The First Epistle of Peter

Extracts from the Bible Study Monthly
on a New Testament book - Part 2

Our final inheritance is in Heaven. "Blessed 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, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:3‑4)

The idea behind this use of the word "immortal" or "incorruptible" is that of continuance into all perpetuity without cessation or decay. The symbolic "crown" which is the promised reward of the Christian is said in 1 Cor.9:25 to be of this nature. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible" (Greek aphthartos.). So also is the promised inheritance of 1 Pet.1:4 "An inheritance incorruptible" (aphthartos).

In this Christian dispensation there have been many professing Christians, but few have entered the "strait gate" and walked the "narrow way" (Matt.7:13,14). Those who do so have a "living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (RSV). Theirs is "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven".(1 Pet.1:3‑4) This "treasure" will be completed in the First Resurrection when they will "be like him" and "see him as he is". (1 John 3:2) They speak often to each other—they "forsake not the assembling together". They are looking for the day when they will be together for "ever with the Lord" (1 Thess.4:17) as his own treasure, to possess the inheritance reserved in heaven. (

Belief in the Messiah‑ship of Jesus of Nazareth is the beginning and end of our Christian faith. It lies in the centre of all that Christianity means to us and it enshrouds and embraces every phase and aspect of the Christian life. In 1 John 5 verse 1 this belief is an indication that we are "born of (the Spirit and) God"; that points to the beginning of our walk along the Narrow Way. In 1 John 5 verse 5 the same belief is an assurance that we shall overcome the world; that points to the end of our walk. It is true that in an accommodated sense we can say that we are overcoming, or have overcome the world, here and now, but in the strict and truest sense of the word we cannot say we have overcome until the earthly life has ended and we have passed the final test. It may well be that here in this passage John is thinking more of present experience than final achievement, nevertheless the idea of the last judgment can never be far from his thoughts, and when in 1 John 5 verse 4 he tells us that the victory which overcomes the world is our faith he must surely be thinking of the same thing that inspired Peter to write "that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet.1:7) The Epistles of John

When the patriarch Job saw the meaning of his terrible experiences, he gave an exclamation of triumph, "He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Likewise the apostle Peter reminds the suffering Christian, that the trial of his faith is much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire (1 Peter 1:7). FL

"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls".1 Pet.1:9

It is only when the end has come that we can expect to see the fruition of our work, and only by patient continuance in well‑doing that we shall receive the prize of immortality (Rom.2:7). It is noteworthy how often the Scriptures stress this fact. The "Gospel...shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt.24:14). "Go thou thy way till the end be" (Dan.12:13). "Receiving the end of your faith" (1 Pet.1:9) "At the end it shall speak, and not lie" (Hab.2:3). "Then cometh the end, when He...shall have put down all rule and all authority and power" (1 Cor.15:24). It is at the end that we shall realize the fruitage of our sowing and reaping.

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching 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. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Pet 1:10‑12)

How God Communicated His Will. During the course of the centuries God declared the numerous details of his purpose or idea; for we read that "Holy men of God (of old) spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit"; and "God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (2 Pet.1:21; Acts 3:21). Not only did he express himself by human mouthpieces under inspirations, but also by means of types and shadows; or, as the Scriptures put it: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past" (Heb.1:1).

How God's Will is Realised. But most of these expressions were sealed (1 Pet.1:10‑12; Matt.13:16‑17; Dan.12:9). Nearly all were dark sayings and parables and therefore unintelligible, and by men much misunderstood and misapplied. None but the "wise" or spiritually‑minded can understand the "deep things" of God, and then only when these are due to be revealed. (ME)

The fact that such beings must be always actively participating in the affairs of, and contributing something to the progress of Divine creation follows from the very fact of their existence, for this is the whole purpose of God in creating living intelligences. An eloquent word in Psa.103:20‑21 confirms this. "Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his…will" (RSV). Here is a picture of a community engaged in the discharge of duties laid upon them by God. There is nothing illogical or even improbable in expecting that some of those duties may have connection with the affairs of men upon earth. There is certainly definite assurance of the live interest in the affairs of earth displayed by the celestials. From the days of the formation of this planet, in which, as recorded in Job 38:7 "all the sons of God" (i.e., the angels) "shouted for joy", to the time of the First Advent when, according to St. Peter, the angels desired to understand more of the things being preached by the Apostles (1 Pet.1:12), there is this interest. Sympathy with the distresses of humanity is revealed by our Lord's assurance that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:10).

The Kingdom and all matters pertaining to it must be prayed for; and if men did not pray angels would. We read that angels desired to look into these things; but God has not committed the future Kingdom into the hands of the angelic hosts, but to specially chosen men, the Son of Man himself being chief. The prophets of old foretold of the sufferings of this chosen class, and the glory of the Kingdom to follow (1 Pet.1:12; Heb.2:5). (ME)

With that in mind it may appear that the words of the heading "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom.15:4) is far too sweeping an assertion, for many Christians have been taught that the Old Testament is mainly for the children of Israel and that only fragments of prophecy and the Psalms should be held as applicable to the Christian church. At least these words of Paul have disposed for all time of that notion. But even allowing that there is much more for Christians in the Old Testament than was at first supposed, can it be that "whatsoever written aforetime" is for us? Yes, it is even so; and Paul gives an example of this in 1 Cor.9:9‑10 where he reasons that an item of the Mosaic law relative to the care of lower animals was in fact full of teaching for us and that the law concerning animals is secondary to its Gospel age application! In this Roman letter Paul is as good as his word, for when writing this letter he makes copious reference to the Old Testament, with the object that we who were Gentiles might obtain HOPE. True, not all quotations speak of hope, (some, indeed, tell of condemnation) but all are made so that the cumulative teaching removes all uncertainty of mind and gives eternal hope and comfort, being built upon that solid rock of truth, the Word of God. We who are not of Jacob may well be astonished that the law, the prophets, and the psalms, written by holy men of God and guarded so jealously through the centuries by the Jews find their primary fulfilment in promoting hope within us who once were aliens from the covenants of promise. And yet it is not so surprising, if we recall that to those very prophetic writers was revealed that they were ministering those things to us (1 Pet.1:12): and that when such faithful men as Daniel asked for further enlightenment upon the visions they were recording, it was said to them that the vision was for an appointed time and that at the end it would speak; that it was sealed till the time of the end. In agreement with this our Lord said to the disciples that many prophets and righteous men had desired to see the things which the disciples saw and had not seen them (Matt.13:16‑17). Blessed were the eyes which saw at and since the First Advent; blessed because the One in whom so much prophecy centred had come; blessed because further additions to the Word of God confirming and amplifying the old writings were to be made; and blessed because the opening up of the prophetic word would give hope and joy to many hearts. Our Lord began his earthly ministry by quoting some words of Isaiah and adding "this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears". Further prophecies were fulfilled during his life and by his death; and thus He laid the foundation for Paul later to say that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we...might have hope".