1 Peter 1:3

1 Peter 1:3  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
In grand terms from a glowing heart our apostle opens his letter after an address, as we have seen, of admirable suitability. It recalls the initiatory of a still greater apostle and the loftier theme of the Epistle to the Ephesian saints. But it is the deeply defined distinction between the two, notwithstanding this obvious resemblance, which gives the true key to both Epistles. He who fails to apprehend the different scope and the divine propriety of each betrays his own spiritual incapacity, and, if he imposes his ignorance on others, is nothing but so far a blind leader of the blind.
“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ": so begins the letter, to the saints that were in Ephesus. He is the God of the Man, Christ Jesus; He is the Father of Him, His Only-begotten, eternal, and beloved Son. He blessed us accordingly in His sovereign grace as “God,” in His most intimate relationship as “Father.” Every spiritual blessing is conferred; not one fails. It is not natural blessing as on earth to Israel till by transgression they forfeited it. Ours is in the heavenlies where Christ is now glorified at God's right hand; and all is secured in His redemptive power by virtue of Whom all the universe subsists together (Col. 1:1717And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:17)). It is in Christ so as to be unchanging blessedness, in contrast with those who stood on the conditions of the law fatal to the sinful and fruitless.
No such wealth of privilege, no such heavenly elevation, appears in our text; yet does it announce what is equally momentous for the saint and for God's glory. Every other spiritual blessing had been in vain, if God's mercy did not beget us again, as our Epistle declares. There is no blessing more absolutely necessary for a sinner lost and ruined, with the old life depraved by inborn evil, habitual self-will, and incurable alienation from God. Hence the precious assurance of our apostle in words at first strikingly akin to those of the apostle Paul. “Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that according to His abundant mercy begot us again unto a living hope through Jesus Christ's resurrection out of [the] dead” (1 Pet. 1:33Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)): an entirely new and divine life.
It is not as Jehovah for Israel, nor as Almighty God for the fathers. For us Christians God wrought more profoundly for His glory and for those who believe. It was in Christ's redemption in view both of the present and future on earth, and for heaven through all eternity. For He went down under God's judgment of sin, broke the power of sin and death, procured purification for sinners by His blood, and was raised again for the justification of believers. Every saint from the beginning had life in the Son of God: impossible to live to God, as all did, without life in Him. But now the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ wrought in a more triumphant way in Him Who as sin-bearer entered the dark portals of the grave which closed on all others, and so glorified God that He could not but raise Him from among the dead in the virtue of a life which death could no wise touch, so complete that henceforth we belong not to death, but rather death to us. Thus did God as here revealed beget us again through Christ's resurrection out of the dead. None could speak or know it till that mighty witness of redemption. It was not, nor could be true, till Christ was thus raised.
Truly it was “according to God's abundant mercy.” If death has no more dominion over the dead and risen Saviour, the believer receives a commensurate portion even now: so much so that were He to come from heaven for us, we should be changed in a moment into the likeness of the body of His glory. Mortality would be swallowed up of life without one dying. We should not be unclothed but clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.
It is therefore “unto a living hope” that God begot us again. “Lively,” though due to Tyndale and followed by Cranmer, Geneva, and even the Rhemish, is inadequate and misleading. Wiclif alone was right. We are viewed as pilgrims still on earth in our mortal bodies. We have left the Egypt world, and have crossed the Red Sea, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, instead of meaning death, is our cleansing from our sins; as His life is the spring of that filial obedience, which in Him is seen in absolute perfection. We are here not regarded in the height of the heavenlies, risen with Christ and seated in Him there. But Christ is raised for our deliverance, and we are ushered into the world as set free from the old house of bondage, and we traverse it as the wilderness, led of God on the way to the heavenly Canaan as Israel of old to the earthly.
It is accordingly under this aspect that the Epistle contemplates the Christian. He has to do with a God of grace, not of law for a Jew, and an object of His government here below, till the living hope is realized of being with Christ and in heaven. But that divine government for every day meanwhile is not of the chosen people as of old in earthly power and with deliverances to strike the eye and awe of the nations. A government of souls comes before us while evil is still prevalent in the world; but God makes all things, trials and sufferings of faith in particular, work together for good to those that love Him. As Christ's resurrection was manifestly the victory of the Saviour for His own over the enemy's power, behold Him on high to fill them with holy confidence that He will appear to their full deliverance and glory in due time according to promise.
In the Epistle to the Ephesians we find the present association of the Christian and the church with heaven in Christ. Here it is a living hope of reaching heaven through Christ in a glorified state by-and-by. Both aspects of the truth are of the deepest interest and importance: we are on earth redeemed, as pilgrims and strangers, going across a desert and waiting for Christ; we are also even now quickened together with Christ, raised together with Him, and seated in Him in the heavenlies. As the letter to the Ephesians treats all its topics on this footing from first to last, so does the first Epistle of Peter to the Christian Jews throughout open out to them divine life as theirs, aided by the sustaining power and gracious direction of God, to guide them through this dread and howling wilderness of the world.
Nor are there any proofs of the inspired mind of God finer or firmer than the details of divine truth thus discoverable to the soul dependent on God and honoring His word. Some of the indications, each characteristic of its own book, may appear as we dwell for a season on this or that; but what are they among the many more which remain to reward the diligent searcher into these oracles, nowhere deceiving, never dumb?