1 Peter

A Living Hope, 6 September 2015

A Living Hope
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 1:1-12

Series Overview: God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: Suffering is real but temporary. Salvation and hope are real and eternal.


What in the world is going on?

Does it seem like society has gone insane?

  • We can kill babies and sell their parts but go crazy if a lion is shot (in DC last week people were shouting “save the dolphins!” in front of the White House)
  • It’s ok smoke weed but not cigarettes.
  • Ashley Madison says “Life is short. Have an affair.”
  • Bush might run against Clinton for president!
  • Women now have wives and men can have a husband.
  • The worldwide movement of Jesus based upon love is known for hate.
  • We are to be tolerant of everything yet offended by everything.

There are many reasons why we are alarmed, worried, depressed, and fearful about our world. We are exposed to more “bad news” than ever before, bombarded by media outlets virtually everywhere. Cultural Christianity has been in decline for years, something I celebrate while others mourn. As a result, the influence—power—once possessed by Christians seems to be waning.

If you feel even a little afraid, if you find yourself in the minority, the underdog, you’re not alone. For thousands of years, God-fearers have faced opposition and persecution. Throughout our lifetimes our brothers and sisters in Christ have suffered unimaginable agony for their faith. What’s unique is our so-called “Christian nation” appears to be less Christian each day.

It is my prayer that the next several weeks will provide you with hope, encouragement, and peace as we examine a letter from Peter to early Christians exiled.

The book of 1 Peter begins

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:1a)

This is Peter, also known as Simon. He’s the one who denied Christ three times, the one who walked on the Sea of Galilee, one of Jesus’ three closest friends. Catholics look to him as the first Pope. His name means “rock.” Peter and Paul were the primary leaders of the early Church. He writes this letter around the year 63, around the time Paul was martyred and not long before Peter himself would die for his faith. He’s most likely writing from Babylon.

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: (1 Peter 1:1b-2a)

To God’s elect. This phrase has prompted great discussion. Do we choose God or does God choose us? To be “elect” is to receive God’s grace. He initiates. We love Him because He first loved us.

This word “exiles” is often translated “strangers” or “resident aliens” or “sojourners.” In chapter two they will be referred to as “pilgrims.” Like us, they were citizens of heaven through faith in Jesus (Philippians 3:20), in the world but not of it (John 17:16). They are temporary residents. As strangers, they were considered strange by many, a scattered (diaspora) people in five different parts of the Roman Empire in what we now know as Turkey.

Paul wrote to Gentiles, Peter to a Jewish audience.

Have you ever been a stranger somewhere? How did it feel?

I love to travel, but new places can disorienting. Heather and I were in Washington DC last week and I found myself surrounded by strangers, people who seemed to know how to use the subway ticket machine better than I, people who seemed to know where they were going better than I, people who were not always the most friendly and welcoming to me, the stranger.

Perhaps the oddest moment came when my friend, Clark, and I attended Thursdays Washington Nationals baseball game. During player introductions, the crowd went nuts for Ryan Zimmerman, a decent hitter with mediocre statistics but easily the most popular player on the team. We wondered if he had rescued a child or found a cure for cancer! I’m still not sure what made him the crowd favorite. Another thing: they had a special cheer that would randomly fill the air for no rhyme or reason we could understand. We were clearly strangers!

As we will see, Peter addresses these scattered strangers and acknowledges their suffering, at least fifteen times with eight different Greek words! Each time it is tied to hope. We have all experienced suffering in one form or another, though few to the extent of the first Christians. A “fiery trial” was coming, persecution from the Roman Empire.

What do you say to someone who is suffering?
What do you say to someone who is about to experience suffering?

The thing about suffering is we’re all coming out of suffering, in the midst of suffering, or about to experience suffering. It’s a part of the broken, human condition in this life.

Note God has a plan. He knows what He’s doing. God has foreknowledge. He knows the plan. He is omniscient—He knows everything!

Sanctification: we are set apart, becoming like Jesus, bearing the fruit of the Spirit. We are not to be spiritual infants but grow to maturity as we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is not merely something after conversion but rather three dimensions: separation from sin, growing in holiness throughout life, and “the final act of God when He makes his holy people completely holy for eternity.” (Scot McKnight) The electing work of God leads to the conversion of these disenfranchised sojourners of Asia Minor.

The blood of Jesus is also present. You can’t make too much of the blood of Christ. We remember it through communion. Blood is life! In the Old Testament, the blood of animals was used in sacrifices. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. Do you obey Jesus? Do you do what He wants? That’s making Him LORD. Here the Trinity is in view.

Peter continues…

Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2b)

Grace is a customary Greco-Roman greeting and peace is a Jewish greeting. Peter uses the word grace in every chapter of this letter. Grace is unmerited favor. When we depend upon God’s grace, we can glorify Him in suffering, turning trials into triumphs. Peace comes when we have assurance of the forgiveness of our sins. In the midst of persecution we can have a true hope of future glory and blessing.

Peter continues in what is essentially a ten-verse run-on sentence!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

This word “praise” is never used with regard to man, only God. We are to praise God the Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We don’t “hope so,” but instead we have a living hope. It is our resurrected LORD. It rests upon Jesus’ blood. A body without blood is dead. He died so we might live.

Scot McKnight writes, “It is not so much that believers are now living “full of hope,” but that they have a fixed “hope,” a clear vision of what God will do for them in the future.”

Where John spoke of love and Paul faith, hope is a common theme in Peter’s messages. Warren Wiersbe wrote,

“Hope is not a sedative; it is a shot of adrenaline, a blood transfusion. Like an anchor, our hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of life (Hebrews 6:18-19), but unlike an anchor, our hope moves us forward, it does not hold us back.”

Our inheritance cannot be lost like cash, stocks, car keys, or cell phones. It is in heaven. It is indestructible.

We are kept by the power of God through faith. A Scottish man had one word on his tombstone: kept.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:6)

Some believe verse six is the key of the epistle. Jesus and James and Paul said we will have trials and troubles. Life is hard. We can rejoice, though, not because we have trials but because we have salvation. We have hope. Trials are temporary. This life is so short. Paul said

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, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Peter continues…

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7)

Faith is precious.
Trials have a purpose.

God puts us into a furnace not to destroy us but to refine us.

When we see Jesus, we will thank God for our trials.

“If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Peter had seen Him and lived with Him for three years. These people have not seen Jesus…but they love Him. We have not seen Jesus. Do you love Jesus?

The writer of Hebrews said

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Now the final three verses for today:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

The Old Testament prophets wrote by the Spirit of Christ.

Angels are real! They would love to make an announcement as Gabriel did. Angels are great, but we have the Holy Spirit which is even better. Angels are mentioned to remind us of the privileges of salvation. Neither angels nor the prophets experience what we assume and enjoy as followers of Jesus today.

So What?

Increasingly followers of Jesus in our culture are becoming the minority (if we ever were in the majority). In a world of pluralism, it is radical to claim Jesus as the One Way to the Father (though Jesus said those very words). In a world of consumerism, it is radical to be generous. In a world of tolerance, it is radical to exhibit true love.

When we respond to God’s invitation to follow Him, we are to live for Him, not ourselves. We are to maintain the course of a loving, holy lifestyle, and find our identity in being part of God’s family, God’s elect, the church, not in being part of a society that does not accept us.

Are you first and foremost an American or a child of God?

This life is short and will soon end. It is filled with trials and suffering…but we have a great hope for eternity. We have salvation. We have Christ.


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren Wiersbe

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

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