1 Peter 2

Our Identity in Christ
In the second chapter of 1 Peter we see clearly outlined the features of our identity in Christ. Are we fully aware of who we are in this world as Christians and what are our responsibilities? Conflating them, we will compare Peter's statements with other similar expressions of the New Testament. We will deal with this chapter under three headings: (1) We are like newborn babies; (2) we are made part of a community; (3) we have responsibilities in this world.

1. We are like newborn babies
Coming to repentance and faith in Christ is the result of a spiritual regeneration. The Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel, broke the hardness of our hearts, unbelief and rebellion to God and implanted in us a new nature. We were spiritually born again. Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8) We "...have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood." (1 Peter 1:2) We put off our old self. "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-4). As we grow, we learn a new lifestyle: no more malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander. We are to be like Jesus, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (22). We have to become like children: "And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3). Of course, we have to be like children in regard to evil only, in fact: "Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults" (1 Corinthians 14:30). As newborn babies we have to be nourished and grow into Christ's way of thinking, speaking and living. This is why we have to drink the pure spiritual milk of God's Word (2). Question: What does being like a child in regard to evil mean to you?

2. We are made part of a community
We are saved as individuals, but God makes us part of the community of those who have been called "out of darkness into his wonderful light." (9), His church. Being part of a church is not an option or a commodity. It is the most natural environment in which we grow and serve as believers in Christ. We must: "Love the brotherhood of believers" (17). We were as sheep gone astray (25) but were brought together by the Gospel call. No individualism in God's perspective! Question: What does this image of "a sheep who has gone astray" mean? Can you connect it with others Bible study on 1 Peter 2, p. 1 of 4

things that Jesus said about sheep? The Apostle Peter describes this reality with several images. 2.1 Living stones. We are living stones of a spiritual house. The most important stone of this house is Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone, or the foundation. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." [Isaiah 28:16] Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone [or cornerstone], [Psalm 118:22] (2 Peter 2:6,7). Question: What does this image of "stone" mean - to you? When Peter confesses his faith in Christ, Jesus calls him "a rock" or a stone. Likewise, through or faith in Christ, all of us are made into "rocks", stones, "living stones" of God's edifice. Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:17-18) This edifice whose foundation is Christ, is supported by the rock solid foundations of the Apostles and the Prophets (New and Old Testament): "...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:20). The Church is the temple of God: "What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16) As the temple of God, the church supports God's revealed truth: "...God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15) Questions: Who are the pillars of this building, this "living" temple? 2.2 A holy priesthood. We are a holy priesthood (5) offering spiritual sacrifices. We are the royal priesthood (9), priests at the service of Christ, the King. The are no more special priests in the New Testament, but all those who have been called to belong to Christ are priests and have the dignity and responsibilities of priests. We are servants of God (16). "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." (Revelation 1:6) Question: how should being a priest, change out life and lifestyle? We serve God as priests and our sacrifices are spiritual, the sacrifice of our whole lives offered to the grateful service of God, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. " (Romans 12:1). Question: how should being a priest, change out life and lifestyle? 2.3 God's people. In Christ we were grafted in the people of God, the Israel of God, those who, within fallen humanity, in every age, belong to Christ ["A people belonging to God" (9)] as "offspring of the woman": "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) God's people in Christ is composed by all those who have been redeemed by the death of Christ on the Bible study on 1 Peter 2, p. 2 of 4

Cross, both Jews and people of other nations, a people who has "received mercy" (10). Having believed in Jesus' preciousness (7) as our Saviour and Lord, our sins are forgiven and we have been reconciled to God. "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:17,18) "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) "After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!" (Romans 11:24) As such we are, like the ancient Israel, "a chosen people." (9). In fact we "...have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood." (1 Peter 1:2) Having been redeemed by Christ and given a new identity as God's own people, we do not belong any more to this world, we have become foreign to its way of life. We have become as aliens and strangers (11) in this world. "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." (John 17:14-19). Question: What is the purpose of living this kind of life? As God's people we are called to reflect God's holiness. This is why Peter calls Christians "a holy nation" (9). It has been called to life God's way, according to His will, a good life through which people will be brought to glorify God (12). "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2) An application of this Godlike mentality is given by Peter as he teaches us an attitude of "non-retaliation" when mistreated: "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 sins and live for righteousness" (23,24).

3. We have responsibilities in this world
As Christ did not take his disciples out of this world, but protects them right here during their life on earth, He wants them to be living witness of God's kingdom, in: 3.1 The realm of politics. God's people must acknowledge the God given function of the State and live as good citizens (13). "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. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. " (13-15) "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, Bible study on 1 Peter 2, p. 3 of 4

he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour." (Romans 13:1-7) 3.2 The realm of work. In the workplace we have to be good, loyal and diligent workers (18). Peter talks about "slaves", a social institution which was prevalent in those times as work force. We certainly could extend the concept to whatever we do for our living. The New Testament will eventually empty the institution of slavery of its character and abolish it, as in God's kingdom there are no more masters or slaves: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28). Our "secular job" is considered in the Bible as a real calling from God, whatever it may be, something which must be performed diligently to the glory of God. Question: Are we simply servants of the State? Although we have to comply to our civil and work responsibilities, it is important to emphasize that, at the same time God, in Christ, has made us free people (16), as we are not slavishly subservient to authorities. We can and must obey without ever relinquishing a critical attitude. We must obey people as long as this does not contradict what God has commanded to us. "Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:1820) Paolo E. Castellina, November 23, 2009 All quotations are taken from the New International Version of the Bible.

Bible study on 1 Peter 2, p. 4 of 4

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