Bible Study
1st and 2nd Peter - Program 04

Douglas S. Winnail

This Bible Study is part of the "1st and 2nd Peter" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series

Christianity involves coming out of this world. It involves learning what sin is and learning not to do it. That is part of the challenge that we are going to have to deal with. We have to learn to resist the lust of the flesh--and live and follow the will of God.

I am Doug Winnail, a Pastor with the Living Church of God. We are continuing with our Bible Study of 1 Peter. In this segment we will cover Chapter 4 and Chapter 5. We have been going through Chapter 3, where Peter was talking about the importance of suffering in the life of a Christian and how to deal with suffering. Peter was writing to a group of scattered Christians in the northern part of Asia Minor who were dealing with persecution.

1 Peter 4:1

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.

He is saying is that Christ suffered for us and we are going to suffer too. We are going to cease from sin.

1 Peter 4:2

That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men…

Christianity involves coming out of this world. It involves learning what sin is and learning not to do it. That is part of the challenge that we are going to have to deal with. We have to learn to resist the lust of the flesh--and live and follow the will of God.

1 Peter 4:3

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime [Our former, sinful lifestyle] in doing the will of the Gentiles [people not living according to the Laws of God]; when we walked in lewdness [The Bible does outline things that we should not be doing.], lewdness [sexual types of sins] lusts, drunkenness, revelries, ["Party time"] drinking, and abominable idolatries.

Today, society keeps the holidays of the world--Christmas, Easter and many like that--which were pagan holidays in times past. Just because society gives those holidays Christian names does not mean that they are Christian practices.

1 Peter 4:4

In regard to these, they think [He is talking about one’s former friends.] it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

Today, if a person is against abortion and against homosexuality, he is viewed as a radical extremist, yet he is upholding the Laws of God. Our society today is so turned around and so upside down that it views someone who is trying to live by the Word of God as an extremist. To put this in a historical perspective, the people to whom Peter was writing were living in the Roman Empire, where there was a lot of licentiousness. There was a lot of partying, especially in the upper classes. If a person was converted out of that, it would become very noticeable. People would notice when a person’s lifestyle really changed. Peter is trying to encourage them. He says, "Your friends and neighbors will think you have gone off your rocker, that you are an extremist, that you have gone nuts." Yet God wants us to live differently. These people who do not want to live God’s way will give an account to Him—there is going to be a judgment coming on them--"Jesus Christ is ready to judge and will come back to judge the living and the dead."

1 Peter 4:6

For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead [Those in the grave.], that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

In verse 7 of Chapter 4, Peter returns again to positive encouragement about Christian living principles. He was writing to people who are being persecuted.

1 Peter 4:7

But the end of all things is at hand [There is a judgment coming. Jesus Christ is going to return.]; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.

Stay focused on your calling. Stay focused on the Truth. Stay focused on living a Christian life.

1 Peter 4:8-10

And above all things have fervent love for one another [Peter comes back to this point over and over again in spite of trials, in spite of the persecution.], have fervent love [Not judgment, not put downs, but love.] for one another for "love will cover a multitude of sins." Be hospitable to one another [Reaching out to those who have needs, being considerate and concerned for other people.] without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another…

Use the gifts that God has given you. If you are a hard-working person, work in ways to help other people. If you are a friendly, outgoing person, be friendly in a way that encourages people. If you have a really sharp mind, use it to help people understand difficult issues.

1 Peter 4:10-12

…as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. [If you are speaking the Word of God, do it sincerely. Do it honestly. Don’t play games with the Word of God.] If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God [gives and] supplies, that in all things God may be glorified [In all too many cases, we do things so we can be glorified. Peter is saying to do what you do so that God may be glorified.]… Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you…

When we are called, we tend to think that we have become a Christian, so our life should be like a greased slide into heaven, so to speak. But that is not what Peter is talking about. One of the reasons people think Peter was writing from Rome around 62 or 63 AD is because Nero burned Rome. He blamed the Christians. These fiery trials, then, had to do with Christians that had been burned at the stake, a number of them every evening in his garden, so it is probably a play on words here. This is one of the reasons some people think Peter was writing from Rome in about 62 AD.

The point is, he is addressing fiery trials that Christians will go through. He says, "which will try you. Don’t be surprised and think it is something strange. But he says: "Rejoice." In order to do this, we have to have a proper perspective. We have to know that God exists. We have to know that God is concerned; that God is molding and fashioning us and that He is going to bring us through.

He says, "Rejoice." It is interesting that James addresses the same subject in the first chapter of James, talking about rejoicing in trials.

1 Peter 4:13

But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings [Keep in mind that we are following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. He suffered; so will we.], that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

Jesus Christ is going to return. He is going to reward those that endure through trials.

1 Peter 4:14-17

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed [or to be envied are you because God is watching] are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer [Don’t be guilty of something that is evil, because he said you will suffer.], a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian [This should be our reason. IF we stand up for what we believe and we have to suffer for that, he says that comes with the territory.], let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Peter is saying that judgment is coming and if it looks like Christians will just barely make it, it will be really hard for those who don’t understand the Truth and who continue to disobey God.

Quoting Ezekiel 9:6…

1 Peter 4:18

Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

This is kind of a play on words. It is basically saying there is a judgment coming for everyone. If Christians just barely make it, rest assured that those who are disobeying the Laws of God are also going to be judged.

1 Peter 4:19

Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

We will continue now in Chapter 5. Peter addresses the elders in the churches that he is writing to in northern Asia Minor. He says…

1 Peter 5:1

The elders who are among you I exhort [I am writing to encourage you.], I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of [Jesus] Christ,

Peter comes back to this emphasis on being a witness and being there and seeing these things. He was not just making these things up; he was there. He was an elder. He was a witness for the sufferings of Jesus Christ and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed. To those elders he says…

1 Peter 5:2-5

Shepherd [watch over, take care of, be concerned about] the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers [The word "overseer" comes from the Greek word episkopos, which means a bishop, one who is actually in an office, in charge of a congregation. Some people think that we should not have ministers and that nobody should have an office. Yet the word here, episkopos, actually means one who is an overseer, who is in charge of something.], not by compulsion [You don’t just take over things and start ordering people around.] but willingly [humbly, earnestly], not for dishonest gain but eagerly; [Being willing to serve.] nor as being lords [not domineering over people] over those entrusted to you, but being examples [concerned, compassionate, unmovable in terms of doctrine, holding steady, building on a rock] to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. [There is going to be a reward if you do your job and you do it carefully.] Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. [This is practical advice for any young people. Some commentaries suggest that he is actually writing here to younger men in the Church. Be subject to your elders, respect them, honor them.] Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility…

"Learn to work together," is what Peter is saying. Sometimes during trials and tribulations, our worst characteristics come out. Peter is saying, "Even under trials submit yourselves to one another, be of one mind, be clothed with humility." He backs this up with very powerful reasons. Quoting Proverbs 3:34 he says:

1 Peter 5:5

…for "God resists the proud [Now, a person may claim to be a Christian, but if he is proud, God is going to look the other way.], but gives grace to the humble."

He gives grace to humble men who are willing to work with other men. He gives grace-- unmerited pardon--to a woman who is willing to work with her husband, as we read in Chapter 3. He gives grace to employees who respect the boss even if they find it difficult.

1 Peter 5:6-7

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, [God sees; God knows.] casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

You don’t have to take it in your hands to try and straighten out a situation or get back at somebody. God is concerned. He cares for you just like a parent cares for a child in a loving manner. But then He warns. He says…

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion [Paul is writing in the days of the Roman Empire, the days of the Coliseum, the days when Christians were being thrown to the lions, so he is drawing a very real analogy. But, he says, Satan is even more powerful than a physical lion.], seeking whom he may devour.

When he sees your attitude go off in a wrong direction, he knows that he can bite at you and probably get to you. Peter says, "Resist." Peter is writing to people who are going through trials.

1 Peter 5:9-10

Resist him, steadfast in the faith [Hold on to what you know is right and true.], knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in [around] the world. [Many people were going through trials at this time.] But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

God will watch over you; God will bring you through. Then Peter brings things to a conclusion.

1 Peter 5:11

To Him [That is, to Jesus Christ] be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Now, he has a couple verses at the end of the chapter, the end of the book.

1 Peter 5:12-14

By Silvanus [This was Silas; Silas apparently was helping Peter write this.], our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. She who is in Babylon [The implication is that Peter was writing from Babylon. Some people think that "Babylon" is a reference to Rome.], elect together with you [That is, the Christians wherever Peter was writing from], greets you; and so does Mark my son. [very possibly the Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark; he spent quite a bit of time with Peter.] Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

This brings us to the conclusion of 1 Peter. We will continue our study next time with the book of 2 Peter. I am Doug Winnail, with the Living Church of God.