Peter was one of the twelve disciples who was the first to identify Jesus as the Lord Christ who had "words of eternal life" (Matthew 16:16; John 6:66-69; 18:10). Peter was one of the more zealous disciples boldly saying that he would "die for Jesus" (Matthew 26:35).
Yet we know that less than 24 hours after this bold statement, Peter denied Jesus three times just as Jesus predicted (Matthew 26:70-75; John 13:37-38; 18:25-27). For other examples of Peter's unbelief, see Matthew 14:29-30; 16:23; 17:4, and Galatians 2:11-13.
Yet, Jesus did not look at the immediate reality and give up on Peter. He saw what Peter could become. He saw that potential from the first moment he saw Peter when he changed his name from Simon to Peter because Peter means "stone/rock" in Greek (John 1:42; Matthew 16:17-19). Jesus did not freeze Peter in time but saw his potential in the future.
1 & 2 Peter indicates what Peter had become. He followed Jesus' parting admonition by tending and shepherding the sheep (Acts; John 21:15-25). He definitely lived out his identity name of "rock"! He was even willing to die for His faith. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down. You can read more discussion on that topic HERE.
Peter wrote this letter about A.D. 62-63. He did it to encourage the suffering Jewish Christians driven out of Jerusalem and scattered throughout northern Asia Minor (modern Turkey) to stand fast in order to witness to a watching world (5:12). The persecutions were probably those under Emperor Nero. This letter was also written to Gentile believers who were probably in these local churches.
It is believed he wrote it from Rome (referred to as "Babylon" in 1 Peter 5:13. Rome is called Babylon in Revelation 17:5 and 18:10). He encouraged them to stand fast in the grace of God amidst suffering which is referred to fifteen times in this letter.
1 Peter 1
Peter called the recipients of this letter "strangers" (1:1; 2:11) because they were citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:8-16). He also called them "scattered" (diaspora). This referred to Jews who lived outside of Palestine, but this letter is for both Jew and Gentile believers (1:14, 18; 2:9-10; 4:1-4). These believers had been chosen according to God's predetermined plan. "To foreknow means 'to set one's love on a person or persons in a personal way" (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, 1 Peter 1:2-4, p. 391).
After his introduction, Peter goes on to encourage them in the midst of their trials, encouraging them to rejoice in them because they have been born again to a living hope that includes the eternal glory of God. The glory of God is "the sum total of all that God is and does" (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, 1 Peter 1:2-4, 391).
This living hope includes an inheritance in glory because we are children of the King (1:4; Romans 8:17-18; Ephesians 1:9-12; John 17:22-24). This inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, reserved, guaranteed, and eternal. Isn't that exciting???? WOOHOO!
Because of this, we are constantly being "shielded by God's power" (1:5). Shielded is a military term. He is our military guard from the enemy through every persecution! I love being a "kept" woman if that is what "kept" means! It is not by my strength but His faithfulness that I am constantly kept. We are kept until Jesus returns where this great salvation will be fully revealed.
Therefore, we can rejoice! The trials of this life will refine us like gold is refined -- making us come forth with a more genuine faith that is prepared for this glory. Regarding the refining process:
No goldsmith would deliberately waste the precious ore. He would put it into the smelting furnace long enough to remove the cheap impurities; then he would pour it out and make from it a beautiful article of, value. It has been said that the Eastern goldsmith kept the metal in the furnace until he could see his face reflected in it. So our Lord keeps us in the furnace of suffering until we reflect the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, 1 Pe 1:6-7, p. 393)I LOVE that Peter gives a shout out to the prophets in 1:10-12. It is a Scarlet Thread of Redemption kind of verse and what the Bible Book Club is all about: seeing that thread of Christ from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The plan of salvation was still a mystery to the Old Testament prophets, but they understood that their Spirit-authored prophecies of Jesus' suffering and glory were for those in a future time who would hear the gospel proclaimed through the Holy Spirit and believe.
What a privilege to be part of this mystery made known. The prophets could only guess, but we do not have to. The gospel is made clear to us. Peter exhorts his recipients to live holy lives in light of Christ's return. He exhorted them to be mentally alert, disciplined, and focused.
He also exhorted them to be holy (1:16; Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26), as God is holy since we have been given His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We are to walk away from our old life of disobedience and darkness into new lives of light (1 John 1:5)! This means "fearing" (reverencing) God and being serious about saying no to sin and living holy lives (1:17). When the Lord returns, there will be a judgment for our works when we are called to the "Judgment Seat of Christ" (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). He will judge us to find something good and not to condemn us.
Then he reminded them that they had been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. God's love and forgiveness should give us love for one another. 1 Peter 2 will deal with the specifics of what that love means.
He closed the chapter by quoting Isaiah 40:6-8. We have been born again through the living and enduring Word of God! We are alive and given the power to change.
I am writing this post on Memorial Day Weekend Sunday; and for some strange reason, I decided to listen to Handel's Messiah this morning! Most of it is Old Testament prophecy. I was typing this New Testament post and got to 1:10-12, and my heart began to sing. It all lines up so well. Jesus is the "king of glory" who came to save us all (Psalm 24:7-10). Isaiah 53 just played and predicted the suffering of Christ (1:11). Perfect timing from a perfect God.
This is a good time to plug Handel's Messiah. In December, we will go through all the Scripture in the movements of Handel's Messiah. This is a great review of all that we have learned over the last three years and is also a great Christmas devotional! I have it as a separate book if you want it for Christmas. Here it is for download: Messiah Meditations. Here are all the posts if you want to read it in blog form: Messiah Meditations Online.
Between the end of our Bible reading in October and Handel's Messiah in December, we will spend November doing a review of everything you learned by going through the Jesse Tree which is a great way to teach your children about the Scarlet Thread of Redemption.
When trials come, do you rejoice or react? What is your theology of suffering? Look up James 1:2-4,12 and Romans 5:1-5. Talk to God about this.
Lord, thank You for trials that purify us. We want them to make us like pure and genuine gold. Amen.