In 1 Peter 3:13, Peter makes the statement, “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” (NKJ). It is interesting to note that the word translated “followers” here is laterally “Zealot.” The ASV of 1901 translates the verse, “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good?” A strictly literal translation of this verse would read something like this, “And who the harming you if of the good zealots you become?” Isn’t that interesting, “if of the good zealots you become.” It becomes even more powerful when we know that the definition of “Zealot” is “one who is burning with a boiling heat.” In other words, one who is extremely passionate about something. It can be a boiling heat, an overwhelming passion, either for or against something that makes someone a zealot. We most commonly associate that term, “Zealot,” with the Jewish sect begun in opposition to Roman control of Judea. One of the apostles, Simon, had been a member of this sect prior to his receiving the Messiah (Acts 1:13). This was a group that had a great passion for the preservation of the nation of Israel and very often resorted to violence in opposition to any outside influence to Judaism. While Simon most certainly withdrew from this sect when he became a follower of Jesus Peter shows us that he was very much still a zealot. We know this because Peter shows us that in order for us to be faithful to Christ we must all be zealots. Are you a Zealot?
What does Peter mean when he refers to zealots of the good? Paul used a form of the same word when he wrote to Titus in Titus 2:14. He says there that Christians, as God’s special people, ought to be “zealous for good works.” We are being told in both places that we are to be people that are boiling over with enthusiasm, eagerness, passion, etc., for the good. In Peter’s case it is an exhortation by way of blessing. He says essentially, “If you are a zealot of the good you have protection in persecution.” Paul, on the other hand, says that you are a zealot of the good because of a blessing, redemption by the blood of Christ. So because of the redemption and in order to have protection in persecution we are to be zealots of the good. “The good” of course is a reference to “every good work” to which we are thoroughly equipped by the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Therefore, when the question is asked, “Are you a zealot?,” you can answer yes if:
- ?You have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and made one of His special people “zealous for good works.” “…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
- ?You are thoroughly equipped for every good work by a diligent study and application of God’s word. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2:15).
- ?You have an overwhelming passion to teach others the gospel of Christ. “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16).
On the other hand, if a person is not doing these things it must be because that burning passion for the cause of Christ, “the good,” is not there. What are the implications of that zeal not being present in a person that claims to be Christian?
- ?They think very little of the sacrifice God made for man’s redemption! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
- ?They do not think much of Christ’s blood being shed for them (Galatians 1:3, 4)!
- ?They do not appreciate what the Holy Spirit has done in giving the word for our direction in living this life successfully (Galatians 5:22-25; 2 Peter 1:5-8)!
Are you a zealot? We pray that everyone reading this would be able to answer yes to that question, and if not that repentance would be made. We must be zealots for the good, the cause of Christ, if we expect to be blessed by God in this life and rewarded with eternal salvation in the one to come!
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