The Revised Version is better than the KJV when reading 1Peter 1:17: “If you call on him as Father…” Jesus said: “When you pray…” (Luke 11:2) where the implication is one of obligation not supposition. Therefore, in 1Peter 1:17 it is not **if** we call upon our Father (as in the KJV), but, rather, **since** we call upon him as our Father (as in the RV), we owe him respect (Malachi 1:6). That is, since we call upon him as Father—he who judges without partiality—we need to live out our lives in fear, i.e. showing respect for him, so that his name isn’t blasphemed among unbelievers due to unfaithful and evil behavior on our part (cf. Romans 2:23-24).
The command “do as I say, not as I do” may have come from a loving parent, but it doesn’t come from God. God not only created us to be images—we almost always do as we see others do—but he created us to be **his** images (Genesis 1:27). That is, just as God reveals himself to be, so we are to image him in his creation. And, more to the point in 1Peter 1:17, since we call upon God to act on our behalf as our Father, we need to pass the time of our life on earth with respect—i.e. be holy just as our Father is holy (1Peter 1:15-16). God is not a respecter of persons. In other words, just because I acknowledge him as Father, if I don’t duly represent him as his child, why should he treat me any differently than he does those who don’t believe him and stand in rebellion against him?
Peter reminds us that we are called out of the world. The time of our “sojourn” (1Peter 1:17) reminds us that we are ‘strangers’ here and need to behave as though we are not in agreement with those rebelling against God. In other words, act like his representatives—strangers, pilgrims, in the world, and ambassadors of another country. Being a child of God carries with it its own responsibilities. If I preach the Gospel, which I have been given responsibility to do (1Peter 1:9), then I need to submit myself to what the Gospel claims is true. The “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy doesn’t work with God. If I ask him to bless my efforts in reaching out to the world that is in rebellion against him, what “I do” before God must be equivalent to “what I say” to the world in Gospel terms. Otherwise, God will number me with the unbelievers (Luke 12:45-46), and the trial which was meant to strengthen my faith in and love for God (1Peter 1:8, 13), will turn to my undoing (Psalm 11:4-6).
Peter tells us to remember that we were not “redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold” (1Peter 1:18). What he means is that, although riches were able to be used to ransom a brother from bondage to man (Leviticus 25:47-52), they are not able to be used to ransom a brother from the bondage of death (Psalm 49:6-10). Peter’s argument concerned the type of bondage that led to death, and riches simply have no power over such a thing (cf. Isaiah 52:3). In other words, man has no power to rescue himself or a loved one from its grip, but God rescues his people from our bondage to sin without using riches (cf. Isaiah 52:3).
A man’s behavior is rooted in those from whom he is descended. Whether this concerns his attachment to the things of this world or the empty rituals of his religion that promise what they cannot deliver, everyone receives these things from their fathers—the parent or the community of which his is a part. The Jews, Peter’s intended readers, were no different from the gentiles among whom they lived, and whose behavior they judged. The fathers of Judaism walked after the imagination of their own hearts and burned incense to Baalim (Jeremiah 9:13-14). God warned them, but they didn’t take it to heart (Ezekiel 20:18, 21). Paul also claimed that the Jews’ behavior didn’t agree with what they claimed to be true, and thus the name of God was blasphemed among the heathen because of them (Romans 2:22-24).
The believer is ransomed or redeemed by Jesus – through his blood / death (1Peter 1:19; Luke 24:21; Titus 2:14). Jesus told us that he has given his life as our ransom (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; cf. 1Timothy 2:6). He was sufficient to pay the whole price. In view of this, we need to act accordingly. Ask ourselves “what would Jesus do?” (WWJD), and then do it, as his image in this ungodly world.