1 1 I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. 2 God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!
The Christian's Hope and Salvation
3 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, 4 including a future in heaven - and the future starts now! 5 God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all - life healed and whole.
6 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. 7 Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 8 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don't see him, yet you trust him - with laughter and singing. 9 Because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to: total salvation.
10 The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. 11 The Messiah's Spirit let them in on some of it - that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. 12 All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves - through the Holy Spirit - the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!
A Call to Holy Living
13 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. 14 Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. 15 As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. 16 God said, "I am holy; you be holy." 17 You call out to God for help and he helps - he's a good Father that way. But don't forget, he's also a responsible Father, and won't let you get by with sloppy living. 18 It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. 19 He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. 20 And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately - at the end of the ages - become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. 21 It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. 22 Now that you've cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. 23 Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God's living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself!
24 That's why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, 25 God's Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
2 1 So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. 2 Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God's pure kindness. Then you'll grow up mature and whole in God. 3 You've had a taste of God.
Christ the Living Stone
4 Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. 5 Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you'll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. 6 The Scriptures provide precedent: Look! I'm setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor. Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it. 7 To you who trust him, he's a Stone to be proud of, but to those who refuse to trust him, The stone the workmen threw out is now the chief foundation stone. 8 For the untrusting it's . . . a stone to trip over, a boulder blocking the way. They trip and fall because they refuse to obey, just as predicted.
God's Own People
9 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you - 10 from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
Live as Servants of God
11 Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. 12 Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
13 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; 14 they are God's emissaries for keeping order. 15 It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. 16 Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. 17 Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.
The Example of Christ's Suffering
18 You who are servants, be good servants to your masters - not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. 19 What counts is that you put up with it for God's sake when you're treated badly for no good reason. 20 There's no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you're treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. 21 This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. 22 He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. 23 They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. 24 He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. 25 You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.
The Behavior of Wives and Husbands
3 1 The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated 2 by your life of holy beauty. 3 What matters is not your outer appearance - the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes - 4 but your inner disposition. 5 The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. 6 Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as "my dear husband." You'll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated. 7 The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God's grace, you're equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don't run aground. Suffering for Doing Good
Suffer for Righteousness' Sake
8 Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. 9 That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless - that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing. 10 Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here's what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; 11 Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth. 12 God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked; But he turns his back on those who do evil things. 13 If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? 14 Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. 15 Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.
16 Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. 17 It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad.
18 That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all - was put to death and then made alive - to bring us to God. 19 He went and proclaimed God's salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment 20 because they wouldn't listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact - saved from the water by the water.
21 The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus' resurrection before God with a clear conscience. 22 Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He's standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.
Good Stewards of God's Grace
4 1 Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. 2 Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 3 You've already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it's time to be done with it for good.
4 Of course, your old friends don't understand why you don't join in with the old gang anymore. But you don't have to give an account to them. 5 They're the ones who will be called on the carpet - and before God himself. 6 Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus.
7 Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. 8 Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. 9 Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless - cheerfully. 10 Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: 11 if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything - encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
Suffering as a Christian
12 Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. 13 Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. 14 If you're abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It's the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. 15 If they're on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that's a different matter. 16 But if it's because you're a Christian, don't give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name! 17 It's judgment time for Christians. We're first in line. If it starts with us, think what it's going to be like for those who refuse God's Message! 18 If good people barely make it, What's in store for the bad? 19 So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he's doing, and he'll keep on doing it.
Tend the Flock of God
5 1 I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it's like to be a leader, in on Christ's sufferings as well as the coming glory. 2 Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously.[ 3 Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. 4 When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he'll see that you've done it right and commend you lavishly.
5 And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for - God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people. 6 So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. 7 Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
8 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. 9 Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith.
10 The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ - eternal and glorious plans they are! - will have you put together and on your feet for good. 11 He gets the last word; yes, he does.
12 I'm sending this brief letter to you by Silas, a most dependable brother. I have the highest regard for him. I've written as urgently and accurately as I know how. This is God's generous truth; embrace it with both arms! 13 The church in exile here with me - but not for a moment forgotten by God - wants to be remembered to you. Mark, who is like a son to me, says hello. 14 Give holy embraces all around! Peace to you - to all who walk in Christ's ways.