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Essays and Charts

Christ and "The Spirits in Prison"


1 * Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

   To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappado'cia, Asia, and Bithyn'ia, 2chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

A Living Hope

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice,a though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Without having seenb him youc love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. 9As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

10 The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; 11they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ * within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

A Call to Holy Living

13 Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. 18You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. 21Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.d

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. 23You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for

  "All flesh is like grass

  and all its glory like the flower of grass.

  The grass withers, and the flower falls,

25but the word of the Lord abides for ever."

That word is the good news which was preached to you.

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

2  So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. 2Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; 3for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

4 Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; 5and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in Scripture:

  "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,

  and he who believes in him will not be put to shame."

7To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe,

  "The very stone which the builders rejected

  has become the cornerstone,"


  "A stone that will make men stumble,

  a rock that will make them fall";

for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people,e that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

Live as Servants of God

11 Beloved, I beg you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul. 12Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution,f whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. 17Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

The Example of Christ's Suffering

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. 19For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God's approval. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,g that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Wives and Husbands

3  * Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see your reverent and chaste behavior. 3Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, 4but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you.

7 Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.

Suffering for Doing Right

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. 9Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10For

  "He that would love life

  and see good days,

  let him keep his tongue from evil

  and his lips from speaking guile;

11let him turn away from evil and do right;

  let him seek peace and pursue it.

12For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,

  and his ears are open to their prayer.

  But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil."

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? 14But even if you do suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; 16and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong. 18For Christ also diedh for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; 19in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Good Stewards of God's Grace

4  Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,i arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, * 2so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. 3Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4They are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild debauchery, and they abuse you; 5but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. 8Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. 10As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Suffering as a Christian

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of gloryj and of God rests upon you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; 16yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. 17For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And

  "If the righteous man is scarcely saved,

  where will the impious and sinner appear?"

19Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.

Tending the Flock of Christ

5  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. 2Tend the flock of God that is your charge,k not by constraint but willingly,l not for shameful gain but eagerly, 3not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. 5Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. 7Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. 8Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthenm you. 11To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings and Benediction

12 By Silva'nus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it. 13She who is at Babylon, * who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. 14Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you that are in Christ.

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