World Conference 2023

1 Peter 1:17-23

23 April 2023

Exploring the Scripture

1 Peter is a pastorally rich letter written most likely to converted Gentiles. There continue to be Jewish connections, however. Peter opens his letter stating, “to the exiles of the diaspora” — diaspora at first defining those living outside Palestine. And in this sense, those living in northern Asia Minor where people believed much differently. The letter could be taken in a figurative sense that these believers are not at home in this physical world. Often, this group of new Christians was on the social and political fringes of their communities. Peter writes to offer hope and support to this new faith community.

This text describes how to live and behave towards one another.  It is also a reminder of Jesus who died for them and to trust in the enduring word of God. “To live in reverent fear during the time of your exile” reminds the newly converted Gentiles that they live in an environment that is not familiar to their newfound faith. They may feel like aliens in a strange land. Gentiles may be living away from their homelands, but Christians also often felt their true homeland was heaven. Peter reminds them living in “reverent fear” is not a frightened state. “Fearing” God means something different. “Reverent fear” is reverence and faith that leads us to obey God’s commandments.  

Peter quotes from Proverbs (Hebrew Bible), “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (7:1). Another Jewish connection reminder.  Peter’s exile language also connects the Exodus story of being in the wilderness, saved by God’s grace.

Peter reminds them, “they were ransomed from what they inherited from their ancestors, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” Gold and silver were the common currency needed for buying someone out of slavery. Yet, their deliverance was not with things of this world but by the precious blood of Christ. Redemption through Christ is more precious than any form of exchange on Earth.  

It is in our response to Christ’s redemption that we give God glory (verse 21). Peter reminds his audience, “your faith and hope are set on God—by your obedience to the truth—have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.” (verse 22). As God loves you, love one another deeply from the heart. Another offering of hope and support that they (and we) are not alone.

And finally, Peter reflects on their conversions, “you have been born anew—through the living and enduring word of God.” When we read, “you have been born anew,” this often is taken as a personal, even private experience. Often it is a way of talking about our relationship with God or an experience that affected our conversion.  However, it is essential to remember that this phrase is more about the more significant spiritual experience than ethical conduct. Connecting the idea of born again with our acts to love one another intensely reminds us that if we are radically changed (born again) by the gospel, God’s love, we act as God would to all humankind. The call is to live consistently with the gospel.

Project Zion Podcast

Co-hosts Karin Peter and Blake Smith consider how this week's scripture connects to our lives today.


Central Ideas

  1. We are connected throughout history in times of exile; God never leaves us.
  2. We are ransomed with the blood of Christ.
  3. Trust in God; be born anew through the living word of God. Live the radical message of the gospel

Questions to Consider

  1. When have you felt in exile, either physically or spiritually?
  2. What does it mean to live the message of the gospel radically?
  3. Where do you find grace when trying to live the message of Peter’s letter?
  4. If you were to write a letter to new Christian converts or a congregation recommitting its life to Christ’s mission, what would you say?

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