Peter urges the resident aliens and temporary residents to avoid sin, esp violent reactions, and to do good. We’ve just had a few posts on how he advises wives and husbands to avoid sin and do good, and all of this has a missional focus. Let me emphasize again that I think it is vital to see these texts as “emerging” reflections — this is what Peter says to a specific audience at a specific time in a specific context. Now, he turns to the gathered community.
1 Peter 3:8-12 has an overwhelmingly clear focus: love one another (cf. 1:22-25). “‘Finally” is not last because it is least important but probably last because it is most important. The big reputation of the community is vital for the missional focus of the community. Elliott suggests a chiasm:
1. Like-mindedness (consensus reaching capacity)
2. Sympathetic (capable of feeling what others feel)
3. Loving brothers and sisters (the goal of it all)
4. Compassionate (helping those in need)
5. Humble-mindedness (surrendering to the good of the whole).
Here’s a point I’ve made before: the gospel of a local community of faith is not what it says the gospel is but what the community embodies. The gospel is proclaimed by its performance. Which is not to say that proclamation is unimportant, but that proclamation requires performance for the gospel to be credible.
I suggest this is what Peter is doing in this passage: finally, most importantly, you folks have to love one another by striving for consensus, by sympathy and compassion, and by learning to live for the good of the community of faith. OK, I’m not suggesting that diversity is not important, but that Peter’s focus for the community in Asia Minor is to be a unified, loving community.