Lesson 1 - Introduction

Lesson 1 - Introduction

Lesson for January 13, 2012

The Book of I Peter


Theme: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Peter is the type of person who we can appreciate because he was a man of diverse character.  His failures are duly noted in Scripture, but so are his successes. Peter was a robust fisherman with a fiery attitude.   We will learn that Peter loved Jesus above all else and yet denied Him three times as prophesied by Jesus.  He also confronted Jesus when Jesus told His disciples that He would be taken and put to death.  The word “Peter” is a principle of God’s grace because despite his failures, Peter continued to advance in his spiritual life.  In other words, the very fact that the word “Peter” occurs in 65 AD at the beginning of this epistle as the human author is a declaration of the grace of God.  It is also a declaration of the fact that somewhere along the line Peter discovered grace.  We start out in this first epistle with the word “Peter” and when we get to the end of the Petrine epistles Peter says “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  This refers to the fact that Peter started out rather shaky but he wound up loving Jesus Christ as few people ever have.  And how do you suppose he learned to love Jesus Christ? The Petrine epistles explain how love for Jesus Christ is achieved — through Bible doctrine. Every doctrine mentioned in these two epistles is a doctrine that is necessary for capacity to love God. And so these are love epistles. We respond to the love of God through Bible doctrine.  This is exactly how a believer is able to experience the grace and peace of God to the fullest measure. (Matthew 14:28, 16:16-23, 17:4; John 6:66-69, 21:7; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-32, 5:40-42)

The name Peter is an acquired name, not his name of birth.  He was known as Simon, son of Jonas.  He acquired the name Peter which means “little stone.”  The story is found in Matthew 16:13-19.  So the name which he attaches here is the name given to him by Jesus Christ. And why does he use this name and why doesn’t he use Simon Peter? Because when he wrote this epistle his love for Jesus Christ was phenomenal and, therefore, any name he uses is a name associated with Jesus Christ, not with his physical birth. The principle is that our physical birth doesn’t mean a thing.  It is our second birth at salvation that counts.

The keys to the kingdom given to Peter in Matthew 16 refer to the Gospel plus the privilege of communication.  Every believer has the keys to the kingdom when it comes to the Gospel.  Peter is going to call himself, in this epistle, a bishop [which is a pastor really] and, as such, he had the privilege of communicating Bible doctrine.  Peter knew that Bible doctrine was the key to loving God.  The keys to the kingdom are associated with love.  When you receive a key it is something that fits a lock.  And Peter understood, even from the beginning, that to love God requires a phenomenal amount of doctrine. Who possesses the keys to the kingdom today - any believer who is executing the Christian Way of Life.

Every time you learn a new doctrine it is just another key that fits another lock that explains that the kingdom of God is total plan for you and for me.  The keys potentially belong to every believer according to John 20:23.  No one deserves the keys, including Peter, as illustrated by Galatians 2:11-21.  It is impossible for God to give the believer what he earns or deserves according to Romans 4:4-5.  God cannot give you what you earn and deserve.  If you want to go on a point system with God you will be deeper and deeper in debt, you will be bankrupt spiritually.  God can deal with you only in grace.

Peter under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, writes to the provinces to prepare them for the pressure to come. Therefore there is a secondary purpose for this epistle: to prepare believers for pressure.

Verse 1

Salutation. The first word denotes the human author of this epistle written from Rome, which is the Babylon of 1 Peter 5:13, at about 65 AD.  There was no Babylon, Rome was just called by that name by some at that time.  Peter had come a long way since the days that Jesus was on earth.  Peter did something that all believers should do, he grew in grace.  Spiritual growth, then, is the most important factor in your life.  Peter achieved the thing that was most important: spiritual growth.   And one of the most remarkable things about the Petrine epistles is to be able to contrast them with his life during the life of Christ, and his colossal failure in Galatians chapter two where he had the unprecedented experience of being confronted by Paul.

 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ”  Apostle is the Greek word “apostolos” which means one sent, but at the time Peter wrote it also meant the naval department of Athens sending a man to command the fleet.  So it is the highest word for rank; it is an absolute authority spiritual gift.  And it means so much more than a missionary or anyone else that is going from point A to point B in the Lord’s service.  There were very few apostles and they existed only during the period when the New Testament Canon was being completed between 30-96 AD. There are no apostles today. An apostle had authority over all the churches. They were elected by God the Father — Romans 1:1; they belonged to the Church Age only; they were all appointed by the Holy Spirit — 1 Corinthians 12:11,28; they were all appointed after the Ascension — Ephesians 4:8, 11; they were all eyewitnesses to the Resurrection — Acts 1:22; each apostle was given some additional miraculous powers — the gift of healing and the gift of tongues [which some used and some did not] which were occasion gifts.  These gifts were never used unless it was vitally necessary.  In the case of Paul we know of two cases during his lifetime where the gift of healing was withdrawn.  Spiritual gifts do not signify, then or now, any spiritual status — Acts 5:15; 16:16-18; 19:11-12; 28:8,9; 1 Corinthians 14:18-19.

Peter addresses this epistle to “the strangers.”  These were Jews who were residing in a country which is really not their own country.  They were strangers or sojourners or exiles living in Roman provinces. They belong in Judea but they were exiles.  It is a reference to Jewish believers who had been dispersed throughout the Roman Empire.  

These provinces mentioned above are famous because Christianity flourished here more than anywhere else in the first century.  At that time of great pressure, difficulty and disaster the greatest place for Christianity were these five provinces mentioned by Peter.  He is now writing to them to prepare them for two things. He is going to teach them how to love the Lord and he is going to prepare them for disasters about to fall upon them.  

Verse 2

This verse begins with the words “according to.”  The preposition is kata, the preposition of norm and standard.  Kata indicates that God has a standard for His plan.  This norm or standard is the character of God the Father, the character of God the Son and the character of God the Holy Spirit. And verse 2 begins with “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”— Grace depends on God the Father — “through the sanctification of the Spirit” — grace depends on the ministry of the Holy Spirit — “unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” — grace depends on Jesus Christ.

The phrase “according to the foreknowledge” means a predetermined purpose based upon a complete knowledge of the facts. The foreknowledge of God comes from His omniscience.  This word for foreknowledge is used in Acts 2:23 also and it is interesting that only Peter uses this word.  He used it in his speech on the Day of Pentecost and he used it here at the beginning of his epistle.  Peter was impressed by God’s purpose, and the fact that billions of years ago God knew everything that Peter would do and God provided everything for Peter.  So there was no place for Peter to take any credit; there was no place for his own human good.  This is a very technical and it indicates that God the Father has everything to do with grace being multiplied. “According to the norm or standard of the predetermined purpose with knowledge of all the facts from God the Father” is a more accurate translation.  God the Father is the author of the plan.  He is called the Father because through regeneration we enter in to a permanent family relationship with Him.  God the Father billions of years ago had a complete knowledge of everything we would ever face and He provided for it all at that time.  He also knew that we would have free will.  In fact, He designed us that way and therefore He knew which way our free will would operate at any given point.  

“By the sanctifying work of the Spirit” means that the Holy Spirit is the means of setting us apart in the plan of God.  As believers, the sin nature and negative volition get us out of the plan of God.  By contrast, the Holy Spirit sets us apart in the plan of God because we are in union with Jesus Christ.  So when we are out of fellowship, we are also out of the plan of God.  And in order to get back in the plan of God we have to name, acknowledge or admit our personal sins to God which gets us back into fellowship — 1 John 1:9. The word for sanctification is “hagiasmos” which means set apart.  God the Holy Spirit is the One Who sets us apart.  It is accomplished positionally through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and experientially through the filling of the Spirit.

The phrase, “that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” means Jesus Christ was obedient to the plan of the Father —the Cross.  The Greek word for sprinkling is “rantismos” which is a word that takes us back to the Levitical offerings before the Cross.  “Rantismos” was actually the activity of the priests in sprinkling the blood.  It portrayed a positive attitude toward Christ.  Blood here refers to the work of Christ on the Cross and does not suggest that he bled to death.  In the Levitical offerings the blood was literal when the animal was sacrificed and the blood was collected by the priests. The sprinkling of the blood simply meant the person was positive toward Christ.  The blood of the animal depicts Christ being judged. The physical death of the animal depicts the spiritual death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The sprinkling of the blood demonstrated faith in their Messiah (Jesus Christ); it was positive volition toward the work that the Lord Jesus Christ would accomplish on the Cross.

“May grace and peace be yours” means it is to your advantage to be the recipient of grace and peace.  Grace is all that God is able to do for you based on what Christ accomplished on the Cross.  Peace means tranquility and harmony.  Peace is the result of grace.  There are actually two kinds of peace mentioned in the New Testament.  One is reconciliation in Ephesians 2:14-17 which simply means that Jesus Christ removed the barrier between God and man, and therefore made peace.  The second is peace from God found in Philippians 4:7 and is a result of a relaxed mental attitude, tranquility of soul.

“In fullest measure” means Peter’s desire was for the grace and peace of God to be multiplied to the fullest extent in life of every believer.  Grace and peace being multiplied is received through the function of the intake and application of accurate Bible doctrine.  Again, when you utilize Bible doctrine you begin to receive grace multiplied and you experience the full measure of peace from God.