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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

January 16, 2013

I Peter 1:1-12

  1. Verses 1-2. Today we start a new study on 1st Peter. This church letter was written by the apostle Peter to those believers that were living in the larger Roman Empire outside of Jerusalem. It was written about 60-64 AD. The letter starts out with the usual greeting to establish its authority and audience. Peter as the authority as an apostle sent by God and his audience is described as those who are strangers, chosen according to foreknowledge, and sanctified. The word "apostle" has both a technical and a general sense in the New Testament. It refers to the Twelve and Paul, but also to others who went out as the Twelve and Paul did to represent Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 14:4, 14). Peter was one of the Twelve. He wrote with full apostolic authority. Peter called his readers strangers to introduce this self-concept into their minds. In this letter he emphasized that Christians are really citizens of heaven and our sojourn here on earth is only temporary (2:11; cf. Gen. 32:4; Ps. 39:12). The word alien/stranger contains both the ideas of alien nationality and temporary residence (cf. 2:11; Heb. 11:13). Strangers are persons who belong to some other land and people, who are temporarily residing with a people to whom they do not belong. The term foreknowledge of God refers, of course, to what God knows beforehand. God’s elect are not just known to God in the present, but God has always known his children. Peter assures his readers that they are strangers to the world, but not strangers to God. When Peter spoke about the sanctifying work of the Spirit he probably had Old Testament sprinkling of blood in mind. There are many Old Testament allusions in this epistle. Sprinkling with blood in Israel resulted in cleansing (Num. 19:9), bringing the person sprinkled under the terms and blessings of a covenant (Exod. 24:3-8), and induction into the priesthood and kingship.

  2. Verses 3-4. Peter began the body of this letter by reminding his readers of their identity as Christians. He did this to enable them to rejoice in the midst of present suffering. They are strangers in this land, but they can shout with joy because they are residence of another land better than this one. Peter called his readers to bless (praise) God for giving us a living hope. This undying hope has its roots in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because He lives, we shall live. Our new birth gave us this life. Consequently our hope is both alive within us and part of our new life in Christ. As the Israelites anticipated their inheritance, the Promised Land, so Christians should anticipate ours, the other side of the grave. However ours is not subject to destruction from any source, defilement from without, or decay from within. Peter played with words when he described three characteristics of our inheritance. Each Greek word begins with the same letter and ends with the same syllable: perish, spoil or fade/ imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. No one can ravage or pollute our inheritance, and it will not wear out or waste away. Peter ends this verse by saying our inheritance is kept in heaven and not on earth. If it was earthly it would be subject to the conditions of the earth which is decay, but because it is heavenly it is not subject to decay.

  3. Verses 5-6. Peter continues by saying we who have this inheritance, we who are chosen by him, are shielded in our salvation by God’s power. Our salvation is not something that is ours to lose, because it is kept by God and his grace not our efforts. Because our salvation is secured by God and we can rest assure in our eternal salvation, we rejoice in site of trials. In comparison with the eternal bliss ahead, our present distresses are only temporary and brief (cf. Matt. 5:4-5; 2 Cor. 4:17-18). Trials are necessary for the Christian. God uses them to perfect us (cf. James 1:3-4). However they tend to rob us of joy if we do not remember what Peter urged his readers to bear in mind here (cf. James 1:2).

  4. Verses 7-9. Trials do to faith what fire does to gold. They purify it and show it to be what it really is (cf. James 1:3). Peter anticipated his readers would respond to their trials properly. God purifies our faith with trials by helping us realize the inadequacy of anything but trust in Him in these situations. He shows that our faith is genuine by demonstrating that our joy in trials rests solely on confidence in Him and His promises. Both results bring praise, glory, and honor to God ultimately, though they also benefit us. Even though we will experience joy when we see the Lord, we can experience joy now too because we have hope (v. 3), faith (v. 7), and love (v. 8). These characteristics are inseparable. Our joy is "glorious joy" in that the glory people will see when God reveals Jesus Christ infuses our present joy (cf. John 20:29). Our joy will be no different on that day, only greater. Ultimately we will obtain the full salvation of our souls when we are home with the Lord.

  5. Verses 10-12. Peter reminded his readers that the prophets had predicted that Jesus Christ's life, as their own lives, would include suffering followed by glory. He mentioned this to encourage them to realize that their experience of suffering for their commitment to follow God faithfully was not abnormal.

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