The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
October 31, 2010


1) 1 Peter 1:1-5 (Tom Edwards)


1 Peter 1:1-5
by Tom Edwards

In this epistle, which was written about A.D. 64 or 65, Peter is writing to those whom he refers to that "reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Pet. 1:1).  These places were provinces in the Roman Empire, in an area called "Asia Minor," which is situated in the region of modern-day Turkey.  

The people addressed were Christians that were primarily Gentiles (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9,10) and undergoing persecution. There are actually, at least, a dozen passages in this epistle that speak of suffering for the cause of Christ, which is a major theme of the book.  Notice, for example, 1 Peter 4:12-16.  Peter addresses them as "Beloved" and urges them to "...not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation...."

There were different ways in which early Christians were persecuted.  Sometimes it was through very torturous means, such as literal fires, having their bodies pulled apart on the racks, or being devoured by wild beasts.   Foxes' Book of Martyrs gives some graphically horrifying descriptions of various methods that had been inflicted upon early believers.  These were the physical persecutions.  Other times, too, the Christians would be persecuted through verbal means.  As Peter shows in 1 Peter 4:14, "if you are reviled for the name of Christ...."  This was definitely happening to these saints.  In 1 Peter 3:16,17, they are told, "and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.   For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong."

In commenting on this book, Roy E. Cogdill writes, "The chief value of First Peter is that it shows Christians how to live a redeemed life in the midst of a world contrary and hostile to them. It also points out that salvation may involve suffering but that this can be patiently endured because of the hope which the grace of God has made possible for the Christian and because God's grace is supplied to him to help him endure it."

Those addressed are referred to as "aliens" (NASB) or "strangers" (KJV).  Not only were many of the early Christians driven to other localities -- due to persecution (Acts 8:4) -- but just like any other child of God, they were also, in a sense, aliens in this world, pilgrims just passing through. "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20).  

That was also the way many Old Testament believers had viewed themselves -- as being "...strangers and exiles on the earth" who were "seeking a country of their own...a better country, that is, a heavenly one..." where God "has prepared a city for them" (Heb. 11:13-16).

The idea of our time on earth being like a short journey appears to also be implied in Peter's exhortation in 1 Peter 1:17: "...conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth."  In view of that, the saint needs to be careful to keep unstained from the world and maintain the proper influence upon others that will have a  positive effect, as Peter instructs in 1 Peter 2:11,12: "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."

Peter refers to those whom he is addressing as having been "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God."  But this was not an arbitrary choice, in which God had pre-selected certain ones to salvation -- regardless of their faith, willingness to be saved, and obedience.  Rather, it refers to the Lord's plan of salvation, which was in God's mind before the world began (Eph. 3:8-11).  In that plan, we note in 1 Peter 1:2 that it would be necessary for one "to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood."   In doing so, that person will then be sanctified (or set apart) by the Spirit. For it is God's word (which has been given by the Holy Spirit) that shows what one must do to be sanctified: hear the word (Rom. 1:16; 10:17), repent of sins (Luke 13:5), believe in Christ (Jn. 8:24), acknowledge one's faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), be baptized in water to have sins forgiven (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21), and continue in the faith (Rev. 2:10).  So from these verses, we can understand clearly why our being covered by the blood of Christ and  sanctified (in 1 Pet. 1) is seen in connection with our obedience to the gospel plan of salvation. This also corresponds with numerous other passages in the New Testament, such as Hebrews 5:9, where it is pointed out that Jesus "...became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation."

The fact that God's choice of us would be based on our submission to His predetermined plan --  and, therefore, our need to respond to that plan -- can also be seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14: "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.   It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

When does one have faith in the truth?  Was this before the world began -- or after one has heard the word?  As pointed out earlier, "faith comes by hearing the word of God" (Rom. 10:17); and that message, the gospel, is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16).  If man wants the faith that saves, he has the responsibility toward acquiring that and submitting to it.  To ignore that, is to ignore the calling of God -- as 2 Thessalonians 2:14 would imply: Paul states in that verse that the Lord "called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."  In 1 Peter 1:2, Peter speaks of those who obey the Lord as being the ones who will be "sprinkled by His blood."  This is an allusion to items in the OT that were also sprinkled with blood (Heb. 9:16-26); but only the blood of Christ can truly blot out sin (Heb. 10:4-12).  

For those who believe that the Father and Son are the same person, such as those who adhere to the "Jesus only" doctrine -- that Christ is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- note that 1 Peter 1:3 shows a distinction in the Father and the Son: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...."

Peter then shows that the Lord has "caused us to be born again..." (1:3).  Jesus taught the need for this in John 3:3-5, when explaining to Nicodemus that one must be born again in order to "enter into the kingdom of God."  In other words, without the new birth, people will die in their sins and be eternally lost.  He also shows that this new birth would be by "water and the Spirit" (v. 5).  To see in the Scriptures of water in connection with the new birth, consider Romans 6:3,4: "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."

The "newness of life" is the new birth, and this passage shows that it is received after our baptism -- not before (as so many mistakenly believe today).  This is why Peter declares in 1 Peter 3:21 that "...baptism now saves you...."  It saves because it completes the process, whereby one can be born again -- to be born of water and the Spirit.

Note, too, what kind of hope being born again can lead to -- a "living hope," because it is based on God's word, and to have that word is to have spiritual life.  Jesus spoke of this in John 6:63: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life."

Peter, too, was well aware of the life within God's word.  Notice how he refers to it in 1 Peter 1:23, "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God."  It is "the living and enduring word of God"; and the contrast of it with flesh, which is likened to grass and flowers, also emphasizes its imperishable nature -- for "the word of the Lord endures forever" (1 Peter 1:24,25).  It had also been Peter who responded to the Lord's question,"You do not want to go away also, do you?," by saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life" (Jn. 6:67,68).

The hope of the Bible is set apart from all other hopes -- for it far exceeds any other kind.   For instance, what hope could the world give to Sarah who had been not only barren, but was also now way past the years of childbearing (even if she hadn't been barren)?  But God said, "Sarah shall have a son" (Gen. 18:14) -- and that made all the difference!  That also enabled Abraham to have "hope against hope," as Paul speaks of in Romans 4:17-21.  

Paul points out that we are saved by hope (Rom. 8:24); and the Hebrew writer poetically speaks of it in Hebrews 6:19, but let us read its surrounding verses as well -- Hebrews 6:18-20: "so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

This "living hope" has been made possible by the resurrection of Christ, which was another vitally important event for every lost soul.  For, as Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 15, there would be great hopelessness had it not been for Jesus arising from the dead.  For without His resurrection, preaching and faith would be vain (v. 14), we would still be in our sins (v. 17), those who die would perish (v. 18),  and we who have hoped in Christ would be most to be pitied (v. 19). Peter also shows that it is because Christ arose from the dead that baptism can now save us (1 Pet. 3:21).    

In this world, the newest of things we buy will eventually become tarnished, weathered, or aged -- and might even break.  But in contrast to that, the Christian's inheritance in heaven is "imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away" (1 Pet. 1:4).  This is certainly a great reason to seek the heavenly treasures, as the Lord urges His people to do in Matthew 6:19-21, where He also shows a major contrast between earthly and heavenly possessions.  

The thought of being in heaven forever can serve as a major motivating factor in our walk with God, just as it was for Abraham.  For "...he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:8-10).  Compare also Hebrews 11:24-27, which speaks of Moses who considered suffering with God's people greater value than the pleasures of sin -- for "he was looking to the reward."  Similarly, those of Hebrews 10:32-36 could accept joyfully the seizure of their property, for they knew they had for themselves "a better possession and a lasting one."

Peter speaks of those "who are protected [kept, KJV] by the power of God" in 1 Peter 1:5.   The word "protected" comes from the Greek word "phroureo," which Strong defines as "to guard."  It is actually a military term.  It is used in 2 Corinthians 11:32 where it speaks of "the ethnarch... [who was] guarding the city...."  It is also used in Philippians 4:6,7, with reference to God's peace being able to "guard" the Christian's heart and mind.  One certainly cannot be protected any better than by God Himself.  Jesus promises His sheep who "hear" and "follow" that "they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand..." (John 10:27-29).  

Consider Paul's confidence in the Lord, as expressed in 2 Timothy 1:12, which was written during his second Roman imprisonment and shortly before his death: "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."  And also 2 Timothy 4:18, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen."

That this safety is based on our meeting certain conditions, can also be seen in 1 Peter 1:5:  We are "protected by the power of God THROUGH FAITH...." Though many people today believe that one is kept by the power of God and, therefore, can never be lost, they seem to overlook the need for one to maintain the right kind of faith.  That is the individual's responsibility.  For the Bible makes it clear that the Christian can fall away and be lost: 2 Peter 2:20-22; James 5:19,20.  Therefore, we need to take heed to the Hebrew writer's exhortation in Hebrews 3:12-14, to "encourage one another day after day...so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin..."  For it is possible to fall away from the living God (v. 12).  So obviously the faith we need cannot be merely a "dead faith," as James speaks of in James 2:20-26; but, rather, the faith that is obedient to the Lord.  

One is "protected by the power of God through faith FOR A SALVATION READY TO BE REVEALED IN THE LAST TIME" (1 Pet. 1:5).  Though the Christian has salvation from past sins, Peter speaks here of also a future salvation.  We, therefore, have a need to press on for that, as the apostle Paul did.  For toward the end of his life, he was able to say, "...I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith..." (2 Tim.  4:6-8).  Having striven through his life to serve the Lord faithfully, Paul now had this eternal reward in heaven to look forward to -- as anyone else who also lives faithfully can have.  The Hebrew writer also shows  the need for this in Hebrews 10:35-39 by pointing out that the Christian must strive to endure, to do the will of God, and to live by faith -- rather than to shrink back to destruction.  

Jude also exhorts the brethren, in Jude 1:21, to "keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."

The concept that many of our religious friends have today is that they now have eternal life, and since it is eternal they can never lose it.  But in what sense does the Bible show that the Christian has eternal life today?   According to Paul, we have "the hope of eternal life" (Titus 1:2; 3:7), and John calls it "the promise" (1 Jn. 2:25).  

This is what those whom Peter was writing to could strive for -- and even in spite of any persecution.  For even in a world hostile toward the gospel, the Christians could still live for the Lord, shining as lights in the world, and setting forth the right example that would bring glory to God.  

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726
Sunday services: 9:15 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 4 PM (worship)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/audioser.html (audio sermons)


Take the Denham Springs exit (exit 10) off of I-12.  At the end of the exit ramp, turn north.  Go about a stone's throw to Rushing Road.  (You'll see a Starbucks, Circle K, and two other gas stations; with each on each corner.)  Turn left on Rushing Road, and go a little less than 0.3 of a mile.  Hampton Inn will be on the right.  We assemble in its "Meeting Room," which is very close to the reception counter.  Just walk pass the check-in counter; turn right at the hall.  The first and second doors on the left lead to where we meet.