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Bible Study Commentary


Lesson 5:  Be Holy

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."


Although it is very common to take the passage of verses 13-16 together as an instruction of holiness, verse 13 can be noted as a separate set of instructions.  Lesson 4 was dedicated to verse 13 only.  Here in Lesson 5 we will cover the rest of the verses 14-16.  

As we have learned from Lesson 4, Peter is now in the process of giving exhortations on how Christians should live their lives as God's children in the midst of a pagan society.  Verse 13 was Peter's instruction for  them to be mentally prepared.  In verses 14-16, Peter will exhort them to live in holiness.

Are not all Christians considered holy at the moment of their salvation?

answer:  Yes they are.  Every person who becomes a Christian is considered holy at the moment of his or her conversion (see 2:9). 

What does the word "holy" really mean? 

answer:  Basically the word holy is understood to express separation or apartness.  Therefore everything that was set aside or set apart for God from the common use is considered to be holy.  God has no one like him or will there ever be one like him.  He is absolutely holy. Everyone that He has chosen for him has already been declared holy.  

If Christians are already holy, what is it that Peter wants by asking them to "be holy"? 

answer:  When Peter asked them to be holy, he is asking them to act in holiness since they are already been declared holy.  Notice that Peter's exact exhortation is for them to be holy in all they do (v.15).  In this passage the emphasis of holiness is not on their status but on their actions.  Basically, Peter wants their lifestyle to agree with their status of holiness.

14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

According to this  passage what does it mean to live in holiness ? 

answer:  Take note of the word "obedient" and "do not conform." Here, holiness means to be obedient (see 1:2) and to be different.  Obedience to God's command is synonymous to living a holy life.  Christians who are obedient to God's commandments are living a holy life because they are morally excellent compare to those who live in the ways of the world.  To be different means not to do the same evil things they used to do before their salvation. It is impossible for a Christian to live in holiness while disobeying God's command.  It is also impossible not to be different from people around them if they are genuinely living a holy life.

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."

What is Peter's main reason in asking them to be holy? 

answer:  The believers need to be holy because God is holy.  Verse 16 also implies that this principle of holiness is not something new or only for the early believers in Peter's time, but it is something that God require from Israel from the very beginning when He separated and called them to be his people. 


Present Application

What is the extent of holiness that Peter is asking from us?  

answer:  The first thing to remember is the fact that Peter is not asking us be holy because we are trying to reach a status of holiness.  Peter is asking us to live a holy lifestyle because we have already been declared holy.  It means that our holiness should be more than what we claim to be but something that people can see in our daily deeds as we live and interact with them. 

What is the relationship between salvation and God's desire for people to live a holy life?  

answer: After reminding them of their great salvation, and telling them to be mentally ready, Peter's first exhortation is to live a holy life. Peter's emphasis on salvation at the beginning of the epistle is the proper order of giving exhortation for holy living.  God's requirements for being holy is not for us to obtain salvation but rather because we are already been save from our sin.  

This tells us that there is no use for asking or forcing other's to conform to Christian moral values if they have never received salvation, which includes new birth. Peter recognized that the validity of asking Christians to live in holiness is based on the fact they have been saved and given a new life.  Asking sinners who have never received salvation to live holy lives is like asking a pig not to play in the mud.  As sinners, we need to change within (new birth) before we can live out holiness.

The main point here is to remind us that our main goal for our unsaved love ones or friends is for them first and foremost to know Christ and received salvation (new birth).  We should not expect them to live godly lives by simply asking them or telling them what to do.  

Is there anything else that you can learn in  Lesson 5?  How would you apply it in your life today?



Summary Lesson 5: As God's chosen people, Peter reminds the early believers that they are expected to reflect holiness in their lifestyle.  God requires them to be holy just as he required all his people from the very beginning to be holy.  God is holy, and those who belong to Him should be holy not only by their status but also by their actions.   Let's go to Lesson 6.

Note to teachers:  If you have any questions, need additional clarification, or have comments concerning this commentary, please do not hesitate to inform me. CLICK HERE