1 Peter 1:7
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:
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(7) That the trial of your faith.—This depends grammatically on “having been grieved.” The purpose of God’s providence in sending the griefs is “that the trial of your faith might be found unto praise.” The word “trial” here does not mean exactly the same as in the passage of St. James; in that passage it signifies the active testing of faith, here it has rather the meaning of the cognate word translated “assurance” in Romans 5:4, “proof” in 2Corinthians 2:9, Philippians 2:22, i.e., the attested worth, the genuine character. This seems necessitated by the comparison of the trial with the gold itself, as we shall see. You cannot compare an act or process with gold, but you can compare “the genuine character” brought out by the process properly enough. Besides, that which you wish to “praise” at Christ’s coming is not the process by which the faith was proved, but the worth of the faith itself. “Faith” seems to mean the same as in 1Peter 1:5.

Being much more precious than of gold.—There is no reason, or indeed any grammatical right, to insert the “of.” It should be, more exceedingly valuable than gold. He does not say “your faith is more valuable than gold,” but “your faith’s genuineness is more valuable than gold.” It is worth anything to establish the true character of your faith; it would be a most serious loss to leave a chance of an imputation upon your Christianity.

That perisheth, though it be tried with fire.—Rather, which is a thing that perisheth, and yet is tried through fire. The argument is this. Gold is a perishable thing, and comes to an end with the rest of the world, or is worn away with handling and is lost; and yet men take great pains to test it and show that it contains no dross, and do so by means of fire. How much more may we expect a fiery trial (1Peter 4:12) to test the character of our belief in the unseen Christ, when that belief is never to come to an end (1Corinthians 13:13), and on its freedom from alloy everything depends!

Might be found.—That is, might clearly prove to be. The time will come when the gold will be inspected, and the Judge, and all the spectators, will “find” that the testing was sufficient and the character satisfactory. “Found unto praise,” or, found for a praise, is a Hebraism, meaning “found to be a matter of praise.” St. Peter is fond of heaping up words of like signification. (See 1Peter 1:4, and 1Peter 5:10.) “Praise” is the language that will be used about these men’s faith; “honour,” the rank in which they will be placed; “glory,” the fervent admiration accorded to them: the three words correspond to the regions of word, act, and feeling.

At the appearing of Jesus Christ.Revelation would have been better, as the word in the Greek is the same as in 1Peter 1:5. This gives the date at which the trial will have done its work: it is the same as the “last time” when the “deliverance” will be revealed. Remember that all through the afflictions and assaults the men are “being guarded by the power of God.” There are several words and thoughts in this whole passage which would suggest that Daniel 12 was before the mind of the Apostle more or less consciously.

1 Peter


1 Peter 1:7The Apostle is fond of that word ‘precious.’ In both his letters he uses it as an epithet for diverse things. According to one translation, he speaks of Christ as ‘precious to you which believe.’ He certainly speaks of ‘the precious blood of Christ,’ and of ‘exceeding great and precious promises,’ and here in my text, as well as in the Second Epistle, he speaks about ‘precious faith.’ It is a very wide general term, not expressing anything very characteristic beyond the one notion of value. But in the text, according to our Authorised Version, it looks at first sight as if it were not the faith, but the trial of the faith that the Apostle regards as thus valuable. There are difficulties of rendering which I need not trouble you with. Suffice it to say that, speaking roughly and popularly, the ‘trial of your faith’ here seems to mean rather the result of that trial, and might be fairly represented by the slightly varied expression, ‘your faith having been tried, might be found,’ etc.

I must not be tempted to discourse about the reasons why such a rendering seems to express the Apostle’s meaning more fully, but, taking it for granted, there are just three things to notice--the true wealth, the testing of the wealth, and the discovery at last of the preciousness of the wealth.

I. Peter pits against each other faith that has been tried, and ‘gold that perisheth’; he puts away all the other points of comparison and picks out one, and that is that the one lasts and the other does not.

Now I must not be seduced into going beyond the limits of my text to dilate upon the other points of contrast and pre-eminence; but I would just notice in a sentence that everybody admits, yet next to nobody acts upon, the admission that inward good is far more valuable than outward good. ‘Wisdom is more precious than rubies,’ say people, and yet they will choose the rubies, and take no trouble to get the wisdom. Now the very same principles of estimating value which set cultivated understandings and noble hearts above great possessions and large balances at the bankers, set the life of faith high above all others. And the one thought which Peter wishes to drive into our heads and hearts is that there is only one kind of wealth that will never be separated from its possessor. Nothing is truly ours that remains outside of us.

‘‘Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands.’

Nothing that is there whilst I am here is really mine. I do not own it if it is possible that I shall lose it. And so with profound meaning our Lord speaks about ‘that which is another’s’ in comparison with ‘that which is your own.’ It is another’s because it passes, like quicksilver under pressure, from hand to hand, and no man really holds it, but it leaps away from his grasp. And if a man retains it all his days, still, according to the grim old proverb, ‘shrouds have no pockets,’ and when he dies his hands open, or sometimes they clutch together, but there is nothing inside the palms, and they only close upon themselves. Dear brethren, if there is anything that can be filched away from us, anything about which it is true that, on the one hand, ‘moth and rust’--natural processes--’do corrupt’ it, on the other hand, ‘thieves break through and steal’--accidents of human conduct can deprive us of it, then we may call it ours, but it is not ours. It possesses us, if we are devoted to it as our best good, and fighting and toiling, and sometimes lying and cheating, and flinging the whole fierce energy of our nature into first gripping and then holding it; it possesses us; we do not possess it. But if there is anything that can become so interwoven and interlaced with the very fibres of a man’s heart that they and it cannot be parted, if there is anything that empty hands will clasp the closer, because they are emptied of earth’s vanities, then that is truly possessed by its possessor. And our faith, which will not be trodden in the grave, but will go with us into the world beyond, and though it be lost in one aspect, in sight, it will be eternal as trust, will be ours, imperishable as ourselves, and as God. Therefore, do not give all the energy of your lives to amassing the second-best riches. Seek the highest things most. ‘Covet earnestly the best gifts,’ and let the coveting regulate your conduct. And do not be put off with wealth that will fail you sooner or later.

II. Note, again, the testing of the wealth.

I need not dwell upon that very familiar metaphor of the furnace for gold, and the fining-pot for silver, only remember that there are two purposes for which metallurgists apply fire to metals. The one is to test them, and the other is to cleanse them, or, to use technical words, one is for the purpose of assaying them, and the other is for the purpose of refining them. And so, linking the words of my text with the words of the previous verse, we find that the Apostle lays it down that the purpose of all the diverse trials, or ‘temptations’ as he calls them, that come to us, is this one thing, that our faith should be ‘tried,’ and ‘found, unto praise and honour and glory.’ The fire carries away the dross; it makes the pure metal glow in its lustre. It burns up the ‘wood, hay, stubble’; it makes the gold gleam and the precious stones coruscate and flash.

And so note this general notion here of the intention of all life’s various aspects being to test character is specialised into this, that it is meant to test faith, first of all. Of course it is meant to test many other things. A man’s whole character is tested by the experiences of his daily life, all that is good and all that is evil in him, and we might speak about the effect of life’s discipline upon a great many different sides of our nature. But here the whole stress is put upon the effect of life in testing and clarifying and strengthening one part of a Christian’s character, and that is his faith. Why does Peter pick out faith? Why does he not say ‘trial of your hope,’ of your ‘love,’ of your ‘courage,’ of half a dozen other graces? Why ‘the trial of your faith?’ For this reason, because as the man’s faith is, so is the man. Because faith is the tap-root, in the view of the New Testament, of all that is good and strong and noble in humanity. Because if you strengthen a man’s trust you strengthen everything that comes from it. Reinforce the centre and all is reinforced. Your faith is the vital point from which your whole life as Christians is developed, and whatever strengthens that strengthens you. And, therefore, although everything that befalls you calls for the exercise of, and therefore tests, and therefore, rightly undergone, strengthens a great many various virtues and powers and beauties in a human character, the main good of it all is that it deepens, if the man is right, his simple trust in God manifested by his trust in and love to Jesus Christ: and so it reinforces the faith which works by love, and thus tends to make all things in life good and fair.

Now if thus the main end of life is to strengthen faith, let us remember that we have to give a wider meaning to the word ‘trials’ than ‘afflictions.’ Ah! there is as sharp a trial of my faith in prosperity as in any adversity. People say, ‘It is easy to trust God when things are going well with us.’ That is quite true. But it is a great deal easier to stop trusting God, or thinking about Him, when things are going well with us, and we do not seem to need Him so much, as in the hours of darkness. You remember the old story about the traveller, when the sun and the wind tried which could make him take off his cloak; and the sun did it. Some of us, I daresay, have found out that the faith which gripped God when we felt we needed Him, because we had not anything else but Him, is but too apt to lose hold of Him when fleeting delights and apparent treasures come and whisper invitations in our hearts. There are diseases that are proper to the northern, dark, ice-bound regions of the earth. Yes! and there are a great many more that belong to the tropics; as there is such a thing as sunstroke, which is, perhaps, as dangerous as the cramping cold from the icebergs of the north. Some of us should understand what that Scripture means: ‘Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.’ Prosperity, untroubled lives, lives even as the lives of those of the majority of mankind now, have their own most searching trials of faith.

But on the other hand, if there are ‘ships that have gone down at sea, when heaven was all tranquillity,’ there come also dark and nights of wild tempest when we have to lay to and ride out the gale with a tremendous strain on the cable. Our sorrows, our disappointments, our petty annoyances, and the great irrevocable griefs that sooner or later darken the very earth, are all to be classified under this same purpose, ‘that the trial of your faith ... might be found unto praise and honour and glory.’ And so, I beseech you, open your eyes to the meaning of life, and do not suppose that you have found the last word to say about it when you say ‘I am afflicted,’ or ‘I am at ease.’ The affliction and the ease, like two wheels in some great machine working in opposite directions, fit with their cogs into one another and move something beyond them in one uniform direction. And affliction and ease cooperate to this end, that we might be partakers of His holiness.

I believe experience teaches the most of us, if we will lay its lessons to heart, that the times when Christian people grow most in the divine life is in their times of sorrow. One of the old divines says, ‘Grace grows best in winter’; and there are edible plants which need a touch of frost before they are good to eat. So it is with our faith. Only let us take care that the fire does not burn it up, as ‘wood, hay, stubble,’ but irradiates it and glorifies it, as ‘gold, silver, and precious stones.’

III. Now a word, lastly, about the ultimate discovery.

‘Might be found unto praise and honour and glory.’ Note these three words, which I think are often neglected, and sometimes misunderstood--’praise, honour, glory.’ Whose? People sometimes say ‘God’s,’ since His people’s ultimate salvation redounds to His praise; but it is much better to understand the praise as given to the Christians whose faith has stood the testing fires. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’--is not that praise from lips, praise from which is praise indeed? As Paul says, ‘then shall every man have praise of God.’ We are far too much afraid of recognising the fact that Jesus Christ in Heaven, like Jesus Christ on earth, will praise the deeds that come from love to Him, though the deeds themselves may be very imperfect. Do you remember ‘She hath wrought a good work on Me,’ said about a woman that had done a perfectly useless thing, which was open to a great many very shrewd objections? But Jesus Christ accepted it. Why? Because it was the pure utterance of a loving heart. And, depend upon it, though we have to say ‘Unclean! unclean! We are unprofitable servants,’ He will say ‘Come! ye blessed of My Father.’ Praise from Christ is praise indeed.

‘Honour.’ That suggests bystanders, a public opinion, if I may so say; it suggests ‘have thou authority over ten cities,’ and that men will have their deeds round them as a halo, in that other world. As ‘praise’ suggests the redeemed man’s relation to his Lord, so ‘honour’ suggests the redeemed man’s relation to the fellow-citizens of the New Jerusalem. ‘Glory’ speaks of the man himself as transfigured and lifted up into the light and lustre of communion with, and conformity to, the image of the Lord. ‘Then shall we appear with Him in glory. Then shall the righteous blaze forth like the sun in My heavenly Father’s Kingdom.’

‘Shall be found.’ Ah! there will be many surprises yonder. Do you remember that profound revelation of our Master when He represents those on whom He lavishes His eulogies as the Judge, as turning to Him and saying, ‘Lord! when saw we Thee in ... prison and visited thee?’ They do not recognise themselves or their acts in Christ’s account of them. They have found that their lives were diviner than they knew. There will be surprises there. As one of the prophets represents the ransomed Israel, to her amazement, surrounded by clinging troops of children, and asking, ‘These! Where have they been? I was left alone,’ so many a poor, humble soul, fighting along in this world, having no recognition on earth, and the lowliest estimate of all its own actions, will be astonished at the last when it receives ‘praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.’

1:1-9 This epistle is addressed to believers in general, who are strangers in every city or country where they live, and are scattered through the nations. These are to ascribe their salvation to the electing love of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost; and so to give glory to one God in three Persons, into whose name they had been baptized. Hope, in the world's phrase, refers only to an uncertain good, for all worldly hopes are tottering, built upon sand, and the worldling's hopes of heaven are blind and groundless conjectures. But the hope of the sons of the living God is a living hope; not only as to its object, but as to its effect also. It enlivens and comforts in all distresses, enables to meet and get over all difficulties. Mercy is the spring of all this; yea, great mercy and manifold mercy. And this well-grounded hope of salvation, is an active and living principle of obedience in the soul of the believer. The matter of a Christian's joy, is the remembrance of the happiness laid up for him. It is incorruptible, it cannot come to nothing, it is an estate that cannot be spent. Also undefiled; this signifies its purity and perfection. And it fadeth not; is not sometimes more or less pleasant, but ever the same, still like itself. All possessions here are stained with defects and failings; still something is wanting: fair houses have sad cares flying about the gilded and ceiled roofs; soft beds and full tables, are often with sick bodies and uneasy stomachs. All possessions are stained with sin, either in getting or in using them. How ready we are to turn the things we possess into occasions and instruments of sin, and to think there is no liberty or delight in their use, without abusing them! Worldly possessions are uncertain and soon pass away, like the flowers and plants of the field. That must be of the greatest worth, which is laid up in the highest and best place, in heaven. Happy are those whose hearts the Holy Spirit sets on this inheritance. God not only gives his people grace, but preserves them unto glory. Every believer has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice; it should show itself in the countenance and conduct. The Lord does not willingly afflict, yet his wise love often appoints sharp trials, to show his people their hearts, and to do them good at the latter end. Gold does not increase by trial in the fire, it becomes less; but faith is made firm, and multiplied, by troubles and afflictions. Gold must perish at last, and can only purchase perishing things, while the trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Let this reconcile us to present afflictions. Seek then to believe Christ's excellence in himself, and his love to us; this will kindle such a fire in the heart as will make it rise up in a sacrifice of love to him. And the glory of God and our own happiness are so united, that if we sincerely seek the one now, we shall attain the other when the soul shall no more be subject to evil. The certainty of this hope is as if believers had already received it.That the trial of your faith - The putting of your religion to the test, and showing what is its real nature. Compare James 1:3, James 1:12.

Being much more precious than of gold - This does not mean that their faith was much more precious than gold, but that the testing of it, (δοκίμιον dokimion,) the process of showing whether it was or was not genuine, was a much more important and valuable process than that of testing gold in the fire. More important results were to be arrived at by it, and it was more desirable that it should be done.

That perisheth - Not that gold perishes by the process of being tried in the fire, for this is not the fact, and the connection does not demand this interpretation. The idea is, that gold, however valuable it is, is a perishable thing. It is not an enduring, imperishable, indestructible thing, like religion. It may not perish in the fire, but it will in some way, for it will not endure forever.

Though it be tried with fire - This refers to the gold. See the Greek. The meaning is, that gold, though it will bear the action of fire, is yet a destructible thing, and will not endure forever. It is more desirable to test religion than it is gold, because it is more valuable. It pertains to that which is eternal and indestructible, and it is therefore of more importance to show its true quality, and to free it from every improper mixture.

Might be found unto praise - That is, might be found to be genuine, and such as to meet the praise or commendation of the final judge.

And honor - That honor might be done to it before assembled worlds.

And glory - That it might be rewarded with that glory which will be then conferred on all who have shown, in the various trials of life, that they had true religion.

At the appearing of Jesus Christ - To judge the world. Compare Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13. From these two verses 1 Peter 1:6-7 we may learn:

I. That it is desirable that the faith of Christians should be tried:

(a) It is desirable to know whether that which appears to be religion is genuine, as it is desirable to know whether that which appears to be gold is genuine. To gold we apply the action of intense heat, that we may know whether it is what it appears to be; and as religion is of more value than gold, so it is more desirable that it should be subjected to the proper tests, that its nature may be ascertained. There is much which appears to be gold, which is of no value, as there is much which appears to be religion, which is of no value. The one is worth no more than the other, unless it is genuine.

(b) It is desirable in order to show its true value. It is of great importance to know what that which is claimed to be gold is worth for the purposes to which gold is usually applied; and so it is in regard to religion. Religion claims to be of more value to man than anything else. It asserts its power to do that for the intellect and the heart which nothing else can do; to impart consolation in the various trials of life which nothing else can impart; and to give a support which nothing else can on the bed of death. It is very desirable, therefore, that in these various situations it should show its power; that is, that its friends should be in these various conditions, in order that they may illustrate the true value of religion.

(c) It is desirable that true religion should be separated from all alloy. There is often much alloy in gold, and it is desirable that it should be separated from it, in order that it may be pure. So it is in religion. It is often combined with much that is unholy and impure; much that dims its lustre and mars its beauty; much that prevents its producing the effect which it would otherwise produce. Gold is, indeed, often better, for some purposes, for having some alloy mixed with it; but not so with religion. It is never better for having a little pride, or vanity, or selfishness, or meanness, or worldliness, or sensuality mingled with it; and that which will remove these things from our religion will be a favor to us.

II. God takes various methods of trying his people, with a design to test the value of their piety, and to separate it from all impure mixtures:

(1) He tries his people by prosperity - often as decisive a test of piety as can be applied to it. There is much pretended piety, which will bear adversity, but which will not bear prosperity. The piety of a man is decisively tested by popularity; by the flatteries of the world; by a sudden increase of property; and in such circumstances it is often conclusively shown that there is no true religion in the soul.


7. Aim of the "temptations."

trial—testing, proving. That your faith so proved "may be found (aorist; once for all, as the result of its being proved on the judgment-day) unto (eventuating in) praise," &c., namely, the praise to be bestowed by the Judge.

than that of gold—rather, "than gold."

though—"which perisheth, YET is tried with fire." If gold, though perishing (1Pe 1:18), is yet tried with fire in order to remove dross and test its genuineness, how much more does your faith, which shall never perish, need to pass through a fiery trial to remove whatever is defective, and to test its genuineness and full value?

glory—"Honor" is not so strong as "glory." As "praise" is in words, so "honor" is in deeds: honorary reward.

appearing—Translate as in 1Pe 1:13, "revelation." At Christ's revelation shall take place also the revelation of the sons of God (Ro 8:19, "manifestation," Greek, "revelation"; 1Jo 3:2, Greek, "manifested … manifested," for "appear … appear").

That the trial of your faith; i.e. your faith when tried. He compares the faith of the saints with gold, and argues from the less to the greater: q.d. If men do so far esteem their gold, that they will make the excellency and preciousness of it appear by trying it in the fire, which purgeth away the dross, and discovers the goodness of the metal; no wonder if God will have the faith of the saints (more precious to him than gold is to men) tried by afflictions, that the excellency of it may more fully be discovered.

Being much more precious than of gold; i.e. than the trial of gold; or gold tried, compared with faith tried.

That perisheth; is worn away, and consumed by use, as many particles of it likewise may be in the very trial of it, 1 Peter 1:18; whereas faith is not consumed nor wasted, but increased by being used, and made more conspicuous by being tried.

Might be found unto praise and honour and glory; i.e. may be found to be, or to have turned, to praise, &c., the dignity of it being by that means evidenced. These several words show whither present trials tend, and in what they issue; they may be reproachful and ignominious now, Hebrews 12:2, but they end in glory. We need not be critical about the difference of these three words, praise, honour, and glory, which may be synonymous expressions (by way of amplification) of the same thing, yet they are mentioned distinctly with relation to believers elsewhere; praise, 1 Corinthians 4:5, honour, 1 Samuel 2:30 John 12:26, glory, as well as honour, Romans 2:10.

At the appearing of Jesus Christ; i.e. at the day of judgment, frequently so called, as 1 Peter 1:13 5:4 Colossians 3:4 2 Thessalonians 1:7. Christ’s glory is at present hid and obscured, while he is instructing his elect, and training them up unto patience, and defers his judging of his enemies; but at last it will be fully manifested in the face of the world, when he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, &c., Revelation 1:7.

That the trial of your faith,.... This is the principal end which God has in afflictive providences, to try the faith of his people; so the faith of Abraham, Job, Habakkuk, and others, have been tried:

being much more precious than of gold that perisheth: the grace of faith is much more precious than gold; since that perisheth by using, but faith does not; and since it is so valuable as not to be obtained by it; and since those that have it, though poor in this world, are rich, and heirs of a kingdom: but the trying of it is abundantly more precious than gold; for not only as gold being tried in the fire is purged from its dross, and is proved to be genuine and shines the brighter, so faith, being tried in the fire of afflictions, is purged from unbelief; and the believer is purged from his dross and tin, and his iniquity is purged, and the fruit of all is to take away sin; and he is tried and proved to be a true believer, and his faith shines the more illustriously, as in the above instances; yea, the very trying of it has an influence on other graces, for great usefulness; for the trying of faith works patience, and that, experience, and that, hope:

though it be tried with fire: either though gold be tried with fire, and so is greatly refined, yet it is more precious than that; or though faith be tried with the fire of afflictions, yet it is precious, and more precious than gold: and it is tried for this purpose,

that it might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; who is now in the highest heavens, and out of sight, but will appear a second time without sin unto salvation, and every eye shall see him; and when the believer will be found in him, and his faith be found unto praise by him, he will have praise of him himself; it will be said unto him, "Well done, good and faithful servant"; his faith will be praised for its steadiness and constancy, notwithstanding all persecutions and tribulations; and his good works, the fruits of faith, will be taken notice of by him with commendation; he will be honoured, by being placed on the right hand of Christ, and by being set down with him in his throne, and having a crown of righteousness given to him; and he will be glorified both in soul and body; his body will be made like to Christ's glorious body, and his soul will have a glory revealed in it; and in his whole person he shall appear, when Christ does, with him in glory.

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 {e} appearing of Jesus Christ:

(e) He speaks of the second coming of Christ.

1 Peter 1:7. ἵνα] states the aim of the λυπηθῆναι ἐνπειρασμοῖς, in order to console the readers with respect to it, “that the approvedness of your faith may be found more precious than (that) of gold, which perisheth, yet it is tried by fire, to (your) praise, and glory, and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

δοκίμιον here, as in Jam 1:3 (cf. in loco), equal to δοκιμή, the approvedness as the result of the trial (Romans 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Php 2:22).[64] The strict signification “medium of proof” is inappropriate, inasmuch as the aim of the λυπηθῆναι ἐν πειρασμοῖς cannot be stated as the glorification of these ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΊ, but as only that of faith in its approvedness (in opposition to Steinmeyer). Unsuitable, too, is the interpretation “trial” (Brückner, Wiesinger), ΤῸ ΔΟΚΊΜΙΟΝ Τῆς ΠΊΣΤΕΩς being taken for Ἡ ΠΊΣΤΙς ΔΟΚΙΜΑΖΟΜΈΝΗ, inasmuch as it is not the trial of the faith, but the faith being tried that is to be compared with the gold. This substitution of ideas is not justifiable, inasmuch as the process applied to an object cannot be put for the object itself to which it is applied. Only if δοκίμιον denote a quality of faith, can a substitution of this kind take place. δοκίμιον must be taken as: “approvedness,” and by approvedness of faith, the “approved,” or rather “the faith approving itself.”[65]

[64] δοκιμή in the N. T. has either an active or a passive signification; in the former it means: “the trial which leads to approvedness,” as in 2 Corinthians 8:2; in the latter: “the approvedness effected by trial,” as in the passages quoted; or better still: “a distinction must be drawn between a present and a perfect force, in that “δοκιμή has a reflexive sense, either, then, the having approved itself, or the approving itself,” Cremer, s.v.

[65] Brückner raises the following objections to this interpretation:—(1) That δοκίμιον can linguistically only be understood as: means of proof, trial; and (2) That the part, pres., standing in opposition to χρυσίου (δοκιμαζομένου), does not presuppose the purification of the gold to have already taken place, and that, consequently, the πίστις δοκιμαζομένη only can be considered as compared with χρυσίον δοκιμαζόμενον. But against this it must be observed that δοκίμιον has only the signification of “means of proof,” not of trial; and (3) That in the above interpretation it is not the already approved faith, but that faith which is being approved, or approving itself in tribulation, which is contrasted with gold which is being tried.


What Schott had formerly alleged with respect to δοκίμιον is repeated by Hofmann, only by him it is carried further. By an highly artificial interpretation of Psalm 11:7, LXX., and by the application of the rule established by him, “that the neuter of the adjective does not stand in the place of an abstract attributive, but expresses the condition of something as a concrete reality, and in conjunction with a genitive denotes the object thereby named in this its condition,” Hofmann makes out that it is here affirmed that “at the revelation of Christ it will be found that the faith of the readers has been subjected to purification, and is in consequence free from dross.” This whole interpretation is a pure matter of fancy, for δοκίμιον—a circumstance which both Schott and Hofmann have left unnoticed—is not an adjective, but a real substantive; for δοκιμεῖον.

Cremer explains: “δοκ. is not the touchstone only, in and for itself, but the trace left behind on it by the metal; therefore τὸ δοκ. τῆς πίστεως is that which results from the contact of πίστις with πειρασμοῖς, that by which faith is recognised as genuine, equal to the proof of faith.” But in opposition to this it must be remarked that fire and not touchstone is here conceived as the means of testing.

πολυτιμότερον κ.τ.λ.] is by most interpreters closely connected with εὑρεθῇ, by others again (Wolf, Pott, Steinmeyer, Wiesinger, Hofmann) separated from it, and considered as in apposition to τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμ. τ. πιστ. The following facts, however, are decisive against the latter construction: (1) That—as Wiesinger admits—this appositional clause expresses “something understood of itself.” (2) That the intention here is not to make an observation on faith, but to state what is the design of sorrow, namely, that the faith which is approving itself may be found to be one πολύτιμος. (3) That thus εὑρεθῇ would be deprived of any nearer definition, in that the subsequent εἰς has reference not to εὑρεθῇ alone, but to the whole idea expressed. Yet it cannot well dispense with a nearer definition (in opposition to Hofmann).

The genitive χρυσίου is, as almost all the interpreters take it, to be joined in sense directly with the comparative: “than the gold,” so that the δοκίμιον of the faith is compared with the gold. Some commentators, like Beza, Grotius, Vorstius, Steinmeyer, Hofmann, assume an ellipsis (cf. Winer, p. 230 [E. T. 307]), supplying before χρυσίου the words ἢ τὸ δοκίμιον. In opposition it may be urged, however, not precisely “that this is cumbrous” (Brückner), but that the point of comparison is not properly the approval of faith, but the faith in the act of approving itself. Whilst comparing the faith with the gold, the apostle places the former above the latter; the reason of this he states in the attribute τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου connected with χρυσίου, by which reference is made to the imperishable nature of faith. To this first attribute he subjoins the second: διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου, in order to name here also the medium of proving, to which the πειρασμοί, with respect to faith, correspond. Accordingly Wiesinger and Steinmeyer are wrong in asserting that in the interpretation here given the attribute τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου is inappropriate.

ἀπολλύμενος: φθαρτός, cf. 1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; also John 6:27. For the position of the adjective with art. after an anarthrous subst., see Winer, p. 131 f. [E. T. 174].

διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου] The particle δέ seems to place this second adjunct in antithesis to the first (ἀπολλυμένου) (thus de Wette: “which is perishable, and yet is proved by fire;” so also Hofmann). But opposed to this view is the circumstance that the trial and purification of what is perishable is by no means anything to occasion surprise; it is therefore more correct to find the purpose of the adjunct in this, that by it the idea of the δοκιμάζεσθαι is brought prominently forward. Vorstius remarks to the point: aurum igni committitur non ad iteritum, sed ad gloriam, sic fides cruci ad gloriam subjicitur.

For this comparison, see Job 23:10; Proverbs 17:3; Zechariah 13:9.

εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμήν] The verb εὑρεθῆναι, “to be found to be,” is more significant than εἶναι (cf. Winer, p. 572 f. [E. T. 769 f.]), and has reference to the judicial investigation on the last day of judgment. The words following form an adjunct to the whole preceding thought: ἵναεὑρεθῇ. Beza rightly: hic agitur de ipsorum electorum laude, etc.; thus: “to your praise, glory, and honour.” Schott quite arbitrarily interprets ἔπαινος as in itself: “the judicial recognition” (as opposed to this, cf. Php 1:11; Php 4:8); τιμή: “the moral estimation of the person arising therefrom” (as opposed to this, cf. 1 Peter 3:7), and δόξα: “the form of glory” (as opposed to this, cf. Galatians 1:5; Php 1:11). Steinmeyer incorrectly applies the words not to the persons, but to their faith. δόξα and τιμή in the N. T. stand frequently together; in connection with ἔπαινος, here only. The juxtaposition of these synonymous expressions serves to give prominence to the one idea of honourable recognition common to them all. Standing as δίξα does between ἔπαινος and τιμή, it cannot signify: “the allotment of the possession of glory” (Wiesinger), but it is: “glory, praise.”

ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ] not: “through,” but: “at,” the revelation of Jesus Christ, that is, on the day of His return, which is at once the ἀποκάλυψις δικαιοκρισίας τοῦ Θεοῦ (Romans 2:5) and the ἀποκάλυψις τῶν υἱῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ (Romans 8:19).

1 Peter 1:7. τὸ δοκίμιον. The evidence of the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 259 ff.) shows that δοκίμιος is a bye form of the adjective δόκιμος approved; so Psalm 12:7, ἀργύριον πεπυρωμένον δοκίμιον (cf. 1 Chron. 39:4; Zechariah 11:3, where it occurs as v.l. for δόκιμον). Hence the phrase (here and in Jam 1:3?) corresponds exactly to St. Paul’s τὸ τῆς ὑμετέρας ἀγάπης γνήσιον—“the genuineness of your faith or “the approvedness”). So Arethas on Revelation 9:4, οἱ δὲ τὸ δοκίμιον ἑαυτῶν διὰ πυρὸς παρεχόμενοι. The substantive δ. = “means of trial, testing” which does not suit this context, or a specimen of metal to be tested.—πολυτιμότερον, to justify the common rendering (A.V., R.V.) according to which π. κ.τ.λ. are taken as in apposition to τὸ δοκ., ὄν, must be supplied as if omitted by haplography after πολ. But there is no need for emendation, if πολ. be taken as predicate thrown forward for the sake of emphasis.—χρυσοῦ κ.τ.λ. St. Peter adapts the familiar comparison of man’s suffering to the fining-pot of precious metal, insisting on the superiority of the spiritual to the material gold. The stress lies on διὰ πυρός. True faith is tested by trials, just as gold is proved by fire. It is more valuable than gold which is perishable. If men test gold thus, much more will God test faith which outlives the present age, cf. Hebrews 9:23. Cf. use of πύρωσις, 1 Peter 4:12. For the image, Zechariah 13:9, δοκιμῶ αὐτοὺς ὡς δοκιμάζεται τὸ χρυσίον; Psalm 66:10; Proverbs 17:3; Sir 2:5, etc.—Τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου, cf. John 6:27, τὴν βρῶσιν τὴν ἀπ. (contrasted with imperishable food; here gold generally is contrasted with faith) and φθαρτοῖς ἀργυρίῳ καὶ χροσίῳ below.—εὑρεθῇ, cf. 2 Peter 3:14, σπουδάσατε ἄσπιλοι καὶ ἀμώμητοι αὐτῷ εὑρεθῆναι ἐν εἰρήνῃ; Psalm 17:3, ἐδοκίμασας τὴν καρδίαν μουκαὶ οὐχ εὑρέθη ἐν ἐμοὶ ἀδικία.—εἰς ἔπαινον … must be taken with the whole sentence, unless ὂν be supplied. So εἰς might introduce the predicate (better stronger) of εὑρ., cf. Romans 7:10. εἰς taken as = ל expressing transition into a new state or condition (as Romans 7:10).—ἔπαινον is the verdict. “Well done good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” The Christian is the true Jew and receives at last the praise which the name Judah signifies. In Romans 2:29, ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖοςοὗ ὁ ἔπαινος οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρωπων ᾀλλʼ ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, Paul follows the alteration of the original ἐξομολόγησις (Genesis 29:35, LXX, and Philo) consequent upon the transference of the praise (תודה) from God to men (cf. Genesis 49:8, Ἰούδα σε αἰνέσαισαν οἱ ἀδελφοί σου). The old Israel set their hope on praise from the congregation (Sir 39:10) or glory from men, John 5:44; John 12:42 f. The new Israel looked for praise from God to balance the dispraise of men (Matthew 5:11 f.); so St. Peter adds ἐπ. to the usual formula δόξαν καὶ τιμήν, Romans 2:7; Romans 2:10 (Psalm 8:6) δόξῃ καὶ τιμῄ ἐστεφάνωσας ἄνθρωπον, cf. σκεῦος εἰς τιμήν, Romans 9:21, for the less obvious word. Hort compares Marcus Aurelius 12:11, μὴ ποιεῖν ἅλλο ἢ ὅπερ μέλλει ὁ θεὸς ἐπαινεῖν.—ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ιυ. Χυ., when Jesus Christ is revealed. The expression is derived from the saying κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ ἔσται ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀποκαλύπτεται (Luke 17:30). As Judge He will pronounce the verdict of approval and bestow glory and honour. The reference to present glorified joy in the midst of trial suggests that the writer has advanced beyond the simple belief in a final theophany and contemplates a spiritual revelation of Jesus Christ as each Christian (cf. Galatians 1:16) realises the meaning of His Resurrection; but cf. μὴ ὁρῶντες below.

7. that the trial of your faith] The use of the self-same phrase as in James 1:3 strengthens the conclusion suggested in the previous note as to St Peter’s knowledge of this Epistle. Test, perhaps even proof or probation, would better express the force of the Greek word. Faith is not known to be what it is until it is tested by suffering.

being much more precious than of gold that perisheth] The words suggest at once a natural similitude and point out its incompleteness. That “gold is tried and purified by fire” was a familiar analogy, as in Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 27:21, Sir 2:5, 1 Corinthians 3:13, but the gold so purified belongs still to the category of perishable things, while the faith which is purified by suffering takes its place among those that are imperishable.

might be found unto praise and honour and glory] The words stand somewhat vaguely in the Greek as in the English, and might possibly express that what men suffer is for God’s glory. The context, however, and the parallelism of Romans 2:7, make it certain that they refer to the “praise” [found here only in conjunction with the familiar combination (Romans 2:7; Romans 2:10, 1 Timothy 1:17) of “honour and glory”] which men shall receive (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:5), when sufferings rightly borne have done their work, in and at the revelation of Jesus Christ in His Second Coming as the Judge of all men.

1 Peter 1:7. Δοκίμιον, the trial) That is, your faith, which is thus tried; for it is compared with gold.—πολυτιμότερον, much more precious) The epithet belongs to the subject.—τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου, which perisheth) Gold perishes with the world, 1 Peter 1:18; nor will it then profit any one. The same participle occurs, John 6:27.—δὲ, but[7]) Faith is compared with gold, not with reference to the perishing of gold, but with reference to its being tried by fire.—εὑρεθῇ, may be found) For it does not now appear; but it will appear when other things shall perish.—ἔπαινον, praise) in words.—τιμὴν, honour) in deeds.—δόξαν, glory) in the award bestowed at the judgment.—ἀποκαλύψει, at the revelation) 1 Peter 1:13.

[7] The δέ is held a good reading in the judgment of Ed. 2, rather than according to the larger Ed., although it is not given in the Germ. Vers.

ABC Rec. Text have διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου. Vulg. Omits ἀπολλυμένον, and therefore also δέ. Orig. has καὶ διὰ κυρὸς δεδοκιμαομένου.—E.

Verse 7. - That the trial of your faith. The words of ver. 6, "if need be," point to the purpose and end of the temptations. St. Peter proceeds to develop his meaning. The word rendered "trial" (δοκίμιον or δυκιμεῖον) means rather "test or proof;" it is explained by Dionysius of Halicarnassus ('Rhet.,' I1) as that at which, when one looks, he is able to form a judgment. Cremer says it is "not only the means of proof itself, e.g. the touchstone, but also the trace of the metal left thereon. Hence here and in James 1:3 τό δοκίμιον τῆς πίστεως is the result of the contact of faith with temptations, that in virtue of which faith is recognized as genuine - the verification of faith." Dr. Heft ('Notes on Select Readings') prefers the reading τὸ δόκιμον, which is given by two of the better cursives. He says, "τὸ δοκίμιον is the instrument of trial, not even the process of trial, much less the thing fried; while it is only the thing tried that can be compared, as here, to gold refined in the fire." Compare the use of the cognate word δοκιμή in 2 Corinthians 2:9; Romans 5:4; Philippians 2:22. Being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire; rather, as in the Revised Version, more precious than gold. Gold is the most precious of metals, faith is more precious far; the proof of faith is more momentous beyond all comparison than the proof of gold. Gold perishes; "Consumitur annulus usu," says the poet; "Aurum cummundo perit," says Bengel; but "Now abideth faith, hope, charity," says the apostle. Gold is tried with fire; as by the purifying fire gold is purged of dross (Isaiah 1:25), so by the refining fire of temptations the faithful are cleansed from pride and self-reliance and the pollutions of sin. Might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; "might be found" at the judgment, in the searching investigation of the great day. -Praise; in words, "Well (lone, good and faithful servant." He, our; in the distinctions granted to the faithful - the crown of righteousness, the white robe, the palm. Glory; the glory which was Christ's before the world was, which he giveth to his chosen (John 17:22). At the appearing; rather, revelation. Now we see him only by faith; then his elect shall see him as he is - the veil will be withdrawn (see ver. 5). 1 Peter 1:7Trial (δοκίμιον)

Only here and James 1:3. Rev., proof. The word means a test. As the means of proof, however, is not only the touchstone itself, but the trace of the metal left upon it, the sense here is the result of the contact of faith with trial, and hence the verification of faith. The expression is equivalent to your approved faith. Compare Romans 2:7, Romans 2:10.

Than of gold

Omit the of, and read than gold. The comparison is between the approved faith and the gold; not between the faith and the proof of the gold.

Though it be tried (δοκιμαζομένου)

Kindred with δοκίμιον, proof, and better rendered by Rev., proved. The verb is used in classical Greek of assaying or testing metals, and means, generally, to approve or sanction upon test. It is radically akin to δέχεσθαι, to receive, and hence implies a proof with a view to determine whether a thing be worthy to be received. Compare 1 Corinthians 3:13; Galatians 6:4; 1 John 4:1. It thus differs from πειράζειν, to try or tempt (see on πειρασμοῖς, 1 Peter 1:6), in that that verb indicates simply a putting to proof to discover what good or evil is in a person; and from the fact that such scrutiny so often develops the existence and energy of evil, the word acquired a predominant sense of putting to the proof with the design or hope of breaking down the subject under the proof - in other words, of temptation in the ordinary sense. Hence Satan is called ὁ πειράζων, the tempter, Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. See on Matthew 6:13. Archbishop Trench observes that "δοκιμάζειν could not be used of Satan, since he never proves that he may approve, nor tests that he may accept."

Might be found (εὑρεθῇ)

In accord with the preceding expressions, and indicating discovery as the result of scrutiny.

Praise and glory and honor

Such is the order of the best texts, and so Rev. Glory and honor often occur together in the New Testament, as Romans 2:7, Romans 2:10; 1 Timothy 1:17. Only here with praise. Compare spirit of glory, 1 Peter 4:14.

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