Category | Object Lessons

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matryoshka dollDescription

This Object Lesson for youth, uses a nested Russian doll to illustrate our growth as Christians.


A Matryoshka doll (ideally with at least 8 nested dolls)
A Russian Matryoshka doll is a set of hollow wooden dolls which split open into a top and bottom half to reveal additional dolls of decreasing size each placed one inside the other. The outer doll is traditionally a woman, as reflected in the name which means “little matron”. The inner dolls can be male or female. The innermost doll, made from a single piece of wood is typically a baby. While they are smooth rounded wooden carvings, the painting of each doll can be very intricate and often follows a theme.

Scriptural Background

  • Approximate Date: 63-68 A.D. – shortly after 1 Peter. Nero’s persecution began in 64 A.D., and Peter was martyred approximately 67 A.D.
  • Place of Writing: Babylon
  • Three-Fold Purpose: 1) Encourage growth, 2) To correct against false teaching, 3) Promote holy living.
  • Theme and Key Word: Knowledge.
  • Key verse: 3:18 – “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Chapter 1 has been labeled “The Bible’s Arithmetic Chapter”

  • Multiplication – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you … ” (1:2)
  • Addition – “Add to your faith … ” (1:5-7)
  • Subtraction – He has been cleansed from his past sins … ” (1:9)


  • 2 Peter 1:2-3 God’s Provision – Describes God’s provision and the believer’s enablement
  • 2 Peter 1:5-7 Our Responsibility – Describes our human responsibility of seeing to it that the various Christian virtues are included in our lives.

“The divine nature works at its best efficiency when the believer cooperates with it in not only determining to live a life pleasing to God, but definitely stepping out in faith and living that life.” ~Kenneth Samuel Wuest

Key Lessons

1:5-7 – Peter begins with “for this very reason (because you are a partaker of the divine nature) make every effort (pareisphero)” – that is, “add or contribute on your own part” the necessary actions to confirm your profession of faith by godly living. The verb rendered “add” (epichoregeo – “to supply in copious measure”) is not simply to add one virtue to another. Rather, the meaning is to develop one virtue in the exercise of another, with each new grace springing out of and perfecting, or tempering the other.

  • In the exercise of faith, believers are to generously provide goodness.
  • In the exercise of goodness, believers are to copiously provide knowledge.
  • In the exercise of knowledge, believers are to lavishly provide selfcontrol.
  • In the exercise of self-control, believers are to plentifully provide perseverance.
  • In the exercise of perseverance, believers are to abundantly provide godliness.
  • In the exercise of godliness, believers are to bountifully provide brotherly kindness (philadelphia).
  • In the exercise of brotherly kindness, believers are to generously provide agape love.

1:8-9. Peter’s promise is that those who possess these virtues and build on them will grow spiritually and will not be idle in pressing toward a fuller knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who do not are “spiritually nearsighted”, having forgotten his initial salvation experience.

1:10-11. Verse 10 is the key to this section. The believer will “make his calling and election sure”, that is, he will satisfy himself that he is saved, or confirm his salvation by his godly living. There is some debate of the security of the believer, which some say is objective and cannot be disturbed, and the subjective experience of knowing and feeling you are saved because you are “doing your part” in allowing the Holy Spirit to produce the kind of virtues characteristic of a Christian.

Icebreaker Questions to Stimulate Discussion

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What are your current dreams for the future? What kind of person do you want to be? How do you want your life to be remembered by others?
  • What are some of the qualities you admire in others? Other youth? Parents? Adults? Leaders? Famous people?
  • If you had a magic lamp with a genie and he could grant you three personal qualities, what would you wish for?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-11

In 2 Peter 1 Chapter 1, Peter talks about our growth as Christians. This growth begins with faith and culminates in love. Like the innermost Matryoshka doll we begin as babes in Christ. We are spiritually born again through saving faith in Christ. But to live life forever as a baby would be a tragedy. Peter says that if we fail to grow, it is akin to being nearsighted and blind and forgetting that our sins have been forgiven.

This list of qualities are things that are added to our godly character as we grow in Christ. Each new quality does not replace the one before it, but adds to it. These are not things that we possess then give up, as a child outgrows old clothes. These qualities are not marks on a growth chart, but things that we hold inside our hearts and that we carry forward with us as we continue to mature in Christ.

Here’s the list:

  1. faith
  2. goodness
  3. knowledge
  4. self-control
  5. perseverance
  6. godliness
  7. brotherly kindness
  8. love

NOTE: As you mention each quality, add a new shell to the inner doll so that it continues to grow in size. “As we add each one, we become more effective and productive. ”

Take it to the Next Level

Questions for discussion

  • How do you define each quality/ characteristic?
  • How does each character quality relate to the one before it?
  • Why is each quality important to living a godly life as a youth?
  • For each of these qualities, what would the effect be if a Christian youth was missing that quality in his or her life?
  • What are some of the possible ways that each quality would be expressed in the way a youth lives his or her life? Are these qualities something we possess or something that we do?
  • For each quality, what are some things youth can do or practice the make that quality part of who they personally are?
  • As we grow in Christ, there is always a combined effort with God, to live the Christian life. We have to make decisions and choose to act, but God empowers us, guides us, and provides for us. What are the things that God does for us according to this passage?
    1. Gave us faith through Christ (2 Peter 1:1)
    2. Grace, Peace and Knowledge of God and Christ (2 Peter 1:2)
    3. Everything we need for life and godliness (through his divine power) (2 Peter 1:3)
    4. Called us (2 Peter 1:3)
    5. Knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:3)
    6. An example – God’s Glory and Goodness (2 Peter 1:3)
    7. Precious Promises (2 Peter 1:4)
  • What are some of the promises of God that might help youth to grow in each of these qualities?
  • How do the actions of God listed in this passage apply to each of these qualities that we grow into as Christians? How do they help us to live life as a youth to reflect these character traits?
  • Why has God given us all these things?
    1. To participate in the divine nature (becoming Christlike) (2 Peter 1:4)
    2. To Escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:4)
    3. To be effective and productive in our walk (2 Peter 1:8)
    4. To reinforce our faith (2 Peter 1:10) so that we are secure in faith – know that have been saved.
    5. So that we will not fail (2 Peter 1:10)
    6. To be richly welcomed into heaven (2 Peter 1:11)

Application to Youth

  1. What are some ways you can practice these as a youth?
  2. When you look at this list of qualities, which ones do you possess and practice most? Which are most lacking in your life? Which do you find most difficult?
  3. What are some ways you can express these qualities this week as you encounter others at school, at home, or in church?
  4. How do these qualities prevent us from being in effective and unproductive?
  5. How can those in the youth group support each other and encourage one another toward growth in these areas?
  6. What can the youth ministry and parents do to help you to grow?
  7. If you were to have all these godly qualities in increasing measure, how would it effect your life, your testimony, your actions?
  8. What are the benefits of pursuing godliness?

Closing Prayer
Go through each of the qualties in prayer with God. Ask him to reveal the truth about these qualities in your own life. Ask him to make clear opportunities to express your faith to through these qualities as a living testimony to Christ.

MORE IDEAS? See “Creative Object Lessons”
200 page e-book that explains everything you need to know when planning your very own object lessons. It contains 90 fully developed object lesson ideas and another 200 object lesson starter ideas based on Biblical idioms and Names / Descriptions of God.
Learn More…

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