1 Peter Preview
This letter from Peter was written to Christians (both Jews and Gentiles) scattered across Asia Minor roughly thirty years after the resurrection of Jesus. Think about all that Peter had seen! He had left everything behind to follow Jesus as a disciple. He had denied him three times. He had spoken boldly before the Sanhedrin, testifying to how Jesus changed everything in his life. He had devoted his entire adult life to sharing the Gospel and helping it spread. Now, he had words of encouragement for those that were following Jesus.
As Peter was writing this letter, persecution of Christians was on the rise. Throughout this letter, two words seem to stand out as Peter explains how Christians are to live in this increasingly hostile world: hope and suffering. While hope and suffering might seem at odds, 1 Peter shows us that they are not mutually exclusive. There is a clear expectation that Christians will face suffering in this temporal world that we live in. And as we set our hope on Christ, He gives us strength to endure. This endurance and this hope is a testimony to a watching world.
Suffering for the Christian is not strange, it should be expected. 1 Peter 4:12 tells us not to be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you. So what do we do when the inevitable comes? We rejoice. The suffering of Christ has a specific purpose: that it might bring us closer to God!
With Christ as our example, our suffering can have the same purpose: to bring people near to God! But how is that possible? In a word: hope. Because hope in the midst of suffering is so counter-cultural, it raises legitimate questions for those who do not yet know God. Our hope is a testimony.
Read 1 Peter 1
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of 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, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Praise to God for a Living Hope
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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 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. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 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, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
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 the Messiah 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.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 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 ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 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.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
This letter, written to believers scattered throughout Asia Minor, encourages Christians to endure through suffering, remembering the sufferings of Christ and looking forward to the glory that will be revealed at His coming. The idea of hope is thematic throughout the letter, which can seem dichotomous to suffering, but when our hope is fully set on the grace of God that will be revealed at the return of Christ, it gives us a completely different lens through which to view suffering. The gospel gives us hope, the perspective needed to endure suffering, and the catalyst to pursue a life of obedience and holiness.
Because of the gospel, we have hope. When we were dead in our sin, separated from God and without hope, God, in His great mercy, sent His son to suffer and die in our place. Jesus lived a sinless life, died the death that we deserved, and rose again three days later. In doing so, He defeated death and restored relationship with God for those who place their faith in Him. Peter expresses it this way: “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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (v. 3-4). Jesus is our living hope.
Because of the gospel, we can endure and even rejoice in the midst of suffering. When our suffering is hard to understand, we can trust that it is purposeful. “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (v. 6-7). We can rejoice, even in the midst of suffering, because we know that suffering shows the genuineness of our faith.
Because of the gospel, we can pursue a life of obedience and holiness. In rescuing us from our sin, God also calls us to a life of obedience, fully surrendered to Him. As we set our minds on the hope that we have in Him, we do not conform to this world, but live holy lives. “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (v. 13-15). God Himself is holy and calls us to be like Him. Holiness isn’t something we can accomplish by our own efforts, but we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ when we surrender our life to Him. Our hope, endurance, and holiness is made possible only by the gospel. May we continue to rejoice in God’s grace to save us.
- What are you placing your hope in right now?
- Are you enduring any suffering right now? How does this passage encourage you?
- Does remembering the gospel spur you on toward obedience? How so?
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