The Fulness of the Redemptive Work Announced

I.  1 Peter 1:1, 2 – Peter addresses Christians that have been dispersed throughout Asia Minor because of a flurry of persecution. Though Peter is the Apostle to the circumcised, internal evidence indicates that he addresses not only Jewish Christians, but those that had formerly lived their lives thoroughly immersed in a particularly debased Gentile culture [4:3ff]. Even though they are in an exiled situation, Peter reminded them that their position is not thereby uncertain, for, in the purpose of God they are elect {1:1]. This election proceeds in an orderly and certain fashion from the divine foreknowledge, to the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit in setting them apart for faith in Jesus, particularly in relation to his shedding his blood for them.. The salvation of God’s elect is a fully Trinitarian salvation proceeding from the one God who lives eternally as a three-personed Being. This God-in-three-persons covenanted to bring salvation to sinners, each person performing those aspects of the work peculiarly appropriate to his distinctive personal properties and relation within the triune God.

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” – Foreknowledge does not mean only pre-cognition, but an unchangeable divine affection, the kind of affection given peculiarly to one that is loved particularly. See its use in 1:20 where it obviously means an eternal and purposefully productive love concerning the Son of God that would take to Himself our nature in order to be the Christ. It is also used in a chain of issues concerning God’s eternal purpose [Romans 8:26} a purpose founded in foreknowledge and ending in glorification. That foreknowledge is God’s setting his heart upon certain persons beforehand. The outflowing of love as an originating power is peculiarly reflective of the Father’s properties and the eternal fountain of the love intrinsic to the persons of Son and Spirit and characteristic of the divine essence.

“Sanctification of the Spirit” – The Spirit sets apart those foreloved and chosen by the Father. This setting apart involves the threefold operation of convincing of sin, righteousness, and judgment [John 16:8, 9]; The Spirit accompanied the preached word with a special power [cf 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5] and granted the new birth to these chosen ones. This operation implies a full and eternal accord with the Father’s will and love.

“For obedience to Jesus Christ” – this is faith in Christ, but called obedience because true faith always contains in it the recognition of and submission to divine authority. Note 1:21 that emphasizes belief and faith followed immediately by 22 where the new birth purifies the soul by “obedience to the truth.” Note also 2:6-8 where belief is set opposite disobedience to the word. See also 1:9 and 1:14 for the interchangeableness, in Peter’s vocabulary, of faith and obedience. Cf. 3:1

“And Sprinkling with his blood.” Note references to Christ’s blood/death in 1:11, 1:19; 2:21-24, 3:18, 4:1, 4:13, 5:1. This phrase would be particularly striking to dispersed Jews, for they are thereby reminded that Passover and Day of Atonement have been fulfilled once and for all by the Lamb [1:19] that was slain, Christ Jesus Himself. His suffering, His death, was truly substitutionary. He took death for us; to be sprinkled with his blood means that it is efficacious peculiarly and certainly for those to whom it is applied.

II.  1 Peter 1:3-5 – Peter give an energetic benediction to the Father, specifically as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other God than this one who identifies Himself in such a way. This passage is filled with the initiative and power of God and the blessings that his foreknowing love has prepared for us.

Look at the assertions of divine initiative –

Mercy – a divine prerogative, not at all deserved

He has caused – Though not mentioned in person, this refers to the operation of the Holy Spirit [John 3:3, 5] who is the author of this new birth [1:23, the “imperishable seed”]. This is the Spirit’s covenantal operation effecting the electing prerogative of the Father.

“Kept” The inheritance already is in heaven kept for us by God. He himself guards it for it consists of a believer’s union with the love and glory intrinsic to the triune God and thus is as “kept” as God’s own character is “kept.” It is “kept” because it involves a promise from the one who cannot lie to his Son as he represented all of his people in the covenant of redemption (Titus 1:1, 2).

“By God’s power being guarded through faith” – God is the one that initiates faith and he preserves it in the elect (Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 1:6). Because of this they are “believers.” His power manifests itself peculiarly in this, that he maintains in them their desire for union with Him. [cf Philippians 2:12, 13].

Ready to be revealed – the time of the culmination and completion of this saving work of the triune God is the “last time.” When the pre-ordained critical time arrives, the full glory of that salvation will come in as a flood unveiled by the Father’s good pleasure.

Look at the blessings.

New birth and living hope– The new birth not only is a change of heart and nature, it is the introduction of its recipient into a new eschatological order. Christ’s resurrection infuses hope into the experience so that our true home, the new location of our affections, is the coming manifestation of the rule of Jesus Christ.

Inheritance – While any earthly condition can change and any  earthly home can be destroyed, and we may be driven from all temporal security by earthly disaster or hostility, the eternal home nothing can destroy.  Look at the words and relish them, enjoy them, and note their true glory and infinite durability – imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Not only shall we not perish, but the things that God has prepared for us shall not perish. They are all overflows of his own rich beauty and glory that can never perish. They are undefiled. All earthly things, no matter how relatively pure, are defiled. This inheritance partakes of the divine nature, again as an overflow of his goodness, and is defiled by nothing – utterly pure. And none of the intrinsic qualities and satisfying beauties ever diminish or lose their intense allurement for they are unfading.

“a salvation” – Scripture consistently uses the nomenclature of salvation, saved, for the experience of deliverance from sin, corruption and condemnation into a state of favor with God. [e.g Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; John 3:17] Salvation is a deliverance from a state of wrath and entrance into a state of divine favor. Even now, he has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13), the fullness of the results of this deliverance, and the beginning of the experience of unalloyed joy in the presence of divine favor is at the “last time.”

III. 1 Peter 1:6, 7 – The prospect of this final salvation gives a present joy even though our experience here also includes many trials. Trials now only increase the intensity of our joy then.

“Though now for a little while if necessary” – However long this life is, it is only a little while. And while we are here, it is often necessary for our comfort with this world and our attachment to it to be challenged, even taken from us. We must be taught to “love not the world neither the things that are in the world.” We must learn not to store up treasures on earth “where moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20).

“the proving of your faith,” that is “the tested genuineness of your faith” The things that God does to demonstrate that our faith is real gives a luster to the element of genuineness. Peter emphasizes here not that faith is more precious that gold, but that its “testedness” is more precious than gold.  That which gives faith its true shine and removes all the earthly cling-ons is the process of trial that unveils its genuineness.

“May be found etc.” – The approvedness of faith flames out into praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This will show that the sacrifice of Christ is really worth more than all the world, and it would profit a man nothing if he gained the whole world but lost his soul. Approved faith will lead in the bending of knees to Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father.

IV.  1 Peter 1:8-9 Approved faith cannot exist if it has not arisen from love. Faith manifests itself because love has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit in the new birth (Romans 5:5). We would not believe if the Spirit had not brought us to love. Thus we see in these verses that love, faith, joy and hope all flow together in singularly pure affection for the one that is altogether lovely, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Whom having not seen etc.” Though believers have not seen Jesus Christ, they have been brought to love him by the Spirit’s work of showing us Christ through the word. We are led by the truth of Scripture energized into our minds, souls, and hearts by the Holy Spirit to love the Savior that is set forth there. We see his excellence, his perfect obedience to the Father, his condescension to sinners and the hate for God that formerly dominated the soul is pushed aside and replaced by love. This love is the fountain from which flows faith [cf. Galatians 5:6] so that we want only Christ and his righteousness for we know that it alone can bring us to God [Philippians 3:7-9]

“rejoice with joy unspeakable (inexpressible) etc.” – The sight of the beauty and graciousness of Christ, and the anticipation of the reality of presence with him at his coming again, can hardly do anything else than inspire joy. The ineffable reality of the divine goodness expressed in saving us far exceeds any ability we might have to express it. Having rescued us from eternal woe, he gives instead eternal joy. Having received in our stead eternal wrath, he has also merited in our stead eternal life. When one contemplates what is at stake in God’s grace in giving Christ to save us, we soon run out of adequate expression in human language. Salvation presently possessed is awaiting the believer in its fullness. “When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grace, then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing they power to save.”

V.  1 Peter 1:10-12 – This coming of Christ is not something that has only newly been introduced into the world. Rather it was prepared for and many of the elements of his incarnation and salvific work were introduced in the centuries past by the prophets.

“As to This salvation [10] –

The operation of God for dealing with sin did not arrive unannounced or without a predicted framework by which its features could be tested (John 5:46, 47).

Notice the entire scheme of the Gospel is described as “Grace.” It was experienced as grace by old covenant believers (Psalm 32:1, 2; Psalm 111:4-9) and prophesied as grace, a salvation fully accomplished by the life and death of a substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6).

Its prophetic content consists of two things. The resistance to Christ, in addition to the hardness of heart, self-righteousness, and spiritual pride, came from failure to embrace the prophetic word that glory could not come without the preparative of suffering—“The subsequent glories.”

The Sufferings of Christ were seen in the entire sacrificial system and were scattered throughout the Psalms that were sung in worship and recited in their homes (e.g. Psalm 22).

The Glories to follow – the subsequent glories (Psalm 110:1-3; Psalm 2:1-9) The humiliation of Christ necessarily preceded his glories. As he came to represent the people the Father had given him, he first must complete the requirements of the law both in personal obedience for righteousness and death for forgiveness. Having accomplished that, the glories connected with such absolute obedience were his and to be given to his people.

The Work of the Prophets – The revelation of such a salvation, born in grace, and consummated in a unique person naturally raised their inquisitive natures, so they searched. But the knowledge could come only by revelation.

Person:  Daniel 7:13; Son of Man perplexing to Daniel; Isaiah 61;  Cf. Mt 11:4; Lk 4:17-21; 7:22

Time – Isaiah 11:1-11, [10,11] ; 12:1

Commitment to revelation – vehicles of the Holy Spirit’s predictions

The Holy Spirit’s prediction of the work of the redeemer – 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Luke 10:17-24.  Many eyes have desired to see etc.

God revealed to them that the disclosure of more details was reserved for later. As the life of Jesus unfolded and the disciples observed him they, along with Peter, drew the conclusion that he was the Christ etc. Matthews 16:16, 17, a truth revealed to Peter by the Father. Still, however, the reality of his sufferings must be absorbed by them and then must come to light by a revealed understanding.

Blessing to the Recipients

Announced, proclaimed, preached to you – Peter emphasized the magnitude of the blessing of having all these things proclaimed as a completed transaction. The very things for which others searched and that perplexed the disciples for some time as the messianic work gradually unfolded before them, now are announced. See 1 John 1:1-4.

Those who preached the gospel to you – Paul marveled at this same fact in Romans 16:25-26.

By the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; The revelatory work of the Spirit continued even as the apostles preached and as they wrote to the churches what they preached (John15:26, 27).

Angels also announced the coming of certain stages of the mission of the Son of God (Luke 1:35; Acts 1:10, 11), but the announcement of the gospel was reserved for men, for redeemed sinners. The confession of 1 Timothy 3:16 places these two realities nest to each other: “Seen by Angels, Proclaimed among the nations.” Elect angels looked upon the travail and final vindication of the Son of God with amazement and wonder; fallen sinners redeemed by these events proclaim him among the nations.

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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