Module 23: Christian Experience Part 2
Module Guide: 1 and 2 Peter - Christ the Strength of his People
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
1 Peter Introduction
This letter was directed to the same persons as that of James. Its main purpose is the establishing of such as are passing through a period of suffering and testing. In the solemn days in which the Lord had foretold Peter's fall and restoration, He had said to him, "When once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren." In both his epistles the apostle carried out that commission.
The letter abounds with references to his own experiences. Its twofold method is indicated in the closing words, "exhorting, and testifying" (verse 12). The word "exhorting" is derived from the same root as Paraclete, and thus reveals the nature of the exhortation. The word "testifying" means witnessing, in the sense in which the Lord had said to His disciples that they should be witnesses to Him. Thus in the power of the Paraclete, Peter exhorted, and emphasized his exhortation by testifying to Him of Whom the Holy Spirit is Representative and Administrator. These two aspects of the epistle are intermixed, the apostle perpetually passing from exhortation to testimony. The epistle may thus be divided; Introduction (1:1-1:2); Established for Testing in Confidence (1:3-2:3); Established for Testing in Conduct (2:4-3:9); Established for Testing in Character (3:10-5:7); Established for Testing in Conflict (5:8-5:11); Conclusion (5:12-5:14).
The apostle introduced himself by the name which Jesus gave him, "Peter," and announced his apostleship. He described those to whom he wrote as "the elect," and explained the meaning of his own term. Election is "according to the foreknowledge of God." Its process of realization is "in sanctification of the Spirit." Its purpose is "unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." He saluted his readers with the words of the new covenant; "grace" indicating all the favour of God operative through the work of Jesus; and "peace," the resulting condition and consciousness of the life.
Established for Testing in Confidence
In order to establish them for testing in confidence, he first described the life of faith; then showed the place of the proving of faith; and finally gave them practical exhortation as to the practice of faith.
As to the origin of the life of faith, he reminded them that the beginning of their life was by the act of God, in which He "begat us again" through the liberation of the life of Christ in resurrection. The final issue of this is that of an inheritance, all the characteristics of which are in direct contrast to the inheritances of earth. It is "incorruptible," while everything here is corruptible; it is "undefiled," while everything here is tainted with defilement; it "fadeth not away," while everything here is passing, even while it is possessed; it is "reserved in heaven," while everything here is overshadowed by the coming of death. The assurance of the ultimate realization lies in the fact that the saints are guarded by the power of God.
The value of the present proving, is the consequent vindication at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The principle of strength in the process of proving, is that of love which springs out of perfect confidence in the Lord Himself. The salvation which is to be revealed is even now received by faith, and so the joy of the present is of the nature of that which is to come; and out of this grows the victory of courage and gladness over all the grief of the manifold trials of to-day. He finally reminded them that this wonderful salvation had been the subject of the inquiries and the search of the prophets of old; and angels themselves had desired to look into them.
Having set the testing of their confidence in relation to its purpose, the apostle proceeded to practical exhortations, dealing first with individual, and then with relative responsibility. In personal life the attitude to be maintained is that of strenuous readiness for all present emergencies, in the absolute certainty of the ultimate issue. The ruling principle of obedience is to be that of relationship to God as children. He concluded the personal injunctions with the strongest argument it was possible for him to use. They had been redeemed at infinite cost. In dealing with the relative practice, the individual obedience is taken for granted. The only injunction laid upon the saints, conditioning their relation to each other, is that of love. The character of the love enjoined is described as being "from the heart fervently." The energy sufficient to enable obedience in this matter is that of the new birth, wherein life, containing forces equal to every demand, is received. The method of obedience is that of putting away all things contrary to the spirit of love, and the sustenance of life by the Word.
Established for Testing in Conduct
Passing from the subject of the testing of confidence to that which is closely allied, the testing of conduct, the apostle first dealt with the life of holiness, and the practice of holiness.
In dealing with the life of holiness he described the Church as a building, of which the chief corner Stone is the living Christ, and in which all members are living stones, deriving from Him a preciousness. The fellowship of this preciousness issues in fellowship in the suffering resulting from rejection by the men of the world. In a passage of remarkable force and beauty, the vocation of the Church is declared to be that of the manifestation of the excellencies of God.
The application of this master principle immediately follows. Generally, it means that the members of the Church are to behave as those not of the world, conducting themselves among outsiders in a seemly manner in order to silence slander, and vindicate God.
This general principle is then illustrated in its national bearing. Submission to God does not express itself in disobedience to earthly government, but rather in subjection to such.
The application to household relationships illustrates how things generally considered menial are transfigured in the light of Christian experience. Servants are to be subject, not only to masters who are reasonable, but also to the froward. For the encouragement of such the apostle quoted the great example of Christ, to Whom they have returned, and in relation to Whom it is possible for them to obey.
The application to home relationships begins with the marriage relation. The attitude of the wife is to be that of subjection, the true adornment of woman being that of womanly character. The injunction to husbands is that they dwell with their wives according to knowledge. Thus the woman is to be subject to a love which acts in knowledge, and not in selfishness and ignorance. The final reason for the fulfilment of the true ideal of the marriage relationship is that "prayers be not hindered," a forceful suggestion that the whole married life is consecrated by mutual intercession.
The section closes with general exhortations to the cultivation of such disposition as shall fulfil the ideals in conduct.
Established for Testing in Character
The apostle now passed to the establishing of those tested as a result of their realization of the true Christian character, and he first described the life of victory, and then indicated the process of yictory.
He commenced with a quotation from the Psalms, which calls to a life of holiness and declares a truth concerning the attitude of God towards men. In the light of this truth, those who suffer for character are urged to be zealous of that which is good. The one supreme responsibility is expressed in the words, "Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord." The perfect Pattern for the believer in order to victory is Christ Himself, and the apostle stated comprehensively the facts of the suffering and victory of Christ. These are. His death and resurrection; His descent into Hades and proclamation of the evangel; His ascension to the right hand of God and assumption of authority. The force of the argument in its bearing on suffering saints is that of showing how through suffering Christ reached a triumph. Through His suffering He was able to make proclamation of His evangel in Hades, and then to ascend to the place of final authority, even above all angels and authorities and powers. Through their baptism of suffering they also find their way into victory.
The process of this victory is therefore, first that of being armed with the same mind. This mind belongs to the saints, and is a good conscience through the finished work of Christ. Let them act in the power of it by ceasing from sin, and all those gratifications of the fleshlife which has characterized their past. The result of that will be their suffering, but the issue will be their triumph in the Gospel, as through them it is preached to others. The apostle then suddenly turned the light of the future on to the present. "The end of all things is at hand." The darkness of every day has on it the purple promise of the end. The proper effect of this certainty is then described in its personal and relative aspects. The individual is that they be of "sound mind" and "sober unto prayer." Relatively, love is to be the master motive, and this is to find expression in hospitality and mutual ministration.
The apostle then showed that the fiery trial resulting from loyalty to Christ is inevitable, as partnership in the sufferings of Christ. In such fellowship with His sufferings they are to rejoice, inasmuch as the issue must be that of fellowship in His glory. That result, however, does not follow suffering which is the consequence of sin; if a child of God suffer through wrong-doing, there must be no expectation of glory issuing therefrom. Remembering that the fires through which His children pass are watched by God, Who never allows them to harm His own, let them commit their souls to Him.
Finally the apostle gave instructions as to the orderliness of the Church. The leaders are to care for the flock, not lording it over them, but serving them; not indeed under the authority of the flock, but under that of the Lord and Master, Who is the chief Shepherd. The younger are to be in subjection. All of them are to gird themselves to service, which is to be characterized by humility, and by freedom from all anxiety.
Established for Testing in Conflict
The life of the saint is one of conflict. The apostle named the adversary; he is the devil; he is neither careless nor neutral; his business is the destruction of all good. To those to whom Peter wrote the attitude of the devil was that of a roaring lion. It is not always so. Sometimes his opposition is stealthy and slimy as that of the serpent. At others it is radiant and fascinating as that of an angel.
His purpose is always the same, "seeking whom he may devour"; and his method is ever that of seeking, watching for the weak moment, the unguarded entrance, the unprepared occasion. The attitude of the Christian toward this foe is to be that of soberness, watchfulness, and actual conflict. An incentive to all this is that we are not alone. Our brethren in the world are all fighting. Our battle is not our own; it is theirs also. They fight for us; and we for them. The strength of conflict is the certainty that the God of all grace will through the process accomplish His purpose.
In the last words the apostle indicated the method of the letter, with which we dealt in the introduction; and closed with personal salutations and the benediction of peace.
INTRODUCTION - 1 Peter 1:1-1:2
1. The Apostle and his Elect Readers - 1Pet. 1:1
2. Explanation of "Elect" - 1Pet. 1:2
Part A: ESTABLISHED FOR TESTING IN CONFIDENCE - 1 Peter 1:3-2:3
A.1. The Life of Faith - 1Pet. 1:3-1:5
- The Beginning. "Begat us again" - 1:3
- The Issue. "An Inheritance" - 1:4
- The Assurance. " ... are guarded" - 1:5
A.2. The Proving of Faith - 1Pet. 1:6-1:12
- The Value of Proof - 1:6-1:7
- The Principle of Believing - 1:8-1:9
- The Testimony of the Past - 1:10-1:12
A.3. The Practice of Faith - 1Pet. 1:13-2:3
- Personal - 1:13-1:21
- Relative - 1:22-2:3
Part B: ESTABLISHED FOR TESTING IN CONDUCT - 1 Peter 2:4-3:9
B.1. The Life of Holiness - 1Pet. 2:4-2:10
- Composition. Living Stone and living stones - 2:4-2:6
- Quality. The Preciousness of the Living Stone - 2:7-2:8
- Vocation. Exhibiting the excellencies - 2:9-2:10
B.2. Practice of Holiness - 1Pet. 2:11-3:9
- General Instructions. Personal - 2:11-2:12
- National Relationships - 2:13-2:17
- Household Relationships - 2:18-2:25
- Home Relationships - 3:1-3:7
- General Instructions. Corporate - 3:8-3:9
Part C: ESTABLISHED FOR TESTING IN CHARACTER - 1 Peter 3:10-5:7
C.1. The Life of Victory - 1Pet. 3:10-3:22
- Principle. "If ye should suffer" - 3:10-3:17
- Pattern. "Christ also suffered" - 3:18-3:22
C.2. Process of Victory - 1Pet. 4:1-5:7
- The Equipment. "Arm yourselves with the same mind" - 4:1-4:11
- The Principle. "Partakers of Christ's sufferings" - 4:12-4:19
- Responsibilities - 5:1-5:7
Part D: ESTABLISHED FOR TESTING IN CONFLICT - 1 Peter 5:8-5:11
D.1. The Life of Conflict - 1Pet. 5:8-5:9a
- The Adversary - 5:8
- The Attitude - 5:9a
D.2. The Fellowship of Conflict. "The God of all grace" - 1Pet. 5:9b
D.3. The Strength of Conflict - 1Pet. 5:10-5:11
CONCLUSION - 1 Peter 5:12-5:14
2 Peter Introduction
This letter is addressed to the same persons as the first. While the purpose of the first was the strengthening of those who were passing through a period of testing from without, this is for their strengthening in view of the dangers threatening them within the Church. The aim of the epistle may be gathered from the concluding exhortation: "Beware" "Grow." It is a solemn warning against the perils that threaten the inner life of the Church, and an exhortation to growth in that "grace and knowledge" in which the perils will be overcome. It may thus be analyzed; Introduction (1:1-1:2); Principles of Preservation (1:3-1:21); Perils threatening (2:1-3:9); Conclusion (3:10-3:18).
Through varied experiences the writer had come into possession of the character which the surname "Peter" suggested. As he commenced a letter intended to strengthen his brethren for the testing arising from perils threatening them within the Church, he introduced himself by the names of "Simon Peter," the first of which speaks of his own old life of instability, and the second of the character of stability into which he had been brought. Describing himself as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, he addressed his brethren as having a "like precious faith," thus reminding them that the faith which in his case was preserved through the supplication of his Lord, was theirs also. His ultimate desire for them was that they might have knowledge. As the perils against which he was about to warn them resulted from false teaching, so the principle of preservation was that of knowledge.
The Principles of Preservation
In dealing with the principles of preservation, the apostle first stated and then defended them.
The statement of principles consists of a setting forth of the actual facts of the perfect provision, and a declaration of the consequent responsibility of the saints. The provision is described first as to present possession; "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" are granted through the knowledge of Him Who called "by His glory and virtue." This possession is made more sure by the "precious and exceeding great promises." Because of this perfect provision the saints are called to diligence and the development of their resources; and to more diligence, in the light of the things of the eternal Kingdom, wherein all the meaning of participation in the Divine nature will be realized.
Having thus stated the principles of preservation, the apostle defended the truth of his statement. He was conscious of his approaching departure, and expressed his determination to stir them up by putting them in remembrance. There flamed upon him the memory of the Mount of Transfiguration; and the effect which his experiences there had upon him are very evident here. On that mount he had seen the "Power" and "Coming" of the Lord Jesus Christ. These words correspond to the present and future provision with which he had already dealt. On that holy mount moreover he heard the voice of God, and that voice confirmed for him the prophecies of the past, which were as "a lamp shining in a dark place."
Having thus described the principles of preservation, the apostle now dealt with the perils threatening the Church from within. These are two, the one growing out of the other. The first is that of false teachers, which threatens the power. The second is that of the materialization of mind resulting from their teaching, which threatens the coming.
As in the days of ancient prophecy there were false prophets, so now there will be false teachers; and many will follow, and the way of truth be evil spoken of. The judgment of God against such is sure, and this assertion is defended by the citation of the cases of the casting out of the angels, the destruction of the ancient world, and of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Nevertheless such judgment will be discriminative. "The Lord knoweth how to deliver." The apostle then proceeded to describe more particularly the characteristics of those whom he had in mind. A more scathing description it is not possible to find. The words seem to sting like whips of fire. He described their method. As to themselves, he referred to them as "having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin." Their method was that of the enticement of weak souls. With relentless persistence he tore away the attractive outer garments of the false teachers, and revealed the loathsomeness of the self-centred covetousness that lurked behind. This is no dainty handling of false teachers. The terrible manner of it is due to the apostle's consciousness that the effect of false teaching is that of denying the power of Christ, which is the present blessing of the saints. To deny the Lord in any particular is to loosen the bondage of the soul to Him, and to open the door to the incoming of all evil.
False teaching which denies the power of Christ issues in false thinking which questions the coming of Christ. There will be mockers who will walk in lust, and make sport of the great hope of the Church, declaring that things will continue as they have done. To strengthen his readers against the new peril, the apostle reminded them of the prophecies and the commandment of the Lord. The argument that as things have been they remain is contested first by reference to the deluge, and then by the declaration that a fire judgment is reserved for this earth. What appears to be delay is due to the long-suffering of God, with Whom time does not exist.
The conclusion consists of a summary of teaching grouped around these two subjects of the coming and the power of the Lord, with a final warning and injunction. The day of the Lord will come. It will be destructive. The heavens and the elements will be burned up. We may hasten that day by holy living and godliness. It will also be constructive, for there will be "new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
The result of this conviction in the experience of the saints should be new appropriation of the power. Personally this means diligence for the creation of the character for which at His coming He will seek. Relatively it means patience during the delay, knowing that it is caused by His long-suffering.
All this leads to the final exhortation, which is twofold. "Beware" - that marks the attitude of caution. "Grow" - that indicates the necessity for progress. To conclude, there is a brief and comprehensive doxology; glory to the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, "both now," that is, in response to His powder, and "for ever," that is, as the result of His coming. Thus the soul is established in Him against all possibilities and perils, both now and for ever.
1. The Writer and the Readers - 2Pet. 1:1
- Simon Peter
- Servant - Apostle
- "The like precious faith" (Luke22:32)
2. His Desire "Knowledge" - 2Pet. 1:2
Part A: THE PRINCIPLES OF PRESERVATION - 2 Peter 1:3-1:21
A.1. The Principles Stated - 2Pet. 1:3-1:11
- Provision - 1:3-1:4
- Responsibiity - 1:5-1:11
- Diligent Development - 1:5-1:9
- The more diligence - 1:10-1:11
A.2. The Principles Defended - 2Pet. 1:12-1:21
- Determination in view of his Exodus - 1:12-1:15
- The Vision of the Holy Mount - 1:16-1:21
- The Vision. Power and Coming - 1:16a
- The Proofs - 1:16b-1:21
Part B: THE PERILS - 2 Peter 2:1-3:9
B.1. Threatening the Power. False Teaching - 2Pet. 2:1-2:22
- The Peril declared - 2:1-2:3a
- Judgement announced - 2:3b-2:9
- The Peril unmasked - 2:10-2:22
B.2. Threatening the Coming. False living - 2Pet. 3:1-3:9
- The Peril declared - 3:1-3:4
- The Answer - 3:5-3:9
CONCLUSION - 2 Peter 3:10-3:18
1. The Coming - 2Pet. 3:10-3:13
2. The Power - 2Pet. 3:14-3:16
3. Final Words - 2Pet. 3:17-3:18
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.