1 Peter: Godly Relationships

October 6, 2009

One of the themes of the book of 1 Peter is that Christians should have godly relationships. The great salvation we have received in Christ demands that we treat other people differently.

1Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

A prerequisite for us to love one another in that way is that we first have purified ourselves by obeying the truth. Having done that, we will be capable of loving deeply, from the heart. Without purifying ourselves, the sin in our lives would block the kind of deep love God wants us to have.

1Peter 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

The particular sins that Peter lists are all of an interpersonal nature. They are the kind of sins that ruin relationships. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

First, we are called to rid ourselves of all malice. Malice is that evil intent that desires to harm someone else — the very opposite of love. Christians must not wish for evil to come upon a brother or sister. There can be no seeking revenge in our relationships. Instead we must be quick to forgive, and to forget. God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psa 103:12). We should forgive in the same way.

We should also rid ourselves of all deceit. It is impossible to have a relationship of love when you don’t let the other person know the real “you.” The motive behind deceit may be greed (tricking someone out of their money or possessions), pride (denying our own failures), malice (scheming to bring harm on someone), or many other similar evil motives. Regardless of the motive, deceit prevents real love.

Peter also wrote that we should rid ourselves of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is holding others to a standard that we ourselves do not meet. It is pure selfishness, being concerned about our own comfort and pride but having no compassion for the other person. Hypocrites place heavy burdens on others but do not bear those burdens themselves. Jesus reserved his most stern rebukes for the hypocritical Pharisees (Matt 23).

The next evil Peter listed is envy. Envy is a form of hatred of others, because they possess something that we want but do not possess. It is the form of evil that causes the poor to hate the rich. It causes us to hate those who are more successful than us in any area of life. Quite obviously we cannot love those whom we envy. Instead, we should rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom 12:15).

The final evil in Peter’s list is slander. The Greek word here is καταλαλιας, which literally means speaking against. Slander involves all kinds of evil speaking against one another, and it destroys love. The proverb we learned from our mothers is appropriate here: If you cannot think of something nice to say, don’t say anything. Paul wrote that we should only speak what builds others up (Eph 4:29). James wrote that we must not speak evil against one another (James 4:11). And if it is wrong to speak evil against our brother, it is wrong to listen to one who is doing it. If we would all refuse to listen to that kind of talk, it would put an end to evil speaking in the church.

Peter next reminds us that we are the people of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. That is all about our position in Christ and our relationships which result. We should treat one another as royal priests and as holy ones of God. We should be using our voices to praise God, not to criticize our brothers. As James wrote:

Jam 3:10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

Peter then writes about giving proper respect to everyone. That includes respecting authority and obeying the law; loving our brothers; and fearing God. Respect has to come from a humble heart. As the famous poet wrote:

“Every man is in some way my superior.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

An attitude like that fosters respect. We would all be better off if we would respect others in this way.

After giving instructions to wives (submit to your husbands) and husbands (being considerate, showing respect), Peter summarizes:

1Pe 3:8-9 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, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

There is more in 1 Peter about our relationships: Not retaliating (1 Peter 2:21-25); showing hospitality and serving (1 Peter 4:9-10), the relationship of elders to the church (1 Peter 5:1-4), and submission of the young men (1 Peter 5:5-6). What a great improvement there would be in the church if we all would follow these instructions!


  1. I’m in search of some resource material of this nature adaptable for teaching married couples with children

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: