Bible Class Notes on 1 Peter 3:8-9 | Notes on the Petrine Epistles
Peter concludes this section. He does so by using “finally.”
Peter had instructed these Christians to “maintain good conduct among the Gentiles,” and he proceeded to tell them how to do so:
- Christians are to submit to the government.
- Slaves are to submit to their masters.
- Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to value their wives.
- Finally, Christians are to follow certain general ethical instructions.
He concludes this section by involving all Christians: “all of you.” The other instructions had been aimed at specific groups. Yet, there were certain behaviors required of all Christians.
These Christians are to have “unity of spirit.” “Unity of spirit” meant that these Christians were to be like-minded and have a similar disposition. This does not mean that Christian must agree on every single thing. Yet, this does mean that Christians must work together and be “on the same page.” This refers to Christians’ being agreeable to one another and sensitive to one another’s concerns.
Being united is a mark of Christianity. “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement gran you to live in such harmony with one another” (Rom 15:5). “Agree with one another” (2 Cor 13:11). “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil 2:2).
These Christians were to have sympathy. “Sympathy” does not refer to just sharing grief or pain but the term refers to the sharing a whole range of emotions. The idea is that Christians need to share experiences.
The New Testament teaches Christians to be sympathetic. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15). Jesus is sympathetic: “We have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). “You have compassion on the prisoners” (Heb 10:34).
These Christians were to love their brethren. Peter artfully places this admonition in the middle of the others. In reality, love for the brethren sums of this verse. All Peter’s imperatives center around loving brothers. In Greek literature, this term often denoted love between actual siblings. The term is appropriate in speaking of Christians, for they are brethren in Christ. “But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess 4:9). Love is to be the identifying mark of Christians: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).
These Christians were to have a tender heart. Having a tender heart refers to being compassionate. This would show that a Christian cared so deeply about others’ problems that they became his own. Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Is 53:4). Christians must do for fellow Christians something similar to what Jesus did. Although Christians obviously cannot totally alleviate the pain and sorrow of others, they must show love and compassion.
Jesus was a compassionate Person. “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him” (Mk 1:41). “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mk 6:34). “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat” (Mk 8:2).
Since Jesus showed compassion, his followers must show compassion as well. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted” (Eph 4:32). “But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 Jn 3:17).
These Christians were to have a humble mind. Many Christians do not understand humility. Many Christians pretend that in order to be “humble” they must consider themselves second-class citizens, as though they don’t really matter. Such an attitude is not true humility. True humility is:
- A willingness to take a lower place.
- A willingness to do a less exalted service.
- A willingness to put the interests of others before your own interests.
Jesus showed humility throughout his life on earth. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:29). “And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8).
Christians in this century must be humble. “With all lowliness and meekness” (Matt 11:29). “do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourselves” (Phil 2:3). This verse really forms a good definition of humility. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness” (Col 3:12). “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5).
These Christians were not to retaliate when they were accused. The Christians in Peter’s time were facing great trials. Peter spoke of “various trials” (1:6) these Christians had to face. Some were apparently speaking against Christians as wrongdoers (2:12).
When these Christians were so opposed, they were so opposed, they could not “return evil for evil or reviling for reviling.” When Jesus was on trial, he did not return evil for evil (Matt 27:11-14). Jesus taught that we cannot return evil for evil. “If any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:39). “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44).
Christians are not simply to remain quiet; they are to bless. “Bless” means to bestow good upon someone. Christians, therefore, were called upon to bestow good upon those who persecuted them. In blessing those who persecuted them, Christians would possibly help that person find salvation. Blessing someone probably has an idea similar to praying for that person; it’s difficult to remain angry at someone for whom you pray.
“Blessing” persecutors is a Christian quality. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Rom 12:14). “When reviled, we bless” (1 Cor 4:12). “Bless those who curse you” (Lk 6:28a).
These Christians could and should bless those who persecuted them because they had already received a blessing from God. Christians have been called to receive a blessing. Therefore, they should bestow blessings upon those who persecute them.