These small group studies of 1 Peter contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
1 Peter 3:8-22 Inductive Bible Study
I. Give a blessing instead (8-12)
II. Be zealous for what is good, even if that brings persecution (13-17)
III. Christ is our example of suffering for doing what is right (18-22)
I. Verses 8-12
What is the relationship between this passage and the previous ones?
Are these qualities related to our relationship with God or with other people?
What can we do to improve our relationships with others?
Is there anyone you have a poor relationship with? What specific things can you do to improve it?
When someone argues with or insults us, what is the natural reaction?
How can you stop this fleshly reaction?
What effect could this kind of godly response have on the person who is mistreating us?
What do verses 10-12 tell us about how living uprightly will affect our own lives?
So then what is the true way to achieve joy in our life now?
Romans 12:14-18 – Be humble, respect others, be at peace with all men.
Philippians 2:3-5 – Do nothing out of selfishness.
Proverbs 17:14 – Abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.
Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath.
Romans 12:20-21 – Overcome evil with good.
Psalms 34:12-16 – Verses 10-12 are quoted from here.
1. The last chapter has been explaining how Christians are to live in relationship to one another, particularly in relationship to authorities. In the wheel illustration (which teaches the basic aspects of a growing Christian disciple), there are four “spokes.” The first two are the Word and Prayer, which are the key elements that can improve our relationship to God. And the other two are fellowship and witnessing, which are the key elements of our relationship to other people. These verses are a good summary of how we are to treat other people. Basically they teach us the golden rule, which is not explicitly stated in the Bible, but which is a summary of many of the Bible’s teachings. What is the golden rule? The golden rule is to treat others how you want them to treat you.
2. Discuss briefly each of these qualities one by one.
a) Harmonious – Getting along with others well. Cooperating together. This word often refers to music or choirs. In a choir, singing in harmony doesn’t mean that every person is singing the same part, but their singing complements each other. The sum of the parts is greater than each individual.
e) Humble in Spirit
3. Verse 9 is one of the more famous Bible verses. My parents often quoted it to me growing up. Sometimes when I argued with one of my siblings and got caught, I might blame one of them. “Jeremy started it,” I might say. Then they would quote this verse. As they say, it takes two to tango. It takes two people to argue. We cannot control what others do or say to us, but we can control how we respond and that is what God will hold us responsible for. This verse is fairly easy to understand. When others are rude to us or insult us or cheat us or mistreat us in any way, we are not to treat them in like manner. Instead we are to be kind in return. This is easy to understand, but hard to do. Our fleshly nature wants to argue for our rights. If someone hurts us, our old nature wants to hurt them back. If someone insults us or criticizes us, our old nature wants to look at their mistakes and criticize them for those. Can you think of anyone in the Bible who bucked this trend and returned good for evil? Are we able to behave like that too? As believers in Christ, He gives us the strength and the grace to do what is right 100% of the time. While it may be difficult, it is possible. Some things that may help us to achieve it:
a) Think before we speak or act. Instead of quickly getting embroiled in an argument, consider if perhaps we deserve some of the criticism. Think about what Jesus would do. Be slow to speak and slow to become angry.
b) Consider the example of Christ, who returned the greatest good (salvation) for the greatest evil (crucifixion) in the history of the world.
c) Pray. When you are tempted to start quarreling, take a deep breath and pray to God to help you control your tongue.
d) Think about your Christian testimony. Could you with good conscience share the gospel of Christ with this person if you return evil for evil. For example, if I quarrel with other players on the basketball court, would I want to share the gospel with them afterwards?
e) See cross-references.
4. What are the benefits of returning good for evil? If we do return good for evil this will please God. He will bless us for it. He will see and reward us (Colossians 3:23-24). In addition, it will be an amazing testimony towards the person who has mistreated us. It may convict him of his sin and help him turn to Christ. It will be a shining light in a dark place. Testimony of Corey Ten Boom. She said “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
5. And through this way we can experience true joy. These verses are quoted from Psalms and give the “secret formula” for having the fullest, most enjoyable, and happy life. It is not about getting more money and cars, experiencing amazing thrills, or even having a good family. It is about following God’s way, serving Him, and treating others as He wants us to.
6. The one who desires life. This refers to our desire for a full and happy life.
7. We reap what we sow. So if we use our tongues as weapons to attack and insult others, we will get into a lot of arguments and be hurt as many people will talk to us in like manner. There is a popular kid’s saying in America “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Is this accurate? Actually no. Words can be very painful. Therefore we should guard our tongues and use them to encourage others instead of attack, to build up instead of to tear down.
8. Seek peace and pursue it. Peace is not something that will happen naturally. Naturally when two or more sinners together there will be conflict. Even if it seems there is none, there will likely be a cold war going on. However, during the cold war you could not say that the world was at peace. Many homes are like this. In your relationships with others, do not just seek to have an absence of conflict (meaning that major problems are ignored and swept under the rug so the two sides are brewing about it), seek instead for harmony, love, and peace. See Proverbs 15:17.
9. God is watching our behavior. If we follow these principles, He will bless us. If we continue in our selfishness, pride, and pettiness, God will be against us and that is not a position we want to be in.
II. Verses 13-17
Does verse 14 mean we couldn’t be harmed if we are doing good?
Who is “their intimidation” in verse 14?
How can we sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts?
Are you ready to tell others why you believe in Christ? Why do you? Has anyone asked you this before? Were you ready? How can we be better prepared to defend our faith? How should we treat those that scoff us for that faith?
Can you give a biblical example where those who reviled a godly believer in the Bible were put to shame (16)?
Matthew 10:28 – Do not be afraid of those who fear the body, but fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Psalms 56:4, Hebrews 13:6 – God is my help, what can man do to me?
1. Generally speaking if we do what is right we wouldn’t be punished for that. Normally governments will punish those who do crimes and break the law. Remember that in Galatians 5:22-23 at the end of the listing of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, it says that “against such things there is no law.” In addition, we know that God is in control. He can protect us from any earthly force like He did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. This should motivate us once again to be passionate for right. It is not just about doing what is right, but being zealous for it. Look for opportunities to show kindness and love. Look for opportunities to do good deeds. Rejoice when get such an opportunity. It should truly be “my pleasure” when I help someone else although many times we just say this out of lip service.
2. Daniel’s three friends said that God could save them, but even if He didn’t, that they still wouldn’t worship the idol. There would be some cases where in God’s supreme will He would allow us to suffer and be persecuted. In this case, we should consider it a blessing. Php 1:29. We do not need to fear any man because God is sovereign over all men.
3. Verses 15-16 are an excellent reminder of our duty as Christians to share about our faith with the people around us. We are to always be ready. How can we be ready? We can carry around tracts. We should have memorized verses in the Bible related to the gospel. We should have memorized a gospel presentation so that we can feel comfortable to share the gospel in a clear, straightforward way. We should always be in a state of mind where we are eager and ready to share the gospel. Do not be afraid of rejection. Do not be shy or nervous. We should be ready in season and out of season to preach the Word. 2 Timothy 4:2. We should not only be ready and eager to share the gospel, but we should be ready to explain why we believe it. That could mean telling our testimony, sharing experiences that God used in our lives to bring us to Him, telling of the change in our lives after we believe in Him, or sharing apologetics, that is evidences for the Bible and God’s creation.
4. It is not only important what we share, but also how we share it. We need to make sure that our attitude is right. Though the gospel itself may offend those who listen to us, it should never be our mannerisms or attitude that offends others. Like Paul, we should strive to be all things to all people. We must not compromise the gospel or the principles of the Bible, but we can make sure that we share in a gentle and calm manner so that the person we are sharing with can feel our love, warmth, and genuine care for them.
5. Here is another reminder to keep up a godly Christian testimony (like Daniel) so that the opposition can not find anything to accuse about which may tarnish the reputation of the church and the gospel.
III. Verses 18-22
Who is the ultimate example of suffering for doing right?
What does it mean that Jesus was made alive in the Spirit?
What spirits are being referred to in verse 19?
Where are they? When did Christ make proclamation to them? Where? Why?
What was the essence of this proclamation?
What does this show us about the ultimate battle between good and evil? Who has won?
What applications can we get from the fact that Christ has won the battle and defeated Satan?
What are the similarities between the ark/flood and baptism?
Does verse 21 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation?
Colossians 2:14-15 – Christ has triumphed over the evil forces.
2 Peter 2:4-5, Jude 6-7 – The fallen angels who committed heinous sin and were punished by God.
Luke 8:31- Demons tried to avoid getting sent to this abyss during Christ’s ministry.
Matthew 25:41, Revelation 20:10 – One day Satan and all demons will be sent to hell for eternity.
1. Christ is the ultimate example of suffering for doing what is right. He was the only perfect person who has ever lived and took on the sins of the entire world. He suffered for doing what is right, but those who did it to Him will bear the ultimate shame of making the ultimate mistake. Whenever you are upset that you are suffering unfairly remember that Christ already has suffered much worse for you when He didn’t deserve it.
2. Made alive in spirit. Although His body was dead, His spirit wasn’t. Jesus’ spirit lived on. Three days later His spirit possessed another body when He rose again from the dead. In the interim…
3. Jesus visited the bound demons in the abyss to proclaim His victory to them. God allows most demons to wander the earth and tempt people. They are a very real reality in our present day just as they were during the time of Christ. Perhaps God does this to give people a choice between good and evil, a choice to follow Him or not. However, some demons committed such terrible evil that it was messing up God’s natural order. They went even beyond the limits God imposed on them (notice that in the book of Job God gives Satan some limits). As a result, God decided to bind these demons in the abyss prior to the end judgment when the remainder will be thrown into hell permanently. See cross-references and Genesis 6. It seems that these demons lusted after human women and had relations with them, giving birth to the Rephaim, unnatural giants. It was this group of demons that Jesus visited in between His death and His resurrection. He visited them to announce His victory over Satan and all evil. What can we learn from this?
a) Although this world looks dismal and hopeless at times, we must remember that God is always in control and even imposes limits on Satan and his demons. It is because of God’s power restraining evil that this world is not even worse than it is. We should pray more for God to intervene in this world to restrain evil.
b) Jesus is the victory. He has put the final nail into Satan and his forces’ coffin, although this coffin hasn’t been buried yet. Because Jesus is the victory and all His enemies will be punished for eternity in the lake of fire we should make sure we are on His team.
c) Satan and demons are very real. We must be alert and wary to escape from temptation and pray for God’s help to face the evils in this world and conquer it.
4. Verse 21 is yet another reminder that physical water baptism doesn’t save us. Only an appeal to God for forgiveness and a washing of our spirit (appeal for a good conscience) can. We have been baptized with water, but has your soul been cleansed? Have you been washed in the blood? Does your everyday life reflect this?
5. Jesus is the authority over everyone and everything. We must worship Him (not just at church, but on our own everyday). We must submit to Him. We must rely on Him. We must trust in Him.