Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
- 1 Peter 1:1-25
Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments
1 Peter ‘introduction’: “Peter has been called the ignorant fisherman, but no man who had spent three years in the school of Jesus could be called ignorant. The Epistles of Peter confirm this. Peter deals with doctrine and handles weighty subjects. I the first few verses he deals with the great doctrines of election, foreknowledge, sanctification, obedience, the blood of Christ, the Trinity, the grace of God, salvation, revelation, glory, faith, and hope.
“A great change is seen in the life of Peter from these epistles. He had been impetuous, but now he is patient. He was bungling, fumbling, and stumbling when he first met Jesus. Our Lord told him in effect, ‘You are a pretty weak man now, but I am going to make you a Petros, a rock-man. And you will be built upon the foundation of Jesus the Christ who is the Rock.’ Peter made it very clear that the Lord Jesus is the Rock on which the church is built.”
- J. Vernon McGee, First Peter – Thru the Bible Commentary Series
1 Peter 1:2-3 ‘saved three times’: “We have been chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son, and set apart by the Spirit. It takes all three if there is to be a true experience of salvation.
“As far as God the Father is concerned, I was saved when He chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. As far as the Son is concerned, I was saved when He died for me on the cross. But as far as the Spirit is concerned, I was saved one night in May, 1945 when I heard the Gospel and received Christ. Then it all came together, but it took all three Person of the Godhead to bring me to salvation. If we separate these ministries, we will either deny divine sovereignty or human responsibility; and that would lead to heresy.”
- Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Hopeful
1 Peter 1:4 ‘can never perish’: “The substance of everything earthly passes away by degrees. Even solid granite will rot and crumble. It is a paradox that the substance of things seen id devoid of substance. Empires, dynasties, and thrones have tottered by internal corruption. But the inheritance of the saints of God has nothing within it that can make it perish.”
1 Peter 1:7 ‘genuineness of your faith’: “Let us not be mistaken: God never gave us faith to play with. Faith is a sword. But it was not made to exhibit upon a parade ground. It was meant to cut and wound and slay. Whoever has it may expect, between here and heaven, to learn what battle means. God has made nothing in vain; he especially makes nothing in the spiritual kingdom in vain. He made faith with the intent that it should be used to the utmost and exercised to the full. We must expect trial because trial is the element of faith. Faith without trial is like a diamond uncut, the brilliance of which has never been seen. A fish without water or a bird without air is faith without trial. We may surely expect that our faith will be tested.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
1 Peter 1:8 ‘Belief’: “Some years ago a sociologist accompanied a group of mountain climbers on an expedition. Among other things, he observed a distinct correlation between cloud cover and contentment. When there was no cloud cover and the peak was in view, the climbers were energetic and cooperative. When the gray clouds eclipsed the view of the mountaintop, though, the climbers were sullen and selfish.
“The same thing happens to us. As long as our eyes are on God’s majesty there is a bounce in our step. But let our eyes focus on the dirt beneath us and we will grumble about every rock and crevice we have to cross. For this reason Paul urged, ‘Since you were raised from the dead with Christ, aim at what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth.’ (Colossians 3:1-2).”
- Max Lucado, The Great House of God
1 Peter 1:12 ‘Even angels…’: “Angels have never sinned; consequently, they need no atonement or forgiveness. Never having been defiled, they need not be washed. Yet they take a deep interest in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. What, then, shall I say of the madness of those who are defiled by sin but have no interest in the fountain where they can be washed whiter than snow? Let us note furthermore, so that it may humble us, that angels have keen intellects. They far excel us. Yet, though they have learned so much about the gospel, they still desire to look into it. Does anyone suppose that he knows all about the gospel and does not need further hours of study, thought, and prayer? Poor miserable fool! Angels, who are vastly superior to us in intelligence, desire to learn and know more. This is a grand thing. As the angels are such deep students of the things of God, let us try to be the same.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
1 Peter 1:13 ‘revelation of Jesus Christ’: “The spirit of the prophet is always subject to the prophet. When the Spirit of God moves into a man’s heart, He will never make a fool out of him. He will make the man happy but He will never make him silly.
“He may make him sad with the woe and the weight of the world’s grief but He will never let him become a gloomy cynic. The Holy Spirit will make him warm-hearted and responsive but He will never cause him to do things of which he will be ashamed later.
“Peter was not promoting or predicting a cold and lifeless and formal spirituality in the Christian Church when he advised believers to grid up the loins of their minds and be sober. He was saying to the early Christians as he hopes to say to us now: ‘Brethren, if ever there was an hour when we needed to be serious about our Christian faith, this is the hour!’”
- A. W. Tozer, I Call It Heresy!
1 Peter 1:16 ‘holiness’: “In the New Testament, we have a Greek word about God being holy. ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’ I notice that the definition of that Greek word is ‘Awful [full of awe] Thing.’ Now think of that. The Awful Thing – that’s one meaning of the word holy – the Holy One!
“Let’s think a little about the Holy One and His creatures. We see that this Holy One allows only holy beings into His Presence. Yet in our humanistic day – our day of a watered-down, sentimental Christianity that blows its nose loudly and makes God into a poor, weak, weeping old man – in this awful day, that sense of the holy isn’t upon the Church.
“I hear of a lot of people doing specialized ministries these days. If we’re going to be specialized then I think we ought to specialize on the fright thing. And therefore if I’m going to emphasize God and the holiness of God and the awful, unapproachable quality that can be called ‘that Awful Thing,’ I think I’m on the right track. It hasn’t completely disappeared, but it’s something we’ve almost lost in our day. We have lost the sense of the Holy One almost altogether (see Revelation 7:11-15).
“There are people in the presence of God, but they’re there only by a technical redemption. I worry in this hour that we’re ‘technically’ Christians. We can prove that we are – but anybody can flip open a Greek lexicon and show you that you are a saint. But I’m afraid of that kind of Christianity. If I haven’t felt the sense of vileness by contrast with that sense of unapproachable and indescribable holiness, I wonder if I have ever been hit hard enough to really repent. And if I Don’t repent, I wonder if I can believe.”
- A. W. Tozer, The Attributes of God I
1 Peter 1:23 ‘man’s part in salvation’: “Peter does not deny man’s part in God’s plan to save sinners. In 1 Peter 1:23 he emphasizes the fact that the Gospel was preached to these people, and that they heard it and believed (see also 1:12). Peter’s own example at Pentecost is proof that we do not ‘leave it all with God’ and never urge lost sinners to come to Christ (Acts 2:37-40). The same God who ordains the end – our salvation – also ordains the means to the end – the preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God.”
- Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Hopeful
I started with the J. Vernon McGee quote to cover both of Peter’s epistles. The author’s point is well taken, but others would argue. Mostly those that argue are good at tearing down without building up, offering another viewpoint that supports that the Scripture is still God breathed. I have made the argument myself that Peter could never be considered uneducated when he sat at Jesus’ feet for three years. Yet, even that does not mean that Jesus taught a career fisherman how to read and write. There is nothing in Scripture that says Peter did not know how to do either one. That is simply an assumption based on Peter’s profession. Yet, parents were known to teach their children and Jesus could have helped in those regards. Peter may have learned to read simply to have his opportunity to read Scripture in the synagogue. None of this theorizing is backed up by Scripture on either side. Yet, even if Peter could not read or write, he was taught the theology, doctrine, and nuisances of each from Jesus. Then with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, anything is possible. That part of his education is undeniable.
So, if everyone thinks that the Gospel of Mark is really the Gospel of Peter as dictated to John Mark, why do we have such horrible heartburn and theological arguments over Peter’s two letters “not being written by an uneducated fisherman from Galilee?” Part of the controversy is that the two letters have different grammatical style, and thus, could never be written by the same person. Be careful when you make definitive statements, like “never be written by the same person.” Peter could have used two different scribes who each used their grammatical style when taking Peter’s dictation. Upon reading it back to Peter, Peter could have edited it a bit. The input of the secretary does not hinder authorship or being God-breathed. There are a variety of arguments that could be used to explain the differences in style. My style has changed, and I would never write this way if doing a technical document. But it is amazing how people, who call themselves biblical scholars, can cast doubt into people’s minds over something that could be taken on faith or is, in the end, a non-issue. And other than the attribute of who the letter came from, does it matter when the theology is on the mark?
As McGee describes, Peter covers a variety of topics, but mostly, he simply runs the ideas of election, Grace, sanctification, and salvation together in a clear concise statement. This is done flawlessly and by someone who knew what he was saying.
In verses 3-12 we get a clear picture of God’s plan, in general, for each of us. And it even includes an analogy to that of refining gold. Had Peter ever worked with gold? Again, we know nothing of his “education.” But Peter could have observed gold being purified.
I spent two trips to Thailand. Gold purifying was common knowledge among many people in Thailand. My wife has a gold necklace with a tiny tiger made of nearly pure gold, greater than 94%, that I bought her on my second trip. We went to a small shop, selected by our host in the country, getting it from the people who refined the gold in their back room. Since on that trip, I wrote the training for the steel mill for purifying and making various steel grades, it was about the same type of process. We had a large electric arc furnace where 10s of tons of steel were melted and refined in each batch and the gold refining, just a mile down the road, was done in a small crucible, and with a different source of heat.
It is odd that Peter uses the words of being saved not by our silver or gold. What did he tell the beggar at the Beautiful gate in Acts 3:6? He initially says for the man to look at them. If you go to a country that has a lot of beggars, the beggars rarely make eye contact. They just want the money. But Peter’s next statement is that he does not have silver or gold. Then he says that in the name of Jesus, walk. Peter starts his ministry, after the Pentecost sermon, with not having silver or gold – but something much better – and Peter starts his first letter with stating that silver and gold do not get you anywhere with regard to Heaven.
Verses 3-12 could easily become a basic statement of faith for a newly established church, a lot in a few verses.
I think that Spurgeon’s sermon notes on 1 Peter 1:12 are priceless. Even the angels want to know what Grace is all about. For to understand Grace, Amazing Grace, we must be lost before we can be found. And in the finding, we understand Grace, because we live Grace. The angels in Heaven were never lost, and far too many people think they are not lost – calling the Christians crazy in the process, for they have no idea what Grace is either.
So, then Peter transitions from a simple statement of faith to a charge that we should live holy lives. In other words, we should not waste our faith, but we should put our faith into action, by being holy.
I admit that I have a problem with being holy. I also have a problem with Peter’s conditions, although they go hand in hand. He says to be awake and sober. He is not talking about being a teetotaler. But fatigue and drunkenness both dull the mind. I am mostly a teetotaler, but fatigue seems to be a constant companion lately. There have been studies made with people who are sleep deprived, and they often act in very similar ways to those who are under the influence of something. For my old job, I wrote a safety letter to all employees, hoping that management would get the message. But time is money and we sent people to the other side of the world and expected them to often immediately go to work rather than resting for a day and then starting. Usually, your weekend was consumed in an airplane, so why not? They say that jet lag takes about a day per hour of changed time, but that can vary from person to person. But add jet lag to sleep deprivation, and it becomes an explosive combination. I am one not to sleep on a plane. So, I would arrive in China or India having slept an hour at the most over the past 36-48 hours. My body thinks that it is midnight and well past my bedtime, even without the lack of sleep, but the clock says that it is noon in China. Thus, I should be able to get a little work done before retiring. But that is when the accident and the work-related injury occurs.
In saying that we should be awake and sober, Peter is telling us that Satan does his best work when we are off our game and not paying attention. My level of restful sleep has been impaired lately, for unknown reasons. I usually get into the mode of every other night being a good one and now it has been one in four is a good night. As a result, especially with reading Scripture like this, I have prayed more, and I have looked at circumstances more diligently. I am in anticipation to tell Satan to go away.
But can we be holy? We will be holy in the next life. To be holy seems odd when holiness is something totally different from what we are in our sin nature, but we still are trapped in our present bodies. God may be working within us and one improvement after another will be made, mostly in our desires, but we will still notice things that need improvement. At times, it can be frustrating when we take one step forward and slide three steps back. Then it becomes important to get up, dust ourselves off, and make one conscious step forward again, with a lot of prayer and Bible study sprinkled into the step.
And then Peter ends this chapter by establishing that we are saved by the precious blood of Jesus and by no other means, especially by the silver and gold that we may or may not have. We are washed clean, purified.
Some Serendipitous Reflections
“1. Imagining your faith as a mountain climb, what situations in your life would be cliffhangers? Easy trails? Great views? Just walking up the path? What would you pull out of your ‘1 Peter pack’ in these situations?
“2. What aspect of your faith are you, like prophets, struggling to know more?
“3. Under what fiery circumstances has your faith become more genuine, by melting it down to essentials?
“1. Are you more like a pilgrim, an explorer, or a landowner on the earth? Why?
“2. How does Peter’s call to holiness challenge you at home? Work? Community? Church?
“3. In terms of time, effort, and money spent, which comes first for you: perishables or ‘forever’ items? How can you rectify (or verify) that?
“4. Under stress, what helps you to ‘set your hope fully on the grace of God,’ rather than to rely on your own wits to solve the problem?”
- Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups
This chapter of 1 Peter was split into two study sessions in the Serendipity Bible.
The first question 1 is such a marvelous question. If we really search within us, we could write an essay on each concept of a mountain climb. In the end, the reward is so much greater than the hardships along the way.
If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.