Middle School Bible Study Startup
Jordan Johnson Basic Training
Text – 1 Peter 2:18-25
It's been quite a long time since we've been in Peter's Epistle, so let's do some review.
Who wrote it? Peter.
Who was Peter? One of the 12 Apostles, a street preacher mainly to the Jews. He was married, and according to John's Gospel, he was slower than John.
Who did he write it to? Pretty much everybody, both Jews and Gentiles, both rich and poor; namely people in every part of modern day Turkey.
When was it written and where? Probably about AD 65 in Rome.
What is the main theme of this Epistle? We are ambassadors/pilgrims to earth, Heaven is our real home. So we need to act as representatives of Christ, remembering that here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city to come.
What else did Peter write or help write? Second Peter, and he provided input for both Mark's Gospel and Luke's Acts of the Apostles, and I believe that he also helped to write Hebrews.
So that gives us context for our lesson today, Peter has been telling us how to live as ambassadors, not fighting against the government or doing all sorts of evil stuff, but honoring people, loving the church, and serving God. Those were all some very universal general commands to everyone, now Peter is going to show that we have an example in Christ of how to act, and give us some specifics on how to act.
1 Peter 2:18-25 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
v.18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
The first thing we see in this passage is that the Bible is not against slavery. There are very specific rules in the Bible on how you're supposed to treat slaves and how slaves are supposed to act. One example is that the Bible tells masters that they are required to give their slaves the Sabbath off of work.
Deuteronomy 5:13-14 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.
We've been so brainwashed in the world today that slavery is bad that we totally overlook the fact that most people are slaves. Gone is the day where there was an actual deed of ownership written for our person, but we are still in bondage. We now just have a little more freedom to determine who we will work for. Where-as when we think slavery we think of a plantation owner who has people work for him and in turn gives them room and board (a place to sleep and something to eat), now the employer has people work for him and provides them money in order that they have room and board. Some slave/master relationships are more distant, like when you take out a loan, you sell yourself to the bank in promise of working for them to pay back the loan with interest.
Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
William Wilberforce was the Christian in Parliament who in the early-1800's abolished ethnic slavery in England, and then Abraham Lincoln was the Christian in Washington who in the mide-1800's abolished ethnic slavery in America. Some people try to say that they are responsible for doing away with slavery, but really their great achievement is recognizing that all men are created equal. Slavery is still alive and well all over the world, especially in the United States.
1 Corinthians 7:20-24 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
The spiritual implications of this is that people are either slaves to sin or slaves to Christ, we are not our own , we were bought with a price. We could spend hours on this topic, but that isn't Peter's intent, I just wanted to point out this important detail of the biblical worldview versus the secular worldview. Finally, last point on this topic, in George Orwell's book Animal Farm he tries to show that Socialism, though it promises freedom to all people, really enslaves everyone; the great irony of the book is that at the end, the animals that declare their freedom the loudest are the most in bondage. You will see this all throughout the United States today, people claiming we're free and that this is the greatest nation on earth, when in reality they are firmly in bondage to materialism and sin.
So then, Peter's point when he tells us to be in subjection to both good masters and bad masters implies that slavery is real and that everyone is in it. Read this as your future boss, not as some archaic thought of a slave driver with a whip. But why do we do that? Verses 19 and 20 are going to tell us why a little more.
v.19-20 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
This allows us to represent God, that as sent not only will we realize when we've done wrong and accept the consequences, but we will endure when persecuted for doing right. This is one thing that Christians could definitely be better at, you could rephrase this to say, "No whining, I don't care whose fault it is." Do you ever watch those judge shows on TV? Everybody is out to prove that they are right even when they are clearly wrong. My favorite example was a cop show where they had people try to fight their speeding tickets and they came up with every excuse imaginable so they wouldn't have to say they were wrong. "It was on a hill." "I didn't see the speed limit sign." "I was keeping up with traffic." and many many more. We need to admit when we've done wrong and accept the consequences.
But much more difficult is being punished for doing the right thing. If we didn't have such an incredible example, I don't think I could do this, nor try to tell you to either, but we do have an example.
v.21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
The reason is to represent Christ, who suffered unjustly at the hands of men for our sake. When you are persecuted for righteousness sake, it shows that the grace of God overcomes and that God's word is true, that people love darkness rather than the light. Who do you think was the most Christlike person ever to live? Jesus Christ. What happened to him when he lived that life? He got crucified. I like to ask, "How Christlike can you be if no-one has tried to crucify you?"
Leonard Ravenhill really has a great quote on this, "And there's no room for Him in the inn. He got a bit older, there was no room in His family, His family turned on Him. He went to the temple, no room in the temple, the temple turned on Him. And when He died there was no room to bury Him, He died outside of the city. Well why in God's Name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it that the world couldn't get on with the holiest Man that ever lived and can get on with you and me? Are we compromised? Have we no spiritual stature? Have we no righteousness that reflects on their corruption?"
Not only might persecution for doing right happen to us, but Peter says that we've been called to this, it is part of our duty as ambassadors for Christ. Sometimes we may suffer for doing wrong, but in Christ's example, he only suffered for doing right. Verse 22 is one of my favorites in the whole Bible.
v.22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
The reason it is so great is because it almost requires us to say of every verse, "This is my favorite verse." Because everything Jesus ever said was totally true. Peter is going to give some specifics on Christ never sinning.
v.23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
Revile means to speak abusively, when they yelled at Christ "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Messiah of God, the Chosen One!" and "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" He didn't yell back, instead he prayed for them, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Both thieves crucified with Christ were yelling at him to save himself and them, really making fun of him, but then one of them repented; Jesus chose to save him instead of saying, "You want me to save you? Ten minutes ago you blasphemed my name, save yourself."
He didn't threaten. This is something that some of the people I preach with need to learn. Some of them get downright snarky telling people to "turn or burn," and really just making some unrealistic threats. We do implore and warn, but not in a threatening way. For example, Jesus said unless you repent, you shall likewise perish to some people who asked about some people who died, but there was the invitation to salvation not just a threat. And if you think about it, Jesus Christ could have called angels from Heaven to save him from the cross, or he could have had lightning bolts zap everybody, but he entrusted it all to his Father, as the one who judges justly. We ought to do likewise.
v.24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
There are several arguments on exactly what Christ was doing on the cross, was he just an example, or a payment to the Devil, or the perfect lamb for sacrifice; none of which is correct; but this verse really puts it well that he was a substitutionary atonement, we should have suffered for our sins, but he died for us. He bore our sins in his body, elsewhere the Bible says he became sin for us; he took our sins and died for them. This is called penal substitutionary atonement, penal being punishment, substitute meaning that he took our place, and atonement meaning how we are reconciled to God.
That is what he did, so the purpose is that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Keeping the context, since Christ died for us, we ought to live for him, and that is why we act as his representatives on earth.
By his wounds we are healed, not physically in this life, but spiritually and physically in eternity. If we have died to sin and live to righteousness, the idea is that sin is a disease which was going to kill our souls, but which Christ has rescued us from. The Apostle Paul always had a physical ailment, as well as many other godly Christians throughout history, this verse doesn't mean that we are going to healed physically. This verse gets misquoted all the time to say that God will heal you if you have enough faith, if you don't get healed, there must be something wrong with your faith.
We're going to talk about this a lot more in Second Peter, but for now, Oral Roberts was one of these antichrists who preached what is called the "health-wealth-and-prosperity gospel", and he just died of pneumonia in December. The antithesis of their idea that a Christian should never get sick because by Christ's stripes we are healed is when they die. To a lesser extent, but a much more dangerous person, is Jesse Duplantis who has to wear reading glasses. Kenneth Hagin claims to have never had so much as a head-ache because of this verse. I don't know if he's lying about his health, but he's definitely lying about God.
Finally, Peter is going to tie the main thought of this passage together in verse 25. He has been talking about us being subject to everyone with all respect, that we are following Christ's example, and because he died for us, we ought to live to him, verse 25 reminds us who our true owner is.
v.25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Our true Master and Guide and person to be respected is Jesus Christ, and following in his example will bring honor to him, even if it doesn't seem right from a human standpoint. Remember in the beginning of the passage that Peter qualifies the statement, "mindful of God," the reason we do everything we do is for him. It is very important to remember that we aren't good for goodness sake, we're good for Christ's sake, so that he gets the glory, because he's the one that did all of the work to bring us back to him.
Now, something that Peter is starting to prepare, but wont' get to for a few more chapters, is calling Christ both the Shepherd, Poimen, and Overseerer, Episkopos, he is saying that Christ is both in charge of the little things and the big things. Usually a Poimen, or Pastor, won't also be an Episkopos, or Bishop. But Christ is, because he is capable of both running the universe and being an individual friend.
This is a really cool point I think, John MacArthur was on a plane once and he was witnessing to a Muslim, and the Muslim said, "I hope God will forgive my sins." John MacArthur answered, "Well I know him personally and he won't." The Muslim was astonished that anyone could know the Creator of the universe.
There are three titles given for pastor in the New Testament:
Poimen - Pastor
Presbyter - Elder
Episkopos - Overseer
A presbyter can be a poimen but usually they oversee pastors instead of acting as one, while an episkopos oversees presbyters. Some people like to think that churches can only be small, like house sized, but God anticipated and prepared for megachurches and the oversight that is necessary. It is interesting to note that the Roman Catholic Church claims Peter to be the first bishop of Rome, or Pope, but Peter is very careful to say that Jesus is the Bishop of our souls, and in chapter 5 he is very careful to only call himself a presbyter.
In the Southern Baptist Convention we are so afraid of the language of bishop and presbyter that we very very rarely use them and instead Pastor Aaron holds the title of Senior Pastor, which would be in our form of church government the equivalent of a presbyter, or even the bishop of Summit, or you could say that the Convention would be in the bishop role, albeit they don't function the way that a bishop should function, so it's probably safer to say Pastor Aaron falls into the episkopos role, while Dave and Leon and Lee would be in the presbyter role, and individual teachers would be in the poimen role.
If this doesn't make sense it's not that big of a deal, the Bible doesn't give a definitive church "how-to manual", albeit it does call elders to train up the younger, and that is what Peter is going to talk about considerably more in chapter 5. In the Methodist and Episcopal/Anglican churches you'll have bishops that are the head of a region of churches, I don't think that is what the Bible had in mind, I think God would rather we do it similar to how Summit does it, albeit I think God would rather all of the churches in the area be under a head overseer so that there is more communication and communion between churches. Unfortunately in this day and age, I don't ever foresee anything like that happening.
So in conclusion, when we suffer, keeping God in mind, under a good or bad boss or leader, we bear it, remembering Christ's example; since he died for us, we will live for him, we will seek to do good in all we do for his name's sake, dying to sin and living for righteousness, because we like sheep had gone astray, but our pastor and owner has brought us back.