Bible · Biblical Doctrines · Calvinism · Christ · Election · Faith · God · Holy Spirit

An Exposition of First Peter 1:1-12

AN EXPOSITION OF FIRST PETER 1:1-12

Human Author: Peter
Divine Author: God the Holy Spirit
Written c. AD 66

Audience: The churches of Asia Minor – present-day Turkey, with their largely Jewish, but also Gentile membership

Key Word: Suffering

Key verses:

1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

1 PETER 1

     1 Peter, an apostle [lit. one sent] of Jesus Christ, to the strangers [pilgrims] scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

The author designates himself by the name that Jesus gave him (Matt. 4:18; John 1:42) for his steadfastness in the sphere of faith.

Paul had evangelized many of these areas; other areas comprising modern Turkey had churches that were started by the Jews who were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and heard Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:9-11).

     2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

The doctrine of election is designed to teach that salvation is not a random act of chance, but a divine undertaking of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The force of the word elect cannot, and should not be minimized. From the sea of fallen humanity, God in His great mercy has chosen, or elected some to salvation. This choice, or election, was not, and is not dependent upon human merit, or ability, but upon free grace.

Election is according to God’s foreknowledge. This is an important concept that must be properly understood. God does not look down the corridors of time to determine which way the volition of a person will go when presented with the gospel, and on the basis of that, elect the person to salvation. Such an understanding of foreknowledge makes God irrelevant. God certainly foreknows all matters of men. However, the word is used here in another sense.

Matthew Henry explains. “Foreknowledge sometimes signifies counsel, appointment, and approbation [approval]. Acts 2:23, Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The death of Christ was not only foreseen, but fore-ordained, as v. 20. Take it thus here; so the sense is, elect according to the counsel, ordination, and free grace of God.”

Notice that the triune God is involved in election: Father, Spirit, and Jesus Christ.

The Divine Order

God the Father                      Elects
God the Holy Spirit             Sanctifies
God the Son                            Secures the salvation of the elect

Election is through sanctification of the Spirit. A holy life is well worth living for it is the will of God, and beyond that, a life once spent is irrevocable. Adoniram Judson realized this truth, and wrote the following. “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity. The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever.…Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny.…How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness…! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked” (E. Judson, The Life of Adoniram Judson, Anson, Randolph & Company, 1883, pp. 13-15).

     3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Because of election, because of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, every believer should bless God, who, according to His abundant mercy has caused us to be born again unto a living hope based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. While the death of Christ was sufficient for all, it is efficient for the elect. The abundant mercy that begets spiritual life in “us” is limited to the elect of God.

     4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

The concept of a Christian inheritance has reference to the gifts of divine grace and mercy, which will be given the believer because of the death of Christ. Specifically, the Christian is to receive the following—and much more.

Eternal life                                                          John 3:16
A dwelling place in heaven                       John 14:1ff
A body suited for the eternal                 1 Corinthians 15: 40
A body suited for the resurrection     1 Corinthians 15: 23

Four Characteristics of
the Christian’s Inheritance

It is incorruptible, which means it cannot perish.
It is undefiled, which means it cannot be spoiled.
It will never fade away.
It is reserved in heaven.

     5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Because the believer is kept by the power of God unto salvation, there are good reasons to believe in the eternal security of the soul.

First, there is the promise of God the Father. Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Second, there is the promise of God the Son. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Third, there is the pledge of God the Holy Spirit. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13).

     6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [testings]: 

     7  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

At the second advent of Jesus, praise and honor and glory await those who suffer for the sake of righteousness according to gospel terms. The praise will come as the Lord says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21). Honor and glory will come when the Lord continues to say, “I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:21, 23).

     8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

It is possible to love Christ though the believer has not yet seen Him in the flesh. Loving Christ is more than loving an idea, or a memory. It is loving a living person. To love the name of Jesus is to love Him as the resurrected Savior.

“There is a Name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest Name on earth.

O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!”

Frederick Whitfield

     9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

The grand objective of living out the ethics of the Christian faith is to bring glory to God through gospel obedience, and the salvation of the soul.

     10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.

Some think it hard that there should be nothing for them but ruin if they will not believe in Jesus Christ; but if you will think for a minute, you will see that it is just, and reasonable. I suppose there is no way for a man to keep his strength up except by eating.

If you were to say, “I will not eat again, I despise such animalism,” you might go to Madeira, or travel in all lands (supposing you lived long enough!), but you would most certainly find that no climate and no exercise would avail to keep you alive if you refused food. Would you then complain, “It is a hard thing that I should die because I do not believe in eating?” It is not an unjust thing that if you are so foolish as not to eat, you must die.

It is precisely so with believing. “Believe, and thou are saved.” If thou wilt not believe, it is no hard thing that thou shouldst be lost. It would be strange indeed if it were not to be the case. (Charles H. Spurgeon)

While the common grace of God is extended to all, in that God makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike (Matt. 5:45), saving grace is reserved unto “you”, the elect of God. O the wonder of it all!

“O the wonder of it all,
The wonder of it all,
Just to think that God loves me.”

     11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

No one in any generation has been saved, sanctified, or sustained, apart from the permanent indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

     12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

One of the great questions that theologians wrestle with is how much of the gospel the Old Testament saints knew. The evidence seems to be they knew more than some will give them credit for.

The Scriptures do not indicate a way of salvation has been prepared for the angels. Jesus did teach hell was prepared for the devil and his followers (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:9). The interest of angels into the gospel appears to have captivated their interest. The subject of salvation should be the primary interest of every person. The soul should cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” If the angels are interested in the answer, how much more should we be.

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