The First Epistle of Peter

Extracts from the Bible Study Monthly
on a New Testament book—Part 3

"Therefore, with minds alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.... But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13‑16 NIV). Quite a graphic call, you will agree, for action on our behaviour! At the time this was written, it meant that the readers should literally gather up their long flowing garments to be ready for action. For us today, it can be taken as "an alarm call". (Nov/Dec 2013)

The grace of God appeared over nineteen hundred years ago. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Jesus is the Saviour of all men. In him there is hope of deliverance for all in due time. (Rom.5:19‑21; 8:21). Those who have received him now have the blessed hope of his coming to receive them unto himself, as "his own treasure" (John 14:1‑3). In preparation for this there must be a teaching, a training, a disciplinary process. "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:1‑3). Peter says "Therefore gird up your minds and fix your hopes calmly and unfalteringly upon the boon that is... to be yours, at the re‑appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet.1:13 Wey). We have been redeemed and called to holiness. As his peculiar people, his special treasure, we must be zealous of good works, always abounding in the work of the Lord (Tit.2:14; 1 Cor.15:58). (May June 1990)

Separation! separation! separation!!! that and that alone is the A. B. C. of the lesson even we must learn, if we would know, and walk with Him whose voice has said, "Be ye holy...for I am holy". (1 Pet.1:16) All students of the Holy Book admit the Holiness of God. But none admit the holiness of man. How then can we contemplate our text? If God is Holy beyond compare, how can we attain to holiness like Him? What do these words of Peter mean? Let us note again that they are prefaced by an "it is written". "Because it is written". "Be ye holy, for I am holy". Back somewhere then in an earlier day the inspired penman had recorded these few words, and Peter takes them up to sharpen his appeal to win his brethren to a purer life. But can disciples live a holy life? Is it not presumptuous to speak of holiness and saintliness while here on earth? Are we not of sinful stock, and tainted by the fall? Do we not oft do things we ought not, and leave undone those we should do? Can we claim, even in our best moments, to be free from sin? Nay indeed! Before the query arises the answer comes! Yet Scripture describes brethren as holy (Rom.12:1; Heb.3:1) and often calls them saints (Rom.1:7; 1 Cor.1:2; Eph.1:1, etc.)! In what way then can sin and holiness accord? Another distinction here needs to be made. Paul says, "There is none righteous" (Rom.3:10). Is holiness and righteousness the same quality of heart? Holiness is generally understood to mean freedom from sin, "an absolute purity of heart". But so is righteousness; that is, when speaking other than of righteousness by faith. Wherein comes the difference then?

Righteousness is a forensic term—that is, it indicates a state or condition in harmonious conformity with a law. It is a "law" term, and as such applies to the equitable action, the righteous balance or the just measure, in men's inter‑dealings with each other. A transaction is accounted righteous or unrighteous according to its conformity or nonconformity to a code of laws which has been accepted and constituted the standard of rectitude in any given community. These standards vary in different communities, hence an action may be lawful (legally correct) among one people, but unlawful in another. An action may be considered right (righteous) in one community but condemned in all the rest. Herein lies much of the basic cause for the world's present distress. (The Beauty of Holiness)

Writing to Timothy (2 Tim.1:9) he (Paul) speaks of the HOLY calling—a reminder that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. (Heb.12:14), A call to be like him who issued the invitation. "As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Pet.1:15‑16). Here Peter quotes from words addressed to the nation which had been called out of Egypt to be a holy nation unto himself. God's method of forming them into a holy people was to separate them from the surrounding nations and bless them. He blessed them so abundantly… (Jan Feb 1982)

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot". 1 Peter 1:18‑19

There is but little reference to the symbol of a Lamb in the New Testament other than in the book of Revelation. John the Baptist uses the term when pointing Jesus out to some of his disciples. "Behold the Lamb of God" said John on two successive days (John 1:29&36). And Peter tells his brethren they had been redeemed from their old manner of life by the precious blood of Christ AS OF a Lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet.1:18‑19). A further reference is made by Paul, though without using the term itself, when he says "For even Christ our Passover is slain for us, therefore let us keep the feast…" (1 Cor.5:7‑8) Thus, though the use of this term had come into vogue, its use among the early Christians does not seem to have become very extensive. Among the many faithful sayings which passed from lip to lip in the little Christian communities, no one of them which has come down to us through New Testament sources, epitomises any teaching centring around this figure of a Lamb. Nor is there much testimony regarding the Lamb in the Prophets. "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter" says Isaiah (53:7) (March April 1984)

The Scriptures show that God had prearranged to so overrule the foreknown degradation of mankind, that it became an essential part of his Plan for the exaltation of his Son Jesus Christ (Phil.2:7‑11; Heb.2:9,10; Heb.5:7‑10; 1 Pet.1:18‑20). ME

Divine foreknowledge could foresee the fatal swing away from righteousness of man's free‑will, and planned to save man from the consequences of his fatal choice, and under the same circumstances call from among man's progeny a company to be transformed and then transferred to the higher sphere. Right back there in that distant past God purposed that man should be redeemed, and at that distant time made choice of One to be man's Redeemer. That is what Peter says when he writes: " were redeemed...with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ: who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world." (1 Pet.1:18‑20 RV). This statement is an exact parallel to the words of Eph.1:4‑7. Right back there in the unfathomable depths of time God purposed that man should be redeemed, and not only so, but that from among fallen men he would invite such as were right‑hearted before him to follow His well‑beloved Son through death to his heavenly throne. (Sept Oct 1992)

Other than Heb.7:28 & Heb.10:20 there is no other actual occurrence of the word "Consecration," but there are many instances where the actual idea embodied in the Old Testament sense of the word occurs. Romans 12:1, is a case in point. The sacrifice that does not terminate in a few moments of time, but which yields itself up just as fully, yet in constantly repeated acts of surrender and self‑denial, over a life‑time's span, is the thought connected with the Old Testament act of consecration. The same thing is set out in Peter's words (1 Pet.1:15‑22.) He exhorts his brethren to purify their souls, (vs.22) even more than they had done, and enjoy their freedom from their old "vain conversation" (or manner of life vs.18) obtained for them by "the precious blood of Christ" (vs.19), and in doing so, become more holy, even as He that had called them was Holy. (vs.15) (Sept.1940)

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Pet.1:23) The Holy Scriptures have truly been described as a miracle of diversity in unity. The Bible is its own great evidence to its Divine origin and authority and we cannot consider these two great facts without being tremendously impressed with its diversity and its unity.

The Word of God is not a dead letter; Hebrews speaks of the Word of God as being alive, and Peter speaks of the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. We can no more leave the Bible alone or leave it out of our reckoning than we can leave Christ alone. Christ does not derive His value from the Bible; the Bible derives its value from Christ. Only through the Bible can we get to Christ; our eternal knowledge of Christ comes through the Bible. (Feb 1940)

Clarity of thought is obscured by predestination being assumed where the Scriptures show that God does, in fact, do the work of bringing about the transformation from the enmity of Adamic fleshly imperfections to the sonship of a renewed mind, and it is important to understand how God does this work, and that it is not the result of a changeless decree applicable to each individual concerned, independently of his will, made long before the transformation work commences. The Scriptures insist that God does this transforming work through his Word being received and obeyed, which results in a new mind. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word—Rom.10:17 and 1 Pet.1:23. The Word is the vehicle God uses for operation of his Holy Spirit—1 Thess.2:13 says that it is the Word which effectually works in them that believe. When that happens, we rightly call it God's work. (Sept Oct 1976)

"Having fore‑ordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself." (Eph.1:5 RV). There are two viewpoints in the Word of God concerning the mode whereby we become sons of God. One of these is based upon the process of spirit‑begettal and ultimate spirit‑birth. This thought originates from the words of Jesus in his conversation with Nicodemus. "Except a man be born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God...Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:3&5 RV). This is the viewpoint also of Peter and John (1 Pet.1:23; 1 John 5:1,4,18). Paul presents another view. He speaks not of begettal, but of adoption… (Nov/Dec 1992)

Peter's last legacy to the Church is nearly completed. He has but one more message to give, and this of greater moment to we who live now than it was to the believers of his own day. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Pet.1:19). "More sure"; again there is the ring of certainty, of conviction. The word of prophecy, of teaching, is the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Pet.1:23). We, in this our day, do not have the memory as did those early believers, of seeing and hearing Jesus in the flesh. We cannot even claim to have talked with and learned from those who themselves had seen and heard Jesus in the flesh. We are twenty centuries away from those times. But we do have something which those early believers never did have, the complete Scripture of those times. We have, not only the Old Testament which they did possess and know, but the New Testament which they never knew. And this, under the illumination and enlightenment given us by the Holy Spirit, is in very truth a light shining in a dark place, a lamp which illumines and marks out the way in which we shall go, and a source of instruction and inspiration to our minds. This, says Peter, is a sure and certain guide until the consummation of all things when our union with our Lord in the celestial realm is realised. (Nov Dec 1984)

"But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet.1:25)

It is in periods of silent meditation that the voice of God is heard, that men come to their senses and learn what they have to do. "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (Isa.65:17). These are God's words, words of assurance and hope, words of life. Man's endeavours at peace and quality fail for obvious reasons, the spiritual and social elements dissolve in the fiery heat of troubled times, but "the word of the Lord endureth forever" (1 Pet.1:25). "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt.24:35). (July Aug 1977)