1 Peter 3:8-22

8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

[Finally] Continuing the instructions on godly living which began in chapter one.

[Be ye all of one mind] Unity, both in the family and the church, is essential to the task of presenting a true picture of God to the unbelieving world. 1 Peter 2:12 Romans 12:16 Romans 15:5-6

[Having compassion] Being sympathetic; feeling for each other; bearing one another's burdens.

[Pitiful] Tender hearted. Taking pity upon, not advantage of, those less fortunate than yourself.

[Courteous] Be friendly minded. Acquire and cultivate a friendly disposition. Many of the older manuscripts use the word for humble minded.

9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

[Not rendering evil for evil] A popular saying today is, "Don't get mad, get even!" Both reactions are wrong. The Christian purposes to say and do nothing but good and to invariably return good for evil.

[Ye are thereunto called] This is your calling, your business in life, to do good, and to return good for evil, and to implore God's blessing upon even your worst enemies. God will bless you for such behavior. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15

10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

[For he that will love life] This is a slightly modified quotation from Psalm 34:12-16 as it was written in the Septuagint (the common Greek language Bible of Peter's day). In this world, if one wishes to live long and enjoy it he must: 1. Refrain from evil speaking, lying and slandering, 2. Avoid flattery and fair speeches which cover hypocritical or wicked intent, 3. Avoid evil, 4. Do good always, 5. Live peacably with all men; seek peace when it has been lost, restore it where it has been broken, persue it when it seems to be flying away.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

[The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous] That is, the righteous are continually under God's notice and care; God continually watches over them.

And his ears are open unto their prayers] The original is very emphatic: "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears to their prayers." The righteous person ever attracts the Divine notice and, wherever he is, there is the ear of God.

[But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.] Far from his eye being upon them in delight and his ear open to their requests, their evil plans and actions offend God and cause his face, his blessing, to be turned away from them. Thus left on its own, Godless behavior results in failure and judgement. Psalm 1:1-6

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

[Who is he that will harm you] The normal state of the one who pleases God is peace, Proverbs 16:7, yet Satan, and those whose hearts he controls, are sometimes permited by God to bring trouble upon the righteous. Job 1:6-12 We can only assume it is part of a larger plan to bring greater glory to God, which is the stated purpose of the Christian in this life. 1 Peter 2:9

14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

[Happy are ye] Peter was probably thinking of the same words of Jesus that Matthew recorded in Matthew 5:10-12. It is a happiness to suffer for Christ.

[Be not afraid of their terror] Their intent is to terrorize you. He who fears God need have no other fear. See Isaiah 7:1-2 and Isaiah 8:12-13.

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

[Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts] Sanctify is to set apart, usually for a holy purpose. We must give God a special position in our hearts. As we continually clear out the trash in our homes to avoid making them unlivable, so must we continually clear from our hearts the sin and worldly distractions which would make our hearts an inhospitable place for him to dwell. Romans 6:11-13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20.

[Be ready always to give an answer] Be ready in two ways. First, willingness and second, preparedness.
Willingness. Intimidation, as in v.14, can make us cower, unwilling to speak out for our master. See what happened to Peter Matthew 26:33-35 and 69-75. Jesus instruction on this matter is recorded in Mark 13:9-11. This rules out the, "I don't know what to say. What if I say the wrong thing and drive the person further from the Lord?" concern. Now see how much better Peter did on another occasion. Acts 2:14-47. What a wonderful command of the Old Testament scriptures!
Preparedness. Jesus, in Mark 13:11 said, "Take no thought beforehand...for it is not ye that speak but the Holy Spirit." I do not think Jesus meant that we should not bother to study the word of God. The Holy Spirit stores, organizes and recalls Gods word as he ministers through us to others. An empty mind/heart does not provide much for the Holy Spirit to work with. Recall that Jesus did not make wine in empty pitchers. John 2:6-9.

[Give an answer...with meekness and fear] Do not permit your readiness to answer, nor the confidence you have in the goodness of your cause to lead you to answer unkindly nor argumentatively. Defend the truth with all gentleness and humility.

16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

[Having a good conscience] The testimony of God in your own soul shows through in your behavior. People can sense whether one is at peace or just putting up a front.

[Whereas they speak evil of you] Their own conscience makes them defensive so they accuse, but your life counters their accusations.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

[For it is better] If suffering must come, better it be undeserved, because of Godly living, than deserved, for evil behavior.

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

[For Christ also] God, in his human form (Christ), who was sinless, suffered for sin, (ours, not his) that he might provide salvation for us. God, the Son, gave his physical life and was raised again by himself, (God in his form as the Holy Spirit). Study chapter 5 of Romans, especially Romans 5:6-8.

19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

[By which also he went] God is not willing that ANY should perish, 2 Peter 3:9, so, even in Noah's day, God was patient and provided opportunity for escape. Noah preached righteousness, 2 Peter 2:5, and it appears that Christ himself, whether in invitation or explanation, communicated with those same people.

22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

[Who is gone into heaven] Christ lived among men, gave his life to redeem us from sin, was raised again, ascended into heaven and is now awaiting the calling out of his bride.

For an expansion of this thought begin reading at the first chapter of Hebrews.

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 02/19/2007

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