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I Peter 1:1-2:3

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS*

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Salutation Greeting to the Elect Pilgrims Salutations Introduction Address and Greetings
1:1-2 1:1-2 1:1-2 1:1a 1:1-2
      1:b-2a  
      1:2b  
A Living Hope A Heavenly Inheritance Rejoice in Salvation A Living Hope Introduction and The Inheritance of Christians
1:3-9 1:3-12 1:3-9 1:3-5 1:3-5
        Faithfulness to Christ and Love of Christ
      1:6-9 1:6-9
        The Hope of the Prophets
1:10-12   1:10-12 1:10-12 1:10-12
A Call to Holy Living Living Before God our Father An Appeal for Holiness A Call to Holy Living The Demands of the New Life and Holiness of the Newly Baptized
    (1:13-2:10)    
1:13-16 1:13-21 1:13-16 1:13-16 1:13-21
1:17-21   1:17-21 1:17-21  
  The Enduring Word     Regeneration by the Word
1:22-25 1:22-2:3 1:22-2:3 1:22-25 1:22-2:3

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
  In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
  Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical StructureTextual Criticism, and Glossary.

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

1. First paragraph

2.Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 1:1-2
 1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

1:1 "Peter" Peter was the obvious spokesman for the twelve Apostles. He was a part of the inner circle (Peter, James, and John). Peter's eyewitness account of Jesus' life and teachings (cf. 1 Pet. 5:1) is recorded in the Gospel of Mark (possibly the first Gospel written; also possibly written by Mark from Peter's sermons in Rome).

Jesus' special relationship to Peter is documented in both Matthew 16 and John 21. However, this special relationship was not acknowledged as headship. Peter as the leader (Pope) of western Christendom is a historical development (as is the Roman Catholic view of Mary), not a clear biblical teaching. 1 Peter gives a window into the pastoral heart and tumultuous life of this wonderful leader.

The term petros in Greek means "a detached stone" in contrast to (petra, i.e., feminine) "bedrock" (cf. Matt. 16:18); in Aramaic both would have been translated Cephas; any distinction between the two Greek terms would have been missing in Jesus' words to Peter!

"an apostle" This was used in rabbinical Judaism with the connotation of "one sent with authority." Peter is always listed first. Jesus chose twelve of His disciples to be with Him in a special sense and called them "Apostles" (cf. Luke 6:13). This term is often used of Jesus being sent from the Father (cf. Matt. 10:40; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48; John 4:34; 5:24,30,36,37,38; 6:29,38,39,40,57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3,8,18,21,23,25; 20:21). The Twelve are listed in Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:12-13.

"Jesus" The Hebrew name meant "YHWH saves" or "YHWH brings salvation." This name was revealed to his parents by an angel (cf. Matt. 1:21). "Jesus" is derived from the Hebrew word for salvation, hosea, suffixed to the covenant name for God, YHWH. It is the same as the Hebrew name Joshua.

"Christ" This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term messiah, which meant "an anointed one." It implies "one called and equipped by God for a specific task." In the OT three groups of leaders were anointed: priests, kings, and prophets. Jesus fulfills all three of these anointed offices (cf. Heb. 1:2-3). See SPECIAL TOPIC: ANOINTING IN THE BIBLE (BDB 603) in the Bible at Mark 6:13.

NASB"to those who reside as aliens"
NKJV"to the pilgrims of the diaspora"
NRSV"to the exile of the Dispersion"
TEV"to God's chosen people who live as refugees"
NJB"to all those living as aliens"

This cyclical letter was sent to congregations of mostly Gentile believers (1 Pet. 1:14,18; 2:9-10,12; 4:3-4). Peter often uses OT terminology to describe the NT Church (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5,9).

"scattered throughout" This is literally "diaspora," which means "to sow." This term was usually used by Palestinian Jews to refer to Jews living outside of Palestine (cf. John 7:35). Peter uses it to refer to churches made up of Gentiles and Jewish believers in northern Asia Minor. These believers are now citizens of heaven (cf. Phil. 3:20; Heb. 11:8-10,13-16), but for the remainder of their earthly lives they live as aliens and exiles.

"Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" Pontus was not a Roman province. This list refers mostly to racial groups. The list seems to reflect the route of the bearer of this letter, starting at Sinope on the Black Sea and moving clockwise back to Bithynia. Several of these groups are mentioned as being present at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:9-11).

1:2 "who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" This is a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God (which characterizes 1 Peter), often used in the OT to acknowledge YHWH's choice of Israel (cf. Deut. 4:37; 7:6-7; 14:2; Isa. 65:9). In the OT election is related to service; however, in the NT the term relates to spiritual salvation.

Foreknowledge (the noun [prognōsis] only here and Acts 2:23; the verb [proginōskō] is used theologically in Rom. 8:29; 11:2) is not related to human effort or merit (cf. Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5). God is sovereign and all history is present to Him. Only humans experience time as past, present, and future. Remember that Peter, the spokesman for the Apostolic group and denier of the Lord, is the one who writes these words. Peter was chosen because of who God is, not because of who Peter was! God's grace is not related to foreknowledge or else salvation would be based on a future human act.

The Trinity is actively seen here: the Father (1 Pet. 1:3-5); the Son (1 Pet. 1:6-9); and the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:10-12). The word "Trinity" is not a biblical term, but the Triune God is often mentioned in unified contexts. See Special Topic: The Trinity at Mark 1:11.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ELECTION/PREDESTINATION AND THE NEED FOR A THEOLOGICAL BALANCE

"by the sanctifying work of the Spirit" "Sanctify" is from the same Greek root as "saint" or "holy"; in Aramaic this root implies "set apart for a special task." Believers are the "called out, separated, and task-assigned ones" (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13, which is also a Trinitarian passage).

This opening affirmation of the redemptive functions of all three persons of the Trinity in relation to fallen mankind's sin problem is crucial in understanding Peter's gospel.

1. The Father – chose

2. The Spirit – sanctified

3. The Son – laid down His life

Since this phrase is found in both 2 Thess. 2:13 and 1 Pet. 1:2, it is interesting to speculate whether Silvanus (cf. 1 Pet. 5:12, also called Silas) may have been the scribe Peter used to write 1 Peter as well as the scribe Paul used to write 1 and 2 Thessalonians (cf. 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1). There are several hints like this throughout 1 Peter. See Special Topic: The Personhood of the Spirit at Mark 3:29. This also demonstrates the freedom of composition (i.e., words and phrases) given to scribes on common liturgical phrasing used by the early church community.

▣ "to obey Jesus Christ" The Bible presents mankind's relationship with God in covenantal terms. God always takes the initiative and sets the agenda, but mankind must respond in repentance, faith, obedience, service, and perseverance. We are saved to serve! Obedience is crucial (cf. Luke 6:46; Eph. 2:10). See SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT at Mark 14:24.

▣ "and be sprinkled with His blood" This is an OT metaphor for

1. cleansing and forgiveness (cf. Lev. 14:1-7)

2. inaugurating the book of the Covenant (cf. Exod. 24:3-8)

3. installment into a new position (cf. Exod. 29:20-22)

Jesus' sacrifice (cf. Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21) allows His followers to be accepted, cleansed, forgiven, and to obtain a new relationship with God (cf. Heb. 10:22; 12:24). Believers are a blood-bought (redeemed) and blood-sprinkled (sanctification) people.

"May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure" This is similar to 2 Pet. 2:1 and Jude 2. Paul also used a similar opening in his letters. Peter may have been acquainted with Paul's letters, especially Romans and Ephesians, or they both drew from a common first century catechismal (i.e., set training materials for new believers) tradition. Remember that Silas may have served as a scribe to both Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 5:12) and Paul (cf. 1 and 2 Thess. 1:1). Silas also replaced John Mark, who possibly taught new believers. If so, Silas was also involved in catechismal training and thereby was familiar with the early church's written material for new believers.

"Grace and Peace" is a uniquely Christian opening greeting as well as a theological affirmation of the priority of God's gracious character and redemptive acts which set the stage for mankind's peace, a peace brought about by the actions of the Triune God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2). Our peace is only possible because of who God is and what He has done.

It is a bit of a stretch to state this common Christianized letter opening as proof that Peter wrote to both believing Gentiles (grace, which was a Christianized form of Greek greeting, charein) and Jews (peace, which was a translation of the typical Jewish greeting shalom).

"be yours in the fullest measure" This is a Hebraic idiom common in Jewish prayers (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 2).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 1:3-9
 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, 8and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

1:3 "Blessed" This term (eulogētos) is not like the one used in Matthew 5 (makarios). It is exclusively used of God in the NT. We get the English word "eulogy" from this word. This is similar to the praise to the Trinity found in Eph. 1:3-14: 1 Pet. 1:3-5 relate to the Father, 1 Pet. 1:6-9 to the Son, and 1 Pet. 1:10-12 the Spirit.

"the God and Father of" Thomas Aquinas attempts to prove the existence of God by focusing on

1. design

2. logical necessity of a first cause or prime mover

3. cause and effect

However, these deal with human philosophical and logical necessities. The Bible reveals God in personal categories not available to human reason or research. Only revelation reveals God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. See SPECIAL TOPIC: FATHER at Mark 13:22.

▣ "Lord" The Greek term "Lord" (kurios) can be used in a general sense or in a developed theological sense. It can mean "mister," "sir," "master," "owner," "husband" or "the full God-man" (cf. John 9:36, 38). The OT usage of this term (Hebrew, adon) came from the Jews' reluctance to pronounce the covenant name for God, YHWH, from the Hebrew verb "to be" (cf. Exod. 3:14). See Special Topic: Names for Deity at Mark 12:26. They were afraid of breaking the Commandment, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (cf. Exod. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). Therefore, they thought if they did not pronounce it, they could not take it in vain. So when they read the Scriptures they substituted the Hebrew word adon, which had a similar meaning to the Greek word kurios (Lord). The NT authors used this term to describe the full deity of Christ. The phrase "Jesus is Lord" was probably the public confession of faith and a baptismal formula of the early church (cf. Rom. 10:9-13; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11).

"who according to His great mercy" This passage, extolling the character of God the Father (1 Pet. 1:3-5), may reflect an early hymn, poem, or catechismal liturgy. The main character of the Bible is God! It is His purpose, character, and actions which are fallen mankind's only hope for acceptance and perseverance (cf. Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5).

"has caused us" This kind of phrase is used to assert God's sovereignty as the only biblical truth related to salvation (cf. Acts 11:18; James 1:18; Eph. 1:4), but this is only half of the covenant concept. See Special Topic at Mark 14:24.

"to be born again" This is the same root (anagennaō, cf. 1 Pet. 1:23) as in John 3:3 (gennaō). It is an aorist action participle, which speaks of a decisive act. The NT also uses other metaphors to describe our salvation: (1) "quickened" (cf. Col. 2:13; Eph. 2:4-5; (2) "new creation" (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15); and (3) "partaker of Divine Nature," (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4). Paul is fond of the familial metaphor "adoption" while John and Peter are fond of the familial metaphor "new birth."

Being "born again" or "born from above" is a biblical emphasis on the need for a totally new start, a totally new family (cf. Rom. 5:12-21). Christianity is not a reformation or a new morality; it is a new relationship with God. This new relationship is made possible because of

1. the Father's mercy and grace

2. the Son's sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead

3. the work of the Spirit (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2)

This divine will and action gives believers a new life, a living hope, and a sure inheritance.

"to a living hope" The adjective "living" is a recurring emphasis in 1 Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3,23; 2:4,5,24; 4:5,6). All that God wills and does is "alive" and remains (i.e., word play on YHWH).

"through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" Jesus is the Father's agent and means of redemption (as He is the Father's agent in creation as well as judgment). Jesus' resurrection is a central truth of the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15). The resurrection is the aspect of the Christian message that the Greeks could not accept (cf. Acts 17:16-34).

1:4 "to obtain an inheritance which is" In the OT every tribe except Levi received a land inheritance. The Levites, as the tribe of priests, temple servants, and local teachers, were seen as having YHWH Himself as their inheritance (cf. Ps. 16:5; 73:23-26; 119:57; 142:5; Lam. 3:24). NT writers often took the rights and privileges of the Levites and applied them to all believers. This was their way of asserting that the followers of Jesus were the true people of God and that now all believers were called to serve as priests to God (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6), as the OT asserts of all Israel (cf. Exod. 19:4-6). The NT emphasis is not on the individual as a priest with certain privileges, but on the truth that all believers are priests, which demands a corporate servant attitude (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7). The NT people of God have been given the OT task of world evangelization (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5b; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

This is the concept of Jesus as owner of creation because He was the Father's agent of creation (cf. John 1:3,10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2-3). We are co-heirs because He is the heir (cf. Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:7; Col. 3:24).

SPECIAL TOPIC: BELIEVERS' INHERITANCE

"imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away" In 1 Pet. 1:4 three descriptive phrases are used to describe the believer's inheritance using OT historical allusions to the Promised Land. Palestine was geographically located on the only land bridge between the empires of Mesopotamia and Egypt. This led to many invasions and much political maneuvering. The believer's inheritance is not affected by earthly conflict.

1. it is "imperishable" or "secure from invasion"

2. it is "undefiled" or "not worn out"

3. it will "not fade away"; there is no time limit on its possession

 

"reserved in heaven for you" This is a perfect passive participle, which means God has guarded and continues to guard believers' inheritance. This is a military term for a guarded or garrisoned fortress (cf. Phil. 4:7).

The term "heaven" is plural. This reflects the Hebrew plural. Ancient Hebrew had many plural nouns which may have been a way of emphasizing them (e.g. the later rabbinical use of the plural of Majesty used for God). The rabbis debated whether there were three levels of heaven (cf. Deut. 10:14; 1 Kgs. 8:27; Neh. 9:6; 2 Cor. 12:2) or seven heavens because seven is the perfect number (cf. Gen. 2:1-3).

1:5 "who are protected by the power of God" This is a present passive participle. As our inheritance (spiritual life) is guarded, so, too, is our person (physical life). God's person and promises encompass every aspect of our lives. This was such a needed and helpful word of encouragement in a time of persecution, suffering, and false teaching (cf. 2 Peter). This is not to imply that believers will not be killed and tortured; rather God was with them and for them and ultimately they are victors through Him. This is theologically similar to the message of the book of Revelation.

▣ "through faith" Notice the covenantal paradox. God is guarding them and their inheritance, but they must remain in faith. It is the tension between these biblical dialectical pairs (i.e., God's sovereignty and human free will) which has caused the development of theological systems emphasizing only one side of the paradox. Both sides are biblical; both sides are necessary! God deals with humans by means of unconditional (God providing) and conditional (individual's responding) covenants.

▣ "a salvation ready to be revealed" The Bible uses all Greek verb tenses to describe salvation. We will not be fully, completely saved until Resurrection Day (cf. 1 John 3:2). This is often called our glorification (cf. Rom. 8:29-30). See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: SALVATION (GREEK VERB TENSES)

▣ "in the last time" This is the later Jewish concept of two ages, but from the New Testament we realize that these two ages are overlapped. The last days began at the Incarnation in Bethlehem and will conclude at the Second Coming. We have been in the last days for almost two millennia. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THIS AGE AND THE AGE TO COME at Mark 13:8.

1:6

NASB"In this you greatly rejoice"
NKJV"In this you rejoice"
NRSV
(footnote)"Rejoice in this"
TEV"Be glad about this"
NJB"This is great joy to you"

This is a present middle indicative (A. T. Robertson) or imperative (Barbara and Timothy Friberg). Believers continue to exalt because of their secure relationship with God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3-5) even amidst a fallen world (cf. James 1:2-4; 1 Thess. 5:16; Rom. 5:3; 8:18).

"even though now for a little while" The trials and persecutions of the present cannot compare with eternity with our Lord (cf. Rom. 8:18).

"if necessary you have been distressed by various trials" This is the Greek term dei, which means required or necessary, connected to a conditional sentence. There is an assumed "to be" verb which would make it a periphrastic first class conditional, which is assumed to be true. Peter assumes that godly living will result in persecution. He repeats this theme of persecution often (cf. 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 2:19; 3:14-17; 4:1,12-14,19; 5:9).

"you have been distressed" This is an aorist passive participle. The unexpressed agent of the passive voice is the evil one; God uses even evil for His good purposes. Even Jesus Himself was perfected by the things He suffered (cf. Heb. 5:8-9). Suffering serves a needed goal in the life of faith!

The theological dilemma is that suffering has three possible sources

1. the evil one

2. a fallen world

3. God

a. for temporal punishment of sin

b. for Christlike maturity

The problem is I never know which one it is! So I choose to believe that if it comes, yea when it comes, God will use it for His purposes. My favorite book in this area is Hannah Whithall Smith's The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life.

"by various trials" This Greek adjective means variegated or multicolored (cf. James 1:2). There are many types of trials, temptations, and persecutions. In 1 Pet. 4:10 the same term is used to describe the variegated graces of God. We never are tried and tempted beyond His provision (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13).

1:7 "so that the proof of your faith" This is a hina or purpose clause. Suffering does strengthen faith. Throughout the Bible, God has tested His children (cf. Gen. 22:1; Exod. 15:22-25; 16:4; Deut. 8:2,16; 13:3; Jdgs. 2:22; 2 Chr. 32:31; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1-2; Rom. 5:2-4; Heb. 5:8-9; James 1:2-4).

This verse has the noun dikimon and the participle of dikimazō, both of which have the connotation of testing with a view towards strengthening and thereby approval. See Special Topic on Greek Terms for "Testing" and their Connotations at Mark 1:13b.

▣ "being more precious than gold" In this life our greatest gift to God is our faith (cf. John 20:27; 2 Cor. 4:17). In eternity faith is changed to sight. God is honored and pleased when by faith we endure trials caused by our faith in Him (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-16). Spiritual growth only comes through tested faith (cf. Rom. 5:2-5; Heb. 12:11; James 1:2-4).

"the revelation of Jesus Christ" This same word (apokalupsis) is used as the title for the last book of the NT, Revelation. It means "to uncover," "fully disclose," or "make known." Here it refers to the Second Coming, a common theme in Peter's writings (cf. 1 Pet. 1:7,13; 2:12; 4:13; 5:4).

1:8 "and though you have not seen Him" Even amidst suffering believers are to trust in Him. Jesus prayed for those who believe in Him but have never seen Him in John 17:20; 20:29.

▣ "but believe in Him" The etymological background of this term helps establish the contemporary meaning. Remember the NT authors were Hebrew thinkers writing in Koine Greek. In Hebrew it originally referred to a person in a stable stance, (his feet positioned so he could not be pushed over). It came to be used metaphorically for someone who was dependable, loyal, or trustworthy. The Greek equivalent (pistis or pisteuō) is translated into English by the terms "faith," "believe," and "trust." Biblical faith or trust is not primarily something we do, but someone in whom we put our trust. It is God's trustworthiness, not ours, which is the focus. Fallen mankind trusts God's trustworthiness, faiths His faithfulness, believes in His Beloved and in His provision. The focus is not on the abundance or intensity of human faith, but the object of that faith (cf. 1 Pet. 1:8,21; 2:6-7). See Special Topic at Mark 1:15.

▣ "you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible" The term "greatly rejoice" was used earlier in 1 Pet. 1:6. It refers to an intense joy usually accompanied with physical expressions such as shouting, dancing, etc. (cf. Luke 1:44,47; 10:21; John 5:35; 8:56). This joy, which Peter speaks of, is found even amidst suffering (cf. 1 Pet. 4:13; Rom. 5:3; 1 Thess. 5:17). This joy is one of the unexpected blessings of the Spirit in times of testing and persecution.

▣ "full of glory" This is a perfect passive participle. Believers by faith (not sight yet) burst out with both inexpressible joy and full glory! This joy and glory cannot be hidden. It is a flowing fountain produced by the Spirit (cf. John 4:14; 7:38). It is a witness to the power of the gospel to all who come into contact with gospel people under pressure. See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) at Mark 10:37.

1:9 "obtaining as the outcome of your faith" This is a present middle participle. This implies that our joy is not only a future consummation, but also a present reality even amidst suffering because of the Triune God's actions on our behalf (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2).

"the salvation of your souls" This refers to our glorification. Salvation is viewed in the NT as a decision made (aorist tense, cf. Rom. 8:24), but also as an ongoing process (present tense, cf. 1 Cor. 1:18; 15:2; 1 Thess. 4:14) with a future consummation (i.e., future tense, cf. Rom. 5:9,10; 10:9). See Special Topic at 1 Peter 1:5. This future aspect is often characterized as "glorification" (cf. Rom. 8:29-30). Believers will one day see Jesus as He is and be changed into His likeness (cf. 1 John 3:2).

The Greek term psuchē (soul) is used often in Peter's writings (cf. 1 Pet. 1:9,22; 2:11,25; 3:20; 4:19; 2 Pet. 2:8,14). It is used as a Hebraic idiom for the entire person. Humans are not two-part or three-part beings, but a single unity (cf. Gen. 2:7). It is true that we as humans relate to this planet, because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we relate to the spiritual realm. We are citizens of two realms.

It is inappropriate to build a systematic theology on 1 Thess. 5:23 and Heb. 4:12 and thereby try to relate all biblical texts into these three categories (body, soul, and spirit). They simply refer to the whole person and the penetrating power of the word of God. Be careful of someone claiming that the key to the whole Bible is found in two oblique texts, proof-texted out of context and made into a theological grid through which to view all Scripture (Watchman Nee). If this was a key the Spirit would have placed it in a clear teaching context and would have repeated it often. The Bible is not a book of riddles or brain teasers! God wants to communicate with us and major truths are found in clear teaching contexts.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS INTO VERSES 1:10-21

A. 1 Pet. 1:10-12 deals with the Old Testament prophets' knowledge of NT salvation in Christ.

 

B.  "The Spirit" through the prophets, reveals three things to believers in 1 Pet. 1:11-12.

1. the suffering of the Messiah (Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isa. 52:13-53:12)

2. the glory that will follow (Isaiah 56-66)

3. the prophets were speaking of more than just their own day (i.e., Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Zechariah)

 

C. In 1 Pet. 1:13-17, Peter asks believers to do six things to protect themselves

1. gird their minds, 1 Pet. 1:13

2. keep sober in spirit, 1 Pet. 1:13

3. fix their hope on end-time grace, 1 Pet. 1:13

4. do not be conformed to present age, 1 Pet. 1:14

5. live holy lives, 1 Pet. 1:15

6. live in respect of God, 1 Pet. 1:17

7. fervently love one another (seventh added from 1 Pet. 1:22)

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 1:10-12
 10As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

1:10 "As to this salvation" This has been the topic since (1) 1 Pet. 1:2, which describes the work of the Triune God in salvation; (2) 1 Pet. 1:3-5, which describe God keeping and protecting this salvation; and (3) 1 Pet. 1:6-9, which describe these believers' suffering because of this salvation.

"the prophets" This refers to the OT prophets (cf. 1 Pet. 1:12). In rabbinical thought all inspired writers were considered prophets. Moses is called a prophet (cf. Deut. 18:18) and what we call in English the historical books (i.e., Joshua through Kings) were called by the Jews "the former prophets."

"of the grace that would come to you" This phrase implies that the OT prophets knew something of the new covenant. This is also the implication of Jesus' statement concerning Abraham in John 8:56 (cf. II Esdras 3:14). This same implication is stated in Heb. 11:13b. It is difficult to know exactly how much the OT prophets knew about the gospel. Jeremiah's description of the New Covenant in Jer. 31:31-34 (also Ezek. 36:22-38) points toward an acceptance based on God's love and actions, not human performance. Matthew 13:17 states that many OT prophets see and hear what Jesus was doing and saying.

Even Isaiah's prophecy about a virgin birth (cf. 1 Pet. 7:14), when interpreted in context, refers to a natural birth with supernatural timing (cf. 1 Pet. 7:15-16), not exclusively a future Messianic birth. It is Matthew and Luke who see the full implication of Isaiah's prophecy. This would be true of other specific prophecies in Hosea (cf. Hos. 11:1) and Zechariah (cf. Zech. 9:9; 11:13; 12:10). It was the Greek-speaking Jews of the NT and the Apostles who fully reveal Jesus from the OT (Christological typology). They may have learned this from Jesus Himself as He taught the two on the road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-35, especially 1 Pet. 1:27).

"made careful searches and inquiries" These seem to be synonyms (cf. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: based on Semantic Domains, Vol. 1, p. 331).

1:11

NASB"seeking to know what person or time"
NKJV"searching what, or what manner of time"
NRSV"inquiring about the person or time"
TEV (footnote)"tried to find out when the time would be and how it would come"
NJB"searching out the time and circumstances"

This implies both a person and a time. They expected a Davidic Messiah to break into history at a specific God-appointed time. Like us, they "looked through a glass darkly" (cf. 1 Cor. 13:9-13).

▣ "the Spirit of Christ within them" The Spirit and the Messiah are linked in the OT (cf. Isa. 11:1-2; 48:16; 61:1). Notice that the Holy Spirit is called "The Spirit of Christ" (cf. Rom. 8:9; Gal.4:6). Note also the indwelling aspect of the Spirit, even in the OT. Jesus' and the Spirit's tasks are overlapping. See the same truth expressed in 2 Pet. 1:21.

SPECIAL TOPIC: JESUS AND THE SPIRIT

"predicted the sufferings of Christ" This was what surprised the Jews (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23). The Suffering Servant became a central pillar of the early sermons of Peter and Paul in Acts which we call the kerygma (i.e., that which was proclaimed, cf. Acts 2:23,24; 3:18; 4:11; 10:39; 17:3; 26:23). This is exactly what Jesus had tried to tell the Twelve during His time with them (cf. Matt. 16:21; 20:17-19; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22), but they could not receive it (cf. Mark 9:31-32; 10:32-34; Luke 9:44-45; 18:31-34).

There are hints of the Messiah's suffering in the OT (i.e., Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53), but the OT Israelites were expecting the Messiah to come as a conquering hero to judge all mankind and restore Israel to a place of prominence and power. They simply missed the two comings of the Messiah which are revealed by Jesus' life and teachings (i.e., Savior, Judge).

Below is an interesting chart of the kerygma found in H. Wayne House's Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament, (p. 120).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE KERYGMA OF THE EARLY CHURCH

"and the glories to follow" This is alluded to in Isa. 53:10-12.

1:12 "they were not serving themselves, but you" There are several places in Paul's writings where he asserts this same truth (cf. Rom. 4:23-24; 15:4; 1 Cor. 9:9-10; 10:6,11). This is basically the same theology revealed in 2 Tim. 3:15-17. God's actions (revelation) and their recording and interpretation (inspiration) were for all future believers (illumination).

If Peter was writing to mostly Gentile believers, this phrase has the added theological affirmation of the inclusion of the Gentiles, which has always been God's plan (cf. Gen. 3:15; Romans 9-11; Eph. 2:11-3:13).

SPECIAL TOPIC: PAUL'S VIEWS OF THE MOSAIC LAW

▣ "through those who preached the gospel to you" This seems to imply that Peter did not start all of these churches. They may have been started by believing Jews returning from Pentecost (cf. Acts 2), or by the preaching of Paul or other evangelists.

▣ "by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven" The Holy Spirit is mentioned at several key places in 1 Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2,11; 4:14). This phrase was a Hebrew idiom for asserting that the new age of righteousness, which was from God, brought by the Spirit, had fully come (cf. Acts 2).

"things into which angels long to look" This is literally "to stoop over to see" as in John 20:5,11. In James 1:25 it is translated "look intently." This refers to both good and evil angels (cf. Eph. 3:10; 1 Cor. 4:9).

In rabbinical Judaism angels were seen as the mediators between YHWH and Moses on Mt. Sinai (cf. Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2). They were also depicted as jealous of God's love and attention to humans. In Heb. 1:14 angels are described as servants of "those who will inherit salvation." Paul even asserts that believers will judge the angels (cf. 1 Cor. 6:3).

God uniquely revealed Himself to angels through His dealings with fallen humanity (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; Eph. 2:7; 3:10).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 1:13-16
 13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

1:13 "Therefore" This (dio, cf. 2 Pet. 1:10,12; 3:14) shows that the exhortations that follow are the result of the previous discussion.

NASB"prepare your minds for action"
NKJV"gird up the loins of your mind"
NRSV"prepare your minds for action"
TEV"have your minds ready for action"
NJB"your minds. . .ready for action"

This is an aorist middle participle used as an imperative. Its form denotes that a decisive act of personal choice is demanded. This is a Hebrew idiom, literally "gird up the loins of your mind." In the Ancient Near East both men and women wore robes. By reaching through the legs and pulling the back of the robe forward and tucking it into the belt, the robe became pants, which allowed strenuous action. Similar admonitions of preparation for mental activity is found in Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:17,23.

"keep sober in spirit" This is a present active participle in a series of imperatives and participles used with imperatival force. This is not a call to sobriety, but a metaphor for mental alertness and level headedness (cf. 1 Pet. 4:7; 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:6,8; 2 Tim. 4:5).

"fix your hope completely" This is an aorist active imperative which means make a decisive choice to trust completely in Christ's return. "Hope" in the NT often refers to the Second Coming (cf. Titus 2:13). Our hope is based on the settled and sure character and actions of the Triune God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2,3-5).

"on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" This is the same grace for which the OT prophets made careful search (cf. 1 Pet. 1:10). This clearly shows that the believers' hope is in the character and actions of the Triune God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2,3-5) and that His grace will be fully manifested at Jesus' return (cf. 1 John 3:2). Salvation is described by all Greek verb tenses. See Special Topic at 1 Peter 1:5.

1:14 "obedient children" This is a Hebrew idiom of our family relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son (negative expressions are found in Eph. 2:2; 5:6). Believers are co-heirs through Him (cf. Rom. 8:15-17). Amazingly, sinners are part of the family of God by His invitation and Jesus' sacrifice.

NASB, NRSV"do not be conformed"
NKJV"not conforming yourselves"
TEV"do not allow your lives to be shaped"
NJB"do not allow yourselves to be shaped"

This is a present middle or passive participle used as an imperative. As so often in the NT believers are described as being acted upon by God or the Spirit (passive voice), but there is the grammatical possibility that believers are being called on to clearly live out their new relationship to God through the power of His Spirit (middle voice).

As salvation is a conditional covenant, initiated by God but with a mandated response, so too, the Christian life. Eternal life has observable characteristics (cf. 1 Pet. 1:15). Much of Peter's terminology is from Paul's letters, here Rom. 12:2.

▣ "to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance" This refers to the Gentile believers' immoral and godless pagan past (cf. 1 Pet. 4:2-3; Eph. 4:17-19).

1:15

NASB"but like the Holy One who called you"
NKJV"but as He who called you is holy"
NRSV"instead, as he who called you is holy"
TEV"instead. . .just as God who called you is holy"
NJB"after the model of the Holy One who calls us"

This is an emphasis on God's character and sovereign choice (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9; 5:10). No one can come to God unless the Spirit draws them (cf. John 6:44,65). This is another theological way of repudiating divine acceptance by means of human performance (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). My sermon title on this text is "The Holy One's holy ones."

▣ "be holy yourselves also" This is an aorist passive (deponent) imperative. Believers are called to holiness. God's will has always been that His children reflect His character (cf. Titus 2:14). The goal of Christianity is not only heaven when we die, but Christlikeness now (cf. Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 2:10; 4:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:3,7; 5:23). Jesus' task was not only remission of sin, but the restoration of the image of God in fallen mankind. We must always be suspicious of an assurance of salvation that lacks Christlikeness! The gospel is (1) a person to welcome; (2) a truth about that person to believe; and (3) a life emulating that person to live (cf. Eph. 4:1; 5:1-2,15; 1 John 1:7; 2:4-6). Remember the shocking words of Jesus in Matt. 5:20 and 48! Always be careful of "what's-in-it-for-me" Christianity. We are saved to serve. We are called to holiness in no uncertain terms. God have mercy on a western church trapped by (1) prosperity; (2) materialism; and (3) health/wealth preaching!

SPECIAL TOPIC: NEW TESTAMENT HOLINESS/SANCTIFICATION

"in all your behavior" Notice the emphasis on "all." The challenge is not selected righteousness, but pervasive holiness (cf. 1 John 3:3).

1:16 "because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" "Written" is a perfect passive indicative, which is an idiom for Scripture used so often by Jesus, but only here in Peter. This is a quote from Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7,26. This is not a new requirement, but a repeated requirement (cf. Matt. 5:48). Holiness in the OT sense was not sinlessness, but a conformity to the covenant requirements of God (i.e., Exod. 19:6; 22:31; Deut. 14:2,21; 26:19). The NT also has covenant requirements which issue in Christlikeness (cf. Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 4:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:3,7; 5:23). See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 1:17-21
 17If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, 21who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

1:17 "if" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes.

▣ "you address as Father" This is a present middle indicative (cf. Hos. 11:1-3; Jer. 3:19), implying that believers will continue to call upon YHWH in family terms (cf. Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) as Jesus taught them (cf. Matt. 6:9). See SPECIAL TOPIC: FATHER at Mark 13:32.

▣ "the One who impartially judges" God will call into account not only those who have never known Him, but also those who claim to know Him (cf. 1 Pet. 4:5,17-18; Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10). Those to whom much is given, much is required (cf. Luke 12:48)!

If we call Him Father, then we should reflect the family characteristic, as does the eldest Son! Our Father, the Holy One, is an impartial judge (cf. Deut. 10:17; 2 Chr. 19:7; Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25; 1 Pet. 1:17).

Human beings have a choice (cf. Deut. 30:15-20; Jos. 24:15; Ezek. 18:30-32) in how they will relate to God. He can be a loving Father if they trust in Christ (cf. John 1:12; Rom. 10:9-13) or He can be a holy judge if they rely on their own merits or performance of religious rites, rules, and procedures (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Col. 2:20-23). Do you want mercy or justice?

The term "impartial" reflects an OT idiom, "to lift the face." Judges should not be affected by who is accused, rather by their actions.

"according to each one's work" This is a moral universe. God is the Judge. Humans will give an account unto God for the gift of life (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15). We are all stewards and we reap what we sow (cf. Job 34:11;Ps. 28:4; 62:12; Pro. 12:14; 24:12; Isa. 3:10-11; Jer. 17:10; Hos. 4:9; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6; 1 Cor. 3:8; Gal. 6:7; Col. 3:25; Rev. 2:23; 20:12-13; 22:12).

▣ "conduct yourself in fear" There is an appropriate respect due a holy God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). That respect is that His children live godly lives, knowing that they will give an account to God for the gift of life and the gospel.

▣ "during the time of your stay on earth" This refers to believers sojourning in an alien land (cf. 1 Pet. 1:1; 2:11; Heb. 11:9-10). This world is not our home!

1:18 "knowing" Our knowledge of Christ's work on our behalf causes us to live a life of Christlike obedience.

There has been speculation among commentators as to Peter's use of early church creeds, hymns, or worship liturgy. 1 Peter 1:18-21 and 2:21-25 show signs of poetic pattern. Paul also made use of this creedal, hymnic, liturgical material or possibly even catechismal literature made lyrical to aid memory (cf. Eph. 5:19; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15-16; 3:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:11-13).

"redeemed" The term "redeemed" reflects an OT term "to buy someone back" from poverty or slavery. There are two Hebrew terms (ransom, redeem). One has the added connotation of "to be bought back by a near kin" (go'el, the kinsman redeemer, cf. Ruth 4:1,3,6,8,14). Jesus is our near-kin who has purchased our forgiveness with His own life (cf. Isa. 53; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21). See SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM at Mark 10:45.

NASB, NJB"from your futile way of life"
NKJV"from your aimless conduct"
NRSV"from the futile ways"
TEV"from the worthless manner of life"

There are two ways of interpreting this phrase.

1. It refers to OT traditions (cf. Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23) and reflects the Hebrew term "vain," "empty" or "mist" (cf. Jer. 2:5; Zech. 10:2). The next phrase alludes to the sacrificial system of the OT. If so, then Peter is speaking to believing Jews.

2. It refers to 1 Pet. 1:14 and to the immoral, pagan, past experience of Gentile believers.

For a general sense of this term see Acts 14:15; 1 Cor. 15:17; Titus 3:9 and James 1:26.

1:19 "with precious blood as a lamb" This phrase is an allusion to Israel's sacrificial system (cf. Lev. 1-7). God graciously allowed sinful mankind to approach Him by means of sacrifice. Sin takes a life. Life is in the blood (cf. Lev. 18:11,14). God allowed the substitution of an animal life. John the Baptist called Jesus "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (cf. John 1:29). Jesus' prophesied death (cf. Isa. 53:7-8) dealt with the sin of the entire world (cf. John 3:16,17; 4:42; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).

"unblemished and spotless" These are OT sacrificial metaphors for acceptable animals for sacrifice (cf. Lev. 22:19-20), but here they refer to the sinlessness of Jesus (cf. John 8:46; 14:30; Luke 23:41; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27: 1 Pet. 2:22, 3:18, 1 John 3:5). He was an acceptable, holy sacrifice.

1:20 "For He was foreknown" This is a perfect passive participle. God's redemptive work is described by this very term in 1 Pet. 1:2. Christ's death was not an afterthought (cf. Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Mark 10:45; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29). Jesus came to die!

"before the foundation of the world" This phrase is used several times in the NT. It speaks of the pre-creation activity of God for mankind's redemption (cf. Matt. 25:34; John 17:24; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8). This also implies the pre-existence of Jesus (cf. John 1:1-2, 8:57-58; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-7; Col. 1:17; Rev. 13:8).

▣ "but has appeared" This is an aorist passive participle which means "God has caused Him to be clearly revealed" (cf. Heb. 9:26; 1 John 1:2; 3:5,8).

▣ "in these last times" This refers to Jesus' incarnation at Bethlehem. He existed as deity from all eternity, but was clearly revealed in human form in Bethlehem according to prophecy (cf. Mic. 5:2).

The last days began with Jesus' birth as He inaugurated the Kingdom. They will be consummated at the Second Coming. See Special Topic: This Age and the Age to Come at 1 Peter 1:5.

▣ "who through Him are believers in God" This is literally "the ones. . .believing." The adjective pistos is used as a substantive ( "the believing ones").

The etymological background of the term believe (Hebrew emeth, Greek, pistis) helps establish the contemporary meaning. In Hebrew it originally referred to a person in a stable stance. It came to be used metaphorically for someone who was dependable, loyal, or trustworthy. The Greek equivalent is translated into English by the terms "faith," "believe," and "trust." Biblical faith or trust is not primarily something we do, but someone in whom we put our trust. It is God's trustworthiness, not ours, which is the focus. Fallen mankind trusts God's trustworthiness, faiths His faithfulness, believes in His Beloved. The focus is not on the abundance or intensity of human faith, but the object of that faith.

1:21 "who raised Him from the dead" This shows God's approval of Jesus' life and death. This is a recurrent theme of Peter (cf. Acts 2:24-28,32, 3:15,26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 1 Pet. 1:13, 3:18,21, and Paul, Acts 13:30,,33,34,37; 17:31; Rom. 4:24, 8:11; 10:9; 2 Cor. 4:14). This was confirmation of the Father's acceptance of the Son's substitutionary death (cf. 1 Cor. 15). Theologically all three persons of the Trinity were active in Christ's resurrection.

1. the Father (Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30,33,34; 17:31)

2. the Spirit (Rom. 8:11)

3. the Son (John 2:19-22; 10:17-18)

 

▣ "and gave Him glory" In this context the Father's acceptance and approval of the Son's words and works are expressed in two great events.

1. Jesus' resurrection from the dead

2. Jesus' ascension to the Father's right hand

See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) at Mark 10:37b.

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 1:22-25
 22Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For, "All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, 25But the word of the Lord endures forever." And this is the word which was preached to you.

1:22 "in obedience" Obedience is a recurrent theme in chapter one (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2,14,22). It refers to receiving the gospel (i.e., truth, cf. John 17:17; 2 Thess. 2:12) and walking in it. Remember the gospel is (1) a person; (2) truth about that person; and (3) a life like that person. Jesus expressed the importance of obedience so clearly in Luke 6:46. Obedience is the evidence that we have truly met Him and been changed by Him. Eternal life has observable characteristics.

▣ "to the truth" Literally "by obedience of the truth," which is an objective genitive. Truth is the characteristic of both God and His children. See Special Topic: Truth at 2 Pet. 1:12.

▣ "purified your souls" This is a perfect active participle. Obedience to the truth issues in a personal purging (cf. James 4:8; 1 John 3:3). This spiritual purging does not earn God's love and acceptance, but reflects it instead. This purifying process starts at salvation and continues throughout life (perfect active participle). It results in a sincere love of the brothers (cf. 1 John 4:7-21). Christianity is both (1) an individual faith response to God's offer of salvation through Christ and (2) a corporate experience of service to the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7). Believers express their love for God by loving His other children (cf. Rom. 14:1-15:13). See fuller note on "souls" at 1 Pet. 1:9.

▣ "love of the brethren. . .fervently love another" The first use of "love" in this phrase is in a compound Greek word philadelphi  (brotherly love). The second is an aorist active imperative of the verb agapaō. These terms (phileō and agapaō)were used interchangeably in the NT (cf. John 5:20 versus 3:25 and 16:27 versus 17:23). In some passages like John 21:15-17, they might convey different aspects of love. The early church took a relatively unused noun (agapē) and began using it to express the unique self-giving love of God in Christ.

1:23 "for you have been born again" This is a perfect passive participle. This develops the theological thought from 1 Pet. 1:3. It is a family metaphor used to describe Christians as new members of God's family through their faith in Christ (cf. John 1:12-13). It is similar in meaning to John's "born from above" in John 3:3.

Notice the marvelous truth conveyed in the verb.

1. perfect tense = our salvation started in the past and continues into a current state of being

2. passive voice = we did not save ourselves, it was an outside act by the Triune God

3. This same verb form (different Greek word) is found in Eph. 2:5,8, which is also a wonderful verse on the believer's assurance and security.

 

▣ "not of seed which is perishable" Seed is a biblical metaphor for (1) procreation (i.e., used by the rabbis for sperm) or (2) physical descent (i.e., Gen. 12:1-3 for Abraham's descendants). It is that which brings forth life.

▣ "through the living and enduring word of God" Gospel preaching is personified as the means by which the Father has brought forth believers (cf. James 1:18). This Apostolic preaching of the truth of the gospel is described as both alive and remaining (cf. Heb. 4:12), which are both aspects of YHWH!

1:24 Verses 24-25a are a quote from the LXX of Isaiah 40:6-8 (cf. Job 14:1-2; Ps. 90:5-6, 103:15-17) which also emphasized the frailty and finitude of human life (cf. James 1:10-11) versus the eternality of God's Word (cf. James 1:21). In their original context these verses referred to Israel, but now they refer to the church (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5,9). This transfer is characteristic of 1 Peter.

1:25 "the word of the Lord" There are two Greek words usually translated "word" or "message." In Koine Greek logos (cf. John 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:23) and rēma (cf. the OT quote from the Septuagint in 1 Pet. 1:25a and alluded to in 1 Pet. 1:25b) are usually synonymous. Context, not a lexicon, determines synonymity. God has revealed Himself (i.e., revelation)!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 2:1-3
 1Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

2:1 "Therefore" This shows that the following discussion is based on what has just been stated.

▣ "putting aside" This is an aorist middle participle which literally refers to personally "stripping off." The removal of clothing is a common biblical metaphor describing the spiritual life (cf. Job 29:14; Psalm 109; 29; Isa. 61:10; Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22,25,31; Col. 3:8; Heb. 12:1).

Notice the middle voice, which emphasizes the action of the subject. Believers are to once-and-for-all (aorist tense as a completed act) strip off all evil. This is only possible because of the previous theological presentation of the work of the Triune God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2). Fallen mankind is not able unaided to turn from sin and evil, but God in Christ through the Spirit has enabled believers to turn completely to God (cf. Rom. 6). The tragedy is that believers continue to relinquish this God-given power and choose to return to evil (cf. Rom. 7).

▣ "all malice" This refers to an "active ill-will"(cf. Rom. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:8; 14:20; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Titus 3:3; 1 Pet. 2:16). Lists of vices were common in the Roman world (e.g. Stoics) and the NT (cf. Mark 7:21-27; Rom. 1:29-31; 13:13; 1 Cor. 5:10; 6:9-10; 2 Cor. 12:2; Gal. 5:19-20; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; 2 Pet. 2:10-14; Rev. 21:8, 22:15).

▣ "all deceit" This term was used of "fishing bait." It depicts an attempt to entrap another by means of trickery (cf. 1 Cor. 12:16; 1 Thess. 2:3; 1 Pet. 2:1,22; 3:10).

▣ "hypocrisy" This is literally "to judge under." It is a theatrical word used of actors speaking behind a mask.

"envy" This is a jealousy caused by the desire to have something another person possesses (cf. Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10; Rom. 1:29; Phil. 1:15; 1 Tim. 6:4; Titus 3:3; James 4:5).

▣ "slander" This refers to speaking evil of another person, to defame them (cf. Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Pet. 2:1,12; 3:16). This activity is used in both the OT and the NT to describe Satan. It is obvious by its very mentioning that it was also a problem in these early churches who were experiencing such persecution.

2:2 "like newborn babies" This possibly related to Jesus' admonition to His disciples to have faith like little children (cf. Matt. 18:3ff). It also relates to the earlier familial metaphor of being born again (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3,23; John 3:3).

In 1 Peter 2, Peter uses several metaphors to describe believers.

1. newborn babes, 1 Pet. 2:1

2. living stones forming a spiritual house, 1 Pet. 2:5

3. a priesthood, 1 Pet. 2:5,9

4. a people, 1 Pet. 2:9-10

5. aliens and strangers, 1 Pet. 2:11

6. sheep, 1 Pet. 2:25

 

▣ "long for" This is an aorist active imperative. This is a strong word for desire (cf. Phil. 1:8; 2:26). Spiritual growth and maturity are not automatic in the Christian's life. The essence of this command may be seen in Ps. 42:1-4 and Matt. 5:6.

▣ "the pure" This is a term taken from the wine industry of the first century. It is the term dolon (guile, cf. 1 Pet. 1:1) with the alpha privative. Wine was often mixed with water, especially older wine. Often merchants tried to sell watered down or diluted wine. Therefore, this term was used metaphorically of that which was "unmixed"or "genuine."

Keeping with the contextual metaphor of newborn baby Christians, this refers to the necessary nourishment of babies, milk. These people were saved by the word of God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:23); now they need to develop in the word of God. This is an expected and required result of new birth. Oh, the tragedy of believers remaining baby Christians.

▣ "milk" Tertullian gave "new believers" milk and honey after their baptism as a symbol of their new life in Christ based on this very texts. We need the truth of God, which is revealed in Christ and the preaching of the Apostles continually (cf. Heb. 5:12).

NASB, NKJV"of the word"
NRSV, TEV,
NJB"spiritual"

This is the philosophical term logikos as in Rom. 12:1. It can refer to mental reasoning (cf. NASB, NKJV) or metaphorically of the spiritual (cf. NRSV, TEV, NJB). It is obviously related to the new believers' need for Apostolic preaching and teaching (cf. 1 Pet. 1:23-25). Believers need to read and know the Bible.

▣ "you may grow in respect to salvation" This is an Aorist passive subjunctive. Apostolic preaching is personified as the agent of the passive voice, which causes believers to grow. Salvation is viewed in the NT as

1. a past decision (aorist tense)

2. an ongoing process (present tense)

3. a past event culminating in a current state (perfect tense)

4. a future consummation (future tense)

This context is stating that spiritual growth by means of God's revealed truth (cf. 1 Pet. 1:23,25; 2:2) is crucial for a consummated Christian life. See Special Topic at 1 Pet. 1:5.

2:3 "if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord" This is a first class conditional which is assumed to be true. Believers who have experienced the grace of God are expected to desire God's truth and grow in God's truth into a full and complete salvation. Verse 3 is an allusion to Ps. 34:8. The Psalm refers to YHWH, but here it refers to Jesus. The United Bible Societies Handbook on the First Letter from Peter asserts that this may refer to a believer's first communion (p. 53).

1. a word play between kindness (chrēstos) and Christ (Christos)

2. Psalm 34 was used by the early church during communion services

3. "taste" (aorist tense) refers to the first communion (possibly after baptism)

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Is Peter writing to Jews or Gentiles, or both?

2. What is the central truth of Peter's prayer in 1 Pet. 1:3-9?

3. Why do Christians suffer?

4. Why is our salvation said to be still in the future?

5. What did the OT prophets long to know in 1 Pet. 1:10-12?

6. List the commands found in 1 Pet. 1:13-22.

7.  What do new believers need most?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods, Sanctification