Monday, October 05, 2009

1 Peter 1:13-25

Opening Prayer: Our Father, we come to you as your people at Trinity Reformed Church, and we ask for you to direct us, to lead us by your Word and Spirit. Purify us, cleanse us, and teach us to walk with You. Through Christ our Lord, Amen!

Peter writes to the scattered seed of Israel who are the elect, covenant people of God. They have been raised from the dead in Jesus’ resurrection, and therefore their inheritance is secure, guarded in heaven. This inheritance is chiefly the restoration of man to fellowship with God, to the rest of humanity, and to creation. This glory has been revealed in the gift of the Spirit, surpassing even the glory of angels.

Peter says that since this is the case, they must gird themselves for war (1:13, cf. Jdg. 18:16, 1 Sam. 25:13, Neh. 4:12). They must prepare themselves like those who have a mission, a duty to perform (2 Kgs. 4:29, 9:1, Jer. 1:17), like priests dressed for action (Ex. 29:9, Lev. 8:7, 13). Jesus also exhorted his disciples to this (Lk. 12:35). Paul uses similar language to describe the armor which Christians must wear (Eph. 6:14). Peter particularly urges his readers to mental and intellectual readiness. Notice that Paul again grounds this in hope (cf. 1:3, 1:21, 3:15), and this hope is grounded in the event of the resurrection and all of the acts of new creation that follow in its wake (i.e. salvation). We will come back to this, but notice that Peter keeps bringing up the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:5, 1:7, 1:12). The “revelation of Jesus” is the “sufferings and glories that would follow” (1:11).

Children of Obedience
This warfare/ministry must be waged through obedience, putting off the flesh and putting on holiness (1:14-16). This is once again covenantal language explicitly from God’s word to Israel (Lev. 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7), and here Peter again applies the covenantal status to these Christian churches (cf. 1:2). They need to be “children of obedience.” This refers back to the fact that they have been reborn in the resurrection of Jesus (1:3), but this also reaffirms their genealogy as children of the Obedient Son (cf. Rom. 5:19). Peter uses this word similarly in 1:2. The word for “obedience” is also related to the word “to hear.” Hearing rightly means obedience (cf. Js. 1:222ff). The call to holiness is not merely a matter of moral purity. Holiness has to do with the presence and glory of God (Is. 6:3). Israel was required to be holy like Yahweh because He was in their presence. Holiness is access to the glory of God (Heb. 12:14).

During Their Sojourn
Peter exhorts his audience to conduct themselves in “fear” because if they call on God as their Father, they must know that He will evaluate them as His children (1:17). We shouldn’t miss how Peter sees fatherly love and justice bound together and not at odds. Peter particularly emphasizes the call to obedience “throughout the time of their stay,” literally during the time of their “sojourn.” This reminds us of Peter’s greeting where he call them the “diaspora,” the scattered people of God. This is frequently misunderstood along with unbiblical notions of heaven: e.g. “We’re just visiting this world, and it doesn’t really matter.” Our treasure is in heaven, but our mission and prayer is seeing that glory established and “revealed” here “as it is in heaven.” Our “sojourn” is a colonization mission, and so while this is not yet our home, the church is a prototype of the Kingdom which is coming down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2). And worship is access to the control room.

Resurrected Israel
Peter draws his exhortations from a recounting of the history of Israel from the command to be holy and obedient to their sojourn to their “redemption” through the “blood of Christ,” their “lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:18-19). This is all Sinai-Exodus-Passover imagery. Peter says that they have been redeemed from Egypt through the blood of a new Passover Lamb. Jesus was the Son who died in the place of all the firstborn sons. Notice again the reference to “silver and gold” (1:18, cf. 1:7). These scattered Jewish Christians and believing Gentiles may have been tempted by the semblance of beauty and stability found in temples with gold and silver, but those things perish in fire (1:7) and cannot compare with the “precious blood of Christ” (cf. 1:7).

Conclusions & Applications
All of this goes back again to the resurrection (1:20-21). And it’s the same for us. Our inheritance is incorruptible because God’s word is incorruptible and endures forever (1:22-25). And this word is the gospel preached, the same word that beckoned light from the darkness, and life from the dead.

We are strangers, but we are strangers with a mission. We are called to be a holy people which means that we are called to be a point of access to the Father. We are a Passover community, constantly offering and displaying the blood of the lamb and the way of redemption from “aimless conduct.”

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!

Closing Prayer: O God we give you praise and thanks for the new life you have bestowed upon us. Thank you for forgiveness, thank you for grace and mercy, thank you for Jesus whose blood is more precious to than anything we might desire. Grant us grace to love you that we might be life and light to those around us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray, singing…

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