1 Peter 1
1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
The apostle Peter writes to those who have been scattered throughout the far reaches of the Roman empire (particularly what is modern day Turkey) because of the dispersion and persecution under the Roman emperors, particularly Nero. Yet God used this dispersion for good in that the gospel was spread. By nature we tend to get comfortable in our familiar zones around friends and family, and sometimes it takes a move of God to advance His kingdom by moving us out of our comfort zones. That is what happened here in the first century. Peter is writing to the believers who reside as aliens. They are foreigners in an unfamiliar country or city and with unfamiliar people. They are in essence hiding out in an effort to preserve their lives. Yet Peter reminds them that they are chosen of God, chosen to be saved, chosen to experience persecution, and called to persevere despite the difficulties, suffering, and hardship.
2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
Peter makes it clear that God knew who would be saved before the foundation of the world. God’s merciful nature was manifest even before man fell into sin. Those who are saved only come to Christ because of the sanctifying work of the Spirit drawing them to salvation. The work of the Spirit continues after salvation, conforming believers into the image of Christ. The work of all three members of the Trinity is to create those who obey the Godhead. All work in unison to call men to obedience. The key element of obedience is to believe on Him whom God has sent, namely Jesus Christ. When a person receives Christ and is justified by faith through repentance from sin, they are sprinkled with His blood which was shed on their behalf. His blood is for the cleansing and washing away of their sins. Peter gives a common apostolic greeting of grace and peace to the believers to whom he is writing. We all could use additional grace in our lives. Indeed, we accomplish nothing save for the grace of God in our lives and upon our lives.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Peter praises God the Father who is the author of our faith. He in His foreknowledge, sovereignty, and omnipotence caused us to be born again. He is the One ultimately responsible for our salvation and for our new nature. We are born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ. Just as we were crucified with Christ being baptized into His death, we are also raised to new life in Christ. Thus our lives can be filled with hope, for though the body will one day die, the spirit will go on to live forever with Christ, even being given a new immortal body.
4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Part of God’s salvation plan is that those who believe obtain an inheritance that is perfect and will not pass away. Peter gives four descriptive terms of the believers’ inheritance: imperishable, undefiled, not able to fade away, and reserved in heaven. The message is clear. We are guaranteed an inheritance as sons and daughters of God. We cannot “unbecome” a son or daughter of God. We either are or we are not. When we received Christ we were declared sons and daughters of God. He will never cast us away. Our inheritance is certain. Indeed, we ourselves are protected by the power of God for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. One day the books will be opened and it will be made clear who is in the Lamb’s Book of Life and who is not. Creation is eagerly waiting this day of revelation. We, too, ought to look forward to this day in great expectation and anticipation. It is not as if we are eager for the day because we want to see if we are in. We know we are in because our inheritance is reserved for us. We have a heavenly reservation. We are eager because we are confident of what we will find that day when we are received formally as sons and daughters of God. We are protected by the power of God for that day, and nothing can separate us from the love of God.
6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
In these truths we greatly rejoice. Life is difficult and fiery trials come our way, so we must remember what is yet to come. Our inheritance is promised to us, so being mindful of that, we can stand firm and keep our joy strong during the persecutions of our stay on earth. Trials are but for a little while, given that our stay on earth is so brief compared to eternity. We can be assured that any trial that God does ordain to come our way is necessary, resulting in further sanctification and the proving of our faith. No trial is meaningless and an issue of God not paying attention or being unloving. Trials are designed and purposeful.
7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
The main purpose of trials (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4) is for refining us, giving us perseverance, and thus proving our character. When our character and faith are proven, God is honored, we are made to be like Christ, God keeps His promise of finishing our faith, and we have more confidence in our hope to come that we have indeed been changed and adopted as children of God. Our faith is what the enemy desperately tries to destroy. Our faith, says Ephesians 6:16, is our shield against the deceit and attack of the devil. If he can get us to lose faith and lower our shield, he can get any attack through and destroy us. Faith is the victory, and faith is what we must continue bring to the Lord. We must continue to believe the Word of God and the promises of God. He will finish our faith (Hebrews 12:2), He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and He will meet our needs and give us the strength we need each day (Philippians 4:13, 19). Faith is so precious to God and important for us to live the Christian life as we ought. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:13). Those who come to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). What is the work of God that He calls us to? We must believe upon the one Whom He has sent (John 6:29). Faith moves mountains (Matthew 17:20). Faith is more precious than gold which is perishable. Our outer bodies may perish under fiery trial, but the inner person is preserved by faith. When a believer perseveres under trial and thereby proves their faith, it is found to be further evidence that they will indeed be revealed as children of God on the day of Christ. Holiness in the life of the believer serves to further the believer’s confidence in his security and future revelation as a child of God.
8and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
We have not literally seen Jesus Christ since He has walked the earth and established His church. Yet we are convinced of His reality and testimony, and we love Him and believe in Him. Faith is evidence of things not seen which includes Christ (Hebrews 11:1). We have plenty of evidence for His existence and sacrificial death, but we do not see Him. Yet we believe in Him, and thus we are able even under trial to experience joy inexpressible and full of glory. The believer has his mind and heart fixed upon what is to come, and thus he can maintain his joy and faith despite even the most adverse circumstances. God has called us to holiness and thus He gives us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
9obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
The outcome of faith is the salvation of our souls. Faith in Christ is the only way a person can be justified. The certainty of our salvation gives us more reason to maintain faith even after our salvation experience.
We can be sure that our souls will be saved.
10As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,
11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
The Old Testament prophets foretold of this grace that was to come through the Messiah to the world, Jew and Gentile alike. They searched the prophecies carefully and inquired of God for wisdom, desiring to know and better understand how all of these things would be. They didn’t know when Christ would come or many of the other details surrounding the Messiah. Yet the Spirit of Christ within them (note that Christ was actively working in the Old Testament even though He had not been incarnated yet, taking on bodily form) was moving them to predict the sufferings of a Messiah who was to come. They were trying to discern what time the Messiah would come and figure out just Who He might be. Yet it was not for them to fully understand, for it was a mystery. What was clear was that the Messiah would suffer and then be glorifed. When and exactly how these things would take place would have been impossible to fully understand before the fact.
12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look.
A full understanding of the mystery of the prophecies concerning the Messiah didn’t make full sense until the coming of the Holy Spirit Who gave the apostles insight into the Old Testament prophecies as related to the coming of the Messiah and His death and resurrection. The Book of Acts is full of instances where the apostles quoted the Old Testament prophets and tied them to Christ. What was revealed through the prophets was ultimately for us, and through the Spirit of Christ within them, they understood that the full disclosure of the implications of their own prophecy was not for them to know and understand but for us. These are things into which angels long to look. How much understanding the angels have is not clear. What is clear is that God knows things that even they don’t know (e.g. when Christ will return to the earth). They, like us, are trying to discern how God’s Word is exactly going to come to pass.
13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The believer is to prepare his mind for action, despite whatever difficulty he may be encountering. Trials are no excuse for apathetic living and a lack of Christian commitment and service. 1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us to always be “abounding in the work of the Lord.” Such labor is not in vain, and thus we ought to be steadfast and immovable, both in our convictions and our actions. We must also be sober in our spirits because Satan will work to make us feel unsteady. He will try to overwhelm us or make us succumb to emotions and circumstances. We must keep meditating upon the Word of God and staying in the fight and in the moment of conflict. We must stand firm and resist Him so that He will flee (James 4:7). Peter gives us a powerful exhortation which is a major theme in his writing of this epistle. He tells us to fix our hope completely on the grace that is yet to come to us. We will be getting an inheritance and we will be revealed as the children of God that we are. As such and despite difficult circumstances, we are to focus on eternity, for only with such a perspective will we be able to stand firm, maintain our faith, and continue in holiness, thereby proving our faith.
14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,
15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
16because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."
Peter tells us to not use trials as excuses for disobedience. In such times, obedience is what will sustain a person’s faith. Children are to obey their parents, and we are to obey our Heavenly Father. We are not to be conformed to the lusts that were formerly ours before we came to know Christ. Back then we were ignorant of the gospel message, though fully aware of God and His just wrath. But now having been enlightened, we are to be holy in our behavior just as God is holy who called us.
17If 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;
18knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
Since Peter knows that Christians struggle because of hardness of heart and lack of faith to be holy and obey, he gives two reasons for holy living. First, we are to be mindful of the fact that the Father is an impartial judge and will reward us according to how we live the Christian life. Thus we are to conduct ourselves in fear and reverence during our time on earth. The day of Christ can be a day of honor or a day of shame, depending upon how we have lived. I know I would fear the day of Christ if I had wasted the gifts and callings that He had placed upon Me. I wouldn’t fear being sentenced to hell (though my sin would make me feel less confident in my salvation), but I would fear disappointing my Savior. I believe that our level of faithfulness on the earth is a sort of measuring stick of how God will honor us in heaven. We want our time before the judgment seat of Christ and in the presence of the Father to be a time of great joy. The second reason Peter gives for holiness is that we were bought with a price. The price for our souls was not mere dollars and cents but the life of God’s own Son. God doesn’t take a spurning of His gift lightly. He knows that we were born into sin with an inherited sin nature, but He has set us free from that nature unto holiness. To not live in holiness is to minimize and mock the powerful work that Christ accomplished on the cross. If we love our Savior, we ought to not want to mock Him by our unholy living. His blood is precious to God and it ought to be to us, for it is our only means to escape hell and be declared righteous before God.
20For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
21who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
God knew since the foundation of the world that Christ would come to the earth and die for the sins of man. Sending Christ was not a reactionary move on God’s part because of man’s disobedience and fall. God is sovereign over all things and outside of time. Christ appeared roughly two thousand years ago in Peter’s time for our sake that we might be made believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him. As such, our faith and our hope is in God because God is over all things and perfectly in control. He knew we would need saving and He did just that because of His great love and mercy.
22Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
23for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
"ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS,
ANDALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.
THE GRASS WITHERS,
AND THE FLOWERFALLS OFF,
25BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER "
And this is the word which was preached to you.
The outworking of salvation is a being born again to a life characterized by obedience. Of course, believers can and do fail to obey, otherwise Peter would not have exhorted them to obey. But given that they have obeyed the truth by responding in faith to the gospel, their souls are purified and enabled to sincerely love their brothers and sisters in Christ. Now that God has given them a new heart which is able to love others as Christ loved them, they ought to do just that and do it fervently. Fervency implies passion, zeal, commitment, energy, and devotion to one another. That we put others before ourselves is absolutely essential for a child of God and for the sake of God, His Son, and the kingdom. We can do this because it is something that our new nature enables us to do. If we still were born of Adam in our spirit, then we couldn’t possibly love. But since we are born of a seed that is imperishable, namely Christ through His Word, we are able to love as He loved. We are not like grass that is here and then gone, but we will live forever. Thus we need to view our lives as that which doesn’t stop at the grave but as that which extends into eternity. As eternal beings, we are to love one another as those who will be active in caring for one another forever. We may as well do it now well since we will be doing it for a good long time. We are born anew, and we need to live like it as if we are the citizens of heaven as we are.