The Epistle of First Peter is an excellent source for developing a biblical theology of pastoral ministry. According to Peter, the Church exists to nurture a culture of holiness for the sake of being an embodied witness in the world. As a disciplined community, the people of God are called to model holiness as God’s servant-missionary presence in the world. The Church is a society of people convened by God to embody His nature for the sake of witness. Peter’s vision for the evangelization of the world consists of a household of Spirit-empowered people showing the world what God is like through their distinctive way of life. When the Church becomes a healthy holy community of people serving one another within self-sacrificing loving relationships it becomes a powerful witness to the world. It reflects an alternative reality that the world cannot otherwise ever understand. So the mission of the Church is a mandate to model holiness as a servant-missionary presence in the world. The Church’s greatest impact on the world comes about by highly committed and disciplined communities of people focused on outward mission, inward transformation, and loving soul-care community. The Epistle teaches that the Church exists to make mature disciples who manifest the character of God for the sake of mission and ministry.
This critical research project thoroughly studies the missional orientation of 1 Peter. It finds that Peter sees the Church’s place in society in terms of modeling the character of Christ. The Church’s ministry consists of developing loving relationships that model a distinctive way of life. Peter’s missional theology views the ministry of Christ as a model for discipleship, he views the ministry of the Church as a model for its neighborhood, and he views the ministry of a pastor as a model for the Church. Holiness is first embodied in Christ for His disciples to see, then it is embodied in mature disciples for the Church to see, then it is embodied in the Church for the world to see. In each case the modeling relationship is the way the mission is accomplished. It is for the purpose of enticing or nurturing faith to ‘taste’ an alternative reality.
Therefore, this project argues that Peter considers Christian mission as embodied holiness that is nurtured and expressed through loving relationships as a way of life (1:22; 2:4-5; 3:1-6; 3:8-12; 15-16). The inward life of holiness must be sustained through mission-focused relationships in the Church community. For holiness to be embodied through modeling relationships it means that holiness is a social virtue that must be lived out as a ‘good life among the pagans,’ (2:11-12). Peter does not advocate a quietistic social emigration out of society; he calls them to responsible participation in the institutions of society. One should not think of holiness as withdrawal into some form of individualistic moralism. True biblical holiness builds community because it cleanses the heart and sets a person free to love (1:22; 3:8).