1 Peter 1:4-5

1 Peter 1:4‑5  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The scope of our Epistle excludes, as we have seen, the great truth unfolded in that to the Ephesian saints, that we are already blessed in the heavenlies (ἐν τοῖς ἐπουπανίοις) in Christ. This is connected indissolubly with the mystery of God's will, which gave Christ, set there above the highest creatures, as Head over all things to the church, the which and which alone is His body. Accordingly we await an administration of the fullness of the seasons or set times, when God will head or sum up all the universe in the Anointed Man, the things in the heavens and those on the earth, in Him in Whom also we were given heritage.1
We have no such elevated relationship revealed here, nor is the boundless inheritance of all creation in this Epistle predicated of us or even of Christ. The inheritance here is simply “in the heavens” to contrast it the more distinctly with that which was Israel's portion in the land of Canaan. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ begot us again unto a living hope through resurrection of Jesus Christ from out of dead persons. It was a hope therefore superior to the inroads of death. If He died, it was that our sins should not bar us from bliss with Him, inasmuch as His own self bore them in His body on the tree; and He rose that we might enjoy His victory, as well as profit now and ever by His suffering once for sins.
But the apostle pursues the inspired aim yet more definitely into the future— “unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in [the] heavens for you2, that are being guarded by God's power through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in a (or, the) last season” (1 Pet. 1:4-54To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4‑5)).
Thus Christ risen and gone on high (instead of taking His seat on the holy hill of Zion, and the scepter of righteousness over Israel and the nations) has changed the outlook for the believer meanwhile. He too looks by faith on Christ where He is, and awaits the part which the gospel pledges to him in heaven. It is an inheritance which no corruption can destroy, which no defilement can sully, which resists all the withering of time. In itself, in its purity, and in its freshness, it will abide unchanging. It stands in virtue of Him Who not only created all originally but Who has reconciled, and will more widely still by His blood (Col. 1:2020And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20); Heb. 9:2323It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Hebrews 9:23)).
The inheritance in view is in no way enjoyed now, but “reserved in the heavens for you.” Who can doubt these words were meant to raise the eyes of these believing Jews especially, and of the readers in general, above “glory dwelling in our land,” as in Psa. 85:99Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. (Psalm 85:9)? Yet the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to those that turn in that day from transgression in Jacob, when (as surely as Jehovah said the word) His Spirit and His words, according to His covenant, shall not depart from them from generation to generation, from henceforth and forever. But beyond just doubt, neither the closing promise of Isa. 59 nor the glowing vision of Isa. 60 and of all that follows to the end of the book speaks of an inheritance “reserved in the heavens” for those who now believe in the gospel. It is Israel and the glory predicted for the earth, though rising up in the last two chapters to “new heavens and a new earth.” The promise is there applied to Jerusalem; but it furnished the ground for Peter in his Second Epistle to look onward to its fulfillment in the largest sense, when the kingdom shall give place to the eternal state, and God shall be all in all. Before that, will be accomplished, inchoatively at least, Israel's full part in that which shall never know change or eclipse.
The language here recalls Col. 1:55For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; (Colossians 1:5), where the apostle Paul speaks of “the hope that is laid up for you in the heavens.” The saints there, as here, are regarded as on earth, instead of being seen in their present heavenly association with Christ. It is hope anticipating the glory on high, not as already seated together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, as in Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6). Only Peter was not given like Paul to tell the saints in the Epistle to the Colossians, that as they died with Christ and were raised with Him, and thus had done with ordinances for men as alive in the world, so they were to seek and mind the things above where He sits, not those on the earth. Indeed our apostle (as we see in 1 Pet. 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)) rises no higher than our death to sins in a practical way, which is true and important, not at all to the doctrine in Rom. 6 of our death with Christ to sin, which is the root, and not merely the manifest effect or offshoot. Every shade of difference proves how grievously those err who think that scripture speaks loosely.
For such a thought really betrays the spiritual ignorance of such as presume to judge it; when in fact they, however great their erudition outside (it may be), have need to be taught the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God, and are become such as need milk rather than solid food.
The hope of such an inheritance reserved for them in the heavens was most cheering. But in thinking of themselves and the wilderness through which they pass, they needed and have another source of blessed comfort you, says he, “that are being guarded by (or, in) God's power.” What more suitable, what more precious and welcome, than such a divine assurance? The inheritance was kept or reserved for them in the heavens. This was just what was wanted, while they were on the earth waiting and learning self as well as God, and suffering for righteousness' sake or, still more blessed, for Christ's name. But, as proving their own weakness and men's hostility and Satan's active malice, they were constantly exposed to difficulties, trials, afflictions, and dangers. Hence their need to be meanwhile guarded all the way through. And so they are garrisoned by God's power. And if God be for us, who against? Is He not immeasurably more than all?
Still God has His means; and this the Apostle proceeds next to tell us. It is “through faith.” Nor can any means for a saint on earth compare with faith. For it beyond all others honors God and the word of His grace, needing dependence on the good Shepherd by the Holy Spirit, who is sent here and dwells in the Christian, to guide into all the truth, and thus glorify Him by receiving of His and announcing or reporting it to us. Thus is it “by God's power,” but “through faith” which gives Him His due place, and keeps us in our place of confidence in Him according to His word. For we walk through faith, not through sight (2 Cor. 5:77(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (2 Corinthians 5:7)). It was not so that Israel marched through the wilderness, but guided visibly by the cloud or the pillar of fire. The Christian now, whether a Jew or a Gentile, has to walk through faith, of which the Lord Himself was the blessed pattern and perfection.
But the end is also added: “unto [or, for] salvation.” In our Epistle, as often in the Pauline Epistles, salvation does not stop short of the final result. See Rom. 5:9-10; 8:249Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:9‑10)
24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (Romans 8:24)
; 1 Cor. 5:55To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:5); Heb. 1:14; 7:25; 9:2814Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)
25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
. Hence when our Apostle speaks of what is now given and enjoyed, he discriminates it as “salvation of souls” (1 Pet. 1:99Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:9)). Otherwise he connects salvation with the full victory of Christ even for the body; which therefore must look on to the future day.
This is entirely confirmed by the context. Here for instance it is a salvation “ready to be revealed.” This is quite characteristic of our apostle. For the truth which runs through the First Epistle in one form, and the Second in another, is the righteous government of God as made known in Christ to the Christian. John is occupied with eternal life in the Son of God; the issue of which will be the Father's house where He is, and we are to be, at His coming to fetch us there (John 14:2-32In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2‑3)). 1 John 3:2-32Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:2‑3), adds that if it or He is manifested, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. The apostle Paul was given, more than any, to make known how the saints are to be changed and caught up to be with the Lord; so as to be brought with Him when that day begins (1 Thess. 3:13; 4:13-1713To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:13‑17)
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Thus Peter points to the revelation of salvation in the day of Christ's appearing; because not till then will be the establishment of the kingdom in power and glory when the earth and the earthly people shall taste its blessed effects. Grace will be shown in the richest way by the Lord's coming to receive us to Himself that we may thus be with Him in the Father's house: all are caught up alike, as the Apostle Paul shows, into the same home of love. But there is no manifestation of righteous government in this; in the revelation to the world there will be in the highest degree. For in His appearing and kingdom each will be seen as having received his own reward according to his own labor. And the Lord, the righteous Judge, will render in that day the crown of righteousness, not to the faithful servant only who was already being “poured out,” but also to all who love His appearing. Then too will Satan be excluded not only from the heavenlies but from the earth. Then will come the world-kingdom of the Lord and His Christ, and not only recompence to the righteous, but destructive retribution to those that destroy the earth (Rev. 11:1515And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)).
Peter also lays great stress on the fact that Christ has so completely wrought redemption to God's glory that nothing calls for delay, save the long-suffering of God that is still bringing souls to repentance. Otherwise salvation is “ready” to be revealed “in a last season,” as Christ is “ready to judge living and dead” (1 Pet. 4:55Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5)). Both belong to that day of manifestation, when evil shall be put down, and judgment, instead of miscarrying as so often now, shall return to righteousness. Never more shall the throne of wickedness claim fellowship with Jehovah. “For He cometh; for He cometh to judge the earth.” Those who mind earthly things cannot love His appearing, which will establish the new divine order of righteous government wherein Jehovah alone shall be exalted.