Skip to main content

Baby Stone Sheep! 1 Peter 2

In Summary:

Peter, unlike Paul, does not spend as much time on the theological background issues of his epistle. Instead, as we see in 1 Peter 2:1-3, he comes rapidly to the point of action as he commands his audience to put aside evil actions and words. This is not prefaced with a long instruction about why—Peter gives the “why” after this: “if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

He then goes on to summarize the Christian life with three examples. The first is that we are to live as newborns, desiring to feast on the pure Word. The second is to be as stones that are used to build up the house of the Lord Jesus. This is likely done in parallel to Psalm 118 and the references to the rejected stone that became the cornerstone, which Peter applies to Jesus.

(I once heard this related to a story from the construction of Solomon’s Temple, where the builders found that a stone they felt was useless was actually the perfect finishing stone for the building. I can’t find that reference, though, so I offer that as only a faint memory.)

The third parallel with Christian life is at the end of the chapter where we are compared with wandering sheep. We were continually straying, Peter says, but have now returned to our Shepherd. Sheep sometimes wander—especially if they are distracted—and need to be sought out by their shepherd. Fortunately for us, if Peter is right, our Shepherd not only sought us but also took the penalty for our wandering in His own body (1 Peter 2:24).

In Focus:

Peter’s middle segment draws a couple of important points up, and I think I’ll deal with some of it in a separate post. Here, let us put 1 Peter 2:16-17 under our focus. We see a summary command: live as free people, not using freedom for evil, but to serve God.

From that point, Peter develops four commands that express how he expected the believers to do this. Some translations make this verse one long sentence, as the NASB. Others, like ESV, make four sentences. Then there’s the NLT, which makes v. 17 into two sentences.

Which I think suggests a useful possibility for understanding. Look at the verse in ESV:

“Honor everyone.
Love the brotherhood.
Fear God.
Honor the emperor.”

Now, look at the verse in the NLT:

“Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.”

Leaving aside whether it’s appropriate to translate “brotherhood” into “family of believers” or the lesser concern of “king” or “emperor,” look at how the ESV makes a series of commands while the NLT makes a pair of contrasting commands.

The first pairing is that everyone should be respected (or honored,) but the family of faith is deserving of special love. The second suggests that God is worthy of fear, and the king only deserves respect.

This shows the differences in how Christians, as aliens, interact with the world around them. We are not antagonistic toward the wider world, nor towards its rulers. Instead, we respect and honor these as appropriate.

However, our hearts quicken even more as we deal with our folks—the family of of faith, the brotherhood of believers. And our respect for the king never eclipses our reverent fear of the Lord God Almighty.

In Practice:

What does this contrast look like in practice? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Love bears with it a sense of intimacy, while respect and honor do not. My closest struggles and greatest successes should be shared with the family of faith more than the wider world. Likewise, my dearest friends should come from within the household, including those of you who are seeking a spouse. We should develop respectful friendships with anyone—but that deeper love? It has a home.

2. There are times when decisions require prioritizing relationships. While I do respect my completely pacifistic brethren in Christ, I am not from that branch of the family. Instead, I think there is a time that violence is regrettably necessary. And the hierarchy falls along the lines of honoring all but loving the family: I would stand with a weapon between violent people and the children’s department at church. My love for the family overrides my respect for the wider world.

3. This extends to the question of obedience to authorities. My respect for the emperor (used here for any government, not as a comment on the behavior of current American government people) is crucial, but I must fear God above the emperor, putting the needs of the Kingdom of God above the needs of the nation. Therefore, I might pray for a strong dollar to aid mission efforts though it is not better for exporters and the economy. Or I might pray for a longer negotiation with other nations at the cost of national prestige if it allows the spread of the Gospel.

Those are just some examples of how that might look in practice.

In Nerdiness: 

Not a lot of words left for nerdiness—let’s grab a few translation issues.

First, the word NASB renders “aliens” in 2:11 is not the same as the word rendered “aliens” in 1:1. There may be exegetical significance in the difference, and there may not be. 2:11 reflects those who reside away from home while 1:1 has the context of those who reside temporarily out of place. Of interest is that the word rendered “strangers” in 2:11 is the same Greek word as “alien” in 1:1. This is a good example of context driving meaning, and the lack of one-to-one equivalence between languages.

Second, the word rendered “honor” or “respect” in 2:17 is one of those that had shades of meaning even in its own day. It appears to be descended from the Classical Greek word that included “fear,” even though “fear” has its own word, “phobeo,” in Koine Greek. The Classical Greek word figures in the expression of “I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts,” going back to the Trojan War saga.


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Book: The Gospel Call and True Conversion

A quick note: This book, The Gospel Call and True Conversion, is currently available on Kindle for $4.99. This is the second in a series of 3, and the first, The Gospel’s Power and Message, is available for $2.99.The Gospel Call and True Conversion. The title of this book alone sounds intimidating, and adding that it’s written by one of the heavyweights of American Reformed Christianity, Paul Washer, does not lessen the intimidation factor. Washer is known to be a straightforward preacher—for good or for ill.What did I find in The Gospel call and True Conversion? I found some things to like:1. Paul Washer is passionate for the truth. He wants to know the truth. He wants to proclaim the truth. He wants the truth heard. He wants you to know the truth. This is good. It is good to see someone not try to base theology on popularity or as a response to modern events, but to base it clearly on truth. 2. There is a strong emphasis on the reality that true conversion (from the title) will resu…

Sermon Recap for July 29 (and 22)

Good Morning!Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: are stockpiled here:!July 29 AM: (Audio)
July 29 PM: (Audio)
July 22 AM: (Audio)July 22 PM: (Audio)