1 Peter 2:18-25 Christ-Like Influence
Stress and suffering are not the same thing. Recent events have taught me that there is a difference between stress and suffering. We can put ourselves so easily into stressful situations. The Bible teaches that we should not let stress bother us.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6, HCSB)
We should not let worry which manifests itself as stress bother us at all. However, may of us let stress get to us. We stress out over people and expectations placed upon us. I have been reminded about how stress can negatively affect us as Christians. We let other people in the church stress us out. We let circumstances stress us out. On one end, many people work so hard to meet other people’s expectations that it leads to burnout and stress-related illnesses. On the other end, some people who can’t meet those those expectations enter into depression.
While we are called to manage our stress level, we are expected to go through suffering. There is a difference between the two. No one who has suffered for Christ ever died of a heart attack.
However, suffering is a subject which we don’t like to talk about these days. Lloyd J. Ogilvie, the former Chaplain to the United States Senate, recalled this story:
Not long ago, I was leading a small group of professional people in a Bible study on the Book of James. Within that context, I shared a word study on the word “faith” which is so central to the message of James. I contended that an appropriate biblical definition for faith is “active obedience,” and shared that God has called us to be His obedient servants. The initial response of those in the group was surprise and resistance.
Like many of us, they had fallen into the self-centered lifestyle. They did not wish to be servants of anyone nor were they excited about the lifestyle of obedience. Instead they preferred for God to fall into the flow of their lives and to subscribe to their wishes.1
The challenge to suffering is met when we use the method of Christ-like influence. This method is to follow Jesus Christ Who was the Suffering Servant. This method leads to influence in two different directions.
THE METHOD OF CHRIST-LIKE INFLUENCE: THE SUFFERING SERVANT
Influence to Earthly Masters
“Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18, HCSB)
The keynote of Christian behavior is to ‘submit’—that is, to put others first. God, human rulers and fellow Christians are all to be honored in their different ways.
Slaves are to honor their masters—even those who ill-treat them. Peter says that Jesus himself lived this way, and endured suffering he didn’t deserve.2
The believer’s “civic obligations” are discussed in 2:13–17. “Submit yourselves” (v. 13) expresses the leading idea. Here the term is to be interpreted as submission to authority. In 2:18 and 3:1 it denotes a subordination of oneself to others, i.e., putting the interests of others above one’s own.3 We submit to the government in (2:13), the spouse in (3:1) and here other authorities where we may have influence. This will most likely be the workplace for each one of us. However, you and I as Christians may have influence in other places outside of the workplace. This section is very similar to the “household codes” used by Paul in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.
This submission includes accepting one’s role in society, without making judgments about the validity of an institution such as slavery. Believers commit themselves to doing what is deemed right according to the norms of one’s own culture, assuming of course that what society calls “right” does not require a direct violation of God’s commands.4
This passage does not teach that slavery is right. Instead, it teaches that if you are a slave, you submit to your master. We know that sometimes the cultural norm is wrong and the culture can be influenced to change. Our Christian heritage has taught has that we can make an influence to change the culture for the better. We fought a civil war over slavery. Christians knew it was wrong. However, society used slavery for economic freedom. Thankfully, this was changed in the nineteenth century.
We live now in the twenty-first century and we now deal with a society that calls something right which is a direct violation of God’s commands. We should use that influence in all areas of life: work, family, society, politics, economics, and the church.
Influence through Endurance of unjust suffering
“For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:19, HCSB)
The unjust suffering, the persecution which can come from people who are not Christians – this is expected and it brings God’s favor. God understands that you will suffer sometimes under the influence of the world – especially when we share a Christ-life influence. This refers to God’s approval of submission even amidst persecution, when this suffering is related to our Christian convictions and trust in Christ.5
“For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God.” (1 Peter 2:20, HCSB)
You don’t get credit with God for sinning. You get punished. That doesn’t make God happy. However, when you suffer at the hands of unjust people, and you endure it, God gets happy.
THREE PICTURES OF HOW CHRIST SUFFERED FOR ME
He is our Example in life. (2:21-23)
“For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21, HCSB)
This suffering is expected for Christians. I know that in today’s message, you won’t hear too much from the pulpit about this expectation. Many pastors and Christians confuse the call of Christ with the American Dream. We are not called to have the American Dream. We are called to suffer. We don’t like to hear that but it is true. The call to suffering doesn’t go well together with a western culture that teaches Christianity as a self-centered healthy, wealthy, wise, prosperity theology.
Peter’s point is that a person called to salvation will, sometimes at least, have to endure unfair treatment. Commendable behavior on the part of the believer in the midst of such trials results in the strengthening and perfecting of the Christian on earth, and his increased eternal capacity to glorify God.6
The fact is that Jesus suffered for them, and He is their motivation to willingly accept suffering while doing good. Jesus provided an achievable example to follow: His steps. The Greek word for example is used only in this verse and means “underwriting.” It refers to the copy that is to be reproduced by the student. The teacher presented the original; the student must now produce a copy of the original. Because Jesus is the original, the believer should replicate Him. Jesus is the model to be copied by the novice. The purpose is to follow His steps; to follow the line that His footprints have marked; to follow where His tracks lead.7
“He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth;” (1 Peter 2:22, HCSB)
This is a quote from Isaiah 53:9.
“They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.” (Isaiah 53:9, HCSB)
In the Isaiah passage which Peter quotes, Jesus is prophesied as having His grave made with the wicked and the rich (who would normally be one and the same). We know that Joseph of Arimathea was rich, and since he was was rich, he would also be evil. However, look at the contrast. Although people would bury him in a rich and evil man’s grave, Jesus was never violent, or speak evil in His life. He was the perfect example of patient endurance in unjust suffering because He was sinless. She was sinless, and He was not violent. He did not speak deceitfully to others. He did not return evil for evil. You and I have a long way to go to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
“when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23, HCSB)
To revile is to “verbally abuse” someone. Although Jesus was verbally abused, He never returned insult for insult. He kept His cool. This is hard to do when you are suffering.
He is our Substitute in His death. (2:24)
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.” (1 Peter 2:24, HCSB)
“You have been healed by His wounds” is a reference to Isaiah 53. The word “wound” here is the for “stripes.” This is a reference to the prophecy about Jesus’ crucifixion and its purpose.
“But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” (Isaiah 53:5, HCSB)
The Greek word for stripes used here is found nowhere else. It is a Greek word that refers to the bruises and the body welts resulting from the sharp blows suffered by Jesus. Peter’s application here is to spiritual healing and not to physical healing. Jesus takes the physical blows we should have received in order for you and I to receive eternal healing. He is our Substitute.
He is our Watchful Shepherd in heaven. (2:25)
“For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25, HCSB)
Now that we have been returned to the fold and are safely in His care, He watches over us lest we stray and get into sin. The word bishop simply means “one who watches over, who oversees.” While it is commonly used when referring to church leaders (Acts 20:28, 1 Tim. 3:2, 1 Pet. 5:2–4), this is the only time the word is used in reference to Jesus. It is the Greek word from which the English word Episcopal derives.8
Just as the elder-bishop oversees the flock of God, the local church (1 Peter 5:2), so the Savior in glory watches over His sheep to protect them and perfect them (Hebrews 13:20–21). Here, then, is the wonderful truth Peter wanted to share: as we live godly lives and submit in times of suffering, we are following Christ’s example and becoming more like Him. We submit and obey, not only for the sake of lost souls and for the Lord’s sake, but also for our own sake, that we might grow spiritually and become more like Christ. The unsaved world is watching us, but the Shepherd in heaven is also watching over us; so we have nothing to fear. We can submit to Him and know that He will work everything together for our good and His glory.9
1 Paul A. Cedar and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, James / 1 & 2 Peter / Jude, vol. 34, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984), 147.
2 Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide, 1st Augsburg books ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001), 676.
3 Curtis Vaughan, “1 Peter,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 787.
4 Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 880.
5 Robert James Dr. Utley, The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter, vol. Volume 2, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 2000), 233.
6 John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 1 Pe 2:21.
7 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 350.
8 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 351.
9 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 406–407.