I Peter 1:10 – Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,
So far in his epistle, Peter is offering words of encouragement and strength to the Christians living in Asia Minor. He does this by drawing their attention and focus toward salvation and their heavenly reward. They need this encouragement to endure the trials they are facing.
Having just assured them that their faith would produce salvation, he now begins a contrast between the law and grace. Why would he do that?
Well, let’s picture their situation for a moment. They are one of the first generations to leave behind the religion they grew up with. In the case of the Gentiles, they have left idol worship and the belief in multiple gods. In the case of the Jews, they have left the requirements of the Law/Old Covenant (sacrifices, dietary laws, circumcision, the temple, etc), in favor of a life of freedom under grace/New Covenant.
This would have been a life changing event for both groups; possibly one that friends and family did not understand or support. Once they have taken a stand for Christ, they are beset with trials and persecution. It would be easy for these people to compare life before Christianity (non-existent or relatively low levels of persecution and affliction) with their current situation. As such, we can see how they might experience a longing for easier times. They might wonder if their old way of life was better. They might even wonder if they had made a mistake by giving up the religion of their forefathers.
But Peter is about to stir up their hearts to the truth – Grace is far, far superior to the Law!
Peter begins his discourse with a reference to the Old Testament prophets, who were greatly revered by later generations of Jews.
Although the prophets spoke about the incarnation and suffering of the Messiah, and the redemption/grace he provided, they did not understand it. They did not know when Messiah would come. They did not know who his tormentors would be. They did not know what the culture or condition of society would be at that time. They did not fathom that grace would be extended to the Gentiles.
Clearly, prophesies regarding the Messiah held some great and glorious truths which had not been fully revealed to them. They plainly saw that the grace which was to come under the Messiah’s kingdom was vastly superior to anything that had ever been exhibited under the law. This created an immense, almost unquenchable desire within the prophets to know what God had planned.
Thus, they diligently searched and carefully inquired into God’s plan. This language implies that their search was intensive, like searching for grains of gold hidden in mounds of sand. Any revelation given to them was thoroughly sifted, scrutinized, searched out and prayed over, so that they might gain insight into the grace reserved for those under the rule of the Messiah.
Matthew 13:17 – For truly I [Jesus] say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
But they could not understand or comprehend the prophesies, because that revelation was appointed for a future generation – the generation of believers who would live during the age of grace.
Thus, any doubts the Jews felt about Christianity were dispelled. There could be no question that the New Covenant of grace was far superior to the Old Testament Law. There was also no doubt about the validity of the New Covenant; it had been foretold and greatly desired by the most revered prophets of God!
Have you stopped to consider that the grace you and I embrace and live in every single day was a great mystery to those who came before us? With longing hearts the prophets of God desired to see, hear and understand grace, but they were limited to the law. What a benefit we all have! Let’s not take it for granted! We too, should diligent search out the ways of God.
I Peter 1:11 – inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
Here we find the particular truths which the ancient prophets were trying to search out. Obviously, the coming Messiah was the chief subject of their studies.
Particularly, they were interested to know about his sufferings and the glories that would follow. Suffering and glory – this is the basis of the gospel message. Jesus was delivered up for our sins and raised again in glory, sitting at the right hand of the Father.
From this example, it was clear to the prophets that those who trusted and followed the Messiah should expect the same thing – a time of service and suffering before being received into glory (heaven). As Peter already indicated to his readers, the time of suffering will be short, but the glory is everlasting.
The Christians of Peter’s day could have no greater hope and comfort. The trials/persecutions/suffering they now endured would not be forever. They would give way to everlasting glory!
I Peter 1:12 – It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
God honored the deep longing of his prophets. Holy Spirit revealed to them that these things would not take place in their generation. However, they could take comfort knowing that God had an appointed time, firm and certain, for the coming of the Messiah and the revelation of grace he would bring.
In delivering their messages the prophets were serving others, not themselves. In fact, Christians (those who now live or have lived or will yet live in the age of grace) are reaping the benefits of the labors of the prophets. Aren’t you so awed by God’s mighty plan? Doesn’t it make praise rise up within your soul?
Holy Spirit prompted the ancient prophets to speak and write. The same Spirit filled and empowered the apostles (including Peter) to preach the good news of salvation to the believers of his day. And in the last 2000 or so years, nothing has changed… Holy Spirit is the same yesterday, today and forever; he is still making the truth of the gospel penetrate the hearts of the unsaved through the preaching of the gospel. If he wasn’t, you and I would not be saved!
Even angels are amazed when considering the great privileges bestowed upon those of us in this age! The phrase associated with angelic desire – long to look – literally means ‘stooping down to see/look’. The connotation is that of drawing near to something that cannot be seen clearly at a great distance; to draw near and bend down to observe and study the object as closely as possible.
The angels, much like the prophets, had an intense desire to investigate grace. They drew near to contemplate it with intense, fixed attention. After all, angels are not omniscient. Although they know more about God than we currently do, we have no reason to think they know or understand all of his plans and purposes. It is reasonable to conclude that angels study manifestations of God’s power and purposes in order to acquire more knowledge of God, just as we do.
Albert Barnes, in his commentary ‘Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible’, says this:
“It is probable, that in each one of the worlds which God has made, there is some peculiar manifestation of his glory and character; something which is not to be found at all in any other world, or, if found, not in so great perfection; and that the angels would feel a deep interest in all these manifestations, and would desire to look into them.
Our world, therefore, though small, a mere speck in creation, may have something to manifest the glory of the Creator which may not exist in any other. It cannot be its magnitude; for, in that respect, it is among the smallest which God has made. It may not be the height and the majesty of our mountains, or the length and beauty of our rivers, or the fragrance of our flowers, or the clearness of our sky; for, in these respects, there may be much more to admire in other worlds: it is the exhibition of the character of God in the work of redemption; the illustration of the way in which a sinner may be forgiven; the manifestation of the Deity as incarnate, assuming permanently a union with one of his own creatures.
This, so far as we know, is seen in no other part of the universe; and this is honour enough for one world. To see this, the angels may be attracted down to earth. When they come, they come not to contemplate our works of art, our painting and our sculpture, or to read our books of science or poetry: they come to gather around the cross, to minister to the Saviour, to attend on his steps while living, and to watch over his body when dead; to witness his resurrection and ascension, and to bless, with their offices of kindness, those whom he died to redeem.”
I Peter 1:13 – Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Therefore – In other words, because of the incredible, unfathomable grace/salvation offered to each one of us, we must…
prepare our minds for action – As fallen humans, our minds are tangled up with the cares of this world and our own vain desires. As Christians, we must take control of our thoughts and ideas. We need to keep a steady focus on the race that is set before us, and cast aside any sin that would hinder us from finishing our course and obtaining the prize of eternal life.
My guess is that all of us could do better in this area. Here are some things for all of us to consider:
What are you allowing into your mind? What are you watching, reading, or playing? Are these things assisting you in your walk with God and building up your desire for salvation, or would you be embarrassed if God showed up while you were reading that book or playing that video game?
If you want to disentangle your mind from the world and be ready for spiritual action, you have to take control of every thought. You have to be the doorkeeper of your mind, deciding what can and cannot enter.
II Corinthians 10:5 – We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
One of the weapons of our warfare is the word of God (Ephesians 6:12-18). You need to know it and have it hidden in your heart so that on the day of battle, you can easily access it. This only happens when you spend time putting the word into your mind and heart. How many scriptures can you quote right now? Do you know where they are located in the bible? Could you lead a sinner to salvation by using scripture?
According to Paul in Romans chapter 7, the mind wars against the flesh. Is your mind strong enough to win that victory? Or do you always/most often give into the desires of your flesh? Paul goes on to say that the renewing of your mind is the key to winning that battle (Romans 12:2).
Instead of allowing our minds to wander anywhere, let’s harness them, and put them to work in the kingdom of God. Let’s practice being sober minded, setting your hope fully on grace – in other words, don’t be double minded (James 1:8). Set your mind fully on Christ and continue to expect all that God has promised, especially the salvation of our souls, which we will receive at the revelation of Jesus Christ, also referred to as his second coming. If we practice doing these things now, we will be well prepared for any trials, tribulations or persecutions that come our way.
I Peter 1:14-15 – As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
Here, Peter addresses his readers as children who should be obedient. This refers back to their salvation. They are no longer slaves of darkness, but they have been purchased by the blood of Christ and made children of God, and coheirs with Jesus Christ. Naturally, we would expect children to be obedient to their parents; this same expectation carries over into the spiritual life of a Christian. God expects us to be obedient to his commands.
Secondly, Peter instructs his readers to be holy in their conduct. This is of particular significance to the Gentile converts. Their idols left them the most abominable examples to follow. They endorsed all manner of sin, including various forms of sexual gratification, rebellion, mutilation and child sacrifice. They used to model their behavior after these base false gods, but no longer.
I Thessalonians 4:7 – For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness.
Now that they have been set free by Jesus, and they have entered into the kingdom of heaven, they must model their lives after the true God, who is holy in all his ways. The same is true for us.
For example, before salvation, we were lovers of our self and the world, we chased after riches and fame, we indulged in personal gratification giving free reign to our passions and lusts, etc. But now we have put on the ‘new man’:
Ephesians 4:24 – And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Do you struggle with holy living? Holiness is not something that a Christian accomplishes once and for all. Our minds were renewed when we chose to follow Christ. But you and I are still living in the flesh, in the midst of a fallen world. Each day, we must choose how we will act. We must commit to molding our conduct, so it conforms to holiness.
Notice the role that our mind plays in holy conduct. So, just to beat the dead horse yet again, you need to pay careful attention to what you are allowing your mind to dwell on.
The good news is that we are not alone in this. Holy Spirit, who dwells inside of us, is there to assist. He will guide us through his word, through our consciences and many other means to help us achieve holy conduct.
I Peter 1:16 – since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
This command was very familiar to the Jewish converts. It is from Leviticus 11:44 (also 19:2 and 20:7) and it was always a command of God to his chosen people. Those who profess to be God’s people ought to behave like their God.
God has separated his followers from the rest of the world. He consecrated us to himself, making us a holy nation and a royal priesthood. We are special in his sight. How then, could we possibly engage in profane, sinful behavior? Wouldn’t that be a slap in God’s face; a treachery against the one who has given us eternal life?
I Peter 1:17 – And If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
Since God is our Father, and he impartially judges the conduct of every man, each according to his own deeds, we need to pay careful attention to how we live in this world.
This presents the Christian with several beneficial truths.
First, Christians are exiles in this world. Having accepted Christ, we are citizens of heaven. We are considered pilgrims or strangers on earth; we are passing through on our way to our true home.
Hebrews 11:13 – These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Since this is the case, we should not entangle ourselves too much with the things of this world. We should lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven, our true home and final destination.
Second, salvation has made us children of God, but we must still remember that God is the judge of all the earth. His judgments are always just, fair and impartial; God is no respecter of persons. Since that is the case, you and I need to pay careful attention to the way we live as we pass through to our true heavenly home. We must strive to be holy, as God is holy.
This was a sober reminder to the Jews that they could not count on salvation because they were descendents of Abraham. It also reminds us that we cannot obtain salvation by having a righteous parent who prays for us, or a Christian family heritage. Each person will be judged by God according to their own deeds/works.
The opposite truth also applies – those who have ungodly parents or who come from a heathen family history do not need to worry. As long as they have accepted salvation through Jesus, they will be saved based on their own life decisions. What a blessing to be the person who can change your family line into one that is righteous and holy!
Let me offer you some encouragement:
How do you view trials and tribulations in your life? Do you see them as punishments for failing God in some way? While God does sometimes correct his children, not every difficulty in your life is punitive.
The more likely explanation is that God is working through these sufferings to bring about your eternal glory. Trials have many godly benefits. They have a way of revealing to us what is truly valuable in our lives. They teach us to have faith. They allow us an opportunity to use our spiritual armor. They keep us close to the Father. They show us how to work with Holy Spirit to storm the gates of hell.
So when you face trials, be encouraged. It means God is working things out for your eternal glory.
Let me offer you some relief:
Having trouble with holiness? Keep in mind that it is not an instantaneous event. It is often a consistent process. So put the guilt of your failure behind you. Ask Holy Spirit to reveal ONE area in which you need to change. Then, renew your mind with the word and work every day to bring that area of your life into holiness. When you have accomplished that, ask Holy Spirit for your next step.
Let me offer you some strength:
Do you need a little spiritual strength for your journey? May I suggest that you take another look at how valuable grace is? Sometimes, we take grace for granted, because it has always been available to us.
But look at the bigger picture… the vast majority of the world NEVER had access to it! Those who knew about it (the ancient prophets and the angels), wanted it so badly they treasured and studied every hint of it that they could lay their hands on.
And to think that you and I have full, unlimited access to that grace! So take some time this week to dwell on grace. Think about the mystery of God consenting to become one with part of his creation. Think about the ability to be a child of God; an heir with Jesus. Your relationship with God, through grace, has probably not been duplicated anywhere else in the universe. If these thoughts don’t give you strength in your trials, I don’t know what will!