Studies in Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter
31. 1 Peter 1:3-9 - Real Wealth Lasts Forever
The apostle Peter wrote a letter to several churches in areas that are now part of Turkey. He greets them as “God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood” (1 Peter 1:1-2).
In this introduction, Peter mentions that the readers are strangers in the world. They are spiritually different than the people who surround them, and they may be ethnically different, too. If they feel socially isolated and insecure, Peter’s words will help: God chose them long ago. They are not an accident, and they can feel secure in knowing that God has a plan for them.
God has foreknowledge of everyone in one sense, but for reasons we do not fully understand, he chooses some for a special relationship. This choosing is done through the Holy Spirit, and the purpose is that we obey Jesus Christ and are cleansed by his sacrifice.
An eternal inheritance
Peter begins with a doxology: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” The reason for this praise? “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (verse 3). God’s grace has given us a new start in life — a life with confidence in the future, because the resurrection of Jesus has given us evidence that we will also be resurrected into glory through him.
Our new birth also gives us “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (verse 4). Because of persecution, the readers could not count on an inheritance in this world, but Peter promises them an even better inheritance — preserved in a safe place: “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (verses 4-5). God protects us, and we will inherit his glory when our salvation comes (verse 9 describes salvation as something we are already in the process of receiving).
“In all this you greatly rejoice,” Peter says, “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (verse 6). As strangers in the world, we have trials and persecutions, but we can rejoice in knowing that God has something far better already prepared for us. Even if we enjoy many blessings in this life, we should focus our hopes on spiritual realities rather than the approval of society around us.
Why does God allow these trials? “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (verse 7). Even the best gold eventually perishes, because it will have no value to us after we die. But the value of faith continues forever, and it brings better rewards, so it is worth much more than gold.
Trials can demonstrate that our faith is genuine — that we put more stock in the future life than we do in the present. This kind of faith will bring us praise, glory and honor when Christ returns. Though we may be despised now because of our faith in him, we will have eternal honor because of that same faith.
We have not seen Jesus personally, but we love him and believe in him. This faith fills us “with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for [we] are receiving the end result of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls” (verses 8-9). Our difficulties are not worth comparing with the indescribable joy that Christ is giving us.
Things to think about
- Do I feel like a stranger in this world, or do I feel right at home? (verse 1)
- When I have trials, do I have joy in the promises of God? (verse 6)
- Author: Michael Morrison, PhD, 2005, 2011