1 Peter 1
People forever holy
Hello, from one of the Twelve of Jesus1 From: Peter, an apostle—one of the original disciples of Jesus.
To: Jews scattered abroad, north of Israel in the Roman provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 2 You’re a distinct group of people devoted to God. You obey him because the Spirit helps you—and because the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ washed sin out of your life and gave you a fresh start. God knew you wouldn’t turn down an offer like that. God bless you with kindness and peace—and more of it as the days go by.
Thank God for eternal life3 Thank God, the Father of our leader, Jesus Christ. Our hope of living forever comes from the Father’s mercy. He sent Jesus to die and rise from the dead. 4 Because of that, we know something about what we’re going to inherit. We know it’s indestructible. It’s pure goodness. And it’s beautiful to no end. So, there you have it, an inheritance waiting for you in heaven. 5 God himself protects you. He does it through his power and your faith. You’ll see what I’m talking about on the last day, when time ends—and he saves you.
You might have to suffer6 You’re excited about this, even though you might have to suffer through some hard times for a little while. 7 When people persecute you, they’re testing your faith and refining it with fire. This gives you a chance to prove that your faith, more precious than gold, is 100 percent genuine. When Jesus reveals all this one day, you’re going to get all the cheers and glory and respect you deserve. 8 You’ve never seen Jesus, but you love him. You don’t see him now, either. But you believe in him. And you’ve got an incredible joy, which you can’t begin to put into words. 9 God will reward your faith by saving your soul. 10 Prophets long ago talked about this kindness you now enjoy. They knew it was coming and they wanted to learn more about it. They asked questions and they studied the matter. 11 The Spirit of Christ came to these prophets. He predicted his own suffering that ended in his execution. And he predicted his glory to come, in resurrection. The prophets wanted to know when and how this would happen. 12 But they were told not to focus on themselves and their concerns. This wasn’t about them. It was about you. They were delivering a message to you—the same message you got from preachers led by the Holy Spirit who came from heaven. Angels eagerly followed all of this as it happened.
Wear holiness like skin13 So get your head on straight and behave. Keep counting on the kindness you’ll receive when Jesus Christ shows up. 14 You’re God’s kids. Act like it. Obey him. Don’t slip back into your old way of living by chasing whatever you crave. You didn’t know any better back then. You do now. 15 God is the Holy One, devoted to goodness. Live your life like that, holy and devoted to everything pure and good. 16 Our Bible puts it this way: “Be holy because I’m holy.” 17 If you call God your Father, treat him with respect. He judges people fairly, based on how they live their life. 18 Bad habits passed down from your ancestors held you hostage to a worthless life. You’re free now. Not because of something that can be destroyed, like silver or gold. 19 Your ransom was paid by the sacred blood of a lamb, innocent and perfect. The blood of Christ, the Messiah. 20 Before the world existed, Jesus knew he would do this for you. He’s telling you about it now, in these final days. 21 Christ is the reason you believe in God, who raised him from the dead. Christ’s glory, which grows out of the resurrection, nourishes your faith in God and the hope that grows out of it. 22 You chase the truth and obey God. Because of this, your souls are clean. You’re good to go and good to God. Now be good to each other. Love your fellow believers with all your heart. 23 You’ve got a second chance here, a rebirth. This new life isn’t growing from a seed that dies. Your new life is growing from a seed that can’t die. You owe your new life to the eternal word of God. 24 Our Bible says this,
Humans are like grass.
Their good looks are like flowers in the field.
The grass dries and the flowers drop.
Apostle means “official messenger,” such as a delegate or an ambassador sent to deliver a message. The title “apostle” came to mean disciples hand-picked by Jesus to tell his story and spread his teachings. The title usually referred to the 12 original disciples of Jesus and to Paul, who met Jesus in a miraculous encounter while Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians (Acts 9:5).
These provinces were in what is now Turkey. “Scattered abroad” is literally “diaspora,” referring to Jews living outside their traditional biblical homeland, which is now Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Assyrian and Babylonian invaders from what is now Iraq began deporting Jews 600-700 years before Romans started persecuting Christians and scattering the Jewish Christians in the AD 60s.
“Kindness” is often translated “grace.” Also in 1:13.
“Holy One” and “Holy One of Israel” are some of the many descriptive titles for God in the Jewish Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament. See Psalm 16:10; 2 Kings 19:22.
Leviticus 11:45; 19:2; 20:7. Some Bible experts say this means God’s people are distinctly devoted to God and his goodness. They wear holiness like skin.
More literally, “without blemish.” Sacrificial lambs Jews offered to God while seeking his forgiveness had to be defect-free, “without blemish” (Ezekiel 46:4 New American Standard Bible).
“Word of God” is a phrase Jews and Christians alike link to other Bible passages about creation and eternity. With nothing but the word of God, creation came into existence: “God said, ‘Lights.’ Lights came on” (Genesis 1:3). Jesus said, “The earth and everything in the sky will die someday. But my words will live forever” (Matthew 24:35).
Why do you think a fisherman from Galilee would be addressing what appears to be his only surviving letter to Jews in what is now Turkey?
Why do you think Peter would say we know that our spiritual inheritance is “indestructible” (1:4)?
Peter said that when prophets predicted the death and resurrection of Jesus, “Angels eagerly followed all of this as it happened” (1:12). How could Peter know that? Or was he doing the “preacher’s exaggeration” thing, to emphasize his point that all of this was important?
What do you think Peter means when he says Christians should be holy because God is holy (1:16)?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter says that when people give us a hard time because of our faith, this becomes an opportunity for us to prove that our faith “is 100 percent genuine.” Most of us don’t face the kind of extreme persecution that the first generations of Christians faced: isolation, boycotting their businesses, harassment, legal suits, stoning, crucifixion, execution as entertainment in Roman arenas. What persecutions do we face and how can we prove our faith is authentic?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter offers some catchy phrases to live by. Which one do you think is most relevant today or is especially interesting to you?
- “Get your head on straight and behave” (1:13).
- “You’re God’s kids. Act like it” (1:14).
- “Live your life…holy and devoted to everything pure and good” (1:15).
- “You’re good to go and good to God” (1:22).