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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

March 20, 2013

1 Peter 3:8-9

  1. Verses 8-9. We are still following the thought that started in chapter 2:11. This thought was that believers must live such good lives that they would bring shame to those who were bad mouthing the faith. Living good lives would involve submission instead of rebelling. And oftentimes this submission would mean suffering for doing right. After listing the several ways that believers could display their good lives, we find ourselves at chapter 3:8. The writer starts this verse with “finally" indicating that this is the last thing or things on his list for living good lives as aliens and strangers in this world.

  2. The writer shares that all of the believers should first live in harmony with one another. Harmony is the operative principle in Christianity. Perhaps the best illustration would be an orchestra made up of many different musicians, with a wide variety of instruments, but many different parts to be played even by the same kind of instrument. In a good orchestra, every member plays the same song, and all follow the leadership of one conductor. So it should be in the church. We all have different stations in life, different gifts, different ministries; but we have all embraced the same gospel and trusting in the same Savior (Rom. 6:8, 12:16a, Eph. 4:3-6, 11-13; Philip. 2:1-2, Rom. 12:18).

  3. The second thing on his list is being sympathetic. The term rendered "sympathetic" in the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version is a compound word made up from the root word "suffer" and the prefix "with." The word originally meant "to suffer with." A number of Bible scholars think we should take the term more generally, thus referring to a sensitivity to where others are in their lives. We are to identify or empathize with others, whether in their sorrow or their joy. This means we are to take into consideration what people are dealing with when interacting with them instead of assuming. This is where patience comes into play. This would mean that sometimes we have to give more patience to people when they need it.

  4. The third item in this summation of submission is to love one another. Brotherly love is the next requirement for the Christian’s relationship with others. This word is transliterated Philadelphia, brotherly love. It surely refers to the love believers should have one to another (Rom. 12:9-10, Philip. 2:1-4, 1 Thess. 4:9-10, Gal. 5:22-23, 1 John 3:11-12, Heb. 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7). This is the love Jesus required of His disciples (John 13:34-35; 15:11-14).

  5. The fourth and fifth item of submission is to be kindhearted or compassionate and humble. This word was originally used to refer to the intestines ("bowe1s") or the hidden vital organs of the body as it was believed that deep and intense emotions come from deep within a person. Peter uses the term to refer to the depth of concern or compassion we should have toward others. If "sympathetic" refers to our commitment to know how others are doing, "kindhearted" refers to our emotional response to the state of others. This characteristic is prominent in the life and ministry of our Lord (see Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34, etc.). This means that as believers I have an emotional connection to other believers that helps me feel what they feel. There is supposed to be a deep and inward connection between believers. This comes when we realize that we were created to complement each other. Knowing that we need each other should cause us to remain humble versus arrogant.

  6. The first five items were things believers were to do, the next few things are what believers are to avoid. The first thing believers are to avoid is the need to repay evil for with evil. Do not repay. This is a call not to seek revenge or to retaliate against those who have wronged us (Prov. 20:22; Rom. 12:17). Peter is, perhaps, directly quoting Jesus in this passage. We are called to bless and do good to those who do not like us. When we pay someone back to get even, we only end up escalating the issue and thus hurting ourselves and usurping God's authority to judge (1 Cor. 4:12; Eph. 6:12, 6:18; 5:8-10; 1Thess. 4:1-2; 5:12-15).

  7. The next thing believers are to avoid is to return insults with more insults, but return insults with blessings. Again, we are told not to retaliate. Prov. 25:21-22 tells us that we overcome evil with good. The logic is very simple. We have been called to inherit a blessing. Our future destiny determines our present conduct. Because our future hope is that of blessing (God will bless us), our present relationships should be characterized by being a blessing to others.

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