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    Bible Study - Thread: Bible Study 1 Peter 1:1-12

    1. #1
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      Bible Study 1 Peter 1:1-12

      From this book of 1 Peter I believe there are several key ideas:
      1. God has a purpose and a design for each one of us and our suffering and trials are something we should see as something that God uses to mold us into Christlikeness and make us more useful for His glory
      2. Peter saw that our faith should be demonstrated in our love and commitment to each other in the church body. The church is not limited to a denomination
      3. Our love is demonstrated in our actions. First and foremost by our actions and attitudes such as love, gentleness, self-control and faith. We can make a conscious choice each day to put on these attributes.
      4. God has a reward for each one us which is an imperishable reward in heaven awaiting us.
      5. This world and all that is in it is perishing. We aren’t to place our faith and hope in the things of this world.

      Introduction in Chapter 1:1-2
      The author of this letter is said to be the apostle Peter. He states that he is in a place called “Babylon” in chapter 5 verse 13 which may refer to Rome. Peter is dated to have been in Rome possibly as early as 63 A.D. and Nero’s persecution broke out a year later. Since this letter has as its emphasis ‘persecution and meaning in suffering” it is likely that Peter through the Holy Spirit was preparing Christians for the persecution that would arise from Nero.
      Peter addresses those who are scattered due to persecution in places near and far such as Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia and Asia. These are those who are chosen by God. Though they are aliens here on this planet for their home is in heaven.

      We could divide 1 Peter into several sections. The first section would be chapter one with its emphasis on comfort and reassurance.
      Chapter one verses 3-12 has as its emphasis a heavenly inheritance

      Verses 3-5- the emphasis here is that we are born again according to his great mercy and to obtain an inheritance that is imperishable. Peter uses this word “imperishable” several times in the book in contrast to the things of this world that are perishing. See also 1 Peter 1:18,23. Peter’s emphasis is that it is that the motivation for God’s work is His own mercy and love, not us.
      “NO other attribute could have helped us had mercy refused. AS we by nature, justice condemns us, holiness frowns on us, power crushes us, truth confirms the threatening of the law, and wrath fulfils it. It is from the mercy of our God that our hope begins.” Spurgeon

      Verses 6-9- Our faith is tested as through fire. This is also stated in Romans 5:3-5 and in James 1. Our trials have meaning, to make us more christlike.
      Key Words in verses 3-12.
      Mercy oiktirmon- compassionate, tender mercy. Merciful is used 11 times in 10 verses aout God in Psalm 86:15, Psalm 145:8; Luke 6:36; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 8:12; James 5:11
      Mercy in verse 3 is eleos- mercy, kindness or good will toward the miserable or afflicted, joined with a desire to help them. Used 28 times in places such as Matt 9:13; 23:23; Luke 1:50,54,72,78, Luke 10:37; Romans 9:23; 11:31, 15:9; Titus 3:5 Hebrews 4:16, James 2:13,3:17 and Jude 1:21. Mercy is a characteristic and quality of God. IN James 5:11 it says that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

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      Some of my thoughts.....


      1:1-3

      1. Letters were of course rolled up scrolls, and often one could not see the end of the scroll until the end, so letters began with the author, his authority, and the audience. Somewhat in the form of a memo with the “to, from” at the top. Dates were rarely recorded, but if the letter was to have some importance or “force,” the authority of the author (perhaps just his title or office) was necessary to establish.

      2. The author identifies himself as “Peter” – the Christian “nickname” given to him by Jesus. While his name alone would suffice (particularly since no one else is known to have had that name or nickname), he gives his “credentials” – he is “an Apostle of Jesus Christ.” Note he does not identify himself as “chief of the Apostles” or as “Vicar of Christ” or “Bearer of the Keys” or any of the other things our Catholic friends attribute to him. He is “AN Apostle” – credentials enough! An “apostle” was a common office in the ancient world. An apostle was not simply an “understudy” but could legally represent the Master in his absence; for example, an apostle could sign legal contracts in place of the Master he represented. All important people had apostles. Peter was of course part of the “inner circle” along with the brothers James and John; he appears to have been a close personal friend of Jesus and not simply an apostle. He was an impetuous man often known for speaking and acting without the brain engaged, but also a man of great personal faith and dedication. He was a fisherman from Galilee, but was a literate man who seems to own a fishing business. He appears to be the only one of the Apostles who was married, and for that reason is often regarded as the oldest of the Apostles.

      3. The audience is “the elect.” This is yet another allusion to the doctrine of election – found all over the New Testament, but best developed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (see especially Chapter 8). This is the Gospel (don’t twist it into Law!) that God loves us unconditionally – and has since before we were even born; it’s the Gospel that God in grace chose us and loves us as His own. Jesus said, “you did not choose me but I chose you.”

      4. “Exiles of the dispersion.” Even though the audience was probably all Gentile, this is a very Jewish expression. Before the 6th Century BC, all Hebrews lived in what is now Israel. But when the Babylonian Empire conquered the southern kingdom, many were killed and the rest were taken into “captivity” in Babylonia (Known as “The Babylonian Captivity” – roughly 587-522 BC), leaving the “holy lands” a virtual ghost town. Ironically, the Jews often thrived there – becoming rich and powerful. Babylonia eventually reversed itself and “freed” the Jews, allowing them to leave and to live where they pleased. Many stayed there (a Jewish community still exists in Iraq, considered the oldest such community in the world), but some moved. However, there was no reason to return to Israel (apart from the religious significance of it being the land given to their ancestors by God) and since it was poor, few went there (we read about those that did in the OT Books of Ezra and Nehemiah), choosing instead wealthier and more promising areas. Many went to Alexandria in northern Egypt, others scattered across what is today modern Turkey, Greece and beyond. Together, this scattering was known as “the dispersion” or “diaspora.” They were regarded as “exiles” since they were not living in the historic Holy Lands. The early Christians were also a scattered group! The movement began in Galilee and spread to Jerusalem during Jesus’ earthly ministry, but soon after, persecution from the Jews and evangelism meant Christians quickly spread – scattered about. By the end of the First Century, there were Christians all over the Roman Empire, well into Africa, India and perhaps beyond – a small minority everywhere, but present everywhere. James also speaks of the early church as “the dispersion.”

      5. “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” were all Roman provinces in modern day Turkey. It’s curious PETER is writing to them since we have no record of him having had any ministry to these people or areas; Paul was generally the missionary and Apostle active in this area. Peter was likely in Rome as he wrote this letter so he is writing to believers far away – but there must have been some “connection” that Peter had with these people.

      6. Verse 2. Peter notes that they are believers because of the election, foreknowledge and sanctification that God provides, via “the sprinkling of His blood” – another very Jewish expression. All that is ours is a GIFT via the bloody Cross of Christ – the benefits of such all “sprinkled” on us by the God who loves and elected us. It’s not because of their merit, works, life, choices, etc.

      7. Jewish and Christian letters had one feature not typically seen in those of others: A blessing. The typical Jewish blessing was simply “Siloam” – peace, a deep, inner, spiritual peace. But Christian blessing varied. The Jewish one continued, translated eventually into Latin, “Pax” but there were others. The one Peter uses here is “may grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

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      1:3-12

      1. Verses 3-5. Here is the glorious Gospel! “According to God’s grace mercy” (Sola Gratia). The WHOLE of our salvation is a result of GOD – of His unconditional, unearned, unmerited love and mercy. It’s not a reward, it’s not a “payback,” it’s not our accomplishment – in whole or in part. “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (Solus Christus). Jesus is THE Savior, who saves us by virtue of His life, death and especially resurrection. GOD has caused us to be “born again” (Sola Fide) through faith (trust/reliance) in this Christ. Notice the “born again” language. We usually associate that terminology with St. John and his Gospel, but here we see it with Peter, too.

      2. “An INHERITANCE.” This salvation is “an inheritance.” An inheritance is something we don’t earn, someone else does, but in LOVE, they “leave” it to us. Peter reminds us that heaven (and all associated with it) has been earned by JESUS (don’t think it was free; it cost Him plenty!), but He “wills” it to us. It is a “free gift.” Our embracing, trusting, relying on it is “faith” (and even that is a gift of God).

      3. God’s power “keeps” us in this faith, until it is fully revealed at the “last day.” We currently are enjoying SOME aspects of this inheritance: love, peace, hope, courage, strength, forgiveness, and more – enjoyed right now, right here! But the “full pay off” is yet to come – that will be in heaven. But that is insured, that WILL come!

      4. Verse 6. MEANWHILE…. we live in this fallen, broken, sinful world. Things here and now don’t work the way God intended or desires. In this world, there will be “trials” - evils, injustices, wrongs, problems that require our faith be put to work, not JUST to “hang in there” and somehow survive – but actually be conquerors. Our faith can serve us well – and really help us as we continue our lives as “pilgrims” in this fallen, broken world.

      5. Verses 7-8. Much of Scripture if full of “the theology of suffering.” This was an age when disease and trauma were everywhere, and age when nearly all were malnourished, when nearly half of those born died before their 10th birthday. Suffering was omnipresent. Such of Scripture speaks to this – in ways often stunning to US (living such comfortable lives in the 21st Century). Suffering is seen as an inescapable reality of life (the cause of such is never explored in Scripture – beyond being an aspect of the brokenness of our sinful, fallen world). But LIVING in this reality IS addressed! Faith makes a difference! A powerful difference! It gives us hope, courage, strength. But more than that, it even enables such to become a blessing! It strengthens our faith, it strengthens our relationship with God (and often others), it can give us character. This “fire” (as Peter calls it) can “refine” us as gold is made more pure, more valuable by very hot fire! Peter, like James and Paul, speaks of “rejoicing” in our suffering! Today, in the warm, comfortable, well-fed, largely disease and trauma free world in which WE live, suffering is not seen as an “unavoidable” reality and CERTAINLY not as an opportunity…. for anything! (Except maybe for doctors and hospitals to make a lot of our money). At the first sign of an ache, we take a handful of pills and make it go away. At the first sign of some disease, we go to the doctor and tell him to make it go away (and he just might). We pay HANDSOMELY to keep suffering FAR away from us, physically anyway (we have a much harder time with emotional suffering – but psychologists are also busy and well-paid). As a result, the “theology of suffering” has largely disappeared in contemporary Christianity, occasionally replaced with a “theology of prosperity.”

      6. Peter is addressing people facing persecution because of their Christian faith. Historically, we don’t know exactly the nature or source of the persecution happening in Asia Minor in the early to mid 60’s. It is possible that this was a very early Roman persecution (there’s a hint of this in this book), already at work in Rome – but we have no record of this in the areas where Peter is writing to. It also could have been a Jewish persecution. We see this a bit earlier in the Book of Acts, it may have still been going on at this time. Both seem possible. In any case, it’s always easier to believe when believing is “in” and benefits us NOW in concrete ways. It’s harder when heads are getting cut off….

      7. Verse 9 does not mean that “getting through” all this EARNS our salvation. Peter has already made it abundantly clear that JESUS is the Savior, and that the “inheritance” is already ours. But we WILL get through this…. and obtain what Christ “wills” to us.

      8. Verses 10-12. “This Gospel has been revealed to you through the Prophets.” Over and over (some 50 times by Jesus alone!), the point is made that the Scriptures (obviously, the OLD TESTAMENT) proclaims the Gospel and points to Jesus. Peter – like nearly all the New Testament penmen – quote frequently from the Old Testament and use “Sola Scriptura”, noting the Gospel proclaimed in Scripture and obviously seeing Scripture as the authority. To US – these are not always so obvious, but it seems the earliest Christians saw them as such. It was their “Bible” and they saw Christ and the Christian Gospel all over it – clearly ad boldly. Peter is writing this about the same time most of the New Testament was being written; the New Testament would be much clearer and more direct. Nonetheless, the New Testament writers insist: it’s all right there, in the Old Testament, in the words of God’s Scripture – the Authority.
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

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