Questions to Consider
1. The word “finally” at the beginning of verse 8 functions in a similar way to the word “therefore” at the beginning of a verse- as a pivot word (see lesson 2, link above). “Therefore” usually indicates, “Because of all that stuff I just told you, now do this.” What does “finally” indicate? Review lesson 4 (link above). What issue was Peter dealing with before pivoting with “finally”?
2. Examine verse 8. Who is “all of you” that Peter is talking to? Recall their circumstances (review lesson 1 if needed, link above). What would each of the phrases…
Unity of mind-
A tender heart-
A humble mind-
…have meant to Peter’s audience in their situation, and why are they important for the church today?
3. Compare verse 9 and 13-17 to these passages. Explain the concept of doing good to your enemies instead of taking revenge, and bearing up in a godly way when you suffer at the hands of evil men. What are the reasons God instructs us to behave this way? How does this paint a picture for unbelievers (especially the one you’re “doing good” to) of Christ’s mercy and grace toward sinners? How might acting this way open a door to share the gospel? Is taking revenge likely to open that same door?
4. Verses 9 and 14 talk about “obtaining a blessing” and “being blessed” due to suffering at the hands of evil people. Many people equate “blessings” with getting rich or with things going really well in your life. Think again about Peter’s audience, their circumstances, and what you know about “blessings” from other passages. Are blessings always monetary or circumstantial? Describe the spiritual blessings someone might receive for suffering in a godly way.
5. Examine verses 10-12. What passage of Scripture is Peter quoting? (Hint: Use your cross references) How do the instructions from this Psalm fit in with the instructions Peter is giving the church? How does pursuing holiness lead to a life with less chaos, drama, enmity, grief, and strife, than pursuing worldliness and debauchery? (Hint: Keep this thought in mind as you read #6 and verse 13.)
6. Carefully read 13-17. Do verses 14-17 contradict verse 13? After all, Peter himself was certainly “zealous for what is good,” as were all the apostles, and we know that all of them were “harmed” and eleven of them were martyred, some gruesomely. Jesus was too, and no one was more “zealous for what is good’ than He was.
7. How does verse 17 refute the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel)/New Apostolic Reformation false teaching that it is never God’s will for Christians to suffer? Let this thought lead you into verse 18. Was it God’s will for Christ to suffer? Why might it be God’s will for someone to suffer?
8. Remember how Peter sometimes uses very long sentences? Verses 18-20 are all one sentence. Read it from beginning to end without stopping at the verse markings. What is the idea Peter is trying to get across? It may help you to read this passage in several trustworthy translations. It may also help you to mentally put a period at the end of verse 18, and to begin verse 19 as a new sentence beginning with “In the spirit” instead of “in which,” and to deal with verse 18 and verses 19-20 as two separate sentences. If you give it your best shot and still have difficulty grasping what Peter is saying (and not saying) here, check out this resource and this resource.
9. Examine verses 21-22. “Baptism corresponds to this” – what is “this”? Go back to the end of verse 20. Peter is teaching us to think of the story of Noah and the ark as symbolic of new life in Christ. Compare the sinfulness of Noah’s society with the sinfulness of our society. Compare God calling Noah out of that sinful world to save him from His wrath to God calling us out of a sinful world to save us from His wrath. Compare Noah being saved out of the world, in God’s ark, through the waters of the flood to us being saved out of the world, in Christ and the cross, through the waters of baptism.
Some people believe verse 21 supports the idea of baptismal regeneration – that the act of baptism is salvific. However, Scripture is abundantly clear that salvation comes only through repentance and belief in the good news of the gospel. That being said, baptism – especially in the first century church, Peter’s audience – was so closely tied to the salvation experience that an unbaptized Christian would have been just as incomprehensible and oxymoronic to the church as an uncircumcised Jewish man would have been to the Jews. The New Testament knows nothing of unbaptized Christians just as the Old Testament knows nothing of uncircumcised Jewish men.
Think back to Old Testament circumcision. The law said Jewish males were to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth, no questions, no exceptions. It was as much a given as breathing air. So much so that if an unknown, uncircumcised Jewish man walked up to the temple and said, “Hi, I’m Jewish. I’d like to come in and worship,” no one would have believed him. They would have automatically assumed he was a liar, he would have been treated as a Gentile, and he would not have been given the worship privileges of a Jew. Even if he could have recited his genealogy of Jewish lineage, it wouldn’t have mattered much. People can say anything, and DNA, at that time, wasn’t visible. Circumcision was a man’s outwardly visible “credentials,” his proof of being a Jew.
This is the same type of mindset first century Christians had about Believers and baptism (a mindset we desperately need to recapture today). Believers were baptized as soon as possible after their new birth, no questions, no exceptions. It was as much a given as breathing air. So much so that if an unbaptized Christian walked up to the church and said, “Hi, I’m a Christian. I’d like to come in and worship,” no one would have believed him. They would have automatically assumed he was a liar, he would have been treated as a Gentile, and he would not have been given the worship privileges of a Christian. A mere verbal profession wouldn’t have mattered much. People can say anything, and regeneration of the heart wasn’t visible. Baptism was a Christian’s outwardly visible “credentials,” his proof of being a Christian. Especially because, at that time in history, baptism publicly identified you with Christ, and that could get you killed.
Read my article Basic Training: Baptism. Have you been baptized? Why or why not? If you haven’t been baptized, make an appointment with your pastor to discuss being baptized as soon as possible.
Suggested Memory Verse