Lesson Text:1 Peter 1:3-16
Background Scripture:1 Peter 1:1-25
Devotional Reading:Lamentations 3:19-24
1 Peter 1: 3-16 (KJV)
3Blessed 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,
4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
10Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11Searching 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.
12Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
13Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
To understand that Jesus is the source, object, and expression of hope for the Christian.
To know that some trials come so that our faith may be refined to the glory of God (1 Peter 1:6-7).
To strive in every way to live a holy life, in obedience to God's command (1 Peter 1:13-16).
Wishes vs. Hope
“I hope that the weather improves tomorrow.” “I hope that the repairs on my car do not cost too much.” “I hope that the home team has a good season this year.” You probably have made statements like these at one time or another.
What do we mean when we say hope in these kinds of statements? We mean that there is one outcome that we prefer over another. We are expressing a wish. Such wishes may not be expressed with much confidence. They are what we desire to occur but not necessarily what we expect. It is easy to confuse the common usage of the word hope with the way that word is used in the New Testament. Today’s study helps us avoid such confusion.
Today’s text comes from the first of the New Testament letters of the apostle Peter. As we learn from the letter’s opening, Peter wrote to Christians in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1). These designations refer to an area that corresponds to modern Turkey. That region was controlled by Rome in Peter’s day.
The Romans respected Judaism because of its antiquity. At first, the Romans viewed Christianity as merely an offshoot of Judaism, so the respect applied to Christians as well. But eventually the Romans came to see Christianity as a new religion in its own right. This created suspicion of Christians being “a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition,” as one ancient Roman historian put it in describing a Roman attitude during Nero’s reign (A.D. 54-68).
Although the believers remained law-abiding citizens, they fell under suspicion of disorderly or criminal behavior, even insurrection against the government. Consequently, Christians in this region came under persecution. They faced insults, exclusion, loss of livelihood, arrest, and even violence. The churches of western Asia Minor were persecuted, suffering churches. The letter of 1 Peter, written about A.D. 63, addressed those Christians with a powerful reminder of the reality that lay beyond their suffering.
Hope Founded (1 Peter 1:3-5)
1. Describe the thanks, and term “lively hope” that Peter expressed within the greeting of his letter (1 Peter 1:3)?
Letters in New Testament times usually start with a brief word of greeting and a statement of thanksgiving to God. First Peter follows this common pattern, with the thanksgiving beginning here. Note how many key ideas are contained in the beginning of this word of thanks. God is Father, a good and wise protector and provider for His people. He has the relationship of Father to Jesus, who himself is Lord, the divine ruler over all. Through Jesus we have received mercy, God’s accepting us as friends and restraining our just punishment.
That mercy leads to our being begotten or born again. The expression “born again” in our time is widely taken to mean that one has had a dramatic conversion experience. Genuine conversion to faith in Jesus is often dramatic, but in its biblical usage that is not the emphasis of the expression. Instead, it stresses that through faith in Jesus one has a new family relationship. Under God’s covenant with ancient Israel, one was “born” into His people. But in Christ anyone can be “reborn” into God’s family. In fact, that is the only way one becomes part of God’s family (John 3:3-8).
The result of this new family relationship is a new expectation of the future, a new hope. Like a family member with a sure inheritance, members of God’s family can be confident of their future.
That hope can rightly be called lively, (or “living”) because it is founded on the triumph of life over death. Jesus’ resurrection is the basis and guarantee for our future as believers in Him. Because God raised Jesus from the dead and because as believers we belong to Jesus, we have every reason for a confident hope that God will raise us up as well (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). In the Bible, hope is not a desire that has no basis for expecting fulfillment. It is a firm conviction based on the revealed truth of Scripture.
For all these reasons and more, Peter gives thanks to God. The term “blessed” when applied to God means to be worthy of praise and thanks.
What Do You Think?
Which Scripture passage(s) do you find most helpful in strengthening your “lively hope?” Why?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Luke 23:43; Acts 24:15; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 3:10-12; Hebrews 6:16-20; Other
2. What kind of inheritance does God promise to His children (v. 4)?
Now Peter focuses on the object of our confident hope. Reborn as members of God’s family, we have a claim to “the family estate.” But our inheritance with God is not the kind of thing that can fall apart or lose value as ordinary inheritances so often do. Rather, it is permanent: incapable of decay of any kind. That is because it is found in Heaven, in the presence of the eternal God (compare Matthew 6:20). It is, in fact, eternal life in God’s presence, the very thing for which we were first made. That inheritance is now reserved for us, kept back for us to have on our arrival.
What Do You Think?
How does the inheritance we have in Christ contrast with worldly inheritances?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
With regard to value | With regard to how long they last | With regard to how they may or may not be shared | With regard to how they are obtained | Other
Virtually everything on earth will decay. Food will rot. Clothing will mildew. Paper will decompose. Asphalt will disintegrate. Concrete will weather and crumble. Bones of dinosaurs can be dug up, but the mere existence of such bones testifies to the fact that the life they were once part of is no more.
Incorruptibility is not a characteristic of life on this earth. It doesn’t happen in physical things, and it probably never happens in moral standards either. We see such standards decline as descriptions are cleverly reworded. For example, prostitutes are now called sex workers in some areas. This is merely a way to “call evil good” (Isaiah 5:20); it is a way to claim to be without sin (contrast 1 John 1:8). Such is the decay of the world.
Yet Peter promises that ultimately we will receive something incorruptible: an eternal inheritance reserved for us in Heaven. As Paul said, “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). A time is coming when all the decaying things of this world will be behind us. What a joy that will be!—J. B. N.
3. How can the people of God expect to hold “through faith” as we live in this present world (v. 5)?
As we anticipate receiving our inheritance, we can be confident not just that the inheritance is there but that we will indeed receive it. That confidence is not based on our own ability to “get through” to the end, however. It is founded on God’s ability to see us through. God’s power guards us through the hardships that we face as believers, allowing our faith to endure and even flourish when we might expect it to be quenched (compare 2 Corinthians 1:3-10; Revelation 3:10).
The outcome is the promised end-time salvation of God. To say that it will be revealed in the last time is not a frightening prospect for the Christian. God’s end time indeed means the climax of His righteous judgment, but that is to be experienced by God’s enemies. For those who are His family, the end means salvation, the final deliverance from all the problems and persecutions we face. It means God’s victory, a victory that He shares with the entire family.
Present Joy and Trials (1 Peter 1:6-9)
4.What advice does Peter give his readers relative to trials, persecutions, and temptations? How do these compare to your trials (1 Peter 1:6-7)?
The original readers of Peter’s first letter could rejoice in all that God would do for them. Eternal life in God’s family is certainly something to rejoice about. But Peter makes clear that our rejoicing goes on even when the present is difficult. The Greek verb rendered “greatly rejoice” (1 Peter 1:6) refers to a jubilant expression of gratitude. The recipients of the apostle’s epistle were to maintain a confident expectation of the future. In turn, this forward-looking attitude would sustain them, especially as they endured all sorts of trials that caused them grief. No doubt some of the persecutions were physical, but more likely Peter had in mind social stigma, ridicule, the loss of status, and even the loss of their livelihood. The believers were paying a heavy price for their faithfulness to Jesus.
Peter explained that those sufferings are no accident; they do not happen because God’s power has failed. Rather, they play a role in His plan. God does not cause them, but in His wisdom He uses them (v. 7).
Admittedly, no persecution is easy to take. But Peter tried to get his readers to view their troubles from an eternal perspective. These hardships were “for a little while.” One day God would bring their suffering to an end and eternally reward them for their faithfulness. In short, a Christian’s attitude toward suffering makes all the difference on its effect in that person’s life. On the one hand, if hardship and difficult circumstances are constantly viewed as unfair and undeserved, then a root of bitterness can spring up in the heart of the believer that hinders his or her spiritual growth. On the other hand, if a Christian views some suffering as normal for the committed follower of the Lord Jesus, then hardship and difficult circumstances become an expected part of life. Also, these afflictions are often viewed as a special time for growth and opportunities to become more like the Jesus in His humility and perseverance.
Here (in verse 7) Peter reminds readers of one outcome of our suffering under God’s plan: faith that has endured suffering has been strengthened and proved genuine, like gold that has been refined and purified in a super-hot fire. If fire can refine earthly gold, which passes away with this present age, then suffering can refine faith that endures forever and is immeasurably more valuable than gold (compare Isaiah 48:10; Zechariah 13:9; 1 Corinthians 3:13).
5. What unseen reality did Peter remind his readers of that holds true for us today (vs. 8-9)?
Peter reminded his readers that God had saved them so that they too might share in the glory of Jesus when He is once again manifested. In this present age, the Father has veiled the presence of the Son. Although the original recipients of Peter’s letter had never personally seen the exalted and risen Savior, their love for Him was unquestionable. Despite the fact that they could not visibly see the Jesus, they continued to trust in Him for redemption (v. 8). This truth is reminiscent of what Jesus said to Thomas, who at first doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead: “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). This certainly includes believers in our day. Even though we have not seen the Savior, we have experienced His powerful work in our lives.
The original readers of Peter’s first letter were not depressed about their vexing situation. They were overflowing with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy that was sustained by the hope of future glory. They could be this way because they realized that salvation in Jesus was the goal or consummation of their faith (1 Peter 1:9). Although they already enjoyed certain aspects of salvation, their full possession of it awaited the return of the Son.
The Prophet’s Investigation (1 Peter 1:10-12)
6. What did the Old Testament prophets search intently for (1 Peter 1:10-12)?
Peter has put the present in perspective by comparing it with the future. Now he compares the future with the past, reminding believers that they are the objects of God’s favor at the very climax of His historic plan of salvation.
The Old Testament prophets were God’s inspired messengers, delivering His authoritative message to successive generations of Israelites. Their message both interpreted the present and promised the future that God would bring to reality. Sometimes God disclosed mysteries through Scripture that were beyond the comprehension of those who recorded them (see Dan. 12:8-9). In this case, the prophets did not completely understand what the Spirit inspired them to write. 1 Peter 1:10 adds that while these spokespersons for God could see some details of the Lord’s redemptive plan, there were many specific facts that eluded their grasp (specifically the time, verse 11). Be that as it may, these prophets still diligently searched Scripture to learn about God’s provision of salvation (v. 10).
“The Spirit of Christ” (1 Peter 1:11) refers to the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent (see John 16:7). The Spirit revealed to the Old Testament prophets that Jesus would suffer and be glorified (see Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Luke 24:25-27). However, there were certain aspects of the glorious salvation which they prophesied which continually escaped them, and Peter’s point is that the glorious objects of prophetic inquiry have now been openly proclaimed and fulfilled in the preaching of the apostles.
The privilege of living in the age of fulfillment should overwhelm us. This privilege is further emphasized by Peter as he refers in verse 12 to the angels; “which things the angels desired to look into.” The last word in the verse, look into, means graphically, “stooping down close to get a peek at.” The picture is that this is something the angels had always wanted to do (Greek present tense) but have never been able to accomplish. This stresses the point that although prophets and angels have been unable to satisfy themselves as to precisely what salvation is all about, we have the privilege not only of full exposition, but of real possession!
Holiness Required (1 Peter 1:13-16)
7.Whatpreparations must the believer make while maintaining hope in Christ (1 Peter 1:13-14)?
Peter now brings the issue of hope to the action step. To move quickly in biblical times, a man needs to pull up the hem of his robe and tie it around his waist with his cloth belt. This is what it means to “gird up the loins”—it signifies being ready for action (compare Luke 12:35).
For believers under persecution, the need is to have the mind fully instilled with the reality of the gospel. That perspective demands a specific attitude. It begins with soberness, or seriousness of mind. That does not imply humorlessness. Rather, it means that we have a sound, wise, and realistic assessment of the world around us. The sober person does not waste life on meaningless things. The gospel allows us to focus on God’s purposes.
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What Do You Think?
What specifically can you do to “gird up the loins of your mind” this week?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Regarding your knowledge of God’s Word | Regarding your prayer life | Regarding your entertainment choices | Other
Those who believe that their lives belong only to themselves imagine that they are free to do as they please (as we once may have, v. 14). Those are the lusts of ignorance. But matters are different for those with a new birth into God’s family. We want to please our Father. Saved in the past, with a hope for the future, our outlook in the present is entirely transformed.
8. What does it mean that God is holy? What does it mean for us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16)?
To say that God is holy is to say that He is set apart and distinct—untouched by uncleanness. As members of His family, we are called to maintain the family resemblance. We live so that we are distinctly identified with God’s character and purpose. The first-century readers are being persecuted because of their distinct lifestyle. Peter reminds them that they need to maintain that distinction despite its costs because of their vital identity as God’s children. The word conversation in the King James Version here refers to all kinds of
interaction with people, not just speech.
This quotation in verse 16:“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy”is found repeatedly in Leviticus (11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7). That book emphasized to the Israelites how they were to live distinctively as God’s people among the pagan nations. Because through the gospel Christians have the fulfillment of Israel’s promises and confident expectation for the future, our obligation is all the greater to live in a way that shows our identity as God’s people.
What Do You Think? (A personal question, to be answered within ones’ self)
What do you most need to lay aside in your pursuit of holiness? How will you do it?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
A material possession | A secret sin | A habit | Other
POINTS TO PONDER
1.In our Background Scripture, notice that Peter recognizes the Trinity (1 Peter 1:2).
2.The believer’s faith, kept by God’s power, strengthens our hope of eternal salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5).
3.We may not understand why we may suffer all kinds of trials in this present world, but rest assured God can use them for His glory if we have the right attitude as we go through them (1 Peter 1:6-7; Job 42:1-6, 12-17).
4.The two central concepts of Christianity are “love” and “joy” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Jesus said, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
5.What can you do to proclaim God’s mighty acts to the unsaved? (1 Peter 1:10-13).
Genuine hope, founded on the gospel, gives Christians the power to overcome all kinds of obstacles in the present as we live out God’s plan and purpose in the world. A confident expectation of God’s salvation should not make us passive and useless. Moreover, our love for others should be shining for all to see (Matthew 5:16). Love empowers us to live in a way that testifies to the Christ whose return we assuredly await!
O God, You have done amazing things to make us part of Your family. Strengthen our hope for the future so that we can live as Your people in the present. In Jesus’ name, amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”—Victor Frankl