1 Peter – Chapter 1 – Chapter 1587
SECTION ONE INTRODUCTION (Chapter 1:1-2)
The Apostle introduces himself by the name given him by the Lord. He describes those whom he addresses as "the elect", and explains the meaning of the term.
The Definition Of A Christian — vv. 1-2
In his salutation, Peter indicates the position of privilege occupied by true followers of Christ.
"Peter" — His real name was Simon, but he preferred to write under the honored name given him by Christ, a name, too, that is associated with the declaration upon which the Ecclesia is founded Matt. 16:16.
"An Apostle of Jesus Christ" —The word "apostle" is from the Greek apostolas an adjectival noun from apostel-lein, "to send out", denoting a commissioned messenger or ambassador (cp. Eph. 6:20). The significance of the word differs from that of "disciple" inasmuch as it denotes one sent out on a special mission, whereas a disciple is a follower. The latter word is related to the word "discipline", for the life of a true disciple is governed, or limited, by the example and teaching of his Lord. All Christ's apostles were disciples, but all disciples were not apostles.
"Strangers" — Gr. Parepidemos — A sojourner among a people not one's own. Thus he was writing to a people who had here "no continuing city," but "who sought one to come," and who were "strangers and pilgrims in the earth" (Heb. 11:13; 13:14).
"Scattered" — Gr. Diasporas, from, dia — through, and speiro — to sow, and thus to sow or scatter seed. The Jewish dispersion carried abroad the seed of Israel's hope (Isa. 6:13; Amos 9:9), as the saints did that of the Gospel in the Name of Jesus Christ. Thus they were as the "seed of truth" scattered among the Gentiles, capable of producing fruit to the glory of the Father.
"Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" — This is a district east of the Aegean Sea and south of the Black Sea, and those to whom Peter wrote comprised both Jews and Gentiles (Ch. 4:3). It was an area in which Paul had labored, but now, imprisoned in Rome, his activities were limited, and Peter combines with him to instruct them in the principles of their walk.
"Elect according to foreknowledge" — Elect signifies "chosen," and Peter is here expressing the same truth that he stressed at the Jerusalem conference when he told the delegates that God had visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15:14). It was acknowledged, then, that this agreed with the words of the prophets (V.I5), and therefore was in accordance with what the foreknowledge of God recognised as a necessity.
"Sanctification of the Spirit" — This is the separation induced by the Spirit-word. Jesus taught that the truth comprised the spirit (John 6:63), and Paul and John did likewise (Eph. 6:17; 1 John 5:6). Christ, in his intercessory prayer, declared that the Truth is the means that God has provided for the sanctification of His saints (John 17:17), and where it does not have such effect—separating believers from the course of this world—its full power has not been appreciated. They only are true believers who are separated by the Spirit-word.
"Unto obedience" — Gr. Hupa-koe — a submissive hearkening. The separation induced by the Spirit-word, will lead unto obedience in the act of baptism. (Cp. Rom. 6:17).
Our Living Hope — Vv. 3-12
Death came by sin and is the negation of the purpose of God in creation; but life is found in Christ Jesus and in the fact that lie lives, is revealed the living hope to which men become related in him (Rom. 6:4-5).
“Blessed'' — Gr. Eulogetos — Fulogise or praise Him for the benefits we have received from Him.
"Be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" — This description of God is contrary to the doctrine of the Trinity which would unite the Father and the son as one. The titles of "Father" and "Lord" remind believers of what is due to both. "If I be a Father," declared Yahweh to disobedient Israel, "where is Mine honour?" (Mal. 1:6). "Ye call me Lord", declared Christ, "and ye say well. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13:13-15).
"According to His abundant mercy" — The Greek word eleos, "mercy", signifies kindness or goodwill towards those in need, particularly the clemency of God in providing and offering to men salvation by Christ. Peter well may describe this as abundant mercy or kindness on the part of God, for it is the greatest privilege man can possess.
"Hath begotten us"—This is our privileged position if we are in Christ, the only begotten son. The seed of the truth implanted in one (V.23) signifies that such a person is begotten from above (John 3:3-mg). The process has already been described: "Sanctification of the Spirit, unto obediencs
"A lively hope"—Better rendered, "a living hope." It will enliven those who embrace it, and cause them to look confidently to the future with the conviction that God cares for them. (See Jerem. 29:11.) The trials of life sometimes cause some to imagine that God is indifferent to their sufferings, but, like Israel, the time will come when they shall realise that all things happened for an important reason that is not always comprehended now (Ezek. 14:23). A living, trusting hope will cause us to see beyond the present troubles to the glorious future.
"By the resurrection of Jesus Christ"—If there had been no resurrection there would have been no justification, and no hope (Rom. 4:25). The resurrection of Jesus is a token of a newness of life that should be manifested even now (Rom. 6:4). If Christ is the first-fruits, a harvest must follow. The resurrection of Christ Jesus demonstrates how that hope can be fulfilled in us. He was as the seed producing a harvest of fruit (John 12:24), the shepherd, leading the flock through the dark defiles of death to the pastures beyond (John 10:15-18; John 12:32). Peter's hope had temporarily died at the death of Jesus. "We thought it had been he who should have delivered Israel." was the attitude of the despondent Apostles; but their depression was swept away by the fact of the resurrection, and in that wonderful event they could see the full meaning of many Scriptures whose significance was previously hidden from them (Luke 24:13-24).
A living hope had made these "strangers" beloved children of the Divine family (Eph. 2:18-19).
“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefined" — "Incorruptible" speaks of a change of nature, and "undefiled" speaks of a change of character. The Gospel is designed to effect both.
"That fadeth not away" — This is the "crown (Stephanos) of glory that fadeth not away" (Ch. 5:4), in contrast to the coronal wreath that was presented to the successful competitors in the Grecian games, that did fade away. Ct. 1 Pet. 1:24.
"Reserved in heaven for you" — See Matt. 6:20. The inheritance is reserved in heaven, but is to be manifested on earth at the Lord's return. See v. 5; 2 Cor. 5:2-4; Phil. 3:20-21. Those deemed righteous will be "recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14). Notice that the margin renders the plural you as us. The variation is due to various readings in mss. The common reading is for you. The sense is not materially affected.
"Reserved" is from the Gr. Tereo, signifying "to guard, preserve." God has provided all things necessary through His son to preserve for us the promised inheritance. We can only blame ourselves if we do not measure up to the requirements. (See John 14:2: Matt. 16:25-27; Col. 3:3-4).
"Kept" — Gr. Phroureo, a military term signifying to "keep or preserve with a guard" (Cp. Rom. 8:35-39). The "guard" comprises the angels who encompass the saints about to preserve them (Ps. 34:7) and who are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). The overshadowing power of Yahweh might bring us into trials, but they are for our ultimate benefit (Heb. 12: 6-12).
"By the power of God" — Gr. en, or "within." Rotherham translates: "in." A true believer is "in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 1:1). His mind is in tune with the Father's, faithfully trusting in Him. The strength derived from God as a result of such unity of mind can ensure salvation.
"Through faith"—Without it we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). Faith teaches that God is, and that He will be a rewarder (this is the proper rendering of Heb. 11:6), of those who diligently seek Him. Paul observes that "faith cometh by hearing" (Rom. 10:17) what God has declared, and acknowledging what He has fulfilled. Hence develops a conviction that God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18), and that He is able to perform what He has promised (Rom. 4:20-21).
"Unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" — The Divine preservation (kept) is designed for permanence, for salvation, and not merely for a short time, then allowed to fall away. The statement implies that we are not as yet saved, even though we may have attained unto a position of privilege in Christ Jesus. It is possible for one to fall away (1 Cor. 10:12), for one to be so led astray as to lose his crown of life (Rev. 2:10; 3:11).
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice" — Peter suggests that his readers should be rejoicing in the prospects of great relief to be manifested "in the last time", and this should enable them to endure patiently the trials and sufferings of probation.
"Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations" — The term "season" in the Greek implies but a brief period. But even if trials continue throughout life, it represents but a brief moment in comparison with eternity (cp. 2 Cor. 4:17). The expression "if need be" suggests that God might consider there is a need for such trials. Trial develops character, and where spiritual maturity is lacking.Yahweh may subject such to trials in order to induce such development. Indeed, it is the trial of faith, and not faith in the abstract, that will be found unto praise and glory at the appearing of Christ (v. 7). Apparently, some in the Ecclesias were then experiencing trials, and so Peter enlightened them as to the reason and need of such (see Ch. 5:10).
"Temptations" — Gr. Peirasmos, from a root signifying to "pierce through as with a spear," and therefore expressive of sore trials. The word does not necessarily mean temptations in the normal use of the word, but rather trials, whether they be induced from within or from without. (See Acts 20:19; 1 Cor. 10:13; Gal. 4:14 for the use of the word in that way.) Peter is referring to persecution that believers "have to endure, and proceeds to show the positive value of such sufferings, provided they are patiently endured in faith.
"The trial of your faith"—Faith is tested by the fire of trial to bring to the fore all hidden weakness and impurity that must be eradicated. It is suggested that Peter based his analogy upon the ancient practice of purifying metals and one writer has commented as follows: "The picture is of an ancient goldsmith who puts his crude gold in a crucible, and then subjects it to intense heat in order to liquify the mass. Under such treatment, the impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed off. When the metal worker was able to see the reflection of his face clearly mirrored in the surface of the liquid, he took it off the fire, for he knew that the contents were pure gold." What a glorious illustration of the purpose of God in testing His saints! Trial is designed to rid us of impurities of character, to the end that we might be better fitted to reflect the moral glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. When faith is strong, it will prove adequate to the fire of trial, so that ultimately, through willingness to be fashioned, the reflection of Christ will be seen in the perfected characters of the faithful. (See also 1 Pet. 4:11; Prov. 17:3; 25:4; Job 23:10; Lam. 4:2. In the light of Peter's words all these references deserve pondering.)
"Being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire" — This does not express a comparison of faith with gold, but teaches that the trial, or testing of faith to demonstrate that it is or is not genuine, is a much more important and valuable a process than that of testing gold in the fire. The proceeds that come from the trial of faith are much more lasting than those that come from gold. The former include eternal life; the latter perish with the using. Of itself, gold does not perish, but the things for which it stands: fleshly prosperity, comfort, luxury, are transient and terminable. Not so those that a true faith will reveal: eternal life and glory in the Kingdom of God. Moses esteemed "the reproach of Christ" as "greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb. 11:26), not because he enjoyed reproach more than glory, but because he carefully assessed the temporary nature of the former with the eternal glory of the latter.
The expression "the appearing of Jesus Christ" denotes his apocalypse or unveiling. This requires the presence of the Lord in divine power, glory and majesty.
"Praise, honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ"—Praise at the judgment seat, honor by being incorporated into the perfected multitudinous Christ, and glory by being granted a change of nature.
"Whom having not seen"—That is, the Lord Jesus—(Cp. John 20: 29).
"Ye love" — The word agape denotes a divine, self-sacrificing love, and is described in greater detail by John. This love will express itself in self-discipline, and in self-devotion for the object of it. In relation to the Lord Jesus Christ, it will manifest itself in action, in performing his will. John summed up its requirements by declaring: "This is love, that we walk after his commandments" (2 John 6).
"In whom, though now ye see him not" — See Christ's commendation of those who believe without demanding to see the tangible evidence (John 20:29). John was able to reassure his readers with the fact that the Apostles had heard, seen, looked upon, and handled the Lord as the Word of Life (1 John 1:1).
"Yet believing" — i.e., believing you will yet see him.
"Joy unspeakable and full of glory"—Lit. "joy unspeakable and glorified." The Diaglott renders: "Joy inexpressible and glorious." Joy beyond the power of mortal, uninspired lips to express.
"Receiving" — Gr. Komizo. The word is in the middle voice indicating something one does for oneself. It signifies to carry, acquire, obtain, receive in such a way as to preserve. The word is used particularly as a military term, so that a person is said to preserve something for himself by defending it against an attacker that is out for spoil.
"The end of your faith, even salvation"—With their eyes fixed on Christ (V.8), and with the glorious vision of the future ever before them, saints have the incentive to defend what they ultimately hope to attain unto, namely, the salvation to which they have been called.
"Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently" — Salvation is something for which one must search diligently. The prophets did so, though they had not received the full measure of revelation as it was given through Christ. The fulness of the Gospel, proclaimed in the name of Christ, and extended to the Gentiles, is described as "the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world (kosmos) began, but is now made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Rom. 16:25-26). Though the fulness of the revelation was not revealed to the prophets, they enquired and searched diligently in an attempt to come to a better understanding. The word enquired is intensive. It means that they sought out, or scrutinised with care, the revelation given them that they may understand it completely. To search diligently means to search out, to trace out, to explore. An example of this is described in Dan. 9:2-3. The prophets were keen to come to full understanding, and did all in their power to do so. They therefore became students and interpreters of their own prophecies.
"Who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you" — The grace, or favour, thus prophesied is revealed in the Gospel as proclaimed in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:12). In predicting the work of Christ in that particular (e.g. Isa. 53), the prophets ministered for later generations.
"Searching, what, or what manner of time" — Gr. Kairos, signifying "seasons." Time is broken up into seasons, and the prophets searched diligently at what season the Christ should appear. Would it be at a time when Israel was in the Promised Land, or when the people were in dispersion? What would be the characteristics of the period at which he would make his appearance? So the prophets earnestly pondered over the "signs of the times" that should mark Christ's first advent. There are scriptural indications that some were in expectation of the Messiah in the days before Christ's public appearance, no doubt as a result of much searching (Luke 2:25, 38; 3:15).
The expression in the Greek here rendered what (lit. unto what) doubtless signifies unto what kind of person the prophecies related. That is, the prophets searched their own predictions to try and determine what would be his character and the nature of the work he would perform. There is no doubt that they understood that their prophecies related to the Messiah (see Acts 2:30-32), but their interest was such that they carefully pondered their own words to try to reach to a greater understanding of them in relation to him. Today we have prophecies concerning the second coming of the Lord, and it is a profitable exercise to carefully scrutinise them to ascertain the greatest details concerning the circumstances and the manner of his second coming.
"The Spirit of Christ"—There is only one Spirit, namely God's (Eph. 4:4), and this worked in the prophets (Neh. 9:20. 2 Pet. 1:21), and inspired them to testify prophetically of Christ. Later, this spirit was manifested through him without measure, for he is the central figure of God's purpose with man. For these reasons, God's spirit is here called "the spirit of Christ."
"Testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow"—Examples of this are seen in Isa. 53:2, 12. Ps. 22:1, 27, etc. The suffering and the glory comprise the two Keys of the Kingdom, entrance to which is through the Christ-door. Peter did not understand that truth when his attention was first directed to it (see Matt.16:21-22), but he came to appreciate it later (Acts 2:29-31). In similar manner, the prophets who were moved by the Spirit to prophesy of the sufferings and the glory of the Lord, did not always comprehend the significance and purpose of what they predicted. They were instructed, however, that in "the last days" these matters would be understood more perfectly (Jer. 23:20; 30:24). Such a revelation came with Christ's first advent in the "last days of Judah's commonwealth" (Heb. 1:1), as there has also come a greater understanding in these "last days" relating to Christ's second coming.
"Unto whom it was revealed"— The prophets received certain revelations that they understood not, but were required to record for the benefit of future generations (see Dan. 12:4, 9, 13). These revelations had been of great use to the Apostles, the "us" of this verse. They had seen them fulfilled and had thus come to understand them. So that the preaching of the Gospel is described by them as "the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but is now made manifest..." (Rom. 16:25).
"That not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you" —With complete foreknowledge of future requirements, Yahweh proclaimed His will and purpose through the prophets, and so ministered unto believers of future generations. In that regard, they acted as "deacons". A deacon is one who performs the service of an attendant, or servant, to others. The prophets ministered unto disciples in this manner by their prophecies which are recorded for the benefit of others then to come. The "ministry of the prophets" (Hos. 12:10) has been confirmed by the Apostles in their preaching the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. They reported the tangible evidence of the fulfilment of prophecies relating to Christ (cp. 1 John 1:1), and in doing so, like-wise acted as ministers, or deacons, to those who "believed on the Lord through their word" (John 17:20).
"With the Holy Spirit" — The power of the Holy Spirit guided the Apostles into "all the truth," and brought to their remembrance all things taught them by the Lord Jesus (John 14:26). It came upon them on the Day of Pentecost, after which they immediately went out and preached the Gospel with such force that 3,000 were baptised (Acts 2:2-4,41).
"Which things the angels desire to look into" — Gr. Parakupto — "to look intently with head bent forward," "to stoop down to examine minutely," (such as when the faces of the Cherubim were set gazing at the Mercy Seat). The active interest of the angels in the redemptive work of God with mankind is here indicated, but also their limited understanding of certain facets of it (Cp. Mark 13:32). If angels and prophets have manifested eagerness and anxiety to comprehend the Divine purpose, how devotedly should our minds centre around these things. The mystery of God-manifestation has been revealed to us, and Yahweh desires of man that he should respond to the Hope of Glory that is so graciously extended.
The Living Way — Vv. 13-16
Having established that the call of believers is to a living hope, the Apostle now shows that this reveals a new way of life.
"Wherefore gird up theloins" - An allusion to the long robes that were worn in the Eastern countries. Such robes impeded progress in running or similar exertion, unless they were gathered around the waist to give the greatest possible freedom of movement. It is significant to notice that the Israelites had to "gird themselves" in this fashion when they partook, of the first Passover in Egypt, prior to the Exodus (Exod. 12:11). A person thus prepared stood ready to march unhindered from the land of bondage as scon as the appointed time came. Peter used this figure of speech to indicate the need for a similar attitude of mind. "Strangers and pilgrims" with "no continuing city" must be ready to go wherever God desires. In the Greek, the phrase is in the aorist tense, implying something that is done for all. Thus the Diaglott renders: "Having girded up the loins of your mind." Saints having done this are required to remain in that state of mental attitude towards the truth and the world about them (see Luke 12:35).
"Be sober"—It suggests freedom from credulity and excitability. It is not lack of emotion, but control of emotion by sound reasoning based upon divine principles. It is a warning against artificially stimulating the mind (Eph. 4:18). Religion which is merely emotional does that. The Scriptures warn against figurative "drunkenness" induced by false doctrine (Rev. 17:2). As much care needs to be exercised in avoiding such, as in coming under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
"To the end" — Gr. Teleios, signifying "complete," "perfect." See the margin. The idea is: let this hope dominate your minds completely.
"For the grace that is to be brought"—This should be rendered in the present tense, not the future. Rotherham translates: "The grace being borne along to you." Yahweh is even now working to that end through His son (see Ch. 3:22), though the fulness of it will not be evident until the Lord Jesus returns.
"At the revelation of Jesus Christ" — The word "at" is en or in. Accordingly, Young renders the phrase: "the grace being borne to you in an uncovering of Jesus Christ". As believers come to understand the things in, or concerning Christ Jesus, they experience the grace, or favour, of Yahweh, particularly in relation to the forgiveness of sins.
"As obedient children" — Peter stresses the need for this attribute (Ch. 1:2; 1:14; 1:22). The Greek— Hupakouo signifies "to hearken submissively," indicating that such a state of obedience is brought about by HEARING WITH THE INTENT TO DO. Sonship is predicated on action, and not merely words, as the Lord told the Jews (John 8:39). Examples of such obedience: Christ — Heb. 5:8; Phil. 2:8; Abraham —Heb. 11:8; The Believers—Phil. 2:12.
"Not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts"— The gratification of these lusts (inordinate desires) was done in ignorance of the Divine will to the contrary. Once a person has come in contact with the living word of God however, there is no excuse for such an attitude. The Irving word must be allowed to mould, shape or fashion character, and reveal its fruit in the subjugation of fleshly lusts.
"In your ignorance" — What might have been tolerated in people of ignorance will not be in those of knowledge. Paul received forgiveness for the sins he committed because of his ignorance (1 Tim. 1:13), but with knowledge a different standard is required.
"As He which hath called you is holy" — Holiness is an essential characteristic of Yahweh, and those who are really His children, must conform thereto. The declaration is cited from Lev. 11:44 where Israel was told: "Ye shall sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy". Earlier, in Exodus 31:13, God had proclaimed His name as Yahweh M'qaddishim, rendered Yahweh that doth sanctify you. This is the first appearance of this name, but it is frequently used afterwards (see Lev. 20:7-8; 21:8,15,23; 22:9,16,32). Yahweh thus commands true Israelites to "sanctify themselves", and to show that flesh requires help to that end, he adds: "I am Yahweh M'qaddishim, that sanctifieth". To sanctify is not only to set an object apart for a special use, but to make it worthy of such use. However, Yahweh does not leave it to flesh to accomplish this. He offers His strength to "work in" those who reveal a responsive heart and dedicated will (Phil." 2:13). God's will is the sanctifica-tion of believers (1 Thess. 4:3). This must be manifested in prayer (1 Tim. 2:8); living (1 Pet. 1:15), and self-sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).
The purpose of the Law was to make Israel a "holy nation" (Exod. 19:6). That holiness was to be expressed in practical living, and so the commandments were given. Now Peter makes it quite clear that the requirements of the Law, in the realm of practical living, are still binding on those who claim to be true Israelites, even though, through weakness, the flesh cannot attain unto the standard set (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Nevertheless, Yahweh's grace has made provision for this in the forgiveness of sins (see Psa. 103:14), and Christ's disciples must strive for perfection even though it is beyond them. This is illustrated by the requirements of Lev. 19, for after stating: "Ye shall be holy: for I Yahweh your God am holy" (v. 2), the practical provisions of the Law in the realm of daily living are clearly set out. The chapter covers all the requirements of the Ten Commandments, and in doing so foreshadows the teaching of the Lord in his Discourse on the Mount. See notes on Leviticus 19.
"So be ye holy" — "Be" is ginomai in Greek, and signifies "become," so that holiness is a state to which we must ever be striving to attain and maintain.
"In all manner of conversation" — Better rendered, "all manner of living." Holiness in action is the only true criterion of a believer's life.
"Because it is written" — Peter now cites the fundamental message of the Book of Leviticus, and of the Law: "Be ye holy; for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44). Holiness signifies separateness, and in this context, the thing or person so separated is set apart for God's use. The Law revealed holiness as an active principle which regulates and shapes every ordinance of life, and thus it legislated for all life's activities from the day of birth to the day of death'. The book of Leviticus sets forth these principles, and, it is claimed, was the first book of the Bible that Jewish children were called upon to study in their religious exercises. rather to distrust self lest they fall. Fear, or reverence, should be shown towards God, and this will induce His children to ever seek His help, and to rely upon the strength that can come from His word and from prayer. Note the exhortation of Rom. 11:20.
The Living Sacrifice — Vv. 17-21
The Apostle shows the infinite cost of redemption through which alone the living way has been revealed.
"If ye call on the Father" — God is recognised as a Father whenever His title as such is used, but Peter warns that if this title is used, it should be accompanied by a manifestation of filial respect and honor to His Name. This is the "fear" referred to in this verse, in the which, Peter exhorted, these strangers should "pass the time of their sojourning."
"Fear of Yahweh is the beginning (Heb. firstfruits) of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7), for it induces a healthy respect of God so that one fears to offend Him. On the other hand, love (agape) is the "bond of perfectness" or completion (Col. 3:14). It is the culmination of a process that commences with fear. Fear, as manifested in filial respect, was an element of Christ's perfection: for "he was heard in that he feared" (Heb. 5:7).
"Without respect of persons judgeth every man's work" — Peter had not always clearly recognised this principle, for at one time he had resisted the preaching of the Gospel to Gentiles (Acts 10). The conversion of Cornelius, however, had very powerfully brought home to him the widespread extent of the call of Christ, and on that occasion, he had expressed himself in very similar phraseology as he does now (Acts 10:34).
"Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear" — This is Peter's exhortation to "sojourners" or "strangers" (Ch. 1:1), who have accepted the Divine call. He is warning such not to rely upon personal, fleshly confidence, but
"Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things" — Yahweh had proclaimed His intention of "redeeming without money" (Isa. 52:3), though, under the Law, money was required as a token of redemption.
"As silver and gold" — Silver is the token of redemption, for, under the Law, a half shekel of silver had to be paid for the life of every Israelite when the people were numbered (Exod. 30:12-17); and gold is the token of a tried faith. But these tokens had to give way to the reality in the offering of the Lord Jesus. Under the Law, a person's life could be redeemed from death (Exod. 30:12-17), and he himself could be redeemed from slavery (Lev. 25:47-55). This was an earnest of the true redemption in Christ. In him, a person is "bought with a price," and therefore becomes his servant or slave (Rom. 6:16). The life of such is "not his own" (1 Cor. 6:19-20), and therefore should be dedicated in loving service unto the Master, who will redeem him from death and grant him eternal life if he proves worthy.
"From your vain conversation" —This describes a life made up of empty, foolish and unprofitable conduct; one that is full of vain hopes, vain fears, and vain wishes!
"By tradition from your fathers" — Both Jewish and Gentile believers were guilty of this. See Mark 7:13. Col. 2:8.
"Theprecious blood of Christ" —There was no virtue in the blood of Jesus as such, for it was no different from that of any other man; the virtue was in what it represented. The blood of Jesus was poured out as a token of a completely dedicated life, and because he rendered perfect obedience to his Father in all things, it ensured his resurrection to life eternal. It is this that saves (Rom. 4:25, 6:4), for without that perfect life (of which the "blood" is the token— see Lev. 17:11), there would have been no resurrection, and no hope for humanity. Christ showed the way: by denial of the flesh, and the dedication of his life to doing the will of the Father. But we fall short of perfection and constantly fail. What then are we to do? The love of God now enters, and offers forgiveness of sins to those who recognise His righteousness in Christ, and acknowledge His right to demand crucifixion of flesh, and dedication of life in obedience (Gal. 5:24). All this is summed up in the statement "the precious blood of Christ." Its value in the work of redemption is beyond all price, for apart from it, we cannot "buy" salvation (see Psalm 49:7-9).
"A lamb without blemish" — See John 1:29 where Christ is so styled. Peter identifies the Lord with the Passover Lamb, which is also described as being "without blemish."
The lamb is noted for its docility, so that one "without blemish" is representative of meekness and perfect obedience. The hero of the Apocalypse is "the lamb that had been slain" (Rev. 5:6), for the Lord is described in that manner in all his glory of conquest. It is the Lamb that destroys the wild beast of the Apocalypse, for having conquered self, Christ is competent to conquer the world (Prov. 16:32). See notes in Apocalypse Epitomised.
Through the forgiveness of sins that is available in him, Christ is able to present believers unspotted and faultless before the throne of glory (Jude 23-24).
"Foreordained"—Gr. proginosko, signifying "to designate beforehand." From the very beginning, God purposed or designed to provide such a "lamb" (Rev. 13:8. Gen. 3:15) in order that redemption might be effected. The word "foreordained," therefore, does not signify that Christ pre-existed, but rather that God predetermined that He would provide such a one. The same word is used in regard to His purpose with the saints (Rom. 8:29. 1 Pet. 1:2). God determined beforehand what that should be, and from the very beginning, set in motion the means that would bring it to pass. Foreknowledge is the basis of all His dealings with man.
"Before the foundation of the world" — The Greek word rendered "foundation" is katabole. It is derived from the root word ballo "to hurl or cast", and therefore some have rendered katabole as "the disruption". The original "very good" creation was disrupted by sin; its restoration will be by conquest, as David realised and declared in Psa. 8:2. This was partially fulfilled in Christ (Heb. 2:6-10), who even when facing betrayal and shameful death was confident of his future victory and dominion over all flesh (John 16:33; 17:2 and see 1 Pet. 3:22). Peter's words in this place teach that before the disruption of the world through sin, God had already made preparation for the coming of one who would redeem His creation from sin and death. Though through foreknowledge He knew that Adam would sin, it was never His intention that His creation would always be subject to sin and death. Hence provision for the redemptive work of Christ was made before sin reared its evil head, before the foundation was laid after it had appeared. See the excellent comments on The Foundation of the World in Elpis Israel pp. 123-125.
"In these last times" — This expression relates to the last days of Judah's commonwealth then coming to its end. See similiar expressions used in Heb. 1:1. 9:26. Though the Lord was foreordained from the beginning, his physical manifestation was at the "end of the age" (see Heb. 9:26). The word is phaneroo, "to publicly reveal".
"Who by him do believe in God" — Or "through him." The death, burial and resurrection of Christ give: hope to those who believe in God, that even as He raised up Christ, so He will also raise them up and give them eternal life. The salvation of Jesus, therefore, guarantees the salvation of all those who are truly "in him" (see Rom. 6:4-5).
"That raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory" — Jesus was raised from the dead because of his perfect obedience, the righteousness of God demanding this (Acts 2:24). His resurrection ensured the justification of those who come unto God through him in the way appointed (Rom. 4:25). It confirmed his status as Son of God (Rom. 1:3-4), and endorsed the titles of Lord and Christ conferred on him (Acts 2:36). Thus glorified, he should be given his titles in any approach through him to the Father.
"That your faith and hope might be in God" — The resurrection of Christ confirmed faith and provided the basis of hope, for in that he liveth those who are faithful shall live also (Rom. 6:4). "He ever liveth to make intercession for men" (Heb. 7:25; See 1 John 2). Faith, peace, grace and hope are all linked together in Paul's encouraging statement of Rom. 5:1-2.
The Living Word — Vv. 22-25
A knowledge of the way, and the work of redemption, can only come through the Word. The living hope is brought into existence by the living word, and leads to the living foundation stone. That is now the Ajjostle's theme.
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth" — No one is made pure without personal intention or effort; anymore than one becomes accomplished or learned without personal exertion. The amount of effort which we make "in purifying our souls" or lives, will ensure the success or otherwise of our effort. The process is first mental and then moral. The mental process is through the Word (John 15:3). This educates a believer to think aright, and lays a foundation for obedience, the first act of which is baptism (Rom. 6:17). This must be followed by the purifying action of mortality in "obeying the truth", that is, yielding to its requirements.
"Through the spirit" — These words are not found in the best texts. However, they impose no problem to true doctrine. They do not teach the present possession of the gifts of the spirit, but rather the influence of the spirit word. John taught, "the spirit is the truth" (see 1 John 5:6). If the truth becomes the motivating force of our lives, it will be reflected in action.
"Unto love of the brethren" — Gr. Philadelphia, from phileo, a love born of liking. Peter was writing to believers who had turned from the world and found mutual companionship in the Truth. This created a common ground for mutual liking, and in their common acceptation of divine principles they were drawn one to another, and all normal social barriers were lowered. In Christ all the artificial stratas of society that normally exist are levelled, and unfeigned love results. But, as Peter himself had learned (see John 21:15-19), this quality of love is not sufficient; but has to develop into the intellectual, sacrificial love of agape. This latter "love" is the subject of Paul's discourse in 1 Cor. 13. There is evidence of the phileo love among brethren, but not sufficient of the agape divine love. The former caused Peter to boast above his brethren that he would never deny Christ, and drew him into the dangerous environment of the high-priest's Palace where he denied his Lord!
"See that ye love one another" — Here the word is agape. This is a Divine love, created by knowledge, and manifested in self-sacrificing devotion to the object of it. A knowledge of the Truth draws a person into the company of those who love the Truth, and so deve-lopes a phileo love. But an agape love is a further development, and comes from setting Christ as the standard of action. Hence it manifests a maturity above that of a mere phileo love. Concerning it, Bullinger's Lexicon states: "Love that is self-denying and compassionately devoted to its object. The highest word for love among the Greeks was philanthropy, but this does not denote love to a man as such, but rather justice, giving him who was entitled to it his full rights; it even falls short of the Philadelphia (brotherly love) of the New Testament. Agape, therefore, designates... love in its fullest conceivable form; first exhibited by Christ (1 John 3:16), expressive of God's relation to us (1 John 4:9) and the relation between the Father and the Son (John 15:10; 17:26; Col. 1:13). Lastly.it is the distinctive character of the Christian life in relation to the brethren and to all." Agape, therefore, is pre-eminently God's love (John 3:16), and is reproduced in the hearts of believers by the power of the Spirit-word (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22).
Peter's exhortation is that once brethren have attained unto brotherly love or Philadelphia, they must progress to the self-sacrificing love of God, or agape (See Rom. 5:8).
"With a pure heart fervently" — This denotes a genuine love, proceeding from a heart in which there is no guile or hypocrisy; an intense love that is not cold and formal, but ardent and strong. The verse before us establishes the fol-lowingpoints:
The truth is the basis of Godliness.
Godliness manifests itself in obedience.
The agency by which this is accomplished is the Spirit-word.
The effect is the manifestation of love towards all who belong to Christ.
"Being born again" — This should be rendered "begotten" as it is in the R.V. We are "begotten" by the word now, the birth will come at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Notice that the Lord Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power... by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4). His resurrection to life eternal constituted the seal of his Divine son-ship. This will be so with all sons of God. Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a person is born of water and of spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5). This expression speaks of gradual growth. There are three stages in birth: conception, quickening, birth. In the-context of John 3:5, or the verse before us, conception takes place when a person's interest is first aroused to the truth; quickening follows when he is enlivened to its significance; and birth of water results when he ultimately accepts Christ. He then begins to "walk in the Spirit" word, so that baptism denotes conception of the spirit. It is followed by quickening as he manifests the principles of Christ in a way of life; and the ultimate result will be the birth of the spirit by a change of nature at Christ's return. Peter's epistle is to those who have been "begotten" by the spirit-word, the seed of God (See James 1:18).
"Not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God" — Corruptible seed implies a begettal by a human father. Such will result in the birth of a body inheriting corruption and decay, and therefore begotten only to die. There is no permanent, enduring life produced by that means. On the other hand, incorruptible seed, defined as "the word of God" implies a begettal "from above" (see John 3:3 mg.), leading to a birth which is divine and incorruptible. The "seed" is the Truth expounded and believed. It motivates a life which provides a basis for the bestowal of eternal life, the promised "house from heaven" at the Lord's return (2 Cor. 5:2-4).
"Which liveth and abideth for ever" — God's truth will never die, though men can strangle its influence in their lives. Let that word work in them, however, and they will possess that which will provide the basis of life eternal.
"All flesh is as grass"—In Vv. 24-25 Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6, 8, and Psalm 102:11, to show how transient is flesh in spite of all its pomp and show, in comparison with the word of Yahweh that en-dureth for ever. This fact should ever be kept in mind. Mortal life is a vapor, as James reminds us; it appears for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14). In view of that fact, our prayer should be that of the Psalmist: "So teach us to number our days, that we may appply our hearts unto wisdom" (Ps. 90:12). This is often difficult to do, for flesh refuses to view the inevitable. As the Psalmist says in another place: "Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations" (Ps. 49:11). So men live their lives as though they possess eternity: but how quickly it can all end! And then what remains? Only the record in heaven if any is retained there ! And what will that be? For good or ill? It all depends upon how we have viewed flesh, and how we have applied ourselves to the principles of Divine wisdom.
"And all the glory of man as the flower of grass" — Man's glory is that in which he prides himself: wealth, status, talents, appearance, learning, splendour of possessions. Such things, like the flowers of the field, are transient. They flourish for a little while and then fade and die.
"The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away" — This is repeated for emphasis, to bring forcibly to mind the transient nature of fleshly glory.
"But the word of the Lord endureth for ever" — Yahwehs word is immovable, fixed, permanent. Amidst all the revolutions on earth, and the fading glory of human pomp and pride, His truth remains unaffected; its beauty never fades; His prophecies never fail. Christ will return to consummate the purpose initiated at his first advent. Meanwhile, there is not an object of natural beauty on which we pride ourselves that will not decay; but the Word of God, epitomised in the Gospel, is enduring and fadeless. It will lead to eternal life, and to a glory that shall have no end.
"And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you" —Peter made a similar statement to this when preaching unto Cornelius. Evidently it was a favorite phrase with him (Acts 10:37).
We need to present ourselves as a living sacrifice
HP Mansfield – 1 Peter
The Diaglott – Bible
Rotherham – Bible
John Thomas – Elphis Israel
What is the “living way”?
What is the “Spirit of Christ”?
Outline how the Lord Jesus Christ was a living sacrifice
How do we engender a “Spirit of Christ” within our community?