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Bible Commentaries

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Peter 1

Verses 1-5

The elect redeemed and preserved

1 Peter 1:1-5

The writer of this epistle is Simon Peter. It is called his General Epistle because it is not addressed to any particular person or church but to Christians in several places. It is thought by some to be the oldest of all the epistles. 1 Peter 5:12-13 gives us the place from which it was written (Babylon) and the brother by whom it was sent (Silas, the friend and companion of Paul). Also found here is the design of the epistle, ‘to declare to you that this is the true account of the grace of God.’

1 Peter 1:1. Peter does not call himself the vicar or successor of Christ nor the head of the church, but only an apostle of Christ. He writes to the people of God who were driven from their homes and lands by persecution and for the sake of the gospel (Acts 8:1-4; Acts 11:19).

1 Peter 1:2. ‘Elect.’ Believers are called the elect of God because God has chosen them to salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Mar 13:20 ; 1 Corinthians 1:27-30; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; Romans 11:5-7; Romans 9:11; Acts 13:48).

The cause of election is ‘according to the foreknowledge of God.’ The reasons for our election are not found in us but in God (Ephesians 2:4-5; Matthew 11:25-26; 1 John 4:10). God knows because God foreordains (Romans 8:29-30).

The means God uses to carry out the design of election are ‘sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth’ (2 Thessalonians 2:13). The Holy Spirit quickens, convicts of sin, reveals Christ to the heart, and works true repentance and faith in the sinner (Ephesians 1:12-14; Romans 10:13-17).

The end or goal of election is obedience to Christ and to be cleansed and justified through his blood. Election is not salvation; it is unto salvation. Those who are elect will hear his voice and will believe on Christ and will be saved (John 10:24-28; Romans 8:28-30). The sprinkling of the blood of Christ alludes to the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb in the Old Testament.

1 Peter 1:3-4. Here we have an example of the sacrifice of praise Paul mentioned in Hebrews. Every time Paul talks about God’s electing, regenerating, and redeeming grace, he blesses or praises God (Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

The cause is again according to his abundant mercy.

The means is the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. Christ died for our sins and arose for our Justification. ‘Because I live, ye shall live.’

The end or goal is a living hope and a certain inheritance. This hope is called a living hope because it is based not on dead works but on the Person and work of a living Christ! Our inheritance is incorruptible neither moth, nor rust, nor decay, nor years have any effect on it. It is undefiled pure and holy and untouched by sin. It fadeth not away as the world and its fashion. It is reserved in heaven for you it awaits your coming (John 14:13).

1 Peter 1:5. Our Lord Jesus Christ has assumed full responsibility for his people to redeem them, to keep them, to intercede for them, and to finally present them all before the Father (Romans 8:34; Jude 1:24; John 6:37-40; Philippians 1:6). We are kept through faith (not in rebellion and disobedience), looking to Christ, living by Christ, and leaning on Christ. We have been saved, we are being saved, and our final salvation (or deliverance) is ready to be revealed. There is the preservation of the believer by the power of God and the perseverance of the believer in faith. He will not leave us, and we will not leave him. It is impossible to have one without the other (Jeremiah 32:40; Psalm 74:24, 28; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14).

Verses 6-16

The trial of your faith

1 Peter 1:6-16

1 Peter 1:6. This verse is a part of what has been written before. Believers are a happy people. They rejoice that they are the elect of God, that they have been regenerated by the Spirit of God; they rejoice in the redemption of Christ, for their sins are forgiven; they rejoice in the resurrection of Christ; and they rejoice in their inheritance, which is reserved in heaven.

‘Though now for a little while we are distressed by trials and temptations’ (John 16:33; Luke 6:21-24). The word ‘temptation’ refers not to temptation to sin but refers to the trials which God in his wisdom decrees and permits for our good. These trials come in different ways the trial of difficult service, the trial of reproach from unbelievers, the trial of riches or poverty, the trial of sickness or sorrow, the trial of success or failure, the trial of disappointment (Romans 8:28). Sometimes trials of faith are unpleasant to the flesh, but not always. God may permit a man to prosper in order to try his faith.

1 Peter 1:7. God has a reason for every trial and affliction that he brings into our lives. Faith is tried to reveal the genuineness of it. Your faith is more precious than gold (which will finally perish), and gold must be tested by fire. When gold comes through the fire, it is purged of its dross and shines the brighter. So faith that comes through real trial is purged of pride, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness; only that which rests in Christ is left.

Faith is tried in order to strengthen it and increase it. The more my faith is used, the stronger it becomes. Trials do not produce faith; they reveal faith!

Faith is tried to reveal the value of it to me (1 Corinthians 15:19). Nothing is better for us than to find out how frail we are and how fragile are the things of this world. Our trials enable us to comfort others who are tried (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Faith which survives trial will be honored and praised at the appearing of Christ. It will bring glory to Christ and to us.

1 Peter 1:8. We have never seen Christ with our natural eyes, yet we believe him (John 20:29). We believe not with a notional, historical, or temporary faith but actually looking to him as our Lord and Saviour with confidence, unspeakable joy, and full expectation, being confident that what he has promised, he is able to perform (Romans 4:20-21).

1 Peter 1:9. The chief design of this verse is to distinguish this great salvation from a temporary deliverance. The end of faith (or the results of faith) is not just to make life here bearable or only to give us moral principles by which to live; but the outcome of faith is the complete salvation of our souls from sin, from the law, from hell, from eternal death, and to eternal glory with our Lord. This is the salvation we now have by faith in our risen Lord!

1 Peter 1:10. The prophets of the Old Testament, who wrote of Christ’s coming and of the redemption which he would accomplish (Isaiah 53:4-6; Acts 10:43; John 5:46), searched and enquired earnestly about this salvation (Luke 2:25-32).

1 Peter 1:11. The spirit of Christ was in these prophets of old. They wrote as they were taught and moved by the Spirit. They prophesied as they were inspired by the Spirit. The Spirit of God prophesied through them concerning the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow, and they sought to find out when this would take place and to whom this great grace should come (Luke 24:27; Luke 24:45-47).

1 Peter 1:12. It was revealed to these Old Testament prophets that the services they rendered and the coming of the Messiah of which they spoke would not be fulfilled in their day but in a later day. Therefore, those who lived in the days of his coming would recognize the Messiah from the fulfillment of their prophecies and all Old Testament types and pictures. They were ministering to us. The fulfillment of these things is reported to you by the same Holy Spirit who inspired them to prophesy of him. We proclaim the gospel by the same spirit by which they prophesied and promised the gospel. Into the very things which we preach and you believe, the angels desire to look!

1 Peter 1:13-16. Therefore (since you are so highly favored as to be a witness and a recipient of all that these great prophets only talked about, hoped for, and enquired into; and since you have had revealed to your heart mysteries that the angels desire to look into), consider the following:

1. Apply your mind and heart diligently to these things that we have in Christ. Be sober, take them seriously and conscientiously, setting your full hope on the grace that is yours in Christ.

2. Live as obedient children of God. Do not conform your lives to the world with its vanities and lusts which governed you before you knew the gospel.

3. As the one who called you out of sin to himself is holy, you, yourselves, also be holy in your conduct, your conversation, and your manner of living. For it is written in Leviticus 11:44-45, ‘Be ye holy for I am holy,’ saith the Lord!

Verses 17-25

The price of redemption

1 Peter 1:17-25

1 Peter 1:17. Believers in this world are pilgrims and sojourners. Though we are in this world, we are not of it. We are natives here by our first birth, but our second birth makes us citizens of a heavenly country. We are here for a little while only. So if we call God our Father and if we call on God for his mercy and grace in Christ through this life and for life to come, let us do so in true reverence and fear of God and with sincerity of heart. For God, without respect of persons, is a true judge of the works of men. He looks on the heart, not on the outward flesh (John 6:28-29; Luke 16:15).

1 Peter 1:18. You know that God did not redeem you from the useless way of life filled with tradition, ceremonialism, ritualism, and vain and useless things (received from your forefathers) with silver and gold. The price of redemption is higher than this. Peter is not talking about the corruption of human nature (from which we have certainly been redeemed) but about Judaism, with all of its vain religious show of outward self-righteousness.

1 Peter 1:19. But you were purchased with the precious blood of Christ the Messiah, like that of a sacrificial lamb without spot or blemish. Christ’s blood is human blood, only not tainted with sin. Christ’s blood is the blood of one who is God as well as man and was freely shed in the stead of his people. Christ’s blood is a sufficient price for our redemption because of who he is. It is precious blood (precious to the Father and to the believer) for a priceless purchase! (Matthew 26:28; Acts 20:28; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:12; Revelation 1:5.)

1 Peter 1:20. Christ was chosen and ordained to be our Surety and Saviour before the foundation of the world. Redemption of sinners by the blood of Christ was no after-thought of God when Adam fell. There was a Saviour provided before Adam fell (Revelation 13:8; Hebrews 13:20; Acts 2:23). But he was brought out to public view and to public rejection and crucifixion in these last days.

1 Peter 1:21. It was all for you, who by him do believe in God. Christ came to redeem all who believe (Matthew 1:21). He fulfilled all righteousness for us. He bore our sins in his body and rose for our justification. He ascended to the Father, where he ever liveth to make intercession for you.

1. It is by him that we believe, for faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

2. It is by him that we can approach God (John 14:6).

3. It is by him that we are accepted by God (Ephesians 1:6).

4. It is by him that we can know God (1 Corinthians 1:30). Our faith and hope have this sure foundation Christ has both risen and entered into glory. My Lord and Representative has won the battle and has already occupied heaven for me (John 14:2-3).

1 Peter 1:22. The apostle now passes to another exhortation; namely, to brotherly love, seeing that you have been enabled by the Holy Spirit to lay hold of Christ by faith and by the blood of Christ. Your souls and hearts have been purified and cleansed and sanctified. See that you love one another fervently and sincerely with a pure heart, for the end of sanctification and the evidence of sanctification is love (1 John 3:14; John 13:35; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

1 Peter 1:23. We have been born again and belong to the same family, being born of the same Father; therefore, we ought to love as brethren. This glorious birth is not of natural seed, which serves only to corrupt us and impart an evil nature, but of holy seed, the Word of God, which lives and abides in us forever. Our first conception leads only back to the dust; our spiritual conception is eternal life! (James 1:18.)

1 Peter 1:24. All flesh (all that is natural and of man) is like the grass of the field, which withers and dies. All of the honor and glory of the flesh is like the flower, which fades and finally drops off in death and decay (Isaiah 40:6-8).

1 Peter 1:25. But the word of God (by which he created the world and all things and by which he created us anew in Christ Jesus) abides forever (2 Corinthians 4:6). This word is the gospel, which was preached to you!

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Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.