Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bible Study - 1st Peter 1

Tomorrow my group is discussing 1st Peter 1:13:25. I know you are thinking, "Wait a minute! What happened to 1st Peter 1:1-12?" Well, we discussed that last week. Never fear, I will give you some cliff notes from our Bible study to catch you up.

In verse 1, Peter identifies himself because that is how people wrote letters back then. They identified themselves, and then they said who they were writing to. He refers to himself as an Apostle. This gives his epistle some authority, because he saw Jesus and heard His teachings.

Next, Peter tells who he is writing to. The chosen, sojourners, in dispersion. You definitely can read this and think he is writing to Jewish Christians, but he is actually writing to Gentile Christians or the New Israel. They are chosen, like the Jewish people were. They are sojourners in dispersion or aliens living in a foreign land. That foreign land is Earth as it is not their or our real home. Heaven is. Lastly, the five cities are just the order that the deliverer of this letter would deliver it. Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

In verse two, we see the Trinity at work. Chosen by the foreknowledge of God means that God knew who would accept Him and chose them. This is NOT predestination. Sanctified by the Spirit refers to receiving the Holy Spirit at Baptism. Obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ refers to Jesus' death on the Cross.

In verses 3-12, Peter cannot contain his joy and it just spills onto the text in one loooong sentence/prayer/blessing. We see Peter give praise to God for our new life and our eternal reward, Heaven, waiting for us. But notice that he cannot describe the awesomeness of it, so he just has to say what Heaven is not and not what it is. It is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. So if someone asked you if Catholics are saved/born again? You can give a resounding YES, and tell them see 1st Peter 1:3-5.

Verses 6-9, he reminds us to rejoice while undergoing trials. Hello, Epistle of James showing up again in the First Epistle of Peter. It sounds like a contradiction to rejoice with bad things going on, but we're called to do it. Why? Because, we're not made for this earth. Yes, we have to live on it and have our faith tested and purified like gold, which is beautiful analogy, as gold actually gets better with fire, so do we. But earth isn't our final home. We're just passing through trying to get to Heaven.

Verses 10-12 are a good argument for people who try and discredit Jesus. The prophets wrote about Him for a long time, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And all of their writings were for our benefit so that we would/should recognize Jesus when He came, and accept Him. Sadly, not many people did. The end of verse 12 is just mind-blowing. Even the angels wanted to see what Jesus was going to do and how God's master plan was going to shake out. How cool is that?

Alright, we're all caught up from last week. Onward! Verse 13, we're told to gird up the loins of our minds and be sober. In a nutshell, be clear thinking and be ready for whatever the world throws at you. There's all sorts of bad things in the world that can make you anxious, but if you're clear thinking and relying on God, they won't phase you and you'll keep your eyes on the prize - Heaven.

Verse 14, we're called His children. Not slaves. Not peons. Children! We gained that privilege through Baptism, but we can't be bratty kids. No, we have to be obedient and not go back to our old life. Hard task indeed, because as most people know, the old life is more fun and easier.

Verses 15-16 stress the call for holiness, and to be holy like God. That's easy enough, right? Wrong! We have to rely on Him constantly, if we want to be like Him. And we should want to be like Him. We are His children. And children should reflect their parents, so if God is holy, we need to be holy.

Verse 17 serves as a bit of a warning, at least in my opinion. Yes, God is our Father now, but He is still fully just. You can't just call Him Father, and then go live however you want to live. If you don't live right, God will justly punish you.

Verses 18-21 reminds us how we were saved - not by silver or gold. Now, some might think this means money, and I guess it could to a degree. No one ever bought their way to Heaven, and those selling and buying indulgences back in one of our darker periods would have done well to read this passage and remember it. But the silver and gold is also referring to idols or false gods. Those never saved anybody, and they never will. The only way to Heaven is through Jesus.

Chapter 1 wraps up with verses 22-25 calling us to love each other intensely with a pure heart. This isn't just some kind of casual love that means "I guess I love you, when you're nice to me or when you can do something for me," nor some kind of sexual love. This is an agape love. It is a love where we would die for them. How do we get that kind of love? Not on our own that's for sure. Why? Because we are mortal, like the grass or the flower. This kind of love comes straight from God, and we are called to live it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long recap/breakdown. I promise next week's post on this topic will not be this long. Have a good Wednesday, and I'll see you Friday when I post my next lesson for 7th Grade Catholic Religious Education.