1 Peter 1:13-25
Again, we need to remind ourselves of the historical context of this letter. Peter was writing to believers in several churches in Asia Minor on the subject of what to do in response to the great Roman persecution that was coming upon them for Nero’s own burning of Rome. Nero had blamed that on this new upstart sect that didn’t believe in the Roman gods, but instead called themselves Christians. Nero used some of our brothers and sisters as human lamps to light his garden by coating them in an accelerant and lighting them on fire. As a result, it was going to become necessary to make up your mind about what to do ahead of time. Last study, we looked at how Peter addressed these “fiery trials” (and I do not think he was speaking in puns) by telling us that we would have to go through them, but as we cooperated with what God was doing in our lives through these trials, we would come out the other side by faith, that faith being much more precious than Gold, which is perishable.
1:13-25 – Be holy as He is Holy
With everything that Peter talks about in the first half of the chapter, the second half of the chapter moves directly into application, and so will we. For those of you that are regulars to our Bible study and Book group, you will notice that we’ve had a great deal of discussion on this. We will speak a bit about what it means to be holy in behaviour, which is God’s instruction to us through, as we saw in the Key Text I picked out for the whole book:
2:2: We are called to follow Christ Himself
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…
Being Holy as God is Holy is literally equated by Peter in this letter to following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. In this section, we will begin our consideration in 1 Peter as to what exactly that means, and as I considered this in detail, I discovered it was a lot more than I thought it was, and it was very blessed!
What we studied last time could be considered to be centered in Jesus Christ. We are “resident aliens” because of Him, we are born again/from above because of Him, it is He that not only won our salvation from the wrath that is coming on the world, but it is He that determines what rewards He will give us for no other duty than simply believing in His name. The joy that fills all His true followers with is something into which angels long to look, and are not able to fathom by experience the joy of those whom God has forgiven and made alive to forever be with Him. It should therefore come as no surprise at all that the second half of the chapter directly relates to our Lord Jesus Christ.
I broke the chapter into paragraphs like this:
KV13: The Revelation of Jesus Christ
13-16: Obedience: Be holy as He is holy
17-21: Redemption: Saved by His precious blood
22-25: Eternality: We are born again by the everlasting Word of God
Initially, I asked myself the question as to why Peter was turning this into a treatise on who Christ is and how we should therefore behave, but as I continued it kind of became self-evident. He did it all on our behalf!!! (We should note that this is different than “it is for us.” That’s more us-centered and can lead to heresy.) When we were enemies of God, those who (sometimes literally) shook our fist at the sky in irreverence and anger, God the Son became a man, lived a perfect life because none of His sinful creatures among mankind could, and at the end, at the exact right time, he provoked those in power to put Him to death so He could sacrifice Himself in our place because although we could not pay the price demanded of us, He could! And so He did. God was so pleased with the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf that He was raised from the dead as the first of many brethren that would believe His sacrifice was for them by faith. That’s called the gospel, and contrary to what many modern “evangelists” will say, this is actually all about Him, and not about us; we discuss this now in terms of how this applies to us, and what it is that He was doing in the first place. When I saw that, the breakdown made sense and fell into place.
KV13: The Revelation of Jesus Christ
13: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The reason we study the scriptures isn’t out of religious duty, or at least it shouldn’t be. It should be to learn about God the Son, our Lord Jesus so that we may serve Him better. The only way we sinners can learn about the Lord Jesus Christ is if God Himself reveals this to us through His Word, and that He has written down for us. This is what I mean when I title this, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” And dare I say it, if God does not reveal Himself to you in His Word, then you have no other way of learning the truth of these things as powerfully as from the Scriptures, which are really ALL about Him. I know, some people, particularly Pentecostals and Charismatics (and they are NOT the only ones), try to make it all about how we benefit from His saving us, but why would He do that? It isn’t about sinful man being redeemed, as glorious as that thought is, it is about our Great Redeemer and how (and why) He did this for us, when He had no obligation to do this. Let’s look at the text and you’ll see what we mean.
13-16: Obedience: Be holy as He is holy
As it turns out, this Revelation of Jesus Christ is intended to move us to right action, and Peter spends some time here going through just what that right action is. There are several implications for our behaviour based on the principles Peter talks about here. The first of those is Obedience to a very particular command that he takes the time to call out of the Scriptures to show us: Obedience. This is not a new concept for the believer in Peter’s day, either. In fact, it says these very words in three different places in Leviticus, the Law of God. Because it is important to the discussion, we’re going to look at those three references:
For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. (Lev. 11:44)
That word “consecrate” is the Hebrew qadash, and it is the act of the will that is associated with being holy. The Hebrew word for holy is qadosh, and it is a related concept. It means sacred, or holy, completely apart from that which is NOT holy or consecrated. Classically, the distinction is stated as the “Holy” and the “Profane,” or the common. Moses in writing this was expressing the very words of God in telling the people of Israel to engage their wills in setting themselves apart to God, because God is altogether different and apart from everything profane. The second part of the verse is talking specifically about eating creepy-crawlies, but not because they are bad for you–but because they were actually considered deities in Egypt where God had called them away from. Beloved, if God has called you to Himself, it is to make you new and holy like Him. Don’t go back to your old sinful priorities.
Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. (Lev. 19:2)
The context of this verse is speaking in the sense of idolatry. Be holy and do not partake in the fear or worship of the wrong God. In fact, this chapter is the same chapter that commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Do not submit to false religion, and certainly do not make your own. Rather, keep the commands of your God, who is holy and not profane.
You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 20:7)
This has to do with the sacrifice and worship of Molech, or of messing around with unscriptural means of divining. The ones that are mentioned here are mediums and spiritists, those who claim to be able to speak to the dead. Did you know that ghosts exist? They can even be summoned if God allows that. God allowed Samuel to be summoned by a medium at Endor for Saul, who wanted to know the future. God is the one in control of what is happening, and any attempt to either find out what that is when He isn’t speaking or to influence it by any means other than prayer according to His will is considered profaning oneself. Rather, be holy, as He is holy. We’ll say more on this later.
No, the command is not to live lackadaisically, not to follow arcane methods to pursue spirituality (I’m sorry, there are no Christian tarot card readers, for example), and not to follow the wrong or even self-made gods in your following of Jesus. Even if you name it Jesus, who isn’t really Jesus. “Well! MY Jesus would NEVER cause offense like that!” Is that so? Then what was all the table-flipping in the temple and beating people with a whip made of the curtain ropes about? Beloved, there is a real Jesus that is NOT like the false one that false believers make up. Don’t follow false Gods like that. Anyway, let’s get into the text.
13: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- The first word here is “Therefore,” and it has been a while since we remarked on what we do when we find the word “therefore.” What we are supposed to do is see what it is there for! In this case, it is taking everything from the first 12 verses and drawing a direct conclusion in the form of directions for the reader, who were believers, this was written to several churches. What are we to do in the face of the trials that intense persecution brings?
- The first phrase is, “Prepare your minds for action.” I think of a movie that my kids like when I hear that. The line I hear in our modern parlance sounds like this: “Get your head in the game!” You have to be aware of what is going on around you. It sometimes dictates your actions. Sometimes you consciously choose to act in spite of what is going on. Sometimes you help things along, sometimes, you stand up in opposition. But your mind must be engaged.
- The second phrase here is “Keep sober in spirit.” We used to say it like this (and I still do): Keep your wits about you. If you can do that, trouble is plain easier to navigate. We are very good at finding or inventing obstacles to prevent us from acting properly or responding in trouble, so we have to keep our focus on what is important. Paul, for example, thought that the furthering of the gospel was of paramount importance. If that is also your goal, you aren’t so concerned with who is in charge of the country. I’m not saying anything other than that, everyone has good things and bad things they bring to the table these days. I’m Canadian, so I’ll use Canadian political positions, but no matter who is the Prime Minister of Canada, Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, whether they want to acknowledge it or not. If your priorities are aligned with Heaven, it will matter a lot less to you when they start to offend God with their sinful actions and policies.
- The third phrase is “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Remember, hope to the New Testament writers and people that used Koine Greek to communicate does not mean what the word means to most of us today. To use an example, we shoot the basketball at the net from 100 feet away at the buzzer and HOPE it goes in so we win. It may or it may not. Hope, the Greek word elpizo (a form of elpis) means to anticipate or to expect it to happen. The word has a certainty about it, not like we use it to represent a wish that might not happen. The word for “completely” is a form of telios, a completion. Whatever we are doing, we are supposed to fully expect it to come to its appointed end. And in what do we place this certain expectation? The grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. What does THAT mean? The word “grace” is the Greek charis, or blessing. It is theologically defined as “unmerited favour,” meaning we gain a blessing we do not deserve and did nothing to earn. It isn’t more specific than that. I say that because some say that this is our eternal glorification, but I don’t think the text really supports that, at least not well. Whatever blessing that form takes, though, it is what we are to fully expect at “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I can make a couple of different cases for what that might mean from the Scriptures, so the phrase can only be recognized in a general way here. It is possible that this is talking about the apokalupsis, like we read in Revelation 1:1, but the word simply means revealing of a subject or consideration. At any rate, we are not supposed to focus on what is happening around us or even to us, but what happens when we are done as we are faithful.
14: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,
- After that strong encouragement to set your expectations on the blessing that is your imperishable, unspoilable, unfading inheritance which He won for us on the cross, we are told this: We must render obedience to Him, to His instructions, His didache, that is teaching. See? As OBEDIENT children.
- Conversely in the same spirit, we are NOT to “assume the form” of the former lusts which were “ours in ignorance.” Paul put it into the form of a question: You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? (Rom. 2:22)
- The logic goes like this: If Christ has set you free from sin and death, why are you still walking in the sin that brings death? Yes, beloved, we all “slip.” I’m not sure I like that word, because it implies an accident. We all SIN. Believers can return to old habits and pleasures without even realizing it until they find themselves having to repent…again. (See Romans 7.) Paul was saying, stop doing that! Peter here is saying don’t return to the things you did when you didn’t know any better.
- I should say we DIDN’T know any better–past tense. We should now! You know how Jesus prayed from the cross, “Forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing?” That’s what that kind of ignorance is. We did bad things because we didn’t know any better and couldn’t stop anyway. It’s different if He has cause you to be “born again to a living hope,” now isn’t it. That isn’t a question. Example, I used to smoke before I was saved. Just after I got saved, I would be reading my New Testament from the Gideons, and I would want a cigarette. I would “feel” guilty about putting the bible down for a moment to light a smoke! I asked my pastor about that, and he opened the word and showed me how I was actually defiling the temple of the living God, and I should probably stop smoking. It had nothing to do with the health benefits, or the offence the smell can cause to others, or even the second-hand smoke. I was defiling my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, with a pollutant that could also harm my health. That’s ultimately why (and it took a few tries over the next few decades) I finally quit smoking. That was 13 years ago for the record. That’s just an example. Are you, say, a car thief? You need to stop stealing cars, and you also need to put yourself in an environment where you have no opportunity to steal cars. Like that.
15: but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
- I know I have said this before, but being holy isn’t a case of your settings or surroundings. There is literally no procedure or location, or set of words, or ritual, or any physical action you can take that will accomplish this in you. God must regenerate you, and if He does that, you need to respond by being holy, not in location, or ritual, or mumble-jumble incantations, but instead in your BEHAVIOUR! You must bear fruit of the Spirit’s presence in your life! Like that One who is entirely apart and alien from the profane creation under the curse, be apart and separate yourself for Him and His purposes for you.
16: because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
- Did you know that there are 8 mentions of this phrase in the entirety of Scripture? That includes this verse, and it is the only mention of it in the New Testament. But Beloved, how many times does it have to be mentioned in Scripture to be true? I would think ONCE, no?
- Note the form of the statement here. It isn’t so much of a command as it is a statement of how it will be. YOU are going to be holy, because *I* am holy. However, in English at any rate, it is a practice that the word “shall” can reflect a wilful decision. Whether this is a case that reflects that or not, you will most certainly should be involved, as statement in the last verse implies, you need to “be holy in your behaviour,” and that is written in the imperative, meaning it is a command. Be Holy, because HE is holy.
Because we go through hard times, and remember the context here, the believers this was directly written to were beginning to undergo a terrible persecution by Rome that would lead to the death of many, and certainly the mistreatment of all of them. What was Peter’s encouragement? Be apart from that, set yourselves apart for God, and let it show that you are in fact apart to God, or “holy,” in the original meaning of the Hebrew word qadosh.
17-21: Redemption: Saved by His precious blood
If the first thing that was revealed about Jesus Christ by Peter here was obedience, the second has to be the redemption that He gained for us when he willingly and knowingly sacrificed Himself on our behalf on the cross at Golgotha. Peter is very clear that we did not save ourselves by our good works, which is ironically what the organization that claims him as “the first Pope” actually says. According to those individuals, most of whom do not fit the definition of biblical Christian, it is good works that save you and good works that keep you saved! According to their first claimed leader (who really wasn’t one of them at all), it was the work of Christ on the cross that saves and redeems us, AND NOTHING ELSE. We always make it a point to share the gospel during these times, because that is one of the points of the entire Bible, and this text supports that incredibly well. Gee, it’s almost like they thought the good news was important or something! [hahahahaha] Let’s look at why.
17: If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
- Peter here is saying, “Okay, if you want to call God your Father, and you realize that he is the one that will judge every person who has ever lived according to their work, you need to behave in a godly fashion.”
- Wait a minute, Ger, I hear you say, Peter just said we are saved by works, and that’s what the Catholics point out! I will address that here: That is not what Peter said. We are not saved by our works, we are saved by Grace, and he even said that back in v.13. We are, and this should frighten ALL of us, judged by God by our WORKS, whether we are saved or not. If you want to be able to name God as Father for yourself, you will be judged by Him anyways. Being a Christian isn’t a “get out of judgement free” card. We will ALL be judged by Christ, depending on who you think is sitting on that Great White Throne in Rev. 20. We here have reasons (plural) to believe it is Christ, God the Son, but we aren’t going to go into them here for sake of time. Again, it might be a good future study.
- This should also terrify more than a few of us: God is impartial. He doesn’t play favorites. If you do well, you will be judged accordingly. If you do NOT do well, again, you will be judged accordingly. And because God will not force you to do anything you really do not want to do, everyone will get the judgement they deserve, the one that they truly wanted. There will be no victims on Judgement Day, only volunteers, each one for what their hearts truly wanted in the first place.
- We can already see this in action in our own sanctification, which we talked about last week. I will make a kind of confession here. As I walk with the Lord, I find myself to be woefully sinful. But like Paul, I find myself unable to stop doing certain things that I have always done that I know are wrong. I talked about smoking a few verses back in relation to this. I actually quit smoking so that I would stop defiling the temple of God, me, with something that could harm its function. It was NOT easy. Some things were, but most things I find are not. It literally took me until 2009 and me contracting Diabetes Miletus to make me stop finally in 2009. I became a Christian in 1985 when I was still in high school. Most of that time, I did quit, but I kept starting and stopping, and had some of the more legalistic of my brothers in Christ found out about that, at the place I fellowshipped at the time, I would have been barred from partaking in communion, the Lord’s Table if you will. And you didn’t have to tell me it was wrong, I already knew it, it’s the REASON I hid it. And when I quit, I quit for sound scientific reasons…and because it was the right thing for me to do, which again, at the time, I talked about less than I should have.
- My point here is that as we walk with Him and cooperate in our own sanctification, at some point, the Lord will return, and that sanctification will be completed all at once, but Paul and Peter both speak of judgement versus rewards for faithfulness in our walk. It helps me to know that I have been faithful in some things that have mattered, and I also know, and am ashamed of myself, that I have not in other things. But here is the proof I was talking about: I find in myself a growing desire to be delivered from those things in my body that cause death, just as Paul exclaimed at the end of Romans 7, “Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The very next verse (Rom. 8:1) says this: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” When our sanctification will be completed, it will be completed all at once, where God (8:28-30) will conform those whom He foreknew and foreordained to be in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. All of what is left that does not fit that image or mold will be burned away. I don’t care if it hurts, because it will be the last pain I ever feel. I just find myself wanting it over with so I can once for all and at once stop sinning. That is yet another proof you are one of the redeemed, by the way, and it isn’t something you can make up or pretend is real about you, because it requires facing everyone’s least favorite subject: the death of themselves. Or did you think that a disciple picking up his cross daily and following Christ meant something else? Moving on…
18: knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
- Why is our conduct so important besides what we just talked about? Because we were not redeemed with things that pass away. Peter here uses both Gold and Silver as examples, and tells us that that garbage (my word, referring to the perishable things like the gold and silver) comes from our “futile” previous lifestyle (the meaning of “way of life”). That word for “futile” means “void of result” [Gk., mataios]. Empty if you like, but I like that phrase. The picture that comes to mind is my dad trying to get the half-ton pickup truck unstuck from the snowy garbage dump where we were depositing our garbage. The wheels kept spinning, but there was no forward motion. That is such a great image to explain our old lifestyle. It was filled with garbage, and it was cold. And we couldn’t get ourselves out of the spot we were in. Oh, we eventually did, but not before getting kind of cold and lots of messy wet.
- NB! This “way of life” or lifestyle was, as Peter says, inherited from those that came before us. We know what that means, most of us here. When this lifestyle is confronted as the sin it is, they can legitimately say, “We’ve never done it like that before!” To which I always answer, “Then maybe it’s time for a new and living way that will actually work this time.” Peter’s point is that even if you lived a good religious lifestyle, none of that saves you, as morally notable as that is. It is the Grace of God through Christ’s death on the cross that saves you by his vicarious substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, AND NOTHING ELSE. Moving on…
19: but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
- As I said, so does Peter. Point. Game. Set. Match. Enough said.
- Those of us that have been hanging around at BereanNation.com for a while know what this verse is referring to. I don’t usually open up this part of the study, but does anyone want to take a crack at what this is referring to? [wait]
- Let’s have a look at the passage that Moses made known to the nation of Israel about the night that they were delivered from Pharaoh, a type of the tyrannical man of sin, and from Egypt, here a type of the world system that keeps people enslaved to their sin.
- Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exo. 12:1-13)
- The LAMB is the one in this text is the type of our redeemer, the Anointed One of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is referring to the first Passover, friends! Now it isn’t in small caps because it isn’t a quote, it is a reference. But make no mistake, this is what Peter is referring to, and he is equating that passing over of judgement by the angel of death, apparently an individual servant of God, to the redemption of US by Christ on the cross! I’m not making it up, and NEITHER WAS PETER. This very sacrifice of the precious blood of Christ is the very basis for all Christian fellowship, and it is the thing that keeps us together, and causes us to follow Him. He did that for US! How can we NOT follow Him and do what He asks, no matter what that might be?
- But I’m not very good at speaking! And I’m not a theologian like you guys! And I’m very young and small, said Jeremiah in the first chapter of his book. I like what Milton said about that: “They also serve who only stand and wait.” But I’m too tired! I don’t have any ability or energy to continue with you to stand against the enemy! Hey, have you not read that when David’s army pursued the miscreants that had razed David’s city Ziklag to the ground and kidnapped all the women, children, and livestock alive, for the army to move quickly, he had to leave his stuff with some folks that just couldn’t go on. When David returned with the spoil, he gave those individuals who simply stayed with the stuff a full share of the spoils. I repeat, they also serve who only stand and wait. If God has called you to stand and wait, then if I were you, I would be standing and waiting the best way I knew how. They also serve who only stand and wait. And don’t the rest of you be like those sons of destruction, those worthless men who even ran with David the King, who tried to deny “those who only stand and wait” their inheritance. Because false converts are everywhere, and because they also serve who only stand and wait, and we are not to be their judge for their perceived inactivity. They also serve who only stand and wait.
20: For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
- Peter is most definitely equating the Passover Lamb with Christ. He here is most decidedly referring to God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. HE is the one that was foreknown before the foundation of the World (well, Him and God’s elect according to Paul in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1), and we can get that from the immediate context of the previous verse, speaking about the precious Lamb of God.
- And He has appeared in these last times for the sake of YOU! Now this isn’t the end of the sentence, but we should say a word about how Peter also calls the days that started in his time epoch “these last times.” The Apostle John called these times “the last hour.” The Greek phrase Peter uses is “eschaton ton kronon,” and all of our regulars will recognize that phrase as referring to the last days. You know, I’m a bit of a prophecy buff as a hobby (I take it way too seriously at times, and it can kill a lot of my time in a bad way if I’m not careful), but the big topic is always, “Are we living in the end times?” People don’t like me when I answer, “Yes, and we have been since Christ returned to heaven.” But this is Peter saying as much. Don’t get me wrong, an understanding of eschatology is important and a good thing, but look, we’ve been living in the last days for nearly 2000 years now. Whoever heard of a 2000-year-long hour? Apparently the Apostle John, and now us, because we read that from him, and from Peter, and from James, and from Paul. All of these guys yelling about how we are now entering the last days are a bit out to lunch. We have been in those last times for 2000 years. Stop looking for signposts and read the bloody sign! It says, “Walk in a worthy manner.” Get THAT right, and the rest doesn’t matter for the real believer.
21: who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
- Here, Peter makes the comment that the “you” (his target audience and those who read it after that because the truth doesn’t change across audiences) are “believers,” a descriptive term that refers to those who believe that Jesus’ sacrifice applies to themselves personally, in God, and that they are believers in God ONLY through Him. Peter is remembering the words of Jesus recorded in John’s gospel in 14:6–“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” I could break out other passages, but if God didn’t draw you to Christ, then you are not a believer in Christ.
- You see, it is that faith that is effectual in our justification, and even that faith or belief (remember, same word in Greek, pistis) is a gift of His grace, because we did nothing to earn it. It is by that belief (faith!) that we understand that God was SO pleased with Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf that death worked backwards and had no hold on the One who had NO SIN! This resurrection is directly responsible for his glory in a number of ways, but most of all that He broke the power of death for those who would believe in Him. Death is a judgement for sin, and if one’s sin is forgiven, death no longer has a sting, and death is now the means by which we can finally be completed in Him and stand in His presence. Oh, Beloved, believe GOD! Who is a better one in which to place your faith? NO ONE!
We can CLEARLY see that Christ is where we must find redemption, and it is available for all those who will turn to Him! If this is of interest to you, you need to do two things in response to this call of Christ to your own redemption: First, repent of your sins, that is apologize to God for them and ask His forgiveness (He said He would give it), and stop doing them. Instead turn to God and start living the life He has for you, come what may. The second is that with your mouth, you must confess Him as YOUR Lord and saviour. If you do that, God will save you from the judgement of wrath that is coming on the entire earth’s population through all time.
22-25: Eternality: We are born again by the everlasting Word of God
If the first thing Peter talks about shows us how we need to obey the gospel, and the second talks about that redemption itself, this last paragraph talks about the eternality of that same message. Those of us that God saves will always be saved, regardless of when that starts. As Jesus said in John 5:24, such a one “has passed out of death and into life.” And this passage is made possible by the everlasting promise of God that He even had written down in the Bible for us! Let’s see what the text says.
22: Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
- Peter is about to review in brief what he has already stated. The verse begins with the word “since,” which I admit violates a pet peeve of mine, because it can have more than one meaning, but thankfully, it is clear from the context that we could easily substitute the word “because,” which refers to the truths Peter has just stated, as opposed to its possible time-sensitive meaning, that it began at a certain point. I did mention this was a pet peeve of mine, right? Like using the word “while” when you mean “although,” it has a different meaning, and is as such imprecise. That bugs nobody usually, but as a sometimes professional editor, it bugs me to no end. Like calling the book of the Bible “RevelationS.” If you look, the title is the REVELATION, singular. It is a single revelation, meant to finally reveal to the earth once and for all, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of Lords. If you make that plural, it confuses the issue and steps away from the singular use of the Greek word apokalupsis besides. Mess with the words of Scripture at your own peril. Which brings me back to the point, the words used in Greek can be translated, “Because you have purified yourselves.” It is in fact a form of hagios, the verb hagnizo, to purify or cleanse from.
- How have we done this? By obeying the truth, according to Peter. In the context we have taken the time to read and develop from the beginning, because we have obeyed the gospel call of Jesus Christ on our lives! We have even done this, according to Peter, for the reason of a sincere [anupokritos, unfeigned] love [philedelphian] of the brethren. This has the particular meaning of an affection for your brothers and sisters in Christ that you are not working up, putting on, faking, or otherwise imitating falsely. Peter is saying that because we have obeyed the gospel for the reason of purifying our souls so that we can have a real affection for one’s brothers and sister’s in Christ, to FERVERENTLY employ that love [agapeo!]. Affection for the brethren SHOULD turn into the love of God in you for your brothers and sisters in Christ! Jesus told us in John 13 in and around v.34, that this is how all men would know that we are HIS disciples! What, you thought loving your neighbour was about wearing masks and getting an experimental mRNA injection? No, Beloved, it has absolutely nothing to do with those things. It has to do with telling your brothers and sisters (and everyone else for that matter) the truth about the reality you live in, regardless of whether that is popular or not! I have discussions with my mom that are frustrating because it’s like she’s be programmed to ignore reality. When it is presented to her, she has a thousand obstacles that she throws up to try to make me stop talking. All I can do is to gently and patiently keep speaking the truth. And my sisters are a different audience entirely. I love them all! But talking to them like this requires GREAT patience. And don’t even talk about my brothers-in-law. But you have to employ that affection from the heart while you do it, or it turns into bitter arguments. Moving on.
23: for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
- Here is why. Our new birth from God is not of earthly doings or material. I could pick up the idea of seed here, but then I would have to explain all of it in context, and I don’t want to take that kind of time here. However, I will give you some fodder for studies of your own. Study the concept of “the seed” in Scriptures and you will find that there are two, namely the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the Woman. See where that broad arc takes you. That was actually a Bible College assignment we had to do. It’s pretty heady stuff, and if you’re a real believer, you won’t find it boring, it will have you studying the scriptures for months, for hours at a time. It did me!
- Suffice it to say that the seed from which we derive our new birth from God is not an earthly, perishable seed. It is imperishable, and has the characteristic or attribute known as eternality. That is because it is initiated by God, nurtured through its entire growth cycle by God, cared for by God, and reaches its maturity at a point determined by God…and God alone! Soli Deo gloria! How is it manifested in us? Here’s one for all the Bereans in the crowd: it manifests through the living and enduring Word of God. What do you mean “read the bible, Ger?” Well, yes, but that isn’t the only thing I mean. The word of God is not merely a written work that was recorded by more than 40 writers over 2500 years all giving the same message for their day. Look with me and see that the Word of God is not just a book. John 1:1.
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
- There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:1-18)
- The word of God is CLEARLY a person, and this person is CLEARLY identified by both the Apostle John and by the prophet John the Baptist as none other than Yeshua, who in English we refer to as Jesus, a kind of Anglicized Greek version of His name. We are therefore CLEARLY born again through Jesus Christ. And why not? He did it all anyway! I think about it this way. You know those Five Solae of the Reformation? Sola Gratia, by Grace alone, refers to the Grace that is only given by Christ, in fact He IS that grace. Sola Fide, by faith alone, refers to the faith placed in Him, but that Peter, and James, and Paul to this point, have all said comes directly from Him. Galatians 2: 20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Literally, it can be translated as “the faith OF the Son of God.” It isn’t our faith, it is HIS! Solus Christus, that is, in Christ alone, is to say that it is all in Christ. If you miss this, you miss ALL of it! Sola Scriptura, or in the Scriptures alone, is all about how the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and how through His vicarious substitutionary penal atonement for our sins on the cross, we have been redeemed! That starts at the beginning and ends at the end of the book, but it will continue when every predicted event has already occurred in the Scriptures–which are all about Christ anyway! And what possible reason could unite all of these Solae? Only the last one: Soli Deo gloria, or the Glory of God Alone! That’s what it means when we say we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, found in the Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone! Isn’t that blessed? I think so!
24: For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,
- Now this verse ends with a comma, so it. Isn’t a complete thought, but we will complete the thought in the next verse. For those who have read the Bible before, you know this verse is in small caps, and that means it is an Old Testament quotation. It is actually a partial quotation that comes from Isaiah 40:6-8a. The whole reference here:
- A voice says, “Call out.”
- Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
- All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
- The grass withers, the flower fades,
- When the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
- Surely the people are grass.
- The grass withers, the flower fades,
- The passage in context is supposed to comfort Israel, God’s chosen people, but does not pull punches and lets everyone know that all flesh will end. Peter is not using that verse out of context for Isaiah, even though he is only using part of the text, because of the next verse.
- I will state for the record that Peter is actually taking a moment in his letter to render the meaning, that is he is EXPOSITING the meaning of this text in Isaiah. And in the fashion of those Apostles, he is interpreting that passage via the Holy Spirit. We make that same assertion. If you are bothered by what we say consider that perhaps it is God disturbing your slumber to wake you up with the gospel!
25: BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.
- This quotation is Peter finishing off the reference in Isaiah 40:8. This is the part that brings comfort, and Peter is saying that it is the very same comfort that Isaiah brought to Israel, God’s chosen people of that day. This Word of the Lord, here written down for all to read if they will, is the very word that Peter was sharing with his target audience, and all those who read it, and now I say it is this very Word of God, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, that I share with you right now.
Now recall that Peter is writing this to believers. I may or may not be speaking to a believing crowd here. Peter spoke in a way that the new birth for these believers was a past-tense idea, but I cannot make that assumption because of not knowing personally everyone that may watch this on Twitch or view it later on YouTube or BereanNation.com. So I will make my appeal to you like this: I will tell you the gospel of Jesus Christ and what you need to do.
Because mankind disobeyed God and violated his law that he had clearly and verbally told them, they were cursed in that moment and death entered the world as the wages that sin earns for each sinner, and because we are their offspring ultimately, that includes us. God loves us and doesn’t want us all to perish into eternal punishment, and so He made a way for sinful humans to be redeemed from their slavery to sin. He became a man, in the person of His Son Jesus. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father’s law because we are not able to do so, and then at the exact right time, He provoked his capture, torture, and death on a Roman cross–all to pay for the sins that all of US committed–WHILE WE WERE STILL COMMITTING THEM! Apparently it worked! Death could not keep Jesus in the grave, because He broke its power in the lives of humans that will turn to Him. That’s the Gospel.
Your response, according to Romans 10 is to repent of your sins, that is to stop doing them and turn instead and walk in God’s direction, and then believe that God raised Jesus from the dead as proof that His death for sins applies to YOU! Do that, and God will save you from the coming judgement of wrath that is coming for the whole world.
As I stated at the very first this evening, we must remember that this was written at the beginning of the most horrendous Roman persecution of believers under Caesar Nero. Peter knows who the leader of the world is at this time. And yet he writes in these kinds of hopeful tones and encouraging words. This can only BE because Jesus Christ is truly the answer to everything that the world system that was trying to overwhelm the believers of that day, and must also be of this day. Comparatively, our times are not so different tan that day. Believers are not yet subject to instant arrest or imprisonment or death simply for being a believer and follower of Jesus, but that day seems to be coming again. That leaves us all with a definite choice:
Where will YOU stand when this finally does start to happen to believers here in the west?