Preaching Series on 1 Peter (2 of 5)

The second in a 5-week Narrative Lectionary preaching series on 1 Peter

Man contemplating diverging pathways
Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash; licensed under CC0.

July 17, 2022

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Commentary on 1 Peter 2:1–9, 19–25

Week 2 (July 17, 2022)

Preaching text: 1 Peter 2:1–9, 19–25; accompanying text: Matthew 16:24-26

First Peter depicts its readers as potential victims of external censure, policing, and defamation. Its readers are a targeted people. Thus, when the letter counsels acceptance of authority (2:13, 18; 3:1, 5, 22; 5:5). It is also not asserting this way of life is God’s preferred arrangement for human society. Rather, it is counseling its readers on how to live in mutuality and freedom with each other (3:8–9) in a society that does not value mutuality and freedom for people like them, as well as many others. The household codes are a survival strategy and not a divinely-inspired structure. The ideal ways humans—especially Christians—are to relate is in mutuality (3:8), hospitality (4:9), blessing (3:9), goodness (3:16–17), and welcome (3:14).

To demystify the experience of targeted censure and attack that accompanies those “othered” by society, the letter writer appeals to the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is implicitly evoked (2:21–24) as a site of suffering and attack. The letter writer deploys it rhetorically as evidence that the readers’ experiences are not unusual, but more of the same. To espouse a different social ethic that flattens hierarchies down into mutuality and shared identity (3:8) that transgresses not only social boundaries but geographical, is to anticipate the suffering (1:11) that comes with operating outside of civic norms. Jesus’ crucifixion, his teachings, and deeds put him at odds with environment that thrived on division. And it is that experience that serves as the fundamental proof for the letter’s encouragement.

Read commentary on Week 3 texts (July 24, 2022).