1 Peter 1:10-12
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you:…
The tone of the whole letter shows that its readers were entering on a season of severe trial (vers. 6, 7; 1 Peter 2:19-23 3:13-18; 4:12-14; 5:10), and one object of the writer was to sustain and encourage them. Now, what is his method? what is the Divine way of consolation? How well should we be able to minister to the tried if we knew how God would minister to them! His method is to bring before them the wonderful blessings of that salvation of which, in Christ, they partake. That is what we have here. As we read from the third verse, we seem to hear the apostle saying the blessings of salvation are the true solace for the distressed believer. He begins with an outburst of praise for their great hope; but he goes on to say their joy is not in the future only; then comes this paragraph on the substance of their salvation in Christ.
I. SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST THE SUBJECT OF OLD TESTAMENT PREPARATION. The work of the prophets was not so much for their own day and dispensation as for this; they knew there was a deeper meaning in what they were impelled to say than they were conscious of intending; it was clear to them that they, centuries beforehand, were really working for New Testament times. That is, Christianity is no modern invention; it is not a step in the upward movement of the race dating back to Jesus of Nazareth, and now to he left behind as the race advances beyond it; to say nothing of appearances being against such a theory, for there are no traces that Christianity is not still infinitely above what any of the race has reached, its fundamental idea is false; Christianity dates from the beginning, its basis is a Divine work of preparation carried on through all the ages that were before it, and "when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son." Our text, however, does not take us further than this - that salvation was the subject of Old Testament preparation. It is no heresy of the modern Church; it did not originate with Paul; it is not an idea of Jesus; it dates back through all the Old Testament that the world's redemption should spring from a Savior suffering and then glorified.
1. Old Testament events were but steps leading up to it. Promised in Eden, again to Noah, again with additions to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob, etc. Prepared for in the work of Moses, in the calling out and training of Israel, to the choice of their land, in their being made the depositary of Divine truth, in the lives of David, Solomon, and the prophets, in the scattering of the Jews, in their connection with Roman power and Greek literature; all these were but, like the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord.
2. Old Testament prophecies were but the heralds of salvation through Christ. Whatever the origin of sacrifice by blood, it goes back to the first family; and since they were accepted by God - and it would be strange indeed for man to anticipate this great method of salvation - we regard them as prefigurings of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Later on they were developed in the elaborate Jewish ritual - atonement, high priest; mediation, entrance into the holiest, sprinkling of blood, etc. In the psalmists and prophets there is a yet further development of this - the nature, the date, the birthplace, the character, the work, the death, the resurrection, the universal reign of the Messiah, are drawn in outline, so that "beginning at Moses and all the prophets," etc. Salvation in Christ, therefore, is the termination of a wondrous system promoted from the beginning, and was, after being worked out, "the mystery which from the beginning hath been hid in God according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
II. SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST THE SUBJECT OF DIVINE REVELATION, The prophets taught through "the Spirit of Christ which was in them." So much for the Old Testament. The apostles - "them that have preached the gospel unto you" - have done this "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." So much for the New Testament.
1. The Spirit of Christ, therefore, is the author of Sacred Writ. Inspiration was the operation of the Divine Spirit on the minds of men so that they were led to utter infallible truth. It sometimes consisted simply in power to narrate facts and discourses accurately; but sometimes it included the suggestion of the very thoughts they should express, and of the very words they should use. So in listening to prophets and apostles we listen to God himself.
2. Consider the evidence of the Divine inspiration of Scripture. The great central witness to this is Christ. The Old Testament of his time and ours is identical; he always regarded it as the authoritative voice of God; we accept its Divine inspiration because we accept him. As to the New Testament, the apostles claim an inspiration equal to that of the Old, e.g. 1 Corinthians 2:12, 13. And unless that claim be true, how can Christ's words be fulfilled? as e.g. to Peter as the representative of the twelve, "I will give unto thee the keys," etc., or after his resurrection, "As the Father hath sent me, so send I you;... receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit," etc. Thus "the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ," etc.
3. Then in Scripture we have the infallible declaration of the most high God. In all Scripture. We must take the whole, or we have no Divine warrant for any part. There is no power which can be trusted to discriminate between what therein is Divine and what not; those who affirm such discrimination to be needful differ among themselves as to the test. Here God has deigned to speak; what is here is certain truth; here God has declared salvation; then that salvation is real.
III. SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST THE SUBJECT OF ANGELIC RESEARCH. "Which things the angels," etc. Another evidence of the sublimity of the salvation offered in this book. The word is a graphic one, descriptive of the idea of bending down and fixing an intense, searching gaze on something, as when John stooped down and looked into the sepulcher; Peter may have been thinking of that.
1. The angels have vast privileges, yet they seem to envy the knowledge granted to us. They have all the blessings of a sinless state in God's presence, but they look down on the mysteries of grace revealed to us, as though coveting the revelation.
2. The angels have great acquaintance with God, yet apparently they discern the greatest revelation of him here. They are familiar with nature and heaven, but
"God in the person of his Son
Hath all his mightiest works outdone." To the principalities and powers in heavenly places may be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.
3. The angels have wonderful faculties of insight, yet there is more here than they can fathom. Such is the fullness of the gospel that they are still far from comprehending it. - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: