A Royal Priesthood
A Royal Priesthood
(1 Peter 2:1-12)
Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.
Introduction: How does God organize His people today? Is it like the structured organization that began after the Exodus from Egypt? If it is different, what does that mean as a practical matter for the present followers of Jesus? How might it impact our theology in other ways? Last week we ended with Peter telling us that God’s word is eternal and that we are born again to eternal life. The rest of humanity, however, is fading fast like the grass and the flowers. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible to learn more about what God has in mind for us who are built for eternity and are sharing an eternal word!
I. Final Touches
A. Read 1 Peter 2:1. How would your life be if it was free of all of these things?
1. Would you enjoy life more?
2. Would others enjoy being around you more?
3. Do you have any idea of how you can “rid yourselves” of these undesirable attitudes?
B. Read 1 Peter 2:2-3. Why does Peter compare us to “newborn babies?” Does it have anything to do with the fact that we are “born again?”
1. Where do we find “spiritual milk?” (It makes sense that Peter is talking about God’s word since he just (at the end of the last chapter) told us that God’s word “stands forever.”)
2. What does this suggest about your ability to “rid” yourself of these attitudes? (It suggests that this is not something that you can do on your own. You need to take in “spiritual milk” to “grow” in this way. That, of course, is what you are doing right now!)
3. What, specifically, is growing? (You are to “grow up in your salvation.” You would expect a “born again” person to grow.)
a. Let’s consider what this means about grace. Does this mean that you are already saved? How does the instruction to “rid yourselves” of bad attitudes fit into the question of grace? (This is a critical point. Peter is not telling us that we need to rid ourselves of these attitudes in order to be saved, rather he is telling us that this is how the saved are to grow toward greater holiness. If Peter was talking about ridding ourselves of bad attitudes, then the statement in 1 Peter 1:23 that we are “born again” of “imperishable” seed would make no sense.)
II. The New Order
A. Read 1 Peter 2:4. Who is this “Living Stone?” (It must be a reference to Jesus.)
1. Let’s revisit a discussion we had two lessons ago. Read Matthew 16:16-19. At the time I did not want to get into a discussion of what Jesus meant by the “rock” on which the church is built. Some think it is Peter and some think it is Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What have we learned from 1 Peter 2:4 about Peter’s understanding of the rock? (Peter says it is Jesus! This is powerful evidence that Peter believes that Jesus’ message to him in Matthew 16 that Jesus is the Rock on which the church is built.)
B. Read 1 Peter 2:5. What does this say is being built on the Rock? (Living stones are built into a “spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.”)
1. Who are these living stones? (They are us. They are people who believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God.)
2. What did the priests do under the Mosaic system? (They were God’s special representatives. They cared for the sanctuary, they offered sacrifices, they were in many ways the connection between God and humans.)
3. What does this tell us about the way the church should be organized today? (Obviously, we are organized in a very different way than the organization under Moses. We are all part of the “holy priesthood.”)
4. What does this say about what you should be doing as a “living stone” priest? (Let’s jump ahead and read 1 Peter 2:9. This confirms that every member is now a priest. The special duties given to a few men based on family affiliation in the Old Testament are now given to all Christians based on our choice to be a living stone built on Jesus.)
a. What, specifically, is our duty? (To praise God. The specific message is how we were called out of darkness into the “wonderful light.”)
C. Let’s go back and finish our discussion of 1 Peter 2:5. What kind of spiritual sacrifices are we offering?
1. What does it mean that we offer these spiritual sacrifices “through Jesus?” (Recall that the animal sacrifices under the old priesthood system were for the remission of sin. Thus, our sacrifice includes telling what Jesus has done for us through His life, death and resurrection, and it also gets back to the issue of “ridding” ourselves of bad attitudes through the power of the Holy Spirit.)
2. Is this a sacrifice? (You have a choice to follow your human nature or follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Advancing the Kingdom of God is a decision.)
D. Read 1 Peter 2:6. Why mention “shame?” (Jesus had been killed as a criminal. Peter’s audience had fled due to persecution. God tells us that when we follow Him things will end well.)
III. The Rock Effect
A. Read 1 Peter 2:7-8. The Rock causes people to react differently. Why? (It has to do with belief in Jesus. If we believe in Him, then He is precious. If we don’t believe in Jesus, we will disobey, stumble and fall.)
1. We have another reference to predestination. What does this mean here? (I would argue that if we do not believe in Jesus we are destined to stumble and fall. We make the choice, and the rest automatically follows. But, let’s continue to explore whether we have a choice in our salvation.)
B. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. If we were predestined one way or the other, how can we switch from “not a people” to “the people of God?”
C. Read Romans 10:10-13. What does this say about predestination? (That those (“anyone”) who call on Jesus will be saved. It is your confession of Jesus that makes all the difference.)
D. Read Romans 10:16-18 and Romans 10:21. Israel was God’s chosen people. But, this shows that although God destined them for salvation, not all answered His call. We (Gentiles) are now destined for salvation and we must make a choice to answer God’s call to be built on the “Living Stone.” I think that this shows that God destines all to be saved, and it is our choice that determines the outcome of the matter.)
IV. Right Living
A. Read 1 Peter 2:11-12. Is Peter asking for the impossible - for us to control our desires? (This sounds like the “rid yourself” statement in 1 Peter 2:1.)
1. When you look at verse 12, Peter is talking about actions, not desires. Why does he talk about actions (“live such good lives”) after he writes about desires? (Sin begins in the mind. Sinful desires are at “war” with what God wants for us. If we are not desiring sin, we will not act on sinful desires.)
2. What will pagans say about us? (They will make false accusations against us. This is something that we cannot control.)
a. What can we control? (Whether the accusations are true or not. Pagans will know their accusations are false when Jesus calls them to account. However, if the accusations are true, we bring harm and not glory to God.)
3. What argument is Peter making here? (He says first watch your desires. Avoid those desires that are going to lead to trouble in your life. He then tells us that if we get into trouble, it will play into the hands of the “pagans” who are anxious to lie about us. But if the accusations are true it harms God.)
4. What has this got to do with the Rock? What does this have to do with the new order in which you are a priest? (You are now God’s priest, His representative. God’s reputation is shaped by what you do.)
B. Friend, will you take your priestly status seriously? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you to bring glory to God in all of your activities?
V. Next week: Social Relationships.