1 Peter 1 - Outlines of 1 & 2 Peter (Book Notes menu page)
1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit,
unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Peter, an apostle...- Peter did not elevate himself above the other apostles (1Pet 5:1; 2Pet 1:1).
He does not emphasize his office. But he identifies himself as a changed man. The Lord Jesus Christ had changed him from unstable Simon {HB= hearing}, to Peter {GK= a stone} or Cephas {Aramaic= a stone}. cp. Joh 1:41,42; Luk 22:31-34
to the strangers scattered {GK=diaspora, lit., sown abroad}... elect...- cp. Jam 1:1
  • The Jewish people had been scattered into gentile lands,
    in fulfillment of God's promise to judge them if they turned from Him (cp. Deu 4:25-27). This dispersion away from the land of Israel was accomplished by the Syrian (721 BC) and Babylonian (586 BC) captivities. Some of the people had returned to Israel in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, but in the first century AD, many Jews still remained in the lands of their diaspora.
    • Peter had set out to reach them. Peter's ministry was primarily directed toward the Jews, whereas Paul went primarily to the Gentiles. cp. Gal 2:7-9
    • The five named locations are geographic regions of modern Turkey (v.1).
      At Pentecost, Peter's message was heard by men from Pontus & Cappadocia (Acts 2:6-9).
      The Holy Spirit prevented Paul from ministering in Bithynia. It may be that Peter's ministry had already reached that area (Acts 16:7; cp. Rom 15:20).
  • This letter was written from 'Babylon' (1Pet 5:13).
    Some believe this refers to Rome, in a spiritual sense (cp. Rev 17:5,18; 18:1,2). With this interpretation, the Roman Catholic Church places Peter in Rome as the first pope.
       However, geographic Babylon is suggested by the order in which the regions are addressed: generally from east to west, as though traveling from Babylon toward Rome (on a somewhat circuitous route). At this time, Babylon still had a large Jewish population, and was a center of Jewish scholarship, second only to Jerusalem. Following the fall of Jerusalem to Rome (in 70 AD), the Babylonian Talmud, a great compendium of rabbinic thought, was compiled in Babylon (reaching completion in 600 AD). Surely, the Apostle to the Circumcision would have sought opportunity to preach the Gospel and to encourage Jewish believers, in this city.
  • Peter writes primarily to Jewish believers in Jesus Christ
    (but does not exclude gentile believers, cp. 1Pet 2:9,10; 4:1-4).
    Many gentile believers had also been scattered, because of persecution (Acts 8:4).
strangers {GK=parepidemos, displaced sojourners among other people}... elect {ie., chosen}-
While the word for strangers fits the Jewish diaspora, Peter's purpose is to encourage 'strangers' in the world, who are also the 'chosen' of God (cp. Heb 11:13, where this word is translated 'pilgrims').
     He contrasts the sufferings of believers (cp. v.6-7; 1Pet 2:19-23; 3:9-10,14-18; 4:1-4,14)
with the glory that will follow (cp. v.7,8,11,21; 2:12; 4:11-16; 5:1,4,10,11).
     Beyond the suffering that his readers were already experiencing, he foresaw an intensification of persecution (4:12), as the Roman government turned against Christians. Peter and Paul would both suffer martyrdom, under Nero, as this persecution began.
     Yet, because this world is not our home, he encouraged believers to live in hope (cp. v.3,13; 3:15), and to stand firm by God's grace (5:12).
     This letter, written in obedience to Jesus' command to "strengthen thy brethren" (Luk 22:32), came from the heart of a man who had experience in the things about which he writes. He had been timid and fearful, but the Lord had made him bold. He had been imprisoned for the sake of Christ. Soon, he would suffer martyrdom by crucifixion.
The theme of this letter: 'Christian Hope in the time of Trial' [McGee]
-- The biblical term 'hope' means 'confidence' or 'confident expectation.'
-- (It is very different from 'hope so' uncertainty.)
This hope is secured by all three Persons of the Godhead (v.2) -
  1. elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father -
    • elect - The chosen ones. cp. Mat 22:14; Joh 6:37; Joh 3:14-18
      "His invitation to 'Whosoever will' is 'Come unto Me.' It is a legitimate invitation to everyone, but there must be a response, and the response is your responsibility..." [McGee]
         Those who respond, by faith in Christ, are the 'elect' whom the Father has 'given' to the Son. Joh 1:11-13; cp. Acts 2:47b
    • foreknowledge - God's plan of salvation was ready before the world was created.
      He knew man would sin. He prepared the Way of salvation, in the Person of the Savior (v.20; Acts 2:23). He knows who will trust Him (Rom 8:29; 11:2).
      [For a more complete discussion of Election, Foreknowledge and Predestination, see the Book Notes at Ephesians 1:2-6.]
  2. through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience...-
    Believers are 'sanctified' or 'set apart' for God, in two ways:
    1. An objective Position (imparted holiness):
      God sees the believer as 'accepted in the beloved' through 'obedience' (or, submission) to His plan of salvation; ie., by faith in Christ, we belong in the family of God (1Cor 12:13; Eph 1:6,7). The Holy Spirit calls us out of unbelief into faith in Christ (2The 2:13,14).
    2. A subjective Process (progressive holiness):
      The Holy Spirit works within the individual believer to mature him in practical (day to day) obedience to God's will. cp. v.14-16; v.22; Php 2:12,13
  3. and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.-
    The believer has been redeemed and made acceptable before God, through the blood of Christ. But because the believer still lives in an impure world, and still struggles with his fleshly nature, cleansing from incidental sins is required, to maintain fellowship with God. This cleansing is also on the basis of Christ's blood. cp. 1Joh 1:6-9
    (Each of the above points will be explained and expanded as the letter progresses.)
Grace... peace...- Because of God's grace, we can have peace in our hearts, even in troubled times.
I. Suffering and the Security of Believers - Produces Joy (1:1-9)
[Major book outline divisions from McGee]
1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again
unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,
reserved in heaven for you,
1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith
unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be,
ye are in heaviness
{sorrow, grief}
through manifold
{various kinds of} temptations {trials, testings}:
1:7 That the trial of your faith,
{ie., 'that proven by testing, your faith...'}
being much more precious than of gold that perisheth,
though it be tried with fire,
{cp. Zech 13:9}
might be found
{upon examination}
unto praise
{GK=epainos, commendation, eg., Mat 25:21, 1Cor 4:5}
and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
{cp. Jude 1:24}
1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love;
{cp. 1Joh 4:19}
in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing,
{cp. Joh 20:29}
ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
1:9 Receiving the end of your faith,
[even] the salvation of [your] souls.
{cp. Joh 14:1-3; 16:22; Col 3:4}
Blessed [be] {GK=eulogetos, praised}... (This word is used only in reference to God.)
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ -
The Lord Jesus is the Son of God in a unique way. He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father (eg., Joh 1:1-4,14).
Believers are sons of God in a different sense. Only the eternal Son could accomplish the work of bringing many sons to glory (Heb 2:10; Joh 20:17).
who... hath begotten us again...-
By nature, we were not God's sons. But by His grace, a new kind of life has sprung up within us.
     This word for 'begotten again' {GK=anagennao} is used only twice in the NT (v.3 and v.23). In other literature, this word is a botanical term referring to new plant life in the Spring season. Here also, it is associated with seed that has been sown (in v.1, 'scattered' is GK= diaspora; in v.23, 'seed' is GK= spora, cp. Luk 8:11).
unto a lively {ie., living} hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ...-
He, the Seed, died for those dead in sins, to include them in His life. cp. Joh 12:23,24; Rom 6:5
The believer's confident expectation (of resurrection and eternal life) is inseparably linked to Christ. Because He lives, we also live. Col 3:3,4
to an inheritance...-
  • incorruptible {or, immortal, indestructible}. 1Cor 15:53,54; cp. Mat 6:19,20
  • undefiled {untainted by sin and the world}. cp. Heb 7:26; Rev 21:27
  • that fades not away {ie., not diminishing in value, like the stock of a crumbling corporation}.
    Isa 40:7,8; Jam 1:11; 1Pet 5:4
  • reserved {ie., guarded} in heaven...-
    Our inheritance (1) is protected by God, and
    (2) is located in heaven, not on earth. cp. Col 1:5
for you, who are kept {ie., garrisoned}...
  • by God - The One, who guards the inheritance, also guards the heirs.
    God's power secures the believer -
    1. against outside forces (cp. Isa 54:17; Joh 10:27-30), and
    2. against inward weakness and inadequacy (Jer 32:40; Php 1:6). cp. Joh 17:11,15
  • through faith (by which, we are linked to God. cp. v.21)
  • unto salvation {which is} ready to be revealed {GK=apokalupto}... (cp. v.13; Heb 9:28)
    Salvation is in three tenses:
    1. The believer has been saved from the guilt and penalty of sin. eg., Eph 2:4-8; 2Tim 1:9
    2. The believer is being saved from the habit and dominion of sin. eg., Php 2:12,13; 2Cor 3:18; Gal 2:19,20
    3. The believer is to be saved in the sense of entire conformity to Christ. eg., v.5; Rom 13:11; 1Joh 3:2
      [The above three points were adapted from ScofRB note at Rom 1:16]
      When salvation is completed, everything will be brought into submission to God. 1Cor 15:21-28
  • in the last time {GK=eschatos kairos}.
    'The last time' (v.5) is defined by v.7, as the time of the Lord's appearing {GK=apokalupsis} for His own.
    [Regarding 'the last time' (and similar phrases), elsewhere in the NT, see the Book Notes at 1Tim 4:1.]
Secure in this salvation, the believer has joy, even in present suffering.
The period of testing is temporary (v.6), and it has a beneficial purpose (v.7).
Read v.6-9 in the biblical text above (with the cross reference links).
II. Suffering and the Scriptures - Produces Holiness (1:10-25)
1:10 Of which salvation
the prophets have enquired and searched diligently,
{cp. Jam 5:10}
who prophesied of the grace [that should come] unto you:
1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time
the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,
when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ,
and the glory that should follow.
1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves,
but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you
by them that have preached the gospel unto you
with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven;
which things the angels desire to look into.
The OT prophets, speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cp. 2Pet 1:21),
could not reconcile the apparent conflict within the message they received concerning:
  1. the sufferings of Christ. eg., Isaiah 53; Psalm 22
  2. the glory [of Christ]. eg., Isaiah 11; Psalm 45
    For the OT prophets, both events were yet future. They did not understand that the two events would be separated by a period of time. The NT writers, living between these events, saw that Christ's sufferings were past, but His glory was yet to come.
The NT preachers, speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit (cp. Joh 16:12-15),
now clearly proclaim the same message, the Gospel of salvation:
  1. that Christ suffered, died and arose to redeem us for Himself, and
  2. that Christ is coming again to bring us into His glory. eg., Titus 2:11-14
Even so, our understanding of God's grace is incomplete,
  • as evidenced by the fact that even the angels desire to understand these things. cp. Eph 3:8-11
  • which is reason for us to study what Scripture says about these things. 2Pet 1:19-21
1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober {ie., soberminded},
and hope to the end for the grace
that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1:14 As obedient children,
not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy,
so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
{ie., in all aspects of your manner of life}
1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
The text of v.13-25 is built around four imperitives...
Because of our secure salvation provided by God's Grace (described in v.3-9), and attested by the Holy Spirit through the prophets and the Scriptures (v.10-12), we are to...
  1. hope {lit., set your hope...} (v.13)-
    ie., live in confident expectation of the fulfillment of salvation (at Christ's return).
    Such expectancy motivates the believer to be:
    1. prepared and committed to the task at hand
      {'loins girded', cp. Ex 12:11; Jer 1:17; Luk 12:35-37}.
    2. serious {'soberminded'} about God's Word, and about His business.
  2. be holy (v.15)- ie., not living in conformity to the old way of the world (v.14),
    but living in conformity to Him (v.16; cp. Rom 12:2). We are to be 'separated' unto Him, as a 'chaste virgin' awaiting her Bridegroom (2Cor 11:2).
    "Holinesss is, to the spiritual life, what health is, to the physical life." [McGee]
1:17 And if ye call on the Father,
who without respect of persons
{ie., without partiality}
judgeth according to every man's work,
pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear:
1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that
ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold,
from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers;
1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ,
as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world,
but was manifest in these last times for you,
{Rom 16:25,26; 2Tim 1:9,10}
1:21 Who by him do believe in God,
that raised him up from
{out from among} the dead, and gave him glory;
that your faith and hope might be in God.
1:22 Seeing
{that} ye have purified your souls
in obeying the truth through the Spirit
unto unfeigned love of the brethren,
[see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,
by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
1:24 For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.
The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
{quoted from Isa 40:6-8}
And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
The four imperitives (continued) -
  1. live in fear (v.17) -
    In the KJV, the urgency of the verb is muted. The imperitive verb {GK= anastrepho, translated as 'pass'} means 'turn yourself about.' Our conduct or manner of life, must be governed according to a healthy fear {GK=phobos, fear, terror} of God.
    God's children are to 'Live in reverential respect toward...'
    1. the Judge, in consideration of your accountability to Him.
      (v.17; Rom 14:10-12; 2Cor 5:9-11)
    2. the Redeemer, in consideration of the precious {ie., of great value} price which He paid for you. cp. v.18-21; Luk 12:42-48
      1. We had nothing with which to redeem ourselves (v.18).
        Our tangible wealth had no real or lasting value (Psa 49:6-9)
        Our spiritual resources from human religion were vain {empty}.
        But in Christ, we have been given great riches (v.3,4).
      2. Christ redeemed us with His own blood, which is precious {ie., of great price} (v.19).
        '...blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish... without spot'- cp. Ex 12:5
           Peter was introduced to Jesus as the 'lamb of God' (Joh 1:29,35-42). After observing Him for 3 years, Peter and the other disciples were in a position to evaluate His suitability as the sacrificial lamb. cp. 1Pet 2:22-24; 1Joh 1:1-3
           Here again (as in v.2), we are reminded that our salvation is secured by all three Persons of the Godhead working together (see points b., c., d.). "How shall we escape if we neglect {ie., are careless of, make light of} so great salvation...?" (Heb 2:3)
      3. The Father 'foreordained' Christ for this purpose from eternity past (v.20).
        'Foreordained' is a verb form of the word 'foreknowledge' in v.2.
        He was made 'manifest' {ie., clearly revealed} in time (by His incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, eg.; 1Joh 1:2; 3:5,8; 4:9,10).
      4. The Holy Spirit brought us to faith in God, and obedience to the Truth of the Gospel (v.21,22).
  2. love (v.22) -
    The imperative "[see that ye] love {GK=agapao}..." enjoins the exercise of a kind of love that is willing to pay whatever price is necessary for the benefit of the one loved. This love is to be unpretended {unfeigned}, pure, and fervent {GK=ektenso, extended, stretched out}, toward the brethren (ie., the children of God, through the new birth).
       The phrase 'love of the brethren' is the GK word 'philadelphia.' cp. 1Joh 4:20,21; 5:1
The above characteristics (Hope in the Word of God, Holiness like the holiness of God, Fear of the Lordship of God, and Love for the children of God) are not natural to man.
They result from the transforming power of God, which makes new life spring up within the believer (v.23). 'Born again' is GK=anagennao (the word used in v.3) referring to new life from the Seed which God has planted. The Seed is the Son and the Word (the Scriptures) which speak of Him (Luk 8:11; Joh 5:39; 12:23,24).
     Natural man is fading away, like withering grass. He cannot endure testing (v.24).
The pride of his institutions, religions, and philosophies will come to nothing.
But the life, which springs out of God's Word, will endure, because God's Word endures. v.25; 1The 2:13; Jam 1:18
...and this is the word {in harmony with the prophets (v.10), v.24-25 quoting Isa 40:6-8}...
...which by the gospel is preached unto you...-
Has the Seed taken root in your heart?
Is it producing the fruits mentioned here? (the four imperatives above) -
  1. Hope - Expectant confidence in your returning Savior.
  2. Holiness - Separation from the ungodly world to serve your Lord.
  3. Fear - Reverential respect for your Creator, Redeemer, and Master.
  4. Love - Zealous love for all for whom Christ died, especially for fellow believers.

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