1 Peter 1
1 Peter 1 Kingcomments Bible Studies


After the many letters of Paul and the one letter of James you now have a letter of another writer before you. The writer is the apostle Peter. Of all the disciples who traveled through Israel with the Lord Jesus, he is the one about whom the most is written in the four Gospels. He has also received from the Lord the special task to strengthen and encourage his brothers. These are in the first place his Jewish fellow believers. Peter receives the apostleship to the circumcised, i.e. the Jews (Gal 2:7). By the writing of his two letters Peter fulfills the order of the Lord: “Strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:32b).

To be able to fulfill this ministry he had to be educated and shaped. For that purpose God also used satan. Satan demanded permission from God to sift the disciples like wheat (Lk 22:31). He got God’s permission to do that, whereby as with all temptations, God determines the limits. In that way satan had been an instrument in God’s hand to carry out His plans with Peter. The painful experience Peter had to undergo – he denied his Lord – was used by the Lord to make him fit for the ministry He had for him. The Lord made sure by His prayer that Peter’s faith may not fail (Lk 22:32a). The evidence of this are his letters.

Peter has learnt a lot from his fall and restoration. He knows from own experience that satan is a terrible enemy and he knows God’s restoring hand that leads out of the depth. His failure reminds him of how great the grace and faithfulness of God are. That is also the way he concludes his letter. As a kind of conclusion he says to his readers “that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it” (1Pet 5:12). His whole letter testifies to that grace. What God wants to teach you with the grace He shows, is that you may subject yourself to His will. That was the case with Peter.

After Peter’s restoration in the midst of the other disciples, he receives from the Lord his threefold task (Jn 21:15-17). The lambs and sheep the Lord entrusts to him He emphatically calls: “My lambs” and “My sheep”. It refers to the lambs and the sheep of the fold of Israel. The Lord knew about what His sheep would have to fear from the unbelieving Israelites. That’s why He entrusted them to Peter, who had gone astray like a lost sheep himself, but has returned (Psa 119:176).

Peter calls the sheep that the Lord entrusts to him “those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout …” (1Pet 1:1). Scattering is a judgment of God because of the unfaithfulness of His people. At the same time the grace of God had taken care of them, for the promises of the Old Testament were made to them. They returned, not to the land, but to “the Shepherd and Guardian” of their souls (1Pet 2:25). Peter can help and guide his brothers, who came from a people that just as he had denied the Lord (Acts 3:13) and who now live outside of Israel.

Just like the other apostles Peter also has a special subject that characterizes his letters. Paul often presents the believers as members of the church, which means as members of the body of Christ. John sees the believers as members of the family of God. Peter can be called the apostle of the kingdom of God. ‘The kingdom of God’ is the great subject of both of his letters, although the expression itself does not appear in them. That is, he views and addresses the believers as subjects in the kingdom of God.

Paul also has spoken about the kingdom of God, but Peter is the one who received the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Mt 16:16-19). (Just for the sake of clarity: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are the same, but with a different accent.) He used the keys in the book of Acts in order to open the door of the kingdom successively for the Jews (Acts 2), the Samaritans (Acts 8) and the Gentiles (Acts 10).

In that way Peter has not been made the head of the church or the gate keeper of heaven. The kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God is a kingdom on earth. But what is that kingdom? When you think of a kingdom you think of a king and subjects. The kingdom of God is the kingdom that is ruled by God. He rules over everything that is His; that is the universe with everything that belongs to it.

You cannot see that yet, but it is the purpose of God to soon put everything under the feet of the Son of Man. What you do see is that the Lord Jesus has already been crowned as King (Heb 2:8-9). In the Old Testament the kingdom of God is something to come, for it is related to the coming of the King, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus (Dan 7:13-14). The Lord Jesus is the Heir of all things. But when He came to earth He was rejected. Therefore the kingdom in its announced form, in which the Messiah will publicly reign, has been delayed for an indefinite time.

Nevertheless the kingdom exists, but in a special form. This form is unexpected and is not announced by the prophets. The particular thing about it is that the kingdom is not public, but hidden. Therefore, the Lord Jesus speaks about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13:11). It is a hidden realm because the King of that realm is hidden. The subjects, those who confess the Lord Jesus as Lord, are not hidden, but He, to Whom they subject themselves, is.

The world doesn’t see the living Lord of Whom the Christians are subjects, for the world has rejected and crucified Him. The world is not subjected yet. The world is still hostile and now turns against the believers as it once did against the Lord Jesus. Peter is focusing the eyes of the readers on the glorified Lord and on the future, when He will appear to reward the ones who are His – and to judge His enemies, but he will write about that in his second letter.

Another theme is the suffering of the believer because of his identification with the rejected Lord. Suffering is presented in such a way that you can conclude that it is a suffering in imitation of Christ. Thereby you can discern different kinds that you encounter in this letter:
1. Suffering as a test of faith (1Pet 1:6-7);
2. suffering for the sake of conscience (1Pet 2:19);
3. suffering for the sake of righteousness (1Pet 3:14);
4. suffering for the sake of Christ and for His Name’s sake (1Pet 4:13-14);
5. suffering from the side of satan (1Pet 5:8-9).

As the prophets already announced, suffering is an intermediate step toward glory. Just as the Lord Jesus came to glory through suffering, so do you. Therefore you are pointed to the inheritance that lies before you. The glory in this letter is not the Father’s house, but that you will be sharing Christ’s glory in the kingdom. As you suffer with the Rejected One now, you will soon reign with the glorified Christ after His return.

To understand the letter well, you should always consider that it is addressed to Jewish Christians. They know the Old Testament, they are looking forward to the kingdom and the glory of the Messiah and His government; they know about the judgment on the enemies. Now they believe in a Messiah Who they cannot see, while the wicked ones of the people have not been judged. On the contrary, both the wicked Jews and the Gentiles cause the Jewish Christians to suffer. Everything is so much different than what they have believed from their childhood. They are mocked with why their Messiah does not give salvation. Then their faith may begin to falter.

You are not in the same position, but there are many similarities between your position and that of them. It can also be hard for you to continue to trust in an invisible Lord. That trust in the invisible Lord can also result in different forms of suffering. It applies also to you that through this letter Peter focuses your heart on Him Whom you have come to love, though you do not see Him now.


1Pet 1:1. “Peter” presents himself as the sender of the letter to his readers. He calls himself by the name that the Lord has given to him (Jn 1:42). Then he makes it clear that he writes as “an apostle of Jesus Christ”. In that way his letter has authority. It doesn’t mean that he addresses them from an exalted position, but to ensure his readers that this writing has great significance. An apostle is a representative who speaks or writes on behalf of another person. Therefore he does not write this letter out of courtesy, but it is a letter that he writes on behalf of Jesus Christ. In this letter he passes on the love of the Lord Jesus to His own.

The recipients are addressed as “aliens, scattered”. The readers, the believing Jews, are pilgrims in the areas to which they have been scattered by the persecution that had erupted because of Stephen (Acts 8:1; 4; Acts 11:19). ‘Aliens’ or ‘pilgrims’ find themselves in tough circumstances, far from their native country. The fact that they were ‘scattered’ implies that they were under the judgment of God. If they had remained faithful to what God had told them, they would have enjoyed God’s blessings in His land. That is out of the question now. Instead, they find themselves outside the promised land in strange countries.

You may say that these believers are pilgrims or strangers in two ways. They are to the Gentiles in the midst of whom they find themselves, while they are also that to their unbelieving compatriots through their faith in the Messiah.

Peter mentions the areas where the believing Jews were scattered. Those are the five provinces of the Roman empire that are in Asia Minor, in present Turkey. It is the area where Paul has worked often, as you can read in the book of Acts. Although it cannot be said with certainty, it is much likely that many have come to faith through his service.

Related to their scattering is that they must endure suffering. Another reason why Peter writes his letter, is to encourage them in that suffering. He nowhere appeals to resist against that suffering or to rebel against it.

Also today the children of God are scattered everywhere and endure suffering. If you consistently follow the Lord Jesus you do not count in the world. You cannot find anywhere an appeal to unite yourself with other Christians to overthrow governments or even exert any political influence. Neither did the Lord Jesus do that.

In their relation to the world the believers are strangers who are scattered here and there; in their relation to God things are totally different. Listen to what Peter has to say about their relationship to God. That are great blessings for the believers. The world has no part in that, the world doesn’t even know anything about it. Also the unbelieving Jews have no part in that. He is talking about “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1Pet 1:2). He also talks about “sanctification of [the] Spirit, unto [the] obedience and sprinkling of [the] blood of Jesus Christ” (Darby Translation).

Here you see the triune God: God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. The triune God is the Source of all these great blessings and He works that its objects indeed partake of that too.

Let us briefly examine these blessings one by one. First that of being chosen. Being chosen sounds familiar to the pilgrims in the dispersion. They know that they, regarding their national origin, belong to God’s chosen people. Only, that being chosen regards being chosen to be God’s people on earth (Deu 7:6). Because the people had rejected the Lord Jesus, Israel has lost that place. When Israel will repent in the future, it will be God’s people.

But at this time there is another being chosen, a higher, a heavenly one for the believers. The being chosen of a believer is destined for heaven and not for earth. Therefore the being chosen that Peter is talking about, stands opposite to the being chosen of God’s earthly people.

1Pet 1:2. This being chosen happened “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”. The Father has, according to His perfect foreknowledge of all things, chosen certain people to be His property (Eph 1:4). With God foreknowledge implies more than only knowing all things in advance. Nothing will ever happen that He did not know in advance. However, His foreknowledge is not passive, but it makes Him act in a certain way, like here concerning His choice.

For you, who may know to be chosen, that is an enormous encouragement, for it gives you the absolute guarantee that your being chosen has been established to eternity. To Peter it is also, with respect to the readers of his letter, a definite matter (cf. 2Thes 2:13). God says: ‘You belong to Me.’ Who can reverse that? Who is greater and mightier than God? Therefore being chosen doesn’t depend on your efforts, but on the counsel of God the Father, Who executes what He plans to do (Rom 8:28-30). Peter will deal later in this chapter with the responsibilities that are also related to that.

If you look at being chosen you see the same concerning the following aspect that Peter calls the “sanctification of the Spirit”. ‘To sanctify’ means ‘to set apart’. God’s earthly people Israel was set apart from the nations that surrounded them, by all kinds of outward statutes. Thereby the law functioned as a dividing wall (Eph 2:14). Peter talks about ‘sanctification of the Spirit’. The heavenly people where these believers (and we) belong to, have been set apart for God by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has worked the new life in them, separated them from the world and from Israel and connected them to their Messiah Who is in heaven.

The same goes for the next aspect, that of “obedience”. As Jews they were indebted to obey the law, with the promise of life. To them as believers another obedience has replaced that, namely the “obedience … of Jesus Christ” (Darby Translation). No one was able to fulfill the old standard of obedience, the law. But now they are able to fulfill the new standard by the new life they possess.

That new life is the Lord Jesus. In that way they are able to obey as the Lord Jesus has done. After all you read about the obedience of Jesus Christ. It is not about obeying the law. To the believer the standard of obedience is not the law, but Christ. Look at Him, how He always obeyed His Father in love and you will surely learn to be obedient like that. That obedience goes much further than obeying the law.

As a final aspect – an aspect that, like obedience, is related to Jesus Christ – Peter points to the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”. Here you find the blood of Christ as the foundation to obey. The blood gives the perfect assurance that before God everything is well.

This aspect also forms a great contrast to what God has given to His people in the past. In the Old Testament indeed blood is mentioned as the basis for atonement, but that blood is related to animals. However, that blood cannot take away sins and cannot give anyone a perfect conscience before God. Only the blood of Christ can (Heb 10:4-14). The blood of Christ places you in perfect purity in the presence of God. Through the blood of Christ you have peace with God (Eph 2:13; Col 1:20; Rom 5:1). You may be sure of that position to be yours.

Next to that Peter adds a wish. He wishes that “grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure” or that “grace and peace may be multiplied” to the believers. By that he means that you will expect more and more from God’s grace and you will trust less and less in your own power. God’s grace will always be there to help you to do anything you have to do. If that awareness is present and also increases, you will surely experience the peace that Peter then wishes the believers.

God wants you to grow, that today you rejoice more in Him than yesterday, in spite of or maybe owing to the hardships that you experience. When your faith is put to the test you get the chance to multiply in knowing the grace that God gives to you and in the peace that God Himself has.

Now read 1 Peter 1:1-2 again.

Reflection: In what blessings, according to these verses, may you rejoice?

A Living Hope

1Pet 1:3. After his introductory words wherein he highlighted the greatness and the work of the triune God, Peter speaks out a praise. He is full of what the God and Father of the Lord Jesus has done. He cannot do anything else but worship Him. That is what always happens when you come under the impression of Who God is.

Because he is full of God he sees more of God, of Who He is and what He has done. He speaks in full admiration about God’s “great mercy” through which He did great things which can only amaze us. ‘Mercy’ is compassion for people whose need is so great that they are in danger of ruin, while they themselves have no possibility at all to come out of that need. It is about totally helpless people who in no way could become partakers of the blessing of God. That is the opportunity for God to show His ‘great mercy’.

Peter speaks about great mercy in relation to the being born again of a sinner and the blessings attached to it. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “has caused us to be born again”. That is truly great mercy! You have felt your misery and despondency and also your total incapacity to change anything about it. You were standing totally outside of God’s blessings. But God was very compassionate about you and He gave you new life.

The fact that you are born again implies that the origin of your new life is ‘from above’ (Jn 3:3, footnote). You have been begotten of God. You yourself could do nothing about that, just as you couldn’t do anything about your natural birth.

You indeed received life through your natural birth, but no hope at all for a happy future. On the contrary, you were brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin (Psa 51:5). The results have also become visible in your life. Death and hell were therefore your final destination. Because God has worked in you new life according to “His great mercy”, a radical change has happened in that final destination. You now have been born again “to a living hope”.

The hope that Peter presents here is totally different than the view to death and hell. This hope also goes much further than the prospect of a kingdom on earth under the government of the Messiah to which God’s earthly people always had looked forward to and is still looking forward to. The living hope is in fact related to a Jesus Christ Who is risen from the dead. The living hope that Peter presents here is not an earthly but a heavenly hope and therefore doesn’t look forward to the inheritance of the land of Canaan. “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” the eye is focused on a portion in another world.

Christ not only has given His blood and died, but He is also risen. You see a living Lord. Thereby you have a living hope, and beyond death you see everything there that is related to Him. Without His resurrection there would be no hope (1Cor 15:19-20). A living hope is a hope that is vividly before your eyes. It is not about something insecure, but contrarily this hope is an absolute assurance. Through the new life you are sure about that hope.

You can consider this hope both objectively and subjectively. By that I mean that you can see that hope as something that is before you, something you look forward to. That is the inheritance that is presented in the next verses. You can see that hope also as something that is in you, something you feel and experience. That is the hope for that inheritance, the desire for it that makes you to be motivated to joyfully move on through life as a pilgrim.

1Pet 1:4. Through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the hope for the inheritance has become your part. It is an inheritance that with perfect assurance will be your possession. It is reserved for you and it cannot be defiled by anything or robbed by anyone. The inheritance is fixed in heaven and is preserved there for you in Jesus Christ, the risen and glorified Man.

Nothing has the power to diminish the value of that inheritance:
1. It is “imperishable”, therefore not to be harmed by death, through which it would ultimately be destroyed.
2. It is also “undefiled”, therefore free from every spot and also not to be damaged by anything attached to sin.
3. It also “will not fade away” and is therefore without any flaw or even a little reduction of its beauty and is not to be damaged by any test of time.

This inheritance is attached to ‘the heir of all things’ (Heb 1:2). Therefore it is untouchable for death, filthiness and decay.

The inheritance is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus that these Israelites, whom Peter is addressing, will once enter, as will you and me. However, it does not concern the kingdom on earth or the earthly part of the kingdom, which certainly will also be there, but the heavenly part of the kingdom. When the Lord Jesus will openly reign over heaven and earth, all believers who have died or have been taken up before the millennial kingdom comes, will be allowed to reign together with Him from heaven over all who are in heaven (angels, 1Cor 6:3) and who are on earth and over all things that are on earth (1Cor 6:2). It is the best part that you can ever imagine in the kingdom.

1Pet 1:5. The inheritance is therefore reserved for you by God in a place where no thief and moth and rust can take it away or tarnish it. But what about the heirs? Surely these are weak and powerless to preserve themselves. Therefore Peter also has an encouraging word for the heirs. They are protected by the power of God for the inheritance. Therefore you can be sure that the inheritance is reserved for you and that you are preserved for the inheritance.

And how does that happen? By nothing less than the “power of God”. As weak as you are, as strong is God. You are protected by a guard that is continuously there and which cannot be misguided or overpowered. That is quite an assurance for you as an heir that you will possess the inheritance!

The mention of ‘protected’ indicates that there is danger. That is something you should be aware of. The guard is not supposed to make you careless. You may know – and that is supposed to give you rest – that you are kept by the faithfulness and power of God. At the same time there is also something you should do. To experience God’s protecting power “faith” is needed from your side. Faith ascribes to God the place He is worthy of and it keeps you in the place of trust in Him. Thereby you hold on to the statements of His Word. Faith is essential until the inheritance will be obtained.

The fact that His protection happens by the means of faith, means that it is only applied to believers. It also means that believers have the responsibility to entrust themselves to Him for that protection. After all, faith means to have confidence. He doesn’t take His own by the hand to drag them along and in this way bring them to the final goal. He works by faith, whereby He also makes sure that your faith does not fail. Peter experienced that protection. After he denied the Lord he got restored because the Lord had prayed for him that his faith would not fail (Lk 22:32).

As it is said, faith is needed as long as we are on the way to the final goal. Peter calls that final goal “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”. Therefore the salvation here is still to come. The salvation is what will be our ultimate part when we are with the Lord and then come to earth together with Him.

That the salvation is ready, implies that everything that is necessary for it has been done already. That the salvation has not come yet has got to do with the longsuffering of God, Who is not wishing for any to perish (2Pet 3:9).

With “the last time” Peter means that when the salvation indeed comes, the fullness of the times has come. It is the millennial kingdom of peace in which all times will find their fulfillment (Eph 1:10). Then the salvation will be revealed, it will become visible. After the millennial kingdom there will be no period of time anymore, but eternity will start.

Now read 1 Peter 1:3-5 again.

Reflection: To what degree is ‘the living hope’ that you have received, alive?

The Proof of Faith

1Pet 1:6. The time of blessing and rest that will come with the coming of the millennial kingdom rejoices the heart of the pilgrim and encourages him to move on in faith. It will not last much longer, it will take only “a little while” before you reach the goal. It is a short time in comparison to eternity and also in comparison to the time of the kingdom of peace that will last a thousand years (cf. 2Cor 4:17).

In that short time you will be distressed by “various trials”. Peter says additionally “if necessary”. When you in your life of faith are distressed by trials, it is because God thinks it to be necessary, in order to test your faith. Only when we face difficulties, it will appear what faith means to us, whether we really trust in God. When everything is going smoothly it is not difficult to have faith.

Trials or tests do not make things pleasant, they are no source of joy, but of sorrow. Nevertheless, there can be joy when you are tempted. After all, it can be a cause of joy when you consider that the trial or temptation is a proof that God is engaged with you. A trial that you have to face shows that He has an interest in you. This is how James is presenting it (Jam 1:3). So on the one hand there is sorrow, on the other hand there is joy (cf. 2Cor 6:10).

1Pet 1:7. There are “various” or different kinds of trials that God sends or allows to happen in the life of the believer to test his faith. As it is said, He does that only when He thinks it to be necessary. For the important thing that He has in mind is that the faith will be expressed. Trials are therefore tests, for the goal of the test is not only to make the faith express itself, but also to make it more pure. To God the faith of His own is “more precious than gold”. Gold is the most precious metal in creation, but it is perishable. Faith on the contrary is not perishable.

To make gold as pure as possible it is freed from everything that diminishes its value. To achieve that, a process is needed whereby it is kept in the fire and is smelted. In that way everything that is not gold will float to the surface and will be removed. It is the same with faith that is purified from all unnatural elements (Psa 66:10; Pro 17:3) in the fiery trial (1Pet 4:12). Tests make faith more and more pure (Job 23:10). Also the prophet Malachi speaks about the purifying process that the believers from Israel will have to endure in the great tribulation, which is with a view to the coming of the Messiah (Mal 3:1-3).

The purification process is done by the Divine Smelter. He determines the level of the temperature of the test with a view to the trueness of the faith. Thereby He will not surpass what faith can bear (1Cor 10:13).

The result of His perfect wisdom will become completely visible at the revelation of Jesus Christ, Who will then be glorified in His saints and be marveled at among all who have believed (2Thes 1:10). Then it will become visible before all eyes how precious that faith is, that enabled these believers on earth to endure everything. The invisible Christ Who was rejected by the world, but Who meant everything to those believers, will become visible as the true motive of their life. He will be given all praise and honor and glory for His love and grace that surpass everything. This love and grace have given strength to His own to keep trusting in Him in the most difficult circumstances.

1Pet 1:8. Still Peter has not finished yet with presenting the glories that are related to the Lord Jesus and the faith in Him. Your life in faith does not only consist of expecting and looking forward to, but also of something that you now already possess and that is He Himself. You do not see Him, you even have not ever seen Him, but you still love Him. That is because of your new nature that loves the Beloved. By this you have eyes of the heart and see in faith (Eph 1:18; Heb 11:10; 27; Jn 8:56).

To love Him and to rejoice in Him have a decisive and educational influence on your heart. It makes the heart firm and fills it with joy, whatever the circumstances. You have never ever seen the Lord Jesus, nor have you seen His blood, neither His work on the cross. But you surely know that it is all true. You believe that. It gives you a joy that you cannot possibly put into words. Your whole heart and life are full of it. It is a joy that is “full of glory”, which means that this joy is not from the earth and also doesn’t fit here, but it comes from heaven. ‘Full of glory’ means full of praise. It is a joy that is full of the praise due to the Lord Jesus.

1Pet 1:9. The pleasure of that joy also gives the consciousness of the “salvation of your soul”. The salvation of the soul is “the outcome of your faith”, meaning the goal of faith, that what is established by faith. You have accepted the Lord Jesus as the One Who was willing to die for your sins on the cross. That immediately gave you the salvation of your soul. That your soul has been saved implies that you inwardly have been perfectly delivered from the consequences of sin and that you are also free from the fruits of the misery of sin.

Your body, however, has not been saved yet (Rom 8:23). You still can get sick for instance. Also creation has not been saved yet, but still groans under the consequences of sin (Rom 8:22). The full salvation is still to come, that is what you are hoping for and that is where you with perseverance are looking forward to (Rom 8:24-25).

1Pet 1:10. The prophets of the Old Testament have prophesied about this salvation. They spoke of a time of peace and righteousness on earth under the blessed reign of the Lord Jesus. They understood that they were talking about things that they themselves did not possess, but that it means “grace” to those who were going to partake of that. That grace was possessed by the readers of this letter. Isn’t it a great grace to be able to believe in Him through Whom the salvation has been fully realized in your soul and through Whom the salvation will be fully realized in creation?

1Pet 1:11. The prophets have shown the greatest interest in the things about which the “Spirit of Christ” inspired them to write. They made efforts to understand the things they wrote about. That a glorious time was going to come with the revelation of the Messiah was not a mystery to them. But what they could not understand, is that the Messiah first had to suffer and only thereafter the time of all kind of glories will come. Isn’t it indeed a great grace for you to know that the Messiah Jesus Who had suffered on earth, has now already been crowned in heaven with honor and glory (Heb 2:9) and that He will soon fill the world with His glory?

1Pet 1:12. God’s Spirit revealed to the prophets that the things they were reporting were not for themselves, but for the Jewish readers of this letter and also for us. Your eyes have been opened by those who have preached the gospel to you. They are the New Testament evangelists, for, according to Peter, they had spoken “by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”. After all, the Holy Spirit could only come after the Lord Jesus was glorified by God in heaven (Jn 7:39; Acts 2:33). What the Holy Spirit has revealed now in the gospel, relates to a glorified Christ and the relation of the believers with Him.

Then you read about a second group of those who are interested: the angels. So there are two groups of interested in these things: the prophets and the angels. But the angels themselves do not partake of the things in which they are interested. The angels long to gain insight in the mystery of how God turned murderers of His Son into worshipers of His Son. They remember the rebellion among the angels, when Satan and his followers rebelled against God. They know how these apostate angels have caused that also man became rebellious against God. And now God grants salvation to fallen, rebellious people. That’s what extremely amazes the angels and that is something of which they would love to understand more.

In that view angels are an example to many Christians who, while they indeed partake of these things don’t show any interest in them at all. I assume that this does not apply to you, for then you would not read this explanation.

Now read 1 Peter 1:6-12 again.

Reflection: How can you purify your faith and how do you experience your joy in the Lord?

Be Sober and Holy

1Pet 1:13. After the explanation about what has to do with Christ and His suffering and His glory, Peter speaks about the practical consequences that go together with these facts. You may know what your blessings are, but according to God’s thoughts you only have a right understanding of them if they also have an effect in your life. To work that out, Peter exhorts to take certain actions. He does so in forceful, imperative language.

First he says that you must “prepare your minds for actions” or “having girded up the loins of your mind” (Darby Translation). To ‘gird up’ has to do with making yourself ready to set out, prepare yourself to leave. You see that when the people of Israel had to make themselves ready to leave Egypt (Exo 12:11). This is how you should be ready for the call of the Lord to leave the world and enter into the kingdom. This is the proper attitude of the pilgrim and that prevents you from settling yourself here on earth as if your future is here below. Other aspects that are related to girding up, are service and struggle (Lk 12:35; 37; Jn 13:4-5; Eph 6:14).

What we must gird up, is ‘the loins’. The loins indicate the strength to walk (Deu 33:11; Job 40:16; Pro 31:17). If you have an ailment in your loins you can forget about a brisk walk. Here the loins are connected to your mind. The exhortation to gird up the loins of your mind means that you are exhorted to let yourself to be guided in your thinking by Christ from Whom you have received your mind, to be strengthened with power and spiritually be enlightened (1Jn 5:20). You have a mind, which means insight by God’s Spirit and God’s Word, of the things that will happen. Remain focused on those things and don’t let yourself be distracted by all kinds of matters that may seem interesting, but which are only ideas of people.

To that the next exhortation, “keep sober”, is connected. You are sober if you see reality as it really is. That reality is the coming revelation of Jesus Christ Who will come to judge the world and to establish His kingdom.

Your soberness will disappear if you do not focus your mind on the future, but on the here and now. I have heard about a quite serious story that illustrates this biblical soberness well. It is about the proclamation of the gospel to cannibals. Some evangelists went to cannibals to preach the gospel to them. Two of them were killed and eaten by them. Another one had the chance to escape. Still, a certain John persisted to go there to bring the gospel to those people. When he talked about this with an old theologian, the latter tried to persuade him with apparently sober argument to stop him from going.

The answer of John was: ‘You will soon be buried and be eaten by worms. It is not a big difference whether I will be buried here and be eaten by worms or go there and be eaten by cannibals.’ That is ‘soberly thinking’ in the biblical sense of the word. The result is that the gospel reached that place and people came to faith there.

This soberness focuses the thoughts on the future that is totally controlled by the Lord Jesus. If you belong to Him, you will also share in His future, in His revelation or appearance. Then, after the exhortations to gird up your mind, you are exhorted to fully hope “on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. You must “fully” hope on that. Therefore you should not allow anything to diminish that hope. No worry or illness should cause you hope less on that grace.

It goes without saying that you are not to allow a certain sin to be the cause of that. When there is sin in your life you will not even hope on that grace. Then you will keep the thought of the revelation of the Lord Jesus at a distance. To look forward again to His coming with desire it is necessary for you to confess your sin. If there is sin in your life, you must make haste to remove that hindrance.

1Pet 1:14. Maybe there is no concrete sin in your life, but there is the inclination to give in to sin. You feel that you are drawn to commit a certain sin. That may be caused by your desires of the past. Considering that, the next exhortation comes to you: ‘Be as a child of obedience not conformed to the former lusts.’ Do you remember what 1Pet 1:2 says? You have been called to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

Literally it is not ‘obedient children’, but “children of obedience”, children who live according to the principle of obedience. That you are able to live as a child of obedience is the result of the fact that you are a child of God. You are born of God and due to that you have received God’s nature (2Pet 1:4).

It seems strange that Peter speaks to them about “former … in your ignorance”, while in their past they were so familiar with God. The Jews were treating the ignorant Gentiles with contempt and thought that only they had the knowledge regarding the true God (Rom 2:17-20). It is true that God revealed Himself to them in a special way. However, that’s what made them arrogant. Their whole history has shown that they only boasted in their outward position and at the same time they were following their fleshly lusts.

Before the time that the Jews, to whom this letter is addressed, had come to faith in the Lord Jesus as the Messiah, they were also living like that. They abandoned that when they converted, but the danger to fall back is always there. For that reason they need to be warned not to live like that again.

1Pet 1:15. After this warning not to do something an exhortation follows to do something. The Scripture is always balanced. Scripture speaks about putting aside something and putting on something (Col 3:8; 12). The point here is about not being conformed to something of the past and instead becoming holy in all your behavior. In this respect, you can compare your life to a garden. A garden is more than the absence of weed. It is necessary to weed, but it is not an occupation in itself. The important thing is that the garden exposes a sea of flowers or that it bears fruits.

This is how your life as a Christian is like. That life is not characterized by things that are not there, but by things that are there or things that are still to come. Here the point is that everything in your life, “all [your] walk”, thus your whole appearance, is holy, meaning completely consecrated to God. The essential thing is that Christ, the Man Who is completely consecrated to God, becomes visible in your life.

To be holy seems negative. That is true if you only see it as being set apart from the wrong. But to be holy is positive. The main idea is in fact: to be set apart for (something). You derive that from the first time the word ‘sanctify’ in the Bible is used. That is at the creation when God sanctifies the seventh day (Gen 2:3). At that time there was nothing wrong yet in the creation. Everything that God had made was very good. Still God sanctified the seventh day. He set that day apart from all the other days as a day for Himself.

1Pet 1:16. To underline the importance of holiness Peter quotes a verse from the Old Testament. There God appeals to His people to be holy, because He is holy (Lev 11:44; Lev 19:2; Lev 20:26-27). But would His holiness only apply to the Old Testament and not to the New Testament? If you give this some thought, it will be clear to you that the holy God of the Old Testament is the same holy God of the New Testament. Nowhere has that become more evident than when He did not spare His own Son on the cross.

In the Old Testament He could not have anything to do with sin and in the New Testament He cannot either. The appeal to be holy is obvious because God is holy. He can apply no lower standard than Himself to a people associated with Him, regardless of whether they are an Old Testament or a New Testament people. The message concerning God’s holiness that resounds in the Old Testament resonates just as clearly here through Peter here in the New Testament. That call should lead you to consecrate yourself completely to Him.

Now read 1 Peter 1:13-16 again.

Reflection: Why is it important to be ‘sober’ and ‘holy’?

Redeemed With Precious Blood

1Pet 1:17. Peter adds another argument to the appeal to be holy. That argument comes from the great privilege that you now have, that you may call God your Father. That privilege is indeed great. By the Spirit Who dwells in you, you cry out “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). You may call on Him, honor Him, glorify and worship Him.

However, to that privilege is also attached a responsibility. God is a Father Who loves you and Who, because of His love for you, also disciplines you if He sees that you are in danger to drift away. God is not an earthly father, who often does not discipline or sometimes even practices discipline out of a wrong motive (Heb 12:9-10). He is a Father Who only disciplines when it is necessary.

He perfectly judges each one’s work without giving preference to or being detrimental to anyone. He doesn’t only discipline to test your faith, but He also disciplines when your holiness is in lack of something (see Heb 12:10b).

The judgment of the Father that Peter talks about here, does not refer to the judgment after this earthly life. That judgment has been given to the Lord Jesus by Him (Jn 5:27). The judgment of the Father relates to your life as a pilgrim. If your life honors Him, it has His approval. If your life dishonors Him He will come your way to clarify to you that something has to be changed.

Therefore, you must go your way on earth “in fear”. Fear does not imply to be afraid of God or of still going to perish. Fear here means to fear for yourself because you know what is still within yourself that may cause you to do something that will grieve God your Father. Consider that you are His child and that you have become that by the redemption that the Lord Jesus has accomplished for you. What a huge price did He pay for that! How could you still walk in the desires of the past, while you have been redeemed in such a way?

The fear to do something that is not to the honor of God ought to characterize you “during the time of your stay [on earth]”. The expression ‘stay’ or ‘sojourning’ indicates that you have no permanent residence on earth. As you have seen earlier you are addressed in this letter as a pilgrim. You are a stranger on earth, on the way to your inheritance. That is something you should continually be aware of, for otherwise you will be distracted from the goal by various attractive things around you.

The path of a sojourner is the path of the Lord Jesus. He has been the true Stranger and Sojourner on earth. He had no home, even no place where He could lay His head (Mt 8:20). If you stay focused on Him you will walk throughout the time of your stay here in a way that is pleasing to God.

1Pet 1:18. From this verse can be derived that it is not about a fear to still be able to perish or a fear because of the uncertainty whether you are or are not a child of God. Peter says clearly “knowing”. That rules out every possible doubt. And what do they know precisely? That they have been redeemed. They know what had certainly not and what certainly had redeemed them. They also know what they have been redeemed from: from all their rituals and traditions, from the walk of their ancestors.

By doing whatever you did before, you could not be redeemed. A walk after tradition, after copied and transmitted rituals, doesn’t bring a man any closer to redemption. On the contrary. To one who in his heart rely on an outward walk, true redemption will disappear more and more out of sight. Such a person will get stuck more and more in outer appearances. Such a walk bears no fruit at all; it makes a person ‘unfruitful’ in the sense of meaningless.

To partake of the blessings of God, it is essential to get redeemed from such a walk. Such a walk is like a prison. Those to whom Peter is writing could not be redeemed from that prison by perishable things like silver and gold. They know about a redemption by silver and gold (Exo 30:12), but that was an outward redemption and not deliverance from a system that kept them imprisoned. It is the same as the blood of bulls and goats that cannot take away sins (Heb 10:4).

1Pet 1:19. In contrast to that completely inadequate blood is the “precious blood … of Christ”. That blood has certainly been sufficient to work the true and definite redemption. The blood of Christ was shed for the forgiveness of all your sins and for the redemption from all powers that were keeping you in bondage. It is the blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless.

The lamb was the basis of the redemption of God’s earthly people from Egypt, whom by the blood were protected against the judgment of God (Exo 12:1-13). The Lamb, Christ, is the basis of Christendom. Through the surrender of Christ in death and the shedding of His blood God’s judgment passes over each one who hides behind it. This applies to all who believe that Christ also shed His blood for their sins. Everyone who believes that partakes of the eternal redemption (Heb 9:12).

1Pet 1:20. God had the Lamb in mind already “before the foundation of the world”. Our redemption did not arise in God when He saw that sin entered the world and how miserable our condition was. God was not surprised by the fall of man. He knew what man would do. Before man had sinned, indeed before the world was created, His mind was already focused on His Son, of Whom He knew that He was going to be the Lamb.

This is what makes our position as Christians much more wonderful than that of Israel. Israel is a people that is chosen by God from the foundation of the world and that is destined for the earth (Mt 25:34; Rev 13:8). The New Testament believers are chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) and are destined for heaven.

What God already knew before the foundation of the world He did not keep to Himself alone. Christ has been revealed as the Lamb. He revealed Himself to His people and to the world. That’s why John could point to Him and say: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29). The last times began when the Lord Jesus came into the world as the Lamb. In all previous times God tried to move the most privileged people on earth, His people, to obedience to Him. Again and again man made clear that he was not willing to.

Then, as the final test, His Son came on earth. But instead of listening to Him the sin of man is exposed in the most horrible way. Men rejected and murdered the Son. In this way the obduracy of man was definitely determined. In a striking way this is all illustrated in the parable of the wicked vine-growers that is told by the Lord Jesus (Mt 21:33-46).

What means man ends, has given God the opportunity to make a new beginning. On the one hand the Lord Jesus has been revealed as the Lamb to determine the sin of man in the most obvious way. When man rejects God, Who has revealed Himself in goodness, his condition is hopeless. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus has revealed Himself as the Lamb for the sake of each who believes, thus also for your sake. Through Him you believe in God. In Him you see that God is not an angry and vindictive God. On the basis of what the Lord Jesus has done for you, you know that God is not against you anymore, but He is for you (Rom 8:31-32). After all He gave His Son as the Lamb.

1Pet 1:21. Therefore you not only believe in the Lord Jesus as the One Who protects you against the wrath of God, but you also believe in God as the One Who made everything well. By raising Christ from the dead God has given the convincing evidence that He has considered and accepted the work of His Son as perfect. God gave Him the glory due to Him.

Your faith and hope are focused on God. All originated in Him. By the faith in what God has done with His Christ He will lead you to the goal. With this is connected the hope that the same Lord Who is with God now will one day return to reign and you will be with Him then.

Now read 1 Peter 1:17-21 again.

Reflection: What do you learn in this section about the work of God, about the work of Christ and about yourself?

Brotherly Love and Born Again

1Pet 1:22. After the impressive words in the previous verses about the work of Christ and the wonderful results it has for those who partake of it, it is not a surprise that an appeal follows for “a sincere love of the brethren”. You have not reached your destination yet, you are still on the way to the inheritance. In the world you are a pilgrim, but you have a company in the world where you are at home. On the way to the goal you see brothers and sisters around you, people who have the same goal in mind. They are the objects of the same love of God and redeemed by the same Lamb. In their company you feel the warmth of brotherly love. Your presence contributes to the temperature of the brotherly love, for brotherly love is mutual. It receives and radiates warmth.

The call comes to you as a person whose soul has been purified “in obedience to the truth”. You have recognized yourself as a sinner in the light of God’s truth and in obedience you have confessed your sins to God and have been converted. That has done a purifying work on you (Jn 15:3). You have become pure, you have received a pure heart. In practice it becomes visible in sincerely loving your brother and sister. The brotherly love is a proof of the new nature. You love your brothers because they are born of God (1Jn 5:1).

The fact that Peter speaks about ‘sincere’ love of the brethren, makes clear that it is a true love, love without hypocrisy and without pretense. Hypocrisy, pretending to be someone you’re not, belongs to your former life. Therefore, in the company of brothers and sisters it is not about a little, dull love, but about ‘fervent love’ to one another. It is a command to love one another intensely. That excludes that we love each other dutifully. Neither should insincere motives or impure intentions play a role in this regard. It should be love that comes from a pure heart.

1Pet 1:23. In a pure heart there is no room for sin; it is a heart that lives in fellowship with God. That fellowship started with having been born again. This new birth is a birth that has been worked by God’s Word and God’s Spirit (Jn 3:5). The Word is the seed that was sown in your heart and out of which the new life has been developed. The Word of God has life in itself. That life is not “perishable”, transient, but “imperishable”, everlasting, as God Himself is the imperishable, everlasting God (Rom 1:23; 1Tim 1:17). When He gives life, it is the life from Himself that of course also has His features.

1Pet 1:24. That life is in huge contrast to the life of the man who is not born of God. This contrast you also see in the quotation from the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa 40:6-8). From the quotation it becomes clear what natural man is like as originated from perishable seed. The life of a natural man is like grass and like the flower of grass. It is a metaphorical illustration of a life in which everything looks prosperous and wonderful, but if you look at it closely it is momentary and its loveliness quickly fades away.

1Pet 1:25. In contrast to that life Isaiah does not present the life from God, but the Word of God. The life from God is inseparably related to the Word of God. We have received the new life of the new birth only because God has revealed His Word to us by preaching. That Word has worked the new life in us and therefore that life endures forever. It cannot perish, just as nothing of God’s words can perish. The new nature endures forever, for that is as imperishable as the Word of God.

Now read 1 Peter 1:22-25 again.

Reflection: How do you express your love to your brothers and sisters?

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

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