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Bible Study Commentary

1 PETER

Lesson 3:  The Joy of Salvation 

1 Peter 1:6-12

6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  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 honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,  11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.  

 

This is the second part of the prayer/thanksgiving section of the letter.  This passage reminded me of the exhortation by Jesus Christ recorded in  Luke 10:20 where he says "do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." In this section, Peter encourages his readers who are experiencing trials by reminding them of their glorious salvation from God.

 

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

"In this you greatly rejoice" What is the cause of rejoicing to Christians who are going through trials?  

answer:  'This' refers to the enitre message found in verses 3-5 which is the Christians' great salvation and its full consummation at the end of time (inheritance kept in heaven for them).   Their knowledge and experience of salvation both of the present and what is to come should stimulate great rejoicing in their heart at all times even when they are in trials. 

What is the connection of salvation to their suffering?   

answer:  The Christians' salvation is both the cause and the solution of their suffering.  Although suffering is a normal part of life, salvation will result  in more suffering and persecution because it is an opposite lifestyle from the world.  But at the same time, knowledge of their salvation is the one that will enable them to hold on and it can stimulate joy and hope in the midst of their sufferings.

In verse 6, what aspect of suffering did Peter mentioned that should give them more encouragement to endure?

answer:  The phrase "for a little while" is a clear reminder that all their varying trials and sufferings have one thing in common: they are all temporary.  Their suffering is a short term event; it will not last forever.  They should always remember that at the end, their salvation will result in an everlasting life free from any kind of hardship or suffering.

" 7These 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 honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 

In verse 7, what other aspects of suffering did Peter mentioned to encourage the early Christians who were going through trials?

answer:  The phrase "these have come so that" implies that all these different kinds of trials are not happening to them as a result of God's inability to protect them,  or that God is punishing them, or that they are just victims of circumstances.  Rather, all their experiences of trials have come for a purpose, and those trials are parts of God's plan for them in their life here in this world.  

Does suffering and trials make the believers faith genuine? 

answer:  Verse 7 doesn't say that trials will make our faith genuine, but rather it proves or confirms whether our faith is genuine in the first place.  A person who doesn't have genuine faith will not develop their faith when put to trials, but will rather fail the trial. But a person with genuine faith will manifest it when undergoing trials.  In other words, trials do not change the faith of early believers, but rather, it reveals what kind of faith they really have.

How long should they expect to go through these trials of their faith?  

answer:  The phrase "when Jesus Christ is revealed" implies the end of time.  The end of time can be define as the return of Jesus Christ or the end of their life here on earth.  This also implies that the praise, glory, and honor, as a result of their genuine faith mentioned in verse 7,  happens at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Genuine faith requires perseverance. 

"8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,"

What makes Peter so convinced that these early believers have genuine faith to make it through all the trials? 

answer:  Remember in verse 6, Peter mentioned how the Christian’s genuine knowledge and experience of salvation causes great joy. Here in verse 8, we see that genuine experience of salvation entails continually loving and trusting the Lord whom they have not and still cannot see physically. Their love and trust for the Lord, and their joy is so obvious that Peter is convinced that their faith is genuine.

" 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Does verse 9 teach that the early believers are already receiving the full benefit of their faith?  

answer:  Obviously by reading verse 6 we can say that the believer's present trials and persecution proves that they are still awaiting the complete benefit of their faith (complete salvation even from physical sufferings). But Peter is telling them that their tremendous response of love and joy not only proves that their faith is genuine but that they can already feel a foretaste of the future experiences they will have when Jesus is finally revealed.  

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,  11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

What was Peter's intention in mentioning the relationship of their salvation from the Old Testament period? 

answer: Following Peter's thinking, he mentioned the relationship between the Old Testament and their present salvation to add more emphasis to the greatness of their salvation in Jesus ChristThe prophets searched intently for "the grace that was to come," wanting to know the circumstances and time of Christ's suffering and the glories that would follow.  But, the Old Testaments saints  realized that they were only preparing this great event for the New Testament saints.  That great event is the experience of salvation through Jesus Christ by all the saints from New Testament time and so on.

"...the glories that would follow."  What are these glories referring to? 

answer: Peter is referring to the glory of Jesus' resurrection, ascension, and of his coming back again.

Why are the angels looking into these things?  

answer: Here is an example where we should be careful in treating subjects or elements of the passages without losing focus on the main point of the author.  Peter is not teaching about angels, his mention of them is to add more importance or excitement to his statement concerning the greatness of the believers salvation, which is the whole purpose of this passage in verses 10-12.  The event was so great that even angels are interested in seeing it happening.

Peter are not really interested in giving details about which prophecy or more details concerning the angels looking because his main concern is to show the greatness of the salvation experienced by the New Testament saints. Here we can also see the attempt of the New Testament authors to make Christianity as the continuation of the Old Testament rather than a new religion apart from the Old Testament.

Modern Application

Suffering: As mentioned earlier, suffering is part of our daily lives in this present world, but there is also suffering that comes from living a Christian lifestyle that is opposite from the worldly lifestyle. 

We also should distinguish the different kinds of suffering Christian experience in this life.  We should not equate our problems, such as having to much credit, sickness, problems with our children, or relationship problems as the same type of suffering the early Christians experienced.  These Christians suffered as a result of their living a life of a Christian in a pagan society.  The suffering viewed in these verses are  those that happened because of their faith in Jesus Christ, not because of their own mistakes, wrong judgment, unpleasant personalities, or suffering that are common to everyday life.

Can we biblically say that all Christians in different worldly societies will suffer some form of persecution for their faith?  Explain your answer. 

 answer:  YES.  It may vary in intensity, but worldly principle will always clash with godly principles. (note ‘worldly society’)  

 

It is obvious that in our modern American society, there is a lack of personal suffering for the name of Christ?  Is this normal? What do you think is the reason for this?  

answer:   Sadly it is because we don’t really live out our faith as we should.  There is more compromise rather than a humble but firm expression of our faith in our daily lives.  Maybe people are not being challenged or even convicted by the way many Christians live and so there is less opposition against us.

Is there anything else that you can learn in  Lesson 3?  How would you apply it in your life today?

answer: [ex.  The need to experience genuine salvation (forgiveness).] 

 

Summary Lesson 3: The genuine experience of salvation is the reason the early Christians are rejoicing and continuously loving the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is evident even though they are suffering different kinds of trials that comes to prove their faith.  They are also reminded that the earlier prophets (and angels) long to experience and see the salvation that they are enjoying right now. Let's go to Lesson 4.

 

Note to teachers:  If you have any questions, need additional clarification, or have comments concerning this commentary, please do not hesitate to inform me. CLICK HERE