Lesson 25—Suffering and Blessing
Audio Commentary by David Daniel
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-14
Lesson Goal: To learn that “blessed” can mean more than happy or joyful; it can mean privileged or honored. Today’s lesson teaches that the believer who suffers for righteousness’ sake is “blessed.”
Peter’s focus is the Christian response to suffering and persecution. In this final section of
1 Peter (3:13 through 5:14), we find this emphasis especially pronounced. Peter writes offering counsel, instruction and encouragement to the followers of Jesus Christ who, because of their faith, face increasing hostilities, persecution and opposition from many directions.
As we begin this section (1 Peter 3:13 through 5:14), let us give thought to a few important questions asked in light of our own history and where we find ourselves today as followers of Jesus Christ.
In the last two hundred years, we have seen a shift in the mood of our culture and society toward Christians. We have gone from a culture that once embraced “In God we trust” to a culture that seeks to remove the thought, the name, and the very idea of God. We have witnessed our culture, society and the religious world become offended at the very name of Jesus Christ. It has become politically correct to speak of some distant abstract being, but to mention the name Jesus Christ is both offensive and exclusionary.
With these thoughts in mind, answer the following questions.
➢ In the United States, is it possible that one day a generation of believers could face the same hostilities as Peter’s original readers faced? Please explain your answer.
➢ What are some changes that you have already witnessed in your lifetime that were brought about by this shift in the religious and cultural climate?
➢ If modern trends stay on the same increasingly fast track for our children and grandchildren, how are we preparing them to face the hostilities they will encounter because of their faith? Please give prayer and thought to your answer.
➢ As a result of our study in 1 Peter, the most important question we must answer is: What can we (followers of Jesus Christ) begin doing now to prepare the generations who follow us for the challenges they will possibly face from government, culture, and religion because of being followers of Jesus Christ?
(Verse 13) Peter was not writing out of an academic or philosophical interest in suffering; he was writing out of a personal interest and a love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. He was also writing from his own experiences. Read Acts 5:41. Knowing that suffering and persecution were ever-present in the minds and hearts of the believers, and no doubt in Peter’s heart (see John 21: 18-19), in verse thirteen he asks a question.
Peter seeks to convey the great truth written about by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:31-39.
He writes that followers of Jesus Christ must be “followers of what is good.” The word that he uses for “follower” is the word that means zealot. A zealot is a passionate follower. The believer must be so zealous for doing good that he is known as a zealot for good. The believer’s motivation for being a zealot for good is found in Jesus’ words (see Matthew 5:16).
(Verse 14) Peter tells his readers, “[as] you suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.” He, along with other New Testament writers, expresses the idea of blessing in suffering (see James 1:2-4).
John MacArthur explains that “blessed” in this verse does not emphasize the effect (happiness or joy), but the motive for such a privilege or honor. Read Matthew 5:10. Blessed can mean happiness or joy, but it may also mean privilege or honor. Read Luke 1:42.
Read the promise relating to suffering that was given to John in Revelation 2:10.
“and do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled” (verse 14). When believers are persecuted and suffering for righteousness’ sake, they are to stay focused on Jesus Christ, remembering all the promises and privileges of their position in Christ.
“do not be afraid…” The believer is instructed and encouraged by Peter not to fear. The Greek word for fear is phobeo, from which we get our word “phobia.” The background of Peter’s words is found in Isaiah 8:12-13, where the Lord called His people to turn away from fear and dread of those threatening them. Instead of fear and panic, they are to rely on the promises of God. We are to fear God and God alone!
Questions for Life Focus
Can you remember a time in your life when you were harmed because of your faith in Christ? Please explain your answer. (Helpful hint—harm does not always mean physical harm.)
Before you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, can you remember ever abusing someone because of their faith in Christ? Before you answer too quickly, remember abuse can take many forms. Now read the question again and give focus and thought to your answer.
Please write about a time in your own life when you found strength and courage from the promises of God.