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After the many letters of Paul and the one letter of James you now have a letter of another writer in front of you. The writer is the apostle Peter. He is the disciple about whom there has been the most written in the four gospels, of all the disciples who traveled through Israel with the Lord Jesus. He was also given a special task by the Lord to strengthen and encourage his brothers; those are in the first place his Jewish fellow believers. Peter receives the apostleship to the circumcised, meaning: to the Jews (Galatians 2:7). By the writing of his two letters Peter fulfils the order of the Lord: “Strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
To be able to fulfill this ministry he had to be educated and shaped. For that purpose God also used satan. Satan had asked God for the disciples that he may sift them as wheat (Luke 22:31). He got God’s permission to do that, whereby as with all temptations, God determines the limits. In that way satan had been an instrument in God’s hand in order to carry out His plans with Peter. The painful experience that Peter had to undergo – that he denied his Lord – was used by the Lord to make him fit for the ministry He had for him. The Lord made sure by His prayer that Peter’s faith should not fail (Luke 22:32). The evidence of this are his letters.
Peter has learnt a lot from his fall and restoration. He knows from own experience that satan is a terrible enemy and he knows God’s restoring hand that leads out of the depth. His failure reminds him of how great the grace and faithfulness of God are. That is also the way he concludes his letter. As a kind of conclusion he says to his readers “that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it” (1 Peter 5:12). His whole letter is a testimony of that grace. What God wants to teach you with the grace that He shows, is that you may subject yourself to His will. That was the case with Peter.
After Peter’s restoration in the midst of the other disciples, he receives from the Lord his threefold order (John 21:15-Esther :). The lambs and sheep that the Lord entrusts him with He emphatically calls: “My lambs” and “My sheep”. It refers to the lambs and the sheep from the stable of Israel. The Lord knew about what His sheep would have to fear from the unbelieving Israelites. That’s why he entrusted them to Peter, who had been a straying sheep himself, but now has returned (Psalms 119:176).
Peter calls the sheep that the Lord entrusts him with “those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout …” (1 Peter 1:1). Scattering or dispersion is always a judgment of God due to the unfaithfulness of His people. At the same time the grace of God had taken care of them, for the promises of the Old Testament were made to them. They returned, not to the land, but to “the Shepherd and Guardian” of their souls (1 Peter 2:25). Peter can help and guide his brothers, who came from a nation that just as he had denied the Lord (Acts 3:13) and who now live outside of Israel.
Just like the other apostles Peter also has a particular issue that characterizes his letters. Paul often presents the believers as members of the church, which means as members of the body of Christ. John sees the believers as members of the family of God. Peter can be called the apostle of the kingdom of God. ‘The kingdom of God’ is actually the main issue of both of his letters (although the expression itself does not appear). That means that he sees the believers and addresses them as servants in the kingdom of God.
In a way Paul also has spoken about the kingdom of God, but Peter is still the one who received the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:16-Psalms :). (Just for the sake of clarity: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are the same, but with a different accent.) He used the keys in Acts in order to open the door of the kingdom successively for the Jews (Acts 2), the Samaritans (Acts 8) and the Gentiles (Acts 10).
In that way Peter has not been made the head of the church or the heaven’s gate keeper. The kingdom of heavens or the kingdom of God is a kingdom on earth. But what is that kingdom actually? When you think of a kingdom you think of a king and subjects. Therefore the kingdom of God is the kingdom that is ruled by God. He rules over everything that is His; that is the universe with everything that belongs there.
You cannot see that yet, but that is the intention of God to soon put everything under the feet of the Son of Man. What you do see is that the Lord Jesus has already been crowned as King (Hebrews 2:8-1 Samuel :). In the Old Testament the kingdom of God is something to come, for it is related to the coming of the King, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus (Daniel 7:13-2 Chronicles :). The Lord Jesus is the Heir of all things. But when He came to earth He was rejected. Therefore the kingdom in its announced shape, in which the Messiah will publicly reign, has been delayed for an indefinite time.
Nevertheless the kingdom exists, but actually in a special shape. This shape is unexpected and is not announced by the prophets. The particular thing about it is that the kingdom is not public, but is hidden. Therefore the Lord Jesus speaks about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:11). It is a hidden realm, because the King of that realm is hidden. The subjects, those who confess the Lord Jesus as Lord, are not hidden, but He, to Whom they subject themselves, is.
The world doesn’t see the living Lord of Whom the Christians are subjects, for the world has rejected and crucified Him. The world is not subjected yet. The world is still hostile and is still resisting against the believers as it once did to the Lord Jesus. Peter is focusing the eyes of the readers on the glorified Lord and on the future, when He will appear to reward the ones who are His (and to condemn His enemies, but he will write about that in his second letter).
Another theme is the suffering of the believer because of his identification with the rejected Lord. The suffering is presented in such a way that you can conclude that it is due to the following of Christ. Thereby you can discern different kinds that you encounter in this letter:
1. Suffering as a test of the faith (1 Peter 1:6-Judges :);
2. suffering for the sake of the conscience (1 Peter 2:19);
3. suffering for the sake of righteousness (1 Peter 3:14);
4. suffering for the sake of Christ and for His Name’s sake (1 Peter 4:13-2 Chronicles :);
5. suffering from the side of satan (1 Peter 5:8-1 Samuel :).
As the prophets already announced, suffering is an intermediate stage to glory. Like the Lord Jesus has come to glory right through the suffering, in that way it applies also to you. Therefore you are pointed to the inheritance that lies before you. The glory in this letter is not the Father’s house, but that you will be sharing Christ’s glory in the kingdom. Just like you are suffering with the rejected One now, you will be reigning with the glorified Christ after His return.
In order to understand the letter well, you should always consider that it is addressed to Jewish Christians. They know the Old Testament, they are looking forward to the kingdom and the glory of the Messiah and His government; they know about the judgment over the enemies. Now they believe in a Messiah Who they could not see, while the ungodly ones of the people have not been judged. On the contrary, both the ungodly Jews and the Gentiles cause the Jewish Christians to suffer. Everything is so much different than what they have believed from their childhood. They are being mocked by that, why there is no salvation by their Messiah. Due to that their faith may be wavering.
You are not in the same position, but there are many similarities between your position and that of them. It can also be hard for you to continue to trust in an invisible Lord. That trust in the invisible Lord can also result in different forms of suffering. It applies also to you that through this letter Peter focuses your heart on Him Whom you have got to love, although you do not see Him now.
1 Peter 1:1. “Peter” presents himself as the sender of the letter to his readers. He calls himself by the name that the Lord has given to him (John 1:42). Then he clarifies that he writes as “an apostle of Jesus Christ”. In that way his letter has authority. It doesn’t mean that he addresses them from a superiority, but it is in order to ensure his readers that this writing has great significance. An apostle is a representative who speaks or writes on behalf of another person. Therefore he does not write this letter out of courtesy, but it is a letter that he writes on behalf of Jesus Christ. In this letter he passes on the love of the Lord Jesus to His own.
The recipients are addressed as “aliens, scattered”. The readers, the believing Jews, are pilgrims in the areas where they were scattered due to the persecution that broke out because of Stephen (Acts 8:1; Acts 8:4Acts 11:19). ‘Aliens’ or ‘pilgrims’ find themselves in tough circumstances, far from their native country. The fact that they were ‘dispersed’ implies that they lie under the judgment of God. If they had remained faithful to what God had told them, they would have enjoyed God’s blessings in His land. That is out of the question now. Instead, they find themselves outside the promised land in strange lands.
You may say that these believers are in two ways pilgrims or strangers. They are that to the Gentiles in the midst of whom they find themselves, while they are also that to their unbelieving compatriots, because of their faith in the Messiah.
Peter names the areas where the believing Jews were scattered. Those are the five provinces of the Roman empire that lie in Asia Minor, the present Turkey. It is the area where Paul has worked very often, as you can read in the book of Acts. Although it cannot be said with certainty, it is much likely that many have come to faith owing to his service.
Their dispersion relates to the endurance of suffering they had to bear with. Another reason why Peter writes his letter, is to encourage them in that suffering. He nowhere appeals to resist against that suffering or to rebel against it.
Also today the children of God are dispersed everywhere and endure suffering. If you consistently follow the Lord Jesus you do not count in the world. You cannot find anywhere an appeal to unite yourself with other Christians in order to overthrow governments or even exert any political influence. Neither did the Lord Jesus do that.
1 Peter 1:2. In their relation to the world the believers may be strangers who are scattered here and there; in their relation to God things are totally different. Listen to what Peter has to say about their relationship to God. They are great blessings for the believers. The world has no part in that, the world doesn’t even know anything about it. Also the unbelieving Jews have no part in that. He is talking about “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”. He also talks about “sanctification of [the] Spirit, unto [the] obedience and sprinkling of [the] blood of Jesus Christ” (Darby translation).
Besides, here you see the triune God: God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. The triune God is the Source of all these great blessings and He works that its objects indeed take part in that too.
Let us briefly examine these blessings one by one. First that of being an elect. Being an elect sounds familiar to the pilgrims in the dispersion. They know that they, regarding their national origin, belong to God’s elected people. Only, that election regards an election to be God’s people on earth (Deuteronomy 7:6). Because the people had rejected the Lord Jesus, Israel has lost that place. When Israel will convert in the future, it will be God’s people.
But at this time there is another election, a higher, a heavenly one for the believers. The election of a believer is destined for heaven and not for earth. Therefore the election that Peter is talking about, stands opposite to the election of God’s earthly people.
This election has happened “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”. The Father has, according to His perfect foreknowledge of all things, elected certain people to be His property (Ephesians 1:4). With God foreknowledge implies more than only knowing all things in advance. Nothing will ever happen that He did not know in advance. However, His foreknowledge is not passive, but it makes Him act in a certain way, like here concerning His election.
For you, who may know to be elected, that is an enormous encouragement, for it gives you the absolute guarantee that your election has been established to eternity. To Peter it is also, with respect to the readers of his letter, a secure matter (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:13). God is saying: ‘You belong to Me.’ Who can reverse that? Who is greater and mightier than God? Therefore election doesn’t depend on your efforts, but on the counsel of God the Father, Who executes what He plans to do (Romans 8:28-Amos :). Peter will deal later in this chapter with the responsibilities that are also related to that.
When you look at the election you see the same concerning the following aspect that Peter calls the “sanctification of the Spirit”. ‘To sanctify’ means ‘to set apart’. God’s earthly people Israel was set apart from the nations that surrounded them, by all kinds of outer statutes. Thereby the law functioned as a dividing wall (Ephesians 2:14). Peter talks about a ‘sanctification of the Spirit’. The heavenly people where these believers (and we) belong to, has been set apart for God by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has worked the new life in them, separated them from the world and from Israel and related them to their Messiah Who is in heaven.
The same goes for the next aspect, that of “obedience”. As Jews they were indebted to obey the law, with the promise of life. To them as believers another obedience has replaced that, namely the “obedience … of Jesus Christ” (Darby translation). Nobody was able to fulfill the old standard of obedience, the law. But now they are able to fulfill the new standard by the new life they possess.
That new life is the Lord Jesus. In that way they are able to obey just like the Lord Jesus has done. After all you read about the obedience of Jesus Christ. It is not about obeying the law. To the believer the standard of obedience is not the law, but Christ. Look at Him, how He always obeyed His Father in love and you will surely learn to be obedient like that. That obedience goes much further than obeying the law.
As a final aspect – an aspect that even like obedience is related to Jesus Christ – Peter points at the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”. Here you find the blood of Christ as the foundation to obey. The blood gives the perfect security that to God everything is alright.
This aspect also forms a great contrast to what God has given to His people in the past. In the Old Testament indeed blood is mentioned as the ground for the atonement, but that is related to animals. However, that blood cannot take away sins and cannot give anyone a perfect conscience before God. Only the blood of Christ can (Hebrews 10:4-2 Chronicles :). The blood of Christ places you in perfect purity in the sight of God. Through the blood of Christ you have peace with God (Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:20; Romans 5:1). You may be sure of that position to be yours.
Next to that Peter adds a wish. He wishes that “grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure” or that “grace and peace may be multiplied” to the believers. By that he means that you will expect more and more from God’s grace and you will trust less and less in your own power. God’s grace will always be there to help you to do anything you have to do. When that awareness is present and also increases, you will surely experience the peace that Peter then wishes the believers.
God wants you to grow, that today you rejoice more in Him than yesterday, in spite of or maybe owing to the hardships that you experience. Actually, when your faith is being put to the test you get the chance to multiply in knowing the grace that God gives to you and in the peace that God Himself has.
Now read 1 Peter 1:1-2 again.
Reflection: In what blessings, according to these verses, may you rejoice?
A Living Hope
1 Peter 1:3. After his introductory words wherein he highlighted the greatness and the work of the triune God, Peter speaks out a praise. He is full of what the God and Father of the Lord Jesus has done. He cannot do anything else but worship Him. That is what always happens when you are awed by Who God is.
Because he is full of God he sees more of God, of Who He is and what He has done. He speaks in full admiration about God’s “great mercy” through which He did great things which can only amaze us. ‘Mercy’ is caring about people whose need is in such a way that they risk destruction, while they themselves have no possibility at all to come out of that need. It is about totally helpless people who in no way could become partakers of the blessing of God. That is the opportunity for God to show His ‘great mercy’.
Peter speaks about great mercy in relation to the regeneration of a sinner and the blessings attached to it. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “caused us to be born again”. That is truly great mercy! You have felt your misery and despondency and also your total incapacity to change anything about it. You were standing totally outside God’s blessings. But God was very compassionate about you and He gave you new life.
The fact that you are born again implies that the origin of your new life is ‘from above’ (John 3:3). You have been begotten of God. You yourself could do nothing about that, just as you couldn’t do anything about your natural birth.
You indeed received life through your natural birth, but no hope at all for a happy future. On the contrary, you were brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin (Psalms 51:5). The results have also become visible in your life. Death and hell were therefore your final destination. Through the regeneration that God has worked in you according to “His great mercy”, a radical change has happened in that final destination. You now have been begotten again “to a living hope”.
The hope that Peter presents here is totally different than the view to death and hell. This hope also goes much further than the prospect of a kingdom on earth under the government of the Messiah to which God’s earthly people always had looked forward to and is still looking forward to. The living hope is in fact related to a Jesus Christ Who is resurrected from the dead. The living hope that Peter presents here is not an earthly but a heavenly hope and therefore doesn’t look forward to the inheritance of the land of Canaan. “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” the eye is focused on a part in another world.
Christ not only has given His blood and died, but He has also risen. You see a living Lord. Thereby you have a living hope and beyond death you see everything there that is related to Him. Without His resurrection there would be no hope (1 Corinthians 15:19-Proverbs :). A living hope is a hope that is alive in your sight. It is not about something insecure, but contrarily this hope is an absolute security. Through the new life you are sure about that hope.
This hope is both objectively and subjectively to be seen. By that I mean that you can see that hope as something that lies before you, thus something you look forward to. That is the inheritance that is presented in the next verses. You can see that hope also as something that is in you, thus something you feel and experience. That is the hope for the inheritance, the desire for it that makes you to be motivated to joyfully move on through life as a pilgrim.
1 Peter 1:4. Through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the hope for the inheritance has become your part. It is an inheritance that with perfect assurance will be your possession. It is reserved for you and it cannot be defiled by anything or robbed by anyone. The inheritance is fixed in heaven and is preserved there for you in Jesus Christ, the risen and glorified Man.
Nothing has the power to diminish the value of that inheritance:
1. It is “imperishable”, therefore not to be harmed by death, through which it would ultimately be destroyed.
2. It is also “undefiled”, therefore free from every spot and also not to be damaged by anything attached to sin.
3. It also “will not fade away” and is therefore without any flaw or even a little reduction of its beauty and is not to be damaged by any test of time.
This inheritance is related to ‘the Heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2). Therefore it is untouchable for death, filthiness and decay.
The inheritance is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus that these Israelites, whom Peter is addressing, will once enter, just like you and I. However, it does not concern the kingdom on earth or the earthly part of the kingdom, which certainly will also be there, but the heavenly part of the kingdom. When the Lord Jesus will openly reign over heaven and earth, all believers who have died or have been taken up before the millennial kingdom comes, will be allowed to reign together with Him from heaven over all who are in heaven (angels, 1 Corinthians 6:3) and who are on earth and over all things that are on earth (1 Corinthians 6:2). It is the best part that you can ever imagine in the kingdom.
1 Peter 1:5. The inheritance is therefore reserved for you by God in a place where no thief and moth and corrosion can possibly take away or damage. But what happens to the heirs? Aren’t they very weak and impotent to be able to preserve themselves? That is for sure. Therefore Peter also has an encouraging word for the heirs. They actually are preserved by the power of God for the inheritance. Therefore you can be sure that the inheritance is reserved for you and that you are preserved for the inheritance.
And how does that happen? By nothing less than the “power of God”. As weak as you are, as strong as God is. You are being preserved by a guard that is continuously there and which cannot be misguided or overpowered. That is quite an assurance for you as an heir that you will possess the inheritance!
The mention of ‘being kept’ indicates that there is danger. That is something you should be aware of. The guard is not supposed to make you careless. You may know – and that is supposed to give you rest – that you are kept by the faithfulness and power of God. At the same time there is also something you should do. In order to experience God’s preserving power “faith” is needed from your side. Faith ascribes to God the place He is worthy of and it keeps you in the place of confidence in Him. Thereby you hold on to the declarations of His Word. Faith is essential until the inheritance will be obtained.
The fact that His preservation happens by the means of faith, means that it is only applied to believers. It also means that believers have the responsibility to trust themselves to Him for that preservation. After all, believing means to have confidence. He doesn’t take His own by the hand to drag them along and in this way bring them to the final goal. He works by faith, whereby He also makes sure that the faith does not cease. Peter experienced that preservation. After he denied the Lord he got restored, because the Lord had prayed for him that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:32).
As it is said, faith is needed as long as we are on the way to the final goal. Peter calls that final goal “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”. Therefore the salvation here is still to come. The salvation is what will be our ultimate part when we are with the Lord and then come to earth together with Him.
That the salvation is ready, implies that everything that is necessary for it has been done already. That the salvation has not come yet has got to do with the longsuffering of God, Who doesn’t want that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
With “the last time” Peter means that when the salvation indeed comes, the fulfillment of time will occur. It is the millennial kingdom of peace in which all times will find their fulfillment (Ephesians 1:10). Then the salvation will be revealed, it will become visible. After the millennial kingdom there will be no period of time anymore, but eternity will come.
Now read 1 Peter 1:3-5 again.
Reflection: To what degree is ‘the living hope’ that you have received, alive?
The Test of Faith
1 Peter 1:6. The time of blessing and rest that will come with the coming of the millennial kingdom rejoices the heart of the pilgrim and encourages him to move on in faith. It will not last much longer, it will take only “a little while”, before you reach the goal. It is a short time in comparison to eternity and also in comparison to the time of the kingdom of peace that will last a thousand years (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17).
In that short time you will suffer “various trials”. Peter says additionally “if necessary”. When you in your life of faith suffer trials, it is because God thinks it to be necessary, in order to test your faith. Only when we face difficulties, it will appear what faith means to us, whether we really trust in God. When everything is going smoothly it is not difficult to have faith.
Trials or tests do not make things pleasant, they are no source of joy, but of sorrow. Nevertheless there can be joy when you are being tempted. After all, it can be a cause of joy when you consider that the trial or temptation is a proof that God is engaged with you. A trial that you have to face shows that He has an interest in you. This is how James is presenting it (James 1:3). So on the one hand there is sorrow, on the other hand there is joy (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:10).
1 Peter 1:7. There are “various” or different kinds of trials that God sends or allows to happen in the life of the believer, in order to test his faith. As it is said, He does that only when He thinks it to be necessary. For the important thing that He has in mind is that the faith will be expressed. Trials are therefore tests, for the goal of the test is not only to make the faith express itself, but also to make it more pure. To God the faith of His own is “more precious than gold”. Gold is the most precious metal in creation, but it is perishable. The faith on the contrary is not perishable.
To make gold as pure as possible it is freed from everything that diminishes its value. In order to achieve that, a process is needed whereby it is kept in the fire and is being smelted. In that way everything that is not gold will float to the surface and will be removed. That is the same with the faith that is being purified from all unfamiliar elements (Psalms 66:10; Proverbs 17:3) in the fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12). Tests make faith more and more pure (Job 23:10). Also the prophet Malachi speaks about the purifying process that the believers from Israel will have to endure in the great tribulation, which is with a view to the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 3:1-Leviticus :).
The purifying process is executed by the Divine Smelter. He determines the level of the temperature of the test with a view to the genuineness of the faith. Thereby He will not surpass what the faith can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The result of His perfect wisdom will become completely visible at the revelation of Jesus Christ, Who will then be glorified in His saints and will be admired in all who believe (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Then it will become visible to all eyes how precious that faith is, that enabled these believers on earth to endure everything. The invisible Christ Who was rejected by the world, but Who meant everything to those believers, will become visible as the true motive of their life. He will be given all praise and honor and glory for His love and grace that surpass everything. This love and grace have given strength to the ones He owns to keep on trusting Him in the most difficult circumstances.
1 Peter 1:8. Still Peter has not finished yet with presenting the glories that are related to the Lord Jesus and the faith in Him. Your life in faith does not only consist of expecting and looking forward to, but also of something that you now already possess and that is He Himself. You do not see Him, you even have not ever seen Him, but you still love Him. That is because of your new nature that loves the Beloved. That is how you have gained eyes of the heart and are able to see by faith (Ephesians 1:18; Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:27; John 8:56).
To love Him and to rejoice in Him have a decisive and educational influence on your heart. It makes the heart firm and fills it with joy, whatever the circumstances. You have never ever seen the Lord Jesus, nor have you seen His blood, neither His work on the cross. But you surely know that it is all true. You believe that. It gives you a joy that you cannot possibly put into words. Your whole heart and life are full of it. It is a joy that is “full of glory”, which means that this joy is not from the earth and also doesn’t fit here, but it comes from heaven. ‘Full of glory’ means full of praise. It is a joy that is full of praise that is ascribed to the Lord Jesus.
1 Peter 1:9. The pleasure of that joy also gives the consciousness of the “salvation of your soul”. The salvation of the soul is “the outcome of your faith”, meaning the goal of the faith, that what is being established by faith. You have accepted the Lord Jesus as the One Who was willing to die for your sins on the cross. That immediately gave you the salvation of your soul. That your soul has been saved implies that you inwardly have been perfectly liberated from the consequences of sin and that you are also free from the fruits of the misery of sin.
Your body, however, has not been saved yet (Romans 8:23). You still can get sick for instance. Also creation has not been saved yet, but still groans under the consequences of sin (Romans 8:22). The full salvation is still to come, that is what you are hoping for and that is where you perseveringly are looking forward to (Romans 8:24-Lamentations :).
1 Peter 1:10. The prophets of the Old Testament have prophesied about this salvation. They spoke about a time of peace and righteousness on earth during the wholesome government of the Lord Jesus. They understood that they were talking about things that they themselves did not possess, but that it is only “grace” to those who were going to partake of that. That grace was possessed by the readers of this letter. Isn’t it a great grace to be able to believe in Him through Whom the salvation has been fully realized in your soul and through Whom the salvation will be fully realized in creation?
1 Peter 1:11. The prophets have shown the greatest interest in the things about which the “Spirit of Christ” inspired them to write. They made efforts to understand the things they wrote about. That a glorious time was going to come with the revelation of the Messiah was not a mystery to them. But what they could not understand, is that the Messiah first had to suffer and only thereafter the time of all kind of glories will come. Isn’t it indeed a great grace for you to know that the Messiah Jesus Who had suffered on earth, has now already been crowned in heaven with honor and glory (Hebrews 2:9) and that He will soon fill the world with His glory?
1 Peter 1:12. God’s Spirit revealed to the prophets that the things they were reporting were not for themselves, but for the Jewish readers of this letter and also for us. Your eyes have been opened by those who have preached the gospel to you. These are the new testament evangelists, for, according to Peter, they had spoken “by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”. After all, the Holy Spirit could only come after the Lord Jesus was glorified by God in heaven (John 7:39; Acts 2:33). What the Holy Spirit has revealed now in the gospel, relates to a glorified Christ and the relation of the believers with Him.
Then you read about a second party of those who are interested: the angels. Therefore there are two parties that have interest in these things: the prophets and the angels. But the angels themselves have no part in the things in which they are interested. The angels are eager to gain insight in the mystery of how God made worshippers of His Son from the murderers of His Son. They could recall the rebellion among the armies of angels when satan and his supporters resisted against God. They know how these fallen angels have caused that also man became rebellious against God. And now God grants salvation to fallen, rebellious people. That’s what extremely amazes the angels and that is something of which they would love to understand more.
In that view angels are an example to many Christians who, while they indeed have part in these things don’t show any interest in them at all. I assume that this does not apply to you, for then you would not read this explanation.
Now read 1 Peter 1:6-12 again.
Reflection: How can you purify your faith and how do you experience your joy in the Lord?
Be Sober and Holy
1 Peter 1:13. After the explanation about what has to do with Christ and His suffering and His glory, Peter speaks about the practical consequences that went together with these facts. You may know what your blessings are, but according to God’s thoughts you only have a right understanding of them when they also have an effect in your life. In order to work that out, Peter exhorts to take certain actions. He does that in a fervent, authoritative language.
First he says that you must “prepare your minds for actions” or “having girded up the loins of your mind” (Darby translation). To ‘gird up’ has to do with making yourself ready to set out, prepare yourself, to leave. You see that when the people of Israel had to make themselves ready to leave Egypt (Exodus 12:11). This is how you should be ready for the call of the Lord to leave the world and enter into the kingdom. This is the proper attitude of the pilgrim and that prevents you from settling yourself here on earth as if your future is here below. Other aspects that are related to girding up, are compliance and fights (Luke 12:35, 37; John 13:4-Deuteronomy :; Ephesians 6:14).
What we must gird up, is ‘the loins’. The loins indicate the strength to walk (Deuteronomy 33:11; Job 40:16; Proverbs 31:17). When you have an illness in your loins you can forget about a brisk walk. Here the loins are related to your mind. The exhortation to gird up the loins of your mind means that you are being exhorted to let yourself to be guided in your thinking by Christ from Whom you have received your mind, to be strengthened with power and spiritually be enlightened (1 John 5:20). You have a mind, which means insight by God’s Spirit and God’s Word, of the things that will happen. Remain focused on those things and don’t let yourself be distracted by all kinds of matters that may seem to be interesting, but which are only ideas of people.
That is what the next exhortation is related to “keep sober.” You are sober when you see reality as it really is. That reality is the coming revelation of Jesus Christ Who will come to judge the world and to establish His kingdom.
Your soberness will disappear when you do not focus your mind on the future, but on the here and now. I have heard about a quite serious story that illustrates this biblical soberness very well. It is about the proclamation of the gospel to cannibals. Some evangelists went to cannibals in order to preach the gospel to them. Two of them were killed and eaten by them. Another one had the chance to escape. Still, a certain John persisted to go there to bring the gospel to those people. When he talked about this with an old theologian, the latter tried to persuade him with apparently sober argument to stop him from going. The answer of John was: ‘You will soon be buried and be eaten by worms. It is not a big difference whether I will be buried here and be eaten by worms or go there and be eaten by cannibals.’ That is ‘soberly thinking’ in the biblical sense of the word. The result is that the gospel reached that place and people came to faith there.
This soberness focuses the thoughts on the future that is totally controlled by the Lord Jesus. If you belong to Him, you will also share in His future, in His revelation or appearance. Then, after the exhortations to gird up your mind, you are exhorted to fully hope “on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. You must “fully” hope upon that. Therefore you should not allow anything to diminish that hope. No worry or illness is to make you hope less upon that grace.
It goes without saying that you are not to allow a certain sin to be the cause of that. When there is sin in your life you will not even hope upon that grace. Then you will keep at a distance the thought of the revelation of the Lord Jesus. In order to look forward again to His coming with a desire it is necessary for you to confess your sin. When there is mention of sin in your life, I would urge you to hurry up to clear out that hindrance.
1 Peter 1:14. Maybe there is no concrete sin in your life, but there is the inclination to give in to sin. You feel that you are being drawn to commit a certain sin. That may be caused by your desires of the past. Considering that, the next exhortation comes to you: ‘Be like a child of obedience, not conforming yourself to the former lusts.’ Do you remember what 1 Peter 1:2 says? You have been called for the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Literally it is not ‘obedient children’, but “children of obedience”, children who live according to the principle of obedience. That you are able to live as a child of obedience is the result of the fact that you are a child of God. You are born of God and due to that you have received God’s nature (2 Peter 1:4).
It looks strange that Peter speaks to them about “former … in your ignorance”, while in their past they were actually so familiar with God. The Jews were treating the ignorant Gentiles with contempt and thought that only they had the knowledge, regarding the true God (Romans 2:17-Proverbs :). It is true that God revealed Himself to them in a special way. However, that’s what made them arrogant. Their whole history has shown that they only boasted in their outward position and at the same time they were following their fleshly lusts.
Before the time that the Jews, to whom this letter is addressed, had come to faith in the Lord Jesus as the Messiah, they were also living like that. They abandoned that when they converted, but the danger to fall back is always there. For that reason they need to be warned not to live like that again.
1 Peter 1:15. After this warning to lay aside something an exhortation follows to take up something. The Scripture is always balanced. This is how the Scripture speaks about putting off something and putting on something (e.g. Colossians 3:8; Colossians 3:12). The point here is not about being conformed to something of the past and to become holy in your whole walk instead. In this view you may compare your life with a garden. A garden is more than the absence of weed. It is necessary to weed, but it is not an occupation in itself. The important thing is that the garden exposes a sea of flowers or that it bears fruits. This is how your life as a Christian is like. That life is not being characterized by things that are not there, but by things that are actually there or things that are still to come. Here the point is that everything in your life (“all [your walk”), thus your whole appearance) is holy, meaning totally devoted to God. The essential thing is that Christ, the Man Who is perfectly devoted to God, becomes visible in your life.
To be holy looks negative. That is true when you only see it as being set apart from the wrong. But to be holy is positive. The main idea is in fact: to be set apart for (something). You derive that from the first time when the word ‘sanctify’ in the Bible is used. That is at the creation when God sanctifies the seventh day (Genesis 2:3). At that time there was nothing wrong yet in the creation. Everything that God had made was very good. Still God sanctified the seventh day. He set that day apart from all the other days as a day for Himself.
1 Peter 1:16. To underline the importance of holiness Peter quotes a verse from the Old Testament. There God appeals to His people to be holy, because He is holy (Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2Leviticus 20:26-Daniel :). But would His holiness only apply to the Old Testament and not to the New Testament? If you give this some thought, it will be clear to you that the holy God of the Old Testament is the same holy God of the New Testament. Nowhere has that become more evident than when He did not spare His own Son on the cross.
In the Old Testament He could not have anything to do with sin and in the New Testament He cannot either. The appeal to be holy is obvious, because God is holy. He cannot possibly apply a lower standard than Himself to a nation that is related to Him, whether it is an old testament nation or a new testament nation. The message regarding God’s holiness, which is obvious in the Old Testament, is made obvious like that by Peter here in the New Testament. That appeal should make you to totally devote yourself to Him.
Now read 1 Peter 1:13-16 again.
Reflection: Why is it important to be ‘sober’ and ‘holy’?
Redeemed With Precious Blood
1 Peter 1:17. Peter adds another argument to the appeal to be holy. That argument comes out from the great privilege that you now have, that you may call God your Father. That privilege is indeed great. By the Spirit Who dwells in you, you cry out “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). You may call on Him, honor Him, glorify and worship Him.
However, that privilege is attached to responsibility also. God is a Father Who loves you and Who, because of His love for you, also chastises you when He sees that you are going or running the risk to drift away. God is not an earthly father, who often does not chastise or sometimes even practices discipline out of a wrong motive (Hebrews 12:9-2 Samuel :). He is a Father Who only chastises when it is necessary.
He perfectly judges each one’s work without giving preference to or being detrimental to anyone. He doesn’t only chastise to test your faith, but He also chastises when your holiness is in lack of something (see Hebrews 12:10).
The judgment of the Father that Peter talks about here, does not refer to the judgment after this earthly life. That judgment has been given to the Lord Jesus by Him (John 5:27). The judgment of the Father relates to your life as a pilgrim. When your life honors Him, it has His approval. When your life dishonors Him He will come your way to clarify to you that something has to be changed.
Therefore you are to go your way on earth “in fear”. Fear does not imply to be afraid of God or of still going to perish. Fear here means to fear for yourself because you know what is still within yourself that may cause you to do something that will grieve God your Father. Consider that you are His child and that you have become that by the redemption that the Lord Jesus has achieved for your sake. What a huge price did He pay for that! How could you still walk in the desires of the past, while you have been redeemed in such a way?
The fear to do something that is not to the honor of God ought to characterize you “during the time of your stay [on earth]”. The expression ‘stay’ (sojourning) indicates that you have no permanent residence on earth. As you have seen earlier you are being addressed in this letter as a pilgrim. You are a stranger on earth, on the way to your inheritance. That is something you should continually be aware of, for otherwise you will be distracted from the goal by various attractive things around you. The path of a sojourner is the path of the Lord Jesus. He has been the true Stranger and Sojourner on earth. He had no home, even no place where He could lay His head (Matthew 8:20). When you stay focused on Him you will walk throughout the time of your stay here in a way that is pleasing to God.
1 Peter 1:18. That it is not about a fear to still be able to perish or a fear because of the insecurity whether you are or are not a child of God, is to be derived from 1 Peter 1:18. Peter says clearly “knowing”. That rules out every possible doubt. And what do they know precisely? That they have been redeemed. They know what had certainly not and what certainly had redeemed them. They also know what they have been redeemed from: from all their rituals and traditions, from the walk of their ancestors.
By doing whatever you did before, you could not be redeemed. A walk after tradition, after copied and transmitted rituals, doesn’t bring a man any closer to the redemption. On the contrary. To one who in his heart trusts in an outward walk, the true redemption will disappear more and more from his sight. Such a person will get stuck more and more in outer appearances. Such a walk bears no fruit at all; it makes a person ‘unfruitful’ in the sense of emptied of content.
In order to partake of the blessings of God, it is essential to get redeemed from such a walk. Such a walk is like a prison. Those to whom Peter is writing could not be redeemed from that prison by perishable things like silver and gold. They know about a redemption by silver and gold (Exodus 30:12), but that was an outward redemption and no liberation from a system that kept them imprisoned. It is the same as the blood of bulls and goats that cannot take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).
1 Peter 1:19. In contrast to that completely inadequate blood is the “precious blood … of Christ”. That blood has certainly been sufficient to work the true and definite redemption. The blood of Christ was shed for the forgiveness of all your sins and for the redemption from all powers that were keeping you in bondage. It is as of the blood of an unblemished and unspotted lamb.
The lamb was the basis of the redemption of God’s earthly people from Egypt, whom by the blood were protected against the judgment of God (Exodus 12:1-1 Chronicles :). The Lamb, Christ, is the basis of Christendom. By the surrender of Christ in death and the shedding of His blood God’s judgment passes over each one who hides behind it. That means that it applies to him who believes that Christ has also shed His blood for his sins. Everyone who believes that partakes of the eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
1 Peter 1:20. God had the Lamb in mind already “before the foundation of the world”. Our redemption did not arise in God when He saw that sin entered the world and how miserable our condition was. God was not surprised by the fall of man. He knew what man would do. Before man had sinned, indeed before the world was created, His mind was already focused on His Son, of Whom He knew that this One was going to be the Lamb.
This is what makes our position as Christians much more wonderful than that of Israel. Israel is a nation that is elected by God from the foundation of the world and that is destined for the earth (Matthew 25:34; Revelation 13:8). The new testament believers are elected before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and are destined for heaven.
What God already knew before the foundation of the world He did not keep to Himself alone. Christ has been revealed as the Lamb. He revealed Himself to His people and to the world. That’s why John could point to Him and say: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The end of the times commenced when the Lord Jesus came into the world as the Lamb. In all previous times God tried to encourage the most privileged people on earth, His people, to obey Him. Again and again man made clear that he was not willing to.
Then, as the final test, His Son came on earth. But instead of listening to Him the sin of man is exposed in the most horrible way. Men rejected and murdered the Son. In this way the obduracy of man was definitely determined. In a striking way this is all illustrated in the parable of the wicked vinedressers that is told by the Lord Jesus (Matthew 21:33-1 Corinthians :).
What means man ends, has given God the opportunity to make a new beginning. On the one hand the Lord Jesus has been revealed as the Lamb, in order to determine the sin of man in a most obvious way. When man rejects God, Who has revealed Himself in goodness, his condition is hopeless. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus has revealed Himself as the Lamb for the sake of each who believes, thus also for your sake. Through Him you believe in God. In Him you see that God is not an angry and vindictive God. On the basis of what the Lord Jesus has done for you, you know that God is not against you anymore, but He is for you (Romans 8:31-Jonah :). After all He gave His Son as the Lamb.
1 Peter 1:21. Therefore you not only believe in the Lord Jesus as The One Who protects you against the wrath of God, but you also believe in God as the One Who made everything well. By raising Christ from the dead God has given the convincing evidence that He has considered and accepted the work of His Son as perfect. God gave Him the glory He is worthy of.
Your faith and hope are focused on God. All originated in Him. By the faith in what God has done with His Christ He will lead you to the goal. That goes together with the hope that the same Lord Who is now with God, will come back to reign and with Whom you will also be involved.
Now read 1 Peter 1:17-21 again.
Reflection: What do you learn in this section about the work of God, about the work of Christ and about yourself?
Brotherly Love and Born Again
1 Peter 1:22. After the impressive words in the previous verses about the work of Christ and the wonderful results it has for those who partake of it, it is not a surprise that an appeal follows for “a sincere love of the brethren”. You have not reached your destination yet, you are still on the way to the inheritance. In the world you are a pilgrim, but you have a company in the world where you are at home. On the way to the goal you see brothers and sisters around you, people who have the same goal in mind. They are the objects of the same love of God and redeemed by the same Lamb. In their company you feel the warmth of brotherly love. Your presence contributes to the temperature of the brotherly love, for brotherly love is mutual. It receives and radiates warmth.
The call comes to you as a person whose soul has been purified “in obedience to the truth”. You have recognized yourself as a sinner in the light of God’s truth and in obedience you have confessed your sins to God and have been converted. That was done to you by a purifying work (John 15:3). You have become pure, you have received a pure heart. In practice it becomes visible in sincerely loving your brother and sister. The brotherly love is a proof of the new nature. You love your brothers because they are born of God (1 John 5:1).
The fact that Peter speaks about ‘sincere’ love of the brethren, makes clear that it is a genuine love, which is without hypocrisy and without pretense. Hypocrisy, pretending to be someone you’re not, belongs to your former life. Therefore, in the company of brothers and sisters it is not only about a little, dull love, but about ‘a fervent love’ to one another. It is a command to love one another intensely. That excludes that we love each other dutifully. Also insincere or impure intentions are out of the question in this way of loving. It should be a love that comes from a pure heart.
1 Peter 1:23. In a pure heart there is no room for sin; it is a heart that lives in fellowship with God. That fellowship started with having been born again. This new birth is a birth that has been worked by God’s Word and God’s Spirit (John 3:5). The Word is a seed that was sown in your heart and out of which the new life has been developed. The Word of God has life in itself. That life is not “perishable”, transient, but “imperishable”, everlasting, as God Himself is the imperishable, everlasting God (Romans 1:23; 1 Timothy 1:17). When He gives life, it is the life from Himself that of course also has His features.
1 Peter 1:24. That life is in huge contrast to the life of the man who is not born of God. This contrast you also see in the quotation from the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:6-Ruth :). From the quotation it becomes clear what the natural man is as originated from corruptible seed. The life of a natural man looks like grass and like a flower of the field. It is a metaphorical illustration of a life in which everything looks to be prosperous and wonderful, but when you look at it closely it is momentary and its loveliness quickly fades away.
1 Peter 1:25. In contrast to that life Isaiah does not present the life from God, but the Word of God. The life from God is inseparably related to the Word of God. We have received the new life from the new birth only because God has revealed His Word to us by proclamation. That Word has worked the new life in us and therefore that life remains to eternity. It cannot possibly ever perish, just as something from God’s words can never perish. The new nature remains forever, for that is as imperishable as the Word of God.
Now read 1 Peter 1:22-25 again.
Reflection: How do you express your love to your brothers and sisters?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Peter 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent