1 Peter exhorts us to live like Christ, following His example and keeping our eyes on Him – His glory and His grace are shared with us. In particular, Peter picks some very relevant examples to explain what it means to live in love, humility and obedience to God the Father. He uses Jesus as the foundation for His instructions and emphasizes the grace of God, and the eternal word of God in Christ Jesus, which is able to strengthen the church and the body in spiritual maturity.
[1 Peter 1:1-2] – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
Other translations use the phrases “sojourners”, “God’s elect exiles”, “chosen ones who are living as foreigners” to describe those to whom Peter writes. Basically, Peter is addressing those Jews who have been dispersed from their homeland of Israel. The term also occurs in John 7:35 when the Jews wonder what Jesus means when He says, “You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.” Jesus is talking about how He must go to the Father. However, the Jews wonder if He is planning to visit the Dispersion (of Jews) amongst the Greeks to teach them too. Peter encourages his brethren, reminding them of who they are in God, and what God has done for them. They are elect, called and chosen by God who knows them. They are sanctified by His Spirit, able to receive understanding for obedience in His way, and mercy, salvation in the blood of Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest.
[1 Peter 1:3-5] – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God though faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter’s first words after his greeting, point to God and His gift in Jesus Christ. He blesses the Name of God, and brings to remembrance God’s mercy in Christ’s resurrection. He then describes the inheritance that we are heirs of in Christ. It is:
- Incorruptible (Greek: aphthartos) meaning imperishable or unable to be destroyed
- Undefiled (Greek: amiantos) meaning untainted
- Unfading (Greek: amarantos) meaning all-enduring
In other words, this is an inheritance which cannot be altered by the schemes of the Devil, or humanity’s weakness. There is no way in which this inheritance can be diminished, stolen or destroyed. It is a holy inheritance, one which is perfect in love and untouched by sin. This inheritance is also all-enduring, one which lasts forever. It is reserved in heaven for the saints, those “who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” These are those who are sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit.
So, what is this inheritance? Peter speaks about this later but a clear answer is found in Ephesians 3:14-21 also:
- “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Romans 8:16-17 explains it like this:
- “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Jesus Himself, also mentions this eternal inheritance:
- “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
So, the holy, heavenly and eternal inheritance could be summarised as follows:
- It is given to the children of God, those who are called by Christ’s Name, and who have received the indwelling Holy Spirit
- It is the promise of experiencing the fullness of God’s true, perfect and enduring love for eternity
- It is the shared glory and life of Christ Jesus, the shared victory of life over death, and of love which covers sin
- Our inheritance is eternity, living in God’s love, beauty, and intimate relationship
[1 Peter 1:6-9] – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.”
Our goal is this inheritance, this eternal dwelling with God. However, there is a phase of preparation beforehand – our lives on earth. Filled with trials and temptations of all kinds, we may suffer and grieve for a while, but only temporarily as we look forward to eternity with God. In that place, as Revelation describes, “…God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain for the former things have passed away.” [Revelation 21:4] Peter then compares the testing of faith to the testing of gold. Proverbs 17:3 talks about silver refined in the crucible, gold tested in the furnace and a God who tests hearts. Fire assay or cupellation of gold is a long process in which the gold is separated from other compounds such as lead. It is considered to be the accepted standard for valuing gold. Yet, despite all its testing and value on earth, gold does not last forever. Faith is more precious than gold – more costly, more beautiful and eternal. More costly because faith requires a changed mindset. We give up worldly desires, and even a “comfortable life”, accepting instead the Holy Spirit which gives us knowledge of God’s desires. More beautiful because the glory of God, revealed through faith in Christ is unparalleled. Who can compare to God’s beauty? Who can fully comprehend His majesty on earth? What can compare to the beauty of salvation, won in humility and love? Faith is eternal. The end of faith, or its reward, as Peter states, is “the salvation of your souls” and this is eternal life with God.
The testing of faith takes time, but it results in praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Faith gives rise to love, and love to worship. It is faith that allows us to believe in Christ though we do not see Him in the flesh. As Jesus says in John 20:29 – “…Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Not only do we, in faith, believe in Christ, but we are filled with joy inexpressible and full of glory! This is the kind of faith that not only persists in suffering, but from which, joy also springs forth. James 1:2-4 further explains how there is joy in the testing of our faith – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
[1 Peter 1:10-12] – “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ, who was in them was indicating when he testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into.”
We are the recipients of something glorious! Moses, Abraham, King David and the prophets longed for the day of God’s salvation – they saw and wrote down glimpses of the coming Messiah but they did not see Him walk the earth. They ministered to us, recipients of God’s grace in Christ. We have all these things already written and already explained to us. Most of the world, Christian or not, knows about Christ, His sufferings and His resurrection. We, knowing Christ, also know His glories. The plan of God’s salvation has not yet reached its fullness. Christ has been slain as the Lamb, but He is coming again as the Lion of the tribe of Judah! The revelation the prophets received, and the faith we receive in Christ comes through the Holy Spirit, which makes known to us the things of God. This last phrase – that angels desire to look into these things and understand the plan for God’s salvation, fills me with awe. Wow, angels don’t have the weakness of human flesh as we have and they spend all their time in the presence of God, yet they are greatly intrigued by His plan for salvation in Christ. [1 Corinthians 4:1] – “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” So let us steward these mysteries well and keep our eyes on the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!