Peter was at his own request nailed to a cross head downwards, since he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord."
In our last study we heard from Peter regarding how important it is to be good law abiding citizens and to treat people and employers respectfully.
Some may ask "What if the so-n-so doesn't deserve any respect?
Well, you can tell someone "the way it is" and still be respectful.
Respect in this sense means civility and doesn't mean that you have to agree with or even like the other person.
You can even become righteously indignant and maintain a respectful demeanor (theoretically of course, heh, heh).
Aren't you awed sometimes when you see really good conservatives tear apart their discourteous, disrespectful opponents on a talk show debate with facts and substantive reasoning?
The "left' usually fight back with name calling and other disrespectful innuendos.
And of course guess who's on the sofa or chair saying "you stupid, ignorant, anti-Christian, anti-American, loser, *&^%!@#$"... when all of a sudden someone says "there goes Dad again". Oooops.
I bring this up for a reason.
We are all human.
But we are fast approaching that period of time of increased persecution and the soon to be "delivering up" of God's elect, which is to whom Peter addressed this letter, right?
The subject that Peter is writing to us about is enduring or suffering "wrongfully", i.e. for righteousness sake.
Let review verse 19:
1 Pet. 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
There is a reason for suffering wrongfully and it's not just so you can practice controlling your emotions, the "flesh man".
Peter will talk a great deal about this and even show that it is part of your "calling", part of your job down here (while sojourning), even your vocation in helping others to salvation.
You see, if you are one of God's elect, you are not here to save yourself!
Get with the program!
What is having a good conscience toward God?
Peter will explain it in the next chapter, so let's jump ahead a little.
1 Peter 3:16
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
No, that's not a godly conscience.
You see, for many, "being ashamed" is step one in the process of conversion, in accepting Christ as their personal Savior.
When you endure wrong suffering and false accusations with proper conduct, "committing yourself to Him that judgeth righteously" (vs. 23), then you allow the "grace of God" to work upon the accuser toward salvation.
It's not for your benefit, though you shall be rewarded greatly for your righteous acts.
Again remember, if you are one of God's elect your future is secure and protected by Him (1 Pet. 1:4).
Peter now continues with suffering wrongly.
1 Pet. 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
Because you're guilty and you know you deserve it!
But when you are given a "bad rap" it's not nearly as easy to maintain your composure.
Now lets put two and two together and know that Peter certainly knew of the persecutions and even the "delivering up" to befall those saints in the latter days.
He was familiar with the sermon on the mount which we have recorded for us in Mat 24 and Mark 13.
And we know from Acts chapter 2 that he knew in that time of the end that God would pour out His spirit upon His sons and daughters and they would teach and follow Christ.
And if you do that, what is guaranteed to happen?
You will be persecuted!
And who will benefit from your persecution?
That depends on how you handle it!
That's why what Peter is telling us is so important to handle it patiently.
His instructions are written to God's elect!
We all need to pay close attention to this next verse:
"For this you were called - it is inseparable from your vocation." (Amplified Bible)1 Pet. 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Handling persecution is part of our job and Jesus Christ set us the perfect example.
You who are called, as part of that chosen generation, the royal priesthood, to take a stand as Paul told us in Eph. 6, where he instructs us to put on the gospel armour and get ready to take that stand, yes you: How are you going to take the heat?
Christ showed us the way.
This is a direct quote from Isa. 53:9. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Think about it.
It's real easy to engage in a heated exchange when someone accuses you of doing that which you are guilty of but the emotions are elevated even higher when someone falsely accuses you.
Are you easily offended and immediately defensive when
(like maybe your spouse or a relative) merely calls you a Bible thumper or religious nut?
How do you handle it?
Listen to Peter.
This book is important to all but especially to God's elect.
Again, when Jesus was reviled He didn't revile back and tell everyone to go to you-know-where or threaten them.
He even confronted the Kenites and accused them of being hypocrites and descendents of Cain, all while maintaining His dignity and respectful demeanor.
Maybe we should review just how bad some of His persecution was.
And some began to spit on Him, and to cover his face, and to buffet Him, and to say unto Him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike Him with the palms of their hands.
Can you take a "punch"?
So Jesus Christ endured both physical and mental abuse.
They spat on Him and slapped Him in the face and sarcastically yelled at Him to prophesy, like "Hey prophet of God!
Who was it that hit you that time, huh?"
Now notice the very next verse.
And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:
So meanwhile, at the same time that Jesus is being "buffeted" and spat upon and railed against, Peter is below in the courtyard warming himself.
And along comes one of the high priest's maids:
And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
While Jesus Christ, a totally innocent man, is suffering pain and abuse for Peter (and the rest of us), Peter is simultaneously denying that he even knows Him!
Do you think Peter wasn't thinking about all this when he wrote this first epistle to God's elect with the instructions to follow the example set forth by Jesus?
Yes he was.
It is so documented in the very next verse, because his thoughts now shift directly to the beating [stripes] Christ endured and the crucifixion itself as he quotes the great prophet Isaiah.
1 Pet. 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
For you and me!
So why should we patiently endure persecution?
Not for you and me, but with a good conscience toward God, for our brothers and sisters so that by observing our conduct the grace of God might find a place in their hearts, i.e. our very conduct is a witness unto Christ.
Here's the scripture from Isaiah that was in Peter's head when he wrote verses 24 & 25.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
We were once like sheep gone astray and had our own way, but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Oh Peter, that big old lovable fisherman.
How his heart must have melted when he thought on these things and then it poured over with love for his Lord as he knew that Christ had forgiven him.
And he did become a solid rock in the church of God even as Jesus Christ knew he would from the beginning when He chose the big brute and said to him with a smile on His face "Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (John 1:42).
Yes, there was time in Peter's life, even while following Christ, that he opted for the "escape plan" to save his own flesh hide, but not by the time he wrote this epistle, not any more, for as he said in the closing verses of chapter 1, "all flesh is as grass... and withereth away.., But the Word of the Lord endureth forever"!
We leave you with the following quote from the "Dictionary of the Bible", Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1963, concerning the death of Peter.
"The First Epistle of Clement (c 96) provides indirect evidence of Peter's martyr death in Rome. Support for this tradition is also given by Gaius, a Roman presbyter (c 200) quoted in Eusebius, and by early Roman liturgical calendars which contain statements regarding the date and place of the martyrdom. According to Eusebius, Origen (c 225) wrote that Peter was at his own request nailed to a cross head downwards, since he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord." (pg. 754)
To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits;
to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.
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