Relevant Passages: 1 Peter 2:9-10; 4:1-9; 5:8; 2 Peter 1:16-21; 3:3-7, 8-14
Leading Question: If a person chooses to treat others graciously and unselfishly, what does that tell us about that person’s understanding of the Great Controversy?
As in Paul – reflect on the discussion from last week – Peter knows well the distinction between good and evil. And he is not afraid to identify the Devil as “a roaring lion” (1 Pet 5:8). But otherwise he does not provide us with a conceptual framework for understanding the great controversy.
These are the passages that the official study guide identifies as important:
1 Peter 2: 9-10 (NIV): “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Note: Peter knows full well what it means to be holy and chosen by God. Thus he comes down solidly on the side of the good angels. But he does not present to us a conceptual framework within which to place his call to holiness.
1 Peter 4:1-9 (NIV): “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Note: Verse 8, with its call to “love each other deeply,” shows us that Peter fully grasps the essential value at the heart of the great controversy: Self-sacrificing love over against self-exalting selfishness. So the practical counsel from Peter is right on. But he gives it to us without a well-developed “great controversy” setting.
2 Peter 1:16-21 (NIV): “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Note: Again Peter gives us exceptional practical counsel that reflects a clear understanding of the difference between good and evil. But if all we had were Peter’s two epistles, we would know little of the theoretical underpinnings behind the great conflict between good and evil.
2 Peter 3:3-7 (NIV): “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
Note: Peter clearly understands the idea of a final judgment which will make clear those who have chosen good over evil. But again that is simply a practical perspective.
2 Peter 3:18-14 (NIV): “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
Note: Peter clearly sees the end of the great conflict with good ruling over evil. But he only implies what the issues are. He does not make them explicit.
Final Comment: The author of this study guide is an avid supporter of the “great controversy” theme. But not everyone will be equally enthusiastic about it. Neither Paul nor Peter are to be despised just because they don’t always reflect my theology. This Ellen White quotation is crucial for all those who seek God and cherish his word, for it makes the point I just expressed above, that we will not all see things in exactly the same way. But a quotation that comes with prophetic authority is one we should all take very seriously.
“In our schools the work of teaching the Scriptures to the youth is not to be left wholly with one teacher for a long series of years. The Bible teacher may be well able to present the truth, and yet it is not the best experience for the students that their study of the word of God should be directed by one man only, term after term and year after year. Different teachers should have a part in the work, even though they may not all have so full an understanding of the Scriptures. If several in our larger schools unite in the work of teaching the Scriptures, the students may thus have the benefit of the talents of several.
Why do we need a Matthew, a Mark, a Luke, a John, a Paul, and all the writers who have borne testimony in regard to the life and ministry of the Saviour? Why could not one of the disciples have written a complete record and thus have given us a connected account of Christ’s earthly life? Why does one writer bring in points that another does not mention? Why, if these points are essential, did not all these writers mention them? It is because the minds of men differ. Not all comprehend things in exactly the same way. Certain Scripture truths appeal much more strongly to the minds of some than of others.
The same principle applies to speakers. One dwells at considerable length on points that others would pass by quickly or not mention at all. The whole truth is presented more clearly by several than by one. The Gospels differ, but the records of all blend in one harmonious whole.
So today the Lord does not impress all minds in the [432/433] same way. Often through unusual experiences, under special circumstances, He gives to some Bible students views of truth that others do not grasp. It is possible for the most learned teacher to fall far short of teaching all that should be taught.
It would greatly benefit our schools if regular meetings were held frequently in which all the teachers could unite in the study of the word of God. They should search the Scriptures as did the noble Bereans. They should subordinate all preconceived opinions, and taking the Bible as their lesson book, comparing scripture with scripture, they should learn what to teach their students, and how to train them for acceptable service.
The teacher’s success will depend largely upon the spirit which is brought into the work. A profession of faith does not make men Christians; but if teachers will open their hearts to the study of the word, they will be able to aid their students to a clearer understanding. Let not the spirit of controversy come in, but let each seek earnestly for the light and knowledge that he needs. – Counsels to Parents and Teachers, 432-433 (1913)