The Book on Holy Behavior

As a child grows up he/she learns how to behave in certain situations. If the situation was a funeral, we were prayer-on-my-knees4taught to be quiet (I always have the strangest urge to laugh at funerals to break the tension). If the situation was that one of my parents were talking, we were taught to not interrupt. If the situation was worship, we were taught to sit and pay attention. Each situation required that we behave in a certain way. The idea of behavior in different situations is not an uncommon idea in the Bible. In fact, the theme of behavior is central to the book of 1 Peter.

1 Peter is essentially a guide book on how to live holy in a time of great suffering. Peter accomplishes this task by directing comments about behavior (used 8 times in book) to specific groups in the book. The groups that Peter addresses are:

Christians in general  (2:11) – “Be subject for the Lord’s sake…” (2:13)

Servants (2:18) – “be subject to your masters…” (2:18)

Wives (3:1) – “be subject to your own husbands…” (3:1)

Husbands (3:7) – “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor…” (3:7)

Christians in general (3:8) – “honor Christ the Lord as holy…” (3:15)

Elders (5:1) – “shepherd the flock…as God would have you…” (5:2)

Those who are younger (5:5) – “be subject to the elders…” (5:5)

Peter discusses how each of these groups are to behave by talking to them about submission (used 7 times in book). Some examples of this submissive instruction is listed above. It’s important to note that “honoring” someone else is to put someone above you (this thought then would be closely akin to submission then).

All of these groups are to submit to one another because by submitting to these different earthly groups, they are submitting to God (see 1 Peter 2:15, 16, 20; 3:4; 5:5 to name a few. I encourage you to study this thought further). If these groups chose to submit to the earthly group over them, thereby submitting to God, this will cause them to live in a way that is holy (used 12 times in book).

They are to live in this holy way even though they will be facing great persecution and suffering (used 17 times in book). Notice some of the different sections of suffering found in the text (see 2:20; 3:17-18; 4:1, 4, 12 to name a few).

You would think that it would be deemed appropriate to act a certain angry, distressed, or rebellious in a time of suffering. Peter suggests a different way of living though. Peter encourages these Christians (and Christians today) to act like Christ  (2:21-25) during times of trial. While the suffering is different for us today, the solution for holy living is not. Keep Christ as your focus and pattern and you be able to behave in a holy way regardless of the situation.

“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)


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