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Alive To God

Updated: May 29, 2023


In our studies of 1 Peter, we come to several complex and challenging verses for scholars. Reading through various commentaries, you are sure to find differing thoughts and opinions. However, a few things we can agree on is that Peter focuses on Christ's fullness and God's sovereignty in (3:17-4:11).

Peter is dealing with the challenging topic of suffering. "For it is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."(1). How should Christians relate to and understand suffering for doing good?

Talking about suffering is not as difficult when you are not the one experiencing suffering. However, in the midst of suffering, suffering will often lead to challenging and trying questions. As Peter seeks to encourage Christians who are suffering for the sake of Christ, he focuses on the suffering of Jesus and the hope shared in Him. Understanding this hope leads Christians in new life.

The Exalted Christ

1 Peter 3:18–22 (NIV)

"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."

Peter recalls the suffering of Jesus. Jesus suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. Jesus, the suffering Servant, is now exalted. He has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand, where angles, authorities and powers are in submission to Him.

In the midst of suffering, for Christ's sake, Christians share in the hope of being lifted up with Christ. In baptism, we are united with Christ, a point the apostle Paul shares:

Romans 6:3–5 (NIV)

"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his."

Christians are joined with Christ in baptism. We are united with Him. Peter expresses that baptism is "the pledge of a clear conscience toward God."

Noah and his family, eight in all, were saved through the waters of God's judgment. These eight experienced a new life as they passed through the waters and stepped out of the ark. In like manner, Christians, through baptism, have passed through the waters, their conscience cleared, as they step into new life through the resurrection of Christ.

In the midst of suffering for Christ's sake, Christians share in the hope of new life, a life lifted up and united with Christ. This hope does not make the experiences of suffering less intense or any less painful. But what it provides is a confidence through trials, being united with Christ.

Alive To God

New life in Christ is not only a future hope; it's a new you today. As Tim Mackie would describe, it's "Humanity 2.0." In Christ, you are new creation and made alive to God. Humanity 2.0, this new life, takes on the attitude of Christ (4:1).

1 Peter 4:1–2 (NIV)

"Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."

There was something noticeably different in the lives of those united with Christ. They lived not for themselves but for the purposes of God. This change was noticed in their community and the reason some received harassment for following the way of Jesus.

1 Peter 4:4 (NIV)

"They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you."

Suffering harm, ridicule, and harassment for the sake of following Christ is not something any of us would enjoy. Understandably, it's not something we desire. However, when we suffer for following Christ, we participate with Christ. Jesus speaking to His disciples reminded them of the attitude some had toward Him:

John 15:18–20 (NIV)

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."

Jesus was despised, rejected, and persecuted by some. Although this is never pleasant, Christians are united with Christ in His suffering as we suffer for following Him.

As new creation, humanity 2.0, our lives are patterned after Christ. There is a noticeable difference in our purpose. Our lives are not patterned after "evil human desires" (4:2) but Jesus.

1 Peter 4:7–11 (NIV)

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

As new creation, we need to live in anticipation of God fulfilling all things through Christ. Being clear-minded and through prayer, our lives are to be patterned after Jesus. A life patterned after Jesus, among other things, is a life of sincere and deep love for one another, a life of hospitality, a life of service, and a life that honors God through our speech.

Bridging The Context

No matter what century we live in, suffering, harassment, and persecution are not something any of us desire. However, we learn through Peter that we are united with Christ as Christians. In suffering for the sake of Christ, Christians participate with Christ. As the Apostle Paul considered sufferings, he believed them not worthy comparing with the glory to be revealed in Christ (Rom. 8:18).

United with Christ, we are alive to God. Our lives are made new. This new life is patterned after Jesus. Yet, some mocked and persecuted Jesus. Just as well some will not understand the purpose for which we live our lives today. Humanity 2.0 lives for the purpose of God receiving all glory and honor. We know that in this purpose and through Christ, we have the hope of being lifted up with Him.

notes: Unless otherwise notes, Scripture quotations are from: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

additional reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19


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