Setting

Having counseled specific groups on submission in the last passage, Peter summed up his exhortations with the command to do good and shun evil. In this passage, Peter continues this thought and and speaks to all believers about the blessings and significance of suffering for doing good. He urges us to remember and imitate Christ, who is the perfect model of suffering for righteousness’ sake.

Key Verse

(3:18)

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Outline

  • Suffering for Doing Good
    (3:13-17)
  • Christ’s Suffering
    (3:18-22)
  • Living for God’s Will
    (4:1-6)
  • Watchfulness, Love, and Service
    (4:7-11)

Keywords/Phrases

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Segment Analysis

  • 3:13-17

    1a.

    According to verses 13 and 14, what are two kinds of fear?

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    The fear of punishment for wrongdoing (13). The fear of suffering for righteousness’ sake (14).

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  • 1b.

    Why should we not be afraid?

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    If we do what is good, we do not need to fear punishment. But even if we are persecuted for doing good, we have a clear conscience towards God and know that He will judge everyone justly. If we commit ourselves to God, we will not be afraid of the persecution of men (cf. 2:23).

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  • 2.

    What does it mean to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts? What does this have to do with suffering?

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    To sanctify the Lord God in our hearts means acknowledging and honoring Christ as Lord in our hearts. Even though unbelievers may refuse to listen to our witnessing or persecute us, we should not become discouraged and lose the hope within us. Instead, we need to always hold fast to our faith in the Lord in our hearts.

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  • 3a.

    What must we be always ready for?

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    “We must always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear” (15).

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  • 3b.

    What lessons can we learn from verse 15 about witnessing? Explain the meaning of “with meekness and fear.”

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    1. We must always be ready to give a defense when others question our beliefs. This requires thorough knowledge and conviction of our own beliefs.
    2. When we defend the faith, we should do so with meekness and fear. Rather than disputing with unbelievers about our differences in view, we should present our beliefs with gentleness and reverence so that God’s name can be glorified through our behavior.

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  • 3c.

    In what ways is the hope within you evident to those around you, so that they ask you the reason for your hope?

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  • 3d.

    Have you been asked about the reason for your hope and were not able to answer? What does that tell you about your faith?

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  • 3:18-22

    4.

    Based on this paragraph, what lessons can we learn from Christ’s sufferings?

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    Through His suffering in the flesh, Christ accomplished the work of salvation. Although He was put to death in the flesh, He was made alive by the Spirit and received power and authority. In the same way, it is good for us to suffer for righteousness’ sake, for through our suffering God’s will is accomplished. We will also be “made alive by the Spirit” to live a life that pleases God (cf 4:1-2).

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  • 5.

    Explain the meaning of Christ preaching to the spirits in prison.

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    If we understand the spirits to be unbelievers who were alive when they heard the preaching, then “the spirits in prison” would refer to unbelievers who were in spiritual bondage. If the spirits were those who had already died when Christ “preached” to them, then the preaching of Christ may be interpreted as Christ’s proclamation of condemnation on the unbelievers.

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  • 6.

    How does baptism save us?

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    Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, baptism allows us to have a clear conscience towards God (21). Baptism in Jesus’ name washes away our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). God, who raised Jesus from the dead for our justification, also raises us up to life through baptism (Col 2:12; Rom 6:4; Tit 3:5).

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  • 4:1-6

    7.

    How does suffering equip us to do the will of God?

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    “He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” (1). The lusts of the flesh can cripple us and make us unable to submit to God’s will (Rom 8:7). But suffering trains us to depend on the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body. Consequently, we will no longer be controlled by sinful desires but have the strength to carry out God’s will.

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  • 8a.

    When a Christian chooses to live for the will of God, what kind of suffering will come to him? Have you gone through such suffering?

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    When unbelievers see that we do not indulge in fleshly desires with them, they will think it strange and slander or ridicule us (4).

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  • 8b.

    Why should we not fear such suffering?

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    We know that we all have to give an account to God at the judgment (5). Regardless of how others may insult us, whether God is pleased with us is ultimately what matters.

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  • 9.

    Explain verse 6.

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    For the salvation of the soul from divine judgment, the gospel was preached to those believers who are now dead. These believers were condemned to physical death by the world but are alive to God spiritually.

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  • 4:7-11

    10.

    How does verse 7 connect this paragraph to the previous paragraph?

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    The word “but” tells us that even though we may suffer for our faith in the present (the theme of the previous paragraph), the end of all things is at hand and the just Judge will soon come with punishment and reward.

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  • 11a.

    In view of the end of all things, what should our prayers be like?

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    We must be serious and watchful in our prayers. This means that we must be spiritually alert and not be deceived by the pleasures and anxieties of life (Lk 21:34-36; Rom 13:11-14; 1Thess 5:4-8). With our mind focused on God, we need to devote ourselves to constant prayer, repenting of our sins and seeking spiritual growth so we may be ready to meet the Lord.

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  • 11b.

    What reason does Peter give for the need for love? Explain your answer.

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    Love will cover a multitude of sins. This does not mean that love condones or conceals sins, but that love enables Christians to forgive one another and bear with one another. Such attitude, which removes grumblings and arguments, is most important in light of the coming judgment (cf. Jas 5:9).

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  • 11c.

    What evidence is there that shows we love our brethren deeply?

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    The evidence of loving our brethren deeply is to show hospitality to one another (9). It is easy to love our brethren when we share common interests or opinions. The test occurs when there are misunderstandings and grievances. Yet love, covering a multitude of sins, should unite brethren together in this situation. If both parties remember the love of Christ, who laid down His life for us and loved us to the end (Jn 13:1), we will embrace our brethren with the same love.
    Further evidence of deep love for one another is in serving one another (10). Christ “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). He devoted His life to meeting the needs of others and bringing the lost back to God. If we love our brethren, we will likewise dedicate our lives to serving them.

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  • 12a.

    What gifts have your received from God? Have you used them to serve others? If so, have you done so “without grumbling” (9)?

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  • 12b.

    What is the goal of our service?

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    The goal of our ministry is that “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (11).

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  • 12c.

    How can we serve “as with the ability which God supplies”? In other words, how can God’s ability rather than our own effort be evident to others in our service so God can be glorified?

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    Be guided by the Spirit of God to speak the words of God (Jn 16:13). We must minister for the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 4:14), which is what Jesus did during His ministry. Do not make ourselves stand out in reputation, but imitate Christ’s example of humility (Phil 2:7). Remind ourselves that God has supplied us with a measure of faith, and as a result should not think ourselves too highly than we ought to think (Rom 12:3). Be determined to obey the will of the Father (Phil 2:8).

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