Psalm 23: Our Beautiful Shepherd – The Lord

David was a shepherd, so he knew what the shepherd’s work and the sheep are like. Therefore, He was able to bridge that God is a Shepherd who cares for His Flock – His People. Let’s see the amazing imagery he gives us and how we can understand how he wrote this Psalm.

Psalm 23The Shepherd’s WorkApplication for life
The Lord is my shepherdSheep can recognize their shepherd. Care for them means ownership of them.We are like sheep under God’s care who belong to Him.
I shall not wantSome sheep wander off to greener lands, but this is dangerous.God meets my deepest needs.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:The shepherd has a crucial role to make sheep feel safe, and they will not rest until they feel safe from threats.God makes me free to rest, especially in Him.
he leadeth me beside the still waters.Sheep refuse rapid currents of waters, as they don’t swim well. Therefore, the shepherd needs to find calm water.We can drink of God’s Holy Spirit who is water to our thirsty souls.
He restoreth my soul:Some sheep struggle to get up quickly, as they may be dehydrated. The shepherd may have to prod the sheep or help it get up.God cares for and keeps the heart and mind of those who love Him and that He loves.
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.Sheep, like humans, are creatures of habit. By overgrazing, they can destroy their own pastures and must be led to a new land. But only shepherds know the best way to get there.God will always lead us on the right path according to His Promise.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with meValleys on the way to high pastures often have the best grasses, but there are many hidden dangers that may lurk for sheep.God knows and deals with the fears and deadly dangers of life for us.
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Sheep need to learn to trust their shepherd. The shepherd’s rod protects them, disciplines them, and saves them. It is meant as a tool to guide them.God’s discipline, guidance, and protection keeps His People safe.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemiesUsually shepherds must prepare the pasture to remove poisons, toxins, and other bad things to ensure clean eating. Predators can wait ready to pounce on unsuspecting sheep.God provides for our hunger, even when enemies surround us.
thou anointest my head with oilFlying insects can cause problems for sheep especially during the summer. Oil is a natural bug repellent that can also heal the skin.God takes care of our bodily needs.
my cup runneth over.The good shepherd is willing to take the sheep to better grazing areas and water sources.Our provision from God is abundant.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my lifeSheep can aid in the fertility of the land and can transform wilderness into fertile fields. The good shepherd makes blessing follow his sheep.God’s goodness and Magnificent grace will be with us our entire lives.
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.Sheep are taken back to the shepherd’s property during the fall and winter.We shall be with God for eternity.

The Old Testament’s view of the shepherd

  • God is the Shepherd (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 23; 80:1).
  • God’s appointed leaders are under-shepherds (Ezekiel 34).
  • Many people in the Old Testament were actually shepherds for their jobs: Abel, Moses, David, Abraham, Isaac, Rachel, etc.
  • Foreign leaders were occasionally called shepherds because of their leadership of God’s People (Isaiah 44:28).
  • The prophets used shepherd imagery pointing to the Messiah’s coming (Ezekiel 34:22-24; 37:24; Isaiah 40:11; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27).

The New Testament’s view of the shepherd

  • Jesus is our Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:34), our Good Shepherd (John 10:1-30), and our Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).
  • Jesus had compassion on the large crowds that came to see Him because they were as sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34).
  • Jesus used sheep and shepherds in His parables (Matthew 12:11-12; 18:12-14; 25:31-46).
  • Jesus commissioned His Disciples to care for His sheep (Matthew 10:6; 10:16; John 21:16-17).
  • Jesus is the lamb of sacrifice (John 1:29; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:6).
  • Elders are shepherds under Christ (1 Peter 5:2).

Jesus’ actions in response to normal shepherd duties

Duties of the ShepherdJesus’ Work
Lead the sheep to safe water and pastures.Calls His Disciples to follow wherever He leads (Matthew 4:18-22; John 10:4-9).
Protects the sheep from predators, pests, and other dangers.Warns, intercedes, and rescued His People (Mark 8:15; John 17:12-15; Matthew 20:28; John 10:15).
Feeds the sheep, which also involves removing poisons and toxins from the food.Feeds the crowds of people, for He Himself is the Bread of Life (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39; John 6:22-71).
Cares for weak or sick lambs.Cares for the weak and sick (Matthew 14:14; 14:34-36).
Disciplines the wayward sheep and retrieves the lost.Rebukes His Disciples whenever needed, and fins those who have lost their way (Matthew 14:29-31; 16:23; Luke 22:31-34).
Protects the cultivated land and crops from the sheep.Guides His Disciples in the way of caring about others (Luke 6:27-36).
Prevents over-grazing.Teaching His Disciples to be wise and harmless (Matthew 10:16).

Do not be deceived! – 15 guidelines the Bible instructs

In this broken and fallen world, hope is always for us Christians as we have our joy and peace in Christ Jesus our Lord! The following is a list of guidelines the Bible instructs to avoid deception in this turbulent world.

  1. Death never solves anything, is not the end, and was not God’s intent in the first place (Matthew 25:45; 2 Peter 3:1-18; Ezekiel 18:23).
  2. Giving up on life or in life is the worst choice, because there are so many helpful resources to boost your life. We mourn in hope in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
  3. Sin may please at first, but proves its destruction and it sacrifices many good things (Romans 7:11; Hebrews 3:13; Galatians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9).
  4. Criminality is an abomination to the Lord (2 Timothy 3:13).
  5. Violence is never the answer and does not solve anything (1 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 3:3; Proverbs 3:29-31; Titus 3:2; Psalm 11:5; Galatians 5:19-21).
  6. God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).
  7. Bad company corrupts moral character (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  8. Do not turn away from the Lord to serve other gods (Deuteronomy 11:16).
  9. Do not trust in vanity (Job 15:31).
  10. Watch out for false prophets who bring false visions and lying messages (Lamentations 2:14). Beware of prophets who promise peace to those who pay them, but threaten war for those who don’t pay them (Micah 3:5). Also beware of false teachers who try to mislead you from the truth of God’s Word with their mankind philosophies (vain philosophies/new age beliefs).
  11. People are deceived when they don’t know the Scriptures or Power of God (Matthew 22:29).
  12. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon Earth (Matthew 6:19).
  13. Beware of those pretending to be Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:19; 2:18).
  14. Hypocritical judgment should be avoided (Matthew 7:1-5). This means that you should not point fingers at someone for a thing they did wrong, when you are guilty of doing that same thing at the moment (unless you repented and have not been doing it long enough that you can dissociate yourself from it).
  15. Lacking humility (Matthew 5:3; James 4:6; 2 Peter 3:17-18).

We do hope this was ultimately useful to you. We do hope that you will no longer be deceived by the enemy in this life, and that you can live happily! Praise the Lord!

Even John warned against false teachings and heresy | 2 John commentary

In 2 John, John puts a similar focus on truth as he does in the first letter. This letter was written between 85-95 A.D. This is a very quick but important letter from John. It is best to decide upon whom John is addressing. John speaks of “the elect lady and her children.” This could mean a local church and its congregation, or it could mean an unknown widowed woman. Nevertheless, John places a warning on the “elect lady” about giving hospitality and support to traveling ministers (missionaries) who have departed from the apostolic truth and have migrated toward false teachings.

John once again warns against false teaching as he did in 1 John. We learn also in this letter that truth and love are inseparable. We should walk in truth, not just admire it. We should also love one another, a genuine love. Therefore, John starts the letter with his greeting before talking about walking in truth, and that we had a commandment from the beginning to love one another. The love we have, we should walk in it.

Next, John talks about the deceivers who have entered the world who do not confess Jesus as Christ. These deceivers are an antichrist. John warns next that those who transgress and abide not in the doctrine of Christ do not have God. However, those that do abide in His doctrine do have both the Father and the Son. The warning right after that is if these deceivers come to your house with this kind of (false) doctrine, do not receive him or help him out. That is how this second letter ended.

False teaching is a major problem in the body of Christ today, because people are focused on their own will, instead of humbling to God’s Will. John points out that even in his day, false teaching is prevalent. He also speaks to keep an eye out for those that practice unrighteousness and do not hold true to the apostolic truth. This can be reflected to a contemporary principle of watching out for false teachers (and prophets), especially in the last days before the Lord’s coming.

John seemed to have some kind of apostolic love toward the “elect lady,” as he spoke that he loved in truth. John seemed to end the letter early, because he expected to see the “elect lady” soon. So, John’s letter, in a quick summary, went like this: He encourages the people to persevere in love and belief in God, to have nothing to do with false teachers – not even to support or give them hospitality, and then a hope to see them soon.

It also seems that John has a strong will against those who deny Christ, as in verse 9, we also see this in 1 John 2:23. This is to be expected by someone who loves Christ so much. John was a very faithful disciple, so seeing his love manifest into feelings of discontentment against those who do evil, speak falsely, and deny Christ. John is a good example of a disciple who was well trained in the beautiful teachings of Jesus Christ. John teaches this audience these things, because he is setting the example that the Lord crafted in him to make other people more like disciples of Jesus.

Lessons & other notes from John

This epistle is unique, because it is the only book in the New Testament that is addressed to a lady. Some believe the elect lady is a title for a woman in the higher social realm or official/dignitary – or married to such. Many traditions teach that the person addressed is Martha of Bethany. Others believe that it is the Church he is referring to, but nonetheless, there are many beliefs on who it might be.

Trinity: As for the personage of the Trinity, it seems that each member of the Godhead has a particular personality. The Father is the creator and Law Giver, Jesus the Son of God is the Savior, Baptizer, Healer, and Soon Coming King, and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth, the Convictor, the Comforter, and the Illuminator. However, each possesses all these things.

They are always working together no matter what, for Jesus was Baptized by John, a Spirit like a dove descended upon Him – and then a voice came from Heaven (from God) that said “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus, as we see in John 17, wants the same unity for the believers that exists between the Father and the Son, so that through them, others would believe as well. He hopes that they share in the love that the Father has for the Son. He desires that they give themselves to God for the task of spreading the Gospel. Overall, He is telling them to have unity just as the Father and the Son have unity.

Being unified: Being in unity in the Body of Christ is highly important, and it tells us to love one another, walk in truth, and follow His commands – for He is looking after us and hopes that we keep our joy and peace. Practicing love and unity on a normal basis is the key to living more successfully with others.

What he appears to mention the most is that we love one another (we see in 2 John 5, John 13:34, John 15:12, 1 John 2:7, 1 John 3:23, and 1 John 4:21). He speaks of the Great Commandment in many verses, because Jesus had spoken of it, and then John repeats Jesus and keeps reassuring the people that if they love one another, they are doing the Will of the Father.

John is so glad to be united with this lady and her children, and hopes that they continue doing the good work they have done, especially in hospitality – for hospitality is important in the Body of Christ, because this world does not show mercy, so His People must show mercy to give people hope. The hope we have is of the Lord, and He hopes that we all will love each other and be in unity just as the Father is to the Son, because we need to spread around His Message much! False teachers have come, but we need to spread around the actual truth to hopefully blot those false ones out.

John rejoices when his teachings have done well to success, and is thankful that the people he is addressing have maintained their loyalty to the Gospel, and hopes for them to continue. We must look to ourselves and know what we have and have not done – make the change – and then we will receive a full reward, as he encourages. Truth and love are inseparable from the Gospel, and we are saved by this Gospel.

What he wishes most though is the love that we must share and in unity. He is glad that so many are united in love, and he is trying to be tolerant of the false teachers and false teachings of the day – so he gives us warnings and hopes that we will understand how to identify those who are false. We can also look back at the other tips, which are helpful to identify false teachers and doctrines. He loves those whom he teaches, and hopes that they will always be united!

Right before execution, Peter warns against false teachers | 2 Peter commentary

Peter constructed his second letter around 67-69 A.D., just before his execution. Peter gives stern warnings about false teachers in the church. Peter encourages believers also that good qualities will help believers avoid false teachings. He writes to them that have obtained precious faith through the righteousness of God and our savior, Jesus Christ.

Peter greets the readers, before talking about the Lord’s divine power given to us all things pertaining unto life and godliness. God has called us to glory and virtue. No additional knowledge or wisdom is needed to complete the sufficient Word of God, especially through salvation in Christ. Being partakers of the divine nature, believers have escaped the corruption of the world through lust. Virtue and knowledge shall also be added to believers’ faith. Therefore, Peter hopes that the calling and election of each believer should be sure, as so to never fall.

Next, Peter writes about the prophecy of Scripture, where he contrasts worldly ideas with God’s Word. God’s messages are free from error; His Word is true and reliable. Writers in the Bible did not write from their own interpretation, ideas, etc. – but it came from the Holy Ghost. Then, Peter talks about false teachers in the church. Teachers and leaders in the church and began to introduce heresies among God’s people. Through covetousness, false teachers commercialize the gospel. They also tell fake stories and other experiences to try to gain extra money from believers.

Peter explains that false teachers have destruction awaiting them. False teachers are described as natural, brute beasts that speak evil of the things they do not understand, and shall perish in corruption. They also receive the reward of unrighteousness and are blemishes. False teachers have eyes full of adultery, cannot cease from sin, who beguile unstable souls, who exercise covetousness, and are cursed children. False teachers, Peter explains, are willingly ignorant. Soon, the Lord will come back in the Day of Judgment, and false teachers will be destroyed by fire.

Peter writes next that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day. In addition, that the Lord will keep His promise, so that no one should perish, but instead come to repentance. “The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” – to which the Heavens pass away, the elements will melt, and the earth and its things will burn up. Peter encourages believers to live holy until that day, and concludes the letter by warning them to be careful and grow in grace.

As much as Peter and Paul disliked heresy, it seems that Peter was just as intent on getting them to stop just as Paul did. What is troubling is that even today, we are still dealing with heresies and other false teachers. Nothing has changed, because people have a common craving and that is money. Where there is a craving for money, there is recklessness in decision-making that leads to these heresies, for example.

People naturally create their own “bible” or “truth” that people are so drawn to, because they have a hunger or need for money and know they can make it if they align with the desires of men instead of the desires of God. It is a common bait-and-switch situation. But, what needs to happen, whether people like it or not, is that Biblical truth needs to be ministered on a truthful, Spirit-led level – so that people can be properly furnished with the Word of God, instead of a false truth that this world system creates. People are sucked into the teaching that they miss important details. These apostles were intent on straightening men back to the truth and making sure they focus on the truth of the Word.

Lessons from Peter and other notes

What he means by “cunningly devised fables” is that he hasn’t been giving them some kind of theory from his own imagination, but that, he himself had an experience of God’s Power through Jesus’ transfiguration, by being an eyewitness of His Majesty.

Precious faith: Peter refers to the faith as “precious” in verse one, which seems to be the thought that this is precious because it’s of great value, for a great price was given that this faith might be ours. This priceless gift comes from the “righteousness” of our God and through His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His Life – in that, we might have this treasure.

Power: The word “power” used in 1:3 is referring to “divine power” – which probably means some form of glory of the divine that is worth of note. He has given all of us this power of Divine Nature, to which, He does so for life and godliness – for He has called us to glory and virtue. He gives for us great and precious promises – we are partakers of the divine nature and we have escaped the corruption that is in the world of lust. We have everything we need to live lives of holiness in a world that is so corrupt of uncontrolled desires, to which, we must be keeping with the life that God has given us, for His Promises are the assurance of Him helping us!

Peter’s list of Christian virtues that he believes Christ taught in his parables and other messages:

  • Diligence: People need to apply determination and effort in their lives, especially in faith, for it will produce goodness.
  • Virtue: This refers to moral excellency, for virtue should be involved in how we minister. The development of good character.
  • Knowledge: We should have knowledge of God’s Will, especially in what we do for Him.
  • Temperance: We should have a form of self-control, and should be able to keep ourselves cool, especially as we minister to another. It’s important to keep ourselves sober, so that we don’t minister negativity from our heart.
  • Patience: There are many difficulties and exercises His People must endure, and should strive them in patience, so that they are not easily discouraged.
  • Godliness: Our internal exercise of the Fruit of the Spirit, expressed in everything that we do.
  • Kindness: Being kind to one another is a great way to be Christlike, just as love can be (see charity). Kindness involves doing nice things for others with delight and for their benefit.
  • Charity: We should be showing love to one another by acknowledging them as beloved by Christ, and making them feel connected in unity through kindness.

The marks of a false teacher:

  • They have no power to hold the flesh in check concerning the untruths they proclaim. (They proclaim things that are contrary to what Jesus taught, or minister in hypocrisy)
  • They secretly and often live in lust, uncleanness, and make excuses for their ungodly behavior. Or they attach God’s name with their evil. People like this seem to always find a way to involve God as a “helper” for influence by using His name to gain. It’s similar to people who commit violence in the name of God, as if God ordained such violence, even though He never does.
  • They despise authority and will not be subject to anyone (Law, government, mate, employer, etc.). These kind of people tend to be very prideful, and seems like they never learn from anyone else but themselves (and wallow in their folly – dung).
  • They are presumptuous. They are self-willed and determined to have their own way (even if against God), so they can gain a higher rank (and pride).

Strange sayings from Peter:

Natural brute beasts: Imitating wild animals that are void of any reason and following their own depraved lustful instincts. Not possessing intelligence and give way to their vicious appetites. Thus, Peter warns and reminds us “total” destruction awaits them.

Receive the reward of unrighteousness: They that count it pleasure to riot in the day time – spots they are and blemishes, who sport themselves with their own deceivings. (For the Lord is coming for a Church that doesn’t have a spot nor blemish.) These teachers of error mingle among the saints with their “spots” and “blemishes” marring and disturbing the fellowship of the Children of God.

Loved the wages of unrighteousness: Balaam, the son of Bosor, loved the wages of unrighteousness, but was rebuked for his iniquity. He forsook the right way and went astray, as many have in the world. They found pleasure to destroy God’s People morally and spiritually, because they desired personal gain (power and wealth, most likely).

Willingly Ignorant: Many people will become willingly ignorant for their own protection. They purposely would act dumb or do things contrary to what’s right, so a certain desire or reaping could be attained. Some people will hear truth, but not adhere to it, because they don’t want to follow it, they want to be rebellious, or they don’t think it’s true (because they don’t trust the speaker or the one who inspired the speaker).

The example of Balaam: He explained the example of Balaam, because like Balaam, false teachers would use and destroy His People, both morally and spiritually, because of their own desires for personal gain. Balaam was a false teacher, because he (falsely) announced God’s approval of the Israelites, and comforted himself with the idea that if Balak killed him, at least he could have “felt” like he did something right. Balaam tried not to see misfortune on Israel, but Balak told him to curse Israel – but since God was on Israel’s side, He defended the Israelites from Egypt. Balak then told Balaam to stop blessing them, and continued to try to get him to curse Israel – but he just kept speaking blessings over Israel as if nothing was wrong. He prophesied a victorious and prosperous time for Israel in the future, to which, never came, however. He failed to give them proper warnings, because he didn’t want to be cursed, and didn’t want the people to hate him.

Connecting thoughts

A good and sharp warning to false teachers is what usual writers would do, and Peter was not much different. He had good warnings to stay away from false teachers and anything that looks like them. Similar to Paul and other disciples, he made sure to mention the false teachers were lurking about, and he wanted to make sure other Christians knew about it, so they weren’t easily deceived.

At the time he was writing, it seemed that Peter was in prison in Rome, most likely in term of potential execution – and Peter was well aware of deceivers, for he had heard of their activities. He wanted to reassure Christians of certain truths and hoped they would remember His goodness. People taught gnostic heresies, and Christians needed to be far away from such so that they didn’t backslide.

Peter illustrated their tendencies and hopes that Christians would know the signs so they could avoid mimicking such liars, and hoped that they would only emulate Christ. If people would “think” they were false teachers, they could encounter even worse unwanted persecution or even judgment. Overall, his ministry was very helpful to me concerning God’s power at work in believers, his warning against false teachers, and his increased significance he placed on Christ’s return, which all provided good fuel for everything us “good teachers” do! We must keep to the faith in every way, and we can do this by growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord!

Salvation blessings come from new life in Christ Jesus | 1 Peter commentary

Peter wrote this letter as he worked in the church to help develop it. The first letter from Peter was written around 65 A.D. addressed to the strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Much of this letter is just Peter presenting hope and joy toward believers to help them in their sufferings. The Romans persecuted the Christians around this time, so Peter writes to the Christians that God is still in control, and that they should rejoice because of Jesus Christ’s suffering bring Him unto glory.

Peter begins as he notes that believers should rejoice through the heaviness of temptations, and that the trial of their faith should purify the faith so it can result in praise, glory, and honor unto the Lord. Peter instructs them to be holy as God is holy. Therefore, this talk is about the previous trial of faith and about previous blood. Through the previous trial of faith, the precious blood of Christ redeems us.

Peter identifies many promises in the first couple of chapters: Jesus Christ has begot us, we are heirs subject to an inheritance, we are kept by the power of God, we have salvation, we have a great hope, we are not ashamed, we’re born again by His Word, and we’re a chosen people. Peter advises believers on how to live a godly life. He says to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end.” This seems to mean – to be more like Christ. He then tells them to love one another (possibly referring back to the great commandment). Soon, he instructs (chapter 2) to lay aside all wickedness by trusting that God can help you do so. When believers (become a believer), they are like newborn babes, as Peter describes it. As newborn babes, believers can have the milk of the Word (probably rejecting the meat because it is too strong).

Next, Peter calls Jesus a living stone that is rejected by men, but precious unto God. Therefore, believers are stones too… “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation…” (2:9). Peter then tells them to submit themselves to every ordinance of man, like kings or governors, for example. Believers should “honor all men.” Also, to fear God and honor the king. Servants are charges to be subject to their masters with fear.

Christ should serve as the great example of believers, because He suffered for us, not sinning, but bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Believers are declared to be dead to sins, therefore should – instead of sinning – live unto righteousness. By Jesus’ stripes, we were healed. Notice it says we “were” healed, which means our healing is already complete – we just need to wait for it to come to pass in full circle. As sheep that have went astray, Christ returns believers unto Himself. Christ is the Shepherd and Bishop of believers’ souls.

Next, Peter instructs husbands and wives. He tells wives to be subject to their own husbands, recognizing his own leadership to family. Wives must be gentle and respectful with a quiet spirit. She should attempt to win her husband more by her behavior than her words. Wives need to also remain loyal to the Lord and His Word. Husbands should dwell (in honor) with their wives according to knowledge, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life. Overall, husbands should be considerate and loving also, showing that the wife is a high treasure.

Now, Peter tells believers ways to conduct themselves as Christians: being all of one mind with compassion and love for one another, being pitiful and courteous. People should also not render evil for evil, refrain his tongue from evil, eschew evil, do good, and seek and ensue peace. They should act as such, because “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (3:12).

Next, Peter talks about those who suffer for doing good, that they are happy, and should not be afraid of their terror or be troubled. Believers should be sanctifying the Lord God in their hearts. As Christ suffered for us in the flesh, believers should have the same mind as Christ, avoiding lusts, excess of wine, lasciviousness, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.

Peter then warns that the end of all things is at hand, so believer should be sober and watch unto prayer. Believers need love and hospitality among themselves without grudging. Therefore, if God love us, we need to love one another. Also, Peter notes that it shouldn’t be strange when Christians go through fiery trials, because they are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

When Christ’s glory is revealed, we can be glad with exceeding joy. Jesus allows us to share in His sufferings, which is great because His suffering led to great exaltation into Heaven. So, why not us believers? If believers are reproached for His name, Peter writes, happy are you. Christians should not be ashamed in sufferings, but rather glorify God.

We learn from Peter that we should feed the flock of God, and be examples to the flock. Younger believers should act unto elders as subjects with humility. Also, that believers are to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt them in due time. By casting all cares upon God (because He cares), being sober, and being vigilant – we can resist the devil, who parades around like a roaring lion who seeks whom he may devour. God called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, making believers perfect and strengthened. Peter concludes the letter by wishing peace to the people.

Lessons and other notes from Peter

Through the death and resurrection of Christ, God gives Christians new life and promises eternal blessings. We can be assured of our inheritance when it comes, because it is incorruptible (or imperishable). We experience salvation at its fullest through the promised blessing of New Life in Christ. Overall, what inheritance incorruptible means is that there is an inheritance for us called Salvation in Christ, and it will never perish or go away.

Corruptible versus incorruptible seed: Corruptible seed is a seed that is corrupted that anything can grow out of it. Many times, a corruptible seed would be one that is buried in the earth, but quickly dies. Human seed is corrupt, and human nature comes from this corruptible seed – which causes an endless cycle of sin to pass from one to the next. Eventually, corruptible seed dies, especially when it completely weakens to not be able to survive.

Incorruptible seed, that is, God’s seed, is fully pure and can’t be corrupted. When it plants (in the hearts of men), out of it comes grace, love, joy, peace, and even more fruit. Incorruptible seed is imperishable, because there aren’t any vulnerabilities – it’s perfect!

Overall, things born of human origin die, however, things born of God live eternally.

Dealing with envy: Envy can be rooted in a grudge, where a person feels uneasy about the success or happiness of another. Holding a grudge or any other thing against a person – especially anger, can cause hate to flare up – however, we’re commanded in Mark 11:25, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Would we have forgiveness or assurance, if we held something against another?

We also see something directly related to the Great Commandment, however, this is in Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.” Of course, how can you have love if you bear a grudge? How can you let hatred fusion in your heart, and have love dwell as well? Proverb 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Hatred contrasts love in this example, and therefore, we must not envy, for it breeds hatred in albeit mysterious ways.

One of the examples from Scripture is noted in Acts 7:8-10 (which references Joseph’s story in Genesis), “And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.”

Peter’s spiritual transformation: Peter had always ministered to the Jews, especially as a Disciple (Matthew 10:2; Acts 1:15, 2:14); until one day that God had sent him to the Gentiles (Acts 10 vision, especially verse 45). Of course, in his normal attitude, he was disturbed by what the others might say about this, especially ministering outside of the Jewish Nation.

In the Gospels, he is impetuous (Matthew 14:28-31; 16:22-23; 19:27-28; Mark 9:5-7; Luke 5:4-5; John 13:6-11; 18:10-11; 21:7  — these could reflect other traits), courageous especially as a leader (Mark 1:36-37; 10:27-28; Luke 12:41; John 6:67-68; 13:24; 21:2-3; Acts 1:15-16  — these could reflect other traits), buoyant (Acts 4:13 is an example), quick to meet personal slight, and ambitious of Earthly power, however, in Peter’s Letters, we see him patient, restful, forbearing, trustful, loving, and with the old buoyancy and courage purified (we see that he preaches about the love of Christ in 1 Peter 1:22; and sought to glorify God before them in 2:12).

Peter experienced his own personal Pentecost, which came between the Gospel era and the writing of these letters, just as Jesus prophesied would come (this was in the Acts 10 vision account as well, especially verses 9-29). He already began showing transformation in the early days of the Church, to which, he took the lead when important issues came up (Acts 1:15; 5:3, 9). He was confident in the power of Christ (Acts 2:33; 3:6, 16; 4:10, 29-30). He was bold in his commitment to Jesus (Acts 4:8-13, 19-20; 5:18-21, 29-32, 40-42). He was a humble supporter of his fellow Apostles and Christians, especially Paul (as we see in Acts 15:7-11). The glorious Holy Ghost has renewed his mind, and helping him know how to think and act, so that he can preach and teach from a pure heart.

What Peter labels Jesus in his writings:

  • The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world – God foreordained the redeemer for us, because if we were chosen before the foundation of the world, then Christ was destined to be our redeemer after all. He was thinking about me before He made the world – and that is special, just like all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • The Chief Cornerstone – as Peter explains, that He is our chosen leader, savior, and helper.
  • The Rock of offense – Christ was the object of the people’s stumbling, but not the cause of it, to which, they are just offended at Christ. This is likely brought on by envy of Christ and His Spirituality (see above on envy).
  • The Example – Christ is the best example for us, because He was perfect in every way and representative of the Father.
  • The Chief Shepherd – He knows how to shepherd people back to the Lord (and He demonstrates the entirety of Psalm 23).
  • The Bishop of Souls – Sin has no power over me, because sin’s power was broken on the Cross. We are cleansed, given new life, and are under His Loving care, to which, He helps us learn, think, grow, and love as He does.
  • The Suffering Savior – Christ suffered for us, left us an example, and showed us that He suffered for us so that we would have new life. He purposely suffered for us, to which, we didn’t have to suffer as hard. He even made a way for us to learn how to love, even in the midst of a chaotic world.

Peter’s Exhortations to living a spiritual life:

  1. Gird up the loins of your mind: When you do this, you take courage in the face of a fiery trial. The loin is the center of our being and the area of procreation. Keep the creative area of your mind intact to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God.
  2. Don’t pattern after your former sin life: We must be in obedience to the revealed Word and live a new life in Him, not as we once did in ignorance. We have been transformed from slavery in sin, to sonship and love in Christ.
  3. Pattern after God – Be holy: We are “called” unto Holiness, which should be in all manner of life, including conversation. Being holy involves knowing that He is holy and taking after His Example! (See just above of Jesus Christ being the Example).
  4. Fervently love one another with a pure heart: Love out of a pure heart, and do it with all that is within you! I love God and people from all that is within me, to which, I declare daily and practice daily!

Peter speaks to Christians as “strangers and Pilgrims,” because he realizes that Christians are no longer of this world, but are Heavenly Citizens – to which, we all belong to the Heavenly Kingdom as well. God’s People then and now are part of His Kingdom, not this world. Therefore, in this verse, we are admonished to flee from worldly lusts.

We use the liberty that we are given as the servants of God for good and love, and not for evil. We have the perfect Law of Liberty upon us that we should be fulfilling in loving our neighbor as ourselves. We do not transgress the Law of Moses, but we should do as we should to not transgress the Law of Liberty by doing evil and other things that are antithesis of love. What we do shall be done in love, for we should only do what’s good unto our neighbor.

The qualities of being hospitable and other instructions:

  • People should have love for each other, for it covers a multitude of sins, meaning, it helps to prevent many sins we might commit against each other.
  • People grumble when offering hospitality to a guest, because they may lack love for others, lack compassion, are lazy, or don’t have the means to offer hospitality (be it money or ability to function). The characteristics to display wisdom in hospitality involve being peaceable, gentle, easily intreated (persuadable), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
  • On verses 10-11 (of 1 Peter 4), we see that those that are given the gift should use their God-given abilities with diligence, whether teaching the Bible or helping others. However, above all, people must work in a way that brings praise and glory unto God (and by all means, do it in love). Referencing Romans 12:6-8, we see that all should be diligent in carrying out the task for which God has assigned for them, no matter where they work – and to do it cheerfully.

We must be sober and vigilant, because our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour. (See 1 Peter 5:8)

Sober defined: 1. Temperate in the use of spiritous liquors; habitually temperate; as a sober man. Live a sober, righteous and godly life. 2. Not intoxicated or overpowered by spiritous liquors; not drunken. The sot may at times be sober. 3. Not mad or insane; not wild, visionary or heated with passion; having the regular exercise of cool dispassionate reason. 4. Regular; calm; not under the influence of passion; as sober judgment; a man in his sober senses. 5. Serious; solemn; grave; as the sober livery of autumn.

Vigilant defined: Watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety.

Listen would be Elders: Church elders should be sincere, understanding, and hard-working in overseeing the Church that God’s placed in their care, for they too are shepherds who should be interested in the welfare of their flock, and not because they want to make money. Their authority shouldn’t be used to force people to do something, but rather, it should be an example on how Christians should act. Elders should model Christ’s example, and then show that same example, so others can learn how to be more like Christ. They are answerable to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to which, they will have their work reviewed one day upon His Return!

These exhortations apply to our day, because this was how Peter (and albeit Paul and James, among others) modeled the Church for us. This is how we should act, because they were models of Christ’s work, and therefore, we too should be modeling after Christ’s work. We need to pass on the heritage of love upon each generation; doing it in a Christlike way. These great men of God showed us, and now we’re to do it and keep passing it on to further generations!

The Perspective in light of all this

Peter, just as James did, showed us a great way to be more like Christ, and to model after Him. He showed us so many different things that are remarkable to know about the Church and how it should operate. This was a man who truly knew what persecution was, similarly to Paul, and knew that people were tired and worn – and needed some encouragement and strength. He was also interested in ministering to so many scattered people, and hoping that everyone would be more in unity.

God gives believers new life through the death and resurrection of Christ, and this brings eternal blessings. We are awaiting and assured at the day of the return of the Lord, in hope to enjoy the promised blessings – and this is Peter’s exhortation, is for people to begin budding love between each other, and don’t limit our faith. We are cleansed and given new life through Christ, and therefore, we should live and walk in what Christ has prepared and given to us!

His People are God’s Living Temple, and Christ is the Chief Cornerstone, and we should know that God has chosen us for such a time as this, that we have God’s mercy and grace to tell people about how great He is – and to do it for His glory only! It’s not for our personal gain or achievement that matters, but it is for His Glory that matters in everything that we do. Our sinful ways and others acts in treating each other should be changed and we should repent of things we shouldn’t be doing, and do that things that we are called to do and express love the best.

He taught us that a bad attitude makes no difference, because God can help transform our attitudes, thoughts, and mind overall – especially in budding upon us love, peace, joy, and uprightness. We are part of His Kingdom, and He is giving us all that He desires to give us. We may desire sin, worldly things, or other things – but God desires for us to have love, righteousness, peace, and joy – which are part of the Kingdom of God. He wants to make us love, because we are in His Image and He is love, so we become love as well!

James believed in a real relationship with God | James commentary

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote his letter around 60 A.D. or earlier, which aims to encourage Jewish believers outside of Jerusalem (“the tribes scattered abroad”), especially those who have suffered through persecution, as well as to provide instruction so they can work out their faith in righteousness and godly living. Therefore, James wants believers to view trials as an opportunity for spiritual growth. James provides practical wisdom for the Christian life, and shows how we can do well unto others.

Now, James starts out introducing himself as a servant of God and Jesus, and gives his first encouragement in the next verse to “count it all joy when ye fall in divers temptations,” and then, “…the trying of your faith worketh patience.” Believers should have a right relationship with God – one that bears fruit and that is full of love. Then, we learn that if one lacks wisdom – to ask of God – and God will give it. In addition, those believers should ask in faith without doubt, and that “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Next, James talks about temptation. For starters, temptation is not of God, but that man “is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” When lust occurs and is conceived, it brings forth sin. Moreover, when sin finishes, it brings forth death. James also teaches that every good and perfect gift is from the Father, who gives us the Word of Truth so believers are made first fruits. James moves on in his instruction that believers should be quick to listen and slow to speak (as the proverb instructs). In addition, those believers should be doers of the Word, not just hearers.

In chapter 2, James goes on to talk about faith. For those that say they have faith, but do not have works – then the faith is dead. Therefore, there is no evidence of devotion to Christ, if you do not have faith with works. True faith must be able to be endured. By works, a man is justified. Therefore, faith is true when works evidence it. Then, James talks about the tongue and how it can get believers in trouble and cause strife and confusion. Now, James warns about a slew of problems that believers can face. One of them is greed, which is stated as lusts. Lust is equivalent to a strong desire, so this type of greed is more about general lusts, not just money or sexual desires.

Another problem he warns about is being friends with the world. Instead, believers should draw nigh to God, cleanse their hands, purify their hearts, and humble themselves before God. Next, he warns about speaking evil (slander), before talking about depending only on God. Finally, he warns against rich men, whose riches are corrupted. Also, that those who are rich have a lustful attitude, and don’t use it for the glory of God or to help people. They just live in pleasure. James moves on to give them final encouragement and instructions. He tells the believers to have patience when they suffer in persecution, to pray for the sick and afflicted with the prayer of faith. Lastly, James states if anyone errs, then believers should do what they can to turn the erred person back to God.

James encompasses a perspective that believers should be wholly focused on God, without lust and confusion. People should follow God’s direction by depending on Him and walking in faith. If people do this, they can begin to do His Will for their lives.

Lessons from James and other facts

Two of the Apostles had the name, James. The less known one was James the son of Alphaeus (as we see in Matthew 10:3, “Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.”). Then, the other Apostle James was the elder brother of the Apostle John (as we see in Matthew 10:2, “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother.”).

Next, there was James the brother of Jesus. This man was not an Apostle, but rather, he called himself a servant of God, as we see in his book, the Book of James. His relation with Jesus is obvious in Matthew 13:55-56, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” This is also proof that Mary and Joseph had relations after Jesus was birthed, to produce more sons and daughters. However, Jesus was Mary’s first son, as we see in Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” 1:20, “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” 1:25, “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” In addition to note: Isaiah had prophesied this birth, and spoke that it would be a virgin who would birth the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

The apostle James was humbling himself in Scripture, because he said that he is a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ – which is acknowledging that his own brother is of highest regard to him. To acknowledge himself as only a servant, and not the brother of Jesus Christ (even though he is) was a very humble move, because he could have used that “fame” to promote himself, but clearly chose not. There is no other info on him, either, which means that he was truly a humble servant at heart, hoping to relay the things of God!

Instead of teaching only the Law of Moses, the Scribes and Pharisees added a bunch of laws of their own. They seemed to have wanted to make a display of their religious devotion by wearing decorations large on their “long clothing” of God’s Law written on them. It seemed that they also wanted to be recognized and quickly took the most important seats, “the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts.” They would also try to appear even more religious with their long prayers, but yet, they took advantage of and oppressed the poor, “devour widows’ houses.” They will be in greater damnation, however. They seemed to focus on the minor details of the law, but ignored the most important teachings of it. Jesus had to have known that they were going about it all wrong.

What does James have to say about all this? Well, they fail his test of genuine faith badly, as we see in James 1:26-27, for he says, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” People are instructed to: 1. Have a bridled tongue, 2. Visit the fatherless and widows, and 3. Keep self unspotted from the world. The Scribes and Pharisees noted in Mark 12:38-40 go around speaking loudly with salutations, refuse to visit the widows (they take advantage of the poor), and they try to make themselves appear important by wearing long clothing with lots of writing of God’s Law, getting the best seat in the house, and praying loudly to get people to notice how “holy” they are. All of these things the Scribes and Pharisees do, Jesus did not like. Truly religious people are those who control their speech, and express their own faith in acts of kindness.

James warns his readers and the people that they shouldn’t be too hasty in being teachers, because if they instruct others and fail themselves, they will receive greater judgment – which places teachers in danger, because they can’t avoid such mistakes. However, if a person can control their tongue, they can control their whole self, and be able to teach well without envying and strife.

In Luke 12:48, we see that all are guilty of wrongdoing and will be punished, but the one who had more knowledge of his master’s will (God’s Will) will be punished more severely. Everyone shall be accountable to God, and He expects more of those who have more knowledge.

David would acknowledge his sin to God, and confess. He then had the assurance of forgiveness from God. He also prays that troubles would not come nigh unto him, and he is assured of the Lord’s safekeeping. David says to trust in the Lord, for many sorrows shall come, but He will lead us to rejoicing. James teaches that if you have committed sins, you shall be forgiven – just as David prayed and confessed his sins, he was forgiven. If you pray for others’ suffering, your prayer will avail, for the prayer shall save the sick and the Lord will raise him up.

It seems that James had a gift of love and teaching, that he could minister out of a servant heart, and therefore, do God’s Will. Christians were so devoted to the Law, that James wanted to unbind them and bring them to the truth of God’s grace and love, so they realize that love is the fulfilling of the Law. Loving your enemies is very important, as Jesus taught, and James was major teacher in this.

Through his teachings, James radically taught to love your enemies, and that includes being careful not to judge others, sticking to God’s Will, praying for others, and keep up the faith so it changes the thinking and behavior. Christians should live positively for God, even in an ungodly society, and be able to do His Will; sacrificing their own desires. James was so devoted to encouraging others in their trials and difficulties that God is with them and answering their prayers, that we can learn to put our faith into practice instead of going through the motions, to avoid worldly ambitions and to focus on God’s desires, and then a call to be patient and to pray.

James emphasizes what daily Christianity should look like, and that’s why many have called this a manual for Christians, because it packs so much wisdom into concise statements, and is catered to the early Christians who needed to learn how to be more Christlike and get away from the Law. He appears to talk a lot about OT wisdom, prophets, and other truths in the OT – but then, he bathes them in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teachings to show people what was old, and that it has now become new.

The measure of a true Christian is by expressing love through everything that they do, and showing people, that God is real by setting an example. James advocated and demonstrated an example of love, and even poured out other examples to show us that love is the only way that works, and that is what Jesus has been saying all along.

Many people miss what Jesus has been saying all along, because they’re too focused on the OT teachings and worried about the wrath of God, instead of looking upon Jesus, who told us that we fulfill the Law through the Great Commandment. It is because of Him that we have peace, joy, love, and righteousness. These are all parts of the Kingdom of God, and we have inherited them because of the work of Christ. He reasonably provided a way for us to enter into the Kingdom of God, even though that we are imperfect.

James, Paul, and Peter were just a few of the many that have tried to pry new Christians away from the Jewish ways, and other blasphemies of God – and help transform them into new creatures in Christ. That is, ones that become lovers of God and of men, and actually serve from a genuine heart; putting faith into practice. What a marvelous revelation of His love, just through the Book of James. James pressed that people would pry their minds out of the world’s desires, and focus only on God’s desires and Will, because it is best. God’s Will is Jesus, and Jesus is the truest expression of love, no doubt about it!