Called to Be a Blessing (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Called to Be a Blessing (1 Peter 3:8-12)


  • Peter has been addressing those in submission to authority.
  • Christian Relationships:
    • Citizen/Civil Authorities
    • Servant/Master
    • Wives/Husbands
  • The blessings a Christian receives, through union with Christ and other believers, impacts us at every level.
  • Peter is still applying the principle of living differently, yet exemplary lives before a watching world (2:11-12).

Read 1 Peter 3:8-12

  • Peter begins to summarize the section that began at 2:11. He leaves the specific roles of husbands and wives to address all Christians living in exile.
  • Their goal should be to live in a peaceful way with everyone. But the characteristics and conduct mentioned here serve to build fellowship within the covenant community.
  • Christian fellowship is meant to provide refuge for those living in a hostile world.
    1. The Internal Character That Promotes Fellowship (8)
    2. The External Conduct That Promotes Fellowship (9)
    3. The Promised Blessings For Promoting Fellowship (10-12)

The Internal Character That Promotes Fellowship (8)

  • Unity of mind: Never among pagans. Understanding + attitude. Unity only through loving agreement.
  • Sympathy: “Suffer with” (passion with). Empathy = walking in their shoes. Sympathy ties that feeling to suffering. Apart from sympathy, fellowship remains superficial.
  • Brotherly Love: Do we show familial love to each other?
  • A Tender Heart: Compassion, affection. Literally, “good boweled” – Our affections go deep.
  • A Humble Mind: We interact with humility – not demanding respect or attention.
  • He is addressing all of his readers with the encouragement to essentially treat each other as family.
  • Paul provides similar instruction Romans 12:9-19. Indicates there was a common tradition among Christians about the characteristics they should possess.
  • Luke 10:33 The Samaritan shows compassion when the priest and Levite could not be bothered. This would have put the covenant community to shame. An outsider showed compassion to one of their own wounded brothers.
  • All of these characteristics meant something to Peter personally. He had failed on several occasions to be the united, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble friend of Jesus.
  • And, at the same time, he witnessed these characteristics perfectly represented by Jesus.
  • We should be counter-cultural in terms of the Western individualistic mindset. Our commitment to the covenant community cannot be terminated based upon personal needs.

The genuine quality of our internal character is revealed by…

The External Conduct That Promotes Fellowship (9)

  • Christians are called to bless (seek Lord’s favor) rather than retaliate against those who wrong us in order to receive a blessing (generally spiritual).
  • Not encouraged to automatically forgive anyone who wrongs us. “Blessing” does not mean refusing to hold someone accountable. The goal of discipline is reconciliation.
  • It does mean that we won’t seek revenge. We don’t respond to their mistreatment of us with a reciprocal mistreatment of them.
  • Peter is not telling believers: “If someone shoots you, respond with gratitude.” What if you are a Christian police officer?
  • Remember, this is within the context of the covenant community where hypocrites remain until they depart (or are removed).
  • Peter isn’t telling soldiers to lay down their weapons in response to enemy attack. The New Testament doesn’t promote pacifism. Nor would I use this verse to suggest people cannot defend themselves or their family from an intruder.
  • We are to return the reviling and evil actions of others in the church with a prayer for God’s favor to be upon them.
  • By blessing others we too will receive a blessing, both in this life and the life to come.
  • When we are offended, we are not allowed to simply isolate ourselves from that person (or leave the community). Rather, we promote fellowship by returning evil with good.

Internal character + external conduct will be rewarded.

The Promised Blessings For Promoting Fellowship (10-12)

  • Psalm 34:12-16. Peter has quoted and alluded to this psalm. The context is David’s exile among the Philistines. Parallels: blessing, affliction, deliverance, unashamed, fear of the Lord, suffering of righteous, redemption.
  • v.10 “Love life” = enjoyment and contentment with the life God has given.
  • v.11 He seeks peace, not retaliation (v.9).
  • v.12 We don’t retaliate because we know God will ensure justice is served.
  • Not salvation by works. Peter addressing those who already possess an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance (1:4).
  • The blessing that is offered to those who do not retaliate is left undefined. He possibly has present and future blessings in mind.
  • Context of psalm > present blessings.
  • Peter does seem to be motivating his readers with a reward. Reward is not a Christian’s only motivation, but it is one legitimate means of encouraging people to follow his exhortation.
  • Imagine living in a community where this was a commonplace:
    • Where we are motivated by the Lord’s blessing rather than the blessing of others.
    • Where we seek to edify rather than discourage.
    • Where we pursue peace rather than discord.
    • Where our love, rather than hatred, for one another is evident to everyone watching.
  • Responding to mistreatment with a radically transformed outlook will be extremely compelling to those outside the community.

Internal character + external conduct = reward


  • Christian fellowship is meant to provide refuge for those living in a hostile world.
  • Internal character reveals itself in our external conduct which is motivated by both being a blessing as well as receiving a blessing.
  • Does not all of this point us to the perfect example of this in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
    • His compassion for those who continually mistreated him is unparalleled.
    • He cried out to the Father for the forgiveness of those who were mocking and crucifying him.
    • He responded to the mistreatment of those he came to save with blessing.
  • Let us do likewise!