Lesson Eight – Growing Up in Salvation

Continuation of previous lesson:

Growing Up in Salvation 

Introduction

Although we can learn many theologies, ethical teachings and practices by reading the New Testament documents, we may miss the intent of the document.  We need to read Peter’s letters in the context of the drama he set up for us.  This is how we learn the laws of life God desires to impress on our hearts and minds.  The application of the laws of life to Christians’ lives have been made possible by God’s new covenant in Jesus’ blood (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 8:10-12).  It is the last covenant God will offer mankind.  We need to get it right this time, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”  I Pet 4:17.  We will consider each Christian’s responsibility to evangelize the people in the world who do not know about God’s new covenant in the next lesson.

Satan’s preachers would be attacking the recipients of Peter’s letters soon.  Atheistic ignorant scoffers, who were following “their own evil desires,” would abound.  Along with external challenges, Christians must battle against our inner-man’s “tendency to sin” every hour of every day.  We are still in Adam (Jas. 1:13-15).  We obtained the mental capability of awareness because Adam and Eve broke covenant.  We are aware there are good and evil ways to think, feel and do (Rom. 12:9, 21; 16:19).  We struggle to, “abstain from sinful desires, which war against our soul.”  I Pet. 2:11.

The intent of Peter’s letters was to get the original recipients prepared.  They needed to be ready in every part of their daily routine of life.  We fight the same battles because the false teachers and scoffers control the media and many governments.  Discipline is a critical factor in all types of wars.  Soldiers need to learn to submit to their superiors to maintain discipline in battle.  A Christian’s hardest battle may be to submit our “self” to God’s will.  This is what every parent strives to attain with their children.  As Christians learn and grow into the attitude of submitting our “selves” to God, our daily encounters will be less stressful.  Please review the introduction of Lesson Seven.  Lesson Eight is a continuation of Lesson Seven.  Review the chart in the previous lesson.  We are now ready to consider an employer/employee relationship study.

Lesson 

Text: I Peter 2:18-21.  Slaves in the NIV and servants in the KJV, have been translated from oyketace.  W. E. Vine suggests it refers to domestic help.  This is important only in the fact it sets up another battleground in which most of the world population can relate.  There is a boss who may be the employer and there is an employee.  Peter has chosen the position of the employee to show how Christians “grow up” into the goal of our faith.  One goal of our faith is to grow up into our identities as sons of God.  God created humanity with an innate need for praise, glory and honor.  Salvation of our souls is the all encompassing goal of our faith.  Genuine faith of a Christian will result in his or her praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed (I Pet. 1:7-9).

The Greek word in this scripture translated praise, is epainos.  It means a commendable thing.  Honor is from the Greek word, time; it means, esteem of high degree.  Glory is from doxa; meaning glory, as apparent; thus to present to others a good view of one’s self.  This is the meaning of honor and glory in Romans 2:7, 10.  Paul explained what Christians are seeking now; we will receive on Judgment Day.  There does not appear to be any good reason why honor and glory were reversed in their order in I Pet. 2:7 in the NIV.  The KJV follows the Greek order of honor and glory.

Jesus Christ gave the text of this block of scripture to Peter via the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15).  Peter and some of the other apostles did not accept the doctrine of “submitting one’s self to physical abuse” before Jesus taught and demonstrated this attitude.  Jesus proved unjust suffering may be necessary for God’s people to show we are His children (I Pet. 2:21-25).  He always put God’s will foremost in all His activities.  Christians strive to have the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:16).

The principle we find in this block of scriptures is found in verse 19.  “For it is commendable if a man bears up under pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.”  Being conscious of God in our daily lives is the meaning of eusebeia, the Greek word for godliness.  See II Pet. 1:3, 6, 7; 3:11 (godly lives, NIV).  Paul used eusebeia several times in his letter to Timothy.  See I Tim. 2:2; 3:16; 4:7, 8; 6:3, 5, 6, 11; II Tim. 3:5.  Like all loving fathers, God watches over His children (I Pet. 1:17).  He watches Christians as we interact with and react to our employer – the good ones and the evil ones.  This is our training ground for developing the emotional attitude of the submission of our individual self to the brotherhood of believers, God and the king.

Text:  I Peter 3:1-6. 

When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.  He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.  I Pet. 2:23, 24

“Wives in the same way be submissive to your husbands.”  If Peter was referring to the crucifixion of Jesus, when he wrote “in the same way,” the pronouns for Jesus could be changed to represent a wife, whose husband was not a Christian in verse twenty-three.  The paraphrase would be: “When your husband hurls insults at you, do not retaliate; when you suffer, make no threats.  Instead, entrust your “self” to God, who will give you just judgment.”  Peter could have been referring to the other scenes on the chart; how Christians react to the authorities; how we react when our bosses do not pay just wages for hard work.  If this be the case, all Christians should paraphrase verse 23 with our identification in the place of the pronouns for Jesus Christ.  Christians do not retaliate.  God will take care of these matters for us, if our abusers do not repent and seek God’s forgiveness.  Our prayer is for our abusers repentance.  Please read Romans 12:17-21.  We will need to apply this scripture and we will later in this lesson.

Peter has chosen different scenarios where most of us look for and expect “just judgment.”  How should we react, when we do not get a “fair deal?”  He told us how Jesus reacted, “leaving us an example.”  I Pet. 2:21.  Peter knew how He Jesus revealed the attitude of submissiveness because he was there with Him.  Unless we have been sold into slavery as some Christians had been, we are free as citizens to seek justice.  We must not use our “freedom as a cover up for evil.”  I Pet. 2:16.  In other words, we do not hire a good lawyer to cover up our weak case for justice.  In Jesus’ parable, when the lady did not receive justice, she was given the choice of praying to God or giving up.  Luke 18:1-8.  Children of God may not receive justice from the authorities, our bosses or spouses.  We must not give up hope; therefore, we pray.  Our faith in our identification as sons and daughters of God is: He will give us justice on Judgment Day, assuming we submit to His will now.  “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”  I Pet. 4:19.

In the text, I Pet. 3:1-6, Peter chose to present a Christian woman.  She was married to a man who had not been born again.  It seems obvious she married him before she was born again.  The Apostle Paul presented his views and the Lord’s views in I Cor. 7:1-40 about marriage in general and specifically about Christians who may find themselves in a marriage covenant with a non-believer (7:10, 11, 17).  He was also specific about who Christians should marry (7:39; II Cor. 6:14-18).  See my book, “Letters to the Corinthians,” Part IV, Lesson One, entitled, “Sexual Passion of Humanity.”  It may be viewed on my website:  www.whydidgodcreateyou.com

Now let us project a similar life encounter for a “here and now” study.  The scenario involves a wife, and perhaps mother, after she became a Christian.  She finds herself in a marriage covenant with a man who does not believe in God’s word.  Our task as a student of Peter’s letter is to apply God’s will from the scriptures to this situation.  Her husband is the head of their family; therefore, she will be submissive to him (I Cor. 11:3).  She cannot void, nullify or walk out of the covenant.  God designed one man and one woman to be united (Matt. 19:3-6).  Marriage is God’s will; therefore, she submits herself to her husband and to their marriage covenant.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “A wife must not separate from her husband.  But, if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.”  I Cor. 7:10.  He continued, “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.”  7:15.  Should this Christian ladies’ husband decide to leave her, she is no longer obligated to submit to him as her head.  However, she is not free to marry again unless he dies or commits adultery (7:39; Rom. 7:1-3; Matt. 6:31, 32).  She may leave, if they cannot live in peace but she has the responsibility to maintain peace.  She submits because he is the head of their family.  “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Rom. 12:19.  If her husband insults her, she does not retaliate; although she may suffer because of unjust treatment, she makes no threats.  Her option is to leave her husband until they can live in peace together.

So what can she do if he will not listen to the word of God?  This is the question for which Peter will give us a divine answer in this text.  In the broader context of his first letter, this is a question he has answered several times.  What do Christians do when we encounter people who do not believe the word of God?  We first submit ourselves to God and then show ignorant rulers, harsh bosses and unbelieving spouses the results in our own lives of being a believer in His word.  We are God’s people; therefore, we “leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to revenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”  Rom. 12:19.

Behavioral evangelism is the divine answer for converting a person with whom you find yourself yoked together in a primary relationship (I Pet. 3:1).  Behavioral evangelism is also valuable for secondary relationships (I Pet. 2:12).  What are the tools of a silent teacher of God’s word?    We use Christian qualities of “the inner man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible.”  I Pet. 3:4, KJV.  The “inner self” is used in the NIV to describe the part of people that will not decay – go back to the dust of the earth (Mark 9:46-48).  The life qualities of a Christian functions in evangelism for all kinds of relationships; however, Peter has “set up” a primary relationship of a Christian woman bound by a marriage covenant to a non-believer.

Marriage is a relationship that cannot be broken by anyone but God; therefore, the first life principle the wife makes use of is her submission to her husband.  The Christian attitude is the submission of her “self.”  Her behavior is obedience.  Behavior is translated “conversation” in the KJV.  The Greek word is anastrophe – it means behavior.  Obedience has been translated from the Greek word, hupakouo.  It means to hear, listen attentively; then to heed or conform to his command.  Sarah, one of the holy women in Biblical history, obeyed Abraham.

I Pet. 3:2.     NIV:       “When they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

                        KJV:       “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”

The English words purity, or chaste, has been translated from hagnos.  It means innocent, clean.  The root of this word is also found in “holy” in verse five.  Holy and saint is from hagios.

Reverence or fear has been translated from phobos.  This word has been translated reverential fear in I Pet. 1:17 in the NIV and fear in the KJV.  In I Pet. 3:15, phobos has been translated “respect” in the NIV and fear in the KJV.

 We may understand phobos in this context to mean this Christian lady first of all had a reverential fear of God.  This was because she had faith that “every good and perfect gift is from God.” Jas. 1:17.  She believed God is holy; therefore, His behavior is just – righteous (I Pet. 1:15; Rom. 1:17).  She knows her husband’s spirit came from God and it was made in His likeness (Heb. 12:9; Jas. 3:9).  Her marriage is ordained by God; consequently, it is good and perfect for “whoever would love life and see good days.”  I Pet. 3:10.  Her respect for God and His word moves her to fear her husband; that is, respect him as the one God created to be her head in marriage (I Cor. 11:3).  The same word, phobos, is used in a different context in I Pet 3:14.  It does not mean “reverential fear” or respect in the following context as the translators revealed.   NIV, “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”  KJV.  “Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.”

Thus the purity and reverence of this Christian lady is first manifested in the manner she obeyed.  Of course, these qualities had to have been developed in her “self;” otherwise, a different kind of behavior would be forth coming.  She might not submit to her husband in a proper manner.  The person who has developed the attitude of submission of their self to God will not have difficulty submitting to their spouse.  Attitudes learned in one situation will generalize in application.  Please note when Peter introduced “husbands” in verse 7, he wrote “in the same way.”   This is not the husband who was not a believer of God’s word.  He is a Christian husband; consequently, much of what Peter said about the wife also applies to the Christian husband.  God loves “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”  3:4.  He loves it in a woman and He loves it in a man.

It has great value for the personality of a wife, as well as the inner man of a husband.   Meek (KJV), and gentle (NIV) have been translated from the Greek word, praus.   According to W. E. Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words; “It is an inwrought grace of the soul; and its exercises of it are first and chiefly toward God.  It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” It is closely related to humble (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12).  Quiet is from hesuchios – it means tranquility rising from within, causing no disturbance to others.  The combination of a gentle and quiet spirit describes a peaceable happy person’s disposition.  “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”  Matt. 5:5.

Text:  I Pet. 3:7.  Let us assume this Christian wife’s silent behavioral evangelism program was effective.  She would now be happily married to a Christian man who finally accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord.  Since Jesus accepted God as His head; God rules in this Christian family.  This was the result of each individual “submitting themselves” to God’s will.  Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb. 5:8; I Cor. 11:3).  Both husband and wife are happy because nothing is hindering their prayers and they are “heirs together of the grace of life.”  They each have the goal of inheriting the kingdom of God and the life therein (Jas. 1:12: 2:5).  They are not competing for a goal – they are heirs together, sunkleronomos.

They have different roles while they are living in different types of bodies.  “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them.” Gen. 1:27.  The husband has a male body that includes a male brain.  The wife has a female body with a female brain.  Both of their spirits came from God.  Their spirits reside in their respective male or female brain.

Gender does not belong in a discussion of “why God created mankind?”  Gal. 3:28.  Gender is a significant issue in a study of how God created people.  The difference is in their bodies and their brains in which they reside.  This may be what Peter meant by “dwell with them according to knowledge.”  God made them male or female to fulfill a role in life on earth only.  There are many other differences Peter, no doubt, had knowledge of because he had a wife.  She must have been a beautiful woman according to the way God judges’ beauty contests.  This can be said because she had helped Peter qualify to be an elder in the church (I Pet. 5:1; Titus 1:6).

Text:  I Pet. 3:8-12.  “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”  This is one Bible description of a church family functioning as the body of Christ.  For a broader commentary on this scripture please read Romans 12:9-21 and I Cor. 12:12-31.  God’s church “in Christ” is made up of sons of God with full rights.  Some are in female bodies and some are in male bodies.  We are all living in hope of being clothed in a body like the body Jesus Christ now enjoys (I John 3:1-3).  Even more, we hope to inherit God’s kingdom and the eternal life of His kingdom (Matt. 19:28-30; 25:34; I Pet. 1:4).

This is our faith.  The goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls (I Pet. 1:4).  All Christians are in the process of growing up in our salvation, “now that we have tasted that the Lord is good.”  I Pet. 2:2, 3.

Questions for Discussion 

1.  What was the difference in Peter’s and John’s attitude about suffering because of unjust treatment before and after Jesus Christ returned to heaven?

2.  How does being “conscious of God” help Christians’ submit to harsh bosses in the work place?  What does “godliness” mean?

3.  How does the phrase, “He did not retaliate” raise the principle of submission to a higher level of character building?  Sometime we may decide not to retaliate to unjust treatment because we do not have resources to meet the challenge.  What was different about Jesus refusal to retaliate?  What is the alternate program of God for Christians who decide to submissively accept unjust treatment rather than entering upon the dubious course of retaliation?

4.  What is the possible meaning of “in the same way be submissive” in I Pet. 3:1 and 3:7 in the context of what had been said before and following this phrase?  If Peter meant for this phrase to focus on “He did not retaliate” in I Pet. 2:23, what did Peter mean to say to a husband who was married to a Christian?   To a wife whose husband was not a believer?

5.  A Christian woman married to an unbelieving husband has been instructed to win him over without words.  What are the tools she will need for this evangelistic task?  What were some options the Apostle Paul offered, in case she was unsuccessful with her non-vocal evangelism program?

6.  In what ways should a Christian husband be considerate of his wife?  What might be hindered in case the husband did not adhere to Peter’s instructions?

7.  How does the present “women’s liberation” movement blend with Peter’s divine instructions for husbands and wives?

8.  What group of people is Peter probably speaking to in I Pet. 3:8?

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