1 Peter 3-5

In the final three chapters of 1 Peter, Peter continued to urge his audience to fully embrace the alien status that had been forced on them. As those scattered from their homeland, they were to be mindful that nowhere on earth was home; in consequence they ought to alienate themselves from the selfish ways of the world and follow Christ’s example of submission in suffering. Peter employed texts from Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah to buttress the Christian faith and endurance of his readers

(1) In 1 Pet 3:6, Peter referenced Sarah’s submission to Abraham as a precedent for wives among the elect exiles to trust God and obey their husbands. When the Lord called Abraham, He promised the patriarch that he would have a great lineage (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-6). But as Abraham and Sarah aged, they were not given children. When Abraham was 99 years old, the Lord told him that within a year Sarah would conceive and they would have a son (Gen 17:15-22). The Lord sent messengers to Abraham reaffirming His word that Sarah would conceive within a year. When she heard the news, she laughed within herself and said, “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?” (Gen 18:12). Peter knew that Sarah called Abraham her lord after years of following Abraham and waiting on God to fulfill His promise. Peter wanted the women in his audience to follow Sarah’s example in deed and word so that their submissive obedience would reflect not only Sarah’s posture toward Abraham but also Jesus’ submissive obedience to God (1 Pet 2:21-3:1).

(2) In 1 Pet 3:10-12, Peter quoted Ps 34:12-16 to reinforce his exhortations that his audience live at peace with one another. This is the second use of Psalm 34 in 1 Peter, Peter having quoted Ps 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” in 1 Pet 2:3. David went undercover to the Philistines in order to hide from Saul (1 Sam 21:10-15) and he wrote Psalm 34 after he departed from them. While David was in the presence of the Philistine king, he pretended to be insane so that the king would dismiss him rather than see him as a political threat. David wrote that the one who wants to see a long life and good days should seek peace and pursue it (Ps 34:12, 14). By pretending to be insane, David was seeking peace with the Philistine king and with Saul. Peter used David’s words in Ps 34:12-16 to encourage his audience to demonstrate humility and congeniality toward one another, reminding them that as they bestowed blessing on others, God would bless them.

(3) In 1 Pet 3:14, Peter quoted Isa 8:12 to urge his readers to be confident even when they suffered for righteousness. In Isaiah 8, the prophet recorded the Lord’s word to him, and the prophets under his care, following Ahaz’s decision to reject God’s offer of help against the threat from Israel and Syria (Isa 7:1-8:10). Ahaz chose to make an alliance with Assyria, rejecting God (2 Kgs 16:1-9). The Lord told Ahaz, “Do not call everything an alliance these people say is an alliance. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified” (Isa 8:12). In Isa 8:13, the Lord said, “You are to regard only the LORD as holy. Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe.” After Peter’s citation of Isa 8:12 in 1 Pet 3:14, he wrote, “Set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Peter thus placed Jesus in the position Isaiah reserved for God.

(4) In 1 Pet 4:8, Peter quoted Prov 10:12 to spur on further community in his audience. Peter placed the proverb, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” in the shadow of his exposition of Christ’s suffering and covenantal love at Calvary (1 Pet 2:21-25) and the reminder that Christ had suffered unjustly for sinners (1 Pet 3:18). In the literary flow of the Epistle, the call to love set forth in Prov 10:12 had a bloody-red hue about it.

(5) In 1 Pet 4:18, Peter quoted Prov 11:31 to encourage his audience to endure suffering on the way to ultimate salvation. In 1 Pet 4:12-19, Peter wrote that though his audience would suffer for their faith in Christ, that suffering would not be ultimate. Salvation they would finally enjoy. And if God brought such suffering upon His righteous ones, what would come of those who do not obey the gospel? The conditional statement of Prov 11:31, “If the righteous will be repaid on earth, how much more the wicked and sinful,” expressed the frame of thought Peter wanted to establish in his audience.

(6) In 1 Pet 5:5, Peter quoted Prov 3:34 to exhort his audience to humble themselves before the Lord and their leaders. Since “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5b), Peter’s audience could either follow the way of wisdom expressed in Prov 3:34 or open themselves to the Devil’s influence (1 Pet 5:8).