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Blessing Evildoers

26 Dec
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It goes without saying that Peter isn’t trying to end his epistle in 1Peter 3:8, so what does he mean with the word: Finally…? He must be concluding an argument he had begun previously, so knowing where to look seems profitable at this point to our understanding his epistle. Elsewhere, Peter mentioned that his readers had been undergoing a great trial of their faith (1Peter 1:6-7). I had earlier argued that since this trial had come to five Roman provinces at the same time (cf. 1Peter 1:1), it must have a single source. Moreover, that source must have had enough authority or influence to produce trouble for believers in Jesus over the whole of Asia Minor. Finally, since such a trial or persecution didn’t come from the Emperor, Nero (for then the trouble would have been a bloody persecution as occurred later at Rome), the only other authority who had such commanding influence to affect so many believers in Christ was Annas, the high priest at Jerusalem.[1]

‘Be like-minded, compassionate, loving as brothers, tender-hearted and kind’ are commands coming in the context of Peter’s readers going through a great trial of their faith, even persecution. These commands seem to come as a conclusion, even in answer to what Peter began saying in 1Peter 2:1.

Whereas his readers were treated maliciously, Peter wants the brethren to put themselves in the place of their persecutors, to understand their motives. Jesus said people would persecute his followers, thinking they did God a service (John 16:2). How should a believer react to this? Peter tells us in his following remarks. Whereas he mentions in 1Peter 2:1 that some had been setting traps for the brethren (guile –G1388), Peter wants his readers to be compassionate towards them. Although their persecutors behaved as hypocrites, pretending to be brethren (1Peter 2:1), Peter wants his readers to treat them with brotherly love (1Peter 3:8). Even though some people bore ill will (envy – G5355) toward the brethren, seeking to ruin them (1Peter 2:1), the brethren were to be tender-hearted toward their persecutors (1Peter 3:8), and in place of being defamed and slandered (1Peter 2:1), the brethren were instead to show kindness (1Peter 3:8). In other words don’t be defeated in the battle, but overcome their enemies by doing good (cf. Romans 12:21).

So, the blessing that Peter mentioned in verse-9 is described in verse-8. Believers need to behave this way, because this is our calling (1Peter 3:9). Jesus behaved this way, and he is our example (1Peter 2:21). We are to bless others with the blessing with which we have been blessed by God (cf. 2Corinthians 1:4). Because he has already blessed us, we need to bless others. We are no more deserving of the blessing with which God has blessed us, than our persecutors are of the blessing with which we bless them.

In 1Peter 3:10 Peter writes to those of us who delight in loving life and living out good days. We are not to use our speech as a tool for harm, i.e. don’t try to trip up or trick (guile – G1388) someone else into reacting in a manner that would result in his harm. Rather (1Peter 3:11) believers need to turn away from evil and demonstrate what is beneficial to all, seeking peace, even pursuing it with all our heart. The eyes of the Lord are upon us for blessing. That is, he really wants to grant our heart’s desire when we pray; but his face is against those who pursue evil. Therefore, if we truly desire to please God, we need to behave in a manner that glorifies him. He blesses people even when it is not deserved (cf. Matthew 5:45; Psalm 145:9), so we should do likewise. It is or reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2).

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[1] See my study: The Importance of Being Different

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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Epistles of Peter

 

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