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31 Bible Reflection Tips

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

1. Emphasize: Pause on each word of a verse, emphasizing it as you read it, and unpack it. (“I have stored up your word...” Personally accountable, deliberate, not dependent on others. “I have stored up your word…” Habitually, ongoing.)

2. Read and Pause: Pray. Then start reading until the Holy Spirit causes you to pause and reflect.

3. Opposites: Consider the opposite of what the verse is saying. (I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. opposite: WHEN I have [NOT] stored up your word in my heart, [ I find I more readily ] sin against you.

4. Inclusive/Exclusive: When you find words like all, every, never, none see them as yield signs and ponder what that includes or leaves out. (“I will never leave you or forsake you” NEVER? not even when I run away from you? NEVER? not even when I feel alone?)

5. Various English Translations: Read in various translations to get a fresh or nuanced perspective.

Philippians 3:3

ESV: For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh

ERV: But we are the ones who have the true circumcision—we who worship God through his Spirit. We don’t trust in ourselves or anything we can do. We take pride only in Christ Jesus.

MSG: The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials.

NLT: For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, )

6. Other Language Translations: If you read in another language, read the Scriptures in that language.

7. Rewrite: Rewrite a verse or passage from your own thoughts and words.

8. Personalize: Read a verse or passage and put your own name in where there are names or pronouns. (Isaiah 41:13 “‘For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” Personalized: “‘For I hold Carol by her right hand— I, the Lord Carol’s God. And I say to Carol, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help Carol.”

9. Question: Ask yourself questions about the passage. (Who is involved in this story? Where else did Jesus say something similar? Who is this being said to?)

10. Threads: Find other verses that speak along the same lines. (What else did Jesus say to the Pharisees? Where else do the Psalmists recount God’s actions among His people? What is Paul’s salutation and closing in each of his letters? What does Proverbs say about what the fool does, thinks, says?)

11. Patterns and Rhythms: Look for literary or construct patterns. (e.g. What are common “triplets” or “couplets” in the NT? Faith, Hope, Love; Grace and Truth, etc)

12. God-Man: In the Gospels, wherever “Jesus” is mentioned, read the passage as “God”. (“Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down. A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all.” Read as: “[God] returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down. A vast crowd brought to [God] people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before [God] , and [God] healed them all.”)

13. Join the Cast: Take on one of the characters in the story and walk through the story as that person. (Zacchaeus: Why do you want to see Jesus? What do you feel when Jesus says he is going to your house? What might you be afraid of or excited about?)

14. Attributes: Tie what you are reading to an attribute or characteristic of God. (Matthew 19:14,15: “But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.’ And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. ATTRIBUTES: Kind, Humble, Generous…)

15. Listen: Read the passage aloud or listen to it recorded.

16. Memorize: Verses and passages. Tackle a longer section as a month-long or annual goal. (Suggestions: Psalms 19, 23, 51, 103; Ten Commandments; Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount; Book of Philippians; John 14-17).

17. Pray: Transform the passage into a prayer. (Psalm 23: “Lord, thank you for being my Shepherd and providing all I need. When you put me in places of refreshment and rest, help me to enter into them fully. Help me remember that it is your righteousness, not my own, that guides me, and it is your name alone that deserves any glory….”)

18. Sing: Sing Scriptures that have been made into praise choruses, or make up your own tunes to passages.

19. Dos and donts: Reframe teachings of the Psalmists, Jesus, Paul, etc into lists of things to do and things to avoid doing. (Ephesians 4: DO: Walk in a manner worthy of calling; bear with one another; maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. DON’T: walk like people who don’t know God; don’t become callous, don’t be given to sensuality or greed.)

20. Define: Use a dictionary or thesaurus to look up words, even if you already know the definition, to help expand your understanding of the meaning.

Mercy: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mercy

  1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.
  2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
  3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
  4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
  5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.

Synonyms:

forgiveness, indulgence, clemency, leniency, lenity, tenderness, mildness

21. Jot: Read a passage and jot down the key or main thought. Reflect on what you captured.

22. Meditate: Review a passage over and over in your mind throughout the day or as you go to sleep.

23. Word Study: use a Concordance to look up all the passages a word is used then look for patterns or how the various passages expand your understanding. (Wisdom-208 instances in ESV. Here is a selection.)

1 Kings 4:30 (ESV) so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.

Acts 6:10 (ESV) But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

Colossians 2:3 (ESV) in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

1 Kings 4:34 (ESV) And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.

Proverbs 4:7 (ESV) The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV) that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Wisdom from the Spirit

Proverbs 8:1 (ESV) Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?

Proverbs 24:3 (ESV) By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;

Ephesians 1:8 (ESV) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

24. Diagram: Take a passage apart and diagram it according to parts of speech. What are the subclauses? What is dependent on what?

25. Repetition: Note when a word or phrase is repeated in a passage. (John 1)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth... For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

26. Journal: Read a passage and write your personal reflections, prayers, questions, insights, etc.

27. Commentaries: Read what Bible teachers and Scholars have said about the passage. Classic Commentaries are found free online: Matthew Henry, Calvin, Luther, etc. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/

28. Greek and Hebrew: Look up the meaning of words in a Greek or Hebrew Dictionary. http://www.Lumina.Bible.org/ or http://www.biblestudytools.com/interlinear-bible/

29. Poetry: Write a passage as a poem.

30. Dialogue/Contrast: Read a page that has various characters with voices from the characters. (John 11: Jesus said. Mary, Martha responded.) (Psalm 78 God did. People of Israel responded.)

31. Themes: Follow a specific concept, term or person throughout a book or passage. (Read all accounts of the Birth of Jesus. Where do you see the Holy Spirit? Read Matthew or Luke and write down every accusation the Scribes or Pharisees mutter about Jesus.)

Related Topics: Women's Articles

The Wrath Of God In The Old Testament: “The Law Brings Wrath”

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“Lack of wrath against wickedness is a lack of caring, which is a lack of love” (p. 23 or 160).

Down here on earth as it is now in its sinful state, you can’t have love without anger against evil and injustice.

Introduction

What’s with all the wrathin’ and a-smitin’ in the Old Testament?

That’s what many people ask.

I’m a radical believer in the radical grace of God. But if I don’t explore this topic, some people may accuse me of hiding unpleasant truths and focusing on feel-good, sugarcoated doctrines alone.

Let’s get started.

In Rom. 4:15, Paul has a profound insight that is often overlooked because it is so brief and tucked away in numerous other profound truths: “the law brings wrath”; in that verse the law is the Torah or Law of Moses.

One way to check out his insight is to look at the common (and not so common) Hebrew words for anger, wrath, fury, indignation, and so on.

The law was thundered from on high on Mt. Sinai, beginning in Exodus 19. God shows wrath on his own people, after the law was given, when they violated it.

I intend to explore this thesis:

The law brings wrath.

This insight is tied to the Old Covenant, for law and covenant go together in the OT. Two parties, God and man, entered into an agreement or covenant. The lesser party (humankind) must fulfill certain obligations; the law guides people as to how to carry out their agreement, and the law promises benefits for upholding the covenant (Deut. 28). God, the major party, benefits his people. But when one party (people) breaks it in bad faith over centuries, the aggrieved party (God) has the right to take action against the covenant breakers and lawbreakers. They can even be punished. That action and punishment is called wrath in the OT. We could call it judicial (legal) or covenant wrath against lawbreakers or covenant breakers.

Ground Rules

Let me discuss the study method and limitations.

I don’t offer the meaning of the words in this study all the time, because they mean anger, wrath, fury, and so on. But I note it when in some contexts they mean zeal, nostrils, discord, sorrow, and so on. Generally those are not counted, unless they’re metaphors for or actually mean wrath and anger in some verses.

I did not factor in the word vengeance and its cognates, which are a form of God’s wrath. Except for four times, I did not look at jealousy, which also has a connection to anger.

It is not known when Job lived, but the book was written after the law was given, so this judicial wrath theology influences the book.

I counted the enemies of David in the Psalms as those who lived under the Sinai Covenant because he is likely talking about his enemies at court. But this wrath in the Psalms against his enemies happens so few times that the major results are not affected.

It was sometimes difficult, but not impossible, looking at a Hebrew-English concordance, to tell whether the context clause was about God or humans, so sometimes I looked up the reference to make sure. Nonetheless, I couldn’t look up every one, so the below totals are close approximations.

Chosen people and covenant people: For this study, the people whom God favored will be called the chosen people before the Law of Moses was given in Exod. 19, because they did not yet have the Sinai Covenant. After the law, they are called his covenanted or covenant people; they did have the Sinai Covenant, though it’s not as if they lost their chosen status – or a remnant did not.

Thus the “chosen people” and “covenant people” are used only for convenience before and after the law, respectively.

This study, as all studies using raw word counts, must be used judiciously. Sometimes an important theme in the Bible has few words, e.g. Sonship of Christ appears only 16x in Paul’s epistles, but it’s still very important. A pound of gold is worth a lot more than a ton of gravel. So this study is intended to reveal sinful people’s relationship to the law, the Old Covenant, and wrath, so that eventually the gospel can be preached  and deliver people from the wrath of God, but only after they’re in the New Covenant.

Hypothesis

Our hypothesis will help us navigate through the biblical data. We’ll use it to reach conclusions about the thesis. The hypothesis is in two parts.

(1) The key Hebrew words will rarely appear against his chosen people before the Law of Moses was given;

(2) The Hebrew words will appear against his covenanted people most often after the Law of Moses was given.

Those who know the Bible can already figure out the outcome, but many don’t know Scripture. Plus, what’s important is how to interpret the data.

In that light, we also examine additional evidence of similar sins committed by the Israelites before the law was given and similar sins after the law. The differences in punishments are remarkable.

Finally, we keep track of what happens to those outside of the covenant or chosen status (pagans), who act as a comparison.

Let’s see if we confirm or deny the hypothesis by looking at the evidence. If it is confirmed, then the thesis is also confirmed.

Linguistic and Textual Evidence

1. Ap: 207: before the law was it is not used of God except in Exod. 4:14, when the anger of the Lord burned against Moses – the lawgiver – and in 15:7, when the blast of God’s nostril (anger) threw the Egyptian army into the sea.

Of the 207 times, the word appears, meaning wrath or anger (not nostrils, etc.), 167 times it refers to God, after the law was given, except Exod. 4:14 and 15:7, as noted.

167 of 207

155 of 167 against his covenant people

1 of 155 on his chosen vessel, Moses, before the law was given

2. Za’am (both verb and noun): 28: it is not used of God before the law was given; it is appears 27 times for God’s wrath after the law was given.

27 of 28

18 of 27 against his covenant people

3. Ḥēmah: 110: before the law was given, it does not appear for God’s wrath. After the law was given, it appears about 88 times for the wrath of God.

88 of 110

78 of 88: against his covenant people

4. Ḥārah: 92: it appears that many times for anger, fury, and sometimes burned, as in the anger of the Lord burned. But I did not count fret. It appears about 48 times for the wrath of God. It is used potentially of God’s anger through angels against Abraham (Gen. 18:30, 32), though God did not actually get angry. It also appears in Exod. 4:14: the anger of the Lord burned against Moses. Except for those 3 times, it appears only after the law was given.

48 of 92: (twice in Gen. 18:30, 32 and once in Exod. 4:14)

46 of 48: against his covenant people

2 of 26 potentially on Abraham, God’s friend, but the wrath never actualized or happened

5. Ḥārȏn: 39: it is used 39 times of God. It appears in Exod. 15:7, in Miriam’s song, for God’s burning anger. All other times it appears after the law was given.

39 of 40: once in Exod. 15:7, on the Egyptians

33 of 39: against his covenant people

6. o: 6: it is used 2 times of God, after the law was given.

2 of 6

2 of 2 against his covenant people

7. Ka’as (verb): 54: it is used 40 times of God’s anger and always after the law was given.

40 of 54

40 of 40 against his covenant people

8. Ka’as (noun): 15: sometimes this is translated as grief or sorrow, but those verses were omitted from the total count. It is used 5 times about God, and all of these verses come after the law was given.

5 of 15

5 of 5 against his covenant people

9. ‘ābar (denominative verb): 8: 5 of these words are used of God, and all occur after the law was given.

5 of 8

5 of 5 against his covenant people

10. ‘ebrah: 31: 24 are used of God, and all of them appear after the law was given

24 of 31

17 of 24 against his covenant people

11. Qin’ah: 4: this word is usually translated in the NIV as jealousy, but 4 times it refers to God’s jealous anger, and all occur after the law was given.

4 of 4

4 of 4 against his covenant people

12. Qātzap: 34: it is used of God 25 times, and all the verses appear after the law was given.

25 of 34

23 of 25 against his covenant people

13. Qetzep: 28: it is used of God 27 times, and all occur after the law was given

27 of 28

25 of 27 against his covenant people

14. Rāgaz; rōgez: 2: both are used of God and come after the law was given.

2 of 2

2 of 2: against his covenant people

Interpreting the Numerical Data

These totals are close approximations.

The words wrath, anger, fury and their synonyms appear 658 times, whether about God or humans.

Of the 658, God shows wrath 499 times.

So humans have wrath or anger 159 times.

Of the 499, God shows his wrath against his people 448 times after the Law of Moses was thundered down.

On his chosen people before the law and covenant: 3 times. Of those three, Abraham did not actually experience it because God through his angels accepted his questions. So it was used only once, against Moses, the lawgiver.

God shows wrath against individuals outside of his covenant (pagans). The key Hebrew words appeared only once before the law was given – against the Egyptian army. But after the law was given, the bulk of the occurrences of the Hebrew words are in national contexts: God’s wrath and anger are to be poured out on nations that crushed Israel, like Assyria and Babylon. Isaiah took care to speak those prophesies.

After the law was given, God’s wrath on people outside of the covenant (pagans), whether national or individualistic, works out to be 51 times.

Here are the totals for the key Hebrew words:

Total: 658

God’s wrath: 499

God’s wrath after the law: 495

God’s wrath against the covenant people: 448

God’s wrath against his chosen people before the law and covenant: 1 (and potentially 2 more times)

God’s wrath on people outside the covenant (pagans) before the law: 1

God’s wrath on people outside the covenant (pagans) after the law: 51

God’s wrath before the law, either on his chosen people or pagans: 4 (or 2)

Percentage against his covenant people after the law: 90%

Percentage against people outside the covenant (pagans) after the law: 10%

The low number against pagans is startling because it seems that God would direct his wrath towards them more often than against his chosen or covenant people. However, as we will note in the next section, Additional Evidence, this sheer number needs to be interpreted in the bigger context of story, like Sodom and Gomorrah and the ten plagues.

Also, one would expect the law to guide his covenant people towards righteousness, so God would not have to show his wrath on their unrighteousness. Just the opposite happened. His wrath intensified after the law because their sin increased. Recall that Paul argues that the holy law stimulates sin in unholy humans (Rom. 3:20, 7:15-13); sin must be justly punished (wrath); so “the law brings wrath.”

Therefore, our two-part hypothesis is confirmed:

(1) The key Hebrew words rarely appeared against his chosen people before the Law was given;

(2) The Hebrew words appeared against his covenanted people most often after the Law was given.

Therefore, Paul’s insight that “the law brings wrath” is also confirmed.

Additional Evidence

Though most of those Hebrew words do not appear before the law was given, God’s wrath in action – without the words – can be seen, for example, in Adam and Eve’s punishments (Gen. 3); in the flood (though the text speaks specifically of grief that motivated God); on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19); and the ten plagues on the Egyptians (Exod. 7:14-11:19; cf. Ps. 78:49). This all happened to pagans.

However, it must be said that God’s chosen people in those examples were spared from wrath, except Adam and Eve. Noah and his family were saved in the ark; Lot and his family were rescued from the two cities; the ten plagues were not intended for the Israelites. Thus, they were spared his wrath, even though they were not sinless and morally perfect, before the Law of Moses was given.

Therefore, the numbers revealed in the previous section need to be interpreted properly. God favored his chosen people or merely corrected them before Exod. 19, while pagans were punished severely when they broke the moral law or sinned in some way. This is wrath without explicitly saying the key words.

But it must still be emphasized that the key Hebrew words were never used, while after the law the words are used freely, indicating a shift in divine attitude about his covenanted, law-centered people. That’s still remarkable.

Now let’s see what happens in Genesis, after the creation story. Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob committed recorded sins, but they did not explicitly suffer wrath. Abraham lied to the Pharaoh, but God inflicted disease on the Pharaoh, not on Abraham. God spared his chosen man, but not pagans. God restored them, however (Gen. 12:10-20).

Next, Abraham and Sarah laughed at the promise of God that they would have a son, but they were only rebuked, not punished. They still had Isaac (Gen. 17:15-22, Gen. 18:10-15, Gen. 21:1-6).

Further, Jacob stole Esau’s birthright (Gen. 27), but he was still blessed with revelations (Gen. 28:10-21). He wrestled with an angel and got a name (character) change, but this is not explicitly stated as the wrath of God (Gen. 32:22-32). He and Esau reconciled, and Jacob got to carry on with the birthright privileges (Gen. 33 and Gen. 49).

One could say that God favored them because they were his chosen people and he had a bigger plan. But it’s not as if they got off scot free. They were corrected or rebuked in some way, but never do the key words for wrath appear, while they are used freely after the law on Mt. Sinai.

Let’s turn our attention to Exodus before the law was given in Exod. 19 and the corresponding passages in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy after the law. In a side-by-side comparison the differences in punishments are remarkable.

In Exod. 15:22-27, before the law in Exod. 19, the children of Israel are out in the desert. They found no water, and the water they eventually discovered at Marah was bitter. They complained. God performed a miracle without wrath explicitly stated. In Exod. 17:1-7, they camped at Rephidim, still in the desert, and could not find water. They complained again, but God’s wrath is not stated. Instead, Moses struck the rock, and water came out. In contrast, in Num. 20:1-13, after the law was given, the Israelites complained about not having water, and this time God told Moses to speak to the rock, and water would gush out. Instead, Moses disobeyed and struck the rock. Though “wrath” is not explicitly stated in Num. 20:1-13, Ps. 106:32 says, “By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them.” God judged Moses, so the lawgiver was not permitted to lead the people into the Promised Land (cf. Num. 20:24, Num. 27:14; Deut. 32:51).

In Exod. 16, before the law, the Israelites grumbled about not having food, so God provided them with manna and quail. But nowhere does the text say that God poured out his wrath on them for their sin of complaining. In contrast, in Num. 11:4-35, after the law was given, the people complained about having nothing but manna. God became “exceedingly angry,” but provided them with quail, anyway. He also judged them with a plague because they apparently ate it raw. An image of a riot is possible. This severe punishment is wrath.

Num. 21:4-9 further combines complaining about food and water. God sends snakes to bite them. Though the keywords are not mentioned, the snakes are a severe punishment, and that’s the same as wrath.

In Exod. 16:23-30, before the law, Moses told the people not to gather the manna on the seventh day, the Sabbath, because that is day is holy. But they disobeyed and gathered it anyway. Moses rebuked them, and they did it right the next time. No wrath is stated, and no one died. However, in Exod. 20:8, after the law, God commanded the people to keep the Sabbath (the Fourth Commandment). He further orders that if they don’t keep it, they shall be executed. In Num. 15:32-36, they actually put a Sabbath breaker to death.

Next, as soon as the Ten Commandments were given, the second of which says not to form or make idols, the people, led by Aaron, made the golden calf (Exod. 32). They made no calf or another image before then. In Exod. 32, God would have destroyed all of them (v. 19), but instead only 3,000 were killed because Moses intervened (v. 28). Maybe it was passages like these that inspired Paul to note that the law stimulates sin (Rom. 7:7-13). (Incidentally, about 3,000 got saved at Pentecost [Acts 2:41]).

Most intriguingly, Abram was promised with the blessing of children. He believed God, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. A covenant was cut (or made), the Abrahamic Covenant, which is built on faith (Gen. 15). In Num. 25:7-8, 13, Phinehas threw a spear through a man and woman who were having some kind of relations before Moses and the assembly at the tent of meeting. Ps. 106:28-31 says this act of judgment was credited to the priest as righteousness. Abram’s covenant of faith came before the law, while Phinehas’s covenant of an everlasting priesthood came after the law, through divine wrath and judgment. Jesus took up this priestly covenant and turned it into mercy and love (Heb. 4:14-5:10; 8:1-13), so we can now be part of the royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:4-5)

Interpreting the Additional Evidence

Genesis has 50 chapters, and we’re counting the first 19 chapters in Exodus, totaling 69. Of course the vast majority of those Hebrew words appear in chapters after those 69, because there are a lot more chapters. But what’s startling is how few times the words appear in the 69 – and only once on God’s chosen vessel – Moses, the lawgiver.

However, all of those passages in the Additional Evidence section reveal a startling before-and-after comparison. Before the Law was thundered on from on high at Mt. Sinai, the chosen people were rebuked for their sins, but the key words for wrath are never mentioned. The people never died. After the law was given, God’s wrath was poured out for the same sins on his covenant people. Often the people were struck with plagues or the sword or bitten by serpents and died.

Next, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his sons deserved wrath on some occasions, but never got it as such, certainly not with the same intensity as his people will receive it after the Law of Moses was given.

All of this leads to the conclusion that the kind of wrath before the law is not as heavily emphasized as it was afterwards. Even the flood was motivated by divine grief, and Sodom and Gomorrah could have been spared if ten righteous had been found. Also, these passages are about punishments on pagans. This is unlike the wrath poured out on God’s covenant people, which is heavily emphasized and widespread after the law, while, surprisingly, the pagans do not bear the brunt of it very much after the law. They were not held to such a high standard.

Maybe that’s what Paul meant when he finishes Rom. 4:15: “where there is no law [of Moses] there is no transgression” against the Mosaic Law that had not yet been given. He also wrote: “in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” (Rom. 3:25). Accountability and punishment before the law was not as stringent and severe as it was after the law.

Thus, the thesis (“the law brings wrath”) and the two-part hypothesis are further confirmed.

What Wrath Is and Is Not

We are now in a better position to interpret the wrath of God in the entire sweep of the OT.

Paul’s insight goes deeper than just a raw data word count or these stories. 

Paul says in Romans there is something flawed with the mixture of religious law (which is holy), covenant (a beneficial relationship), and unholy human nature (the fatal flaw). Law stimulates sin in sinful human beings (Rom. 7:7-13). With the law, people become conscious of sin (3:20). This law-sin connection is also tied to the covenant, which involves two parties, God and man. Humankind breaks its end of the agreement; therefore the aggrieved party, God, has the right to take action and correct the covenant breakers. That action and correction is called wrath.

That’s the first half of Paul’s great insight (and even more on that, below). The second half is discussed in the Conclusion, below.

Moreover, God expressing wrath is not like a human losing his temper. God does not flash with anger and throw an unsuspecting, nearby angel across the universe before God can think straight. “Sorry, I lost my temper! I reacted without thinking!” No, he does not lash out. This is crude literalism and human-centered thinking. Instead, there’s a logic and consistency to it. Laws were in place. The people violated them. They had to suffer the consequences, sometimes quickly when major and sacred transitions were happening in Israel’s long history (2 Sam 6:3-7; cf. Exod. 25:12-15; Num. 4:5-6, 17; and 2 Kings 2:23-25; cf. Lev. 26:21-22), but mostly they underwent wrath only after centuries of lawbreaking. Punishment for lawbreaking is called the wrath of God – his judicial or covenant wrath.

God would not be the God of justice if he let wrongs slide by undealt with, just like a parent would be derelict if she let her children get away with everything. Her giving them a timeout or even a spanking without losing her temper is a (weak) equivalent to God’s perfect, unmistakable, error-free wrath.

God’s wrath is never mysterious, irrational, malicious, spiteful, or vindictive. It is predictable because it is aroused by injustice, lawbreaking, and evil – and that alone.

This is why he shows wrath, to punish wrong and evil:

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. (Nah. 1:3)

I will discipline you but only with justice;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished. (Jer. 30:11)

Bigger Historical and Biblical Perspective

We must look at God’s wrath in the larger historical and biblical perspective.

As noted, covenant is tied to law and justice in the OT. Two parties voluntarily entered into an agreement. The privileged partner (God) promised to keep them safe and bless their agricultural life, their resources. He also instituted the priesthood to teach them how to keep the law, and he set up the sacrificial system administered by the priests to restore the people when they sinned. The righteous party (God) forgave their sins over and over again, for centuries. He sent prophets to warn them and remind them of their agreement.

But sometimes the human party to the covenant went so far in their bad faith, they broke the law so egregiously for centuries, the aggrieved party (God) took action. He judged and punished them, but not in his full wrath and not to destroy them. And after this painful judicial process – painful to him – he still forgave and loved them. He was merciful to his chosen lawbreakers. This is the perfect blend of mercy and justice. This is the story of God’s wrath in the OT, in a nutshell.

Thus, God’s wrath is linked to his judgment over a long history. He is like an old English judge in his red robe, white collar, ribbon tie, and white wig. He systemaaaaaaaatically and methoooooooodically and slooooooooowly gathers the evidence and then renders his verdict, after sifting and weighing the evidence. What kind of human judge would it be if he simply let the guilty go without paying a fine or spending time in prison? God instituted justice – including punishment against lawbreakers – down here on earth because it reflects his just character.

Further, while it is true that the Hebrew words for wrath appeared 448 times against the people of the covenant, this verse is repeated again and again in the OT:

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Ps. 86:15; cf. Exod. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps 103:4; Ps. 145:8; Joel 2:12; Jonah 4:2; Nah. 1:3)

Though those verses do not appear as often as wrath does, they are a pound of gold compared to one hundred pounds of iron.

And these verses talk about God’s mercy and forgiveness and his restraining his anger against his disobedient, law-breaking people:

Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return. (Ps. 78:38-39)

Most importantly, the word counts for favor (grace), love, salvation, forgiveness, redemption, and compassion (and their various forms) add up to about 1220 times, the vast majority of which are used of God after the law was given, and, indeed, throughout the entire OT. That’s well over twice the number of times the occurrences (499) of wrath and anger and fury (and so on) used of God at any time or against anyone, chosen or covenant people or pagan, in the OT.

Therefore, wrath is not central or fundamental to God’s character. God is more than a judge. He is love.  Wrath is a response to something outside of himself in the world; his love always is. Before he created the heavens and the earth and perfect humans who fell and continue to do wrong, he was always love in eternity past. And he will always be love in eternity future, in a new heaven and new earth, when evil has been wiped out, and he no longer must pour out his wrath on it (i.e. punish it).

That’s the more accurate biblical picture that must be taken into account.

Conclusion

We discussed the first half of Paul’s great insight at the end of the Summary section, above. It says the law, covenant, and humans are a toxic mixture. The holy law stimulates sin in sinful humans who persistently break the covenant (Rom. 7:7-13); sin must be justly punished (wrath); so “the law brings wrath” (Rom. 4:15).

The second half of Paul’s insight provides a way out.

The goal (among several) of Romans is to teach us how to avoid the wrath to come. The way out is through the gospel by faith in Christ. “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Rom. 1:17).

Then we are set free from God’s wrath. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Rom. 5:9). Paul carries forward into the New Covenant the themes – no, the reality – of favor (grace), love, salvation, forgiveness, redemption, and compassion, which he observed in the Old.

Paul’s solution is for his fellow Jews to come out from under the Law of Moses, and certainly not to make Gentiles submit to it as the Judaizers advocated, a law which is part and parcel of the Old Covenant; instead, all peoples, Jew and Gentile, should come to faith in Christ and walk in the Spirit within the New Covenant, which Christ paid for and ratified with his blood.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. … The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:18, Gal. 5:22-23)

On the cross, Jesus Christ took our earned, merited, and deserved wrath. Now he gives us God’s love and grace, which for our part is unearned, unmerited, and undeserved.

For More Study

This article has a companion piece: The Wrath of God in the New Testament. It concludes that God never shows wrath against his blood-washed, Spirit-filled church as a whole. However, an individual Christian who (God forbid) commits a crime and is arrested by the authorities, who are agents of God’s wrath (Rom. 13:1-5) – well, that’s another matter. Click on the link to read more.

The Wrath of God as an Aspect of God’s Love

That article teaches us how shallow it is to criticize justice and punishment (wrath) for wrongdoing. God’s justice and love and wrath are linked. But his love is fundamental in a way that wrath is not. I used that article for some of the ideas in the section, What Wrath Is and Is Not.

Wrath of God

That link gives a much briefer overview of the topic.

God’s Plan of Salvation

This article explains in more depth how we personally may escape God’s wrath through the one and only way of salvation that He provided in Jesus Christ.

Please cite this article, especially for print books, as follows:

James M. Arlandson. “The Wrath of God in the Old Testament: ‘The Law Brings Wrath.’” Bible.org. 2014.

The Wrath Of God In The New Testament: Never Against His New Covenant Community

Related Media

“Lack of wrath against wickedness is a lack of caring, which is a lack of love” (p. 23 or 160).

Down here on earth, as it is now in its sinful state, you can’t have love without anger against injustice and evil.

I’m a radical believer in radical grace. But I have to deal with the topic of God’s wrath that puts everyone on edge. If I neglect it, some readers will accuse me of sugar-coating the whole counsel of God and covering only “feel-good, self-help” biblical truths. However, I’m committed to the plain teaching of Scripture, wherever it may lead.

I must admit, however, that I hesitated to deal with this topic. But now that I have, I’ve learned a lot. It was not as difficult or nerve-wracking as I thought it would be.

So let’s get started on this study and see if I can do it without scaring or scarring people.

If readers would like to see the verses in various translations, they may go to Lumina.Bible.org and type in the references.

Introduction

This introduction is based on the biblical evidence presented, below, and somewhat from my companion article, The Wrath of God in the Old Testament.

Judicial Wrath

God’s wrath is part and parcel of his judgment against wrongdoing, injustice and evil. A few times his judgment and justice was administered quickly (Acts 5:1-11; Acts 13:8-12). However, you should picture God like an old English judge who wears a red robe, white collar, ribbon-tie, and white wig. He systemaaaaaaaatically and methoooooooodically and slooooooooowly gathers, sifts, weighs the evidence and then renders his verdict. What kind of human judge would it be if he simply let the guilty go without paying a fine or spending time in prison? God instituted justice – including punishment against lawbreakers – down here on earth because it reflects his just character. That is called the judicial wrath of God.

Therefore, God expressing wrath is not like a human losing his temper. God does not flash with anger and throw an unsuspecting, nearby angel across the universe before God can think straight. “Sorry, I lost my temper! I reacted without thinking!” No, he does not lash out. This is crude literalism and human-centered thinking.

Rather, God would not be the God of justice if he let wrongs slide by undealt with, just like a parent would be derelict if she let her children get away with everything. Her giving them a timeout or even a spanking without losing her temper is a (weak) equivalent to God’s perfect, unmistakable, error-free wrath.

This is why he shows wrath, to punish wrong and evil:

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. (Nah. 1:3)

I will discipline you but only with justice;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished. (Jer. 30:11)

Therefore, God’s wrath is never mysterious, irrational, malicious, spiteful, or vindictive. It is predictable because it is aroused by injustice, lawbreaking and evil – and that alone.

Old v. New Covenants

Paul had an interesting, and I say profound, insight that is hidden away in his epistle to the Romans; it hardly gets noticed. Rom. 4:15 says, “The law brings wrath”; the law here is the Law of Moses or the Torah. So I set out on a study of how that’s true.

I concluded that of the 499 that God showed wrath in the OT, he shows it against his people 448 times after the Law of Moses was thundered down on Mt. Sinai, beginning in Exod. 19.

On his chosen people before the law and covenant in Exod. 19, he showed it 3 times. Abraham potentially could have experienced it twice, but did not because God through his angels showed him mercy (Gen. 18:30-32). So actually it was used only once against Moses, the lawgiver, in Exod. 4:14.

Yes, the number of chapters before Exod. 19 is much smaller than the ones afterwards, but there is other evidence that I don’t have time to go over now (click on The Wrath of God in the Old Testament). It confirms the numbers.

Law and justice are tied to covenant in the OT. Two parties voluntarily enter into an agreement. The powerful partner (God) promised to keep them safe and bless their agricultural life, their resources. He also instituted the priesthood to teach them how to keep the law, and he set up the sacrificial system administered by the priests for when the people sinned. The righteous party (God) forgave their sins over and over again, for centuries. He sent prophets to warn them and remind them of their agreement.

But sometimes the human party to the covenant went so far in their bad faith, they broke the law so egregiously for centuries, the aggrieved party (God) finally took action. He judged and punished them, but not in his full wrath and not to destroy them. And after this painful judicial process – painful to him – he still forgave and loved them. He was merciful to his chosen lawbreakers. This is the perfect blend of mercy and justice. This is the story of God’s wrath in the OT, in a nutshell – and we haven’t discussed what kind of lawbreaking they did, acting like the unwholesome (to say the least) nations around them.

After my long study, Paul’s thesis was confirmed: the Law of Moses brings wrath.

That’s still puzzling, however. Why did God’s law bring wrath against his covenant people? Paul says in Romans there is something flawed with the mixture of religious law (which is holy), covenant (a beneficial relationship), and unholy human nature (the fatal flaw). Law stimulates sin in sinful human beings (Rom. 7:7-13). And sin within a covenant accompanied by laws amounts to lawbreaking. And lawbreaking must be judged and punished. As noted, that’s called God’s judicial wrath. It must be noted that God is not an unfeeling android when he shows judicial wrath. When his human creation rebels and commits evil and injustice, he feels sadness and pain at having to correct them (= wrath).

Now what about his people in the New Covenant?

One goal (among several) of Romans is to teach us how to avoid the wrath to come. The way out is through the gospel by faith in Christ. “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Rom. 1:17).

Then we are set free from God’s wrath. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Rom. 5:9). For Paul, all peoples, Jew and Gentile, should come to faith in Christ and walk in the Spirit within the New Covenant, which Christ paid for and ratified with his blood.

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. … 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:18, Gal. 5:22-23)

So in the New Covenant, God has not destined his Spirit-filled, blood-bought church for his wrath.

His wrath is tied to eschatology, which means a shift towards the new era of salvation that came with Christ’s death, resurrection and glorification and the outpouring of his Spirit at Pentecost. Eschatology also means a movement towards the Last Days. It is in this context that his New Covenant community and church (the same thing) is not destined for wrath.

Jesus … rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thess. 1:9-10)

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:9)

Wrath on Individuals

However, in a few contexts we will discover that God evaluates an individual as he walks with God. Sometimes the individual has such a deep character flaw and sins so egregiously that he must go through a “dealing” from God. For example, he will show anger – evaluating you and concluding you need correction – when you refuse to show mercy and forgive, though you were shown both. Next, one time Jesus showed indignation (personal reaction that opposes wrong behavior) against his disciples who tried to block children from seeing him. Finally, God institutes law enforcement and the courts, and they are agents of God’s wrath. If a Christian commits a crime, then his arrest and incarceration is God’s wrath.

Remember, wrath means judgment against injustice, wrongdoing, and sin. Specifically, judgment is an evaluation and correction in your personal life. In a court of law it is trying the facts and reaching a verdict and then sentencing the guilty and punishing him. In the Old Covenant, wrath means judging lawbreakers who violate the Law of Moses within the covenant. But in your personal life it just means God scanning your soul and disciplining you (Heb. 12:5-11).

Wrap Up So Far

To repeat this important point, the Spirit-filled, blood-washed church as a whole, in an eschatological context, is not destined for the wrath of God that is falling on the world because of its lawbreaking, sin, and evil. They are not in Christ and his protection, but we are.

So the two contexts are micro (an individual) and macro (the church v. the world). God shows wrath on the world, but not on the church as a whole in the macro. In the micro, in your personal life, where there is evaluation and correction, there is always forgiveness and restoration.

Thus Gods wrath for the individual believer in Christ has turned into correction (Heb. 12:4-11). This is one more reason why the individual must belong to a church. There is protection in a Spirit-filled, loving community, mainly protection from his own sin nature. Outside of the church he risks a sinful lifestyle and eventually severe correction from God himself or through Satan (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20), but always with the redemptive purpose of restoring him. We hope and pray that restoration is indeed always the result as well, but sadly, from 1 Corinthians11:30 we know that sometimes this is not the case.

Finally, I talk about the bigger biblical perspective in the conclusion section, below. Love and mercy and grace and forgiveness and redemption are much more predominant themes in the entire Bible, both Old and New, than wrath is – much bigger themes.

But let’s focus on the topic at hand.

Biblical Definitions and Texts

Remember, in this study we’re talking about God’s wrath, not ours; yes, the Bible speaks about human anger and sometimes favorably (Eph. 4:26). Jesus is included in this study, since he represents God, and in two instances Peter and Paul represent God too, in their special calling.

Definitions and Word Counts

Orgê (noun, 29 times): the g or gamma in Greek is hard, like ego, and the e with the accent over it is pronounced like the vowel sound in eight; this noun is the most common and the standard word for anger or wrath.

Orgizô (verb, 3 times): it is related to orgê and means to become or get or be angry. The accent over the o means it is the long o or the “omega.”

Aganakteô (verb, 1 time): this means to be or become indignant. I see this verb as meaning being personally upset and opposing wrong and meanness, usually against people who should know better. Their mean behavior was unexpected and unworthy of them.

Thumos (noun, 8 times): this is often used of humans in very strong, often bad sense; it is used of God only as a synonym for orgê very few times or in the Revelation. A few times the NIV translates it as fury in Revelation.

Prosochthizô (verb, 2 times): this is to provoke or be provoked to anger

Grand Total: 42 times, used of God

I use the Q & A format.

1. Who Earns God’s Wrath?

A. Religious Oppressors and Self-Righteous Hinderers

John the Baptist speaks judgment-wrath on this class of people. The coming wrath means that it’s on its way, at the advent or coming of the ministry of Jesus, who will lay an axe to the roots and make people decide yes or no about his gospel. It is eschatological in the sense of the new era being inaugurated with Christ. And there is no reason why it can’t envelope the Final Judgment, if people persist to resist.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? [orgê]? (Matt. 3:7; cf. Luke 3:7)

Jesus was angry at religious people who stopped – or tried to stop – the fullness of the kingdom, which included healing (and still does) – from reaching people.

2 They watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they could accuse him. After looking around at them in anger [orgê], grieved by the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mark 3:2, Mark 3:5)

B. Rejecters of Christ and His Gospel

Many people rejected the gospel, but here is a verse that says wrath remains on them. Wrath of God remaining on them means that they live within the sphere of his evaluation and correction or discipline – he would like to correct them by bringing them to the gospel of his Son. Will they see it? Will they come and have eternal life?

36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath [orgê] remains on him. (John 3:36)

C. The Ungodly and Wicked

In the next passage, the word wrath is not mentioned, but it is about a judgment and punishment. It is ironic that Elymas believed he could point people towards the truth. Not so. Elymas was spiritually and morally blind, so he was blinded. Let’s hope Elymas repented after the time of blindness was up. However, since wrath as such is not mentioned, you don’t have to include this passage in the discussion.

8 But the magician Elymas (for that is the way his name is translated) opposed them, trying to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul (also known as Paul), filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at him 10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and all wrongdoing, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness – will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 Now look, the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind, unable to see the sun for a time!” Immediately mistiness and darkness came over him, and he went around seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then when the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, because he was greatly astounded at the teaching about the Lord. (Acts 13:8-12)

In the next verse the clause is being revealed is in the present tense. There’s a sense in which God’s judgment-wrath is currently and gradually being revealed in ungodly and wicked men’s lives. But he is also leading them to repentance by showing them kindness (Rom. 2:4).

18 For the wrath [orgê] of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18)

Note the day of God’s wrath in the next passage. That’s the Final Judgment. Once again wrath and judgment are connected.

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath [orgê] against yourself for the day of God’s wrath [orgê], when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath [orgê] and anger [thumos]. (Rom. 2:5-8)

Paul uses the rhetorical “we” and “our” here:

5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath [orgê] is not unrighteous, is he? (I am speaking in human terms.)

Living a self-centered and lustful life, we used to be under wrath:

… All of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath [orgê] (Eph. 2:3).

Persisting to do the next sins and resisting God on a continuous basis will land you in trouble.

5 For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath [orgê] comes on the sons of disobedience.

The coming wrath and the present wrath in Paul’s writings means that God is evaluating and correcting people today, but eventually his evaluation will be final, and he will incarcerate people in hell, like a judge incarcerates the guilty in prison.

5 So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath [orgê] of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. (Col. 3:5-6)

D. Old Covenant Opponents and Rejecters of the Gospel

It’s one thing not to accept the new gospel; it’s quite another to actively oppose it and persecute those who do. A certain class of Old Covenant people, usually leaders, showed active hostility against Jesus and his gospel and his disciples. They sometimes persecuted the new believers. Also, in this section the epistle to the Hebrews refers back to the ancient Israelites who broke God’s laws and rebelled back in the OT.

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus’ opponents resisted and held back others who wanted to follow a new way. He is probably talking about the entire nation as represented by its leaders who did not accept his message and persecuted the new messengers.

5 But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was furious [orgizô]! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire. (Matt. 22:5-7; cf. Luke 13:34-35; Lk. 21:20-24)

As a nation, the Jews of Jesus’ day had time to repent (cf. Luke 16:19-23). If not, they were to have the axe laid to the roots. In the next passage, the word wrath is not used, but I include it here because it speaks of judgment in much the same way that the two banquet parables do, above and next. But if you don’t want to include this passage in a discussion about wrath, skip over it.

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9)

The Parable of the Great Banquet says the same thing as wedding banquet. Only the poor and expendables and unclean are welcome to the banquet, if the self-satisfied and the “too busy” believe they don’t need the kingdom feast. These are the complacent religious leaders. The master sized them up and disqualified them for the feast; that sizing up is called judgment against wrongdoing and refusal, which is called wrath.

21 So the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the master of the household was furious [orgizô] and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ (Luke 14:21; cf. Lk. 13:34-35; Lk. 21:20-24)

This is Jesus’ prediction about the destruction of Jerusalem.

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it, 22 because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath [orgê] against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)

I believe Ananias and Sapphira lived under Old Covenant law, even though they were caught up in the new Jesus movement. It is not clear to me that they experienced salvation in their hearts (and yes, salvation needs to go into the heart). Anyway, the word wrath is not mentioned, but this is a sudden judgment because God’s Spirit can evaluate matters instantly. (But if you don’t want to include this passage in a discussion about wrath, skip over it.) Also, this is not the Final Judgment, the macro; this is judgment in the micro. Yet, this passage has an eschatological feel to it too because Pentecost has opened up a new era; God apparently couldn’t let anything like lying to the Spirit disrupt this inauguration, somewhat, but not exactly, like security using deadly force if a madman aims a weapon at the president during his inauguration.

1 Now a man named Ananias, together with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of property. 2 He kept back for himself part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge; he brought only part of it and placed it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land? 4 Before it was sold, did it not belong to you? And when it was sold, was the money not at your disposal? How have you thought up this deed in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God!”

5 When Ananias heard these words he collapsed and died, and great fear gripped all who heard about it. 6 So the young men came, wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, but she did not know what had happened. 8 Peter said to her, “Tell me, were the two of you paid this amount for the land?” Sapphira said, “Yes, that much.” 9 Peter then told her, “Why have you agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out!” 10 At once she collapsed at his feet and died. So when the young men came in, they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear gripped the whole church and all who heard about these things. (Acts 5:1-11)

Paul reviews the plan of God for his ancient people, and how his new people, the Gentiles, relate to it. God was patient with the Elder Brother, Israel. But even he has his limits.

22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath [orgê] and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath [orgê]—prepared for destruction? (Rom. 9:22)

These fellow Jews of Paul resisted and stirred up trouble for him. They wouldn’t let others follow his gospel.

15 They displease God and are hostile to all men 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath [orgê] of God has come upon them at last. (1 Thess. 2:15-16)

The author of the epistles to Hebrews quotes or reviews Old Testament passages.

10 That is why I was angry [prosochthizô] with that generation,
and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.” (Heb. 3:10)

11 So I declared on oath in my anger [orgê], ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ (Heb. 3:11)

17 And with whom was he angry [prosochthizô] for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? (Heb. 3:17)

3 “So I declared on oath in my anger [orgê], ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ “(Heb. 4:3)

E. Final Enemies of God in the Last Days

This is God’s worldwide eschatological judgment-wrath as he wraps up the (im)moral universe and final accounts are settled. This is the Last Judgment.

It is disconcerting and ironic that the Lamb meek and mild has wrath.

16 They [people] called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath [orgê] has come, and who can stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17)

The twenty-four elders around the throne prophesy in heaven:

18 The nations were angry;
and your wrath [orgê] has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your saints and those who reverence your name,
both small and great—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth. (Rev. 11:18)

I let the following verses speak for themselves.

9 “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury [thumos], which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath [orgê].” (Rev. 14:9-10)

19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath [thumos]. (Rev. 14:19)

1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath [thumos] is completed. (Rev. 15:1)

7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath [thumos] of God, who lives for ever and ever (Rev. 15:7)

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath [thumos] on the earth.” (Rev. 16:1)

19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury [thumos] of his wrath [orgê]. (Rev. 16:19)

15 He treads the winepress of the fury [thumos] of the wrath [orgê] of God Almighty. (Rev. 19:15)

2. How Does the Law of Moses Relate to the Wrath of God?

As I discussed in the introduction, Paul is very clear about this. As he scanned the entire history of the OT people, his fellow Israelites, he concluded that sinful humans could not keep all of the law, which by definition means they were lawbreakers. Breaking the law for centuries elicited judgment-wrath. Therefore, the holy law – passing through the sinful human heart – brings wrath.

14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath [orgê]. (Rom. 4:14-15)

See the companion piece, The Wrath of God in the Old Testament.

3. Does God Show Anger towards Any of His New Covenant People?

There is one passage that seems to say that God shows anger at an individual disciple: the Jesus follower who shows no mercy and refuses to forgive, even though he was shown mercy and forgiven. The punch-line or application is in v. 35. Is Jesus being rhetorical and not literal? After all, the Father does not throw us in a literal, physical prison to be tortured. On the other hand, one can sense God’s displeasure if he shows us mercy or forgiveness but we show none.

32 Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! 33 Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’ 34 And in anger [orgizô] his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:32-35)

Jesus was perfectly divine and perfectly human. He showed indignation towards any of his individual disciples who prevented children from approaching him. Jesus loves the little children. He took them in his arms and blessed them. Be careful about blocking people from the full gospel. You risk falling into the same trap that the religious leaders did, when they persecuted Jesus and his apostles (see Question 1D, above).

13 Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant [aganakteô] and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

So, in the New covenant for the individual believer, God's wrath has been transformed into loving correction.

For one more possible context in which God might show wrath to an individual follower of Jesus, see Question 5.

4. How Else Does God Show Wrath?

In this verse Paul tells us to leave revenge in God’s hands. In this verse wrath seems to mean that he will fight for us.

19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath [orgê], for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)

He will probably use the legal system to achieve his justice or the proper authorities if there is a conflict on the job. But God does not tell us how he will do this. Christians should pray for justice.

5. What Is the Most Common Way God Shows His Wrath?

The main and most common way that God shows wrath today is by the authorities, both law enforcement and the courtroom – the legal system – when it’s functioning properly. Once again, wrath is connected to law and judgment. If (God forbid) a Christian commits a crime, God’s wrath will fall on him. This can happen when a Christian gets a ticket for speeding, for example. But typically the legal system is for unbelievers, or so we hope.

3 Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath [orgê] to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment [orgê] but also because of conscience. (Rom. 13:3-5)

The next time a police officer gives you a ticket for speeding, tell him, “Thanks for being an agent of God’s wrath. I deserve this ticket.” Nowadays cameras at intersections might get you a ticket. Call it photographic judgment-wrath. Better still, you (the lawbreaker) are undergoing God’s special love-wrath while you are being fined (Heb. 12:5-11).

So wrath and love are connected and are two sides of the same coin, down here on earth in its current sinful state.

6. Does God Use Natural Disasters Today as an Expression of His Wrath?

God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if he had found even ten righteous in those two towns. And when he did destroy it, the Hebrew words for wrath are never mentioned as his motive. Today, we have lots of righteous people living in the New Covenant throughout the world, so I believe God does not use natural disasters. Even in the last of the Last Days, God is never said to be their direct cause (Mark 13:24, Luke 21:10, and Luke 21:25). They instead are part of the natural world. Nature is doing her thing, and in the last of the Last Days, nature is severely running amok. But even if, hypothetically, God were to directly cause a natural disaster today, he does not tell us that he is doing it with any specific one. We just don’t know. And when we don’t know something, we should not make major announcements in the news media.

The New Covenant is here. The new era of salvation has been ushered in. It’s the kindness of God that leads you to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

As noted in Question 5, however, God uses law enforcement, when it is functioning properly, to express his wrath – his judicial wrath.

7. Who Is Free from God’s Final Wrath?

Everyone in Christ is free from it. He inaugurates the New Covenant, bought and paid for with his precious blood.

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath [orgê] through him (Rom. 5:8-9)

These next verses from 1 Thessalonians also say Christ is the answer. The church as a body is not subjected to the wrath of God in Final Judgment. Rather, Christ paid for our sins. Therefore, he welcomes all of us into his eternal realm with open arms of love.

9 They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath [orgê]. (1 Thess. 1:9-10)

9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath [orgê] but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:9)

As a whole, the church universal – everyone found in Christ – will not be on the receiving end of God’s wrath in the Last Judgment.

Conclusion

That study was not so hard, after all. I didn’t feel emotionally warm while doing it, but it was necessary. I’m glad I did it because I learned a lot.

God never shows wrath towards his Spirit-filled, blood-bought church as a whole, who lives in the New Covenant. This is not true for the ancient people of his Old Covenant, for he did show wrath at their egregious sins, as a whole.

So a big shift has happened.

The difference is the law that they lived under, contrasted with the eternal once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ and Pentecost that we live in. We walk in the fullness of the Spirit – or we’re supposed to. As noted in the introduction, above:

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. … 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:18, Gal. 5:22-23)

Even still, we need a bigger biblical perspective on the OT and NT.

In the OT, this verse is repeated again and again:

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Ps. 86:15; cf. Exod. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps 103:4; Ps. 145:8; Joel 2:12; Jonah 4:2; Nah. 1:3)

Additionally, the word counts in the OT for favor (grace), love, salvation, forgiveness, redemption, mercy, and compassion (and their various forms) add up to about 1220 times, the vast majority of which are used of God (his wrath occurs 499).

Remember, the NT is a lot smaller than the OT. In the NT those same words and their various forms appear 673 times, the vast majority of which are also used of God. And yes, God’s people are called to show those positive traits as well. The various words for wrath occur only 42 times when used of God, as we saw in this study.

Clearly, the God of the entire Bible is more interested in favoring, loving, redeeming, forgiving, saving, and being merciful and compassionate to people than he is in evaluating their sins and rendering his verdict after a careful sifting and weighing of all the evidence (i.e. judgment against injustice and evil = wrath).

Thus, wrath is not central or fundamental to God’s character. God is more than a judge. He is love. Wrath is a response to something outside of himself in the world; his love always is.

Before he created the heavens and the earth and perfect humans (who fell and continued to do wrong and break the law for centuries), he was always love in eternity past. And he will always be love in eternity future, in a new heaven and new earth, when evil has been wiped out, and he no longer must pour his wrath on it (i.e. judge and punish it).

On the cross, Jesus took our deserved, earned, and merited wrath. And now he shows and showers us with God’s love and grace, which for our part is undeserved, unearned, and unmerited.

Therefore God does not think of you with anger in his heart. Thanks to Jesus, you do not start with a deficit, in a hole, with shackles on your legs. He lifts you out of it and takes them off so you can begin again, in and with him. He thinks about you with love in his heart.

God loves you. Always has. Always will.

For More Study

This article has a companion piece: The Wrath of God in the Old Testament.

The Wrath of God as an Aspect of Gods Love

That article teaches us how shallow it is to criticize justice and punishment for wrongdoing (wrath). God’s justice and love and wrath are linked. But his love is fundamental in a way that wrath is not.

Wrath of God

That Evangelical dictionary entry gives a much briefer overview of the topic.

Gods Plan of Salvation

This article explains in more depth how we personally may escape God’s wrath through the one and only way of salvation that He provided in Jesus Christ.

Please cite this article, especially in print media, as follows:

James M. Arlandson. “The Wrath of God in the New Testament: Never against His New Covenant People.” Bible.org. 2014.

3. Conversa Comigo — A História de Isaque e Rebeca

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Deus prometera a Abraão que ele seria pai de uma grande nação. Para desfrutar dessa posição privilegiada, obviamente ele tinha de ter um filho, e nós acompanhamos as lutas da fé que finalmente levaram Abraão e Sara a ter seu filho. O nascimento de Isaque foi o ponto alto da sua memorável e emocionante caminhada com Deus. Quanta felicidade ele levou àquele esse lar! E que rapaz extraordinário ele era — comportado, obediente e submisso aos pais. Submissão parece ser a única forma de explicar como o idoso Abraão pôde fazer o jovem se deitar no altar do sacrifício. Deus providenciou um carneiro nesse drama de obediência e fé repleto de suspense; Isaque foi libertado e os três foram alegremente reunidos como família.

Tudo indica que eles formavam uma família muito unida. Eles se amavam muito. O fato de Isaque ter ficado de luto durante três anos inteiros após a morte da mãe seria uma indicação do amor que sentiam uns pelos outros (Gn. 24:67).

Com a partida de Ismael, Isaque se tornou a única criança em casa e a vida de seus pais girava em torno dele. Ele não tinha falta de nada. Àquela altura, Abraão já havia se tornado um homem muito rico e a narrativa diz que ele deu tudo a Isaque (Gn. 24:35-36). Talvez houvesse até um pouco de excesso de amor e indulgência no seu relacionamento.

Não é possível saber se Abraão e Sara percebiam que estavam afetando a personalidade de Isaque e produzindo um fraco material conjugal pela maneira como o educavam. Na verdade, eles nem mesmo pensavam em casamento. Eles gostavam tanto do filho que pareciam ter se esquecido de que ele precisava de uma esposa se era para eles se tornarem progenitores de uma grande nação. Mas, após a morte de Sara, Abraão viu que teria de tomar a iniciativa e fazer planos para encontrar uma companheira para o filho. Esta não é a maneira como nossos filhos encontram um cônjuge atualmente, mas, naquela época e naquela cultura, foi uma linda história de amor.

Para Isaque e Rebeca, o começo foi muito terno. Quando a história teve início, Abraão já era idoso. Ele chamou seu servo mais antigo, administrador de todos os seus bens, e lhe disse: “não tomarás esposa para meu filho das filhas dos cananeus, entre os quais habito; mas irás à minha parentela e daí tomarás esposa para Isaque, meu filho” (Gn. 24:3-4). Os cananeus eram um povo depravado, amaldiçoado por Deus e condenado à destruição. Deus não se agradaria se Isaque se cassasse com alguma mulher cananeia. Embora os parentes de Abraão do norte da Mesopotâmia tivessem seus ídolos, pelo menos eram pessoas decentes, que conheciam a Deus e O respeitavam. E eram descendentes de Sem, o qual fora abençoado por Deus.

Harã era o único lugar viável para encontrar uma esposa para Isaque. Embora não possamos mais escolher o cônjuge dos nossos filhos, devemos ensiná-los desde cedo sobre a importância de se casar com uma pessoa crente (cf. 1 Co. 7:39; 2 Co. 6:14). Isso os ajudará a encontrar um companheiro segundo a vontade de Deus para sua vida quando chegar o momento de tomar esta importante decisão.

E, assim, o idoso servo de Abraão começou a difícil jornada até as imediações de Harã, onde o irmão de Abraão havia permanecido após a migração deste para Canaã, 65 anos antes. Abraão garantira ao servo que o anjo do Senhor iria adiante dele. Com esse senso de direção divina, o servo parou junto a um poço na cidade de Naor, que por acaso era o nome do irmão de Abraão. Ali ele orou a Deus para trazer a garota certa até o poço e fazê-la oferecer água a seus camelos. Este foi um pedido bem específico de uma companheira adequada para Isaque. E aqui temos uma lição para nós. A melhor maneira de nossos filhos encontrarem um cônjuge segundo a vontade de Deus é orando sobre isso. Eles podem começar a orar ainda na infância sobre aquele ou aquela que Deus está preparando para eles. Orar durante esses anos os ajudará a ter em mente aquilo que é mais importante na sua escolha — a vontade de Deus.

Antes mesmo de o servo dizer “amém”, a resposta de Deus estava a caminho. Rebeca, neta do irmão de Abraão, saiu com um cântaro no ombro. A Escritura diz que ela era muito bonita, e virgem. Quando ela veio do poço com o cântaro cheio d’água, o servo correu ao seu encontro e lhe disse: “Dá-me de beber um pouco da água do teu cântaro”. Ela lhe respondeu: “Bebe, meu senhor” e, rapidamente, lhe deu de beber. Quando ele terminou, ela disse: “Tirarei água também para os teus camelos, até que todos bebam”. Então, ela despejou a água do cântaro no bebedouro e voltou ao poço para pegar mais, até tirar água suficiente para todos os dez camelos dele (Gn. 24:15-20).

Mas que garota ela era — linda, viva, amável, simpática, extrovertida e dinâmica. E, quando o servo descobriu que ela era neta do irmão de Abraão, inclinou a cabeça e adorou ao Senhor: “Bendito seja o SENHOR, Deus de meu senhor Abraão, que não retirou a sua benignidade e a sua verdade de meu senhor; quanto a mim, estando no caminho, o SENHOR me guiou à casa dos parentes de meu senhor.” (Gn. 24:27)

Desde o princípio, ficou evidente que Deus era o verdadeiro casamenteiro da história. Quando o servo contou à família de Rebeca as indicações da orientação divina, o irmão e o pai dela concordaram. “Isto procede do SENHOR”, disseram eles (Gn. 24:50). Não importa quais tipos de problemas um casamento possa encontrar, sempre será mais fácil resolvê-los quando ambos, marido e mulher, têm certeza de que foi Deus quem os uniu. As dificuldades podem ser superadas sem isso, e precisam ser se Deus deve ser glorificado, mas a ideia torturante de que eles se casaram sem ser da vontade de Deus os deixará menos dispostos a trabalhar seu relacionamento com diligência e autossacrifício.

Rebeca teve de tomar a maior decisão da sua vida — deixar a casa e a família que ela nunca mais veria e viajar quase oitocentos quilômetros nas costas de um camelo, ao lado de um completo estranho, para se casar com um homem que ela não conhecia. Sua família a chamou e disse: “Queres ir com este homem?” E ela respondeu: “Irei” (Gn. 14:58). Foi a certeza da direção soberana de Deus que motivou sua decisão e revelou sua coragem e confiança.

Com certeza, as horas de viagem foram preenchidas falando sobre Isaque. O idoso servo o descreveu com fidelidade e perfeição. Isaque era um homem modesto, bem-educado e amante da paz. Ele faria qualquer coisa para evitar uma briga (cf. Gn. 26:18-25). Ele também era um homem pensativo, não precipitado, mas calmo e reservado. Não era um grande homem como seu pai, mas era um bom homem, com uma fé inabalável em Deus e compreensão do propósito divino. Ele sabia que por meio do seu descendente Deus traria bênção espiritual para toda a terra (Gn. 26:3-5). Ele era diferente da esfuziante e perspicaz Rebeca — muito diferente. Mas, segundo os especialistas, os opostos se atraem. E Rebeca podia sentir seu coração sendo atraído por aquele a quem logo ela conheceria e se daria em casamento.

Isaque estava no campo, meditando ao cair da tarde, quando a caravana se aproximou levando sua preciosa carga. Rebeca desmontou do camelo quando o viu, e se cobriu com um véu, como era costume. Depois que ele ouviu todos os detalhes emocionantes daquela viagem cheia de acontecimentos e de como a providência divina encontrara uma noiva para ele, lemos: “Isaque conduziu-a até à tenda de Sara, mãe dele, e tomou a Rebeca, e esta lhe foi por mulher. Ele a amou; assim, foi Isaque consolado depois da morte de sua mãe” (Gn. 24:67). Foi um começo muito terno.

Entretanto, em algum ponto ao longo do caminho, o casamento deles começou a ir por água abaixo. Vejamos, então, o trágico declínio em seu relacionamento. Não sabemos exatamente qual foi o problema. Com certeza, não foi falta de amor, pois ele realmente amava Rebeca e, diferente de muitos maridos, ele o demonstrava abertamente. Quase quarenta anos depois de se casarem, ele foi visto acariciando a esposa em público (Gn. 26:8); o que pode nos levar a crer que eles tinham um bom relacionamento físico. E isso é importante num casamento. Mas marido e mulher não podem passar o tempo todo na cama. Eles também precisam construir uma comunhão íntima e profunda de alma e espírito. Precisam compartilhar sinceramente o que se passa dentro deles, o que pensam e sentem. E não há muita evidência disso entre Isaque e Rebeca.

Um dos problemas pode ter sido a falta de filhos. Isaque talvez tenha ficado ressentido e ainda não tinha admitido. Ter filhos era muito mais importante naquela época do que é hoje em dia, e eles tentaram durante quase vinte anos sem sucesso. Em vinte anos, muita amargura pode se juntar dentro de uma pessoa. Contudo, Isaque finalmente levou seu problema ao lugar certo: “Isaque orou ao SENHOR por sua mulher, porque ela era estéril; e o SENHOR lhe ouviu as orações, e Rebeca, sua mulher, concebeu” (Gn. 25:21).

No entanto, ter bebês não resolve problemas. Os gêmeos, que logo iriam nascer, só aumentariam um problema já existente no seu relacionamento. Parecia uma questão de comunicação. Rebeca, com sua personalidade borbulhante, amava conversar. Isaque, de personalidade retraída, preferia a solidão e o silêncio. Era muito difícil falar com ele. Com o passar dos anos, eles conversavam cada vez menos um com o outro. E a amargura de Rebeca cresceu devido a falta de comunhão e companheirismo que toda mulher almeja. Sua voz talvez tenha assumido um tom cáustico. Seu rosto talvez tenha desenvolvido uma expressão de aversão e desprezo. E seus olhares desdenhosos e comentários maldosos só levaram Isaque a se afastar ainda mais em busca da sua preciosa paz. Talvez ele até tenha se tornado meio surdo ao som da voz dela. Alguns especialistas modernos dizem que isso realmente pode acontecer.

Quando Rebeca concebeu, sua gravidez foi terrível. Isaque lhe foi de pouca ajuda, por isso, ela clamou ao Senhor por respostas, e Ele lhe disse: “Duas nações há no teu ventre, dois povos, nascidos de ti, se dividirão: um povo será mais forte que o outro, e o mais velho servirá ao mais moço” (Gn. 25:23). Não há nenhuma indicação na Escritura de que ela tenha compartilhado com o marido essa rara profecia divina, de que Jacó, o filho mais novo, receberia a bênção da primogenitura. Na única menção feita ao nome de Rebeca fora do livro de Gênesis, a promessa ainda era exclusivamente dela. “Já fora dito a ela: O mais velho será servo do mais moço” (Rm. 9:12). Por que ela não conseguia nem contar ao marido a incrível promessa de Deus? Por que era tão difícil para ela conversar com Isaque sobre qualquer coisa?

Conselheiros matrimoniais estimam que pelo menos metade de todos os seus casos envolva um marido silencioso. Em algumas situações, como no caso de Isaque, talvez seja uma dificuldade real de conversar. Talvez ele não goste muito de ficar pensando e não tenha o que dizer. Talvez seja muito calado e não saiba como se comunicar. Em outros casos, um homem normalmente comunicativo pode não querer compartilhar coisas com sua esposa porque está preocupado com outros assuntos e não percebe como é importante conversar com ela. Se ela fica reclamando por causa disso, ele pode construir um muro protetor ao seu redor de si e retrair-se ainda mais.

Contudo, seja qual for o motivo da sua quietude, ele precisa trabalhar sua comunicação. Sua esposa precisa de comunhão verbal e companheirismo. Deus a fez assim. E Deus pode ajudar o marido a melhorar nessa área, se ele quiser ser ajudado e buscar o auxílio que vem de cima. Não importa se ele vai se transformar ou não num tagarela, ele pode aprender a ser um bom ouvinte. Sua esposa precisa que ele a ouça com toda atenção, não com um ouvido na televisão e outra nela, mas com os dois voltados para ela, e bem abertos. Talvez isso seja tudo o que ela realmente deseje. Homens, amem o suficiente para ouvir!

Em alguns casos, talvez o problema seja o inverso. O marido pode gostar de conversar e a esposa pode encontrar dificuldade de se comunicar. Seja qual for a situação na sua casa, você pode facilitar a vida do seu cônjuge lembrando-se de alguns princípios simples. Antes de qualquer coisa, não fique pressionando; deixe-o escolher quando quiser falar. Não o julgue quando expressar seus sentimentos e frustrações. Quando não concordar com alguma coisa, faça-o com delicadeza e respeito, não com sarcasmo e acusações. Tente entender o outro em vez de querer somente ser compreendido. Não tire conclusões precipitadas, ouça-o pacientemente até o fim. E, acima de tudo, não fique reclamando! A reclamação é a assassina número um da comunicação.

Evidentemente, nunca ninguém disse essas coisas a Isaque e Rebeca. A relação deles ia de mal a pior. Quando os gêmeos nasceram, como era de se esperar, suas personalidades eram totalmente diferentes. A Escritura diz: “Cresceram os meninos. Esaú saiu perito caçador, homem do campo; Jacó, porém, homem pacato, habitava em tendas” (Gn. 25:27). Como quase sempre acontece quando marido e mulher têm relacionamento ruim entre si, Isaque e Rebeca se apegaram cada um a um dos filhos como substitutivo ao seu relacionamento, a fim de preencher o vazio de sua alma. “Isaque amava a Esaú, porque se saboreava de sua caça; Rebeca, porém, amava a Jacó” (Gn. 25:28).

Isaque viu em Esaú o caçador machão que ele mesmo nunca foi, e aprendeu indiretamente a gostar das façanhas desportivas do filho, enquanto saboreava seus deliciosos guisados de carne de veado. Rebeca, por outro lado, favorecia Jacó. Ele ficava mais em casa. Provavelmente conversava com ela, a ouvia e a ajudava em suas tarefas. E ela encontrou nele o companheirismo nunca desfrutado com o marido. Foi um arranjo patético e, com certeza, teve séria repercussão na vida dos garotos.

Psicólogos atuais chamam a atenção para os mesmos problemas que vemos neste antigo lar. Eles dizem que uma mãe dominadora e um pai passivo tendem a criar filhos problemáticos, e que o favoritismo na unidade familiar tende a causar graves danos na personalidade dos filhos. Enquanto uma criança recebe mimos e concessões de um dos pais, é criticada e rejeitada pelo outro. Nenhum dos dois faz bem a ela, e ambos contribuem para a baixa autoestima e sentimentos ambíguos que a confundem e enchem de culpa. A criança cresce desrespeitando o pai que a mima e desprezando o que a rejeita. Em última análise, ela pode menosprezar a ambos e começar a fazer o que bem entende, não importando a quem magoe por conta disso.

Foi exatamente isso que aconteceu no lar de Isaque e Rebeca. Jacó mostrou sua ambição egoísta ao roubar o direito de primogenitura do irmão (Gn. 25:29-34). Esaú mostrou seu desprezo pelos pais ao se casar com duas mulheres hititas contra a vontade deles (Gn. 26:34-35). E o amante da paz, Isaque, ficou sentado, comendo seu guisado de carne de veado, deixando tudo acontecer.

O trágico declínio desse relacionamento foi seguido, finalmente, por um fim traiçoeiro. “Traição” é a melhor palavra que encontro para descrever os acontecimentos registrados em Gênesis 27. Rebeca, espionando do lado de fora da tenda, ouviu o idoso Isaque dizer a Esaú para caçar alguma coisa e preparar-lhe um guisado saboroso, para que pudesse ter forças e abençoá-lo antes de morrer. Na verdade, Isaque viveu ainda muitos anos depois disso, mas ele tinha se tornado retraído e absorto, quase hipocondríaco.

É importante entender que ele ainda não sabia que Jacó deveria receber a bênção da primogenitura e a liderança espiritual da família. Posteriormente, a Escritura declara que “Pela fé, igualmente Isaque abençoou a Jacó e a Esaú, acerca de coisas que ainda estavam para vir” (Hb. 11:20). Isaque pensou estar abençoando Esaú, não Jacó. O Espírito de Deus certamente não teria dito “pela fé” se ele tivesse dado a bênção em deliberada desobediência à vontade conhecida de Deus. Isaque ainda não sabia!

Esta era a hora perfeita para Rebeca se refugiar em Deus e pedir a sabedoria divina, e depois entrar e, com muito tato, falar com Isaque sobre a promessa feita pelo Senhor a ela antes do nascimento dos gêmeos. Se havia uma ocasião certa para conversar sobre isso, a ocasião era essa. Se ela tivesse falado com ele com cuidado, com base naquilo que Deus lhe dissera, certamente ela teria garantido para Jacó a bênção desejada por Deus. No entanto, em vez de orar e raciocinar, ela escolheu trair e enganar.

Ocultar os verdadeiros pensamentos e sentimentos pode, na verdade, ser uma forma de fingimento, e fingir tinha se tornado um modo de vida para Isaque e Rebeca. Agora, tudo estava prestes a vir à tona. Seria muito bom prestarmos bastante atenção a isso, pois este é o tipo de coisa a que, muitas vezes, leva a falta de comunicação.

O plano diabólico de Rebeca era ajudar Jacó a se passar por Esaú, para que o cego e idoso Isaque fosse enganado e o abençoasse ao invés do irmão. Jacó não gostou da ideia, pois Esaú era peludo e ele, liso. Era possível que o pai colocasse as mãos nele e sentisse sua pele lisa, e sua farsa seria revelada, trazendo-lhe maldição em vez de bênção. Mas Rebeca se ofereceu para receber sobre si a maldição e lhe disse para seguir em frente e fazer o que ela havia dito. Sua oferta soou bastante sacrificial, mas era doentia e pecaminosa.

Confiança é essencial para um relacionamento amoroso e não pode se desenvolver em um lar onde haja desonestidade e fingimento como havia nesse. Maridos e mulheres que, propositadamente, ocultam coisas do parceiro, evitam dizer a verdade sobre as finanças, suas atividades, o que os filhos estão fazendo ou qualquer outra coisa, nunca irão desfrutar da plenitude do amor de Deus em seu relacionamento. O amor só pode crescer em um ambiente de sinceridade. Pedro nos exorta a deixar todo tipo de dolo e hipocrisia (1 Pe. 2:1). Paulo nos diz para falar a verdade em amor (Ef. 4:15).

Rebeca e Jacó haviam se esquecido de como era a verdade. Com auxílio de peles de cabra, os dois farsantes colocaram em prática seu plano fraudulento. Isaque estremeceu quando, mais tarde, descobriu ter sido vítima da esposa e do filho, mas não reverteu a bênção. Ele abençoou Jacó, “e ele será abençoado”, afirmou com segurança (Gn. 27:33). Isaque percebeu que Deus fez prevalecer Seu intento original mesmo sendo por meio de uma farsa. Sua disposição em aceitar a vontade de Deus foi uma expressão tão grande de no controle soberano de Deus que lhe valeu menção na galeria da fé (Hb. 11:20).

Esaú, no entanto, não tinha tanta fé assim. Ele jurou matar o irmão. Mas, como era de se esperar, Rebeca apareceu com outra ideia genial. Quando ouviu o que Esaú pretendia fazer, ela chamou Jacó e lhe disse: “Eis que Esaú, teu irmão, se consola a teu respeito, resolvendo matar-te. Agora, pois, meu filho, ouve o que te digo: retira-te para a casa de Labão, meu irmão, em Harã; fica com ele alguns dias, até que passe o furor de teu irmão, e cesse o seu rancor contra ti, e se esqueça do que lhe fizeste. Então, providenciarei e te farei regressar de lá. Por que hei de eu perder os meus dois filhos num só dia?” (Gn. 27:42-45).

Para fazer Isaque concordar com seu plano, ela tinha de enganá-lo de novo. Foi outra atuação magistral. Dá quase para sentir o melodrama quando ela exclamou: “Aborrecida estou da minha vida, por causa das filhas de Hete; se Jacó tomar esposa dentre as filhas de Hete, tais como estas, as filhas desta terra, de que me servirá a vida?” (Gn. 27:46).  Assim, Isaque, obedientemente, chamou Jacó e lhe deu instruções para ir a Harã para encontrar uma esposa. Uma farsa sempre leva a outra, até que a vida do farsante se veja numa angustiante teia de desespero.

Pobre Rebeca. Ela achou que estava fazendo a coisa certa, mas Deus nunca nos pede para pecar a fim de realizar a Sua vontade. Por causa da sua farsa, ela afastou ainda mais de si o seu marido, enfureceu o filho primogênito e o isolou completamente, e, embora pensasse que seu amado Jacó ficaria fora por poucos dias, ela nunca mais o viu. Quando ele voltou ao lar, vinte anos depois, Isaque ainda estava vivo, mas Rebeca jazia ao lado de Abraão e Sara no sepulcro da caverna de Macpela.

Alguns detalhes podem variar, mas, em geral, esse padrão tem se repetido em muitos lares desde então. Talvez esteja sendo reencenado exatamente agora na sua casa. A comunicação está suspensa. Vocês vivem sob o mesmo teto, mas vivem em seu próprio mundo, sozinhos. Não importa quem é o maior culpado, se o marido ou a esposa. Parem de se afastar; façam meia volta e digam: “Preciso de você. Preciso que fale comigo. Preciso saber o que sente e o que pensa. Por favor, converse comigo. Preciso que me ouça e tente me entender”. Então, comecem a conversar aberta e honestamente. Examinem-se profundamente e compartilhem um com o outro suas mágoas, seus medos, suas lutas, suas frustrações, suas fraquezas, suas confusões, suas necessidades, assim como seus ideais e aspirações. Depois, ouçam um ao outro, com paciência, compreensão e espírito de perdão, e encorajem-se com amor. Novas alegrias irão se abrir para vocês à medida que crescerem juntos.

Vamos conversar sobre isso

  1. Há alguma indicação desse “amor sufocante”, que causou tantas consequências infelizes no casamento de Isaque, na sua relação com seus filhos?
  2. De que forma você pode ensinar a seus filhos sobre a importância de se casar com uma pessoa crente e buscar a vontade de Deus em sua escolha?
  3. Por que você acha que Rebeca nunca contou a Isaque a promessa de Deus relativa a seus filhos?
  4. Por que maridos e mulheres de nossos dias às vezes escondem coisas um do outro? O que pode ser feito para consertar essa situação?
  5. Você sente que pode compartilhar abertamente com seu cônjuge seus sentimentos mais íntimos? Se não, por quê? Converse com ele sobre isso.
  6. Aquilo que seu cônjuge lhe diz é muito importante para você? Você realmente presta atenção? Como pode corrigir alguma falha nessa área?
  7. Que coisas específicas vocês podem fazer para incentivar uma comunicação mais aberta e uma comunhão mais íntima um com o outro?
  8. Você é sensível às necessidades do seu cônjuge ou só pensa em como pode ser mais bem servido? Como você pode evitar um desejo egoísta de ter suas necessidades atendidas ao invés de atender às necessidades do seu cônjuge?
  9. Como as pessoas às vezes usam o relacionamento com os filhos como substitutivo de um bom relacionamento com o cônjuge? Quais as razões por trás disso e como podem ser corrigidas?

Related Topics: Christian Home, Marriage

उद्धार के लिए परमेश्वर की योजना

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1 यूहन्ना 5:11-12 और वह साक्षी यह है: परमेश्वर ने हमें अनन्त जीवन दिया है और वह जीवन उसके पुत्र में प्राप्त होता है। वह जो उसके पुत्र को धारण करता है, उस जीवन को धारण करता है। किन्तु जिसके पास परमेश्वर का पुत्र नहीं है, उसके पास वह जीवन भी नहीं है।

ये वचन हमें बताते हैं कि परमेश्वर ने हमें अनन्त जीवन दिया है और यह जीवन उसके पुत्र, यीशु मसीह में है। दूसरे शब्दों में हम कह सकते हैं कि अनन्त जीवन पाने का रास्ता यानि परमेश्वर के पुत्र को पाना है। अब प्रश्न ये है कि कैसे एक व्यक्ति परमेश्वर के पुत्र को पा सकता है?

मनुष्य की समस्या

परमेश्वर से अलगाव

यशायाह 59:2 किन्तु तुम्हारे पाप तुम्हें तुम्हारे परमेश्वर से अलग करते हैं और इसीलिए वह तुम्हारी तरफ से कान बन्द कर लेता है।

रोमियों 5:8 पर परमेश्वर ने हम पर अपना प्रेम दिखाया। जब कि हम तो पापी ही थे, किन्तु यीशु ने हमारे लिये प्राण त्यागे।

रोमियों 5:8 के अनुसार, “अपने पुत्र की मृत्यु के द्वारा परमेश्वर ने अपने प्रेम को हमारे लिए प्रदर्शित किया।“ यीशु मसीह को हमारे लिए क्यों मरना पड़ा? क्योंकि वचन बताता है कि सभी मनुष्य पापी हैं। “पाप करने” का अर्थ है निशान को खोना। बाइबिल बताती है, सब ने पाप किया है और परमेश्वर की महिमा (सम्पूर्ण पवित्रता) से रहित हैं रोमियों 3:23। अन्य शब्दों में, हमारे पाप हमें परमेश्वर से दूर करते हैं जो कि सम्पूर्ण पवित्र है धर्मी और न्यायी, तथा इसीलिए परमेश्वर को पापी मनुष्य का न्याय करना उचित है।

हबक्कूक 1:13 तेरी भली आँखें कोई दोष नहीं देखती हैं। तू पाप करते हुए लोगों को नहीं देख सकता है।

हमारे कामों की निरर्थकता या व्यर्थता

वचन यह भी सिखाता है कि मनुष्य की किसी भी प्रकार की भलाई, उसके काम, उसकी नैतिकता या धार्मिक क्रियाएँ उसे परमेश्वर द्वारा न तो स्वीकृति दिला सकती हैं, और न ही स्वर्ग ले जाने में मददगार हो सकती हैं। सदाचारी मनुष्य, दुराचारी मनुष्य, धर्मी मनुष्य या अधर्मी मनुष्य सब के सब एक ही नाव में सवार हैं। उन सभी में परमेश्वर की सम्पूर्ण धार्मिकता की कमी है। रोमियों 1:18-3:8 अनैतिक या व्यभिचारी मनुष्य, नैतिक मनुष्य, तथा धर्मी मनुष्य के बारे में बातचीत करने के बाद, पौलुस प्रेरित ने कहा कि दोनों ही, यहूदी तथा यूनानी पाप के वश मे हैं, कोई भी धर्मी नहीं, एक भी नहीं। रोमियों 3:9-10। बाईबल में से निम्नलिखित आयतें इस बात का समर्थन करती हैं

इफिसियों 2:8-9 परमेश्वर के अनुग्रह द्वारा अपने विश्वास के कारण तुम्हारा उद्धार हुआ है। यह तुम्हें तुम्हारी ओर से प्राप्त नहीं हुआ है, बल्कि यह तो परमेश्वर का वरदान है। यह हमारे किये कर्मों का परिणाम नहीं है कि हम इसका गर्व कर सकें।

तीतुस 3:5-7 उसने हमारा उद्धार किया। यह हमारे निर्दोष ठहराये जाने के लिये हमारे किसी धर्म के कामों के कारण नहीं हुआ बल्कि उसकी करुणा द्वारा हुआ। उसने हमारी रक्षा उस स्नान के द्वारा की जिसमें हम फिर पैदा होते हैं और पवित्र आत्मा के द्वारा नये बनाए जाते हैं। उसने हम पर पवित्र आत्मा को हमारे उद्धारकर्ता यीशु मसीह के द्वारा भरपूर उँडेला है। अब परमेश्वर ने हमें अपने अनुग्रह के द्वारा निर्दोष ठहराया है ताकि जिसकी हम आशा कर रहे थे उस अनन्त जीवन के उत्तराधिकार को पा सकें।

रोमियों 4:1-5 तो फिर हम क्या कहें कि हमारे शारीरिक पिता इब्राहीम को इसमें क्या मिला? क्योंकि यदि इब्राहिम को उसके कामों के कारण धर्मी ठहराया जाता है तो उसके गर्व करने की बात थी। किन्तु परमेश्वर के सामने वह वास्तव में गर्व नहीं कर सकता। पवित्र शास्त्र क्या कहता है? “इब्राहीम ने परमेश्वर में विश्वास किया और वह विश्वास उसके लिये धार्मिकता गिना गया।” काम करने वाले को मज़दूरी देना कोई दान नहीं है, वह तो उसका अधिकार है। किन्तु यदि कोई व्यक्ति काम करने की बजाय उस परमेश्वर में विश्वास करता है, जो पापी को भी छोड़ देता है, तो उसका विश्वास ही उसकी धार्मिकता का कारण बन जाता है।

मनुष्य की किसी भी तरह की भलाई परमेश्वर के समान भली नहीं हो सकती। परमेश्वर सम्पूर्ण धार्मिक है। इसी कारण हबक्कूक 1:13 बताता है कि परमेश्वर ऐसे ही किसी के साथ संगति नहीं करते जो सम्पूर्ण सिद्धता में नहीं हैं। परमेश्वर द्वारा स्वीकार किए जाने के लिए हमें परमेश्वर जैसा भला होना पड़ेगा। परमेश्वर के सम्मुख हम सब अपने आप में असहाय, नग्न तथा आशा रहित हैं। किसी भी तरह का अच्छा रहन सहन हमें स्वर्ग नहीं ले जा सकता या अनन्त जीवन दिला सकता है। तो फिर इसका हल या रास्ता क्या है?

परमेश्वर द्वारा हल

परमेश्वर, न केवल सम्पूर्ण पवित्र है, जिसका पवित्र चरित्र हम न तो हमारे धार्मिक कार्यों से और न ही किसी और रीति से प्राप्त कर सकते हैं, परन्तु वह अनुग्रह एवम् दया से भरा सिद्ध प्रेम भी है। उसके प्रेम और अनुग्रह के कारण ही, उसने हमें बिना आशा और बिना हल या रास्ते के नहीं छोड़ा।

रोमियों 5:8 पर परमेश्वर ने हम पर अपना प्रेम दिखाया। जब कि हम तो पापी ही थे, किन्तु यीशु ने हमारे लिये प्राण त्यागे।

पवित्र शास्त्र की यह खुश खबरी है, सुसमाचार का संदेश। यह संदेश है परमेश्वर का उपहार जो उसने अपने इकलौते पुत्र के रूप में दिया, जो मनुष्य बना (परमेश्वर-मनुष्य), पाप रहित जीवन जिया, हमारे पापों की खातिर क्रूस पर मारा गया और जिन्दा हो गया और कब्र में से निकलकर दोनों बातों को सत्य साबित कर दिया, पहली बात कि वह परमेश्वर का पुत्र है और दूसरी यह कि हमारी मृत्यु की जगह उसकी मृत्यु।

रोमियों 1:4 किन्तु पवित्र आत्मा के द्वारा मरे हुओं में से जिलाए जाने के कारण जिसे सामर्थ्य के साथ परमेश्वर का पुत्र दर्शाया गया है, यही यीशु मसीह हमारा प्रभु है।

रोमियों 4:25 यीशु जिसे हमारे पापों के लिए मारे जाने को सौंपा गया और हमे धर्मी बनाने के लिए मरे हुओं में से पुनः जीवित किया गया।

2 कुरिन्थियों 5:21 जो पाप रहित है, उसे उसने इसलिए पाप-बली बनाया कि हम उसके द्वारा परमेश्वर के सामने नेक ठहराये जायें।

1 पतरस 3:18 क्योंकि मसीह ने भी हमारे पापों के लिए दुःख उठाया। अर्थात् वह जो निर्दोष था हम पापियों के लिये एक बार मर गया कि हमें परमेश्वर के समीप ले जाये। शरीर के भाव से तो वह मारा गया पर आत्मा के भाव से जिलाया गया।

परमेश्वर के पुत्र को हम कैसे ग्रहण कर सकते हैं?

यीशु मसीह ने क्रूस पर हमारे लिए जिस काम को पूरा किया, उसका कारण पवित्र शास्त्र बताता है, वह, जिसके पास पुत्र है, उसके पास जीवन है। हम यीशु मसीह को, जो परमेश्वर का पुत्र है, ग्रहण कर सकते हैं। विश्वास द्वारा अपना व्यक्तिगत उद्धारकर्ता मानकर, यीशु के व्यक्तित्व पर विश्वास करके और हमारे पापों के लिए उसको मृत्यु दण्ड मिलना, इस पर विश्वास द्वारा ।

यूहन्ना 1:12 पर जिन्होंने उसे अपनाया उन सबको उसने परमेश्वर की संतान बनने का अधिकार दिया।

यूहन्ना 3:16-18 परमेश्वर को जगत से इतना प्रेम था कि उसने अपने एकमात्र पुत्र को दे दिया, ताकि हर वह आदमी जो उसमें विश्वास रखता है, नष्ट न हो जाये बल्कि उसे अनन्त जीवन मिल जाये। परमेश्वर ने अपने बेटे को जगत में इसलिये नहीं भेजा कि वह दुनिया को अपराधी ठहराये बल्कि उसे इसलिये भेजा कि उसके द्वारा दुनिया का उद्धार हो। जो उसमें विश्वास रखता है उसे दोषी न ठहराया जाय पर जो उसमें विश्वास नहीं रखता, उसे दोषी ठहराया जा चुका है क्योंकि उसने परमेश्वर के एकमात्र पुत्र के नाम में विश्वास नहीं रखा है।

इसका अर्थ है कि हम सभी को परमेश्वर के पास उसी तरीके से आना अनिवार्य है जैसे

  1. एक पापी अपनी पापमय अवस्था को पहचानता है,
  2. जो इस बात को समझता है कि मनुष्य के किसी भी तरह के काम उसे उद्धार नहीं दिला सकते, और
  3. जो उद्धार के लिए केवल विश्वास द्वारा यीशु मसीह पर ही पूरी तरह आश्रित रहता है।

यदि आप यीशु मसीह को अपने व्यक्तिगत उद्धारकर्ता के रूप में ग्रहण करना चाहते है और उस पर विश्वास करते है, तो एक साधारण प्रार्थना के रूप में, यीशु मसीह पर आपके विश्वास को आपको प्रदर्शित करना चाहिए जिसमें अपनी पापमय दशा को जानना तथा मानना, उसकी माफी को स्वीकारना तथा उद्धार के लिए यीशु मसीह पर विश्वास को दर्शाना शामिल हो।

यदि आपने यीशु मसीह पर विश्वास किया है, तो आपको अपने नये जीवन के बारे में तथा परमेश्वर के साथ कैसे चलना है, ये जानने की आवश्यकता है। हम आपको सुझाव देना चाहते हैं कि आप अपना अध्ययन मसीही उन्नति के क, ख,ग जो कि www.bible.org पर उपलब्ध है, से करें। यह श्रृंखला आपको परमेश्वर के मूल सत्यों से कदम दर कदम अवगत कराएगी तथा मसीह में आपके विश्वास की नींव को मजबूत करने में आपकी सहायता भी करेगी।

हिन्दी अनुवाद रोमा हैरल्ड
तकनीकी सहायता तथा मार्गदर्शन संजय राम

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation)

9. We Don't Respond in Kind (1 Peter 4:12-19)

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1 Peter: Suffering Precedes Glory (part nine)

Our unjust suffering becomes more tolerable when we remember that it has been permitted by God. And though it might not feel like a blessed life, that's what the Bible calls it. This enables us to endure mistreatment with grace, even rejoicing. Jesus suffered without retaliation, and so should we. Our natural impulse might be to respond by treating others the way they've treated us, but we're instructed to embrace unfair treatment instead. Furthermore, we're not the ultimate judge over others. God is. Those who mistreat us will be held accountable by a perfect Judge. So instead of responding in kind the next time we suffer unjustly, let's reply with kindness by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Related Topics: Character of God, Christian Life, Spiritual Life, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Bible Teacher's Guide: First Peter

The letter of First Peter was written to persecuted Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. It was meant to both encourage and instruct them on how to live as pilgrims in a hostile society. This message is still relevant today.

Christ declared that in the end times believers would be hated by "all nations" because of him (Matthew 24:9). With the continuing culture shift, animosity and persecution towards Christians is increasing at an alarming rate. Over 400 Christians are martyred every day, and more saints have died for the faith in the last century than all the previous combined. The words of First Peter are a message of hope, desperately needed to encourage and prepare the Church for what lies ahead. Let's journey through Peter's letter together with the aid of the Bible Teacher's Guide.

This book is also available for purchase here on Amazon.

Related Topics: Christian Home, Christian Life, Establish, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Introduction

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Authorship

The Apostle Peter is the author of this letter, with an estimated writing date of around AD 64 – 65. Several pieces of evidence support this belief, starting with the introduction of the letter. It says, “Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:1). He introduces himself in the very beginning of the letter, which was common practice in ancient times even as it is today. There is also other internal evidence in the epistle of Petrine authorship. We see Peter call himself a “witness of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Pet 5:1), which clearly is true of the Apostle Peter, as seen in the Gospels. The author also uses phrases that would seem to reflect Peter’s correspondence with Christ. For instance, Peter calls for the elders of the congregations to “be shepherds of God’s flock” (1 Pet 5:2). This certainly is reminiscent of Peter’s restoration after denying his Lord. Christ repeatedly said to Peter “tend my sheep” and “feed my lambs” (John 21). Peter now says the same to the elders of the churches.

Also, Peter calls each believer “living stones” being built into a spiritual house for God (1 Pet 2:5). We see this clearly in the fact that Peter’s original name was Simon but Christ called him Peter, which means “stone” or “rock.” Christ also told Peter that on this “rock” he would build his church (Matt 16:18). In addition, we see Peter’s warning to these churches to be self-controlled and alert for the devil is roaming around like a lion seeking whom he could devour (1 Pet 5:8). This cannot but conjure up the picture of Christ warning Peter about how Satan had asked to sift him like wheat (Luke 22:31). Again, Peter speaks to the churches in a similar manner to how Christ spoke to him. Throughout the letter, the experiences of the Apostle Peter radiate, therefore, confirming his authorship.

Who was Peter? Obviously, Peter was one of the original disciples who was called to follow Christ during his early ministry (Mark 1:16, 17), and later on, he was called to be one of the twelve Apostles (Matt 10:12). There is ample evidence that suggests that Peter was actually the head of the twelve. In each of the list of Apostles, he is always placed first, which showed his importance (Matt 10, Mark 3, Luke 6, Acts 1). The Gospel writers focused on Peter throughout the narratives, as there is more material written about him than anybody else besides Christ. Also in the book of Acts, we see his importance in the establishment of the church. He leads the Apostles in the selection of the replacement for Judas (Acts 1) and he preaches several sermons that led to the salvation of thousands (Acts 2, 3 and 4).

God also gave him the vision that led to the salvation of Cornelius and the welcoming of Gentiles into the church (Acts 10 and 11). He is the prominent figure in Acts until the commissioning of the Apostle Paul in Acts 13. Tradition says that soon after the writing of this letter, Peter was crucified in Rome around AD 67 or 68. His wife was crucified before him, and he encouraged her with the words, “Remember the Lord.” After the crucifixion of his wife, he begged to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy to die in the same manner of his Lord, and his request was granted.

There are those from liberal traditions who have tried to cast doubt upon Petrine authorship. One of the primary reasons is because of the high level of classical Greek in which the letter is written. Is it possible for a fishermen who was called “unlearned” (Acts 4:13) by the Pharisees to be able to speak and write in such high-level Greek?

There are several ways one could respond to this. The first is the fact that Peter being called “unlearned” does not mean that he was illiterate or unable to write in high-level Greek. Being called “unlearned” simply meant that he had never been trained in an official rabbinical school. It is very probable because of Hellenization (the influence of Greek culture) that Peter did speak Greek as a second language behind Aramaic. Also, since Peter had been preaching and serving in missions for over thirty years by this time, he had probably grown in his understanding of Greek because of his teaching ministry. Finally, in chapter 5, it is possible that Peter is saying that Silas (or Silvanus, depending on the version) was his scribe. We see this in 1 Peter 5:12, “With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

“With the help of Silas” can also be translated “by Silas.” This could mean that Peter sent the letter by Silas to these congregations or that Silas was his scribe in the writing of this letter. This was a very common practice in the ancient world. In fact, we see this practiced by Paul as seen in Romans 16:22, “Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.” It is very possible that Silas helped in both facets. He served Peter as a scribe for the letter and also manually carried the letter to the churches. This would help explain the high level of Greek. Either way, certainly we must not downplay the work of the Holy Spirit in the writing of every letter of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16).

Background

What is the background to this letter? It is clear that these congregations spread throughout the Roman Empire were going through intense persecution. We see this in many aspects of the letter (1 Pet 4:12, 13). Because of the dating of this letter it seems clear that these Christians are experiencing the after-effects of the Great Fire of Rome. In July AD 64, there was great fire in Rome that spread throughout ten of the fourteen districts.

There was a rumor spread saying that Emperor Nero was the arsonist who started the fire. In fact, there were some reports that he was playing a harp and singing while the fire was happening.1 It was said that Nero had a great lust to build and did not like the current construction of Rome; therefore, he started the fire in order to rebuild. The fact that he built his new home soon after the fire, called the Golden House, in the center of the city only added to this rumor. In order to combat this growing suspicion and resentment toward himself, Nero used the Christians as a scapegoat. They were an easy target because they were already a hated group in Rome. They were hated because of their association with the Jews and the fact that they did not worship the Roman deities. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, there were reports that some Christians were forced to confess by torture that they started the fire. This led to vicious persecution that spread throughout the Roman Empire.

The persecution of Christians took place in many ways. It was said that Nero would place tar on Christians and burn them at night to light up his garden. It was also common for the flesh of animals to be placed on Christians, and they were allowed to be torn apart by dogs. In addition, many Christians were killed by crucifixion. This resulted in Christians spreading throughout the Empire in order to escape persecution.

In fact, many believe that the letter of First Peter was written from Rome and that Babylon was a name used in 1 Peter 5:13 as a pseudonym to protect Peter and the churches that were in hiding. The title Babylon could certainly be referring to ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia. However, there is really no historical witness that Peter went to this city. Therefore, the most probable destination is that of Rome and that it was used to protect the people from further persecution.

Babylon was an apt name for Rome during this period, for throughout Scripture Babylon is seen as a nation that constantly defied God and his people. This began in Babel, as Nimrod built a city where the people revolted against God (Gen 11).  It rose up again during the time of the divided monarchy, as it conquered and exiled the Southern Kingdom of Israel. While the Israelites were living in Babylon, they were persecuted for not worshiping the same gods (Daniel 3). Finally, we see another city named Babylon rise up in the end times which also persecutes the people of God in the book of Revelation (chapters 17 and 18). Therefore, the code name Babylon for Rome would be an apt name to describe its worship of false gods and persecution of believers. Using this pseudonym would help protect Peter and the other saints serving in Rome. Similarly, contemporary missionaries from nations where Christians are persecuted often are very careful about using their names or publishing their sermons online lest it create persecution for their family or church. This was the background for the letter of First Peter.

Purpose

Peter writes this letter to Christians in order to comfort them in the midst of their suffering. He comforts them with the reality of their salvation. In fact, in the introduction of the letter Peter starts off by calling them “elect” and speaks of the benefits of their election (1 Pet 1:1, 2). He then continues by praising God for their new birth and the unfading benefits of it (1 Pet 1:3–5). This is not the normal way you would comfort someone who is going through a hard time. However, if these believers, and us as well, could begin to comprehend how special and great our salvation really is, it would continually comfort us in the worst of situations.

Peter not only comforts them with the greatness of their salvation but he begins to teach them how to live and respond to persecution (1 Pet 1:6; 2:19–21; 4:1, 12 and 13). Listen to what Peter says:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:12–13

Finally, Peter teaches these believers that their obedient and respectful responses in persecution to pagan governments, masters, and even unsaved husbands could potentially lead to evangelization even in a hostile environment (1 Pet 2:12–15; 3:1–6; 3:15). Certainly, we have seen this throughout history. Church father Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Where persecution has happened and Christians have practiced the truths of First Peter, great waves of evangelism have taken place.

The message of First Peter has been tremendously comforting to Christians in Muslim and Communist societies, where they are undergoing constant persecution for their faith. For them, this letter has been a manual on how to live as a Christian amidst persecution. Even in Western societies this letter is becoming more relevant. There was a time where being a practicing Christian in society was not just tolerated but honored. However, now with the change of thinking on what marriage is, the woman’s right to abort her children and many other aspects of society, persecution is constantly growing. Jesus said, “Do not be surprised if they hate you, for they hated me first.” This letter to the scattered and persecuted saints of the Roman Empire is tremendously relevant. It is a manual for pilgrims living in a hostile society. Let its words and message comfort you and prepare you for what lies ahead.

Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1 Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero,38; Cassius Dio, Roman History LXII.16

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

1. The Privileges Of Election (1 Peter 1:1-2)

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Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1–2

How does it feel to know you are special and loved? How does it feel to be promoted or to be set apart for special favor?

In this passage and in this book, Peter is seeking to encourage Christians who are being mistreated and persecuted for their faith. They are scattered among five Roman provinces in modern-day Turkey, probably seeking to hide for safety from Nero who is burning Christians at the stake and having their lands confiscated.

Peter seeks to encourage them by sharing with them how special they are to God. He starts off the passage saying they are “elect.” Election is often a controversial doctrine among Christians, but here it is given as an encouragement. He then talks about what happens to those who are elect. He talks about how each person of the triune God is involved in their salvation. God the Father elects them, the Son dies for them and sprinkles his blood on them, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies them to make them holy. Believers are special among the people in the world.

In the letter of First Peter, we learn about how to deal with persecution. Peter, the apostle who initially denied Christ at the prospect of death, writes a book to encourage people who are suffering and to teach them how to suffer. After his initial lapse of faith, in the book of Acts we see a man empowered by the Holy Spirit and encouraged by the resurrection of the dead. No more does he cower in fear, but he speaks boldly and suffers valiantly for Christ in the face of persecution.

Now he writes to strengthen the brethren who are receiving the same attacks that he previously encountered. In the first two sentences, Peter seeks to encourage these suffering saints by their election and the benefits of this election. Even though the world mocks them and persecutes them, they are loved by God. This would encourage them in their suffering and it should encourage us as well. Peter tells them that they are different from the world because they are so special to God.

Big Question: What are the privileges of God’s election that should encourage the believer in suffering as seen in 1 Peter 1:1–2? How should these privileges practically affect our lives?

The Elect Are Chosen by God

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect…who have been chosen.
1 Peter 1:1

Interpretation Question: What does it mean to be chosen and elect by God?

One of the things that should comfort believers in this world, especially amidst suffering, is recognizing that they are elect by God. The word elect really means to be chosen by God as mentioned in verse 2. The world rejects believers because of their belief system, their lifestyle, and because they choose to not condone or participate in sin. However, even though they are rejected by the world, they are chosen by God. Christ said this to his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you (emphasis mine) and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 15:16).

Election is often a doctrine that gets many people upset, but as we see here, this doctrine was the treasure of the saints. It was such a treasure that it had become a common title among the saints. They were elect ones (1 Pet 1:1).

Why did God choose these saints? It had nothing to do with their good works, but it was a work of sovereign grace. Look at what Paul says in Romans about the election of Jacob:

Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that Gods purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (emphasis mine).
Romans 9:10–13

In Jewish society the oldest was always chosen to receive the blessing and the inheritance, but in God’s economy it is always a work of grace—unmerited favor. God chose Jacob not based on anything he had done, for the twins, Jacob and Esau, weren’t even born yet.

It says, “In order that God’s purpose in election might stand, not by works but by him who calls” (v. 11). God selected the younger brother to receive the blessing. In the same way, election is a mystery to us. It is based on God’s sovereign right as king and not on the basis of anything we have done.

Often people in Western countries, whom have never been under an absolute monarch, chafe at the thought of this. “This is not right! This is not democracy!” they proclaim. But under a monarchy the King has absolute power; he does what he wants because it is his right. Here we see God chooses based on his right. Scripture everywhere declares that God is king, and he does what he chooses. Some are elect based on God’s choice, not on ours. Look at what Christ says in John 15:19, “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” (emphasis mine).

Christ chose us out of the world, and because of this, the world hates us. Election is a sovereign right of God. We are no longer part of this world because God chose us out of it.

Application Question: Often, the doctrine of election is met with anger, but how should the doctrine of election encourage the believer?

1. Election should make the believer worship God.

Salvation is a work of God that should make us worship him. We may not fully understand election, but we do understand that it demonstrates the glory and power of God. It also demonstrates that his ways are higher than our ways. Look at Paul’s response to election (cf. Rom 11:28).

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33–36

2. Election should be an encouragement to evangelize.

Some see election as a hindrance to evangelism. Why share the gospel if some weren’t chosen? On the contrary, it should give boldness to share the gospel because we know some will respond. That is what happened in Acts. “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed (emphasis mine) for eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Since God is sovereign, we should share the gospel.

3. Election should make the believer humble.

God is God and he does what he wants to. Look at how Paul responded to those who seemed to struggle with the concept of election.

One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Romans 9:19–21

Paul challenged these believers about their response to God’s election. “Who are you, O man to talk back to God?” Essentially, he is calling them to humble themselves before God. God is God, we are not. He is the Potter, and we are the clay. He is the Creator, we are the creatures. This doctrine should create humility in us before God and before others.

The Elect Are Strangers in this World

Strangers in this world.
1 Peter 1:1

Peter will talk about this throughout this letter. Because we are elect we are no longer part of this world (cf. John 17:14, Galatians 6:14). We are strangers in this world or sojourners. This word has the meaning of being a temporary resident. We are only here for a short time as we are just passing through. Our home is now in heaven.

We see this said about Abraham and the patriarchs in the faith chapter of Hebrews. Look at what it says:

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (emphasis mine).
Hebrews 11:9–10, 16

Because we are elect, strangers in this world, and citizens of heaven, we must have a different culture, a different language, and different expectations for life. God has a prepared a better place for us and this is not our home.

Application Question: What does being a stranger on earth mean practically for a believer?

1. We should expect some amount of suffering or being considered strange on this earth.

We are not part of this world, and therefore, we will at times be misunderstood and hated.

2. We must continually be looking toward our heavenly country.

The writer of Hebrews says Abraham was “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:9).” Paul calls Christians to set their mind on things above and not below (Col 3:2). Therefore, we should develop a mind-set of looking toward our heavenly country.

3. We should be different than those around us for this not our home.

We are only here temporarily. This includes such things as not storing up on this earth. Look at what Christ said:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19–21

When I visit a hotel, I don’t spend much effort trying to fix it up and make it nice, because I will only be there for a short period of time. In a similar way, a Christian should not spend so much effort focusing on the temporary things of this life. But instead, should be consumed with storing up eternal riches in his heavenly home.

The elect are strangers to this world because their home is in heaven; therefore, they don’t bare the marks of the world’s culture. Let this encourage the believer especially when they are persecuted for being different.

The Elect Are Scattered like Seed to Produce a Harvest

Scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.
1 Peter 1:1

What is another privilege of the elect?

The elect are scattered. The word scattered comes from the word diaspora and carries the idea of that which is sown. It was a word used of the farmer sowing seed in the field.1 These believers were scattered because of persecution. We see this happening in the book of Acts. As persecution intensified, the believers moved from Jerusalem and Judea, to Samaria, and eventually to the ends of the earth. The gospel was spread throughout because of this persecution. Look at some of the narrative:

But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there (emphasis mine).
Acts 8: 3–5

This seems to be an implication of Peter’s use of the word scattered, which again means “that which is sown.” When a farmer sows seed, he does it with the hope of having a harvest. This farming term would have encouraged the saints. Behind the persecution, God was ultimately sowing these believers throughout the world in order to bring a harvest from the gospel. God may have allowed these Christians to suffer, lose their homes, etc., but it was not without purpose. It was ultimately used to spread the kingdom of God and help more people know him.

Throughout this letter, Peter continually encourages them about this hope of evangelism even amid persecution. Look at what he says in 1 Peter 2:12: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (emphasis mine).

One second-century church father said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Historically, we have seen this to be true. Wherever the church has suffered and been scattered because of persecution, the seed of the Word of God has spread and the church has grown. In fact, it is in nations where persecution is not rampant that the church is declining the fastest.

We serve a God that often makes the worst things the best things. He took the death of his Son, the worst thing that ever happened on the earth, and made it the best thing.

The believer must take comfort in the fact that even though this scattering resulted from the intention to harm the church, it was something that God used for good. It was like seed being sown everywhere to build his church. Certainly, we get some picture of this in how Christ talks about the church being salt. We are spread on the earth in order to bring positive change. “You are the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13).

Application Question: Scripture teaches us to rejoice in trials and tribulations (Rom 5:3, James 1:2). Does this mean that a lack of persecution for the faith is more dangerous spiritually to the church, than times of acceptance from the culture? Why or why not?

The Elect Are Intimate with God

Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:2

What is another privilege of election?

The elect are intimate with God, and this intimacy began before time. In fact, this verse tells us why believers are elect and chosen by God. It says “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” This has created great controversy over the doctrine of election. Some would say that foreknowledge means that God chose us based on the fact that he knew we would accept him. However, this makes God’s choice not a choice at all. It makes man the initiator of salvation instead of God.

Though God is omniscient and knows all things, this foreknowledge is not referring to knowing facts, but God knowing people in an intimate saving relationship. To “know” throughout the Old Testament is used of the most intimate relationships including sex. We see that Adam “knew” his wife and had a son (Gen 4:1 KJV). In the same way, God “knew” certain believers even before they were born and chose them for salvation. Look at Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (emphasis mine).

God knew Jeremiah in a saving intimate relationship and called him to be a prophet to the nations before birth. God is not saying he knew Jeremiah would accept, follow him, and be a prophet. That is passive. God actively set him apart. God knew Jeremiah in an intimate relationship and called him to be a prophet before birth.

We also see this intimate knowledge used in reference to those who do not know God. Look at what Jesus said:

Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers” (emphasis mine)!
Matthew 7:22–23

Jesus says to these professors, “I never knew you.” It’s not talking about having knowledge of them because God knows everybody. It’s talking about not knowing them in a saving relationship. These people never had a saving relationship with God.

One of the things that should comfort the believer about his election is the fact that God knew us before the creation of the earth. He knew us in a saving relationship and called us to be ones that serve him, not based on anything we have done, but based on his grace. This should comfort us in suffering. Look at what Paul says:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will
Ephesians 1:4–5

The elect are intimate with God. He foreknew them even before time and this intimacy continues in time. This is a tremendous comfort, especially, because God knows all our failures, sins, and insecurities, yet he chooses to be intimate with us anyway. This is an amazing fact of election. God chose to be intimate with us, and this intimacy of election should comfort us in suffering.

Application Question: What ways does the fact that God knew you intimately before you were born comfort you? How should it comfort you in the midst of suffering?

The Elect Are Sanctified by the Spirit

Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
1 Peter 1:2

Interpretation Question: What does the “sanctifying work of the Spirit” include in the life of the believer?

The next benefit of election is this “sanctifying work” of the Spirit. This is a work that starts at salvation but continues until we see Christ. In fact, much like election, sanctification is a common term used to describe believers. Look at what Paul calls the Church of Corinth: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints (emphasis mine) throughout Achaia” (2 Cor 1:1).

Paul addresses the people at Corinth as saints. This means they were set apart for the purpose of being holy. He also calls them sanctified in 1 Corinthians 1:2. He speaks about it as a past action. Look at what Paul says:

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours (emphasis mine).
1 Corinthians 1:1–2

Sanctification happens to every believer at the moment of salvation. They are set apart from the world to be holy. Some call this positional sanctification, as we are separated from the world and placed in Christ. At salvation, there are immediate changes in the life of the believer. That is why Paul can say “he who be in Christ is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). At salvation, Christ translated the believer from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Let’s look at Colossians:

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (emphasis mine).
Colossians 1:12–13

However, as mentioned previously, Peter speaks about this action as continuing. He calls it the “sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, sanctification refers not only to what happens at new birth, but also to the continuing process of becoming more like Christ that takes place throughout the believer’s life, and is completed when we meet Christ. This is called progressive sanctification. Below are some verses that talk about this process.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (emphasis mine).
1 Thessalonians 4:3

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (emphasis mine).
Philippians 2:12–13

Paul commands the Thessalonian church to become sanctified by abstaining from sexual immorality. It was a continuous process. Similarly, Paul talks about this continuous process in Philippians.

This process of sanctification, or progressive sanctification, is a process that involves the believer. At salvation, the work is totally of God; we are translated from the kingdom of darkness to light, but in our daily walk, we must work with God in order to become holy. This includes daily spiritual disciplines like prayer, reading the Bible, and the fellowship of the saints (1 Tim 4:7).

This process will ultimately end when we see Christ. The Apostle John talks about this in First John. When we see Christ, we will be just like him. At this point, we will not battle with sin anymore for we will have new bodies. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him (emphasis mine), for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

This final stage of sanctification is called glorification. This is when we will be just like Christ. This makes the believer unique among the world. They are saints, ones who have been set apart for the purpose of becoming holy like Christ.

Let us take encouragement as ones who are elect. God, who began this work in us will complete it until the day of Christ. Listen to what Paul said about the Philippians: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).

Application Question: What does it mean if a believer is not continually growing in Christ? What should he do?

The Elect Are Obedient to Christ

For obedience to Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:2

Interpretation Question: What does Peter mean by obedience to Christ?

Another privilege of election is that believers have been set apart for obedience to Christ. This happens as a part of the work of sanctification. The believer that initially did not obey God, receives a nature that desires God and desires to obey God’s Word. We see the initial antagonism of the unbeliever in Romans 8:7–8: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

The unbeliever is hostile to the things of God; they are hostile to his commands and teaching. However, when a person is saved, he receives a nature that delights in God’s laws. Look at how Paul described his experience: “For in my inner being, I delight in God’s law” (Rom 7:22). David said something similar: “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Ps 119:14–16).

The born again believer delights in God’s law. He still stumbles and is disobedient at times, but the direction of his life is obedience, instead of disobedience which characterizes people who don’t know God (Eph 2:2).

In fact, in the book of 1 John the apostle gives obedience as a test of salvation (1 John 5:13). Those who are children of God are obedient to the Scripture. Look at what he says:

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:10

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

Christ taught the same thing in John 8:31: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”

Listen to what one commentator said:

Obedience is the essential characteristic of the elect pilgrim. His transformation from an enemy of God to a pilgrim in this world reveals itself in a life of obedience to God. God’s people obey those in authority over them for God’s sake. They are subject to their employers as serving Christ. They love their spouses because they love God. When the demands of earth’s relationships get in the way of obedience to God, they obey God rather than man. The law of God is their rule throughout life. Without living in obedience, the people of God could not be pilgrims.2

Application Question: In what ways have you seen this change in your life since you became a follower of Christ?

The Elect Are Sprinkled with Christ’s Blood

And sprinkling by his blood.
1 Peter 1:2

Interpretation Question: What is Peter referring to when he talks about the elect being sprinkled by his blood? Why is it a “continuous” action?

Peter talks about the sprinkling of Christ’s blood as a continuous action and not just something that happened in the past to a believer. What is he referring to? This must at least refer to the forgiveness of sins that occurred as a result of Christ’s death. We see this in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”

It says we were “justified,” which means to be made “just as though we never sinned.” However, the “sprinkling” Peter mentions is a continuous action and not just something that happened in the past to a believer—meaning, it still affects us today. John talks about this in his epistle. Look at what he says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us (emphasis mine) from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

John says if we walk in the light as Christ is in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sins. When he says “walk in the light,” it seems to mean not only holiness, but specifically confession of our sins to God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When we confess known sins, God takes Christ’s blood and cleanses us so we can have a restored relationship with God.

In fact, John says “from all unrighteousness,” which means that when the believer confesses a known sin, God cleanses us even from sins we are not aware of. The blood of Christ is still effective in the believer’s life. The blood of Christ purchases for us forgiveness of our sins, and therefore, justification before God. It also purifies us so we can walk in continual relationship with God as we confess known sins.

Some might ask, why is there a need for confession and continual cleansing by Christ if we were initially cleansed at salvation? Some have called the initial cleansing judicial forgiveness so we can stand before God as righteous since Christ paid for all our sins on the cross. Because of this cleansing, we no longer have to be separated from God and will never ultimately be separated from him.

The other type of cleansing is often called parental or familial forgiveness. If I sin against my wife, this creates a distance in our relationship. It doesn’t change the fact that she is my wife. However, in order to be in right relationship with my wife again, I need to confess and make it right. Christ’s blood not only changes my relationship to God at salvation, making me a son, but it continues to cleanse me so I can be in right relationship with God when I fail.

In addition to this, there are several times in the Old Testament that this sprinkling with blood is mentioned, which may help us further understand what Peter is talking about. In the book of 1 Peter the apostle continually uses Old Covenant references and, therefore, many see this as an Old Covenant allusion fulfilled in Christ.

Interpretation Question: What did sprinkling with blood represent in the Old Covenant, and therefore, what could this mean for Peter’s reference to the believer being “sprinkled” with Christ’s blood?

1. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer’s obedience and participation in the New Covenant.

When Moses initiated the Old Covenant with the Jews he sprinkled blood over the people. This meant they would participate in the covenant and obey God’s laws. Look at what Exodus says:

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.
Exodus 24:7–8

Similarly, Christ as our High Priest has sprinkled us with his blood as we participate in the benefits of the New Covenant. We see this in Hebrews 12:24, “To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (emphasis mine).

2. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer being set apart to serve God as a priest.

When the Old Testament priest was set apart to do ministry, he was sprinkled with blood. We see this in Exodus:

And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.
Exodus 29:21

Similarly, believers have been set apart for ministry. Peter talks about how believers are now a royal priesthood that offer spiritual sacrifices unto God (1 Pet 2:5). As priests, believers pray for people; they serve, they sing praises unto God, and they seek to bring those apart from God into relationship with him. No doubt, Peter speaks of this reality.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 2:4–5

3. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer’s cleansing from sin.

In the Old Covenant, a leper would have to be sprinkled with blood after his cleansing from leprosy.

He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
Leviticus 14:6–7

Similarly, our High Priest cleanses us from sin by his blood.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:13–14

One of the benefits of our election, is that we have been sprinkled with the precious blood of Christ. He cleanses us from sin and forgives us, he initiates us into the New Covenant, he anoints us to be priests of God.

Application Question: How should the believer apply or actualize the reality of Christ’s blood, in order to walk in victory over sin and to have a clear conscience?

The Elect Are Called to Abundant Grace and Peace

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:2

Finally, one of the privileges of election is that the believer is a continual recipient of God’s grace and peace. This was a common greeting in the early church. However, it is more than a greeting; it is the inheritance a believer should continually receive from God.

Paul talks about these blessings as something that comes from Christ. Listen to what he says in Ephesians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (emphasis mine). In the same way, there is more grace and peace in Christ that each believer can receive. James says this: “But he gives us more grace” (Jas 4:6).

In fact, Paul talks about the peace that God desires to give each believer in Philippians 4. Listen to what he says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).
Philippians 4:6–7

Grace means “unmerited favor.” It is favor over one’s spiritual life, one’s work, one’s family and everything the believer does. It is grace to find freedom from sin and addictions.

Peace is not the absence of problems or conflict; it is the state of the heart of a believer who is walking with Christ. The believer has peace of mind even in the midst of the storm. This peace of heart and mind leads to peace in relationships with God and man.

Interpretation Question: How does the believer receive abundant grace and peace?

1. Abundant grace and peace come through prayer.

In this text, Peter prays for these believers to have abundant grace and peace, because this is one of the ways we receive more of God’s blessings. This includes other believer’s praying for us but also our continual practice of prayer. Again, look at what Paul says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).
Philippians 4:6–7

In this text, peace is promised to those who pray and give thanks in everything. When believers live in an atmosphere of prayer God “guards” their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus with peace.

2. Abundant grace and peace come through obedience to Christ.

God blesses those who are obedient to him. It was Abraham’s faith that led to not only his blessing and favor but also to that of his family. Listen to how the Psalmist describes the blessing of the believer that stays away from sin and delights in God’s Word.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (emphasis mine).
Psalm 1:1–3

This delight in God’s Word is a form of obedience that results in grace. Everything this person does prospers. He bears fruit in season, which includes peace, joy, perseverance, etc. Grace and peace come through faithful prayer and obedience.

3. Abundant grace and peace come through a constant meditation on God.

Listen to Isaiah: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3 KJV).

Application Question: What ways is God calling you to pursue grace and peace in your life? Who is God calling you to pray for, so that they may receive these blessings?

Conclusion

What are the privileges of God’s election? What makes the believer so special?

  1. The elect are chosen by God.
  2. The elect are strangers in the world. Their home is in heaven, and therefore, they are different.
  3. The elect are scattered by God throughout the world to be a blessing to it.
  4. The elect are intimate with God, foreknown before creation in a saving relationship.
  5. The elect are sanctified by the Holy Spirit to be holy and righteous in the world.
  6. The elect are set apart for obedience. Whereas before, they were disobedient to God, now they love and obey his Word.
  7. The elect are sprinkled with Christ’s blood. This is a rich allusion that means forgiveness of sins. It means to be set apart as a priest to serve God, to be purified from sin, and to participate in the New Covenant.
  8. The elect are recipients of God’s abundant grace and peace.

The church is special, and we must know that. This will help us understand why our relationship to the world has changed and how our relationship with God has changed. This should encourage us even in the midst of suffering.

Application Question: What ways did this lesson challenge, encourage or increase your understanding of election?

Chapter Notes

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Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1Expository Pulpit Series – Expository Pulpit Series – First Peter: A Holy Walk in a Hostile World.

2Hanko, Herman. A Pilgrims Manual: Commentary on I Peter. Reformed Free Publishing Association. Kindle Edition.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Election

2. Praise God For Our Great Salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5)

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:3–5

Why have so many of us lost the joy of our salvation? Why have so many of us lost our praise and, instead, walk around sad, depressed, angry, and complaining about the events in our life? How can we again have our joy?

It is wonderful to see a newborn Christian who wants to share his faith with everybody because he is so excited about what God has done in his life. Sadly, as many Christians “mature,” this joy tends to fade away. David said this, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Ps 51:12). Many of us have lost this joy as well.

Peter is writing to Christians that are being persecuted for their faith and have been scattered from their original homes in different parts of the Roman Empire. It would seem like this is not the response you would give to someone who has lost a family member to persecution or lost their friend or home. However, Peter starts off this letter glorifying God. He says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:3)!

Peter can do this because he realizes that whatever they had lost on this earth was miniscule to what God had done in their salvation. This is why he calls them to praise God. Similarly, look at what Paul says about our afflictions on the earth:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (emphasis mine).
2 Corinthians 4:16–18

In this text, Peter is calling these Christians, and us through them, to not lose heart but, in fact, to glory as we look at our great salvation. The hope for this lesson is that we will again look at our salvation and have our “joy” restored even in the midst of various trials.

Big Question: What is so great about our salvation according to 1 Peter 1:3–5 that it should cause us to worship God and have joy?”

Believers Praise God Because of God’s Mercy in Our Great Salvation

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:3

Here Peter begins to worship God specifically because of God’s great mercy. Mercy focuses on how deplorable the believer’s state was before Christ. This is one of the reasons we often don’t worship God. We have forgotten how bad our situation really was before Christ.

Interpretation Question: What are some Scripture texts that remind us of how far away from God we were and how much mercy God had to give us in salvation?

Listen to what Paul said about us:

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (emphasis mine).
Ephesians 2:11–12

Paul says remember we were separated from Christ, excluded from the promises made to Abraham and Israel, without hope or God in this world. We were in bad shape. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Paul says we were dead in our transgressions. We were not physically dead but spiritually dead. This means we couldn’t commune with God. We would try to read our Bible or worship, and it would mean nothing to us. We were far from God. He says not only were we dead in our transgressions, but we were following this world and even the devil, who is the ruler of this world. We lived to gratify the cravings of our sinful nature and were objects of God’s wrath.

The Christian who has forgotten the bad shape he was in before salvation will often lose his worship. It is the gravity of how bad our situation was that makes our salvation so great. If a person saves you from making a mistake on your taxes, that’s great, but if they save your life, then there will be a greater thankfulness. Many have lost the joy of their salvation because they have forgotten how much God has saved them from.

Consequently, not only are they often lacking joy but are also prone to bitterness and complaining over things that happen in their lives. Sometimes they may even be prone to pride and becoming judgmental over other’s failures. This happens because they forgot how bad their situation previously was and how gracious our Father has been to us (2 Pet 1:9).

It’s good to remember that Paul still saw himself as chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). This means he never lost sight of God’s mercy in his salvation. He saw how far away from God’s standard he really was even as an apostle.

Application Question: Why are Christians so prone to forget or lose sight of their sinful past or their current sinful state?

1. Christians often lose a view of their sinfulness because they start to focus on other people.

When we are looking at others, we start to think we are pretty good, which will affect our worship of God. If we think we are pretty good, then we will tend to honor ourselves instead of worshiping God for saving us from our sin and ugliness. In fact, we saw this in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18. The Pharisee came before God and exalted himself because he was looking at the tax collector. He said, “Thank you Lord I am not like this tax collector” and began to boast about all his good works (v. 11).

We even saw this with the good son in the parable of the prodigal son. In Luke 15, the good son had lost the joy of being in the father’s house because he was focused on his sinful brother, which made him lose sight of the grace and the mercy he had received. He boasted to the father about how he had never disobeyed his orders (v. 29) even though at the moment he was dishonoring his father and refusing to fellowship with him. He couldn’t see his own sin and failures, and therefore, couldn’t enjoy the grace of the father.

We must be careful of focusing on others because it will skew a proper view of ourselves and our view of God as well. Listen to Paul:

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
2 Corinthians 10:12

2. Christians often lose a view of their sinfulness because they don’t spend enough time with God.

When Isaiah was in the presence of God, he lamented about how much of a sinner he was. Look at what he said: “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isa 6:5).

Looking at God gave him a proper view not only of his own sins but also of his nation’s sins. We must continue to look at Christ by living in his Word and worship. This will help us have a proper view of ourselves, and therefore, have the appropriate joy and worship in our lives over our great salvation.

Believers Should Praise God for the New Birth in Our Great Salvation

In his great mercy he has given us new birth.
1 Peter 1:3

Interpretation Question: Peter worships God for giving believers the new birth. A literal reading of verse 3 says he has “caused us to be born again.” What can we learn from the rendering “caused us to be born again” about our salvation?

The next wonderful truth about the believer’s salvation that should cause worship is God’s gift of the new birth. A more literal rendering of verse 3 is translated “he has caused us to be born again” (ESV).

What is Peter referring to by the phrase “caused us to be born again?”

First of all, this reminds us of John 3, where Christ tells Nicodemus no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born again. One must first be born of water and the Holy Spirit (v. 5). Water seems to refer to the necessity of the Word of God in the new birth. Water is a common metaphor for Scripture. Paul uses it in Ephesians 5:25 for Christ washing the church with the water of the Word of God.

When a believer hears the Word of God and the Holy Spirit moves upon him, there is a birth. A person is made a new creation. Now certainly, this happens when a believer responds by putting his faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior, but in another way this is a work totally of God.

The reason that Peter says God caused us to be born again seems to be because he is referring the readers back to what he talked about in verse 1 and 2. He talked about the believer’s election, which speaks of how God chose them before time. Yes, there is a sense in which the believer must choose to respond to the gospel but just as human birth has nothing to do with the child, neither does the second birth.

When a child is born, does he have anything to do with the process of birth? It is something that begins in the minds of the parents and consummated through their bodies. The child has nothing to do with it. In the same way, spiritual birth is an act of God. It has nothing to do with the one who is born again. Yes, Scripture everywhere calls us to believe and repent, but the means to repent and believe does not come from man. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians 2:8–9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (emphasis mine).

When Paul says we are saved through faith and not from ourselves, he is saying that even the faith we demonstrate in order to be saved is a gift of God. Man himself cannot choose God. Sin has so fractured the will of man in such a way that man cannot in himself respond to God apart from grace. Look at what Paul said about this: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Rom 8:7–8).

Paul says the natural mind is hostile to God. It cannot submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. People often talk about free will, but before a person is born again, they are not free at all. Their will is in bondage to sin. They may know God law’s, they may know his gospel, but it is impossible for them to respond because they are slaves of sin.

It is grace that comes in and shatters this bondage and allows a person to respond to Christ so that they may be born again. One of the wonderful things about our salvation is that it is totally a gift of God’s grace. It is an act that began in the counsel of God even before creation. God has caused us to be born again.

I think many times people have lost the joy of their salvation because they have lost or never come to an understanding of true grace. Saving grace means I could do nothing for my salvation. It is all a gift of God. He gave me birth. This is something that we can’t fully understand or comprehend, but it is something that we must affirm because Scripture teaches it and worship because of it. Look again at how Paul responds to the doctrine of election (cf. Rom 11:28) that leads to salvation.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33–36

Look at Christ’s worship over this truth:

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
Luke 10:21

Christ worships God because he has hidden it from some and revealed it to others. This is essentially election. “I don’t understand it, Lord, but I thank you for the grace you have given me, and I declare your paths are past tracing out. You are good, oh Lord! Your salvation is great!” This should be the proper response to the God who has “caused us” to be born again. Thank you Lord for this new birth!

Application Question: Why is election and the reality that the new birth is a work totally of God so controversial and difficult for many to accept?

Believers Should Praise God Because of Our Living Hope in Our Great Salvation

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by the “living hope” the believer has in salvation?

Another reason the believer should praise God is because God has brought us into a living hope. Scripture would declare everywhere that the lost are without hope in the world. Listen to what Solomon said about the wicked: “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing” (Prov 10:28). If your hope is built on the economy, your career, your family, or your investments, all these hopes will come to nothing. The economy is shaky at best; one could lose his career or retirement at any time. Life as we know it will eventually come to an end. These are dead hopes because one day they will come to nothing. Yet these are the only hopes that the world can really have.

But, those who believe in Christ have a hope that will last forever. Listen to what John said about this world and specifically the man who obeys God: “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). Because of the resurrection of Christ, the man who does the will of God abides forever. Death is just a passage way into eternity, and therefore, his hope is living and will never pass away. Look at what Paul said about his death: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).

To live is Christ, but to die is gain. For the believer, his hopes should be eternal. In the next passages, Peter talks about why our hope is living. It’s living because of Christ’s resurrection. He says a living hope “through the resurrection of Christ” (1 Pet 1:3). It is living because we have an inheritance in heaven that will never be taken away; it’s living because God is saving us for it, as we will one day be resurrected.

It’s because of this reality that the believer must set their eyes on things above and not on the earth. If the believer’s hope is on the earth, he will be up and down like the waves of the sea, as the economy changes, health changes, etc. But our hope in heaven is eternal, and therefore, is stable and living. Look at what Paul said:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1–4

Application Question: Why is it important to have a living hope? How should having a living hope encourage you in your daily life and specifically in persecution and trials?

Believers Should Praise God for the Inheritance We Have in Our Great Salvation

And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:4

Interpretation Questions: What is Peter referring to as our inheritance? What are the adjectives referring to this inheritance and what do they mean?

The next thing Peter says is that a believer should praise God because of his inheritance in heaven. He uses three adjectives to describe this inheritance. What are they and what do they mean? He says our inheritance is

  • imperishable, which means “not able to be destroyed”
  • undefiled, which means “not polluted”; and
  • unfading, which means “not subject to decay.”1

But what is this inheritance that he is talking about? Because Peter’s audience was primarily Jewish, as he was the apostle to the Jews, they would have immediately thought about the inheritance the Jews were promised in Canaan. Look at what the book of Joshua said: “So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel (emphasis mine) according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war” (Josh 11:23).

We see here in this passage that Israel went into the promise land and conquered the nations in Canaan. There they took the inheritance that God had given them—the land of Israel. However, the Jews whom Peter was speaking to knew that the promised inheritance was at times taken by other nations. It was taken as they were exiled from it by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. In fact, at the time of Peter’s writing the land was under Roman rule.

The inheritance in the Old Covenant was perishable. The temple was destroyed along with the buildings and the walls. It was polluted with sin and the idolatry of the nation. It was prone to decay because it was temporal and not eternal. However, the inheritance of the believer in the New Covenant is much greater than that of the Old Covenant. It is imperishable, undefiled, unfading and it is being reserved in heaven by God. God is keeping the inheritance of the believer in heaven. This is something to praise God for because in this life our inheritance is temporal at best. The money we save fluctuates in value with the economy; it’s prone to be lost, but not our inheritance in heaven. Look at what Christ says:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 6:19–20

He says don’t store up on the earth because it is temporary but store up in heaven because it is eternal. But what exactly is the inheritance of the believer?

It is essentially everything that comes with Christ. Scripture calls Christians co-heirs with Christ. Everything that is Christ’s is ours. Look at what Romans says: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co–heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom 8:17).

Everything that is Christ’s is ours. This includes ruling the earth in the millennial kingdom and the eternal state (Rev 20). It includes the beauties and riches of the new Jerusalem (Rev 21). It includes the crowns and riches we will receive for faithfulness on the earth (Rev 4:4) and much, much more.

However, the greatest part of our inheritance is God. He is our portion, he is our joy, and in heaven we will have unhindered fellowship with him. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:26). Listen to Psalms 16:5: “The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot” (KJV).

The saint should rejoice because of this inheritance that is waiting for him in heaven and the chief part of that inheritance is God. He is our inheritance and our portion. We enjoy him here on earth, but in heaven, it will be in an unhindered manner. Thank you Lord!

Application Question: What excites you most about the believer’s future heavenly inheritance? What questions do you have about heaven and its rewards?

Believers Should Praise God for the Future Aspects of Our Great Salvation

Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:5

The final aspect mentioned in this passage that should make the believer rejoice even in suffering, is one’s coming salvation. This may sound strange to some because we are already saved. However, Scripture talks about salvation in at least three ways. We were saved when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is called justification, as God canceled our sin debt and gave us Christ’s righteousness. He now sees us as his Son in perfect righteousness. Scripture speaks of this salvation in the past tense as in Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace you have been saved (emphasis mine), through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

The second way is that we are being saved; this is called sanctification. Every day, we are being saved from sin as we become more holy and look more like Christ. This is a progressive process that will happen until we reach heaven. We see this in Philippians 2:12-13:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (emphasis mine).

Finally, there is a future aspect of our salvation called “the coming of salvation.” It is often called glorification, which happens when we see Christ. We will have resurrected bodies and will no longer sin or have a sin nature in our bodies. We will be completely saved from sin and temptation. This will happen when we see Christ.

Look at what 1 John 3:2 says: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him (emphasis mine), for we shall see him as he is.” Scripture constantly talks about this as a future salvation. “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now (emphasis mine) than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11).

These are three aspects of our salvation: (1) justification in the past, (2) sanctification in the present, and (3) glorification when we see Christ and have our resurrected bodies. This is something we should get excited about. There is a coming day where we will no longer wrestle with pride, fight against lust or temptation. One day, we will be completely like Christ and until that time, we fight and “work out my salvation” so we can look more and more like our Lord.

Believers Should Praise God for His Protection over Our Great Salvation

Who through faith are shielded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:5

However, not only do we praise God about this future aspect of salvation, but we praise him that we are being protected for it. Look again at what Peter says: “Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:5).

The word shielded is a military word. It can also be translated “guarded.” Another exciting aspect about this salvation and future inheritance is that God is guarding us for it. As you could imagine, there were many of these persecuted Christians that were kept from their earthly inheritance because of the scattering (1 Pet 1:1) or because it was taken by the Romans. Some had even died for the faith, and therefore, could not receive the inheritance of their fathers or grandfathers. However, the believer’s inheritance is different. God is guarding us for it.

This teaches the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. If they are truly born again, they will not lose their salvation. They will not lose it because God shields and protects the faith of every true believer. They will never ultimately fall away from God because God keeps them. We see many promises about this in the Scripture. Look at what Jesus said to his disciples:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
John 10:27–29

Christ puts the believers in his hand and also in the Father’s hand, and says no one will snatch them out. They will have eternal life. In fact, Christ taught that this was one of the reasons that God sent him. He was sent to not only save people but to keep them from stumbling away from him. Look at what he says in John 6:37–39:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day (emphasis mine).

Interpretation Question: How does Christ keep the saints from losing their salvation?

How does Christ keep the salvation of those God has given him?

Christ’s job is to lose none of the saints—he keeps their faith. He does this in several ways:

1. Christ shields the faith of believers through prayer. We saw this with Peter when he was sifted by Satan in his denial. Look at what Christ said to him: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail (emphasis mine). And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

Christ kept the faith of Peter when he stumbled in sin by praying for him. Christ kept Peter from falling totally away from Christ and apostatizing. The writer of Hebrews says this is a ministry Christ does for every believer in order to keep their faith. Look at what he says: “Therefore he is able to save completely (emphasis mine) those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb 7:25).

Christ can save completely those who come to him because he prays for them. Christ is always praying for his saints, and he keeps their faith as he did with Peter.

2. Christ shields the faith of believers by limiting the trials they go through. Look at what happened to the disciples right before Christ went to the cross:

Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: I have not lost one of those you gave me (emphasis mine).”
John 18:7–9

When the soldiers came to take Jesus, he protected his disciples from being taken and crucified. Why? John says so that he would lose none of whom God gave him. Christ knew this trial was too big for them. If they would have faced crucifixion for their faith, at that point, they would have totally turned away from Christ. Their faith was not strong enough. He was keeping the faith of his elect; he was shielding them.

Christ does that for every believer. He holds the temperature gauge on the trial. He only lets you go through what you can handle. We see this clearly in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it (emphasis mine).

When we see those in the church who go through a trial, fall away, and never come back, that means they were never truly saved. Christ will not lose any of those God has given him. This is how Christ handles those who claim to be his followers but do not have true saving faith. Look at what he says in Matthew 7:21–23:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers” (emphasis mine)!

Christ doesn’t say they lost their salvation. He essentially says they never had it. He “never knew” them. Of those who are truly saved, Christ will lose none. He protects their faith and keeps them out of trials that would ultimately cause them to turn away as he did with Peter and the disciples. Our God guards the faith of the saints. This is something we should worship God for in our salvation.

I think some do not have a proper worship towards God for their salvation because to them, their salvation is not sure. It is not sure because of wrong doctrine about the security of their salvation. For some it may not be sure because they lack assurance of salvation. Each believer is called to make their election sure by growing in their faith so they no longer will be tossed to and fro at every temptation or failure (cf. 2 Pet 1:10, 5–9)

One of the reasons we praise God for our salvation is because it is eternal. It cannot be lost because Christ is active, and God is active in guarding it like a soldier. Listen, there is nobody better to guard your salvation than God. You can have ultimate confidence that Christ will lose none.

This is something we can worship God about!

Application Question: Why do so many people lack assurance of salvation? How can they develop assurance and trust in God as the guardian of their faith and therefore salvation?

Conclusion

Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Many of us have lost it. We don’t worship God anymore about it, and maybe part of it is because we have lost our gaze on the benefits of this great salvation. Peter writes to believers who are suffering to help them again have the joy they are meant to have even in the midst of their tribulations.

  1. Believers should praise God for his mercy in our great salvation. Many have forgotten how rotten they were and how numerous their sins were. God had mercy on us and did not give us what we deserve. He had mercy on us and delivered us from his eternal wrath.
  2. Believers should praise God for the new birth in our great salvation. God has caused us to be born again and given us a new life.
  3. Believers should praise God for the living hope in our great salvation. The world does not have a living hope but only hopes that pass away. They pass away at the grave, their degrees, their finances and their dreams. But this is not true about the believer’s hope. The believer’s hopes are eternal because of their resurrection in Christ. This should bring us joy.
  4. Believers should praise God for the inheritance in our great salvation. Our inheritance is being reserved in heaven by God. In this world all inheritances will ultimately be lost but not the believers’.
  5. Believers should praise God for the future aspects of our great salvation. Thank you, Lord, that we have not received all the benefits of our salvation yet. One day, there will be no more sin, no more sickness, and no more mourning. We will reign as co-heirs with Christ in the new heaven and new earth. Thank you, Lord, that you are protecting this for us.
  6. Believers should praise God for his protection over our great salvation. The believer’s salvation is secure. This should make us sing praises to God as Peter did.

Application Question: How can we keep the joy we are supposed to have in our great salvation especially when going through trials?

Chapter Notes

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Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.


1 Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christs sufferings. Preaching the Word (32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Soteriology (Salvation), Worship (Personal)

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