1 Peter 3:8-9, “8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
As we continue our study of 1 Peter, we land today on 1 Peter 3:8-9. Recently, we’ve been considering Peter’s teaching on living holy lives and what that means to live honorably before non-Christians (1 Peter 2:11-12). As Christians live honorable lives, they will increasingly submit themselves to the various authorities placed over them (1 Peter 2:13-18). Additionally, we’ve considered how married couples can live honorably and stand firm int heir faith when husband and wives fulfill their God-given roles in marriage (1 Peter 3:1-7).
Here in 1 Peter 3:8, Peter further develops some of the points he has already made previously. He tells his readers to regard one another with brotherly love, tenderness, sympathy, humility, and with unity of mind. His focus here is on the behavior of Christians within the Christian community. He also has in mind not repaying evil with evil in verse 9 in our dealings with one another, and with non-Christians.
Peter wants his Christian readers and Christians today to see the point of verse 8 namely that we are strengthened to stand firm when we heed the counsel he provides in this verse. As we seek unity among fellow brothers and sister in Christ, we find encouragement from many fellow Christians. We are not to seek unity at any cost that isn’t true biblical unity. Biblical unity is concerned to maintain sound doctrine and sound practice which enables real unity among the Christian community. As Christians, we do not divide our secondary and third order theology, matters such as the issue of days in Genesis, the timing of the Lord’s return, the mode of baptism or other issues of the like or kind. With that said, we do divide over essential matters related to the gospel like the Trinity, the death, and resurrection of Christ, the deity of Christ to name a few. As we treat others with humble love and sympathy, we point our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ towards Christ to do the same.
1 Peter 3:9 deals with relationships we have outside of the Christian community but is also applicable in relationship with one another in Christ in the Christian community. In imitation of the Lord who brought His people with His own blood, His people must not repay evil for evil (1 Peter 2:23). Instead, God’s people are to bless our enemies (1 Peter 3:9).
We are going to consider the topic of loving our enemies further in this study of 1 Peter, but for now, it’s important to note that confidence in the perfect judgment of the Lord enables God’s people to bless their enemies. Our personal attempt to repay every injustice may lead us to more evil, because of our sin. Since we know that God will vindicate His elect on the last day, Christians today do not have to be concerned with repaying back all the evil we have ever experienced, including replaying what we wish we would do to that person in our head and hearts over and over again.
John Calvin is right that it’s challenging to bless our enemies when he explained, “we ought to imitate in this case our heavenly Father, who makes his sun to rise on the unworthy.” The Lord pours many earthly blessings in His common grace upon non-Christians who rise against Him in rebellion and unbelief day after day. Please go before the Lord today and ask Him to enable you through the Holy Spirit to seek the well-being of people you do not like. Attempt by the grace of God to do good to one of them, by praying for their conversion.