Focal Passage: 1 Peter 1:21-2:10
The lesson is entitled “Live
Like a Believer.” The Greek term for this type of writing is parenesis: moral
instruction, advice, encouragement.
The technique was common
among letter writers, secular or Christian, in New Testament times. Teachers
(or preachers), now absent, wrote back to their former students (or converts).
Letters began with greetings, followed by a philosophical (or theological)
discussion. Finally came practical instructions as to how the readers were
supposed to live in light of the teaching they had received: parenesis.
We see this pattern
throughout the letters of the New Testament. First Peter is no exception. Beginning with 2:11, the verse
immediately following today’s lesson, the remainder of the letter — more than
three out of five chapters, 70 percent of the book — is one extended parenesis.
“Live like a believer,” Peter is telling his readers.
There are even a few
parenetic verses in today’s passage: Love one another (1:22). No more malice,
guile, insincerity, envy or slander (2:1). Nurture your spiritual growth (2:2).
Stay close to Jesus (2:4-7).
But just as a sturdy house
is built on a solid foundation, right living is based on right reasons. Before
he tells us much more about how to live, Peter wants to make sure we understand
why we live that way: because of the Easter faith.
“Through him you have
confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that
your faith and hope are in God” (1:21). Jesus didn’t raise himself. God did it.
“You have been born anew,
not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word
of God” (1:23). We don’t save ourselves. God does it.
“Like living stones be
yourselves built into a spiritual house” (2:5). It’s not just about me. Jesus
died and rose for everyone. We believers are stuck together like bricks and
And it’s not just about us:
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,
that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness
into his marvelous light” (2:9). Tell the others!
Jesus’ resurrection, our
salvation, our life together in Christ, our calling to the world — all good
reasons to live like believers.
Finally, “Once you were no
people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now
you have received mercy” (2:10). Why live like a believer? Most of all,
gratitude! I’ll live for Him who died for me, my Savior and my God!