Starting with v.13 of Chapter 2, Peter is giving very detailed discipleship information on what Christian behaviour is supposed to look like. Though he began with a slave-master relationship, his discussion was clearly not limited to that relationship alone. Civil authority was included in Peter’s review, and there was a reason for that, though there are limits to obedience to civil authority. To see those limits, a very precise handling of that text and of Romans 13 were necessary, and we saw that as long as the civil government, who is put in place by God for the protection of your rights in creation, is not exceeding it’s God-given authority, they are to be respected and obeyed.
In this portion of text this evening, Peter continues, and even finishes with a summary of the character of the Christian and what that is supposed to be like in the world in general. However, Peter takes a bit of a course that I find needs a little courage to exposit because of the ramifications of the standard he presents. A truly humble attitude will help you understand this and not react angrily or with base pride to what Peter says. And Paul said the same thing, by the way, in multiple places. We will attempt to unpack that here for greater clarity on the subject Peter presents.
There are some people that will probably be angered over what Peter has to say. They should address their arguments to the actual One who inspired Peter to write on the subject and not me. I’m just telling you what the Scriptures say on the topic.
I broke the chapter down like this:
KV8: A summary of how to behave as a Christian
1-7: Christian behaviour in the marriage relationship
8-12: A summation of Christian behaviour with reasonings
Anytime the marriage relationship comes up in Scripture, I can hear the murmurs and complaints about specific cases people have in mind. To be fair, some of them are exceptions to what I will say, but most of them are situations that will require humble repentance and a gentle approach to the other side of the relationship, and that is what Christianity is all about. Let’s see what the text has to say without further delay.
KV8: A summary of how to behave as a Christian
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
We must first remember that Peter is writing to steady pastors and their flocks against the intense persecution of Christians that has already begun, even in the areas where these people were originally located. What peter says in our Key Verse here is a great solution to all relationship difficulties. To make an effort to be in harmony, to be understanding, to be like a brother or sister, to be kind in motive, and to be humble, that is to put the other ahead of yourself, is a good recipe for a good relationship no matter what kind it may be.
Really, the problem arises when you introduce the marriage relationship into the discussion, not because it is any different, but because it has become politically charged by feminists working from Marxist standpoint theory so as to force female “rights” (which isn’t really the point) into the relationship. This is going to be a kind of intense discussion, and I am going to ask you all that are listening to keep yourselves quiet and regulated while I explain what the Scriptures say. This is not a sexist patriarchal view of women being manifested, and I will show that. However, this also isn’t a femarxist treatment of the subject, and if that’s what you need to hear, then before we go any further, you might want to tune out now so you aren’t offended. Try to hold onto your humble understandings and reasonings while we dig into this. I’ll just jump right in here.
1-7: Christian behaviour in the marriage relationship
Before I can get into this as I need to, I have to explain that marriage according to God was the intended state of women for the most part. It was ordained by God before the fall of humankind in the garden, and even consummated before that fall. Men and women were designed to be attracted to each other and intended to form lifelong partnerships to share everything. Look for a moment in Genesis 2.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Gen. 2:18)
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Gen 2:20-25)
Two things we can gather from the text here: Man was not intended to go through life alone, and also that men and women were meant to be lifetime companions. I could say more, but for sake of time, I won’t. This relationship was broken in the fall in Genesis 3, and we need to look at this also.
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)
There are some specifics in the Hebrew apparently that are not well translated into other languages, but these go like this: The woman’s desire would be to rule over the husband, but the very opposite would now be true. I don’t know how accurate that is, but that idea did not originate with me. I am not saying anything more here than this is a consequence to women for the sin of Eve in the garden. If one looks through history, one can see that really hasn’t worked out well for the ladies, either. They have suffered at the hands of men as a result of this, and that is to be pitied, and in Christ corrected. That’s what this passage and the passage of Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33 say. I’ll let you look up the passage in Ephesians 5 on your own time, though I may refer to it as we go. The way this is to be corrected? Women are to submit to the headship of their husbands or fathers, and husbands particularly are to LOVE their wives. In fact, though Peter doesn’t say a lot about it, Paul spends more time talking about how the husband is to love the wife in this relationship than he does on how the wife is to submit to her husband.
While we examine this text, keep that in the back of your mind, because it is critical to realize that love is what is supposed to flow both ways in a marriage relationship. With that, let’s dig in to the text.
1: In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
- Note the opening phrase is “In the same way.” In the same way is a comparative relational phrase referring to something that has come before. From context, it is referring to how slaves are to submit to their masters and all of us are to submit to civil authority for the sake of a good witness, as Christ did, leaving us an example to follow, which we looked at last study. The Greek word might be familiar to all you Berean Nation followers: it is homoios, “in like manner.” It’s similar to homoiousious, meaning “similar stuff,’ from the original Arian controversy over whether God the Son was the same stuff [homoousious] as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit or similar stuff [homoiousious] only. Just a handful on purpose, as it were. Here, it is the submission that is to be similar from the grammar and construction of the text.
- Here is the part that will elicit screeches from some folks: You wives, be submissive to your own husbands. The very first thing I need to say is that submission is not just for the wife to the husband. You Christian ladies that married a good Christian husband will understand that your husband also must submit to God, and He is your loving Father. Mistreatment or forced submission will be dealt with directly by your heavenly Father and your Older Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not a statement that says you must forever give up your will to some unreasoning brute. I know of cases where those things have happened, and those things are terrible. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, you need to carefully make a plan to get yourself and any children out of that situation safely. I daresay that your pastor should help you do that, but if he will not, HE will ALSO answer for that. Violence or abuse of any kind in the marriage is a cause for church discipline, I might add, and is something that all deacons and elders need to be mentally prepared to face by the grace of God.
- As it turns out, this submission is not for no reason, it has a purpose, like everything the believer is supposed to do. In this case, it is to correct the behaviour of an unbelieving husband. There is a caveat here, this shouldn’t happen to the average Christian woman. Such a woman should never marry an unbelieving man anyway, as per 2 Cor. 6:14-15: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” I know hormones and emotions are powerful things that cause sin issues here, but officially, this isn’t supposed to happen. Something like this happens more often, and I think this was what was being addressed, when a woman becomes a believer in Christ and her husband does not. If he agrees to stay with her (and the VAST majority of men will agree), then she should submit to him as a testimony of how things are supposed to work in a redeemed life! Whether the woman agrees with the man or not, I must add. We will see why a bit later in this paragraph, so don’t throw rocks at me just yet.
2: as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
- Here is the witness that I’m talking about. Ladies, if you’re in this position, you have my prayers, because I know this can be difficult, and if you need to talk, I can get my wife involved. She’s an amazing lady and a solid believer also.
- Peter here is giving a clue about what that submission to an unbelieving husband will look like. Remember, the word “submit” is the Greek hupotasso, meaning to place in rank under a commander. “Chaste” here is actually the word hagnos in Greek, and it is more like “purity” or “free from fault” than chastity, the concept of abstinence from sex. Hey. You’re married, there is no need to do that. Respectful here is the Greek phobos, but I think this cannot be in the sense of terror like it is with God. Here I think it is the sense of respect, and if there is fear, it is of offending him with bad behaviour.
- Why this as opposed to preaching the gospel, Gerry? I hear you ask. Well, this isn’t to replace preaching the gospel to an unbeliever, it is to strengthen that preaching with your lifestyle. When a believing wife tells her unbelieving husband about WHY she is submitting to him without a fight (and he WILL ask), he will hear the gospel and how Jesus paid the price for HIM on the cross. So be pure and respectful, and watch the Lord work. Also pray.
- I once saw a movie where this was on display, and in the worst way. The lady was a believer, and she was kind of deceived by those hormones and emotions and some well-timed lies by the guy involved that he was a Christian even though he wasn’t. Of course he didn’t know what one of those was. He was pretty extreme, too. He was a practitioner of Kung Fu, and when they had kids (two at the time), he started to cheat on her, and he started to strike her–with his Kung Fu. It was really hard to watch. And for as long as she could, she displayed that submission to him. Then he threatened to kill her, and she took her kids and got out, thank God. The movie was based on a real-life story, too. Ultimately, the guy came home to an empty house, and he loaded his shotgun. He was waiting to kill her and then kids and them himself, when Chuck smith of Calvary Chapel in the 1970s came on with his broadcast, and preached a solid gospel that evening. Wouldn’t you know it, that man repented of his sins and was gloriously saved right there. That man was evangelist Raul Reese, and the movie is called Fury to Freedom. I think it’s available on Tubi if you want to watch it. It’s a free streaming service that funds its streaming with ads. We used it when we were doing our Sunday movies on Twitch, and as I recall, we even showed Fury to Freedom. I mention the movie because it is a really good example of all the complications that can make this really hard. Moving on.
3: Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
- When I was studying this chapter in depth in preparation for this study, I was surprised at the word that was translated into “adornment” for this. It is kosmos, the word we usually use to represent the world, or rather the bedeviled world system. Here, it is translated “order,” because of its original meaning of a “harmonious arrangement or order” (Vine’s). In other words, this is referring to how a lady arranges herself. It must not be only external.
- This “not only external” theme fits what we have studied through the rest of the New Testament, especially in Paul’s writings. Peter here even gives a few examples of the kind of thing of which he is speaking. Braiding the hair, wearing eye-catching jewelry, or the fashionable things that ladies wear. It is important to note that Peter is not saying there is anything wrong with doing this here, he’s just saying those are external things. He is about to clarify why.
4: but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
- Rather than simply relying on what amounts to ornamentation, rather let your “harmonious arrangement” rely on the hidden [Gk., kryptos] person of the heart. What does that even mean, Gerry? Well, have you ever heard that song, “This Little Light of Mine?” What light could that possibly referring to? It’s the same thing. The light is not an external light. John 1:1-5.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
- Do you think that Jesus had a flashlight? That God the Son was lit up by a heavenly Super-Trooper spotlight? No, the passage in John says that in him was life, and that life was the light of Men. That word for life in the Greek is zoe, and it is life as God has life in an absolute sense, and He gives that life, that eternal life, to all of his sons and daughters. THAT is the light of which we speak here, and it is a renewed nature, new life in Christ. That is what He has hidden in the heart of all those who are really His, and in my observation, it cannot be faked, though it can be obscured by unconfessed sin.
- Peter tells us that this hidden person of the heart has an undecaying quality, an eternal one that is, and it is represented by a “gentle and quiet spirit” in the believer. Gentle here is the Greek word praus, and that word is a form of the one that is sometimes translated as “meekness,” and is rather not “soft” or “weak,” but is rather representative of “power under control.” Blessed are the “meek” for they shall inherit the earth. Like that. The word “quiet” here is better translated as “tranquil” or “peaceful.” Peter is actually saying that it is our self-control and tranquility that is actually precious in the sight of God, not our being a wallflower and shy. This is the kind of person that can be insulted or offended and control themselves and remain peaceful, Beloved, not a withering wallflower, as we are so often accused of being or told to be by those latte-sipping, skinny-jeans-wearing false shepherds.
5: For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;
- Remember in v.1, when I said that the woman should submit to her husband whether she agrees with him or not? Peter is about to explain and give examples. You can drop the rocks, please. Peter is going to use believing sisters from the Old Testament to demonstrate and illustrate his point, and he’s going to name names, so you can fact-check this yourself.
6: just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
- Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him her lord in a matter. We need to look at that, because without understanding the circumstances, this point will be lost.
- Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.” It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.
- But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.” Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him. (Gen. 12:10-20)
- Sarah was instructed by her husband to identify herself to the Egyptians as Abraham’s sister, not wife, because Abraham was afraid they would kill him and take her for their own. So to preserve himself (and this is where I could say Sarah certainly did NOT agree with Abraham, but she still submitted to his decision, even though she may have thought he was nuts), he played fast and loose with the truth, though he didn’t outright lie, she was his half-sister. It doesn’t say this precisely in the text, but it’s pretty easy to pull out of it–do you think Abraham enjoyed the nights without his wife next to him? I bet he didn’t. And Abraham wasn’t an unbeliever, though he may have been up until Genesis 15 when God makes that unilateral covenant with him.
- And if you follow Sarah’s example, you become her children if you do not let fear of your husband or fear of the consequences of his decisions make you choose against him.
- I could say more, but I’m not going to. Now all of what I have said here flies in the face of what our society tells us is right today. According to them, we need strong females, and men need to be quiet and be snowflakes and get rid of what they term “toxic masculinity.” I’m sorry, being masculine is what men are supposed to be. If you don’t like that, take it up with our Designer, and you can try reporting that so-called flaw. On the other hand, don’t. You won’t like His answer. Besides, this “submission” stuff isn’t just restricted to wives, as we said at the beginning of the chapter, and it isn’t restricted to the wives even in the marriage relationship. Next verse!
7: You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
I’m not sure the gentlemen here would see this in our midst, we tend to have the opposite problem around here, but there are a subset of men (that can grow if allowed) that would take advantage of this and silence their wives. Let me explain why that is a terrible and tyrannical thing to do. First, “Christian man,” and I’m using air quotes here because I’m decidedly using that identifier in a way not covered by the defined meaning, do you realize that you are silencing your God-given mate and that God will hold you accountable for silencing the one that HE created to be your life’s partner and gave to you for comfort and companionship? Peter isn’t just saying here, “Oh, you married her, just put up with it,” either. Allow me to explain.
Turn with me to Paul’s equivalent passage in Ephesians 5, and we will read from verse 22 to verse 33:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
- Just look at the number of verses if nothing else. Paul uses three verses to tell the ladies to submit to their husbands. He then uses NINE to explain how the MAN should LOVE [agapeo!!!] his wife! He uses this kind of definition partly because what he says to the ladies is pretty straightforward, and if they are truly walking in a Christian understanding of the world around us, they won’t really have a problem–IF THE HUSBAND GETS IT RIGHT! I suspect Paul uses three times the verses here because the ladies part is easy and understood well, and because all of us as men, for all of our intellect and ability, are STUPID about this. Look at what Paul says to the husbands here!
- Husbands are not just to phileo their wives and have affections for them, even if you extend that to storge, which I’m not sure is legitimate. We are to agapeo them, because we are supposed to be like Christ! That’s God’s love, which is emotion to be sure, but is MORE than emotion, it also involves a commitment of the will to do what is best for someone else, in this case your wife! Why? Because a married couple is supposed to represent the relationship between Christ and the Church, HIS Bride! And look what Paul says! Agapeo your wives as Christ agapeo‘d the Church! HE laid down HIS life for HER! If you think getting married is for your benefit, you’re completely wrong, and completely immature in your understanding of the Scriptures.
- Look, the very nature of agape love is to commit to putting another’s benefit ahead of your own. THIS is done by BOTH members in a marriage. Certainly the woman is to submit, as the Scriptures command, but THAT is HOW the woman can put her husband’s interests before her own. Remember that bit earlier when we talked about how it was the woman that would want to be in charge? What could be more submissive than yielding the control you desire by the curse on all of us to the other in a loving and trusting relationship? And MEN! How could you even DARE abuse that by silencing your beloved, given to you by God as a “fellow heir of the grace of life,” as Peter puts it in this very verse? The husband MUST have the well-being and care of his wife at the forefront of his mind AT ALL TIMES!!! And if you can’t or won’t do that, you would be better off remaining single and refraining from sexual activity.
- Now I know that set a few people off, but that is what the Scriptures, and Paul and Peter IN those Scriptures SAY. Disagree if you like, but you will only wade into sin hip-deep or worse if you do. God’s design is His design for REASONS! Mess with the institution of marriage or mock it at your peril.
- I’m also not saying it will EVER be “easy,” because experience tells me otherwise, and I believe I have a good and healthy marriage. My wife is amazing, and a good example of the submission that Peter (and Paul) points out. Far from being the vanishing wallflower, she is a strong woman with her own opinions. Because those opinions are typically informed by Scripture, she’s usually right! And Beloved, because I knew these principles when I got married, I promised her I would always try to engage these things. I can literally count on one hand the number of actual fights we have had. [two, for the folks that can’t see the screen] We made an agreement a few days before we actually married. We would always discuss important things, we would step away to calm down and talk about it when we calmed down if it was heated, and we would never go to bed angry. This year will be our 22nd anniversary. I’m not saying this to blow my own horn either. It is pretty clear to me that God did this, because I know I couldn’t. She would say the same thing. And our kids know that in our relationship it is Jesus who is king, not Gerry, and not Susan, and certainly not anyone OUTSIDE the family.
- Now, I would be unfaithful if I did not address the text. I know it seems here like Peter is being a misogynist, but I don’t think that’s true. I believe that he has a proper understanding of what God desires for the relationship between men and women. Women are biologically as a rule smaller and do not have the physical abilities of a man, and that would have especially been true in those days. Men have bigger lungs and a larger breath capacity. Men have 20 percent more capability in athletics as a biological rule. Peter is just acknowledging biology, not being insulting. It is a standpoint feminist interpretation of Peter’s words here that introduce that incorrect theory of the patriarchy here. And beloved, we haven’t had a patriarchy in reality for a long time. Rather than misogyny, Peter says that we should show our wives HONOUR, not belittle or silence them. The word for “honour” here we have seen before, it is timē, and means a valuation or a price paid, hence “what [she] is worth,” as a person, as a spouse, and as saint of the most high God that bears His image also. And if you’re married, God gave her to YOU! You better treat her right, or you WILL answer to her Father. And He’s a scarry individual to have to answer to for anything.
Why am I taking so much time to make the point? Well, frankly, our society today…clearly does not understand what the marriage relationship is, how it is supposed to work, and especially not what it represents. Marriage is supposed to symbolize the relationship between Christ and the Church, and we saw that in the passage we looked at in Ephesians 5. Marriage, the way it was designed by God in the beginning, was between a man and a woman, and their union will produce children. Those children will grow up, and oh, look, your race is propagated. Just the other day, as I read through the 700 or so headlines I usually sort for a conservative news agency, I cane across one that had me laughing out loud. It seems that somewhere in the UK, England specifically, a woman married her cat so she could get around her landlord’s no pet rule. Beloved, as funny as that is to me, it is wrong on a number of levels. Human intimacy within a marriage before God is intended to reflect the intimacy of the relationships within the Godhead, and I’m pretty sure this lady isn’t being intimate with her cat like that, this is just a legal end-run around a regulation so she can keep her pet. It occurs to me that that does reflect a commitment, but not the kind of joining that a marriage between a man and a woman is supposed to reflect.
A few years back, I read about a lady in the USA that married HERSELF. I’m not sure that’s a marriage, but somehow, somewhere, some official performed the ceremony. How is THAT reflective of the joining and intimacy between the members of the Godhead, or representative of Christ and His bride, the Church? I don’t see it.
All of the behaviour of the Christian is supposed to be the way it is because it reflects the person, the work, or the Law of God. You can see how those outliers make mockery of something that is supposed to be very sacred. As believers, we are to reflect Christ, and His kingdom and its principles and laws in the world today as it is already here for us, but has not yet arrived in the world. (The theological phrase for this is “inaugurated eschatology,” which was coined by George Eldon Ladd in his book The Theology of the New Testament, and is characterized by that already/not yet phenomenon we sometimes discuss and is clearly present in the Scriptures.)
So far we have seen how we are to behave in relationships with our civil authority, our masters (I read “employers” there for our modern day), and with our spouses. Now Peter is about to sum it all up.
8-12: A summation of Christian behaviour with reasonings
How do we know Peter is summing up? Because he actually says so. Let’s look at the text.
8: To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
- Actually, the opening word here is more of a conclusion, it’s the Greek telios. Peter is saying, with all of what has come before in terms of discussions on how we should behave, this is the logical end of the matter. With that, he launches into a list of behaviour that should characterize all of us in ALL of our relationships!
- Harmonious: This is an interesting compound word in the Greek, homophron. It comes from two Greek words, homo, the same, and phronos, the mind. In otherwords, Be of the same mind. People over the years have connected this because of the King James Version to be the same as in Romans 15:5 and Philippians 2:2 because it translates both words as “likeminded,” but there is a subtle difference. In those passages, the Greek phrase is phroneo to auto, and it means to think the same thing. Here, it means to be of the same mind, and the subtle difference is that Paul was urging in both places for people to hold the same doctrine, and here, Peter is telling people to think the same way about these kinds of behaviours. Maybe that’s a bit overstated, but it is a different word in Greek with a similar meaning.
- Sympathetic: This is almost a transliteration from the Greek sumpathes, which connotes suffering with compassion for each other and for the sinners in the world. It is used here in the adjectival form, and so is a descriptor, just as all the other words in this list.
- Brotherly: This is the Greek philadelphos, which we know is a form of the word for “brotherly love.” Peter is clearly knows what that word means. John 21.
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep. (John 21:15-17)
In every instance but the last, when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus used the word agape in the Greek, signifying the love of God, not the love of man. Peter always responded with the word phileo to Jesus, saying, “of course I love you.” It is CLEAR Peter knew the meaning of the word. Phileos expresses the kind and warm affection we are to have for all of the brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Kind-hearted: The word is the Greek eusplanchnon, which can be translated as “pitiful,” but in the sense of “full of pity,” like most times when we see those phrases translated from Greek. Tenderhearted or good-hearted are other common translations.
- Humble in spirit: The Greek is another of those compound words, and is the word tapeinophrosune, literally translatable as “lowliness of mind.” Please note that though the word “spirit” is used in English, we do not recognize this phrasing as correct, because there is no mention in Greek of the pneuma, the spirit. Humility in mind here can be seen as that quality of deliberately making your thoughts about your self-worth be lower than another, in this case, lower than the civil authority, your master, or your spouse.
9: not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
- Peter is continuing his list here.
- Not returning evil for evil: This is where Christianity begins to separate itself from Judaism in reality. The Law, beginning in Exodus 21 (vv.23-25 specifically), taught that when a wrong was done, the one that did the wrong was to be punished, “…life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” This was justice, with the guilty one receiving exactly what he deserved in a tit-for-tat way. Justice necessarily carries with it a kind of vengeance, and Peter here is telling his audience, and also the world, though he didn’t know that, that we do not do that anymore. He said just the opposite. The Christian is not to seek vengeance or justice as was done previously. If someone spit in your face, you were not to return the saliva or worse. If you were called a dirty name, you were not to do likewise. You were to do something else instead.
- You are to give a blessing instead. That blessing is the Greek word eulogio, and it means “to speak well of,” not seek your retribution. Beloved, I can tell you from personal experience that’s hard. The Greek phrase has the connotation of speaking praise in fact! Okay, you’re not speaking to them, that praise, but instead you are praising God because you are suffering wrongfully for His sake. And if you can’t do that, you can instead say nice things to them, because that too is an implied meaning of this Greek phrase. Why is that?
- Well, it has to do the purpose for which you were called by God! We are called to inherit a blessing, and this probably is a needed reminder of that for yourself at the very least. At least a part of our inheritance then would seem to be the words that God will speak to our praise if we are His faithful servants to the end: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Oh, how I long to hear those words spoken by my master to ME. May it be so, Lord. Don’t let me outlive my usefulness to you. And the great news here is that Peter is going to give the answer from the Scriptures as to how that can happen for YOU!
10: For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS,
MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
- Now those of you who have been following along in your Bible as we go will note the use of ALL CAPS here, indicating that this is an Old Testament quote. It comes from Psalm 34 in this case, and verse 10 here is a quote from verses 12 and 13 of that Psalm, we’ll look at it.
Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
More or less, it is saying the same thing, because Peter is actually showing where the Scriptures hold the solution to the problem of persecution that he is at present discussing. When you are persecuted for being a believer by anyone, no matter what they do or how severe that persecution might be, if we would gain this blessing under consideration, we MUST keep our tongues from speaking evil and our lips from lying. In other words, watch your mouth, saint! We desire to live with Him eternally, right? We want to see those good days into eternity, right? Well, that’s what we have to do to gain that.
- What Peter is actually doing here is expository preaching, brothers particularly. He is quoting the appropriate Scripture and giving the meaning of the Old Testament quote for his very New Testament audience in their very real situations of personal persecution and suffering. It is no different now. The Word of God has not changed! It is as true today as it was then, and always will be!
- You have heard me say from time to time that God did not make us all automatons that just simply speak what He wants or perform actions according to Him all the time. He created us in His image and gave us wills of our own. He is through suffering giving us opportunity to CHOOSE to live according to the Word of God. Yes, He chose is by his foreknowledge before the world began and predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, then called us, and justified us before him, and ultimately will glorify us when He returns for us, but this is HOW that happens…we suffer ignominy for Him by choice, because by comparison in the light of heaven, anything the world or the enemy could offer us is skubalon by comparison. That’s what comes out the back end of a male cow for the record, and I got that term from Paul. And if you don’t believe he’s expositing a passage, check out the next verse.
11: “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
- This is the very next verse of Psalm 34. Think Peter isn’t expositing a passage still? The next verse he writes after this, which is verse 14, is verses 15 and 16 in the next verse. We’ll look at those when we get there. In the meantime, we’ll compare the verse from Psalm 34 with this verse, because sometimes there are inspired…well, edits.
- Psalm 34:14 reads:
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
You can see it pretty much says the same thing, though it is worded slightly differently. One says “turn away” and one says “depart.” This isn’t talking about events that are happening in front of you to avoid, although that’s also true. This is talking about the ones you are intimately involved in! You must depart from those, you must turn away from those. In other words, you must REPENT! Turn from your sin! Admit that it’s sin! Then seek peace and pursue it. That word for peace, the thing to be pursued, is the Greek eirene, which describes the harmonious relationship here between man and God. The equivalent Hebrew word is one familiar to all of us: Shalom. How is that pursued? It is very simple: BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!!! And then follow Christ in all areas of your life. It is something that must be sought, in that we must cry out to God for it. Paul thought so to, and even addressed folks on Mars Hill in Athens.
So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31)
I highlight verse 27 in the above passage, because it is a command of God that men everywhere seek Him! Paul gives his own reasonings for it in the text, and I will resist the temptation to exegete it here for sake of time.
- What is Peter saying here? From the context of what is in the text, it is that we as BELIEVERS need to seek God, and continually turn from evil and then to seek the Lord according to the gospel. Yes, as believers, God has justified us. Now He extends a glorious invitation to us to be involved as He sanctifies us through the trials and struggles we go through, sometimes against sin, sometimes just standing for what is right. And Peter isn’t done yet.
12: FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.”
- Peter tells us that for those that will turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, that the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and that he will hear their prayer and accomplish His will at their request! But for those that will not turn and repent, the Lord will stand against them.
- Psalm 34:15-6 says:
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The Old Testament Psalmist (In this case David, the text of that Psalm tells us) spoke more than Peter did, and to me, it changes the meaning and makes it SO much worse for those who stand against the Lord. It says that Yahweh God is against evildoers and will cut off their memory from the earth! What? Yes, Beloved, it isn’t just that the evil will be condemned to hell for eternity to consciously suffer, but that for the redeemed, they will not be remembered ever again. This speaks to something I heard in a training session when I was a financial planner. The trainer’s idea, and I find some merit in the idea and some social evidence of this, was that people want to live a life of significance, and that included us. We all want to build a legacy so that people will remember us when we are gone. I’m included in that, so are all of you. I want my legacy to point people to my Lord and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. For those who will pursue evil headlong, they will not even be remembered.
- Peter here is making a kind of ultimate comparison with respect to the gospel. Recalling again that he is writing to believers, Peter drops the last portion of that text because it is not required. His audience will understand that it does not apply to them. Today, NOBODY can claim that kind of applicability.
- What I mean is this. I spend a lot of my time preaching Christ and the good news (gospel) of His salvation for all who will hear it and turn. However, and I don’t think this is talked about enough, because not even I say a great deal about the risks of NOT turning to Christ. Many of you know that I favour a rapture of the church of some variety based on Scripture. I have heard the old dodge, “If I see you raptured, THEN I will believe.” Or “If I see a mass disappearance of Christians,” or “If I see an evil world leader emerge,” you get the idea. The reality is that you will not believe then if you will not believe now. When the church leaves earth, the restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2 (who I believe is the Holy Spirit), will remove His restraining influence from man. Then ALL people that remain will be given over to “THE lie” of Romans 1. You won’t believe then because you will instantly be persuaded of the “truth” of that lie, and you will go on to take the mark of the beast, or you won’t and you will die for that decision in all likelihood.
- Alternatively, I should add for those of you that are listening to my words and have heard the gospel, we are not promised tomorrow at any time. I could leave this parking lot this evening and die in a horrible crash. I know where I will be going, so the only part of that I worry about is the pain I will have to undergo, and I pray that would be minimal. But what about YOU? You might even be sitting there in your hubris (that’s pride for those that don’t know) believing falsely that you are a believer when you have never truly repented of your sins and believed that Jesus Christ paid for YOUR sins on the cross 2000 years ago. You might leave this meeting, and get out of your chair and drop stone dead of a massive coronary. It has happened to people I have known, that here-and-gone phenomenon. You do not know when God will require your soul to appear before Him for judgement.
- Waiting to see or waiting to “clean up your own act” has NO upside, because you already know enough, and you can’t do anything to clean yourself up! You can’t even claim “unresolved questions” as an excuse. I have been saved as of June 18 of this year, for 37 years. I still have unresolved questions, which I won’t share here, they aren’t relevant anyway. Worse than having no upside, it has a HUGE downside. You either end up dead in your sins and standing before your Judge with no Advocate (the Lord Jesus), or you end up being deceived by the kosmos as God’s restraining influence is removed from the planet and lawlessness breaks loose large scale over the whole planet. If you end up there, my advice is turn to Christ and then find a place where you can hide for 7 years. But we don’t want you to end up there! You can turn to Him NOW and escape the wrath of God that all people are born under and be saved for eternity to live in Christ’s Kingdom. That is the option I pray you will take.
Clearly, God has standards for the behaviour of His people here on earth, even though His heavenly Kingdom has not yet been established on earth. We need to be transformed by the Spirit of God living in us into those sanctified vessels that will see the Lord and serve Him for an eternity. We need to make sure that we are truly His, or that kingdom will come to be, and you will have no place in it, and that would be the greatest tragedy of all for you. To enter His eternal kingdom can be done today, if you will turn away from evil and toward the Lord Jesus Himself by asking Him to forgive you for the sins you have really committed against Him. And don’t wait, there is no upside. Turn and be saved.
That’s what I saw in the chapter.
Next time, we will finish off chapter 3. Until then, God bless you all, and may Christ find you and save you for Himself into eternity.