This chapter begins with what appears to be a brand-new topic: the role of elders. We began our discussion with the question, “Why?” Was this simply the next item in Peter’s checklist of topics? Or more likely, how did it fit into the flow of his letter? Why did he draw his epistle to a close on this subject? Continue reading
This portion of Peter’s letter raised plenty of questions for our group:
- What does “finished with sin” mean (1 Peter 4:1b)?
- When was the gospel preached to “the dead” – before or after they died (v. 6)?
- How does love (and whose love) cover sins (v. 8)?
- What does it mean to “be as one who speaks God’s words” (v. 11)?
- How are our suffering, God’s glory, and joy related (vv. 13, 16)?
- Does God really will suffering (v. 19)?
As our group was reading this passage prior to our discussion, it occurred to me that 1 Peter 3 is full of ideas very out of step with our culture:
- Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands (v. 1)
- Husbands…treat your wives with respect as the weaker partner (v. 7)
- Do not repay evil with evil (v. 9 – “No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm” in The Message.)
- Even if you suffer for what is right…(v. 14)
- If it is God’s will to suffer … (v. 17)
In the practice of good observation, several people in our group started the discussion with the “So” at the beginning of the passage (“Therefore” in NASB and NIV). The agreement was that Peter is drawing a conclusion from the end of the previous chapter about “the good news that was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25).
However, in this context of good news and the gospel of salvation, one person pointed out how many “do’s” and “don’t’s” Peter gives throughout the chapter. The person making the comment described an early upbringing of strict rules and how such a background can inhibit our experience of grace. Continue reading
The beginning of Peter’s first letter did not disappoint. We started our discussion around the questions, “What was on Peter’s mind? Why did he take the time to write this letter?” After looking at the passage individually for about fifteen minutes, we talked about the various themes that seem to permeate those twenty-five verses: Continue reading
After our study and discussion of the Apostles’ Creed, I wanted to return to the format we had used for the Gospel according to John and the letters of John: simple, straightforward inductive Bible study, rigorously staying in the text to see how much we could glean from the single passage.
This study (and the blog resulting from our discussion group) will be different in a few ways. The common thread through these changes is to encourage more independent study and less dependence on a leader’s preparation.
- A chapter at a time: In previous studies, I divided the text into shorter passages, looking for what appeared to be logical break points in the writer’s flow of thinking. We will study Peter’s letters a chapter at a time, understanding that the chapter divisions (as well as the verse numbers) were added centuries after the Biblical documents were written. Rather than depending on my (sometimes arbitrary) selection of passages, we will use the chapter divisions we all have as a starting point.
- Few, if any, prepared questions: Guided questions can help stimulate discussion, and our group often asks even more interesting questions as we go through a passage. In order to make the study more authentically inductive, we will start with just the text. The questions on the back of the handouts are still helpful starting points for the methodical approach of Observation, Interpretation, and Application.
- Different translations: In previous studies, we used the New American Standard Version most of the time. In order to benefit from the abundance of translations available, each week the handout will use a different version. I encourage the group to use their own Bible translations as well in order to gain even more breadth of the richness of a passage. We will continue using handouts for the convenience of marking the passage.
- Short blogs: Past blog entries may have been a bit (!) lengthy because of the rich discussions in our group. Trying to include all the treasures from our time together resulted in some blog entries of five-thousand words (which pushed the limit between blog and dissertation!). My goal for this study is to pick one theme from our discussion. Hopefully, others from the group will comment in the blog to add more jewels from our discussion.
I hope the blog will be helpful in your own study of Scripture. If you have the opportunity, please join us at 10:45 on Sunday mornings in the Conference Room at South Fellowship.
A new inductive Bible study discussion group has started during the second hour (10:45-12:00) at South Fellowship. We are going through the letters that Peter wrote to Christians scattered around what is now Turkey. Then, as now, this was a difficult area in which to practice the Christian faith. While few of us face the degree of hardships experienced in that region, Peter’s insights can help us understand what God might be doing through our own difficulties.
This new group will be small (we are meeting in the Conference Room) and short (a chapter a week for eight weeks to get through Peter’s letters). If you have not been in this kind of group before, this will be a great introduction to methodical, inductive study of Scripture.
Our past discussion groups have been lively and challenging. Regardless of your experiences in Bible study groups, you will find this study an opportunity to explore the Biblical text for yourself and then to compare your discoveries with other explorers.
The goal of our time is summarized by an eighteenth-century theologian:
Read nothing into the Scriptures, but draw everything from them,
and suffer nothing to remain hidden that is really in them.
J.A. Bengel (1687-1752)
I hope you will join us at 10:45 in the Conference Room this Sunday.
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