Grace Toward Our Enemies

Notes for May 13, 2018
1 Peter 3:8-22

Biblical Background

  • List of virtues: It was a common practice for both Greek and Hebrew ethicists and moralists to create lists of virtues in their writing. We see this in verses 8-9 of this passage.

  • Psalm 34:12-16: Peter quotes this portion of the Psalm as he encourages Christians to turn from evil and to live righteous and holy lives.

  • God not only hears the righteous but he opposes those who are evil: It is an important biblical truth that God is active in this world opposing evil, and encouraging the righteous. God is not passively watching like the God of Deism, but rather is taking action in His way, all the while honoring and respecting the freewill that He gave all human beings to choose to good or evil.

  • A Literary Chiasm: Peter uses a literary tool called the chiasm in verses 3:16- 4:2.

A – Slanderers will be ashamed (3:16)

B- Suffering though innocent God’s Will (3:17)

C- Christ suffered for unjust (3:18)

D- Christ triumphed over evil spirits (3:19)

E- Noah saved through water (3:20)

E- You are saved through water (3:21)

D- Christ triumphed over evil spirits (3:22)

C- Christ suffered (4:1a)

B- Suffering is God’s will (4:1b-2)

A- Slanderers will be ashamed (4:3-5)

  • Jesus preached to the spirits in prison: In the Apostle’s Creed we proclaim our belief that Jesus “descended into hell.” This part of the creed is based on 1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6 which states, “For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” Acts 2:27 and Romans 10:7 also inform this part of the creed. Most evangelical scholars believe that “spirits in prison” are either fallen angels or sinful people who were in “Hades” or “Hell” – separated from God upon death, but preached to by Jesus following His crucifixion – the act by which salvation was then made possible to all who put their trust in Him – both pre- and post-crucifixion. The predominant view of this text is that Jesus proclaimed his triumph over evil to the fallen angels in hell. Others believe that Jesus preached to the dead in hell – a view held by many church fathers. A minority view believes this means Jesus preached through Noah to the people in Noah’s day (view of most of the Reformers). This is a difficult passage that has some mystery to it.

  • Salvation through Water: This is a common symbol in Scripture – Noah saved by ark from flood; people of Israel saved through parting water of the Red Sea; Baptism – a symbol of spiritual salvation.

  • Right Hand of God: The place of honor at a table in the biblical world was just to the right of the host. Thus, to be at the right hand of God means that one has been put in the most honored place. Jesus, the Son of God, sits at the right hand of God the Father, a symbol of their unity, and the honor given to Jesus – a place of authority and power as well.

  • Authorities and Powers: The Bible consistently speaks of angels, demons and other created beings in the spiritual realm who rule and fight over nations and regions of the world. See the book of Daniel for this and Revelation.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to repay evil and insults with a blessing? What does this look like?

  2. Share examples in which you have seen this done. What was the end result?

  3. Why is it hard to repay evil and insults with a blessing? How can we develop this discipline and practice?

  4. How does Peter’s quote of Psalm 34 support the verses in 2:11 – 3:9?

  5. What stands out to you in this Psalm?

  6. How would you describe God’s role on this earth in regards to evil and good people, angels and principalities?

  7. What does it mean to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”?

  8. Do you feel equipped to share the Hope of Jesus with all who ask? If so, how have you been equipped? If not, what do you think you need to be able to be prepared to give an answer to all who ask?

  9. What should be our attitude when sharing our faith with non-Christians?

  10. Share good examples in which you’ve been able to share the hope of Christ and give an answer for your faith.

  11. What reasons do we have for hope even in the midst of suffering?

  12. How does Christ’s example encourage us when in the midst of suffering and pain?

  13. How do you hope to live out this passage this week?