Reading for Wednesday, Feb. 22: 1 Peter 1
Today we start a new study of 1 Peter that will take us into next week. Peter seems to be writing to encourage Christians who are discouraged by their suffering. He emphasizes the “living hope” (1.3) believers enjoy, demonstrated most fully through the resurrection of Jesus.
Peter begins by addressing his letter to “those who are elect exiles of the dispersion” — other translations use the words “strangers”, “foreigners”, and “sojourners.” But each of these words positions God’s people in transit, journeying toward a final destination: “eternal glory in Christ” (5.10). Until then, Peter envisions the church as an outpost of God’s Kingdom in the present.
Verse 2 gives us a glimpse at the early chuch’s Trinitarian views as God the Father, the Spirit, and Jesus Christ are all grouped collectively in Peter’s introduction.
Verses 3-12 comprise one long sentence in the Greek manuscripts. The key theme is the power of resurrection inheritance as motivation for Christian endurance. Peter identifies our inheritance as “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1.4). It pains us when family heirlooms rust or become broken. But the inheritance we enjoy in Christ is imperishable, just as the source of our hope is alive today.
Verses 6-7 have been particularly important to me over the years. After my mother passed away my Junior year of high school, I struggled with doubt and anger. I went through a period of severely questioning God: His character, His love, even His existence. But Peter’s teaching in these verses helped me understand the role trials can play in testing our faith. When we persevere through difficult circumstances, Peter says our faith is proved genuine and results in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1.7). Peter is VERY interested in our perseverance in the face of trying circumstances.
Finally, Peter closes the last half of this chapter with a call to holiness. Quoting Leviticus 11 & 19, Peter applies God’s command, “Be holy as I am holy,” to the church in her exiled condition. God’s standards have been constant: God has always desired a people to embody His covenantal faithfulness. And yet, sin stands in the way of our obedience, necessitating atonement in the form of “the precious blood of Christ” (1.19). Now, our souls may be purified through obedience to the truth (1.22). As Peter says, “this word is the good news that was preached to you,” (1.25).