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.
This letter was written by the Apostle Peter around AD 62. It was a time of persecution, and Peter wrote to provide comfort and direction to believers who were suffering. Additional themes include submission, hope and Christian duty.
1 Peter 1:4 [You have] an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
The word inheritance occurs over two hundred times in the Bible, and the idea is developed throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Promised Land was Israel’s inheritance from the Lord (Leviticus 20:24). King David foresaw a day when The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever (Psalm 37:34). And Jesus will say to his own, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you. Likewise, you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward (Colossians 3:24), wrote Paul.
This was a great encouragement to believers who had lost everything due to their faith in Christ. Soon they would have an abundance that would never fade away. This is also good news for Christians who never seem to have enough.
A wealthy man lost his son in an accident and mourned the rest of his life. When the wealthy man died, his will stated that everything he owned was to be sold at auction. The first item up for bid was a painting of the wealthy man’s son, which no one wanted, except the family’s servant. The moment the painting was sold, however, the auction was declared to be over. The auctioneer explained that, according to the will, whoever got the son got everything else as well. That is how it is with Christ. Whoever gets the Son of God, gets everything else as well.
1 Peter 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.
Despite their sorrows and hardships, the early believers had joy. They suffered deeply for Christ, but they were excited about the age to come. Their joy was so great, in fact, that Peter described it as inexpressible and glorious. This is not always our experience, but it may be at times.
A friend of mine lost his wife to cancer, while their children were still young. I was surprised by an email he sent shortly after she passed. Today, I woke up alone in bed with the strangest feeling. My heart was filled with unexplainable and unrelenting joy. I was shocked. Our circumstances are no cause for joy, but the Bible says, Even though you do not see Him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. While I stare in the face of the greatest loss of my life, I am experiencing joy that only knowing Christ can bring (Brian Kluth, slightly revised).
1 Peter 1:13 [S]et your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Many Christians have mixed feelings about the return of Jesus Christ. This is understandable since God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14), wrote Solomon. And, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Corinthians 4:5), wrote Paul. And, This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ (Romans 2:16), wrote Paul again. Nevertheless, Peter assures believers that we will receive grace when Jesus Christ returns. And he would know.
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, Peter denied him three times with a curse (Luke 22:54-62). After Jesus rose from the dead, Peter may have wondered how Jesus would treat him. Would he be shunned? Would he be turned away? Would Jesus send him to hell? How happy Peter must have been when Jesus gently restored him (John 21).
That is the essence of grace, and it’s what we should look forward to. When Jesus returns, he will give grace to every sinner who truly believes in him. We are not threatened with indignation, wrath or punishment. We are promised grace. How else could we look forward to the return of Jesus Christ?
1 Peter 1:17 [L]ive out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
The Israelites had a lot of experience living as foreigners. They lived in Egypt for hundreds of years, and later lived in Babylon. Even in the Promised Land, they were often governed by foreign powers. It was hard for them to feel at home in the world, and that’s how it is for Christians.
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world (John 17:14), said Jesus. Even in the best of times, this world is not our home. And the more that we desire heaven, the more we will live as foreigners here, in reverent fear.
1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . but with the precious blood of Christ.
A life insurance policy might put the value of a person at a million dollars. The settlement for a wrongful death might put the value at two million dollars. If you subtract your liabilities from your assets you might be worth a hundred dollars—or less than nothing. But God put such a value on us that he was willing to shed the blood of his Son to get us back. Since the blood of Jesus Christ is of infinite value, that is what we are worth to God.
1 Peter 1:21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead.
Peter says that we believe in God because of Jesus Christ. He could have argued from the existence of the universe, to God the Creator. Or he could have argued from butterflies, to God the great designer. Or he could have argued from our sense of right and wrong, to God the moral law giver. These arguments are consistent with the Bible, and are helpful to some degree, but they are not how Peter’s readers came to believe in God. They simply heard of Jesus Christ, and believed in God through him.
We do not need to believe in God before we believe in Jesus Christ. We can begin with Jesus Christ to prove the existence of God. In fact, Jesus is the most compelling argument for God there is. The best explanation for Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, teaching, miracles, and the prophecies he fulfilled, is God. Through him [we] believe in God, who raised him from the dead.
Reflection and Review
What will we inherit in the age to come?
Why will we need grace when Jesus Christ returns?
How does Jesus prove the existence of God?