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3. Week Three—Born Again

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Words To Live By

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

1 Peter 1:22-23 (NASB)

How much do you resemble your parents? Perhaps you look like your father and act like your mother, or vice versa. Maybe you’re just like one of them in both looks and personality. When some of us were born, we were immediately recognized as (what we call in Texas) the “spitting image” of a parent. For others of us, the resemblance was only seen over time.

When I’m in public, I really enjoy looking at strangers and trying to pick out those who are related. On Father’s Day this year we went to breakfast before church, and there was a family whose three grown children were easy to spot because they all favored the dad. The daughter-in-law was obvious because she looked nothing like them.

As we’ve already seen in our study so far, Peter’s letter was purposed to encourage the recipients, people suffering for their faith, and he does that in part by reminding them of who they were as believers in Christ. Peter stresses that they had been born anew into God’s family, consecrated to their heavenly Father and thus called to be holy.

Romans 8:29 puts it this way: “those whom he [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

As you study God’s Word this week, consider who you are as a believer and why knowing your identity is important if and when you deal with real persecution for your faith.

Part One Study

As Peter describes our new identity, he uses terminology that suggests a familial relationship.

Read 1 Peter 1:1-2:10, The Entire Passage For This Week’s Study. Journal About The Following Questions:

  • Much of this is a review, but it’s worthwhile to go back and list (and even mark in purple) every word and phrase that refers in any way to our new identity as God’s children. Then comment on how knowing these truths affects you.

*** Some scholars have commented that parts of this letter appear to have their origin in Jesus’ teaching. Well of course! Peter was one of the twelve men who accompanied Jesus during his three years of teaching ministry. Read John 3:1-21, a related conversation for which Peter was likely present. (John gave us the record of what they discussed, but generally when Jesus had John with him, he also took Peter and James, even if he didn’t include the other nine disciples.) Write down what Jesus says there that reminds you of what you’ve read from Peter so far.

  • How does the command in 1:22 relate to 1:23-25, where Peter once again repeats the idea of our being placed in God’s family?
  • In light of the command in 1:22, look up John 15:12-13 and 1 John 3:16-18, and comment on what it would mean for us to obey this command. How important is obeying it in light of Jesus’ prayer for his people in John 17:11, 20-23?
  • What is God saying to you about your love and actions today?

Rich Villodas comments on the importance of the family of God: “At the core of the gospel, then, is the ‘making right’ of all things through Jesus. In Jesus’s death and resurrection, the world is set on a trajectory of renewal, but God graciously invites us to work toward this future. However, this work is not an individual enterprise; it is one orchestrated by the collected effort of a new family in the power of the Spirit.”1

Part Two Study

Reread 1 Peter 1:13-25 And Continue Reading Through 2:3. Journal Your Thoughts On The Bulleted Questions:

  • Chapter two starts with “therefore” or “so,” and that requires us to look at the verses that precede it to see the complete thought. Note the characteristics that Peter says to take off or rid ourselves of. Ask God to show you if you are guilty of holding such attitudes, and know that he forgives you completely as you humbly repent. Sadly, social media is filled with posts that violate these commands. How do you see the command in 1 Peter 1:22 to purify your soul relate to the command in 2:2-3 to yearn for pure spiritual milk?

If you have any experience around newborn babies, you will understand Peter’s metaphor in 2:2. Peter is not correlating babies with believers, suggesting only baby Christians need this command. Instead, he is comparing a baby’s hunger with the kind of desire that all Christians should have for spiritual milk.

Most scholars agree that milk refers to the Word of God which was just mentioned, but apparently in the Greek there are some grammatical problems in translating it that way. So a number of others2 have suggested that spiritual milk is more than the Word, which is of course essential to our growth. In their thinking, the spiritual milk may include all kinds of spiritual practices as well as the teaching and encouragement of the church community.

  • What kinds of spiritual milk have affected your growth as a Christian? Be prepared to share your experience with your small group (if you have one) so that you can be encouraged by each other to consider trying a new spiritual practice.
  • What is God saying to you today?

*** Because Peter specifically mentions God’s Word as an agent of the new birth (1:23-25), that means that it is part of the spiritual milk of 2:2. Read these other passages focused on God’s Word, and record any thoughts that you have about them: 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 17:15-19. If you have time, also look at Psalm 119 with the theme of God’s Word, also referred to as God’s law or commands.

Part Three Study

Before you read today’s passage, keep in mind that the letter is to churches, not individuals. Christians aren’t to be lone rangers but are to carry out the mission of God with and among the family of God. This is about us collectively, our identity as God’s church and God’s family, just as the rest of the letter is.

Read 1 Peter 2:4-10, And Respond To These Questions:

  • There are a number of word pictures in this passage: living stone and stones, a spiritual house, priests offering sacrifices, cornerstone, stumbling over a rock and darkness into light. Record your thoughts on these various pictures as you read the details in this passage and note what you learn about Jesus and what you learn about the church. Which image is most encouraging to you? Why?
  • What are spiritual sacrifices? Read through these verses, and journal about one that God lays on your heart: Psalm 51:17; 107:22; 141:2; Romans 12:1; 15:16; Philippians 4:14-18; Hebrews 13:15-16.
  • How are Christians and those who reject Christ contrasted in this passage?
  • What is God saying to you through these scriptures?

*** Peter calls Jesus rejected in 2:4, 7. (Read John 1:9-13 to see more.) Read these passages about the rejection of his followers and journal your thoughts, especially in light of the hostility toward the first-century believers to whom Peter writes: John 15:18-21; Acts 5:17-18, 27, 41-42; Philippians 3:12.

Praise God for his high calling on your life as part of the church.

1 Rich Villodas, The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus (United States: WaterBrook, 2020), 50.

2 Jobes, 141.

Related Topics: Christian Life

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