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A Quick Exposition of 1 Peter 3:15 (Applicable to Today)

A while back, I was asked to do a quick exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15 for a class I was taking in seminary. I then shared on this blog what I wrote at that time.

But even though what I wrote was geared more toward the idea of being a witness during persecution, there’s never been a better time for us to be able to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ.

My prayer is that the following words will embolden you and give you courage as you “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”


1 Peter 3:15  – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Authorship

1 Peter 3:15 was written by the Apostle Peter and most likely addressed to Christians living in Rome (Babylon). There are, however, various arguments against the Petrine authorship of the letter, but none have been taken seriously by the Church. As a matter of fact, by “the end of the second century and beginning of the third century, the letter is explicitly identified as Peter’s.”[1]

General Context

The overall context of 1 Peter is one of persecution. In other words, Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were heavily burdened with “manifold temptations” and “trials” (1:6-7). Scholars differ on the exact date of the writing and to which time of persecution the letter was actually addressing, but persecution was evidently a common occurrence.

Immediate Context

The immediate context of verse 15 has it on the heels of an exhortation by Peter to live in such a way that shows love to the brethren (v. 8). Immediately following in verse 16, Peter writes that by living this way their “good conversation” will put to shame any false accusers or those who may speak evil of them. Therefore, the exhortation of verse 15 is part of an overall call to be witnesses to a hostile world who is watching and looking for any reason to find fault.

Words to Examine

There are several words within 1 Peter 3:15 that are worth examining in closer detail. By doing so, we will be able to obtain a richer and fuller understanding of the passage.

  • Sanctify. The word translated “sanctify” is the word hagiazō (ἁγιάζω), which means “to make holy …purify or consecrate; …venerate…sanctify.”[2]
  • Heart. The word translated “heart” is a word that could be understood to be the actual organ within the body that pumps blood, but kardia (Strong’s G2588) can also mean – and in this case does – the center of spiritual life.
  • Ready. Peter suggests that the Christian should “be ready always…” The idea here is that of being prepared for something. We read in Matthew 25:10 of those that were “ready” for the coming of the bridegroom. Their readiness involved preparation for a future event. When we attach the adverb “always” to “ready,” what we have then is a readiness that is always anticipating something that could happen at any time.
  • Give an answer. The Greek word translated “give an answer” is apologia (ἀπολογία), which is a verbal defense of something, or reasoned argument (G627). Paul used the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:2 when he said, “Mine answer (apologia) to them that do examine me is this…” The idea of the word has nothing to do with making an excuse for something, but to give a reason for it in defense of it.
  • Reason. The Greek word here is logos (G3056), which has to do with words, things said, ideas expressed, thoughts communicated. Jesus was called the Word (Logos) in John 1:1. He was described as the Wisdom of God expressed. The Bible is the Word of God, the inspired, written revelation by God of Himself to mankind.
  • Meekness. This word in Greek is praÿtēs (πραΰτης), which is defined as a mildness of disposition, or a sense of humility (G4240).
  • Fear. The Greek word translated “fear” is the word phobos (G5401), which carries with it the idea of dread, terror, or exceeding fear.

Expanded Translation

Taking into account the background and context of 1 Peter 3:15, including an examination of the words used in the text, the following expanded version of the verse would thereby seem appropriate:

1 Peter 3:15 KJV – But sanctify [set aside as holy and revered, set up higher than anything or anyone else] the Lord God in your hearts [your life, your essence, the seat of your emotions, your way of thinking]: and be ready always [make preparations beforehand; do the work in advance of the need; anticipate the issue and prepare accordingly] to give an answer [a well-though-out response, a reasoned reply, a logical defense] to every man that asketh you a reason [because some men want more than “I don’t knows”; they want to be convinced with language they can understand] of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear [because there are grave consequences for not being ready…1) the lost may remain in their lostness and reject Christ, and 2) the One who is Holy is judging your works].”

Conclusion and Application

As mentioned above, 1 Peter 3:15 was written to those who were enduring trials and tribulations, i.e., persecution. Today, even though we are not enduring the same kind of trials and tribulations, there are other more minor forms of persecution and tribulation we may encounter in the immediate future. Nevertheless, all trials and tribulations, regardless of the severity, should provide for us an opportunity to exhibit a “hope” that is in us and beg the reason why.

Therefore, as Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15), we should study as those who are to be examined, so when the time comes when we are asked to “give an account,” we will not be ashamed (1 Peter 3:16), but offer our actions AND our testimony as reasons for our faith.


[1] The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Thomas R. Schreiner. 2003, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville. Page 22

[2] The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. (G37)

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Do You Have the Heart of the Renewed or Unrenewed?

Do you ever wonder how to tell if you have been born again, saved, or renewed by the Holy Spirit?

Well, I found the lists below in a John MacArthur study Bible a while back, and I thought I would share them with you.

Do a self-assessment (2 Cor. 13:5), if you’re concerned. If you’re NOT concerned, yet you fit more in the bottom half of the list, I’m concerned for you! It might be good for you to check out the tab “Eternal Life” at the top of this blog. Seriously!

Again, this is not original on my part, but I thought it was worth sharing. If nothing else it can shine some light on areas needing improvement.

Heart, Character of the Renewed

Prepared to seek God. 2 Chr 19:3; Ezra 7:10; Ps 10:17

Fixed on God. Ps 57:7

Joyful in God. 1 Sam 2:1

Perfect with God. Ps 101:2

Upright. Ps 97:11

Clean. Ps 73:1

Pure. Matt. 5:8

Tender. 1 Sam 24:5

Single and sincere. Acts 2:46; Heb 10:22

Honest and good. Luke 8:15

Broken, contrite. Ps. 34:18; 51:17

Obedient. Ps 119:112; Rom 6:17

Filled with the law of God. Jer. 32:40

Meditative. Ps 4:4

Circumcised. Rom 2:29

Void of fear. Ps 27:3

Desirous of God. Ps 84:2

Enlarged. Ps 119:32; 2 Cor 6:11

Faithful to God. Neh 9:8

Confident in God. Ps 112:7

Sympathizing. Jer 4:19; Lam 3:51

Prayerful. 1 Sam 1:13; Ps 27:8

Inclined to obedience. Ps 119:112

Wholly devoted to God. Ps 9:1; 119:10,69,145

Zealous. 2 Chr 17:6; Jer 20:9

Wise. Prov 10:8; 14:33; 23:15

A treasury of good. Matt 12:35

Heart, Character of the Unrenewed

Hateful to God. Prov 6:16, 18; 11:20

Full of evil. Ecc 9:3

Full of evil imaginations. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Prov 6:18

Full of evil thoughts. Jer 4:14

Fully set to do evil. Ecc 8:11

Desperately wicked. Jer 17:9

Far from God. Is 29:13; matt 15:8

Not perfect with God. I Kings 15:3; Acts 8:21; Prov 6:18

Not prepared to seek God. 2 Chron 12:14

A treasury of evil. Matt 12:35; Mark 7:21

Darkened. Rom 1:21

Prone to error. Ps 95:10

Prone to depart from God. Deut 29:18; Jer 17:5

Impenitent. Rom 2:5

Unbelieving. Heb 3:12

Blind. Eph 4:18

Uncircumcised. Lev 26:41; Acts 7:51

Of little worth.  Prov 10:20

Deceitful. Jer 17:9

Deceived. Is 44:20; James 1:26

Divided. Hos 10:2

Double. 1 Chr 12:33; Ps 12:2

Hard. Mark 10:5; Rom 2:5

Haughty. Prov 18:12; Jer 48:29

Influenced by the devil. John 13:2

Carnal. Rom 8:7

Covetous. Jer 22:17; 2 Pet 2:14

Despiteful. Ezek 25:15

Ensnaring. Eccl 7:26

Foolish. Prov 12:23; 22:15

Deceitful. Prov 17:20

Fretful against the Lord. Prov 19:3

Idolatrous. Ezek 14:3,4

Mad. Eccl 9:3

Mischievious. Ps 28:3; 140:2

Proud. Ps 101:4; Prov 6:14

Stiff. Ezek 2:4

Stony. Ezek 11:19; 36:26

Arrogant. Isa 10:12

Stubborn. Isa 46:12

Elated by sensual indulgence. Hos 13:3

Elated by prosperity. 2 Chr 26:16; Dan 5:20

Studies destruction. Prov 24:2

Often judiciously stupefied. Is 6:10; Acts 28:26,27

Often judiciously hardened. Ex 4:21; Joshua 11:20


John MacArthur Study Bible, © 1997

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Your Cursed Curses Are Useless

Whether you are going to be walking around dressed like a monster with a sugar craving or nailing lots of bullet points to the front doors of churches, I wish you no ill will. Well, not unless you are really going to nail your theses to a church door – that would get you in trouble if your last name isn’t Luther.

But since today is Halloween, I thought I’d share a post I wrote a while back for Proverbial Thought, a post dealing with the issue of “curses.” That’s a Halloween-like subject, right?


Proverbs 26:2

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (KJV)

“Like a flitting sparrow or a fluttering swallow, an undeserved curse goes nowhere.” (HCSB)

Curses!

I recently watched a funny scene from the movie Despicable Me. Vector, the really bad guy, had stolen a stolen shrink ray and was playing with it in his bathroom (lavatory), and that’s when he purposely shrunk his toilet. He then proceeded to mock the toilet like it was a defeated enemy. When the shrunken toilet popped off the water line, Vector yelled, “Curse you, tiny toilet!”

Curses are as old as mankind, I suppose. They have been around long before Vector, Scooby Doo, Endora (Samantha’s mother), or the literal witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7). The first curses recorded in the Bible can be found all the way back in the book of Genesis. There God cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14), the ground (Gen. 3:17), Cain (Gen. 4:11), and even the anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7). So, it would seem that the earliest curses came not from witches, but from God.

However, when God pronounces a curse, it is usually a denunciation of sin (Nu. 5:21, 23; Dt. 29:19–20), His judgment on sin (Nu. 5:22, 24, 27; Is. 24:6), and the person who is suffering the consequences of sin by the judgment of God is called a curse (Nu. 5:21, 27; Je. 29:18).[1]  On the other hand, men use curses as tools to bring something about. However, the difference between a curse from God and a curse from man is capacity: man’s is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Capacity

Those who spew out curses typically have no ability to see them come to fruition. In Eccl. 8:4 we read: “Where the word of the king is, there is power.” In other words, a king can pronounce a curse on his subject’s land or life and have the ability to make it happen. But for most people, “damning” someone is pretty useless.

I once made a video depicting a monkey puppet making fun of evolution. The video asked the question: “What do you get when cross a monkey with time?” The answer was, “A man? No, just a monkey.” Immediately I received hate mail and curses from atheists around the globe.

Click the picture to watch the video for yourself.

On other occasions I have written about my views on marriage, which have brought even more hateful language, and even threats. The curses came by the boat load and generally read like this: “I hope you get sick and die!…go to hell!…damn you!” But therein lies the point of today’s proverb – cursed curses are useless.

Causeless

Solomon said, “the curse causeless shall not come.” Therefore, we should not fear the curses of fools, for they do not have the capacity bring about the end result. They presume upon a Power beyond their own to bring about the judgment they declare, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Let the witch doctor cast spells; let the voodoo doll be stuck with pins; let the curses come from Hell itself; they will fly by me like sparrows on the wind, for they are as powerless as the cursed fools who send them.


[1] J. A. Motyer, “Curse,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 248.

The above post was copied from my other blog, ProverbialThought.com., and adapted for this site.

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What All Scripture Can Do

In preparation for an upcoming sermon from Jeremiah 38, I went back to the following verse for focus and direction:

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching, instruction), for reproof (a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested, conviction), for correction (a straightening up again), for instruction in righteousness (how to live right before God). [emphasis mine]

Whenever you are stumped, whenever you find yourself wondering “what is this passage telling me?”, understand that God does not lie, and ALL Scripture, properly exegeted, should be able to offer the following 4 things:

1. Doctrine. Simply put, there is something teachable from every passage of Scripture, even though sometimes the lesson might be difficult to determine.

2. Reproof. On what do you base your convictions? The Bible is what you use as the standard against which all things are tested. It is also what you fall back on when “proof” is what you need.

3. Correction. Too often the Bible is used as a tool with which to beat people over the head. As a “recovering legalist,” you might imagine that is not what I’m about. No, the word correction in this verse is a word that means “restoration to an upright or a right state; correction, improvement” (Strong’s). Some verses may be good for use as a “rod of correction,” but not all. However, ALL Scripture is profitable for instruction in putting someone upright. In other words, there is hope in every passage. 

4. Instruction in Righteousness. Jeremiah 38 is a tragic story, but there are strong lessons to learn. There are lessons of bravery and compassion; lessons of hope in the midst of the most dire circumstances; and most of all, the lesson that we should listen to and obey God rather than rebel against His commands. Instruction in righteousness means, if nothing else, that all Scripture can teach us how to live right with God in a world that hates Him.

Whether you are preparing a sermon or just doing your daily Bible reading, use 2 Timothy 3:16 as a guide to help you understand what God is saying. With the help of the Holy Spirit learn, develop strong conviction, be encouraged and directed, and find guidance for the path ahead.

Sufficient is His Word.

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Get Jesus!

Each Wednesday night at our church I conduct what we call “Proverbs, Prayer, and Praise.” It is a unique study through Proverbs, one chapter a week.

One of the things I encourage our congregation to do is take the places where Wisdom is personified and replace the word and associated pronouns with the name of Jesus (See Col. 2:1-3 and 1 Cor. 1: 24 & 30).

This week we are working through chapter 4, so I thought I would share this example with you. When you remember that Jesus said all Scripture spoke of Him, it’s not a stretch, but a blessing!

Get JESUS! Get understanding [OF HIM]! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake HIM, and HE will preserve you; Love HIM, and HE will keep you. JESUS [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get JESUS. And in all your getting, get understanding [OF HIM]. Exalt HIM, and HE will promote you; HE will bring you honor, when you embrace HIM. HE will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory HE will deliver to you.” – Proverbs 4:5-9 NKJV [edited]

If you would like additional information on this study, feel free to contact me.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

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Advice to the Will-Seeking Christian

This morning I saw a post from a friend on Facebook. It was a question that many ask, and I felt compelled to answer it with more than a clever quip, cliche, or copy-and-pasted quotation.

The question was:

“How do you know you are where you are supposed to be and doing what God has called you to do?”

Below is a word-for-word copy of what I wrote (names omitted). I hope that by sharing it here it will help others beyond the realm of Facebook.


[For all my friends]

Whenever people ask how to know God’s will – especially when it includes questions like, “How do I know I’m where God wants me to be?” – I have to ask some [three] clarifying questions.

First, are you doing what you already know He wants you to do? I mean, just start with the basics like do you read the Bible and pray to your Father just to get to know Him? Or, do you only do these things when there is a need? He desires our fellowship like any father or friend, you know. Are you telling others about Him? Are you putting Him first? Are you doing your best with the “talents” He has given you?  “Whatsoever you do, do it with all your heart, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). These are important first steps.

Second, is your heart aligned with the heart of God? Remember, we want to do HIS will, not ours. However, God does promise to give us the desires of our heart, if, of course our desires are HIS desires. How is this possible? Well, go back to the first question – are you spending time with Him for love’s sake? Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Third, would you be OK with wherever you are, or wherever you went, if you KNEW it was God’s will for your life? The Apostle Paul, as you know, had it good, bad, was rich, was poor, in bad situations and good, yet he said: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11). If your prayer is, “Wherever, Lord, I will serve you,” then He will bring fulfillment to your life wherever you are. You will see Him working through your life. You will know that wherever you are, He is with you.

Once you have truthfully answered the above three questions, be a light where you are, let God open and close the doors, and walk in faith. If you are in close fellowship with the Father, follow the desires of your heart, for He wants to give them to you. But understand, even in the following He may lead you places you never knew you’d enjoy. Just like when Paul had a desire to go to Asia to preach, the Holy Spirit prevented him and led him to a place he never intended – Europe (Macedonia). Paul was certainly in God’s will and trying to do what He thought was right, but the Holy Spirit used that momentum to take him in a direction he never saw coming and didn’t even know was needed.

Lastly, understand this important truth: Our Father in heaven wants us to be mature. Just like any other parent, He wants us to grow up in our faith and walk so that we don’t have to be led around like little babies (not saying you are). He wants us to think and act with a transformed mind, one that is becoming more and more like Christ, and do the things that we think He would do – we are His body. The desires of your heart, if aligned with His, will give you the freedom that Grace affords to step out in faith, trusting what you are doing is His will. But rest assured, He will never leave you nor forsake you, and His arms are there to catch you and redirect you if you fail while in the process of trying to please Him.

Oh, one more thing: His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and no matter the direction we take, the decisions we make, the places we work, or whether we stay or go, God is our Sovereign King – He is still God – and He is always in control.

One of my favorite verses from Proverbs (and the Bible) is Proverbs 16:33. It reads:

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD. – Proverbs 16:33 KJV

Or, as another translation puts it:

We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall. – Proverbs 16:33 NLT

Others have mentioned Proverbs 3:5-6, and those verses sum it up nicely. Trust in the LORD with ALL YOUR HEART, and lean not, like a crutch, onto your own understanding, or at least what worldly common sense my dictate. Instead, in ALL your ways (the things of your life) acknowledge Him (put Him first), and He will direct (make sure you walk in the right direction) your paths.

God bless!

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Life Lessons from the School Bus (#7) “Try the Spirits”

“Stripped”

Bob “Apple” Smith, a bus driver for the county, has a lot to explain. A quick look at his bus will let you know why. It is stripped. Stripped of EVERYTHING!

According to Bob, shortly after dropping off the last of his children, he made a quick “personal” stop. It was during his “personal” stop, which took longer than he anticipated (probably due to the excessive amount of jalapeños Bob insisted to be put on his eggs for breakfast), that vandals supposedly stripped his 88-passenger ThomasBuilt bus.

“Once I was finally able to finish my business,” Bob said, “I went back outside and said, ‘I’ll be d—-d!‘” He went on to say, “Those little hoodlums worked quicker than piranhas on a pig!”

The Link

No wonder, Bob had parked his bus in one the most notorious places in town. For months the police have been answering calls from stranded motorist who could do nothing more than cry after doing their “personal” business. Fortunately, an unbelievable link may have been found.

After investigators did some research, Bob was not the only one who had eaten eggs at a particular diner on Downtown Street. It seems that more than one patron of “Slick Sam’s” had eaten eggs before having to stop just blocks away to make an emergency “deposit.” Coincidentally, those same patrons had their automobiles stripped.

The only problem for Mr. Smith is the additional time it would have taken to strip the large bus. Some are questioning whether or not there may be seeds of deceit at his “Apple” core. It was not long ago another driver, Margaret “Snoopy” Jones, overheard Bob say, “I am tired of this job, but I’m not going to quit without getting a medal.” Ms. Jones insists he was speaking code, meaning “metal” when he said “medal.” This is still under investigation, but questionable, however.  It seems that  Ms. Jones has a record of saying, “Bob was always the ‘bad Apple’ in the bus driver barrel.”

Life Lesson

For heaven’s sake, don’t believe everything you read.

A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps. – Proverbs 14:15 NIV

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1 KJV

Sometimes things like this can be seen as funny (I hope), but many are sadly deceived in issues that have eternal significance.  The Bereans did not even take the Apostle Paul’s words at face value. They “tried” his words by comparing them to Scripture (Acts 17:10-11).

You see, no buses got stripped by vandals, and you could easily prove this by doing a little research. As matter of fact, the bus in the picture was stripped, but only for spare parts (it had an engine fire that made it too expensive to fix).

But so many people will take anyone’s word, believe any hearsay, and hold to any old rumor or fable rather than take the “noble” route of the Bereans and “search the Scripture.”

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