1 Peter 2
When it’s inconvenient to do good
Grow up1Now that you’ve kicked evil out of your life—I’m talking about lies, hypocrisy, jealousy, and badmouthing others— 2grow up. Like a baby drinking milk, you should be feeding your spirit. Drink the pure milk of salvation. 3You’ve tasted the Lord’s kindness. You know you want more.
God chose you4Jesus is a living stone. People rejected him, but God didn’t. God chose him and considers him precious. 5You’re like living stones too. You’re part of a worship center, a sacred space where a community of priests meet to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Jesus Christ made this possible. 6Our Bible talks about this:
“I’m going to lay a cornerstone in Jerusalem.
I’ve personally chosen him. He’s precious to me.
If you trust him, you’ll never regret it.”
“The stone the builders rejected as worthless scrap,
becomes the most important block in the building, the cornerstone.”
“The stone that trips them,
the rock that takes them down.”
9You are God’s chosen people. You’re a nation of priests ministering to kings and devoted to God himself. You belong to God. Your job is to tell people about the things he has done. You could start here: He led you out of the darkness and into the light. 10You used to be only a bunch of scattered individuals. Now you’re one people–God’s people. Mercy was a stranger to you in those earlier days. You know mercy now.
11Dear friends, you’re foreigners exiled to this world. Please don’t let this world tempt you into trouble. Stay away from any unhealthy desires that would declare war on your soul. 12Let people outside the faith see you living an honorable life. This way, even though they badmouth you and call you everything but good, when Jesus comes back they’ll say nothing about you but good.
Let your goodness silence critics13Honor God by obeying your leaders in this world. I’m talking about the king, who’s the boss of the land. 14I’m also talking about officials the king sends out to punish people who do what’s wrong and to reward those who do good. 15God wants you to do what’s good. This can shut the mouths of ignorant people who’ve been saying bad things about you.
16You’re free of everything that used to tie you up in knots. Live free. But don’t sin in the process. You’re not that free. You’re a servant of God, not of sin. 17Show respect to people. Love your fellow believers. Revere God. Show respect to the king.
Do good, even when it hurts18Slaves should obey their masters and show them respect. I’m not talking about only the kind and good-hearted masters. I’m talking about the cruel ones too. 19If you suffer for doing something you believe God wants you to do, you deserve admiration.
20But let’s say you do something wrong, and then you patiently accept the stern punishment. Big deal. You don’t get any bonus points for that. On the other hand, when you patiently suffer for doing something good, God loves to see that kind of devotion.
21God has called on you to do what is good, even if you suffer for it. Christ suffered for you. He’s your example. Track his footprints and follow him. 22He did nothing wrong. He never told a lie. 23Insulted, he didn’t return the insult. Suffering, he didn’t threaten to retaliate. He knows God judges everyone fairly. 24Jesus, with his own body, carried our sins to his death on the tree. He was wounded and killed, so you could be healed and live.
Sin is dead to you now. Live to do good. 25You were once like sheep who wandered away. But you’ve come back to the shepherd who guards your soul.
Peter doesn’t explain what he means by “living stone.” He later uses the stone metaphor to talk about building a solid spiritual house. But there are also layers of possible meaning. He could be reminding readers that Jesus isn’t a pretend god chiseled from lifeless stone. And he might also be saying Jesus was perfectly fitted for the job he came to do. He was like a rock taken from its natural habitat and transformed into the ideal cornerstone for a masterpiece of construction: the Christian church.
Believers aren’t only spiritual blocks of stone built on the cornerstone of Jesus. They are their own “living stone.” Like Jesus, God chose them; and God loves them. They are his kids.
Peter seems to compare all Christians to Israel’s most revered worship leaders, priests who led worship rituals at the Jerusalem Temple.
Psalm 118:22. Egg on the face of the builders. They don’t know junk from gems.
Literally, when they don’t “obey the word.”
This is likely a reference to Isaiah 53:9.
In Roman times, people used a variety of words to refer to the execution device, including tree, stake, and cross. The term here is xylon, often translated “tree” or “timber.”
Peter calls Jesus “a living stone” (2:4), but he doesn’t bother to explain what he means. One theory is that Peter is comparing Jesus to lifeless stone idols, pretend gods. Or perhaps he’s thinking more about an important construction block, perfectly fitted for its designated spot as the cornerstone—the starting spot for a monumental building. What do you think Peter had in mind?
Peter says we’re “a community of priests” (2:5). Moses quoted God as saying that about the Jewish people: “You’ll become a nation of priests . . . which will make you holy in my eyes” (Exodus 19:6). Jewish Peter’s quote would have made more sense to the first Christians, who were Jews. What do you think he wanted to communicate to non-Jewish Christians?
It might confuse people to hear that Jesus is “the stone that trips them, the rock that takes them down” (2:8). What do you think Peter is trying to say?
Peter says, “Honor God by obeying your leaders in this world. I’m talking about the king, who’s the boss of the land. I’m also talking about officials the king sends out to punish people who do what’s wrong” (2:13-14). So, how do we justify protesting a corrupt leader and trying to remove that person from office?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter says, “Now that you’ve kicked evil out of your life—I’m talking about lies, hypocrisy, jealousy, and badmouthing others—grow up” (2:1). Do you think he’s overstating the situation? Do we ever get rid of evil completely? Why or why not?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter says, “You should be feeding your spirit. Drink the pure milk of salvation” (2:2). How do we do this?
LIFE APPLICATION. How do you silence a fool? Peter’s answer: “Do what’s good. This can shut the mouths of ignorant people who’ve been saying bad things about you” (2:15). When have you seen this strategy work for yourself or someone else?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter told slaves to “obey their masters and show them respect. I’m not talking about only the kind and good-hearted masters. I’m talking about the cruel ones too” (2:18). So did Paul: “Slaves, do what your slave masters tell you to do. Shake with fear about it. What you do for your masters, do with all the sincerity you can muster. Treat their request as though it’s coming from the Messiah. Don’t put on a fake show for them by giving them your best only when they’re watching. Give them your best all the time. Work as though you’re slaves of the Messiah, doing what God wants you to do” (Ephesians 6:5-6).
This advice to slaves is particularly troubling in our culture that sees slavery as thoroughly selfish and absolutely unjustifiable. So how can we justify cutting Peter and Paul some slack and allowing Paul to get by with telling slaves to work for their masters as though they are working for Jesus, the Master (6:5-6)?