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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


April 2020

1 Peter 2:24-25: The Lord is my Shepherd.

“24 ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ 25 For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” NIV

In writing to slaves about how to bear with unjust treatment, Peter, as we have seen, points to the example of Jesus. The Lord didn’t retaliate, but prayed. He ‘’entrusted himself to him who judges justly’’ (v.23b).

But Christ is not just our pattern; He is also our Saviour, and there is such a wonderful theology of the cross packed into these two verses. You don’t have to think about them for long to hear echoes of Isaiah 53: a remarkable prophecy about the death of the Messiah given some 500 years before Jesus appeared.(In fact, this also also applies to the whole section from v21-v.25).

Note a number of things:

  • ‘’He himself…’’ Jesus did not delegate the saving of the world to an angel or some other ambassador. God Himself came in His Son.
  • In order to enter into the benefits of what Jesus did for you when He died, you have to repent (v.24b). You have to do an about turn. This is spoken of as dying ‘’to sins’’ and living ‘’for righteousness’’. It’s a complete U-turn;
  • God is often spoken of in the Old Testament as Israel’s Shepherd, and Jesus (God in human form), said, ‘’I am the good shepherd.’’ We are so lost and discontented and frustrated as human beings because we are ‘’astray’’ from our ‘’Shepherd’’. But there is a way back to Him through the Cross. Salvation involves turning from sin (v.24b) and turning to God (v.25)

‘’But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’’ (Isaiah 53:5,6).

PRAYER: Lord, the world is wounded. May we look to you, and your cross, for our healing.


1 Peter 2:19-23: Follow Jesus

“19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.22 ‘He committed no sin,and no deceit was found in his mouth.’23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” NIV

Jesus is our example in life. He is our pattern. It needs to be emphasised that He is more than just a good example. He is also our Saviour, and in verses 24, 25 we will go on to consider some of the theological implications of His death. Try as we may, we can’t come anywhere near to following Jesus’ example successfully, until we first come to know Him as Saviour.

Peter is writing at this point to Christian slaves. Many slaves were well-treated in those days, but not all of them. So what does Peter have to say to those who experience ‘’unjust suffering’’ (19)? In essence he says, ‘Follow Jesus.’ Jesus was perfect (which not even the best of us are), and He was unfairly treated. He suffered so much at the hands of sinful people. But Jesus did not hit back. Instead, He entrusted Himself to the God who always ‘’judges justly’’ (23). We know that He was vindicated. Bad men put Him to death, but a good God raised Him, and put Him on the throne of the universe. As someone said, Jesus’ resurrection is ‘the divine reversal of the human verdict’ on Him.

‘So there is your template’, says Peter. ‘Don’t retaliate, but commit yourself to God.’ The example of Jesus shows that all who do this will be in safe Hands.


1 Peter 2: 18-19: ‘Conscious of God’

“18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.” NIV

We are in a section of 1 Peter which is all about submission ‘’for the Lord’s sake to every authority’’ (2:13). In verses 18-25, Peter moves from a citizen’s relationship to the divinely instituted government, to a slave’s relationship to his master. There may be much here, therefore, that we can’t relate to.

However, I felt the need to press the pause button at verse 19, because there is ‘’suffering’’ in the current circumstances. In a lot of cases, it is suffering with a very small ‘s’. But for many people, the suffering is sadly coming with a big fat capital ‘S’. I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of cries are rising up from all corners of the globe saying, ‘It’s not fair!’ What’s happening seems unjust. But there is a way to handle such a situation. It is this: to be aware of God; to live moment by moment with the consciousness of God’s presence. There are hardships we can face with faith and prayer that we could not endure any other way. Knowing God makes all the difference.

PRAYER: Lord, I have found that knowing you does not remove the difficulties from life, but it does make it possible to come through all kinds of struggles with a heart in tact. Thank you for your grace towards me. We pray today for all who are feeling any form of suffering, that they may be conscious of God.

1 Peter 2:13-17: Good citizens.

“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.”NIV

In recent days we have seen that declaring ‘’the praises of him’’ who called us ‘’out of darkness into his wonderful light’’ (9) involves living a good life in the world, before men. The idea is reinforced in today’s reading in terms of citizenship (15). How we conduct ourselves as citizens of a nation is governed by this over-riding belief: it is ‘’for the Lord’s sake’’ (13) that we live as we do. God has created the world for government. He has established authorities.

It is interesting to note that Peter was not writing from within a liberal democracy. He, and his readers, lived under the pagan Roman Empire. It was often harsh, cruel and persecuting. It’s not easy to live under a dictatorship. But Peter saw it as important that believers should be good citizens. This is a key part of our witness. People may throw mud at us, but let the lives we lead speak for themselves.

The message of the whole paragraph, it seems to me, is encapsulated in verse 17. It’s a neat summary.

Of course, there may come a time when followers of Jesus have to say, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’ If the state demands what God forbids then we must follow our consciences. But for the most part we don’t face such choices.

Our government is asking difficult things of all of us in these days of restriction and confinement, but it is clearly for the common good. I believe Christians should be at the forefront of honouring what is being asked of us by the authorities. In so doing we can reflect the ‘’wonderful light’’ we have been brought into. This light is God Himself.

If we ‘Submit’ then, it is ‘’for the Lord’s sake.’’

PRAYER: Lord, you never tell us to do anything without also giving us the strength to do it. Help us please to shine for you in our citizenship. We pray for wisdom and strength today for all in authority, that they may receive your help in the heavy burdens of responsibility they carry.

1 Peter 2: 11-12: The good life

“11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”NIV

As we saw yesterday, ‘’declaring’’ God’s ‘’praises’’ is, in this context, very much about how we live; the pursuit of holiness.. It is not merely about living a ‘’good’’ life, but living ‘’such good lives’’. There is a goodness which is ‘’the fruit of the Spirit’’. It is supernatural goodness: God-given, God-directed, God-energised. It’s not ordinary, every day goodness. It is goodness with a plus in it. The call is to live ‘’such good lives among the pagans’’.

 Peter heard the ‘ sermon on the mount’ live. He was there in person when Jesus preached His famous message. I wonder, was he remembering and re-echoing part of it when he wrote v.12? (See Matthew 5:16). Just as Peter wrote about living ‘’such’’ good lives, Jesus had said, ‘Let your light ‘’so’’ shine before men. Two little words carrying big weight.

By the way, you may also see a likeness to what we have read in chapter 1:13-15. Peter does not say, ‘Don’t have ‘’sinful desires’’ ‘.That would be impossible for anyone who has a sinful nature, and the last time I looked I still had one! What about you? No, what Peter exhorts his readers is to ‘’abstain’’ from these longings which assault the ‘’soul’’.In other words, don’t give in to them; don’t nurture or feed or encourage them. Don’t vote for sin. You hear its campaign speeches, but don’t be taken in

We ‘fight the good fight’ against indwelling sin recognising that we are ‘’aliens and strangers in the world.’’ As I’ve said before, we are a people who don’t belong here and who won’t be long here.

This morning, I read a prayer which could not be more relevant. Having thanked God for the many blessings of the day, John Baillie says:

‘Yet let me never think, O eternal Father, that I am here to stay. Let me always remember that I am a stranger and pilgrim on earth. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Lord, by your grace prevent me from losing myself so much in the joys of earth that I have no longing left for the purer joys of heaven. Do not let the happiness of today become a trap to my overworldly heart.’


1 Peter 2:9-10: ‘Once…but now’

“9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” NIV

It’s not unusual to see ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs on promotions for dieting products: ‘This is how I looked before, but look at me now!’ That’s the message. ‘Follow this plan and you can experience the life change I did.’ The photos are ‘testimonies’ in a way.

‘’Once…but now…’’ (v.10. See how these words are repeated).

 The Christian’s story is one of radical change. It goes much deeper than appearances. It’s a transformation on the inside that increasingly becomes visible on the outside. It is a ‘’darkness’’ to ‘’light’’ change (9). In the context, the way we ‘’declare’’ His praises very much appears to relate to the ‘’holy’’ (9) and ‘’good’’ (12) lives we lead in society. Obviously, words are also important (see 3:15), but here the emphasis is on deeds and lifestyle.

But although God changes persons (and we must ‘’come’’ (v.4) to Jesus personally), He is forming ‘’a people’’. It is the witness of this people of which the passage speaks. The language of verse 9 echoes Old Testament descriptions of Israel and applies them to the church.

In it all, we are to remember that the church ‘belongs’ to God. We are his treasured posssession:

‘’…the church of God, which he bought with his own blood’’ (Acts 20:28b).

PRAYER: Lord, even in days when your church cannot meet in the usual way, may your people still glorify you, and shine brightly into the darkness of the world.


1 Peter 2:4-8: ‘What think ye of Christ?’

“4 As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.’

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,’


‘A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.’

They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.” NIV

I was on a return journey from school one day when I saw it through the bus window. In big white letters on a wall in the middle-distance, someone had painted the question, in ‘King James Version’ language, ‘What think ye of Christ?’ (Matthew 22:42). Of course, it could have been an irresponsible, if well-meaning, act of vandalism. It’s not a good idea to graffiti someone else’s wall, if that’s what had been done.But it’s an important question. The New Testament teaches that our personal response to Jesus is a matter of great and eternal significance.

Today’s passage shows that we can have one of two attitudes to Jesus. We can ‘’come’’ to Him (v.4. Note, trusting in Him, v.6b, and believing in Him, v.7a, are two other ways of expressing this same reality), or we can reject Him (v.7b – this is also described as disobeying ‘’the message, v.8). But nothing here encourages us to think that dismissing Christ is a good or wise choice. For someone who comes to ‘’believe’’ in Jesus, they now see Him in the same way God does. He is ‘’precious’’ (see verses 4b and 7a)

Also, our response to Him in no way alters His position as Lord of the church God is building. Jesus is both the ‘’cornerstone’’ and the ‘’capstone’’. He is all-important, and nothing can change the fact.

PRAYER: Lord, we pray that in these momentous days many people will turn from rejecting Jesus to accepting Him, and will taste just how precious he is.

1 Peter 2:4-5: Spiritual sacrifices.

“4 As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” NIV

In a magazine article, a young woman wrote, ‘God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. So why do I so often act like He made a big mistake when He made me?’

When David Watson was one of the most ‘famous’ clergymen in the country, and people flocked to the church he led in York, ‘St. Michael le belfry’, to hear him, he gave his congregation a wise piece of counsel: ‘‘When people come in here and ask who the minister is, say, ‘we all are!’ ‘’

In his commentary on Paul’s letter to the ‘Ephesians’, John Stott writes about visiting St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut. He says that on the front of the Sunday bulletin he saw the name of the Rector, and the associate Rector, and then the assistant Rector. Next came a line saying: ‘Ministers: The entire congregation.’ This is a thoroughly Biblical vision of the church. We believe in ‘the priesthood of all believers’ – namely, that every Christian has a ministry. We don’t all have the same ministry, but we do each have a ministry. Everyone, by God’s grace, gets to make a contribution.

We saw yesterday that the church is ‘’a spiritual house’’. It is not a material construction, but a ‘building’ made of people who have ‘’come’’ to Jesus.

( ‘’Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life…’’ it says in ‘The Message.’)

But Peter goes on to write that these people who compose Christ’s church offer ‘’spiritual sacrifices’’. Each one is a priest and has a ministry: something to present, to give.

Sadly, our best efforts are tainted by sin. It is so good to know, then, that our offerings are ‘’acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’’

 THOUGHT: ‘Be yourself; everyone else is taken!’

 PRAYER: Thank you Lord that in your Kingdom there are no ‘good-for-nothings’. Everyone counts. Thank you that there’s a work for Jesus none but I can do.

1 Peter 2:4-5: A spiritual house.

“4 As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house  to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” NIV

If buildings were always intrinsic to Christ’s vision of the church, why did the first church meet primarily in homes for several hundred years?

The beautiful old building down your street, complete with tower, or spire, and stained glass windows, is not the church. Certainly, it may have been hallowed by years, even centuries, of worship offered within its walls, and I can understand the special ‘feel’ you sense as you step inside, but a building of dead stones is not the church. The church can meet in such a structure, but we must never confuse the building with the church itself.

We are living in days when some people feel a profound sense of loss and dislocation because they cannot meet in a ‘consecrated’ building. Whilst I understand, and sympathise to some extent, the church of Christ is not a physical building. It is ‘’a spiritual house’’. The true church is made up of all those who have ‘’come’’ to Jesus. (Peter describes Him as ‘’the living Stone’’). These believers ‘’like living stones, are ‘’being built into a spiritual house’’.

 In days when church buildings have been temporarily closed, we can rejoice that the ‘’spiritual house’’ is always open.

As Her Majesty said recently, ‘Easter has not been cancelled.’ We may also add that the true church has not been shut down.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you are building you church and nothing can stop you.

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