1 Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
Blessed be the God and Father, etc. So the writer passes from himself and from his readers up to God; and with this elevation of theme there is an outburst of praise. Meditating on this outburst of praise, we note it is -
I. PRAISE TO GOD. He traces the great joy he is describing up to its Fountain - God; he sees the gift of which he almost seems to be singing, in the open hand of the Giver - God. "Blessed be," etc.
1. Here is reverent praise. "Blessed." The word is consecrated to God alone, and is completely different to the word in the Beatitudes. The Hebrew meaning is "speaking him well."
2. Here is loving praise. It is not alone to God as God, the infinitely Good One of transcendent perfection, but the insertion of this conception of Father, and Father of Jesus, makes him nearer and dearer to the heart than the old description," God of Israel."
3. Here is intelligent praise. "Father of our Lord Jesus." How vividly Peter could recall the form and voice and countenance of Jesus! It was his Father he would have men praise. No vague, dim, unrelated, infinite essence and origin of all things do we worship, but the Father of Jesus, revealed to us in the face of Jesus Christ.
4. Here is grateful praise. It is praise for great mercy. Pity is love to the weak; mercy is love to the undeserving - is therefore the climax and crown of love. This is God's love to man. St. Bernard had a familiar saying to the effect that "great sins and great miseries need great mercy, and many sins and many miseries need many mercies." Hence we have revelations of God's mercy, as great mercy, abundant mercy, plenteous mercy, tender mercies, multitude of mercies, mercy that "endureth for ever." The heart of man may well glow with gratitude as he vows, "I will sing of mercy," etc.
II. PRAISE TO GOD FOR A BRIGHT HOPE OF A GLORIOUS FUTURE.
1. Here is praise to God for a hope. This is, indeed, part of the praise of every heart which thanks God for Christianity. For Christianity does not profess to satisfy all the aspirations of the heart here. Much yearning for knowledge, for pardon, for grace, is met now, but much remains as unfulfilled hope, and for that hope we praise God. What hope?
(1) Hope is expectant desire. What we wish for and what we count on having are the two ingredients of hope.
(2) Living hope.
(a) This, in contrast to the dead-alive surmises, vague guesses at the future, the pagans had, and above which Jews scarcely rose.
(b) This in contrast, as Leighton says, to lying hopes and dying hopes about things in the world - hopes that die before us or die when we die.
(c) This is a hope that makes life a life of hope, an anchored life that does not drift, a brightened life that does not darken into despair; eager, expectant vision; who, though "sojourners of the Dispersion," with a vast sense of weariness enfolding all things, were truly pilgrims whose faces and whose feet were set towards the land of sunrise, not of sunset.
2. Here is praise to God for a future. What future? St. Peter describes to them a plan that is
(1) a contrast to their present lot as "sojourners of the Dispersion," who had lost inheritance in Palestine; and
(2) a completion of what inheritance Palestine might have been and what their Christian character already was. "Inheritance." It can only be known negatively, and there is no actual description of what is beyond apprehension and understanding. But we can know what it has not - that which 'mars and spoils best things here. A possession secured, surely awaiting them. A state and a condition of the soul and its surroundings.
(a) "Incorruptible." No tendency in it to decay and to destruction. Substance imperishable. The tenure not to expire as in Palestine.
(b) "Undefiled." Not to be spoiled by defilement or pollution, as their old inheritance in Palestine, by idolatries and tyrannies.
(c) "Fadeth not away." Its beauty immortal. No winter to wither it.
III. PRAISE TO GOD FOR HIS WONDERFUL METHODS OF INSPIRING THE HOPE AND ENSURING THE FUTURE. The future. Peter is here praising God both as Trustee of such a future, and Guardian of those who inherit it by hope.
1. God has that future reserved. "In heaven" - in safe keeping.
2. God will in due time let it be revealed. "Salvation."
3. God has that future for his bestowal as an inheritance. He gives heaven to man as a gift of love - free love. Righteously, and according to their fitness for it; but graciously, and not as measured by their merits. A heaven we merited would be a poor, meager heaven in contrast with what is here described; and so might it not be a hell? The heir does not buy, does not win, does not by battle secure inheritance; he simply grows up to the age that claims it. So with heaven. When John at Runnymede asked the barons assembled about him there, by what right they held their lands, hundreds of swords flashed like lightning from their sheaths, and defiant tones pealed like a thunder-clap on the king's ears, "By these we won them, and by these we hold them." But let any inquiring lips ask multitudes above, in blessed possession of the inheritance of heaven, by what right they hold those high and priceless possessions; and, taking crowns of dignity and glory from their brows, and casting them before the Lamb that was slain, their adoring exclamation, is, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood," etc. Nay, not only when the redeemed are in heaven do they realize that it is an unbought, unmerited inheritance, but even when good men tread the frontier of that kingdom, and step on the threshold of that home, they feel the same. When Bossuet, perhaps the most illustrious of French preachers and prelates, lay dying in great suffering and prostration, one who was present thanked him for all his kindness, and, using the court language of the day, begged him when in another world to think of the friends that were so devoted to his person and reputation. At this last word ("reputation"), Bossuet, who had almost lost the power of speech, raised himself from the bed, and gathered strength to say, not without indignation, "Don't talk like that! Ask God to forgive a sinner his sins." Yes; that is the Christian's attitude, that the Christian's spirit, even entering heaven. "When I draw this fleeting breath, When my eyelids close in death... Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee."
IV. HOW DOES GOD INSPIRE AND PRESERVE THE HOPE?
1. It is a hope that is born with man's new birth. A man is an heir, by birth, of his father's patrimony; a Christian is an heir, by regeneration, of heaven.
(1) The godly man is born again.
(2) The godly man is born again by the power of God. "He begat us again."
(3) The godly man is born again by the power of God through the resurrection of Christ. Christ's resurrection is not only a parable of the higher life you live, but it is the power of it.
2. It is a hope that is continued by God in connection with a man's character. God, as we saw, is Trustee of the future; so is he Guardian of the heirs. They are:
(1) Guarded by the power of God. Kept as with a garrison.
(2) Guarded by the power of God through faith - fidelity on man's part. Peter had at length learned implicitly to trust Jesus Christ, and to be brave infidelity to him. This is the twofold thought of the word "faith" here, namely, trust and fidelity. God, who is reserving heaven for the redeemed, is by their faith training them for heaven. So that the old saying is wise and good, "Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people." "It a good land: let us go up and possess it." - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,