1 Peter 1:22-25
Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers…
Christian love is the subject of this paragraph. There are no words here to show why that is dealt with in this particular place, but as the preceding verses treat of fear lest we should fail of the fruits which prove the possession of redemption, we may assume that the apostle here gives them a test by which this fear may be removed or confirmed, and no better test could be suggested than that of love. For love is such a test (John 13:34; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 1 John 3:14). Peter might have chosen some other test. Possibly he had reason for anxiety on this particular ground, for the Epistle contains several hints on the proper mutual relation of these Christians; e.g. 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 3:8-10 4:8; 5:5.
I. SALVATION IS HERE SPOKEN OF AS THE PURIFICATION OF THE SOUL IN OBEYING THE TRUTH. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth;" only another way of saying, "Seeing you have received this salvation of which I speak, which issues in holiness." For:
1. This is a suitable and comprehensive expression of the fact of salvation. "Obeying the truth" is a synonym for" believing the gospel;" e.g. 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Romans 6:17; Hebrews 5:9; Romans 10:16, in all of which "obey" is evidently equivalent to "believe." The word is used by Peter in that sense in this Epistle (1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Peter 4:17). Link that with the other word, "purifying the soul;" and whether that refers to the cleansing by the atonement or by the work of the Spirit, we have the essential elements of redemption.
2. This expression with this meaning harmonizes well with what has gone before. The last two paragraphs from ver. 13 dealt largely with purification resulting from faith.
3. This particular way of speaking of salvation bears closely on the subject in hand. In each of the epistles to the seven Churches, our Lord gives himself a different title, according to the special condition of each Church. So here the apostle speaks of their redemption under this aspect of it, because this aspect of it bears on the duty of Christian love he is about to enforce.
III. SALVATION NATURALLY ISSUES IN CHRISTIAN LOVE. "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren."
1. Love a necessity where salvation is. That is shown as follows: "See that ye love one another,... being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God."
(1) Love a necessity because the Christian has a new nature. We are to love every man; but the love we are here called to is love of the brethren. But no power can make us love as a brother one who is not a brother; for that there must be a common fatherhood, and where that is it must be felt. Children of the same father, animated by the same principles, influenced by the same Divine Spirit, sharing the same hopes, joys, sorrows, conflicts, - these cannot help being drawn together.
(2) But this is also spoken of as a Divine nature. "Incorruptible." The relation between Christ's people is not a union after the flesh, such as connects Abraham's children. They are born, not of man, but of God; God's nature inspires them. Think of the love God has to his children! Then where God's nature is, love of the brethren must be.
(3) This is also an ever-living nature. The human nature fades, its strongest principles and closest bonds may last but a little while; even the mother may forget the child. But, said Isaiah, "the word of the Lord endureth for ever;" and Peter adds, "This is the word which has been preached to you." That is, this new life of ours does not die out; that which has produced it liveth and abideth for ever, and is a living, operative power in us. What God has thus implanted, he does not suffer to die. "He will perform it till the day of Jesus Christ;" he will develop its hidden possibilities. Then is it not certain that the redeemed man will love? God cannot impart and train a nature of love which does not love.
2. This love is of a very high order.
(1) "Unfeigned." Peter, Paul, and John all speak of this feature of Christian love. "Let love be without dissimulation;" "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth " - as though an assumed affection were common. But that is not Christian love.
(2) "Love out of a pure heart." That is holy. Christian love is holy love. Holiness is its basis. Contrary to loving all men, bad and good, as brethren. There must be charity to all, but true brotherly love towards those who turn from Christ there cannot be. Or does" pure" mean "unmixed"? - a love that rises from purely spiritual causes, and not because others are good to us, or give us pleasure, or belong to our Church. The publicans and sinners have that love. Christian love is due to love of God, and loves others because God does.
(3) "Fervent." The opposite of coldness. A love that lights up the features and makes the hand-grasp warm and kindles happiness. It consumes selfishness, and sets our thoughts to work for others' good. Fed from a heavenly source, "many waters cannot quench it" (waters of infirmity, neglect, jealousy, injury, yea, even wrong); that is Christian love - very different from bare courtesy. How can one feel coldly where the father loves divinely?
III. SALVATION IS THEREFORE TESTED BY THE POSSESSION OF THIS LOVE. Where the life is, the love is; where the life is low, so is the love.
1. Have we sympathy with the people of God - true fellow-feeling that helps? "Whoso hath this world's good," etc. We should if we loved.
2. Do we delight in fellowship with them? Love must be with its beloved. Is it so with us? do we love the house of God, the brotherhood, etc.? We should if we loved.
3. Are our judgments concerning them tender and charitable? "Love covers a multitude of sins;" "Love thinketh no evil," etc. Is it so with us? Do we find ourselves trying to put a favorable construction on evil reports, hushing them up, sorrowing over them, talking to God about them? We should if we loved.
4. Are we ashamed to call them brethren? - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: