4. When the Prophets Were at a Loss (1 Peter 1:10-12)
6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 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; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 11 seeking 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. 12 It 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.
When I completed my first year of seminary, our family returned to Washington State for the summer where I worked as a school teacher in a state prison. The prison facilities, known as the “Sheraton Hilton,” were the finest in which I have ever taught. Even the food was good—at least it was better than the cafeteria food I had in college. My wife used to warn me not to tell her what I had for lunch because it would probably be something more expensive than we would eat for dinner.
One particular day, we had just come back to class after a steak lunch. I will never forget one of the inmates complaining about the way his steak was cooked. My wife and I hardly ever ate steak, and here was an inmate complaining about the way his steak had been prepared, as though he were eating in a gourmet restaurant and paying for his high-priced meal. When things are bad, some people do not know just how good they do have it.
When Christians encounter suffering, they often lose their perspective and begin to complain about things which are really not as bad as they appear. Tears in our eyes distort our perspective. Asaph, in Psalm 73, starts looking on his world with myopia. He supposes all the wicked prosper and suffer no pain, while the righteous always suffer unbearably. It simply is not that simple.
The writer to the Hebrews addresses a group of professing Christians who are beginning to suffer persecution for their faith:
32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly, by being made a spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one (Hebrews 10:32-34).
And yet, despite all these saints endured, they had not suffered as badly as many who had gone before them. Contrast the sufferings of some in the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith” with the statement concerning his readers in chapter 12:
35b … others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (Hebrews 11:35b-37).
You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin (Hebrews 12:4).
Those to whom Peter writes are undergoing suffering for their faith. Peter does not offer them pity or sympathy. How can one be pitied in circumstances in which they should rejoice? But often we do pity ourselves when we suffer. We become absorbed in the “pain” of our lives and lose perspective that God is using our suffering for His glory and our good.
Peter puts suffering into its proper perspective in verses 1-12. He has already caused us to look God-ward to see that our salvation, and our suffering, come from the hand of a sovereign God who chose us in eternity past, who has drawn us to Himself through His Spirit, and who has cleansed us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1-3a). Through Him, we have been born again to a living hope. Now, Peter turns our attention to the future, the hope we have in Christ of a salvation which is absolutely sure (1:3b-5).
As we live our lives in this sinful, fallen world among those who hate God, we do suffer for the time being, but our suffering has been sent our way by God to produce a very positive effect. On the one hand, it demonstrates the reality of a genuine faith, and on the other it strengthens our faith—all to the glory of God. In this we are to rejoice as we await the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls (1:6-9).
When we think of success or suffering, we often think in terms of comparison. Asaph compared his suffering to the success of the wicked in Psalm 73. Peter and the other disciples compared their faithfulness and their greatness with one another (Matthew 26:33; Luke 9:46; 22:24). When Jesus spoke to Peter about the suffering he would experience, Peter immediately wanted to compare it to John’s suffering (John 21:18-23).
In verses 10-12, Peter helps his fellow-believers keep their suffering in perspective by making two comparisons. He first compares the Old Testament prophets to New Testament saints. Secondly, Peter compares New Testament saints to angels. What he concludes from this comparison might surprise you.
How often we look back to the Old Testament saints to whom God spoke directly and wish we could have lived in their times. “Ah, for the good old days,” we reason. “If only I could have lived then and walked in such intimacy with God. If only I could have had God tell me personally what to do and what He was going to do.” Peter takes the nostalgia out of this kind of thinking and brings us to a very different view of our present circumstances.
Our study will therefore focus on the two comparisons of: (1) the New Testament suffering saint and the Old Testament prophets (verses 10-12a); and (2) the New Testament suffering saint and the angels (verse 12b).
Profiting From the Prophets
10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 11 seeking 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. 12 It 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 …
The Contribution of the Prophets
The Old Testament prophets contributed far more to us than they realized at the time of their prophecies. As Peter calls our attention to these prophets, he points out the ways in which their ministry touched our lives. Consider the following:
(1) The Old Testament prophets suffered greatly due to their calling, and as such, they provide us with an example of perseverance in persecution.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12; see also 21:33f.; 23:31, 37; Acts 7:51-53).
Like our Lord in the text above, when Peter calls our attention to the prophets he seems to be reminding us that we must also suffer like the prophets for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. The blessings we have received through these prophets, which Peter summarizes in our text, came at great cost to them.
(2) God spoke to us through the prophets because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. It was the “Spirit of Christ” who moved these men to speak. I understand Peter to mean the Holy Spirit, whose task it was to speak of Christ’s coming just as He would later bear witness to His presence among the saints after His death, burial, and resurrection (see John 16:7-15).8 It was He who would guide the apostles as they went forth with the good news of the Gospel (see Acts 16:7). Likewise, the Holy Spirit would empower the preaching of the Gospel so that men might be saved (John 16:7-15; 1 Peter 1:12).
(3) The prophets of old were speaking (prophesying) of a future day. The prophets spoke to the men and women of their own time, but they also spoke of things yet to come to pass. They spoke to men of God’s program for the future, so they might live in the light of the promises of divine blessing and divine judgment.
(4) The Old Testament prophets spoke of the salvation to be accomplished in the future, a salvation by grace. The Old Testament prophets, unlike the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, did not believe men could be saved by law-keeping. They spoke of God’s salvation by grace and not by works. Here, Peter sums up all of God’s future blessings in one word: grace (1:10).
(5) Specifically, the prophets of old spoke of the coming of Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the Messiah, so that the things they foretold are those which are now proclaimed by those who herald the good news of the Gospel.
(6) The prophets spoke of salvation in terms of sufferings, followed by glories. The use of the plural in reference to both suffering and glory is noteworthy, for just as the sufferings of our Lord were many (see Hebrews 5:7-10), so the glories will be many which flow from His death, resurrection, and ascension.
(7) The salvation of which the Old Testament prophets spoke was a salvation for the Gentiles, as well as the Jews. For a long time, Peter, like his Jewish brethren, resisted this reality. So firmly is this truth now embedded in Peter’s heart and mind that he speaks of the Old Testament prophets as having ministered so as to serve the Gentiles.
Paul heartily concurs as we read his exhortation in Romans:
7 Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. 8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the father, 9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO THEE AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO THY NAME.” 10 And again he says, “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE.” 11 And again, “PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.” 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:7-13).
How great a debt of gratitude we should have toward these Old Testament prophets who spoke of our salvation and who ministered to us, suffering greatly as they did.
The Confusion of the Prophets
The Old Testament prophets contributed greatly to the cause of Christianity, and the cost to them was great. But the prophets did not fully grasp the meaning of their ministry at the time. It is a very different thing for us to look back on their ministry from the vantage point of the gospel than for them to look forward, without knowing all that their words meant.
It may be difficult to grasp that Peter is contrasting our understanding of the gospel with the “ignorance” of the Old Testament prophets. Consider with me the reasons for this “ignorance” of which Peter speaks.
(1) First, we must realize that being a prophet means you have a message, not that you understand its meaning. Peter’s words indicate the prophets had the message of salvation, by grace, through Jesus Christ, for Jews and Gentiles. But he also indicates they did not fully comprehend all of this. They conveyed the message of God’s coming salvation, but the meaning of their message was not known until Christ actually came.
Consider, for instance, Agabas in the New Testament, who informed Paul that the Jews would arrest him when he reached Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14). This revelation produced an immediate reaction, and unanimously, Paul was urged not to go to Jerusalem. Gently rebuking them, Paul conveyed his firm resolve to go to Jerusalem even though death might await him there. The group reluctantly gave in, saying, “The will of the Lord be done!”
Interestingly in this prophecy, it seems clear Agabas did not urge Paul to go to Jerusalem; he either says nothing at all, or he joins with the rest in begging Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. Agabas had a message from God, a message which others had confirmed (Acts 20:22-23). Agabas does not seem to have been told the meaning—that Paul was being prepared for his suffering and arrest, rather than being prevented from experiencing it. Prophets do not know everything, and neither do they necessarily even understand what they have said.
(2) Many prophecies were not even recognized as prophecies. Few of the prophecies fulfilled in the first coming of our Lord were recognized as such at the time they were given or even later on. When we come to the Gospels, we frequently find an expression like this: “that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled … ” (Matthew 1:23). The prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ in Isaiah 7:14 was not regarded as a prophecy until after its fulfillment. So it was also with the prophecies that Jesus would come up from Egypt (Matthew 2:15, citing Hosea 11:1) and that He would be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23). Jesus having come from Nazareth was viewed as a problem rather than as a prophecy (John 1:44-46).
Until after the fact, Psalm 22 was not recognized as a prediction of the circumstances of our Lord’s crucifixion nor was Psalm 16 understood to foretell His resurrection. Unless Paul had told us, who would have imagined that our Lord was the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7) or that He was the “rock” which followed Israel in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4)? At least one prophecy which Israel understood as Messianic was Micah 5:2 (see Matthew 2:4-6).
(3) Old Testament prophecies were often perplexing, because of unclear distinctions, or apparent contradictions, which would not be harmonized until Christ’s coming. This confusion is evident in the answer given to our Lord’s question:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; some Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:13-14).
The people were unclear about which prophecies were truly Messianic and which were not. They were not clear even about just who the Messiah would be.
Jesus capitalized on this ignorance by asking this question of His opponents:
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT THINE ENEMIES BENEATH THEY FEET?”’ If David then calls Him ‘Lord’, how is He his son?” (Matthew 22:41-44).
They had been asking Him questions seeking to embarrass and discredit Him publicly. Let them answer His question. How could the Messiah be David’s Lord and David’s Son at the same time? Here was another mystery, solved only in the coming of our Lord as God incarnate.
When the Old Testament prophets spoke of “suffering” and “glory,” it was often in a somewhat different context than the “sufferings” and “glories” of Messiah. They spoke of Israel’s suffering and of her glory. The term “servant” in Isaiah was puzzling, because it often referred to different individuals. It was used of Isaiah (20:3), of Eliakim (22:20), of David (37:35), and often of Israel (see 41:8-9; 44:1; 45:4; 49:13). But it was also used of Messiah (see 42:1; 49:5-6; 52;13; 53:11). Is it any wonder there was confusion about the identity of the “Suffering Servant”?
(4) The prophets were given only one small piece of a much larger puzzle. The prophets had trouble understanding the meaning of their “piece” of the puzzle, let alone being able to see the entire picture of God’s prophetic plan and purpose.
When Jesus explained His sufferings and glories to His followers, He did not do so from a single Old Testament text but from all the texts together. Only then do the pieces fit together to produce a picture:
25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27, emphasis mine).
44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44-47, emphasis mine).
Peter said the same thing as he declared that Jesus was the Messiah to those in Jerusalem:
18 “But the things which God announced before hand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:18-21).
When Paul explains the marvelous plan of God to save both Jews and Gentiles in Romans 9-11, he cites nearly two dozen Old Testament texts from at least nine Old Testament books. One cannot expound the Old Testament’s teaching concerning Messiah without including all the pieces of prophecy found there. No one passage, and certainly no one prophet, had the picture which was later seen in the light of our Lord’s first coming and in light of all those prophecies fulfilled by Him.
The Prophets’ Private Revelation
While the Old Testament prophets made a monumental contribution to the cause of the gospel, they were confused. They were confused because they could not understand how the events they predicted would take place. Our text tells us they carefully searched and studied their own prophecies, “seeking 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” (1:11).
There are differences of opinion concerning how the words of verse 11 should be translated. The NASB translates the words of the original text to inform us that the prophets not only struggled to learn the circumstances surrounding the time of the fulfillment of their prophecies, but they also were perplexed as to who would fulfill them. They sought to know both the “person” and the “time” of which they were speaking.
Until now, I have failed to understand the degree to which Peter indicates the prophets were ignorant and confused. I thought the prophets understood they were writing of Messiah, of His sufferings, and of His glories. To me, the mystery was how these two seemingly incompatible elements (suffering and glory) could harmonize in one person. I see now that Peter is telling us that they were speaking both of Christ’s sufferings and of His glories, but that they did not know these were both applied to the same person or the same sequence of events. The prophets did not puzzle over the intertwining of suffering and glory; they were totally befuddled by the details of their prophecies. They just couldn’t put it together.
The words of the disciples to our Lord must be a reflection of the desire of the prophets of old:
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).
The answer to the prophet’s question was not as they would have preferred. They were not told how their prophecies would culminate in the coming of Messiah. They were, however, given revelation in response to their inquiry. This response differed from prophet to prophet. Some, like Daniel in the Old Testament and John in the New, were given quite specific information about the future and then told to “seal it up,” and not to make it public:
10 Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words (Daniel 10:10-12).
1 “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:1-4).
8 As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?” 9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 10 Many will be purged, purified, and refined; but the wicked will act wickedly, and some of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. 11 And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! 13 But as for you, go you way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age” (Daniel 12:8-13).
1 And I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. And he placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4 And when the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken, and do not write them” (Revelation 10:1-4).
All of the prophets were informed concerning one thing: at least a portion of their prophecies were not given for their own benefit or edification or even for those who lived in their times. The details of the prophecies pertaining to the distant future were not revealed to them. Their ministry in these matters was not for themselves but for those who would live centuries after them. Thus, they were informed of the link which God had purposed between them and the New Testament saints. This we also see in the Book of Hebrews:
39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:39-40).
They would have to wait to learn the answers to all their questions. But let these prophets know this: they were a link in the chain of God’s eternal purpose to save a people for Himself, a people that would include both Jews and Gentiles. Theirs was the privilege of playing a part in this plan. They, like every saint throughout history, would have to live by faith, suffering now while assured of the glory of God, their future hope.
The Saints’ Advantage Over Angels
… things into which angels long to look.
The prophets of old shared one thing in common—suffering. If “suffering” is associated with being a prophet, I suggest to you that “glory” is associated with being an angel:
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened (Luke 2:9).
After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory (Revelation 18:1).
Amazingly, with all the glory we find associated with angels, Peter tells us their eyes are fixed on the earth. There is a greater glory yet to be fulfilled, and the angels cannot wait to witness it. They, like the prophets of old, do not seem to understand in advance just how these things will come to pass. Peter informs us of their intense interest in the things presently taking place on earth in light of what is yet to come.9
If the writer to the Hebrews points to the Old Testament saints in general as the great “cloud of witnesses” (12:1), Peter’s “crowd” is that of the Old Testament prophets and the angels who currently look on with great interest.
Do we feel overwhelmed by our suffering? Our troubles are no match for the Old Testament prophets. Do we wish we could live in the “good old days” when God spoke directly to men? No one has ever had it as good as we do now. Why? Because Christ has come, and the mysteries concerning His first coming are now openly proclaimed in the preaching of the gospel. What the prophets, who were “insiders”10 in days gone by, yearned to know, we now know.
And consider the angels, who always seemed to be about either proclaiming God’s plans and purposes or at least witnessing His hand in history. These very angels would seemingly be happy to change places with us. Their eyes are fixed upon the earth, eager to see the unfolding of the glory of God as He fulfills His promise of an eternal kingdom.
The first 12 verses of 1 Peter 1 are all about our perspective. Suffering can certainly warp our perspective. It distorted the thinking of Asaph, as seen in the early verses of Psalm 73. It seems to have adversely affected Elijah, who wanted to bring on the kingdom of God rather than prophesy that it was still yet to come (see 1 Kings 17-19). It even appears to have temporarily shaken John the Baptist, who writes from the vantage point of a prison cell and the possibility of martyrdom (see Luke 7:18-23).
Peter’s teaching in verses 1-12 sets the stage for what follows. Before he calls upon us to practice our faith, Peter first fixes our eyes on the perspective our faith gives us, allowing us to view present suffering from the vantage point of a sure salvation while culminates in the coming of our Lord. We have been chosen by God the Father, set apart to salvation through the Spirit, and cleansed from our sins through the shed blood of the Son (1:1-2). We have been born again unto a living hope, based upon the resurrection of our Lord and bringing forth the glory of His kingdom yet to come. That kingdom is our inheritance, kept for us, just as we are kept for it (1:3-5). Our suffering is divinely purposed to demonstrate and strengthen our faith to our own good and to the glory of God, and thus we rejoice with unspeakable joy, filled with glory, a mere foreshadowing of the glory yet to come (1:6-9).
Before us have gone the prophets, who ministered to us by speaking of the things we now enjoy in Christ. We now understand those things which were a mystery to them. While we may suffer, few will ever experience the persecution that was theirs. And yet they were faithful to their calling, fulfilling their mission and ministry to us. The angels too are a part of the divine plan, and they also eagerly look on to see how God’s plans and promises will be fulfilled. No one has ever been more privileged than we. With this firm foundation, we can go about our lives unshaken by persecution and tribulation, with our hope fixed on the grace that is yet to come.
In addition to this primary message, several other lessons can be learned from our text by implication.
First, this text should indicate the deep and fundamental unity which exists between the Old and New Testaments, and also between the Old Testament and New Testament saints. The prophets spoke of our salvation; they ministered to us. Let us beware of compartmentalizing our salvation so that it stands apart from that salvation promised in the Old Testament, which was received then just as it is today, by faith.
Second, let this text instruct us about the limitations we must accept concerning prophecies yet unfulfilled. Just as the Old Testament prophets pondered their prophecies, so New Testament saints agonize over the details of the fulfillment of yet future events. Let us beware of trying to learn more than God has given us to know. Let us not “fill in the blanks” which God intends to remain blank until those events occur. Let us realize some prophecies are more for those who will live after us than they are for us. We must deal with these mysteries by trusting God, knowing that the future is in His hands, that glory does await us, and that suffering may be our present lot.
Third, in light of the fulfillment of many prophecies, let us be reminded of the privileges and responsibilities which come with receiving divine revelation. As Jesus told those who heard Him,
“For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:17)
Those to whom He spoke were those who had rejected His teaching, and who were, from that point on, to hear parables rather than clear proclamation. To receive divine revelation and reject it is most serious, as we see in the writer to the Hebrews’ solemn warning:
1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Hebrews 2:1-4).
Let us take heed to the word which we have received as saints, not only unto salvation, but also unto obedience to His glory and to our good.
8 “Normally the prophets are simply said to have the Spirit of God or a Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 10:6; Ezra 2:2; Hos. 9:7; Joel 2:28; 2 Pet. 2:21), but Peter here, like Paul in Rom. 8:9 (the only other place in the NT where the phrase ‘Spirit of Christ’ is used), wishes to underline that the Spirit is not only from Christ but witnesses to Christ, whom he represents . . . .” J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1988), p. 62).
9 “Peter seems to imply that angels stand outside the redemptive realm and cannot understand it in terms of their own experience (cf. Heb. 2:16). First Corinthians 4:9; Ephesians 3;10; and 1 Timothy 3:16 likewise picture the supernatural world eagerly observing God’s program of human redemption. The concept seems grounded in Jesus’ words in Luke 15:7, 10 where angels are said to rejoice over one repentant sinner.” D. Edmond Hiebert, First Peter (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), p. 71.
10 “The effect of Peter’s substance and style is to encourage his readers and strengthen their sense of identity. They are the ‘insiders’ while the great prophets of the Jewish past and even the angels in heaven are in some sense ‘outsiders’--friendly ‘outsiders’ who help bring the plan of God to realization, but ‘outsiders’ nonetheless.” J. Ramsey Michaels, I Peter (Waco: Word Books, 1988), p. 50.
Related Topics: Prophecy/Revelation