How does our future inheritance in heaven help us suffer well? The answer is one key to loving those who wrong and mistreat us. In this lab, John Piper looks at the Christian’s calling to bless those who revile us and draws connections in context to the imperishable, undefiled, and unfading blessings waiting for us in glory.
1 Peter 3:8–9 Series
Principle for Bible Reading
Pronouns can be ambiguous terms and often need clarification. We have to ask to whom or to what the pronoun is referring. Who is the “he” or “him”? What exactly is “this” or “that”? It will not always be immediately clear in context, and there may be two or more options. It’s important to try and determine what the author actually meant the pronoun to mean.
- Explain what “this” refers to in 1 Peter 3:9. Can you identify more than one option? If so, defend your position in the context.
- Now, read 1 Peter 2:20–24 and 1 Peter 5:10. How does that clarify or change your response to the first question?
- If we are called to bless those who revile us “that” or “in order that” we may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9), how is that not works-based righteousness? What other texts in 1 Peter teach against a works-based understanding of our inheritance?
Called to Inherit a Blessing? (01:20–03:30)
- What does “this” refer to in 1 Peter 3:9?
- First possibility: “this” refers to the “blessing” in the next line, meaning we are called to inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
- Peter does make that point in 1 Peter 5:10 (a calling to an eternal blessing or glory).
Or Called to Suffer? (03:30–07:23)
- Second possibility: “this” refers backward to being mistreated or reviled. (1 Peter 3:9)
- This interpretation makes the blessing a motivation to suffer well instead of an explanation of our calling.
- Peter uses the same language about calling in 1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you have been called . . .” What is “this” referring to here? Suffering for doing good (1 Peter 2:20).
- Peter also talks about Jesus not reviling when he is reviled in that parallel passage. (1 Peter 2:23)
- This seems (at least to John) to be the more likely explanation. “This” refers to blessing those who wrong or mistreat you.
Inheritances Are Not Earned (07:23–11:42)
- Does that mean that the inherited blessing is earned by our suffering well (1 Peter 3:9)? Does that cultivate a works-based faith or righteousness?
- No, Peter has already established that our new birth rests entirely on God’s mercy. We came into this inheritance by grace and mercy alone. (1 Peter 1:3–4)
- Second, no one earns inheritances. Inheritances are not earned.
- Third, Peter commands us to love because we are already born again and secured through faith. (1 Peter 1:22–23)