First Peter is a timeless and powerful letter that gives hope to Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith. This important letter can be clearly divided into three thematic sections. In section one, Peter calls all Christians to personal holiness (1:13‑3:12), in section two he teaches that holiness and righteous living sometimes bring persecution and suffering (3:13-3:22), and in section three (4:1-5:14) he concludes by instructing Christians how to behave in the face persecution.
This series focuses on section two, which reminds us of the hope we have in Christ Jesus to endure persecution and suffering.
Suffering for Righteousness
13And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14But even it you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. (3:13-17, NASB)
In this passage, following on the heels of a lengthy discourse on personal holiness, Peter calls the Christians in Asia Minor to be different from the world around them, to be holy (1:15). So, it’s not difficult to imagine their response in reading this challenge. Such a life-style is almost certain to bring persecution from their pagan neighbors. Peter, understanding their obvious concerns, addresses in advance their fears and their doubts regarding this issue. His overriding theme is “Hope for suffering Christians,” a topic as relevant today as ever.
In this study we will examine eight timeless truths about suffering for righteousness:
- We are protected by God (3:13)
- We are permanently blessed by God (3:14a)
- We can be fearless and confident during tough times (3:14b)
- We should submit to Christ in all things (3:15a)
- We must be prepared to share the gospel at all times (3:15b)
- We should be gentle and reverent in our response (3:15c)
- We should maintain a good conscience before God (3:16)
- We are virtuous in suffering for righteousness (3:17)