1 Kefa 5:8-13

Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to explore the topic of Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 1 in 1 Kefa 5:1-7. This post concludes our study of 1 Kefa by looking at the Conclusion and Final Greeting in 1 Kefa 5:8-13.

Conclusion

Stay sober, stay alert! Your enemy, the Adversary, stalks about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

The Adversary is HaSatan, who is real (Mat. 4:1ff) and should be resisted (see next verse and James 4:8). The Believer must transfer his anxieties to God and develop a constant watchfulness, particularly for the devices of his enemy HaSatan. In Jewish tradition, HaSatan accused God’s people before God’s throne day and night (except, in later accounts, on the Day of Atonement). [1]

Lions were viewed as the most ferocious and mighty beasts, and from Psalm 22:13, they came to be used as figures for enemies of God’s people. In the time of Nero, Believers were fed to some literal lions as well. The small, isolated Messianic communities could take heart that their other spiritual siblings – starting with the communities Kefa knew in Rome were experiencing the same trials until the end, as we see in verse 9.

Stand against him, firm in your trust, knowing that your brothers throughout the world are going through the same kinds of suffering. 10 You will have to suffer only a little while; after that, God, who is full of grace, the one who called you to His eternal glory in union with the Messiah, will Himself restore, establish, and strengthen you and make you firm. 11 To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Kefa warned Believers to be aware of HaSatan’s deceitful practices and to resist him. Such behavior is fitting for temporary residents of this world.

God will restore, strengthen, and establish you. Kefa offers his audience a final word of comfort. He reminds them that God will empower and ultimately glorify those who remain steadfast in their faith under the weight of their present suffering.

Final Greetings

12 Through Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written you briefly, encouraging you and giving my witness that this is God’s true grace. Stand firm in it!

Silas (some translations use Silvanus, which is the full Roman name) served as a scribe. Most letters were written through the agency of scribes. As a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), Silas presumably came from a reasonably well-to-do Jewish family that provided him an excellent literary and rhetorical education; Kefa may have given him some degree of freedom in wording the letter. [2]

13 Your sister congregation in Bavel, chosen along with you, sends greetings to you, as does my son Mark. 14 Greet each other with a kiss of love. “Shalom aleikhem!” to all who belong to the Messiah. ~ 1 Kefa 5:1-12 (CJB)

At one point, Yochanan Mark abandoned Sha’ul and Bar-Nabba (see Acts 13:5, 13), with the result that Sha’ul and Bar-Nabba split over whether to take him with them again, and Sha’ul took Silas instead.

Bavel was a common euphemism for Rome among Jewish writers seeking to avoid censorship and worse.

Shalom aleikhem means “Peace be upon you,” a standard Hebrew greeting then and now. Kisses were a common affectionate greeting for close friends and relatives.

In my next post, we will begin to explore Kefa’s Second Letter, which focuses on Messianic Gentiles.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.

[2] Ibid.​

1 Kefa 5:1-7

Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 1

In my last post, we explored the topic of Suffering As A Believer in 1 Kefa 4:12-19. In this post, Kefa closes his first letter by offering encouragement to the Shepherds of the Flock in 1 Kefa 5:1-7.

Therefore, I urge the congregation leaders among you, as a fellow-leader and witness to the Messiah’s sufferings, as well as a sharer in the glory to be revealed:

Kefa writes the congregation leaders (elders) humbly, as a fellow-leader, not as a superior, even though he personally was a witness to the Messiah’s sufferings. Elders, older and wiser men skilled in judging cases, ruled in most Israelite towns in the Tanakh. In the Brit Hadashah, elders held a respected place in the synagogues, from which the churches took over this form of leadership.

Sha’ul writes about the glory to be revealed: “I don’t think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future.” ~ Romans 8:18.

shepherd the flock of God that is in your care, exercising oversight not out of constraint, but willingly, as God wants; and not out of a desire for dishonest gain, but with enthusiasm;

Kefa is faithfully transmitting Yeshua’s command to him to shepherd the flock in Yochanan 21:16 by exercising oversight … willingly. Some elders take too little responsibility so that their congregations remain undisciplined.

The image of a shepherd is that of a concerned guide, not of a severe ruler (although shepherds’ image had been applied to rulers in parts of the ancient Near East). Charges of illegitimate gain were often made against moral teachers in the ancient world, and Believers needed to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. (Like certain officials in the Jewish community, these Messianic leaders distributed the funds for the poor.)  [1]

also not as machers domineering over those in your care, but as people who become examples to the flock. 

If it is true that the Messiah wants followers who will follow, He also wants leaders who will lead – but not as machers. The word macher is Yiddish for “big shot, real operator,” with the overtone of trying to take charge; the perfect example is Diotrephes in 3 Yochanan 9–10[2]

Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive glory as your unfading crown.

In ancient texts, a chief shepherd appears to have been an overseer of a group of other shepherds, although they were usually not well-to-do themselves. Crowns were garlands given to victors of athletic contests, benefactors, or other heroes, and they were perishable; those faithful to Yeshua would receive an imperishable crown. [3]

Likewise, you who are less experienced submit to leaders. Further, all of you should clothe yourselves in humility toward one another because:

“God opposes the arrogant,
but to the humble, he gives grace.”

Elders have special responsibilities to tend the flock, but they must watch the spirit in which they do it. Younger men must submit to elders, and both groups must develop the grace of humility, which is the only befitting attitude before God.

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the right time, He may lift you up.

Following on Proverbs 3:34, cited in 1 Kefa 5:5, Kefa urges believers to humble themselves before God. In the Tanakh, this idea often meant repenting, sometimes when facing impending judgment or learning one’s complete dependence on God. Here the sense includes embracing and accepting the suffering until God provides the way out (cf. Jer. 27:11).

Throw all your anxieties upon Him because He cares about you.

Although the promise of complete relief from persecution is in the future, Kefa encourages Believers to pray and trust God’s love for them in the present. Jews learned to see God’s love in Isra’el’s sufferings as disciplines of love. Still, most pagans, who bartered sacrifices and vows to get benefactions from the gods, had difficulty with this concept.

We know that the Creator and Ruler of the universe cares about us.

In my next post, we will conclude our study of 1 Kefa by examining the conclusion and final greeting in Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 2 in 1 Kefa 5:8-13.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[3] The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament

1 Kefa 4:12-19

Suffering As A Believer 

In my last post, we examined the topic of Being Stewards of God’s Grace in 1 Yeshua 4:1-11. In this post, we explore Suffering As A Believer in 1 Kefa 4:12-19.

Kefa elaborates on what it means to share in the sufferings of Yeshuapicking up on his thoughts from 1 Kefa 3:12–22. Kefa again returns to the theme of suffering. No one looks forward to suffering. We want to reign with Yeshua, not suffer with Him. But to reign with Yeshua in glory, we must suffer with Him now. Whatever form of suffering God calls you to, do not be surprised but rejoice instead so that you may also rejoice with great joy when He returns.

12 Dear friends, do not regard as strange the fiery ordeal occurring among you to test you, as if something extraordinary were happening to you.

Kefa says do not regard as strange the fiery ordeal occurring among you to test you. Yeshua said that suffering would come to His followers (see Matt. 5:11–12; 10:24–25). We have already seen in 1 Kefa 1:6-7 that suffering and the refinement it brings to a Believer’s life.

13 Rather, to the extent that you share the fellowship of the Messiah’s sufferings, rejoice; so that you will rejoice even more when his Sh’khinah is revealed.

We share the fellowship of the Messiah’s sufferings as we identify with Yeshua. Believers learn what it means to be like Him in their anguish. They can have joy because they honor God through their suffering and know that God will vindicate their faithfulness one day (vv. 18–19).

Do not only brace for afflictions but rejoice in them, sharing the fellowship of the Messiah’s sufferings. For just as the Sh’khinah (God’s manifest glory) once rested on the Temple in Yerushalayim, now the Spirit of the Sh’khinah is resting on you, since “your body is a temple for the Ruach HaKodesh who lives inside you” (see 1 Cor. 6:19). The Sh’khinah was revealed as Yeshua’s at His first coming (John 1:14–15); it is the same as the glory to be revealed” (5:1) at His second coming (Titus 2:13).

14 If you are being insulted because you bear the name of the Messiah, how blessed you are! For the Spirit of the Sh’khinah, that is, the Spirit of God is resting on you!

In Matthew 5:11-12, Yeshua, preaching the Sermon on the Mount, warns against insults and persecution. In the first century, believers living throughout the Graeco-Roman world likely experienced discrimination and varying degrees of ostracism because of their faith. Many still do today. Yet, in Matthew’s passage, Yeshua says how blessed we are.

15 Let none of you suffer for being a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or a meddler in other people’s affairs.

Kefa identifies a wrong kind of suffering: suffering for the sake of evil criminal activity. He discourages this kind of suffering, which comes as a consequence of sin. Kefa mentions two sins (evildoer or a meddler) that can result in social persecution, but not necessarily criminal prosecution. Believers should avoid behavior that is dishonoring to other people in general.

16 But if anyone suffers for being Messianic, let him not be ashamed; but let him bring glory to God by the way he bears this name. 17 For the time has come for the judgment to begin. It begins with the household of God; and if it starts with us, what will the outcome be for those who are disobeying God’s Good News? –

For the time has come for the judgment to begin likely refers to future judgment at Yeshua’s return rather than present sufferings. Those who suffer for Yeshua’s sake can be confident that God’s judgment will validate their hardship. Kefa lives in the era between Yeshua’s resurrection and return. Thus, the judgment is imminent and has in many ways begun, since the time to choose Yeshua is now.

The household of God evokes the building metaphor from 1 Kefa 2:4–5 and refers to the family of Believers in Yeshua. Kefa maintains that God will judge all people impartially and stresses that He will begin with His people. All people will be held accountable for their actions, even though God will grant mercy to those who chose the path of faith in Yeshua.

18 “If the righteous is barely delivered,
where will the ungodly and sinful end up?”

Kefa draws on the Septuagint (ancient Greek Tanakh) version of Proverbs 11:31 to remind his audience of the high cost of following Yeshua in a world that condones sinful behavior and reviles the name of Yeshua. Just as Yeshua faced sufferingbeing mocked, beaten, and crucifiedto make the gift of salvation possible, Believers must faithfully follow their Lord until the end of their lives or Yeshua’s return. This is not because their salvation depends on itYeshua alone saves them (1 Kefa 1:3–12)but because others may come to Yeshua due to their model of faithfulness. Ungodly and sinful are those who do not walk the path of faith and experience the full ramifications of their sin when God judges all humanity.

19 So let those who are suffering according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator by continuing to do what is good. ~ 1 Kefa 4:12-19 (CJB)

We have our marching orders through troubling times: Remain Faithful!

In my next post, we conclude our study of 1 Kefa as he encourages the Shepherds of the Flock with some concluding remarks of his own.

Click here for the PDF version.

1 Kefa 4:1-11

 

Being Stewards of God’s Grace

In my last post, we concluded the topic of Undeserved Suffering ~ Part 2 in 1 Kefa 3:17-22. In this post, we explore Being Stewards of God’s Grace in 1 Kefa 4:1-11.

Therefore, since the Messiah suffered physically, you too are to arm yourselves with the same attitude. For whoever has suffered physically is finished with sin, with the result that he lives the rest of his earthly life no longer controlled by human desires, but by God’s will.

Arm yourselves borrows soldiers’ imagery arming, training, or otherwise preparing themselves for battle and possible death. Those who died with Yeshua through faith (cf. 2:24) are genuinely prepared to suffer with Him in any other way, including martyrdom.

For you have spent enough time already living the way the pagans want you to live – in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, wild parties, and forbidden idol-worship. They think it strange that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of dissoluteness, and so they heap insults on you.

Recall that the letter as a whole is meant for Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles who identify with them. But just as earlier, Kefa addresses the Jewish Believers specifically (1:18), so here he speaks to the GentileBelievers. Today’s world is not so different from Kefa’s. Many Believers face the same kinds of temptation, ridicule, and rejection by their friends and family, who think it strange that you try to follow God’s priorities instead of theirs.

But they will have to give an account to Him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. This is why He was proclaimed to those who have died; it was so that, although physically they would receive the judgment common to all humanity, they might live by the Spirit in the way that God has provided.

According to John 5:21 and Romans 2:16, Yeshua HaMashiach is the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. As a result of trusting in Yeshua, we might, by the Ruach HaKodesh’s power, live holy lives of joy before death, and, after death, we have the joy of eternal life with God. This passage, like 1 Thess 4:13–18, provides Believers with comfort over friends who have died, as well as an answer to pagans mocking them for exchanging worldly enjoyment merely for the grave (vv. 3–4).

Some have interpreted v. 6 to mean that Yeshua proclaimed the Gospel to persons who had already died (or to their spirits, 3:19) so that they had an opportunity to be saved. To those who prefer to lead selfish and sinful lives, ignoring God, this “second chance theory” appeals. However, the only support in the Brit Hadashah for such an understanding comes from verses at least equally problematic. On the contrary, Hebrews 9:27, agreeing with v. 5, says that human beings have to die once, but after this comes judgment, not another opportunity to accept the Gospel. Persons who believed as much of God’s truth as had been revealed and then died before Yeshua came joined those who would be saved through Yeshua’s atoning death later on; this is clear from Hebrews 11, especially Hebrews 11:39 -40.

There is a marked contrast between suffering in the flesh and indulging in the flesh. Yeshua’s example should lead to the former’s ready acceptance when God wills it and the latter’s firm rejection. Those who indulge in human passions must be prepared to render an account to the divine Judge.

Believers are to have the same attitude toward suffering that Yeshua had. We are to live our remaining days for God’s will and no longer for human desires (4:1-2). Kefa lists the kinds of ungodly behavior that unrestrained humanity desires (4:3). Not only do non-Believers do these things, but they also slander Believers because they don’t engage in such wild living with them (4:4). But they don’t realize they will give an account one day to the one who will judge the living and the dead (4:5). Which is worse, being slandered by the ungodly or by being judged by God?

Between Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection, He preached to people who had died, proclaiming His salvation to Tanakh Believers in preparation for His leading them to paradise (see Eph 4:8-10). It was also the victorious proclamation of the victory of the cross over sin and HaSatan’s authority (see Col 2:14-15).  [1]

The accomplishing of the goal of all things is close at hand. Therefore, keep alert and self-controlled so that you can pray. More than anything, keep loving each other actively; because love covers many sins.

Time is short; the end of all things is near. You and I are on death row; our fuses are burning out. So, how should we live? From God’s viewpoint, time is the boundary of opportunity. Kefa explains how to make the most of the opportunity you’ve been given. At the top of the list is prayer. It replaces self-focus with a God-focus. It reminds us who we are and – more importantly – who we are not.

Love covers many sins. There are two alternative interpretations: (1) Love makes you willing to forgive others’ sins and overlook their faults. (2) At the final judgment, God will forgive many of your sins if you keep loving (compare Luke 7:47, Matt. 25:31–46).

Welcome one another into your homes without grumbling.

Hospitality was receiving others, especially taking in travelers of the same faith who needed a place to stay. As generally in antiquity’s ethical ideals, lodging and provisions were to be provided generously, not grudgingly.

10 As each one has received some spiritual gift, he should use it to serve others, like good managers of God’s many-sided grace – 11 if someone speaks, let him speak God’s words; if someone serves, let him do so out of strength that God supplies; so that in everything God may be glorified through Yeshua the Messiah—to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Kefa 4:1-11 (CJB)

We are to serve others based on the spiritual gift(s) we have received. Full-service gas stations are hard to find today. Most are self-service. Unfortunately, many attend church like a self-service station. They fill up on preaching and go home until they need more fuel. But God intends His church to be full service with each member providing for the well-being of others. We are stewards of God’s grace. We manage something precious that we received but don’t own. And since you are a receptor of grace, you ought to be a conduit for grace. So whatever your spiritual gift, it’s all about God – not you. Whether you speak or serve, it should be done with God’s Words and the strength God provides so that God may be glorified through Yeshua in everything. Do you serve your boss with more excellence than you serve God? Eternal glory and power belong to just one of them (4:11). [2]

In my next post, we will learn about Suffering As A Believer in 1 Kefa 4:12-19.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  The Tony Evans Bible Commentary.

[2] Ibid.

1 Kefa 3:17-22

Undeserved Suffering ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to explore Undserved Suffering ~ Part 1 by how to witness to non-Believers in 1 Kefa 3:13-16. In this post, we conclude the topic of Undeserved Suffering ~ Part 2 in 1 Kefa 3:17-22.

17 For if God has in fact willed that you should suffer, it is better that you suffer for doing what is good than for doing what is evil. 18 For the Messiah himself died for sins, once and for all, a righteous person on behalf of non-righteous people, so that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit; 19 and in this form, he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits,

On the flesh and the Spirit in verse 18, the idea is that Yeshua was resurrected by the Spirit of God, by whom also he went (presumably after the resurrection) to proclaim triumph over the imprisoned spirits. Of the many views on this text, the three main ones are (1) that between His crucifixion and resurrection, i.e. on Saturday, Yeshua preached to the dead in Sheol (the view of many church fathers); (2) that Yeshua preached through Noach to people in Noach’s day (the view of many Reformers); (3) that before or (more likely) after his resurrection, Yeshua proclaimed triumph over the fallen angels (the view of most scholars today). [1]

Kefa compares the Believers with Noach and his family, both being righteous minorities persecuted by wicked neighbors, and both being delivered from the forces of darkness through trusting God and obeying Him.

20 to those who were disobedient long ago, in the days of Noach, when God waited patiently during the building of the ark, in which a few people – to be specific, eight – were delivered by means of water. 21 This also prefigures what delivers us now, the water of immersion, which is not the removal of dirt from the body, but one’s pledge to keep a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah. 22 He has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers subject to him. ~ 1 Kefa 3:13-22 (CJB).

Ancient Judaism sometimes used the flood as a prototype of future judgment, as in 2 Kefa 3:6–7. The emphasis on the salvation of few would encourage Believers who were a persecuted minority. God’s patience reflects Genesis 6:3 and is mentioned in connection with the final judgment in 2 Kefa 3:9.

The act of faith indicated in immersion, rather than the physical cleansing, was what was significant; immersion was an act of conversion in ancient Judaism, but Judaism insisted on the sincerity of repentance for it to be efficacious.

Authorities and powers were angelic rulers over the nations, of which Jewish texts often speak (see Eph. 1:21–23). Thus even the evil powers behind the rulers who persecuted Believers had been subdued, and the final outcome was not in question. [2]

In this fallen world, all people suffer. But it is better to suffer for doing goodif God wills itthan for doing evil. Again, Kefa reminds them (see 2:21-25) that Yeshua is their supreme example of Godly suffering. He suffered for sinsyour sins and mineto bring us to God (3:18). He visited the devil and his followers in the spiritual realm and proclaimed His victory over them (3:19). Then He was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him (3:22). And if you know Yeshua, you were raised with Him (see Eph 2:6). So your present suffering doesn’t compare to the victory you have and will have, through Yeshua.

In my next post, we will learn about Being Stewards of God’s Grace in 1 Kefa 4:1-11.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.

[2] Ibid.

1 Kefa 3:13-16

Undeserved Suffering ~ Part 1

In my last post, we learned that we are commanded to Do No Evil. In this post, we explore the topic of Undeserved Suffering. This passage flows naturally from our last post covering Do No Evil (3:8–12).

13 For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don’t fear what they fear or be disturbed,

Kefa alludes to the language of Isaiah 8:12-13, where God assures the prophet that he need not fear what the rest of his people feared but should trust in God alone.

1but treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you – yet with humility and fear,

We should always be prepared to share our testimony (hope) that we have in the Messiah. Charles F. Stanley has this encouragement:

You don’t have to seek a listening ear. God will bring open ears to you as He leads, and He will give you the words to say under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. [1]

16 keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your non-ion with the Messiah may be put to shame.

Verses 15 & 16 tell when, how, and to whom a Believer should proclaim the Gospel. David Stern [2] shares the following advice:

When should you proclaim the Gospel – and when not?

Although you should always be ready to give a reasoned answer, you need to speak only when someone asks you to explain the hope you have in you. Not everyone asks. Believers who feel compelled to introduce the topic of their faith into every conversation with a non-Believer can relax!On the other hand, if someone wants to hear about the faith, a Believer should not remain silent. The relationship between words and deeds in witnessing to your faith is that your actions, attitudes, and lifestyle are to show non-Believers that the Ruach is at work in your life so that they begin to ask questions.When they ask such questions, you should be ready to give a reasoned answer. You cannot carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19–20) without both aspects of witness – words and deeds. Words without deeds are empty and hypocritical, as Kefa recognizes when he writes that we must keep a clear conscience and display good behavior. But deeds without words do not explain what people need to know about Yeshua to be saved.There are times when one should not wait to be asked. Sometimes it may be necessary to proclaim the Gospel to people who do not want to hear it. There may be no possibility of delay; the urgency of the situation may compel witnessing.

How should you proclaim the Gospel to those who want to know?

With a reasoned answer. A reasoned answer draws on objective evidence and uses rational arguments. More than that, a reasoned answer about Messianic faith must be consistent with Scripture; and, it should actively use Scripture.A reasoned answer may include such subjective aspects of your personal testimony about how much better you feel since knowing Yeshua or ways in which God has blessed you, for these things are facts concerning you. But it must deal primarily with the facts that concern everyone, including your questionerGod exists, God made us, we sinned, we are under sentence of death, God sent Yeshua to atone for our sin, God resurrected Him, He is coming back, we must trust in God and his Messiah to be saved and have eternal life, Israel’s national salvation comes only through Yeshua the Messiah.It would help if you did it with humility and fear, keeping a clear conscience. How tempting it is when engaging in evangelism to set humility aside! After all, aren’t your answers right and theirs wrong? (It is tempting to think so.) One reason for being humble is that you should be embarrassed by the fact that the lives of even the most saintly Believers fall short of their preaching, let alone the lives of the worst! We preach a Gospel of perfection, and none of us is perfect. Therefore, if we are without humility, we contradict our own message.The fear we should have is not that the person we are talking to will react negatively to our message. Our job is to proclaim the truth of the Gospel; whether he receives it or not is his responsibility (Ezekiel 33:7–9). Nor are we to fear persecution, as Kefa reiterates throughout this letter. Instead, we are to fear God, who holds us accountable. Keeping a clear conscience. You keep your conscience clear by displaying only the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah. As noted, this is the “deeds” side of your witness.

To whom should you proclaim the Gospel?

To anyone who asks you about the hope you have in you, Jew or Gentile, young or old, poor or rich, since everyone needs salvation (Ro 3:23) and no one comes to the Father except through Yeshua (John 14:6). Some people who ask questions have hardened hearts (see Ro 9:17–21), resist the Gospel with all their might, have no intention of accepting it, and are not interested in reasoned answers. Proverbs 26:4–5 offers this seemingly contradictory advice:

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
lest you become like him yourself.<“Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

The former verse means that you should not let yourself be dragged down to his emotional and spiritual level by engaging in a heated but fruitless debate. The latter tells you that even though an opinionated person is not open to changing his mind, he should be shown that his ideas are not as unassailable as he thinks. Moreover, both verses are taken together also implies that when a reasoned argument is of no avail (“My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts”), you should confront the objector or heckler differently altogether.

True Confession: I put this post together more as a reminder to myself. I don’t often get an opportunity to witness to non-Believers. Now that I am retired, most of my contacts with other people are with Believers.

My next post will cover more ground when we learn more about Undeserved Suffering ~ Part 2 in 1 Kefa 3:17-22.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Seeking His Face Devotional, October 23.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary

1 Kefa 3:8-12

Do No Evil

In my last post, we explored about Wives and Husbands. In this post, we learn that we are commanded to Do No Evil.

Kefa concludes his argument from 2:13–3:7 in the verses following 3:8, although this conclusion flows directly into his next argument. It reinforces the sense of mutual consideration Kefa wishes to engender in household relationships, within limitations imposed by the culture he addresses.

Finally, all of you, be one in mind and feeling; love as brothers; and be compassionate and humble-minded, not repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, but, on the contrary, with blessing. For it is to this that you have been called, so that you may receive a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever wants to love life and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit,
11 turn from evil and do good,
seek peace and chase after it.
12 For Adonai keeps His eyes on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their prayers, but the face of Adonai is against those who do evil things.”
[1] ~ 1 Kefa 3:8-12 (CJB)

The most pressing need is for unity as Believers, which involves humility and a readiness to develop brotherly love. Retaliation must be exchanged for blessing, a principle which is illustrated from Psalm 34.

Too many congregations are characterized by attitudes and actions that are shameful. But Yeshua told His followers the world would know they are His talmidim if they love one another (John 13:35). Once again, Kefa repeats his Lord’s teaching, telling Believers to love one another. For God’s power and blessings to flow to his people, the Kehilah (church) must live in alignment under King Yeshua. The Kehilah is like an embassy in a foreign land. It’s where the rules and ethics of eternity operate within history.

Before the cross, we are all on equal footing. Therefore, we ought to be compassionate and humble-minded. When insulted, you are to bless so that you may inherit a blessing. God blesses believers with every spiritual blessing in the heavens (Eph 1:3). To access them and see good days, you must place yourself under His rule and authority. That means taming your tongue, turning from evil, doing what is good, and pursuing peace. But those who do what is evil will find Him opposing them.

I deliberately left today’s post short to accommodate my next post which will cover more ground when we will learn about Undeserved Suffering in 1 Kefa 3:13-22.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Psalm 34:12-16

1 Kefa 3:1-7

Wives and Husbands

In my last post, we explored the Submission of Slaves to Masters. In this post, we learn about Wives and Husbands.

In the same way, wives, submit to your husbands; so that even if some of them do not believe the Word, they will be won over by your conduct, without your saying anything, as they see your respectful and pure behavior.

In the same way as citizens with their government and slaves with their masters as we have learned in the previous two posts, believing wives should exemplify the principle of 2:12 with their husbands by submitting to them. In other words, do not be a noodge or a nudnik (Yiddish for “nag” and “bore”). For they will be won over to being curious about the Messiah, they already know you believe in by your conduct, without your saying a word, as they see your respectful and pure behavior. Then, when you have an interested audience, you can speak! This is equally true for husbands.

Your beauty should not consist in externals such as fancy hairstyles, gold jewelry, or what you wear;

Hair was braided in elaborate manners, and well-to-do women strove to keep up with the latest expensive fashions. The gaudy adornments of women of wealth, meant to draw attention to themselves, were repeatedly condemned in ancient literature and speeches, and Kefa’s readers would assume that his point was meant in the same way. It doesn’t appear that much has changed these last 2,000 years.

 rather, let it be the inner character of your heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight, this is of great value.

Ancients considered a meek and quiet spirit a prime virtue for women. Many moralists advised this attitude instead of dressing in the latest fashions to attract men’s attention, a vice commonly attributed to aristocratic women but imitated by those who could afford to do so. [1]

This is how the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves and submit to their husbands,

Moralists typically added examples of such quietness to their exhortations; they especially liked to appeal to the distant past’s matrons, who were universally respected for their chaste behavior compared to many of the current models in Roman high society. Jewish readers would think, especially of the great matriarchs, extolled for their piety in Jewish tradition: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, Sarah being most prominent. The readers may think about head coverings that were prominent in much of the East, meant to render the married woman inconspicuous. [2]

 the way Sarah obeyed Avraham, honoring him as her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not succumb to fear.

Honoring him as her lord… Midrash Tanchuma states: “Abraham’s wife honored him and called him ‘Lord,’ for it is written that Sarah said, ‘My lord is old’ (Genesis 18:12). But, conversely, God commanded Abraham to honor his wife by calling her ‘princess’; for that is the meaning of her Hebrew name ‘Sarah’ (Genesis 17:15).” [3]

You are her daughters. As Abraham is the father of all Believers, his wife Sarah is appropriately singled out as the mother of believing women. She is an example for them, just as Abraham is for all Believers. Being a bat (daughter of) or a ben (son of) someone implies having those personal qualities in Hebrew.

Do not succumb to fear. This is a call to give up neurotic anxiety. The anxious feelings may not go away, but one can gain a right perspective on them, not by suppressing them and denying their existence, but by acknowledging them while at the same time experiencing that God’s peace, His shalom, a fruit of the Ruach. Seek God’s rulership instead of dwelling on anxious thoughts and worries.

You husbands, likewise, conduct your married lives with understanding. Although your wife may be weaker physically, you should respect her as a fellow-heir of the gift of Life. If you don’t, your prayers will be blocked. ~ 1 Kefa 3:1-7 (CJB).

Husbands, conduct your married lives (the term includes the sexual aspect but is not limited to it) with understanding. This fits with Co 3:19 (“Husbands, love your wives, and don’t treat them harshly”) and Ep 5:25–33.

Respect her as a fellow-heir of the gift of life; compare Ep 5:21.

If you don’t, your prayers will be blocked. This is a portentous warning. A man who does not respect his wife might try to retreat into prayer, but he will be unable to have much of a spiritual life so long as he does not love, understand and honor his wife. Any husband who has attempted to pray privately while amid a fight with his wife should agree.

We will learn about Doing No Evil in 1 Kefa 3:8-12 in my next post.

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[1] The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

1 Kefa 2:18-25

Submission of Slaves to Masters

In my last post, we explored A Call to Good Works. In this post, we learn about the Submission of Slaves to Masters.

This passage addresses household slaves, who often had more economic and social mobility than free peasants did, although most of them still did not have much. Field slaves on massive estates were more oppressed. Kefa’s advice to the household servants of 2000 years ago that they should bear up even under undeserved punishment can be applied, with the necessary changes, by today’s employees. In this, the Messiah serves as our example since He fulfills Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the suffering servant. The central such passage is Isaiah 52:13–53:12.

18 Household servants, submit yourselves to your masters, showing them full respect – and not only those who are kind and considerate, but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a grace when someone because he is mindful of God, bears up under the pain of undeserved punishment. 20 For what credit is there in bearing up under a beating you deserve for doing something wrong? But if you bear up under punishment, even though you have done what is right, God looks on it with favor.

Except for those slaves who were able to save enough money on the side to buy their freedom (which many household slaves could do), slaves were not in a position to achieve freedom. Although slaves and masters cooperated in many households as members of a typical family, laws viewed slaves as property and people, and some owners abused them as property; nearly all owners treated them as socially inferior. [1]

21 Indeed, this is what you were called to; because the Messiah too suffered, on your behalf, leaving an example so that you should follow in His steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
nor was any deceit found on His lips.”
[2]

23 When He was insulted, He didn’t retaliate with insults; when He suffered, He didn’t threaten but handed them over to Him who judges justly.

One matter Kefa repeatedly addresses in this letter is how Believers should understand and respond to suffering. Though he will have much more to say on this, Kefa’s most important reminder is that we are called to suffer because Yeshua also suffered for us, giving us an example so we may follow in his steps. Yeshua is the perfect example of someone enduring unjust suffering since He alone is sinless. Rather than returning evil for evil, He entrusted Himself to the one who judges justly.

24 He himself bore our sins in His body on the stake, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness – by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you used to be like sheep gone astray, but now you have turned to the Shepherd, who watches over you. ~ 1 Kefa 2:18-25.

We must also remember that Yeshua’s suffering was unique. He was more than a mere example. He suffered as our substitute to win our salvation. He himself bore our sins. Yeshua not only died because we are sinners (we all have a sinful nature), but He also died for every wrong we have committed or will commit: whether in thought, attitude, or action.

Why would He do that? So that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. Righteousness is the standard that God requires. If you are saved, Yeshua gave you the ability to turn sin off and turn righteousness on.

To quote Tony Evans, “The devil does not want you to know you can make such a switch and definitely does not want you to do it. But we can say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness: “no” to Satan’s agenda and “yes” to God’s.” [3]

We will learn about Wives and Husbands in 1 Kefa 3:1-7 in my next post.

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[1 ] The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament
[2] Isaiah 53:9
[3]  The Tony Evans Bible Commentary.

1 Kefa 2:11-17

A Call to Good Works

In my last post, we explored The Living Stone and a Holy People. In this post, we learn about A Call to Good Works.

11 Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents not to give in to the desires of your old nature, which keep warring against you…

Aliens and temporary residents meant not only in the Diaspora but also in the whole world. See Rom 8:3-13 for an explanation of not to give in to the desires of your old nature. As Believers, we must remember that we are aliens in a pagan environment, but by our conduct, we had the means of leading others to glorify God.

12 but to live such good lives among the pagans (Gentiles)that even though they now speak against you as evil-doers, they will, as a result of seeing your good actions, give glory to God on the Day of His coming.

We must let our deeds be our testimony, as Yeshua counseled in the Sermon on the Mount. Jewish people in the Diaspora always had to be concerned about Gentiles’ anti-Jewish slanders, their safety, and their witness to the one true God. Just as Gentiles were more than happy to slander Jews living among them, they were happy to slander Gentile converts to what they viewed as a Jewish sect.

The message of verse 12 should be applied in vv. 13-17 to the question of how Believers should relate to a government-run by non-Believers, in vv. 18-25 to how believing slaves should relate to a non-believing master, and in 3:1-6 to how believing wives should relate to their un-believing husbands [which we will be studying in the next two posts].

13 For the sake of the Lord, submit yourselves to every human authority—whether to the emperor as being supreme, 14 or to governors as being sent by him to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that your doing good should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Submit as people who are free, but not letting your freedom serve as an excuse for evil; rather, submit as God’s slaves. 17 Be respectful to all—keep loving the brotherhood, fearing God, and honoring the emperor. ~ 1 Kefa 2:11-17(CJB).

From emperor, president, prime minister, governor, or mayor on down, any governmental official, who maintains a just government, must be obeyed, for Believers are not intended to be anarchists. The problems of dishonest or corrupt governments are not discussed in this passage.

Ignorant talk includes the false understanding of Believers spread among outsiders; Roman aristocrats were much quicker to malign minority religions, whose worship did not assimilate to Roman values than to seek to understand them. The Tanakh taught God’s sovereignty over rulers (Prov 16:10; 21:1).

Submit as people who are free. Here Kefa modifies a familiar exhortation of ancient philosophers: for them, freedom from the world’s values meant not only authority to do as one pleased but also the freedom to pursue virtue, freedom from desire, and freedom to do without. For Believers, freedom meant freedom to be God’s slaves rather than slaves to sin; it meant freedom from the state’s tyranny and freedom to uphold the state’s laws as God’s servants.

We will learn about the Submission of Slaves to Masters in 1 Kefa 2:18-25 in my next post.

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