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The Letters of Peter Lesson Material

Lesson 1:  Our Eternal Inheritance

Believers in Jesus Christ cannot help but clash with the world forces of darkness. We live as aliens in a hostile foreign world. The clash of truth with error, the children of God with the children of God’s adversary, and the competing systems of purpose and meaning; cannot help but result in trouble for Christians. Peter, the leader of Christ’s disciples in the Gospels, had moved to Rome (5:13) by 64 A.D. when Nero began his intense persecution of Christians. Nevertheless, Peter wrote his letters to the church exhorting them to stand firm in the grace of God based on the hope of their heavenly inheritance. Because of all that Christ has done for us in our salvation and He promises to give us in eternity, we live now triumphantly above our difficult circumstances.

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Lesson 2:  Our Response to Grace

In 1 Peter 1:3-12, Peter had told his audience that through the grace and mercy of God, they have been born spiritually, and had received an eternal inheritance reserved in heaven for them. In their present earthly life they experienced various trials that were serving to prove the reality of their faith and would result in praise and glory when they went to be with Jesus. Now in 1 Peter 1:13-25, Peter gives the expected application of God’s grace in our lives.

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Lesson 3:  Spiritual Growth

In the previous passage the emphasis was on holiness and loving one another. Part of the spiritual birth we have from being “in Christ” is to have a “sincere love” and a “fervent love” (1:22) for the brethren. Sincere and fervent love is the opposite of a worldly love tainted by hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Now in 1 Peter 2, he extends that teaching of true love with an application of how to develop it.

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Lesson 4:  Good Witnesses, Good Citizens

Peter has affirmed that the church is the elect and holy household of God with all the benefits, privileges, and hope that go with it. The issue he addresses now in this section is how do they behave in the larger society, and in the world we temporarily live in. Beginning in 1 Peter 2:11, he gives teaching concerning their responsibilities in a society where they are considered aliens and outsiders.

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Lesson 5:  Innocent Suffering

The problem of suffering despite doing what is right now becomes the subject of Peter’s sustained attention. He begins this section with a rhetorical question in 3:13 that is very much like Paul’s question in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” This does not mean that you are bullet proof, just the opposite, but no eternal harm can come to us, and God rewards innocent suffering.

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Lesson 6:  The Church

The previous section of 4:1-6 focussed on the relationship of believers to outsiders, but this section deals with the internal life and relationship within the community of believers we call the church or the body of Christ. The relationships will be tested by adverse circumstances and suffering in the world, but we are to live by faith, and keep rejoicing because of the hope that is in us.

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Lesson 7:  Shepherding the Flock

Peter’s conclusion in chapter 5 of his first letter is an address to two groups within the church—elders and younger men under their care. These mature leaders (elders) are to lead, teach, and admonish the younger, less knowledgeable, and less experienced Christians. This follows Peter’s pattern of exhortation concerning interaction with unbelieving outsiders in 1 Peter 4:12-19 followed by advice about life within the church. We find then that we have two relationships as both edifiers of the church, and evangelists to those outside the church.

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Lesson 8:  The Believers Resources

Peter’s second letter was written just before his death in 66-67 A.D., most likely to the same churches as 1 Peter in the geographic area of what was then Asia Minor (Turkey in modern times).  Peter wrote this second letter to help the Christians prepare for a world filled with spiritual deception and false teachers.  Just as Paul earlier had written to Corinth that the devil disguises himself as an angel of light, and his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, Peter was warning and preparing his audience as well.  Peter states in 2 Peter 1 that their best defense against false teachers lies in their clear apprehension of their spiritual privileges, growth, and maturity in the faith as the best antidote against error.

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Lesson 9:  Established in the Truth

Peter realized that his words of 2 Peter 1:3-11 were reminders of the truth they had already received, but God’s promises in the Scriptures are our most valuable assets in this battle we call life.  Peter was willing to always hold the churches accountable to the truth of the gospel that had saved them.  It was a way to connect them by shining a light again in the darkness of this world we live in.  It was all the more important that they take the truth of the Scriptures to heart in view of the threat of false teachers discussed in chapter 2.

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Lesson 10:  False Teachers

In chapter one, Peter stressed the importance of building yourself up spiritually.  In chapter 2 he gave the reason it is so important to be mature in the faith with a strong warning against false teachers who subtly present a message that distracts from the gospel the church originally believed in.  Peter’s denunciation of false teachers in chapter 2 and 3 reminds us of Jesus pronouncing the woes on the hypocritical Jewish religious leaders in Matthew 23.

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About the Author: Charlie Taylor
About the Author: Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor grew up in Dallas, Texas, graduated from the University of Texas Business School and went into the commercial real estate business for about twenty years before enrolling in and graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary with honors.

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