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Peter teaches us how to respond to evil

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Today’s bible study is 1 Peter 3:9: Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

When someone criticizes us, calls us names, puts us down, yells at us in anger or flings a sarcastic comment at us, how often do we want to return it in like manner? How often are we able to hold our tongues? Even more, are we able to repay this kind of treatment with blessing?

Yet, we are taught to return evil and insult with blessing. Being who and what we are, is this possible? Is this instruction even meant for us? If so, how do we manage to do it?

In verses 8-12 of the third chapter of 1 Peter, the letter is explicitly addressing all Christians and teaching once again that Jesus had taught non-retaliation. This same instruction is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Typically, to support his point, Peter does not quote Jesus, but the Old Testament words in Psalms 34:13-17.

This is a complex letter, although it is not long. It offers many teaching of Jesus, including suffering unjustly, maintaining a gentle and quiet spirit, instructions for Christian husbands and wives, dealing with responsible suffering in the face of hostility, and lessons from the early Christian hymns.

1 Peter is considered by biblical scholars to be one of general instruction to all. It was written at a time when religious rituals were interwoven into0o every aspect of pagan life. All social, community, political and educational occasions involved rights that Christians could only regard as “lawless idolatry.”

When Christians did not participate in the life of society around them, they were suspect and maligned as evildoers, considered to be ‘atheists,’ ‘haters of the human race,’ and ‘unpatriotic traitors.’

But Christians were taught to understand themselves as the holy people of God. Their conduct was to be consistent with honorable deeds that outsiders could see, with a view to their being converted, so that they will glorify God when he comes to judge. The general principle of this whole section is that Christian conduct within the given structures of society is to be seen as part of the church’s evangelistic mission.

So, it is not just us. It is the church as a whole. It is the whole body of Christians trying to show the rest of the world how Go would want them to respond to evil. Can we do it for the glory of God? Can we do it for the love of Jesus? Can we do it as members of the Christian community did so long ago? Perhaps, by the grace of God, we can.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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