Today we begin our look at 1 Peter, a letter written by the apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, probably around 64 A.D. to Christians scattered everywhere throughout five Roman provinces.
On verses 1-12: When you read this passage, keep in mind the context within which Peter is writing this letter. In approximately 64 A.D., Christians in the Roman Empire are going through severe persecution. Emperor Nero has launched, or is just about to launch, a widespread movement to capture and destroy Christians. He would become famous for setting Christians on fire as human torches for his dinner parties and feeding them to lions in the coliseum. With this background of great persecution in mind, read verses 1 to 12 and you will find that they come alive with so much more meaning and relevance. Likewise, if you have ever been bullied, ostracized, or excluded by others, may you find encouragement from this letter by Peter.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV) 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 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…
On verses 1-2: To Christians who have been scattered, displaced, ridiculed, and persecuted, Peter encourages them by saying: You may be excluded by society but you are “God’s elect” (v1). You may have been rejected by people, but you are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God” (v2). Though you may feel like “strangers in the world” (v1), you have a home in heaven with the greatest community of all: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (v2). (Notice how all three Persons of the Trinity are mentioned in verse 2.)
1 Peter 1:2 (NIV) 2 …Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
On verse 2b: Your pain may be great and deep, but may God’s “grace and peace be yours in abundance” (v2). Whenever we go through great pain, God’s grace and peace for us are greater still.
1 Peter 1:3 (NIV) 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,
On verse 3: Though you may be going through much trouble, may your focus be on praising God (v3). Though it seems like persecution and death are all around you, remember that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have hope and life, a living hope (v3).
1 Peter 1:4 (NIV) 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,
On verse 4: Though the world tries to destroy you and what you have, they can’t away the inheritance God has for you (v4). It’s kept for you in heaven, “where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
1 Peter 1:5 (NIV) 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.
On verse 5: You are protected by God through faith. Faith is the means by which we access God’s protection and power.
1 Peter 1:6 (NIV) 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
On verse 6: When Peter writes “In this” you greatly rejoice, what is “this”? Peter is referring to Jesus coming again, that is, “the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (v5).
What can we learn from this? When we go through great pain and trouble, may we find comfort and joy in knowing that one day we’ll get to see Jesus face to face, and it will all be worth it.
1 Peter 1:7 (NIV) 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.
On verse 7: God always has a purpose in allowing pain. One reason God is allowing that trial in your life is so that your faith can be refined, proved genuine, and result in greater blessing for you and others and greater praise unto God.
1 Peter 1:8 (NIV) 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,
On verse 8: This is the mysterious life of faith, how we love, trust and find inexpressible and glorious joy in Someone whom we don’t see with our physical eyes.
1 Peter 1:9 (NIV) 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
On verse 9: One of the great end results of trusting in Jesus is that we have a deep assurance that our lives are in God’s hands and that we will be with Him in heaven at the end. This is not something that other religions or philosophies can easily provide, since they are based on people’s performance rather than God’s promise.
1 Peter 1:10-12 (NIV) 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 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. 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.
On verses 10-12: To paraphrase Peter, “Christian, though you may be going through trouble right now, don’t allow self-pity to steal your joy. Never forget how precious is this salvation you have and how lucky you are. This salvation was revealed through the hard work of prophets who carefully searched the Scriptures and their Holy Spirit-inspired hearts in order to point us to Jesus, his sufferings and his resurrection. This salvation has been proclaimed through those who have courageously preached the gospel to you. Now we get to benefit from all their hard work. Even angels are in wonder at this salvation.”
Heavenly Father, may I never take for granted how amazing and precious is the salvation You have made available to me in Jesus Christ. Thank You that in Jesus Christ I have a living hope and an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!