Juan Sanchez has served as senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas since 2005. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and holds an MDiv, a ThM, and a PhD in Systematic Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, Dr. Sanchez serves as a council member of The Gospel Coalition, co-founder and president of Coalición, assistant professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.
1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 Peter?
When The Good Book Company approached me about contributing to the “For You” series I thought about what I had preached before. There were several options that came to mind, but I settled on 1 Peter. As I reworked 1 Peter I became more and more convinced of the importance of this letter for the church today. While we are more aware of persecution today because of news reports and The Voice of the Martyrs and other sources, in the West, we don’t experience persecution in the same ways our brothers and sisters do in the East, both Middle- and Far-East.
Peter writes to Christians whose persecution is more like what we are facing in the West today – denial of rights by governing authorities, discrimination from employers, mocking by co-workers, social ostracism. In this context, Peter reminds his readers of the great salvation the Triune God has secured for us, reminding us that even as we face suffering now, we have a living hope and an eternal reward that cannot be taken away.
But at the heart of the letter is an exhortation for the church to display the glory and wisdom of God in a hostile world by being a royal priesthood and holy nation – pointing those who mistreat us to our king and His kingdom. Peter’s first letter is a glorious exhortation to persevere by following Jesus’ footsteps into suffering, death, resurrection, vindication, and glory.
2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?
I wrote 1 Peter for You with the church in mind, but I believe it benefits pastors who are seeking to shepherd their churches through the difficult waters of contemporary anti-Christians culture. This book is not written to be used by seminary professors in master-level classes, but it is meant to encourage all Christians from all walks of life and all vocations to consider Christ and follow in His steps.
3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 Peter?
What is unique about this commentary and the whole “For You” series by The Good Book Company is that it seeks to wrestle with the text, explaining it clearly and concisely, while providing a devotional tone for personal edification. I did not set to contribute any new insights to the studies of 1 Peter; I merely wanted to encourage the church by presenting the truths of 1 Peter in a fresh, understandable, and applicable manner.
4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?
1 Peter has some particularly tough passages. For example, 1 Peter 3:18-22 has lent itself to various interpretations. However, this is a particularly joy-filled reminder of our union with Christ and the resulting blessings. I enjoyed working through this section and being reminded that we can ascertain the things we know and work from there.
In particular, 3:18-22 is a path – Jesus suffered once for sins…, being put to death…but made alive in the spirit (resurrection) (3:18) and is now exalted to “the right hand of God,” having received all authority in heaven and on earth (3:22). The whole point is that “it is better to suffer for doing good…than for doing evil” (3:17) because just as Jesus suffered and died for doing good, not evil, and was raised, vindicated, and glorified, so too will we who are united with him by faith.
5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?
Again, it was the reminder that no matter what we face in this world, we are only following in the footsteps of Jesus, our King and Lord. I face nothing in this world that Jesus has not already faced and conquered. Armed with this way of thinking, I can live in this world as a stranger, pointing unbelievers to Christ and His kingdom by proclaiming the good news and by living out life together as Christ’s ambassadors with a local body of believers.
6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 Peter?
The two that come to mind are Thomas Schreiner’s [NAC] and Karen Jobe’s commentaries on 1 Peter [BECNT]. Schreiner is a humble, careful, thoughtful New Testament scholar. I gained much from his explanation of the biblical text. Karen Jobes was extremely helpful in understanding the historical background of the original audience of 1 Peter.
7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?
I’ve just completed a book on Revelation 2-3 titled, Seven Dangers Facing Your Church (The Good Book Company, March 2018). I enjoyed writing this book because in many ways it addresses the same themes as 1 Peter. In it, I argue that in the seven messages to the churches in Revelation, Jesus is exposing a particular danger each church faces. These seven dangers are meant to be taken seriously by all churches in all times.
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