by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 October 4, 2009 Lincolnton, N.C.
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1901 ASV Translation:
11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
I. Living Among the Nations.
A. Peter's readers.
1. "Beloved". The term is basic; it means "highly valued". However, the issues involved in the way his readers are being treated ("they speak against you as evildoers" is just one of many unpleasant treatments) calls this designation into some question in the minds of most people. The constant question that arises is this: if I am so "loved", why am I being treated in the way that I am? This forces a perspective choice upon the readers. What does "love" mean? The biblical answer is always the same: love does not mean being spared from the painful actions of others; rather, it means being "in the focus" of someone who has the best interests of the "beloved" in mind. But, those "best interests" are always defined in the long term and in view of what Peter calls "the Day of Visitation". And, the greatest need of the "beloved" is to be "loving" -- which means that too much of a focus on "why am I being treated like I am?" has to be addressed as the selfishness that it is. One who is genuinely "loving" is simply too focused upon others to be caught up in his/her own experiences. But, and this is crucial, one's lack of concern about himself/herself does not mean that he/she does not recognize the "death" impact of every evil and does mean that he/she wishes to alleviate that for the ones "beloved". For one to be "loving", one must not be overly fixated upon how oneself is being treated but must be fixated upon how others are being treated and be willing to do whatever can be done to stop evil treatment or, at least, set up some parameters that will mitigate the impact of such evil. Peter did not do anything to stop the evil treatment of his readers by the Gentiles, but he did teach them some things that blunt the negative impact. The bottom line is this: for one who is loving, it does not matter how "bad" he/she is being treated so that love would even volunteer to be ensconced in Hell if it would help another (see Paul's attitude in Romans 9:3); but if everyone becomes "loving" in this way, Hell is impossible. Thus, though "love" does not seek to eliminate Hell for the "Lover" it does seek to do so for the "beloved" and it does it best by getting the "beloved" to stop being so bothered by Hell for himself/herself.
2. "Strangers". This word is used most illuminatingly in Acts 7:6 and 29 where the issue is made clear: a person who is living in a country not his own. In neither case does the "stranger" not live "normally"; he simply has no "citizenship" rights, nor does he expect them. This is significant in view of Ephesians 2:19 where the "citizenship rights" are heavily spiritual and directly connected to God. The question of Peter's use of this term in this place is this: what is the impact of being a "stranger" in terms of the stranger's attitude? In Israel's case in Acts 7:6 life began on a pretty cushy note since Joseph was so high in the authority structure in Egypt and gradually disintegrated over generations (some of whom never knew the "cushy" life), but in Moses' case in Acts 7:29 life began with Moses as a murderer in flight from Egypt's authorities and gradually improved with his acquisition of a wife and sons and vocation. So, just what is the point of being a "stranger"?
3. "Pilgrims". This is the word Peter chose to use to most fundamentally identify his readers as he began his letter (1:1) but you would never know it from the AV translation because the translators confused the issue by translating it "strangers" there and "pilgrims" here. It must, therefore, carry some kind of "most fundamental" impact. The question is of the nature of that impact. Hebrews 11:13-16 does a good job of giving an answer.
B. The "problem".
1. The soul's condition.
2. The impact of "fleshly lusts".
C. The reality: believers are typically maligned.
D. The ultimate inevitability: a Day of Visitation.