1 Peter 3:8-17
Today's passage begins with the word "Finally." This is because the verses we are looking at are a recap of Peter's instructions about submission. In the thoughts that follow this, "finally," we find the motivation and heart attitude behind our "submission" as believers.
The primary motivation that Peter outlines is our blessedness as Christians. We, of all creatures, are blessed.
Let's begin by considering three possible meanings of the word "blessed." These three are not all the possible meanings, but these are the meanings pertinent to our discussion today.
1 Peter 1:3 says:
1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...
In this case, "blessed" means "praised," and the word in the original Greek text is a word that is used only of God. This sentence could be translated, "Praise. be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
Another use of the word "blessed" (blessing) means to pronounce a benediction, praise, or speak well of a person, to speak "good words." This is the meaning used in 1 Peter 3:9. ("knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.") An example of this use of "blessed" is the blessing that Isaac gave Jacob. Isaac meant to bless Esau, but Jacob deceived Isaac. This blessing was prophetic and set the course of Jacob and Esau's lives.
The third use of the word "blessed" that we will consider today is the idea of happiness. An instance of this use of the word blessed is the "Sermon on the Mount" or the "Beatitudes." For example, Matthew 5:3 says:
Matthew 5:3 (NKJV) Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Another excellent and literal translation of this verse could be "Happy are the poor in spirit..."
In our English Bibles, the word "blessed" is used for these three meanings: 1) Praise, 2) Benediction, and 3) Happy. In the Greek New Testament, these are three different words. As we consider the blessing given by Grace, it is necessary to distinguish which "blessed" we are talking about.
I. Blessed in our inheritance
1 Peter 3:8-17 speaks of the blessedness of Grace. In verse 9, it says:
1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) ...knowing that you were called to this, that you might inherit a blessing.
Let's consider three things Peter says in this verse.
- We are called.
- We have an inheritance.
- We have a blessing.
First, Peter says we are called. This is not the same word as is translated as "chosen." This "called" means to invite. We have been summoned or invited to receive a blessing. Choosing to accept God's invitation (call) is a choice to receive a blessing.
Number two, our calling or invitation is to an inheritance. Earlier, Peter spoke of our inheritance, saying:
1 Peter 1:3–5 (NKJV) 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
According to these verses, we have been born again to an inheritance reserved in heaven for us.
I already mentioned the blessing that Jacob stole from Esau. This blessing was a birthright or an inheritance given by the father.
When we are born again, we gain an inheritance because we are children of our Heavenly Father.
The third thing we see in 1 Peter 3:9 is, “we have a blessing.” This blessing is part of our inheritance, and it is a blessing from our Heavenly Father.
1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) ...knowing that you were called to this, that you might inherit a blessing.
Isaac's blessing was a powerful influence and shaping factor in the lives of his sons. How much more powerful is the blessing of our God and Creator? I am telling you that nothing is greater, more powerful, or more valuable than the blessing of God the Father. We do not yet know the full extent of this blessing because it is reserved in heaven for us.
Because we are called to inherit this blessing, Peter tells us to:
1 Peter 3:8–9 (NKJV) 8all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
The humility, meekness, and tenderness expressed here is the strength behind the happiness of the "Beatitudes."
However, we have a weakness. We tend to focus on the things of this world. James 4:4 says:
James 4:4 (NKJV) Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
The enemy of our souls, Satan, would love to rob us of our inheritance. Just as Esau was to inherit the blessing, and Jacob took it by trickery, the devil would trick us out of our inheritance.
Our spiritual lives depend on faith, and this means fixing our hope on unseen things. This is why Colossians 3 gives us the following admonition.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NKJV) 1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Being humble, loving, and compassionate may not seem to be connected to fixing our hope on our inheritance, but that is the case. We are meant for better things.
As believers, we can submit (endure) because of the hope of our inheritance. We also can be patient in suffering because we are blessed in our prayers.
Blessed in our prayers
1 Peter 3:10-12 says:
1 Peter 3:10–12 (NKJV) 10For
"He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
Look at verse 12. It says, "...the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers."
In this verse, God does not say He is obligated to us by our righteousness, but He tells us that He keeps His eyes on the righteous.
Job was a righteous man, and God was proud of Job. This did not keep Job from being severely tested, but then again, God assures us that He disciplines the child He loves, as any good parent would. However, after Job's testing, God restored to Him what He had lost.
Also, consider Noah.
Noah was a righteous man, and because of this, God saved him and his family from the flood.
When we read the accounts of Job and Noah's lives, we see that they were not perfect. The record tells of sins committed by both of these men, but they were men of faith who walked with God.
Returning to 1 Peter 3:10-11, we see that we must first control our tongues if we desire to have a pleasant and good life. The Scriptures say we should not speak evil or tell lies.
This is not talking about our salvation. Salvation is the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. However, this passage is speaking about our lives here on earth. Remember, Peter is re-emphasizing the need to submit to human institutions like government, slavery, and marriage for the sake of our testimony for Christ in this world. We pray in this world.
Even though we may suffer for doing good, our lives are happier because we live with a clear conscience and faith in God.
If we have a guilty conscience, we will not be able to pray freely. Our prayers are hindered by our guilty consciences. If we are weighed down with sins, our hearts will be reluctant to approach God because we know that our lives are not pleasing to Him.
For His part, God is looking for those He can bless. Consider 2 Chronicles 16:9.
For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth, so that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (NASB)
Another way of saying this is that God wants to bless us. The problem is that God cannot bless our lusts, greed, and malice. If friendship with the world is enmity toward God, we cannot expect God to bless our love for worldly things.
If we would love life and see good days, we must pursue righteousness. God wants to answer our prayers. He is actually looking for the person He can bless.
So far, we have said that we are blessed in our inheritance and in our prayers. The third way we are blessed is in our defense.
Blessed in our defense.
Another way of saying this is to say we are blessed in our testimony before the world. When we need to explain how we live to other people, we can boldly point them to Jesus Christ because of the hope that is in us.
1 Peter 3:13-17 says:
1 Peter 3:13–17 (NKJV) 13And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." 15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
In verse 13, the NKJV says, "... who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?" A better translation of this phrase is, "Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?" To be zealous is to be eagerly enthusiastic about a thing.
For the most part, those in authority and those in the world around us will commend us if we are zealous for what is good. However, when we live for Jesus, the world does not like it. John 3:19 says those in darkness avoid the light because their deeds are evil.
The world and its prince, the devil, oppose God. Therefore, as believers, Jesus promises that we will experience persecution in this world. He told us that suffering for His name's sake brings blessings. Those who suffer for the sake of the gospel are both happy (blessed) and commended (blessed) by God.
Matthew 5:11-12 says:
Matthew 5:11–12 (NKJV) 11"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
"Great is you reward in heaven." We live for a future reward, and this faith and hope are a testimony to the world. For those who resist the truth, our faith is offensive because they do not have the same hope. Telling someone that they are going to hell is offensive whether we say it with words or give testimony to it with our lives.
If we live godly and upright lives, we will always have a ready defense. If we are zealous for what is good, we will also tell others of the hope that we have in Jesus.
It is much better to explain why we are doing right than why we are doing wrong.
Remember Paul chained between two Roman guards. He got to explain to them why He was in chains. He told them of the hope of eternal life that he had because of Jesus. This is what he said:
Philippians 1:12–13 (NKJV) 12But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
The key to such a testimony is to "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts."
We are called on to be humble, loving servants to those around us for the sake of the gospel. We are called to do this because this world is not our home. We have an incorruptible inheritance in heaven waiting for us.
We look forward to the crown of righteousness that waits for those who have sanctified the Lord in their hearts. We must love righteousness and fix our hope entirely on the inheritance that waits for us in heaven.
I beg of you to set your hearts on eternal things - things that will last.