From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain First Peter                             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2017



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File






CHAPTER 1:1-12




1:1                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ: To God's own people scattered over the earth, who are living as foreigners in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Roman Asia, and Bithynia,

WEB:              Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen ones who are living as foreigners in the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia,  and Bithynia,

Young’s:         Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the choice sojourners of the dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Conte (RC):    Peter, Apostle of Jesus Christ, to the

 newly-arrived elect of the dispersion in Pontus,

Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,


1:1                   Peter.  We note that the new name which his Lord had given him has replaced, in his own mind as in that of others, that of Simon Bar-jona (Matthew 16:17), by which he had once been known.  So, in like manner, Paul takes the name of Saul, in the letters of that Apostle.  Like him also, he describes himself as the “Apostle,” the envoy or representative, of Christ.  [38]

[He] calls himself, not Simon, but Peter.  In the opening of the second epistle he uses both names.  [2]

                        an apostle of Jesus Christ.  Peter announces himself “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” not a prince of apostles, but one of the twelve.  In neither of his Epistles is there the slightest trace of that love of title and pre-eminence which has been so conspicuous in the bishops of Rome who pretend to be his successors.  [19]

                        Of all the catholic epistles, Peter’s alone puts forward his apostleship in the introduction.  He is addressing churches with which he had no immediate connection, and which were distinctively Pauline.  Hence he appeals to his apostleship in explanation of his writing to them, and as his warrant for taking Paul’s place.  [2]

                        The word [apostle] signifies one sent, a legate, a messenger, any one sent in Christ’s name and about his work; but more strictly it signifies the highest office in the Christian church.  1 Corinthians 12:28, God hath set some in the church, first apostles.  Their dignity and pre-eminence lay in these things:--They were immediately chosen by Christ himself,--they were first witnesses, then preachers, of the resurrection of Christ, and so of the entire gospel-dispensation, --they had a power of working miracles, not at all times, but when Christ pleased,--they were led into all truth, were endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and they had an extent of power and jurisdiction beyond all others; every apostle was a universal bishop in all churches, and over all ministers. [5]

                        Same point with more scriptural texts:  The word Apostle originally means sent forth, but as referring to the twelve has a special signification.  Peter had all the necessary qualifications for this office:  (1) having received a direct call, and having been associated with Christ from the beginning (Acts 1:21); (2) having been an eye-witness of the resurrection (Acts 1:22); (3) having authority to preach everywhere (Luke 24:47-48; Acts 1:8); (4) possessing the powers of an Apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12).  [50]    

                        Observe also that while St. Paul constantly adds “by the will of God,” or some similar phrase, by way of justifying his assumption of the title, St. Peter has no need to do more than mention it; his claim was never questioned.  [46]  (Since he was one of the original twelve apostles appointed by Jesus personally during His earthly ministry.  [rw])

                        to the strangers [pilgrims, NKJV] scattered.  Persons sojourning for a brief season in a foreign country.  Though applied primarily to Hebrews scattered throughout the world (Genesis 23:4; Psalms 39:12), it has here a wider spiritual sense, contemplating Christians as having their citizenship in heaven.  Compare Hebrews 11:13. [2]

                        Only elsewhere in the N.T. in 2:11, “aliens and sojourners” of the readers, and Hebrews 11:13, “strangers and sojourners” of the patriarchs, quoting Genesis 23:4; the same phrase occurs in Psalms 39:12.  In both these passages the LXX has paroikos and parepidemos, as in 2:11. [45]

An expression applied originally to Jews outside of Palestine, but in this passage referring to Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, who had become strangers in every land.  [1]

                        Speculation as to distinctly Christian-centered reasons the terminology might have been used [37]:  Salmon suggests that it means “members of the Roman Church whom Nero’s persecution had dispersed to seek safety in the provinces.”  Ramsay, who dates the Epistle as late as 80 A.D., finds a reference to the Fall of Jerusalem which left the Church a “dispersed” body with no recognized centre.  More probably the word is used metaphorically, not merely in the sense that Christians are a scattered body of sojourners in the world, but one of the titles of the old Israel is transferred to the Church, the new Israel of God.  Just as the Jewish Dispersion served to spread the knowledge of Jehovah more widely, so the Christian Church scattered far and wide is the new “Dispersion” and has a similar work to do for God in the heathen world around.  So elsewhere [this] Epistle St Peter constantly applies to the Christian Church titles which originally belonged to the Jewish nation.

                        Words inserted between “to the” and “strangers [pilgrims, NKJV] scattered” in certain translations:  “elect” (ASV, ERV, ESV) or “God’s elect” (NIV).  The KJV puts this at the beginning of verse 2.  These “sojourners of the Dispersion” in various provinces of modern Asia Minor, are called “elect” [verse 2], a term which was used to describe all believers.  [7]

                        Christians are called “the elect” inasmuch as God has chosen them out of the kingdom of the world to be His own.  The election on God’s part is simply the outcome of free love, excludes all claims of merit (Romans 9:11), and has its origin in grace alone (Romans 11:5).  [50]
                        throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.  It is generally admitted that the names are used in their imperial sense as denoting Roman provinces and not in the popular or geographical sense.  The order in which the various provinces are mentioned affords no clue to the place of writing.  On the one hand Pontus is in the East and therefore nearly the last in geographical order from Rome, but on the other hand it is in the North and therefore not the first in geographical order from Babylon.  Again, Pontus and Bithynia formed one Roman province, therefore there must be some reason for their being named separately first and last in the list.  Probably the provinces are named in the order in which Silvanus was expected to visit them, landing perhaps at Sinope in Pontus and making a circuit round to the coast of the Euxine again somewhere in Bithynia.  The provinces named include all Asia Minor north of the Taurus Mountains, which were a natural frontier shutting off the provinces of the south coast.  [37]

                        Pontus, . . . Cappadocia . . . and Bithynia.  We have no knowledge of Christianity in Pontus, Cappadocia, and Bithynia during the first century.  We know from a letter of Pliny’s to Trajan that in the beginning of the second century it was somewhat extended in Bithynia.  [16] 

                        Pontus.  Bordering upon the Euxine sea, and reaching as far as Colchis.  [28]

                        The old kingdom of Pontus was conquered by Rome in 65 B.C., when Pompey defeated Mithridates and the maritime district of the Euxine west of the Halys was joined to the recently formed province of Bithynia.  The chief towns of Provincial Pontus along the coast from west to east were Heraclea, Amastris, Sinope and Amisos.  All of these were thriving seaports with extensive commerce, the most important being Sinope, which was a Roman colony.  In such centers of trade there were certain to be numerous Jewish settlers.  In Acts 2:9 we read that Jews from Pontus were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and it is conceivable that the first knowledge of Christianity may have been introduced into Pontus by them.  Again Aquila, who had married a Roman wife, Prisca or Priscilla, is described in Acts 18:2 as “a Jew, a man of Pontus by race,” and it is possible that he may have helped to evangelize his native country during his visits to the East.  In any case there was constant commercial intercourse between Pontus and other centers of early Christianity, and the Church may well have been established in Pontus about the middle of the first century.  [37]

                        Galatia.  Which borders upon Pontus, and lies southward of it.  [28]

To Galatia Paul paid two visits, founding and confirming churches. Crescens, his companion, went there about the time of Paul‘s last imprisonment [2 Timothy 4:8-10], just before his martyrdom.  Ancyra was subsequently its ecclesiastical metropolis.  [20]

The Roman province included all the central part of Asia Minor and extended from Pontus on the north to the Taurus Mountains on the south.  It embraced Paphlagonia, part of the old kingdom of Pontus, part of Phrygia including Antioch and Iconium, and part of Lycaonia including Lystra and Derbe, but it derived its name from the north central district, Galatia Proper, which had been occupied by Gaulish immigrants in the 3rd century B.C.  They were conquered by the Romans under Manlius in 189 B.C. but retained semi-independence until 25 B.C., when Galatia Proper was made a Roman province.  The chief towns in this district were Ancyra, Pessinus and Tavium.  The southern part of the Roman province of Galatia was certainly evangelized by St Paul during his first missionary journey.  Lightfoot and others hold that St Paul also visited Galatia Proper on his second and third journeys, and that the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to that district, but Ramsay maintains that St Paul only wrote to the churches of the southern part of the Roman province of Galatia and never visited the northern district at all.  [37]

                        Cappadocia.  Men of Cappadocia, as well as of “Pontus” and “Asia,” were among the hearers of Peter‘s effective sermon on the Pentecost [Acts 2] whereon the Spirit descended on the Church; these probably brought home to their native land the first tidings of the Gospel.  [20]

                        Cappadocia was the district east of Galatia and came into the possession of the Romans in 17 A.D., but it was treated as an unimportant frontier district, governed only by a procurator until 70 A.D. when it was considerably enlarged and made a regular province under a pro-praetor.  From 76–106 it was under the same governor as Galatia, though otherwise the two provinces were distinct.  The fact that it is here mentioned as if it was an important province has been urged as a slight argument in favor of dating the Epistle after 70 A.D., but if Silvanus was to visit this district it is difficult to see by what other name than Cappadocia it could be designated.  Jews from Cappadocia were present on the day of Pentecost. Otherwise nothing is known of the introduction of Christianity there, but Caesareia, the chief town of Cappadocia, was on the great trade-routes from Syrian Antioch to the Black Sea and from Ephesus to the East.  [37]

                        Asia.  By “Asia” in the text is meant the Roman province of Asia in the west of Asia Minor.  [13]

                        ProconsularAsia” included Mysia, Lydia, Caria, Phrygia, Pisidia, and Lyaconia. In Lycaonia were the churches of Iconium, founded by Paul and Barnabas; of Lystra, Timothy‘s birthplace, where Paul was stoned at the instigation of the Jews; and of Derbe, the birthplace of Gaius, or Caius.  In Pisidia was Antioch, where Paul was the instrument of converting many, but was driven out by the Jews.  In Caria was Miletus, containing doubtless a Christian Church.  In Phrygia, Paul preached both times when visiting Galatia in its neighborhood, and in it were the churches of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse, of which last Church Philemon and Onesimus were members, and Archippus and Epaphras leaders.  In Lydia was the Philadelphian Church, favorably noticed in Revelation 3:7, etc.; that of Sardis, the capital, and of Thyatira, and of Ephesus, founded by Paul, and a scene of the labors of Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos, and subsequently of more than two whole years’ labor of Paul again, and subsequently censured for falling from its first love in Revelation 2:4.  Smyrna of Ionia was in the same quarter, and as one of the seven churches receives unqualified praise.  In Mysia was Pergamos.  Troas, too, is known as the scene of Paul‘s preaching and raising Eutychus to life (Acts 20:6-10), and of his subsequently staying for a time with Carpus (2 Timothy 4:13).  [20]

                        Bithynia.  Bordering upon Pontus and Galatia, and opposite to Thracia.  [28]

Of “Bithynia,” no Church is expressly named in Scripture elsewhere. When Paul at an earlier period “assayed to go into Bithynia” (Acts 16:7), the Spirit suffered him not.  But afterwards, we infer from 1 Peter 1:1, the Spirit did impart the Gospel to that country, possibly by Peter‘s ministry.  [20]

                        Bithynia had been bequeathed to the Romans by its last king, Nicomedes III, in 74 B.C., and was joined with Pontus and formed into a united province by Pompey in 65 B.C.  Pliny, the governor of Bithynia, writing apparently from Pontus to the Emperor Trajan about 112 A.D., speaks of many Christians of every age, every rank and of both sexes, not only in the towns but also in the villages and the country, through whom the temples had come to be well-nigh deserted and the sacred rites to be long suspended.  This points to the fact that Christianity was of considerable standing in the district, and one suspected person who was examined declared that he had been a Christian but had abandoned the faith 25 years previously.  Sinope was the birthplace of Marcion, a semi-Gnostic teacher, who came to Rome in 140.  He had been a wealthy shipowner and his father is described as a bishop.  [37]


                        In depth:  Why does Peter omit any reference to his Divine call to apostleship [41]?  “An apostle of Jesus Christ.”  He does not add, as Paul does, by the will of God.  This has been supposed to be because the apostleship of Paul was doubted, and so he alludes to that miraculous dispensation of God which attended his conversion, whereas Peter was called early in the Lord’s ministry.  He was one of those respecting whom the Lord prayed, “Thine they were and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy word.”  The whole epistle reads like that of a humble man who asserted his apostleship simply because he was bound to do so, and at times, as in verse 1, speaks of himself as occupying a lower grade that he might identify himself with those holding the same lower place.  [41]



1:2                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     chosen in accordance with the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, with a view to their obedience and to their being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. May more and more grace and peace be granted to you.        

WEB:              according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

Young’s:         according to a foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied!

Conte (RC):    in accord with the foreknowledge of

God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit,

with the obedience and the sprinkling of the blood

of Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied

for you.


1:2                   Elect.  Christians, or saints (Acts 9:13), because chosen or called out from the world.  See Matthew. 24.22, 24; Romans 8.33; 2 Timothy 2.10.  [1]

                        The term corresponds to the Old Testament title of Jehovah’s people:  Isaiah lxv. 9, 15, 22; Psalms cv. 43.  Compare Matt. xx. 16; xxii. 14; Rom. viii. 33.  [2]

                        If the apostle had directed his letter to persons elected to eternal life, no one, as Drs. Lardner and Macknight properly argue, could have received such a letter, because no one could have been sure of his election in this way till he had arrived in heaven.  But the persons to whom the apostle wrote were all, with propriety, said to be elect because, agreeably to the original purpose of God, discovered in the prophetical writings, Jews and Gentiles, indiscriminately, were called to be the visible Church and entitled to all the privileges of the people of God, on their believing the Gospel. In this sense the word elected is used in other places of Scripture; see 1 Thessalonians 1:4.  [18]        

                        The word and the thought that the disciples of Christ are what they are by the election or choice of God, characterizes the whole teaching of the New Testament.  The word is prominent in the Gospel of Mark, which we have seen reason to connect closely with Peter’s influence [and preaching], and in that portion of our Lord’s discourses recorded in it (Mark 13:20, 22, 27), to which the wars and tumults of Palestine must at this time have been drawing attention.  Compare also the prominence of the thought and of the verbs for “choosing” in John 13:18; 15:16, 19.  The “elect” had, like the “saints” (Acts 9:13), become almost a synonym for Christians (2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1).  And this choice is referred to the “foreknowledge” of God.  [38]

                        according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.  He is distinguishing there between             foreknowledge and determinate counsel.  [2]

                        Their election and salvation was in accordance with God's predetermined purpose to save men through the gospel, and hence, according to foreknowledge.  [22]

                        Cf. Romans 8:28-29, “Called according to his purpose.  For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained.”  This parallel passage shows that what is meant is not foreknowledge of character which led God to choose some men rather than others, but God’s comprehensive foreknowledge of His own plans and working, so that foreknowledge is practically equivalent to His deliberate and far-seeing purpose.  [45]

                        God the Father.  This doth not exclude the Son or Spirit from their interest in and concurrence to the Divine decree, but only notes the order of working among the three Persons [of the Godhead] in the affair of man’s salvation; election is ascribed to the Father, reconciliation to the Son, and sanctification to the Spirit.  [28]

                        Father . . . Spirit . . . Jesus Christ.  Each person of the Trinity has his share in the work of salvation.  [39]

                        Note the separate reference to the three Persons of the Trinity [in this verse].  Cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, “God chose you . . . unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit . . . to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  None of Paul’s salutations, however, introduce the Spirit; they simply couple the Father and Christ.  [45]

                        The doctrine of the Trinity is very fully developed by Peter in this Epistle.  Even in this first chapter he refers to the Father in verses 2, 3, 15, 17, 21; to Christ in verses 1, 2, 3, 7, 11, 13, 19; to the Holy Ghost in verses 2, 11, 12, 23.  [50]

                        through sanctification of the Spirit.  Greek, “in”; the element in which we are elected.  The “election” of God realized and manifested itself “IN” their sanctification.  [20]

                        Set apart or consecrated by the Holy Spirit.  See Hebews 10:10.  Viewed with reference to perfect holiness, sanctification is a daily growth or process.  We are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), which involves obedience to Christ’s commands, complete self-surrender and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  [1]

                        The word for “sanctification,” for which, perhaps, consecration would be a better equivalent, is used eight times by Paul, once in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 12:14), here, and not elsewhere in the New Testament.  Grammatically the words admit of the interpretation which sees in them the sanctification of the human spirit (genitive of the object), but the juxtaposition of the word Spirit with that of the Father and with Christ, is decisive in favor of the explanation which sees in the construction the genitive of the subject, or of the agent, and finds in the sanctification wrought by the Spirit the region in which the foreknowledge of God finds its completion.  [38]

                        unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.  These words mark the twofold end contemplated in their election.  [51]

                        unto obedience.  With the purpose of securing ongoing, continued “obedience” to the Lord’s will.  “Obedience” was not the “one act play” of conversion, but a description of a believer’s future life-long intention.  [rw]

                        It [has] the larger sense in which the idea occurs again at 1 Peter 1:14, in which Paul also uses it in Romans 6:16, and which is expressed more specifically in such phrases as obedience to the faith (Romans 1:5), the obedience of faith (Romans 16:26), the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), obeying the truth (R. V. obedience to the truth, 1 Peter 1:22).  [51]

                        and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.  This refers to the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, where his blood was shed for the remission of sins (Heb. 12.24).  [1]

                        Moses, when he confirmed the covenant which the Israelites entered into with their God, sprinkled both the altar and the people with the blood of the sacrifices (Exodus 24:6, 8):  and in like manner we, when we embrace the covenant of grace, are sprinkled with the blood of our Great Sacrifice, which purges us from the guilt of all our former sins, and sanctifies us as an holy people unto the Lord:  “We come to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24).”

                        And here it is particularly to be noticed, that it is not by the shedding of the Redeemer’s blood that any are saved, but by the application of it to their souls.  Millions “perish for whom Christ died" (1 Corinthians 8:11): but no one ever perished, whose  heart had been sprinkled from an evil conscience,” and “purged from dead works to serve the living God" (Hebrews 9:14 and 10:22).”  [10]

                        sprinkling.  Here in a passive sense--the being sprinkled.  Properly, the ritualistic act of sprinkling blood or water.  See Numbers 19:19, 21.  Compare Hebrews 9:13; 12:24; Numbers 19:9, 13, where the water in which were the ashes of the red heifer is called [Greek], water of sprinkling [Septuagint], which the A.V. and Revised Old Testament render water of separation.  The word and its kindred verb occur only in Hebrews and Peter.  [2]

                        [This] refers to the sprinkling of the people with the covenant-offering (Exodus 24:8), and signifies here that the “elect” were received into the covenant concluded by the shedding of the blood of Christ.  The conception belongs to the point of view distinctively represented by the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 9:19; 12:24).  [16]  

                        grace unto you and peace be multiplied.  Pauline terms.  See Romans 1:7.  The salutation is peculiar by the addition of be multiplied, which occurs [in] 2 Peter 1:2; Jude 2, and nowhere else in the salutations of the epistles.  It is found, however, in the Septuagint, Daniel 4:1 (Sept. iii. 31), and 6:25.  [2]

                        peace.  All sorts of peace may be here intended, domestic, civil, ecclesiastical peace in the church, and spiritual peace with God, with  the feeling of it in our own consciences.  [5]

                        be multiplied.  Grace is God’s favor which now begins in us, but which must continue to advance and grow even till death.  [21]



                        In depth:  The sprinkling of blood in the Old Testament [45].  Only elsewhere in the New Testament in Hebrews 12:24, “The blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel.  The sprinkling of the blood of the victim was part of the Levitical ritual for the various sacrifices (it was not confined to the sin-offering), it is connected in Exodus 24:7-8, with the conclusion of the Mosaic covenant, thus, “And he (Moses) took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people:  and they said, All that Jehovah hath spoken will we do, and be obedient.  And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which Jehovah hath made with you concerning all these words.” 

                        The combination of “obedience” and “sprinkling” suggests that Peter may have had this passage in his mind.

                        In the Old Testament the application of blood to the altar symbolized the Divine participation in the sacrifice; the sprinkling of other things and persons symbolized their association with the sacrifice and its effects, i.e., the realization or the restoration (atonement) of fellowship with God.

                        The New Testament interpretation of the rite is found in Hebrews, the only book which deals with this special detail of sacrifice.  In Hebrews 9:11-28 we are told that as in the sacrificial ritual the sprinkled blood cleansed persons and things, especially the tabernacle and its vessels, and inaugurated the old covenant, so the blood of Christ “cleanses your conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” and inaugurates a new covenant, and cleanses the “heavenly things,” of which the earthly sanctuary and its furniture are copies.  Thus here the “sprinkling” signifies the participation of the believer in the sacrifice of Christ, and in the salvation which it effects; cf. verse 18.  


                        In depth:  Being part of the “elect” that are saved is conditional upon meeting the Divine prerequisites; it is not an irrevocable designation of individuals that is made by God from eternity [47].  “Election,” says the Rev. J. Wesley, “in the Scripture sense, is God’s doing any thing that our merit or power has no part in.  The true predestination, or fore-appointment of God, [is], 1st, He that believeth shall be saved from the guilt and power of sin. 

2d, He that endureth to the end shall be saved eternally.

3d, They who receive the precious gift of faith, thereby become the sons of God; and being sons, they shall receive the Spirit of holiness, to walk as Christ also walked. 

Throughout every part of this appointment of God, promise and duty go hand in hand.  All is free gift; and such is the gift, that the final issue depends on our future obedience to the heavenly call. 

But other predestination than this, either to life or death eternal, the Scripture knows not of.  Moreover, [traditional predestination doctrine is] 1st, Cruel respect of persons; an unjust regard of one, and an unjust disregard of another.  It is mere creature partiality, and not infinite justice.

2d, It is not plain Scripture doctrine, (if true,) but, rather, inconsistent with the express written word, that speaks of God’s universal offers of grace; his invitations, promises, threatenings, being all general.

 3d, We are bid to choose life, and reprehended for not doing [so.]

4th, It is inconsistent with a state of probation in those that must be saved or must be lost.

5th, It is of fatal consequence; all men being ready, on very slight grounds, to fancy themselves of the elect number.

But the doctrine of predestination is entirely changed from what it formerly was.  Now it implies neither faith, peace, nor purity.  It is something that will do without them all. 

Faith is no longer, according to the modern predestinarian scheme, a divine evidence of things not seen, wrought in the soul by the immediate power of the Holy Ghost; not an evidence at all, but a mere notion.  Neither is faith made any longer a means of holiness; but something that will do without it.  Christ is no more a Savior from sin; but a defense, a countenancer of it.  He is no more a fountain of spiritual life in the souls of believers, but leaves his elect inwardly dry, and outwardly unfruitful; and is made little more than a refuge from the image of the heavenly; even from righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 

[Traditional predestination theory assumes that since you are predestined to heaven you will act morally.  Obviously he had encountered a bent form of Calvinism that had discovered that this was not the only conclusion one could draw, i.e., that if one is truly and irrevocably going to heaven, how you act can't alter it one iota.  rw] 

As none but the truly penitent and believing have in Scripture the title of God’s elect, so such may be properly styled, elect according to the foreknowledge of God, because God knows beforehand from eternity who will turn to him in repentance and faith, and who will not; but, as Milton observes, “Foreknowledge has no influence on their fault, / Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.”

Nor is there any inconsistency between the divine prescience and human liberty; both are true, according to the Scripture; and doubtless God can reconcile them, if we cannot.  Macknight explains the clause thus:

“The persons to whom the apostle wrote were with propriety said to be elected according to the foreknowledge of God, because, agreeably to the original purpose of God, discovered in the prophetical writings, Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately were made the visible church and people of God, and entitled to all the privileges of the people of God, by their believing the gospel,” namely, with a faith working by love to God and man:  “God’s foreknowledge of all believers to be his people,” (that is, true, genuine believers, possessed of living, loving, and obedient faith; for only such are God’s people,) “was revealed in the covenant with Abraham.  This the apostle mentions to show the Jews that the believing Gentiles were no intruders into the church of God.  He determined, from the beginning, to make them his people.  See Romans 11:2, where God is said to have foreknown the whole Jewish nation; and 1 Peter 1:20, where the sacrifice of Christ is said to be foreknown before the foundation of the world.”



1:3                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His great mercy has begotten us anew to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

WEB:              Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy became our father again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Young’s:         Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to the abundance of His kindness did beget us again to a living hope, through the rising again of Jesus Christ out of the dead,

Conte (RC):    Blessed be the God and Father of our

Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy

has regenerated us into a living hope, through the

resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead:


1:3                   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  His Father, with respect to His divine nature; his God, with respect to His human.  [15]

                        We note the close correspondence with the opening words of two of St Paul’s Epistles (2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3).  It is, of course, possible that both have adopted what was a common inheritance from Jewish devout feeling, modified by the new faith in Christ; but looking to the reproduction of Pauline phrases in other instances, the idea of derivation seems on the whole the most probable.  [38]

                        The salutation is followed by a similar amplified doxology in Corinthians and Ephesians, beginning in each case, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”; the corresponding paragraph in Colossians begins, “We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  In the other Pauline Epistles the salutation is followed by expressions of personal interest in those addressed.  Cf. Revelation 1:5b-7.  “Blessed” = praised.  Phrases of such frequent occurrence may have been liturgical formulae used in the worship of the primitive churches.  Cf. also Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 11:31.  The phrase had been translated, “God even the Father, &c.”; but “God and Father” is the more natural rendering.  In Ephesians 1:17 we have the unambiguous phrase “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Cf. also Mark 15:34, “My God, my God.”  Such phrases do not imply dogmatic propositions as to the relation of the Persons of the Trinity, but arise naturally out of the practical conditions of Christ’s life.  In his human life he worshipped and serve God, therefore “his” God; and in Christian preaching the true God was the God whom he revealed and concerning whom he taught.  [45] 

                        Difference in meaning of "blessed" when applied to Jesus' earthly mother.  "Blessed:"  A form consecrated to God alone (e.g., Mark 14:61; Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 11:31), a completely different word from the “blessed,” or happy, of the Beatitudes; and differing from the “blessed” of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:28, 42) in that this form implies that blessing is always due on account of something inherent in the person, while that only implies that a blessing has been received.  The idea of blessing God (literally, speaking Him well, Psalms 100:3) is, of course, wholly Hebrew.  [46]

which according to his abundant mercy.  Literally, as in the margin, “his much or great mercy.”  The thought, though here not the phraseology, is identical with St Paul’s “being rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4).  In the prominence thus given to the “mercy” of God, as shown in His redeeming work, we recognize the conviction that those who were the objects of His favor were at once wretched, and unworthy of it through their guilt, and that His pity for that wretchedness was the source of the “grace” or “favor” which He had thus shown to them. [38]

                        Peter gives this as the reason why God is to be praised.  Mercy is that special form of the free grace of God which pities the misery and wretchedness of sinful man.  It is God the Father who is the author of our regeneration (here and James 1:18); the personal agent who brings about the new birth is the Holy Spirit (John 3:5); the audible instrument which God uses is the Word (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23); the visible instrument or channel is Baptism (1 Peter 3:21; John 3:5; Titus 3:5); the procuring cause of it the Resurrection of Christ (here and Colossians 2:12), including, of course, His sufferings and death.  [50]  

hath begotten us again unto a lively [living, NKJV] hope.  The idea of a new birth.  [16]

He begat us again, a phrase used in the New Testament only by Peter, and by him only here and in 1 Peter 1:23, embodying, however, the same truth as is conveyed in somewhat different terms by Paul (Titus 3:5; Galatians 6:15), James (James 1:18), and John (1 John 3:9; 5:1), and reflecting the Master’s own instructions to Nicodemus (John 3:3, etc.).  It is to be taken, therefore, in the full sense of the new birth or begetting, and not to be diluted into the idea of rousing out of hopelessness. [Yet would not that being born again, out of sin, also be a rebirth into hope, leaving the hopelessness of drowning in sin behind?  rw] The direct past (begat, not hath begotten) is used, because the change from death to life in the individual is regarded as a definite, historical act, once for all accomplished, or perhaps because the regeneration of all is regarded as virtually effected in the historical act of Christ’s resurrection.  In the latter case Peter would be again in affinity with Paul, whose habit is to speak of all as dying in Christ’s death and rising in Christ’s resurrection (Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 5:14, etc.).

unto a lively [living, NKJV] hope.  Better perhaps “a living hope,” a hope not destined, as human hopes proverbially were, to be frail and perishable, but having in it the elements of a perennial life.  And this was brought about by God’s regenerating work on and in the soul. The word which St Peter uses is peculiar to him among the writers of the New Testament, and meets us again in 1 Peter 1:23.  The thought, however, is common to him with St James (“of His own will begat He us,” James 1:18), with St Paul (“the washing of regeneration,” Titus 3:5), and with our Lord’s teaching (“except a man be born again”) as recorded by St John (John 3:5).  It is noticeable that St Peter, who elsewhere (1 Peter 3:21) lays so much stress on baptism, does not here refer to it as the instrument of the new birth, but goes further back to the Resurrection of Christ as that without which baptism and faith would have been alike ineffectual.  In this also his teaching is substantially at one with St Paul’s, who sees in baptism that in which we are at once “buried with Christ,” and raised by and with Him to “newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).  [38]

again.  “Begotten again” means, “By Adam’s sin man lost all hope; by raising from the dead the last Adam, our Lord Jesus, God gave this hope back again to all who are in Christ.  Having no hope is a sign of being without God in the world.  [42]  

by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Which is not only a pledge of ours, but a part of the purchase-price.  [15]

                        The Resurrection must have been to all the Eleven, and to Peter especially, such a change from despair to hope as could only be expressed as a beginning of new life:  compare Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:5; Philippians 3:10.  [24]

                        It was Peter who preached the first sermon on the Resurrection, immediately after it had happened; and his audience was the multitude assembled on the Day of Pentecost, who could have refuted him, had he been impressing on them either a delusion or an invention.  [49]

                        The very existence of Christian hope is here traced to the resurrection of Christ, for “if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).  [50]

                        Three ways of connecting these words with the context:  This admits of being connected immediately either with the begat us again—the idea then being that the regeneration takes effect only through Christ’s resurrection—or with the preceding clause as a whole, in which case Christ’s resurrection becomes the event by means of which we are brought by God’s begetting into this new life of hope (so Calvin, Weiss, Huther, Alford, etc., substantially).  Or, as the position of the adjective perhaps indicates, it may be connected with the term living (so Luther, Bengel, de Wette, Hofmann, etc.), the sense then being that the hope gets its quality of life through Christ’s resurrection—because He lives, it cannot but survive and assert itself as a living and enlivening principle.  [51]



1:4                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     to an inheritance imperishable, undefiled and unfading, which has been reserved in Heaven for you,

WEB:              to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn't fade away, reserved in Heaven for you,

Young’s:         to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in the heavens for you,

Conte (RC):    unto an incorruptible and undefiled

and unfading inheritance, which is reserved for you

in heaven.


1:4                   To an inheritance.  Called an inheritance because it belongs to the children of God.  Eternal life cannot be a gift to any but these; for, even in heaven, the lot is dealt out according to law:  if children, then heirs; if not children, then not heirs.  [18]

                        The land of promise (Hebrews 11:9) was the inheritance of Israel.  During all their wanderings this was reserved for them, but they were taught in many ways that it was a type of a better inheritance.  This inheritance is reserved for the true Israel in heaven.  It cannot be corrupted, as the earth was in the days of Noah (Genesis 6:11), or defiled as Canaan was by abominations (Leviticus 18:27; Deuteronomy 21:23; Jeremiah 2:7), and the Temple by the heathen (Psalms 79:1), nor do its flowers or fruits fade away (Isaiah 32:15; 60:13; 61:11): compare 2 Peter 3:13.  [24] 

                        Three negative but gloriously descriptive words represent the character of the inheritance[1:]  “incorruptible,” “undefiled,” “fadeth not.”  [39]

                        Connection to preceding context:  Some connect this closely with the hope, as a definition of that to which it points—a living hope looking to the inheritance.  Most connect it with the begat, the two clauses introduced by ‘unto’ being regarded as dependent on the same verb, and the latter clause defining the former more nearly.  When we are begotten, that is to say, into the hope, we are begotten into the inheritance.  To have the one is to have the other.  So perfect is God’s act, so secure against failure the hope which comes by that act.  [51]

                        The hope is not merely of eternal existence, but we become heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ.  [22]

                        incorruptible.  It has no seeds of decay, it cannot perish.  [7]

                        Immortal, everlasting, which being once possessed, cannot be taken away, nor pass over to others.  [28]

                        and undefiled.  Neither tainted nor tarnished.  [51]

Free from all stain of sin.  [7]

The land, in which men who are sinners dwell on earth, is said to be defiled by their sins, Leviticus 18:28, Numbers 5:3, 35:34, Deuteronomy 21:23, Isaiah 24:5, Jeremiah 2:7, 16:18; heaven, into which no unclean thing can enter, being the only inheritance undefiled.  [4]

The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament.  As applied to an inheritance, it means that it will be pure.  It will not have been obtained by dishonesty, nor will it be held by fraud; it will not be such as will corrupt the soul, or tempt to extravagance, sensuality, and lust, as a rich inheritance often does here; it will be such that its eternal enjoyment will never tend in any manner to defile the heart.  [31]

                        and that fadeth not away.  That never decays in its value, sweetness, or beauty, like all the enjoyments of this world, like the garlands of leaves or flowers, with which the ancient conquerors were wont to be crowned.  [15]

                        The idea here, therefore, is not precisely the same as is expressed by the word “incorruptible.”  Both words indeed denote perpetuity, but that refers to perpetuity in contrast with decay; this denotes perpetuity in the sense that everything there will be kept in its original brightness and beauty.  The crown of glory, though worn for millions of ages, will not be dimmed; the golden streets will lose none of their luster; the flowers that bloom on the banks of the river of life will always be as rich in color, and as fragrant, as when we first beheld them.  [31]

reserved in heaven.  Where the God of glory dwells.  The earthly inheritance had been invaded by Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans; its wealth plundered and its holy places ravaged and destroyed; but the heavenly Canaan is so protected by our glorious Lord that it is absolutely and forever secure.  [39]

The perfect tense, which hath been reserved unto you, i.e., either in the temporal sense—“kept all this while until you came,” or “with a view to you.”  (Compare Hebrews 11:40.)  He now adds explicitly that it is no earthly, but a heavenly possession.  [46]

The kingdom was regarded as “in heaven,” because Christ was expected to descend thence (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  [16]

Similar is our Lord’s teaching on the treasure and the reward in heaven (Matthew 6:20; 19:21; 5:12), and Paul’s conception of the hope which has been laid up or deposited in heaven (Colossians 1:5).  [51]

Every word which follows is weighty.  The inheritance is said to be reserved, or preserved, that we may know that it is beyond the reach of danger. For, were it not in God’s hand, it might be exposed to endless dangers.  If it were in this world, how could we regard it as safe amidst so many changes?  That he might then free us from every fear, he testifies that our salvation is placed in safety beyond the harms which Satan can do.  [35]  The only way our heavenly salvation can be lost is if we voluntarily “cancel” the “reservation” by our own reprobate behavior.  Barring that, no force exists that can deny it to us.  [rw]

                        for you.  Showing the immediate and personal relevance of the fact to every single faithful believer.  [rw]

                        Peter now assures his readers that this inheritance is intended for them, but at the same time still concealed.  This inheritance is “incorruptible” in its essence, “undefiled” in its purity, “unfading” and perpetual in its beauty and glory, heavenly and spiritual (“reserved in heaven”) in its character.  [50]



1:5                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     whom God in His power is guarding through faith for a salvation that even now stands ready for unveiling at the End of the Age.

WEB:              who by the power of God are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Young’s:         who, in the power of God are being guarded, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time

Conte (RC):    By the power of God, you are guarded

 through faith for a salvation which is ready to be

revealed in the end time.


1:5                   Who are kept [guarded, ESV; protected, NASB] by the power of God through faith.  Overview:  A still better reason why they should lift a thankfully confident eye to the heavenly inheritance.  The possession might be reserved for them, and the reservation be to no purpose, if they themselves were left to the risks of earth and their own weakness.  All the more insecure of it might they seem in their present circumstances of danger and temptation.  But if the inheritance is kept for the people, the people are also kept for the inheritance.  The word indicates a different kind of keeping from that expressed by the reserved.  It is the military term used both literally (of the keeping of a city as with a garrison, 2 Corinthians 11:32) and figuratively (of the keeping of the heart, Philippians 4:7, and of the keeping of the Israelite in ward under the law, Galatians 3:23).  The perfect tense used of the reserving of the inheritance (where a past act abiding in its effect was in view) changes now into the present, as only a continuous process of protection can make the people safe against themselves. 

                        The efficient cause (so Huther, Gerhard, etc.) of this sustained protection, or, as the preposition may be more strictly taken, the sphere within which it moves, the force behind which they are shielded as by a garrison, is nothing weaker than God’s power,—a phrase to be understood here in the ordinary sense, and not as a title of the Holy Spirit (as Weiss, de Wette, etc., suppose on the false analogy of Luke 1:35). 

                        The instrumental cause of this protection, or the means through which the force works to guard us, is faith,—not to be taken in any limited sense (such, e.g., as faith in the future, or a general reliance upon God, with Hofmann, Weiss, etc.), but in the specific Christian sense, the faith which grasps God’s power, and which, while itself God’s gift, is the subjective response to what is objectively offered.  Thus, with the Lord Himself encompassing them as the "mountains are round about Jerusalem," and with the hand of faith clinging to the shelter of His power, the people on earth are secure as is the inheritance in heaven.  [51]

Who are kept [guarded, ESV; protected, NASB].  A [Greek] military term.  Lit., garrisoned.  Rev., guarded.  Compare 2 Corinthians  11:32, and the beautiful metaphorical use of the word at Philippians 4:7, “shall guard your hearts.”  The present participle indicates something in progress, a continuous process of protection.  Hence. literally, who are being guarded.  “The inheritance is kept; the heirs are guarded: (Bengel).  [2]

                        Of that guarding we have (1) the objective aspect, the “power of God” being as the force that encompasses and protects us, and (2) the subjective faith, as that through which, as in the vision of Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 6:16), we feel that we are guarded, and see that “those that are with us are more than they that be against us.”  [38]

                        “Kept:”  This word implies kept in a very safe place, as in a fortress, secure from all harm; even as the wise man hath said, “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).  And again the Prophet, “Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks” (Isaiah 26:1).  [42]    

                        by the power of God.  In view of their faith in him.  [7]

                        Much seen in the saints’ perseverance.  “My Father is stronger than all; none therefore can take you out of my hands, since I and the Father are one,” John 10:29-30.  [29] 

                        through faith.  Through the continued exercise of that faith, by which alone salvation is both received and retained.  The clause is very emphatical:  “It represents,” says Macknight, “believers as attacked by evil spirits and wicked men, their enemies, but defended against those attacks by the power of God, through the influence of their faith (1 John 5:4), just as those who remain in an impregnable fortress are secured from the attacks of their enemies by its ramparts and walls.”  [47]

This place proves only, that they who are thus preserved, are kept through faith, i.e. “if they hold the beginning of their confidence firm to the end: (Hebrews 5:14).  For this faith, thus continued in them, will render them victorious over the world (1 John 5:4).  It will enable them to “resist the devil” so effectually, that “he shall fly from them” (1 Peter 5:9), and to “quench all the fiery darts of Satan” (Ephesians 6:16), and to “suffer death, not accepting a deliverance, that they may obtain a better resurrection.”  But this place does not prove that all, who are once true believers, shall certainly continue to the faith, and never make shipwreck of the faith, as did Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:19): never have their faith overturned, as some had, 2 Tim. 2:10, never “draw back to perdition,” as the apostle supposeth some might do, Heb. 10:38, 39.  [4]

                        The Apostle is fearful lest the last words should give a false assurance. God can guard none of us, in spite of His “power,” unless there be a corresponding exertion upon our part—which is here called “faith”—combining the notions of staunch fidelity and of trustfulness.  It is through such trustful fidelity that we are guarded.  [46]

                        unto salvation.  “Salvation” probably includes two ideas:  (1)  It is that salvation on which Paul had not yet laid hold (Philippians 3.12; Romans 13.11; 1 Thessalonians 5.8), a complete victory over the lower self or the flesh;  (2)  a deliverance from trial, persecution and sorrow.  [1]

                        Salvation has in it the double idea of being made safe, and being made sound.  Peril threatening to slay, and sickness unto death, are the implications of the conditions which this great word presupposes.  The man that needs to be saved needs to be rescued from peril and needs to be healed of a disease.  And so salvation means, negatively, the deliverance from all the evils, whether they be evils of sorrow or evils of sin, which can affect a man, and which do affect us all in some measure.  But it means far more than that, for God’s salvation is no half-and-half thing, contented, as some benevolent man might be, in a widespread flood or disaster, with rescuing the victims and putting them high up enough for the water not to reach them, and leaving them there shivering cold and starving.  But when God begins by taking away evils, it is in order that He may clear a path for flooding us with good.  And so salvation is not merely what some of you think it is, the escape from a hell, but it is the investiture of each of us with every good and glory, whether of happiness or of purity, which it is possible for a man to receive and for God to give.  [27] 

                        This great word salvation, so often upon Peter’s lips, and occurring thrice within half-a-dozen verses here, seems used by him preferentially in the eschatological sense.  Occasionally in the N.T. it has the simple sense of deliverance from enemies (Luke 1:71; Acts 7:25), or preservation of life (Acts 27:34; Hebrews 11:7), but it occurs for the most part as the technical term for spiritual salvation, or the Messianic salvation (John 4:22; Acts 4:12; Romans 11:11, etc.), now in the limited sense of the opposite of perdition (Philippians 1:28), and again in the general sense of eternal salvation; now in the sense of a present salvation (Philippians 1:19; 2 Corinthians 1:6), again in that of a progressive salvation (1 Peter 2:22), and yet again in that of the completed salvation, which is to enter with Christ’s return (Romans 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9; Hebrews 9:28, etc.).  Here it is the future salvation, and that not as mere exemption from the fate of the lost, but (as the underlying idea of the present distresses and fears of the readers indicates) in the widest sense, somewhat parallel to that of the inheritance, but with a more direct reference to the state of trial, of final relief from the world of evil, and completed possession of all Messianic blessing.  [51]

                        ready to be revealed in the last time.  Not something to be provided hereafter, or in course of preparation, and therefore liable never to be realized, but an accomplished fact, ready and waiting to be manifested at the right moment.  [45]

It is fully prepared; but its certain and glorious manifestation will be only at the day of judgment.  [39]

The tense of the word “revealed” implies the suddenness of the unveiling.  It will be but the work of an instant to put aside the curtain and show the inheritance which has been kept hidden so long behind it.  [46]      

The expression points to the certainty of the advent of this salvation (in the term ready, stronger than the usual about to be, or destined to be, and indicating a state of waiting in preparedness), and perhaps also (in the tense of the verb) to the "rapid completion of the act" of its revelation in contrast with the long process of the guarding of its subjects (Alford).  The word revealed has here the familiar sense of bringing to light something already existent, but unknown or unseen.  [51]              

                        in the last time.  At the end of the world. [14]

                        In one sense we were saved, as the Apostle declares, at Baptism (3:21), in another we are being saved (Acts 2:47, Revisers), but the final accomplishment of the purposes of God towards us in our sanctification, discipline, and instruction, is in the salvation not now revealed, but ready to be revealed at the last time.  This is one of the many passages of scripture which show how totally unfounded is the view of salvation preached by so many fanatics amongst us, that God gives to a converted man, generally at the beginning of his [spiritual] career, a sense of salvation on which he is to place such confidence that he must give himself not the smallest anxiety respecting his acceptance at the last.  He has no need of watchfulness and labor to work out his salvation; such anxiety, it is asserted, shows that he does not truly believe.  Some even go so far as to say that sin is no longer sin in him, no matter what he does.  [41]  


                        In depth:  Can “the last time” refer to the fall of Jerusalem?  The case against that scenario [47].  in the last time — The time of Christ’s second coming; the grand period, in which all the mysteries of divine providence shall beautifully and gloriously terminate.  Some have thought that by the salvation here spoken of, the apostle meant the preservation from the destruction brought on the Jewish nation by the Romans, which preservation the disciples of Christ “obtained, by observing the signs mentioned in their Master’s prophecy concerning that event.  For, when they saw these signs take place, they fled from Jerusalem to places of safety, agreeably to their Master’s order, Matthew 24:16. 

            But what is said, 1 Peter 1:9-12, concerning this salvation; that it is a salvation, not of the body, but of the soul, to be bestowed as the reward of faith; that the prophets, who foretold this salvation, searched diligently among what people, and at what time, the means of procuring it were accomplished; that it was revealed to the prophets that these means were to be accomplished, not among them, but among us; and that these things were to be preached by the apostles as actually come to pass:  I say, the above mentioned particulars concerning the salvation to be revealed in the last time, do not agree to the deliverance of the Christians from the destruction of Jerusalem, but are applicable only to the salvation of believers in general from eternal death, by a resurrection to an immortal life in heaven, at the time of Christ’s coming, when this salvation is to be revealed; and that time is called the last time, because it will be the concluding scene of God’s dispensations relating to our world.” — Macknight.



1:6                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     Rejoice triumphantly in the prospect of this, even if now, for a short time, you are compelled to sorrow amid various trials.

WEB:              Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in various trials,        

Young’s:         in which ye are glad, a little now, if it be necessary, being made to sorrow in manifold trials,

Conte (RC):    In this, you should exult, if now, for

a brief time, it is necessary to be made sorrowful by

various trials,


1:6                   Wherein.  A reference to already being in the “last days” or a broader fame of reference intended?  There is a little doubt as to the antecedent of the word “wherein.”  At first sight it would seem to be “in the last time,” and the thought would then be that this “last time,” with all its predicted afflictions, was already begun, and that the Pontine Hebrews were fulfilling the injunction of our Lord in Luke 21:28, and “rejoicing” (the word is one of enthusiastic and demonstrative joy) in the near approach of their redemption.  This makes good sense, but it is better to see the antecedent in “the whole complex sense of the preceding verses, concerning the hope of glory.  In this thing ye rejoice, that ye are begotten again; that there is such an inheritance, and that you are made heirs of it; that it is kept for you, and you for it; that nothing can come betwixt you and it, and disappoint you of possessing and enjoying it, though there be many deserts and mountains and seas in the way, yet you are ascertained that you shall come safe thither.” (Leighton.)  [46]

ye greatly rejoice.  In this glorious hope you rejoice.  [22]

                        In which hope of salvation.   The idea is, that the prospect which they had of the future inheritance was to them a source of the highest joy, even in the midst of their many sufferings and trials.  [31]

                        The English verb and adverb answer to the single Greek word which expresses, as in Matthew 5:12, Luke 1:47, Luke 10:21, the act of an exulting joy.  The verb occurs three times in this Epistle, not at all in St Paul’s, and may fairly be regarded as an echo from our Lord’s use of it as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount.  [38]

                        This particular term for joy, aptly rendered "greatly rejoice," is one which occurs very rarely outside the Septuagint, the N.T., and ecclesiastical literature.  It is probably a Greek reproduction (see Buttmann’s Greek Grammar by Thayer, p. 5) of a familiar Hebrew verb often used in the poetical and prophetical books (Psalms 2:11; Psalms 9:15; Job 3:22; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 65:18, etc.).  Like the Hebrew original (which means to "leap for joy," or "rejoice to exultation"), it denotes a strong, a lively joy, intenser than is expressed by the ordinary term, with which also it is often coupled.  Peter has in view, therefore, the kind of joy which is affirmed of Christ Himself (Luke 10:21), which He too expressly enjoins on persecuted disciples (Matthew 5:12, where the stronger term is added to the weaker), and which breaks forth in the Magnificat (Luke 1:47).  [51]

though now for a season.  Such is our whole life, compared to eternity.  [15]

It is possible, however, that Peter supposed that the trials which they then experienced would soon pass over.  They may have been suffering persecutions which he hoped would not long continue.  [31]

if need be.  It won’t necessarily happen to everyone and even the many it happens to won’t necessarily have to go through it all at the same time.  Hence those who are suffering should always be able to find those who are not, who can comfort and assist them in their struggles.  [rw]   

Sometimes there is a kind of necessity that the followers of God should be afflicted; when they have no trials they are apt to get careless, and when they have secular prosperity they are likely to become worldly-minded.  [18]

This phrase seems to have been thrown in here to intimate that there was a necessity for their afflictions, or that there was “need” that they should pass through these trials.  There was some good to be accomplished by them, which made it desirable and proper that they should be thus afflicted. The apostle expresses it delicately by suggesting the possibility that there might be need of it, instead of saying absolutely that there was need.  [31]

ye are in heaviness [have been grieved, NKJV].  The trials of this life had worn down their spirits.  There is a point in life where external difficulties and pressures seem unbearable, seem “just too much.”  They either crush us or we hold fast to God’s grace, knowing that however trying and stressful events may be that others have successfully gotten through them already.  And that, with God’s help, we can as well.  [rw]  

                        through.  Greek, “IN”: the element in which the grief has place.   [20]

manifold.  Literally the word means variegated.  It is used to describe the skin of a leopard, the different colored veinings of marble, or an embroidered robe; and thence passes into the meaning of changeful, diversified, applied to the changing months or the variations of a strain of music.  Peter employs it again, chapter 4:10, of the grace of God, and James of temptations, as here (1:2).  Compare manifold in Ephesians 3:10, applied to the wisdom of God.  The word gives a vivid picture of the diversity of the trials, emphasizing this idea rather than that of their number, which is left to be inferred.  [2]

                        temptations.  Better, trials, as in margin of Revision, since the word includes more than direct solicitation to evil.  It embraces all that goes to furnish a test of character.  Compare James 1:2.  [2]

                        Thus the Lord says:  “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad.”  Thus St. Paul:  “We glory in tribulations also” (Romans 5:3).  Thus St. James:  “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations” (James 1:2).  Mr. Blunt also suggests that there may be here a reminiscence of St. Peter’s own experience, when as related in Acts 5:41, he and his brother Apostles “departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”  [41]



1:7                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     The sorrow comes in order that the testing of your faith--being more precious than that of gold, which perishes and yet is proved by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the re-appearing of Jesus Christ.

WEB:              that the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ--

Young’s:         that the proof of your faith -- much more precious than of gold that is perishing, and through fire being approved -- may be found to praise, and honour, and glory, in the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Conte (RC):    so that the testing of your faith, which

is much more precious than gold tested by fire, may

be found in praise and glory and honor at the

revelation of Jesus Christ.


1:7                   That the trial of your faith.  The word “trial” here does not mean exactly the same as in the passage of James; in that passage it signifies the active testing of faith, here it has rather the meaning of the cognate word translated “assurance” in Romans 5:4, “proof” in 2 Corinthians 2:9, Philippians 2:22, i.e., the attested worth, the genuine character.  This seems necessitated by the comparison of the trial with the gold itself, as we shall see.  You cannot compare an act or process with gold, but you can compare “the genuine character” brought out by the process properly enough.  Besides, that which you wish to “praise” at Christ’s coming is not the process by which the faith was proved, but the worth of the faith itself.  “Faith” seems to mean the same as in 1Peter 1:5.  [46]

                        being much more precious than of gold that perisheth.  For gold, though it bear the fire, yet will perish with the world.  [15]

                        He does not say “your faith is more valuable than gold,” but “your faith’s genuineness is more valuable than gold.”  [46]

                        though it be tried by fire.  The point of comparison is not gold in general, for that would make the statement feeble, but tried gold, as compared with untried.  More          than refined gold excels that which is unrefined, does faith that has been tried excel that which is untried.  [6]

                        For though gold, if it be pure gold, when put into the hottest fire, will lose nothing, and come out the brighter; yet it will gain nothing by the process.  The same quantity thrown into the furnace, it will be well if it come out, more it cannot.  But not so by faith.  True faith, the faith of God's elect, will be increased tenfold by the trial; and the oftener it is tried, the greater both in quantity and in quality, it will become.  [25]

                        Already in the Old Testament, the trial by sufferings is often compared with the test of gold by fire (cf. Ps. lxvii. 10; Prov. xvii. 3).  If then gold, which is     also perishable, as are all earthly things, is tested by fire, how much more precious will the genuine character of faith turn out to be if it stands the test of such fire of adversity?  [9]

                        might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.   This they will receive at the return of the Lord.  [rw]

                        The words stand somewhat vaguely in the Greek as in the English, and might possibly express that what men suffer is for God’s glory.  The context, however, and the parallelism of Romans 2:7, make it certain that they refer to the “praise” [found here only in conjunction with the familiar combination (Romans 2:7, 10; 1 Timothy 1:17) of “honour and glory”] which men shall receive (compare 1 Corinthians 4:5), when sufferings rightly borne have done their work, in and at the revelation of Jesus Christ in His Second Coming as the Judge of all men.  [38]

                        The reward of grace which true believers shall receive “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” consists (1) of the praise of their fidelity of faith (Matthew 25:21; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Romans 2:7, 10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5); (2) of the glory, which the Father has given to Christ (1:11, 21; Acts 3:13), and which He will communicate to all that are His (4:13; 5:1; 4:14); (3) of the honor which Christ has promised to His faithful servants (John 12:26; Revelation 3:21; 22:4).  [50]


                        In depth:  Possible distinctions between “praise and honor and glory" [51].  With the best editors (Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott, and Hort) the order runs rather praise, and glory, and honour.  This is the only instance in the N.T. in which the three terms come together, although the conjunction of honour and glory is common enough (Romans 2:7, 10; 1 Timothy 1:17, etc.).  Distinctions are drawn between the terms, and it is attempted to exhibit a climax in the order of the A.V., e.g., from judicial approval to the moral esteem following on that, and then to the reward or form of glory (Schott, etc.); or from the language of praise to the rank of honour and the feeling of admiration (Mason); or from the commendation of the Judge to the personal dignity of the subject, and thence to his admission to the Lord’s own glory.

But the descriptions are cumulative rather than ascensive, word being added to word in order to convey some faint conception of the gracious reward which is to be found (a strong term indicating the open discovery of something, the proving of an object to be something after scrutiny) at last to have been the end in view.



1:8                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     Him you love, though your eyes have never looked on Him. In Him, though at present you cannot see Him, you nevertheless trust, and triumph with a joy which is unspeakable and is crowned with glory,

WEB:              whom not having known you love; in whom, though now you don't see him, yet believing, you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory--

Young’s:         whom, not having seen, ye love, in whom, now not seeing and believing, ye are glad with joy unspeakable and glorified,

Conte (RC):    For though you have not seen him,

you love him. In him also, though you do not see

him, you now believe. And in believing, you shall

exult with an inexpressible and glorious joy,


1:8                   Whom having not seen.  Jesus Christ.  [22]

                        Yet they had heard of His character, His preaching, His sacrifice for sin, and His resurrection and ascension, and they had learned to love Him.  [31]

                        Assuming a relatively early date for the epistle:  It is very possible that among these dispersed Christians, there might be some who had visited Jerusalem whilst Christ was there, and might have seen, or even conversed with Him; but as the greater part had not, Peter speaks, according to the usual apostolic manner, as if they all had not.  Thus he speaks of them all as loving Christ, though there might be some among them who were destitute both of this Divine principle and of that “joy” which he speaks of.  [17]

ye love.  Though not having seen Christ, they knew him by faith.  [22]

in whom, though now ye see him not.  He is now in heaven, and to mortal eyes now invisible, like his Father.  Faith in him is the source and fountain of our joy.  It makes invisible things real, and enables us to feel and act, in view of them, with the same degree of certainty as if we saw them.  [31]

Did there float in his mind the recollection of the words “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29)?  [38]

yet believing.  They had long been expecting the vision of Christ at his second coming; they had not yet seen him, thus, yet their faith stood the strain.  Cf. John 20:29, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”  [45]

ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.  That there are those who have not great comfort in their religion, no one indeed can doubt; but this arises from several causes entirely independent of their religion.  Some have melancholy temperaments, and are not happy in anything.  Some have little evidence that they are Christians, and their sadness arises not from religion, but from the want of it.  But that true religion does make its possessors happy, anyone may easily satisfy himself by asking any number of sincere Christians, of any denomination, whom he may meet.  With one accord they will say to him that they have a happiness which they never found before; that however much they may have possessed of the wealth, the honors, and the pleasures of the world--and they who are now Christians have not all of them been strangers to these things--they never knew solid and substantial peace until they found it in religion.  [31]

The quality of this joy is expressed both by the repetition of the verb already used to express exultant joy (1 Peter 1:6), and by the addition of two remarkable adjectives.  The former of these, which is found in no other passage of the N.T., and is of very rare occurrence elsewhere, conveys a different idea from the "unspeakable" in 2 Corinthians 12:4, and is more analogous to the "which cannot be uttered" of Romans 8:26.  It means, "too deep for expression," and that in the sense of "not capable of being told adequately out in words," rather than in the sense of not capable of being fitted to language at all.  The latter adjective means more than ‘full of glory.’  It designates the joy as one already irradiated with glory, superior to the poverty and ingloriousness of earthly joy, flushed with the colors of the heaven of the future.  Compare the proleptic "glorified" of Romans 8:30, and better, the "spirit of glory" in 1 Peter 4:14.  [51]



1:9                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     while you are securing as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

WEB:              receiving the result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Young’s:         receiving the end of your faith -- salvation of souls;

Conte (RC):    returning with the goal of your faith,

the salvation of souls.


1:9                   Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.  Rather, “acquiring,” “getting possession of.”  As their faith survived one trial after another, they would feel more and more that the safety of their souls, the end and aim of their faith, became not merely a future hope but a present possession.  [45]

“The end of your faith”, means that at which faith aims or in which it results, which the apostle says the believer is now “receiving,” now bearing off as a prize.  [32]

                        the salvation of your souls.  Literally, “the salvation of souls,” but the reference is clearly to the readers’ own souls; there is no reference, either in the immediate context, or in the Epistle generally, to evangelistic work.  Cf. 5b.  [45]


                        In depth:  Are they “receiving” their salvation now or in the future [38]?  The question has been raised whether these words refer to the present or the future.  It has been urged on the one hand that the word for “receiving” applied in 2 Corinthians 5:10, and perhaps in Hebrews 10:36 [and] Ephesians 6:8, to the ultimate issue of God’s judgment, excludes the former.  On the other hand, it may be replied that it is arbitrary to limit the last two passages to the final judgment, and that the tense both of “rejoice” and “receiving” is definitely present.

On the whole therefore there is no adequate reason against taking the words in their natural and obvious meaning.  Those to whom the Apostle wrote were thought of as already receiving, very really, though not, it might be, in its ultimate fullness, that which was the “end” or “goal” of their faith, and that goal was found in the “salvation” of their “souls”—the deliverance of their moral being from the burden of guilt, the sense of condemnation, the misery and discord of alienation from God.



1:10                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     There were Prophets who earnestly inquired about that salvation, and closely searched into it--even those who spoke beforehand of the grace which was to come to you.

WEB:              Concerning this salvation, the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

Young’s:         concerning which salvation seek out and search out did prophets who concerning the grace toward you did prophecy,

Conte (RC):    About this salvation, the prophets

inquired and diligently searched, those who

prophesied about the future grace in you,


1:10                 Of which salvation the prophets.  This language would imply that this had been a common and prevalent wish of the prophets.  [31]

                        As on the Pentecost, Peter here, too, grounds his doctrine on the Old Testament prophecy.  He then quoted Joel and David (Acts 2:16-21; Acts 2:25-31).  Later, after citing Moses, he said, “All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days,” Acts 3:24.  [39]

                        have inquired and searched.  Two synonyms used to express a single idea, in order to set forth a prolonged, diligent, often renewed search.  This statement is made on Peter’s own authority, and is a natural deduction from evident facts:  it is not in human nature to be indifferent to the time when such predictions will be fulfilled.  The Old Testament nowhere describes this search, though there are passages which illustrate and partly justify the statement.  In Isaiah 6:11 the prophet asks how long the Jews will be deaf to his preaching.  [45]                  

have inquired.  This word is intensive.  It means that they sought out, or scrutinized with care the revelations made to them, that they might understand exactly what was implied in that which they were appointed to record in respect to the salvation which was to be made known through the Messiah.  [31]

They sought to know more fully the meaning of the prophecies which they uttered concerning Christ, and the blessings he would bestow on his people. [14]

                        and searched.  Used nowhere else in the New Testament.  Compare Septuagint, 1 Samuel 23:23, of Saul’s searching out David.  [2]                     

                        diligently.  Their being inspired did not make their industrious search needless; for, notwithstanding their extraordinary assistance from God, they were obliged to make use of all the ordinary methods of improvement in wisdom and knowledge.  Daniel was a man greatly beloved and inspired, yet he understood by books and study the computations of time, chapter 9:2.  Even their own revelation required their study, meditation, and prayer; for many prophecies had a double meaning:  in their first intention they aimed at some person or event near at hand, but their ultimate design was to describe the person, sufferings, or kingdom of Christ.  [5]

who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.  χάρις is specially used by St Paul (a) in connection with his own mission as the apostle to the Gentiles, (b) of the Gentiles as the recipients of the Universal Gospel.  So in Acts it is used eight times in passages which deal with the extension of the Gospel to the Gentiles.  “The surprising mercy of God, by which those who had been wholly outside the privileged circle were now the recipients of the divine favor, seems to have called for a new and impressive name which might be the watchword of the larger dispensation.”  It is in this sense that Peter uses the word here.  He may have in mind the numerous O.T. passages quoted by Paul (Romans 9, 10, 15) to show that the inclusion of Gentiles was always contemplated.  Such predictions were accompanied by solemn [assertions] of sufferings destined for the (coming) Messiah, τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα, yet each prophecy of suffering was crowned with a prophecy of subsequent glory; cf. Luke 24:26, “Behoved it not the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory” was the lesson which our Lord expounded from the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  [37]

                        Importance of this prophetic searching to first century Christians:  The object of this reference to the prophets seems to be to lead them to value the religion which they professed more highly, and to encourage them to bear their trials with patience.  They were in a condition, in many respects, far superior to that of the prophets.  They had the full light of the gospel.  The prophets saw it only at a distance and but dimly, and were obliged to search anxiously that they might understand the nature of that system of which they were appointed to furnish the comparatively obscure prophetic intimations.  [31]


                        In depth:  Efforts to make these prophets New Testament era prophets [37].  Plumptre and others would explain the passage which follows as referring to New Testament prophets or preachers of the first days of the Church, who constantly uttered inspired warnings of a coming time of persecution for Christians which would be followed by glory.  Such persecution however did not come immediately, and so the prophets gradually realized that their message was not for their own generation.  Now however their warnings are being fulfilled in the Neronian persecution. 

In support of this view it is urged that “the Spirit of Christ” would be more appropriate to Christian prophets than to those of the O.T. and that τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα means sufferings of Christians as members of Christ which pass on to Him as their Head.  But this interpretation is somewhat unnatural; moreover St Peter had himself been one of the earliest preachers of the Church, and he distinctly contrasts the ministry of the prophets with the proclamation which is now made by the Mission of the Holy Spirit.  The reference is probably to the numerous passages in the O.T., especially in the later prophets, which predicted the admission of the Gentiles (τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς χάριτος, the free favor of God as reaching unto you Gentiles).


                        Other evidence for and against Christian prophets being in mind [51]:  The prophets referred to are obviously the O.T. prophets, as almost all interpreters hold.  The supposition is advanced, however, that they are mainly the prophets of the Apostolic Church, with some of whom the Book of Acts mentions Peter himself to have been brought into personal contact, e.g. with Barnabas (Acts 4:36), Agabus (Acts 11:28; 21:10), Judas and Silas (Acts 15:36).  This view is supported by appeal to the prominent position occupied by these N.T. prophets (Ephesians 2:20, 3:5, 4:11; 2 Peter 3:2), to Peter’s statement about the prophetic word (2 Peter 1:19), and to such phrases as "the Spirit of Christ which was in them," which are held to apply rather to Christian than to Israelite prophets (so Plumptre).  But, difficult as the paragraph in any case is, some of its clauses become doubly so on this supposition.  Neither does the term "prophets" here stand connected with the term "apostles," or with anything else naturally defining it as = those of the N.T. Church.



1:11                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     They were eager to know the time which the Spirit of Christ within them kept indicating, or the characteristics of that time, when they solemnly made known beforehand the sufferings that were to come upon Christ and the glories which would follow.

WEB:              searching for who or what kind of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, pointed to, when he predicted the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that would follow them.

Young’s:         searching in regard to what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ that was in them was manifesting, testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory after these,

Conte (RC):    inquiring as to what type of condition

was signified to them by the Spirit of Christ, when

foretelling those sufferings that are in Christ, as well

 as the subsequent glories.


1:11                 Introduction:  The connection of verses 11-12 with verse 10.  The paragraph which now follows deals with the relation of the prophets to the salvation of which they prophesied.  The salvation itself, however, continues to be the foremost thing.  The notice of the prophetic ministry is not introduced with the view of indicating the essential identity of the offer of grace in the N.T. with that in the O.T., or the witness to the truth of the apostolic proclamation of grace which may be drawn from its harmony with the prophetical (so Gerhard, etc.).  Neither is its object to recall the fact that, if they suffered, these Christians had only to face what the prophets had faced before them, while in respect of privilege they had the immense superiority of resting on a salvation accomplished, where these others had to rest on its promise (Schott).  In this last case, the section would, indeed, furnish another reason why they should live a hopeful life.  But it says nothing itself of the prophets as sufferers.  It comes in, therefore, with the simpler object of exhibiting the grandeur of this salvation in the light of its interest to prophets and even to angels.  (So Calvin, and after him the best interpreters.)  What can be deduced from it on the subject of prophecy, therefore, is limited by this object.  [51]

Searching what time, or what manner of time [searching what, or what manner of time, NKJV].  But the prophets did not know when and how this deliverance was to take place.  For this reason they were compelled, as Daniel once was (cf. 9:2-3; 23 sqq.), to hunt and search for the time, which perchance they could recognize only by certain signs, to which all that which the Spirit spoke to them referred.  [9]

                        The two words have each a distinct force, the first indicating the wish of men to fix the date of the coming of the Lord absolutely, the second to determine the note or character of the season of its approach.  Of that craving we find examples in the question “wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” which was met by our Lord with the answer “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons” (Acts 1:6-7), in the over-heated expectations which Paul checks in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, in the hopes that were met by the mocking scorn which St Peter himself rebukes in 2 Peter 3:3-8.  [38]

                        what  . . . time.  What particular period.  [15]

                        The case of Daniel furnishes a notable illustration (Daniel 7:16-28; 9:22-27; 12:8).  [39].

                        or what manner of time.  By what marks to be distinguished.  [15]

                        This phrase, in Greek, (ποῖον καιρὸν poion kairon) would properly relate, not to the exact time when these things would occur, but to the character or condition of the age when they would take place; perhaps referring to the state of the world at that period, the preparation to receive the gospel, and the probable manner in which the great message would be received.  Perhaps, however, the inquiry in their minds pertained to the time when the predictions would be fulfilled, as well as to the condition of the world when the event takes place.  The meaning of the Greek phrase would not exclude this latter sense.  [31]

                        Or:  As referring to the nature and identity of the Messiah as well:  What, or what manner of time.”—If this be right, it must mean, “what exact or approximate date.”  But the simplest translation would be, to whom, or what period, the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing.  This would give new significance to the sentence.  They were aware that they were speaking of a Messiah; but who the man should be who would hold that office, or at what period of their history he would arise, this was what they longed to know.  They foresaw a Christ, but they could not foresee Jesus; they could give to their Christ no definite position in future history.  (Compare Matthew 22:42; Luke 3:15, 23:35; John 3:28, 7:26, 7:41; Acts 2:36.)  [46]

                        the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.  So styled, as being of the Son, no less than of the Father, both by eternal procession and temporal mission, John 14:16, 26; 15:26.  This shows, that not only Christ had a being under the Old Testament before his coming in the flesh (for if Christ were not, there could be no Spirit of Christ), but likewise that Christ is God, because of his inspiring the prophets with the knowledge of future things, which none but God can do.  [28]   

                        This denotes the source of the communications which formed the subject of the study.  So far, therefore, it also explains the impulse under which they both studied and declared them.  They rose on the minds of the prophets in virtue of a power which, though in them, was not that of their own intelligence.  The men were conscious that those future things of grace which they saw inwardly came to them not as the forecastings of their own sagacity, but as the communications of a revealing Agent.  Hence they both "searched" them for themselves, and "prophesied" of them to others.  [51]

                        This does not prove that they knew that this was the Spirit of Christ, but is only a declaration of Peter that it was actually so.  It is not probable that the prophets distinctly understood that the Spirit of inspiration, by which they were led to foretell future events, was especially the Spirit of Christ.  They understood that they were inspired; but there is no intimation, with which I am acquainted, in their writings, that they regarded themselves as inspired by the Messiah.  It was not improper, however, for Peter to say that the Spirit by which they were influenced was in fact the Spirit of Christ, so called because that Spirit which suggested these future events to them was given as the great Medium of all revealed truth to the world.  Compare Hebrews 1:3; John 1:9; John 14:16; John 14:26; John 16:7; Isaiah 49:6.  [31]

                        when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ.  Yet it is not necessary to suppose that they had clear apprehensions of his sufferings, or were able to reconcile all that was said on that subject with what was said of his glory and his triumphs. There was much about those sufferings which they wished to learn, as there is much still which we desire to know. We have no reason to suppose that there were any views of the sufferings of the Messiah communicated to the prophets except what we now have in the Old Testament; and to see the force of what Peter says, we ought to imagine what would be our views of him if all that we have known of Christ as history were obliterated, and we had only the knowledge which we could derive from the Old Testament.  [31]

                        the glory [glories, NKJV] that should follow.  That is, they saw that there would be glory which would be the result of his sufferings, but they did not clearly see what it would be.  They had some knowledge that he would be raised from the dead, (Psalm 16:8-11; compare Acts 2:25-28); they knew that he would “see of the travail of his soul, and would be satisfied,” Isaiah 53:11; they had some large views of the effects of the gospel on the nations of the earth, Isaiah 25:7-8; 60; 66.  But there were many things respecting his glorification which it cannot be supposed they clearly understood; and it is reasonable to presume that they made the comparatively few and obscure intimations in their own writings in relation to this, the subject of profound and prayerful inquiry.  [31]

                        The unusual plural, ‘glories,’ is chosen here, either in reference to the several steps of His glorification, in His resurrection, ascension, session at God’s right hand, and Second Advent (so Weiss, Schott, etc.), or simply as a balance to the other half of the clause, the standing phrase for what Christ had to endure being the plural form, "sufferings."  [51]


                        In depth:  Efforts to shoehorn into the text not only the timing of the Messiah but also identifying information on the Messiah [51].  This participial clause, introduced by the simple form of the intenser compound verb "earnestly searched," takes up the prophetic study and specifies the particular point to which it was directed.  It was the question of the era at which this grace was to come.  Both pronouns refer to the word season.  They are not to be dealt with separately, as if the ‘what’ meant ‘which person,’ and the ‘what manner of’ pointed to the time (so Peile, Mason, etc.).

In that case the man in whom their expected Messiah was to appear would, as well as the date of his coming, be what they wish to ascertain.  But the object of the prophetic reflection is here defined simply as the time itself, or the kind of time—a phrase meaning not (as Steinmeyer) "the time or rather the kind of time," but, in a descending climax, "the time, or, failing that, the kind of time."  By diligent reflection these prophets sought to discover the precise period (whether soon or late), or, if that were denied them, at least the signs of the times—the kind of era (whether, e.g., one of peace or one of war) at which the revelation given them of the destined admission of the Gentile world into Israel’s grace was to be made good.


                        In depth:  The nature of the “Spirit of Christ” [51].  The revealing Power in them is designated "the Spirit of Christ," not in the sense of the Spirit that speaks of Christ (Augustine, Bengel, etc.), but in the sense of the Spirit that belongs to Christ, or possibly the Spirit that is identical with Christ.  The designation is to be taken in the breadth which naturally belongs to it (cf. Romans 8:9, etc.).

It is not to be reduced, contrary to the analogy of the Epistles, to anything so subjective as "the Messiah-Spirit," or "the Messianic Spirit" (Mason), nor, on the other hand, is it used here with a view to the "procession" of the Third Person of the Trinity (Cook).  Its point is caught rather in the well-known sentence of the Epistle of Barnabas (chap. 5)—‘the prophets having the gift from (Christ) Himself prophesied in reference to Him.’

Peter does not draw any distinction here between the "Spirit of Christ" as a purely official title, and the "Spirit of Jesus," or the "Spirit of Jesus Christ" as the personal title, so that the designation should mean nothing more than that the Spirit of the Messiah (unidentified with the Christ of history) was in the prophets.  He indicates rather that the Revealing Agent who gave the prophets their insight into a grace to come was Christ Himself—the very Christ now known to the Church as the subject of O.T. prophecy and the finisher of salvation.  This is in accordance with analogous modes of statement in Peter (1 Peter 3:20) and Paul (1 Corinthians 10:4, 9), as well as with the doctrine of the Reformed Church that the same Being has been, in all ages, the Revealer of God and the Minister of light and grace to the Church—the Word of God, the Logos, pre-incarnate, incarnate, or risen.  It is admitted, therefore, by cautious exegetes like Huther, that the great majority of interpreters are right in recognizing here a witness to the pre-existence of Christ, and to His pre-incarnate activity in the Church.

Other expositions which deal with the term "Spirit of Christ," as if it were identical simply with "Spirit of God," come short of Peter’s intention here.  More is expressed than the general identity of the work of grace in the O.T. with that in the N.T., or the identity of the Spirit of God in the former with the Spirit of Christ in the latter (de Wette), or the idea that the Spirit, who worked in the prophets, was the same Spirit of God that Jesus received at His baptism, and since then has possessed (Schmid, Weiss, etc.).


                        In depth:  The nature of prophetic inspiration [46].  “Searching.”—This further explains the “inquired and searched” above; it particularizes the object of the inquiry.  They knew that they spoke “concerning a salvation,” but they did not know the details.

The present passage is perhaps the most striking in the whole New Testament in regard to the doctrine of prophetic inspiration.  Assuming that the prophets did not speak simply of their own human calculation, but somehow under the influence of the Divine Spirit, we are brought to face the question, how far their utterances were their own, and how far suggested to them from on high.

The doctrine of Montanism, which has not altogether died out of the Church yet, asserts that from first to last prophecy is superhuman; that every word and letter is forced upon the man by a power not his own, which leaves him no choice. God, and God alone, is responsible for every syllable.  The human will and intelligence need not even concur in the message they deliver, nor even be conscious that they are delivering it.  Thus Montanus makes God to say through him: “Lo, man is as a lyre, and I am as that which strikes the chords:  the man is unconscious, and I alone wake.”

On the other hand, some of the early opponents of Montanism went so far as to say that the inspired writers had a clear and immediate perception, a complete insight into the mysteries which they foretold,—that Isaiah, for instance, saw, as plainly as we do, Mary and Jesus in his prophecy of Immanuel. 

Our present verses show a doctrine between the two.  The prophets find themselves impelled to say words which they are conscious of choosing and using, but which they feel to have a deeper meaning than they themselves were conscious of intending.  It is clear to them (1 Peter 1:12) that what they meant primarily as applying to present circumstances, was in reality being overruled by the Spirit to apply more fully to the future.  But what that future was they struggled, and half in vain, to know. 



1:12                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     To them it was revealed that they were serving not themselves but you, when they foretold the very things which have now been openly declared to you by those who, having been taught by the Holy Spirit which had been sent from Heaven, brought you the Good News. Angels long to stoop and look into these things.

WEB:              To them it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to you, they ministered these things, which now have been announced to you through those who preached the Good News to you by the Holy Spirit sent out from heaven; which things angels desire to look into.

Young’s:         to whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they were ministering these, which now were told to you (through those who did proclaim good news to you,) in the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, to which things messengers do desire to bend looking.

Conte (RC):    To them, it was revealed that they were

ministering, not for themselves, but for you those

things which have now been announced to you through

those who have preached the Gospel to you, through

the Holy Spirit, who was sent down from heaven to the

One upon whom the Angels desire to gaze.


1:12                 Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves.   They were not permitted to know fully the import of the predictions which they were made the instruments of communicating to mankind, but they understood that they were intended for the benefit of future ages.  We are not to suppose that they derived no benefit from their own predictions; for, as far as they understood the truth, it was as much adapted to sanctify and comfort them as it is us now: but the meaning is, that their messages had reference mainly to future times, and that the full benefit of them would be experienced only in distant ages.  Compare Hebrews 11:39-40.  [31]

but unto us.  They were reaping the benefit of all the labors of the prophets.  They were permitted to see truth clearly, which the prophets themselves saw only obscurely.  They were, in many respects, more favored than even those holy men had been.  It was for them that the prophets had spoken the word of the Lord:  for them and their salvation that a long line of the most holy men that the world ever saw, had lived, and toiled, and suffered; and while they themselves had not been allowed to understand the fall import of their own predictions, the most humble believer was permitted to see what the most distinguished prophet never saw.  See Matthew 13:17.  [31]

                        they did minister.  Imperfect tense, were ministering.  The term is applicable to any kind of service, official or not.  Compare 2 Corinthians 3:3.  [2]

                        the things, which are now reported unto you.  Information “gets around,” good or bad, near or distant.  Sometimes it is even impossible to guess the "who" or "how" it is conveyed.  It is part of nearly everyone’s nature to want to know more about what is going on around them in whatever subject they are interested in.  So it would be natural for these Christians to keep alert to any word involving the gospel or its proclaimers.  [rw] 

                        that have preached the gospel unto you.  Who the individuals were who had preached the gospel to the readers, Peter does not say.  No doubt the form of the apostle’s expression does not compel us to think of him as excluded from the [description] yet it is very probable that Peter, had he intended to include himself, would somehow have given this to be understood.  [?] 

                        with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.  Since it was regarded as the Spirit of God, it was conceived to be sent forth from heaven.  [16]

                        The previous verse implied that the prophets were inspired by the spirit of Christ; this verse by the phrase “Holy Spirit” implies that the preachers of the Gospel were inspired by the same spirit as, and therefore equally with, the prophets.  The allusive references show that these truths, like many others touched upon in this paragraph, were taken for granted alike by the Apostle and his readers.  [45]

                        Peter evidently refers to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), for since that day the Holy Spirit worketh in and through the Word which is entrusted to the Church.  [50]

                        which things the angels.  The object of this reference to the angels is the same as that to the prophets.  It is to impress on Christians a sense of the value of that gospel which they had received, and to show them the greatness of their privileges in being made partakers of it.  It had excited the deepest interest among the most holy men on earth, and even among the inhabitants of the skies.  [31]

                         “The omission of the article before αγγελοι, angels, renders the meaning more grand.  Not any particular species of angels, but all the different orders of them, desire to look into the things foretold by the prophets, and preached by the apostles.  See Ephesians 3:10.  This earnest desire of the angels to contemplate the sufferings of Christ, was emblematically signified by the cherubim placed in the inward tabernacle, with their faces turned down toward the mercy-seat, Exodus 25:20.   To that emblem there is a plain allusion in the word παρακυψαι here, to stoop.  The apostle’s meaning is, If our salvation, and the means by which it is accomplished, are of such importance as to merit the attention of angels, how much more do they merit our attention, who are so much interested in them!” — Macknight.  [47]

                        desire.  The word commonly denotes intense desire.  It is used by Christ in expressing his wish to eat the Passover (Luke 22:15); of the prodigal’s desire to satisfy his hunger with the husks (Luke 15:16); and of the flesh lusting against the spirit (Gal. v. 17).  [2]

                        to look into.  The term look into signifies to bend forward in order to look more closely, or to see to the bottom.  The facts of the wonderful story, from the promise in Eden to the exaltation to the right hand of God, they are familiar with.  That they understand the philosophy of redemption does not admit of question.  What they so closely scrutinize is, the practical working of the plan in actually accomplishing what it proposes and promises, in saving from sin and keeping them that believe.  In this St. Peter agrees with St. Paul in Ephesians 3:10.  [39]

                        This is a most important revelation.  It teaches us that the holy angels are not perfect in knowledge, but are fellow learners with us, and have the same lesson of Redemption to learn as we have; only it does not, we should suppose, so directly affect them.  In Ephesians 3:10 the Church of Christ is said to instruct the highest angels—the principalities and powers in heavenly places, in the manifold wisdom of God.  [41]


                        In depth:  Attempts to limit the prophetic reference to the prophet Daniel [8].  Definite corroboration of the ideas here expressed is to be found in the Book of Daniel, 12:4, 9,10, 13.  The fundamental presupposition is that the “when” of the fulfillment was unknown to the prophets; according to verse 12, all that was revealed to them was that it would take place only in the times to come.  De Wette asserts too much when he says that searching as to the time cannot be predicated of the genuine prophets of ancient Judaism, although the words of Daniel may have given occasion for the apostle’s statement, still that statement is not incapable of justification.  If the apostles searched as to the time when the promises of Christ would receive accomplishment, why should it not be presupposed that similarly the prophets, too, inquired into that which the [Spirit] testified beforehand to them, more especially as to the [time] of its fulfillment? 


                        In depth:  What is the relationship of the “searching” of verses 10-11 to the “revelation” of verse 12 [51]?  Many interpreters regard the latter as the result or reward of the former.  And this is put in two different ways, either that the prophets searched, and therefore revelations were given them, because they were ministering for others; or, that they searched, and their search was answered by its being revealed to them that they were ministering for others.  But to make their receipt of revelations (whether in the wide sense of revelations generally, or in the narrower sense of the revelation of the one fact that in some things they were speaking to a later age) dependent so far upon their own previous diligence in inquiry, is strangely out of harmony with the initiating and impelling activity ascribed here, and again in 2 Peter 1:21, to the Spirit.

The connection, therefore, is to be taken either thus: ‘they searched, and to them, too, it was revealed;’ or (with Huther, etc.), ‘they searched inasmuch as it was revealed to them.’  The revelation in view occasioned and incited their inquiry.  It was discovered to them that in regard to certain things which the Spirit communicated they were dealing with things meant for others, and this fact (pointing, as it did, to the mystery of a place for the Gentile world sooner or later in Israel’s grace) stimulated their inquiry.  How this fact was discovered, or ‘revealed,’ to them, whether by a special intimation of the Spirit, or simply by the unmistakable import of the communication itself regarding the future grace, is left unexplained.








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