About Jesus Steve Sweetman
chapter 3:19 Peter got a bit side tracked from what he was saying about
the cross of Christ. He now
returns to this subject, and you can tell that by the up-coming content
and also by the word "therefore" that begins verse 1.
Remember, when you see the word "therefore" you must know
why it is there for.
says in verse 1 that "therefore, since Christ suffered in His body,
arm yourself with the same attitude."
What attitude is Peter talking about here?
I believe our attitude should be to endure suffering as you trust
Jesus. We should be ready,
able, and willing, to go through the suffering if need be, because our
Lord and Saviour has done this for us.
Of course, we donít go looking for such suffering, but if it
comes our way, and the more our society becomes an anti-Christ society,
the greater the chance of this suffering will come our way.
Jesus Himself, in John 15:20 said that if the world hates, Him,
which it did, it will also hate His disciples.
It's that simple.
some Christian circles, especially in the 'Hyper Faith Prosperity
Movement," there is the belief that Christians shouldn't really
suffer if they are truly following the Lord.
This is simply not the case, and Peter makes that very clear
throughout his first letter.
the words "arm yourselves" in verse 1.
This was a military phrase in Peter's day.
As a soldier would arm himself and get ready for battle, so
Christians should arm themselves and get ready for battle with their
anti-Christ culture, understanding that Christians do not use weapons such
as guns and bombs. As the
Apostle Paul states in Ephesian 6, our weapons are spiritual, not carnal.
verb "arm" here is an aorist imperative verb.
This means that those to whom Peter is writing must once and for
all make up their minds to prepare themselves for what is coming their
second half of this verse has differing interpretations. It says this.
"He that has suffered in the body is done with sin."
To me this means that if we can endure unjust suffering, and trust
Jesus in the midst of it, it shows that sin does not have the rule over
us. The trust we have in Jesus
is greater than the temptation to sin.
We're more concerned about trusting Jesus and enduring than we are
about sinning in the time of grief and suffering.
For many people, the times of suffering are the times they give up.
Giving up is sin. Along
with giving up is a multitude of other sins that follow.
words "done with sin" from Jesus standpoint was seen on the
cross. Once He died, His
existence among sinful humanity ended.
Once He was dead, the sin that He was punished for ended.
Once He was dead the sin that His physical body became, was over.
He was done with sin in all of its aspects.
the word "body" is associated with this suffering.
It is physical suffering. I
suppose you might include mental suffering here, but the text does say
body. That being said, when
our body suffers, it does have an affect on the mental side of who we are.
that Peter points out that Jesus suffered in His body.
The obvious way of suffering in His body was the cross, but He also
suffered in the
think verse 2 helps explain, at least to a degree, what being finished
with sin means as we saw in verse 1. Verse
2 begins with the words "as a result."
So, as a result of enduring suffering and putting away of sin we
will live the rest of our lives doing the will of God instead of living
for evil desires. You must
note that Peter is not speaking of us living a perfect sinless life. He
is speaking of not living a life of sin.
Occasional sin is not the same as a life of sin.
It thus appears that suffering is one of many ways in which Jesus
uses to help us get rid of sin in our lives in order for us to do His
will. I think the point of
verse 1 and 2 in regards to sin is that endurance enables us to leave the
lifestyle of sin in order to live a righteous lifestyle.
3 says, "For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans
choose to do Ė living in debauchery (excess of all kinds), drunkenness,
orgies, carousing (a mob like mentality living in excess of luxury which
can often lead to rioting), and detestable idolatry." This
was once the way of life for these people.
Again, these sins were not simply committed once in a while by
these people in their past lives. These
people lived these sins. They
lived in a lifestyle of sin. In
fact, such sins, especially sexual sins were a part of their pagan
religions. Sexual encounters
with temple prostitutes were actually a means of worshipping the goddess
the above listed sins, we need to understand that these sins were more
than private sins. These were
openly public sins done in the name of their pagan religions.
They were culturally excepted sins.
As I said above, they were part of pagan worship.
The point here is that these sins were normal cultural activity in
use of the word "pagan" might well back up the idea that Peter
was writing to Christian Gentiles, not Christian Jews.
In the beginning of this commentary I mentioned that there is a
debate over just to whom this letter was written.
Some say it was written to Jewish Christians while others say it
was written to Gentile Christians. This
part of the letter may suggest that it was written to Gentile Christians
who once lived a pagan way of life.
word "idolatry" ends verse 3.
This puts all of the previously mentions sins into their
perspective. They were a form
of idol worship as I've said. Another
way the word "idolatry" can be understood here is that paganism
is a rejection of the true universal God and in that sense of the word is
verse 4 Peter goes on to say that the people who still live in this
lifestyle of sin think it strange that the Christian doesnít plunge with
them into the same flood of dissipation.
This is why Peter believes so strongly that he is a stranger in
this world. He does not plunge
or indulge himself in this sinful pagan lifestyle.
There is a noticeable difference between Peter and the pagan world
around him. There should be
such a difference between Christians and the culture around us today, but
often this is not the case.
Greek word "asotia" is translated here as dissipation.
Dissipation means a lifestyle of wastefulness.
The pagan world in Peterís day was caught up in great excesses of
all kinds, including material, sexual, alcoholic excess, among other
things. Life was all about
one's self, as it is today. Then
beyond this, Peter says that these same pagans "heap abuse" on
the Christians for their non-conformity.
As time goes on, and as Christians are seen as being very
anti-social, those in the world around us will say the same about us,
which in fact they are doing now.
Greek word "syntrecho" is translated here as plunge.
It means to "run with."
Peter is saying that the pagan world finds it completely weird why
the Christians don't run with them in their flood of sinful enjoyment.
Peter's use of the word "flood" is good. The sinful lifestyle flooded the Roman world back then. Sin wasn't something hidden and covered up. It ran rampant.
the words "heap abuse" in verse 4.
The pagans did not only think it strange that the Christians did
not plunge with them into sin, but they actually heaped abuse on the
I believe our western culture is in a transition in this respect.
Our culture does, and has, thought it strange that we as Christians
don't plunge with them into their sinful way of life.
Thinking this to be strange has now morphed into abuse.
Christians are now suffering verbal abuse from our pagan culture
because we do not plunge into their sin.
Our lack of participation in gay pride parades, for example, is not
only thought of as strange, but we're now hearing the verbal abuse over
our lack of involvement in this sin.
these pagan abusers, in verse 5 Peter says that their day is coming when
they will be judged by God on what the Bible calls the White Throne
Judgment as seen in Revelation 20. Such
talk in our modern Christian world is not as prevalent as it once was, but
we cannot neglect the Biblical truth that some day, there will be a moment
in time when God will bring judgment on all those who have rejected Him.
says that God will judge both "the living and the dead."
When Jesus returns to earth there will be people alive and there
will be people in the graves. God
will judge both. There are no
6 is not the easiest verse to figure out.
I addressed the point that Jesus proclaimed the gospel to those in Hades.
Paul seemed to allude to this in Ephesians 4:8 when he spoke of
Jesus descending into the lower parts.
I tend to think, at least at this present time, that this is
another reference to that event.
last part of this verse is just as confusing. It
says, "so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the
body, but live according to God in regards to the spirit."
This might well mean that the dead people to whom Jesus preached in
Hades; those who believed; though they were dead in a physical sense;
would be alive in the spirit with Jesus in paradise.
believe I can safely say that Jesus proclaimed the gospel to the dead in
Hades according to Ephesians 4:8. One
question is, "what dead did He preach too?"
One credible theory is that He preached to the righteous dead on
the righteous side of Hades, those who had genuine faith in God during Old
Testament times. Hades, the
place of the dead, prior to the resurrection of Jesus was divided into
two. We see this when Jesus
spoke of Lazarus and the rich young ruler.
Lazarus was on the good side of Hades and the rich man was on the
other side. There was a big
gulf between the two that could not be crossed.
See Luke 16:19 through 31. When
Jesus rose from the dead, those on the good side of Hades rose with Him.
This is my understanding to date.
7 says that "the end of all things is near."
Most, if not all New Testament writers believed that the return of
Jesus was very soon, possibly even in their own life time.
Their thinking was not unreasonable.
They were suffering persecution; something Jesus Himself said
marked the end of this age.
You might well understand why the first generation Christian would
hold to the soon return of Jesus in judgment.
have come and gone without the return of Jesus.
One might think that Peter, and really all first generation
Christians, were wrong in their thinking.
If Peter was wrong in his thinking, then you may have a problem
with the doctrine of Inspiration of Scripture.
If Peter was indeed wrong in his thinking, why did the Holy Spirit
inspire him to write these words, assuming the Holy Spirit did inspire
people have suggested that the Holy Spiritís definition of the word
"near" may be different than Peterís definition or our
That seems to be the most common explanation, and explanation I
think is a bit simplistic.
thing we should remember about the doctrine of inspiration is that it was
not dictation. The Holy Spirit
did not dictate specific words to be written.
He inspired men to write in their own words. Inspiration is
quite different from dictation. It's
quite possible that the Holy Spirit wanted Peter's readers to know that
they were to live as though the end of all things was near and thus the
reason for what Peter says next.
thing this tells me is that whatever time in history that one lives, he
should be ready for the return of Jesus.
Peter was obviously ready. Such
thinking is meant to motivate us to do the will of the Lord as if He will
return this very day. This
might well be why these words are in this passage.
people suggest that Peter might not have had the end of this age in mind
when he wrote these words. Remember,
Christians were under great persecution in those days.
Many were being executed for their association with Jesus.
For them, and that includes Peter, the end of all things as they
pertain to their individual lives was a real possibility. Although
there might be some validity to this, I don't lean to this
interesting thing to note in verse 7 is that the verb "is near"
is a perfect indicative Greek verb.
A Greek perfect verb means that the action demonstrated in the verb
has already taken place and it has present implications.
An indicative verb means that the action of the verb is a
There is no doubt about the action having been taken place.
So what does this verb tense mean to Peter's statement?
What is the action that has certainly taken place?
Is it the end of this age?
Common sense tells us that the end of this age has not yet come, so
that's not the action expressed in this verb tense.
has actually and certainly already taken place is the nearness to the end.
Without any doubt and with all certainty, Peter and first
generation Christians believed that the time of the end, or, the last days
as stated many times in the New Testament, has already come.
In other words, the nearness to the end has already come, thus the
perfect tense of the verb.
you read Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 you will see
that Peter was introducing the fact that the last days had now dawned on
He did so by quoting from the prophetic book of Joel that predicted
the time of the end.
If you read Joel you will see that he was predicting the very end
of this age, which, we still await.
Peter was commenting and interpreting Joel's prediction as
beginning to come to reality with the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day
He was in fact saying that the last days had just begun.
For Peter then, the nearness to the end, as he states here in verse
7, had already come.
That's the imperfect verb tense in verse 7.
One last point about the nearness to the end or the last days should be noted. There are 2 ways in which the last days are understood in the New Testament. One way is that the last days refer specifically to the last few years of the age culminating on the very last day. The other way is that, as Peter said in Acts 2, the age in which we live is the last days. Peter would have had this second view in mind when he wrote verse 7.
Greek word "pas" that is translated here as "all
things" means "all things" and especially so the way in
which the Greek text is written in this instance.
For this reason I believe "all tings" speaks to the end
of all things is this present age in which we live.
regard to Jesusí soon return we should be "clear minded, self
controlled, so that you can pray."
This is the stance that we should all take in light of the return
of Jesus. Being clear minded
speaks of no distractions, something western world Christians have a hard
time dealing with these days. There
are so many distractions that clutter our mind these days that we have a
hard time being clear minded. Self
control that Peter speaks of here means not being intoxicated by anything
that would distract us from the will of God, and in this instance, the
will of God is to pray. Praying
is thus a Biblical mandate and even more so as the end draws near.
In Mark 13 sets forth some of the events marking the end of this age.
In verse 33 He tells His disciples to both watch and pray.
We are to watch, I believe, for the events that mark the end of the
age and while we watch we are to pray.
There are many things to pray for as the end gets closer.
has been criticism mounted against those who preach the soon return of
Jesus. Some say that they have
an escapist mentality, that they are just sitting around doing nothing but
waiting for Jesus to return. This
is not Peterís thinking and I dare say it's not the thinking of most who
believe that Jesus could return any day.
Most of us who emphasize the return of Jesus to earth want to do
His will prior to His return. We
don't want to be lazy and sit around and wait.
verse 8 Peter encourages his readers to love one another.
That is, to love your brothers and sisters in Jesus.
The word "love" is translated here from the Greek word
"agape." This is a
selfless type of love. It's
not a brotherly type of love; reciprocal love, as the Greek word
Concerning Peterís point to love the brothers, he adds that "love covers a multitude of sins." Once again, we have differing opinions about what this means. I don't believe that Peter is saying that love gets rid of sin and I don't believe he is saying that love ignores sin. I believe he is saying that love doesn't push the brother who sins away. His sin is there. Like God Himself who loves us despite our sin, we love our brothers and sisters in Jesus despite their sin. That being said, I do believe that in one sense of the word we are our brother's keepers when it comes to sin. Paul, in Galatians 6:1 speaks to this issue when he says that we are to gently help such a brother out of his fault, or I'd say sin. That's just part of agape love. Some have called this love "tough love."
are some sins that need to be confronted, especially if they effect a wide
range of people, like the church.
A sin that is committed against a brother or sister in Christ does
not have to be publicized for all to hear.
In this sense of the word, the sin is dealt with and no one else
needs to know because of the one offended by the sin loves his offender
enough to let the issue drop once repentance is demonstrated.
Some suggest, and I agree, that the sins Peter speaks of here are sins of weakness. In other words, they are sins due to our frail human existence. They are not necessarily sins that people knowingly and want to commit. In this sense of the word, love covers these sins over without making a big deal over them. +
addition to what I have just said, Peter is actually quoting from Proverbs
first part of this proverb says that hatred stirs up strife and conflict.
The verse before speaks of a nasty tongue.
The simple fact is that real love will be mindful of what it
spoken in haste, anger, and insensitivity, only cause problems.
Love, on the other hand, will control the tongue and thus will
prevent conflict and thus cover any sin that might arise.
verse 9 Peter admonishes his readers to be hospitable without any kind of
grumbling. The Greek word
"philoxenos" is translated as "hospitable" here.
You might recognize the Greek word "philos," meaning
brotherly love, in this word. Hospitable
thus suggests a free flow of love from one another and back again. If you
are hospitable to others, they will be hospitable to you.
The idea here is to reach out to others in whatever way is needed
or works best at any given time. I
believe it means more than just inviting others over to your house for a
verse 10 Peter encourages his readers to use any gift they have received
from God. The Greek word
"charisma" is translated as gift here.
This word finds its roots in the Greek word "charis,"
meaning grace. The point Peter
is making here is that each one of us as members in the Body of Christ has
received gifts of grace from God. The
word grace has two meanings. One
definition is God's unmerited favour given to us.
God gives us gifts even though we don't deserve them.
The other definition is the God given ability to do His will.
I believe both definitions are seen here.
God gives each one of us gifts even though we don't deserve them,
but, along with these gifts, He gives us the ability to use them as He
tells us exactly how to use these gifts here in verse 10.
We are to use them in service to others.
These are not self-gratifying gifts.
They are service gifts, and, if any gift becomes a means of
self-gratification, then we've lost the reason for the gifs in our lives.
Peter says that we have received these gifts, that's a Greek aorist active
indicative verb. This means
that we have certainly, without a doubt, received a gift at one particular
point in our lives that is in active, or present, use.
we use our gifts to serve others, Peter says that we are faithfully
administering our gifts as an expression of God's grace.
We are in fact being used by God Himself to extend His grace to
someone. The Greek word "diakoneo"
is translated as "administer" here.
This word means to serve.
Greek word "poikolos" is translated here as "various."
The first part of this Greek word finds its roots in the Greek word
"pix," where we derive the first part of our English word
"picture" (pic). "Pix"
means variegated colours. It
means a gayety of colour. Thus
are gifts from God come is all sorts of variety, and I'd say, depending on
who we are as a person. Two people may have the same gift but because of
whom each person is the gift is expressed differently.
No matter how it is expressed though, it is meant to extend the
grace of God to others.
verse 11 Peter gives two examples of gifts of grace that God may give
someone. They are
speaking and serving. Speaking
would include all forms of teaching the Word of the Lord.
Those who speak must realize that they are speaking on behalf of
God. This is what teaching and
serving is all about. This
places a great responsibility on the one who teaches and preaches.
The gift of speaking is one very serious gift and should always be
seen as a gift of service to others.
gift of serving would include all varieties of serving others as I noted
above. Like the speaking gift,
you are representing the Lord as you serve. You
are serving on His behalf because He is no longer here in physical form to
serve. You are serving for
Him. You are extending His
grace to others.
goal of distributing Godís gifts of grace is to have people praise and
"glorify God through Jesus Christ" as seen in verse 11.
As always, we have to note the connection between God and Jesus.
The God that Christians glorify is the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ. "To Him be the glory and the power for ever and
ever," Peter says.
point to be made in verse 11 is that whatever gift or gifts we have, when
we use them, they must bring glory, honour, and praise to God and not to
us. Our problem as western
world Christians is that many have become well known superstar Christians
for their gifts of grace. They
then use their gifts to bring gratification to themselves and not to the
Lord. This is clearly misuse
of the gifts of grace. This
should never be.