Greetings, 1-2

1 Pet 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,

There are signs within this letter that Peter is addressing a mixed group of Jewish and Gentile believers. ‘We know from Acts 2:9 that there were Jewish visitors from Asia Minor in Jerusalem for Pentecost, and those among them who were converted at that time would have taken the gospel message back with them. Converts at Pisidian Antioch and Iconium came from the synagogue, (Ac 13:43; 14:1) and Luke specifically mentions in the latter case that the church was formed both of Jews and Gentiles. So Peter’s writing reflects such a mixed gathering of believers. He uses the OT to prove his points (1 Pet 1:24-25; 2:6,7-8,22-24; 3:10-12; 4:18 5:5) and makes other allusions that would be meaningful to Jewish readers (e.g. in 1 Pet 1:1 ‘scattered’ Gk. diaspora is the technical term for the Jewish community outside Israel; see also 1 Pet 2:4-10 and 3:20). Other comments he makes would be more relevant to Gentile readers (e.g. 1 Pet 1:18, ‘the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers’; 1 Pet 2:10, ‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God’; 1 Pet 4:3, ‘you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans Gentiles choose to do’).’ (NBC)

God’s elect – A leading thought here is the idea of the church as the new Israel (i.e. followers of the Messiah, both Jews and Gentiles), the new people of God. Cf. Rom 2:28-29; Gal 3:29; 6:16; Php 3:3; 1 Pet 2:9.

Strangers in the world – The word means sojourners, exiles, foreign residents. ‘The word is applied to those who settled in a town or region without making it their permanent place of residence. The readers, whose true citizenship was in heaven, are viewed as temporary residents of the provinces of Asia Minor named in this verse.’ (Ryrie) The lives of Abraham and Daniel exemplify this. However, like them, we can learn how to live lives that bring honour to God even though surrounded by unbelief. Cf. Ps 137:4; Jn 17:6; Php 3:20 a

Scattered – Gk. diaspora. The term is used to describe Jews scattered in non-Jewish lands, cf. Jn 7:35. However, the term is probably used both by Peter and James (1:1) to include Gentile as well as Jewish believers. The Christian church in its entirety, regardless of ethnic background, constitutes the new Israel and is described in terms borrowed from OT descriptions of the old Israel. Cf. 1 Pet 2:9. This inclusive view is very striking, particularly in view of Peter’s own pilgrimage, Acts 10:9ff; Acts 11:17; 15:7.

That was associated with Christians from various parts of northern Asia Minor (modern Turkey) is clear from the mention of the following regions:-

Pontus – A coastal strip of N Asia Minor, reaching from Bithynia in the W into the highlands of Armenia to the E. The origin of Christianity there is not known.

Galatia – Scholars are pretty certain that Peter is referring to the Roman province, which included not only the original territory of Galatia, but also parts of Pontus, Phrygia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, Paphlagonia and Isauria.

Cappadocia – A highland province of Rome, in the E of Asia Minor, bounded on the S by the chain of Mt Taurus, E by the Euphrates and N by Pontus. According to Acts 2:9. Jews from there were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

Asia – The region of Asia Minor which included the towns of Ephesus, Pergamum, Smyrna, Sardis, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Colossae and Hierapolis.

Bithynia – A territory on the Asiatic side of the Bosporus. It was administered with Pontus as a single province by the Romans.

The double description of Peter’s readers as ‘God’s elect’ and ‘strangers in the world’ already prepares them for what will follow. For the whole epistle will deal with the very practical tension between the dignity of being God’s chosen people and the struggle of living in an alien and often hostile world.

‘While we do not know just what “people-groups” or strata of society were included among the Christians of Asia Minor, we are struck by the unity that the gospel produces. Diverse as the backgrounds of these people were, they had become the new people of God, the brotherhood, the chosen people scattered in the world, 1 Pet 2:9-10,17; 5:9; 1:1.’ (Clowney)

1 Pet 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God – Some argue from this that election is based on foreknowledge; that God chooses for salvation those whom he knows in advance will believe. In other words, according to this view, God chooses us in eternity because he foresees that we will choose him in history. However, (a) the word prognosis (foreknowledge) means more than to know something in advance: it carries the meaning of fore-ordination; and (b) this view assumes that we choose God before he chooses us, whereas the Bible’s teaching on inability confirms that if left to our own devices we would never have chosen God. See Jn 6:65. Election is unconditional: it does not depend on anything that we might do.

‘These Christian Gentiles are God’s chosen people because he has known them from all eternity…The expression foreknowledge does not mean that God had information in advance about Christ, or about his elect. Rather it means that both Christ and his people were the objects of God’s loving concern from all eternity.’ (Clowney)

God the Father…the Spirit…Jesus – Here is an early formulation of the Holy Trinity.

The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit – This is not so much the Spirit’s ongoing work of making us holy, but rather his act of setting us apart as God’s chosen possession.

Obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood – Again, these probably refer to our initial obedience to the gospel and the cleansing that took place when our sins were forgiven.

On this verse, Calvin comments that ‘by these words he reminds us, that if the shedding of his sacred blood is not to be in vain, our souls must be washed in it by the secret cleansing of the Holy Spirit. For which reason, also, Paul, speaking of cleansing and purification, says, ‘but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,’.’ (1 Cor 6:11) (Institutes)

Praise to God for a Living Hope, 3-12

1 Pet 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Verses 3-12 are one long sentence in the Greek. ‘Such long sentences could be viewed as skillful in antiquity, when hearers of speeches were accustomed to following the train of thought for a longer time than North American and some other television-trained readers are today.’ (NT Background Commentary)

Praise – This hymn of praise is similar in many ways to that found in Eph 1:3-12, but whereas there Paul extols God grace in Christ, here Peter celebrates the hope that is ours through Christ’s resurrection. A closer Pauline parallel, therefore, would be 1 Cor 15:55.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – Here, as is so often the case, God is addressed in such a way as fits the nature of the case in hand. God cannot be known, loved or worshiped except as his Son Jesus Christ has revealed him to us.

‘The term “Father,” as applied to the first person of the Trinity, signifies not that the Father in any way created the Son or caused him to exist (for the Son has always existed and was never created, Jn 1:1-3; 8:58; 17:5,24; Rev 22:13), but that he relates to the Son as a father relates to a son normally: the Father plans and directs, the Son responds and obeys; the Father “sends,” the Son comes from the Father. (Gal 4:4; Jn 3:16,18 5:19,22,26-27,30) The Father creates “through” the Son; all things come “from” the Father “through” the Son. (Jn 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2) (Grudem)

Note the richness of the title given to Christ – our Lord Jesus Christ: the theme of resurrection is already anticipated in this title, for, according to Peter’s teaching on the day of Pentecost, it was through the resurrection that ‘God made this Jesus…both Lord and Christ’, Acts 2:36. In the possessive pronoun our is a reference to the fact that there is a bond not only between Peter, but also his readers, and the risen Lord. Christianity does not consist in doctrines only, but in a personal relationship between Christ and believers.

His great mercy – Peter, having once denied his Lord, would have been specially mindful of God’s mercy.

He has given us new birth – ‘He has caused us to be born again’: the language is rather similar to that of Jn 3:3,7.

He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ – Christ’s resurrection had featured strongly in Peter’s early preaching, Acts 2:24,31-32,36; 3:15,26; 4:2,10 etc.).

‘Hope’ is a leading theme in this letter.

This ‘living hope’ was certainly needed by those who were facing the possibility of violent and possibly deadly persecution. Although the situation facing Christians in Western civilisations is different (we face apathy rather that persecution) we still must face up to the reality of death, and to filled with a living hope.

‘Christ’s resurrection is the ground work of our hope. And the new birth is our title or evidence of our interest in it. So that until our souls are partakers of the spiritual resurrection from the death of sin, we can have no assurance our bodies shall be partakers of that blessed resurrection to life.’ (Flavel)

‘These sons are heirs, but all this life-time is their minority; yet even now, being partakers of this new birth and sonship, they have a right to it, and in the assurance of that hope, they have this “lively hope”.’ (Leighton)

‘It is said to be “lively,” not only objectively, but effectively; enlivening and comforting the children of God in all distresses, enabling them to encounter and surmount all difficulties in the way.’ (Leighton)

‘Worldy hopes often mock men, and so cause them to be ashamed; and men are most of all ashamed of those things that discover weakness of judgement in them. Now worldly hopes put the fool upon a man. When he hath judged himself sure, and laid so much weight and expectation on them, they break and foil him. They are not living, but lying hopes and dying hopes; they often die before us, and we live to bury them, and see our own folly and infelicity in trusting to them; but, at the utmost, they die with us when we die, and can accompany us no further. But this hope answers expectation to the full, and much beyond it, and deceives in no way but in that happy way of far exceeding it.’ (Leighton)

‘The world dares say no more for its device, than, “while I breathe I hope;” but the children of God can add, by virtue of this living hope – while I die I hope.’ (Leighton)

1 Pet 1:4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you,

An inheritance – which is kept for us, and we are kept for it, v5. This inheritance is our birthright – ours not because we attained it but because we were born into it by regeneration. Think of the largest inheritance of earthly treasures. Do you not value a heavenly inheritance vastly more? And it is yours, child of God. Peter had heard Jesus speak of this heavenly treasure, Mt 6:19 “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

This inheritance is like that of Israel, whose wanderings in the wilderness were given hope by God’s promise that they would inherit the land. Like them, the people of God today are strangers and pilgrims, making their way through a hostile world, strengthened by the promise of a better life to come.

This inheritance can never perish, spoil or fade – The land of Israel was ravaged by invading armies, defiled by lawlessness and idolatry, and drought-stricken through God’s judgement. But our inheritance, on the other hand, is sure. Peter has to describe this inheritance in terms of what it is not, because the reality is beyond our comprehension. It is not a city, or a land, it is ‘salvation’, v4: is is everything that God has for us.

This is an echo of God’s ancient covenant with Abraham. God had promised to Abraham and his descendents that they would receive as their inheritance the land of Canaan. The New Testament does not replace or annul this promise, but expands it immensely. Hebrews 11 tells us that Abraham himself looked forward to another country, a better country, a heavenly country. And we – Jewish believers and Gentile believers together – are inheritors of that same promise.

Kept in heaven for you – And so nothing on earth can threaten it.

‘Salvation is no precarious half-measure but a foundation laid in heaven.’ (E.K. Simpson)

1 Pet 1:5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Shielded – Gk. phroureo, ‘guarded, kept safe, carefully watched’. Grudem says that ‘shielded’ only gives half the meaning: ‘The word can mean both “kept from escaping” and “protected from attack,” and perhaps both kinds of guarding are intended here: God is preserving believers from escaping out of his kingdom, and he is protecting them from external attacks.’ The present participle gives the sense of, ‘you are continually being guarded’ (Grudem again).

Believers are not passive: they are guarded by God’s power through faith. We exercise trust in God, but his power enables us to do so.

The goal of this divine protection is not some flimsy, temporary prize but the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. Of course, ‘salvation’ in the NT can have a past, present, or future reference, and here it is the latter: Peter is referring to ‘the future full possession of all the blessings of our redemption’ (Grudem). These blessings are ‘ready to be revealed’ because they have already been prepared.

Although the divine guarding works in conjunction with human faith, Peter looks forward into the future without in doubt that God’s protection (and therefore the safety of the believer) will fail.

1 Pet 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

v6f Why we can rejoice in our Christian hope in the midst of trials:-

1. Our hope in Christ directs us beyond our trials: the trials are temporary; our hope is eternal. Cf. Heb 12:2.

2. Our hope is strengthened by the very trials we have to endure. Faith is exercised and purified by trials, as gold is refined in the furnace, v7. Trials burn away all that is base and unworthy, and drive us to our Saviour. Fire does not destroy gold; it removes the impurities. Yet even gold will pass away eventually; but faith is even more precious and enduring.

3. When Jesus comes, he will not only bring an end to our trials, but he will bring his blessed reward. The Lord records our trials, Ps 56:8; our trials are as nothing compared with the eternal weight of glory that they are achieving for us, 2 Cor 4:17; present suffering and future glory are not worth comparing, Rom 8:18.

4. When Jesus Christ is revealed, our suffering faith will be transformed into praise, glory and honour. Cf. 1 Pet 4:11.

‘He never brings them into so low a condition that he does not leave them more cause of joy than sorrow.’ (Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, 37.)

‘Why were Christians the target of persecution?

  1. They refused to worship the emperor as a god and thus were viewed as atheists and traitors.
  2. They refused to worship at pagan temples, so business for these money-making enterprises dropped wherever Christianity took hold.
  3. The didn’t support the Roman ideals of self, power, and conquest, and the Romans scorned the Christian ideal of self-sacrificing service.
  4. They exposed and rejected the horrible immorality of pagan culture.’

(Life Application Bible)

1 Pet 1:7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Praise, glory and honour – 1 Pet 5:4

‘Suffering is a tether; it ties us more closely to Christ. Suffering is a testimony; it affords us the opportunity to display God’s grace in time of trial. Suffering is a teacher; it instructs us in humility and righteousness…Suffering is a trainer; it prepares us for glory.’ (Philip Ryken)

1 Pet 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

Though you have not seen him – Peter, of course, had seen the Lord. He could picture Jesus in Capernaum, being served supper by Peter’s mother-in-law, cured of her fever. He could remember Jesus on the sea, lifting Peter from the water: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” He could recall Jesus in the hall of the high priest, and his look after he had denied him. He could see Jesus on the cross, and Jesus alive again, sitting by the fire on the shore of Galilee: “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

We have not been in Galilee with Jesus. But we may share Peter’s love for him, for through his witness, and that of others, we have learned about what Jesus said and did. And by the Holy Spirit we are brought to know and love the living Lord.

We did not see Jesus. We do not now see him. But we shall see him, v7. But already we live in the light of that hope, and ‘are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.’

You love him – we love for what he is, and for what he has done, for his character and his works.

A lover is miserable if the person whom he loves be so. They who have made an exchange of hearts by love get thereby an interest of one another’s happiness and misery, and this makes love a troublesome passion when placed on earth.… But if God were the object of our love, we should share in an infinite happiness without any mixture or possibility of diminution.

Andrew Gray

You believe in him – It is not a surprising thing to believe in something (or someone) we have not seen. Thousands make journeys to visit places or people they have never seen before, and we do not count them mad for doing so.

Inexpressible joy – The joy of the Holy Spirit: ‘This is when the Spirit breathes upon our rejoicing in God, which is a grace very little in exercise with many, and maketh it set out sensibly and vigorously; and when he excites and stirs the passion of joy and of delight in the soul, so that there is an unspeakable and glorious joy in the soul, in the apprehension of God’s friendship and nearness unto him-‘In whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ (1 Pet 1:8) This joy followeth upon peace, and peace followeth upon righteousness-‘The kingdom of God-is righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ (Rom 14:17) This joy will in general not fail to be according to the measure of the Assurance’, ‘of faith, as 1 Pet 1:8-‘In whom believing ye rejoice.” (Guthrie)

‘This joy is unspeakable, because, like bodily health, it is better felt than expressed.’ (John Cotton, on 1 Jn 1:4)

‘Silence is the perfectest herald of joy; I were but little happy if I could say how much.’ (William Shakespeare)

Notice that Peter does not say, ‘You…should be filled…with joy’, but ‘You…are filled..with joy.’ The experience of joy will vary from one Christian to another: some are by temperament disposed to gloominess, and others lack the assurance that would make them more joyful. But it is a general fact that to love Christ and believe in him makes people rejoice.

Glorious joy

Selwyn (cited by DSB) suggests that there are four stages in the apprehension of Christ:

  1. The stage of longing and desire, Lk 10:23-24.
  2. The stage of knowing Christ in the flesh, Acts 10:39.
  3. The stage of seeing Christ with the eye of faith, Jn 20:29.
  4. The stage of seeing Christ ‘as he is’, 1 Jn 3:2.

1 Pet 1:9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Pet 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,

1 Pet 1:11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

Trying to find out the time and the circumstances – They knew, then, about the sufferings and subsequent glories of Christ.  What they didn’t know were the precise time and specific circumstances of his coming.

Peter’s teaching here is exactly consistent with that of his Master; cf. Lk 24:26-27.

The predictions of the sufferings of the Messiah begin with the prediction of the ‘seed’ of the woman who would be bruised in the heel by the serpent (Gen. 3:15), and continue through much of the Old Testament writings (for, example, Ps. 22:1, 7–8, 18; 34:19–20; 69:21; Isa. 50:6; 52:14–15; 53:1–12; Zech. 12:10; 13:7, etc.).

The Messiah’s subsequent glory is predicted in Pss 2; 16:10; 22:22; 45:7; 110:1, 4; Isa. 9:6; 40:3–5, 9–11; 42:1–4; 61:1–3; Jer. 33:14–15; Ezek. 34:23; Dan. 7:13–14; Mal. 3:1–3, etc. And the ‘glories’ of the Messiah’s people are seen in Isa. 51:11; 60:1–22; 62:2–5; Jer. 31:31–34; Dan. 7:18, 27; Hos. 2:23; Joel 2:28–32; Amos 9:13–15; Hab. 2:14; Zeph. 3:14–20; Zech. 14, etc.

Yet all these verses are only a beginning, for they do not include the ‘acted-out prophecies’ seen in the historical events of the Old Testament, where in the lives of people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Jonah, and often the nation of Israel generally, God brought to pass events which foreshadowed a pattern of life that would be later followed by ‘one greater than Solomon’, one who was David’s greater Son.

(Grudem)

1 Pet 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

It was revealed to them…when they spoke – Cf. Mt 13:17.

Even angels long to look into these things – Two things are taught here: that angels long to understand the gospel, but that they cannot. They long to understand the gospel, because they love and admire their Creator. But they cannot understand the gospel of salvation, because they have no experience of it: the relationship of angels to God is one of obedience service, or, in the case of the fallen angels, of disobedient opposition. Of all the creatures it is only we humans who can experience and understand grace. The church nevertheless provides a glorious demonstration of the manifold wisdom of God to the ‘rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms’. (Eph 3:10) Cf. the wonderment of the angels at Jesus’ birth, Lk 2:13.

The angels ‘feel a special interest in all that relates to the redemption of man. Thus Peter says of the things pertaining to redemption, “which things the angels desire to look into,” 1 Pet 1:12. In accordance with this they are represented as praising God over the fields of Bethlehem, where the shepherds were to whom it was announced that a Saviour was born, (Lk 2:13) an angel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah, (Lk 1:26) an angel declared to the shepherds that he was born, (Lk 2:10) the angels came and ministered to him in his temptation, (Mt 6:11) an angel strengthened him in the garden of Gethsemane, (Lk 22:43) angels were present in the sepulchre where the Lord Jesus had been laid, to announce his resurrection to his disciples, (Jn 20:12) and they re-appeared to his disciples on Mount Olivet, to assure them that he would return, and receive his people to himself, Acts 1:10.’ (Barnes, on Heb 1:14)

‘The object of this reference to the angels is the same as that to the prophets. It is to impress on Christians a sense of the value of that gospel which they had received, and to show them the greatness of their privileges in being, made partakers of it. It had excited the deepest interest among the most holy men on earth, and even among the inhabitants of the skies. They were enjoying the full revelation of what even the angels had desired more fully to understand, and to comprehend which they had employed their great powers of investigation. The things which are here referred to…, are those which the prophets were so desirous to understand-the great truths respecting the sufferings of Christ, the glory which would follow, and the nature and effects of the gospel. In all the events pertaining to the redemption of a world they felt a deep interest.’ (Barnes)

‘The study of Jesus Christ is the most noble subject that ever a soul spent itself upon; those that rack and torture their brains upon other studies, like children, weary themselves at a low game; the eagle plays at the sun itself. The angels study this doctrine, and stoop down to look into this deep abyss. What are the truths discovered in Christ, but the very secrets that from eternity lay hid in the bosom of God? Eph 3:8,9. God’s heart is opened to men in Christ, Jn 1:18. This makes the gospel such a glorious dispensation, because Christ is so gloriously revealed therein, 2 Cor 3:9. and the studying of Christ in the gospel, stamps such a heavenly glory upon the contemplating soul, 1 Pet 1:18.’ (Flavel)

‘Whilst thou art fooling away thy precious time among romances and play-books, the angels are searching into the knowledge of Christ; and their knowledge of him feeds their admiring minds.’ (Thomas Shepherd)

‘Adore the infinite wisdom and goodness of God that found out a way to justify us by ‘rich grace and precious blood.’ We were all involved in guilt; none of us could plead not-guilty; and being guilty, we lay under a sentence of death. Now that the judge himself should find out a way to justify us, and the creditor himself contrive a way to have the debt paid, and not distress the debtor, should fill us with wonder and love. The angels admire the mystery of free grace in this new way of justifying and saving lost man, 1 Pet 1:12, and should not we, who are nearly concerned in it, and on whom the benefit is devolved, cry out with the apostle, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!’ &c.’ (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity)

‘What is he doing on the cross? What is he doing between two thieves? What is he doing taking the wages of sin? What do you think the angels thought? Which things the angels peer down to see! (1 Pet 1:12) They can understand human mortality because human beings are sinners. But what is he doing on the cross? We can imagine the whispered voices going through Paradise: ‘Have you heard? He has borne the wages of sin! He has died! His blood has been shed, the blood of the Son of God!’ Watch HIM there: God’s own Son, the sinless one, receiving the wages of sin.’ (McLeod, A Faith To Live By)

Be Holy, 13-25

1 Pet 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Prepare your minds for action – lit. ‘gird your minds for action’.  The image is taken from Ex 12:11.  We are always to be ready – ready for action, ready for holiness.

1 Pet 1:14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

1 Pet 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;

Be holy in all you do – ‘Be not sometimes hot, and sometimes cold; at one time careful, at another time careless; one day in a spiritual rapture, and the next in a fleshly frolic: but be ye holy… “in all manner of conversation,” in every creek and turning of your lives.’ (Flavel)

1 Pet 1:16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Pet 1:17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

Reverent fear – A sense of awe from having been struck with who God is and an alertness that results from that.

1 Pet 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

‘To suspend the operation of a law of nature (as to stop the sun in his course), is merely an exercise of power. But to save sinners from the curse of the law, required that Christ should be made a curse for us; that he should bear our sins in his own body on the tree; that he should be made sin for us, and die the just for the unjust. (Gal 3:13 1 Pet 2:24 2 Cor 5:21 1 Pet 3:18) It would be a reflection on the wisdom of God, to suppose that he would employ means to accomplish an end more costly than that end required. Could our redemption have been effected by corruptible things, as silver or gold, or could the blood of bulls and of goats have taken away sin, who can believe that Christ would have died?…Since, in order to the pardon of sin, the death of Christ was necessary, it is evident that the evil of sin in the sight of God must be estimated by the dignity of him who died for our redemption.’ (Charles Hodge, The Way of Life, 51f)

1 Pet 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

The precious blood of Christ – ‘Labour for this high privilege of justification. There is balm in Gilead; Christ has laid down his blood as the price of our justification; and he offers himself and all his merits to us, to justify; he invites us to come to him; he has promised to give his Spirit, to enable us to do what is required. Why then, sinners, will ye not look after this great privilege of justification? Why starve in the midst of plenty? Why perish when there is a remedy to save you? Would not he be thought to be distracted, who having a pardon offered him, only upon the acknowledgment of his fault, and promising amendment, should bid the prince keep his pardon to himself; for his part, he was in love with his chains and fetters, and would die? Thou who neglectest justification offered thee freely by Christ in the gospel art this infatuated person. Is the love of Christ to be slighted? Is thy soul, is heaven worth nothing? Oh then look after justification through Christ’s blood!’ (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity)

A lamb without blemish or defect – ‘But what did it mean for Christ to be a sacrifice: to be the ‘lamb without blemish and without spot:’? (1 Pet 1:19) It meant that he was the one to whom sin was imputed. In the Old Testament ritual the offerer put his hand on the head of the sacrifice, confessed over it the sins of which he was guilty and thus transferred them symbolically to the victim. In the Christian doctrine of the atonement Christ is the one to whom sin is transferred, not only by the imputation of God, but also by his own assumption of it. He loved the church, and took her liabilities and debts to himself. (Eph 5:25) The New Testament’s language on this is bold in the extreme: ‘He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us’. (2 Cor 5:21) Christ on that cross took his identity from sin, bearing all it deserved. He became the sin of his people. He came to be identified with their guilt and liable to their punishment. And because he was Sin, he became a curse. (Gal 3:13) There was no mitigation and no sparing. There was only the absolute recoil of God from the sin his Son was. He was katara: cursed, banished. He was his Son, but his sonship was obscured by the anomia. The Son belonged in his bosom; the anomia belonged in the Black Hole. God put the whole universe, and more, between himself and the Son of his love. He banished him to the farthest edges of reality; and even beyond, because the Black Hole is what lies beyond reality. It is, absolutely, Outside: (Rev 22:15) the place of Outer Darkness (Mt 8:12) where the Sin borne by the Lamb is out of sight of the God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.’ (Hab 1:13) (McLeod, A Faith to Live By)

1 Pet 1:20 he was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

He was chosen before the creation of the world – The translation ‘chosen’ captures the meaning well, but obscures the parallel with v2, where the same word is rendered ‘foreknowledge’.

‘It follows from what is said in this verse,

(1.) that the atonement was not an after-thought on the part of God. It entered into his plan when he made the world, and was revolved in his purposes from eternity.

(2.) It was not a device to supply a defect in the system; that is, it was not adopted because the system did not work well, or because God had been disappointed. It was arranged before man was created, and when none but God could know whether he would stand or fall.

(3.) The creation of the earth must have had some reference to this plan of redemption, and that plan must have been regarded as in itself so glorious, and so desirable, that it was deemed best to bring the world into existence that the plan might be developed, though it would involve the certainty that the race would fall, and that many would perish. It was, on the whole, more wise and benevolent that the race should be created with a certainty that they would apostatize, than it would be that the race should not be created, and the plan of salvation be unknown to distant worlds.’ (Barnes)

1 Pet 1:21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

1 Pet 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Pet 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

1 Pet 1:24 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,

1 Pet 1:25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.”