Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
- God’s mercy is great.
- God the Father has caused us to be born again.
- God the Father has caused us to live in hope.
- God the Father caused us to be born again and live in hope by raising Jesus from the dead.
- God the Father has given us an inheritance that was imperishable.
- God the Father has given us an inheritance that was undefiled and unfading.
- God the Father has given us an inheritance that is kept in heaven.
- We are guarded by God’s power through faith.
- We are guarded by God’s power for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last days.
- We rejoice in our rebirth, inheritance, hope and salvation.
- Our trials and grief are necessary.
- Trails of our faith are result in praise and glory for Jesus Christ.
- Our faith is more precious than refined gold.
- The elect exiles loved Jesus even though they had not seen Hm.
- The elect exiles believed in Jesus thought they had not seen Him.
- The elect exiles’ joy was inexpressible and filled with glory.
- The outcome of the exiles faith was their salvation.
- The prophets prophesied about the grace that belonged to the exiles.
- The prophets searched and inquired carefully concerning the coming of Christ.
- The prophets were not serving themselves but the elect exiles.
- The prophets served the elect by preaching the good news.
- The prophets preached the good news by the Holy Spirit.
- The things the prophets announced the angles longed to see.
The purpose of this letter is to encourage so that we are able to sustain the spiritual battles which will most definitely come. The surest way to do that is by explaining the benefits we have as adopted children of God. That is why Peter extols the grace of God. It is God who caused us to be to be born again. It is God who gives us a living hope through the resurrection of Christ. It is God who gives us an inheritance which is both pure and eternal. God gives us an inheritance which is kept in heaven just for us. This idea of the inheritance is to impress on our minds the grace of God. God does not indiscriminately grant grace to everyone. He grants His grace according to His own purpose and will. Peter calls attention to this by drawing our attention to faith, “Who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation.” Here Peter’s intention is to eliminate any fear that the reader may have about being legitimate heirs of God. He points out, it is faith that reaches into heaven and brings us the blessing of God.
Not only are we saved by the will of God, but we are kept and guarded by the power of God’s will. This is also why it is important to understand that God is unchanging. His will does not change. Therefore, we can rest assured that God will preserve us to the end. Peter in verses 3-5 directly contradicts those who teach that God will not guard our inheritance, that is, that we can lose our salvation. Peter says very clearly that we are being guarded by God’s power for a salvation to be revealed in the last time.
Peter’s comment in verse 6 appears confusing. He says that we rejoice even though we grieve. These two emotions are in opposition to each other. Those who are redeemed by God are not stones who do not feel human emotions. We feel deeply the pain of suffering. We grieve when our sons or daughters or grandchildren have cancer. When family members are in an automobile accident and suffer paralyzes we grieve. When we are betrayed by a spouse we grieve. We understand deeply the pain suffering and injustice of this present world. Being a Christian does not remove those emotions. We are not stoics who say, “Oh well, whatever will be, will be.” In many cases those emotions are intensified because, as Christians, we are aware of suffering and injustice to an even greater degree. Peter is saying that while we grieve we suffer willingly. We bear the burden of suffering as ox or horse bears a burden. While the ungodly kick and fight and resist to no avail, much like an untrained ox or wild horse.
Our faith is tested by trails. But Peter points out faith is more precious than gold. Gold is refined by fire which removes all the impurities. So too, our faith is refined by testing. To remove all the impurities from our faith we go through testing. Testing is not pleasant and yet its benefits are proven. It refines our faith. In that fact, we can be joyful God is refining us. As we persevere though each trial we can rejoice that God has refined our faith a little bit more. We have become a little more like Him. That is why Peter can say we rejoice while we suffer grief.
Peter commends the readers that even though they have not seen Jesus they love Him, and they believe in Him. They had faith. And they had a faith that was being refined. Faith is not measured by sight. The Christian faith is not based solely on what can be empirically verified. If that were the case the sorrows of this world would be more than we could withstand. Additionally, faith is not a cold emotionless thing. It causes our hearts to love God. That is, faith does not simply believe for no reason or without a cause which would leave us in to a confused state. But faith has Christ as it origin and its object. Faith is given to us as a gift from God (Ephesians 2: 8) Faith does not simply claim the name of Christ but considers what He is to us and the blessings He brings. The Apostle sets before us the outcome of our faith, our eternal salvation.
Salvation is indeed a great value. The prophets of long ago sought it. Yet God has blessed us over the prophets because He has revealed salvation to us. There are two things Peter mentions here that we should not overlook. First, more has been given to us than was given to the ancient fathers of the faith by orders of magnitude. God has given us the grace of the gospel. Second, the gospel is not something new and novel because the Holy Spirit testified about it to the prophets. When Peter says that prophets searched this does not apply to their writing but to the longing and private desires of their heart. They told of the grace Christ brought with His coming. They desperately wanted to know when it would be revealed. The Holy Spirit through the prophets spoke of Christ’s kingdom as it is now and as it will be. They even spoke of how Christ and His body would enter into glory through suffering. In their prophecies, the prophets minister to us more than to their own age. The grace we have received is even greater than the prophets received because of what has been revealed to us through Christ. Even the angels longed to see what has been revealed to us.
It is popular in many circles today to claim that God wants you to be a champion. You are a winner. God wants to bring success to your life. This is encouraging to hear. It is motivational. It is inspiring. It is also a lie. To deny suffering in this world is to walk around blind. There is suffering in the world. We have been promised suffering simply because we are Christians. But God uses our suffering to refine our faith, as one refines gold through fire. Therefore we can rejoice in our suffering, even though it is unpleasant, because God is making us righteous.
This is a letter of hope and encouragement. But Peter does not adopt a Pollyannaish posture. He acknowledges the readers have suffered. They have been driven from their homes. The letter is addressed to the “elect exiles of the Dispersion” Peter’s encouragement is to point to what we have been given through Christ and God’s mercy and grace toward us. When we suffer, when we experience setbacks, which we will, that should remain our main focus. As Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”