23 January 2015

1 Peter 1:17-22

“Through [Christ] you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.” (v. 21)

Psalm: Psalm 87


Today's passage is part of a section on holy living. The preceding two verses (1 Peter 1:15-16) exhort the readers of the letter to be holy in their conduct since the God who called them is holy; this reasoning is supported in verse 16 with a quotation of a repeated commandment from Leviticus: "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (eg Leviticus 11:45; 19:2).

In this light, the author says that those who invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, need to live in reverent fear during the time of their exile (verse 17). Such fear may be the respect that children owe their parents, but is more likely to be that sense of awe that an impartial judge inspires.

From what might be seen to be a negative approach to holy living, the writer moves on to a positive one: his readers have been set free ("ransomed" (v. 18)) from the futile ways inherited from their ancestors by the precious blood of Christ. Holy living is now being depicted as a grateful response to God's mercy that has freed them and given them a new birth (1 Peter 1:3). This approach can also be seen in the giving of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 where, before recording the commandments, we read that God said, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery …" (Exodus 20:2). The commandments can, therefore, be seen as shaping the people's response to the God who set them free.

In the last verse of today's passage, the author tells his readers that one of the outcomes of obedience to the truth is "genuine mutual love"; they are, therefore, encouraged to "love one another deeply from the heart" (v. 22).

To Ponder

  • What do consider are the marks of holy living? What insights have you received about this from other Christians, including those of other traditions?
  • What do you believe should and does motivate holy living?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Stubbens

Neil Stubbens is a Methodist presbyter who is currently the connexional ecumenical officer. Previously, he has served in the Barnsley, Southport, St Helens and Prescot, and Sankey Valley Circuits.