The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Peter

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1 Peter 1

1Pe 1:1

Peter's readers, not necessarily literal Jews (1Pe 1:14; 4:3).

PETER: Simon (Mat 4:18; 10:2), renamed by Jesus (Mat 16:16). His name in Hebrew was probably "Simeon", the Greek equivalent of which was "Simon" (Mat 4:18; 10:2; Act 15:14; 2Pe 1:1). He also had the Aramaic nickname of "Cephas" (Joh 1:42, Gal 2:11). "Peter" is the Gr translation of "Cephas" or "rock".

AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST: Indicates the dignity and authority as one selected by Jesus and given unique responsibilities of ministry in the establishment of the ecclesia (Mat 16:18,19; Mar 3:16; Joh 1:42; Joh 21:15-19).

TO GOD'S ELECT: A central theme and the foundation of spiritual blessing (cf Deu 4:37; 7:6; 14:2; Psa 105:6,43; Isa 45:4; Eph 1:4-5).

STRANGERS: "Sojourners" (RV), or pilgrims: Heb 11:13; 13:14; Eph 2:19; Phi 3:20.

SCATTERED: Gr "diaspora". From rt "to sow" (a seed), the dispersion -- scattered abroad by persecution, as the early believers were scattered from Jerusalem (Act 8:4).

PONTUS, GALATIA, CAPPADOCIA, ASIA AND BITHYNIA: These were the Roman provinces north of the Taurus Mountains, in what is today Turkey.

ASIA: Asia in the NT is always the Roman province of Asia, made up of about one-third of the west and sw end of modern Asia Minor. Asia lay to the west of the region of Phrygia and Galatia.

1Pe 1:2

CHOSEN: "Elect" (AV). See Act 15:14: "God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself." Cp Mat 24:24-31.

FOREKNOWLEDGE: Known beforehand by God, and predestined (or marked out beforehand): Eph 1:4; Rom 8:29,33.

THROUGH THE SANCTIFYING WORK OF THE SPIRIT: The human spirit: Spiritual Israel was to be sanctified morally, as national Israel had been set apart physically.

SPRINKLING: A Mosaic ritual, of sacrificial death (Heb 9:19; 10:22; 12:24). Why "sprinkling"? Becs the blood belongs to Christ, the Passover lamb (vv 18,19).

IN ABUNDANCE: "In full measure" (NET).

"God elects saints for His kingdom, not by foregone conclusions which are irreversible; but men are 'elect through sanctification of spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ' (1Pe 1:2). This reveals to us the means, and design of the election in relation to the present time. 'Sanctification of spirit' is the means; 'obedience and sprinkling of Christ's blood,' the end. How this is brought about is explained in these words -- 'Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit' (1Pe 1:22). The manner in which men are brought to obedience, and purification by the sprinkled blood, through the spirit, is practically explained in the use of the keys by Peter on the day of Pentecost, and at the house of Cornelius. The spirit through the apostle 'convinced men of sin, and righteousness, and judgment to come;' and confirmed his words by the signs which accompanied them. They believed and obeyed the truth; and 'in obeying it' were purified from all past sins by faith in the blood of sprinkling. Thus, they were 'washed, sanctified, and justified by the name of the Lord, and by the spirit of God;' and after this manner elected according to His foreknowledge and predetermination" (Elp 236).

1Pe 1:3

A LIVING HOPE: The "blessed hope", or "the hope of the blessing": Tit 2:13.

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD: For Peter, this was the central feature of his faith. And so it should be for us. If we are to make it thru sufferings and difficulties, turmoil in our lives and in our families and in our ecclesias, then we must hold on to the Atonement -- as something which is meaningful to us in our daily lives.

1Pe 1:4

INHERITANCE: "To be unto him a people of inheritance" (Deu 4:20, etc). The inheritance = the Kingdom (Mat 25:34), the earth (Mat 5:5), and eternal life (Mat 19:29), by promise (Gal 3:18,29; cp 1Pe 3:9) thru the Word of God (Act 20:32).

THAT CAN NEVER PERISH: Ref change in nature (Heb 9:15; 1Co 9:25; 15:52-54). The sw ("aphthartos") has been used to suggest the ravages, the despoiling, brought upon a land by an invading army: our spiritual lives can never be taken away from us by the worst of trials and troubles, even by persecution or death.

NEVER... SPOIL: "Amianton". Ref change in character: Rev 21:8,27. Sig to defile, to find a defect or flaw in the title; in NT only here, Jam 1:27; Heb 13:4.

OR FADE: Gr "amaranton". "From 'marainoo' (to dry up, to wither, as in Jam 1:11), late and rare word in several inscriptions on tombs, here only in NT. These inscriptions will fade away, but not this inheritance in Christ. It will not be like a faded rose" (RWP).

KEPT: Guarded, preserved: Psa 31:19; Mat 6:25-29; Joh 14:2; 2Ti 4:8.

1Pe 1:5

THROUGH FAITH: Necessary to please God (Heb 11:6); comes by hearing (Rom 10:17). Faith is knowledge (2Ti 3:15) and conviction that God cannot lie (Heb 6:18), and will fulfill His promises (Rom 4:20,21).

SHIELDED BY GOD'S POWER: // "peace of God", which guards us (Phi 4:7). "Peace" = atonement, properly understood (cp Rom 5:1-3). Shielded by angels: Psa 34:6,7; Rom 8:35-39; Heb 1:14.

SHIELDED: " 'Phroureo': to garrison; from an old verb (related to 'sentinel'), a military term (Act 9:24; 2Co 11:32), used of God's love (Phi 4:7) as here. 'The inheritance is kept; the heirs are guarded' (Bengel)" (RWP).

1Pe 1:6

FOR A LITTLE WHILE: "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2Co 4:17,18).

1Pe 1:7

Peter's "precious" things: trials (1Pe 1:7), blood of Christ (1Pe 1:18,19), the corner stone (of Christ) (1Pe 2:4,6), Christ himself (1Pe 2:7), faith (2Pe 1:1), and the great promises (2Pe 1:4).

Gold is one of man's most prized objects. When it is refined, its impurities are removed by a fiery process. Though extremely durable, gold belongs to the perishing world-order. Faith, which is more valuable than gold because it lasts longer and reaches beyond this temporal order, is purified in the tests of life. Gold, not faith, is presently valued by men. But God will set His stamp of approval on faith that has been tested, and He will show this when Christ is revealed. Then the believer will openly share in the praise, glory, and honor of God. Cp ideas, Lam 4:2; Job 23:10; Pro 25:4.

"Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not [1Pe 1:7]: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord's faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him' [Job 13:15], is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself, for He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, which are His own handiwork. When 'tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope' [Rom 5:3,4], the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights" (CHS).

"Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too" (CHS).

"A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials" (Chinese proverb).

"It is the wounded oyster that mends its shell with pearl" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Trials help develop diamonds from coal.

WHEN JESUS CHRIST IS REVEALED: "Revealed" = Gr "apokalupsis", from which Apocalypse (or Revelation) comes. The return of Christ: the true Christian hope: 1Co 4:5; 11:26; 1Th 4:16; Tit 2:13; Heb 9:28; Psa 110.

1Pe 1:8


YOU LOVE HIM: This is not a natural thing. We love him because he first loved us: 1Jo 4:19.

INEXPRESSIBLE: "That which cannot be uttered": cp 2Co 9:15; 12:4 (different wds); Rom 8:26 (same rt wd).

1Pe 1:9

YOU ARE RECEIVING: In middle voice, hence that which you are doing for yourself: ie, 'you are getting, acquiring'.

1Pe 1:10

THE PROPHETS... SEARCHED INTENTLY: Even the prophets themselves did not always fully understand the messages they received, and passed along to others: consider Dan 8:27; 9:2...; 12:8; Luk 10:24).

1Pe 1:11

THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST: God's One Spirit (Eph 4:4), telling OT prophets of Jesus Christ (Neh 9:20; 2Pe 1:21).

SUFFERINGS... GLORY: The content of the prophecies embraced both the "sufferings" and the "glories" of Christ (cf Luke 24:26). Both words are plural. The gospels list various aspects of the predicted sufferings of Christ -- eg, hatred by his people, betrayal by his friend, being forsaken by his flock, his scourging and crucifixion (Isa 53:2; Psa 22:1), etc. His glories include his transfiguration (2Pe 1:17), his resurrection (2Pe 1:21), his glorious return, and his millennial reign (Isa 53:12; Psa 22:27).

1Pe 1:12


EVEN ANGELS LONG...: Angel: "Who is worthy to open book?" (Rev 5:2,11). The Scriptures reveal that the angels have intense interest in human salvation. They rejoice at the conversion of a sinner (Luk 15:10); they closely observed and ministered to Jesus (1Ti 3:16); they will rejoice in songs of praise at the completion of redemption (Rev 5:11-14) ."Yet by ct with this hvnly excitement many a modern 'saint' can hardly bring himself to a cursory reading of the gospels twice a year" (WGos 267).

TO LOOK INTO: Sig 'to stoop over to look." It implies willingness to exert or inconvenience oneself to obtain a better perspective. Here the present tense gives it a continuous aspect. The verb is also used in Luk 24:12; Joh 20:5,11; and Jam 1:25. It means a continuous regard rather than a quick look. Cp Exo 25:20: cherubim continually looking into the ark of covt. Thus cherubim = angels here!

1Pe 1:13

Vv 13-16: See Article, Be ye holy (1Pe 1:13-16).

PREPARE YOUR MINDS FOR ACTION: Replaces KJV's literal translation "Gird up the loins of your mind." The figure is of a man gathering the folds of his long garment and tucking it into his belt so that he can move freely and quickly (cf 1Ki 18:46; Jer 1:17; Luk 17:8). This was esp true at Passover (Exo 12:11). Related uses of the figure occur in Luk 12:35 and Eph 6:14. "Pull yourselves together" is a comparable English idiom.

"Discipline yourself. Keep bringing yourself back very frequently to the basic purpose of your life. As far as practical, pause very briefly every hour on the hour for reorientation of your thoughts and activities. Put aside all passing problems for a moment alone with God and with His eternal peace. Our greatest problem is distraction and forgetfulness. The whole weight of the natural mind is toward low and present things. We must keep pulling the mind upward. It is not merely for man's convenience that God has caused the day to be divided into hours. They should be points of reference, compass settings, memory markers. Like the year and the month and the day and the seven-day cycle, they are measuring milestones to remind us to pause, review and refresh ourselves. We mean well, we plan well, and we determine well: but remembering and staying consistently on course are our besetting problems. Set yourself up periodic memory points, course-checking points. Of course the ideal is constant unwavering awareness; a perfect, undeviating, arrow-straight course toward the eternal goal. But we are weak creatures. Life is an endless, painful (though joyful and glorious) struggle to keep bringing ourselves back to being what we ought to be and doing what we ought to do" (GVG).

"Well done is better than well said" (New England proverb). "You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind" (Irish proverb).

BE SELF-CONTROLLED: The Gr present participle is "nephontes" and implies another figure. The original meaning of "nepho" related to abstaining from excessive use of wine. In the NT its sense broadens to "live soberly" -- a meaning that embraces sound judgment in all areas of life.

SET YOUR HOPE FULLY ON THE GRACE TO BE GIVEN YOU WHEN JESUS CHRIST IS REVEALED: Now we are God's children, John wrote, but when Christ returns, we will be like him (1Jo 3:2,3). This longing for the Second Coming permeates the NT writings (cf Act 1:11; Rom 11:26; 1Co 15:51; 1Th 4:13-17; Heb 9:28; Jam 5:8; 2Pe 3:12,13; Rev 1:7; 19:11; 22:7-20).

1Pe 1:14

DO NOT CONFORM TO THE EVIL DESIRES: The sw occurs also in Rom 12:2: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world." Peter exhorts Christians to control their desires rather than to be controlled by them. Formerly Christians were in ignorance; now they have come to know God and his will. They are to be "children of obedience" -- a Semitic expression describing not only their quality but also their nature.

1Pe 1:15

Vv 15,16: Holiness embraces purity and moral integrity. Those called to be God's children are to be like him. Peter reinforces this command by citing the LM (Lev 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7). The basic idea of holiness in the Bible is that of separation from all that is profane. The developed sense of holiness includes various meanings translated into English as "purify", "sanctify", "separate from", "dedicate", etc. The simplest understanding of holiness is that of loving conformity to God's commands and to his Son (cf 1Jo 2:4-6). Cp also Joh 17:17; 1Pe 2:9; Jam 4:4; 2Co 7:1; Phi 2:15,16.

IN ALL YOU DO: Translated in KJV "all manner of conversation" -- an old English wd whose meaning has changed. The Gr, "anastrophe", is based on a rt wd meaning "to turn"; thus, lit, "wherever you turn...": it occurs similarly in Gal 1:13; Eph 4:22; 1Ti 4:12; Heb 13:7; Jam 3:13; etc.

1Pe 1:16

Vv 16-19: "There is no motive for holiness so great as that which streams from the veins of Jesus [v 19]" (CHS). See Lesson, Be ye holy (1Pe 1:13-16).

1Pe 1:17

WHO JUDGES EACH MAN'S WORK IMPARTIALLY: Peter had finally learned this lesson: Act 10:34.

LIVE YOUR LIVES... HERE IN REVERENT FEAR: Simply because some people call themselves Christians does not mean that all will be well for them in the Judgment. Justified persons are persons changed by grace and they must walk in good works as the evidence of grace (Eph 2:10). Since judgment is certain, Christians are to live in reverential awe of God (Rom 11:20; 2Co 7:1; Heb 12:28) -- yet not in terror, for peace is one of their prerogatives (1Pe 1:2).

1Pe 1:18

SILVER: The half-shekel of silver was paid at census (Exo 30:12-17), as a redemption price.

REDEEMED: The Gr "lutroo" ("redeem") goes back to the institution of slavery in ancient Rome. Any representative first-century ecclesia would have three kinds of members: slaves, freemen, and freed men. People became slaves in various ways -- thru war, bankruptcy, sale by themselves, sale by parents, or by birth. Slaves normally could look forward to freedom after a certain period of service and often after the payment of a price. Money to buy his freedom could be earned by the slave in his spare time or by doing more than his owner required. Often the price could be provided by someone else. By the payment of a price ("lutron" or "antilutron"), a person could be set free from his bondage or servitude. A freed man was a person who formerly had been a slave but was now redeemed. Jesus described his ministry in Mar 10:45: "The Son of Man... [came] to serve, and to give his life as a ransom [Iutron] for [anti , 'in the place of'] many." See Lesson, Redemption.

THE EMPTY WAY OF LIFE: The redemption of Christians is from the "empty" (Gr "mataios") lifestyle of their ancestors. This implies a pagan lifestyle rather than a Jewish one because the NT stresses the emptiness of paganism (cf Rom 1:21; Eph 4:17).

FOREFATHERS: Could be Jew (Mar 7:13) or Gentile (Col 2:8).

1Pe 1:19

THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, A LAMB...: This stresses the value of the purchase price of redemption and at the same time identifies the blood as that of a spotless lamb -- the Messiah (Joh 1:29). When Israel was in bondage in Egypt, the Passover lamb was killed and the blood provided release from bondage and judgment. Because Jesus is without sin, he is unique and his life is of infinite value as the Sacrificial Lamb of the Passover (cf Exo 12:46; Joh 19:36; 1Co 5:7).

BLOOD: There is no virtue inherent in the literal blood itself, but only in that it represents a completely dedicated and obedient life. Blood = life in Lev 17:11 -- in this case, a perfectly sinless life.

A LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH OR DEFECT: "The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats" (Exo 12:5).

Peter's "precious" things: trials (1Pe 1:7), blood of Christ (1Pe 1:18,19), the cornerstone (of Christ) (1Pe 2:4,6), Christ himself (1Pe 2:7), faith (2Pe 1:1), and the great promises (2Pe 1:4).

1Pe 1:20

CHOSEN BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD: Known and designated or marked out beforehand: Gen 3:15; Rev 13:18. Not literally existing before his birth, because the same language is used of sts: 1Pe 1:2; Rom 8:29.

THE CREATION OF THE WORLD: "Creation" here is, rather uniquely, "katabole", lit a casting down, or laying of a foundation. It refers to the new order of things ("world" = Gr "kosmos", the arrangement of things), after the Fall in the Garden of Eden... when Adam and Eve were "cast down" into mortality and death.

1Pe 1:21

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

GOD, WHO RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD: Their faith in God comes thru the work of Jesus because he is the one who reveals the Father (Joh 1:18) and because he is the means of reconciliation (2Co 5:19). Peter identifies the Father (v 17) as the God who raised Jesus and glorified him, with the result that believers have faith and hope in God. Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of our faith, and his glorification is the pledge of the hope of our new future (Rom 8:17-30; 1Co 15:1-11; Heb 2:10).

YOUR FAITH AND HOPE ARE IN GOD: Not in things, ambitions, intelligence, education, houses and possessions...

1Pe 1:22

SINCERE: Gr "anupokritos" = lit, without hypocrisy. Used Rom 12:9; 2Co 6:6; 1Ti 1:5; 2Ti 1:5; Jam 3:17; 1Pe 1:22.

LOVE: This "love" is "phileo" -- a love born of liking, a companionship, a lowering of social barriers; "fraternal affection". The first step in divine love: Joh 21:15-19.

LOVE ONE ANOTHER DEEPLY: This "love" is "agape", not found in classical Greek, but appropriated and/or "invented" by NT writers to express the absolute self-sacrificing love of God shown by Christ (1Jo 3:16), demonstrating God's relationship with us (1Jo 4:9), and with His Son (Joh 15:10; 17:26; Col 1:13). It is the prevailing quality of the Christian life (Rom 5:5; Gal 5:22). Love for non-believers is not in view here, but of course it is also part of Christians' obligations (Mat 5:44; Luk 6:27,35).

1Pe 1:23

FOR YOU HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN: The second reason for Christians to love others. This verb is in the perfect tense and stresses the state into which Christians come at conversion.

NOT OF PERISHABLE SEED, BUT OF IMPERISHABLE: Cp Christ's parable, Luk 8:11: "The seed is the word of God" -- the life-giving message about Jesus' death and resurrection. Peter explains that the new birth comes through the living and abiding word of God. By the "word" (logos), he prob means "God's self-revelation", which would include both his spoken message and his written one. God's word is living because it imparts life (Psa 33:9; Isa 55:10,11; Heb 4:12). His word endures because the God who speaks it is the eternal, faithful, powerful one who keeps His promises.

WORD OF GOD: Christ IS the word of God: Joh 1:1; 1Jo 1:1; Rev 19:13; Heb 4:12.

1Pe 1:24

ALL MEN ARE LIKE GRASS: Citing Isa 40:6-8. Flesh is empty compared to God's word of promise. Man is mortal -- whether he be the "grass" of the field (2Ki 19:26; Isa 37:27; Psa 129:6; Mat 6:30), or even the lovely "wildflower" (Mat 6:28; Luk 12:27; Jam 1:10), he is destined to perish!

1Pe 1:25

// Deu 32:2; Isa 55:10,11; Jer 23:29; Psa 119:105,144,152; Joh 10:35.

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