notes on first peter four

When we gather on Thursday evening we will read the fourth chapter of the First Letter of Peter. Come with your questions and insights. Here are some questions to consider as you read …

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same intention …” What do you make of Peter’s call to bear arms? He goes on to invite us “to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.” What might such a life living according to God’s intentions as revealed Jesus Christ look like? How might it differ from a life lived by “human desires”? In verse four he refers to the lives that these Christians no longer join in as “excesses of dissipation”. Are there patterns of life that we are called to lay aside that might be labelled “excesses of dissipation”?

In what way might “the end of all things be near”? Is this similar to Jesus announcement that the “kingdom of God is at hand”? Peter says that since this is so we are to “be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.” How might this matter for our prayers?

Given that the end is near Peter urges “constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” In the first verse of the chapter he writes “whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin”. What is Peter trying to say about sin in in the new community called church that is coming in to being?

The word that is translated “be hospitable” in verse nine is, in Greek, the word “philoxenoi” meaning love of strangers (“xenophobia” means its opposite – fear of strangers). How might the church be called to be a community known for its love of strangers? Does this alter / enrich / change your understanding of the word “hospitable”?

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.” Is there a time when you have gone through a “fiery ordeal” that you would describe as a “sharing Christ’s sufferings”? Is there any way in which you might describe our time as a “fiery ordeal” that seems as if “something strange is happening” to the church we know? Peter calls such an experience a time to “rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings”.  The chapter concludes with his instruction: “Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.” What do you make of Peter’s instruction and invitation?

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