The First Letter of Peter:Chapter 2:13-25

Study No.10: (1 Peter 2: 13-25)

Persecution of true New Covenant believers began by false brethren primarily religious Jews who rejected the Lord Jesus as the Messiah (Revelation 2:2, 9). Following this the persecution came from the secular Roman authorities especially when the faithful Messianic believers were ejected from the Temple and were forced to meet in their houses or wherever they were able to meet (Acts 2:42-47). The Lord Jesus said that His faithful followers would be persecuted in this world (Matthew 24:8-13) (John 15:18-21). In the first two and a half centuries AD the believers were persecuted up until the time when Constantine the Roman Emperor supposedly became a Christian and declared Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 312 AD.

However, even from that time down through history in every century the faithful Body of Messiah has suffered persecution.  There were 10 major Imperial persecutions mandated by the pagan Pontiffs (emperors) of Pagan Rome followed by the persecution mandated by the Pontiffs (Popes) of Roman Catholicism especially during the inquisition. After the power of Rome came the power of Islam which decimated Christendom in the Middle-Eastern leg of the Roman Empire and eventually destroying what remained of the Roman Empire. From that time down to the present day Islam persecutes faithful Christians in every country under its heel.

What happened to the first century believers in Messiah will happen again at the end of this present age on a global scale (Revelation 13:5-8, 14-17). With the advance of ID tracking and facial recognition and AI technology and digital currency it will become very difficult to live as a believer in the Lord Jesus in future days. In the day of the Roman Emperors in the first and second centuries at the entrance to cities and local towns was a sculptured bust of the Roman Emperor’s head with a small dish attached. Anyone entering the town to buy food or other household items had to burn incense in the bowl as an act of worship to Caesar as a god. Of course no true believer in the Lord Jesus could confess Jesus as Lord and Caesar as lord at the same time. Many undoubtedly did burn the incense to save their own lives in this world. Many however refused to worship the Roman Emperor in this way and were marginalised, imprisoned and martyred as the Lord Jesus had been persecuted and ultimately martyred (John 15:20).

Peter’s letter not only became a manual for spiritual survival in the first century and down through history but specifically for the last of the last days in which we are now living when persecution is sweeping across the nations of the world, not only in Islamic countries, but also rising within western democracies with governmental legislation being put in place to restrict believers from preaching the gospel of the kingdom and passing laws that go contrary to the teaching of the Bible. The nations in the west that were traditionally and historically associated with Judeo- Biblical Christianity are now neo-pagan. Peter has already told us so far how we can prepare ourselves for the coming persecution that will come to every faithful assembly in every nation.

Firstly, we are chosen by God to belong to Him (1:2). Secondly, we have our hope firmly rooted and grounded in the resurrection and not in this world (1:3-5). Thirdly, we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus realising that persecution is purifying and developing our trust and confidence in the Lordand preparing us for the ultimate reward being glorified with the Lord Jesus at His Second Coming (1:6-9). Fourthly, the hope of the gospel has been given to us through the Holy Spirit (1:10-12). Fifthly, we are to cultivate holy living in a world of sin and spiritual decay and darkness (1:13-17). Sixthly, we have been redeemed out of this present evil age by the shed blood of the Messiah our Lord Jesus guaranteeing the rescue to come (1:18-21). Seventhly, we must develop our personal relationship with God by obeying the truth of God’s Word, loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah. (1:22). Eighthly, we have been spiritually reborn from above into God’s eternal kingdom and that the kingdoms of this world one day will cease to exist and that the Word of God will endure forever and never change (1:23-25). Ninthly, we are part of God’s spiritual temple, living stones held together by the cornerstone and crowned with the capstone being the Messiah our Lord Jesus as we live as strangers and aliens in the world (2:4-8). Tenthly, we are a royal priesthood of believers, a holy nation called out of spiritual darkness into God’s marvellous kingdom of light having been recipients of His mercy (9-10).

The thrust of this letter is to tell us not to have our hope in this world and in the things this world offers which are temporary and a like the flower of the field that is here today but gone tomorrow. Compared to eternity our life in this world is like a vapour that is quickly dispersed as it blows away in the wind (James 4:14) (Psalm 144:4). Our life down here in this world is like a drop of water in the ocean of eternity. Having told us how we are to live holy lives Peter now tells us how we should react and relate to the secular authorities, especially when they are the source of persecution and Unbiblical laws and practices.

Exposition: (1 Peter 2:13-25)

(Vs.13-14) “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Submission to governing authorities here means that we are to do everything to keep the law and to obey the proper authorities except when it conflicts with our loyalty and allegiance to our Lord Jesus and to the law of God. Having said this, we do need to recognise that the place of the government as an institution has been set up by God for the order and the maintenance of law, punishing those who do wrong and commending those who do tight and for the general wellbeing in society. However, the politicians in that position of government may in fact be lawless and hostile to the law of God which will be challenging for all New Covenant believers in Messiah Jesus who owe Him their first and foremost allegiance and make the Word of God their No1 priority.

In the first and second centuries and into the third century before Constantine became the Roman Emperor, the Caesars of Pagan Rome had begun to demand worship as divinity and it was the Roman Emperor Augustus who established this practice throughout the Roman Empire and had himself deified at Pergamum in modern day Turkey. During his reign the Lord Jesus was born.  Faithful New Covenant believers could not worship Jesus as Lord and Caesar as lord at the same time. Now Judaism in Israel was an accepted religion by the Roman government and for the most part the Jewish leaders compromised with the Roman authorities. Judaism was a legal religion endorsed by Roman law even though the Jews by and large were hostile to Rome and there were several wars between Jewish zealots with Rome. Roman Governors did not like Judea because of the civil unrest that existed in that province.

At first the Messianic assemblies in Jerusalem worshipped in the temple precincts and were protected by the legal status of Judaism by Rome. However, the time came when the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem expelled the Messianic believers from the temple making them outcasts and also an illegal religion according to Roman law related to other religions. Consequently the faithful Body of Messiah were forced to meet in their homes, meeting from house to house and gathering wherever they could and mostly in secret from the prying eyes of Roman authorities and autocracy.

They would obey the laws of Rome provided they did not go contrary to the teachings of Jesus and Torah law which had priority over those laws that conflicted with a believer’s conscience and loyalty first and foremost to the Lord Jesus and to the Word of God. Their Bible of the first century Messianic believers was the Old Testament scriptures. The New Testament was still being written.

(Vs.15) “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

In the first century the faithful Body of Messiah lived exceptionally godly lives and had a great influence on the pagan world. They were diligent in their daily work place and their love and zeal for the Lord Jesus and their ardent witnessing for Him was seen by the unsaved. Even when they were scattered through persecution and displaced from their homes they preached the Word of God wherever they went (Acts 8:4). Daily, new converts were added to the Assemblies (Acts 2:47). The pagans may have criticised them and slandered them and said all manner of lies against them but their likeness to Jesus and their benefit to society could not be supressed. The spiritual life, light and power living on the inside of them by the indwelling presence the Holy Spirit exposed the spiritual darkness around them (John 3:19-21).

The pagans saw how these followers of the Lord Jesus cared for the sick and for those in poverty, not to mention the genuine Holy Spirit miracles signs and wonders that accompanied their testimony and service for our Lord Jesus. One of the reasons that Constantine curried the favour of Christians was that they were good soldiers and at the Battle of Milvan Bridge, where Constantine had the victory that resulted in him becoming Caesar, he credited the success to the Christians fighting in the ranks. He also testified that he saw a sign of a cross in the sky and a voice saying “In this sign conquer.” Whether he really saw this ‘sign’ has been debated but never the less the victory at Milvan Bridge apparently made a deep impression on him ultimately leading him to declare Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The persecution ceased but it brought other problems which is another story in itself.

These followers of the Lord Jesus were like Him. As we read; “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they marvelled and took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). They lived and breathed in the presence of Jesus living in them through the Holy Spirit and it showed through. Because they spent time in His presence every day they has a spiritual power and freedom that could not be denied and through this power they silenced the foolish talk of those who were ignorant in spiritual matters.

Spending time in the presence of the Lord Jesus every day before we commence the day’s activities will make us like Him in what we say or do. It will affect the whole course of our day. Satan will attack us for sure and at times it will be incessant but the blessed Holy Spirit will sustain us in the fight and strengthen, comfort and empower us, and show us how to drive Satan out of our affairs and the situations we face that evoke fear and the doubt of God’s love for us. We will not only talk the talk but walk the walk and others will see it.

So then these first century New Covenant believers had their trials and difficulties as we all do and like us had to fight every day against the world the flesh and the devil and at times contending with battles without against implacable enemies, and to deal with fears within but walking by faith and not giving in to the lies of the devil with his accusing thoughts and opposition (2 Corinthians 7:5). They were just and pure in their daily living whether at home, within the assemblies or in the places where they worked among the pagans. In many cases the pagan Roman authorities persecuted them, not because they could find something wrong in them or in what they were saying and doing, but because these faithful Messianic believers gave their allegiance to the Lord Jesus alone and that above allegiance to Caesar.

Their godly conduct and indisputable testimony to the death and physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus even convicted the political leaders (Acts 26:27-28). When we seek to live godly lives in Messiah Jesus, as we work every day in our work place side by side with secular unsaved colleagues, they cannot fault us even though they may accuse us of wrong doing. Some of them will have never read the Bible but they will be reading us.

(Vs.16) “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”

We are to live as free men and women who have been set free from the power and penalty of sin. In exercising that freedom Satan, who like a roaring lion roams around seeking someone to devour, will tempt us to compromise or to lower our guard especially when we are having spiritual success and victories in our lives as we overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life by walking in step with the Holy Spirit, He who enables us to daily crucify the flesh with its passions and desires that go contrary to the desires of the Spirit living on the inside of us as born again New Covenant Bible believers. We need to constantly  be servants of God ready and willing to do whatever He asks us to do whether we feel like doing it or not. After all, we walk by faith and not by sight which can be expressed in how we feel or by the daunting circumstances we might be facing.

Seeking to be servants of God will shield us against pride in our own natural prowess and ability. We may be spiritually gifted but the danger is that the gift can be misused. God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable but we are still responsible for how we utilise them. If we do not minister in the power of the Spirit we will operate in the latent power of the soul which is centred on us and not centred on God. There will be a release of power but it will not be that of the Holy Spirit but that of this latent power of the soul, and in some cases will actually lead to a demonic stronghold over the one working under this latent power. This is why all of our faculties must be under the control of the Holy Spirit, especially when we are involved in ministry or leadership within the local assembly. In a war the snipers always go for the officers because they know that if the officers are taken out then the rank and file will be to a degree confused and weakened in their resistance.

Living as free men and women, freed from the power and tyranny of sin, we must not allow ourselves to become slaves to sin again (Romans 6:15-23). The blood of Jesus has freed us from sin’s power and grip and yet we need to realise that only by our moment by moment dependence on the grace of God, exercising our faith in Him, and availing ourselves of the blood of Jesus, the power of the Word of God and the power of the holy Spirit, and by praying unceasingly in the Holy Spirit, that we can overcome everything Satan throws at us be it undue criticism, lies to weaken us, guilt over past sins to discourage and to condemn us, depression, anxiety, difficult people to deal with in our family relationships or in our local assemblies and being marginalised by our colleagues in the work place because we follow Jesus and do not go along with the dissipation of the unsaved we work alongside every day.

This is why we must put on the whole spiritual armour of God piece by piece undergirded by praying unceasingly in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18). This freedom we have in our relationship with our Triune God who loves us dearly is freedom that only permits us to serve and follow our Lord Jesus and to obey His Word. Outside of this relationship there is no true freedom in life but slavery to sin and the devil. As it is written; “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:11-12).

(Vs.17) “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.

We are to show proper respect.”  While we may not respect what people say and believe and do we must still respect them because they are made in God’s image and Messiah died for the ungodly which includes you and me without exception. It is always and only by the unmerited, unearned favour of God towards us that any of us who follow the Lord Jesus will make it out of here in the end when the hammer of God’s wrath falls upon a Messiah hating, Messiah rejecting world. To show respect is “to honour to revere and to even venerate and to fix a valuation of something or to value it.” We must respect and honour and value others even when their views are different from ours. It does not mean we compromise what we believe or seek to bend it to be more acceptable to them. No, we must always be ready to give to everyone who asks us the reason for the hope that lies within us with no holds barred as it were. As it is written; “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

However, we are to always seek to preach the truth in love, having in our minds the spiritual wellbeing of the one we are witnessing to. We are also told to love the brotherhood of believers. This love for our brothers and sisters in Messiah is “to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of and to love dearly.” We are in fact to cherish our brothers and sisters in Jesus the Messiah because they are our companions in fighting the spiritual battles we all face in life and Satan knows that a house divided against itself cannot stand. One of the things God hates is those who sow discord among their fellow believers (Proverbs 6:19).

Then we are to fear God.” This is a word that denotes “to reverence, to venerate, to exercise and to have a submission or courteous respect given to another in recognition of their authority.” It is not a fear of the kind that approaches God like a whipped dog with its tails between its legs, but to approach God with boldness and with freedom of speech, holding in tension with a reverence and respect for His holy and righteous character and absolute power to give or to take life and one not to be taken for granted, lightly or flippantly or presumptuously. Many assemblies within wider Christendom today have lost their fear of God. Their worship services tell it all.

Today our Triune God is treated a some kind of divine spiritual dispensing machine that mollycoddles His kids as it were like a self-indulgent father who bestows upon them all kinds of spiritual ‘goodies’ that tantalise the senses and promotes some kind of mystical or spiritually undefinable euphoria at the sight of all kinds of so called spiritual manifestations such as we saw with the laughing revival thing! Much can also be said about this aspect of ‘modern worship’ we see today in many assemblies. Godly fear is the beginning of all true and genuine Biblical spiritual wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Without a fear or reverence for God our best works are as some sort of spiritual flotsam and jetsam. In the maritime context it is the remains of a shipwreck still floating in water.

Then we are to honour the king.” The same honour and respect we show our fellow believers is the same honour and respect we should show towards our political leaders. Government is something God has established but He expects those in these positions to rule wisely and hopefully under His guidance. However, men and women have a free will and if they do not do what is right in God’ sight He removes them in His time and in His way. As it is written concerning God in this matter; “He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:21). And again it is written; “For exaltation comes neither from east nor west, nor out of the desert, but it is God who judges; He brings down one and exalts another” (Psalm 75:6-7). We are instructed in God’s Word to pray for those who govern us (Romans 13:1-7). 

While we are to pray for all in authority to come to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus and to govern according to God’s laws and commandments, we can also pray for God to remove them if they persist in flaunting His laws, passing ungodly and unbiblical legislation to restrict and to penalise those who hold to the truth of God’s Word, and inflict unjust laws and penalties on those who do not submit to their autocracy. God is love in its fullest and most perfect and eternal expression, a God who loves, who forgives sin and is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. However, He is also the judge of all men and we are told in His Word; “The Lord is known by the justice He brings; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked will return to Sheol (Hell), all the nations who forget God” (Psalm 9:16-17). In times of persecution God avenges His elect who cry to Him day and night because of the adversary (Satan), God avenges them speedily! (Luke 18:1-8).

(Vs.18) “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

Slavery was common in the Roman Empire and in other nations in the first century. A slave’s submissive spirit or attitude towards their master was easier for some than for others. For the most part slaves in the Roman Empire were treated harshly and undoubtedly many were abused by their masters. In such circumstances it was only the manifold grace of God that would keep a believer who was a slave. A slave who was a born again believer was to show all respect to their master even to those who were harsh with them.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul also writes; “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Messiah. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Messiah, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free” (Ephesians 6:5-8).

And again Paul writes; “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:22-24). God’s grace will always be proportionate to every situation we face and even go beyond what we would have expected. God’s grace is a great grace that is far above and beyond anything we can even imagine. As Paul also writes; “No temptation (or testing) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted (or tested) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (or tested) He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Those in slavery would have needed God’s great grace in many circumstances they were facing as slaves.

(Vs.19) “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

If anyone suffered unjustly it was our Lord Jesus. Who can really come to terms with the physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual anguish He suffered at the cross because of our sin and wrongdoing and not for His own, as He was without sin. He had to bear up under the pain of unjust suffering at the hands of wicked men because He was conscious of His Father’s will and of the reason He was sent into this world to be a sacrifice for sin once and for all time. His death was the cruellest of deaths that any man could suffer in those days. We are told in the New Testament that even in the midst of His intense pain the Lord Jesus had the joy in his heart of seeing the fruit of His suffering resulting in the salvation of untold millions to come in the future.

As we read; “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting for God, for whom and through whom all things exist, to make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. For both the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:9-11).

And again we read; “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Those who bear up under the pain of unjust suffering because of their allegiance to God will be greatly rewarded, if not in this life, most certainly in the life to come. A consciousness of God in a believer’s heart and mind accompanied by the knowledge of His Word and who He is and what He has promised, will sustain us in the midst of a test or trial. Even in His suffering the joy of the Holy Spirit was also active in the heart of our Lord Jesus (Luke 10:21).

While it is hard to imagine even in suffering as a believer there will be the supernatural joy of the Lord deep down on the inside. The apostle James writes; “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing… Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:2-4, 12).

(Vs.20) “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

Persecution comes from the devil using unbelievers but God permits it in order that we might be spiritually purified and have our priorities firmly established according to the will of God as revealed in His eternal and unchanging Word. However, sometimes as believers we suffer because we do foolish and stupid things that God does not approve of and we suffer the consequences of our actions. Having said this, when we turn acknowledge our foolishness in His sight He rectifies things for us. There is no credit in suffering for what we have done wrong but through confession of it to God He will deliver us from being burdened with what we have done. God will always forgive us and cleanse us from sin when we confess it with a willingness to turn away from it and not to do it again yet there are consequences of our sin which we have to live with.

David was God’s chosen man yet he committed adultery and murder and after being rebuked by Nathan God’s prophet, David repented before God and received cleansing and forgiveness and was able to complete God’s Will and destiny for his life, however, for the rest of his days through Absalom his son, David saw adultery and murder perpetrated within his own family members. Sin can be forgiven but there are consequences. God is very merciful and even in such circumstances can bring good out of a situation Satan intended for evil. Solomon was born and was a great blessing to Israel yet even at the end of his days Solomon spiritually backslid through his pagan wives leading him into idolatry. In the end if any of us make it out of here it will be always and only by the grace, the unmerited, the undeserved favour of God. Peter later writes in this letter; “And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (4:18-19). Now let’s continue…

(Vs.21) “To this you were called, because Messiah suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.”

When we suffer for the Lord Jesus and for our faithfulness to Him we share in His suffering. We identify ourselves with Him in His suffering or in suffering as He did and consequently He will share with us the power of His indestructible resurrection life. As Rabbi the apostle Paul wrote; “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship (participation in) of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).

The Lord Jesus put it this way when He said to His disciples; ““If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me” (John 15:18-21). Later in this letter Peter elaborates on this subject concerning suffering as a New Covenant believer and how God brings us through it to a place of victory. If we are to reign with the Messiah our Lord Jesus in his Millennial Messianic kingdom in the age to come, then we must be prepared to suffer in this present age as He suffered at the hands of wicked and ungodly men who did not know God.

(Vs.22-23) “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. 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. “

The Lord Jesus was born without sin and did not sin at any time even though Satan tempted Him to sin. Every temptation to sin we face in this life our Lord Jesus has faced as well in the same way we are tempted but never gave into it. As the author of Hebrews writes; “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Right now at the Father’s right hand we have a glorified Man, the Son of the Living God, who constantly intercedes with God on our behalf as our great High Priest. No matter how we feel or how we might be struggling against the world the flesh and the devil, no matter how the accuser of the brethren accuses us day and night before God and us in that we are to sinful to be accepted by Him, we have one who represents us in God’s heavenly court room, one who is our legal counsel (1 John 2:1-2).

As the author of Hebrews also writes; “But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly befits us—One who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:24-26). Because He was without sin the Lord Jesus has the authority to appear before God on our behalf. We are also told that no deceit was found in His mouth. His words were totally transparent in every way, perfect, without fault, without hypocrisy of any kind and every word He spoke was filled with the power of God because God gave Him the power of the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34).

When our Lord Jesus walked this earth on one occasion He actually said to the Pharisees; “Which of you can prove Me guilty of sin? If I speak the truth, why do you not believe Me?” (John 8:46). When His accusers and persecutors insulted Him at his trial and when He hung on the cross, He did not retaliate and as He suffered in unimaginable pain, bearing the sins of the whole world upon His shoulders He never threatened them with reprisals but prayed; “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. The Lord Jesus knew that this suffering was the Father’s will for Him to endure on our behalf and because of our sin, and even though He had prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion for His Father to spare Him from drinking the cup of this terrible suffering He was facing, He surrendered Himself totally into His Father’s hands knowing the God His Father would be glorified in the suffering in that in the future untold millions upon millions would find salvation in the centuries to come.

Like our Lord Jesus did, if we seek to live lives that are pleasing to God then we will face the hostility of the unsaved world and the religious establishments that do not know God personally. The Lord Jesus Himself said; ““Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:1-12). While we should not look for suffering, when we take our stand for the Lord Jesus, suffering will be a part of identifying with Him. Peter also addresses this matter of suffering later in this letter when he writes about the Spirit and glory of God resting upon us at the time we are called to suffer for the sake of the Lord Jesus (4:12-14). Just as our Lord Jesus trusted His Father so we too must trust the Lord Jesus when we suffer for acknowledging Him before men.

The Lord Jesus fully accepted His persecution and suffering knowing it was God’s pre-determined will for His life as “He was delivered up by God’s set plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:22). Now it needs to be said that there is a place for suffering in the life of a believer. It is not natural to seek persecution of suffering, and seeking these comes from the teaching and practice of Medieval Roman Catholicism, which in reality perpetrates guilt. Deliberately seeking to suffer as a sign of spirituality or as a means to try to please God is not Biblical. When we suffer as a believer we need to really cast ourselves on the grace of God which will sustain us and keep trusting God that He knows what He is doing. He works in and through everything that happens to us whether good or bad (Romans 8:28). This is what Job did (Job 2:10; 13:15; 16:19; 19:25-27; 23:10). In the end after his suffering was over Job saw God’s perfect plan for his life and acknowledged God’s sovereignty in all things (42:1-6). And then Peter writes…

(Vs24-25) “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Here Peter clearly states the reason why the Lord Jesus suffered and died. Our sins were laid upon Him. He was our Passover Lamb and our scapegoat bearing on His shoulders and feeling in His body the weight of the sins of the whole world resting on Him.  He bore our sin and its penalty that we might also die to sins and live for righteousness. This righteousness or righteous standard of life God requires for us to enter heaven was provided for us in the Lord Jesus, and when we repent of our sins and put our trust in Him to rescue us from the power and penalty of our sin God credits Jesus’ righteousness to our account in heaven. At the cross God treated the Lord Jesus, who was without sin, as if He was a sinner in order that He might treat us, who by nature are great sinners and rebels in His sight, as righteous ones who had never sinned.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “God made Him who knew no sin to be made sin (a sin offering) on our behalf, so that in Him we might become or made to be the righteousness (righteous ones) of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). A salvation that leaves a sinner in their sins is not Biblical salvation. We are saved from the power of sin and not in our sin (Matthew 1:21). The blood of Jesus has not only atoned for our sin and provided redemption from it and forgiveness for it, but also cleanses us from all sin when we confess it and agree with what God says about it (Ephesians 1:7) (1 John 1:7-9). Then Peter tells us that by Jesus’ wounds we have been healed. The word used for “healed” applies to both spiritual as well as to physical healing.

Some claim that healing of the body is in the atonement and that God’s will is that everyone should be healed. In its context this verse is speaking primarily about being healed spiritually, being cleansed from spiritual sickness to become spiritually healthy. At the resurrection all of us will be completely free from all sin, sickness, suffering and death and have brand new glorified indestructible immortal bodies the same as the Lord Jesus now has Himself in heaven (1 John 3:2) (Philippians 3:21) (1 Corinthians 15:50-55).

Now God does physically heal today because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, yet in some cases people are not healed physically, and while there can be varied reasons for this not everyone is healed physically. Some of God’s choicest saints in the Bible and in Church history that God has used mightily were not healed of physical sickness or infirmity or bodily weakness. Somehow God permitted it in order that He might use them in a very special way and in a specific task that they could not fulfil without an infirmity. Job in the Bible is a prime example. In his case God healed him at the end but permitted his suffering. Divine Healing is a subject in itself and we must always look at it in the way it is taught in God’s Word. There is the spiritual gift of “healings” which operates within the local assembly that is open to, and practices the gifts of the Spirit Biblically (1 Corinthians 12:9). Faith is also a main factor in healing as we see in the ministry of the Lord Jesus and the apostles, and it is also empowered by the Spirit when the elders pray for those who are sick within the local assembly. The prayer of faith does get results! (James 5:14-16).

Finally, Peter mentions sheep going astray. God wants to be people’s shepherd and to lead them through life into His good, acceptable and perfect will for them and He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). However, not all want to repent when confronted with their sin and rebellion against Him and His laws. Like sheep those who do not hear and follow the voice of the good shepherd wander the pasturelands of this world which are like grass that is here today but gone tomorrow. There is no lasting satisfaction in anything the world offers.

The persecution facing the flock over which the Holy Spirit had made Peter an overseer or bishop was a stark reminder that our hope as New Covenant believers and as sheep of God’s sheepfold under the rod of protection and correction in the hands of the good shepherd our Lord Jesus, do not have our hope fixed in this world or in the things this world offers. A persons’ soul is eternal and continues to exist with a conscious awareness in the unseen spiritual realm long after the body has physically died. We are the sheep of God’s pasture and follow the good shepherd wherever He leads us. His sheep hear His voice and follow Him and He is the one who leads them into all that God has for them in this life and for the life to come.

God is concerned with our physical needs, however the soul is what He is concerned about because it is eternal (Matthew 16:26). The Lord Jesus is our shepherd and overseer of our souls being what we think, what we feel and what we will, and He dwells in our inner spirit man through the presence of the Holy Spirit if we have been spiritually reborn from above. Through His Tri-Unity God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit shepherd our souls and lead us into those green pastures of life that will enable us to complete His good acceptable and perfect will for our lives in this world.

As we read in the Word of God; “Serve the Lord with gladness; come into His presence with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and bless His name” (Psalm 100:2-4) and again it is written; “The Lord is the strength of His people, a stronghold of salvation for His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:8-9). With the coming persecution that would intensify in its brutality both God’s shepherd Peter, and his sheep committed into his care by the Holy Spirit would need to know that the Chief shepherd of their lives would carry all of them through the fire of persecution upon His broad shoulders all the way through into eternity and into the safety and security of their eternal sheepfold.

Go to Study No. 11