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Love, Obedience, and Sanctification – 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

1 Peter Bible Study Notes, Week 6
1 Peter 1:22-2:3

Now that you have purified [or consecrated] yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,  but the word [rhēma] of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word [rhēma] that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

Additional Reading: John 15:1-19

Things to think about

How have you been sanctified or consecrated?
How are love and obedience connected?
In what ways do you show your love to your family? To your friends? To your Christian brother and sisters?
Do you crave God’s word? Do you crave God himself?

Sanctification – 1 Peter 1:22a

In 1 Peter 1:22, Peter carries on his theme of holiness. He describes the Christians in Asia Minor as having been sanctified.[1]  Sanctified means to be made holy by being set apart from the world and consecrated to God.

Christians are sanctified and consecrated by being obedient to the gospel of truth.  When a person decides to be obedient to the gospel and becomes a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit sets that person apart, sanctifies him, and seals him as especially belonging to God.  Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit, but it is not just a spiritual transformation.  Sanctification is also a moral transformation where our character becomes consistent with God’s character. (Jobes 2009:124)

One result of obedience and sanctification is love for one another.  Peter says that love for others is a result of obedience (1 Pet 1:22). Jesus says that if we love him we will obey his commands (John 14:15). Our obedience and love as Christians are profoundly connected and intertwined. Love is both the motive and the goal of our obedient endeavours.

Love is the Essence – 1 Peter 1:22b

God is love and, as God’s children, we are to exemplify his love; especially towards our sisters and brothers in Christ. Our love should come from the heart; from a pure, cleansed heart.[2]  Moreover, we are to love deeply. Or more precisely, we are to love earnestly and fervently (ektenōs).[3]

God’s love is not passive. It is active. Likewise, we need to be looking for opportunities to demonstrate God’s love. We can show God’s love in our families, within the church community, and to the wider world.  Everyone is in need of God’s love.

Love should be genuine, and not phoney or a polite facade.[4] Our love must be sincere and not tainted with any kind of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy or slander (1 Pet 2:1). In fact, we need to conscientiously check our hearts to make sure that these vices have no place in our thoughts or motives.  These vices ruin relationships and community.

Peter gives two reasons why we should love one another. (1) Because our lives have been set apart by obedience to the truth, our very purpose is now to relate to others as God intended human beings to relate. (2) We have been reborn with a new, eternal nature, and love is the essence of that nature.  (Jobes 2009:123)

Imperishable vs perishable – 1 Peter 1:23-25

We have been born again from divine, imperishable seed, and as such we have become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), which includes God’s nature of love.

Peter’s command to love earnestly is associated with the concept that we have been reborn by the seed of the living and enduring word of God. The reasoning behind this association, however, is not immediately evident.

Karen Jobes (2009:124) writes: “How does having been reborn from imperishable seed imply the command to love one another? What is the logic of this claim? [She answers her questions with:] The new birth generates spiritual life from imperishable seed (1 Pet 1:23), the word of God. This is contrasted with the quality of life that comes from perishable seed (human procreation), whose glory at best is like the fragile and temporary flowers of the field.” We can love and obey the truth – respond positively to the gospel – because of “the spiritual energy of the new life God has generated by his eternal word.  The Christian’s decision to obey the truth by coming to faith in Christ is the manifestation of one’s rebirth as a child of God (1 Pet 1:3)” (Jobes 2009:125)

After Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8, he identifies the rhēma (or spoken) word of the Lord, that has been preached (euaggelisthen) to us, as the gospel (euaggelion) (1 Peter 1:25).

The gospel, or good news, of the kingdom is eternal and imperishable. This is because the kingdom and rule of God are themselves enduring and eternal, and do not fade or lose their glory and power over time. This is in contrast to earthly kingdoms and societies that are liable to the forces of corruption and deterioration. The Christians in Asia Minor were experiencing the unpleasant results of corruption and evil in society. However, they could place their hope in an imperishable kingdom that was beyond corruption; an eternal kingdom that was both their future hope and current source of strength.

Like Newborn Babies – 1 Peter 2:1-3

While the metaphor of “babies” is used to describe immature and worldly Christians elsewhere (Heb. 5:12; 1 Cor. 3:1), here it is used to describe purity and dependence. Peter wants his readers to be like newborn babies who are innocent of the evils of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy or slander. And he wants his readers to be innocent and crave pure[5], spiritual[6] milk so that will grow strongly and surely, from new birth to final glory, without contamination from the world.

Many have taught that the pure, spiritual milk is God’s word. This seems reasonable considering that the previous verses are about God’s word (1 Pet 1:23-25).  However, the real implication of this metaphor is much broader and probably refers to God’s divine grace which fully sustains us, and on which we fully depend. To limit the milk metaphor to the word of God is problematic because, at the time of Peter’s letter, the gospel of Jesus Christ had yet to be fully and formally inscripturated in the New Testament. (Jobes 2009:137)

This broader interpretation of the milk metaphor makes sense when you consider Peter’s allusion to Psalm 34:8a: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
For those who fear him lack nothing.
Psalm 34:8-9

The imperative in 1 Peter 2:2 is “crave”. We are to crave God himself, because it is he who loves us, protects us, provides for us and sustains us. Do you crave God as King David did? Can you identify with David’s words in the following psalm?

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
In a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
With singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:1-8


[1] Some theologians believe Peter is referring to the sacrament of water baptism here, and that much of 1 Peter is a baptismal liturgy.

[2] The Greek word for “clean” does not appear in older Greek manuscripts.

[3] “The Greek word ektenōs does not mean ‘without warmth’, but rather ‘with full intensity’, literally ‘at full stretch’ or in an ‘all out’ manner (cf. 1 Pet. 4:8; see also 1 Pet. 2:17, 3:8).” (Stibbs 1983: 94)

[4] Peter uses the Greek word for “un-hypocritical” here, which means “genuine”.

[5] Adolos means without guile, that is, pure; and is in contrast to dolos (which means deceit or guile) in 1 Peter 2:1.

[6] The Greek word translated here as “spiritual” is logikos.  It can also be translated as reasonable or logical. Logikos appears in the New Testament only in one other place: in Romans 12:1. As Christians, we require sustenance (1 Pet. 2:2) and worship (Rom. 12:1) that is relevant (reasonable) to our new reality.

Week 4: Hope and Holiness – 1 Peter 1:10-16
Week 5: Precious Redemption – 1 Peter 1:17-21
Week 7: Marvelous Descriptions of God’s People – 1 Peter 2:4-10

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