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ABSTRACT: In a day and age where comfort, tolerance, and acceptance are most desirable, Christians can and will find themselves counted as black sheep. Christians will go through trials. Many already do in our world. The message of the Christian is far different than what the world tends to hear. And yet, 1st Peter stands as a reminder of the fact that we are different and are to live differently in this world than the status quo. In this fall’s study of 1st Peter, we will study suffering, Christ’s expectation of suffering on the Christian and the right response to it. The ultimate hope is "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).
CHAPTER 1, LESSON 1
A Lively Hope
1 Peter 1:1-5 LEADER
Supporting Scriptures to be read by attendees:
1 Peter 4:12-13
2 Cor. 12:8-9
THE POINT: Today, we will see that Jesus, having begotten us unto a lively hope and all that this entails by his passion, and the Father who keeps us by His power through faith allows us, sometimes causes us to experience trails in order to try and prove our faith in Him. This faith, given by God, will be kept by God through belief and trust in Jesus.
OVERVIEW: This is the first of two known letters Peter writes. Charles Spurgeon notes, "Our present reading is taken from the First Letter of Peter. It is a letter full of a pastor’s teaching. There is no trace of a priestly spirit, much less that of a Pope. Those who quote wicked legends about Peter being the first Pope can find no support for their foolishness in either of Peter’s letters.” Isn’t it interesting that Spurgeon begins with this quip?
Peter’s authorship has been questioned by some because of the letter’s high Greek style. John MacArthur notes that, first, Peter wasn’t illiterate. He was simply untrained in the Jewish rabbinical system. And, though his primary language was likely Aramaic, Greek would have been a well-used 2nd language, especially given his missionary travels. Also, Peter wrote by Silvanus, also known as Silas. According to MacArthur, "Silvanus was likely the messenger designated to take this letter to its intended readers. But more is implied by this statement in that Peter is acknowledging that Silvanus served as his secretary, otherwise known as an amanuensis. Dictation was common in the ancient Roman world (cf. Paul and Tertius; Rom. 16:22 ), and secretaries often could aid with syntax and grammar. So, Peter, under the superintendence of the Spirit of God, dictated the letter to Silvanus, while Silvanus, who also was a prophet ( Acts 15:32 ), may have aided in some of the composition of the more classical Greek.”
It is not entirely clear who the audience, or the recipients, of this letter, are. Some believe that the audience is almost entirely Jewish Christians. Matthew Henry rather matter-of-factly states that it is written to newly-converted Jews. He is not alone. Dispensationalists typically see this letter also written to Jews with most of the content solely applying to them. John MacArthur, on the other hand, a moderate dispensationalist, himself, believes the letter is written to Gentile Christians.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, writes his first letters to Jewish Christians scattered throughout the area north of Taurus Mountain. Peter calls these people “elect.” So, they’ve heard and positively responded to the gospel. As is typical of many epistles from the apostles, Peter offers a blessing of sorts, what Matthew Henry terms a “congratulations of the dignity and happiness of the state of these believers.” This congratulation includes being given a lively (or living) hope by God’s abundant mercy because of Christ’s resurrection from the dead to an incorruptible inheritance reserved for them in heaven. Christians have been begotten by God (v3) are kept by the power of God through faith (v5) unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (v5). In other words, Christians are saved (justification), being saved (sanctification), and will be saved (glorification). The Jews being addressed are going through “manifold temptations,” though it seems that God, himself, is using it to prepare them for “the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
1:1–9. Salutation; A Living (lively) Hope
v1. Scattered: As mentioned earlier, there is widespread disagreement over the origin of the audience, whether or not they are primarily Jewish or primarily Gentile. The use of the word scattered is telling, as this word is used in several OT passages. Interestingly, Acts 2:9-10 describes those gathered from the regions of Pontus and Cappadocia containing both Jews and proselytes.
- Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia: Almost all of these areas are mentioned in two main places in Acts. Acts 2 at Pentecost, and Acts 18. Galatia and Bithynia are additionally mentioned in Acts 16 when Paul picked up Timothy and was traveling with him. However, the Holy Spirit forbade from entering either region. Instead, they were given the vision to head to Macedonia, which is precisely where Luke adds himself to their travels.
v2. According to the foreknowledge… This word can mean either knowing something is going to happen or, as is the case here, to have forethought, or to pre-arrange for something to happen. Not all the places where people are foreordained versus actions. It is often thought that because a person was predestined that it was because of his or her actions. That largely never happens in the Pauline epistles. The most famous of which is Romans 8:29 where Paul says, “For whom he did foreknow…” In fact, it is in the next chapter that our salvation is compared to Jacob being chosen to lead the nation of Israel and to bear the 12 tribes over and above his older brother, Esau. In cases where “foreknowledge” is attached to a person and not an action, this is pre-arrangement. Through sanctification…unto obedience…In other words, Christ pre-arranged this election by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of becoming obedient unto our Lord. In the introduction to Paul’s epistle to the Romans in 1:1-5, he says this… [READER]. What is this purpose for being set apart by God? Obedience. This is made clear in question 1 of the shorter catechism: “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
v3. Now, Peter offers his opening blessing. We are only going through verse 9 today. His segue isn’t until verse 17. So, we’ll cover the 2nd part of this blessing next time. Blessed be the God...“Salvation is of the Lord.” It is ultimately to God’s glory that any one of us have received God’s gift of everlasting life. Note that it is through God’s mercy, not our free-will choice that we have this living hope. If God merely foreknew our actions, how would it be merciful to beget us? Isn’t the base definition of mercy to receive something we don’t deserve? Another word of choice would be clemency or leniency. It doesn’t seem possible for God to offer mercy, clemency, or leniency if the only thing he foresees is our choice to respond to him. I seem to remember two verses in Romans saying something to the effect of “while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us.” So, it is God who saves. We may call 9-1-1. But, does the call to 9-1-1 save us? No, it is the work of the EMTs, Ambulance, ER doctors and nurses, the medicine. Even more, the Scriptures say God sought us before we sought him. Dr. Luke says Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost.
v4. The doctrine of adoption is implicated strongly here. We are first “elect” in verse 2, and now have an inheritance in verse 4. That’s a big jump! We have gone from being given mercy, clemency, and leniency to in no uncertain terms becoming God’s children. This “living hope” in verse 3 is here described as an inheritance incorruptible (no rust or moth destroys). This inheritance is also undefiled. Revelation 21:27 says speaking of the new Jerusalem, “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” So, Scripture defines what it means to defile as working abomination or making a lie. To be undefiled is to have one’s name written in the Lamb’s book of life. It is Jesus who saves.
v5. Further, as God sheds abroad his abundant mercy, begetting us to a living hope, giving us an inheritance as previously described, that we are - and here’s the first segue - kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed.” What hope! He starts this way very intentionally. He ends and transitions with the word “kept” as a promise and hope through suffering.