A Life that Counts Forever
Philippe R. Sterling
Live a life that has the greatest eternal value by growing in holiness, by submitting to authority, by persevering under trial, and by using spiritual gifts to benefit others.
The apostle Peter is the author of the letter (1:1). He uses Silvanus as a writing assistant (5:12). He writes from Rome which he calls “Babylon” perhaps in light of its paganism (5:13). He may have written around AD 64. According to church tradition he spent the last ten years of his life in Rome and died there in the early 60s. He writes to Jewish and Gentile believers living in the northern regions of Asia Minor. He writes about the kind of a life that has the greatest eternal value (1:9).
Literary Structure and Content
I. Salutation: We are citizens of heaven who reside as foreigners in the world in relationship with God the Father,
the Spirit and Jesus Christ (1:1-2).
II. Prologue: We secure a glorious inheritance in heaven by the refining of our faith in this world (1:3-12).
A. Our new birth has set before us the hope of an imperishable inheritance in heaven (1:3-5).
B. The hope of our inheritance enables us to refine our faith through the endurance of the trials of this life (1:6-7).
C. Our refined faith results in a glorious inheritance in heaven (1:8-12).
III. Body: What are some of the specific things that will make our lives have the greatest eternal value? They
basically fall into the four categories of our sanctification—growth in holiness, our submission—response
to authority, our suffering—persevering faith under trial, and our service—use of our spiritual gifts to benefit others.
A. Sanctification: The life that counts forever is holy as God is holy and loves the family of God (1:13– 2:10).
1. In Relationship to God: Be holy as God is holy (1:13-21).
a. Fix your hope on your future with Christ (1:13).
b. Obey your heavenly Father in not conforming to evil but conforming to holiness (1:14-16).
c. Fear your heavenly Father (1:17-21).
2. In Relationship to the Family of God: Fervently love one another from the heart and be built up as the
people of God (1:22 to 2:10).
a. Love and support each other (1:22 to 2:3).
1) Our new life should bring forth a new love (1:22-23).
2) Our love should be as enduring as the word which gave us life (1:23-25).
3) Our love grows as we set aside the attitudes of the flesh and feed on the word of God (2:1-3).
b. Be built up as a people of God to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God (2:4-10).
What are some of the spiritual sacrifices we are to offer to God? Confer with Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Hebrews 13:15-16; Philippians 4:15-19; Romans 15:15-16.
B. Submission: The life that counts forever shuns sin and submits to authority (2:11– 3:7).
How can we best impact others for Christ? How can we render an effective witness to an unbelieving world? Peter is concerned with the conduct that should characterize our lives in an unbelieving and hostile world.
1. Shun Sin: Maintain the spirit of a foreigner, abstain from sinful desires, and live good lives so as to
point others to God (2:11-12).
2. Submit to Authority: Submit to God-ordained authority in public life and in private life (2:13 to 3:7).
a. Submit to governmental authority (2:13-17).
b. Submit to workplace authority (2:18-25).
c. Submit to family authority (3:1-7).
1) Command to Wives: bear the silent witness of a lovely life (1-6).
2) Command to Husbands: Live with your wives in an understanding way and honor them (7).
C. Suffering: The life that counts forever endures hardship for the cause of Christ (3:8–4:6).
1. Even when experiencing evil and insult, give a blessing that you might inherit a blessing (3:8-12).
a. Cultivate a gracious and benevolent spirit toward others whether they are good or bad in order to
gain divine blessing (3:8-9).
b. The Scriptures confirm that gracious behavior lengthens our lives and heightens our happiness (3:10-12).
2. Suffer innocently (3:13-16).
a. Tranquility is the normal result of godly living (13).
b. Suffering may result from godly living but there is blessing in it (14-16).
3. Only innocent suffering is consistent with the lifestyle appropriate to our identification with Christ (3:17–4:6).
a. Suffering for good and not evil is within the scope of God’s will for us (3:17).
b. Suffering for good is entirely in harmony with our identification with Christ (3:18-22).
c. Astonish the world by living for the will of God (4:1-6).
D. Service: The life that counts forever serves as a good steward of God’s grace and shares the suffering of
1. Live with the end in mind by employing your spiritual gifts to serve one another – serve to God’s glory
2. Live with the end in mind by trusting God when suffering unjustly – suffer to God’s glory (4:12-19).
IV. Epilogue: Shepherds and flock have corresponding responsibilities (5:1-5).
A. Charge to Elders: Shepherd the flock of God in the right spirit, with the right motive, and in the right
B. Crown for Elders: The Chief Shepherd will give faithful elders an unfading crown of glory (5:4).
C. Charge to the Flock: Be subject to your elders and live in humility with each other (5:5).
V. Conclusion: Make your life count forever by relying on God and resisting the devil (5:6-11).
A. Rely on God (5:6-7).
1. Rely on God’s control over the events of your life (6).
2. Rely on God’s care (5:7).
B. Resist the devil (5:8-11).
1. Respect a dangerous foe (5:8).
2. l knowing that he opposes all believers (5:9).
3. s gracious purposes in your sufferings (5:10-11).
VI. Final Remarks: Peter recognizes his writing assistant and sends the greetings of the family in Rome (5:12-14).
Theological Reflection and Application
Peter has shown us the kind of life that counts for eternity. In each of the sections Jesus Himself is held up as the perfect illustration of one who made His life count for the greatest eternal value. As we follow in His footsteps, we too will ensure that ours is a life that counts forever. Make your life count for the greatest eternal value. This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! (1 Peter 5:12).