Bible Study Commentary
Lesson 4: Prepare Your Mind
1 Peter 1:13-16
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be
self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus
Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the
evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he
who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is
written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
We now come to the part of an ancient letter called the "body of the letter" (1:13-5:11). Peter will now express the real intention and purpose of his letter. Peter will exhort the early Christians to endure suffering and to maintain a holy lifestyle because of the great salvation which they had received from God. From here on, he will give them instructions and implications of righteous living.
After a reminder of who they are (verses 1-2) and what they have in Jesus Christ ( verses 3-12), Peter will now exhort the early believers on how they should live accordingly. This is a common pattern of teaching; knowledge is followed by application. After telling them about their salvation, Peter will now tell them what is required and expected from them. As James put it, "faith without works is dead". The early believers need to show the difference salvation has made in their daily lives.
Again, “Therefore”(v.13) is a transition that connects the following instructions to the realization of the great salvation that they have received from God. Since they have such great salvation they should live appropriately.
Although it is very common to take the passage of verses 13-16 together as an instruction to holiness, I take verse 13 as a separate set of instructions. Lesson 4 will cover verse 13 only. Grammatically, the verse has "set your hope" as the main verb and two participles which are "prepare your minds" and "be self-controlled". These participles can be taken to support the main verb or as commands themselves, as in NIV.
What does the term "mind" means in this passage?
answer: The word mind refers to the faculty that controls our understanding, feelings and desires. Also, heart and mind are sometimes interchangeable in their meaning. Mind can refer to our full spiritual consciousness in relationship with God. We should also consider Peter who choose of the word mind as an emphasis to our thinking ability.
What is the main message of these three admonitions in verse 13?
answer: A careful study of these three admonitions will reveal that they are dealing with the Christians' mindset. Just like a good coach giving a pep talk right before the big game, Peter wants Christians to be mentally prepared. He will instruct them to keep their mind ready, sober and focused.
prepare your minds for action; (NIV) gird up the loins of your mind, (KJV)
Which of these two versions is more accurate in its translation of the first instruction?
answer: It depends on where you are looking for accuracy. The KJV version is more accurate in the choice of English words, while NIV is more accurate in its expression of the meaning of the phrase. Although NIV does not translate the exact original words, they try to express its original meaning. KJV on the other hand, attempts to translate the word exactly from the original. KJV results in a vague or hard to understand meaning for our modern readers today. Both NIV and KJV have their advantages and disadvantages.
What does it mean to "gird up the loins of your mind?"
Of course, NIV has already explained it by saying "prepare your minds for
action". The original phrase in Greek is considered a metaphor. This is an image of men who wears long flowing robes and the needs to
tuck them under their belts to be able to do vigorous physical work.
saying that we should
put away matters and objects that will hinder our minds to think properly.
Peter is exhorting them to prepare for a tough work (or fight) both mentally and
be self-controlled; (NIV) be sober, (KJV)
What is the message of Peter's second instruction in verse 13?
answer: "Be sober" is a metaphorical image as opposed to being drunk. Generally, this is an exhortation of self-control, but here in connection with the mind, it means being aware of what is really going on and to see circumstances with a godly perspective. Having a sound judgment is another way of understanding sobriety. Peter is saying that they are not to be mentally shaken or confused by their current negative experiences such as persecution (see v. 6-7).
"set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."
The adverb fully (or perfectly) can go either with self-controlled or hope. Both NIV and KJV preferred to attach it with hope.
What does Peter mean by "hope" in this passage?
answer: Just like in verse 3, this hope is not the same hope when they say 'I hope so.' It is not wishing for something that they want but has no guarantee for them to have. It doesn't have the sense of uncertainty or doubt. This hope is looking forward to the future for something that is already guaranteed to happen-which is the final revelation of Jesus Christ.
The object of their hope is "the grace to be given you". What does this mean?
answer: In verse 1:10, salvation is synonymous with grace. This passage relates with the message of verse 1:5. They should focus on the full blessings that their salvation will bring when Jesus Christ comes back again. Trials, persecution and hardship can easily make them forget that they have already received salvation, so they should not loose their focus on that complete salvation (grace) when Christ finally returns.
As you noticed, we try to define meaning of words from the same letter rather than going to different books in the Bible. This will help the accuracy of the meaning and keep our interpretation of the passage in context of Peter's message.
be sober, (KJV)
For the early Christians, sobriety helps them understand that persecutions is not an act of God's judgment or abandonment but rather a proof that they are actually living a life that resulted from their genuine salvation. To be sober, or as the NIV puts it, to be self controlled, is an instruction that focuses more on the way we think. Sobriety in a sense is having a proper perspective in life. This includes having sound judgment and full awareness of what is really happening.
How important is it for a Christian to be sober in our modern society?
answer: It is obvious that our modern society has placed wrong priorities on different values in life. Society has placed very high values on having materials things while neglecting the importance of meeting our spiritual needs. They strive on having control, power and popularity and less on serving others. As Christians, we have to be sober enough to be able to resist such pressure to think like the world. Otherwise, we will find ourselves laboring and pursuing what everybody wants rather than what God wants for us. Sobriety is the ability to recognize what is important in this present life.
Sobriety, as experienced by the early Christians who responded with joy in the midst of various trials, will cause us to react accordingly in times of trials and traumatic events that will happen in our lives. It will also allow us to make right choices when face with making critical decisions. To be sober is to be able to walk in the strait and narrow way, which is the ability (self control) to say no when everybody around us says yes.
What is the value of looking forward (hoping) for the coming of Jesus Christ?
answer: Looking forward keeps us on the right track as we walk in our present life here on earth. Without looking forward (hope) to the coming again of Jesus Christ, we will be just like anyone who only has what the world has to offer. If our focus is on what God has stored for us when he comes, current circumstances even those that are tragic, have less effect on us than those who do not have hope beyond this life.. Loosing material things are not as severe or damaging to us mentally or emotionally as it used to be. When our focus is on the future we learn to suffer longer with joy because our real treasure is still coming when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Is there anything else that you can learn in Lesson 4? How would you apply it in your life today?
Summary Lesson 4: Peter started his admonition on how Christians should live in the midst of a pagan society by giving them a short but very powerful pep talk. He told them to be mentally ready as they lived their lives as children of God. They should keep their mind always ready, sober and focus. Otherwise, they will become just like the rest of the people that are without hope. Let's go to Lesson 5.
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