1 Peter 3:13-22 Do Not Be Frightened

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[d] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[e] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Do Not Be Frightened

What could cause fear to overshadow the true identity of an early Christian?  Perhaps the prospect of being considered a fool because you believed in something other than the majority.  Perhaps the breakdown in your family because you became a follower of Jesus and others did not.  However, we must remember that the great danger that Christians faced in ancient Rome, was that they could be physically and sexually abused or killed.  We, in the west, do not experience that kind of fear on a daily basis.  For now, we have the freedom to worship how and when we choose (as long as it is not in conflict with the laws separating church and state).  There are, in every culture, those who speak maliciously about Christians.  I was slandered for my faith in my undergraduate school.  The debate often degenerated into ad hominem name calling by the lecturer.  I was afraid that if I wrote anything on a paper from a biblical perspective my grades would suffer.  I remember a fellow student called Tim who included Bible verses in his papers and he got slammed.

Because we do not fear being dragged to our death, does that mean that there is no application of this passage for us?  Whatever our circumstances we can consider the suffering of Christ and how he was focused on the future hope of resurrection.  His future position is so elevated that it speaks to us of our true citizenship in ways that should help us persevere.  What about our most common fears and anxieties, though?

We sometimes have a general anxiety that things are not going to go too well for us.  We don’t feel accepted and we are afraid what others think of us.  If we are angry or depressed, it is often in reaction to something that we fear.  For example, I fear that I am not going to get a certain project done.  I therefore give up and become depressed, or I fight it with an anger.  In both cases a true cure would be to remove the cause, which is the fear.  Fear is mostly about the future.  Anxiety and nervousness are closely connected to fear.  It saps our confidence and therefore our effectiveness.  There are steps in a process to release fear.

  1. Talk to a Christian mentor openly about your fears no matter how silly they seem.
  2. Bring your fears to God and confess them.
  3. Visualise yourself laying your fears at the foot of the cross.
  4. Ask Jesus what fears you have that you have not dealt with.

Prayer

Jesus, I have fears.  Let me know truly what triggers my fears.  Reveal to me the unresolved issues from my past and the important issues for my future.

Questions

  1. What should be the recipients’ attitude in the face of suffering?
  2. How does Peter suggest persecuted people combat fear?
  3. What should the Christian be prepared to do?
  4. How is fear the mind killer?
  5. How can you keep your mind clear so that you can make the most of every opportunity?

 

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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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5 Responses to 1 Peter 3:13-22 Do Not Be Frightened

  1. Christina Zezulak says:

    In the face of suffering, their hearts are to revere Christ as Lord, considering themselves blessed when they suffer for what is right. They ought to see the larger picture – understanding that the persecution they experience is because of the God they serve. This realization should lead to being unashamed and having a clear conscience.
    The Christian should have an answer prepared for the hope they have. By them identifying with Christ, who suffered for our sins, they should also be prepared to be persecuted and be spoken maliciously against. However, just like how Christ has gone into heaven, sits at God’s right hand, and has authority – this suffering is not the end of us. We do not need to be frightened because our hope is in Him and not in this world. Praise the Lord!

  2. kevin w. says:

    The recipients are called to remember Christ and His suffering and to revere Him in their hearts. The general sense which I see in this passage is that we ought to remember who we are serving, living for, and trying to please (Christ). With this in mind, when suffering comes, when we are frightened by others, we can have comfort in the fact that we are Gods and we serve Him. If we live our lives to please Him then we will more than likely be suffering for doing good. We should not be living our daily lives without our identity in Christ, our faith–what it is and why we believe it–in the back of our minds. This way when trials tempt us to despair, when we face opposition and frightening circumstances, we can bear in mind who we are and what this means for us. Living in fear removes God as the authority in our lives and replaces Him with our circumstances. I am going through The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence with the Jenkins Ministry Team. The title kind of sums up the book’s theme, but it has been a really good practice of consciously living with one of the relationships describing God and us in mind (like creator/created for example).

  3. Eric Wildermuth says:

    I have come to realize over the past while that one of my biggest fears is to be incompetent in a certain area. I often shy away from the things that would show me to be incapable of doing it. The feeling of inadequacy hurts my pride.

    The same is true of my relationship with God. I can often isolate myself, for the most part, because I don’t want to be vulnerable with too many others. I even find myself projecting this onto God. Although, I do know it to be true that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I should not fear God, I can approach him as a son; He is my father!

    Christians should be prepared to give a response for the hope we have within us; that is, the hope (surety) we possess that Christ will bring grace as His revealing as Peter discusses in chapter 1. We should be ready to explain our hope in Christ–why He is worthy of our faith–to those who question.

  4. Bronwyn says:

    Even in our suffering we are blessed. The devil just can’t defeat God’s people- he is crushed underneath our feet as we stand tall in Christ ( Romans 16:20)! He can try with all his might to deceive the elect, but God has got them in His grip and will not let go (John 6:37-40, 10, 1st John 5:18).

    The list of steps on dealing with fear are familiar to me. Just a few weeks ago now I was praying about the student group, “Student Outreach” in which I’m involved and all these fears I didn’t know had been bothering me so much came to the surface. I started praying about what to do. I received prayer and counsel from a couple of friends, but I knew I should talk to someone on the exec team; in doing so I would be more directly dealing with the issue. I did and it turned out to be a spiritually refreshing and much needed time. I also talked with an outsider, who seemed to be could have more insights, and this was helpful as well. What also was beneficial was confiding in a significantly older adult about my fears. God did more work in my heart and as I waited on Him answered my prayers in working in the heart of someone who had hurt me on the team.

    Last semester God showed me how I struggle with fear everyday and it can come out in different ways. I know He wants to work on my sense of inadequacy which can be overwhelming at times. It’s good to know Christ is Lord of this heart of mine.

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