Commentary on 1 Peter 3:8-12

Notes (NET Translation)

3:8 Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble.

Peter now transitions to speaking to all the readers again. The Greek term homophrones (harmonious) refers to sharing a common heritage of faith and ethical tradition (Jobes loc. 3352). Believers are to be of one mind (Elliott 603). This does not mean they must share identical opinions, it means they are to be agreeable and sensitive to each other’s concerns (Michaels 176) and to share the same goals (Achtemeier 222). The Greek term philadelphoi (affectionate) refers to the ideal relationship of brothers (Elliott 604). The Greek term tapeinophrones (humble) refers to humility, which was disdained in first-century Greco-Roman culture because it was taken as a sign of weakness and shame, an inability to defend one’s honor (Jobes loc. 3356). “Altogether the imperatival adjectives of v 8 urge dispositions that foster the mutual affection and commitment of the believers to one another and thus promote the social solidarity and cohesion of the community as a whole” (Elliott 606).

3:9 Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing.

This instruction resembles Jesus’ statement in Luke 6:27-28 (NET): “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

It is imperative here to understand what “loving” one’s enemies means in contrast to modern ideas of “love.” Such modern ideas led one student to ask in exasperation, “How can Jesus expect me to love my enemies when I don’t even like them?” “Loving” in modern culture refers primarily to an emotional attachment of a greater intensity than merely “liking.” But Peter clearly interprets Jesus’ command to love to refer not to emotions but to acting rightly toward one’s adversaries, regardless of whatever emotions may or may not be involved (cf. Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s neighbor as presented in the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37). Acting rightly toward one’s adversaries is defined in I Pet. 3:9 as not responding in kind to their insults, slander, and evil intents. It means having the inner fortitude to break the cycle of evil that spirals ever downward. (Jobes loc. 3391-3396)

It is debatable whether the Greek phrase translated “because you were called to” means that the readers were called to bless those who insulted them or that the readers were called to inherit a blessing. In fact, it could mean both: the readers are called to bless others because they were called to inherit a blessing. The apostle Paul called his readers to bless those who cursed them (Rom 12:14; 1 Cor 4:12).

3:10 For the one who wants to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit. 3:11 And he must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the Lord’s face is against those who do evil.

Verses 10-12 are based on Psalm 34:12-16 (33:13-17 LXX), the same psalm referenced in 2:3. These verses provide scriptural confirmation for vv 8-9. The “theme of the psalm as a whole is God’s deliverance of the oppressed, a point transparently appropriate to the readers of this epistle” (Achtemeier 226).

Bibliography

Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996.

Elliott, John Hall. 1 Peter. Yale University Press, 2007.

Jobes, Karen. 1 Peter. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2005.

Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1 Peter. Thomas Nelson, 1988.

Schreiner, Thomas R. 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2003.

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