Welcome to the start of 1 Peter. Last week we talked briefly about the background of this letter and now we will pick up in chapter one. Remember that Peter is writing to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles and that he is trying to encourage and instruct them. Let’s begin.
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.
As has already been said this is a letter from Peter, possibly written in Rome, to churches throughout the region of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. Peter states that the believers are chosen by God. They are chosen because of God’s foreknowledge. That is just of fancy way of saying God knows what is going to happen before it does. They were chosen and then they were set apart by the Spirit. They were set apart that they would obey, as all of us should, and that they would be cleansed by Jesus blood. Peter wraps his greeting up by wishing for grace and peace for the believers.
Side Note: Many people use these verses as definitive proof of predestination and the lack of free will. To do so is a mistake for three reasons. First, this ignores the wealth of passages that talk about man’s free choice and the accountability for those choices. Secondly, this ignores the context of the passage itself. They were chosen because God knew what they would choose, this still conveys choice. Thirdly, the assumption of both predestination and free will ignore that fact that God uses both in a way we cannot fully grasp. It seems contradictory to the human mind, but think about it. An all-powerful God can use man’s free choices to accomplish His own will. That is the simple truth.
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.
Take a second to reread verses 3 and 4. Are we ever truly thankful for the mercy God has shown, or do we take it for granted? We were given new life through the resurrection of Jesus. We get an inheritance that cannot be destroyed or corrupted. As part of this, God protects us through our faith. We are to rejoice in this. We will go through various trials and through them God will refine and prove our faith. This faith, tested and proven, is far more valuable than anything on earth. That genuine faith results in praise, glory, and honor for Jesus. Our lives, if lived as God desires, glorify God. One more point to bring up is that Peter talks about what the goal of our faith is. He points out that the goal of faith is the salvation of our soul.
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. 13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
Peter uses this next section to dive into salvation. He points out how the prophets, like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and more, searched carefully to know more. God revealed to them details of what would happen long in advance of when they did (these Biblical texts have been confirmed in the Dead Sea Scrolls which were dated nearly 200 years before Christ was born) and Jesus fulfilled all of them, bring grace to all of us. These prophets were told they would not live to see the fulfillment of what they were told, and so what they did was a service to us and others. This fulfillment was revealed to them, and us, through the preaching of others and by the Holy Spirit. Angels themselves wish to look into these things. Now, because we have been given this assurance and revelation, we must be serious and put all our hope on Jesus. We are called to be obedient, as children of God. As such we are not to pursue our former desires, or the desires of our flesh. Then Peter quotes the Old Testament, reminding his audience that we are called to be Holy, because God Himself is holy. Again Peter tells us that we must live obediently to God.
17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.
Peter points out that God is an impartial judge and that He will judge our work. Because of this, we again are called to be obedient and do all that God asks us. We are only here for a short time, and then we will be in eternity. This life is little indeed when put in that light. We were redeemed from the worthless things we once did, not by anything like gold, but only by Jesus’ blood. This had been planned by God before the world ever existed and revealed to us. God raised Him from the dead and so our faith must be in Him. By obedience we are called to love one another earnestly from a pure heart. We have been born again, and unlike the flowers of the field, this new birth will not perish. God’s word will endure forever, and these words will continue to be preached to us all.
So What Do I Do With This Now?
All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?
1 All believers have been set apart by the Holy Spirit with the purpose of obeying God. As believer’s we are called to obedience. We must read through God’s word and apply His commands to our lives.
2 We are called to glorify God. If we live in the way He desires, then others will see this and give glory to God. Live in such a way that your actions glorify God.
3 In light of what God has done we are called to live in obedience. I cannot stress the importance of this. It is directly stated at least three times in this chapter alone!
Hurrah! You made it through the whole thing. I hope you take this word seriously and truly grasp the importance of learning what God desires of us and doing it. I am currently putting together a book that focuses on all the things God desires of us. I hope to have it available for you soon. Until next time, God bless!