1 Peter

1:3-9

1. The holy people of God, 1:3-2:10

i] God's people are reassured in divine blessing

Argument

Following normal Jewish practice, Peter opens his letter with an ascription of praise to God. After the statement of praise, Peter goes on to remind his readers of the wonderful blessings that they have received through Christ. The rest of the passage outlines four areas of mercy - four gifts of grace given to believers: i] a living hope in the resurrection of the dead; ii] an inheritance kept safe in heaven; iii] protection from forces, both seen and unseen, and iv] a faith daily tested, purified and proved by the trials of life.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 1:1-2. This thematic development of v1-2 presents in three parts: a) v3-5 looks at the future consequences that flow from God's election of a people for himself; b) v6-9 looks at the present consequences, of suffering, love and joy; c) v10-12 looks at the prior understanding of God's sovereign intentions by his prophets of old.

 

ii] Background: See 1:1-2.

 

iii] Structure: This passage, serving to encourage Peter's readers to stand firm in suffering, presents as follows:

Doxology, v3a;

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The ground upon which God is so addressed (adored / thanked):

new birth in Christ, v3b;

eternal inheritance, v4;

a sure salvation, v5;

tested by life's troubles, v6-7;

confirmed in the fruit of faith, v8-9.

 

iv] Interpretation.

Barclay says of this passage that "there are few passages in the New Testament where more of the great fundamental Christian ideas come together." The realities of a believer's life in Christ is expressed in a series of mind-blowing truths; see "Structure" above.

 

This passage forms part of a very long Greek sentence covering v3-12. The main clause, "blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ", is modified by a series of three subordinate clauses, v3-5, 6-9, 10-12.

 

v] Exposition: A simple exposition of the passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes New Birth.

 
Text - 1:3

Blessings in Christ, v3-9: The opening doxology is followed by the grounds upon which God is praised. We have received a living hope in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus has broken the bonds of death and because he lives we live also. The body will weaken and die, but in the last day we will come alive and rise from the dead.

euloghtoV adj. "praise [be to the God and Father]" - blessed [God and Father]. The verb to-be is assumed, either optative, as NIV, or indicative, "God is one who is worthy of praise", Dubis. Serving as an "utterance of adoration and thanksgiving", Beare, to God the redeemer, the one who gives new birth. Following Granville Sharp's rule, "God" and "Father" are one in the same.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of [our] Lord" - The genitive is adjectival, relational, and is dependent on both "God" and "Father". A common confessional title in the NT.

hJmwn gen. pro. "our [Lord]" - [the Lord] of us. The genitive is adjectival, possessive or of subordination, "Lord over us."

kata + acc. "in" - according to. The preposition here probably expresses a standard, "in accordance with / corresponding to", so "in his great mercy", REB, etc., as NIV.

to polu "great" - the great. In the sense of degree.

eleoV (oV) "mercy" - Probably here encapsulating the word "love" and particularly "grace" - the sovereign grace of God.

oJ .... anagennhsaV (anagannaw) aor. part. "he has given [us] new birth" - the one having born anew. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the subject, "God and Father", producing a relative clause, "who caused us to be born again". This relative clause is modified by three prepositional phrases, kata, "according to [his great mercy], eiV, "into [a living hope]", dia "through [the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead]." Here referring to spiritual rebirth, of regeneration brought about by incorporation in the death and resurrection of Christ, and serving as the cause for the praise and adoration addressed to God. "Praise be to him who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of the fullness of his compassion caused us to be born anew", Cassirer.

eiV "into" - to, into. Possibly just spacial here; the new birth is into a hope which is alive, a hope "which lives on", CEV, but purpose seems better, "for the purpose of appropriating / in order to appropriate a hope which lives on, ...... and (v4) eiV "an inheritance imperishable."

zwsan (zaw) pres. part. "[a] living [hope]" - The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "hope". "A hope that is never extinguished by untoward circumstances", Selwyn.

di (dia) "through" - Instrumental, expressing means; "through, by means of." The resurrection of Jesus is the instrument by which a believer is able to appropriate the benefits of new birth, namely "a living hope" and "an eternal inheritance".

 
v4

We have received an inheritance kept for us in heaven. The people of Israel knew all about their inheritance from God. Their inheritance was a land flowing with milk and honey - the promise of a great nation and a great people. Yet, when this letter was written their inheritance lay in ruin. Unlike their inheritance which now stood denuded of trees, eroded, and under the subjection of a foreign power, the inheritance promised in Christ is incorruptible - it can "never perish." It is an inheritance which cannot be defiled, "spoiled", affected by sin, or "fade" away, as was the inheritance of old.

eiV "and into" - to, into. Introducing a prepositional phrase standing in apposition to "into a living hope" and so probably here expressing purpose.

klhronomian (a) "inheritance" - Referring to the covenant promise made to Abraham, partly realized in Israel's acquisition of the promised land, and now fully realized in Christ; "their share in the kingdom of God", Jobes.

afqarton adj. "that can never perish" - incorruptible, imperishable, not liable to pass away. As concerning the resurrected body, ie. "freedom from death and decay", Michaels. The three negative adjectives, serving to describe the inheritance (Gundry suggests they allude to Luke 12:33), are nicely paraphrased by Beare; "the inheritance is untouched by death, unstained by evil, unimpaired by time." Of course, together they form a single idea and serve only to emphasize that idea.

amianton adj. "spoil" - undefiled. "Freedom from uncleanness or moral impurity", Michaels.

amaranton adj. "fade" - unfading. "Freedom from the natural ravages of time", Michaels.

tethrhmenhn (threw) perf. pas. part. "kept" - having been kept, held in reserve for a special purpose. The perfect tense serves to express the fact that the inheritance has already been distributed to the heirs (believers) and is preserved into the future on their behalf. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "inheritance", best expressed as a relative clause; "which he is keeping in heaven for you", Barclay.

en + dat. "in [heaven]" - Locative, expressing space / sphere.

eiV + acc. "for [you]" - to, into. Here expressing advantage, "for you", as NIV.

 
v5

A sure salvation. We are kept safe from the forces that surge around us, both seen and unseen. The Lord keeps us safe until that wonderful day when all will be revealed. Of course, the Evil One will use all his guile and cunning to break our confidence in the Lord. Persecution, trouble, hardship, temptation, and the like, invade us daily, but in the power of the living God we can stand against his assaults.

touV .... fouroumenouV (frourew) perf. pas. part. "who ..... are shielded" - the ones .... being protected, guarded. The perfect tense expressing completed action with abiding results, ie. God's shielding is ongoing, "perpetually guarded", Beale. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting/modifying "you", expressed as a relative clause, as NIV.

dia + gen. "through [faith]" - through, by means of. Instrumental use of the preposition. Of course, the key question is, the instrument of whose faith? Paul would answer, Christ's faith/faithfulness, upon which we rest our faith.

en + dat. "by" - in. Probably instrumental, expressing means, as NIV.

qeou (oV) gen. "[the power] of God" - The genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective.

eiV "until the coming of [the salvation]" - to, toward [salvation]. "Toward" = "until", or possibly expressing purpose / end view, "for"; "for a work of deliverance", Cassirer.

swthrian (a) "salvation" - "Salvation in the sense of the actual possession of the inheritance, with its fullness of life and its open vision of God, (which) is still future", Selwyn.

apokaluyqhnai (apokaluptw) aor. pas. inf. "[that is ready / prepared] to be revealed" - ready [to be revealed]. The adjective etoimhn is often followed by an infinitive, usually classified as complementary, completing its verbal sense; "about to be revealed".

en + dat. "in [the last time]" - on (at) [last time, age]. Temporal use of the preposition. An eschatological phrase, encompassing "the complex of ideas concerning the final period of history and existence", Elliott; the "decisive moment when God will bring to an end the world as it has always been and make a new beginning", Michaels.

 
v6

The capacity to rejoice in the face of trials is the experience of those in Christ, v6-9. At the present moment, our faith is being put to the test, purified and proved by the trials we face. Persecution, trouble and the inherent difficulties that are ours in our walk along the narrow way, prove our faith. As gold is tried and purified by fire, so our faith is tried and purified by the difficulties we face when we strive to live for Christ in a world falling apart. This may seem troublesome now, but the present difficulties are nothing to compare with the glory that awaits us. As our faith is strengthened, so we are assured of the blessings of eternity.

The Greek sentence, which takes in verses 3-12, consists of three main clauses. The main verb in this second clause is agalliaw, "greatly rejoice / exalt", found in v6 and forming an inclusio with its appearance in v8; "[v6-7] you exalt/rejoice in all this although you are distressed ....... [v8-9] although you have not seen him ..... although you do not see him now ....... you exalt/rejoice ......"

en + dat. "in [this]" - in, on [which]. Introducing a propositional phrase, "in all this you rejoice." The preposition is probably local, "in all this", Barclay, with the antecedent of the following relative pronoun w|/, when taken as neuter singular, referring to the new birth (the inheritance and salvation about to be revealed, ie., the package of blessings in v3-5). Of course, this construction, en w|/, is often temporal, which here would form an adverbial temporal clause, "on that day you will be glad", CEV. It is even possible that the construction here is causal, "because of all this."

agalliasaqe (agalliaw) pres. "you greatly rejoice" - be overjoyed, jubilant, rejoice. The present tense may be futuristic, "will rejoice", but surely the intention is of an ongoing rejoicing in the face of suffering, given the future prospect of a believer's inheritance and salvation. The verb may also be read as a present imperative, "keep on rejoicing", although generally not translated this way. "You exalt."

oligon adj. "a little while". The neuter is used in adverbial expressions. Here of time, "for a short time / for a little while [now]." Reinforced by the adverb arti, "now", also temporal.

ei "-" - if. With the participle "being necessary" this conjunction possibly forms a simple indefinite clause, "if [being necessary]"; "if it must be", Berkeley. The variant indicative verb to-be, estin indicates a tendency to read ei deon as a 1st class conditional clause, "if [as is the case] [then] it is necessary." Even without the verb to-be Peter probably intends a 1st class condition. "Even though for the present it is necessary for you to suffer affliction."

deon (dei) pres. part. "may have had" - being necessary. The participle of the impersonal dei is adverbial, probably causal, "because this has to be / since it is necessary", Michales. The word usually implies divine necessity, the necessity of messianic woes, of the birth-pangs of the kingdom, which are but for a little while and do not compare with the glory to come. So, the necessity of suffering is but the way it is for aliens in a world hurtling headlong toward destruction. It was this way for Jesus and it is this way for those who follow him.

luphqenteV (lupew) aor. pas. part. "to suffer" - having been distressed. The participle is adverbial, probably concessive, "although / even though [for a short time now, since this has to be,] you are distressed.

poikiloiV adj. "all kinds of" - manifold, various. Different kinds, diverse, ie., there is not one particular problem in mind, but rather diverse difficulties.

peirasmoiV (oV) "trials" - tests, trials. Possibly "temptations", but "trials" seems best; "all sorts of trials", NJB.

 
v7

iJna + subj. "these have come so that [....... may be proved genuine]" - that [.... may be found]. Forming a final clause expressing purpose, or possibly a consecutive clause expressing result. "All kinds of trials" function (have as a purpose) the discovery = revelation (euJriskw "to find") of a purified/genuine faith, ie., troubles expose the quality of our faith enabling us to refocus on Christ where necessary, so confirming our eternal hope - divine approval at the return of Christ. "And there is a purpose in this, namely that ......... you will be seen to have praise redounding to you, when the time comes for Jesus Christ to reveal himself", Cassirer.

thV pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "[your] faith" - the faith [of you]. The genitive is usually treated as objective so expressing the object of the verbal noun dokimion, "tried, tested = approved after testing", so "the genuineness of your faith", but probably better taken as adjectival, attributive, "a tried and tested faith", Barclay. "Faith" (better than "faithfulness") is obviously the faith of the readers, ie. their reliance on the faithfulness of Christ.

polutimoteron adj. "of greater worth" - much more precious, valuable. Comparative adjective.

crusiou (on) gen. "than gold" - of gold. The genitive is ablative, comparison, so "more valuable than gold", as NIV.

tou apollumenou (apollumi) gen. pres. part. "which perishes" - perishing. Genitive in agreement with "gold". The participle is adjectival, forming a relative clause as NIV. Gold will one day disappear, unlike faith which will never cease to exist. Although there the remains the question concerning "faith, hope and love" as to whether all three "abide", or only "love" abides!!!!!

dokimazomenou (dikimazw) gen. pres. pas. part. "even though refined" - being tested. Genitive in agreement with "gold". The participle is adverbial, forming a concessive clause, "although tested/proved (refined) by fire.

dia + gen. "by [fire]" - through, by means of [fire]. Instrumental. Comparing the testing / purifying of a person's faith with the smelting of gold which, through fire, is refined / purified.

euJreqh/ (euJriskw) aor. pas. subj. "may be proved [genuine]" - may be found. "There is a purpose in this. it is to show that your faith is genuine", TH.

eiV "and may result in" - to, into. Here possibly expressing purpose, "for praise and glory and honor", but probably better result, as NIV; "to result in praise, glory and honor", ie., "eschatological reward", Michales.

en "when" - in, on. Here a temporal use of the preposition, as NIV; "at the revelation of Jesus Christ", Elliott.

apokaluyei (iV ewV) "revealed" - revelation [of Jesus Christ]. For Peter, Christ is coming and so must be revealed.

 
v8

idonteV (eidon) aor. part. "though you have [not] seen" - having not seen. The participle is adverbial, concessive, as NIV. See structural note v6. The negated aorist, being punctiliar, implies, "although you have never seen him". This is taken by some to imply "you have not seen him, but I have", ie. evidence of Peter's authorship (Selwyn), or pretence of authorship (Kelly), depending upon one's view! Yet, it seem unlikely that the author is including himself in this statement, and if he were it would be in the sense of no one has "ever seen Jesus Christ in the way they will see him at the time when he is revealed", Michaels.

ouk "not [seen]" - Being a participle, the negation mh would be expected. ouk normally negates indicatives. See BDF #426.

o}n "him" - whom [having not seen]. The antecedent is Christ.

agapate (agapaw) pres. "you love him" - you love. "Love" is always difficult to define, particularly in relation to loving God. The demand "love me and keep my commandments", Ex.20:6, seems to imply that "love" is interchangeable with obedience, yet in the NT love stands interchangeable with faith and that is surely implied here.

mh oJrwnteV (oJraw) pres. part. "even though you do see [him]" - [in whom now] not seeing. The participle is adverbial, forming a concessive clause as NIV. Expressing an ability to perceive, particularly in the spiritual domain.

arti "now" - Temporal; having not seen in the past, and also "now" in the present.

pisteuonteV (pisteuw) pres. part. "you believe" - believing. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb agalliasqe, "rejoice"; "you believe in him and rejoice", ESV. Faith/loyalty; "have faith in him", CEV.

eiV "in him" - to, into. Usually taken as depending on the participle "believing", of "believing into Christ", a Pauline idea.

de "and" - but, and. Probably connective, as NIV; "and you exalt with inexpressible and heavenly joy", Berkeley.

agalliasqe (agalliaw) pres. "are filled" - you exalt, rejoice [with joy inexpressible]. To be overjoyed, rejoice.

cara/ (a) "with ..... joy" - The dative is instrumental. Rejoicing with a joy that is beyond expression.

aneklalhtw/ dat. adj. "an inexpressible" - unspeakable. Instrumental dative.

dedoxasmenh/ (doxadzw) dat. perf. pas. part. "glorious [joy]" - having been glorified. The participle is probably best taken as adjectival, attributive, limiting "joy"; "filled with a joy .... which is all-glorious / an all-glorious joy", ie., clothed with splendor in heaven.

 
v9

komizomenoi (komizw) pres. part. "for you are receiving" - obtaining. To get something for oneself, in this case salvation. The participle is adverbial, taken as causal by NIV, "because you are receiving ...", but possibly temporal, "when you receive / while you are reaping ...", REB, or consecutive / result, "and the secret of your joy is that, as the final result of your faith, you are on the way of receiving the salvation of your souls", Barclay.

to teloV (oV) "the end result" - the end. Not the purposed end, but the outcome itself.

thV pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "of [your] faith" - The genitive is adjectival, limiting "faith". Dubis classifies it as a genitive of producer; "which is the product of your faith.

uJmwn gen. pro. "your" - Variant hJmwn, "our faith", is unlikely, although Hort suggests that the pronoun is an interpolation, see Metzger. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective.

swthrian (a) "the salvation" - A state of salvation, here usually viewed as "the salvation which is ready to be revealed", ie. "the final cosmic triumph of the divine ... as it is realized in the souls of men", Beare.

 

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