Lesson 18—Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:21-24
Lesson Goal: To better understand how believers should respond to suffering for righteousness’ sake.
In previous verses, Peter gave instruction concerning suffering and pain of believers following Jesus Christ. Peter points his readers to the fact of Jesus’ sufferings and His example to all believers.
One of the greatest and most glorious truths of Scripture is “Christ also suffered for us…” (verse 21). Based on this fact alone, believers’ lives should be radically changed, and we should be challenged to live for Christ with a burning passion and a deep resolve to understand the great truth: “Christ also suffered for us.” It is an amazing statement of glorious truth: “Christ also suffered for us.” Please take a few moments and ask the Holy Spirit to help you better understand what it means that: “Christ also suffered for us.” Do not rush; pause and meditate on this truth.
➢ What does it mean to you, personally, that Christ suffered for you?
In the Scripture, Peter wrote, “Christ also suffered for us.” John Phillips expounds:
Peter saw it happen. He was an eyewitness of much of it. The suffering began when Jesus was but eight days old. He was circumcised (Luke 2:21). It was His first personal experience of pain. He grew up. He began His ministry. He suffered at the hands of the people He came to save. He knew loneliness, rejection, and malicious hatred. His family disbelieved His claims. His disciples let Him down. Peter himself denied Him with oaths and curses, and Judas sold Him for a pocketful of change. He wept His heart out in Gethsemane. He was falsely accused, beaten, and abused by His own people, then He was mocked, scourged, and crucified by the soldiers of Rome. He endured the torments of the cross. Finally, He was made sin for us and abandoned by the Father.
➢ Write a brief testimony of thanksgiving to Jesus for the fact that He “also suffered for us.”
(Verse 21) In this verse, we find a truth that runs absolutely contrary to some modern-age philosophy and theology of suffering. There are some modern-age movements that have replaced suffering with ideas of prosperity and glamor. Peter very clearly states that for the true believer there will be identification with Christ through suffering. In fact Peter stated, “for to this [true believers] were called.” See Philippians 1:29.
➢ What have you suffered, or how have you suffered, as a result of your faith in Jesus Christ?
“leaving us an example”—The believer should seek to follow Christ’s example in suffering. The word “example” is taken from the Greek word hupogrammon, which means a pattern of or a copy. The idea is a pattern that is reproduced by placing it under a sheet of tracing paper so the original images could be duplicated. In ancient times, children learned to write by tracing over the letters of the alphabet. Christ is our ultimate “example.” As we (true believers) strive to duplicate Christ’s example, we are following in His steps. As we follow the steps of Jesus Christ, we will find the path often takes us through the way of suffering.
Remember the type of suffering Peter is writing about in these verses. It is the suffering that comes into the life of the believer as a result of following Christ. We have been given a great call to follow Him, and one result of this call to follow Him is the call to suffer for Him and His cause, just as He suffered for us. So what is His cause? To love God supremely. This love leads us to live a holy life and to love this lost and dying world, which makes us desperate to share the good news of the Gospel.
Jesus’ example to us is set forth in verses 22 and 23. Peter wanted his readers to look very closely at how the Lord Jesus responded to His sufferings. Peter examines Jesus’ suffering under the prophetic light of Isaiah 53, which is the most intense and significant Old Testament passage on Jesus’ sufferings. Read Isaiah 53.
(Verse 22)—Peter borrows from Isaiah 53:9, as he writes verse twenty-two. Along with the testimony of Scripture through Isaiah, Peter’s own testimony would affirm this truth. Peter himself had witnessed Christ’s example at the hands of those who made Him suffer. In the end, because of Jesus Christ’s sinlessness, his tormentors had to resort to false witnesses to secure a false guilty verdict. In the midst of indescribable suffering, Jesus was without the slightest flaw. From His mouth there was not a word brought forth in “deceit.”
Peter continues to borrow from Isaiah in verse twenty-three. Here he echoes the words of Isaiah 53:7. “Being reviled” means to use abusive, vile language over and over against someone. It is the harshest type of verbal abuse. Jesus’ example: “He did not revile in return.” Jesus, the supreme example, chose to accept the suffering, even asking the Father to forgive those who abused Him. See Luke 23:34.
(Verse 24) Again borrowing from Isaiah (53:4, 11), Peter now turns his thoughts to Calvary (the cross). “At Calvary, God called in the full and entire sum of the sin debt of the human race. At Calvary the sin of the world was heaped upon Jesus. He paid it all” (Phillips). Jesus would say from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Part of that great meaning of the original language is “paid in full.” Jesus paid it all! Jesus took our sins upon Himself—the guilt, judgment, and punishment—and bore them for us.
“that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed” (v. 24)—Christ suffered and died for our sins that we might die to sin and live unto righteousness. The only way we can be counted righteous is through the righteousness of Jesus. Through Jesus Christ, the true believer can stand righteous before God, made righteous through the righteousness of Jesus. We are healed of our sins by the stripes which He suffered and bore on the cross. Jesus Christ is the believer’s perfect example of suffering for righteousness’ sake.
Questions and Thoughts for Life Focus
Write a brief explanation of what it means to suffer for righteousness’ sake?
Have you ever suffered for righteousness’ sake?
How did you suffer?
Explain your righteousness apart from Jesus Christ, and explain your righteousness through Jesus Christ.
Have you ever witnessed a believer suffering for righteousness’ sake?
What does it mean that He bore your sins in His own body? Do not answer this question lightly. Give it much thought.