Category Archives: Topical

Study 7 – 1 Peter 4:1-11

The end of all things is near


Peter has reached the end of a major section in the book. He began in 2:11 to describe what it looks like to be foreigners and strangers in this world. We are not part of this fallen world because we have been made alive again into a living hope. We are to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh and the sinful desires which wage war against our souls. But as those who are brought to God, his chosen people, we are to be set apart from this world.

In this section he reminds us of a few themes that he has already discussed and reflects on two realms of our life: living with the living God who judges and living in this passing age for the eternal king. The former motivates us because we revere God. The latter motivates us because this life is not forever.



  • 1-6 – Living with the living God who judges
  • 7-11 – Living in this passing age for the eternal king.

1-6 Living with the living God who judges

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body…” Peter is about to make a point flowing from the fact of Christ’s suffering. But the point is a continuation of Peter’s description of Christ’s ministry on earth when he spoke of Christ suffering once for sins (3:18), put to death and made alive again (3:18-19). That is, chapter 4 picks up on the theme of suffering that Peter had introduced in 3:8. It is a major theme in the whole book. As aliens and strangers in this world, we ought to expect conflict as we walk in this world among those who don’t know Christ. Christ is given as the ultimate example of the suffering one (3:18 on). Peter began with Christ’s suffering for our sin and launched into a narrative of His triumph over the worst of enemies you could possibly imagine (the wicked spirits of Noah’s day). In 4:1 he gets back to his primary point: Christ suffered and we ought to expect suffering of some kind.

“…arm yourselves also with the same attitude…” A major weapon in the Christian life is our transformed minds for gospel and kingdom thinking. How we view the world will affect the way we respond in it. Tantrums and anger and hate and depression arise often due to our personal kingdoms coming under attack – our idols are threatened. But set your minds on the things of Christ, with his attitude to the world, and we have been equipped to take this world on.

“…whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.” By using “in the body”, Peter keeps our attention on the fleeting nature of this world. Jesus said, “do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” (Luke 12:2). Sin often flows from our fight to achieve comfort for ourselves. We’ll take, deceive, withhold information, delay helping and do all sorts of shifty, self-seeking, no-one-will-know kind of things in order to be comfortable. But those who will suffer in the body are done with sin.

“…as a result…live…for the will of God.” Aligning our attitude with Christ’s is to align our goals with God’s goals. Imagine what a difference we could all make if we would simply submit to the will of God in everything always! The nature of this world, as implied above, is to be short-sighted and seek comfort now or as soon as possible. But an eternal view of life seeks God as the greatest treasure and our pursuit in life will be to love Him.

“…what pagans choose to do…” Christians will get a cute reputation for being do-gooders but here is where you can see why. Christians will make the conscious decision to put a stop to what used to be their passions and desires. Peter gives a list, not of what the wicked and evil people in the world get up to, but a list of what everyone outside of Christ is bent toward. NB that plenty of nice, non-Christians, may not be characterised by all or some of the things listed in verse 3 BUT we all, without the Spirit of God, desire and yearn for lives that are like this. Many people live their lives through the characters on the TV who dabble in some or all of these.

“…living in debauchery…” Lives drawn to excessive use of sex, drugs and alcohol. This kind of outworking of sin is quite transparent. There are lovable partiers who are a laugh to be around but that is putting icing on a pretty bad cake. Many Christians will be able to look back at their past and know that this was not working out for them – as fun as it might have looked and sometimes felt.

“…lust…” In contrast, this is a sin which can be kept very secret. Jesus equated lust with adultery in Matthew 5:28.

“…drunkenness, orgies, carousing…” The whole list in verse 3 involves passions and cravings which will take hold of a person. They feed the desires of the body. Rather than having an attitude of Christ that says no to the flesh, these are evil human desires that our biological bodies respond well to.

“…and detestable idolatry.” All forms of idolatry are detestable since it substitutes the real and living God with something else. It may be a statue(s) but it may just as easily be a trophy room, a plot of land, or anything that we put ahead of our love for God. Perhaps, though, in the context of verse 3, the detestable idolatry also includes practices that often went alongside idol worship in temples such as sleeping with temple prostitutes or other false ways of worship.

“They are surprised that you do not join them…” Given a choice of doing something your body will enjoy and that everybody else has no problems with – or denying your body the enjoyment of a passing thrill in order to honour God – which would be easier? Those who have no desire to worship God and who do not know Jesus would surely have problems with why someone would say no to passions. Now, of course, there are plenty of other reasons to abstain from alcohol and drugs and imoral sex other than being Christian. A health-aware person will have motivation to say no to things too. But there motivation is not driven by their knowledge and love of Christ but of their knowledge and love of their own bodies.

“…and they heap abuse on you…” I don’t recall ever having abuse heaped on me for living a disciplined life in Christ but the current climate in society to outright reject anybody who questions the acceptance of same-sex relationships/marriage is manifest daily. Peter does force us to question any thoughts that being Christian is both right AND awesome/easy.

“But they will have to give account…” Here is the crux of Peter’s mindset here. Not only do we model ourselves off Christ who suffered in this life in his body – but we also fear the one who we must give an account to in the end.

“…ready to judge the living and the dead.” That’s an interesting phrase. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that all will face death and after that will face judgment. What we have in 1 Peter is the hint that judgment will fall on some people who have not yet died! This is the mindset of Christians who believe in the second coming (ie, all Christians) and that at any moment a reckoning of our lives can be called. We have no scope to live a wild life now and leave our repentance for our death bed. We may not get that chance! Live out your lives now in reverent fear (1 Peter 1:17).

“For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead…” OK – before we go thinking that this means the gospel has been preached to dead people (1 Peter 3:19) and therefore dead people get a second chance, take note of how the rest of verse 6 concludes. Peter is urging Christians to seek first the kingdom of God and not let the desires of the body get in the way of their salvation. Christian suffering is to be seen as a norm. Those who are “now dead” could refer to those who are dead in the spirit and they need to be made alive in Christ if they could hear the gospel and respond in faith. But the context of what Peter is teaching helps us conclude that they are those who heard the gospel and responded and consequently died. That is, the gospel was preached and received and people are even dead as a result of their conversion! They have been “judged according to human standards in regard to the body” and have had abuse heaped on them (4:4). But they “live according to God in regard to the spirit.” So, don’t be afraid of what people can do to the flesh – but fear the one who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

7-11 Living in this passing age for the eternal king.

“The end of all things is near. Therefore…” Peter’s next thoughts are in the context of the present age that we live. The Christian church has been living in the age of the end for 2000 years now. But for God, a thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8). Generations have lived and died waiting for the day of Christ’s return when all the suffering of this world will be done away with and the new heaven and the new earth will begin (Rev 21-22). It may seem like Peter thinks it’ll happen before the kettle boils but Peter mocks humanity in his second epistle when mockers ask ‘where is God and the end?’ But just like the people in Noah’s day kept working right up until the rains began – unknowing what was about to happen – so too will the return of Christ happen. See 2 Peter 3:3-10.

“Therefore be alert and of sober mind…” Peter urges his readers to be of sober mind three times in this letter (1:13l 4:7 and 5:8). With a clear head, set your hope on the grace of God, pray and be alert against the snares of the devil.

“…so that you may pray.” Peter doesn’t expand on the instruction to pray in either of his letters. Perhaps the clue is in how he links it with being sober minded. Setting your hope on grace and being alert against the snares of Satan, prayer – conversing with God in all things – is the format to do those things. We are not sober minded, seeking God’s kingdom and fighting against the enemy without the connection with God. Prayer in the bible is always informed by the promises and truth about God and his will. It is an exercise in speaking with our God in an authentic relationship built on trust and obedience. Prayer is faith speaking. Peter has reminded us that the end is near and so there is no greater time than now to be speaking with our Creator and Redeemer. As John puts it in Revelation: Come Lord Jesus!

“…love covers over a multitude of sins.” Peter is able to say in 7 words what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13! The greatest thing (above all) is our love that we bring to any relationship. A son was helping his father prime an old car chasis with sump oil – a thick black paste – so that the old rusted metal could be used as a base to rebuild the classic vehicle. As the two worked together smearing this liquid over every inch of the metal, the father said to his son, “this reminds me of love.” The boy paused because he knew that his dad would explain what he meant. The father said, “love covers over a multitude of sins.” The boy had understood that all the defects and imperfections that were present in the base of the car were being covered over. People can get caught up with one another on conflicts and petty issues but love overlooks the imperfections and sees the potential and the beauty that makes the relationship worth it. Wrongs do need to be rectified wisely but Peter has taught us that in this day when we wait for the king to come, let’s overlook the multitude of sins and defects that we face each day and put on love. See 1 Corinthians 13; Ephesians 4:2.

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” I don’t think I need to expand on that except that Peter urges for a giving spirit and not a begrudging one.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” A couple of things from this sentence: 1) Each of you refers to all who are reading the letter.  Everyone is gifted in some form or another. Take the gifts that God has given you and put them to use. 2) The gifts you have are for serving others (1 Corinthians 12:7). Think about how you use your resources, talents and time for the benefit of others. 3) The letter is addressed to the people of God who are to serve the people of God with their gifts. This is a directive to the church. 4) The grace of God comes in all shapes and sizes. Of course there is the grace of righteousness through Jesus but there is also the grace (or gift) of one another. God has established the church and each of its members are a gift from God to serve one another.

“…as one who speaks the very words of God.” It’s more likely that this phrase refers to those who speak and teach in the name of Christ rather than just everyone who is able to put two words together about anything (although there is biblical wisdom to use our tongues always for the glory of God and never for anything meaningless (see James 3 which speaks of the dangerous tongue and warns teachers to be careful in their position). As a preacher, Growth Group leader, Youth Group leader, or anyone who seeks to teach others and disciple people in the church, they ought to think of their mouths as tools for the LORD – speaking his very words. This doesn’t mean that we can only quote scripture but that the content and message and meaning of our instructions must be God honoring and truthful – speaking God’s thoughts after him.

“If anyone serves…so that…God may be praised…” In all of our gifts it is tempting to boast and to work hard to receive praise for yourself. But God already loves us and is giving us an inheritance that will never spoil or fade and to work – even to serve – in this world so that we get praise and a pat on the back is showing insecurity in Christ. Not only that, but we can be encouraged to stretch ourselves in service to God and lean on him in prayer to see what can be accomplished above and beyond our own expectations. It is a polite thing to say ‘thank you’ to one another for what each of us do in the church but someone once told me they never thank others for serving in the church. They encourage and say ‘well done’ but to say ‘thank you’ was communicating that they didn’t need to do that and thank you for helping out. “Well done and praise God!” If we serve, then we serve at the pleasure of the King.

“To him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.” This is what we call a doxology! It’s any part of the scriptures (or any writing) where the author breaks into praises to God. It happens a few times in the NT as the writers encourage Christians and in their writings they can’t help but send a word of praise and glory to Christ! See Romans 11:33-36 after spending several chapters of preaching deep theology of the grace of God! See Ephesians 3:20-21.


Life before salvation was motivated by indulging our earthly bodies. But God’s people will say no to putting the love of the body before the love of God. We reject the passing things of this world in place of an active service to the living God who is our judge and the giver of all good things. Christians value different things to pagans.


  • Topic A – Done with sin. That’s easier said than done isn’t it? We will struggle with sin all of our days on this earth but we are informed here that we will say no to ungodliness. What are some pleasures of this world that you cling to and crave too much? What takes too much of your time away from pursuing the will of God?
  • Topic B – The end is near. A present awareness of this will help to sober our minds for God’s service. How can we weave into our church community are constant reminder that we are in the last days?*
  • Topic C – Using the gifts that God has graciously given. ‘Gifts’ in the church refers to anything that you are able to do in service and love for the gospel and Christ’s church. Setting our chairs, calling people who are absent, welcoming people, cleaning, tidying, leading, administration, IT work, playing music, chatting over a cuppa for encouragement and pastoral care, rostering, teaching, gardening, designing and anything you can imagine that serves the people of God for the sake of building the kingdom in love – all are gifts given by the grace of God. As a rule of thumb, it is helpful to step into serving in at least one area at church. Share with the group what your act of service is or tends to be (note, some ministries get rostered but some just happen through the love of the saints).

Prayer of the Week

Lord God, help us to put our hope on your return and to leave this world behind. But while we wait, may we serve one another in love, teach all the world that you are Lord, and learn to set aside our glory for yours. To you be all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

*A note on ‘the end of all things’ and ‘the last days’. Despite a common misunderstanding in the church, ‘the last days’ began at the time of Christ’s ascension into heaven. It is not a phrase to refer to the very final events that take place before Christ’s return (like markings of the beast and the arrival of an anti-Christ). No, we have been living in the last days since Peter stood up and told his Jewish friends that Christ is the promised Messiah (Acts 2).

1 Peter 2:4-12

But you are a chosen people


In writing a letter to Christians scattered across the world, Peter encourages his readers to remember the promises of God fulfilled in Jesus. What joins us together is not this world or geography or heritage but the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been born again into a the family of God. We are no longer part of this world but must set our minds on our eternal future. Everything in this world will pass away, but the promises of God stand forever.  He instructs us to live like we are God’s children in this world and not like we are making this world our eternal home.

The next section continues the theme of our new identity in Christ and uses words and concepts which harken back to the book of Leviticus. While preserving great links between the Old Testament and the New, Peter describes a great divide in this world between those who come to the Living Stone and those who reject Him.



  • 4-6 You are being built as a spiritual house
  • 7-10 Once you were not…but now you are!
  • 11-12 Live lives that glorify God.

4-6 You are being built.

“As you come to him…” Notice the progressive language here. Peter will teach us in this passage that we have been chosen by God (2:9 and 1:1) and that there are two different people in this world: those who reject Jesus and those who accept him. But here, those who accept Jesus are described as coming to him. They are inclined toward him. Salvation is both a binary and a progressive event. We are both holy now, and waiting for our glory to come. We are both saved and righteous now but also ridding ourselves of our previous way of life (2:1).

“…the Living Stone…” Peter identified Jesus as the Living Stone back in Acts 4:11-12. He alludes to Psalm 118:22; see also Isaiah 8:14-15; 28:16; Zechariah 10:4; Matthew 21:42-44; Romans 9:32-33; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:7. Every reference in the NT about this OT stone identifies Jesus as the stone. The OT itself identifies the cornerstone as the Messiah and all that was left was to identify Jesus as the Messiah.

“…rejected by humans but chosen by God…” Peter’s two early sermons in Acts 2 and Acts 4 focus on the line that God had clearly approved Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ but that mankind rejected and killed (Acts 2:36; 4:10-11). This reality of being rejected by men but chosen and precious to God flows through the rest of what Peter will say about Jesus and his followers. We will be rejected too, but the reality is that God has chosen us and we are precious to Him!

“…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” How incredible to be compared even remotely to our LORD! While Jesus is the cornerstone, we are also stones making up the same house. Our nature derives from the resurrected Lord who has give us new birth into a living hope. While we are all stones making up this spiritual house, Jesus is the cornerstone which defines how the rest of the house will be built. The house is not a physical one but spiritual. Since Peter will speak of a priesthood and since the house is spiritual, we ought to think of the temple – the place where God met and dwelled with Israel. The temple and the priests were established so that God could dwell with his chosen people. All of this imagery, Peter embraces to describe Christians now! Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and together we make a spiritual house. God’s dwelling place among humans is in the lives of his chosen people – those who accept the Living Stone.

“…to be a holy priesthood…” although we have no need for blood sacrifices any more – because Christ’s blood has been offered for us, once for all – we offer spiritual sacrifices as God has described. We have already heard Peter command us to love one another deeply, to rid ourselves of our old ways and in verse 11 we are instructed to live exemplary lives. Like the whole tribe of Levi were devoted to God, Christians offer their whole lives to God. Living sacrifices, see Romans 12:1; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16.

“…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” A good life on it’s own is not acceptable to God – but by grace and faith through Jesus Christ. We cannot be born again except through Jesus Christ. We cannot be pleasing to God except through Jesus Christ. All of our acceptable spiritual sacrifices are offered in the context of what God has done for us through Christ.

7-10 Once you were not…but now you are!

“Now to you who believe…” A new subsection begins with the word ‘Now.’ This section has a flow that looks like this: To you who believe…but to those who do not…but you. Peter describes the great divide between those who believe and those who do not. If there is one thing that will highlight a true believer it is this: that Jesus is precious to them.

“The cornerstone” Both Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14 are quoted by Peter to show that the one who has been rejected is both the cornerstone (foundation stone) and a stumbling block.

“They stumble because…” Verse 8 here gives us a classic picture of human judgement mixed with God’s sovereignty. Many will get fixated on God’s predistination of both the elect (1:1) and the damned (2:8). But Peter doesn’t say they were pre-destined, just that they were destined. This was going to be their end because – they disobey the message. God’s word is open and available for all to read and respond to (yes, there are closed countries and difficulties – but across time and the world the word has been made available). In our culture, there are dozens of Christian churches in every city. Their doors are open every Sunday and more! Their websites are running 24/7 and their members are living in and around the community ready and prayerful to share the good news of new life through Christ. Yet people stumble because they disobey the message. It was always going to be the way. “Christ is laid across the path of humanity on its course into the future. In the encounter with him each person is changed: one for salvation, another for destruction. …One cannot simply step over Jesus to go on about the daily routine and pass him by to build a future. Whoever encounters him is inescapably changed through the encounter: Either one sees and becomes “a living stone”, or one stumbles as a blind person over Christ and comes to ruin, falling short, i.e., of one’s Creator and Redeemer and thereby of one’s destiny.”

NB: be careful to conclude verse 8 is about predestination to damnation. It could be saying that ‘they’ are destined to disobey or it could equally mean all those who disobey are destined to stumble. That is the destiny of every person who disobeys the message that they stumble for they have no other hope.

“But you are…” In contrast to those who reject Jesus as Lord, we, who see him as precious, are described by Peter in holy and sacred terms.

“…a chosen people…” not just wandering into the sheepfold of God but called by name. Not only are Christians chosen but also the type of people they become are the choice people that God ordained – they are Jesus people, i.e., they cannot simply be loved by God but they are the people God has chosen them to be through Jesus. Israel were known as the chosen people of God because he regarded and treated them as special out of all the other nations but this was not of their own greatness but of God’s mercy (Exodus 19:5). The purpose of this calling, even of Israel were for proclaiming his praise before all the other nations (Isaiah 43:20-21). So, royal priesthood, holy nation and God’s special possession are all synonymous for the same thing: that God has chosen those who have accepted Jesus to speak into this world the good news about God.

“…holy nation…” As 1 Peter 1:1-2 implies, Christians are united on the basis of their faith in Christ. We may be scattered and vary in all sorts of ways but we are a singular group – a nation of people set apart by God and for God.

“…that you may declare…” There is a purpose or a responsibility to all who call on the name of Jesus to be saved. We are to declare or speak or proclaim to all that God is mighty and sovereign and the only source of salvation is through Jesus. Let’s celebrate and be people who worship with joy and thanksgiving to the God who raised us from darkness to light. It’s such a puzzle why we fail to do this – except that we fail to set our hope on the grace being brought to us through Christ (1 Peter 1:13). The remedy may well be to meditate on verse 10 which follows…

“Once you were not a people…” The value of ‘not a people’ is quite extreme but Peter appears to be taking language from the Old Testament prophet, Hosea. Through that book, the prophet was commanded to take a bride and have children and name them in ways that communicated God’s plans for Israel who were being unfaithful to God. Hosea 1:6-10, one of Hosea’s sons was named Lo Ammi which means ‘not my people’. Prior to being the people of God, we are nothing. At that time, we had not received mercy but now, what defines us as the chosen people of God is that we have received mercy from God. To be his people is to have God’s mercy poured upon you (Deuteronomy 7:7, 9:6).

11-12 Live lives that glorify God.

“…I urge you to abstain…” The Christian life is a life of denying self. Peter has already talked about offering spiritual offerings and about ridding ourselves of the old way of life we once lived when we were in ignorance of God’s grace and mercy.

“…sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” The spiritual battle we will always find the hardest is the one going on inside our very minds and hearts. Paul talks about this battle between the flesh and the Spirit (Romans 7-8). Even a Christian living in isolation from the world, as if they could find a place to escape from it, will continue to experience this warfare going on inside themselves. The command is to abstain and be in control of this battle – unaware or unconcerned with this battle will just not do. The good news here is that signs of inner struggle is not evidence of unconversion! Even God’s chosen, holy and royal priesthood will need to combat their inner conflict: to serve the flesh or to live as children of God.

“Live such good lives…” The level of good here is simply the kind that stands out in a pagan world. The result though is sobering – it won’t be the Christian praised for their goodness (this is not the purpose for our good living) – it will be God who is praised. This glory that God receives when he returns may not be of a saved person praising God – rather, that all mankind will see what great mercy and work God has had on mankind – it may be recognising God’s glory through a snarly face.


There are two type of people in this world: those who love Jesus and those who do not. The difference is huge! The former are called the chosen people of God – set apart to worship him with their whole lives, while the latter remain in darkness, receiving no mercy from God and destined to  remain in that state. Those who come to Jesus do so at the mercy and grace of God and are called to live wholly for Him.


  • Topic A – Rejecting or accepting Christ. Can you say that your faith is based on a living relationship with Jesus? How can we remove human obstacles and create as many paths for people in our community to come to Jesus and receive him? We cannot force people to love him but we can certainly try to make him known. Who are you praying for at the moment to bring the gospel to ?
  • Topic B – Declaring the praises of God. How can you express your gratitude to God for calling you from death to life, darkness to light, outside his mercy to inside his grace? Consider how our praises can be displayed in prayer, in song, in our conversations with Christians and those outside our Christian community.
  • Topic C – The war against your soul within. To what extent are you aware of a battle going on within you? What is your strategy for combat? James says to resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:8); do you have a method for resistance? Being aware of the particular temptations that ‘get’ us is a good place to start. Think of, or even share with others, the particular sins that you are most vulnerable to.

Prayer of the Week

Our Lord God and King, may we live our lives grateful for your salvation and always ready to declare what you’ve done in us. Thank you for embracing us as your people. Please help us in our ambition to live holy and exemplary lives for you and your glory. Amen.

1 Peter 1:1-12

He has given us…


Peter was a fisherman, named Simon, before Jesus found him, called him to be a missionary and renamed him The Rock (sorry Dwayne). Like the rest of the Apostles, Peter had to come to know who Jesus really was and to take ownership of the job that Jesus had given him to do (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Peter was a pillar in the early Christian community (Galatians 2:9 (Cephas means Peter in Aramaic)) and among the apostolic writers who, by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21) spread the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world. As we read the opening of Peter’s letter to the Christian community scattered abroad, let’s see how carefully God has been planning over thousands of years for you and I to enjoy his grace.



  • 1-2 Greetings to a scattered people
  • 3-5 Praise God for the future he has made
  • 6-9 Rejoicing through present trials
  • 10-12 Wonder at the work of the Holy Spirit in the past

1-2 Greetings to a scattered people

“Apostle of Jesus Christ” This phrase means that Peter is a ‘sent one’ of Jesus Christ. The word, apostle, has general meanings ranging from ‘sent one’ to ‘commissioned’ and even to ‘fleet’ or ‘admiral’. It is used throughout the New Testament (over 80 times) to refer to a) the 11 commissioned men at Pentecost specifically as well as b) a broader use for anyone who is commissioned by a church to preach the gospel. Peter introduces himself to the churches who read this letter as someone commissioned as a preacher of Jesus Christ.

“To God’s elect…” The letter is addressed to those who Peter calls ‘God’s elect’. We see in the next two phrases that the letter’s readers do not share a geographical location but a choosing by God. See notes below on the various attributes of God’s elect outlined in verse 2.

“Exiles scattered…” If you are exiled, you are a stranger to the place you are living in. The Old Testament contains a large section of writings during the time of The Exile. Peter writes during a time of Christian persecution and uses the same idea of God’s people united even though they are scattered. They are related to one another because of their relationship with God. He is likely referring to Christians being not at home in this world anywhere (Hebrews 11:13). They are sojourners in this world – living temporarily.

“Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” These are towns of Asia Minor, now known as Turkey. Bordered by the Black Sea in the north, the Aegean sea to the West and the Mediterranean Sea in the South. This letter is designed to be read in several churches. There are no specific names listed in this letter and the multiple towns help us feel included in this letter as God’s elect and strangers scattered in this world.

“Who have been chosen” This relates back to the title of God’s elect. The reader’s relationship with God is the important element of this letter and this relationship starts with God. The rest of the sentence gives three or four elements to this election. They relate to the three persons of the Trinity. One cute observation is that the first council of Nicea where the doctrine of the trinity is put to paper was held in Nicea of Bithynia – one town that Peter writes to.

“according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” Exactly how God’s foreknowledge works is open to debate but Peter is clearly saying that God knew beforehand who would be saved and who would respond to this letter as the elect. The Greek word for ‘foreknowledge’ is prognosis. It has been God’s initiative operating in the reader’s lives even before they were aware of it. 1 Peter 1:20 uses the same word to talk about Christ’s death as foreknown. We are chosen by God because he has foreknown us and decided to call us even before we were aware of his decision. Note also that we are able to call God Father!

“Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit” How we came to respond to the calling of God is through the efforts of the Holy Spirit. This work is to set us apart and make us holy. The work of the Spirit occurs with direct connection to our spirit (Romans 8:14-16) and through the preaching and reading of the word of God (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

“To be obedient to Jesus Christ” Thirdly, we are chosen by God to be obedient to Jesus Christ. He is the first and the last. He is the Lord of all. We cannot be in relationship with God apart from him (John 14:6). There is no other way under heaven and earth by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). And so, any effort by mankind to be better and good enough for God apart from being obedient to Jesus Christ is foolish and damning. Nice people will go to hell unless they bow their knee to Jesus.

“And sprinkled with his blood”. Fortunately, it is not our efforts to follow Jesus which justifies us but it is the sprinkling with his blood. The important word in this sentence is ‘his’. Leviticus has taught us that it is the sprinkling of blood by an offering without defect that will bring atonement. And here we see that it is by Jesus’ blood that we are saved.

So, before we knew anything, God has chosen who will be children (calling him Father) and he has called them through the work of the Spirit and the redemptive work of Jesus who is our Lord.

3-5 Praise God for the future he has made

“Praise be to God” This next section (verses 3-5) outline reasons for us to praise God and focus our hearts and minds on the future mapped out for his elect.

“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” Again on the doctrine of the Trinity: Jesus is the son of the Father. Check out the Start Living course if you don’t know the importance of this!

“He has given us…” For no other reason than his mercy, look at what he has given us…

“New birth” The concept of being born again (John 3) is very Christian and an analogy to explain why we feel like strangers in this world and why Christians prefer to talk about their testimony rather than their religion. Peter describes this more in 1:23. Our new birth is not reincarnation where we re-enter the world as flesh again. But it is an imperishable existence. This is our birth to eternal life and it comes through our knowledge of God through his word and promises.

“Into a living hope” We do not have a dead hope, a futile hope, or without hope (Eph 2:12; 1 Thess 4:13). As we look to our future, we see life as much as our Saviour is alive since it is through his resurrection from the dead that we have this living hope.

“Into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” We do not mark our inheritance by land on this earth because that will pass away, but our inheritance is unspoiled and eternal. Peter goes on in verse 24 to describe people and all that we boast in as like grass that is here one minute and then gone – but the word of God, the promises of God, the living hope that we have endures forever!

“Kept in heaven for you.” Not only is our salvation by God’s foreknowledge, but our inheritance is kept secure by him. We lay in the sandwich of God’s promises.

“Who through faith are shielded…until the coming of salvation” We finally see something of our responsibility and it is faith or belief with trust. The coming salvation does not refer to a future when we will be saved, that is already described and we trust this to be so, but there will come a day when what we believe by faith will be seen without a doubt. It’s the difference between the promise of having something and the reality of seeing it in your possession.

So, we praise God for putting in our care his promises to keep us and protect us until our salvation is matured. This world will pass away but our hope is not in this world. Our living Saviour has given us a living hope.

6-9 Rejoicing through present trials

Next we look at rejoicing now even when we experience trials. It is not the present trials that will give us joy, but all that has been made clear in verses 3-5! We don’t focus on the bad weather now, but rejoice in the promise of sunshine in the morning.

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” There is genuine faith and there is ingenuine or temporal faith. The faith that stands the trials of this world will receive praise and glory when this world is done away with. God knows that those who are his elect will not fail the test. Genesis 22 illustrates God’s great test upon Abraham to see if his faith is genuine. The book of Job illustrates God’s confidence in Job to withstand the torments of Satan because God was sure of his faith. Trials and temptations will prove our faith to be true or false. Keep in mind that our faith is focuses on all that God has and is and will do for us through Christ. It requires knowledge, reflection and conviction of what is real and lasting. Also keep in mind that failing in our walk is not the same as falling away.

“Of greater worth than gold” Now this is gold! Our faith is more important than any material thing you can imagine. Our faith is worth more than gold, or any temporal form of security. Even gold will perish.

“Though you have not seen him…and…do not see him now.” Our faith is not based on seeing Jesus with our own eyes, but on our growing understanding of who he is and what he has done and our living relationship with Jesus through his word. Jesus left this earth soon after his resurrection. He left the message of the kingdom of God in the hands of the apostles and knew that the future of the church would not depend on people seeing Jesus physically, but on people seeing him spiritually and knowing him deeply through the testimony of the apostles. And even Peter writes to believers who have never seen Jesus.

“You love him…you believe in him…you are filled with and inexpressible and glorious joy…” These are marks of genuine faith. Not only will our faith withstand the trials of this world but we will increase our love and faith in Jesus as our hearts increase with the joy and peace in believing.

“For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Again, our focus is not on the here and now but on what God is doing in us for the future. Ephesians 2:8-10 describes our salvation for the purpose of God completing the work that he began in us. The question we and the world we live in really needs to start asking again is: how can we be saved! What will become of my soul after this life? The Christian knows the answer. Peter has been describing it for 5 verses now.

So, our joy is not in the immediate circumstances of life but in our hope grounded in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Where do we seek joy? Common answers to this might include holidays, weekends relaxing or with friends or on adventures, evenings by the TV, successfully completing a project or a goal. But all of these things will perish and fade. What is more valuable and provides full joy that lasts forever (Psalm 16:11) is our knowledge of God the Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ, by His Spirit.

10-12 Wonder at the work of the Holy Spirit in the past

What do we know about this salvation? Where did the idea of Jesus’ sacrifice come from? How ancient is our faith? How can we know that what the apostles talked about can really be something that outlasts time? Peter turns to talk about this salvation and describes what the prophets of the Old Testament hoped for.

“The prophets…spoke of the grace that was to come to you…” The prophets wrote and spoke about what God had revealed to them by the Spirit. And, Peter explains, they knew that they were talking about something that they would not see in their lifetime. They didn’t write simply to the readers that were alive in their time but more profoundly, they knew that they were writing about things that would be fulfilled after they were dead. Verse 12, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have been told you.”

“Searched intently and with the greatest of care…” These verses don’t need much fleshing out but it is amazing how Peter describes the prophets as serious seekers of God rather than just puppets who said whatever they were told. They knew what was being revealed to them and looked intently into the mystery of the gospel which would one day be made clear to all who would listen. The New Testament is mostly made up of teaching on how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ completes the messages of the Old Testament. We learn in this section how the Old Testament is indeed written for us. The whole bible is for our edification.

“That have now been told you.” Now we live in the age of people telling us about Jesus and what it means to be saved. But deeper knowledge of the gospel comes through our serious investigation into the word of God just as the prophets did. How foolish are people when they only know the bible so shallowly or not at all! When it comes to salvation of the soul, laziness and she’ll be right will not do. But growing in our amazement and joy of all that God has done for us and all that he has promised in us – this is where genuine faith will be found.

“Even the angels long to look into these things.” The least we can say about this is that even the angels see that we are blessed to know the gospel now. Luke 15:10 describes angels rejoicing over the repentance of one sinner – interested and observing salvation. Rather than feeling like an alien, stranger and exile in the world with no status or privilege to boast about, those chosen by God are in a position which even the angels above admire.

Of all the times to be alive in human history, it is a supreme privilege to be alive in the period of history following the coming of Christ, when the gospel is clearly preached. (K.H. Jobes, from his commentary on 1 Peter)


God is worthy of our praise and worship because, in the past, he knew us and chose us and called us to be his. And he has given us knowledge of the gospel, through the Spirit and by the blood of Christ, we can call God Father as he is Jesus’ Father. The prophets of old knew there was something greater coming and we now live in the age where the gospel is freely preached. We may be living as strangers in this world but we are not to be pitied. Those who do not look into the salvation of their souls with serious endeavour are to be pitied. Our inheritance was pre-purchased and is kept safe for us. The suffering we endure today will be nothing compared to the glory that we will see and receive when this world has passed away!


  • What would you say to a person commenting that Christians are just naive and brain-washed, wasting their life following a foolish faith?
  • See if you can memorise verses 3 and 4!
  • It is the greatest trial of any Christian to take our eyes off the things of this world and to keep them fixed on Jesus, the source of our living hope. “You love him…you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Discuss ways you can keep working on the important things in life – our faith which is worth more than gold.

Prayer of the Week

Our Father in heaven, we give you thanks and praise that you have called us and given us an eternal hope that will never perish or spoil or fade. We pray that our lives will reflect the joy you give us in knowing you and putting our hope and trust in you. Deliver us from empty desires which promise nothing but protect our souls forever. Amen.