1 Peter - Lesson 5

By Curt Niccum

1 Peter: 1-22-2:3

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The class can describe how the character of God should determine the quality of the actions of His children.
  2. The class will apply the challenge of the text to their own lives,specifically by loving the Christian family in general, and in particular by their speech.


  1. Bibles for every student
  2. Copies of the worksheet for lesson #5
  3. If devotional period is desired, you may need songbooks and to designate people for singing, praying, and scripture reading.


Concerned about the impact of persecution on the church, Peter writes 1) to assure the Christians of their place in God’s kingdom and 2) to urge them to live as members of that kingdom rather than to capitulate to the surrounding culture. Peter’s last command in the previous section was to live in reverent fear of the Lord. Working from Psalm 34, he clarifies what that means with regard to the human relationships in our heavenly family (the church). The quality of the church’s actions should be determined by the nature of the Father; “like Father, like son.” Thus, since God’s word endures forever, so should our love towards our Christian brothers and sisters. Since the Lord is good, we too should be good toward our Christian family. For a church facing external pressures, there is a temptation to let the friction adversely affect the church through short tempers and quick tongues (internal pressures).Peter reminds them that they have been purified from such worldly actions. God’s children behave differently.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Devotional Period (5-10 minutes)

  1. Read 1 Peter 1:22-2:3.
  2. Sing at least two songs (you may choose from the following)
    1. Purer in Heart, O God
    2. Angry Words
    3. A Common Love
    4. God’s Family
  3. Prayer (some appropriate subjects for prayer are listed below)
    1. For members of the congregation to grow in their love toward each other
    2. For better control of our language, especially when speaking of other Christians

Introduction (2 minutes)

  1. Welcome visitors.
  2. Distribute study sheets.

Review (5 minutes)

  1. Ask members what parallels they found between Psalm 34 and the part of 1 Peter studied so far. (This was an assignment given as part of the Travel Tip on the handout for the previous lesson.)
    1. Blessing the Lord (Psalm 34:1 and 1 Peter 1:3)
    2. Protected by God (Psalm 34:6 and 17 and 1 Peter1:5)
    3. Tasting that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8 and 1Peter 2:3)
    4. Fearing the Lord (Psalm 34:9 and 11 and 1 Peter1:17)
    5. Proper speech (Psalm 34:13 and 1 Peter 2:1 and 3:8-12)
    6. Many afflictions for the righteous (Psalm 34:19 and 1Peter 1:6)
    7. Salvation through redemption (Psalm 34:22 and 1Peter 1:9 and 18-19)

Evaluation (5 minutes)

  1. Remind the class how Peter calls us to action: 1) set your hope fully on grace, 2) be holy as God is holy, 3) live as a foreigner with reverent fear for God
  2. Ask members how the story line of Annie or A Little Princess paralleled Peter’s message.

Learning Experiences (20 minutes)

  1. In the section of 1 Peter examined in this lesson, there is a focus on consistency. As a bridge from the previous lesson to this one, you might have the class reflect on examples of behavior in Annie or Sara (from the movies used as analogies in the previous lesson) that reflected the character of her parents. (Admittedly, this works much better with A Little Princess than with Annie, since Annie does not know much about her parents. Annie’s providing the dog a better home might be associated with the parents’ need to provide a better home for Annie.)
  2. Having examined fictional story lines, bring the application a little closer to home. Consistency becomes an issue in everyone’s life.
    1. “I would rather see a sermon, than hear one.” Have the class discuss this statement. What do people mean by this?
      1. First, many people use this as an excuse not togo to church. Part of the rationale behind this is that the church is perceived to be full of “hypocrites.” Despite the motivation behind this phrase (“I don’t need God” or “I don’t need organized religion”) or faulty logic (“I know one member who is a hypocrite” therefore “all members are hypocrites”), there is a valid critique concerning consistency. Christians are expected to say and do certain things, and sometimes they fail.
      2. Second, there is a sense in which “actions speak louder than words”; at least, actions give words their power. This is a biblical concept. God’s word will not return to Him empty. When God speaks, things happen. The account of creation in Genesis 1 is a good example of this. People pay more attention when what is said is accompanied by appropriate action.
    2. What about at home? Have you ever heard or perhaps even said something like this: “Do what I say, not what I do”?
      1. Children imitate the words and actions of their parents, even the ones that the parents do not want them to imitate. (You may want to ask the class for stories about their own children that illustrate this.)
      2. Part of parenting is modeling proper behavior, but some of parenting is trying to get kids to avoid making the same mistakes the parents made and make.
      3. In 1 Peter we have seen how Christians have been “born again” into a heavenly family and address God as Father. How is God’s parenting both the same and different than ours?
        1. The class can list a number of similarities. You will need to summarize the discussion by noting that God does expect His children to display His character. We are a reflection of our parentage.
        2. God as parent is different because He is perfect. God doesn’t have to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
      4. Because of God’s character, the church must hold the heavenly Father up as the standard of measurement. Hypocrisy in the church reflects the failure of children, not the character or power of the Father. (Hypocrites go to church precisely to become more like their Father.)
  3. In 1 Peter 1:22-2:3, although still working more in general terms, Peter is beginning to get more specific as to the type of action the churches need to show. In each case, though, the action is defined in terms of God’s character.
    1. Read 1 Peter 1:22-24.
      1. Again Peter points to Christian conversion as the point at which our heritage changes. 1 We have now been purified from the empty life handed down from our earthly parentage (1:18). The reminder of the conversion experience serves to focus our attention on God as our heavenlyFather and the church as our heavenly family.
      2. A corollary to this is that the brotherly love that inherently belongs to the church must exhibit the eternal nature of God and His family. As the seed of our new birth is imperishable and the word ofGod lasts forever, so must our love toward one another be everlasting. Our brotherly love should never fail because God’s word never fails.
        1. In verse 22 the New International Version reads “love one another deeply.” Although this conveys the gist of the original, it disconnects the character of a Christian’s love from the character of his or her imperishable rebirth and eternal Father. Considering the context, the word should probably be translated “continuously” or“constantly” or even “deeply without end,”for it is the eternal character of Christian love that Peter expands upon in this section.
        2. Q: Considering the historical context of this letter, why might Peter be concerned about brotherly love not being preserved or heartfelt? A: Persecution from the outside can have negative effects on the inside. Just as a family member under stress from external circumstances tends to create friction and stress within the family, similar conditions can exist in the church. In times of trouble, love is needed more, yet it is often less easy to give. 1 It might be worth noting that the constant references to the initial conversion throughout 1 Peter convinced many scholars that 1 Peter was actually a document of teaching given at baptism, i.e., a “catechetical” document. It is not true, but it does show the importance that beginning moment of conversion has in Peter’s argument.
    2. Read 1 Peter 2:1-3.
      1. Here Peter commands that certain actions foreign to brotherly love be removed completely from the Christian life. Our brotherly love should never be evil because God is good.
        1. This list of vices contrasts sharply with the character and actions of God.
          1. God is good. This alludes to Psalm
  4. The concrete way in which God is good is spelled out there. Peter clearly assumes his readers are familiar with the Psalm. (Note that Peter comes back to it again in3:10-12.)
  5. God nurtures His children so they will achieve salvation. (Note that this is one of several times in the Bible that God is pictured as Mother rather than Father.) This qualifies the love that His children are to share.
    1. First, we should feed and nurture each other, looking to the salvation of others.(This is also being modeled by Peter and in this letter and in 1:25 - the word that was preached to you.) God’s goodness toward us is the standard of our goodness towards others.
    2. Second, our nature should be as innocent as infants. Our innocence should control our actions. This should be accompanied by a craving. (You can use the example of how babies eagerly seek milk, if appropriate to the class.) Our craving for spiritual sustenance should find expression in our physical lives, especially in how we treat others in God’s household.
  6. Being God’s family is not easy: The more brothers and sisters, the more opportunities for sibling rivalry and trouble. Pressures from the world only create more potential for problems. There is a tendency to think sometimes that my walk with God would actually be improved by solitude, by getting away from the problems of other brothers and sisters. On the contrary, distancing yourself from your siblings distances you from God. Every biblical term used to describe the church is corporate in nature. Our corporate responsibility will be made even clearer in the verses to be studied next week (1 Peter 2:4-10). Justas God has devoted Himself to us as a family, we must equally be devoted to that same family. Peter reminds us that precisely when we feel least like loving a Christian brother or sister maybe the moment we need to show it the most. More importantly, doing so reveals that we have been reborn into God’s family and have been recreated in His image.

Application (10 minutes)

  1. Peter defines brotherly love for us both positively and negatively.
    1. Have the class discuss how the character of God determines the positive character of our love for each other. (Continuous love that does good should be the main focus.)
    2. Have the class discuss what brotherly love is not. (Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy and slander are not consistent with God’s definition of brotherly love.)
  2. Have the class mention ways that the congregation has displayed true brotherly love.
  3. Have the class discuss ways they can exhibit brotherly love. (Look especially for concrete ways to challenge the class into immediate action. There may have been a prayer request that the class could respond to or a particular ministry need that the class could work together to fix.)

Assignment (2 minutes)

  1. Each member should read 1 Peter 2:4-10.

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