The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 301). As you read 1 Peter look for this sublime language and the principles it teaches. Mark the passages that inspire you to change your life.
Prayerfully study 1 Peter 1–5 and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Church leaders are to feed God’s flock out of love and by example. They are to prepare them for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd (see 1 Peter 5:1–4).
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 403–4, 414–19.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for 1 Peter 1–5.
1 Peter 1:3–11. Faithfully enduring trials of our faith can help us obtain salvation.
Draw an anchor on the board and ask:
What purpose does an anchor serve?
What kinds of anchors do we need in life?
Write on the board the following words of comfort from the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 298).
Invite students to decide what “this hope” is, and write their ideas on the board. Read Ether 12:4–6and look for key words that describe hope. Discuss the following questions:
How does faith and belief in God give us a sure hope?
What does Ether relate this kind of hope to?
Return to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement and suggest that it can also be read symbolically. Have students suggest ways that thunders might roll, and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather in their own lives. Read the Prophet’s statement again, substituting the suggestions given by students for the thunder, lightening, earthquakes, and wars. Ask:
How can a sure hope in a glorious resurrection anchor us as we face the challenges of life?
How can we be sure that our anchor settles deeply and keeps us from drifting?
How does knowing that this hope will “support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation” increase your courage?
Why do trials tend to tug at our anchors and challenge our faith?
Read the historical background information from the introduction to the book of 1 Peter (p. 234) and discuss the trials the ancient Saints were facing. Ask: Why would their circumstances have tried their faith? Explain that Peter, as the President of the Church, was giving them counsel on how to deal with their tribulations. Divide the following scripture blocks among students: 1 Peter 1:3–11; 2:19–25; 3:8–17; 4:12–19. Ask them to find and write down the teachings about trials that impress them. Discuss their findings as a class.
Testify that increasing our faith will provide us with a hope that anchors us to God as we endure the trials of life. Read 1 Peter 1:7; 2:21; 3:17; 4:12–13. Conclude by testifying of the redeeming value of enduring trials of our faith.
1 Peter 2:1–17. God calls the Saints to be separate and distinct from the world.
Write the words chosen, royal, holy, and peculiar on the board. Have students imagine standing before the throne of God. Invite them to select one word from that list that they would most like their Heavenly Father to use to describe them. Ask which of the students selected chosen. Ask them why. Repeat these questions for the other three words.
Explain that generally the word peculiar means different, strange, or odd. Read 1 Peter 2:9and ask what they think Peter meant by declaring that the Saints were to be “a peculiar people.” Have a student read footnote 9f to define the word peculiar. Ask: Why is “peculiar” a desirable title? Share Elder Russell M. Nelson’s comment on this word:
“Thus we see that the scriptural term peculiar signifies ‘valued treasure,’ ‘made’ or ‘selected by God.’ For us to be identified by servants of the Lord as his peculiar people is a compliment of the highest order” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 44; or Ensign, May 1995, 34).
Discuss how we can become God’s “special possession.” Ask: What must one do to own something? Have students read 1 Corinthians 7:23and Acts 20:28and look for the price that was paid for us to become God’s special possession. Ask: Knowing that Jesus Christ paid such a high price for us to become peculiar, chosen, royal, and holy, what must we do? Divide the class into two groups. Have one group search 1 Peter 1:1–5, 13–25and the other group 1 Peter 2:1–17for principles that help us remain God’s special possession. List the principles on the board as students discover them.
Read paragraphs 2–3 on
Why has the Lord given us standards?
How can living His standards make us peculiar or different from the rest of the world?
How can comparing our behavior and thoughts to God’s standards help us?
Testify that our Father in Heaven wants us to be peculiar, different from those who live their lives after the manner of the world. Testify that we will be different and worthy to receive “countless blessings from heaven” if we choose to live according to the covenants and commandments of the gospel.
1 Peter 3:18–20; 4:6. Christ prepared the way for the gospel to be preached to those who are dead.
Invite a student to the front of the room. Ask another student to step outside the classroom and close the door. Have the student in the front of the room quietly and briefly tell the Joseph Smith story. Invite the student outside the door to come in, and ask that student if he or she heard the message delivered by the other student. Why or why not? Ask the class: How can this demonstration be likened to the spirit world? Explain that the righteous are separated from the wicked in the spirit world (see the commentary for Luke 16:19–31in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 125). Read Moses 7:38and ask:
What people perished “in the floods”?
What was the “prison” they were to be shut in?
Read 1 Peter 3:18–20 and look for what Jesus did while His body was in the tomb. Explain that the account in Peter is an abbreviated version of the story. President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church, received a vision of the event. Read Doctrine and Covenants 138:28–32 and invite students to explain how Jesus was able to “preach to those spirits … in so short a time.”
Have students read 1 Peter 4:6, and share the following comments. Elder Mark E. Petersen, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:
“Jesus explained that he is God of both the living and the dead, and that, in fact, even the dead are alive unto him. (See Luke 20:38.)
“However, he has but one gospel; and since both living and dead are alike unto him, both living and dead must be saved by the same gospel principles. The Lord is no respecter of persons” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 20; or Ensign, May 1976, 15).
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:
“In the case of the dead there must be vicarious work if they are to be judged according to men in the flesh, and in order to accomplish this they must be identified; hence the great genealogical program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was not established to satisfy the interests of a hobby, but to accomplish the eternal purposes of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 96; or Ensign, May 1977, 65).
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“The Savior inaugurated this great work when he went and preached to the spirits held in prison, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh (or in other words, according to the principles of the gospel) and then live according to God in the spirit, through their repentance and acceptance of the mission of Jesus Christ who died for them” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:132–33).
Discuss the following questions:
Why did Jesus bridge the gap and prepare a way for the gospel to be preached to those in spirit prison?
What does it mean to “be judged according to men in the flesh” and “live according to God in the spirit”?
Testify that because Heavenly Father loves us, He provided a plan of salvation so we can all learn about and accept His gospel message.
1 Peter 5:1–11. Church leaders can help prepare us for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and for eternal life if we humble ourselves, heed their counsel, and learn to trust in Heavenly Father.
Display a picture of the First Presidency. Have students identify each man by name. Take turns reading the First Presidency message on pages 2–3 of theFor the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Then discuss the following questions:
How does the First Presidency feel about the youth of the Church?
Why do you think they took the time and effort to make this pamphlet available?
What hope do they have for the youth?
What can you do to help them realize this hope?
Explain that the scriptures reveal that Church leaders are to help prepare us for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Read with students 1 Peter 5:1–4, using the footnotes, and discuss what it means to:
“Feed the flock” (v. 2).
Take “the oversight thereof” (v. 2).
Be “ensamples to the flock” (v. 3).
Ask: Who is “the chief Shepherd”? Read 1 Peter 2:21and look for two ways Jesus has blessed our lives. Ask:
How can Jesus’ example and His suffering for us prepare us for His coming?
Read 1 Peter 2:25. In what ways might we be “as sheep going astray”?
How can we make Jesus “the Shepherd and Bishop of [our] souls”?
Peter also gave counsel to young members. Read 1 Peter 5:5–11looking for key words and phrases that describe this counsel, and then list them on the board. Discuss how this counsel can help the youth prepare themselves for the coming of “the chief Shepherd.”
Ask students if they know individuals who are missing from seminary or from their last young women class or Aaronic Priesthood quorum meeting. Ask: Why is it important to know who they are? Read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“With the ever-increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moroni 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 66; or Ensign, May 1997, 47).
Ask students for specific ways we can follow President Hinckley’s counsel with those we know.
Testify that the Lord and His Church need everyone, including the youth, to bring about God’s designs in the last days. Hold up the scriptures and the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, and encourage students to willingly obey the counsel given by faithful leaders of the Church from every dispensation.