1 Peter 1:17-23

April 23, 2023 – Third Sunday of Easter

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

1 Peter 1:17-23 (NRSV)

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. 

You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 

He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. 

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. 

You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

| Prayer |


Last Sunday I began an

Easter sermon series from the New Testament Book of

1 Peter.

Has anyone taken the opportunity this past week

To read 1 Peter through, start to finish,

As I suggested?

Like my physical therapist says,

“You gotta put in the work if you are going to see results.”

The pastor / preacher can only take you so far.

How hard are you willing to work for your faith?


In the first years after

The passion, death, resurrection, and ascension

Of Jesus Christ,

Thousands of eyewitnesses fanned out to the four corners of the known world.

Some traveled overland routes East

To Asia, south Asia, and India.

Others traveled South

To Egypt, Ethiopia, and throughout Africa.

Due to Roman Empire trade routes

Many eyewitnesses of

Christ’s resurrection and ascension were dispersed

West throughout the Mediterranean basin;

To Spain, Italy, the North coast of Africa, Greece, and Turkey.

First Peter is a short, five-chapter letter,

the first of two,

Attributed to the Apostle Peter

Addressed to five small communities of former Jews.

These were newly minted and baptized Christians,

Doing as they were instructed,

Taking the Gospel to the world.

Yet, they often found themselves received as

Strangers in a strange land.

The locals were not very receptive of the “good news” they delivered.

Not only were these new Christians

strangers in a strange land

The “good news” they shared

Was still “new news” to them.

They may have witnessed the resurrection and ascension of Jesus

But they had not had sufficient time to reflect upon its meaning.

The successful completion of any mission

is much more difficult

If you don’t fully understand

why you are doing what you are asked to do.

With letter in hand,

Silvanus, a brother in Christ with Peter (5:12)

Delivers this letter to Christian exiles

In modern-day Turkey,

The regions of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Members of these new faith communities were doing their best

To hope in a world that was not their own.

They worked to adapt their former Jewish beliefs

– Abraham and God’s covenant –

– Moses and God’s Law –

Into a new, Jesus-centric faith,

Based on love as expressed through

– God’s grace and forgiveness of sins –

– God’s gift of salvation –

All the while, attempting to fulfill Christ’s Great Commandment

As recorded in Matthew (28:19-20),

“Go therefore and

make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them

in the name of the Father

and of the Son

and of the Holy Spirit, 

and teaching them to obey

everything that I have commanded you.

And remember,

I am with you always,

to the end of the age.”

For many,

The door was shut before they could introduce themselves.

For some,

raising the topic of religion, faith,

Let alone Jesus raised from the dead,

Was a treasonous act

In defiance of the divine emperor,

That could,

and did,

lead to a martyr’s execution.

The four questions …

“What are we to believe?”

“How are we to live?”

“Why are we being persecuted and allowed to suffer?”

“What does the future hold for us?”

… Are essential questions

to understand the concerns of the early Church

To whom Peter is writing.

These are the same questions

I hear being asked by you,

The members and friends of the Rush United Methodist Church.

Thus, our deep dive into First Peter.

The first two questions,

“What are we to believe” and

“How are we to live?”

Are addressed today.

(Recognition and thanks is given to Rev. Richard Carlson, Pastor First Lutheran Church, Kearney, Nebraska, for his commentary on this lectionary text, as found at working preacher dot com)


1. “What are we to believe?”

a. God is our heavenly Father;

The Creator of all things,

The Alpha and Omega,

Who is all powerful,

All knowing,

Always present,

And always approachable.

Call upon God in prayer.

God is present and ready to listen.

Speak plain language.

Be forthright in your requests, confessions, and thanks.

Listen, with the expectation that God

Answers every prayer.

b. God is the Father of Jesus Christ.

Jesus and humanity share a common heavenly Father.

We also share a common Baptism.

Baptism is a claim made

by the Father

upon our life,

That should never be ignored,

That should be faithfully accepted,

That is, and will remain, eternal.

c. God created Jesus as a part of a divine plan.

God’s plan

Destined Jesus

To ransom us from both

The futile ways inherited from our ancestors, and,

from the agnostic, atheist, non-believing world in which we live.

The Greek word for ransom is “lytroō”

Which could well be “liberated”

because this verb is used regularly

(in the Septuagint)

to depict God’s act of liberating Israel

from both its bondage in Egypt

(Exodus 6:6; 15:13; Deuteronomy 7:8; 9:26; 15:15; 21:8) and

its exile in Babylon

(Isaiah 44:22-23; 45:13; 51:11; 52:3).

d. Peter observes

Divine liberation is

accomplished through Christ’s death.

The redemptive, liberating nature of Christ’s death

Breaks the former historical cycle of prosperity, sin, redemption, and restoration.

No more slavery or exile.

God moved on.

By God’s grace and the blood of Christ,

That is, his death on the cross,

We are liberated and saved

from the temptations and sins of the world.  

e. God, our heavenly Father, is our judge.

He is an impartial judge of our deeds.

No side is taken.

Influence cannot be bought.

A fair, unbiased, fully transparent judge of our deeds.

No consideration is made for the consequences of our final outcome.

Many would deny God the status of judge, jury, and executioner.

Do not be naive or easily fooled.

God created us, such that,

It is entirely by God’s designs that

God is the judge of our deeds.


2. “How are we to live?”

a. We are to live in “reverent fear”

of our impartial judge and heavenly Father. (1:17)

Reverent fear can better be understood as

awe and reverence.

Posture yourself in the awe of God.

Address God with reverence,

Worthy of the Creator, the author of life,

The Father of the Savior, the Redeemer,

The giver of the Holy Spirit, our guide, strength, and guardian.

Reverently fear God.

Be in awe.

Bow in respect.

b. To live is to learn;

and to learn is to grow.

Ignorance is no excuse.

Know this, Peter proclaims:

the immortal, precious blood of Christ

Has ransomed us

From the futile ways inherited from your ancestors. (1:18)

Jesus paid the price for our liberation.

Jesus breaks the cycle that ensured repeat offenses,

(as demonstrated in Egypt and Babylon),

Granting to all who will claim it,

Healing and eternal salvation.

c. To live is to learn;

to learn to place our complete “trust in God,

who raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory,

so that your faith and hope are set on God.” (1:21)

Trust between two individuals is hard

To create

To build

To grow

To become comfortable and contented.

It begins fragile and is easily destroyed.

Trusting in God

Requires more on our part

Because the reciprocal is less obvious or appreciated.

Trusting God

Becomes easier with a growing awareness

Of God’s enormous love

Of God’s amazing grace.

Trusting God

Deepens our faith in God’s next response,

Develops our hope for the next moment in our existence,

Builds confidence to live beyond the self,

To live as God’s servant hands and heart,

Meeting the needs of the world,

Expanding God’s kingdom.

d. Live obedient to the truth,

Peter implores.

He writes,

“You have purified your souls by your

obedience to the truth

so that you have genuine mutual love,

love one another deeply from the heart.” (1:22)

Stick to that which is true, pure, simple, and holy.

That keeps the soul pure.

That keeps the community of faith

In genuine,



Straying from the Truth

Is the way of fools,

Soils the reputation,

Brings destruction if not corrected.

Truth and love

Are two sides of the same coin,

Between one another, and

In our relationship with God.


Today, Peter answers the questions,

“What are we to believe?” and

“How are we to live?”

Looking ahead

First Peter will address

The final two questions:

“Why are we being persecuted and allowed to suffer?”

“What does the future hold for us?”

Oh. Yes.

Do your homework.

Read ahead.

Reflect on what you’ve read.

Pray God to reveal to you God’s will.

Ask for the strength to be faithful.

And get to work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s