So Great Salvation 1 Peter 1:1–21
The greatest gift ever conceived and bestowed on humanity is redemption. Only an omniscient, omnipotent God could plan and perform the redemption of mankind. In chapter 1 of 1 Peter, the Lord reminds us through the apostle Peter that our redemption is based on God’s truth, grace, and sovereignty.
Peter wrote this epistle to Jewish and Gentile Christians, called “pilgrims of the Dispersion [Diaspora] in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (v. 1). They were pilgrims (foreign, temporary residents) because their true home was in heaven.
Although the definite article (the) appears before the word dispersion in the New King James and King James Versions of the Bible, it does not appear in the original Greek. Without the definite article, the construction indicates qualities or characteristics, rather than pointing out a particular identity.
Though the word diaspora often refers to Jewish people scattered throughout the world, it does not do so here. Peter omitted the definite article in verse 1, revealing he was not referring specifically to Jewish believers but to all Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor (modern Turkey).
Selected to Salvation
Using a careful selection of words, Peter revealed how the triune God undertook salvation.
Elected. First, God the Father selected those who would be saved. They were “elect[ed] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (v. 2). Election refers to the sovereign act of God whereby He unconditionally chose men and women for Himself. God’s unconditional choice was not based on any merit within the individuals but was according to His grace and the good pleasure of His will.
Sanctified. Second, believers are sanctified by the Holy Spirit (v. 2). That is, the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice to each one, whereby he/she is cleansed from sin and positionally set apart for the Lord’s service.
Sprinkled. Third, the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” makes it possible for people to be saved and cleansed from sin and enables them to live in obedient submission to the Lord and His Word.
These new believers greatly rejoiced over their salvation and inheritance in Christ. At the same time, they were “grieved by various trials” they faced because of their faith (v. 6). Yet God allowed those trials to reveal “the genuineness [proof] of [their] faith”:
that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love (vv. 7–8).
Just as gold must be heated in fire to be refined and purified, so the refining fire of testing purifies our faith. A faith that endures the flame of persecution is truly genuine. The result brings the believer “praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”—that is, recognition and reward at Christ’s return for His church (v. 7).
Although Peter had seen the Lord Jesus physically, he was writing to believers who had not. Yet they loved Christ because of what He had done on their behalf (v. 8). A Christian’s faith is not sustained by physically seeing the Savior but through a personal relationship with Him.
Furthermore, they rejoiced over their salvation “with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (v. 8). That is, their joy was so great that words were inadequate to express its depth and the full glory they were experiencing. Because of this loving relationship with Jesus Christ, they were already receiving the goal of their faith, which was the salvation of their souls (v. 9).
Searching the Scriptures
Peter encouraged these suffering believers by referring to the Hebrew prophets: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully” (v. 10). Centuries earlier, the Holy Spirit had revealed to the prophets (1) “the grace” of God that would come to believers (v. 10); (2) the “sufferings of Christ” at the time of His crucifixion (v. 11); and (3) “the glories that would follow” through Christ’s resurrection, ascension, and enthronement (v. 11).
The prophets diligently and carefully sought to understand their own writings. Not only did they search out the meaning of their prophecies, Peter said, but they also searched out “what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating” (v. 11). That is, the prophets tried to discover the time and circumstance to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing. The Holy Spirit revealed to these prophets that the salvation they wrote about would not be fulfilled in their lifetimes, but rather in another era (v. 12).
Wiser beings than the Old Testament prophets, namely angels, have a “desire to look into” various aspects of salvation (v. 12). The phrase look into depicts a person bent forward, neck extended, intently examining something closely. Thus the holy angels have a continual, overpowering longing to comprehend fully the mystery surrounding man’s redemption, which is outside their realm of understanding because angels do not experience salvation.
Stewardship of the Saints
After setting forth a doctrinal foundation for the faith of these new believers, Peter then unfolded the responsibility they have in living for Christ.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (vv. 13–16).
First, they were to have hope, referring to the patient expectation of Christ’s coming and all the blessings, rewards, and joy that Christ will dispense to believers at His return.
In writing “gird up the loins of your mind,” Peter told us to have a scriptural mindset of preparedness to serve the Lord. Second, he said to be sober, meaning we should exhibit self-discipline and self-control. The redeemed are to live “as obedient children” and steer clear of their former, sinful practices.
In addition, we are to be holy. God’s people are to pattern their lives after God (v. 15). He is infinitely holy, and His redemptive purpose is to deliver depraved humanity from every form of ungodliness so that people everywhere can be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
Also, we are to honor God. Christians should give God the awe and reverence due Him and live out their pilgrimages on Earth in fear because He will judge their works (service) without partiality at the Judgment Seat of Christ: “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (1 Pet. 1:17).
Sacrifice for Sin
Peter then enumerated the great cost of our salvation:
You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (vv. 18–19).
Our redemption was purchased through Christ’s precious blood. It was planned in eternity past because Christ was predestinated before the foundation of the world to give His life as a sacrificial ransom for sin. This plan was revealed in the last days of history (v. 20).
Proof of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice for sin is seen in His resurrection from the dead (v. 21). His redemptive act was perfected and affirmed when God the Father “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory” (v. 21). This took place at Christ’s ascension and exaltation to His seat at the Father’s right hand.
One of the ultimate purposes of redemption was to give believers faith and hope in God. Faith enables us to receive redemption, and in hope we wait for the completion of our redemption at Christ’s Second Coming (v. 21).
The writer of Hebrews said it well: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). Put faith in Christ now; tomorrow may be too late.