3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. – 1 Peter 1:3-12 ESV
Having introduced himself and having identified his audience, Peter now turns his attention to God. After all, his identity as an apostle of Jesus Christ and their position as the elect of God, are both directly attributable to God alone. Peter had not made himself an apostle. His readers had not made themselves children of God. He had been appointed and they had been adopted. Peter begins his address with a reminder of the sovereign role of God in the redemption of mankind. He is the one who is and is to be blessed. He is worthy of praise, glory and honor, because He is the instigator and provider of our salvation. And the apostle Paul would echo that sentiment.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) – Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:4-5 NLT
It was God who provided His Son as the payment for man’s sin. It was God who showed mercy to sinful mankind, offering His sinless Son as a substitute, a stand-in, who took the sins of the world upon Himself, so that the righteous wrath of God mighty be satisfied. And Peter makes it clear that, had Jesus not died, and had not God raised Him from the dead, there would have been no salvation possible for mankind. In fact, in the Ephesians passage above, Paul makes it clear that God provided us with a means of salvation while we were dead. He brought us from spiritual death to spiritual life, all because He raised His crucified Son back to life through the power of the Spirit.
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4 ESV
Peter wants his readers to understand that , beyond a shadow of a doubt, their salvation was the work of God. And it was accomplished through the obedience of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ obediently followed God’s will and gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He willingly gave His life, suffering a humiliating death on the cross in order that we might have new life (Philippians 2:8). It had been Peter who preached the following words to the crowds gathered during the Feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit had come upon the disciples.
32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.” – Acts 2:32-33 NLT
And Peter reminds his readers that there is a huge benefit that comes as a result of all of this.
3 …we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. – 1 Peter 1:3-4 NLT
We are, as Paul says, “his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory” (Romans 8:17 NLT). All because God chose us. All because Christ died for us. All because the Spirit indwells us. But not only has God saved us, He is preserving and protecting us. Our salvation is completely in His hands. Which means, according to Peter, it is permanent and beyond even our ability to lose or screw up. Peter reminds us:
“God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” – 1 Peter 1:5 NLT
Our salvation is not ours to lose. It is God’s and He finishes what He starts. Paul told the Philippian believers: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 2:6 NLT). He told the believers in Corinth the same thing. “He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns” (1 Corinthians 1:8 NLT).
This was an important detail to Peter and he went out of his way to make sure his audience grasped its full import. He knew they were facing significant issues in their lives. They were suffering for their faith. They were experiencing difficulties in the form of persecution and trials. So, he tells them, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while” (1 Peter 1:6 NLT). There were going to be bumps along the way. They were going to face hard times. But they could rejoice in the fact that they were saved and that status was not up to them. It was God’s doing. The trials they faced were not signs of God’s disappointment with them or discipline of them. No, Peter reassures them, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT). The trials were not intended to raise doubts regarding their salvation. They were meant to purify and strengthen their faith as they watched God work in and through the trials. The difficulties of life would make them increasingly more dependent upon God. Paul had learned this invaluable lesson, which is why he was able to say:
“So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT
And Peter tells his audience that there was a day coming when they would be able to look back and see that their faith had remained strong, because they had endured to the end. But even that endurance would be the gift of God. It would not be self-manufactured or the result of their own inner-determination. By constantly trusting in God and His saving power, they would be able to endure anything and everything the world could throw at them. And one day, they would stand before God Himself, and receive “much praise and glory and honor.” Not because of what they had done, but because they had kept their faith firmly planted in what Christ had done for them.
Peter makes an interesting observation. He tells them, “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy” (1 Peter 1:8 NLT). That is the essence of faith. They had placed their hope and trust in someone they could not see. They were returning love to one they had never met. And they were learning to rejoice, even in the midst of trial and difficulties, because their faith was in someone who was not limited or restricted by time and space. His salvation has a future and a present aspect to it. He has saved us, is saving us and will one day, permanently and completely save us. He who began a good work in us will complete that work. He is not yet finished. But we can rejoice as if it is already done. What Paul told the Ephesians applies to the recipients of Peter’s letter, and to us as well.
6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:6-7 NLT
Peter points out that the Old Testament prophets had written about this incredible gift from God, long before it ever happened. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they had prophesied concerning the coming Messiah, not fully understanding the significance of their own words. They wanted to know more about the coming Messiah. They longed to know when He was coming and how He would appear. But that part remained a mystery to them. But, Peter points out, “now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen” (1 Peter 1:12 NLT). We have not only heard the Good News, we have been the beneficiaries of it. We have been chosen by God, and been given new life in Christ. The suffering Peter’s audience might be experiencing was nothing compared to the glory they had received in Christ. And the apostle Paul fully concurred with Peter’s assessment of the situation.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
– Romans 8:18 NLT
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.