For the next several weeks, I’ll be repeating the book of I Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today.
This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary.
I Peter – Part VI
We’re independent of any human government, but don’t use that as an excuse to disobey your governments. You have to see every person as valuable. You have to love each other. You have to obey your government. Employees must listen to their employers. Be respectful to them, even when they aren’t good to you. We don’t do this for them, we do it for God. He thinks very highly of us when – because we love him – we act like we should, even when we’re being mistreated. You don’t get credit for putting up with mistreatment if you bring it on yourself with bad behavior. If you’re mistreated because you’re trying to do the right thing, though, it makes God happy.
This is why God called us in the first place! Jesus suffered to benefit us. He intended for that to be the example we could follow. He never did anything wrong, he never said anything wrong, he didn’t fire back at people who said hurtful things. He never threatened anyone who put him through suffering. He constantly trusted God, knowing that God judges perfectly. He voluntarily took the punishment for our sin when he physically suffered on the cross. He did that to give us the chance to kill our old lifestyles and live morally pure lives. His injuries healed us. We had no direction, aimlessly wondering around like a sheep. Now we follow the one who leads us and protects us.
When someone fades into my lane or is driving erratically with phone unashamedly in hand, I channel my inner Jeremy Clarkson with an encouraging, “Maniac!” There’s no denying that distracted driving is irresponsible and grossly negligent, but my attitude is far from where it needs to be. There’s little room for patience or grace with that mentality.
Shortly after soldiers drive stakes through his wrists and feet, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23.34). Some early witnesses omit this verse, but the majority of witnesses include it. When reading these words it’s easy to think, “Jesus is so nice that He asks the Father to forgive people who are hurting Him.” It’s a nice gesture, or an example of how forgiving we need to be.
Jesus did not ask God to forgive those soldiers. He demanded it! Αφες (afes: forgive) is an imperative. This was so much more than a nice gesture. As one who had the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9.6),He told the Father to forgive them.
If anyone had the right to ban someone eternally, it was Jesus. We are going to be mistreated, and most can recall examples right away. How do we respond to people who mistreat us? II Corinthians 10.1 describes Jesus as gentle. That word means, “the quality of making allowances despite facts that might suggest reason for a different reaction” (Bauer επιείκεια).
He set the bar to maximum height. Are we willing to reach it? That mentality can only be achieved by having genuine love for everyone. “Let us continue to love each other, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God, but anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I Jn. 4.7f).
Something occurred to me that I never stopped to consider as I read about Jesus’ mistreatment in John 18. An officer for the Sanhedrin, forever anonymous, is memorialized with only these words: “One of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand…” (22). Was it sheer irreverence? Was it misguided religious fervor? Was it hotheaded impetuosity? No matter how one might rationalize it, this man slapped the Savior! While Roman soldiers struck Him with their hands, no less an offense to Almighty God, the man in John 18 was presumably a religious man. He expressed indignation on behalf of the High Priest, though Jesus said nothing at all offensive to Him.
What a terrible and difficult thing it is to read and consider, with an open heart, the physical pain and mistreatment Jesus suffered en route to the cross. But how much worse would it be to be able to understand that you had a hand in it. Several have conjectured that some of those who heard Peter preached on Pentecost may well have lent their voice to the fracas, clamoring and yelling for Jesus’ crucifixion. What a burden of guilt to bear! But, to be the man who slapped his own Creator in apparent contempt? What a stigma to own!
While it would be impossible for you and me to be a part of that specific physical brutality, it is possible, as the writer of Hebrews later states, to crucify Jesus again and put Him to an open shame (6:6). To know that my conduct, speech, attitudes, and interactions in this world might not only bring shame but outright assault on my Lord humbles and challenges me. At the very least, it ought to make us careful about what choices we make, habits we form, entities we support, and causes we champion. How helpful it would be if I take the time to examine my circumstances of the moment and ask, “Is this a slap in the face of my Savior?” If I know it is, I will flee it. If I am not sure, I will think long and hard before I do it! I don’t want to be co-immortalized with that unnamed officer! I want those who see me to say that I am carefully, lovingly handling Christ!