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.
3. He begins, like Paul, in opening his Epistles with giving thanks to God for the greatness of the salvation; herein he looks forward (1) into the future (1Pe 1:3-9); (2) backward into the past (1Pe 1:10-12) [Alford].
Blessed—A distinct Greek word (eulogetos, "Blessed BE") is used of God, from that used of man (eulogemenos, "Blessed IS").
Father—This whole Epistle accords with the Lord's prayer; "Father," 1Pe 1:3, 14, 17, 23; 2:2; "Our," 1Pe 1:4, end; "In heaven," 1Pe 1:4; "Hallowed be Thy name," 1Pe 1:15, 16; 3:15; "Thy kingdom come," 1Pe 2:9; "Thy will be done," 1Pe 2:15; 3:17; 4:2, 19; "daily bread," 1Pe 5:7; "forgiveness of sins," 1Pe 4:8, 1; "temptation," 1Pe 4:12; "deliverance," 1Pe 4:18 [Bengel]; Compare 1Pe 3:7; 4:7, for allusions to prayer. "Barak," Hebrew "bless," is literally "kneel." God, as the original source of blessing, must be blessed through all His works.
abundant—Greek, "much," "full." That God's "mercy" should reach us, guilty and enemies, proves its fulness. "Mercy" met our misery; "grace," our guilt.
begotten us again—of the Spirit by the word (1Pe 1:23); whereas we were children of wrath naturally, and dead in sins.
unto—so that we have.
lively—Greek, "living." It has life in itself, gives life, and looks for life as its object [De Wette]. Living is a favorite expression of Peter (1Pe 1:23; 1Pe 2:4, 5). He delights in contemplating life overcoming death in the believer. Faith and love follow hope (1Pe 1:8, 21, 22). "(Unto) a lively hope" is further explained by "(To) an inheritance incorruptible … fadeth not away," and "(unto) salvation … ready to be revealed in the last time." I prefer with Bengel and Steiger to join as in Greek, "Unto a hope living (possessing life and vitality) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Faith, the subjective means of the spiritual resurrection of the soul, is wrought by the same power whereby Christ was raised from the dead. Baptism is an objective means (1Pe 3:21). Its moral fruit is a new life. The connection of our sonship with the resurrection appears also in Lu 20:36; Ac 13:33. Christ's resurrection is the cause of ours, (1) as an efficient cause (1Co 15:22); (2) as an exemplary cause, all the saints being about to rise after the similitude of His resurrection. Our "hope" is, Christ rising from the dead hath ordained the power, and is become the pattern of the believer's resurrection. The soul, born again from its natural state into the life of grace, is after that born again unto the life of glory. Mt 19:28, "regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory"; the resurrection of our bodies is a kind of coming out of the womb of the earth and entering upon immortality, a nativity into another life [Bishop Pearson]. The four causes of our salvation are; (1) the primary cause, God's mercy; (2) the proximate cause, Christ's death and resurrection; (3) the formal cause, our regeneration; (4) the final cause, our eternal bliss. As John is the disciple of love, so Paul of faith, and Peter of hope. Hence, Peter, most of all the apostles, urges the resurrection of Christ; an undesigned coincidence between the history and the Epistle, and so a proof of genuineness. Christ's resurrection was the occasion of his own restoration by Christ after his fall.