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Works Cited

The Book of I Peter

Background of 1 Peter

The First-Century Culture

Simple Journaling

Tips for Leaders

Resources for Leaders

Works Cited

Constable, Thomas L. “Constable’s Notes: 1 Peter.” Accessed at https://

Hiebert, D. Edmond. First Peter: An Expositional Commentary. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1984.

Ignatius of Antioch. Quoted by Skye Jethani. “WITH GOD DAILY - The Devil Didn’t Make You Do It.” August 29, 2022.

Jobes, Karen H. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1 Peter. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Keener, Craig. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993.

Marshall, I. Howard. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: 1 Peter. Grant Osborne, Series Ed., D. Stuart Briscoe and Haddon Robinson, Consulting Editors. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1991.

McKnight, Scot. The NIV Application Commentary: 1 Peter. Terry Muck, General Editor. Eugene Peterson, Scot McKnight, Marianne Eye Thompson, Klyne Snodgrass, Consulting New Testament Eds. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1992)

Suso, Henry. Quoted by Skye Jethani. “WITH GOD DAILY - More than the Absence of Bad.” July 27, 2022.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Accessed at

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

The Book Of 1 Peter (NET)1

1 From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those temporarily residing abroad (in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia) who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure!

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. 7 Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. 11 They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory. 12 They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of.

13 Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Like obedient children, do not comply with the evil urges you used to follow in your ignorance, 15 but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct, 16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.” 17 And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here in reverence. 18 You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed—not by perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you now trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart. 23 You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For

all flesh is like grass

and all its glory like the flower of the grass;

the grass withers and the flower falls off,

25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.

And this is the word that was proclaimed to you.

2 So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation, 3 if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness.

4 So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and precious in God’s sight, 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it says in scripture, “Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and whoever believes in him will never be put to shame.” 7 So you who believe see his value, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, 8 and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.

13 Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme 14 or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good. 15 For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. 17 Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.

18 Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are perverse. 19 For this finds God’s favor, if because of conscience toward God someone endures hardships in suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it? But if you do good and suffer and so endure, this finds favor with God. 21 For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

3 In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands. Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, 2 when they see your pure and reverent conduct. 3 Let your beauty not be external—the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes— 4 but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight. 5 For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, 6 like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so. 7 Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers.

8 Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble. 9 Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing. 10 For

the one who wants to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit.

11 And he must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer.

But the Lord’s face is against those who do evil.

13 For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil.

18 Because Christ also suffered once for sins,

the just for the unjust,

to bring you to God,

by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.

19 In it he went and preached to the spirits in prison,

20 after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed. In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water. 21 And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you—not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him.

4 So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, 2 in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires. 3 For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries. 4 So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you. 5 They will face a reckoning before Jesus Christ who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 Now it was for this very purpose that the gospel was preached to those who are now dead, so that though they were judged in the flesh by human standards they may live spiritually by God’s standards.

7 For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. 8 Above all keep your love for one another fervent because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without complaining. 10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

12 Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. 16 But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners? 19 So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.

5 So as your fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings and as one who shares in the glory that will be revealed, I urge the elders among you: 2 Give a shepherd’s care to God’s flock among you, exercising oversight not merely as a duty but willingly under God’s direction, not for shameful profit but eagerly. 3 And do not lord it over those entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock. 4 Then when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that never fades away.

5 In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand 7 by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. 8 Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. 10 And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him belongs the power forever. Amen.

12 Through Silvanus, whom I know to be a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, in order to encourage you and testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 The church in Babylon, chosen together with you, greets you, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Background Of 1 Peter


here are always some who dispute the named author of biblical texts, and 1 Peter is no exception. As Scot McKnight puts it, however, “Because the letter begins by saying that Peter wrote it, evidence must be presented by any who claim that Peter did not write it.”2 McKnight finds three elements in the book that point to Peter as the author in addition to his name: 1. The author mentions being an eyewitness to Jesus’ suffering (5:1). 2. Many of his teachings echo Jesus’ teaching. (We will note these as we go through the letter.) 3. The book bears similarities to Peter’s speeches in Acts.3 We believe that the Apostle Peter is the author.


There is no unanimity among conservative scholars as to the date of this letter, but it is generally accepted that Peter was martyred by the Roman Emperor Nero between about 62 and 65 A.D. McKnight suggests it may have been written during Nero’s early reign before persecution was at its worst after 64.4 Karen H. Jobes points out that the letter reveals that Peter was with both Mark and Silvanus when he wrote the letter, and she finds two possible time periods when they were together: 1. The early 50’s in either Jerusalem or Antioch and 2. the mid-60s in Rome.5


In the introduction to this letter in 1:1-2, Peter lays out a list of cities in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), where his readers were scattered. He describes his audience as those “who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood.” In other words, Christians.

Peter begins his letter by using a Greek term for his audience (perepidemos) that is translated as “those temporarily residing abroad,” strangers, aliens or exiles. Constable says, “The Greek word perepidemos (alien) contains both the ideas of alien nationality and temporary residence.”6 In 2:11 Peter uses that same term paired with a second Greek word (paroikous) translated in various ways in English—time of temporary residence, time of exile. The two terms together are translated foreigners and exiles (NET & NIV), strangers and pilgrims (KJV), aliens and strangers (NASB) and sojourners and exiles (ESV). Although the Bible uses such terminology in a spiritual sense in the book of Hebrews, the terms literally referred to resident aliens, people without rights whose social status was “below citizens but above slaves and foreigners.”7 McKnight leans toward the idea that they were actually “homeless” people who found a home in the church.8 It’s very possible that Peter had in mind a dual meaning for these terms, both literally strangers in the land and metaphorically aliens in this world.

Many scholars believe the audience was primarily Jewish believers because of the many descriptions of the church in terms that the Old Testament uses for Israel, such as a holy priesthood, the elect, the scattered and the people of God. On the other hand McKnight notes that Peter comments that “their former life was a life of living in ignorance (1:14), which was handed on to them by their fathers (1:18). That they were formerly ‘not [my] people’ (2:10) points in the same direction, as does their earlier pagan lifestyle (4:2-4).”9 Some scholars, therefore, see the recipients as Gentiles who had become Jews at some point and were now Christians. Others suppose that it was simply a mixed group.

The letter is clearly addressed to believers who were dealing with an environment hostile to Christianity but not yet living in the time of persecution that came later in Nero’s reign.


Peter states his purpose in 1 Peter 5:12: “Through Silvanus, whom I know to be a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, in order to encourage you and testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

Thus his letter was meant to be a letter of encouragement to people who were a very small minority living in the midst of a hostile, idolatrous culture. In order to stand firm in the faith, they needed to be encouraged in the true grace of God.

The First-Century Culture

Household Codes

Karen Jobes speaks extensively about the first-century household codes, common in both the Greek and Roman cultures. They addressed how people of different household stations or positions in life were expected to behave and were written by various authors who were part of those societies. Those found in the New Testament followed their format and would have been immediately recognized as household codes. Any religion or group that subverted the codes by which their societies functioned were considered suspect.10

That’s why Jobes also suggests that both Paul and Peter present such codes in their writings because “one of the apologetic tasks for a religious group was to show compliance with the important elements of social order….”11

Jobes explains how the codes in the New Testament valued the lowly household members in contrast to other ancient household codes that have been found: “In the Greek writings, wives, like slaves, receive instruction through their husbands because both slave and wife are thought to be deficient, though not in the same way.” Instead, Paul and Peter address them directly, “assuming both have a moral responsibility for their own behavior that exceeds social expectations of the day.”12

Although the household codes common in that day contained “the cultural expectation that a slave must worship his or her master’s god and a wife must worship her husband’s,”13 the Christian codes did not.

Jobes considers Peter’s different perspectives to be based on Jesus’ example “as the Suffering Servant of God, in whose footsteps all Christians—including slaves, wives, and husbands—are to follow.”14 (FYI: Peter is the source of our understanding that the predicted Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is Jesus, as Peter is the only New Testament writer to mention it.)15


Scot McKnight provides an extensive discussion of the institution of slavery in the first century in his commentary. A few of his main points are summarized below:

  • Slavery wasn’t usually permanent, but rather “a temporary condition on the path toward freedom.” It was common to freely choose to become a slave in order to eventually become a citizen.16
  • Slaves in that day weren’t considered to necessarily be in a permanently low station in life. In fact, some wielded power because they served powerful masters.17
  • Slaves fulfilled a whole range of duties, even some we might consider professional jobs today. They weren’t necessarily manual laborers.18 (I thought of Joseph who became the overseer of Potipher’s household and as such was completely in charge of all that happened there. Although that occurred centuries before Christ, it is an example of how powerful a slave could be.)
  • Because slavery was so much a part of the economic system of the day, “it was important for the survival of Christianity for its slaves to be good slaves.”19
  • Slaves did face the possibility of physical abuse, as Peter mentions.

None of the slavery mentioned in the Bible was based on race nor did the practice involve the belief that they were an inferior group, less than human and only fit to be slaves. Those ideas arose in America.

So when Paul and Peter speak of slavery, we must understand it in the context of history.

Although I wish the Bible had completely outlawed slavery, I am encouraged by these words by Volf, quoted by Jobes:

The call to follow the crucified Messiah was, in the long run, much more effective in changing the unjust political, economic, and familial structures than direct exhortations to revolutionize them would ever have been. For an allegiance to the crucified Messiah— indeed, worship of a crucified God—is an eminently political act that subverts a politics of dominion at its very core.20

Perhaps we as God’s people today need to learn to let go of our desire to control the outside culture and our tendency to cling to our personal rights and replace those attitudes with the determination to follow the crucified Jesus by living out sacrificial love for our neighbors as he did.

Simple Journaling

What Does It Mean To Journal?

It’s NOT drawing and coloring. Journaling is recording your thoughts. That’s it. Nothing special or difficult. When we journal, we simply write down how we interacted with God’s Word. We pen our thoughts and impressions as we read and ask God for insights. (See below for a sample journal entry.)

I learned late to journal. I began because I had a hard time concentrating during what was supposed to be my time with God. Do you relate? Instead of focusing on the verses that I was reading or the prayers that I needed to say, my mind was wandering to my to-do list, my conversation with a friend, a problem I had to handle or any number of other things. Once I lost focus, it was difficult to get it back.

My goals were worthy, but I was struggling with how to get there.

So I began writing out my prayers. I wrote out word for word what I wanted to pray, as well as the thoughts that came to me while I wrote, believing that it was highly possible that God was guiding those. I began my time with God by reading some scriptures and usually a short devotional, and then I began to write.

Simple journaling.

Why Journal?

The term Bible study can be scary. We often think that God’s Word is hard to understand, requiring a great deal of intelligence and/or education to navigate, so we stay away from anything other than a favorite verse or two scattered throughout its pages.

We forget that God wants us to know him. We do that through the pages of his Word, his revelation of himself to ordinary people like you and me. Remember this is his story, not the story of people. God is the main character. People are in the story as they interact with him and his work on earth in reconciling them to himself and restoring creation to its perfection.

If we replace time listening and seeking God with a “study” that tells us what to think and believe (true of some but not all studies), we bypass the relationship and knowledge that God gives us directly when we go to his Word instead of to other people to be spiritually nourished.

Imagine sitting down with the author of a book you love rather than going to a book review of it. That’s the opportunity you have with God. He has made himself available to those who seek him through the Scriptures. But there’s a caution here—he doesn’t tell us everything because he is so beyond us—incomprehensible. But he does unfold truth, insight, encouragement, challenge and conviction into our hearts when we seek him. In the end there is a certain amount of mystery that we must learn to live with when we approach God. We are mere humans after all.

Throughout this study, I have kept my thoughts, insights and guidance to a minimum so that you can talk about the Scriptures with the true Teacher.

Journaling with only general, open questions to guide you allows your study to be what you make it.

This is your study. Your time. Your relationship with God. Your journal is your own. Use it in your own way that works for you.

How Much Time Do I Need To Spend Journaling?

Is your time scattered and often absent? Read the scriptures once in the morning, maybe to your kids, with your roommate or husband during breakfast or alone as you enjoy an early cup of coffee before work. Think about them as you drive carpool, eat lunch at work or make your commute. Write in your journal at lunch or before you head to bed in the evening, noting the insights that occurred to you during the day.

Do you want a deep study? Spend time every day reading and rereading the passages of the week. Ask God for insights and applications. Since each week’s study has three sections, spend two days on each section. Read the verses again the second day, and ask God for new insights. Read some of the cross references in the margins of your Bible. With your journal beside you, note all of your thoughts as they come. You may be very surprised at how often your mind goes in a new direction.

Make the schedule your own. Spend little or much time on it. It is your record of how you and God interact as you read his Word.

Do I Have To Use The Questions In The Lesson?

Absolutely not. They are merely there to launch your thinking, not to determine the path of your thoughts. The questions are to help, not hinder. If something else is on your mind when you begin journaling, skip them entirely. Listen to God’s Spirit as he gives you insight into the scriptures you read.

What If I’m Stuck And Can’t Think Of Anything To Write?

Here are some general questions that you can use with any passage as you begin to journal:

  • What do I like about this passage? Why?
  • What do I not like about this story? Why?
  • What do I learn about God and his purposes in this section of Scripture?
  • What do I learn about people in general from the author’s message? In other words, what lessons about people do I learn?
  • What is God telling me to do from what he revealed? How and when will I do it?

If you’re a seasoned student of the Bible, you may want to look for stories or verses that relate to what you read and journal about how they connect to each other and to you. Use the cross-references in your Bible to help you.

What Kinds Of Things Should I Write?

What follows is a journal entry that I wrote from a Bible story that is not part of this study. Just so you don’t think this is too hard, you need to know that I added paragraphs so it would be easier for you to read. I don’t write in my journal that way. Because I write only for me, not an audience, I normally abbreviate a number of words and phrases that are common in my journal, but I have written them out for you so they make sense.

I also deleted the names of people that I’m praying for, but I left the prayer itself so you could see how the story became the basis of my prayer, which included confession and intercession. I don’t normally pray through a format like PRAY (praise, repent, ask and yield), but over a few days of journaling as I read the Word, God leads me to all kinds of prayers. You can journal with that kind of format for your prayers if you prefer.

Although I’ve heard, read and taught this story many times, it still overwhelms me. God, you are so great and powerful! Why do I doubt that you can handle my small problems when Jesus speaks and immediately the wind and the waves obey? Why do I make you too small to handle problems faced by people I love? Why do I wonder deep in my heart if you care when I’m struggling? I’m just like the disciples, ridiculously asking, “Don’t you care?”

I am amazed that as the boat was filling with water and winds were whipping around, Jesus was lying in the boat asleep with his head on a cushion, perfectly at peace. They had to wake him up! That’s a deep and restful sleep! You know how storms wake me up pretty quickly.

Jesus pointed to the disciples’ fear, suggesting it was caused by lack of faith. Father God, forgive me for making you too small in my imagination, so small that you lack the power to keep me despite the storms that swirl around me. Forgive my fear that comes from lack of faith. Forgive me for fearing that you won’t take care of those whom I love. Forgive me for fearing for my grandchildren’s future. Forgive my lack of faith.

You sent your followers straight into the storm, and they learned about your great power. I know your power and protection because of previous storms. Help me remember them when I’m caught up in a new, sudden storm.

I lift up my friends and family who are now in storms. Give them grace and faith. Make them stronger in faith. Help them persevere and bring you glory. Bring comfort to …. In the storms’ wake, I pray they all know your power and grace in a deeper way.

You Can Do It!

Let me simply encourage you—you can do this. It allows God to move in your heart and mind in a way that specific questions may not allow for. Just read the verses, and write down what God brings to your mind. Refer back to the questions in the study, answering those that you want to answer and thinking about the others. Some wonderful insight may come to mind if you do.

I Am Praying That God Will So Encourage And Speak To You Through This Format That You Will Continue To Journal, Never Again Settling For Fill-In-The Blank Bible Studies. (And I Know God Can Use Them In A Mighty Way, But Consider Journaling Through The Verses Instead And See What Happens!)

Tips For Leaders

1. Listen To God

It seems simple, but it can be, oh, so difficult, to listen to God as you lead a group. Our fears tell us not to sit in silence. Our hearts suggest that we should give solutions or even verses to fix problems or questions. The clock indicates that we should cut others off as quickly as possible. And I have been there and done them all!

If we as leaders come to the group time doing what feels comfortable, we may miss the fullness of what God wants to do. So pray well before you go. Pray as you lead the group time. Don’t speak in response to the comments of others until you are sensitive to the movement of the Spirit as to what to say, if anything.

And what may be even more difficult is to encourage the same kinds of listening skills with the others in the group. Listening to God before answering someone’s comments or intervening in what God may want to say to her about her problems is very difficult. I feel that way and likely you do too. Many in the group will struggle, but we can all improve if you remind yourself and the group each week to pause and listen to God before speaking.

Watch our BOW videos on listening as a small group leader at for additional help.

2. Keep Discipleship Goals In Mind


If you want your group members to be in the Word for themselves, start the discussion by letting them share what excited them. Stay away from your own thoughts and listen to them. To involve them, ask very general open questions, such as those in the lesson. Choose questions from the lesson; use some from the list given below (#3 Ask open-ended questions), or write your own questions.

Because the group will journal as they study, see which way the discussion goes before inserting your own direction to the lesson. That said, don’t let it linger on speculation about things the Bible doesn’t reveal. It’s okay for a few minutes, but refocus the conversation to what God has made clear, not what he chose not to tell us.


What do you want to accomplish in your discussion? If you randomly ask questions, you may enjoy a good discussion, but it may not move the group closer to Jesus. Your goal should not be simply getting people to talk but to encourage spiritual growth in the group.

See yourself as the leader, not a teacher or a facilitator. What is your goal? What do you want the group to leave with that will help them grow as believers? It could be a deeper faith through a better understanding of who God is and how he works. It could be a principle that helps them live out genuine faith in a culture that is looking for what is real.

For most lessons, consider these questions as you review the lesson:

  • What do those in your group need to know about God from this lesson?
  • What does the lesson reveal about real faith?
  • How does the story and/or verses fit with the big story gospel of Paradise, Ruin, Reconciliation and Restoration? (If you haven’t studied these major themes of the Bible, consider doing BOW’s study The ONE Story at
  • What principles from the lesson need to be obeyed? What application do you want your group to prayerfully consider—a way of believing about God that intersects with real life or types of actions to take?

Wait to discuss these areas by providing opportunity for the group to bring up the topic before you simply move toward your goals. Make sure you listen first. Many of the questions you want to ask will come up more naturally from within the group. If no one brings it up, then do so with a question to the group.

You don’t necessarily have to write your own questions. Use those within the lesson to launch into an area you want to cover. The lesson questions are open-ended and broad. You can have a great discussion using them. If you listen well, you can follow up with a question that clarifies or expands on their comments to move them further toward your goals.

If you want to write a few questions to summarize the material covered rather than going through those in the lesson, write open-ended questions from the material they studied and read. Or use some of the questions in the next section.

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

You may be used to reading a set of questions to the group and having them read back their answers. I have written many Bible studies that have that type of structure. It’s easy for the leader to follow and makes it simple for the group to provide answers.

Instead, this study is based on journaling, which isn’t comprised of answers to a number of very specific questions but rather uses open-ended questions, meaning not yes/no or narrow answers. (See BOW’s free downloadable resource at

When the lesson is comprised of one long story or section, it will likely work best to let the group know that they can talk about any part of the lesson instead of a specific section of the story. Your questions should allow a response on anything they want to discuss from the lesson. It’s alright if no one brings up a certain section of the story at all.

Allow the Holy Spirit to use the discussion to take the group where he wants it to go, but also keep in mind your goals and move them into those topics if they don’t go there themselves.

Here are examples of open-ended questions that you might use:

  • What verse was most significant to you and why?
  • How did God surprise you through these verses?
  • What feelings did you have about the message and why?
  • How did God reveal himself to you through your reading?
  • How do you see the message in this lesson intersect with God’s big gospel story of Paradise, Ruin, Reconciliation and Restoration?
  • Was there anything in this week’s study that seemed new to you?
  • What confused you about this week’s lesson?
  • What did God say to you this week about yourself?
  • What is God asking you to do in response to your study?

These questions are all very general and open. As you work toward your goals, your questions may be more specific. What often happens, however, is that some of the questions you have prepared will be answered before you ask them. So be aware enough to skip as needed.

A quiet group or a group that is new to one another may not talk quite as readily. Allow them a time of silence to consider their answers before rewording it or sharing your own answer. The Holy Spirit will lead you.

We love your questions or feedback. Contact me at [email protected].

For additional help go to at and watch our 5-10 minute training videos for small group leaders.

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1 Accessed at 10/05/2022 with permission from Hampton Keathley for Harper-Collins.

2 Scot McKnight, 27.

3 Ibid., 28.

4 Ibid., 29.

5 Jobes, 37.

6 Thomas L. Constable, “Notes on 1 Peter” accessed 6/3/2022 at

7 McKnight, 25.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid., 23.

10 Jobes, 183.

11 Ibid., 185.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid., 187.

15 Ibid., 192.

16 McKnight, 165.

17 Ibid., 165.

18 Ibid., 166.

19 Ibid.

20 Jobes, 189.

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