1 Peter Class 1 - Sanctification and Salvation

1 Peter Class 1 - Sanctification and Salvation

The first time that Peter met Jesus is recorded for us in John 1:42. Andrew, Peter’s brother, had already put it into his ear that he was about to meet the Messiah. Expectations were high. As they enter the room Jesus looks steadfastly on Peter, catches his eye, and says, “Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas.” That’s all that is recorded of their first meeting but imagine the impression it must have made on Peter. With no seeming introduction he instantly changes his name from Simon (meaning “hearing”) to Cephas (meaning “a stone”) which is the same name in Aramaic for the Greek name Peter. This was no rash act by our Lord but one pregnant with meaning [1]. His full name was now to be Simon Peter meaning a “hearing stone”. There is only one other place in scripture that I could find a reference to a “hearing stone” and it was by another Jesus, that is Joshua. They are, I believe, connected and show the reason why Jesus surnamed him Peter. The account is in Joshua 24:27 where we have the last words of Joshua to the children of Israel. The Israelites at this time solidly affirm that they will “serve the LORD” (repeated 3x, v.18, 21, 24) so Joshua sets up this stone outside the sanctuary to stand as a reminder of their devotion.

“And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone ('eben:H68) shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard (shama':H8085) all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.”

This stone was listening and had heard all the words so that it could be a witness. Peter then was Jesus’ hearing stone as one who was constantly at his side assimilating all his words so that at his departure Peter was to be the main witness. This title of witness is stressed in the Acts of the Apostles (1:8, 22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32; 10:39-43; 13:31, 22:15 (Paul)) and Peter uses it of himself in 1 Peter 5:1 when he says he was “a witness of the sufferings of Christ”.

The stone that Joshua reared up was a stop gap so that they might not deny their God yet here we find in Peter one who had denied his Lord three times (in contrast to the Israelites affirmations). The usage of both names in the Gospels and the Acts bear out this transition from one “hearing” to one being “a rock” for Christ. At the last supper Jesus had said to him,

(Luke 22:31-32) ". . . Simon, Simon, (notice his emphasis on the name Simon) behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: {32} But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

As so often before, Peter is quick to correct his Lord, “I am ready to go with thee both into prison, and to death.” Jesus replies, “I tell thee, Peter (notice the name change), the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” At the time these words must have perplexed Peter but some thirty odd years later we have the fruits of his conversion in his letter “to the strangers scattered through out Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” Why was Peter writing to these brethren? All these regions are found in what we know of today as Northern Turkey. It certainly seems out of the sphere of his influence. This would have been more like Paul's territory but he had been suffered not to go there (Acts 16:6-7). Had it been reserved for Peter's preaching? We have no mention of his traveling there. What we can be certain of is that he knew these brethren from long ago since three out of five of these areas are mentioned in Acts 2:9 as those who heard his first speech on the day of Pentecost. What we have here then is a simple correspondence of Peter’s to “strengthen the brethren” as Jesus had commanded. And not only these brethren but possibly those of Babylon as well (1 Peter 5:13) as this is the same territory mentioned also in Acts 2:9 as the Parthians, Medes, Elamites and Mesopotamians. Certainly communication continued among these early brothers and sisters and Peter’s loving care for these early converts comes shining through. What an example to us of persevering kindness when it is so easy to lose touch with past relationships, and to hear of their problems and feel so distant. How many of us pick up pen and paper (or email) and write encouraging notes to those acquaintances so far away?

The Key Topic

Peter intimately knew of these brethren who by the style of his writing seem to be made up of both Jews and Gentiles. This is not surprising as the record in Acts states that there were “Jews and proselytes” (Acts 2:10). He more importantly knew of their “manifold temptations” (1:6). The word “manifold” means various and the word “temptations” would be better translated as “trials”. This then becomes the key focus of this epistle to strengthen these brethren through their trials by giving them both the example of the sufferings of Christ and the future vision of the reward of glory. The fiery trial before everlasting glory.

The idea of fiery trials seems at once so drastic and to speak of such sufferings that would only be accountable to torture and death. That this was the case for early Christians is in no doubt. What Paul had done in his persecutions was certainly continued on to some degree. Somewhere shortly after the writing of this epistle the Christians would become scapegoats for Nero and suffer terrible deaths for the name of Christ. But Peter makes no reference here to that type of suffering. There is some indication of physical abuse for servants and possibly for other believers (3:13) but the main focus of their enduring trials is on slander and false accusation. Consider the following verses.

(1 Pet 2:12) "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."

(1 Pet 2:23) "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"

(1 Pet 3:16) "Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."

(1 Pet 4:4) "Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:"

(1 Pet 4:14) "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”

This then is a level of suffering which we all can and should know. For the only way to escape it is to hide our light under a bushel. We may at times feel distant to the extent of the torture and death that the faithful of old had to undergo. We may never know that extent of a trial but we can and should feel close to these brethren for they were undergoing things common to us all. The hardest part of sharing my faith is getting over this fear of reproach and ridicule. Peter tells us not to be surprised when it comes but to welcome it as a sure sign of your good behavior in Christ.

Peter also gives us some very practical examples of the trials these brethren and sisters were undergoing. He talks about problems with governments. He speaks to slaves who had terrible masters establishing principles for us in our everyday work environments. He councils sisters with unbelieving husbands. This can be a matter of great trial that is not unknown to many of us. He touches on aspects of married life. He even tells of the reproaches of those Gentiles who loved to party and live in immorality. So these trials are evident in everyday affairs, in the seemingly mundane relationships of life, of a life lived day by day struggling to show the love of Christ. Surely for many of us there will not be a prominent role of suffering death and torture for the glory of God. He is nonetheless more concerned with our everyday trials in our families, at work, in the ecclesia and in society. God manifestation is developed in the life of a believer who endures through all sorts of trials and temptations, whether in abundance or want, to show a life of consistency in holiness, faith and love.

Looking then at the first part of his letter (1:2-2:9) we see Peter not so much addressing their particular trials but establishing the hope and salvation which we all share. Peter understood that before any suffering could be endured that one must have the joy set before them (Heb. 12:2). Let us then look at this letter so that we might establish our hearts in the truth so that we might endure unto the end.

Verse 2

First of all Peter starts off with a synopsis of sanctification and salvation in verse 2,

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

Amazingly enough this verse has been used to try and prove the Trinity because it mentions "God the Father . . . the Spirit . . . and Jesus Christ". Of course it does not even come close to proving anything of the creeds of men. It cannot be denied though that these three elements do play an important part in the life of the believer and they are often mentioned together in scripture (Matt. 28:19, 2 Cor. 1:21-22, Eph. 1:13, Heb. 9:14) but we see God the Father as the instigator using His Spirit and His Son to work His plan.

The three agents are then:

foreknowledge God the Father
sanctification the Spirit
obedience and sprinkling of blood Jesus Christ

God's foreknowledge (prognosis G4268) is key. It is the starting point. This is not just a haphazard plan but one that has been carefully crafted since the foundation of the world. Peter stresses this aspect of Christ in his speeches in the Acts.

(Acts 2:23) "[Jesus] being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"

(Acts 3:18) "But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled."

(Acts 4:27-28) "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, {28} For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." (see also 1 Peter 1:20)

And now he adds the like stress for those in Christ as Paul does in his letters to the Romans 8:28-29,

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. {29} For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (also Eph. 1:4-5)

God's foreknowledge is more then just His faculty to predict the future but his ability to bring his desired end to pass. He planned for His Son to come and he also planned for a group of people to find salvation in His Son. There must be humble recognition of the great divine scheme that we are playing such a small part in.

God has used the Spirit to bring sanctification (hagiaasmos G38 = holiness, purified) into our lives. There is nothing mysterious about this act. It is not a warm fuzzy feeling for the Spirit is the word of God acting in our lives to change our hearts.

(John 17:17-19) "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. {18} As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. {19} And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." (see also Acts 20:32; Rom. 15:16).

It is not just a printed word on a page but a living acting power (although it comes from the Scriptures). It is the truth which provides us the impetus and compels us to change and lead holy and righteous lives (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Thess. 4:1-7). This then is not a one time occurrence but a process of refinement to purify ourselves by heeding the commandments of Christ and purging out the lusts of the flesh so that we might be vessels of sanctification.

This then brings us to obedience (hupakoe G5218, which literally means the “attentive hearkening”) and to the sprinkling of the blood Jesus Christ. Why mention the two together? Sanctification comes through obedience to the word but it would not be at all possible with out forgiveness as we all fall short of the glory of God. These two aspects provide an echo back to Exodus 24:5-8 where Moses provides the shadow,

"And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. {6} And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. {7} And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. {8} And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words."

The writer to the Hebrews also picks this up in 9:22 for the lesson that all things under the law were purged with blood for the remission of sins. While these Israelites had an outward sprinkling; for us it is a sprinkling of the heart from an evil conscience, the remission of sins. So we humbly obey our Lord and seek for forgiveness when we fail so that we might be found holy in Him.

Verse 3

Peter then most naturally continues with a reference to being born again. We would expect a reference to baptism after talking about sanctification and salvation in Christ.

(1 Peter 1:3) "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”

For me the most poignant point of this verse is that our being born again was not really any of our doing. This verse implies that we had as much to do in our spiritual birth as we did in our natural birth. This follows along with James in 1:13,

(James 1:18) "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

And John 1:13,

(John 1:12-13) "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Yes we have free will and we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling yet first and foremost we must realize that it is God working in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. It is wrong to say, “This is how I came to the truth” or “This person taught me the truth.” Rather we should say, “This is how God brought me to the truth.” For it is by God’s foreknowledge, His calling and His teaching by grace that we are saved. That is humbling but it’s also a great cause of rejoicing that God has chosen us in Christ and given us a living hope.

Verse 4-6

(1 Pet 1:4-5) "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, {5} Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

Notice how he emphasizes the lasting character of our inheritance. It is incorruptible, undefiled and fadeth not away. This then is in marked contrast with the trials that would last for only a season as he says in verse 6.

(1 Pet 1:6) "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:"

That word “season” signifies puny, brief and short. This really is the comparison between this life and the one to come. Of course when we’re in the midst of a problem it seems like it will last forever. We can be in heaviness, weighed down. James encourages us to rejoice in our trials knowing that it tries our faith. Peter's exhortation is similar yet he acknowledges how hard it really is and provides for the heaviness which is bound to happen in persecutions. Joy in the Lord is not necessarily something that makes us leap and jump but it is an inner quality of the heart which places it's hope on the future reward of the righteous.

What ever our trials we have to keep verse 5 in mind for this is our rejoicing in tribulations. We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. The word "kept" (phroureo G5432) although similar to the word "reserved" in v. 4 has even more of the sense to keep with a military guard. Not only is our hope guarded but so are we! Could this be a reference to the angel that encampeth around those that fear him (Psa. 34:7)? That Psalm is quoted extensively throughout Peter. Of course this "guarding" by God may not keep us from physical harm but it does assure of a greater and more lasting survival through the resurrection. Salvation is not conditional upon the moment but upon eternity.

Verse 7

This guarding action of God is predicated upon our "faith". Our faith is useless though unless it has been tried. Like a design that hasn't been put the proof so you don't know whether it will really work. As an engineer I know that what I design may look good on paper but until it is tried in the real world I will not discover any of the flaws so that I might perfect the design.

The trying by fire (pur G4442) is a process that involves heat to make the impurities rise to the top [2]. There is no other way to separate out the dross from ourselves. Basically it’s meant to hurt, to be uncomfortable. Peter later talks again about these fiery trials (4:12) which we should not think of as strange. We should not let them discourage us but rejoice in them (James 1:2). These trials are God designed and he wants us to succeed. He doesn’t want us to fail nor to give up. He doesn’t want us to justify matters so that we may take an easier path. He wants us to be refined and made pure by the process. If we look to Him and pray to Him during those extremely hard times He will guard us, instruct us and bring us to an even higher spiritual plane.

Verse 8-9

This is not easy especially when we might feel so alone in our problems. We intellectual know though that we are not alone. Even though we cannot see Him we know he is there.

(1 Pet 1:8-9) "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: {9} Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

Peter, I believe, is relating here his eye witness account of Thomas’ doubt in John 20:29,

"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

I like to think then that Peter’s next words, “ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” is the same reaction of Thomas’ although it is not recorded in the Gospel.

A long time ago I asked our CYC if they could love somebody whom they had never met. There were a lot of furrowed brows thinking about that. This is the test of our faith and of true love. Our love is so often based upon physical appearances but we are called upon as disciples to love someone whom we have never seen, Jesus Christ. The only way we can love this person is to love all the qualities and aspects that have been written about him. To experience the power of our Lord in a life of prayer. To achieve this is true love.

Isn’t it amazing the influence that our absent Lord has had on so many people? Of all people Napoleon Bonaparte realized this when he said,

"An extraordinary power of influencing and commanding men has been given to Alexander, Charlemagne, and myself. But with us the presence has been necessary, the eye, the voice, the hand. Whereas Jesus Christ has influenced and commanded His subjects without His visible bodily presence for eighteen hundred years"

Verses 10-11

Even though we cannot see Jesus at this time we stand at a great time in history. Peter instructs us to consider the prophets of old.

(1 Pet 1:10-11) "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: {11} Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."

Peter was one to sympathize with the prophets because he hadn't a clue about the suffering of the Messiah. In fact he actively tried to stop the Lord from going to his crucifixion (Mat. 16:21-23). These prophets searched diligently seeing the Christ to come. The position we find ourselves in history is a great one because we have such a great hindsight. We have all the prophecies of the Christ fulfilled so perfectly in Jesus. Do we really appreciate the enormous advantage we have over the prophets to be able to see these things and how they were fulfilled? Even the angels desire to look into these things! (v.12). How much more should we be diligently and intently searching the scriptures who are mortals in need of salvation?

Verse 13

There is a change in direction in the next section covering verses 13 to the end of the chapter but it is one which we have seen before in verses 2-4. Here is where he takes the time to elobarate more on sanctification (or holiness), obedience, the blood of Jesus (i.e. salvation), being born again and hope. It is the mark of a great teacher to patiently reiterate the same teaching. The student may not be aware of it but the word is gently being established in the mind. We’ll find this to be a hallmark of Peter’s letter as he weaves the same message in different ways.

He starts off by saying, “gird up the loins of your mind”. To gird up the loins was to physically prepare your clothing so that you could move at a moments notice. Now this was also a phrase that Jesus used (Luke 12:35-36, as well as Paul, Eph. 6:14) but it all stems from it’s use during the Passover in Exodus 12:11.

"And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover."

I think Peter has this in mind for he also refers to our Passover lamb, Christ, in v. 19. Thus we have that great Passover type here where we are encouraged to come out of the world, forsake Egypt, and find salvation through the perfect Lamb, our Lord Jesus. The emphasis being not physical preparedness but mental readiness, "your mind".

That mind is to be ready by being “sober”. The word sober here literally means “to abstain from wine” but it has so much more meaning then just alcoholic intoxication. There are many things in the world which can cloud our minds, dull our senses and leave us unaware of the coming of Jesus Christ. One commentator said it this way,

“The disciplined behavior to which Christians are called entails having a steady, balanced attitude, not one given to intoxication by some passing enthusiasm or novel fad. Discipline in the Christian life is just as essential as in any other walk of life where success depends upon a determined single-minded commitment."[3]

The images and thoughts that the world instills into our minds can blunt and damage our sense of taste for the grace of the Lord. The phrase used here to “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” has been literally translated in Rotherham’s as “Perseveringly direct your hope unto the favour being borne along to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Peter consistently looks to the coming of our Lord for the glory to be revealed but in the literal Greek he uses the present tense to describe the grace coming to us, implying a continuous flow of grace. Surely we must have a sense of the grace, the gift of God, at work in our lives today. Even though we have gotten just a taste of it we can see greater things to come. Paul makes reference to this in Ephesians 2:6-7,

"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: {7} That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. {8} For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"

Yes we experience his grace now in our lives but we hope for the exceeding riches of his grace in the kingdom to come. We know his grace daily by his forgiveness but how much more wonderful will be the experience of his gift when we shall be made immortal and incorruptible.

Verses 14-17

So we do the things mentioned in verse 14 as “obedient children”. Obedience and submission is something the flesh naturally rebels against. It wants to fight and be independent. We see it in our children that as they grow they test the boundaries to see how much they can get away with. With proper training and discipline though an obedient child is raised. God is then the one making us into obedient children by these trials of our faith. In discipleship, as in well trained children, obedience should flow forth spontaneously and not have to be coerced. Obedience is not something to be done out of compulsion but to be done out of love and respect.

The word “fashioning” is the same word “conformed” used by Paul in Romans 12:2, “Be ye not conformed to this world.” The world, or our lusts, are then calling us to conform to it’s standards. Is the world dictating our desires? Do the commercials and advertisements make us drool? Is that setting our goals? Do our peers influence who we are, what we do and how we spend our time? Do we stand out from others? Do we look upon our former lives with longing or with disgust?

We all have knowledge now. Ignorance is no excuse. We know we must be conformed into the image of the Son. The calling before us is sure,

(1 Pet 1:15) "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;"

Again, the word conversation here is behavior. Not only in speech but in all manner of life we are to live holy lives as God is holy. That’s the ideal. No corner of our lives is excluded which is emphasized here by the word “all”. Holiness should effect every aspect of our lives.

To back this up Peter quotes (v. 16) from the Law of Moses in Leviticus 11:44. That is that long chapter which goes into long lists of animals to distinguish between what was unclean and clean, what could be eaten and what could not be eaten. Although Peter quotes the Law his words in the next verse show that his mind is on the incident with Cornelius in Acts 10.

Peter, as a typical Jew, was one who struggled with accepting the Gentiles into the faith. To the Jews they were analogous to the unclean animals. Even to enter into a Gentiles house meant defilment so it took a vision from God to impress the lesson on Peter that the Gentiles were to be fellow heirs of the grace of God. This vision was of a sheet come down from heaven filled with all sorts of unclean animals.

(Acts 10:13-15) "And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. {14} But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. {15} And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

Now look at the parallels between what Peter says to Cornelius and what he says in his first epistle.

1 Peter Acts
"Be ye holy" = Lev 11:44, clean and unclean 10:12-15, 28
"Call on the Father" 10:2, 4 "your prayer has been heard"
"Without respect of persons" 10:34
"work" 10:35 "worketh"
"Sojournings" = foreign residence 10:35 "in (not of) every nation"
"Fear" 10:2, 35

This then betrays the fact that Peter was writing not only to Jews but also to many Gentiles in this ecclesia. He may be quoting the Law but in so doing he shows how it applies spiritually to all believers in Christ to manifest a life of holiness.

Verse 18-19

There are also hints from verses 14 and 18 that he is talking to the Gentiles and referring to their former idolatrous ways. “Former ignorance”, “silver and gold”, “vanities” are all ways of referring to worship of false gods. Consider the connections in Acts 17:29-30,

(Acts 17:29-31) "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God (1 Pet 1:14), we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. {30} And the times of this ignorance (1 Pet 1:14) God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: {31} Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge (1 Pet 1:17) the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained (1 Pet 1:20, foreknown?); whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead (1 Pet 1:21)."

This then provides many links to these brothers and sisters who came out of a society rife with idolatrous ways which were mixed up with all sort of filthy acts. The real force of this comes out later in chapter 4:3,

(1 Pet 4:3) "For the time past of our life (i.e. the former lusts of 1 Pet 1:14) may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:"

With that said, of course, Peter could simply be referring to money here in 1:18. For it was when he healed the lame man at the Beautiful Gate he said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6). To redeem something or pay a ransom means to pay the price but when it comes to our salvation money can’t buy it. No man can provide a ransom for his soul. The only way to buy this free gift is with the precious blood of Christ. It certainly is a striking image that gold and silver are described as corruptible while Christ’s blood is the opposite for in our experience their is nothing more imperishable as gold and there is nothing more perishable then blood. The imagery though strikes at the heart of everlasting spiritual things. For that which seems permanent is but temporary but that which is unseen and spiritual is eternal.

Under the law there was the lesson of the redemption money, the half shekel to make atonement for their souls (Ex. 30:12-16; Lev. 25:47-55). The New Testament also picks up this imagery when it says "we have been bought with a price" (1 Cor. 7:22-23; 6:20; Rom. 6:20,22). The price was the blood of Christ to free us from sin and death. Not that he was our substitute but that he provided the only means by which we could be justified by faith. These are also the terms used by Paul in Rom. 3:24-25,

(Rom 3:24-25) "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: {25} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"

We were "sold under sin" (Rom. 7:14) but God has bought us by giving his only Son so we might be his servants of righteousness. The same type is in Lev. 25:55 as the children of Israel were servants to Egypt but after the Exodus (Passover) they became servants to God. The whole pattern of the Jubilee and the releasing or redemption of slaves is based on the fact that the children of Israel were God’s servants whom he brought forth out of Egypt. They had in a sense been bought from the bondage of Egypt, that is sin, to now be the servants of righteousness.

Verse 20

If I could just switch gears here for a moment and get on my Wrested Scriptures soap box. There is no verse so effective as verse 20 in showing how Christ was not preexistent. The scriptural term is “foreordained”. It is the Greek word “proginosko” and it literally means “before known” or “pre-planned”. Surely if Christ preexisted Peter would have said so but the consistent message is that he was fore known. This backs up John calling him the Word or Logos before “the Word became flesh”. Jesus was always in the plan and purpose of God but he was "manifested" (phaneroo G5319) in these last times for us.

Verse 22

The word “purified” (hagnizo:G48) is a similar root to the word “sanctify” in chapter 1:2. The mention also of “obeying”, “the Spirit”, “born again”, “incorruptness”, “living” gives us echoes back to 1:2-4, which shows that Peter is here elaborating and clarifying on what he means by being “sanctified in the Spirit.”

This is the kind of verse I go crazy for because it is just jam packed with powerful words and important phrases. First of all, it is important to point out that this type of love has a foundation in "obeying the truth". Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 that “love rejoices in truth”. We cannot say that we are loving someone when we are breaking the commandments of God. We cannot try to justify our actions based on mercy when we are sacrificing principles of truth and righteousness. Their must be a balance in our judgments and in our lives.

Interestingly enough the two words for love used here are different just like in the conversation he had with Jesus in John 21. The first word for love is actually connected with the word brethren in the Greek into the word “philadelphia”. The second word for love is agape. So then we see the same progression of developing natural affection which grows into a sacrificial love for the brethren.

More then once the word “unfeigned” is married to the word love. Unfeigned means without hypocrisy, genuine and sincere. Sometimes we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we have a true love for the brothers and sisters when after all it finds itself grumbling and mumbling over the inconveniences of having to take care or love someone else. That is not unfeigned love. If you find yourself complaining about doing things for the brothers and sisters then it is not true love. A true phileo love will demonstrate itself in a willingness and happiness to go out of the way for our brothers and sisters without any regret or feeling of being put out.

This phileo love then progresses onto agape love which knows no bounds. It is a love which seeks not only the physical well being but for the spiritual well being of the person. It is the highest form of love which concerns itself with seeing that each one of your brothers and sisters will find an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. Agape then motivates us to make sure that the ecclesia is prepared and watching for the coming of the Lord. Peter says that this must be done with a "pure heart." The word pure means cleansed and there is only one thing that cleanses us, the word of God. Jesus said,

"Now ye are clean [pure] through the word which I have spoken unto you." (John 15:3)

That word is not only instructive for just knowing things but it gives us the power to overcome the world. The only way we become impure is the corrosive atmosphere of the world enticing our lusts. The Psalmist says,

(Psa. 24:3-4) "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? {4} He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."

The world is full of vanity and deceit. If we want to follow the Lord and have agape love then we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

It is not an easy process but one which Peter says must be done “fervently”. The word fervently means intently. It comes from a root meaning to extend or stretch out. We have to stretch ourselves to do this because it just doesn’t come naturally. It is not supposed to be a stagnant process but one which grows and grows like a plant. (If there is time, see how wonderfully Paul, through the Spirit, echoes the words of Peter in 1 Thess. 4:9-10).

Verse 23

It’s interesting how and in what context Peter makes mention of being “born again” for it does not refer to the single act of baptism as being the end all and be all. Being born again is so much more then just going through the motions but we must show how good our baptism was by showing a new spirit in love. Peter now understood what Jesus meant when he said, “When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren.” Now he exhorts us to do the same. To honestly ask ourselves if we have been truly born again and if it is manifest in our fruit, our actions, which is manifested in our love towards one another. Has that incorruptible seed that was planted in us been allowed to grow? Are we now trees bearing fruit?

Have you ever heard someone say that “the Bible is a dead letter” without the aid of “the church” to interpret? A common Catholic saying. Brothers and sisters, we know this not to be true. For the word of God is living as it lives inside each one of us. Paul said to the Thessalonians,

(1 Th 2:13) "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

That word of God is alive for it is a power, an energy that is working in us to change and mold our consciences to discern between good and evil. If we but let it work in us. How can we not have this word living working inside of us after hearing these inspired words of Peter?

(Heb 4:12) "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

The word of God is quick. That does not mean it’s fast. It means that it’s alive! It is powerful and it cuts us to the core of our being. It convinces us of our mortality. It’s supposed to make us humble, obedient, submissive.

(1 Pet 1:24-25) "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: {25} But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

The word of God has been brought through generations. We come and go. As a vapor we are here and then gone. But the word of God continues to change lives.

(1 Pet 1:25) “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

Hopefully we have felt that power this morning and we will continue to be moved by the message of Peter today so that we might strengthen ourselves and strengthen our brethren in these last days.


[1] No doubt it was much like the next incident with Nathanael in which Jesus says “I saw thee” before they had even met.

[2] There is much in the Bible that relates to this refining process but one of the better ones is in Job 23:10 and Prov. 17:3. See also Psa. 66:10; Prov. 27:21; Isa. 1:25; Jer. 9:7; Zech 13:9; Mal. 3:3; 1 Cor. 3:15.

[3] Norman Hillyer, New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (Hendrickson), p. 44