Tested by Fire: Living as a Christian in a Post-Christian Era

Hope Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND - Mark Vitalis Hoffman

Third Week of Lent - March 6-12, 1996 -

Aliens and Exiles

A Study of 1 Peter 2.11-3.12

For Openers:

For Your Information:

Read 1 Peter 2.11-12.

Aliens and exiles (11): The latter term was already used in 1.1; both designate someone who is only living temporarily in a foreign land.

When God comes to judge (12): Literally, on the day of visitation. For the background of this expression as a reference to the day of judgment, see Isaiah 10.3; Luke 19.44.

Read 1 Peter 2.13-17.

Every human institution (13): Literally, every human creation or creature. Something created for humans gives the sense of "institution." As a personal reference, it might be translated as human authority. In any case, the point is to recognize God as the creator who provides structure and order to human life.

Servants of God (16): Literally, slaves of God. The paradox is being emphasized that as "slaves of God," we live as "free people."

Read 1 Peter 2.18.25.

Slaves (18): The term used does indicate someone who was owned by a master, but the connotation here is of the person's role within the household. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this passage is that slaves are addressed at all, for there is very little ancient literature which is addressed to this subservient class.

Verses 21-25 are thought by some to be part of an early Christian hymn. Whether it is a hymn or not, it is a reflection on Isaiah 53.1-12.

Read 1 Peter 3.1-7.

The ancient world was a highly patriarchal society where women were indeed regarded as the "weaker sex" (verse 7 - on such weakness, though, read 1 Corinthians 1.26-29!). Note that this passage envisions a situation where there are women who have become Christians whose husbands have not. (A similar situation is described in 1 Corinthians 7.12-16.) It is assumed in 3.7 that the husbands all have Christian wives. The presence in the early Christian church of so many slaves and women, people low on the social scale, is an indication that life among Christians was found to be a liberating experience that acknowledged greater equality than the prevailing non-Christian culture. For more on husbands and wives, read Ephesians 5.21-33 and Colossians 3.18-19.

3.1 and 7 - Note that both the section addressed to wives and the one to husbands begins with, "In the same way..." This means that the advice to both husbands and wives is like the advice to slaves given in 2.18-25. Ultimately, all the advice refers back to 2.16 where all Christians are identified as being slaves of God.

3.3-4 - Also read 1 Timothy 2.9-10.

3.5-6 - Read Genesis 18.1-15 for more information on the relationship between Sarah and Abraham.

Read 1 Peter 3.8-12.

3.9 - Also read Luke 6.27-29, Romans 12.17, and 1 Thessalonians 5.15.

3.10-12 is a citation of Psalm 34.12-16.

For Your Consideration:

2.11 - Consider the terms "alien, foreigner, stranger, exile." What connotations do they have for you? What is your first response to someone who is an "alien"? How do you as a Christian find yourself being alienated in the world?

2.11-12 - How is living a Christian life like "waging war"? How is the war to be fought?

2.11-12 - What best characterizes your role in the Christian's war?

2.13-17 - Must we always accept the authority of every human institution? For an even more positive view of government, see Romans 13.1-7. For a far more critical view, see Revelation 13, 17-18 where the downfall of the "beast" (= Rome) is described. How would you go about defending the resistance put up by the confessing Church in Nazi Germany? How would you decide when you should resist the government or break a law?

2.17 - Whom are we to "honor"? Whom are we to "love"? Whom are we to "fear"? What do these terms mean to you? What difference in behavior do they imply?

2.18-25 - Does this passage indicate that slavery is acceptable? Do you have any relationships in which you feel like you are enslaved? How might this passage be an encouragement for those who feel that they are in a situation where they are trapped?

3.1-7 - Is this description of how women are to be submissive to the authority of their husbands given as advice or as a perpetual command? Is it Christian counsel given in light of the culture of that time or is it a description of how culture ought always to be and how women are to act within it? Note that the goal given in verse 1 why women are to act in the specified way is an evangelistic one: to win converts to Christ. If this goal remains our foremost consideration, how ought women (and men) act today in our culture?

3.3-4 - How do you deal with this passage which says that women ought not to braid their hair or wear gold ornaments or fine clothing? Do the Amish women in their plain dressing have it right? What is really at issue in the warning against women outwardly adorning themselves? How does that compare with the issues women face today? How does the way we dress make a social statement? A religious statement?

3.7 - How does one's relationship with his/her spouse affect one's prayers to God?

3.8-12 - This passage summarizes much of the preceding advice to Christians with respect to their relationship to the government, to slaves, and to husbands and wives. The example of Christ lies behind it all. How does this text, verse 9 in particular, relate to situations where the government is oppressive? Where a husband abuses his wife or children? How might someone still "bless" an abuser without continuing to tolerate the abuse?

For Later:

Go to Daily Bible ReadingsDaily Bible Readings for March 6-12

Wednesday: 1 Peter 2.11-12; Deuteronomy 26.4-9

Thursday: 1 Peter 2.13-17; Romans 13.1-8

Friday: 1 Peter 2.18-25; Isaiah 53.1-12

Saturday: 1 Peter 3.1-6; 1 Corinthians 7.13-16

Monday: 1 Peter 3.7; 1 Corinthians 1.26-29

Tuesday: 1 Peter 3.8-12; Romans 12.9-18

The text of 1 Peter 2.11-3.12 studied in this Bible Study (NRSV)

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.Return to Bible Study

13 For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, 14 or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16 As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Return to Bible Study

18 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." 23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. Return to Bible Study

1 Peter 3:1 Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; 4 rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight. 5 It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. 6 Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you. 7 Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honor to the woman as the weaker sex, since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life--so that nothing may hinder your prayers. Return to Bible Study

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called--that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For "Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; 11 let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Return to Bible Study

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