Live In Harmony

1 Peter 3:8

Peter’s concluding exhortations are for all the recipients of his letter. Thus he admonishes everyone to follow his instructions. In this verse, Peter writes five admonitions that, when heeded, present “an ideal portrait of the church.”

  1. “Live in harmony with one another.” In the Greek, the text has the reading [be] like-minded. Does Peter mean that all Christians have to think in the same manner? No, not quite. Paul focuses attention on the same question in his letter to the Philippians: “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (3:15). In view of the variety of gifts and talents God has given his people, differences of opinion exist. Peter, however, wants Christians to be governed by the mind of Christ, so that differences do not divide but rather enrich the church. Therefore, he exhorts the believers to “live in harmony with one another” (compare Rom. 12:16; 15:5; Phil. 2:2).
  2. “Be sympathetic.” Christians should demonstrate their concern for and interest in their neighbor, especially in times of joy or sorrow. They are to “rejoice with those who rejoice; [and] mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15; also see 1 Cor. 12:26).
  3. “Love as brothers.” Peter repeats what he has already written, for already in his first chapter he observes that the readers “have sincere love for [the] brothers” (v. 22). The Greek term Peter uses is general, so it includes both brothers and sisters in God’s household (refer to Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:9–10; Heb. 13:1).
  4. “Be compassionate.” In the Greek, the word translated “compassionate” is far more descriptive. It depicts feelings that appear to come from our inner parts (literally, our intestines), especially when we observe the suffering which another person endures. Translators usually associate the Greek word with the heart and thus render it “tenderhearted.” The term compassion is one that appears in a list of Christian virtues (Col. 3:12).
  5. “[Be] humble.” Humility is a virtue Jesus taught when he washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:4–17). Jesus set the example of selfless service by his willingness to be the least in the company of his disciples and to be the servant of all. In the fifth chapter of his epistle, Peter repeats his admonition to be humble when he addresses young men: “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (5:5; also see Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:6–8).

These virtues reflect the glory of the church when brothers and sisters live harmoniously. Spiritual brothers and sisters exemplify these virtues when together they acknowledge God as their Father and know Christ as their brother (Heb. 2:11). Then, as the body of Christ, believers indeed experience God’s marvelous blessings.

Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 127–128). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.