BOOK ENDS. Seraphim, April 2009.
JB 1 PETER Chapter 1
THE FIRST LETTER OF PETER
1:1 Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ, sends greetings to all those living among foreigners in the Dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen,
1:2 by the provident purpose of God the Father, to be made holy by the Spirit, obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood. Grace and peace be with you more and more.
Introduction. The salvation of Christians
1:3 Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope
1:4 and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens.
1:5 Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time.
1:6 This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials;
1:7 so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour.
1:8 You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe;
1:9 and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.
The hope of the prophets
1:10 It was this salvation that the prophets were looking and searching so hard for; their prophecies were about the grace which was to come to you.
1:11 The Spirit of Christ which was in them foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would come after them, and they tried to find out at what time and in what circumstances all this was to be expected.
1:12 It was revealed to them that the news they brought of all the things which have now been announced to you, by those who preached to you the Good News through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, was for you and not for themselves. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.
A call to sanctity and watchfulness
1:13 Free your minds, then, of encumbrances; control them, and put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1:14 Do not behave in the way that you liked to before you learnt the truth; make a habit of obedience:
1:15 be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you,
1:16 and scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy.[*a]
1:17 If you are acknowledging as your Father one who has no favourites and judges everyone according to what he has done, you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home.
1:18 Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you[*b] from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold,
1:19 but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ;
1:20 who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake.
1:21 Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.
1:22 You have been obedient to the truth and purified your souls until you can love like brothers, in sincerity; let your love for each other be real and from the heart –
1:23 your new birth was not from any mortal seed but from the everlasting word of the living and eternal God.
1:24 All flesh is grass and its glory like the wild flower’s. The grass withers, the flower falls,
1:25 but the word of the Lord remains for ever.[*c] What is this word? It is the Good News that has been brought to you.
JB 1 PETER Chapter 2
2:1 Be sure, then, you are never spiteful, or deceitful, or hypocritical, or envious and critical of each other.
2:2 You are new born, and, like babies, you should be hungry for nothing but milk – the spiritual honesty which will help you to grow up to salvation –
2:3 now that you have tasted the goodness of the Lord.[*a]
The new priesthood
2:4 He is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him
2:5 so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house.
2:6 As scripture says: See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen and the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed.[*b]
2:7 That means that for you who are believers, it is precious; but for unbelievers, the stone rejected by the builders has proved to be the keystone,[*c]
2:8 a stone to stumble over, a rock to bring men down.[*d] They stumble over it because they do not believe in the word; it was the fate in store for them.
2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart[*e] to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
2:10 Once you were not a people[*f] at all and now you are the People of God; once you were outside the mercy and now you have been given mercy.
The obligations of Christians: towards pagans
2:11 I urge you, my dear people, while you are visitors and pilgrims[*g] to keep yourselves free from the selfish passions that attack the soul.
2:12 Always behave honourably among pagans so that they can see your good works for themselves and, when the day of reckoning comes, give thanks to God for the things which now make them denounce you as criminals.
Towards civil authority
2:13 For the sake of the Lord, accept the authority of every social institution: the emperor, as the supreme authority,
2:14 and the governors as commissioned by him to punish criminals and praise good citizenship.
2:15 God wants you to be good citizens, so as to silence what fools are saying in their ignorance.
2:16 You are slaves of no one except God, so behave like free men, and never use your freedom as an excuse for wickedness.
2:17 Have respect for everyone and love for our community; fear God and honour the emperor.
2:18 Slaves must be respectful and obedient to their masters, not only when they are kind and gentle but also when they are unfair.
2:19 You see, there is some merit in putting up with the pains of unearned punishment if it is done for the sake of God
2:20 but there is nothing meritorious in taking a beating patiently if you have done something wrong to deserve it. The merit, in the sight of God, is in bearing it patiently when you are punished after doing your duty.
2:21 This, in fact, is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow the way he took.
2:22 He had not done anything wrong, and there had been no perjury in his mouth.[*h]
2:23 He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was tortured he made no threats but he put his trust in the righteous judge.
2:24 He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross, so that we might die to our faults and live for holiness; through his wounds you have been healed. You had gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian[*i] of your souls.
JB 1 PETER Chapter 3
3:1 In the same way, wives should be obedient to their husbands. Then, if there are some husbands who have not yet obeyed the word, they may find themselves won over, without a word spoken, by the way their wives behave,
3:2 when they see how faithful and conscientious they are.
3:3 Do not dress up for show: doing up your hair, wearing gold bracelets and fine clothes;
3:4 all this should be inside, in a person’s heart, imperishable: the ornament of a sweet and gentle disposition – this is what is precious in the sight of God.
3:5 That was how the holy women of the past dressed themselves attractively – they hoped in God and were tender and obedient to their husbands;
3:6 like Sarah, who was obedient to Abraham, and called him her lord. You are now her children, as long as you live good lives and do not give way to fear or worry.
3:7 In the same way, husbands must always treat their wives with consideration in their life together, respecting a woman as one who, though she may be the weaker partner, is equally an heir to the life of grace. This will stop anything from coming in the way of your prayers.
Towards the brothers
3:8 Finally: you should all agree among yourselves and be sympathetic; love the brothers, have compassion and be self-effacing.
3:9 Never pay back one wrong with another, or an angry word with another one; instead, pay back with a blessing. That is what you are called to do, so that you inherit a blessing yourself.
3:10 Remember: Anyone who wants to have a happy life and to enjoy prosperity must banish malice from his tongue, deceitful conversation from his lips;
3:11 he must never yield to evil but must practise good; he must seek peace and pursue it.
3:12 Because the face of the Lord frowns on evil men, but the eyes of the Lord are turned towards the virtuous.[*a]
3:13 No one can hurt you if you are determined to do only what is right;
3:14 if you do have to suffer for being good, you will count it a blessing. There is no need to be afraid or to worry about them.[*b]
3:15 Simply reverence the Lord[*c] Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have.
3:16 But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander you when you are living a good life in Christ may be proved wrong in the accusations that they bring.
3:17 And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong.
The resurrection and ‘the descent into hell’
3:18 Why, Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life,
3:19 and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison.
3:20 Now it was long ago, when Noah was still building that ark which saved only a small group of eight people ‘by water’, and when God was still waiting patiently, that these spirits refused to believe.
3:21 That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
3:22 who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand, now that he has made the angels and Dominations and Powers his subjects.
JB 1 PETER Chapter 4
4:1 Think of what Christ suffered in this life, and then arm yourselves with the same resolution that he had: anyone who in this life has bodily suffering has broken with sin,
4:2 because for the rest of his life on earth he is not ruled by human passions but only by the will of God.
4:3 You spent quite long enough in the past living the sort of life that pagans live, behaving indecently, giving way to your passions, drinking all the time, having wild parties and drunken orgies and degrading yourselves by following false gods.
4:4 So people cannot understand why you no longer hurry off with them to join this flood which is rushing down to ruin, and then they begin to spread libels about you.
4:5 They will have to answer for it in front of the judge who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
4:6 And because he is their judge too, the dead had to be told the Good News as well, so that though, in their life on earth, they had been through the judgement that comes to all humanity, they might come to God’s life in the spirit.
The revelation of Christ is close
4:7 Everything will soon come to an end, so, to pray better, keep a calm and sober mind.
4:8 Above all, never let your love for each other grow insincere, since love covers over many a sin.[*a]
4:9 Welcome each other into your houses without grumbling.
4:10 Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others.
4:11 If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to him alone belong all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
4:12 My dear people, you must not think it unaccountable that you should be tested by fire. There is nothing extraordinary in what has happened to you.
4:13 If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.
4:14 It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you.
4:15 None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer;
4:16 but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.
4:17 The time has come for the judgement to begin at the household of God; and if what we know now is only the beginning, what will it be when it comes down to those who refuse to believe God’s Good News?
4:18 If it is hard for a good man to be saved, what will happen to the wicked and to sinners ?[*b]
4:19 So even those whom God allows to suffer must trust themselves to the constancy of the creator and go on doing good.
JB 1 PETER Chapter 5
Instructions: to the elders
5:1 Now I have something to tell your elders: I am an elder myself, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and with you I have a share in the glory that is to be revealed.
5:2 Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it.
5:3 Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow.
5:4 When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the crown of unfading glory.
To the faithful
5:5 To the rest of you I say: do what the elders tell you, and all wrap yourselves in humility to be servants of each other, because God refuses the proud and will always favour the humble.[*a]
5:6 Bow down, then, before the power of God now, and he will raise you up on the appointed day;
5:7 unload all your worries on to him,[*b] since he is looking after you.
5:8 Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat.
5:9 Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things.
5:10 You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you.
5:11 His power lasts for ever and ever. Amen.
Last words. Greetings
5:12 I write these few words to you through Silvanus, who is a brother I know I can trust, to encourage you never to let go this true grace of God to which I bear witness.
5:13 Your sister in Babylon, who is with you among the chosen, sends you greetings; so does my son, Mark.
5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ.
END OF JB 1 PETER [5 Chapters].