A Living Hope – 1 Peter 1:1-12
Today’s lesson begins a study on 1 Peter. Before digging into the first passage to discuss, let’s set the stage with some background information.
Destination and Situation of the Readers: Written to the churches in Asia Minor who were faced with suffering and persecution for their faith.
Date: Likely around A.D. 62-63 before Nero’s persecution begins.
Author: The author claims to be Peter, and there is no evidence in the writer’s letter to disagree with his authorship.
Theme: To encourage believers to hold fast while they endure the suffering and persecution of the present evil age, knowing that they will receive a great reward on the day of salvation.
Theology: The author presents three theological lessons in this book.
- Hope in the midst of suffering.
- Christians belong to the ancestral people of God.
- The blessings that believers enjoy now or hope to enjoy in the future, Christ’s death and resurrection, and Christ’s victory over all evil spiritual beings.
Now, let’s look at today’s lesson.
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:
To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
A Living Hope
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things. (HCSB)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Some things to note about these first two verses.
- The introduction is not in a standard format for letters of the period.
- Peter introduces himself as an apostle of Jesus.
- This should not be interpreted as being merely a messenger of Christ.
- Jesus designated Peter as an authoritative messenger and interpreter of the Gospel.
- This means that the letter is not just good advice; it is a binding apostolic word for the church.
- The letter is addressed to “the temporary residents.” Other translations may say “pilgrims.”
- Because they are “chosen” by God, they are residing temporarily on earth.
- 1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.
- Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.
- Their true home is in heaven.
- Because they are “chosen” by God, they are residing temporarily on earth.
- They are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.” This is a challenging concept to wrap our brains around, and there is much discussion and debate on the ideas of predestination and foreknowledge. The two main camps are the Calvinists and the Arminians, and what makes it even more challenging is that Scripture can support both of their positions. I won’t get into a lengthy and detailed discussion of the two camps, as that would be an entire lesson. The important point to reflect on here is that the recipients of the letter are believers of the Gospel.
- Romans 8:29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
- This is a cyclical letter intended for each of the churches listed, located in modern-day Turkey.
- The believers are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
- Conversion is not just an intellectual understanding of the Gospel.
- It involves obedience and submission to the Gospel.
- They have been cleansed by the sacrificial blood of Jesus.
- Entrance into the New Covenant has two parts.
- Obedience to the Gospel.
- Cleansing through the sacrificial blood of Jesus.
- The Trinity is contained in the introduction, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- It closes with a prayer that grace and peace be multiplied in their lives.
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter begins this section with the theme for the entire passage, praise for God.
- Because He has given us a new birth.
- None of us can take credit for the new birth.
- It is entirely through God’s grace and mercy.
- He has given us a living hope.
- The resurrection of Jesus.
- Victory over death.
- Everything they could suffer in this world is insignificant compared with the future blessings of resurrection and eternity with God.
- He has given us an inheritance.
- In the Old Testament, the land was the inheritance.
- In the New Covenant, Peter understands that the inheritance is the end-time hope that all believers have.
- Our eternal home is in heaven.
- It is still a physical hope: a new heaven and a new earth.
- 2 Peter 3:13 But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
- Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away, and the sea no longer existed.
- However, the focus on salvation should be on our future glory.
- Inheritance is another way of looking at our salvation. Our full and final inheritance will be received in the new heaven and new earth.
- It will be revealed in the last time; our salvation is a future event.
- Believers can rest in the assurance that God’s power will protect them through their trials here and bring them to salvation.
- This doesn’t mean we won’t’ experience trials.
- But God will preserve us so that we will receive our final inheritance.
- This requires faith on our part.
- God’s protection works in conjunction with our believing.
- The root of sin is unbelief.
- If we are faithful, God’s power protects us from unbelief and sin.
6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
In verses 3-5, the focus was on praise to God. Now, in verses 6-9, the focus shifts to joy and love, even as they face various trials.
- There are two types of trials.
- Those brought on by our own poor choices.
- Those that God allows us to experience to shape and mold us for greater works and keep us on the narrow path.
- Acts 14:22 Strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
- Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
- James 1:2-4 Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
- These trials are never enjoyable, but God is working out His plan through them.
- The persecutions of Christians under the rule of Nero were starting at the time this letter was written.
- Nero’s persecution was the first of nine conducted by the Roman Empire.
- The persecutions lasted for about 250 years.
- Peter’s death was likely during this first persecution.
Why does God allow us to suffer?
- Suffering functions as the test for faith.
- Those with genuine faith will persevere through the trials.
- They will continue to trust God even in the deepest valleys of suffering.
- Their faith will be strengthened and purified through the sufferings.
- Their transformation into Christ-likeness includes the ability to undergo suffering to glorify God.
- Those who have a shallow or false faith will not persevere through the sufferings. In the end, they will be seen as false Christians.
- Those with genuine faith will persevere through the trials.
- The trials of life test our faith to prove its sincerity. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. A person who abandons their faith when the going gets tough is only proving that they had no faith at all.
- We also suffer because our “new life” values are in direct conflict with a fallen and sinful world. In our current world, this has led to secularism and pluralism negatively affecting the church-many hot topics in the world clash with the truth of Scripture.
- Same-sex marriage.
- All religions lead to the same God and heaven.
- Relative truth, each of us has our own set of truth values, and we must accept and respect the truths of others.
- The idea that some portions of Scripture are a fairy tale.
- The lack of personal responsibility and accountability. I can do anything I want. I’m not at fault for my actions.
- There are more, but in each case, the values of a follower of Jesus are in direct conflict with the world.
What is our hope based on?
- The end of verse 7 answers that, the revelation of Jesus, and verse 8 expounds on it.
- Our sufferings should not make us miserable.
- Our lives should be filled with love for Jesus.
- Jesus is precious to those who believe in Him.
- The recipients of the letter, and us, have never seen Him, yet we believe in Him.
- Believing is not based on seeing. John 20:29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
- Peter’s main point here is that the hope of believers is not destroyed by the trials they undergo. Their lives are characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and joy while they wait for the eternal joy in anticipation. If we trust Jesus with our present salvation, we can also trust Him with our future salvation.
This expounds on the previous verse be defining the reward awaiting those who believe in Jesus.
- The reason for the believer’s love and joy is the promise of future salvation.
- We see from verse 5 that it will be completed “in the last time.”
- This doesn’t mean that salvation isn’t a present-tense idea.
- As in many places in the Bible, this is an “already, not yet” concept that will not reach its completion until Jesus returns.
- Believers enjoy salvation now but will experience its fullness at a future date.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.
This verse builds upon the previous verse in expanding upon the idea of salvation.
- The salvation that was prophesied in the past, the recipients of the letter were now experiencing.
- Believers in Jesus are the fulfillment of prophecy.
- The prophecy was intended for Peter’s readers.
- This salvation was not experienced in the same way by the Old Testament prophets.
- God’s grace through the New Covenant.
- The prophets carefully investigated the salvation they prophesied about.
- The prophets didn’t live in the time of fulfillment.
- Their prophecies were inspired by the Spirit of Christ, indicating authority and accuracy.
- The prophets predicted these events but didn’t know when they would occur.
- They hoped to experience the fulfillment of their prophecies.
- The recipients of the letter do live in the time of fulfillment.
- The prophets discovered that Jesus would first suffer and only after that would glory follow.
- Often, this is a pattern in our lives.
- Suffering is not a sign that Jesus has forsaken us.
- Suffering is a sign of our fellowship with Jesus.
- Suffering does not reduce the living hope given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Although the prophets desired to live in the time of fulfillment, God revealed to them that they would not experience it.
- The Old Testament prophecies do not apply to the recipients but were intended for them.
- The prophets were guided by the Spirit of Christ, but those who evangelize the Gospel message do so through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- The Gospel fulfills what is contained in the Old Testament.
- Believers are blessed to live in the time of prophetic fulfillment. Matthew 13:16-17 “But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.”
- Angels don’t experience the Gospel in the same way that humans do since they are not the recipients of redemption.
- Angels marvel at what God has done through the sacrifice of Jesus.
- The recipients of the letter actually experience it.
- Do we consider ourselves “temporary residents” of the earth? As a follower of Christ, our identity is in Him and not our country, ethnicity, the school we attended, job, etc. This may be hard for some to come to grips with, but our true identity is not defined by anything on this earth.
- As a follower of Christ, our future hope is secure. Do you really believe that, or do you struggle with the assurance of your salvation? If you believe in the infallible truth of Scripture, you should never doubt your salvation if you have placed your trust in Jesus. Doubting is the ploy of the enemy to hamper your work for God.
- All of us will suffer trials as we go through life. Some of us will suffer more than others. Do you focus on the present trial, or do you focus on the future assurance?
- Understand that biblical salvation is offensive to the culture we live in. As we share the Gospel message, we will face opposition. Some opposition may be minor, but some could be quite violent. Our task, both individually and corporately as the church, is to faithfully and boldly preach the true Gospel message whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.