Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "Earlier New Testament Epistles"
The Book of First Peter


Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible





Salutation 1:1-2

  1. Our Great Salvation 1:3-12

    1. Is the HOPE of the FUTURE 3-5 (Thanksgiving for it)

    2. Is the JOY of the PRESENT 6-9 (Rejoicing in it)

    3. Is the THEME of the PAST 10-12 (Looking toward it)

      1. Anticipated by prophets, but time element not revealed 10a-12b

      2. Provoked holy inquiry of the angels 12c

  2. Earnest exhortations 1:13-3:12
    Peter's vivid language reminds us of various groups he has in mind when he adopts the phrases he does, as follows:

    1. Exhortation to holiness 1:13-25

      1. As sentinels: "Be watchful!" 1:13

      2. As children: "Be Holy!" 1:14-16

      3. As sojourners: "Pass time in godly fear" 1:17-21
        NOTE on blood of Christ, It is described as:

        1. Foreknown blood v. 20
          Calvary was no accident of fate (Acts 2:23)

        2. Priceless blood v.18
          None of earth's valuables are comparable

        3. Holy blood v. 19b
          He was the lamb of God without blemish (2 Corinthians 5:21)

        4. Sacred blood v. 19a
          It was "the blood of God" (Acts 20:28)

        5. Ethical blood v.18
          Redeems from vain and sinful manner of life

        6. Effectual blood
          Toward God: vv. 21-23; toward man: v. 18

        7. Precious blood v.19
          Not repugnant -- the supreme sacrifice and proof of His love!

      4. As Brethren: "Love" 1:22-25

    2. Exhortation to priestly service 2:1-12

      1. Growing up in the Lord 2:1-3
        The figure is that of a babe who longs for suitable food (milk). A note may be helpful o this theme:

        1. The pre-requisite of growth 2:3 (cp. 1:22-23, i.e., saved)

        2. The preparation for growth 2:1 ("laying aside" things which would contaminate "the milk")

        3. The prescription for growth 2:2

          1. Regular feeding with unadulterated "milk of the word."
            Consecutive satisfying of hunger.

          2. Proper air, i.e., prayer, the heavenly atmosphere of the believers life.

          3. Proper exercise, i.e., witnessing to others

        4. The purpose of growth 2:5, 9
          To build up Church; to offer proper praise as believer priests

      2. Offering up worthy worship 2:4-10 (in the true Church, which is God's temple in this age, Ephesians 2:20-22; Acts 17:24)

      3. Causing men to glorify God 2:11-12

    3. Exhortation to submission 2:13-3:12
      Though we are heavenly citizens, we submit to earthly authority because it is ordained of God (cp. Romans 13).

      1. Citizens to government 2:13-17

      2. Slaves to masters 2:18-25
        Can it be done? Yes, Christ submitted, vv. 21-25.

      3. Wives to husbands 3:1-6

      4. Husbands to Christ 3:7

      5. Each to all in the church 3:8-12
        Seeking unity (peace) in love.


  3. Willingness to suffer for Christ (cp. 2:21-23) 3:13-4:19

    1. A good conscience 3:13-22
      is here asserted to be better than exemption from suffering (caused by one's Christian testimony). Suffering might be avoided by keeping quiet and not identifying oneself with Christ's Church by baptism, but one would not have a good science.

      Christ's suffering (v 18) brought salvation to others and glory to Himself (22); we should likewise suffer; then we may share His glory (4:11, 13).

      (See note at close of First Peter for discussion of the much debated passage on "Spirits in Prison," 3:17-22.

    2. A Christ-like mind 4:1-11
      Arms us for persecution for the gospel's sake.

      The will of God is more important than the will of men (which we have yeilded to for too long a time already, v. 3).

      The sense of v. 6 is: "The gospel was (during their lifetime) preached for this cause unto those (believers) who are (now) dead; so that even if men according to human standards (in the flesh) judged them (like they did Christ) worthy of death (Luke 19:14; 23:21; Acts 21:36; 22:22-23), these martyred believers might "live" according to God in the Spirit"; that is, God has judged them worthy of "life in the Spirit" in His presence, even though men adjudged them worthy of death (in the body) and slew them.

      This exhortation is anchored in the hope of the Lord's return (v. 7), as I understand it, though some understand it to be the destruction of Jerusalem or of the nation (Israel). Our Lord foretold (Mark 13; Luke 21; Matthew 24) a coming of armies against Jerusalem which would surround it during a great period of suffering. He also indicated that such a period of suffering would be climaxed by His return to deliver His own.

      Peter, like Paul, realizing the Jews deserved judgment for murdering their Messiah, had no way of knowing whether Christ might not come in connection with this judgment of Israel, which he and Paul foresaw fast approaching (1 Thessalonians 2:14, 16) and which did take place in AD 70. Only after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, with the Lord not returning then, could it be known definitely that the Lord's return to earth would be associated with a later surrounding of Jerusalem and a period of suffering for the Jewish people, yet future to us, the Tribulation period. This presumably was the return of the Lord to earth, as predicted by our Lord in Mark 13, Luke 21, and Matthew 24, since the Rapture had not been revealed, for 1 Thessalonians 4 had not yet been written, according to our class chronology (see inside front cover of this syllabus).

      This section closes with an exhortation to love (vv. 8-9) and to good stewardship of the gifts of the Spirit (vv. 10-11).

    3. A high privilege 4:12-19
      to suffer for Christ (and thus suffer with Christ).

      Believers should not think of trial as strange or abnormal. It is their normal expectancy and is but a necessary prelude to glory (Acts 14:21-22).

      Judgment is not escaped even by Christians (v. 18a; 2 Corinthians 5:10); how much less by the enemies of God (v. 18b)! Commit your soul to God "in well doing"! Fear not, for He judges righteously (v. 19). You can afford to leave your cast in His hands.


  4. Acceptable Christian service 5:1-9

    1. Shepherding the sheep 5:1-4
      There are three pair of duties here, each with a negative and a positive.

    2. Defeating the devil 5:5-9

      1. Exhortation to younger 5:5a

      2. Exhortation to ALL 5:5b-9

        1. To humility 5b-6

        2. To trustfulness 7

        3. To vigilance 8

        4. To steadfastness 9
          Satan can be overcome through Christ!

Benediction and closing salutation 5:10-14

  1. Benediction 10

  2. Gloria 11

  3. Greeting 12-14a

  4. Gracious closing 14b



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