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1 Peter 3 (Part 2)

10 Dec 2018

Contents

Bible Notes Series

Normally, I would begin each post in the Bible Notes Series with a short description of an aspect of my process or something like that. This week, I simply ran out of time. I was too consumed by madly trying to get my thoughts about 1 Peter 3 down in writing. Hopefully I’ll return to this next week.

1 Peter 3: Interesting Things

Selected Passage: 1 Peter 3:8–12

8Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For,

    ‘Whoever would love life
        and see good days
    must keep their tongue from evil
        and their lips from deceitful speech.
    11They must turn from evil and do good;
        they must seek peace and pursue it.
    12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
        and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
    but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’ (1 Peter 3:8–12, NIV)

This passage caught my attention because it’s talking about how we live with fellow Christians (an area I really need to grow in) and how we interact with those outside the church1. I’ve always had questions about how Christians should interact with the culture at large, particularly as the culture gets more overtly secular.2

I found three things particularly eye-opening as I studied 1 Peter 3:8–12:

There is so much more than this in 1 Peter 3:8–12. I didn’t get anywhere near the end of my reading list for this week’s blog post, there’s just too much in it.

Outline (Jobes 2005)

Like-mindedness

Verse 8 says, ‘Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.’ What does it mean to be like-minded?

In a section about the importance of getting into the mindset of the biblical writers, Michael Heiser says that ‘our words derive from, are shaped by [vocabulary, style, illustrative phrases drawn from common experiences, mutual intellectual perceptions, and familiar social situations] … we understand each other to the extent that we share life—or, to put it less elegantly in a way only scholars can manage, to the extent that we share a cognitive framework’ (2017: 1). It seems like a fairly good definition of what like-mindedness may be: we understand each other because we share life, because we share a cognitive framework (a way of thinking). It’s not that we share all the same thoughts, we can disagree, but we share ‘the mind of those who prayerfully await the coming of the Lord and serve one another in fervent love’ (Clowney 1988: 137). We ‘prepare [our] minds for action by setting [our] hope on Christ’ (ibid., cf. 1 Peter 1:13).

Like-mindedness is sharing the same way of thinking, it is sharing the same hopes, and it is also that we share ‘a common heritage of faith and ethical tradition’ (Selwyn 1958: 189 quoted in Jobes 2005: 215) which naturally comes as we ‘reject the religion and ethical tradition … inherited from [our] ancestors and embrace apostolic teaching’ (Jobes 2005: 215).

Finally, Jobes writes that ‘like-mindedness implies a willingness to conform one’s goals, needs, and expectations to the purposes of the larger community’ (ibid.: 215).3

It’s important to note that like-mindedness does not mean we all must think the same things. We can (and will) disagree, but we must maintain the same way of thinking, we must think like people whose hope is in Jesus, we must think like people who prayerfully await the coming of the Lord, we must think like people who care about one another.

Strong relationships begin with ‘unity of mind’. To have one mind is not to have identical opinions about politics, philosophy, ethics, business, food, music, and leisure. Rather, unity means that we are ‘agreeable and sensitive to each other’s concerns.’ Unity comes not from a creed or a law laid upon us, nor from a pretense that we agree when we actually disagree, but from relationships, respectful dialogue, and common causes. (Doriani 2014: 126)

Thus, like-mindedness is:

Sympathy, Love, Compassion, Humility

In the New American Commentary on this epistle, Thomas Schreiner writes that verse 8 functions as a chiasm:

A - Harmony
    B - Sympathy
        C - Brotherly Love
    B’ - Compassion
A’ - Humility (Schreiner 2003: 163)

In Schreiner’s structure, harmony corresponds to humility, sympathy to compassion with brotherly love in the middle as the most important of all virtues.4

I think we often miss the depth of relationship, the tenderness that Peter wants us to have for one another – I know I missed it. These verses talk about the type of community a local church should be, it ‘is to be an alternate society where believers should not have to face the same kinds of insult and hostility that come from those outside the church’ (Jobes 2005: 214).

When Peter talks about sympathy, compassion and brotherly love, we often read it as agape love, which is essentially dispassionate. Doriani puts it helpfully:

When Christians say that agape is the highest form of love because it is Godlike and dispassionate, they probably mean that love for enemies is noble and amazing, which it is. And agape is often the term for God’s love for unattractive sinners. But God wants, even expects, us to feel affection for each other. And we can show affection in a warm embrace and in acts of kindness. In short, love is not essentially dispassionate. It can be dispassionate—and it must be if we are to love someone who is misbehaving. But God created us with emotions, so we love emotionally. (Doriani 2014:127–128)

We all have people at church that we don’t get along well with. It’s the nature of human personalities. But these are our brothers and sisters. When was the last time I warmly embraced a brother or sister who, save for the unity that the Spirit brings, would not even be my friend?

Humility

Clearly Peter had learned humility the hard way. His pride had been crushed by the denials that shamed his boasting. But Peter sees humility as deeper than the levelling of pride. He finds it in the free humiliation of his Lord, not only in taking the towel and basin, but in taking the cross. This is the lowliness that calls us to humble service. Christian humility will be mocked, as Jesus’ humiliation on the cross was. But it will be honoured by God in the triumph of the returning Lord. (Clowney 1988: 140)

There is something in this. ‘Peter sees humility as deeper than the levelling of pride.’ God does humble the proud, but Jesus humbled himself. True Christian humility is not simply the absence of pride, which is not demanding the respect we don’t deserve, but the presence of humility, which is not even demanding the respect we do deserve. The more I get to know God the more I see just how radical the Christian life is – we cannot just be neutral, we can’t just not be cruel to those who oppose us, it’s not enough simply not to be prideful, we must be over-abundantly good to those who persecute us, we must take on a level of humility far beyond what we deserve. Well, it’s safe to say, this is a lesson I need to learn.

I think this is one of Jesus’ most radical teachings. Christians are not to do what the world would consider normal, appropriate, perhaps even holding back, which is to respond proportionally, ‘he spread nasty rumours about me, so I’m not going to keep what I know secret any more’. Christians are not even to do what the world would consider especially generous which is to respond neutrally, ‘he spread nasty rumours about me, so I’m just going to say nothing’. No, Christians are to bless their tormentors, ‘he spread nasty rumours about me, so I’m going to make a point of telling people all the best things about him’. We can’t over-react, we can’t react appropriately, we can’t react neutrally, we must react foolishly.

Christians are free from vindictiveness because they trust God’s justice; but they are free for blessing because they know God’s goodness. Again, this was standard apostolic instruction. It is not only in the world that Christians must repay evil with good; they must do it in the church, too. Certainly this attitude of loving humility will provide the strongest rebuke to the conscience of a fellow-Christian. (Clowney 1988: 141)

When We Fail to be United

The unity of mind that Christians are to show includes harmony of attitude as well as of understanding. It relates directly to the humility and love that Peter goes on to mention. When Paul urged the Philippians to be ‘of the same mind’, he added ‘having the same love’, and continued, ‘Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.’ The magnificent passage that follows describes how Christ humbled himself, even to the death of the cross. Being of one mind means having a common understanding of the truth, but it means more. When the truth of Christ is affirmed in arrogance it is denied. The ‘like-mindedness’ that Peter requires manifests the mind and love of Christ. It is precisely willingness to submit ourselves to others for Christ’s sake that undercuts the misunderstandings and hostilities that can divide the Christian community. That willingness flows from the love of Christ. (Clowney 1988: 137–138)

Recently, I attended a meeting of Christians where an accusation was made. Those who had been accused of wrongdoing didn’t acknowledge the accusation which struck me as strange and, frankly, rude. On the surface at least, the accusations seemed valid and well thought-out and I was disappointed in the lack of response, it seemed so arrogant and it actually made me really uncomfortable. The question I had for myself while studying these verses in 1 Peter 3 was, Was I wrong to expect a response? Was the accused party right to simply ignore the others’ concerns? Jobes, at least, suggests that verse 9 applies to problems within the church as well as outside it5. I think the reason I was so uncomfortable with the situation was that the original concern wasn’t acknowledged which made me think that the brothers and sisters who brought the concern to the table weren’t being respected.

I find Peter’s words difficult to apply. Let me give a fictitious example. Let’s say my church has been accused of mistreating elderly church members, perhaps of stealing from them. Let’s say that my church doesn’t even have any elderly church members. The accusation is plainly untrue. If these accusations are just someone trying to stir up trouble, then perhaps it is right to ignore them. But what if the person making the accusation is genuinely just trying to get to the truth? What if something innocuous has become twisted along the way and they’ve heard some stories they can’t ignore? What if they’ve tried to approach us privately and we’ve not even been willing to meet with them? Surely at that point it would be rude and disrespectful to simply ignore the person as though they’re of no consequence to anybody, as though they’re worthless. Surely at that point we could say, ‘We are sorry that we didn’t respond to you before now, we didn’t realise that you were genuinely asking out of concern for everybody involved. We’re sorry that you’ve had to make this matter public to get our attention. To put the matter to rest, you must be operating on false information, we do not have any elderly church members, but if we did, we would treat them with the respect they deserve. If you’re talking about a specific incident, then we are not aware of it and promise to listen if you have more relevant information.’ And even if we think they might be just trying to stir up trouble, if they’re a fellow believer, don’t we owe them the benefit of the doubt and the respect of a response? Personally, I think yes, we do owe this to one another.

Peter isn’t saying don’t respond, he’s saying don’t retaliate (cf. v. 23), don’t insult, don’t threaten. He’s saying respond with blessing. He’s telling us ‘to forgo the usual verbal retaliation that would be necessary to successfully defend [our] honour and the reputation of [our] community’ (Jobes 2005: 217). When dealing with accusations, failing to respond at all can give off the impression that we think we’re above reproach, that we are so obviously not right, that whoever is making the accusation is far too small for us to waste our time on. This is not the attitude Peter is encouraging us to have. Nor was it the attitude Jesus commanded when he said ‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you’ (Luke 6:27–28, NIV). Peter and Jesus are telling us don’t respond in the normal way, but do respond and respond in an unexpected way. In the meeting I spoke of earlier, I was disheartened that it had gotten to the point of accusations being levelled and that, when this happened, those being accused who would undoubtedly believe they have the moral, ethical and spiritual high ground, took only half of Peter’s advice and seem to have ignored Jesus’ advice altogether: they didn’t retaliate, they didn’t insult, they didn’t threaten, but nor were they sympathetic, compassionate, humble, they didn’t bless their accusers. Like so many things, being a Christian isn’t about being neutral, it isn’t just about avoiding doing evil, it’s about being positively good, it’s about pursuing good.

Jobes had some helpful thoughts on this:

Acting rightly toward one’s adversaries is defined in 1 Peter 3:9 as not responding in kind to their insults, slander, and evil intents. It means having the inner fortitude to break the cycle of evil that spirals ever downward.

If it is difficult enough simply to refrain from retaliation, it may seem superhuman to return blessing for evil and insult. However, this is the path for the Christian who wishes to follow in the Lord’s footsteps, because to this you have been called. (Jobes 2005: 218)

Those Outside the Church: Taking Offence

Doriani writes that people ‘seem to delight in taking offence, feeling wounded, and claiming victim status, even if there is no real harm’ (2014: 129). This seems to be happening more and more. I’ve even found myself wishing I were part of a minority so I could demand respect from others in whatever situation. I’m a heterosexual, cisgendered, Caucasian, Christian man with a good job living in Australia. That puts me in the majority in pretty much all the categories that dominate our culture at the moment. Not only am I in the majority in all these areas, each of these majorities in the past has persecuted and mistreated people in different situations. Of course, there are some ways that I am not in the majority: I am a geek, I was I think more unpopular than most at school, my parents split up when I was very young, I never really knew my father, and I’m not (nor have I ever been) in a sexual relationship. Nevertheless, according to what our society has judged as important at the moment, I seem squarely in the heritage of the oppressor not the oppressed and so when I talk about issues off importance to me and my society, I find that I need to be really careful. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I’m just not good at it and I sometimes take up a defensive, reactionary position, which is, of course, not what Peter is encouraging us to do here.

Having said that, calling yourself a Christian is becoming less and less common in Australia. The 2016 census recorded that 52.2% of Australians claim the label ‘Christian’6. It was 88.2% in 1966. Of course, these figures don’t tell the whole story. I believe that, at least in part, our society is motivated to care for those in the minority because they are oppressed or mistreated in some way and so the important question is not ‘Do the majority of Australians self-identify as Christians?’ but ‘Do those who self-identify as Christians hold the majority of the wealth, power and privilege in Australia?’ (There are numerous examples of minorities oppressing majorities. Consider apartheid or the feudal system.) The reason I am talking about this is that I believe Christians will be seen as a privileged minority for some time to come. The tide may be shifting, but if we consider all those who call themselves Christian, then I do think it will be some time before self-identified Christians no longer wield significant power and influence.

Not only is adopting the label of Christian for oneself becoming rarer, any sort of regular church attendance is also on the decline. According to the National Church Life Survey, 17% of Australians attended church at least monthly in 20077. I am not interested in proposing a test for true Christianity – whatever test I could come up with would be flawed and, I think, contrary to our Lord’s instructions (cf. Matthew 13:24–30). I’m just trying to show that, simply because you’ve called yourself a Christian doesn’t mean that you are one. Intsitutionalised Christianity was the majority for a very long time and perhaps, in some small ways, it still is in Australia, but I believe that having a faith that is deeper than religious observance, that acknowledges Jesus as Lord and our own sinfulness and leads to a life that is transformed by the Spirit, is now and always has been in the minority8 and the Bible gives us no reason to expect it to be any other way9.

True Christians do not seek political power above all else and, if they do possess it, hold it loosely because they know that all power rightly belongs to Christ the true king. True Christians do not seek the world’s understanding above all else and, if they do possess it, hold it loosely because they know that God is the judge. True Christians do not seek to make society conform to what we know to be true above all else because, as Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (cf. John 18:36).

Some people talk as though the followers of Jesus have just come into the state of being in the minority, the state of being politically and socially weak. Even if this were a significant change from how things were 50 or 100 or 500 years ago, whatever power and influence we think Christians had in society is not something that we should tightly cling to as though, if we lost our power and influence, Christ in any way would be diminished.

We know what God thinks of us. As Christians, we shouldn’t buy into our society’s assertion that we need to fight for our right to be valued, respected and listened to. We shouldn’t take any delight in getting offended, feeling wounded or claiming victim status. No, our confidence in Christ should lead us to respond to insults with blessings, to respond to accusations with silence, just like Jesus did.

We know that we are not to seek retribution, not to respond to an attack with a defence, but what does that look like? I think it looks like not taking offence.

We certainly have no right to take offence on our own behalf after what God has done for us, the extent to which we know how much we have been forgiven will be the extent to which we forgive others. This is clear. We often fail to live like this, staunchly refusing to take offence no matter what others throw at us, but I think there’s more to it. What I’m about to say may shock you, but not only do we not have the right to take offence on our own behalf, I don’t think we have the right to take offence on God’s behalf. When people go out in public defending God or Christ or the truth (or their own version of it), they’re often saying, something untrue has been said about our God, our Lord and they go on what some consider a virtuous crusade: to defend our loved one who has been wronged. Yet, I believe we are clearly told not do to this.

In 1 Peter 2:22 and onwards, we read: ‘“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 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.’ (1 Peter 2:22–23, NIV) If anyone was right to defend themselves against unjust accusations it was Jesus. Unlike us, he was truly and completely innocent of any wrongdoing. But instead of retaliating or threatening them, what did he do? He entrusted himself to the Father, the one who judges justly. What nonsense it is to think that we could give a better defence than Jesus could have given and if we try, we are failing to trust in the Father, it’s that simple. I find it equally strange that people think they can defend God. God is the judge. He will judge people who disrespect him, who reject his truth, and he will judge them justly. If we defend God and his truth to others, we are defending the judge to the accused, which is at least unnecessary and the way we go about it, I think, has caused a lot of damage.

I’ll quote Doriani again: ‘some people even seem to delight in taking offence, feeling wounded, and claiming victim status, even if there is no real harm’ (2014: 129). Isn’t that precisely what we’d be doing if we were to defend God? Just because people say he’s not real doesn’t make him any less. Just because people say he’s unjust, unloving, brutal doesn’t make him any less just, loving, compassionate.

Of particular relevance to the Christian readers of 1 Peter, to humble oneself was to ‘declare oneself powerless to defend one’s status.’ These are qualities that ran counter to the trends of first-century society, as they do in our own today. But Peter is saying that, like Jesus, his readers do not need to use the same tactics as the world to defend who they are as heirs of God in Christ.

Peter instructs Christians to forgo the usual verbal retaliation that would be necessary to successfully defend one’s honor and the reputation of one’s community. Given the tendency of human nature to retaliate, coupled with the social expectation to do so, the Christian who refrains from verbal retaliation and instead offers blessing would give unbelievers pause. (Jobes 2005: 216–217)

There is an expectation to defend oneself and one’s community in our modern, liberal societies just as there was in the first-century. We see this in the political campaigning that goes on from Christians, defending ourselves, our programs and our churches against the advancing secularism of our society. If a Christian is not willing to sign a petition, not willing to speak up for certain truths, or, heaven forbid, has the audacity to remind other Christians that this was not Jesus’ way and, perhaps, should not be theirs either, they are sometimes met with force, they are told that they are in error, that their behaviour is weak, that they are kowtowing to the enemy, that they are offending God when they should be defending him. I know this, because it’s happened to me many times.

One particular situation from recent memory comes to mind. Several years ago, Margaret Court was widely criticised for a letter she wrote to a newspaper regarding Qantas’ stance in support of same-sex marriage.10 A petition made the rounds demanding an apology for some particularly harsh treatment by panel members on the Project TV show. The petition read as follows:

On Friday nights [sic] episode of the Project, tennis great Margaret Court was bullied & ridiculed for her opinion on gay marriage. Margaret is entitled to her opinion & she was ambushed by the panel members, Margaret is an Australian icon & I believe an apology is in order. (https://www.change.org/p/project-panel-members-bullied-margaret-court-an-apology-is-required)

I don’t know if a Christian started the petition, but certainly some Christians I knew at the time were happy to sign it. I don’t see any justification for this sort of behaviour from Christians after reading 1 Peter. Christians will always have a fundamentally different moral and ethical tradition than non-believers even if we do come from a Christian society, the true ethic of Jesus can never penetrate the unregenerate heart of a non-believer, we need our spiritual eyes opened to see the truth. Given this, as Doriani puts it, ‘we will never quite fit into any human culture. … To the secularist, the Christian position might sound judgmental, intolerant, or bigoted, so we court disfavor’ (2014: 125). Folks, we are called to live differently, to make moral and ethical decisions based on God’s truth, not to force others to do the same. Certainly, I agree that Margaret Court should have been respected for her opinions and, had she been speaking to me, she would have been given a different reception, but the fact that she didn’t get what she deserved is no reason for Christians to arc up and demand an apology. I actually think doing so is disrespectful to Jesus, it’s saying that the way he handled situations like this, where he was not only disrespected, but treated far, far worse, and he was silent. Jesus is our example and if it’s good enough for him, then it’s good enough for us.

Not only are we saying Jesus’ actions weren’t good enough, saying that Margaret was significantly hurt by this suggests that we think something was taken away from her. As though anyone else but God has the power to take away what is truly important to us.

God’s calling of the Christian appears in a marvellous contrariness. Opposition and hatred cannot thwart the life of blessing. Even when Christians are cursed, they bless. This is how Christians ‘get even’. They pay back evil with good, insults with blessing. (Clowney 1988: 141)

I love the way Clowney puts this: ‘This is how Christians “get even”’. When we are persecuted (though for us it’s usually more like disrespected or perhaps mistreated) we respond by blessing others, by praying for their good, by asking our Father to heap blessings upon them. And this doesn’t just apply to times when you’re persecuted ‘for Christ’. It’s not just about when you do something that is obviously about ‘Christian truth’, it’s whenever we are disrespected in any situation, we bless, we do not curse.

The Mission of the Church

I’ll just touch briefly on a much larger topic: as a Christian, should I be seeking to change the society around me using whatever influence I have?

Personally, I wouldn’t have taken Margaret Court’s actions. I wouldn’t have written a letter to Qantas telling them that I was no longer going to be their customer. I would just silently no longer use them if I felt convicted to that level. On this matter though, I don’t think it’s worth trying to sway a company’s marketing strategy (and that’s what I think Qantas is doing when it says it supports same-sex marriage) by boycotting them. Perhaps that would work if a significant enough number did it, but I don’t think it’s the pattern Jesus gave us for interaction with our society.

One of my favourite books at the moment is Body Life by Ray Stedman. It was originally published in 1972 and there are so many pearls of wisdom in it. Here’s what he says our job is as the church:

The calling of the church is to declare in word and demonstrate in deed the character of Christ who lives within His people. We are to declare the reality of a life-changing encounter with a living Christ and to demonstrate that change by an unselfish, love-filled life. Until we have done that, nothing else we can do will be effective for God.

The true church does not seek to gain power in the eyes of the world. It already has the power it needs from the Lord who indwells it.

Further, the church is to be patient and forbearing, knowing that the seeds of truth take time to sprout, time to grow, and time to come to full harvest. The church is not to demand that society make sudden, tearing changes in long-established social patterns. Rather, the church is to exemplify positive social change by shunning evil and practicing righteousness, and thus planting seeds of truth which will take root in the society and ultimately produce the fruit of change. (1995: §The church’s highest priority)

Stedman quotes from Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

‘While that great body [the Roman Empire] was invaded by open violence or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigor from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the Cross on the ruins of the Capitol.’ (Gibbon: 382)

The early Christians had only one strategy, one agenda, one message, one weapon, one force with which to overwhelm the empire of the caesars: love. (1995: §The church’s highest priority)

God has not given us earthly power to overcome the authorities he has put in place on earth. He’s given us spiritual power to overcome the flesh and be on his mission to the world.

Finally, Stedman quotes from Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization:

The revolution [Jesus] sought was a far deeper one, without which reforms could be only superficial and transitory. If He could cleanse the human heart of selfish desire, cruelty, and lust, utopia would come of itself, and all those institutions that rise out of human greed and violence, and the consequent need for law, would disappear. Since this would be the profoundest of all revolutions, beside which all others would be mere coup d’etats of class ousting class and exploiting in its turn, Christ was, in this spiritual sense the greatest revolutionist in history. (Durant 1944: 566)

I realise I am perhaps alienating a lot of people with this discussion and I also realise that there may be many sides to this issue that I haven’t considered. If you have anything you think it will be fruitful for me to consider, please contact me. I know I have a lot to learn. But my position is simply this: our job is not to revolutionise the world by fixing individual problems that we see such as same-sex marriage, but to preach the gospel of Jesus, the good news of his kingdom and then stand back in awe as the Spirit of God moves and revolutionises people’s lives.

References

Clowney, E.P., 1988. The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross, Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Doriani, D.M., 2014. 1 Peter R.D. Phillips, P.G. Ryken, & D.M. Doriani, eds., Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

Durant, W., 1944. The Story of Civilization, Part III: Caesar and Christ, New York, Simon and Schuster.

Gibbon, E. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1, New York: The Modern Library, Random House.

Heiser, M.S., 2017. The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms, Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Himes, P.A., 2017. 1 Peter D. Mangum, E. Vince, & A. Salinger, eds., Bellinghamm, WA: Lexham Press.

Jobes, K.H., 2005. 1 Peter, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Schreiner, T.R., 2003. 1, 2 Peter, Jude, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Selwyn, E.G., 1958. The First Epistle of St. Peter, London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s.

Stedman, R.C., 1995, Body Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers

  1. It may not be clear at this stage that v. 9 can refer to how we respond to those outside the church. I’ll touch on this later. 

  2. Naturally, H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture and D.A. Carson’s Christ and Culture Revisisted are on my reading list. I’m sure I’ll get to them eventually. 

  3. ‘Be like-minded, understanding, showing brotherly love, compassionate, and humble.’ Such qualities are essential for a truly Christian life, but how do they compare with the values of the society in which we live? These are qualities that presume a high commitment to the stability and well-being of the community. Modern Western concepts of individualism tend to trump commitment to community. Where commitment is found, it is often evaluated in terms of individual needs. An individual whose needs are no longer met by a community terminates the ‘commitment’ and seeks a new and more obliging group. Such thinking runs counter to the qualities of 1 Peter 3:8. Like-mindedness implies a willingness to conform one’s goals, needs, and expectations to the purposes of the larger community. (Jobes 2005: 215–216).

  4. Harmony and humility belong together, for the primary means by which harmony is disrupted is pride and self-assertion. Sympathy and compassion are closely related and even hard to distinguish from each other. Brotherly love is the middle term, showign that it is the most important of all the virtues and that the other virtues are embraced in the call to love one another as family. (Schreiner 2003: 163)

    At first glance, Peter seems to list five random virtues. On closer inspection, a pattern emerges. The first and last are mental or intellectual, the second and fourth are emotional, and brotherly love stands at the center. Further, all these traits have a social dimension. Together, they keep relationships healthy. (Doriani 2014: 126)

    Peter names five characteristics of the life that brings blessing: like-mindedness, sypathy, brotherly love, compassion, and humility. These are not virtues chosen at random. Like the fingers of the hand, they radiate from one centre and work together. The key to them all is the love of grace: they reflect the grace, love, and compassion of Jesus Christ. The teaching and example of Jesus have become the teaching of the apostles. (Clowney 1988: 137)

  5. While 3:9 is no doubt directed primarily to insult and abuse from outside the Christian community, it also answers to the problem of strife within the church when believers lodge charges and countercharges against each other. (Jobes 2005: 217)

    Although Peter is primarily addressing insults and verbal abuse coming from those outside the church, sadly too often members within the Christian community become entangled in the downward spiral of insult for insult and evil for evil. The psalm cited is a reminder that God’s face has always been against those who do evil, whether that evil is perpetrated by members of the covenant community or by those outside. Therefore, the Christian’s choice in how to respond to others in every situation is a choice whether to be blessed by God or opposed by God. Each such choice is a microcosm of life or death. (ibid: 224)

  6. https://web.archive.org/web/20170920073309/http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/2071.0~2016~Main%20Features~Religion%20Data%20Summary~25 

  7. http://www.ncls.org.au/download/doc4485/FactSheet10.03.03-WhyInnovationIsNeededInChurchLife.pdf 

  8. I’m not going to try to prove this statement here because I have neither the evidence nor the time. We’ll call it a hunch for now and perhaps I’ll revisit it more seriously in the future. 

  9. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13, NIV))

  10. https://www.foxsports.com.au/tennis/australian-tennis-legend-margaret-court-protests-against-qantas-for-promoting-for-samesex-marriage/news-story/c0573fe58324203a4b57d8f2d0a1fa16 

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