Great persecution was coming on the early church. Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange think happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). It is not always easy being a Christian.
The book of 1 Peter provides encouragement and perspective to Christians facing difficult circumstances. Let’s continue our study of 5 great things set forth in this book.
1 Peter 2 speaks of The Great Example. Let us notice 1 Peter 2:21-23.
“For to this you were called…” (1 Peter 2:21a).
The context concerns being willing to suffer for serving God and for doing good (1 Peter 2:18-21). Guy N. Woods commented, “Verses 18-20 deal with the duty of servants to continue in well doing, and to submit patiently to whatever trials it is their lot to bear; verses 21-25 establish the motive which should prompt such a manner of life” (Gospel Advocate Commentary Series, Guy N. Woods, A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John and Jude, p. 78).
The words “to this” (eis touto) could be rendered “into this.” Guy N. Woods commented, “i.e., into such a life… had they been called (by the gospel) to do good and to suffer patiently” (ibid).
Suffering comes for different reasons. Some suffer for their own faults (1 Peter 2:20; 4:15). There is nothing commendable in this. Some suffer for serving God and doing good (1 Peter 2:19-20; 4:14-16). This is commendable before God. Wayne Jackson commented, “God is pleased when we have the courage to suffer at the hands of our enemies in order to glorify him (v. 19)” (Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary, p. 536).
“because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:” (1 Peter 2:21b).
Christ did not merely tell us how to live. He showed us. He, Himself, was willing to suffer for doing the will of God (cf. Matthew 26:39, 42). He was willing to suffer for doing good (cf. Matthew 12:9-14). He was willing to suffer for us (cf. John 15:14; 1 John 3:16).
He is our great example. The word “example” in our text is hupogrammon. It means, literally “an underwriting” (Vine’s). It was used of “a writing-copy, including all the letters of the alphabet, given to beginners as an aid in learning to draw them” (Thayer). Think about how we commonly learned to write. Perfectly formed letters were at the top of the page. We were to try to reproduce these letters, writing them in the lines below (Do you remember Big Chief Tablets?). Christ is the perfectly formed letters. We are to strive to reproduce such, as best we can, in our lives.
Peter points us to Christ throughout this book, when telling us to do something. Consider: 1 Peter 2:18-20 cf. 2:21-25; 1 Peter 3:13-17; cf. 3:18; 1 Peter 4:12 cf. 4:13.
His example is what we should consider when facing difficulties. We should look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, let you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:2-3).
“‘who committed no sin nor was deceit found in His mouth’” (1 Peter 2:22).
This is nearly a direct quotation from Isaiah 53. Notice: “He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth” (Isaiah 53:9). Peter used the word “sin,” rather than the term “violence.”
Christ’s suffering was not due to any personal wrong doing. He committed no sin (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered for us, for our sake (1 Peter 2:24 cf. Isaiah 53:5, 11-12). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
“Who, when He was reviled did not revile in return; When He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).
Christ’s sufferings are referenced many times in this book (e.g. 1 Peter 1:11; 2:21; 2:23; 3:18; 4:1; 4:13; 5:1). We should not feel alone, or sorry for ourselves. He has not asked us to endure more than He was willing to endure. “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:3-4).
How did Christ conduct Himself when He was mistreated? (1) He did not allow His enemies to lower Him to their same level. Nor, should we allow others to do so to us. We are not to be “returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Even the Old Testament taught this. “Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work’” (Proverbs 24:29).
(2) He stayed focused on the Righteous Judge. “He… committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” The word “commit(ed)” is from the Greek paradidomi. The word is defined to mean “to give over; to give into the hands (of another); to give over into (one’s) power or use: to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage” (Thayer). Jesus was committed to doing the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39, 42; Luke 23:46). He had not been sent to condemn, but to provide the means of salvation (John 3:17). Instead of seeking revenge, He trusted God. He left things to God’s time, and God’s plan. He trusted that there would be a righteous judgment. He committed His Spirit to God (Luke 23:46). Paul did the same (2 Timothy 1:12). We should learn from this. We too should give our lives over to doing the will of the Father. We too should trust His plan. He says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:19 cf. Deuteronomy 32:35).
The message should inspire us and encourage us. We have “The Great Example” to show us how to live.