Letters from Peter
Peter’s concise confession–“You are the Messiah, the Christ”–focused the faith of the disciples on Jesus as God among us, in person, carrying out the eternal work of salvation. Peter seems to have been a natural leader, commanding the respect of his peers by sheer force of personality. In every listing of Jesus’ disciples, Peter’s name is invariably first.
In the early church, his influence was enormous and acknowledged by all. By virtue of his position, he was easily the most powerful figure in the Christian community. And his energetic preaching, ardent prayer, bold healing, and wise direction confirmed the trust placed in him.
The way Peter handled himself in that position of power is even more impressive than the power itself. He stayed out of the center of attention, didn’t “wield” power, maintained a scrupulous subordination to Jesus. Given his charismatic personality and well-deserved position at the head, he could easily have taken over, using the prominence of his association with Jesus to promote himself. That he didn’t do it, given the frequency with which spiritual leaders do exactly that, is impressive. Peter is a breath of fresh air.
The two letters Peter wrote exhibit the qualities of Jesus that the Holy Spirit shaped in him: a readiness to embrace suffering rather than prestige, a wisdom developed from experience and not imposed from a book, a humility that lacked nothing in vigor or imagination. For what we know of the early stories of Peter, he had in him all the makings of a bully. That he didn’t become a bully (and religious bullies are the worst kind) but rather the boldly confident and humbly self-effacing servant of Jesus Christ that we discern in these letters, is a compelling witness to what he himself describes as “a brand-new life, with everything to live for.”
HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF 1 and 2 Peter
1 Peter 1 – Trials Refine Us
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
“…just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
We are Redeemed only by Jesus!
“…it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (Remember, Peter witnessed this!)
“…love one another deeply, from the heart.”
“…the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
1 Peter 2 – Grow Up!
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (Jesus called Simon, “Peter, the rock upon which I will build my church”, so it is now wonder Peter uses building stones as the analogy.)
Prophets of God said centuries before…
““See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
JESUS is the cornerstone, the One and Only in which we line up and stack our lives upon. He sets the direction. The cornerstone keeps the building aligned so that it is built correctly.
Who we are
“...you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
How to live as His
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
Obey those in charge
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
We follow in the steps of Jesus even life isn’t fair
“But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 3 – Family Life
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
FOR ALL OF US
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
“…in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
1 Peter 4 Live For God
“Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.”
“If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
“To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
Trials and Sufferings – Don’t be surprised!
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
1 Peter 5 – God’s Care
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.’
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Know Your True Enemy
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”
2 Peter 1 – Called
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
We are called to grow in His love:
“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”
In INCREASING Measure – (Not all at once, we are a work in progress!)
“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
Peter saw it with his own eyes and heard it with his own ears!
“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
“He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'”
“We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”
“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
ALL WORDS COME FROM GOD
“…you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
2 Peter 2 – False teachers will rise up…but God knows!
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.”
God will take of them. We avoid them at all costs!
2 Peter 3 – The Last Days
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?”
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
(I imagine Jesus leaning into God’s ear, begging Him for “one more day” so that more can be saved. That’s the kind of love The Messiah has for us.)
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” No one knows that day, not even Jesus, only God.
“What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”
“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…”
“…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM PETER?
It is the Holy Spirit of God who empowers and enables us to keep things in balance. Before Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, he was repeatedly going to extremes. He would bear witness to Christ one minute and then try to argue with the Lord the next (Matt. 16:13–23)! He refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet, and then he wanted to be washed all over (John 13:6–10)! He promised to defend the Lord and even die with Him, yet he did not have the courage to own the Lord before a little servant girl!
But when he was filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter began to live a balanced life that avoided impulsive extremes. What is the result of spiritual growth? Glory to God! “To Him be glory both now and forever.”
It glorifies Jesus Christ when we keep ourselves separated from sin and error. It glorifies Him when we grow in grace and knowledge, for then we become more like Him (Rom. 8:29).
In his life and even in his death, Peter glorified God (John 21:18–19). As we read these important letters, we cannot help but be struck by the urgency of the message. Evil deceivers are here! They are busy! They are seducing immature Christians! We must be guarding, growing, and glorifying the Lord, making the most of every opportunity to win the lost and strengthen the saved. Be diligent! The life and ministry witness you save may be your own!
Help us to stay diligent, wise and expectant.
In Jesus Name, Amen