Category Archives: Church

Study 10 – 1 Peter 5:5-14

She in Babylon sends you greetings


We’ve reached the end of the letter by the apostle Peter to the church scattered in the northern regions of the Mediterranean. He has not addressed the letter to several churches named but to the elect of God dispersed across parts of the world. What binds the readers to gether is their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the hope of grace that comes through him. He has been encouraging Christians to stand firm in their faith despite suffering through persecution in this world. This world is not their home. His letter concludes with the returned theme of encouraging believers across the globe to trust God who is in charge and who cares. In the previous verses, Peter has been specifically addressing the elders of God’s community whose task is to shepherd God’s flock.



  • 5:5-6 Humble yourselves
  • 5:7-11 Know where the power and care lies
  • 5:12-14 Greetings from the other scattered saints

5:5-6 Humble yourselves

“In the same way…” Peter has used this same phrase to speak with wives (3:1) and husbands (3:7) and refers to his instruction back in 2:18 to do everything in reverent fear of God. All relationships fall under his headship and it is in reverence to Him that we decide how to treat one another. Slaves to masters, wives to husbands, husbands to wives and now young to elders.

“…you who are younger submit yourselves to your elders.” The word ‘elder’ means whatever the word means in it’s context. In a different context it would refer to people older than you. But following from verses 1-4 speaking directly to the shepherds of the church, this is not about age but about that responsible role of caring for the household of God. The younger, would then be a generic term for those who are not recognised as elders in the church. This generally had a correspondence with age but not necessarily (see 1 Timothy 4:12).

“…submit yourselves…” It is not the responsibility of the elders to squash the church into submission or shame them into obedience or manipulate them into assimilation. It is for the young in the faith to respect to their elders. The message of the kingdom of God is designed to be handed from one person to another and from one generation to the next. Those who have known their LORD longer and know how to handle the word of God ought to be respected and trusted as they teach and exhort others. Church life is truly a community.

“All of you clothe yourselves with humility…” Both elders and younger people, wives and husbands, slaves and masters – the entire household of God are to be humble toward one another. As the younger submit to the elder, as the wife submits to the husband and so on, the outcome is not domination or power plays but humility from everyone toward everyone else in the community.

“Because, God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” Just as submission is given freely out of reverence to God, so too humility is displayed because this pleases God. Humility is not about pretending to know nothing or acting like you are insignificant but about using your gifts, talents and wisdom to serve others and not yourself. Jesus is the ultimate example of humility (Philippians 2:5ff)

“Humble yourselves…under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” This segues nicely between this section and the next. We know that God has the power to elevate us and glorify those worthy of praise and so leave it to him. No matter how good we may feel we are, we are always subordinate in every way to God. But he is no cruel master, as the next verse shows us.

5:7-11 Know where the power and care lies

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Christians do not need to fight for recognition or wealth or anything because we know that God is the giver of all good gifts. Knowing that God is all powerful and that he cares are the two most comforting truths in the bible. He has a mighty hand and he cares for us. Now, anxiety is not a sin but we need to be careful what we do with it. On a biological level, anxiety is that natural reaction to things that threaten us. As humans, we have the capacity to worry about things that are not of immediate danger (like not being ready for an exam or being disliked or afraid of failing). When we have these feelings of worry and deep concern, we have the privilege of taking them to God in prayer. Casting our anxiety on God is like throwing all of our concerns at him and then resting in his promises to do good with our request. Faith is trust. If we trust God then tell him about our worries and keep moving. If you keep worrying, keep talking to God about them. Note that talking to others is helpful and sometimes necessary too so that we indeed get good advice on how to think rationally about things that we may have irrational reactions to. But God’s ear is always the first and ongoing ear to speak with about our worries.

“Be alert and of sober mind.” We heard this phrase in 1:13 and 4:7. With clear heads, set your hope on the grace of Christ and know that the end of all things is near. The reality of the world as we know it in Christ ought to give us clarity to resist the devil and pursue what is right and good.

“Your enemy the devil…” The gospel writers, Moses, and Paul, to name a few, each described the devil as real. He is not the boogeyman.  When Adam and Eve made the mistake of their lives, the devil was talking in their ear. When Job was living a godly and holy life, it was the devil who spoke to God to get permission to cause suffering for him. The devil is not equal with God because he is a created being. But the bible does not show any signs that the devil will repent and come back to God nor that he has the option to.

“…prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The image given by Peter is enough to know that the devil is a predator. He is shark-like in his wanderings across the earth (Job 1:6-7). He sought to destroy Eden, he sought to destroy Job, he sought to destroy even Jesus Christ. Anybody who is found without sober judgment with respect to God and His kingdom are easy prey for him. But there is a defense…

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” What Satan really desires is for all of humanity to deny God’s rule and promises. For all to regard God as a liar or worship him falsely. But standing firm in the faith – the knowledge of the gospel and the hope that comes through Jesus Christ – is the response to his attacks. All temptation, whether from the world, the flesh or the devil, is to be combatted with resistance. Speak truth to yourself. Pray to God for help and stand firm.

“…because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” No attack from Satan is new. It’s the same old thing. The persecution in this world has the support of the devil.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,” If it is God who has called you 1:1-2, then no power of satan can alter that. Peter is closing his letter with the same themes of calling and grace that he began with. Standing firm in the faith requires remembering who called you, what you have been called to (eternal glory) and what power or proof has been given for this calling (the life, death and resurrection of Christ). Be aware that the devil is on the move but know for sure that God has already won you and paid for you and prepared a place for you in Christ!

“…after you have suffered a little while…” Recall the great theme of suffering that has taken up a large portion of this letter. Suffering is not a sign that God is losing. That is the flavour of life this side of heaven – during this time of testing.

“…will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” God himself, not you, not an elder of the church, but God himself will restore you. During times of temptation, stand firm and come to God in prayer – casting your worries on him because he cares for you – he will restore you and give you strength and conviction to stand firm. Next time you become aware of temptation, come to God in prayer and see what happens.

“To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” Although Peter tells us about the devil, and about the fiery ordeal of this life but does not want us to lose sight of who is always in control.

5:12-14 Greetings from the other scattered saints

“With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother…” Silas is mentioned often in the book of Acts and referenced in a number of epistles. Acts 15:22. He joined Paul on his journeys. How Silas has helped Peter to write is unclear. Perhaps he was the scribe or perhaps they co-wrote it. The way that Peter starts to conclude his letter though is to encourage the scattered church with news from the church in other parts of the world.

“…encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” There is no other gospel in other parts of the world. There is only one gospel and one truth about God and salvation. There is no such thing as localised truths and communities who manufacture their own beliefs. There is only one truth and Jesus Christ is at the heart of it. Stand firm in that.

“She who is in Babylon…” Although there are different arguments about what this phrase might mean, it seems most likely to match the phrase in Peter’s opening to the letter. He addresses the ‘scattered’ or the ‘temporarily residing abroad’. They are aliens and strangers. The city of Babylon was famous for where the exiled Jews lived for a time. They sat by the waters of Babylon and remembered their homeland. Peter is most likely using this metaphore to refer to the rest of the church (in the feminine) who are also scattered in different parts of the world. It could be specifically Rome but there is nothing to suggest this for certain. Peter is closing his letter to address the Christians scatterd in Asia Minor with encouraging words from the Church or household of God in other locations.

“…chosen together with you…” Peter mentions again that under God there is only one church. God has chosen all of his elect across time and space to belong to his royal priesthood. A Christian in a mega-church in Dallas is no greater than a Christian struggling to be fed in the 3rd world and no different to a saint in Campbelltown.

“…sends you greetings…” Peter’s theme here is to encourage all of God’s elect to stand firm because the people of God, thought scattered, are one in the faith that they stand firm in.

“…and so does my son Mark.” The writer of the second gospel record is also known as a close companion to Peter. (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37, 39). Here he is referred to as Peter’s son although this is a spiritual relationship, not a blood relationship.

“Greet one another with a kiss of love.” While there is suffering and persecution from the outside placed on the church, Peter encourages mutual love and affection. This is a cultural reference to respect one another but the adjective to the kiss is love – not a fake kiss but authentic.

“Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” Peter ends the letter addressing the same readers he greeted at the beginning. Not just all who read the letter but all who are in Christ. This phrase, ‘in Christ’ is such a beautifully concise way of signalling that all of our hope, peace, trust, identity, motivation and future is wrapped up in Christ. We are not citizens of this planet but known and proud to be known as Christians.


Peter’s final note is for all who are in Christ to stand firm and know that God is more powerful than any enemy we can face. While the dangers of this world are real (even if unseen) our defence against the devil and his attacks is to stand firm in the faith. We can be encouraged that this is the same faith shared across the globe by God’s faithful household. Even in the midst of the worst of humanity, the church of God is there and will survive. More than that, at the right time, God’s elect will be delivered to their eternal glory in Christ. Do not be concerned about the evils of this age, when you know that God cares and his power is above all and forever.


  • Topic A – Helping yourself and the church grow. Peter provides a formula for the younger Christians to submit to the overseers in the church. To the younger, it is wise to submit because there is much to learn in the Christian faith. To the elder, it is important to show wisdom with humility. This is a wonderful formula for church growth and maturity. Do you see where you fit in the process of maturing one another in the faith at church?
  • Topic B – Anxious prayer. We must understand how important prayer is. What causes you worry, concern or anxiety? Do you take it to the LORD in prayer? Read Psalm 55 to hear how the psalmist talks to God and listen for the echoes to 1 Peter. Perhaps you could use this Psalm in your groups to pray together.
  • Topic C – The community of saints across the globe. We can always bring our brothers and sisters in Christ to God in prayer who are scattered across this planet. We are not identified by race, class, culture or denomination but as those who stand firm in the true grace of God. We don’t wear badges. We don’t have a secret handshake. But we call Christ our LORD and Redeemer and we have all been born again into a living hope through the blood of Christ. Do you identify with this community?


Prayer of the Week

Lord God, we thank you for your universal church, distinguished by race, gender or class, but set apart by your Son and your call to stand firm in the faith. May we be sober of mind and encourage one another daily while we wait for your kingdom to be revealed. Amen.

Study 9 – 1 Peter 5:1-4

To the elders among you


Peter’s letter has been addressed to all Christians despite their location or walk of life and, as we’ve seen, across the ages. At times, he has addressed slaves and masters directly and he has addressed husbands and wives directly. But the bulk of his letter has been to all who have been called by God to be part of his royal and priestly house of God. Now he turns to people he calls elders.

The definition of an elder is one of those subjects in the churches which creates peaceful division. It is most helpful in areas like this to do some word studies in the bible to compare and contrast what the bible says about elders, deacons, shepherds, overseers, pastors and bishops.

A brief overview of church titles used in the New Testament

Titles for our search Bible references Comments
Elders The gospels and the book of Acts frequently refer to ‘elders of the people’ who confronted or questioned Jesus. Acts 20:17-38; 1 Tim 4:14; 5:1-20; Titus 1:5-6; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1, 5. Revelation frequently refer to the elders around the throne. This is clearly a title to describe those who have some authority in the church. They are not always teachers or preachers (1 Tim 5:17) but have the responsibility of leading the people under their care. An Elder is what you are. It is distinct from a Deacon.
Deacons Romans 16:1; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-12; Acts 6:1-7 May be male or female. Distinct from overseers. To be above reproach. The word means servant and the description in Acts 6 matches this title. They were to serve in the church and distribute goods among the needy in the church.
Shepherds Acts 20:17-38; 1 Peter 5:2; Jude 12 A shepherd is an elder. This is implied in the Acts passage and explicit in the 1 Peter passage. An Elder is what you are but a Shepherd, overseer and pastor is what the elder does. He shepherds/pastors and over-sees.
Overseers Acts 20:17-38; Phil 1:1;  1 Tim 3:1-2; Titus 1:7 Manages the household of God.
Pastors Ephesians 4:11 Distinct from apostle, prophet, evangelist and teachers.
Bishops NA Although there is no use of this word in the Scriptures, it has been applied to overseers of churches rather than overseers of people in one church.
Priests Romans 15:16; Hebrews 3:1; While Jesus is our Great High Priest and we have no need for any other mediator between us and God, Paul can describe his duty of proclaiming the gospel as a priestly role. Note that the priests of the Old Covenant were also require to instruct the people (Leviticus 10:11)
CONCLUSIONS There remains 3 major word groups that cover all of these titles:

Priest (used almost never of the Christian church but applied to teaching and preaching the gospel);

Elder (describes those who manage the household of God, caring for the people of God under their care – ‘elder’ is what you are but a shepherd, pastor and overseer is what you do.)

and Deacon (refer to those who serve in the church to free up elders for preaching and teaching and prayer).




  • 5:1-2a The appeal
  • 5:2b-3 The guidelines
  • 5:4 The real blessing

5:1-2a – The appeal

“To the elders among you…” Acts 20:17ff describes elders as synonymous with overseers and shepherds (and therefore pastors as that is a shepherding term) and their duty is to care (like shepherds over a flock) for the people under their care. The implication in that passage is that they be sure to teach and encourage the church of God about the whole will of God, his kingdom and his grace. The church of Christ is to be lead by local leaders whose responsibility is to teach these things (either personally or ensure that teachers are teaching correctly). As Peter writes to the scattered people of God, he knows that where there are Christians, there will be elders.

“I appeal as a fellow elder…” Although Peter is The Rock and pillar of the early church, he is no more than a fellow elder. His duty is to oversee the spreading of the gospel as left in his charge by Christ (Acts 1:8). Although the word Bishop is not used in the New Testament, the Anglican church would apply Bishop to both Peter and Paul who oversee the overseers of the churches. Peter addresses the elders as one elder to another. He doesn’t flex his muscles like there is any other hierarchy. Christ gave the gospel to the church and all overseers are charged to preach that gospel and no other.

“…and a witness of Christ’s sufferings…” Now Peter distinguishes himself from his readers in that he was there when Christ suffered. He saw it first hand. He’s not like an overseer who has been told historically what went down in and around Jerusalem in the first century. He saw it and was right in the middle of it. The sufferings of Christ had a great testing on Peter himself as the gospels tell us.

“…who also will share in the glory to be revealed.” Peter returns to neutral ground where he can’t claim anything higher than any other Christian.

“…be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care.” This is the duty and simple rule of the elder – to take care of people who need to know and be reminded and encouraged and corrected by the gospel of God. They are God’s sheep – church leaders must remember that! They are like hired hands charged to watch that no sheep goes astray or is damaged or killed by wild animals. The term ‘shepherds’ is a well-worn description of those who are in charge of God’s people. In the Old Testament, it was the Shepherds of the people of God who were charged of being very bad at their jobs. Instead of directing them to the grace and true worship of God, they lead people to idolatry and took money from them to increase their power. A shepherd does not seek power but seeks to save and protect the sheep under their care. Since they are God’s sheep, how bad will it be if the elders do their jobs poorly.

5:2b-3 – The guidelines

“…watching over them…” Again, the job of an elder is not to manipulate or command or lead brutally but to watch over. Paul teaches Timothy to do this by teaching the word of God faithfully – 2 Timothy 4:2. A shepherd of sheep will lead them in the right direction and will pull them back when they wander off the path and into danger. Pastors do this precisely by directing people to the word of God and instructing people in the truth.

“…not because you must but because you are willing, as God wants you to be…” No person is forced into being an elder of a church. And why should a church want to be lead by someone who doesn’t want to be there? But it is God’s desire for elders to be in and over the church. This is his pattern for planting, growing and sustaining churches.

“…not pursuing dishonest gain…” Again, in Acts 20:17ff, Paul describes his approach to being an elder and stated that he never coveted anybodies silver or gold or clothing and recalled Jesus’ words himself that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.” A church ought to put money aside to fund their elders if they can so that the elders can be devoted to ministering in the church but the elder is not to be there for financial reasons and definitely not do pursue selfish gains. Anyone who enters the ministry for financial reasons ought to back out now and find another job.

“…but eager to serve.” In contrast to dishonest gain is the desire to serve others. In what ways ought they serve? That is a broader question than this passage but we have already seen that the primary purpose of the overseer is to point people to Christ and his kingdom through the teaching and preaching of God’s word.

“…not lording it over…but being examples…” I recall that this is Peter writing. Some have declared him to be the first Pope of a certain church. It is baffling to see how the hierarchy of Popes and bishops can be seen as an example to the flock. The Anglican Church must be careful in this area also. An elder is to demonstrate what it looks like to be a Christian – bearing the name of Christ and always ready to give a reason for the hope while living in a world of persecution and suffering. They are to demonstrate what it looks like to turn the other cheek, to love their wives, to pursue doing good and all of that out of reverence to God. If their position is not out of reverence for God, they are disqualified from their job.

5:4 – The real blessing

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears…” This is Christ and Peter again refers to the assured return of the Messiah. If elders in the churches are like shepherds over God’s flock, Jesus is the head of all Shepherds – the ultimate example and the owner of the sheep.

“…you will receive the crown of glory…” Overseers are not to think that their work of service and caring is to go unrewarded. Though they do not seek financial riches in this age, they are promised a prize in the next. The crown of glory is offered, not just to elders, but to all who persevere in the faith till the end (Rev 2:10). Paul declares that his own crown of glory will be those he has lead in the faith (1 Thess 2:19-20). Whatever the metaphor points to, it is a moment of joy and gladness and reward for good and faithful service under God.

“…that will never fade away.” As opposed to the dishonest gain received by bad shepherds.


Wherever there are Christians gathered around the world there will be elders who have the responsibility and the joy of taking care of God’s people as we wait for Christ’s return and endure suffering while we wait. The elders are to be like shepherds who protect the sheep in their care. Church leaders must serve at the pleasure of the Chief Shepherd, for eternal rewards and joys and not for dishonest gains found in this world.


    • Topic A – Who should become elders in the church? Peter has outlined motives and responsibilities of elders in the church. Have you wondered if this is something you are gifted for? Who can you identify as elders?


  • Topic B – Do you serve because you want to? All ‘servants’ in the church ought to follow the same drive as ministers – to serve God because he/she wants to. It is a true blessing to a church when people step up to share their gifts for the benefit of others – to grow the church – and do it because they want to. There are plenty of jobs that can be rostered but there are so many jobs that only those who are gifted in that area should step into and do. What are your gifts and how can you use those talents for the household of God?
  • Topic C – Working for the church or working for God? Similar to topic B, do you see your participation in the church as helping the church organisation or as working for God. Just because a church exists, doesn’t mean that it is God’s household – if they teach something other than the gospel of the kingdom of God. Once you find a local church (of whatever denomination) that is preaching the gospel and teaching the truth through God’s word, attach yourself to that church and ask how you can work for God in the company of that body of Christ. Is that what you are doing?


Prayer of the Week

Protect us we pray, Jesus Christ, Shepherd of our souls, and bless those ministers who serve under you. May they find joy in their service. May they grow in the own maturity and good examples of following you. Protect them from the evil one and the desires of their own flesh. May they pursue godliness and teach those under their care well. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

1 Peter 2:4-12

But you are a chosen people


In writing a letter to Christians scattered across the world, Peter encourages his readers to remember the promises of God fulfilled in Jesus. What joins us together is not this world or geography or heritage but the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been born again into a the family of God. We are no longer part of this world but must set our minds on our eternal future. Everything in this world will pass away, but the promises of God stand forever.  He instructs us to live like we are God’s children in this world and not like we are making this world our eternal home.

The next section continues the theme of our new identity in Christ and uses words and concepts which harken back to the book of Leviticus. While preserving great links between the Old Testament and the New, Peter describes a great divide in this world between those who come to the Living Stone and those who reject Him.



  • 4-6 You are being built as a spiritual house
  • 7-10 Once you were not…but now you are!
  • 11-12 Live lives that glorify God.

4-6 You are being built.

“As you come to him…” Notice the progressive language here. Peter will teach us in this passage that we have been chosen by God (2:9 and 1:1) and that there are two different people in this world: those who reject Jesus and those who accept him. But here, those who accept Jesus are described as coming to him. They are inclined toward him. Salvation is both a binary and a progressive event. We are both holy now, and waiting for our glory to come. We are both saved and righteous now but also ridding ourselves of our previous way of life (2:1).

“…the Living Stone…” Peter identified Jesus as the Living Stone back in Acts 4:11-12. He alludes to Psalm 118:22; see also Isaiah 8:14-15; 28:16; Zechariah 10:4; Matthew 21:42-44; Romans 9:32-33; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:7. Every reference in the NT about this OT stone identifies Jesus as the stone. The OT itself identifies the cornerstone as the Messiah and all that was left was to identify Jesus as the Messiah.

“…rejected by humans but chosen by God…” Peter’s two early sermons in Acts 2 and Acts 4 focus on the line that God had clearly approved Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ but that mankind rejected and killed (Acts 2:36; 4:10-11). This reality of being rejected by men but chosen and precious to God flows through the rest of what Peter will say about Jesus and his followers. We will be rejected too, but the reality is that God has chosen us and we are precious to Him!

“…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” How incredible to be compared even remotely to our LORD! While Jesus is the cornerstone, we are also stones making up the same house. Our nature derives from the resurrected Lord who has give us new birth into a living hope. While we are all stones making up this spiritual house, Jesus is the cornerstone which defines how the rest of the house will be built. The house is not a physical one but spiritual. Since Peter will speak of a priesthood and since the house is spiritual, we ought to think of the temple – the place where God met and dwelled with Israel. The temple and the priests were established so that God could dwell with his chosen people. All of this imagery, Peter embraces to describe Christians now! Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and together we make a spiritual house. God’s dwelling place among humans is in the lives of his chosen people – those who accept the Living Stone.

“…to be a holy priesthood…” although we have no need for blood sacrifices any more – because Christ’s blood has been offered for us, once for all – we offer spiritual sacrifices as God has described. We have already heard Peter command us to love one another deeply, to rid ourselves of our old ways and in verse 11 we are instructed to live exemplary lives. Like the whole tribe of Levi were devoted to God, Christians offer their whole lives to God. Living sacrifices, see Romans 12:1; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16.

“…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” A good life on it’s own is not acceptable to God – but by grace and faith through Jesus Christ. We cannot be born again except through Jesus Christ. We cannot be pleasing to God except through Jesus Christ. All of our acceptable spiritual sacrifices are offered in the context of what God has done for us through Christ.

7-10 Once you were not…but now you are!

“Now to you who believe…” A new subsection begins with the word ‘Now.’ This section has a flow that looks like this: To you who believe…but to those who do not…but you. Peter describes the great divide between those who believe and those who do not. If there is one thing that will highlight a true believer it is this: that Jesus is precious to them.

“The cornerstone” Both Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14 are quoted by Peter to show that the one who has been rejected is both the cornerstone (foundation stone) and a stumbling block.

“They stumble because…” Verse 8 here gives us a classic picture of human judgement mixed with God’s sovereignty. Many will get fixated on God’s predistination of both the elect (1:1) and the damned (2:8). But Peter doesn’t say they were pre-destined, just that they were destined. This was going to be their end because – they disobey the message. God’s word is open and available for all to read and respond to (yes, there are closed countries and difficulties – but across time and the world the word has been made available). In our culture, there are dozens of Christian churches in every city. Their doors are open every Sunday and more! Their websites are running 24/7 and their members are living in and around the community ready and prayerful to share the good news of new life through Christ. Yet people stumble because they disobey the message. It was always going to be the way. “Christ is laid across the path of humanity on its course into the future. In the encounter with him each person is changed: one for salvation, another for destruction. …One cannot simply step over Jesus to go on about the daily routine and pass him by to build a future. Whoever encounters him is inescapably changed through the encounter: Either one sees and becomes “a living stone”, or one stumbles as a blind person over Christ and comes to ruin, falling short, i.e., of one’s Creator and Redeemer and thereby of one’s destiny.”

NB: be careful to conclude verse 8 is about predestination to damnation. It could be saying that ‘they’ are destined to disobey or it could equally mean all those who disobey are destined to stumble. That is the destiny of every person who disobeys the message that they stumble for they have no other hope.

“But you are…” In contrast to those who reject Jesus as Lord, we, who see him as precious, are described by Peter in holy and sacred terms.

“…a chosen people…” not just wandering into the sheepfold of God but called by name. Not only are Christians chosen but also the type of people they become are the choice people that God ordained – they are Jesus people, i.e., they cannot simply be loved by God but they are the people God has chosen them to be through Jesus. Israel were known as the chosen people of God because he regarded and treated them as special out of all the other nations but this was not of their own greatness but of God’s mercy (Exodus 19:5). The purpose of this calling, even of Israel were for proclaiming his praise before all the other nations (Isaiah 43:20-21). So, royal priesthood, holy nation and God’s special possession are all synonymous for the same thing: that God has chosen those who have accepted Jesus to speak into this world the good news about God.

“…holy nation…” As 1 Peter 1:1-2 implies, Christians are united on the basis of their faith in Christ. We may be scattered and vary in all sorts of ways but we are a singular group – a nation of people set apart by God and for God.

“…that you may declare…” There is a purpose or a responsibility to all who call on the name of Jesus to be saved. We are to declare or speak or proclaim to all that God is mighty and sovereign and the only source of salvation is through Jesus. Let’s celebrate and be people who worship with joy and thanksgiving to the God who raised us from darkness to light. It’s such a puzzle why we fail to do this – except that we fail to set our hope on the grace being brought to us through Christ (1 Peter 1:13). The remedy may well be to meditate on verse 10 which follows…

“Once you were not a people…” The value of ‘not a people’ is quite extreme but Peter appears to be taking language from the Old Testament prophet, Hosea. Through that book, the prophet was commanded to take a bride and have children and name them in ways that communicated God’s plans for Israel who were being unfaithful to God. Hosea 1:6-10, one of Hosea’s sons was named Lo Ammi which means ‘not my people’. Prior to being the people of God, we are nothing. At that time, we had not received mercy but now, what defines us as the chosen people of God is that we have received mercy from God. To be his people is to have God’s mercy poured upon you (Deuteronomy 7:7, 9:6).

11-12 Live lives that glorify God.

“…I urge you to abstain…” The Christian life is a life of denying self. Peter has already talked about offering spiritual offerings and about ridding ourselves of the old way of life we once lived when we were in ignorance of God’s grace and mercy.

“…sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” The spiritual battle we will always find the hardest is the one going on inside our very minds and hearts. Paul talks about this battle between the flesh and the Spirit (Romans 7-8). Even a Christian living in isolation from the world, as if they could find a place to escape from it, will continue to experience this warfare going on inside themselves. The command is to abstain and be in control of this battle – unaware or unconcerned with this battle will just not do. The good news here is that signs of inner struggle is not evidence of unconversion! Even God’s chosen, holy and royal priesthood will need to combat their inner conflict: to serve the flesh or to live as children of God.

“Live such good lives…” The level of good here is simply the kind that stands out in a pagan world. The result though is sobering – it won’t be the Christian praised for their goodness (this is not the purpose for our good living) – it will be God who is praised. This glory that God receives when he returns may not be of a saved person praising God – rather, that all mankind will see what great mercy and work God has had on mankind – it may be recognising God’s glory through a snarly face.


There are two type of people in this world: those who love Jesus and those who do not. The difference is huge! The former are called the chosen people of God – set apart to worship him with their whole lives, while the latter remain in darkness, receiving no mercy from God and destined to  remain in that state. Those who come to Jesus do so at the mercy and grace of God and are called to live wholly for Him.


  • Topic A – Rejecting or accepting Christ. Can you say that your faith is based on a living relationship with Jesus? How can we remove human obstacles and create as many paths for people in our community to come to Jesus and receive him? We cannot force people to love him but we can certainly try to make him known. Who are you praying for at the moment to bring the gospel to ?
  • Topic B – Declaring the praises of God. How can you express your gratitude to God for calling you from death to life, darkness to light, outside his mercy to inside his grace? Consider how our praises can be displayed in prayer, in song, in our conversations with Christians and those outside our Christian community.
  • Topic C – The war against your soul within. To what extent are you aware of a battle going on within you? What is your strategy for combat? James says to resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:8); do you have a method for resistance? Being aware of the particular temptations that ‘get’ us is a good place to start. Think of, or even share with others, the particular sins that you are most vulnerable to.

Prayer of the Week

Our Lord God and King, may we live our lives grateful for your salvation and always ready to declare what you’ve done in us. Thank you for embracing us as your people. Please help us in our ambition to live holy and exemplary lives for you and your glory. Amen.