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Observe here, 1. The penman of this epistle described by his name, Peter; by his office, an Apostle; by the author of his office, Jesus Christ. This name Peter was given him by our Saviour, and signifieth a stone, a rock, probably for his confession and acknowledgment of Christ, the rock upon whom the Christian church was built; his call to the office, first of a disciple, and then of an apostle, was from Christ himself. It is a singular support to the ministers of the gospel of Christ, under all their discouragements, to consider whose officers they are, and from whom they have both their mission and their message, their authority and their abilities, for the sacred function: Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Observe, 2. The persons to whom the epistle is directed, to the strangers scattered abroad in Pontus, Galatia, &c. that is, to such of the converted Jews and proselyted Gentiles as were dispersed into several countries, exiled and banished from house and home, for the sake of Christ and his holy religion, which they made a faithful profession of.
Learn hence, That a state of exile and banishment from outward comforts and privileges, has been, and may be, the lot and portion of a people that are exceeding dear to Almighty God: To the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
Observe, 3. How he comforts them in this their persecuted condition, by declaring to them the great things which God had done for them in their election, vocation, and sanctification; assuring them that God had chosen them out of the world, according to his foreknowledge and unsearchable counsel, and effectually called them to the participation of his grace, sanctifying them by his Spirit that they should obey the truth, and by faith be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and thereby be brought into a state of perfect peace and reconciliation with God.
Learn hence, 1. That God has certainly chosen some to happiness as the end, are also chosen to holiness as the mean: Elect through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience. Sanctification is the fruit of our election, and obedience the end of our sanctification.
Learn, 2. That sanctification and justification always accompany one another; here is sanctification and sprinkling with the blood of Christ joined together: where note, Christ, as mediator, has blood, his blood was shed, his blood that was shed must be sprinkled, and by faith applied; and we can never discern our interest in the blood of Christ, till we are sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, and our hearts and lives wrought unto obedience. Justification and sanctification, though distinct in their nature, yet are inseparable in their subject.
Observe, lastly, The salutation here sent to these dispersed saints, Grace and peace be multiplied.
Where note, 1. The connexion, grace and peace. 2. The order, first grace, and then peace. 3. The option, be multiplied.
The blessings prayed for, are the choicest, the sweetest, and the best of blessings, grace and peace: together with the augmentation and abundant increase of both, Grace and peace be multiplied.
Learn, That there is nothing that the ministers of Christ do more passionately desire and more earnestly endeavour, than to see their people brought into, and preserved in, a state of favour and peace with God, and enjoying a multiplied increase of all spiritual and temporal blessings from him.
Observe here, 1. How our apostle breaks forth into gratulation and thankfulness to God, for those special blessings, which, by his ministry, were conferred upon these converted Christians, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessing and praise are due to God for the least mercies received from God, because we are less than the least, much more for spiritual and eternal blessings, which are the greatest mercies that either God can give, or we receive.
Observe, 2. The special mercy which he thus solemnly blesses, and gives thanks to God for, namely, their regeneration: for begetting them to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible, &c. according to his abundant mercy.
Where note, 1. The benefit declared, that they were begotten again to an hope of salvation: by means of sin, all influences of grace were suspended, and all hopes of salvation were cut off. Christ's interposure for us makes our condition hopeful, and the fallen angels hopeless.
Note, 2. The qualification of that hope which Christians are begotten to; it is a lively hope, in opposition to a dead hope, and to a languid and languishing hope: the Christian's hope is an effectual hope, which proceeds from faith and promotes holiness. A lively hope is an hope that makes us lively, joyful, and comfortable in our lives; an hope that puts life into us.
Note, 3. The means whereby we are begotten to this hope, and that is, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead; not by the bare act of his resurrection, but by the virtue and power of it, we are raised to a spiritual life by it, and our hopes of eternal life are thereby strengthened and confirmed. The justification of our persons, the regeneration of our natures, the resurrection of our bodies, the glorification of our souls and bodies, are singular fruits and benefits of Christ's resurrection. Well might the apostle then say, that we are begotten to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Note, 4. The moving and impulsive cause from which regeneration, and all other spiritual blessings, do proceed and flow; the mercy and goodness of God, According to his abundant mercy he hath begotten us again.
In the matters of salvation nothing is owing to our merit; for demerit cannot merit, but all is due to divine goodness, and undeserved mercy; that is the fontal cause of all our favours.
Note, 5. The nature of that happiness which believers are begotten to a lively hope and expection of; it is here styled an inheritance. Heaven is an inheritance, and as such it is given to children, to all God's children, to none but his children; it is an inheritance dearly purchased, yet freely given: Christ is the sole purchaser of it; no joint-purchaers; yet remember, that though we cannot purchase this inheritance in a way of merit, we may forfeit it by our demerit, and provoke our heavenly Father to disinherit us.
Note, 6. The properties and excellences of this inheritance which believers are raised by Christ to the expectation of: it is an inheritance incorruptible; an enduring possession; not subject to decay, having nothing in it that can corrupt it, or corrupt us in the enjoyment of it.
Undefiled, heaven is an holy habitation; the holiness of heaven is the most considerable part of its happiness; sinners therefore that despise holiness, despise the richest jewel in the crown of glory.
It fadeth not away, it withereth not; glory is a flower which will eternally retain its freshness and verdure.
Reserved in the heavens for us; heaven is the country where the saints' inheritance lies; here it is reserved or laid up safe, by the purpose and pleasure of God, by the purchase, possession, and intercession of Christ; and to be able to say, For us, and be particularly assured of heaven, is a special comfort.
Here our apostle seems to pre-occupate and prevent an objection. Some might say, "Though the saints' inheritance be safe in heaven, yet they are in danger here on earth:" Be it so, as if our apostle had said, yet they are and shall be kept by God's power, and their own faith, to eternal salvation.
Note here, 1. We are kept; it implies we are in danger, in great danger of missing salvation, by reason of the number, power, and policy, of our spiritual enemies, corruption and sin within, the devil and the world without; but we are kept as in a garrison; so the word signifies: saints are preserved like beseiged cities; the general whom they fight under, and hold out for, preserves them, by sending in fresh recruits, supplies from the Holy Spirit, and by cutting off such succours as our lusts and spiritual enemies would send forth against us, so that they starve, and shall not vanquish us, but we them. We are kept; eternal thanks for such a keeper!
Note, 2. What it is believers are kept and preserved to, namely, salvation: he does not say they are or shall be kept from trouble and affliction; that their fingers shall not ache in this world: he has made no such promise, and we must expect no such promise, and we must expect no such preservation, but the contrary: In the world ye shall have tribulation, says Christ, the captain of our salvation, John 16:1 But safety and rest, happiness and ease, shall be our portion in the coming world.
Note, 3. The means by which we are thus kept unto salvation.
1. On God's part, almighty power. If left one moment to ourselves, we become a prey to every temptation. How did the devil baffle and befool Adam in innocency, when he had his wits about him, by being left in the hand of his own counsels! Lord, in a worst hand thou canst not leave us than our own!
2. On our part we are kept through faith. Our own endeavour must accompany God's power, in order to our preservation. We are kept by the power of God through faith; by both jointly, by neither singly. God's power will not keep us without our care, neither can our care secure us without the help of his power. We and our faith must be kept by the power of God; what God does for us, he does by us; he requires the use of our faculties, and the concurrence of our own endeavours, in order to our salvation.
Note, 4. The time when the saints' complete salvation shall be revealed to them, and they have the full and final fruition of that;-- Ready to be revealed in the last time.
Mark, the saints' salvation in heaven is a mystery, an hidden mystery, not yet revealed; revealed only to saints on earth by faith, to saints in heaven by sight; but the full revelation is not to be expected and enjoyed by glorified saints before the day of judgment, called here the last time: Ready to be revealed in the last time.
Our apostle told us, 1 Peter 1:4, it was reserved in heaven for us, kept safe for us, but kept close in heaven: it is an inestimably rich treasure; they that are heirs of it on earth, yea, they that are possessed of it in heaven, do not as yet fully understand and know the transcendency of it, but it shall be revealed to them at the last day.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice: That is, in the belief and expectation of which glorious and incorruptible inheritance in heaven, ye now joy and rejoice here on earth; plainly intimating, that a believer may be assured of his title to the glorious inheritance above, and both may and ought to rejoice in it abundantly below.
Observe, farther, By what way and method God brings his people to heaven, it is by heaviness, by affliction, yea, by manifold afflictions. As if he had said, "you that are the present candidates for heaven, the heirs of salvation, must not think yourselves past the rod and the ferula; and that you are to expect nothing but comfort, and to do nothing but rejoice in the hopes of your salvation. But I tell you, you may have need of heaviness before you get to heaven, and of manifold temptations for the mortifying your corruptions, before you enter upon an inheritance incorruptible."
Observe, 3. The supposition made concerning the the necessity of a believer's afflictions: If need be.
Intimating, 1. That we should never feel any affliction from the hand of God, never be in heaviness, if there were not need.
And, 2. That there is need that the holiest in this world should sometimes be made heavy, and that heaviness should be upon them for a season. We should always have calms and fair weather, never any storms and tempests from God, did not our needs call for it. As we need our daily bread, so verily do we need a daily bread, so verily do we need a daily rod, both the rod of God's mouth to admonish and reprove us, and the rod of his hand to chasten and correct us: Ye are in heaviness for a season, if need be, through manifold temptations.
Hence learn, That the trials and afflictions which God exercises his children with, are many, yet they never feel them but when they need them, and then only for a season. As the coldness of the winter kills the weeds in our grounds, so the cold blasts of affliction (under the mortifying influences of the Holy Spirit) kill our corruptions in our souls. Perpetual shinings and fair seasons are reserved for heaven: cold blasts and nipping frosts are needful and useful here on earth: Ye are in heaviness for a season, if need be.
Learn farther, That as God doth not afflict us but when there is need, so he will not afflict us more than there is need. Ye are in heaviness for a season: we shall not be afflicted an hour longer, nor shall our cross be a drachm or a grain heavier, than God thinks needful.
Observe, 4. The happy effect and fruit of the saints' manifold temptations: they all work for their advantage; they receive good and not hurt by them; no more hurt than the gold receives by the fire.
That the trial of your faith: that is, that your tried faith, being more precious than gold. Faith is more precious than gold, because more pure, more durable, especially when purified in the furnace of affliction. A good man is no loser, but a great gainer, by being tried. He, who before had much dross in his, comes out of the furnace as gold, without losing any thing either of its weight or worth; nothing is consumed ut the dross and rubbish of his corruptions. O happy consumption! Grace is not only grace still, but more gracious, yea, glorious, after trial. That the trial of your faith being much more precious than that of Jesus Christ.
Learn hence, That the trial of a Christian's faith in their manifold afflictions and temptations now, will bring abundance of honour and glory to God in the day of Christ; yea, not only to God, but to ourselves. Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment now, will work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory then.
In these words our apostle commendeth the faith and love of those Jews to whom he wrote; that although they had never seen Christ in the flesh as others did, yet they did truly love him, and their faith caused them to triumph and rejoice in him.
Learn hence, That it is the property and practice of a believer to love an unseen Saviour, and to rejoice in him, and in the hopes of eternal life by him.
Inference, If such as never saw Christ but with a believing eye, do yet love him superlatively, and rejoice in him unspeakably, how will they love him and rejoice in him, who shall see him with a glorified eye, and behold him face to face!
Observe, 1. The end, that is, the reward, of a Christian's faith; it is the salvation of his soul; of his soul eminently, but not exclusively, of body and soul both. The complete salvation of soul and body both with Christ in heaven, shall be the end and reward of the believer's faith.
Observe, 2. The diligent search into, and enquiry after, the nature of this salvation, which was made by the prophets of the Old Testament: Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently; that is, by prayer, meditation, and study, they searched after the farther and clearer knowledge of this great salvation, and the kingdom of the Messiah, when should be the time of his sufferings and humiliation, which were to precede his glory and exaltation.
Observe, 3. The success of this their enquiry and search: they were answered by God, and received this revelation from him, that they themselves were not the men that should see the Messiah, and his special kingdom; and that the things which they prophesied of, were not to be fulfilled in their own times, but in after-times; and accordingly the things foretold by the prophets, he assures them, were clearly manifested to them by the apostles, who were endowed with an extraordinary measure of the Holy Spirit, sent down upon them at the day of Pentecost: Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things now reported unto you.
Observe, lastly, The sublimity and transcendant excellency of those gospel mysteries which are now revealed; they are so ravishing and transporting, that the holy angels desire to pry into them: Which things the angels desire to look into.
Learn thence, That the glorious mystery of man's redemption and salvation, by the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, is an object worthy of the adoring angels. They admire the person of the Redeemer, they admire the author and contriver of the work of redeemption, they admire the subjects redeemed, the admire the manner and method of our redemption, they admire the finally glorious state which the redeemed are brought into, and possessed of, and they pry into these things, as the cherubims looked upon the ark, with a curious and accurate inspection, with an earnest and affectionate inspection; they holily admire the wisdom of this glorious contrivance, though even their raised and enlarged capacities can never be able fully to comprehend it.
Our apostle having laid before them their high and glorious privileges in the foregoing verses, comes now to excite them to the practice of several needful and important duties in this and the following verses.
The first of which is vigilance and watchfulness, preparation and readiness of mind: Gird up the loins of your mind: an allusion both to runners and waiters; to such as run in a race, and to such as wait upon their master; who both gird up their clothes (which in those eastern countries they wear down to their heels) that they might not hinder or trouble them, either in running or waiting.
Next, to be sober, and keep up their hope steadfastly and perseveringly to the end, for that grace and salvation, for that perfection in holiness and glory, which God will certainly give us at the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ.
Here note, 1. The grace and duty which they are exhorted to be found in the exercise of, and that is, hope; to persevere in hope unto the end. That is a divine grace, and necessary duty, whereby a believer for Christ's sake expects and waits for all the great and good things which God has promised, but the Christian at present not received.
Note, 2. The direction given in order to the exercise of this grace and duty of hope, Gird up the loins of your mind. Habits of grace are altogether unprofitable to us, without they be excited by us, and stirred up in us. When we pray, when we hear, we must gird up our loins in praying and hearing; or in the prophet's phrase, Stir up yourselves to take hold on God. A man upon his sick bed must gird up the loins of his mind to bear his affliction, else he will not profit by it nor answer the end of God in it. No grace can be exercised, no duty can be performed, by a soul ungirded: Gird up the loins of your mind, that ye may hope, &c.
The next duty he exhorts them to, is to answer the engagements which their adoption laid them under; they were now the children of God, and as such must,
1. Be obedient to their heavenly Father, walking in the path of his commandments, and no longer according to the former lusts, which they were captivated by, and enslaved unto in the time of their ignorance, when they knew not God.
And, 2. They must, imitate their heavenly Father in the love and practice of universal holiness: As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy.
Observe, 1. Christians must make God the pattern of their holiness, and be holy as God is holy, though not as holy as God is; the command obliges to a conformity, not to an equality; as God is really holy, positively holy, strictly and exactly holy, universally holy, unchangeably holy, so must we labour to be holy both towards God and man, which is to be holy in all manner of conversation.
Observe, 2. Christians are here required not only to make God the pattern of their holiness, but the motive of their holiness; Be ye holy, for I am holy. Seeing our God is a holy God, therefore we that are his people must be holy also.
Our apostle here represents the holiness of God both as a rule and as a motive of that holiness which should be acted by us.
And whereas the apostle says, It is written, Be ye holy; it plainly intimates, that God has in all former ages obliged all persons, who pretended any relation to him as his children, to be holy as he is holy; though not as to equality, yet as to imitation; though not in measure and degree, yet in quality and kind. God is the original of all holiness, and the first man he created was after his own likeness; and every one that is renewed, is said to be created after God in righteousness and true holiness. What is godliness, but god- likeness? and what is holiness, but the conformity of our nature to the holy nature of God, and the conformity of our lives to the will of God?
If ye call on the Father; that is, If ye call God your Father, and call upon him by worshipping and owning of him, who without any respect of persons, or any regard had to nations, Jew or Gentile, judgeth of every man now, and will judge every man according to his works hereafter, see that you pass the time of your pilgrimage and sojourning in this world in holy and obedient fear.
Learn, 1. That such as call God Father ought to walk in obedience before him as his sons; If ye call on the Father.
Learn, 2. That he whom we call Father, is and will be our Judge, not a short-sighted, but a sharp-sighted, Judge, impartial in judgment, judging all persons according to their works, judging all works as they really are, and not as they outwardly appear to be.
Learn, 3. That Christians here in this world are but strangers, and their life upon earth a pilgrimage, which they are daily passing.
Learn, 4. That the whole time of a Christian's pilgrimage ought to be passed in a holy, cautious, reverential and obedient fear of God: pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.
Still our apostle is pressing Christians to the love and practice of holiness, and a reverential fear of God, by fresh arguments and motives, particularly from their redemption; saying, that they could not but be sensible that they were redeemed with a very costly price, not with silver and gold, which yet would ransom kings, but by the precious blood of Christ, whom the paschal lamb typified, and who was from eternity fore-ordained to the office of a mediator, though he was not manifested in the flesh till these last days, for the good and benefit of those who by him do believe in God that raised Christ from the dead, and gloriously exalted him at his right hand, upon which account their faith and hope may safely and comfortably rest in God.
Note here, 1. The thraldom, bondage, and slavery, of our sinful state before we were redeemed.
Note, 2. The impotency and inability of all outward things, be they never so rich, precious, and costly, to redeem and ransom an enslaved sinner. Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold. All the gold and silver in the world was no ransom for one soul, nay, the blood of all the creatures in the world offered up in sacrifice to the justice of God, could have been no sufficient compensation.
Note, 3. That the redemption of every soul cost no less than the precious blood of the Son of God, that spotless Lamb, who by the sacrifice of his death atoned divine displeasure.
Note, 4. That God the Father fore-ordained Jesus Christ his Son to this blessed office of a Redeemer before the foundation of the world, though he was not manifest in the flesh till these last times.
Note, 5. That by Christ the Redeemer we are taught to know God, and to believe in him who raised Christ from the dead.
Here observe, How the Socinians wrest and misapply this text, where we are said by Christ to believe in God. Thus they argue, "He by whom we believe in God, is not that God in whom we believe, because the means of faith can never be the object of faith; but Christ is he: the apostle says here, by whom we believe in God, therefore Christ is not God."
Ans. Christ, considered in his human nature, in which he died, and was raised for us, is he by whom we believe in God, that is, own him to be able to raise us from the dead; but this hinders not his being God according to his divine nature, by which he did actually raise himself from the dead, John 10:18.
The next duty which our apostle exhorts these Christians to, is the duty of brotherly love, to a gracious propensity of heart which a Christian bears for Christ's sake to his neighbours, whereby he wills, and to his power procures, all good for him; a brotherly affection which every true Christian chiefly bears to all his fellow-members in Christ for grace sake. This duty of brotherly love is often urged and enforced by Christ and his apostles.
St. Peter here tells them, that seeing, by the power of Christ's Spirit, and obedience of the gospel, they had purfied themselves in some measure from pride and self-love, they should now labour to grow in the fervency and sincerity of their love one towards another.
And the argument he uses to persuade them to love one another, is drawn from their relation to each other; they are all born again, and born alike; not brethern by corruptible generation only, but begotten of incorruptible seed, the word of God; therefore should they live in love together, as children of the same Father.
Note here, The commendation given go the word of God, not to any inward word infused, but the outward word preached, it is styled incorruptible seed; from whence it follows, that in the ministry of the word is the ordinary means of the new birth, and the instrumental cause of our regeneration: Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, the word of God.
Note farther, That such as are born of this incorruptible seed, ought to bear an incorruptible seed, ought to bear an incorruptible love to each other, as an evidence of their incorruptible and gracious nature: See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
Our apostle closes the chapter, by setting before them the excellency of their spiritual regenerate state, compared with all other excellences and endowments whatsoever: All flesh, that is, flesh with all its glory, is a fading, dying, perishing thing; it flags like the grass, and fades like the flower: sweetness, which affects the smell; beauty, that affects the eye; softness and smoothness, which affect the touch; all these our apostle passes over, and speaks of the flower, not as flourishing, but as withering; not as springing up, but as falling away. The grass withereth the flower falleth away.
Learn hence, That man, when most flourishing, with all the ornaments of wit and wealth, beauty and honour, is fading, and near to withering.--Thus David describes them, As for man, his days are as grass; as the flower of the field so he flourishes; the wind passeth over it and it is gone. Psalms 103:15-16 Though the flower be neither cut nor cropt, yet a breath of wind blasts it, and blows away the beauty of it: All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.
That is, the word of God, the mind of Christ, contained in, and revealed by, the gospel, shall abide and last for ever, and never be abrogated; the word of God is everlasting truth, it is so in its nature, and also in its effects upon the regenerate, it abideth for ever, and so doth their estate who are begotten again by it. The word of God is the incorruptible seed, or principle of regeneration: it is called the word of eternal life, because it brings those that love and obey it to eternal life, John 6:68.
Observe lastly, That the same word of God is now preached unto us which was so highly commended by the prophets, apostles, and by Christ himself: This is that word, the same word, which by the gospel is preached unto you.
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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". Burkitt's Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the NT. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent