You are hereEntry One Hundred Seventy-Seven: Peter WAS Listening!
Entry One Hundred Seventy-Seven: Peter WAS Listening!
177) PETER WAS LISTENING I Peter, II Peter
- This entry, covering three days of reading, touches on topics such as SUFFERING, GODLY THINKING & GODLY LIVING, SUBMISSION, HUMILITY, ELDERS, TRUST, GROWTH, FALSE TEACHING, NOT FALLING AWAY, and AN APPRECIATION OF GOD’S PATIENCE. Even though Peter wasn’t mentioned again in the book of Acts after the Jerusalem conference, he evidently carried on his ministry concurrently with Paul, and he even relied on some of the same people. For instance, Silas helped to write this book, just as he had helped Paul, and John Mark, was with Peter at the time of his writing. Peter’s books were written to an audience with whom Paul had also interacted. And Peter even referred to Paul’s writings as “scripture”, so he had obviously been exposed to Paul’s letters.
- Peter was writing a message of encouragement during times of persecution and suffering, so it makes sense that it might have been just after Paul was martyred. The fact that he wrote it from “Babylon” leads many scholars to believe that he wrote it from Rome, and tradition holds that Peter was eventually martyred in the time of Nero, crucified upside down. (We’ll have to ask about that one in heaven!)
- For all the talk about suffering, I have always found this book to be very “upbeat”. Perhaps that is in keeping with Peter’s temperament, a “sanguine”, if you will. Other ministers have joked that Peter had “foot in mouth disease”, meaning that he was always saying things that got him in trouble! (None of the other twelve apostles dared to rebuke Jesus!) On the positive side, that meant he got more “discipling” than the others, amen??!! With that in mind, I entitled this entry, “Peter WAS Listening!”
- Chapter One
- Peter began his letter by praising God! Even though he referred to suffering early on, he couched it the language of faith – grief and trials are nothing in comparison to our incredible inheritance in Jesus! What is the outcome? An “inexpressible and glorious joy”. Peter was filled with joy, and he wanted all Christians to have what he had! He didn’t feel persecuted – he felt privileged – “even angels long to look into these things.”
- Again, we must remember what the word, “therefore” is there for…(forgive the poor grammar!) Since what we have is worth much more than gold, and we’re filled with joy, etc, etc, Peter wanted his audience to understand that it was more than theology - A life change and attitude change was demanded here! They needed to be holy! My old campus minister, Mike Hammonds, explained to us that the phrase, “prepare your minds for action” implied the was a Roman soldier would pull up his skirt before battle – or as the King James Version puts it, “gird up the loins of your mind”. In end of 20th Century vernacular, “put a girdle on your brain”…Ok, maybe this is getting a bit ridiculous! The meaning is the same – pay attention to your thoughts, be self-controlled cause you are in a spiritual battle, instead of thinking about sin and worry, focus on your hope of heaven…
- There is a “fear of God” element here. The sacrifice of Jesus demands nothing less. And not surprising from a relationship guy like Peter, a big part of being holy meant sincere love for the brethren, from the heart. Why? Because we have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (Chapter Two) Since the word is so powerful and unchanging, we should crave it, the way a new baby craves milk, so that we can grow. Hand in hand with that, we must get rid of the sins that are causing trouble in our relationships.
- Peter quoted both the Old Testament and the Lord when he spoke of stones. He surely remembered the occasion near the end of Jesus’ life where Jesus quoted the same passage from Psalm 118 when taking a dig at the religious establishment.
17Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone… 18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." 19The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. (Luke 20)
- Peter was listening!
- In light of this, we need to remember that we are chosen, royalty! Do we walk down the street with our heads held up high? We should, not because of WHO we are, but because of whose we are!
- And when we understand that, we will surely understand that we are citizens of another “world”, so it makes sense that we would see ourselves as “as aliens and strangers in the world”. This point of view encourages us to get rid of sinful behaviour. Over and over, whether in Paul’s writings or James’ or Peter’s, we see that our thinking is paramount in determining our behaviour. Therefore, when we get our thinking right, we have an easier time sticking to what we have promised. There are many motivations for doing this – wanting to please God, imitating Jesus, etc, but the fisherman turned apostle gave us another reason:
- 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
- This is similar to what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount – hey, Peter was listening!
- As Peter matured in his leadership and meditated on Jesus’ words many years earlier to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's,” he correctly applied that to a number of situations, and came up with a good rule of thumb for us:
13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
- Peter may have been “unschooled and ordinary”, but God had certainly multiplied his intelligence, and he was able to reason quite well! In today’s world, submission is a dirty word, but God sees things differently – he expects us to submit to authority, which is actually a sign of a godly character.
- Who better to understand submission and suffering than slaves? The disciples who were slaves had a double burden – not only did they have to persevere in the face of Christian persecution, but some of them also were employed by harsh non-Christian masters. Peter felt for them and gave them hope by comparing their situation to that of Jesus’:
21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
- This passage is a good reminder not just for slaves but for all of us who were made slaves to Christ at our baptism. We need to surrender and let God be the judge. Help me, O Lord, to follow in Jesus’ steps.
- Chapter Three
- Just as Paul had written about submission and then gone into detail about family relationships, Peter, too has something to say about that subject: 1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
- This is a hard teaching for women – I can remember at least one occasion where I cried out to God during a prayer walk and asked him, “Why?” It is hard to submit to one’s husband, no matter how godly they are, because submission is hard, full stop! But it is even more difficult when it is the person you live with and whose faults you see up close every day! When I follow God’s way, however, I am happier – somehow it just works that way!
- And besides, it is only fair that I take this passage seriously, because I want my husband to take the part about being considerate and respectful seriously!
- The “beauty tips” God gave us through Peter are timeless – I have seen plenty of women who spend tens of thousands on hair, make-up, clothes, and surgery but don’t look half as beautiful as someone who is radiant because of their spirituality!
- Peter went from specifics for slaves and couples to a general admonition for all to be godly in the way they treat one another. He wanted us to see the importance of doing good to one another and to outsiders. The heart of the command is in verse 15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
- Peter acknowledged that as we live that life, there will be those who speak against us and we will suffer for doing good. He somehow managed to tie that to Noah and the ark (I have never quite got the link there) but then he made an interesting analogy – just as the eight people on the ark were saved through water, the water of baptism also saves us, by the resurrection of Jesus, as we pledge a good conscience toward God. What an interesting way to think about salvation. And surely that’s what repentance is – pledging a good conscience toward God!
- Chapter Four
- After this bit of doctrine/theology, Peter wrote for a bit about godly living using the word “arm” – we are in a spiritual battle! Only this time, the armour is not a spiritual trait, but our “attitude”. We are back to the idea of spiritual thinking! This is how we are able to overcome temptations! Instead of giving into sin, the way the pagans do, Peter directed his readers to be aware that time was short, and to use that as motivation to be Christ-like.
- *Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
- *Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. *Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
- *Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
- These are good behaviours to practice no matter what stage of our Christian life we are in…
- From there, Peter went back to his “suffering motif”, and told his audience that they shouldn’t be upset when they suffer if they are suffering for Christ. (However, if you suffer for crimes you have committed, then you are reaping what you sowed!) This is the only time the word Christian appears in the New Testament, other than Luke’s two usages in the book of Acts.
- Peter even managed to give instructions to elders, and, unlike Paul, he was an elder (presumably because elders had to be married with children). He urged his fellow elders to truly shepherd and serve their flocks, to lead by example, with willing and eager hearts, never doing it for the money or power. The result will be an unfading reward from the “Chief Shepherd”.
- Peter also instructed the young men to be submissive toward the older men, and reminded all Christians to clothe themselves with humility toward one another, since
- "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
- Ahh, Peter WAS listening!
- Peter closed out his first letter with words of comfort and warning and final greetings:
- *Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
- *Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
- *Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
- God does lift us up when we trust him to work things out – that is why humility works! Remember Jesus in Phil 2 – he made himself nothing…and then we take that same trust and cast our anxiety and burdens on him, because he does really care about us! God desires that we pour out our hearts in prayer to him! And he wants us to beware of Satan’s schemes. Part of how we resist the devil is to remember that our brothers and sisters around the world are going through the same temptations and suffering that we are (or much worse!) That’s one of the reasons I love ICOC HOT NEWS and DISCIPLES TODAY – we can keep up with disciples from around the world and be comforted when we see them overcoming!
…And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen….
- THE BOOK OF II PETER
- Peter knew he was about to die (1:14-15), so he decided to write one more letter. I can relate to this idea – I sometimes think that I should write a book for my kids in case I leave this earth sooner than I hope…Peter was writing for his spiritual children, so that they would remember his words.
- I have always held on to the promise of verse 3: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…That helps me to know that I can rely on God and his word and his church for everything I need!
- Peter wanted his readers to be grateful for salvation, and to use that as motivation for constant spiritual growth:
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
- The wisdom contained here is immense. We would all do well to memorize this section of scripture, because it contains such important truths:
- If we understand the promises of God, we will seek growth, in these areas in particular.
- If we keep growing in these areas, we will be effective and productive as disciples.
- If we don’t keep growing, it is a sure sign that we are spiritually blind and ungrateful (specifically, that we have forgotten that we have been cleansed from our past sins!)
- If we keep growing, we will never fall!
- Sounds pretty convincing! No wonder we should have time with God everyday and make sure we are getting spurred on by brothers and sisters in the body!
- I always get encouraged by the next paragraph cause it reminds me that no matter what mistakes I have made as a Christian, I can move forward. After all, look at Peter! He was the apostle who identified Jesus as Lord, but a few sentences later, rebuked him! God decided to tell Peter to be quiet – remember the story of the Transfiguration? When Peter suggested that they stay on the mountain, God said,
- While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matt 17:5)
- As Wee Keong preached on Sunday, it is possible that Peter wanted the crown without the cross – he wanted the rewards of being with Jesus without the hard work and suffering and serving and loving that are demanded by the Christian life. God had put him in his place that day on the mountain, and as we can tell from II Peter 1:16-18, PETER WAS LISTENING!!!
16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
- Peter figured it all out – and he also knew that the bible wasn’t man made – especially since he was one of the “men” writing it! He wanted everyone to understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Amen!
- The next part of his letter is a warning against false teaching and false teachers, as well as strong motivation to not fall away: 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
- Peter closes out this short letter by reminding his audience that the Lord is coming back, and that they should be grateful he is taking a while, since his slowness brings more salvation! The inevitable destruction, however, should motivate us to repent, be godly, and blameless. He referred to Paul’s writings as Scripture, and urged all to be on their guard against the false teaching and error of lawless men so that they wouldn’t fall from their secure positions. He ended with the encouragment to grow in Christ…a good “dad” reminding all of his kids to stay faithful!