Exiles and Aliens - The Book of 1 Peter

Next Sunday night, re:Generātion will begin a new teaching series focused on the book of 1 Peter entitled, “Exiles and Aliens.” The title for this series is taken from 1 Peter 1:1 and 2:11, where Peter addresses his readers as “the elect exiles of the dispersion . . . aliens and exiles.” Amidst these powerfully descriptive labels, what unfolds is essentially an extended application of Jesus’ words from Mark 8:34-35, words that Peter himself would have heard and witnessed firsthand: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

More profoundly than any other New Testament author, Peter connects the sufferings of Christ’s followers with the sufferings of Christ himself. As Christians, we are, by definition, suffering exiles because we believe in, love and serve the ultimate Suffering Exile, Jesus Christ. Suffering, however, is only half the story, for Peter takes great pains to remind us that not only should we “not be surprised by the fiery trial” but that in the end, when Jesus is revealed and salvation is made whole, we will ourselves be glorified just as Christ himself was glorified.

The pattern Peter establishes for the Christian life is the same pattern the whole of Scripture is itself built upon: suffering is the prerequisite for glory, the cross always precedes the resurrection, death is only the way to life. As Dorothy Sayers wrote reflecting on the inescapable chronology of Good Friday to Easter: “God did not abolish the fact of evil: He transformed it. He did not stop the crucifixion: He rose from the dead.”

As a sampling of this theme, the following are all excerpts from 1 Peter that address the reality and meaning of suffering in the life of Christ himself as well as his people. Take some time to read through them along with the rest of the book as we prepare together.
“elect exiles of the dispersion” (1:1)
“grieved by various trial” (1:6)
“the tested genuineness of your faith” (1:7)
“the sufferings of Christ” (1:11)
“the time of your exile” (1:17)
“a living stone rejected by men” (2:4)
“the stone that the builders rejected” (2:7)
“as sojourners and exiles” (2:11)
“when they speak against you as evildoers” (2:12)
“be subject to your masters . . . to the unjust” (2:18)
“this is a gracious thing, when . . . one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (2:19)
“if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing” (2:20)
“to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example” (2:21)
“he was reviled” (2:23)
“he suffered” (2:23)
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (2:24)
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless” (3:9)
“even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (3:13)
“when you are slandered, those who revile you” (3:16)
“it is better to suffer for doing good” (3:17)
“Christ also suffered” (3:18)
“put to death in the flesh” (3:18)
“Christ suffered in the flesh” (4:1)
“whoever has suffered in the flesh, has ceased from sin” (4:1)
“they malign you” (4:4)
“do not be surprised by the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you” (4:12)
“you share in Christ’s suffering” (4:13)
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed” (4:14)
“let none of you sufferer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler” (4:15)
“if anyone does suffer as a Christian” (4:16)
“those who suffer according to God’s will” (4:19)
“the sufferings of Christ” (5:1)
“the same kinds of suffering” (5:9)
“after you have suffered” (5:10)


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