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.
5. kept—Greek, "who are being guarded." He answers the objection, Of what use is it that salvation is "reserved" for us in heaven, as in a calm secure haven, when we are tossed in the world as on a troubled sea in the midst of a thousand wrecks? [Calvin]. As the inheritance is "kept" (1Pe 1:4) safely for the far distant "heirs," so must they be "guarded" in their persons so as to be sure of reaching it. Neither shall it be wanting to them, nor they to it. "We are guarded in the world as our inheritance is kept in heaven." This defines the "you" of 1Pe 1:4. The inheritance, remember, belongs only to those who "endure unto the end," being "guarded" by, or IN "the power of God, through faith." Contrast Lu 8:13. God Himself is our sole guarding power. "It is His power which saves us from our enemies. It is His long-suffering which saves us from ourselves" [Bengel]. Jude 1, "preserved in Christ Jesus"; Php 1:6; 4:7, "keep"; Greek, "guard," as here. This guarding is effected, on the part of God, by His "power," the efficient cause; on the part of man, "through faith," the effective means.
by—Greek, "in." The believer lives spiritually in God, and in virtue of His power, and God lives in him. "In" marks that the cause is inherent in the means, working organically through them with living influence, so that the means, in so far as the cause works organically through them, exist also in the cause. The power of God which guards the believer is no external force working upon him from without with mechanical necessity, but the spiritual power of God in which he lives, and with whose Spirit he is clothed. It comes down on, and then dwells in him, even as he is in it [Steiger]. Let none flatter himself he is being guarded by the power of God unto salvation, if he be not walking by faith. Neither speculative knowledge and reason, nor works of seeming charity, will avail, severed from faith. It is through faith that salvation is both received and kept.
unto salvation—the final end of the new birth. "Salvation," not merely accomplished for us in title by Christ, and made over to us on our believing, but actually manifested, and finally completed.
ready to be revealed—When Christ shall be revealed, it shall be revealed. The preparations for it are being made now, and began when Christ came: "All things are now ready"; the salvation is already accomplished, and only waits the Lord's time to be manifested: He "is ready to judge."
last time—the last day, closing the day of grace; the day of judgment, of redemption, of the restitution of all things, and of perdition of the ungodly.