1 Peter 1:1-2
The little book of 1 Peter is a letter of hope and holiness. Peter instructs his reader on how to have a holy walk in a hostile world. He encourages those who are suffering for Christ to stay on course and forge ahead. In the first two verses Peter gets right of the heart of the matter explaining that God's people are pilgrims passing through this world.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers... (1 Peter 1:1) Notice that we are called strangers. This word stranger speaks of one who is a "pilgrim, sojourner, or foreigner." This is a very descriptive term of what every believer is. We are foreigners to this world. This world is not our home, we are mere strangers to here. The songwriter wrote:
This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.
My treasures are laid up, Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me, From Heaven's open door,
And I can't be at home, In this world anymore.
As God's people we are in the world, but not of the world. Jesus said, I have chosen you out of the world. (John 15:19) Notice the words out of. When we became Christ's we ceased to be of this world. Christ has done His part and now we are commanded, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15) We are told to come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing. (2 Corinthians 6:17) By way of the new birth we are creatures of another world. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered ... (1 Peter 1:1) Not only are we strangers, we are scattered. The word scattered comes from the word diaspora and carries the idea of that which is sown. It was a word used of the farmer sowing seed in the field. The dispersion was a term understood by Jews to mean all the Jews who had been scattered abroad through persecution. In the context Peter is writing to the Jews who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These were all provinces of Asia Minor. But it doesn't matter whether it is Pontus or Pennsylvania, Galatia or Georgia, Cappadocia or California, Asia or Alabama, Bithynia or Birmingham, like a farmer sows seed in his field, the Lord sows Christians throughout the fields of this world. In the book of Acts God allowed persecution to scatter His people for purpose of spreading the good news of the gospel. Think about it! You are where you are because God has put you there to spread the gospel.
As God's people we are Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. (1 Peter 1:2) Here is a subject that is the spring board for a great deal of controversy. However, we must keep in mind that God's election cannot be divorced from His foreknowledge. The foreknowledge of God is the basis for His election. God is timeless. Based upon anything except God's foreknowledge, election would be fatalistic, depriving man of his free choice which the Bible commands him to exercise. If we are going to understand how God elects man we are going to have to accept what the Bible says about God's foreknowledge. Please notice the Holy Spirit-inspired order of foreknowledge and election. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God. Now don't get this out of order. Some attempt to teach that God foreknew the elect because He had pre-selected them to be saved. However, we see that election is according to foreknowledge. It does not say, Foreknowledge according to His election. no! A thousand times NO! Let's just be honest and read the Bible as God wrote it. The Bible makes it clear that God's election is based upon His foreknowledge. Foreknowledge is the act whereby God, based upon His omniscience, looked down through the ages and seeing who would come to Christ and be saved, He elected them and predestined them to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience. (1 Peter 1:2) The word "sanctify" means "to be set apart for special service." The text says that this sanctifying work is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is that act whereby He works in the life of the believer to free him from the world, the flesh, and the devil while at the same time separating him unto Christ for special service. Sanctification is a three-fold work.
This speaks of our position in Christ. At the time of the new birth, every believer is eternally sanctified in Christ and transferred from the family of the devil into the family of God. At the very moment of salvation we become a child of God. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12) Before salvation we belonged to the devil—we were subjects of his kingdom. Jesus said to the unsaved, Ye are of your father the devil... (John 8:44) However, salvation changed everything and now we are subjects of the kingdom of God. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 1:12-13) At that moment God declared us perfectly righteous and set us apart for Himself. This is positional sanctification that takes place the minute one is saved. It is the act of God whereby Christ is made unto us... sanctification. (1 Corinthians 1:30) This phase of sanctification is solely the work of God.
It differs from Positional sanctification in that positional sanctification is entirely the work of God while progressive sanctification includes human responsibility. Progressive sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29) This is Christian growth, putting away sin and putting on godliness. (Romans 6:19, 22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 1 Peter 1:14-16) All believers are exhorted to pursue Sanctification, For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) This aspect of our sanctification is a matter of choice to the believer. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:21-22) Unfortunately, the choice of many Christians is to ignore God's clear command to separate and they never become a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use. God intends that the process of sanctification continue throughout the believer's life. This present process of sanctification never ends as far as this life is concerned. The Christian is to combat and resist sin until he is taken from this world at death or at the return of Christ.
It is the final perfection of the believer which will take place at the return of Christ. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23) Perfect sanctification is the plan and purpose of God for every believer. This phase of sanctification cannot and will not be attained while in our mortal bodies. However, it will be accomplished—what God started in the believer, He will finish. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6) Perfect sanctification will be the completion of what God started in us on the day of our salvation. Like positional sanctification, this is wholly the work of God. At Christ's coming, every believer will receive a new body that will have no sin. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2) The Christian will no longer have to resist sin within or to grow toward perfection. His sanctification will be complete. He will be wholly and forever set apart to God from sin.
Unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2) Notice that this sanctifying work is unto obedience. God's people are to obey the Holy Spirit and put away sin as the Spirit of God convicts. That's obedience.
Next, Peter speaks of sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Many interpret this to mean the cleansing by the blood that takes place the moment a sinner gets saved. The blood of Christ is certainly the basis of our forgiveness. However, that's not what Peter is saying here. You will notice that this blood is sprinkled after the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and after obedience to Christ, not before it. This is speaking of the continual cleansing of the blood of Christ in our life. John said, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) Confession comes from a word that means "to speak the same thing, It carries the idea of agreeing with another. "Confession is agreeing what God says about sin. David in his confession said, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalm 51:4) It might also be noted that the word confess is in the present tense, denoting the need for continuous confessing. Notice that the cleansing is conditional upon the confessing. When confession is right it will result in cleansing. Solomon dealt with this matter of sin along with the confession and cleansing of it. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13) When the Holy Spirit is active in a person's life sanctification will be the result.
1 Peter 1:3-9
The Bible often refers to the salvation experience as a hope. For instance, Paul speaking of believers who had died, said we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) Concerning the Christian the Bible speaks of, the hope of his calling. (Ephesians 1:18) Of every child of God the Bible says, Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) Here in 1 Peter our text states that God according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope. (1 Peter 1:3) The salvation experience is referred to as hope.
Now there is a big difference between the way we generally use the word hope and the way the bible uses it. When we use the word hope, it is in the sense of wishing for something. However, when the Bible uses that word hope, it is talking about a confident expectation and reality. The reason that Bible hope is a confident expectation and reality is because Bible hope is based in God. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13) Notice that Paul calls God the God of hope. Bible hope has its foundation in God. No wonder the Bible says Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) When we talk about our salvation being a lively hope, we're not just wishing for Heaven, we have confident expectation of Heaven. In this passage Peter speaks of our lively hope. We have a Living Hope in A Dying World.
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 ... (1 Peter 1:3) The phrase begotten us again means that we have been born again. Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3) We sometimes hear folks scoff at this wonderful Bible phrase. I have talked to people about their souls who immediately throw objections by pointing out folks who claim to be born again, but never change. The Bible says, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The term born again is a good Bible term and believers need not shy away from it just because the world doesn't like it. But one thing is for sure. Being born again means a changed life. When a baby is born a new life enters the world. The same is true of the spiritual birth. When a sinner turns from his sin to Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, a new life enters the world. Salvation is not business as usual. We have a living hope in a dying world because of the Regeneration Of Our Soul.
This hope is based upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3) Notice that our hope is dependent on the resurrection of Christ. There would be no Christianity if there were no resurrection. Paul wrote, And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19) Praise God. Christianity has a living Saviour. If Christ had remained in the tomb, we would have no hope. Oliver B. Greene said, "The greatest bombshell ever to explode in the face of an unbelieving world was the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ." The resurrection of Jesus distinguishes and makes Christianity superior to all other religions of the world. Founders of Religions have lived and died and they remain dead. But Jesus Christ the founder of New Testament Christianity died and yet He is alive. You can go to the grave of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science and there she lies. You can go to the grave of Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah's Witness and there he lies. You can go to the grave of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism and there he lies. You can go to the grave of Mohammed, the founder of Islam and there he lies. But you go to Joseph's tomb where they lay Jesus dead and He is not there. There is no religion other than Christianity that can point to an empty tomb and say, He is risen, He is not here. (Mark 16:6) The resurrection of Christ is the bedrock upon which Christianity sits.
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:4) The verse speaks of our inheritance. An inheritance is wealth that one receives as a member of a family. We already have the earnest of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14), which is the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5) The word earnest speaks of a pledge of a part given in advance. The Holy Spirit is the Divine pledge of our future inheritance. Furthermore, the Bible calls us joint-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) As joint-heirs we share in everything that Jesus Christ inherits. Peter uses three words to describe the surety of the believer's inheritance.
The word incorruptible means that our inheritance is not subject to decay. Thayer defines it as not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable. Our inheritance will not spoil and waste away.
The word undefiled speaks of "being unstained or unpolluted." Our inheritance is pure and will remain pure. This same word is used to speak of the purity of Christ. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. (Hebrews 7:26)
We are assured that our inheritance fadeth not away. This phrase was used to describe a flower that did not wither or die. Instead it maintained its beauty and fragrance. Our inheritance will never lose its splendor. Its splendor and beauty will shine throughout the endless ages of eternity.
Peter assures us that this inheritance is reserved in heaven for you. The word reserved is a military term that speaks of something being watched over or guarded. Kenneth Wuest said, "Heaven is the safe-deposit box where God is guarding our inheritance for us under constant surveillance." No wonder Jesus said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5) Our eternal security rests in God's power to keep us. That is real security. (see Romans 8:31-39) As long as the believer's security is dependent on God we will get to Heaven. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 1:24) As believers in Christ our salvation is the surest thing we have. Jesus said, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37) A little later our Lord said, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. (1 Peter 1:6) Folks don't usually put rejoicing and sorrow together, but when you are a Christian things are different. Notice that the believer doesn't simply rejoice, but he can greatly rejoice. We can greatly rejoice though experiencing manifold temptations. The word manifold means various or different kinds. The idea is that no matter what comes at us we can still rejoice. Peter wrote this during some of the most horrifying persecution that God's people have ever faced. These words were written during the rule of the wicked Roman emperor Nero. Nero hated Christ and Christianity with a passion. During these times Christians were dipped in tar and set on fire as human torches to light Nero's gardens at night. Christians were wrapped in freshly slaughtered animal skins and fed to dogs and wild animals. Believers were dropped into caldrons of boiling oil. It was during this time of persecution that Peter himself was put to death.
Toward the end of this book Peter writes, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (1 Peter 5:10) Did you pick up on the phrase after that ye have suffered a while. Our focus is not on the here and now, but what comes after. We can greatly rejoice in these manifold temptations because we know that it is only for a while. Suffering here is brief when compared to our inheritance that lasts for all eternity.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire. (1 Peter 1:7) Peter uses the analogy here of gold being refined by fire. For raw gold to be purified it must be melted and the dross skimmed off. In order to do that the gold must be heated to 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the gold is melted, the impurities rise to the surface, where they are skimmed off. God does the same thing with our faith. He allows our faith to enter into the fire. He allows these trials and afflictions into our lives for the purpose of burning off the impurities and leaving us with pure, genuine faith.
Peter continues, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 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: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:7-9) Here is our blessed hope. The Bible says that we, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. This is the day that every faithful believer longs for. Paul admonished us to be, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13) Notice the phrase looking for. This and many other passages teach the imminent return of Christ. The word imminent means "impending or looming." Concerning the rapture, it means the Church could be caught out immediately or at any moment. The Scriptures continually admonish believers to watch, be ready, and to expect His return at a time when ye think not. This imminent return was the hope of the early Church. Their popular greeting, Maranatha (1 Corinthians 16:22), expressed their belief in the imminent return of Christ for the Church. Paul wrote, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) The rapture is the next great event in the redemptive plan and purpose of God. Our Lord will return literally and visibly, and summon His people with a shout like a trumpet blast. The graves of every dead saint will give up its dead and those still living at that time will be caught up with Christ to ever be with Him. That is our blessed hope.