As we read these epistles it is good to remember that originally there were not chapters or verses in the Bible books. We should study books of the Bible paying no attention to the chapter and verse references. If I wrote a letter to someone I wouldn’t want them to chop it up and read a few sporadic sentences, but that’s how many read the Bible. Everything read in a book of the Bible needs to be understood in context to the entire book; often thoughts build on each other through the whole book. It’s been said, “A text without a context is a pretense."
One theme that Peter talks about through the whole letter is the subject of suffering and trials. Peter 1:7 says that trials reveal the genuineness of our faith. Peter 2:20-21 says we are called to follow Christ’s example of taking suffering patiently. Peter 3:14 says we are blessed when we suffer for righteousness sake. Peter 4:1 says we will cease from a life of sin when we arm our self with the mind of Christ – a mind willing to suffer in the flesh. Peter 4:12 says we shouldn’t think it so strange when a fiery trial tries our faith; we should rejoice because we are partaking of Christ sufferings. Peter 4:16 says if we are persecuted for being a Christian, we shouldn’t be ashamed, but we should glorify God. We could talk more about this theme, but I just wanted to briefly mention these to show how Peter interweaves this topic through the whole letter. Everything he says about the topic is informative, but when taken together in the context of the whole book, it will be that much more life changing.
One last note on reading the Bible in context… it can be OK at times to read/study just a small portion of scripture without reading the entire book of the Bible, but it’s important that you understand that portion of scripture in context. In other words, you should have previously carefully read the entire book as a whole (at least once).
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan