Questions for Chapter 2:
1. How should we be like newborn babies?
2. What is Peter referring to, when he talks of "Living Stones"?
3. How should we act with non-believers?
4. Peter talks of the "Shepherd and Keeper of Souls". What should we learn from his example.
Answers to Questions:
Answer to Question 1:
In the second verse of Chapter 2, Peter encourages us to be like babies. Not because babes are pure and have not yet sinned, but because they "thirst for the pure spiritual milk". This is an important concept because in it we see that it is the "spiritual milk" that helps us to grow.
Human beings are not statues. We do not stand in one place, unchanging, unheedful of our surroundings. We have a soul and are animated. We move through time and space, our souls move through time and space. In order to grow we must nourish ourselves. God's word is that nourishment.
Peter wants us to be like babes in another way as well. He wishes us to cast off "the evil of the heathen world" much as the newborn has no cloak, we must bare our souls to Christ.
Answer to Question 2:
In writing of the "Living Stone" Peter is clearly referring first to Jesus, (verse 4) "reject by man...but chosen by God as valuable." He then exhorts us to also be living stones, to be like Jesus. "Let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple."
This passage is embedded with considerable symbolism. You may remember that "Peter" was the name given to "Simon", the very author of this letter, and "Peter" means "rock". When Christ bestowed this name on Peter he said, "Upon this rock I shall build the foundation of My church."
We know that the church itself is not a building, not a piece of property endowed with ornate architecture. The Church, rather, is the people who belong, the people who believe, the people who act as Christians.
There is a famous story from Greek history. The founder of the Spartan way of life was a man named Lycurgus. He was approached one day by a man who asked him why the great city of Sparta had no walls. He told his this man to look out over the fields around the city at the young men toiling to perfect themselves. He said, "There you see the walls of Sparta." He knew that physical walls without the will and the human capacity to defend them were useless. More, he knew that no enemy would enter Sparta as long as she maintained a strong army.
In the same way Peter understood that the foundation of Christ's church is not in brick and mortar. It is in the heart and soul and steadfastness of every Christian.
Answer to Question 3:
In verse 13 Peter tells us to "submit ourselves to every human authority". In this he does not mean for us to merely accept the dictates of governmental bodies blindly. For in verse 16 he tells us to "Live as free people." Peter means for us to stay in line with duly constituted authority. For he sees the government as the body that "punishes the evil doers and praises the good." He is telling us that it is the obligation of every good Christian to be a good citizen.
An interesting concept to consider is whether we must obey a bad government. Peter does not address this issue directly. Yet others since have contemplated it. Henry David Thoreau, for example was a strong exponent of civil disobedience in the face of immoral laws. Ghandi and Martin Luther King were great believers in the idea of passive resistance to bad governance. Such men would say that not only do we have the right to disobey immoral rules, we have an obligation to do so.
Christ told us to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." He did not say we should render unto Caesar even that which is NOT Caesar's. Thus, it could be said that great men such as those who led the American Revolution were fully justified in their actions.
Nevertheless, such contemplation goes beyond Peter's intent in this letter. He was more concerned that Christians to be a good example to non-believers. He said in verse 12 that "Your conduct among the heathen should be so good that when they accuse you of being evildoers, they will have to recognize your good deeds." Also in verse 17 he reminds us to "Respect everyone, love your fellow believers, have reverence for God, and respect the Emperor." He felt that a Christian's proper treatment of non-believers would serve three purposes, 1) to bring new believers into the church, 2) gain broader acceptance for the church and 3) would help gain salvation for the individual Christian.
Answer to Question 4:
"The Shepherd and Keeper of our souls", is a theme that runs throughout the New Testament. It was much used because it was both familiar and apt. The shepherd's duties are many, but most importantly he protects and leads his sheep to green pastures.
Yet we do not follow the way of Christ only as sheep follow their shepherd. Or as a tour group might follow their guide. Our relation with Christ might be more closely be compared with an apprentice learning from his master.
As Peter wrote in verse 21, "Christ himself suffered for you and left you an example, so that you would follow in his steps. He committed no sin and no one ever heard a lie come from his lips." Indeed, Christ did more, and we should emulate his actions, "When he was insulted, he did not answer back with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but placed his hopes in God the righteous Judge."
Even so, we must come back to the analogy of the Shepherd and his flock for in one way we are "like sheep that had lost their way". For Christ has protected us by "carrying our sins in his body to the cross...It is by his wounds that you have been healed." It is his example that turns us from sins and helps to secure for us salvation.
Letters of Peter Home
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3