Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 1

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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The primary purpose of Peter’s epistles is to exhort and to encourage the saints of God. They were passing through fiery trials and through persecutions, and the apostle felt it needful to confirm them in the faith and to comfort them with the hope of glory.

The key words are "patience" and "hope," and they serve as themes throughout the epistle. The secondary purpose, found primarily in the second letter, was to deal with false teachers who offer false promises of liberties while they themselves are the servants of corruptions. The heresy evidently was that when a person was saved by grace, he was released from all law and was no longer answerable for his conduct in the flesh.


Hervey, A.C. The Pulpit Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1962.

MacKnight, James. The Apostolical Epistles with a Commentary and Notes. Nashville, Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Company, 1954.

Thayer, Joseph H. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979.

Vincent, M.R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Florida: MacDonald Publishing Company, n.d.

Vine, W.E. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966.

Woods, Guy N. A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude. Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Company, 1966.

Wuest, Kenneth S. In These Last Days, II Peter, I, II, III John, and Jude in the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1957.

Verse 1

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: Peter begins this writing by establishing his apostleship. He was Simon, son of Jonah; but more than that, he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. A former fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, Simon was brought to the Lord by his brother Andrew (John 1:40) and was with the Lord as much as any man was in this world, being a part of the inner circle of Peter, James, and John. He was not only to follow Jesus but to become one of His closest associates and to witness some of the Lord’s most significant experiences while He was on the earth. Peter saw Jarius’ daughter raised; witnessed the transfiguration scene; was with the Lord in Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16, insisting that "thou art the Christ the son of the living God"; and experienced Gethsemane with the Lord. On the other hand, he had denied the Lord publicly at the Jerusalem trial, even though he repented and was restored. Even so, it was Peter whom the Lord selected to begin the Christian era by preaching on Pentecost (Acts 2), to open the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 10), and to defy the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).

Simon became the petros (as named by the Lord), meaning "the stone, a fragment," and he became one of the great men of all times. By the way he carried on his work for the Lord after his conversion, he obviously believed with all of his heart that he was an ambassador divine. Peter believed that his source of authority was Jesus Christ--there can be no doubt about that because he witnessed too many great events in Jesus’ life. Perhaps it was because of Peter’s abundant participation in the life of Jesus that the Lord chose Peter, the "petros," to be an apostle. And he was more: he was an elder and a preacher. Yet, despite the magnitude of the work God called Peter to do, he still maintained his humility, never claiming supremacy. He introduces this epistle in simple terms: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ."

We must remember as we go through this book that we are listening to the words of a fisherman speaking and writing from Babylon. That reality is somewhat difficult to keep in mind as we listen to some of the most profound truths the world has ever known.

to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia: Peter here refers to "the dispersion" by using a technical Jewish term to indicate those of their number scattered among Gentile nations (John 7:35). He is writing to disciples scattered in the region of Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, the country that is now the country of Turkey. He is speaking to the people of God who are dispersed among the unbelievers of their day.

Verse 2

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father: "Elect" (eklego) means to pick out, select, or choose. It refers to a "divine" choosing or selection. We are not only "elect" but "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." The word "foreknowledge" has to do with previous determination or purpose and is more than just previous knowledge. It is previous knowledge that one uses to make some kind of determination. Another example of this expression is in Acts 2:23 where Peter speaks of Jesus’ being "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," or, as the NIV has it, "God’s set purpose and foreknowledge." So we as the Lord’s people have become His people by God’s "set purpose." When God’s plan finally unfolded, allowing those who would obey the gospel to become the "elect," He fulfilled a plan or "set purpose" that He had in mind from the beginning.

The word "foreknowledge" will be spoken of as being "foreordained" when we get to verse 20. Peter here is dealing with the doctrine of "divine election." Peter refers to the saints to whom he is writing as the "elect." So one fact is clear: the Bible teaches that there is such a thing as "divine election." What we do not have here, however, is how one is elected. We can only determine the "how" by looking to other scriptures.

There are two major fields of thought regarding divine election:

One view is that election is unconditional, that God unconditionally elects those who are to be saved and those who are to be lost.

The second view is that God has elected those who are obedient to him to be the elect of God--that is, salvation is conditioned on obedience.

Unconditional Election

It is important that we understand what the Bible teaches regarding election. If the election of God is unconditional--that God just makes a determination that certain individuals ought to be saved and others ought to be lost--then human responsibility is negated.

Notice the ramifications of this doctrine:

1. If election is partial to particular individuals, or if the number of persons is so fixed that it can neither be increased nor diminished, then man has no responsibility. Such an idea, however, is foreign to the scriptures. It does not fit with the rest of the Bible at all.

2. Unconditional election makes God a respecter of persons (1 Peter 1:17). That God simply made a choice to save one individual and not another would make God partial. Not only that, but it would contradict many other scriptures within the word of God, including the following: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Romans 2:9-10, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Corinthians 10:12, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Philippians 2:12, and 2 Peter 1:10. If God unconditionally elects people to be saved or lost, then there is no way man can change his eternal destination: if we are saved, then we can do nothing to be lost; and if we are lost, we can do nothing to be saved.

But what Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:10 makes it clear that election is not a "fixed" matter. There he warns his readers to "make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, ye shall never fall." There are some things the Christian must do to make his election "sure." In other words, election is not a "sure" thing; to make our election sure, we must add several things to our faith: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. He goes on to warn that if we do not add these things to our faith we are "blind, and cannot see afar off" (2 Peter 1:9).

Conditional Divine Election

What Peter is discussing in 1 Peter 1:2 is "conditional" divine election. In conditional election, man maintains his responsibility; in fact, his responsibility is emphasized. The call in the gospel is for man to hear the gospel and respond to it (Mark 16:15-16). It is something he does of his own will and volition. He can decide to obey the gospel or he can not obey it; and, of course, he will have to take responsibility for the decision he makes.

through sanctification of the Spirit: Peter here gives the second criteria of election. He first says we are elect "according to the foreknowledge of God," and now he says our election is "through sanctification of the Spirit." "Sanctification" means "to set apart, to consecrate." All members of the Godhead are involved in this matter of salvation: God provides the "set purpose," the plan for man’s salvation; the Holy Spirit separates the sinner from the sphere where he dwelt in his sins to the sphere where the elected ones are; and Christ provides the cleansing for man through His own precious blood.

Peter, thankfully, tells us the means by which those things become effective in the expressions that follow.

unto obedience: This word "unto"--which is eis, meaning "a bringing along"--is interesting. The Holy Spirit brings us along to obedience. Through the word, the gospel, He makes known to us the plan God has prepared for man’s salvation. (See John 6:44-45).

Notice each of the points that Peter makes in this verse:

1. We are the elect of God by the "foreknowledge of God."

2. Our election is "through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit" (NIV).

3. The Holy Spirit--by revealing to us through the word what we should do--"brings us along" to our obedience to the gospel.

4. But what else does the Spirit bring us to? He brings us to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.

and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: This is an allusion to the Old Testament (Exodus 24:8), but the allusion finds its fullest expression in the new. (Consider Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 9:19-23, and Romans 6:1-5.) Notice what he says next: We are being brought along by the Spirit not only unto obedience but also "unto the sprinkling of the blood." These two are set with one another. Obedience is the "human" part of man’s election, and the "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" is the "divine" part.

Notice that both human and divine agencies are involved and that both "obedience and sprinkling"--in that order--are needed. Obedience comes before the sprinkling of blood or cleansing from sin. That is the order given throughout the New Testament (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16).

Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied: This is a common yet beautiful salutation to the Lord’s people scattered among the unbelievers.

Verse 3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Blessed be" is a eulogy meaning "to speak well of." Peter here begins his letter by praising the Lord. Not only is the expression "Blessed be the Father" a eulogy but also it is the beginning of a transition into the important themes of patience and hope that those Christians would need to endure the hardships and trials that would come their way.

which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope: Peter gives us a view into God’s merciful heart, a view that impels us to serve him. By God’s "abundant mercy, (He) hath begotten us again." "Hath begotten us again" is clearly defined as "To produce again, begat again, begat anew; metaph. thoroughly to change the mind of one, so that he lives a new life and one conformed to the will of God" (Thayer 36-1-313). "Being born again" is a concept Jesus introduces to us in his conversation with Nicodemus (John 3). Our birth is not into a world of despair but, rather, unto a "lively hope." When we are born again, we then possess a hope--not simply a hope but a lively hope.

by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: Because of the resurrection of our Lord, every person scattered throughout all the region has a lively hope. This is the question before us: how can we have this hope? That question must have occurred to those Christians to whom Peter is writing. Living in a time of despair, in a time of death and destruction, hope was not the general feeling among them. Yet Peter tells them that hope is to be the motivating force of every Christian.

Peter goes further, though, and gives them the basis for their hope: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Certainly Peter knew about the resurrection! He had seen the risen Lord, and he had come to know the strength and power a Christian can possess because of His resurrection.

Verse 4

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

To an inheritance incorruptible: The new birth brings us into new relationships in Jesus Christ our Lord. Here Peter points out that because we have been "begotten" by Jesus that we can lay claim to an inheritance that is incorruptible ("not fading away"--Vine, Vol. II 244). Such a promise certainly should get our attention just as it captured the attention of our brethren in the first century. It was upon such promises that they could build their hopes in the Lord.

Paul ties together the ideas of children and heirs in Romans 8:16-17 : "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Paul makes it clear: if we are His children, then we are also His "heirs."

Notice the nature of this inheritance. He said it is immortal, undying, imperishable, undefiled, unstained, and pure. There is a subtle contrast here between the earthly Canaan with which they were familiar and the heavenly Canaan that would never be defiled.

and undefiled: In its very nature, it is "undefiled" (amiantos), that is, "free from contamination" (Vine, Vol. IV 168). The same word is used of our "pure" and "undefiled" religion (James 1:27) and of Christ (Hebrews 7:26). This inheritance is far superior to the fleshly inheritance of the Israelite nation, the land of Canaan. Peter here speaks of spiritual Canaan, the heavenly Jerusalem, where "there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth ..." (Revelation 21:27).

and that fadeth not away: Here Peter alludes to the fabled flower amaranths whose bloom is perpetual. The saints rest in hope of a reward that the passing of the ages will never diminish nor dull.

It is interesting that the Holy Spirit selects this word when speaking of our inheritance. Peter well understood the finiteness of earthly things as opposed to the heavenly things that are infinite. Later in this epistle he speaks of the brevity of man’s glory (like grass or a flower that "withers") in contrast to the eternity of "the word of the Lord" (1 Peter 1:24-25). But here in verse 5, he firmly establishes that God’s people have something infinite, an inheritance that will never pass away. The passing of all the ages of time will never change our inheritance or the beauty of the moment when we receive it. In the next phrase Peter tells us where our inheritance is.

reserved in heaven for you: The inheritance is on "reserve" ("to guard, keep, preserve"--(Vine, Vol. III 285). It is not a thing now available. God is preserving this inheritance, and the wonderful thing about it is that it is reserved in heaven (John 14:1-2). It is not on this earth, either now or later. He does not speak of any kind of an earthly kingdom or of a millennium. Peter makes his point clear. The inheritance is "in heaven."

As we work toward the day that we shall receive abundant entrance into this heavenly kingdom, we can be confident because these promises are in the watchful custody of the Ancient of Days.

Verse 5

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Who are kept by the power of God: Those who have this inheritance are "kept" (phrouomenous), "by watching and guarding to preserve one for the attainment of something" (Thayer 658-2-5432). We are guarded by the mighty power of God. The ones who have the benefits Peter mentions here the "lively hope" (verse 3), the "inheritance incorruptible" (verse 4), and God’s "shielding" (verse 5, NIV)--are those who have been "begotten" by God or born anew. These have an inner security that is continuous and unfailing. (See Romans 8:31). That security, however, is afforded only to those who are born anew.

We must make it clear that there is no security imposed on anyone, be it a first century saint or a twentieth century saint. Security is not separate from human participation. Peter makes it clear in verse 2 that our election depends in part upon our "obedience" as well as God’s foreknowledge, the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. When we obey the gospel, we are "kept by the power of God."

Again, we must emphasize that entering into obedience, thus attaining this security, does not mean that we can never fall (as the doctrine of "eternal security" or "perseverance of saints" suggests). Peter reminds us that it is possible to attain the "knowledge of the Lord" but to "turn from the commandment" of God (2 Peter 2:20-22). Jude also warns us to "guard" ourselves: "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Judges 1:21).

"Kept" is a present participle implying action constantly going on. It is a military term, meaning "to guard or protect" (Wuest, 1 Peter 2:2)

The sum of the whole matter is this: there is both a divine factor and a human factor involved in our salvation.

through faith unto salvation: This word "faith" means "a strong and welcome conviction of belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God" (Thayer 513-1-4102). This same word is used three times in this chapter (in verses 5,7,9). Peter here emphasizes the "human factor" in our salvation. It is not imposed upon us, nor is it a salvation that cannot be affected by the lives we live; rather, our salvation depends upon our faith. If we are "faithful until death," we shall receive the "crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

ready to be revealed in the last time: "Revealed" (apokalupto) means "the salvation and glory that awaits the believer" (Vine, Vol. III 292).

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:18-19).

We cannot have this manifestation of the sons until the last day. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:8, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Paul says this would be given to us in "that day." The apostle Peter here suggests a similar idea. Salvation is equated with the inheritance, which is reserved in heaven for the faithful. He makes it clear that there is no inheritance nor salvation for those who cease to believe or act like the sons of God.

Verse 6

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

Wherein ye greatly rejoice: The word "rejoice" (agalliao) "is from a Greek word speaking of extreme joy expressing itself externally in an exuberant triumph of joy" (Wuest, I Peter 24). The grand theme before us is of joy in afflictions. Rejoicing is in order, even in these afflictions, because of sonship, forgiveness of sins, divine inheritance, and the providential care of the Father.

though now for a season, if need be: The word "season" is from oligon, which means "little, small, few" (Wuest, I Peter 24). These many diversified persecutions are only for a season--a time that might be for a short period or it might be for the rest of one’s life. Even if the persecutions last a lifetime, heaven views them only as for a "season." And the Apostle Paul says that the reward is worth the difficulties, no matter how long they last. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: "Heaviness" (lupeo) means "to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief; to throw into sorrow" (Thayer 383-1-3076). "Manifold" (poikilos) refers to "divers sorts" (Thayer 527-1-4164). "The word emphasizes the diversity rather than the number of trials" (Wuest, I Peter 25). "The word ’temptations’ (periasmos) ... refers both to trials and testings, and also solicitations to do evil, in short, to all that goes to furnish a test of character" (Wuest, I Peter 25). The temptations or trials are viewed as much diversified; and they may be persecutions, deprivations, or difficulties.

Verse 7

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

That the trial of your faith: The word "trial" (dokimion) means "your proven faith" (Thayer 155-1-1383). It is very evident that God sometimes allows tests or trials to come to prove our faith. This crucible will occur again in chapter four.

being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire: Peter’s figure refers to a goldsmith who is in the process of refining gold. As the goldsmith casts the ore into the furnace, he applies the heat to cause the impurities to rise to the top where they are skimmed off. This process continues until he can see his face in the surface of the liquid. Even so must our lives be subjected to the burning trials of life until our impurities rise to be removed, and God can see His face in us. Peter says that the trial of our faith is much more precious than that of gold. May we with patience wait until the great Goldsmith can see His face in us.

might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: The word "praise" (epainos) means "to the obtaining of praise" (Thayer 227-2-1868). The word "honour" (timee) carries forth the meaning of "honour appearing in the rewards of the future life" (Thayer 624-1-5092). The word "glory" (doxa) means "good opinion concerning one, and as resulting from that, praise, honor glory" (Thayer 155-2-1391).

The end result of trials in the Christian’s life is that his faith will be refined to the point that it will bring "praise and honour and glory" to God as well as to the believer.

at the appearing of Jesus Christ: This praise occurs at the final appearing of Jesus. Jesus ascending into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11) promised He would return (John 14:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). Paul also addressed Timothy with the sobering thoughts of the appearing of Jesus (2 Timothy 4:1).

Verse 8

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Whom having not seen, ye love: The brethren to whom Peter was writing had not even had a glimpse of the Lord, but they still loved Him.

in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: The word "unspeakable" (aneklaletos) "denotes unable to be told out (eklaleo, to speak out)" (Vine, Vol. IV 175). What a wonderful thing it would be to be in the presence of a people who rejoice with joy unspeakable.

Think of Thomas in John 20:29 : "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Peter continues the theme of Christian hope through trials and suffering. Hope of seeing the One they had never seen. Peter had seen the Lord; they had not, and yet they loved Him.

The phrase "full of glory" means "to make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendor; to impart glory to something, to render it excellent" (Thayer 157-1-1392).

This passage reminds us of Thomas (John 20:29) and the Lord’s blessing promised upon those who have not seen, yet believe. The joy of all believers will be verified in and through Christ at judgment face to face!

Verse 9

Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Receiving the end of your faith: The "end" (telos) means "that by which a thing is finished, its close, issue" (Thayer 620-1-5056). The fulfillment of the Christian’s faith will be realized. We can be assured that our salvation is secure if we remain faithful until the end. The word "faith" (pistis) means "a strong and welcome conviction of belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God" (Thayer 513-1-4102).

even the salvation of your souls: The word "salvation" (soteeria) sums it all up "inclusively, to sum up all the blessings bestowed by God on men in Christ through the Holy Spirit e.g. 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 5:9; 1 Peter 1:9-10" (Vine, Vol. III 316). The word "soul" (psukee) means "the (human) soul in so far as it is so constituted that by the right use of the aide offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life" (Thayer 667-2-5590). Salvation is the "end" of our faith--that is what it is all about; and Christ came for this glorious consummation.

Verse 10

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently: Salvation was the subject of the prophets and prophecy. Peter places a stamp of approval on prophecy. These "prophets" (propheetees) are "one who, moved by the spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, esp. future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation" (Thayer 553-1-4396). The title is applied to the Old Testament prophets. "The prophets prophesied of the grace that should come. Enquired (ekzeeteo) means "to seek out i.e. investigate, scrutinize: to examine into anything" (Thayer 195-1-1567). The phrase "searched diligently" means "to search out, search anxiously, and diligently" (Thayer 222-2-1830).

who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: This beautiful statement speaks of the grace and truth that came by Christ.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

"Grace" means "kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved" (Thayer 666-1-5485).

Verse 11

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

Searching what, or what manner of time: Oftentimes the prophets would prophesy and then search for the meaning of their prophecy! (See Daniel 7:16; Daniel 9:2-3; Daniel 12:8-9.) They were very much concerned about events, about the coming of the Messiah, about dates, and about circumstances.

the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify: The spirit of the Lord that was in the prophets is the same spirit that was in the apostles. If the same Holy Spirit moved these men, we may rest assured that their doctrine was the same. This point is vital to the rest of this entire study.

I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things (Daniel 7:16).

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. {3} And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes (Daniel 9:2-3).

And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? {9} And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end (Daniel 12:8-9).

"Signify" (deloo) means "to make plain" (Vine, Vol. III 30).

when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow: The Spirit of Christ prophesied about both the sufferings of Christ and of His glory. This teaching was the focal point of all the ages (Luke 24:26).

Verse 12

Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things: The word "revealed" (apokalupto) means" "to make known, to make manifest, disclose, what before was unknown" (Thayer 62-1-601). The prophets spoke things that were not to be revealed, in most cases, in their lifetime; but they were revealed to the Apostles. The New Century Version is very clear on this point.

It was shown to them that their service was not for themselves. It was for you. They were serving you when they told about the truths you have now heard. The men who preached the Good News to you told you those things. They did it with the help of the Holy Spirit that was sent from heaven. These are truths that even the angels want very much to know about.

which are now reported unto you by them: The word "reported" (anangello) means to "announce, make known" (Thayer 36-1-312). He wanted them to know that the same Holy Spirit that once predicted is the same Holy Spirit that is now preaching to them or reporting to them the word. The Holy Spirit predicted through the prophets and preached fulfillment through the apostles.

that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven: The totality of the Godhead was involved in bringing the gospel to earth. The Holy Spirit was sent down to earth (Acts 2:1-4; John 14:25-26).

which things the angels desire to look into: As the cherubim turned their faces toward the mercy seat (Exodus 25:20), so turned they their faces to peer intently into the depths of redemption. It seems that the angels are intently looking into the birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Messiah and of the great scheme of redemption.

And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be (Exodus 25:20).

We learn that the angels are desiring to look into what we are in the very midst of today. If our salvation merits the attention of angels, then how much more should it merit our own attention.

Verse 13

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind: "Peter here uses an oriental expression referring to the act of gathering up around the waist the long, loose eastern robes which would impede one’s progress in running or other exertion" (Wuest, I Peter 34). The author returns to the thought of verse 3 in this powerful and bold metaphor. Peter knows that worries, fears, and anger can freeze an individual; thus these brethren should gird up the loins of their minds, that is, exercise a sense of mental control, the same as Paul indicates in Acts 26:25. Paul says, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness." Paul was in full control of his mind. These brethren needed that same kind of control as they endured the trials and persecutions of their day--such persecutions that we know little about.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

be sober: Christians must exercise mental self-control (Acts 26:25); they must "be calm and collected in spirit; to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect" (Thayer 425-2-3525). In this word, we learn the Christian attributes of maintaining soberness of mind and restraint of temper.

and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ: The word "end" (telios) in this passage, used only once in the New Testament, means "perfectly, completely" (Thayer 619-1-5049). In this case, it refers to the time when God’s eternal plan for man’s redemption culminates in judgment.

In that we have such a living, expectant hope, let us gather up all impediments--any improper attitudes, feelings, thoughts, or anything else that would impede our spiritual progress--and run the race with the full expectancy of receiving the eternal reward.

Verse 14

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

As obedient children: We should adhere to the definition of this word "obedient" (hupakoee) and make proper application in our personal lives. It means "obedience, compliance, submission, unto obedience" (Thayer 637-2-5218). This expression, "obedient children," is an allusion to the relationship between parent and child. It is actually an expression that we read many times in the scriptures: "sons of disobedience," "children of light," "children of this world," "son of perdition." Obedient children are children who have submitted themselves to the authority of the parent. The same principle holds spiritually: as God’s obedient children, we submit ourselves to His authority. Obedience is the very nature of life of the child of God.

not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: The word "fashioning" has to do with appearances. The Greek word is suskeematizomai, meaning "to give the same appearance as, to conform to" (Vine, Vol. II 80). It is the same idea Paul has in mind in Romans 12:2. The word "lust" (epithumia) denotes "a desire for what is forbidden" (Thayer 238-2-1939). Vine says "ignorance" (agnoia) "is of the former unregenerate condition of those who became believers" (Vol. II 245). It deals with our tendency to conform to the world in speech, dress, and manner of life.

Peter contrasts their former life and the life they now have as children of God. After obedience, these brethren did not continue in their former way of life, just as we do not today. We are not to live as we once lived or as the world does (Exodus 23:2).

Verse 15

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

But as he which hath called you is holy: The word "holy" (hagios) in this passage and the next means "pure, sinless, upright, holy" (Thayer 7-1-40). In verse 2, Peter addresses fellow Christians as the elect (1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:9; 1 Peter 5:10). Here he says they have been called, that is, called by the gospel that was sent to every creature. The elect are the cleansed or sanctified ones (1 Thessalonians 4:7). God has called us "from" and "to": from evil to holiness. God is holy, absolutely free of evil, and is worthy of our imitation. We fashion ourselves according to Him.

so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: "Conversation" means "manner of life, behavior, conduct" (Thayer 42-2-390).

Paul also teaches about Christians’ being called from a life of sin to live a holy life as a sanctified one:

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7).

Peter further teaches that Christians are called to the holy life so that they can follow the example of the Savior and inherit the heavenly blessing:

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21).

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Peter 5:10).

Verse 16

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

This ancient principle finds its fullest expression in the Christian dispensation. God’s greatest expression of His holy nature was in the giving of His Son upon the cross so that we might live the holy life and have the hope of heaven. (See also Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 20:26.)

Verse 17

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:

And if ye call on the Father: To call on the Father is more than to pray to the Father. To call on the Father means also to worship Him and to depend upon Him for our spiritual strength and needs. Our calling on Him becomes our way of life.

who without respect of persons: This expression "without respect of persons" (aprosopoleeptos) means "without partiality" (Thayer 70-1-678). This Greek word occurs in no other place in the New Testament. The same message Peter announced to Cornelius long ago is now announced to these brethren. God is totally fair, honest, and impartial; and He Himself says He judges according to every man’s work. He does not see or judge as man does.

judgeth according to every man’s work: "Judgeth" (krino) means "of the judgement of God or Jesus the Messiah, deciding between the righteousness and the unrighteousness of men" (Thayer 361-1-2919). "Work" (ergon) is used some 176 times in the New Testament and carries the meaning, "his whole way of feeling and acting, his aims and endeavors" (Thayer 248-2-2041). Each person’s heart and work will be judged; indeed, a further reason to be holy.

pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: The word "pass" (anastrepho) means "to conduct or behave one’s self" (Thayer 42-1-390). "Sojourning" (paroikia) is "a dwelling near or with one; hence a sojourning, dwelling in a strange land" (Thayer 490-1-3940). The two words "in fear" mean "reverence, respect" (Thayer 656-2-5401).

Peter uses a metaphor to compare the life of man here on the earth to a stranger who travels through a foreign land. Although we move through the midst of an unconverted people, we do so in fear (reverence for God), not terror. The Christian is like that pilgrim. He lives in the land, but his real citizenship is in another land--in the city of God.

Verse 18

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things: "Redeemed" (lutroo) means "to release on receipt of ransom" (Thayer 384-1-3084). (See also 1 Corinthians 6:20.) This is a term frequently used to indicate the release of one from slavery. The apostle declares that the price was paid, and the payment was not with something that could decay: he will say in the next verse it was with "the precious blood of Christ."

as silver and gold: Silver and gold were the ordinary means of purchase; the price of our redemption may not be compared with such corruptible things.

from your vain conversation: Redemption is not only freedom from the penalty of sin; it is freedom from an empty, pointless way of life. Here is heaven’s view of a life outside of Christ. A life outside of Christ is viewed as being vain, empty and to no avail.

The word "vain" is the translation of a Greek word which has in it the idea of an ineffectual attempt to do something, an unsuccessful effort to attain something. It is found in the sentence from an early secular document, "He vainly relates." Thus, the vain conversation from which the Christian is liberated is his manner of life before he was saved which failed to meet the standards of God. It was a futile life, in that it did not measure up to that for which human life was created, to glorify God. (Wuest, I Peter 42)

Peter says we have not only been given freedom from the penalty of sin but also freedom from a sinful life.

received by tradition from your fathers: "Tradition" means "handed down from one’s fathers or ancestors" (Thayer 496-1-3970). There is nothing in the makeup of men, whether the tradition of the Jewish elders or idolatries of the Gentiles, then or now, that can save.

Verse 19

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

But with the precious blood of Christ: "Precious" (timios) is a beautiful word, meaning "held in honor, esteemed, especially dear" (Thayer 624-2-5093). How beautiful! Here is the price--the price that we could never pay: the precious, vicarious blood of the Christ who died not only in our behalf but instead of us. He not only did it for me but He did it in my place. This is the fact that Peter wants to impress upon brethren and upon us. This verse contains both the what and the Who. He was the redemption.

Peter says that we have been bought. Jesus bought us to set us free so that we could become His bondslave. That profound concept may not make sense to those in the world, but it should make a great deal of sense to the Christian. By His blood, we are set free to become His bondservants! One of the unique features of our redemption is that we become both His bondslaves and His freemen.

For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant (1 Corinthians 7:22).

as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: The redemptive death of Christ is likened to the sacrifice of the paschal lamb (Leviticus 22:21-22). Without a single defect, He was indeed "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Verse 20

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world: "Foreordained" (radition) means "to designate beforehand" to a position or function (Wuest, I Peter 43). The word "foundation" (katabolee) is the translation of a word meaning literally "to throw down" and was used of the laying of the foundation of a house. Thayer says it means "a throwing or laying down" (Thayer 330-1-2602). It speaks of the act of the transcendent God throwing out into space the universe by speaking the word. "World" in the Greek text is kosmos, which speaks of an ordered system and here of that perfect universe that left the hands of the Creator (Wuest, I Peter 42). Before the morning stars ever sang together, before the sons of God ever shouted for joy, He was marked out as that paschal lamb.

John the revelator speaks of this great sacrifice:

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

Our Lord was foreordained for us.

but was manifest in these last times for you: The word "manifest" (phaneroo) means "to show one’s self, appear" (Thayer 648-2-5319).

"Last times" refers to the Christian age. Jesus the Christ was made known to the world as the Lamb of God during this dispensation.

Verse 21

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Who by him do believe in God: The "Who" refers to the believers. Through Christ, they have faith in the existence of God.

that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory: The Greek word for "raised him up" is egiro, and it means "to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life" (Thayer 165-1-1453).

Peter places great emphasis on the resurrection theme in his preaching (Acts 2:32-36; Acts 4:10).

that your faith and hope might be in God: The word "faith" (pistis) is defined as "the conviction that God exists and is the creator and the ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ" (Thayer 513-1-4102). The point is that our faith and hope rests, not in those things that decay or pass away, like silver and gold. Our faith and hope rests on eternity, upon God Himself. There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. Our present and our future rest upon the resurrection, ascension, and glorification of the Lord.

This verse is a spiritual confidence booster in that it teaches that we believe in God through Christ. God raised Christ from the dead and gave Him glory. So our faith and hope are now in God.

Verse 22

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

Seeing ye have purified your souls: "Purified" (hagnizo) signifies "to purify, cleanse from defilement" (Vine, Vol. III 233). Let us get the message of sin: sin defiles. Our souls, then, must be purified, and that process takes place through our obedience of the truth. The soul is cleansed in the process of separating ourselves from the world.

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17).

We must separate ourselves from the world through obedience, even though we still live in the world.

Peter has been talking about redemption by the Christ who paid a price we could never pay. He purchased us by His blood, thus bringing about the pardon for our sins. Now he says that we have purified our souls in obeying the truth. The Bible has a very real way of bringing us down to earth. When we get carried away with some of the grand things we do, it brings us back on solid ground by telling us to purify our souls in obeying the truth. Redemption and obedience are the means of our purifying. In the twentieth century, we need to hear these truths just as much as they needed to hear it then. No system of salvation is correct that does not include obeying the truth.

in obeying the truth: "Obeying" (hupakoee) is defined as "obedience, compliance, submission, of the things which one submits himself" (Thayer 637-2-5218). The word "truth" (aleethia) refers to "the truth, as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man" (Thayer 26-2-225). Purification is not a mystical process. Salvation is by redemption and obedience.

through the Spirit: Sanctification (purifying our souls) is accomplished through obedience to truth, the word of God, which is the sword of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 4:12).

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

unto unfeigned love of the brethren: "Unfeigned" (anupokritos) means "unfeigned, undisguised" (Thayer 52-1-505). Obedience has brought us into a right relationship with God and with one another. "Love of the brethren" (philadelphia) means "the love of brothers (or sisters), brotherly love, the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren" (Thayer 653-1-5360).

see that ye love one another: Since Peter has just commended them for their undisguised love for one another, it seems strange that he would immediately admonish them to "love one another." The explanation is that he uses two different words that are translated love. The first is a friendly love; the latter is a self-sacrificing love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Galatians 5:22; John 21:15). This command is based on the worthiness or preciousness of the person loved. It is the response of the heart to the worth of the one loved (John 3:16).

with a pure heart fervently: "Pure" (katharos) means "free from every admixture from what is false, sincere" (Thayer 312-2-2513).

"Heart" (kardia) refers to "things done from the heart i.e. cordially or sincerely, truly (without simulation or pretence)" (Thayer 3325-1-2588). Sincere, pure love is to rise from an clean heart unceasingly. Love should rise out of our hearts as water does from a natural spring that rises out of the earth unceasingly. We are to love one another "fervently" (ektenos), "earnestly, fervently" (Thayer 200-1-1619).

We do not make much melody on strings that are loose or that are stretched out. Likewise, we shall not love one another just with the strings, but with the strings stretched out. Loose strings produce no melody or harmony whether on a harp or on a heart. We should love one another with the heart strings stretched out.

Verse 23

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Being born again: This phrase is from one Greek word, anagennao, meaning "to produce again, begat again, begat anew; metaph. thoroughly to change the mind of one, so that he lives a new life and one conformed to the will of God" (Thayer 36-1-313). This Greek word is used only twice in the New Testament, and both times are found within this chapter (verses 3 and 23). The love that Peter has been talking about rests upon the concept of a common parenthood and a common brotherhood. He writes to these Christians scattered among the heathen nations in Asia Minor to tell them they have a common family in Christ. They become a part of this family by "being born again."

The phrase "being born again" is confusing to many in the denominational world and raises many questions. Nicodemus, in John 3, asked, "How can a man be born again when he is old?" To this question, Jesus responded, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:4-5). Baptism in water for the remission of sins is the way to accomplish the New Testament teaching about how to be born again (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Peter 3:21).

not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible: "Corruptible" means "corruptible, perishable" (Thayer 652-1-5349). "Incorruptible" (aphthartos) means "not liable to corrupt or decay, imperishable" (Thayer 88-2-862).

The "seed" (spora) means "a sowing, seed time, denotes seed sown, of human offspring" (Vine, Vol. III 339). It is used here of human offspring and is not that by which we are born from above. Christians are not of human conception spiritually.

by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever: The phrase "which liveth" (zao) means "having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul" (Thayer 270-2-2198). "Abideth" (meno) means "not to perish, to last, stand" (Thayer 399-2-3306).

The divine spora, the word of God, is not sterile: rather, it is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). May we resist every effort on the part of those who would try to make it sterile. The word of God is as incorruptible as God Himself.

Verse 24

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass: "All flesh" (sarx) in this passage refers to "every living creature...whether man or beast" (Thayer 570-2-4561). No doubt Peter alludes to Isaiah 40:6-8 in insisting that all flesh with its glory, honor, riches, and ability to produce is as grass compared to the word of God.

The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: "Withereth" means "to dry up" (Vine, Vol. IV 224). The flesh and all the glory of mankind is temporal; decay and death are inevitable. The flower must fall. The phrase "falleth away" (ekpipto) means "to fall out of to fall down from" (Thayer 198-2-1601). There is no exception to that fate.

Verse 25

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever: The "word" is constant and unchanging. "Endureth" (meno) simply means "not to perish, to last, stand" (Thayer 399-2-3306). The same Greek word is translated "abideth" in verse 23. It is life-giving and eternal.

And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you: The word is the gospel. This long phrase, "which by the gospel is preached," is from the Greek word, uangelizo, -omai, meaning "of persons, glad tidings are brought to one, one has glad tidings proclaimed to Him (Thayer 256-2-2097). That very word of which the prophets spoke, which the apostles received and preached, is the eternal word.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". "Contending for the Faith". 1993-2022.