1 Peter 1 Holding onto Faith
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that “Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles” (History of the Church, 5:392). Peter was serving as the equivalent to today’s president of the church, and wrote this epistle in about 64 AD, thought to be from prison in Rome.
Peter speaks of the Savior’s suffering, and also of the suffering that His disciples must endure (he uses various forms of the word suffer 15 times in 1 Peter). Keep in mind, this was during the time of Nero’s persecutions against church members.
- Peter addresses his readers as “strangers” (verse 1), likely referring to church members who were scattered and exiled among several nations. What other words did Peter use to characterize the saints in verses 2, 22?
- Note in verses 2, 20 the references to our pre-mortal life.
- What does Peter teach about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in verses 2-4, 18-21, 25?
- What does he say about trials in verses 6-9 and in 1 Peter 2:19-21? Note that “temptations” in verse 6 refers to trials and afflictions. Read also 1 Peter 4:12-14.
- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “The greatest trials of life are reserved for the Saints. They are the ones whom the world hates, and they must overcome the world, if they are to gain the Lord’s approval” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:318).
- Note also this beautiful definition of faith in Jesus Christ, found in verse 8: “Whom having not seen, ye love.”
1 Peter 2-3 Our Shepherd
Carefully read 1 Peter 2:5-12, 22-25; pondering Peter’s teachings and testimony of Jesus Christ, along with our relationship with Him.
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means to seek to attain His attributes, but also to suffer opposition. Read 1 Peter 3:8-11, 14-17. Which of these verses seems most needed and helpful for you at this time of your life? Read again verse 14 and consider, what is the best way to respond when you are being persecuted?
1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6 “He Went and Preached unto the Spirits in Prison”
1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6 are quoted often in relation to the revealed doctrines of salvation for the deceased and proxy priesthood ordinances in their behalf. Note the following:
- 3:18 The suffering of “the just for the unjust” is a perfect description of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice in our behalf.
- 3:18 Christ was “put to death” but also “quickened [in] the Spirit”—His spirit lived on as His body lay in the tomb.
- 3:19 After His death but before His resurrection, the Savior opened the way for “the spirits in prison.”
An abundance of references throughout the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants teach about the world of post-mortal spirits, helping to define the following terms:
Hell (also sometimes referred to as Spirit Prison): “The temporary abode in the spirit world for those who were disobedient in mortality. In this sense, hell has an end. The spirits there will be taught the gospel, and sometime following their repentance they will be resurrected to a degree of glory of which they are worthy. Those who will not repent, but are nevertheless not sons of perdition, will remain in hell throughout the Millennium. After these thousand years of torment, they will be resurrected to a telestial glory.” (LDS Guide to the Scriptures)
Paradise: “That part of the spirit world in which the righteous spirits who have departed from this life await the resurrection of the body. It is a condition of happiness and peace.” (LDS Guide to the Scriptures)
In addition to the above definitions of the two places or conditions in the world of post-mortal spirits, the following is also helpful:
Spirit Prison: “There are two distinct senses in which the expression spirit prison is used: 1. Since disembodied spirits cannot gain a fulness of joy until their resurrection, they consider their habitation in the spirit world as one of imprisonment, and so the whole spirit world (including both paradise and hell) is a spirit prison. It was to the righteous spirits in prison, those who were in paradise, that our Lord preached while his body was in the tomb…. ‘The Lord went not in person among the wicked and disobedient who had rejected the truth,’ but he went ‘declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful [who] had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage’ (D&C 138:29, 18, 50). 2. In a more particular sense, however, the spirit prison is hell, that portion of the spirit world where the wicked dwell. Before Christ bridged the gulf between paradise and hell—so that the righteous could mingle with the wicked and preach them the gospel—the wicked in hell were confined to locations which precluded them from contact with the righteous in paradise…. Repentance opens the prison doors to the spirits in hell.… They can leave the hell that imprisons them and dwell with the righteous in the peace of paradise” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine , p. 526).
See also “Spirit World,” in Topics and Answers (at churchofjesuschrist.org).
- Salvation for the dead is among the most precious of revealed doctrines and practices in the restored gospel. Only a just and merciful God would have a plan for the salvation of all His children. With good reason the Prophet Joseph Smith calls baptism for the dead the “most glorious of all subjects” (D&C 128:17).
- Who do you know in the spirit world that you dearly hope is hearing and accepting the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
As a follow-up to this demonstration of the Lord’s utmost love for all His children, note Peter’s invitation to all of us, in 1 Peter 4:8. Why do you think Peter describes this as being “above all things”?
1 Peter 5 Leadership in the Church
What leadership principles do you find in verses 1-6? What blessings are promised?
2 Peter 1 Calling and Election
Peter’s second epistle to church members was written about 68 AD, also from Rome, shortly before Peter was put to death by Nero (note Peter’s acknowledgement to his upcoming death in 2 Peter 1:14; see also the Savior’s statement to Peter in John 21:18-19).
Interestingly, in 2 Peter he doesn’t refer to “suffering” at all; instead, he emphasizes knowledge, using various forms of the word know 15 times:
- What do you learn about knowledge—of God and from God—in 2 Peter 1:2-8? Read also verse 19.
- Peter adds that our practice of these teachings can help lead us to having our “calling and election sure” (verse 10).
- In regards to calling and election, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins, is baptized for the remission of his sins, and received the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness and living by every word of God. The Lord will soon say unto him, ‘Son, thou shalt be exalted.’ When the Lord has thoroughly proved him and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 150-51). See also “Calling and Election” in the LDS Guide to the Scriptures.
- Read about Peter’s definition of scripture in verses 20-21.
2 Peter 2-3 Last Days and Second Coming
- Read 2 Peter 2:1-2, 7-8, 10, 12-15, 18-19; noting the similarities between Peter’s day and our day.
- What is our remedy, according to verse 9? What things do you do every day to allow the Lord to “deliver” you?
- In 2 Peter 3:3-4 Peter prophesies of those in our day who “scoff” at our beliefs, especially our expectation of the Second Coming of the Son of God. Read also Helaman 16:13-18, 22-23.
- What else do you learn about the Second Coming and your preparation for it, in 2 Peter 3:9-11, 14, 17-18?
- What did Peter say that we can look forward to, in verses 12-13? What do you most look forward to, when Christ’s Second Coming ushers in the Millennium?