1 Peter 1 divides itself neatly into three parts: a salutation/address (1-2), a discussion of our salvation (3-12) and a discussion of our duty (12-25). I will be focusing on the first two sections this week.
In the introduction, Peter, likely through an amanuensis (perhaps Silvanus), asserts his apostleship and addresses the letter to Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. Note two things: 1) he addresses them as exiles and 2) his mention of the trinity, which may have been in the form of an early liturgical saying. Given that in 5:13 greetings are sent from “She who is in Babylon” what, if any significance does calling believers exiles take on?
Verses 3-12 then launches into a discussion of salvation in three parts Hope, Joy and Privilege. Salvation as a hope is no mere dead thing, but a living hope based on the resurrection of Christ. We have heard the term “Keep Hope Alive”, in a very real sense Peter was assuring his readers that the hope of salvation is alive and is a guaranteed “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade”. Is your salvation a living hope? Is it possible that, while our salvation is a living thing, we can become dead to it?
In thinking of salvation as a joy Peter says that the end result of of our faith is the salvation of our souls and that assured outcome (based on our hope and faith) fills us with inexpressible joy. In fact, we are to be joyful despite of the trials, grief and suffering of life because these exist to prove the genuineness of our faith.
Now I don’t know about you, but I am opposed to suffering. I don’t like it, I’ve been known to complain extensively and exhaustively about even the slightest amount. In fact, I can’t really even say I’ve ever suffered. So what can this business about suffering proves faith mean to me? Does it mean I do not have genuine faith because I have not suffered? Does it mean I have not reached far enough out in faith to have suffered? I’m not sure.
Peter was almost certainly writing during the Neronic persecutions and feared they may spread to the new churches in northern Asia Minor. But he was also writing about the more ordinary sufferings people may experience as well. Have you suffered? Did your suffering in faith produce praise, glory and honor for Christ?
But not only is salvation a hope and a joy, it is s privilege. Prophets, men of faith who are to be admired looked, on our behalf for signs of the coming salvation. Even angels long to look into the things concerning salvation, and it is our privilege not only to study these things, but to have received that very salvation for which the prophets of old searched. Do you feel privileged? Does privilege mean superiority? What ought our response be to the Hope, Joy and Privilege that are to the hallmarks of our Salvation?