Father, I thank You that You watch over all things and You see those who are doing good and those who are doing evil. Help me trust that You will act justly in Your timing, just as You did in Christ’s life and death. May I bless others and serve God’s people faithfully, living for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 1 Peter 3:8-4:19
Watch this short video about Polycarp, an early Christian martyr (3:20).
Video posted under Standard YouTube License
Peter prepared God’s scattered people for how to live well when persecuted for Christ. God is in control. Because of this, believers should turn to God and rely on Him; they should continue to live good lives and do good to others, even as they trust their Creator to rescue them in this life or the life to come. It’s easy to imagine evil people shaming and ridiculing the Christians who had lost jobs, family, homes, and the respect of the community around them.
It’s easy to imagine Christ-haters chasing believers from town and shouting, “You’ve been abandoned by your God” or, “Hey Christian, where now is this Savior Christ?” (Look at the words to Jesus in Luke.) But according to Peter, it’s at just these moments of trouble that God’s Spirit rests upon His chosen ones who faithfully endure, those who continue to bless and do good even to their enemies. Such Christians can even rejoice because such suffering shows they are united with their Messiah, Jesus, and are proving to be faithful followers, enduring as Jesus did.
1 Peter 3:8–12 Even Christ-followers can tend toward pride and divisiveness, particularly under stressful conditions. Instead, the gospel enables them to be unified, lovingly sympathetic, and humble. Peter quotes Psalm 34:12–16 to demonstrate that God is watching over His people, and He will hear their prayers so there is no need to use our words or deeds to manipulate or hurt others. We should bless others with our words and actions. God is actively opposed to those who do evil and will punish wrongdoers and will judge them one day (4:5). That’s His job, not ours!
1 Peter 3:13–22 Like Jesus their Lord, Christians may suffer for doing what’s good and right. Christ suffered as our substitute and sacrifice, the righteous for the unrighteous, dying in our place and rising again to bring us to God. He was perfectly righteous; He always did good and right. These truths enable Christ-followers to honor Christ in the midst of unjust suffering; they can explain to observers how being born again changes people. When this happens, Jesus receives glory, and when Christ’s opponents hear this, the enemies who ridicule God’s people are put to shame. Christ has already been raised; He is in heaven and already enjoys the highest place of honor, rule, and authority—over angels and earthly kings and governments. The living Word will have the last word.
1 Peter 4:1–6 Christians will live very different lives from those around them. Worldly people may cause Christians to suffer, but this is to be expected since this was Christ’s experience also. At a moment of great difficulty, Jesus prayed to His Father, “not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Like their Lord, disciples seek to live for God’s will, not human desires. Now, ungodly people may bring temporary pain and suffering upon God’s people—even killing them—but at the resurrection, Jesus’ true followers will live with God, forever free from evil and suffering.
1 Peter 4:7–19 The end is coming, and even though it’s not easy to follow Christ in such circumstances, Christians should keep praying for and loving one another, showing cheerful hospitality. Don’t be self-centered, Peter says, but use your gifts to serve one another and rely upon God’s strength so He receives the glory.
1 Peter 3:14-17
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
- It can be difficult to trust God when evil-doers seem to find temporary success in this present age. When Christians suffer for living godly lives and making good and right choices, our faith may be tested. In order to find the strength to persevere, we must take the eternal perspective and look ahead to God’s just judgment, hanging onto our living hope in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
- Every follower of Jesus has gifts, skills, and talents from God that should be used to bless others, not for selfish purposes.
- Ask some fellow believers where they’ve seen God use you to accomplish His purposes. Then ask them to help you think through opportunities to bless others with your God-given gifts and abilities. Finally, seize those opportunities, but remember to rely on God’s strength as you grow in your ability to serve.