1 Peter 1:11

1 Peter 1:11  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 11
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Let us now consider what is revealed as the object of this research. “Searching what or what sort of time the Spirit of Christ that [was] in them did indicate when testifying beforehand the sufferings that [were] for Christ, and the glories after them” (1 Pet. 1:1111Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:11)).
A mind was at work far beyond that of prophets, yet at work intimately in them; “the Spirit of Christ,” a phrase the more striking because not till long after did the Son become the Christ. But what He was disclosing looked on to that wondrous fact and testified of Him beforehand in that character. It is somewhat as in Heb. 2:1717Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17) the Apostle speaks of Him as High Priest, whereas He only became a priest properly when He rose from the dead and went to heaven. This some not perceiving have been led on by the enemy to cast the precious truth of propitiation into the chaos of their own error, which denies to His cross its moral glory, and gives it to a fable.
Be it observed that the language employed is unusually precise. The sufferings are said to be not merely “of” Christ, but “for” Him. They befell Him not simply as a fact, but were appointed unto Him; just as the grace was “to you-ward,” so were the sufferings to “Christ-ward.” Christ is never by Peter used mystically as in 1 Cor. 12:1212For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12), but exclusively and strictly in person. Compare especially 1 Pet. 4:1,131Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (1 Peter 4:1)
13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:13)
Nor are we left in doubt what the Spirit of Christ that was in prophets of old did signify, seeing that He testified beforehand, not only the glories of the anointed One Whom all saints awaited, but What at first sight seems beyond measure strong, the sufferings destined for Him which precede. This it was that the astonished disciples were taught by the Lord Himself, both before His death and after His resurrection, and nowhere more clearly than in the Gospel of Luke. “So shall the Son of Man be in His day (i.e. His appearing in glory). But first must He suffer many things and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24-2524For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. (Luke 17:24‑25)). Again, when risen He said (Luke 24:2626Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? (Luke 24:26)), “Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter His glory? And, beginning from Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Who could wonder that they should afterward say one to another, Was not our heart burning within as He spoke to us on the way and as He opened to us the scriptures? Now that He is gone, His Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is come to guide us into all the truth.
The saints addressed, like all other Christians, come between the sufferings that came unto Christ, and, if not the glory, certainly the greater part of the revealed “glories” that should follow. For it is plain and sure that the magnificent scenes of the last days, times of restitution of all things whereof God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began, await His coming from the heavens to take the earth and all the universe under His direct and manifested sway.
Messiah, ascending as a conqueror on high, was clearly made known in Psa. 67:28, and His receiving gifts as Man, that Jah Elohim might dwell in Israel, still regarded as the rebellious till He make Zion His abode forever. Then, on the one hand, God will smite the head of His enemies; and, on the other, princes shall come out of Egypt: Ethiopia shall haste to stretch out her hands unto God, and the kingdoms of the earth shall sing praises to the Lord. The same great truth is reiterated in Psa. 110—the scripture Christ Himself recited to confound those who denied His divine dignity as David's Lord. Both psalms strikingly pass from His exaltation in heaven to the day of His wrath. Then Jehovah shall send forth the rod of Messiah's strength out of Zion, and He shall rule in the midst of His enemies.
What is being done for His friends meanwhile is developed only in the New Testament generally, as here in particular. Room is left for it in the O. T. It is the grace come to the believing remnant, as to us who believe from among the Gentiles, before the generation to come is born again for the days of the displayed kingdom. Undoubtedly He is received up in glory (1 Tim. 3:1616And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)); but this is part of the mystery of piety, there made known by the Apostle of the uncircumcision, and found so largely explained and applied by him in his epistles, as it is used briefly and powerfully in what lies before us (1 Pet. 1:21; 3:2221Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:21)
22Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (1 Peter 3:22)
But there are “glories” to come, which give object and exercise for that hope which is a bright and large part of the truth, so characteristic of Christianity, and so difficult for a Jew as such to apprehend. Hence one perceives how unpalatable to a rabbi it is to read in Dan. 9:2626And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26) that after a definite interval Messiah the Prince was not to come merely, but “should be cut off and have nothing” i.e. of His Messianic rights, which is the true force. It was ruin to the benighted and faithless people; it brought destruction, as the context shows, on the city and the sanctuary. The facts and the prophecy which revealed this and more, they themselves cannot deny. Yet are they still impenitent, unbelieving, unblessed, and disposed to deny a great prophet, who shed light on what and what sort of time the Spirit of Christ was signifying, as was done in various ways.
But those who believe the gospel, Jews or Gentiles, come in according to the new principle of sovereign and indiscriminate grace to save souls. The Saviour, rejected by the Jews as a whole, is gone up on high, not at once to introduce the Kingdom in power and glory as even the apostles at first expected, but to inaugurate the mysteries of the Kingdom, itself a mystery, while He sits at the right hand of glory above. This it was which perplexed prophets of old, and not only the sufferings destined for Him Who might well have seemed the last One to suffer. Yet so said the prophetic word, so testified beforehand the Spirit of Christ that was in prophets: the Servant Righteous beyond all comparison was to be equally the sufferer beyond comparison. Suffering is an enigma to all who believe not what sin is before God; but even to those who did believe of yore, which of them so read the riddle that the Christ was to fathom its depths? For He was to suffer, not only from man because He was faithful to God, but, yet more overwhelmingly as it must beyond controversy be, from God because He was faithful for man, for sinful man! Yet Daniel is equally clear that the people are to be delivered after a time, the last time of distress without parallel, when blessed is he that comes to those days, and the prophet like all the righteous dead shall then stand in his lot, as part of Christ's glories to follow, when He shall reign, not as Son of David only, but with the wide and everlasting dominion of Son of Man.
Long before the prophet of the captivity, the lowly seer of Moresheth-gath, testified (5:1-3) of the Judge of Israel smitten with a rod upon the cheek. Even a Rabbi cannot mistake that He was to be born in Bethlehem, though overlooking on the one side His rejection, and on the other His going forth from of old from everlasting days. Knowing Him not, they in judging Him fulfilled also the voices of the prophets which were read every sabbath. “Therefore will he give them up until the time when she that travaileth hath brought forth.” The birth of the new-born Israel is thus postponed; while Christ sits, rejected by them but exalted by the right hand of God to the blessing of such as Peter was writing to. When that day comes (the prophetic terminus of glory for Israel and the earth), “the residue of His brethren,” instead of being added together now to form the church as on and after Pentecost, “shall return unto the children of Israel.” Then shall He stand and feed them in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God. And, instead of being scattered as now, outside their land, they shall abide: for then shall He be great even to the ends of the earth. And this [Man] shall be Peace. When the last head of a great country, the leader of the outside nations, shall come into the land, it will only be to find power there, not the previous weakness. Then the enemy's land shall be wasted retributively; and the remnant of Jacob be not only as a dew of blessing in the midst of the peoples, but also as a lion among the beasts of the forest.
Here again was no obscure intimation of the sufferings to come for Christ and of the glories that are to follow them. But seek diligently and search out as they did, no small difficulty remained, even for those who pondered the wonderful words of Isa. 49:1,4-9, 52:13-15, and 53, the most detailed and luminous of all: the sufferings which awaited Messiah, and the glory of His people Israel. But there was also a covert allusion in Isa. 65:1-21I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. 2I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; (Isaiah 65:1‑2), of a time, and a singular sort of time, when God would be found by the heedless Gentiles, and find in Israel a people disobeying and opposing; just as Moses of old predicted (Deut. 32) that God would provoke them to jealousy through a no-nation, and anger them through a nation void of understanding.
But we know that even those who were blessed in seeing and hearing what many prophets and kings desired to see and hear, so little realized our Lord's clear and repeated explanation of His coming death of rejection and ignominy, that they were utterly staggered when it came to pass. “We were hoping,” said two of them no more downcast than others on the resurrection day, “that He it is that was about to redeem Israel.” His sufferings in redeeming by His blood, so far from entering their hearts, were the stumbling-block; whereas, as the Lord assured their troubled souls, this was both the only way consistent with God's character and their moral necessities, and the very truth set out in the scriptures. He must be a suffering and an ascended Christ: as emphatically for the Christian now going to heaven, so for Israel and the nations to be blessed on the earth by-and-by under His reign of glory.
In fact, however, the first prediction in the first book of scripture made known to the instructed ear what prophets searched into, and what the apostle explicitly states here with all clearness of light from Christ dead, risen, exalted, and about to appear in glory. The figurative terms are intelligible and expressive. The woman's Seed (in itself a phrase as gracious as startling and unique) should have His heel bruised, but bruise the serpent's head: a victory over the power of evil complete and final, but not without keen suffering. Again, blessing even for all families of the earth, when idolatry had overspread them, was promised in Abram's seed in Gen. 12; but fuller light came in chap. 22 when the father's only son is seen risen from the dead in the same parable which presented him previously as the lamb God would provide for a burnt offering. Thereon Jehovah's oath which distinguishes, in a way which the apostle Paul gives us to understand, the numerous seed which shall possess the gate of the enemies (as in O. T. prophecy), and the Seed, without any such number attached but “one” only, in Whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed; which Gal. 3 applies to the grace come now to Gentiles no less at the least than to Jews who believed. What a testimony is this to “the sufferings Christ-ward, and the glories after these things"!
The same principle might readily be shown in the history of Joseph, suffering in the pit at the hand of his brethren, and then both sold to Gentiles and consigned, if not to death, to the Gentile prison, but exalted to rule the world, administering its power with the same wisdom that had been manifested in previous humiliation, to the glory of him who sat on the throne. We at least are inexcusable if we cannot clearly discern what prophets may have duly searched. Add to this, that so it was before he made himself known to his guilty brethren whose sins he forgave and life he preserved, no less than for the Egypt-world that he governed. Can one fail to read here another application of our text? Nor would it be difficult to trace a fresh testimony beforehand in the blessing Jacob a-dying pronounced on his sons, yet to be fulfilled, for the good portion at the end of days, if we may not now speak of it all more particularly.
Genesis is not singular in this respect. So it might be shown in the types of Ex. 12 and Ex. 14-15. So too throughout the earlier and the later prophets. The Book of Psalms is quite as rich in the same witness borne beforehand unto Christ. What can be deeper, what more undeniable, than the testimony to His sufferings and His consequent glories in Psa. 22 and 102? These may be the fullest; yet are they but a part of what presents both, in that rich collection which the Lord loved and used so perfectly, and prophets searched not in vain, though at a great interval, in their day.