(1 Peter 1:1-5)
We all have times when life is tough. The trouble might be a health problem, a financial crisis, a relationship problem, etc. When life is tough over the “long haul,” we all get discouraged. That’s why we need the book of 1 Peter. It tells us how to have a “journey into triumphant living,” even when life is tough.
The apostle Peter was a fisherman from Galilee when Jesus called him to be a disciple. He identifies himself as Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1a). The word apostle means “one sent forth with a message.” The first time we meet Peter in the New Testament, he is called Simon (Mt 4:18), which is his given name. However, what does Jesus tell him in John 1:42c?
The Aramaic name Cephas (petros, pet´-ros, in Greek) translates “Peter.” Peter is called by four names in the New Testament: Simon, Cephas, Peter, and Simon Peter. In the lists of disciples, Peter’s name is always first, indicating he was the leader of the Twelve. We also know Peter had a mother-in-law (Mt 8:14; Lk 4:38). What does 1 Corinthians 9:5 tell us about the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
Peter writes to encourage ... the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia [cap-uh-doe´-she-uh], Asia, and Bithynia [bih-thin´-ih-uh] (1:1). Because of severe persecution, Christians scattered from their original homes and fled to several provinces in northern Asia Minor, which is modern Turkey. In a.d. 64, the infamous Roman Caesar, Nero, burned Rome, publicly blaming Christians. In the persecution that followed, Christians were arrested, tortured, beheaded, crucified, and fed to wild animals as a spectator sport in the coliseum.
The word translated strangers means “resident foreigners” or aliens. Since as strangers we have morals and values that seem “strange” and archaic to non-believers, we should still expect persecution in various forms today. They don’t understand our convictions about family, marriage, premarital sex, abortion, homosexuality, and other issues. Our culture is becoming more and more godless and hostile toward Christians because we seem “strange.” What did our Lord say about persecution in John 15:20c?
For that reason, we all need this passage from 1 Peter, which gives us three ways to dispel discouragement ...
We are the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (1:2a). The word translated elect (eklektos, ek-lek-tos´) means “chosen,” or “selected” (Eph. 1:4). The word translated foreknowledge (progn333;sis, prog´-no-sis) is where we get our word “prognosis.” We use it today to refer to a medical opinion as the likely outcome of a disease. In verse two, the word means God not only knows the future but also has a plan for our lives before we are ever born (Jer. 1:5, Acts 2:23), and that plan includes living through some tough times.
Verse two also reveals all three members of the Trinity are involved in our salvation. Not only did God the Father foreknow us, but our salvation is through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1:2b). This means God the Father foreknew us, God the Spirit sanctifies us (sets us apart for service to God), and Jesus Christ cleanses us.
Peter also writes of the cause and effect of our salvation: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied (1:2c). Grace is the cause of our salvation, while inner peace is the effect or result.
All three members of the Trinity are involved in our salvation through God’s abundant mercy (1:3b). The word mercy refers to God’s unmerited favor toward us, despite the fact we are sinners. Mercy means we receive a salvation we don’t deserve. How does Titus 3:5a-b express this great gift?
God’s mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope (1:3c). The phrase begotten us again means God has chosen to give us a new start in life. It stresses the change that takes place at conversion. We are begotten ... again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1:3d). The word hope doesn’t mean wishful thinking, but a firm persuasion or confident expectation. The word lively, or living, means our hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we will outlive all our problems and pain.
To dispel discouragement, remember who chose you and ...
In Christ, we have an inheritance (1:4a). In the Old Testament, the word inheritance describes the Promised Land, the place the Israelites were anticipating as they wandered in the wilderness (Num. 32:19). As Christians, we look forward to a different kind of inheritance. A part of that inheritance is what Christ will do when He returns. How is it described in Philippians 3:21a?
We will receive glorified bodies that are not susceptible to disease, age, and the limitations of our physical bodies. Christ’s glorious body enabled Him to pass through walls—appearing and disappearing any place at will (Mk 16:14). In our glorified bodies, I believe we will also be able to do the same. Won’t that be great?
Another part of our inheritance is what God will do. How is it described in Revelation 21:4, when the former things pass away?
Peter describes our inheritance as incorruptible, and undefiled, and it fadeth not away (1:4). The word translated incorruptible (aphthartos, af´-thar-tos), means our inheritance will never perish or disappear because it is eternal. Also, it is undefiled, which means free from contamination. Nothing will ever infect or pollute heaven. It will always be pure and holy because no one who is impure, shameful, or deceitful can enter (Rev. 21:27a-b). Therefore, according to the last phrase of Revelation 21:27, who are the only inhabitants of heaven?
The phrase fadeth not away means the beauty, holiness, splendor, joy, etc. of our inheritance will never fade in the slightest. All earthly possessions are subject to constant change, or fading, but our inheritance in heaven is eternally the same.
Next, Peter lists the most important characteristic of our inheritance. It is reserved in heaven for you (1:4). The word reserved (tēreō, tay-reh´-oh), is a perfect passive participle. It refers to something that began in the past but continues in the present. God has been keeping and will continue to keep our inheritance ... in heaven. Passive means it is being kept for us; we are not keeping it ourselves. So, no matter what happens to us on earth, our inheritance is kept safe by God.
To dispel discouragement, remember who chose you; reflect on your inheritance, and ...
Peter knows some believers might wonder whether or not they will be able to endure and remain faithful to Christ if the persecution intensifies. To reassure them and us, Peter explains God is not only keeping our inheritance, He is also doing something else for us now. Peter explains it like this: Who are kept by the power of God (1:5a). The word translated kept is a military term that means “to keep with a garrison.” How does Jude 24 describe how God guards us?
When life is tough, we all sometimes wonder if we can remain faithful. We shouldn’t trust in our own abilities or spirituality but in God’s power to keep us. That’s God’s part in our salvation. Our part is faith (Eph. 2:8-9), through which God is protecting us until we receive full salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1:5b).
There are three parts to our salvation. The initial stage is called regeneration, which is immediate and instantaneous (Tit. 3:5). The second stage, called sanctification, is progressive and takes a lifetime. This process takes place as we read, study, and apply God’s Word (Jn 17:17).
The third, and final, stage of salvation is called glorification (Rom. 8:17). Therefore, our inheritance is regeneration (salvation from the penalty of sin), sanctification (salvation from the power of sin), and glorification, (salvation from the presence of sin). God never starts anything He doesn’t finish. We have what spectacular promise in Philippians 1:6b?
To dispel your discouragement and be triumphant, remember who chose you, reflect on your inheritance, and rest in God’s power.