Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 2:13-20 we have several matters related to our daily life. Toward the end of this portion Peter says in verse 19, “This is grace,” and at the end of verse 20, “This is grace with God.” The way Peter uses the word grace in these verses has been a problem to translators. If the Greek word is translated literally, the reader may find it difficult to understand what Peter is saying. Nevertheless, in the Recovery Version we adopt a literal translation. Verse 19 says, “For this is grace, if anyone because of conscience toward God bears sorrows, suffering unjustly.” Thinking that the common reader of this verse would not be able to understand the meaning if the word grace were used in the translation, some translators have used the word “acceptable.” Certain versions use the word “thankful.” However, neither of these translations is exact according to the Greek text. Furthermore, they do not satisfy the inner sense in the spirit. Therefore, these translations do not “strike home.” This was the reason we decided to make a literal translation in the Recovery Version. Hence, verse 19 says, “This is grace,” and verse 20 says, “This is grace with God.”
Now that we have an accurate translation of these verses, how shall we understand them? In particular, how shall we interpret what Peter says about grace? I can testify that I found it very difficult to write the notes on verse 19. I wanted to say something, but at first I did not have anything to say. Eventually, the light came from the Lord, and I saw that grace here refers to the motivation of the divine life within us and its expression in our life becoming in our behavior something gracious and acceptable in the eyes of both man and God (v. 20). What is grace in our manner of life? It is the motivation of the divine life which we received at our regeneration inwardly and the expression of this life outwardly. Then this motivation and expression become gracious, acceptable, in our behavior. When others observe this, they may say that this is grace in our manner of life. Day by day we should give others the impression that grace is with us. This means that they should be able to see grace in our daily life.
We have often seen grace in the lives of saints who have been in difficulty or hardship. For example, a sister becomes ill. Everyone is concerned for her because she seems to be dying. However, as she lies in bed in the hospital, she is full of joy. This is surprising to the doctors and nurses. The sister is able to bear sufferings that others cannot bear, and she is not afraid of dying. The life that motivates her inwardly is expressed outwardly, even in the midst of her illness. This is grace.
We have also seen grace expressed in this way at a funeral. A certain sister has lost her husband. But even at the time of the funeral, her face is glowing. Using Peter’s word to describe this sister’s experience, we would again say, “This is grace.”
Grace is the divine life for our enjoyment. First, grace is an inward motivation; then it finds an outward expression in our living. Both the inward motivation and outward expression become something sweet, gracious, and also acceptable. I believe that this is the correct understanding of Peter’s word regarding grace in 2:19 and 20.
Hebrews 12:28 says, “Let us have grace.” To have grace is to possess grace, take grace, and apply grace. Grace has come and is now with us. What is this grace? Grace is the processed Triune God as the all-inclusive, life-giving, indwelling Spirit in us. In all circumstances and situations we should take grace and apply it.
We all need to learn how to have grace, that is, how to use grace. If we do this, something wonderful, excellent, and pleasant will motivate us from within. Then we shall be able to bear things, forbear things, and do things that others cannot. Spontaneously, as the result of the motivation within us, there will be a certain expression upon us. This motivation and expression is the Triune God experienced by us and lived out by us. To others, this is something sweet, gracious, acceptable, and worthy of thanksgiving.
I appreciate what Peter says concerning grace in verses 19 and 20. Paul had much to say about grace, but he never wrote a word like we have in 2:19 and 20. Peter’s word here is unique. As we have seen, the grace spoken of in these verses is actually the processed Triune God, who is now the all-inclusive, life-giving, indwelling Spirit for our experience and enjoyment. Inwardly He motivates us, and outwardly He is the expression upon us. As such a One, He becomes sweet, lovely, gracious, and acceptable. This is grace. How great this is!
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