As our study concludes this week, we have seen that there's been a big change in Simon Peter; he has moved from an outspoken, impulsive, often proud individual to being the rock of the New Testament church. He became a powerful preacher, and a person who was quick to give God the glory.
Today we'll see how he wove the themes of humility and submission into his letters . . . Peter's humility and his loving-kindness are easy to see.
In the fifth chapter of I Peter, he wrote:
He starts his second epistle with: (I Peter 5:5-6)
In the KJV, the translation reads "bondservant" and apostle. Peter has moved from the independent, strong-willed, bragging Simon to an humble servant-leader with a true shepherd's heart for his people.
How did this happen? Yes, the process began with his conversion, and the indwelling of the Spirit at Pentecost. But the growing, maturing, sanctifying was ongoing in his life. Just as in Peter's life, this can happen in our lives as well. And regular reliance on prayer is a vital ingredient!
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. (Acts 3:1)
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31)
I think the Spirit guided Luke to include these notes, to underline Peter's devotion to prayer, and to draw our attention to his example for our lives. Peter is a dedicated and humble man at this point, and these verses (and his own letters) are wonderful instructions on how to live a Spirit-filled life.
Peter's first letter has a theme of hope, and tells us where our power comes from:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... (I Peter 1:3)Still inspiring us, he writes that hope can help us through our trials:
Next, he instructs his readers on how to respond to authority:
I love how he gives the reasoning behind his instructions....to silence those who would talk badly about us and our faith. Awesome.
His next instruction is for servants in his day, but it works for us as well..... to take suffering patiently, whether deserved or not. Oy. That's a hard one, right? We will study that in depth in the near future. (He gives us the example of Christ's submission in suffering.)
Family instructions come next, and still carry that theme of submission to each other in God's love:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives... (I Peter 3:1-2)Peter uses a word that is translated "likewise" in the KJV, when he talks to the husbands....continuing that thought of submission. A loving, self-sacrificing husband will say "no" to his fleshly inclinations, and put the needs of his wife first.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (I Peter 3:7)I truly think that Peter expresses best the loving relationship that should exist when two godly people work together on that marriage relationship!
Who would have thought that tumultuous, brash Simon would have become rock-solid Peter? Christ knew and told him....but Simon still went through a lot to get there. And that is the way our lives are, too. We are in a continual process of growing and becoming more Godly, closer to our Father in our Spirit-guided lives.
Peter became one of the world's greatest teachers of love, hope, humility, and submission to (and respect for) authority!
If people with pasts like Peter and Paul can become such champions for God, then surely there is hope for you and me!
Lord, help me to dwell in your Word and follow!