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1 Peter 1:17

ESV And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
NIV Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
NASB If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
CSB If you appeal to the Father who judges impartially according to each one's work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during your time living as strangers.
NLT And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as 'temporary residents.'
KJV And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

What does 1 Peter 1:17 mean?

Verse 17 combines quite a few varied ideas. First, Peter reminds us that this relationship we have with God—by His grace and through our faith in Christ—is a relationship between a child and a Father. It's a relationship of open communication. He has called us (1 Peter 1:15), and we call on Him.

This is a Father who has proven His love for us (Romans 5:8) and right now actively shields us and the inheritance He has promised us in heaven (1 Peter 1:6). He is a good Father. We are saved; we are secure. But this is not a Father who smiles and nods approvingly at every choice we make. He judges our conduct impartially and individually. In other words, He judges our actions with absolute fairness and with complete understanding of each of us specifically.

This has to be carefully understood. This is not a judgment about whether or not God will allow us into heaven, or punish us in His wrath. Already in this letter, Peter has been clear that decision is made and done. Our Father has given His believing children credit for Jesus' perfectly righteous life and has allowed His Son's death to pay the price for our sins.

But our Father does judge. He judges our works. He pays attention to whether our actions are those of "holy people" set apart for His purposes (1 Peter 1:15) or whether our choices continue to be driven by the "evil desires" we had when we lived in ignorance (1 Peter 1:14; 1 Corinthians 3:10–15). Knowing this should change the way we live. We should stop trying to convince ourselves and the world around us that we belong here. We should stop trying to fit in. We should embrace our status as foreigners, strangers, and people in exile. We should live like the Father we wait to be united with.

And, yes, we should live with some amount of healthy fear. Not a terror of God's wrath or eternal punishment, that's clear. Instead, this is a fear of loving parental discipline (Hebrews 12:4–11) and a solemn awareness that the God of the universe watches and expects to see us make choices that bring Him glory.
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