November 14 - Suffering

Friday, November 14, 2008

November 14 - Suffering - 1 Peter 3:13-22

Here he goes again - presupposing that as Christians, we are going to 'do good.' Just gotta love him. It isn't every pastor that has that much faith in his people. 1 Peter 3:13 is a rhetorical question, yet even though we do what is good - persecution will still occur. Matthew 5:10-12 is the original beatitude (blessedness) that Peter is remembering. And in 1 Peter 3:14, he continues by quoting Isaiah 8:12-13. Christians shouldn't fear their enemies, but should instead, fear God (Matthew 10:28).

Peter says we are to set apart Christ as Lord "in our hearts." (1 Peter 3:15) Notice that he also used this in 1 Peter 1:22 when he speaks of how we are to love one another deeply. For him, the heart was the core self of the person (Peter H. Davids, Commentary). This is so much more than an intellectual process. This is commitment - on our parts. We honor Christ with everything that we are.

1 Peter 3:15 is probably one of my watchword verses. I want to be able to tell people confidently why I have the hope that I do. Hope is one of those things that Peter talks about a lot. 1 Peter 1: 3, 13, 21.

I have plenty to say about the last 1/2 of this verse - speaking with gentleness and respect, but I think that's a blog for another time. What I will say is that a lack of these two qualities is one of the reasons that non-Christians see hypocrisy and refuse to listen to us. I'm just saying ...

We are to imitate Christ. If we think that our suffering is too much, Christ suffered for absolutely no reason - other than to save us. He was the righteous one and He died for people He would never meet, simply because they could not ever atone for their unrighteousness.

The words in 1 Peter 3:18 " bring you to God," come from a technical term that means to "gain audience at court" (probably more like a King's court). Peter is saying that all of this was done for us so that we could have full access to the throne room. Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 2:18, 3:12 and in Romans 5:2.

1 Peter 3:19-20 are difficult verses to interpret. Is Peter talking about imprisoned angels? Is he talking about souls in Hades? Peter Davids says that there are several interpretations - OT Souls of the faithful, souls who died in the flood and are awaiting the gospel proclamation, fallen angels of Genesis 6:1, demons - the offspring of the fallen angels. The word "preach" is a term that means to 'proclaim' or 'announce.' What Jesus is proclaiming is also debatable. This term, if it is meant to be a proclamation of judgment is not used anywhere else that way in scripture. (Luke 12:3; Rom. 2:21; Rev. 5:2).

Clearly, they disobeyed during the time that Noah built the ark. There were 10 generations from Adam to Noah, so there was plenty of time for disobedience. God exercised great patience through that time.

Peter is making a comparison of these few that were saved on the ark, to the small Christian minority that are dealing with persecution.

Peter makes it very clear through these passages, that we are not to expect special favors from the world because we are Christians. If our 'rights' are trod upon due to the fact that we are Christians, we are to take it. With grace. We are not to get as ugly as the world gets in this fight. Because suffering for God brings a blessing.

Baptism in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is what saves us. Laws meant to protect us are created by the world and mean nothing in the end game. Christ's resurrection is the means of salvation.

All angels, authorities and power will be in submission to Him.

Holiness sometimes means more on the inside than it does on the outside.