More Precious Than Gold
An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the first letter of Peter
This commentary has been through Advanced Theological Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
Peter wrote this letter. He was one of the 12 *apostles. His name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter (John 1:42). ‘Peter’ means ‘a rock’ or ‘a stone’. In *New Testament times many people could speak and read the *Greek language. Peter wrote this letter in the *Greek language. This meant that the good news about Jesus could spread easily.
A man called Silas (sometimes the Bible calls him Silvanus) helped Peter to write the letter (see 5:12). In those days, some men were expert writers. They helped people to write their letters in the proper way. Peter wrote this letter about 30 years after Jesus returned to heaven.
In the first verse, Peter lists 5 countries. Most of these are in the country that we now call Turkey. On the day of *Pentecost (Acts 2) people from three of these countries were visiting the city of Jerusalem. Some of these people may have become Christians there. Perhaps they went home and started new churches. Peter wrote to *Jews and Gentiles who became Christians. Gentiles are people who are not *Jews. They did not believe in the true God. Peter gave the letter to someone who travelled to the main churches in these areas. This person read the letter aloud to the Christians. Then people copied it and sent it to all the smaller churches near to them.
Peter wants to encourage Christians who are suffering for Christ. Although Christians might suffer in this life, they will not suffer for ever. This world is not their real home. Heaven is their real home. One day they will live with God in heaven and share God’s *glory.
Peter also wants his readers to understand the *grace of God. He wants every Christian to know what God has done for them. He wants them to learn more about God.
This letter is very practical. When a person becomes a Christian his life changes. (‘his’ here refers to both men and women, not just to men.) Peter tells his readers how to live a good Christian life. Peter was with Jesus for about three years. He saw all that Jesus did. He heard all that Jesus said. Peter is writing to encourage Christians to live like Jesus.
In those days people used to start letters with a greeting. This letter therefore starts with a greeting. The greeting tells us who is writing the letter. It also tells us who will read the letter.
‘I am Peter, an *apostle of Jesus Christ’. Peter was one of the 12 *apostles whom Jesus chose to be with him (Mark 3:14). Jesus chose them to be special leaders. They taught people about Jesus’ life and words. Therefore, Peter’s letter comes with the authority of God.
Peter is writing to Christians. He says that they are like foreigners. He means that wherever they live in this world, that place is not their true home. Heaven is the true home of Christians (Philippians 3:20).
Acts 2:1-13 gives an account of the day of *Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem. *Jews had gone there from many different countries. These included Pontus, Cappadocia and Asia. So, some of the people to whom Peter is writing may have been there and heard him *preach about Jesus.
This verse mentions all three members of the Trinity. The Trinity means that there is one God who is three persons. The three are God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit. We cannot understand the Trinity. However, it is very important to know that Christians *worship one God, not three different Gods.
· God the Father chooses people. God knows more than the facts about each man or woman. He knows about each of us in a personal way. God is a loving Father in heaven. God chose his people before he created the world (Ephesians 1:4).
· God the Holy Spirit works in these people. He makes them holy, so that they obey Jesus. To be ‘holy’ means to belong to God and to be like him.
· God the Son (Jesus) died on the cross, so that he could forgive all *sins.
‘By Jesus’ blood’ refers to Jesus’ death on the cross. In the *Old Testament, the priest splashed blood on people when they promised to obey God. The blood came from a special animal that the priest *sacrificed (Exodus 24:3-8). Jesus died as a *sacrifice to make each person clean from *sin. People *sin when they do things against God or other people. When a person becomes a Christian, God forgives all his or her past *sins. But Christians do not always obey God. They need to ask God to forgive them every day.
*Grace is the help and protection that God gives to his people. *Grace is a gift from God. We do not deserve it and cannot earn it. God gives *grace because he is generous. The *grace of God comes through Jesus.
‘Peace’. In the *Hebrew language this word is ‘shalom’. It is a traditional *blessing in the *Old Testament (Numbers 6:24-26), and among *Jewish people today. Peace is not just the opposite of war or noise. It is to have God’s gift of a quiet heart. This involves every part of our life and relationships. No one can have true peace without *grace.
Christians have already received *grace and peace. But Peter prays that they may know God’s *grace and peace more and more.
Peter thought about all that God has done for people through Jesus. Then he *praised God. The more that people understand what a wonderful *salvation God has planned for them, the more they will love him. Then they will realise how great and good he is.
‘*Lord Jesus Christ’ is the full title of Jesus. ‘*Lord’ means that he has complete authority. He is head over everything. ‘Jesus’ is his human name. The name Jesus means ‘God is the one who saves’. Jesus saves people from their *sins (Matthew 1:21). ‘Christ’ is the *Greek word for the *Hebrew word *Messiah, which means ‘the one whom God has anointed’. To ‘anoint’ means to mark a person with oil. It is a sign. It shows that God has chosen that person for some special service. In the *Old Testament they anointed kings (1 Samuel 16:13) and *prophets (1 Kings 19:16) and priests (Exodus 28:1) with oil. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38). Jesus is King over all kings (Revelation 17:14). He is the great chief Priest (Hebrews 7-8). He is God’s great *Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15; Luke 13:33; Acts 3:22).
Many of Peter’s readers were suffering because they were Christians. So he reminds them of the reasons why they should *praise God. God has shown them great *mercy. Before they knew God, they lived a bad life. They deserved punishment. God shows *mercy when he forgives bad people instead of punishing them. Then he brings them into his family. He does this because he loves them very much.
When God gives people new life, they come alive in their spirit. They become members of God’s family. They are Christians. Sometimes the Bible calls this process ‘the new birth’. In John 3:1-21 Jesus explained this to a man whose name was Nicodemus.
To have *hope in God is to expect all that God has promised to Christians for the future. We cannot guess what God will do. We have to trust him. This *hope is a living *hope because God raised Jesus from death. Christians believe that God will raise them from death too.
An *inheritance is what becomes yours by law after the death of the present owner. It is usually land or property. In the *Old Testament, the *inheritance often refers to the country of Canaan. God gave Canaan to the *Jews who were the people whom he chose (Numbers 26:54-56; Joshua 11:23). In the *New Testament, *inheritance means all that people receive from God as his children, because of what Jesus has done for them. This includes *eternal life now (John 5:24) and a new body when Jesus comes again (1 Corinthians 15:35-44). God will also give rewards to Christians in heaven (Matthew 5:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Revelation 22:12). But we do not know what these rewards will be. Christians receive just a small part of God’s promises in this life. They will receive his promises completely in heaven. Christians go to heaven when they die. If Jesus returns while they are still living in this world, he will take them straight to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). God gives the Holy Spirit to each Christian. This proves that he will keep his promise (Ephesians 1:14).
The Christian’s *inheritance is not like anything in this world. Peter described it in three ways.
(1) It will never wear out or get old. Nothing can destroy it.
(2) It will not spoil or go bad. *Sin cannot affect it.
(3) It will not lose its beauty. It is not like metal that stops shining. Nor is it like a light that goes out.
God keeps this *inheritance safe in heaven. God does this for each person who believes his promises.
‘Protects’ is a military word that has two meanings. It means to guard from attack and to prevent escape. Peter wants to encourage Christians who are suffering for being Christians. God’s power guards their spirits. As they trust in God, his power makes them strong. Then they will not run away from being a Christian. All Christians must continue to trust God until Jesus comes again. This is when they will receive their complete *salvation (the *inheritance in verse 4).
Peter and the other *apostles saw Jesus go back to heaven (Acts 1:9-11). They heard the *angels say that Jesus would return. They also heard Jesus teach about this (Matthew 16:27). No one knows when it will happen. Therefore, Christians must be ready. They should live good lives as they wait for that important day (1 Thessalonians 4:14-5:11).
When Christians understand what Peter wrote in verses 3-5, it makes them very happy. They have joy deep in their spirits. But Christians may suffer troubles in their lives. These troubles make them sad for a little while. But they will not be sad for ever.
It is easy to be a Christian when life is favourable. But Christians often have troubles in their lives. God uses these troubles to make their *faith in God strong and pure. To have *faith in God means to trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son. James 1:2-4 says that troubles help people to grow up as strong Christians. So they should have joy even when they have troubles.
In this world gold is very valuable. When someone has *faith in God, this is much more valuable to God than gold. Gold is a metal. It shines even when it is not pure. If you mix gold with other metals, it still looks like pure gold. If you melt gold in a pot in a hot fire, you can find out whether the gold really is pure. As it gets hotter, any other metals or bits of dirt rise to the surface. Then someone can remove them. Peter said that troubles in a person’s life are like this fire. When people have troubles, they see the bad behaviour that hides inside themselves. They should stop their bad behaviour and trust God. If they do this, then their *faith in God is genuine.
‘Your genuine *faith will bring *praise, *glory and honour to Jesus when he comes again’. This means that both Jesus and the person with genuine *faith will receive *praise, *glory and honour. We shall not understand some of God’s purposes in this life. God will *reveal them only at the final judgement.
Peter had been in the company of Jesus for three years. But Peter is writing to people who have never seen Jesus. They love Jesus without seeing him. To ‘believe in’ Jesus means to trust and obey him, although we cannot see him. It means more than believing facts about him. People who believe in Jesus have joy in their spirits. This joy comes from God. No one can explain it in words because it is too wonderful.
We understand *salvation in three ways: in the past, in the present, and in the future.
· *Salvation in the past, when people first become Christians (verse 3).
· *Salvation in the present, as they learn to trust God each day and to receive his help (the first part of verse 5).
· *Salvation in the future, when they will receive all of God’s promises in heaven (verses 4-5).
These *prophets of God lived before the birth of Jesus Christ. The ‘Spirit of Christ’ is another name for Christ or *Messiah or the Spirit of God. (In Romans 8:9-10 Paul, too, uses all these names to mean the same). The *prophets brought messages from God to the people. The messages are in the *Old Testament. For example, Isaiah 53 is about the *Messiah (Christ) and how he would suffer. The *prophets wanted to know about whom they wrote. They could not understand all the things that God told them. They did not know when these things would happen. They wanted to find out more. The message in verse 11 is about the *glories that would follow when Christ rose from death. This should encourage all Christians who suffer. All that the *prophets spoke about Jesus came true. Therefore, Christians can trust the Bible.
Verse 12 says that even *angels do not understand everything about God’s plans. They are eager to learn more.
In verses 3-6, Peter has been teaching his readers what *salvation means. He wants them to understand what God has done for them through Jesus. But to know these things only in their mind is not enough. What people believe will always affect the way that they live. So how should Christians live their lives? In verses 13-16, Peter writes very clearly. He tells his readers how God wants them to behave as Christians.
Christians must prepare their minds, so that they can obey God. People’s minds are important. What they think about affects the way that they behave. (Look at Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.) They must have a clear mind about how to live as Christians. To have a clear mind means that they must not be like a person who gets drunk. People get drunk when they drink too much beer or wine. That confuses their minds. They are not ready to act as they should. They cannot control themselves in the proper way.
When Jesus returns he will give great *blessings. To *hope means to expect something that God has promised.
Children often look like their parents and behave like them. Christians are now children of God, because God is their Father in heaven. God is holy. God wants his children to be like him. They must have his character in their lives. To be holy means to be completely separate from all *sin and evil. It also means to belong to God alone. God commands Christians to be holy. The Holy Spirit makes them holy (verse 2). This does not mean that Christians can live their lives completely without *sin. This will only happen in heaven. But with God’s help they must now try hard to avoid all *sin and evil in every part of their lives.
Many times in this letter, Peter tells his readers what the Bible says. These verses are from the part of the Bible that we call the *Old Testament. Men wrote down all of the *Old Testament before the birth of Jesus. Like all *Jewish boys, Peter had to learn and remember many *Old Testament verses. This command to be holy is very important. God says it five times in the book of Leviticus (see 11:44; 11:45; 19:2; 20:7; 20:26).
Christians can pray to God as their Father. But he does not deal with other people in a different way. He does not judge people by what their faces look like. Instead, God judges all people by his standard of what is good and evil. God sees how every person lives. To fear God does not mean to be afraid of him. It means that Christians should respect and obey God because he is great and holy. Peter again reminds Christians that they are strangers in this world. Their true home is in heaven.
Peter then compares their past and present lives. In the past, they did not know how to live for God (see verse 14). People taught them wrong things. Nobody in their society knew the right way to live.
‘God has bought you’. Sometimes a person pays money so that a slave or a person in prison can have freedom. God paid so that people can have freedom from their life of *sin and death. He did not pay with money, but with the precious blood of his only Son, Jesus. Leviticus 17:14 says that the life of an animal is in its blood. So, the ‘precious blood of Christ’ refers to his death on the cross. To be ‘precious’ means to have great value and honour. Romans 6:23 says, ‘The wages of *sin is death’. Jesus died to forgive *sins. Christians will now live for ever and their spirit will never die.
Long ago the *Jews were slaves in the country of Egypt. When the king of Egypt refused to let them go, God punished some of the people of Egypt. He sent an *angel to kill them. God told the *Jews to kill a lamb (young sheep) and put its blood on their doors. When the *angel saw the blood, he did not kill anyone in that house. The blood saved the *Jews from death. The lamb had to be perfect and have nothing wrong with its body. You can read about this in Exodus 12. Jesus lived a perfect life and never did anything wrong. So, when he died on the cross, he was like a perfect lamb.
People choose to do what is evil. Before God made the world, he knew that this would happen. So he made the plan of how Christ would save people from their evil lives. God ‘chose’ Christ. The word ‘chose’ is the same word as in verse 2. ‘In these last days’ refers to the time since Christ came to earth. We live in the last days now.
Jesus says that the only way that a person can come to God the Father is through Jesus Christ his Son (John 14:6). People of many different religions say that they believe in God. If they do not believe in Jesus, then they are not Christians. They do not have *eternal life with God. Jesus rose from death and came alive again. Later, he returned to heaven and received *glory from God (Philippians 2:6-11; Ephesians 1:20-21). Christians have a sure *hope in God because they know that he always keeps his promises.
Every day, Christians must obey the truth. This will make their life pure. Psalm 119:9 says, ‘How can a young man live a pure life? When he lives the way that God’s word tells us’. The Bible is God’s word. The Bible is truth.
As Christians become purer in their lives, they will have a deeper love for each other. They will not have evil thoughts and feelings about other Christians. To have sincere love means they really care about other people. They mean what they say. People are not sincere when they just pretend to love other people.
‘Have a sincere love for all Christians’. The *Greek word for ‘love’ in this sentence describes the love that brothers and sisters have for each other in a family. All Christians are members of one very big family. God is their Father. We have Christian brothers and sisters who live in every country of the world.
‘So continue to love each other deeply from your heart’. This word ‘love’ comes from another *Greek word that describes the pure love of God. This love always gives more than it takes. Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 13. Christians should love each other in the same way that God loves them. To love deeply means that love is strong.
The ‘word of the *Lord’ (God) can refer to the Bible. It also means the good news that God saves people from *sin through Jesus Christ. When people hear or read this good news, it is like a seed that God plants in their lives. Seeds grow into plants. However, plants die. But the seed of God’s word will never die. It gives a person new birth into God’s family.
Verses 24-25 come from Isaiah 40:6-8. All people, even great people, will die. Their physical body will die, just as grass and flowers die. But God’s words will live for ever. When people accept the word of the *Lord, their spirit will live for ever.
This verse continues from chapter 1:22. A person who loves other people will want to help them and say good things about them. The words that people use show what their spirit is like. Jesus said this in Matthew 12:33-37. All the behaviour in this verse is evil. ‘Stop’ means remove it from your life. Peter lists 5 evil things that Christians should remove from their lives.
Peter now describes the word of God as ‘pure *spiritual milk’. *Spiritual means linked to a person’s spirit and not to his or her physical body. A Christian should want God’s word as much as a baby wants milk. Milk makes a baby grow big and strong. A Christian should be eager to read and listen to God’s word. This will help them to become mature. Verse 3 comes from Psalm 34:8. ‘Tasted’ means discovered by experience. Christians realise how kind God is. This makes them hungry in their spirit and they want to know God more and more.
Peter refers back to the *Old Testament. King Solomon built a temple in the city of Jerusalem about 950 years before the birth of Jesus (BC) (1 Kings 6-8). The temple was a special building where the *Jews went to *praise God. But an army from the country of Babylon destroyed the temple in 587 BC (2 Chronicles 36:19). Some *Jews built it again about 70 years later (Ezra 3-6).
When they built the temple, they first had to prepare the ground. They cleared the area. Then they made it flat and level. They built the temple with very big stones. The *cornerstone was the first stone that they put in place. The *cornerstone is the most important stone in a building. It is a very big, square stone, which has very straight sides. The builders put it at one corner of the building. Then they built the walls in a straight line from the *cornerstone. They also built straight up on top of it. The building was then the right shape. The walls were straight. They did not lean or fall down.
In the temple, the priests offered *sacrifices to God. To make a *sacrifice they killed a special animal and burnt it on an *altar. Then they asked God to forgive the people. This was like a picture of what Jesus would do on the cross. People do not need to kill animals as a *sacrifice now. Jesus was the perfect *sacrifice. He forgave all *sins when he died. Now, people can turn to Jesus and tell him that they have *sinned. Then Jesus forgives them.
‘You come’ means to come and *worship Jesus (Hebrews 4:10). Peter called Jesus ‘the Stone that is living’. Christians do not *worship someone who is dead. Most people did not believe or trust Jesus, but God chose Jesus. The word ‘precious’ means that God gave Jesus great honour. In verses 6-8 there are three *Old Testament verses about a stone and a *cornerstone. Peter explains that those verses refer to Jesus.
Peter now says that Christians are like ‘stones that are living’. Jesus makes people alive in their spirit. God lives in Christians. He does not live in a physical building (1 Corinthians 6:19). When the builders made the temple, they built the walls with stones. God now builds a *spiritual house. He builds it with people. Here *spiritual means linked to God’s Spirit, not to a physical building. This *spiritual house is the church. When people become Christians, they become part of the church. God is holy, so he wants to live in holy people (see chapter 1:15-16).
Christians are also ‘holy priests’. The Jewish priests were the only people who could go into the temple. They worshipped God and prayed to him. They sacrificed animals to God so that he would forgive sins. They went to God on behalf of other people. Now Jesus has died on the cross to forgive sins. We do not need to sacrifice animals any more. Everyone can come to God through Jesus. ‘*Spiritual *sacrifices’ are what Christians offer to God. This shows God that they love him. In the *New Testament there are 4 ways by which Christians offer *sacrifices to God:
(1) They give their whole life to God (Romans 12:1).
(2) They *praise and thank God (Hebrews 13:15).
(3) They do good work and share what they have with other people (Hebrews 13:16).
(4) They support people who explain the good news about Jesus (Philippians 4:18).
These three verses are *Old Testament *prophecies about Jesus. A *prophecy is a message from God. Sometimes it describes what is going to happen. These verses *prophesied that God would send Jesus. But the *Jews would refuse to accept him. This happened. They did not accept Jesus as the Christ (*Messiah).
‘Zion’ is the name of the hill where the *Jews built the temple. Zion is also another name for Jerusalem. God wanted all the *Jews to believe in Jesus. He wanted them to be part of the church. In Matthew 21:42-45 Jesus says that the ‘builders’ were the *Jewish leaders. They did not accept Jesus, so they are not part of his church. Jesus is the *cornerstone. He is the head of the church. A physical *cornerstone shows how straight a building should be. In the same way, Jesus shows what the church should be like. He shows how Christians should behave.
‘He will not disappoint anyone who believes in him’. Christians should never be ashamed to say that they trust in Jesus. They know how wonderful he is. Jesus is precious to God (verse 5) and he is precious to Christians.
Many people who believe in God do not accept Jesus. But only Jesus gives *eternal life. People who choose not to follow Jesus will not be part of his *spiritual house. They ‘trip’ and ‘fall’ when they refuse to receive Jesus. This means that they will not receive *eternal life. They will not go to heaven. People like that continue to do what is wrong. They ‘do not accept God’s message’. God knew that this would happen before he sent Jesus to this world.
In the *Old Testament, God chose the *Jews to be his special people. In Exodus 19:5-6, God says that all the *Jews who obeyed his laws would be his ‘royal priests’. And they would form a ‘holy nation’. Most of them did not obey God. Now God has chosen everyone who trusts Jesus to form that special nation (1 Peter 1:2). Jesus is their king. They belong to God, because Jesus has bought them at the price of his death (1:18-19). God wants Christians to tell other people about him. Then those other people may become Christians too.
‘Darkness’ describes the time when people do not know about God. It also refers to *Satan and his works. People who come into God’s ‘wonderful light’ understand about God, because they know Jesus. Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12).
Peter compares what people were like before and after they accepted Jesus. The words of this verse come from Hosea 2:23 (Paul gives a fuller explanation in Romans 9:22-26). The *prophet Hosea had two children. God called Hosea’s daughter ‘Lo-Ruhamah’, which means ‘no *mercy’. God called Hosea’s son ‘Lo-Ammi’, which means ‘not my people’ (Hosea 1:6-9). When people accept Jesus, they receive God’s *mercy. Then they become ‘his people’, the people who belong to him. In the *Old Testament, God promised many good things to the *Jews. In verses 4-10, Peter says that God has now given these good things to the church.
In 1 Peter 1:1-2:10 Peter has been teaching about *salvation; what Jesus has done for people. Now he writes in a more practical way about how to live as a Christian.
Peter calls his readers ‘dear Christian friends’. He wants them to know that he loves them deeply. He reminds them again that their real home is not in this world (1 Peter 1:1). ‘I urge you’ is a very strong phrase. Peter wants them to stop doing the evil things that they used to do (1 Peter 1:14). They have to fight against evil desires inside them. Galatians 5:13-25 explains about this fight. Christians become strong in their spirit as they fight against such desires. The Holy Spirit will help them to become holy (chapter 1:2).
Christians should live good lives wherever they go. ‘See your good behaviour’ describes how people watch Christians. People think about how Christians behave. They do this for a long time, perhaps for many months or years. Sometimes people may wrongly accuse Christians of doing bad things. Or they may say bad things about them. Christians must always behave well, so that God will receive honour.
‘When he comes to visit’. The Bible often refers to a visit by God. God ‘visits’ when he comes to comfort or deliver (Genesis 50:24), or to punish (Exodus 32:34). His final visit will be on the day of judgement. On that day, even people who have not obeyed God will have to agree that he was right (Revelation 11:13).
Romans 13:1-2 says that all authority comes from God. So, if Christians do not obey their leaders, they are not obeying God. When Peter and Paul were writing their letters, there was a bad emperor (ruler). His name was Nero. He ruled over many countries. He was an evil and severe man. Later he killed many Christians. Usually Christians should respect and obey even bad leaders, because that is what God wants. However, people should not obey a ruler who tells them to do something evil (Acts 4:19; 5:27-29). You must also obey your leaders. A ruler appoints leaders to punish criminals and to *praise good citizens. God wants you to do what is right. Foolish people do not understand what God wants. Your good behaviour will make foolish people become silent. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 Paul says that Christians should pray for kings and all leaders.
Jesus has set Christians free from the power of *sin. But this does not mean that that they can now do anything they like. They must obey God and do what is right. But it does mean that *sin is no longer their boss. *Sin can still tempt them to do what is wrong. But they can refuse to *sin and choose to do what is right. Christians are servants who belong to God. Paul explains this in more detail in Romans 6.
When God created the world, he made people to be like him (Genesis 1:26). In John 3:16 Jesus says that God loves everyone in the world. This is why Christians must respect all people. The emperor Nero wanted all people to *worship him. Many people were afraid of him. Peter told his readers to respect rulers, but not to *worship them like God. *Worship is for God alone.
A servant is someone who works for someone else. This other person pays the servants for their work. These verses are for all people who work for an employer. Christians should behave better than other people, because they belong to Jesus.
When someone behaves badly to another person, it is natural to be bad in return. Christians have to be different, even if it is hard. In Matthew 5:44-47 Jesus tells those who follow him to love their enemies. Christians trust God because they know that he will judge all people in a fair way (chapter 1:17).
God does not make people suffer. It is wrong to punish someone who does what is right. Sometimes it is unfair when Christians suffer. Yet, God wants them to trust him. God blesses those who obey him.
Jesus did nothing wrong, yet he suffered. ‘A model for you to copy’ describes the way that a person learned to write. He copied the teacher’s writing. Christians learn how to behave when they copy what Jesus did.
This is another *Old Testament *prophecy about Jesus
This is how Jesus behaved (Matthew 27:13-14). Christians must follow his example.
These verses use words from Isaiah 53:5-6, where they are a *prophecy about Jesus Christ. Verse 24 is a simple way to explain *salvation. *Sin is everything that people have done wrong against God or other people. Romans 6:23 says that the punishment for *sin is death. People deserve to die, because they have *sinned. Jesus himself never *sinned. Jesus carried the *sins of every person, when he died on the cross. Jesus accepted the punishment for these *sins. Jesus died instead of us. When anyone confesses that he or she has *sinned, Jesus forgives them. He makes them new. Their spirit was dead, but now it is alive. They will live for ever. Now they can go on to live a holy life. Jesus can heal a person’s body and give life to their spirit.
‘You were like sheep that had lost their way’. Sheep wander over hills and fields. They are looking for grass to eat. Sheep often get lost and the *shepherd has to search for them. Before people become Christians, they are like sheep that are lost. They do not know how to live a good life. When people ‘come back to the *Shepherd’, it means that they are now going to follow Jesus Christ. He cares for them, because he is the good *shepherd (see John 10:14-15).
Marriage is very important to God. He created marriage. You can read about this at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 2:20-25. God decided that a husband is the head. His wife should respect and obey him. A husband has more responsibility than his wife has. This does not mean that men are more important than women are. God loves everyone, but he does not give all people the same work to do. When Peter wrote this letter, it was unusual for a wife to have a different religion from her husband. Some women had become Christians, but their husbands had not. Peter had to explain how a Christian wife should behave in that situation.
A Christian wife must live a holy life (1 Peter 1:15). She should respect and obey her husband, even if he still does not obey God. But sometimes her husband may tell her to do something that is a *sin. This is the only time that she must not obey him. A husband will see that his wife behaves better because she is a Christian. One day he will want to know God too, but it may take a long time. She should pray for her husband. She herself should live a holy life and trust God.
A woman can make herself beautiful on the outside. This is not wrong. However, a Christian woman should be beautiful in her spirit too. A ‘gentle spirit’ means that she does not insist that she is always right. She does not make other people do what she wants to do. She does not argue or fight. A ‘quiet spirit’ means that she is peaceful in her spirit. Then she helps other people to feel peaceful too. This is what is important to God. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that people decide what other people are like by what they look like on the outside. But God looks at their spirit. Beautiful clothes will wear out. The good things in the spirit of a person will never wear out.
What Peter wrote in verses 1-4 is not new. It is true for all women in every country at all times. Abraham and Sarah lived nearly 2000 years before Peter wrote this letter. You can read about them in Genesis chapters 11-25. Sarah was a holy woman, because she trusted God. She did what was right. ‘She called him master’ means that she respected Abraham as her husband. ‘You Christian women are daughters of Sarah’. This means that all women who trust God are part of the same *spiritual family of God. Women who obey God will not be afraid of anything.
The way that a husband behaves is also very important. Every husband should learn how to care for his wife. A man has a stronger body, so that he can protect his wife. He must not think that it is bad that she is weaker. God decided to make men and women different. But they will receive an equal *inheritance from God (Galatians 3:27-29). ‘Gift of life’ refers to their new *spiritual life. A husband should honour and respect his wife, because she is precious. If a husband behaves badly towards his wife, he does not obey God. It is difficult for people to pray together when they have *sin in their lives.
There is more teaching about husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:21-33.
Members of a family sometimes argue and fight. This can happen even in a Christian family. God does not want this. People argue because they are selfish and proud. Sometimes they do not love each other. Christians must learn to agree and not to argue. Humble people care more about other people than they care about themselves. They are kind and do not fight.
It is quite easy to behave well when people are kind. When people behave badly towards another person, that person’s natural reaction is to be bad in return. This is not what Jesus did (see chapter 2:23). Whatever other people say, a Christian should always reply with good words. God only blesses people when they do what is right.
To ‘enjoy life and have good days’ does not mean that Christians can live without troubles in their lives. It means that God will care for them, if they live the right way. They should be careful what they say. Sometimes Christians say evil things and tell lies. This causes trouble. Instead, they must do and say things that encourage peace. Then God will listen to their prayers and help them. If they live the wrong way, then God will oppose them. Their lives will not be happy.
When people do what is right, they usually receive *praise (1 Peter 2:14). Christians should always do what is right. This is important, even if they suffer for it. Christians are not to be afraid of anything. Nothing can take away the Christian’s *blessings. God cares for everyone who does what is right.
Christ is *Lord of all circumstances. He has all authority. The people who do bad things to Christians are not in control. Christians should always trust Christ. Other people will notice this. They may ask you about this ‘*hope’ that you say you have. Sure *hope in Jesus Christ is what makes Christians different from other people. You can tell them that Jesus Christ died to forgive our *sins. Christians who suffer can explain about their *inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:2-5). Christians should be kind and patient as they answer, because only God can change a person’s outlook.
‘Conscience’ is the part of people that feels guilty when they do wrong things. If people obey God, their conscience will be innocent. Christians should not worry when people oppose them. One day God will give these people a guilty conscience, because they have spoken what is wrong.
God sometimes allows even good people to suffer. They must continue to trust God. This will show that they have a genuine *faith in God (chapter 1:7). Suffering is the right punishment only when a person does evil.
This is another verse that explains the good news about Jesus in a very simple way. God is holy. *Sin separates people from God. The punishment for *sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus died to forgive *sins. Jesus himself did not *sin. But he died to take away the *sins of other people. Men killed his body, but he did not stay dead. He rose from death and God made him alive with *spiritual life. Now people can have a relationship with God again.
The story about Noah and the flood is in Genesis 6:11-9:17. Noah was a *righteous man, but the rest of the people at that time were wicked. God decided to destroy the wicked people. He told Noah to build a big boat. He was patient while Noah took many years to build it. Then God flooded the world and all the wicked people drowned. God kept 8 people safe in the boat until the flood was over. These 8 people were Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives.
In his second letter, Peter says that Noah was a *preacher of right behaviour (2 Peter 2:5). The Holy Spirit spoke through Noah. He warned the people to stop their wicked behaviour. But they would not obey God, so they died in the flood. When Christ rose from death, he went and *preached to the spirits in prison. The ‘prison’ refers to the place of dead people.
*Baptism does not make someone a Christian. Their *faith in Jesus Christ does. But *baptism is a sign of what has happened. The water is like the flood that washed away all the evil in the days of Noah. The boat is like *salvation that saves people from death. A Christian comes out of the *baptism water and begins a new life. When people put their trust in Jesus, God forgives their *sins. That takes away their bad conscience. Because Jesus rose from death, he gives *eternal life to those who trust him.
God lives in heaven. God is a spirit. He does not have a body. Jesus is now ‘at the right hand of God’. This means that Jesus has the same power and authority as God. Even powerful *angels with great authority are under his control.
Peter now continues what he started to say in chapter 3:18. Christ is the model. He lived to do what God wanted. Christians must do the same, even if they suffer for it as Jesus did (chapter 2:21-23). They will change the way they think and feel too. When people suffer as Christians, it shows how much they love God. They want to obey God and do what is right. They do not want to *sin any more. Romans 6:6-7 says that, when people become Christians, Jesus frees them from the power of *sin. They must make use of this power not to *sin and do what is right.
Peter is writing this letter to *Jews and Gentiles who have become Christians. ‘Gentile’ is the name that the *Jews gave to anyone who was not a *Jew. The Gentiles did not know about the only real God, nor his laws in the *Old Testament. Instead, they *worshipped many false gods. As a result, they lived evil lives. An ‘idol’ is a piece of stone or wood that people believe is their god. But an idol can also be anything that a person loves more than they love God.
When people become Christians, their lives change. This happens because the Spirit of Jesus is now in them. They give up their evil behaviour. Now they *worship God, who is the Father of Jesus Christ. People who are not Christians cannot understand why their former companions have completely changed. In John 3:19-21, Jesus says that people who do what is evil hate the light. Christians now have the light of Jesus in their lives. Other people may hate and insult them because of this.
Peter’s readers knew that Jesus would return. They expected this to happen before they died. But many people had already died. It does not matter whether people are dead or alive when Jesus returns. That is when God will judge what every person has said and done.
In the beginning, God created Adam. Adam *sinned. God judged Adam’s *sin and punished Adam with death (Genesis chapters 2-3). All people die because of Adam’s *sin (Romans 5:12). But Jesus came to this world. God punished Jesus for people’s *sins. Every person’s physical body still dies. But God gives *eternal life to people who believe and trust Jesus (John 3:16). This good news is for everyone. God saves people from the result of *sin because of what Jesus has done.
Peter writes, ‘The time is near when all things will end’. He wrote these words almost 2000 years ago. We do not know when the end will come. But one day it will. It may happen while we ourselves are still alive. So we must always be ready. All Christians should think clearly about their daily behaviour. They should live in the way that God wants. This will help their prayers. Then they will be ready to meet Jesus when he comes back.
This kind of deep love is God’s kind of love (see chapter 1:22). It is more than just good feelings that last only for a time. Christians should continue to love one another deeply, even when it is difficult. ‘Love hides many *sins’ (Proverbs 10:12). Christians should not tell everyone when people do something wrong. However, Christians should not excuse people when they *sin. Nor should they think that any *sin does not matter. Instead, Christians should be ready to forgive other people and to help them to do what is right.
One way that Christians can show their love is to invite people into their homes. It may involve hard work. But they should be happy to help other people and should not complain. They should do this even if the Christian is a stranger. He may have travelled from a different place. Remember that God is the Father of all Christians. All Christians belong to the same family.
God has made everyone able to do something. This is your ‘gift’. Often God gives people more than one gift. There are various gifts. The *Greek word for ‘various’ means ‘of many colours’. Together, God desires the gifts to produce a beautiful pattern.
Christians should not be selfish, because God wants them to help each other. They must not expect the leaders of a church to do all the work. Paul taught more about this in Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12.
Peter mentions two sorts of gifts. There are gifts where people speak. Also, there are gifts where people serve in a practical way. Some people are able to teach and *preach. Some can *prophesy or speak wise words. However, all these words must be about the truth that comes from God. Other people can do practical things to help. God gives them the strength to do this work. No one should be proud. People should depend on God. Then everyone will *praise God for what he does. Peter ends these verses with *praise to God. ‘*Amen’ means ‘I agree’.
‘Dear Christian friends’. Peter loves and cares about the people to whom he is writing. Again, he says that Christians should not be surprised when they have painful troubles. The *Greek word for ‘painful’ means ‘burning’. Painful troubles are like the fire that tests the gold of *faith (see chapter 1:7). Difficulties are an opportunity for a Christian to show real trust in God.
When people suffer because they are Christians, they can have joy. They know what will happen in the future. They suffer as Christ did when he was in the world. When he returns, they will have a share in his *glory. Then they will be full of joy.
God blesses Christians when people curse them. Peter calls the Holy Spirit ‘the Spirit of *glory and of God’. All Christians have the Holy Spirit in their lives. When Jesus returns, all Christians will have a share of God’s *glory. But those who suffer because they are Christians have special help from the Holy Spirit now.
Christians know that it is wrong to murder or to steal. These are among the 10 commands that God gave to Moses (Exodus 20). It is also wrong to ‘make trouble in other people’s lives’. That means being too interested in someone’s personal affairs.
Not everyone will suffer as a Christian. If you do, that is no reason to be ashamed. Philippians 2:9-11 says that, in the end, everyone will have to agree that Jesus Christ is *Lord. Christians can thank God now that Jesus Christ died to forgive their *sins and to give them new life. They are happy to know that he is their *Lord.
‘Judgement’ is the act of judging. God will judge people by his standards of what is right and wrong. Then he will reward or punish each person. It is not easy to live a Christian life. God wants Christians to be pure. He allows them to have troubles. These troubles test their trust in God and make it more pure. But many people do not trust Jesus or obey him. Their lives are full of what is bad. They are wicked people. If they do not accept Jesus, it will be awful for them when God comes to judge them. God will not forgive them. In Matthew 18:9 Jesus says they will go to ‘the fire of hell’. This describes their terrible fate.
Christians cannot always understand what God allows to happen. However, they must continue to trust him and to do what is right. God created the whole world and everything and everybody in it. So he has very great power. God is ‘loyal’. This means that he will use his power to care for all who put their trust in him. He will never fail them. He will always do what is good for them.
‘Elders’ are the leaders of local churches. It does not mean that they are very old people. They have much experience as Christians and are wise and mature. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 there is a list of the qualities that an elder should have. Peter was an elder. He had experience of all the things that he writes about. He wants to encourage other elders and to help them to do their work better. Peter was one of the 12 *apostles, so he saw everything that happened to Jesus. At first, he was afraid to suffer when the soldiers arrested Jesus. He even said that he did not know Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). Later he was much bolder. *Jewish priests put him into prison because he continued to teach about Jesus (Acts 5:17-42). We know from other early writers that Peter died as a Christian. He knew that he would take part in the *glory when Jesus comes back. He had already seen some of the *glory of Jesus when he was on a mountain with him (Matthew 17:1-13).
In several places, the Bible says that God is a *shepherd. It says that God’s people are sheep. This describes how God cares for people. Psalm 23 describes this well. A *shepherd leads his sheep. They follow him because they trust him. They recognise his voice when he calls them. He makes sure that the sheep have enough to eat. He searches for any sheep that get lost. If they are hurt or sick, he helps them to get well again. The *shepherd protects his sheep from wild animals that want to kill them.
An elder leads the church as a *shepherd leads the sheep. The elders should care for the people that they lead. Elders feed people when they teach them what the Bible says. Some people turn away from God. The elders can help them to come back to God again. Elders can also pray for sick people and ask God to heal them (James 5:14). They must help to protect Christians from the devil when he attacks them.
It is not easy to be an elder. People must be sure that God wants them to do this work. They should be willing to do it. If someone tries to make them do it, that is wrong. A good elder really wants to serve other people. He wants to help them to know God better.
1 Timothy 5:17-18 says that they deserve pay for the work that they do. But it is wrong to do the work just to get money.
Some elders become proud and think that they are the boss. They are severe with people. They make rules for people to obey. Jesus was not like that. The way that he lived is a model for all Christians to follow.
Jesus is the Chief *Shepherd. All elders are under his authority. Elders will get rewards when Jesus returns. People in the country of Greece used to love athletics. They put a ‘crown’ on the winner’s head. They made the crown from a circle of leaves. But the leaves died and the crown did not last very long. God will reward elders for what they do. They will receive a crown of *glory from Christ as their reward. This will last for ever and will never vanish.
‘Younger people’ may mean those who are younger in age. Or it may mean people who have not been Christians for very long. Remember that God gives authority. Younger people should respect and obey their leaders. This pleases God. ‘Be humble’ is a special *Greek word. It describes how a slave put a cloth round his body before he served his master. Jesus did this when he washed the feet of his *apostles (John 13:4-15). No one should be proud. The leaders who have authority should not be proud.
‘God is against proud people’. Proud people think that they are better and more important than other people. Jesus told a story about people who wanted other people to honour them (see Luke 14:7-11). Humble Christians serve other people. They trust God. They tell people what God has done for them. They give God honour. So, God reaches out and is kind to humble people. He gives them all that they need.
‘The strong hand of God’ is picture language for the power and discipline of God. Christians must accept all that God allows to happen to them. One day God will lift them up and give them honour. He will decide when it is the right time. No one knows when this will happen. It may not be until Christ returns.
‘Give all your worries to God’. Christians do this when they tell God what worries them. Then they must trust that God will give them what they need in every situation. Jesus teaches about this in Matthew 6:25-34. Many of Peter’s readers may have worried about suffering as Christians. God loves and cares for Christians, even when he allows them to suffer.
Christians cannot be lazy when they have given their worries to God. The devil always looks for people to attack. Christians must be ready for action. ‘The devil is your enemy’ because he opposes Christians. He wants them to fail. A lion is a fierce animal that kills and eats other animals. It can even attack and eat people. A lion usually looks for weaker animals, because they are easier to catch. It attacks them when they do not expect it. The devil behaves like this, so Christians must be ready for him. He does not eat their body, but he wants to kill their spirit. He accuses them and makes other people accuse them too. However, Christians must fight the devil and not give in to him. Another name for the devil is ‘Satan’. Christians must trust God and be strong. Peter wants to encourage his readers. He tells them that they are not the only people who suffer. Many other Christians suffer too. Often it can help people if they know this.
All *grace comes from God. God wants Christians to take part in the *glory of Christ. The attacks of the devil will not last for ever. Christians will not suffer for ever, but the *glory of Christ will never end. God will stop their suffering and put things right. They do not know when this will happen. It may be in this life. It may be when they die and go to live with God. The devil wants Christians to fail, but God helps them to be strong.
Silas was a leader with Peter in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:22). ‘Christian brother’ means another member of the Christian family. Peter wrote this letter for two reasons. He wanted to encourage the Christians who were suffering. He also wanted to tell them more about the *grace of God. Christians will trust God more when they realise how much he loves them. They will not turn from God.
Babylon was the name of an ancient city. About 600 years earlier, the king of Babylon attacked the *Jews and carried them away to Babylon (see explanation of 2:4-10). The *Jews never forgot how they suffered in a foreign land. Christians in the church at Rome were now suffering too. So they used ‘Babylon’ as their secret name for Rome. Peter probably visited Rome. He may have written this letter in Rome. The church there wanted to send their greetings to other Christians who were suffering.
Mark is John Mark in Acts 12:12, 25. Peter probably calls him ‘my son’ because Peter helped him to become a Christian. Mark was not Peter’s real son.
Christians used to greet each other with a kiss. Peter wants them to continue this friendly greeting. Peter sends a greeting of peace to the Christians at the end of his letter. This is how he began his letter, in chapter 1:2. Because of Christ, Christians can know God’s gift of peace in their lives, even in difficult times.
altar ~ a table (usually stone) where Jewish priests burned animals as a sacrifice to God [see Jews/Jewish; sacrifice].
Amen ~ a word that means we agree, or it is true, or let it be so.
angel ~ a servant of God who brings messages from heaven.
apostle ~ one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to teach about him.
baptism, baptise ~ to put a person into water, or put water on a person, to show that they belong to Jesus Christ.
blessing ~ good things that God does for us.
cornerstone ~ a special stone that controls the design of a building and holds it together.
eternal life ~ life of a new quality for those who believe in Jesus. This new life is to be with Jesus for ever.
faith ~ trust in God and in Jesus his Son.
glory ~ all that makes God beautiful and great.
grace ~ a gift from God that we do not deserve and can never earn.
Greek ~ the original language of the New Testament [see New Testament].
Hebrew ~ the language of the Jews and of the Old Testament [see Jews; Old Testament].
hope ~ to expect something that God has promised.
idol ~ a piece of stone or wood that people believe is their god.
inheritance ~ a legal gift of property after the owner’s death.
Jews/Jewish ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
Lord ~ a name we call God or Jesus when we do what they say.
mercy ~ when God forgives bad people and does not punish them; God’s love and goodness; to be kind to someone who does wrong to show that we love them.
Messiah ~ God’s special servant; the name God chose for Jesus Christ; God promised the Jews that the Messiah would save them. But they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah; Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah [see Jews; Greek; Hebrew].
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on earth. It is about Jesus’ works and the things he taught and about the church [see church].
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.
Pentecost ~ the time each year when the Jews thank God for the harvest [see Jews].
praise ~ when we say good things about God or about a person.
preach ~ to tell and explain to people the good news about Jesus Christ.
prophecy ~ words that God gives a prophet to say [see prophet].
prophesy ~ speak a prophecy.
prophet ~ person who says what God wants; he can sometimes say what will happen in the future (prophesy).
reveal ~ to show us something that was a secret.
righteous ~ being right with God.
sacrifice ~ to ask God to forgive sins by killing a special animal and burning it on an altar [see altar; sin].
salvation ~ when God saves a person from the results of their sin [see sin].
Satan ~ a name of the chief evil spirit.
shepherd ~ a person who looks after sheep.
sin ~ all that people do wrong against God or other people; the evil that is in us.
spiritual ~ to do with a person’s spirit, not their physical body; to do with God’s Spirit or heaven, not this earth.
worship ~ to show honour to God and to tell him that we love him very much.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary ~ IVP
The New Bible Commentary ~ IVP
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (on CD Rom)
Wayne Grudem ~ 1 Peter ~ Tyndale New Testament Commentaries
The New Bible Dictionary ~ IVP
W.E. Vine ~ Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon
Alan Richardson ~ A Theological Word Book of the Bible
Collins Cobuild English Dictionary
The NIV Study Bible
For the computer ~ Logos Bible Software 2.1
© 1999-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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