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Bible: What Does 1 Peter 1 Teach Us About the Trinity's Role in the Salvation of the Elect?

Updated on August 21, 2016

The Apostle Peter


"Knowledge" of the Elect

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The Epistle of First Peter--Chapter One

The Apostle Peter addresses his epistle to believers who temporarily reside in five provinces of Asia Minor where Roman persecution has scattered them (v. 1).

To encourage their hearts, he designates them as the “elect” (“chosen”) of the Triune God—an exalted position consistent with the Father’s intimate knowledge of them in eternity past (foreknowledge), the Holy Spirit’s work of setting them apart for His own purpose (sanctification), and the personal application of the sacrifice of the Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Is. 52:15).

Each Person has executed His part in the completion of their election so that they might obey Him.

Upon each one of them, Peter asks God to multiply His grace and peace (v. 2).

Jesus' Substitutionary Atonement


The More Appropriate Term

Is "Preservation of the Saints" a more appropriate designation than "Perseverance of the Saints"?

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The Trials of Early Christians


Peter praises “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (whose overflowing mercy Jesus mediated through His bodily resurrection) for causing believers in the infinite merits of that substitutionary sacrifice to experience a spiritual rebirth that leads to a “living hope”: their certain acquisition of an eternally holy, heavenly inheritance (“incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”) [vv. 3-4].

God’s omnipotence preserves them for the future (“the last time”) when He will reveal their salvation (v. 5).

[Since it is theocentric, the designation “The Preservation of the Saints” is indeed a more appropriate term to describe the fifth point of Calvinism than is the “Perseverance of the Saints.”]

The apostle assumes that his readers rejoice exceedingly in this prospect, even though they are currently experiencing various grievous, though short-lived trials (v. 6).

He understands that God permits these difficulties in order to show His people whether their faith is real or not.

If the “fire” of hardship or persecution proves the authenticity of their faith because they pass the test, they will receive “praise, honor, and glory” when Jesus returns to earth (v. 7).

Obviously they cannot yet see the Lord, but their faith enables them to love Him and to “rejoice with joy inexpressible” over the prospect of one day beholding Him face-to-face; they know at that time God will altogether deliver them from the very presence of sin (vv. 8-9).

Three Old Testament Prophets


Having mentioned the idea of salvation, Peter now explores the issue over which OT prophets labored unceasingly.

While under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they tried to understand the exact timing of the major events of Jesus’ life (vv. 10-11).

[In other words, they investigated the following enigmas:

(1) How do His passion (“the sufferings”) and His kingdom (“the glories that would follow”) relate to one another?

(2) Does the latter event come immediately after the former, or does another parenthesis of time come between them?]

Peter notes that God revealed to the prophets that

(1) they were predicting events that would happen during the time of the apostle and that

(2) they were serving those who would hear the gospel through Spirit-controlled preachers (v. 12a).

This writer does not know why he adds a word about angelic desires (v. 12b).

Since they all expected to experience complete salvation in this glorious future, the apostle exhorts his readers to “be disciplined in your thinking” in the trial-filled present (v. 13a).

[Ryrie’s explanation of “gird your minds for action” is helpful (New Testament Study Bible, 428).]

Serious in spirit, they should focus completely upon the grace that Jesus will bring them at the Rapture (v. 13b).

[Does Peter intend “the revelation of Jesus Christ” to mean the Rapture?]

Peter calls upon them to behave like obedient children of God, and not allow themselves to revert to the kind of lifestyle mold into which the world system pressed them when they were unregenerate; instead, they should pattern their lives after the holiness of the One who called them to salvation (vv. 14-16; cf. Lev. 11:44-45).

If they truly trust in the Father, the impartial Judge of all, they should conduct themselves with a reverential spirit every day in this now alien world (v. 17).

The Resurrected and Ascended Christ


Believers must always remind themselves of the facts of their spiritual lives: no one’s worldly wealth redeemed them from the traditional Jewish or Gentile lifestyle that was leading them to Hell and put them on a path full of meaning and purpose.

On the contrary, Christ, the sinless, sacrificial Lamb of God, bought (“redeemed”) them from the slave market of sin with His blood (vv. 18-19).

The resurrected and glorified Jesus—whom the Father knew intimately from eternity past (“foreordained [foreknown, NASB] before the foundation of the world”); whom the Father has now revealed for their sake, and through whom they have come to believe in God—accomplished these works so that believers should place their faith and hope in God (vv. 20-21).

Again, Peter argues that distinctive, Christ-like behavior ought to manifest itself because of their salvation.

The Spirit of God has enabled them to obey the truth (and thereby purify their souls) so that they can now truly love other Christians; therefore, they should follow through with that attitude and sincerely love others “with a pure heart” as the Lord would (v. 22).

Their regeneration (“Having been born again,” cf. 1:3) through the instrumentality of the eternally living word of God—the preached message of the timeless gospel that contrasts so mightily with time-bound mankind and nature—makes them able to do so (vv. 23-25; cf. Is. 40:6-8).

© 2014 glynch1


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