3. Peter Understood that in God’s Kingdom, Those Who Suffer and Also Blessed
Peter’s audience was suffering at the hands of other people, because they believed in Jesus. If you have endured persecution for Christ, you know how traumatic it can be. Peter offers some advice: following the example of his Savior, he encourages us not to repay evil for evil or insult for insult.
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing (εὐλογέω, eulogeō), because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (εὐλογία, eulogia) (1 Pet 3:8–9 NIV).
“Bless” those who harm me? You have got to be kidding. What is Peter talking about? The Greek words Peter uses (eulogeō and eulogia) both have to do with wishing favor upon someone—specifically the type of favor wished on someone through prayer. We don’t need a Greek dictionary to figure this out. Just look at the context:
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with eulogeō, because to this you were called so that you may inherit eulogia.
From the context, we find the sense of the word. “Favor” works nicely:
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with favor, because to this you were called so that you may inherit favor.
If we turn the other cheek, those attempting to inflict pain will be thrown off their game. They will be taken aback. They may even suddenly begin to favor us.
We see the English word “blessed” again in 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (μακάριος, makarios).” First Peter 3:14 uses makarios, not eulogeō or eulogia. This is a different kind of “blessing” than what we see in 3:9. Makarios is the word we find in Jesus’ “Blessed are you” sayings in Matt 5. Jesus says:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matt 5:3–6 NIV).
All of Jesus’ sayings are about how God will vindicate His people—what He will do for them in the future. In His next statement, Jesus even echoes Peter’s logic in 3:9: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt 5:7 NIV). If you show mercy, God will be merciful. If you show kindness to other people when they are cruel, they will likely be kind to you. Giving someone what they don’t deserve changes everything, and it results in God’s favor—His future blessing.
The apostle talks about this in depth in his second letter.
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