Major Themes in 1 and 2 Peter

1 and 2 Peter
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 13

Major Themes in 1 and 2 Peter

(1 and 2 Peter)

Introduction: We come to our last study of Peter's two letters to the early Christians and to us. What have we learned over this series of lessons? A review is always what my students in law school want, so let's revisit some of the themes of Peter's advice to us!

  1. Real Life
    1. Read Deuteronomy 28:1-6. What is promised for "full" obedience?
    2. Read Deuteronomy 28:15-20. What is promised for those who do not obey God and who forsake Him?
    3. Read 1 Peter 1:6-7. How is this consistent with the promises in Deuteronomy? (Peter tells us that there is an exception for tests to our faith.)
    4. Notice that 1 Peter 1:6 starts out "In this you greatly rejoice." Rejoice in what? Let's find out by reading 1 Peter 1:3-5. Describe our current situation? (Peter says that we may suffer now, but in the meantime God shields us while we look forward to eternal life in heaven.)
      1. Wait a minute? If God is our shield, why do we suffer? (Let's look at that next.)
    5. Who is testing whether our faith is genuine? (Read Job 1:1 and Job 1:8-11. In the story of Job we find it is Satan who is testing us, not God.)
      1. How does Job illustrate the texts we have read about obedience and suffering? (Job obeyed and he was greatly blessed. However, Satan stepped in to try to show that Job's faith was not genuine.)
    6. Why should Satan be allowed to interfere with our blessings? (Read1 Peter 2:21. Humans chose to allow sin into our world. Jesus suffered and died - on our behalf - to bring an end to sin. We have no ground to complain when we share in a small part of Jesus' suffering - a suffering which would be terrible if Jesus had not intervened to save us. In addition, if we are honest, most of our suffering comes from not "fully" obeying God.)
  2. Fully Obedient
    1. Read 1 Peter 3:9. Why were we called to obey? ("So what [we] may inherit a blessing.")
    1. Read 1 Peter 3:10-12. How would you compare this to the texts we read from Deuteronomy 28? (It sounds just like Deuteronomy 28.)
    2. Read 1 Peter 3:13-14. What does Peter say is the general rule? (You are generally not harmed for doing what is right. But, even if you are (as in Job's case), God will bless you for your unjust suffering.)
      1. What is the result of understanding and believing this rule? (No fear. We can have peace in life.)
    3. Read 1 Peter 2:9 and 1 Peter 2:15. What other reason do we have to obey God? (We bring glory to God. Our obedient life is a praise to God. Our life will contradict the "ignorant talk of foolish men.")
    4. Read 1 Peter 3:8-9. How can we test whether we are living an obedient life? (We live in harmony with fellow Christians. Our life reflects sympathy, love, compassion and humility. We do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.)
  1. Heaven
    1. Read 1 Peter 1:3-4. What has Jesus, in His great mercy, given us? (New birth into a "living hope" and "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.")
      1. Think about this a minute. What can you have here that will not perish, spoil or fade? (I was thinking about this earlier this week. A very permanent thing is to have a school name a building after you. What could spoil that? The building could be destroyed by a natural disaster. The school could ask someone to remodel it, and rename the school after the person who paid for the remodeling. You could have students demand that your name be removed because they do not agree with some aspect of your life.)
    2. Read 2 Peter 3:10-13. What will you have in heaven? ("Home!" It will be your new home. The old world has been destroyed. The material blessings promised in Deuteronomy 28 go up in smoke.)
      1. Read Luke 12:32-34 and Matthew 6:19-21. What strategy does this suggest for transferring the wealth that you presently have? How can you make sure that it will not be destroyed?
  2. Earth
    1. Read 1 Peter 2:13-14. What is our obligation to the government?
    2. Read 1 Peter 2:15-16. Is this a limitation on the instruction to obey authority? (Peter seems to assume (I'm not sure why given the circumstances of his life), that government will tell us to do what is good. It seems that Peter ultimately directs us to submit to God's will, which is that we should do good.)
    3. Read 1 Peter 2:17. Does this verse clarify our relative obligations to the king and to God? (While we "honor" the king, we "fear" God. Our ultimate obligation is to God.)
    4. Read 1 Peter 5:1-2. What authority are we discussing here? (Church authority. Ecclesiastical authority rather than state authority.)
    5. Read 1 Peter 5:3. How does church authority compare to state authority? (The elders, the authority in the church, are to "serve" and "not [be] lording it" over church members.)
    6. Read Acts 15:12-13. What is the context for these verses? (The early church had a dispute over whether the gentile converts should be circumcised.)
      1. If you were following what Peter wrote, how would you decide this? (You might think that since the leaders were not to "lord" it over others, everyone should make up his own mind on the matter.)
    7. Read Acts 15:19-20. James is still speaking here. Has James "lorded" it over the early church? Is he doing more than serving? (This example helps us understand what Peter is saying. Peter tells us that church leaders should not act like kings. On the other hand, the example of James and the early church shows that church leaders can (and should) make decisions over doctrinal disputes.)
      1. Recall that when it comes to kings, Christians are obliged to obey God and do what is right. Is this also true with church leadership? What if you think church leaders are not following God's will, and are not doing what is right? (When have you seen a theological dispute where the people on each side did not think they were arguing for God? Every doctrinal debate will have claims for God's authority on both sides.)
        1. Do you think the pro-circumcision group in the early church thought they were following God?
        2. What do you think: does this mean that we should not have a "following God and doing what is right" exception to church leadership decisions?
    8. Let's look back at the decision of James. Read Acts 15:6. Who is part of the decision-making group? (This seems to point to more than just James.)
    9. Read Acts 15:7-9. What is Peter's argument? (He says the Holy Spirit blesses the work of the uncircumcised Gentiles.)
    10. Read Acts 15:12. What is the argument of Paul and Barnabas? (Once again, they are talking about the power of the Holy Spirit.)
    11. Now, let me ask again whether there should be a "following God and doing what is right" exception to church leadership decisions? (If the Holy Spirit has clearly shown what should be done we should follow His direction. The leaders of the church, who are to serve, should follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.)
    12. Friend, Peter wants you to live a life that blesses you and brings glory to God. He wants to extend your life into an eternity with God. Will you invite the Holy Spirit to lead you in living that kind of life?
  1. Next week: We start a new series entitled "The Gospel in Galatians."