1 Peter 1:8-9

1 Peter 1:8‑9  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The Apostle explains how it is that the Christian is enabled to exult in the midst of trials ever so severe, yet never allowed but where need calls for them at the present time and for a little while. For assuredly, if God's power acts as a garrison round His saints whilst they pass through the world, it is no less energetic in controlling every hostile influence, whatever be the malicious wiles of the adversary the devil. Hence can we boldly say, we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those that are called according to purpose. Yea we glory in the tribulations also, knowing what under God is the blessed result both here and hereafter. All the blessing along the way turns upon having Christ as the object before our souls.
“Whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though not now seeing but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and glorified (or, full of glory), receiving the end of your faith, salvation of souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-98Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8‑9)).
When the kingdom is manifested in power and glory at the revelation of Christ, when Jehovah will punish the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth, wherewith His sore and great and strong sword He will visit leviathan the fleeing serpent and leviathan the crooked serpent, and will slay the dragon that is in the sea, He will in Zion make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And there He will swallow up the veil that veils all the peoples and the covering that is spread over all the nations. He will swallow up death in victory. And the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off the earth; for Jehovah hath spoken.
But now there is the contrast which the N. T. everywhere proclaims, as in the opening, and, we shall see, throughout this Epistle; where it was a special aim to instruct the Christian Jews, lest their old Jewish expectation might mingle and lead to disappointment. For we who believe in the rejected but glorified Christ have to do meanwhile with “the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 13:1212For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. (Matthew 13:12)), as the Lord told the disciples. “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:1111And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: (Mark 4:11)). As a whole, and in its varied parts, it was a secret for which the chosen people was unprepared, looking mainly for the display of righteousness, when Israel shall blossom and bud, and they shall fill the face of the world with fruit, and Jerusalem shall be called Jehovah's throne, and all the nations shall be gathered there, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem; and as they shall walk no more with stubborn heart, so shall both houses of Israel be gathered in one, and Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. And no wonder, for Satan shall be bound in the abyss, and Jehovah-Jesus shall be King over all the earth, nor this only but as the Head over all things heavenly as well as earthly.
With the glorious prospect for the universe in ages to come Christianity stands in striking contrast. For the devil, as our Epistle shows (1 Pet. 5:88Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)), walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. It is a wilderness world still, instead of blossoming abundantly and rejoicing with joy and song; and the glory of Jehovah is not yet seen, the excellency of our God, as all the earth in that day shall be filled with His glory. The saints are the very souls who are put to grief, as need arises, in manifold trials. At the same time they are entitled to deeper joys than the displayed kingdom can afford. And here, as the fact had been clearly stated according to experience in the light of the truth, the Apostle explains the rich and unfailing source. It is Jesus, the crucified; yet He is not here but risen, yea glorified on high. He is thus the key to all.
“Whom having not seen ye love.” What a difference from the ordinary occasion of human affection, nay more, from the promise to Israel in that day! “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty” (Isa. 33:1717Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. (Isaiah 33:17)). “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips. Therefore God hath blessed thee forever... Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of equity is the scepter of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Psa. 45:2,6-72Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. (Psalm 45:2)
6Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalm 45:6‑7)
). It is not only His reign of beneficence in power and majesty; but at least Jerusalem begins with looking on Him whom they pierced, and mourning as for an only son, a firstborn. Yet appears their Deliverer when their danger is at its extremity, and their bitterest self-reproach is swallowed up in their loving gratitude for Him whose faithfulness to them no evil on their part could overcome.
Good as their portion will be, that of the Christian is far better. And here the Apostle does not even notice the peculiar circumstances of such disciples as beheld the Lord in the days of His flesh. He does not say, “we who saw Him then,” but “ye” as addressing those of the dispersion, just like the bulk who believe the gospel. “Whom having not seen ye love.” Nevertheless it was a vast deal that He had come, the obedient and dependent Man; God's faithful Witness, manifesting the Father, as we read of Him in the Gospels; accomplishing redemption, and now at the right hand of God above. Hence the Lord pronounced the least in the kingdom of the heavens greater than the greatest before it; and the Epistle to the Hebrews says that God provided or foresaw “some better thing for us.”
It must be admitted, as to the words before us, that whatever the love the elders cherished for the coming Messiah, it could not have had that impulse and strength which was given by the power of His infinite grace acting on renewed hearts, as they followed His steps, and hung on His words, and delighted in His ways here below. The Lord could say, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see. For I say to you that many prophets and kings desired to see the things that ye behold, and did not see them, and to hear the things that ye hear, and did not hear them” (Luke 10:2424For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. (Luke 10:24)). But it is plain that even that wondrous privilege was beneath the mighty accession imported by His death, and resurrection, and ascension, especially when the Holy Spirit was given to apprehend all fully and to bear witness accordingly.
Therefore those who yearn after a Messiah seen on earth know not how much it is to know Him dead, risen, and glorified, even for the deepest profit in tracing His recorded ways on earth. For it is in this light that His every word, step, and act is best understood and enjoyed. There His love shines at its fullest; and we love, because He first loved us, and assuredly love Him beyond all. Now it is in this way that the Apostle could say characteristically, “Whom having not seen ye love.” It is just so the Christian loves Christ. He knows His love, as none before Incarnation could know, and beyond all during His ministry. He knows it in His humiliation, in His suffering unequaled and above all comparison in His rejection and cross. He begins, though he never saw Him here, with learning its depths, where those who followed Him on earth closed their difficulties, and passed into spiritual understanding, when He was raised from out of the dead. None has such vantage ground for loving the Lord Jesus as the Christian. Even the apostles loved Him all the more when they emerged from Jewish wraps and veils into that state of light and liberty.
The next clause only confirms the superior blessedness of Christianity: “in whom, though not now seeing but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Our Lord has conclusively ruled that believing has a value beyond sight. “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed they, that have seen not and believed” (John 20:2929Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29)). It is just the difference between the Jews when their blessing comes, and the Christian yet more blessed morally now; and what will it be then? As heaven is above earth. Hence it is evident that as Christianity deepens love, so it purifies and strengthens faith. The elders in its power obtained witness; but how immensely the scope of faith is enlarged when the secrets of God are no longer hidden but revealed as now to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit!
Well may the Christian then “exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is so characteristic that our Lord represents its very starting-point in the reception of the prodigal son. For God as such is glorified in that cross of Christ which is its foundation, and He is also as Father in the love of that relationship. “Bring out the best robe and invest him; and put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it; and let us eat and be merry. For this my son was dead and has come to life, he was lost and is found.” God Himself has His joy in the grace that brings such salvation. What sanction for its object and all that have tasted of like mercy! And as we are called to grow by the knowledge of God and His Son, so also to rejoice in the Lord always, and in everything give thanks. Shame on us if we do not now exult with joy unspeakable and glorified, seeing that in the glory is He on whom our blessedness depends. No doubt we boast in hope of the glory of God; but our best, our perfect, security for it is that He is there, entered as forerunner for us.
In accordance with the exultation to which we are even now entitled, while looking on for its perfection when we are glorified, it is added, “receiving the end of your faith, salvation of souls.” We shall not receive salvation of the body till He comes for whom we wait; but we are not waiting for the salvation of souls. This the gospel announces with all plainness of certainty. Christ has wrought such a work for it that no addition could make it more complete in itself or more efficacious for him that believes. He is not like the earthly priest standing to renew what never could be finished. When He had offered one sacrifice for sins, He in perpetuity (or without a break) sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made the footstool of His feet. Whatever else He may do, He has nothing to do for cleansing the worshipper. For by one offering He has perfected in perpetuity those that are sanctified; His seat there proclaims it.
But we are told by one who denies this present fruit of Christ's work to be here meant, that the word κομιζόμενοι quite forbids the sense of “present realizing,” and in every one of the references it betokens the ultimate reception of glory or condemnation from the Lord. Is this true? The texts are 2 Cor. 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10), Eph. 6:88Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians 6:8), Col. 3:2525But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. (Colossians 3:25), 1 Peter 5:44And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:4), 2 Peter 2:1313And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; (2 Peter 2:13); which in fact disprove the strange allegation. For indisputably the first is from its nature only a future scene with which the aorist subjunctive falls in. The second and third not only presuppose that day but are expressly the future tense, like the fourth. The fifth is a future participle, whereas in the contested case of our text it is the participle of the present tense, and the context confirms that it is now. “Joy one cannot speak out and glorified” may be and is pleaded for a future sense. But will it be really so in that day, when perfection is come? When we know as we are known, will utterance fail as now?
“Glorified,” or full of glory, is no doubt an unusual word; yet to attribute this also to a joy too big for our present power of expression seems just to suit the fervor of the Apostle. Christ on high its source might readily clothe the Christians' joy with that character of glory before they themselves are there. Soul-salvation, before our bodies are conformed to the body of His glory, is a worthy end of our faith to receive now; for beyond all controversy the outer man follows the inner, and God never disappoints the believer of his hope. Salvation “of souls” too by its restricted application fittingly lends itself to what the believer receives now; whereas for the future the Apostle does not so qualify “salvation,” as we have already remarked.