The First Letter of Peter: Chapter 1:3-7

Study No.2 (1 Peter 1: 3-7)

The apostle Peter wrote this letter to the assemblies scattered throughout the provinces of the Roman Empire. The persecution against the wider Body of the Messiah scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia was about to intensify under the Roman Emperor Nero. The first century New Covenant believers clearly identified Rome with Babylon because the lifestyle, the immorality and sodomy and customs, the opulence and splendour, the pleasures and the multi faith religions seen in Rome were the same in character as they were in Ancient Babylon (1 Peter 5:13).

The Babylon of Nimrod in the Book of Genesis was the original source of all false religions in all of the ancient empires that preceded the Roman Empire and that we see today in the all of the world’s religions apart from Judeo-Christianity, although even down through history we have seen ‘Babylon’ being reflected in Israel and in Christendom. Today the character of Nimrod’s Babylon is an infestation within both Israel and within Christendom and throughout the pagan world (a subject in itself).

There is no doubt that Satan was at work through Nero persecuting the saints in the time of Peter. The Roman Emperor Nero was a type of the future Antichrist who throughout his vast empire of global proportions will persecute the saints of the Most High God, namely the Body of the Messiah for the last three and a half years at the close of this present age (Daniel 7:25) (Daniel 12:7) (Revelation 13:7) (Revelation 12:17). At this time Peter’s first letter will be more relevant than ever to the faithful Body of the Messiah in this day and age in which we are now living as blood-redeemed, blood washed, blood sanctified New Covenant believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus.

Peter has already encouraged us as followers of the Lord Jesus to prepare us for the persecution to come on a global scale where to a greater or lesser degree New Covenant believers will be hated within all nations. As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “You will be hated by everyone because of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). This, Peter’s first letter, could be described as a manual on spiritual survival during a time of severe persecution. Peter has already encouraged us as followers of the Lord Jesus by showing clearly that we have been chosen according to God’s foreknowledge to belong to the Messiah our Lord Jesus through our faith in Him as our Saviour and Lord. Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we will be empowered to walk in obedience to God’s Word, in obedience to the Lord Jesus, and to walk under the cleansing power and protection of His blood, and that by the power of the blood of Jesus we can overcome Satan when we testify to what the Bible says the blood of Jesus does for us (1 Peter 5:8-9) (Revelation 12:11).

Exposition: (1 Peter 1: 3-7)

(Vs.3) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

God’s great mercy and grace, being His unmerited and lavish favour towards us, goes before every other benefit of salvation. It was God’s great act of mercy that saved us, not because of righteous acts we have done, but because of His love and desire to reconcile us to Himself through the death and resurrection of His one and only begotten eternal Son (John 3:16). As we read in God’s Word; “For God was in the Messiah, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). This fact is worthy of praise and thanksgiving to God and gives us the assurance of the rescue to come when we will be taken out of this present evil age according to the will of God our heavenly Father. As Paul writes to the Galatian assembly concerning our Lord Jesus; “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4).

This mercy of God, this grace of God given to us in the Lord Jesus, and started its work in us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, brought about in us that supernatural spiritual rebirth from above giving us a living hope, being our resurrection to eternal life immortality. This is the same Jesus who suffered and died for us, and in place of us, and who conquered sin and death, and who physically rose again from the dead. Our resurrection is guaranteed because of his resurrection (Romans 6:5) (Philippians 3:10-11) (Romans 8:11) (Revelation 20:6). The same Spirit that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead is living in us and will also give immortality to our physical bodies. When that last trumpet sounds in the twinkling of an eye we will all be raised to life and instantly receive brand new immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-53) (Revelation 11:15).

As Paul writes to the assembly at Rome; “But if the Messiah is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised the Messiah Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:10-11). We then, who have our hope of eternity in and with the Lord Jesus the Messiah, will, like Him, be raised from the dead and have a glorified indestructible immortal body the same as the one He has Himself (1 John 3:2) (Philippians 3:21) (1 Corinthians 15: 50-55). He is our life! As Paul writes to the Colossian assembly; “When the Messiah, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

The assemblies Peter was writing to would soon be facing persecution and martyrdom and needed reassurance of their physical resurrection from the dead and their ultimate glorification in and with the Risen Messiah Himself. In fact the resurrection of the Lord Jesus was a strong emphasis in apostolic doctrine and in evangelism and discipleship. The apostle Paul put it this way when he wrote; “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that the Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of who are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Prophetically in the last days, especially through the time of Great Tribulation, we will have only one hope and that will be the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus to earth when we will be physically resurrected and caught up to be gathered around Him in the air along with the resurrected bodies of those who died in the Lord physically, and together as one body of believers to accompany Him back to earth. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). While the faithful Body of the Messiah in the last of the last days will go into the time of Great Tribulation they will be taken out of it just before the wrath of God is poured out on the kingdom of the Antichrist and a Messiah hating, messiah rejecting world (Revelation 16:10). While we are destined for tribulation in this world we are not destined for wrath. The blood of Jesus not only guarantees our justification before God but also guarantees our protection from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9) (1 Thessalonians 3:3) (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).

While we will see the rise of the Antichrist and suffer persecution at the hands of his beast empire, we will be taken out of this time of tribulation lasting three and a half years right at the end of it just before the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out upon the unsaved inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 7:14-17). We also need to remember that the blessed Holy Spirit Himself will empower and enable us to stand in this terrible time of persecution coming upon the global Body of Messiah in every nation. In fact Jesus said in Matthew’s gospel that we would be hated by all nations (4:12-14) (Luke 21:12-19) (Matthew 10:22) (Matthew 24:9).

This is the main reason why Spirit-filled transparent fellowship in the Holy Spirit with our fellow brothers and sisters in the Messiah around the Lord’s Table, around the Word of God and experiencing the gifts of the Spirit, is vitally important to our spiritual survival in these last of the last days as we see the end of this age rapidly approaching. If we cannot stand together we will find it extremely difficult to stand alone! If our only hope is in this world and in the things of this world, then we will not stand in this end-time conflict that will engulf the whole world (Matthew 24:21-22) (Revelation 12:1).

In these last of the last days we are being given three choices. Firstly; we will determine by God’s enabling grace to stay faithful to our Lord Jesus. Secondly; we will choose to remain in the ‘Babylon’ of apostate Christendom or thirdly; we will choose to remain enslaved to the Egypt of this world and all that it has to offer in this temporary life. Joel describes it as the Valley of Decision (Joel 3:14-15). Just before the coming of the man of sin, also called the Antichrist, the majority of professing Christians will fall away from the faith and grow cold in their love because of the increase in wickedness and will go either to the ‘Babylon’ of false religion or to the ‘Egypt’ of this world, and ultimately into the control of the Antichrist and his beast system of government (Matthew 24:9-13) (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) (Revelation 13:7-8).What else have we been called to?

(Vs.4) “… and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,”

As New Covenant believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus we have the rapture and resurrection to look forward to and after that to co-reign with the Messiah in His Messianic kingdom on earth in the age to come after this age has been terminated. Added to this, we have also an inheritance to receive that can never spoil or fade kept for us in heaven. The things of this world are rapidly passing away and nothing this world offers is permanent. Whether they are governments, kingdoms, pleasures, pursuits, ambitions and the accumulation of material wealth, or drinking from the fountain of human loving relationships as defined by the world, these will all perish as nothing in this world that man has concocted is permanent. An earthly inheritance is doomed to perish but a heavenly inheritance will remain forever! Only those who do the will of God will remain forever!

As the apostle John writes; “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away, along with its desires; but whoever does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:16-17). In this letter Peter is reminding us all as New Covenant believers redeemed by the blood of the Messiah, having also received forgiveness for our sin, and that every earthly kingdom will one day cease to exist. This was also true for the Roman Empire as it too would have its demise in history.

Our inheritance then is not to be found in this world but in the kingdom to come which will, after 1,000 years, expand into all of eternity. We are looking for that eternal enduring city to come with foundations whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10, 15-16, 24-26). The apostle Paul also gives us some good advice when he wrote; “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians  4:16-18).

Our temporary afflictions down here are to be viewed as light and momentary when compared with the eternal weight of glory and unspeakable joy that waits for us in heaven. While we are not to minimise suffering and trials in this life, especially the suffering being experienced by the majority Body of the Messiah today who are living under persecution, our focus must be on our eternal inheritance and not on the things and circumstances of this world which are temporary and fleeting. If anyone suffered Paul did with prison, beatings, hunger, rejection, physical weakness and infirmity and often lacking in life’s necessities and even being stoned at one time, yet despite all these circumstances and setbacks he considered them all as momentary light afflictions when compared to the eternal weight of God’s glory that awaited him when he crossed the finishing line, having run the race and completed the course set by God for his life’s work and ministry.

As Paul also writes; “I have fought the good fight (of faith), I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Added to this, the author of Hebrews also writes; “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector (finisher) of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). He is the author and finisher of our faith and the work He starts in us He fully intends to finish! (Philippians 1:6). Now let’s continue…

(Vs.5) “… 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.”

The only way we can truly please God is to live by faith in Him and through feeding on His Word and with all due diligence in maintaining that faith He is well pleased and rewards it abundantly (Hebrews 11:6). Of course we have to enter into the rest of faith which is a lifelong challenge for us because all of the fiery missiles of the devil are all aimed at the shield of faith. The way for our faith to grow is to regularly be feeding our inner spirit man and our minds with the nutritious grain of the Word of God because “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). When we feed upon the Word of God we are feeding spiritually on the flesh and blood of Jesus because He is the Word of God and the Bible is all about Him from Genesis to Revelation. If we do not feed on Him by reading and obeying His Word we will have no spiritual life within us (John 6:47-56).

Now this truth has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation in the Mass. It has everything to do with eternal life when by faith one receives the Lord Jesus as saviour and Lord over their life. We must always keep in mind that we have two natures residing in us and they are in conflict with each other. We have the new nature that is the indwelling nature and righteous life of the Lord Jesus and the old nature dwelling in us from birth and under Satan’s power. The nature we feed the most is the one that will ultimately control us (Galatians 6:16-18). We have an obligation to God to turn away from the desires of the fallen nature and to embrace the desires of God’s divine nature also living on the inside of us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. As the Paul writes; “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised the Messiah Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:11-13).

God shields us from Satan’s power through our faith and will keep shielding us so long as we walk moment by moment by faith and not by sight, and in doing this enabled by His grace and divine power, we will be kept by the Holy Spirit for that day when we will be set free from the very presence of sin itself and receive our immortal glorified resurrected bodies when the Lord Jesus returns at the end of this present age. This is part of our eternal inheritance in Him that will never fade or spoil! This kind of faith that is shielded by God’s power, we see revealed in what He said to the assembly at Smyrna in the Book of Revelation. We read what the Lord Jesus said; “I know your affliction and your poverty—though you are rich! And I am aware of the slander of those who falsely claim to be Jews, but are in fact a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

We see this exemplified in those, who during the time of the coming tribulation, will overcome Satan by testifying to what the blood of Jesus has done for them and by not loving their lives in this world even if they have to lay them down through martyrdom (Revelation 12:11). For us we also can overcome Satan by the blood of Jesus. When we testify to what the Bible says the blood of Jesus does for us it releases God’s spiritual power into that unseen spiritual realm paralysing Satan and his principalities and powers. Added to this, we also must be prepared to lay down our lives if necessary which is only possible through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

All those who are martyred, especially those during the time of Great Tribulation who have refused to bow the knee to the dictates of the beast empire of the Antichrist, will receive a special reward from the Lord Jesus. The apostle John writes; “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with the Messiah for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

If we love our life in this world and live only for ourselves and for the things that this world offers, and for doing things our way, we will lose it for eternity where we will be cast into outer darkness and conscious torment and ultimately end up in the lake of fire. However, if we seek to lose our life in this world by doing  God’s will and doing things His way and not our way, then we will save our lives for eternity and for the joys of heaven (John 12:23-26). If we seek to be faithful to the Lord Jesus, even when we are in the midst of trials and temptations and even persecution, we will be kept by God’s power until we are rescued out of this present evil age according to the will of God our Father at the rapture and resurrection of the faithful Body of the Messiah (Galatians 1:4) (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).

(Vs.6) “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

When we are going through a time of testing or adversity or depression or anxiety or we find ourselves in a situation where we are being persecuted to a greater or lesser degree because of our loyalty to the Lord Jesus, it is so easy to focus on the circumstances surrounding our situation that may well be a prolonged one. Peter foresaw the coming persecution and knew that it would need perseverance. He encourages them to greatly rejoice and that, not with a half-hearted effort to rejoice, and not put their focus on their current circumstances soon to change with the tide of persecution that would come against them, but to focus on their internal inheritance. God in His foreknowledge had chosen them from all of eternity to belong to Him and had set them apart to Himself by the work of the Holy Spirit to give them the power to walk in obedience to God and to have their sins cleansed by the Messiah’s blood.

They were to greatly rejoice and focus on the unchangeable fact that God in His great mercy had given all who believe in the Lord Jesus the new spiritual rebirth from above to give us all a living hope, not a dead hope or “I hope so.” This hope all of us have is one given to us by the Holy Spirit that is not dependent on our circumstances. Through the resurrection of the Messiah we have hope because His resurrection is our resurrection. He is the first fruit of the harvest. As Paul writes to the assembly at Corinthians; “For as in Adam all die, so in the Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: The Messiah the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power” (1 Corinthians 15:22-24).

Peter also encourages them in the fact that their inheritance laid up for them in God’s heavenly storehouse can never perish, spoil or fade, and that through their faith in God they are shielded by His divine and indestructible life and power until the Second Coming of the Messiah that will be revealed in the last time. Not only them, but also all of us who have been redeemed by the Messiah’s blood and sealed with the Holy Spirit for the day when our redemption will be fully finalised at the rapture and resurrection (Ephesians 1:7) (Ephesians 4:30).

In these last of the last days in which we are now living we too must focus more and more on our eternal inheritance that cannot perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven for us personally, and to stay focused on the age to come, where righteousness and justice will be the foundation of the Messiah’s throne at Jerusalem as it is the foundation of God’s throne in heaven. As the psalmist writes; “Mighty is Your arm; strong is Your hand. Your right hand is exalted. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; loving devotion and faithfulness go before You. Blessed are those who know the joyful sound, who walk, O LORD, in the light of Your presence” (Psalm 89:13-15).

None of us can avoid suffering, trials and tests and difficulties of one sort or another in this life, and more so as New Covenant believers, because we have an arch enemy out there in the unseen spiritual realm who is working 24/7 around the clock to destabilise and to destroy our trust and confidence in God’s promises. Grief is not just an affliction of the unsaved. All of us as believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus have experienced grief in this life as it is part and parcel of living in this fallen world. Persecution will affect every aspect of our daily lives, the jobs we have, the things we buy at the supermarkets, our finances and the places where we live, and our family relationships with our unsaved loved ones. The Lord Jesus told us that our enemies would also include those of our own households. In fundamentalist Islam and Orthodox Judaism there are many, who having come to faith in the Messiah our Lord Jesus, have been disowned and disinherited by their family members because of loyalty to the Lord Jesus. In times of persecution believers often have their houses ransacked or taken away from them.

As the author of Hebrews writes; “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised, for yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay, but my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him, but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:30-39).

Right now as believers in our Lord Jesus we may be going through trials and afflictions of various kinds, however, God is using them to teach us how to persevere when the real trial and test of our faith comes in the future for the Body of the Messiah and that on a global scale. God is using these things to train us for the battle that lies ahead. Many of us in the western democracies untouched and unscathed by physical persecution at present, are still experiencing difficulties of one sort or another to a greater of lesser degree in our present lives because we are being trained by the Lord for the ultimate test when the Beast system of the Antichrist kicks in and loyalty to his governmental rule will be demanded first and foremost that replaces loyalty to God. Today this is happening in China, North Korea, and Russia and in every Islamic country.

In these countries the body of Messiah is experiencing severe persecution unknown in the western democracies, and the focus of these tried and tested brothers and sisters in the Messiah are yearning for their heavenly inheritance, not having their hope in this present age, but in the age to come in the Messianic Kingdom of God on earth, and then after that for all of eternity. As New Covenant believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus we need to understand that in our present trials and tests that the Lord Jesus is preparing us for that eternal weight of heavenly joy and glory that will be ours beyond anything we can ask or even imagine after the Lord Jesus has returned and we have been raptured and resurrected and glorified with Him. Peter then tells us why through faith in God we need to acquire perseverance in times of stress, trials and affliction.

(Vs.7) “These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus the Messiah is revealed.”

The word for faith in both Testaments has two truths connected together. Faith in the Bible not only means belief but also faithfulness to what we believe. If we have genuine saving faith then it will affect the way we live (James 1:22). When one is born again spiritually from above there will be a change deep down on the inside that will cause that one to love the things that God loves and to hate the things that God hates. They become a brand new spiritual creation deep down on the inside that changes the whole course of their life (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our faith will be tested by the Lord and persecution is one of the ways God applies these tests even though persecution itself comes from Satan. God wants us to develop out trust and confidence in Him and prepares us for this in the differing yet difficult circumstances that we all face in the course of our lives which combined will strengthen us when persecution comes. Apart from faith we cannot please God at all, yet when we do trust Him and believe in Him and in what He says, He is and can do, and seek Him with all due diligence, He will reward us in abundance! (Hebrews 11:6).

God wants us then to have genuine faith accompanied by faithfulness in our daily lives and the only way He can develop our trust and confidence in Him is through applied pressure. How He tests one will differ from how he tests another as we are all unique individuals and the Lord knows the best tests for us that will shape us to be more like the Lord Jesus and empower us to stand when persecution comes. While God does not bring about persecution He permits it to test the motives and desires of our hearts and to purify us from worldly attachments to things. Gold is refined by fire. It is the most precious of metals and of great value. When the refiner turns up the heat under the cauldron the intense heat brings all of the impurities to the surface and once the process has been completed, which takes time of course, the refiner then scrapes the impurities from the surface of the liquid gold and after this he can see his own image reflected on the surface of the gold.

This refining process will vary depending on the will and the purpose of God He has planned for our lives from all of eternity. This is how we are being conformed to the image of the Messiah our Lord Jesus (Isaiah 48:10). Persecution mobilizes the Body of Messiah to action (Acts 8:1-4).We see this happening in those countries where persecution is a common daily experience. Persecution also deals with the “fence sitters” as the Holy Spirit “electrifies” that fence so that those sitting on it will have to jump one way or the other. Through persecution the Lord purifies His people to prepare them for their eternal reward and the fullness of their inheritance in the age to come and after that for all of eternity. The end-time Body of the Messiah will be a purified and faithful Body of New Covenant believers that though persecution, suffering and grief at the hands of the beast kingdom of the Antichrist, will immerge clean and pure as a beautiful bride prepared for the Bridegroom when He comes for His bride. Having been purified from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, clothed with the garments of salvation and wrapped around with the robe of the Messiah’s righteousness, His bride will have passed the test with flying colours resulting in praise, glory and honour when Jesus the Messiah is revealed.

Go to Study No.3