1 Peter 1:12

1 Peter 1:12  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 10
We have next an interesting intimation made as to inquiring prophets, full of importance to us no less than to those the apostle was addressing—
“To whom it was revealed that not to themselves but to you1 they were ministering the very things which have now been announced to you through those that brought you glad tidings by2 [the] Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven; which things angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12).
There is no distinction more characteristic than the one just brought out. The Holy Spirit wrought in those of old as “the Spirit of prophecy"; and so He will work in days to come, as we learn from Rev. 19:10. Our brethren that have the witness of Jesus at the end of the age, when the final conflicts arise, will know the Spirit's action in a prophetic way, not as the one Spirit who baptized us into one body, the church, and who dwells with and in us individually (John 14:17).
Here we have the contrast drawn. It was revealed to the O. T. prophets that not to themselves but to us they ministered the things announced now to the faithful through the gospel. They prophesied of the privileges now enjoyed. The Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven at Pentecost is not giving a prophetic testimony to Jesus as then. He is as given to the Christian a Spirit of present communion in a way which was not and could not be, till Christ had come and accomplished redemption.
Fully is it admitted that all saints of old were born of God. If not born of water and Spirit, they could not see or enter the kingdom of God, as the Lord told Nicodemus. This was no privilege special to Christianity, as some shortsighted men conceive. It is indispensable for that kingdom of God in which shall come many from east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, as well as with the elders before them, and prophets and saints after them. Flesh and blood cannot inherit God's kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. But all the children of God without exception will have their part in it, as they that are Christ's are raised at His coming.
The saints of old, before He came in flesh and suffered as He did once for sins, could not have more than the Spirit of prophecy. And it appears from the Revelation, that so it will be again during the Apocalyptic crisis, when the heavenly saints are seen on high, and Jewish and Gentile saints will be separately called to bear witness on earth in the tribulation to come. All that is revealed of them in those trying scenes points to a distinct testimony and experience, resembling substantially that of the elders who had witness borne to their faith and through it, but with the faith and witness of Jesus too, as far as it is given them. They will look for His coming in His kingdom. But nothing indicates the possession of those privileges, individual and corporate, which we now enjoy through the Holy Spirit given to us.
They will not know that their bodies are Christ's members (1 Cor. 6), and that they are a living God's temple (2 Cor. 6); nor will it be theirs to say that they have put on Christ, in whom they are all one, and there can be neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, nor male and female, but who as being sons have the Spirit of God's Son sent into their hearts crying, Abba, Father (Gal. 3:4). It would be language beyond their intelligence to hear of the glory of His grace which God freely bestowed on them, in the Beloved, still more to be the fullness of Him that fills all in all (Eph. 1:23). Nor could they, as Paul exhorted the Colossian saints, give thanks to the Father who qualified them for their share in the inheritance of the saints in light, who rescued them from the power of darkness and translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love. They in faith long for the glorious future He will establish, but they fast and groan in the present. The two witnesses prophesy (not, preach grace) in sackcloth, but with power to devour their enemies with fire, killing those who would hurt them, power to shut heaven, and over the waters, and to smite the earth, till their hour is come ere finishing their testimony. Symbolic and figurative no doubt, but symbols and figures of a state wholly foreign to that of the Christian and the church.
Far different is your position, says the Apostle, who have not only the prophetic testimony of old, but had glad tidings brought to you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven. Even the babes of the family have an unction from the Holy One and know all things (1 John 2:20); they know the Father, as well as their sins forgiven for the name's sake of Christ. The Christian dwells in God and God in him: what greater blessedness can there now be? He is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the earnest of our inheritance. We are children of God, kings and priests. We are Christ's body, and bride. We are heavenly in title and about to bear the image of the Heavenly at His coming. What precious, holy, or glorious privilege is withheld from us? In short, as another apostle says, “all things are yours;” not that ye in yourselves are anything, but that Christ is the whole sum and substance of blessedness. “All things are yours. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come, all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” What a circle, and what a center!
How wondrous it is that the rejection of Christ which would prove the Jews returned from Babylon worse than their fathers banished there and elsewhere for their idolatry, as Isaiah and others foretold, is made by God's grace in the cross the turning-point of all blessing! It is the righteousness of God. Receiving it by faith now (while the people generally are as unbelieving as the nations generally) the remnant according to the election of grace enters into better blessings than if He had been received in the display of His Kingdom. For thus only in divine wisdom could these exceeding privileges be the portion of believers on earth with the further privilege of suffering, not only for righteousness but for His name. Truly, as the Epistle to the Hebrews says (Heb. 11:40), God provided, or foresaw, “some better thing” concerning us.
It is the interval after propitiation was made, Christ meanwhile exalted at God's right hand, and the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven, which gives occasion and ground for the special privileges of the Christian, and of the church as well as of the gospel. The Messiah had been cut off and had nothing (i.e. of His Messianic glory on Zion and over all the earth); but He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father for another and higher glory; and by-and-by He will appear for the promised glory. Christianity comes in between.
Thus the joys of communion as well as peace in Christ are tested fully. Also love has the freest scope, in the endurance of suffering for good rather than evil, and in earnest service both in the church and in the gospel. And hope again acquires its highest character, no less than spiritual understanding in our waiting for Christ's coming and the glory to be revealed in the last time. The new blessedness is so rich and peculiar, that the Holy Spirit, besides illuminating the ancient oracles of God, was about to indite another divine volume, and expressly in the leading tongue of the Gentiles of which this Epistle forms a part. It is written in Greek, not in Hebrew, even when addressed to believing Jews or to the twelve tribes of Israel. Nothing short of this would set forth the new things adequately, beginning with Christ's advent and atoning death, and closing with that great prophecy, which, while it crowns all the predictions, fitly concludes the entire revelation of God.
Who can wonder that the verse ends with “which things angels desire to look into.” Angels were upheld by the Son. They were enabled to keep their first estate. They did not need redemption like guilty man. But they were permitted, not only to shout for joy when the corner stone was laid in founding the earth, but in the multitude of the heavenly host to praise God at the birth of the Saviour, and say, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men. It was not that they doubted; but what wonder and awe, yet eagerness withal, must have filled them as they bent down to apprehend what His sufferings meant, and indeed His humiliation at large, and the glories after these! Oh, what lessons to learn of God in men, and above all in that one Man Who best proved the divine complacency in mankind!