1 Peter - Lesson 4
By Curt Niccum
1 Peter 1:13-21
Background Information for the Teacher
- The class can explain how hope for the future produces action in the present.
- The class can describe how the phrase “like father, like son”applies to our spiritual family.
- The class can prove that the holiness of God is not an abstract concept because of Christ.
- Bibles for every student
- Copies of the worksheet for lesson #4
- If devotional period is desired, you may need songbooks and to designate people for singing, praying, and scripture reading.
Concerned about the impact of persecution on the church, Peter writes 1) to assure the Christians of their place in God’s kingdom and 2) to urge them to live as members of that kingdom rather than to capitulate to the surrounding culture. As Peter starts the body of the letter, verses 13-21, he calls the Christians to action. Both the heavenly parentage (verses 14 and 17) and heavenly citizenship (verse 17) provide motivations for this Christian action.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Devotional Period (5-10 minutes)
- Read 1 Peter 1:13-21.
- Sing at least two songs (you may choose from the following)
- Holy Lord
- Holy, Holy, Holy
- O To Be Like Thee
- Oh Lord Prepare Me
- More Holiness Give Me
- Prayer (some appropriate subjects for prayer are listed below)
- For the Bible class and the congregation to reflect God’s holiness
- For each Christian to be more like his or her heavenlyFather
Introduction (2 minutes)
- Welcome visitors.
- Distribute study sheets.
Review (5 minutes)
- Ask members if they discovered what it means to “gird the loins of your mind.” (This information was given in the “Travel Tip” section of the previous lesson’s handout. “Girding the loins” is a common Biblical phrase that refers to pulling the robe up around the waist and tying it in a knot in order to allow one to run faster. Figuratively, then, it refers to being prepared for action.)
- Ask members what in verses 13-21 seems to support the proverb “like father, like son.”
Learning Experiences (20 minutes)
- To get the class thinking, begin by asking questions about the movies “Annie” and/or “A Little Princess.” (Older generations will be more familiar with the former, while later generations will probably know the latter. If possible, it might be beneficial to show the first few minutes of “Annie” in class if neither movie was assigned as a “homework” assignment. Both of the movies start with the premise that a beloved child gets left at an orphanage/seminary for special care due to extenuating circumstances. Both are left behind with the promise that the parent will return. This firm belief in their beloved status and the hope of reuniting with parents set Annie and Sara apart from the other children and give them strength to face adversity from the antagonistic matrons of each establishment. These commonalities should be the focus, although the adoption of Annie by Daddy Warbucks and their uniting of Sara with her father could also be used to reinforce previous lessons about the use of adoption and birth language with respect to Christians in the New Testament.) Some questions might be: Who is Annie/Sara? What is her predicament? Is she like the other children? What sets her apart? Why do the matrons antagonize her? Why does she not succumb to the pressure? What does she rely on for strength in times of trouble?
- In 1 Peter 1:13-21 we are told to do three things, each related to the idea that we are children in a foreign environment awaiting a promised reunion.
- “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you”
- Q: Why does Annie sing the song “Tomorrow?”A: Hope.
- If the hope of Annie or Sara controlled their actions, how much more should our actions be controlled by our hope. A hope in God is not passive. It requires preparedness for action (this is what “girding the loins of your mind” means) and a clear mind. “Kingdom people do Kingdom things.” At present, the command is general, but the rest of the letter will provide specific ways that our hope springs into action.
- Just as Annie and Sara had been assured that their parents would return, we too have been assured of Jesus’ return. This promise is even greater than that in the movies in that God is an even greater Father. Peter has already established this with three references to revelation (verse 5: the salvation ready to be revealed; verse 7: the revelation of Jesus Christ; and verse 10: our salvation was revealed to the ancient prophets). The word “therefore” (verse13) connects these actions to this tremendous promise.
- “Be holy in all your conduct.”
- Q: How did parentage determine the actions of Annie/Sara? A: For Annie, every action was based on the belief that her parents would return for her. For Sara, her father’s description of her as a little princess kept her self-esteem and hope high despite what others were saying about her.
- Q: Where do children pick up their bad habits? A: Expect at least two answers. Parents will typically respond, “From other children.” Those without children will typically focus on poor examples of parenting and so will answer, “From bad parents.” Both answers can be applied to the topic at hand. God, of course, is pictured as a good parent. So with regard to the first answer the class can be asked, Q: What type of children are Christians supposed to be? A: Obedient children (verse 14). With respect to the second answer the class can be asked, Q: In the text that we are studying, is there a danger of retaining poor habits learned from bad parents? A: Absolutely (verses 14 and 18). Verse 14 answers both, although not necessarily associating previous action to parentage, but verse 18 makes that connection explicit. Christians today live with a tension between the human parentage they have crucified (but which still holds temptations for them) and the heavenly parentage given through rebirth (baptism).
- The reason for being holy is not due to some external standard being applied to our lives. Holiness is the characteristic of God and must be also of His children. We have been born with imperishable seed. “Like father, like son.”(Holiness is also not an abstract concept. Jesus Christ came in the flesh in order to live as God would have humanity live. Jesus makes holiness, therefore, concrete.) Our actions must imitate those of God. (Note the context of the phrase “Be holy for I am holy” recurring throughout the Book of Leviticus. It is a call to action.)
- “Conduct yourselves in reverent fear during the time of your sojourn” (This translation, though not the best English, helps convey the connections between this phrase and the larger context. Both the idea of actual conduct [from the same word found in verses 15 and18] and the temporary status of being resident aliens are important here.) Although more appropriate to “A Little Princess” rather than “Annie,” it is clear that some of the actions of the main characters were determined by expectations laid upon them by their parents whether implicit (Annie) or explicit (Sara). The same is true to an extent for Christians. God has certain expectations of us that should affect what we say and do.
- Q: What is the punishment under the Old Testament for being a disobedient child? A: Stoning. (It may be necessary to point out that this command was only applied to adult children, the specific charge being “S/he is a glutton and a drunk.” Note also that this was the charge leveled against Jesus by the religious leaders, not a description of his eating and drinking habits.) Although Christians are citizens of the heavenly kingdom and children of the heavenly King, it does not absolve them from appropriate behavior. Indeed, it places upon them a greater responsibility. If God requires the punishment of disobedient children on earth, how much more so His own heavenly children!
- The value of our heavenly parentage is underscored by its cost. Jesus’ blood offered as a pure sacrifice redeems us from the curse of our earthly heritage.
- The confirmation of our future hope is underscored by the resurrection of Jesus. If God raised His son, He will also raise His other children. Thus our faith and hope are in God.
- “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you”
- Thus Peter states that Christians must be prepared for action that is consistent with their hope (1:13), do the action that is constitutive of their character (1:14-15), and realize that all action carries consequences, whether good or bad, because of the Father’s identity and the inestimable value of the father/child relationship purchased at the cost of Jesus’ blood (1:16-21).
Application (10 minutes)
- Obviously there are many parallels between our Christian story and the storyline of “Annie” and/or “A Little Princess.”(Every good story has a good plot, and every good plot relates in some way to the Good Story.) Have the class draw out some of the parallels, but have them list specific ways that Christians act that convey their hope, their heavenly parentage, and their fear of judgment.
- Have the class discuss the ending of the movie(s). Q: Does the Christian story end the same way? Do we know the ending? How do we know? Why are we so sure? For Christians, the trite ending certainly applies: “They lived happily ever after.”
- Although Peter has not yet provided specifics, what are some specific actions that are consistent with God’s (and, therefore, our) holiness? (If necessary to spur discussion, read 1 Peter 2:1 or 4:3-5.)
Assignment (2 minutes)
- Each member should read 1 Peter 1:22-2:3 and Psalm 34,noting parallels between the two texts.
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