter His resurrected body. He, the Father and the Holy Spirit, each One, raised
Him from the dead.
See Leviticus 16:14 where the High Priest “went in” to the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and v.17 where he “came out”. This is the type of the anti-type by Jesus found here where Jesus also ‘went in’ and ‘came out’:
“And has gone once and for ever into the holy place, having got eternal salvation, not through the blood of goats and young oxen, but through his blood” BBE (Hebrews 9:12). (He entered in once).
‘So then, my brothers, being able to go into the holy place without fear, because of the blood of Jesus.
By the new and living way which he made open for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; ‘ BBE (Hebrews 10:20).
In these last two verses, we have confidence to enter into the holy place in heaven because of the blood of Jesus having been presented there. A wonderful truth is that Christ came and was made, under the Law:
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” KJV (Galatians 4:4; also , as in Romans 8:3).
‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh’ KJV.
He had a prepared temple of His body, under that Law. He was to redeem us. He died, leaving that temple to enter the temple and Holy Place of heaven. On earth, the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, had been torn in two by the hand of God as Christ died on the cross.
The veil of flesh that kept man out of that heavenly Holy place, also was torn by the hand of God as Jesus died on the cross. Through that torn veil of dead flesh, Jesus entered immediately into the presence of God on our behalf as our High Priest, with His sacrificial blood. That blood is living, being as said in Acts, ‘the blood of God’.
‘For this cause it was necessary to make the copies of the things in heaven clean with these offerings; but the things themselves are made clean with better offerings than these.
‘For Christ did not go into a holy place which had been made by men's hands as the copy of the true one; but he went into heaven itself, and now takes his place before the face of God for us.
‘And he did not have to make an offering of himself again and again, as the high priest goes into the holy place every year with blood which is not his; ‘For then he would have undergone a number of deaths from the time of the making of the world: but now he has come to us at the end of the old order, to put away sin by the offering of himself’ BBE (Heb.9:23-26).
In passing through the veil of His death, He left the sphere of Law and entered the realm of the Spirit and of grace. Believers entered in Him:
“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” KJV (Ephesians 2:5,6).
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God … For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” KJV (Colossians 3:1,3).
He entered heaven with His blood when His Spirit left the dead body and went up to paradise -
“Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.’ After he said this, he died” GW
One dying thief on his cross cried to the Lord Jesus in repentance for his sin:
“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
”And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” KJV (Luke 23:42,43).
This translation as do others says this: “I can guarantee this truth: Today you will be with me in paradise”. GW Instead of hell, He went to paradise. That very day, in fact as soon as death came, the Spirit of Jesus went up to heaven. He took with him, the now living spirit of the dead thief who truly believed in Him and in His death for sin. He had recognized that Jesus was not a sinner and therefore was suffering not on His own account but on that of others.
Peter now refers to the episode regarding Noah. He commences by stating how Christ, in His Spirit, preached through Noah, to those millions then alive but who were dead in their spirits. It was Noah who preached to them which is what Peter had in mind when writing 2 Peter 2:5.
Wuest translates it: “He made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits who were at one time rebels when the long-suffering of God waited out to the end in the days of Noah, while the ark was being made ready”. The Greek reads “having gone to the ones who were disobedient having made proclamation”.
It can only be that the Spirit of Christ in Noah was reaching out to the multitudes of sinners, waiting for a long time, one hundred and twenty years, not seeing their repentance.
‘But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD … Noah was in his generations a man righteous and whole-hearted; Noah walked with God’ KJV (Gen.6:8,9). This translation is: ‘But Noe found grace before the Lord God’ Brenton. In other words received grace and mercy enabling him to be a partaker of the grace of God in Christ.
The Jerusalem Targum says that he ‘found grace and mercy’. He had no merit of his own. Grace was provided on account of the mercy of God.
It was only ‘in Christ’ Noah partook of righteousness. The following verse shows that God was able to forgive sins for those of faith before Christ came, even as Noah found:
‘Whom God did set forth a mercy seat, through the faith in his blood, for the shewing forth of His righteousness, because of the passing over of the bygone sins in the forbearance of God-- for the shewing forth of His righteousness in the present time, for His being righteous, and declaring him righteous who is of the faith of Jesus’ YLT (Rom.3:25,26).
This following verse also clearly identifies that the sins done before Christ were forgiven and that righteousness was accounted to those who were of grace being thus found ‘in Christ’. It is always for everyone who will make heaven, that it is only because we are found in Him. The verse is quoted as:
‘Because Christ offered himself to God, he is able to bring a new promise from God. Through his death he paid the price to set people free from the sins they committed under the first promise. He did this so that those who are called can be guaranteed an inheritance that will last forever’ GW (Heb.9:15).
Noah understood that grace was given to him. He was saved because this grace through faith produced righteousness. The proclamation he then made over a period of 120 years, was one made in grace but which declared judgment.
That this meaning is correct is complemented by 2 Peter 2:5 where it says: “He saved Noah, a herald or preacher of righteousness with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly”.
Noah was a preacher about the righteousness of faith or of Christ. This is indicated by:
‘By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith’ ESV (Hebrews 11:7).
He was one of the prophets who knew something about Christ, probably understanding that the ark that would give them salvation, was a type of the Christ to come who would provide eternal salvation by faith. The Spirit of Christ was in him and so as he preached, it was really this very Spirit who was presenting the message to that very wicked generation:
‘… Who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories’ ESV (1 Peter 1:10,11, the same apostle of 2 Peter 2:5).
It is somewhat illogical to suggest, as many do, that these verses refer to Christ descending into hell after He died on the cross and preached there in order to release some and take them up into heaven. One may also well ask, “When could He have taken them up to heaven?” The main point is that it is impossible in such a scenario He would preach to and deliver only the godless of Noah’s day and not give a chance to the remaining sinners in hell.
Obviously, Jesus did not descend into hell to preach to the unsaved people who had been swept away by the flood. To do so would be a contravention against the Scriptures where it is stated: ‘And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment;’ KJV (Hebrews 9:27).
Young’s translation makes more sense: “Who sometime disbelieved, when once the long-suffering of God did wait, in days of Noah--an ark being preparing--in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water”.
The Bible does not say that Jesus descended into Hell. Rather it states He (His body) was in Sheol, “the grave” (Acts 2:27). That generally means decay of the body. To say He descended into Hell contradicts this found in Psalm 16:10: “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, neither will you allow your holy one to see decay”. The soul is part of the body while one lives on this earth. His body would never begin to decay as normally happens quickly in death.
The belief regarding descent into Hell was never part of the earlier Creeds of the church and only became such around the sixth century. It is not found in the earlier Athanasian Creed but is in the AD 620 (or so) Nicene Creed, as followed by the Anglican Church. That denomination did not come into existence until the time of King Henry VIII.
To continue in this passage of Scripture, we face the section about the ark, the water, eight finding salvation through refuge in the ark, passing through the water, baptism securing salvation, outward defilement and an appeal to God from the conscience.
We would present the following translation –
“This ark, in which only a small number of persons, eight in all, found refuge as they passed through the waters”.
That is clear enough. Now to the next phrase –
This “prefigured the baptism which is now our means of securing salvation.” Or “And baptism, which this prefigures, now saves you – not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. It is because Jesus was resurrected that we, who were raised with Him, know as God knows, that our consciences no longer condemn us.
It cannot be baptism in water. That does not secure our salvation. Those eight people found salvation, not in the water, but because they were in the Ark, that is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Ark of safety and of salvation.
The waters were the judgment on sinful human flesh. The baptism we faced was one of wrath and judgment, typified by their judgment. What is this baptism?
It is found in Colossians 2:12,13: “When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead”.
This baptism is one of death. Jesus said: “I have a baptism to be baptised with”. He was referring to His death. Believers have participated by faith and even experientially in that death or baptism, which was the wrath and judgment of God on Christ on our behalf. Peter, who had been one of those present when He announced this wonderful baptism for our sins, surely remembered what He said. He had the Holy Ghost inside of him to “bring all things to his remembrance” (John 14:28), Here it is:
“I came to cast fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is completed!” EMTV (Luke 49,50).
This was the baptism of His sufferings and death, also stated in:
But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup which I am about to drink, or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized with …’ EMTV (Matthew 20:22,23)”.
As He spoke of His sufferings and death being this baptism, He also indicated that the eleven disciples who followed Him would suffer the death of martyrdom, which all did.
There is also more importantly, the spiritual meaning attached to His baptism of death and our baptism with Him on the cross. As Paul said:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” ESV (Galatians 2:20).
Legally, this is what happened for believers:
”Or are you ignorant that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?´ LITV (Romans 6:3).; and
Our carnal nature legally was on the cross with Christ in His crucifixion. It was there its power was broken. We still have conflict between the ‘lust of the flesh and the Spirit’ , both being within us. When Jesus comes, sin will be destroyed and our carnal nature will no longer exist within our then immortal bodies. Here we have it again, clearly stated:
“Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed: and “We have died with Christ” (Romans 6:6,8).
‘In the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ, being buried with him in the baptism, in which also ye rose with him through the faith of the working of God, who did raise him out of the dead’ YLT (Col.2:11,12).
The circumcision of Christ is identified here as His death being a baptism. Our carnal nature was put off in that act of Christ’s. We were participants in His death because we were accounted to have died with Him. When He arose, our rising with Him was assured. It became ours when we by faith He became our personal Savior.
Peter says that it is this baptism that now saves us. Unless we have by faith, experienced this death or baptism with Christ, we do not have salvation. Such is the reality and we do undergo water baptism as a type of the this actuality of our death and burial with Christ.
“This baptism of ours not being the removal of any outward defilement, but in truth, an appeal to God proceeding from an untroubled conscience, an appeal made in reliance on the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
Our death with Christ, this baptism, is far better than the Old Testament Law provision. Then there had to be a removal of outward defilement. This was evidenced in the cleansing by the Priests and even cleansing in relation to defilement by touching a dead body, Leviticus 11:24;15:13; 16:24,26 and so on.
We must look at Hebrews 9:13,14: “If the blood of bulls and goats sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified,
“How much more will the blood of Christ, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God”.
It was also our outward purification, that of our flesh.
Now, says Peter, it is inward purification, as stated in Hebrews 10:19,22: “We have confidence by the blood of Jesus. Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience”.
As said, this inward cleanliness or purification, extends before God to our bodies also being clean in His sight. Wonder of wonders, marvel of marvels that this should be so!
Having risen with Christ in His resurrection, this being experiential on faith in Him for redemption, our consciences are clear. There is no condemnation for us.
At the moment of resurrection, which was the time of our salvation or being born anew, our consciences made appeal to God for absolution and freedom from sin’s guilt. This was because Jesus Christ was resurrected. It is given to us.
The same Christ eventually entered heaven where He is now, being in such authority that all the angelic authorities and powers have “declared their submission to Him”.
Obviously, Peter is saying that this being the case, you all must live in submission to whoever has power over you in this life. In fact, as Paul has said, “Be submissive one to the other”.
The emphasis of this chapter is on submission to God and to others, and it is to be by all believers. Christ, He says, was submissive and is now seated in glory. We for now, are to be submissive and one day we too will be seated in glory, this being our hope to be revealed.
It does not mean we submit to evil or to another’s wrong suggestion. It does not mean we should submit to wrong doctrine or to anything that the Bible does not teach. We should find the truth for ourselves and submit to Christ alone.
There is suffering for the believer in this world. It cannot be avoided. However, there is faith in the midst of it all. They can be full of love one for the other and can bless those who abuse and persecute them.
TO LIVE IN THE SPIRIT
1 PETER 4:1-11
“So that as Jesus was put to death in the flesh, do you yourselves be of the same mind; for the death of the flesh puts an end to sin;
So that you may give the rest of your lives in the flesh, not to the desires of men, but to the purpose of God.
Because for long enough, in times past, we have been living after the way of the Gentiles, given up to the desires of the flesh, to drinking and feasting and loose behaviour and unclean worship of images;” Translation BBE
This translation appears to give the best clarity in relation to Peter’s thrust regarding these verses 1-3. In the first verse, he says Jesus died in body and we are to be included in that death as shown above, in that our flesh which is our carnal nature died with Christ. As to the second verse, they would be living in the body, but to the purpose of God and not that of men. These Christians had been living in idolatry and its accompanying sins. Now their lives were different.
In verse 6, there was still judgment on their human flesh, i.e. their bodies. This is the case with all men. That is the reason death is the fate of all mankind. Even the believer’s body is under the judgment of God. It has to die or if the Lord comes, be changed. In Romans 8:23 we learn about God’s final judgment on the body of the believer – ‘We wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies’. However, they had been judged in their carnal natures, with Christ on the cross. The purpose of this judgment is that ‘they might live in the spirit as God does’. This is explained in Romans 8:13,14,
“If you live according to the flesh (carnal nature) you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God”. This death is eternity spent in hell.
These believers, as Peter said, were to live in love, showing hospitality. There were evidently many who lived in freedom, probably some having slaves and others also having wealth. They were to serve one another, not in their own strength but in God’s strength.
THE FIERY ORDEAL
1 PETER 4:12-19
The whole body of believers was facing a test in that many were being reviled and persecuted and were suffering. We learn much as to what this suffering really meant in their Christian walk.
It was a fiery ordeal. It tested everyone. It was not something strange, but meant they were sharing Christ’s sufferings. When His glory would be revealed at the time of His coming, gladness and shouts of joy would be their portion. Peter said that if they were “reviled in the name of Christ’ they were blessed for the reason that the Spirit of glory rested upon them, this being the Spirit of God. This operation of the Spirit was a special one for this special occasion of suffering.
He warns them to make sure there was no suffering due to any one of them being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or even as a mischief maker. Yet suffering as a Christian was not a disgrace but something with which to glorify God because it meant they bore His name. This persecution was the judgment of God as says verses 17,18:
‘God has already begun judging his own people. And if his judgment begins with us, imagine how terrible it will be for those who refuse to obey his message. The Scriptures say,
If the righteous barely escape, what will happen to sinners and to others who don't respect God?’
Finally, Peter tells them that those who suffer for Christ should entrust themselves to a ‘faithful Creator’.
1 PETER 5:1-6
Peter now speaks as an “Elder”. We know he was an Apostle. Here he considers himself an Elder, or Pastor, or Shepherd, or Bishop. According to the Ancients, those four words are interchangeable for the one office, which is that of Pastor/Teacher, mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. The Elders to whom Peter addressed himself were to “tend the flock of God” which is the work of a shepherd. The sheep were in their charge and they were to exercise the oversight of them.
We do not know how many Elders were in one place. I would suggest it would be one if the assembly was small. Maybe more if there was a large congregation. Apparently in 2 John verse 1 there was one Elder, or Shepherd who was the “elect lady”, a woman Pastor..
“For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” as said by Peter in 1 Peter 2:25 shows that Jesus Christ is both Shepherd and Bishop over all believers. Those words there are also interchangeable..
1 Timothy 3:1,5 shows the office of a ”bishop and that he is “to take care of God’s church”, which is the same as “to tend the flock” above...
Special note should be taken of verse 5 – “Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock”. Jesus when at the Last Supper, took a towel, wrapped it around Himself and washed the feet of the disciples. He was the Lord of Glory yet acting as a servant in humility to them. This is how Pastor/Teachers and other ministries should act always with this attitude. It is not meant for anyone to engage in foot-washing as some do!
There is a certain amount of spiritual authority carried by ministries and this should be submitted to. If their doctrine is wrong in any aspect, that part should not be received. They as ministries can sometimes be honoured. Each believer personally should be examining closely all preaching of the gospel to make sure they are hearing Truth.
Merely because a preacher has a large church or is on Television does not mean that God has exalted him. There could be many reasons for this kind of a situation.
Peter goes on to say that these shepherds and the flock, are to be humble because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. All are to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. In due time such will be exalted – in heaven, praise the Lord.
THE DEVIL AND SUFFERING
1 PETER 5:7-11
There is only one thing to do when a believer has anxiety. It is for it to be “cast on the Lord”, upon His shoulders. Then the believer is not anxious.
This calls for discipline and being alert because the devil is like a roaring lion, prowling around to devour someone. It should be noted that the main point of this epistle was their suffering. The suffering under God, was exacted by the devil through the unbelievers. He is the god of this world and has them in his influence.
Today, many fail to see that the devil comes against believers. It is mainly through persecutions and heresies. How is he inside a believer? How can he have the power to whisper to a believer – unless it is through the words of others, mainly unbelievers. A false teacher or a false prophet or apostle, follows his own or others’ ideas, lusts or imaginations. They are really from a demonic source.
Peter told them to “Resist him” and then tied the devil’s roaring in with suffering when he said, “For you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you”.
This portion ends with a voice of praise: “To him be the power forever and ever. Amen”
Peter had written this letter to encourage those believers and to testify that “this is the true grace of God in which you stand”.
Barnes says “That the religion in which you stand, or which you now hold, is that which is identified with the grace or favour of God. Christianity, not Judaism, or Paganism, was the true religion. To show this, and bear continual witness to it, was the leading design of the apostolic office.”
We cannot follow paganism or have Judaism as Christians.
2 Peter 1:4
There has been some confusion about “partakers of the Divine nature” in the thinking of some preachers. The following should set the record straight.
We are not the righteousness of Christ or as righteous as He is (Kenyon, Hagin, Copeland). It is not that we become little gods or little Christs, as some leading preachers (Hinn, Cerullo) say. Far from it. We are made partakers and that is far short of what God is. He alone is the “I Am”.
It is in the Lord that we have righteousness, only in Him. Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. We are united to Christ. There is a spiritual union of Christ and the believer. We become partakers of the Divine nature by being implanted into him. We are grafted in. We are united unto Him, as members of His mystical body.
I am not righteous par se. I am righteous in Christ. Christ is my righteousness.
The Divine nature is not fused into us so that it is inherently so or subjectively in us, as was Christ. It is not the absolute nature of God in us. It is by grace and in it glory is added. Adam had nothing like this. What we have as the redeemed is far greater. Christ is the Life, and He is our eternal life. Christ in us is the hope of glory. “Our life is hid with Christ in God”. “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit”.
The following from the writings of John Owen, England’s greatest theologian should clarify the matter. His words have been simplified and occasionally there has been some addition.“He communicates himself unto us by the formation of a new nature, his own nature, in us. The very same spiritual nature is in him and in the church. Only, it is so with this difference, that in him it is in the absolute perfection of all those glorious graces wherein it consists. In the church it is in various measures and degrees, according to His will.
But the same divine nature that is in him is in us. Through the precious promises of the gospel, we are made partakers of the Divine nature. It is not enough for us that he has taken our nature to be his, unless he gives us also his nature to be ours. This means He implants within the believer, the substance of all those gracious qualifications that He Himself has in His human nature.
This is the new man, the new
creature, that divine nature, that spirit which is born of the Spirit in the
believer. It is a transformation into the image of Christ. It is putting Him on,
the workmanship of God so that we are created in Him.”
It does not mean “I am” the Divine nature, “I am a god” or “I am Christ”. We are “partakers of the Divine nature” as above stated.
John 3:6; Romans 6:3-8; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17; Ephesians 4:20-24; 2 Peter 1:4.
That new heavenly nature formed in believers, is the first act of the union between Christ and us. This is by the same Spirit dwelling within. It is peculiarly His nature.
He says of the church, His Bride, “‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh’. He sees Himself, His own nature in us. We are thus desirable to Him. He begins what one day will culminate in the time when He “presents it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but holy and without blemish”.
There is a continual communication from the fullness of His grace by His Spirit unto the church. The operation of the Holy Spirit in His manifestations as seen in the book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 cannot be over emphasized. We need them all today. There is not a single verse of Scripture saying they ceased or would cease. We are still living imperfect lives, in an imperfect world. We are in a church not yet perfect. That will not happen until we are in glory.
As believers we live, yet it is not us, but Christ lives in us. We live by the constitution and law of the gospel. Galatians 2:19 “Through the Law I died to the Law”. We are under a new and living way and not under the Law of the Old Testament in its legal form. This was the Law of commands and prohibitions. We are under the law glorified in the atonement. The letters of the Law written on stones by the finger of God are not a legal obligation for us. We are dead to the Law. His new Law is written in our hearts by the Spirit.
We are under grace through faith that has the operation of the Holy Spirit producing righteous and holiness in our state before God and of every-day living. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit”. “Love is the fulfilling of the Law”, Romans 13:10.
Many misunderstand the relationship of the Old Testament Law to the gospel days. It is as stated above.
2 PETER 3:8: This verse says that “with the Lord a day can mean a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day”. It does not say that a thousand years is one day! Yet multitudes of preachers and believers use this verse as a basis for their belief in seven dispensations of time for the world. Supposedly, the millennium occurs during the seventh dispensations. It was supposed to end in 1992, 1997 or AD 2000. Well, we are all still here! There is no reign of Christ on earth! The conclusion must be that their dispensational teaching is wrong. Given that the above verse is used incorrectly, one cannot wonder at the error.
2 PETER 3:9: “Now what is really happening is that He exhibits the patience He has with us, his intention being that there should be enough time that none should perish”. This verse is used incorrectly in relation to sinners to approve the belief that God does not choose His beloved believers. For those who follow this belief, God’s will is that every person born into this world from the time of Adam until now could be saved. Others wrongly teach the false doctrine of universal salvation.
One can see how the verse is about “us”, meaning “believers” and not the unsaved. “Us” is the group of people who with Peter have become believers. This is the “us”. The general understanding of this verse has to be wrong. Neither does it have any application to the erroneous doctrine regarding “Universal Salvation”. There is this anomaly, that millions, probably billions over the millennia have never heard the gospel and many more will not hear!
2 PETER 3:10: “But the Day of the Lord will come, and when it comes, it will be upon us like a thief; and then the heavens will vanish away with a great rushing sound, the elements, all aflame, will dissolve into nothingness, no trace being left of the earth or of anything contained in it.”
Some believers do not believe this will happen. It is clear enough in the Scriptures, whatever version one reads.
2 PETER 3:13: “However, what we may expect, in accordance with the promise which God has made, is this, that there will be new heavens and a new earth, righteousness having its dwelling place in them”.
John saw the Holy City coming down
from heaven to earth. It obviously was descending to the new earth taught by
This was the hope Peter spoke about when he began his first letter.
He concludes and I quote the wonderful words;
“Your aim must be that the grace bestowed on you by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the knowledge you have of him, should ever increase. May all the glory be his, now and to the Day of Eternity”.
This is also the hope of believers who live in this day and age.