Persecution can either cause us to grow or grumble in the Christian life.
It all depends on your response! In writing to Jewish believers struggling in the midst of persecution, Peter reminds them of their “roots.” They have been born again to a living hope, and therefore both their character and conduct can be above reproach as they imitate the Holy One who called them. The fruit of that proven character will be actions rooted in submission: law-abiding citizens, obedient employees, submissive wives, loving husbands. (1.)
…Peter encourages them to conduct themselves courageously for the person and program of Christ. Both their character and conduct must be above reproach. (2.)
Most of Peter’s instruction deals with and in suffering.
Trials expose us, to some level. When confronted with sin or suffering, our real conduct and character are exposed. Those around us know who we are from the way we respond to trials, pressure, and stress.
Topics in 1 Peter
I do not think that any Christian can study this letter for long without hearing in it the voice of God speaking powerfully to the needs of today’s church. In only 105 vv, 1 Peter ranges over a wide field of Christian theology and ethics. Here is the great doctrine of redemption, from its conception before the foundation of the world to its consummation in our receiving an inheritance that will never fade away. Here are repeated calls to holiness and to humble trust in God for each day’s needs. Here is practical counsel—for marriage, for work, for relating to the government, for witnessing to unbelievers, for using spiritual gifts, for serving as a church officer.
Here also is profound comfort in sorrow, and insight, as far as God allows, into the deep mysteries of suffering and reprobation. Here is the majestic beauty of the church as a ‘spiritual temple’ in which we daily offer ‘spiritual sacrifices’ pleasing to God. And here is Jesus—the chief Shepherd who cares for us, the example who leads us, the chosen cornerstone who establishes and unites us, and the Saviour who bore our sins in his body on the cross—the one whom, not having seen, we love. The glory of Christ shines forth from this letter into the hearts of all who read it. For churches and for individuals seeking to grow in holiness, in faith, and in love for Christ, God’s words in 1 Peter will richly repay serious study, memorization, and meditation. (3.)
Suffering and suffer occur 15 times, glory 10 times in this text.
No other New Testament book contains the scope of prophet and priest—this is a truly pastoral charge.
Our Great Salvation
- The hope of our salvation, 1 Peter 1:3-5
- The joy of our salvation, 1 Peter 1:6-9
- The proof (or witness) of our salvation, 1 Peter 1:10-12
The Hope of our salvation
1 Peter 1:3-5
“According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope.”
This reminds us: it’s not our work, it’s His merit. It’s not our merit, it’s His work. There is a work of salvation. It’s His, not ours.
You and I have to respond, but He chose us. Apart from the resurrection, we are hopeless. It’s not a matter of an intellectual pursuit, it’s a matter of responding to the call of Christ.
He is our hope imperishable hope.
I’m all for being good stewards, but even that which the world looks at as the most enduring things are perishable—but our salvation in Christ is imperishable.
The joy of our salvation.
1 Peter 1:6-9
Do you live with inexpressible joy in your salvation? We must remind ourselves and choose to rejoice in our salvation, or we won’t be joyful.
It’s amazing how a handful of hard, negative, uncomfortable things can destroy our joy. What 1 Peter says is that the joy of our salvation in the midst of our trials needs to be higher than our frustration with life.
Our salvation is protected by the power of God through faith: “in these you greatly rejoice, even though you have been distressed by various trials.”
When we are tested, even through fire, the result—if we choose faith—is praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ is imperishable because Christ is eternal.
The proof of our salvation
1 Peter 1:10-12
The Prophets of the Old Testament may have understood more of a theological timeline than we give them credit for. They didn’t necessarily understand about the Christ and when He would come, but they knew a Savior was going to come—they understood someone had to come to solve the sin dilemma we were in.
Jesus was hated, betrayed, forsaken, scourged, crucified…for the glory set before Him. He was also transfigured, resurrected, ascended, and is seated at the right hand of God.
Though the world may think such Christians insignificant and worthy of pity or scorn … angels—who see ultimate reality from God’s perspective—find them to be objects of intense interest…for they know that these struggling believers are actually the recipients of God’s greatest blessings and honored participants in a great drama at the focal point of universal history. We too may rightly think of our Christian lives as no less privileged and no less interesting to holy angels than [those of]Peter’s readers. (4.)
The angels look at our salvation and think it’s remarkable.
You and I deserve wrath. We’re throwaway people, chosen and grafted in by God.
Christ died for you. He loves you. He forgives you. He calls you, His child. He grants you back-stage passes and front-row seating into His eternal, imperishable, never fading kingdom. So, when you / I suffer, may we be mindful: this life, at best, is a clean bus station and you and I are heading to His eternal kingdom.
- Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible(Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 469.
- Wilkinson and Boa, 470.
- Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 9–10.
- Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 78.
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