1 Peter Chapter 1: Trial of Your Faith, Hope, and Reward

Oct 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Peter, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Peter Chapter 1: Trial of Your Faith, Hope, and Reward

The caption in most Bibles is “The First Epistle General of Peter.” This epistle is not addressed to a particular church but to all Christians in several churches.

1 Pet. 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia are all in Asia Minor, which is presently Turkey. (Peter did not go to Greece, Macedonia, or Rome.) In writing to the churches in Asia Minor, Peter presumably had visited them previously or else received questions from them. In other words, he had had some communication with these churches earlier in order to write to them now. However, the Bible is silent about that communication. The Book of Acts talks about his earlier days and then concentrates on Paul. Both Paul and Peter died at about the same time.

It is significant that Peter’s epistles are near the end of the Bible. The order of apostolic writings is as follows: Paul’s epistles, James, Peter’s epistles, John’s epistles, Jude, and John’s recording of Revelation.

Peter was the apostle of the circumcision (Gal. 2:8), so here he was addressing primarily Jewish Christians (“the sojourners [chosen ones] of the dispersion”—Diaglott). These Jewish Christians were “strangers” in the sense of being nonresidents of Israel. They were living abroad and, for the most part, intended to remain there. (However, before becoming Christians, they had returned to Israel for the three primary feast days.)

1 Pet. 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Why is there a distinction between “obedience” and “sprinkling of the blood”? Peter is addressing those who responded when they were called of God. When their hearts were drawn, they listened to the message of Jesus and did not quench the Holy Spirit but went on to obedience by consecrating. Because they obeyed and became disciples, the blood was applied to them.

The “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” is related to the Passover, when the blood was sprinkled on the two sides of the door frame and the upper lintel in the shape of a cross. This represents one’s heart being sprinkled at the time of consecration when he accepts Jesus as Savior and becomes part of the firstborn class. Each individual thus receives Jesus into his heart through this “sprinkling of the blood.”

A question could arise as to which lamb is being referred to—the Passover lamb or the daily burnt offering sacrificed each morning and evening. It is probably the Passover lamb because the time element is related to the Exodus, whereas the daily sacrifice came later when they entered the Promised Land and enacted many ordinances they could not do previously.

1 Pet. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

“Blessed be … God [who] … hath begotten us again unto a lively [living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Their living hope was extinguished when Jesus was crucified, and then it was revived when he was resurrected. First, Peter mentions the application of the blood (Jesus’ death) and then he indicates that the resurrection of Jesus was a very important doctrine (Jesus’ life).

Peter is writing to Jews who were already consecrated Christians. Since they knew about Jesus’ resurrection before Peter wrote this epistle, he is writing to give them a continual reminder about their being begotten again to a living hope. When arguments are mixed and Peter’s words are paraphrased, he is saying in effect: “If Christ died for us, if the Father Himself loveth you, who can say aught against you?” This is a lesson the Christian should continually keep in mind lest he become despondent and discouraged.

Notice that it is God who has “abundant mercy.” Many think of Jesus’ mercy but not God’s. God is the Author of salvation!

1 Pet. 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Why does the apostle mention “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away”? Now that Jesus is resurrected, the Church’s inheritance is real, lasting, and constant; it does not come and go or fluctuate.

1 Pet. 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

One’s faithfulness unto salvation is not known in the present life but will be “revealed in the last time.” Our actual standing with God and where we will ultimately be placed will then be made manifest. It is good we do not know this in advance regarding either ourself or others, for how could we enthusiastically try to help others if we knew absolutely that they would go into Second Death, for example? Even if we observe discouraging things, the hope that one might be faithful keeps us trying to encourage him. And it is good for us to be active.

We are “kept by the power of God through faith.” Externally, a Christian might appear to be deserted by God. Consider Jesus, for instance, especially at the end of his life. If we observed his talent, wisdom, sympathy, courage, etc., and then saw him being tried as a criminal, mistreated, and crucified, the very things done to Jesus would seem to belie his testimony that he was the Son of God. We must continually keep in mind that the calling of God in the present life is to suffer and to be unpopular from the world’s standpoint.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the things we hope for are in the Bible. Therefore, faith’s foundation is in the Word of God. Faith is the exercise of the mind, heart, and will in the promises of God. In other words, faith is obedience. If we continually think upon, love, and try to obey God’s Word, we are exercising faith. One is rewarded according to his faith: “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29). In proportion as we exercise ourselves to know and to do the Lord’s will as presented in His Word, we are rewarded. If what we believe and act upon is not taught in the Word, we are not exercising faith but credulity.

Sometimes people even die for credulity, which would be an improper cause. Faith is the exercise of the heart and mind toward God, His Word, and Christ.

1 Pet. 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

This verse indicates that the Christians in Asia Minor were undergoing persecution (“manifold temptations”). The Jewish Church had a lot of hard experiences because they were in the midst of Jews who had rejected Jesus. Many Jewish Christians had trouble getting employment, especially in Jerusalem, and in addition, a famine occurred there, as predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:28–30). No wonder, then, that the Apostle Paul took up a collection for them. In this very difficult time, the Christian Jews in Jerusalem had to exercise a great deal of faith in order not to get discouraged.

Notice that we can be in “heaviness” when undergoing trials and temptations. “Now no chastening [trial] for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous” (Heb. 12:11). We will not necessarily be “happy” at such times. Our rejoicing comes from realizing that we must be tried and from looking beyond the trial. A Christian does know sadness when going through a trial.

1 Pet. 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

The “trial of your faith” would be the proof of your faith. Overcoming the temptation is the thought in the Greek. In other words, overcoming a temptation is the proof of a trial. (A different application would be that the very temptation or experience itself is invaluable. That is a good thought but not what Peter is saying here.) It is the overcoming of the experience that is more valuable than gold. This verse helps us to be in the right heart attitude and frame of mind to realize in advance that we must have, need, and will have trials.

The trial of our faith is “more precious” than “gold that perisheth.” Compared with our heavenly hope, even gold loses its value. “Fade, fade, each earthly joy; Jesus is mine” is the thought. While gold is stable from the world’s standpoint, the Christian has a different outlook on life.

“O, how the gold hath dimmed!” (Lam. 4:1 paraphrase). This text mentions gold from an unfavorable standpoint. When a Christian backslides, becomes worldly, is overtaken with temptations in the present life, and loses his appreciation of the truth, the luster of the divine calling and promises begin to fade and fade. Of course the gold, representing the divine nature, does not fade. What fades is the eyesight of the backslidden Christian. His appreciation declines.

Back to what Peter is saying. Gold loses its value when one has higher spiritual values. Truth is more precious than gold. To the new creature, all things become new, and his values change to a much higher plane than material gold.

Peter is also indirectly referring to the gold of the Tabernacle arrangement, as will be seen later in the epistle. The Law Covenant arrangement fades to the Jew who accepts Christ.

When the proof of our faith is tried with fire, it is more precious than gold that perishes. Our hope is that our overcoming will be such that it will result in making our calling and election sure (that it “might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”).

The manifestation of the Church’s approval is yet future—at the apokalupsis; then the world will know.

If we are more than overcomers, the proof of our faith will be found unto the praise, honor, and glory of not only God but also ourselves, for the Church class will be praised in the Kingdom. The people will praise, honor, and give glory to the Church.

1 Pet. 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Generally speaking, Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (verse 1) had never seen Jesus. According to the flesh, they were having “manifold temptations” and “heaviness,” yet they rejoiced with unspeakable joy in the knowledge of Jesus and his resurrection.

1 Pet. 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

The “end” (ultimate objective) of one’s faith is the salvation of his own soul, not his body.

“Even” and “your” are supplied words. Nevertheless, this verse does not refer to the salvation of the world. The context shows Peter is speaking about the Church’s salvation. The salvation of restitution is very secondary compared with the salvation of the Church itself. The “gospel of the kingdom” is the call to be kings and priests, the bride of Christ (Matt. 4:23).

Consider the context. Peter is talking about temptations in the present life (verse 6) and then about the overcoming in a trial being more precious than gold so that our goal will be reached: salvation to the divine nature. After the sufferings come the praise, honor, and glory—if we are faithful (verse 9).

Those who are evangelistically inclined put the emphasis on having the privilege of blessing the world of mankind. But the gospel of the Kingdom is being faithful to God and hearing His “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21); it is working out our own salvation first, before we think of the salvation of others. Our hope should be to be with Jesus and the Father—ahead of being with other Christians. It is NOT selfish to want to be faithful and to please God so that we may see Him.

Peter is leading up to the salvation of the Church, the sonship relationship, which was not understood or appreciated in the Old Testament (see verses 10 and 11). The calling of the new creation was something very different. The Jews were materialistic in that they thought of being a blesser nation, of ruling Gentile nations. True, the Church will do this, but being with Jesus and obtaining a heavenly reward of the divine nature are the higher objective.

1 Pet. 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

The Old Testament prophets prophesied of the grace to come unto the Church class.

1 Pet. 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

The Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets of Old Testament times, prophesied of the sufferings of The Christ (Head and body) and of the glory that should follow. The “suffering” period is the present life; the “glory” period is the next life.

1 Pet. 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, 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 the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

The instruction to the Prophet Daniel is an excellent example of Old Testament visions and prophesyings being primarily for us in the Gospel Age, for he was told to seal up the book until the time of the end (Dan. 12:4). Daniel was informed about the holy people whom God would call, but he did not know who this class would be. Being called to the spiritual goal of reigning with Christ and being made partakers of the divine nature are subjects not understood back there.

Galatians 3:7–9 reads: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto  Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” In this text, Paul says that the gospel of God was referred to in the Old Testament under the promise to Abraham that in him and his seed would all the families of the earth be blessed. The promise to Abraham was the gospel in a nutshell. However, the channel of the blessing is the kernel of the matter. This text is used to preach restitution and it does, but Paul gives the emphasis to the blesser, not to the blessee. It is more blessed to give than to receive. We tend to think how blessed it is for us to receive, but Paul says it is more blessed to be the channel of blessing than to be blessed by the channel. The calling to be the blesser seed is the gospel. And this calling has to do with the justification of the heathen by faith, not by works. Paul is referring to the present life, to the chief business of the Church at the present time.

1 Pet. 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

This whole chapter is building up the calling of the Church and its hope, through faithfulness, of being rewarded with the divine nature and being made a permanent part of God’s intimate family. The “grace” of this verse is a continuation of that in verse 10. In other words, the same grace of which the Old Testament prophets prophesied is what we hope for “at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

God’s exceeding and “abundant mercy” (verse 3) is that He has called the Church. It is unbelievable to think that not from the holy angels but from insignificant planet Earth God has called not the wise, great, noble, or rich but little “nobodies” to be rewarded with the divine nature. And, in addition, no other beings will ever again in the future have such an offer. Surely, that is more grace than what the world will receive! “Exceeding great and precious promises” are given unto the Church (2 Pet. 1:4). These promises are as high above the world of mankind as the heavens are above the earth. If we can but be faithful and realize that the trials of the present life will grant us this great inheritance, we will accept them with the right spirit.

1 Pet. 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

1 Pet. 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

1 Pet. 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Having the foregoing information, we should continue as “obedient children.” How easily we could be  fashioned “according to the former lusts” if we just relaxed! Diligence and effort are required to fashion ourselves according to God’s precepts. The former lusts may continue to exist because we are born of the earth, earthy, as far as our bodily frames are concerned and we have inherited Adamic weaknesses. Therefore, we must diligently try to curb, expunge, and crucify our former lusts with the objective and hope that we may inherit the promises of God, who says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

With the change of nature, not only will the faithful Christian experience a perfect spiritual body, but he will no longer be troubled by lusts. There will no longer be a fight between the flesh and the spirit, for one who is victorious and faithful unto death will have only pure and elevated thoughts.

When created as a man, Adam was both male and female. However, when he was separated at the time of Eve’s creation, he was missing the female part. That is the significance behind the thought that the two together were “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). As a result of the separation into male and female, coupled with man’s fallen condition, the human race has been subject to both legitimate and illegitimate desires. But when one is made whole in the resurrection, when both component parts are put together, the human race will consist of males who are complete with the female part.

On this side of the veil, we have no rest, but beyond the veil, there is rest in more ways than one—not just from labor and fatigue but from sinful tendencies. In heaven there will be no more “Canaanites” in the land, as it were.

1 Pet. 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

“Pass the time of your sojourning here in [reverential] fear.” We are to do this lest we displease God and come short of obtaining the great heavenly inheritance. We should never feel secure or complacent about having gotten a crown.

Peter’s thinking is a little different than we are accustomed to hearing. These are strong exhortations! If the apostles were here today, their sermons would be strong and very searching. We need more than an intellectual understanding of types and pictures. From a corrective standpoint, we need to learn to analyze and improve our characters!

Real soul-searching discourses are often not too well received. It is hard for both teacher and listener to go against the current. Some teachers have “itching ears”; that is, they desire to please the hearer. A strong talk might be described as “bad news to the flesh, good news to the new creature.”

1 Pet. 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

This verse is a reference to the Tabernacle arrangement, under which the Israelites used money to pay a recognition or token that they had been redeemed. Money was paid on two occasions.

On one occasion, every man, rich or poor, had to pay a bekah (half a shekel) to acknowledge that the Israelites were purchased as a nation (Exod. 38:26). Although only a small token, the payment meant they all had to equally recognize that they were a bought people. Literal money was used, but it prefigured a spiritual application in the Gospel Age. Just as back there the redemption price had to do with natural Israel’s coming out of natural Egypt, so redemption and salvation in the Gospel Age pertain to spiritual Israel’s coming out of symbolic Egypt (the world). The blood of Christ is the payment money now, and Christ paid that price by grace, for none of Adam’s children could have done so.

The “tradition from your fathers,” which led to “vain conversation [conduct],” was the Law Covenant. The Law itself was not vain, but since none could perfectly keep it, none could get life from it. Stated another way, for those who tried to get life by obeying the Law, their efforts were in vain. The Jews put too much emphasis on the material things connected with the Tabernacle, and their conduct was vain in that the Law did not change their lives. They followed forms, ceremonies, and sacrifices, but their hearts were not in them. It was vain conduct to think that anyone could buy God’s goodwill by giving Him money (as Catholics do today with the Mass). It is shallow thinking to try to get away with such behavior. The Father judges every man’s work “without respect of persons” (verse 17), and superficial behavior will not be approved. Some church leaders put more emphasis on the collection box than on the conduct of those they are trying to instruct.

1 Pet. 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

The type had many valuable lessons, but how much superior is the antitype! The fathers were redeemed with silver and gold, but we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, the spotless, unblemished Lamb of God. How much more costly (precious) was Christ’s sacrifice! It is one thing to bring a lamb to be sacrificed and quite another to give one’s own Son, as God did. With us as Christians too, it will cost something to maintain our integrity. We will be misunderstood and maligned.

1 Pet. 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

1 Pet. 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

God raised Jesus from the dead. God keeps us through faith (verse 5).

1 Pet. 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

This epistle is addressed primarily to Christians who have obeyed “the truth … unto unfeigned [phileo] love of the brethren.” Peter exhorts them to go beyond this type of love to “[agape] love one another with a pure heart fervently.” Christians in Asia Minor had manifested their obedience and sincere (phileo) love of the brethren by contributing to the necessities of the Jerusalem Church. Having compassion and a feeling of brotherhood, they helped to support those in Jerusalem. Now Peter wants their love to grow further—to go beyond just material lines.

Comment: Many times a gift is of little value, but the recipient appreciates our thinking of him or her.

1 Pet. 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

In this verse, “born again” should be “begotten again.” Since the Greek word can be translated either way, the context determines whether the reference is to the begettal or the birth. In most cases, the birth is referred to.

Notice that we are begotten by the “word of God,” which is likened to an incorruptible seed. The Word is the begetting agent. We are begotten by the Father and the Word of truth.

1 Pet. 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

1 Pet. 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

The Word of God is more important than anything along material lines. Although this same apostle was an eyewitness of the personal honor of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, and although he heard God say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” it is he who said elsewhere, “We have … a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19). Also, when Moses and Elijah were seen in vision along with Jesus on the same Mount of Transfiguration, it was Peter who gave a materialstic answer: “Let us make here three tabernacles” (Matt. 17:4). Now, however, his words and admonitions are completely spiritual. Jesus said to Simon Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). Therefore, “conversion” sometimes takes place after consecration because the individual did not understand the full gist of consecration at the time he gave his life to the Lord.

At the same time that Peter was brash and impulsive, especially his speech, he was also very humble and tender.

1981

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