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1 Peter 1:3-9 NOTES

1 Peter 1:3-9 - DONOVAN EXEGESIS


1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

INTRODUCTION:  These verses identify the apostle Peter as the author of this letter-and it identifies the recipients as the parepidemois diasporas (the sojourners or exiles who are dispersed) in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia-all of which were located in Asia Minor (which we know today as Turkey). Later in this book, Peter will mention Babylon (by which he almost certainly means Rome)-and does so in a way that suggests that he is writing from Rome (5:13).

Peter identifies himself as an apostle-one of those chosen by Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel and to provide direction to the church. Apostolic counsel is authoritative-not merely advisory.

This book includes a number of references to trials, harsh treatment, and suffering that these sojourners are experiencing (1:6-7; 2:18-20; 3:13-17; 4:1-4, 12-19; 5:10). The great Roman persecutions would not yet have begun, so these would most likely be the result of local opposition. The recipients of this letter were probably mostly Gentiles (1:14, 18; 4:3-4). This book encourages them with a vision of "an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn't fade away, reserved in Heaven for you" (1:4)-and calls them to live holy lives (1:15; 2:9)-to rejoice in their status as God's chosen people. It holds up the prospect of rewards that they will experience in the future (1:8; 4:13ff)-and encourages them to stand fast in their faith in the midst of adversity.


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

(Verses 3-12 are one long sentence in the original Greek.)

"Blessed (Greek: eulogetos) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 3a). In my study of this verse, I found several scholars referring to verses 3-12 as a blessing or eulogy. I understood calling these verses a blessing, but was puzzled by the word eulogy. I think of eulogies as comments made about the deceased at a funeral. But then it occurred to me that the word eulogy comes from two Greek words-eu (good) and logos (word), and "good word" seemed to fit in this verse-Peter is saying a good word about God or a word of praise to God. Then I looked at the Greek for this verse, and saw that the word translated "blessed" is the Greek eulogetos-and suddenly calling this passage a eulogy made great sense.

  ▪ When we use the words "blessed" or "blessing," we usually mean something good that we have received from God. We count our family as a blessing-and our home-and the food that we eat. That is in keeping with Biblical tradition (Genesis 5:2; 9:1; 12:2; 14:19; etc., etc., etc.). Sometimes we might even count an adversity as a blessing, because God can use our suffering to teach us patience or faith or some other virtue.

  ▪ But Peter uses the word "blessed" in this verse to bless "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." In doing so, he taps into a rich Biblical tradition (Genesis 14:20; 24:27, 48; Exodus 18:10; 1 Kings 1:48; 8:15, 56; 1 Chronicles 16:36; 29:10, 20; 2 Chronicles 2:12, Psalm 18:46; 28:6; 31:21; 41:13; 66:20; etc., etc. etc.). "Blessed" (eulogetos), as it is used here, expresses praise to God. It affirms that God is worthy to be praised.

  ▪ There is another Greek word for "blessed"-makarios-which Jesus used in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-22). That word is similar in meaning to eulogetos, but is used in the New Testament only to speak of blessings that believers experience-not blessings or praises addressed to God.

  ▪ I grew up in a tradition that emphasized extemporaneous prayer. Not being a person who thinks well on his feet, I found myself intimidated, almost tongue-tied, by unexpected calls to lead in public prayer. In studying this verse and its Old Testament antecedents, I realized how much easier my life would have been-and how much richer my prayers would have been-if someone had taught me to begin my prayers, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"-or a similar phrase from scripture. That would have been in keeping with Jesus' Model Prayer, where he taught us to begin our prayers by honoring God's name ("Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy"-Matthew 6:9). In like manner, it would have been helpful if my mentors had encouraged me to memorize verses from the Psalms that can be easily incorporated into prayers (Psalm 8; 9:1-2; 15:1-2; 16:1-2; 19:1, etc., etc., etc.).

God is "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Old Testament acknowledged Israel as God's firstborn son (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9).

  ▪ Jesus repeatedly acknowledged God as his Father (Matthew 10:32; 11:25-27; 12:50; 16:17, etc.). He shares God's authority (John 3:35ff; 5:18; 10:18, 30, 34-36; 16:32; 17:10; 20:28).

  ▪ Jesus taught us that God is our Father (Matthew 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6, 8-9, 14-15, 18, 26, 32, etc.). "Because (we) are (God's) children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into (our) hearts, crying, 'Abba, Father!' So (we) are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Galatians 4:6-7; see also Romans 8:15).

"who according to his great mercy" (Greek: eleos). The Greek words charis (grace) and eleos (mercy) are similar in meaning. Both have roots in the Hebrew word hesed, used in the Old Testament to speak of God's loving-kindness, mercy, and faithfulness.

  ▪ Furthermore, both grace and mercy imply that we have not earned God's favor. Instead, God bestowed his favor on us freely (whether we call his favor "grace" or "mercy"), in spite of the fact that we have not deserved it. Both grace and mercy result in salvation (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5).

  ▪ In his book, Synonyms of the New Testament, R. C. Trench distinguished between charis (grace) and eleos (mercy) by saying that God extends charis (grace) when we are guilty and eleos (mercy) when we are miserable. That is the thinnest of distinctions, however, because guilt and misery so often go together-and the remedy for one will so often be the remedy for both.  Perhaps Peter's David makes the most helpful distinction when he says, "Mercy is the application of grace."

"became our father again" (Greek: anagennao hemas-has given us a new birth) (v. 3b). The word anagennao combines ana (again) and gennao (to beget). There are different words in the Greek for giving birth (by the mother) and begetting (by the father). Gennao is the word for begetting by the father. Tikto is the word for the mother giving birth.  In this verse, anagennao speaks of our being begotten again by the Heavenly Father-being born again. In other words, Peter is acknowledging that these Christians are enjoying a new life-a new status-by virtue of the action of the Heavenly Father in their behalf.

  ▪ The best-known reference to rebirth is Jesus' comment to Nicodemus, "Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3). The idea of rebirth is that we must leave behind our old life of sin and enter into a new life with Christ. The idea of rebirth occurs frequently in the New Testament (Romans 6:1-11; 1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:22-24; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 1:3, 22-23). We experience rebirth at our baptism by being buried with Christ in the waters of baptism and being raised to a new life (Romans 6:4-11).

"to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (v. 3d). Ours is a living hope because of Jesus' resurrection-he is a living Lord and Savior. His resurrection paves the way for our resurrection at the end of time.

"to an incorruptible (Greek: aphthartos) and undefiled (Greek: amiantos) inheritance that doesn't fade away (Greek: amarantos), reserved in Heaven for you" (v. 4). This verse is key to this passage. Peter is encouraging these Christians to weather adversity, and the key to his encouragement is that they can count on "an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that (will never) fade away." That inheritance is "reserved in Heaven for (them)."

"incorruptible" (aphthartos). Paul uses this Greek word and its' opposite, phthartos (corruptible) in his letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:52-54). In that passage, he contrasts the corruptible body that we now possess with the incorruptible body that we shall possess. In other words, our current bodies are subject to wear and tear and decay. None of that will be true of our resurrected bodies. Those bodies will last for an eternity with no decay. That is the promise that Peter lifts up here.

"undefiled" (amiantos). Torah law specified that animal sacrifices must be without blemish-perfect (Leviticus 22:17ff.). The logic behind that requirement was twofold. First, God is perfect, so it would be inappropriate to give him a defiled or imperfect sacrifice. Second, the sacrifices were intended to honor God, and people needed to learn that God expects their best-not their castoffs.

Furthermore, people who are defiled-stained by sin-are not fit to enter into God's presence. The Old Testament sacrifices were intended to remove the stain of sin from the person making the offering. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was the culmination of the sacrificial system, removing the stain of sin from all who believe in him. This makes them fit to receive an undefiled inheritance.

"doesn't fade away" (amarantos). We are surrounded by beauty that fades. The flowers that decorate our gardens bloom and then die. Our possessions (cars, houses) require constant maintenance-and even good maintenance cannot sustain them forever. The beauty of a young person fades over time. Beautiful young people might retain vestiges of their youthful beauty into old age-but not likely into their eighties, and certainly not into their nineties.

But Peter holds out the promise of an unfading inheritance to those who remain faithful to Christ.

"who by the power of God are guarded (Greek: phroureo) through faith" (v. 5a). The word phroureo means to guard as with a military guard. The picture that Peter paints here has God standing guard to protect us. Yes, the opposition is formidable. Yes, we are vulnerable. But, as Paul says elsewhere, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). What does it matter who is against us if God is for us?

Peter adds the phrase, "through faith." We can be assured that God will do his part, but he calls us to do our part as well. Our part is to have faith-to live by the conviction that God is with us-to believe in Jesus Christ and the efficacy of his work on the cross. The stronger our faith, the more easily we will weather the storm.

"for a salvation ready to be revealed (Greek: apokalupto) in the last time" (Greek: eschatos kairos) (v. 5b). The word apokalupto suggests removing a covering to reveal what is contained therein. God has prepared salvation for these people (and for us), but the unveiling of that salvation will happen "in the last time" (eschatos kairos). The phrase "the last time" can have several meanings. It could point to the Parousia-the Second Coming of Christ. In any event, it clearly points to a future event where God will intervene in history to bring salvation to those who are faithful.


In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by

various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

"Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in various trials" (Greek: peirasmos) (v. 6). Peter characterizes the present as a time of grief and trials. However, he puts that in perspective by noting that the difficulties that these Christians are experiencing are but are "for a little while." Furthermore, he characterizes their sufferings as peirasmos-trials, tests.

"that the proof of your faith" (v. 7a). God often tests people to give them a chance to prove their faith:

  • God tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham passed that test with flying colors (Hebrews 11:17-19).
  • God tested the Israelites in the wilderness to humble them, to prove them, and to learn what was in their hearts-whether they would keep God's commandments (Deuteronomy 8:2) and whether they would love God with all their heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; see also Exodus 15:25; 16:4; 20:20; Judges 2:22; 3:1, 4). We might think of these testings as a quality-control procedure. Yahweh needed to expose flaws in Israel's faith and faithfulness so that he might provide the necessary discipline to restore them to proper faith and faithfulness. The testing was intended to do them good rather than harm, but the corrective discipline was usually painful.
  • God also tests Christians (Matthew 26:41; Luke 8:13; James 1:2; 1 Peter 4:12). The person who passes those tests today can expect to be spared testing at the end of time (Revelation 3:10).
  • God tested these Asia Minor Christians to give them opportunity to prove their faith.

"which is more precious than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire" (v. 7b). It is their faith (v. 7a) that is more precious than gold.

  ▪ This seems like an odd statement, because gold does not perish in the process of being refined by fire. Fire purifies gold by melting it, in the process causing some impurities to burn away and others to float to the surface so they can be skimmed off. In like manner, our adversities, if met with faith, refine, purify, and strengthen us.

  ▪ When Peter says that gold perishes, perhaps he is referring to the fact that "we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can't carry anything out" (1 Timothy 6:7; see also James 5:1-6). We say, "You can't take it with you," and that is true. People try. The Egyptians buried their kings with food and treasures, but that only encouraged grave robbers to rob the tombs. Countless numbers of people try to exercise control over their money after death by specifying conditions in their wills-but many of them would turn over in their graves if they could see how their money is being spent.

"may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (v. 7c). It is the proof of their faith (v. 7a) that will result in "praise, glory, and honor"-expressions of joy and worship. This will take place "at the revelation of Jesus Christ-almost surely meaning at Christ's Second Coming.

"whom not having known you love; in whom, though now you don't see him, yet believing, you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (v. 8). It is Jesus Christ (v. 7c) whom they have not known but nevertheless love. Unlike Peter and the other apostles, these Christians from Asia Minor were not privileged to see Jesus in person. By the time they became Christians, Jesus had long since ascended into heaven. Jesus knew that most Christians would never see him in the flesh, and so he told Thomas (who had seen the resurrected Jesus), "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed" (John 20:29). Because of the faith of these Asia Minor Christians, God will give them joy beyond expressing and will fill them with glory.

"receiving (Greek: komizomenoi) the result of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (Greek:psyche) (v. 9). The word komizomenoi is sometimes used to speak of someone who is receiving a reward (Ephesians 6:8; Hebrews 11:13-16). The reward that these Christians can expect to receive for their faith is the salvation of their souls.


COMMENTARY - 1 Pet. 1:3-9


Motivation: Barclay calls I Peter "the best known and loved, and the most read of all the General Epistles." 

  1. Hope Discovered

      "Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you." (3-4)

A. Praise "Praise the God... " Often translated as "blessed". (3) This is a different Greek word from that used in the Beatitudes; here the word is the root of our word eulogy and is used exclusively in the New Testament as a praise to God.

B. Parent

     a. "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (3) In the Trinity, Father and Son are God, equal, but with differing positions.

      b. "According to His great mercy He has given us a new birth" (3) We address God as our Father because we have been born from above (John 3).  Salvation is an act initiated and completed by God apart from any good works we may try to contribute (Eph. 2:8-9).  2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 11:1; 1 Pet. 1:8

C. Power "a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (3) Ours is not a dead religion but a living relationship.  The mighty power of God that raised Jesus from the dead now gives life to His children everyday.  (Eph. 1:19-20; 2:1-7)

D. Promise "into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted and unfading" (4) (Rom. 8:14-18)

      a. "imperishable" (aphthartos) Our bodies grow old, die and decay.  God gives us eternal life which will be just as fresh in 100 million years as it is today (even better!).

      b. "uncorrupted" (amiantos) Our faith is unpolluted by false idols or by the world's system. (James 3:13-18; John 17:2-3, 23)

      c. "does not fade" (amarantos) The word picture is of a flower that loses its color and wilts.  Our relationship with Jesus is "new every morning." (Lamentations 3:23)  (Gal. 2:20)

E. Preserved "kept in heaven for you" (5) Our inheritance is not kept on earth "where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." (Mt. 6:19)

ll.     Hope Assured

      "You are being protected by God's power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." (1:5) Here is a strong endorsement of security of the Believer.  The Word protected is often used in a military context of "guarding."  You are kept saved not by your power but by the power of God. (Rom. 10:13) The new birth has several dimensions: in the past, you were saved at a specific point in time, your salvation. In the present you are constantly being renewed by God's power, your sanctification. And in the future, 'in the last time" there will be the ultimate sense of salvation, your glorification.

lll.     Hope Celebrated

"You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials7 so that the genuineness of your faith-more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire-may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (6-9)

A. Pleasure "You rejoice in this" (6) "This" probably refers back to the fact of our salvation (Luke 10:20).  However it could look ahead, paralleling James 1:2 "count it all joy when you fall into various trials".  We think that rejoicing should take place when we are built up in a physical sense:  good health, positive cash flow, restful vacation.  God says that we can take pleasure in being built up spiritually.  (Col. 2:6-7)

B. Perspective "for a short time" (6) The trials for the Christian church have continued for centuries.  For individual Christians, a particular testing may go on for years.  Yet, Peter writes that these should all be compared to eternity.  Our eyes should not be downcast by trials but rather lifted up to see the "praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (7)

C. Persecution "you have had to struggle in various trials" (6) Trials may be defined as anything that brings genuine distress or sorrow into the Christian's life.  Some trials were brought on by enemies of the church; some trials happened as a part of being human.  The point is that as residents of this world, we can expect such trials.

D. Process "that the genuineness of your faith - more valuable than gold which perishes though refined by fire..." (7)  Just as gold is melted at a high temperature to burn up the impurities, so earthly trials are a part of the process to purify our faith.  (Jude 24-25)

E. Personal Relationship "You love Him, though you have not seen Him" (8) Coming from Peter, who was asked of the Lord three times "Do you love me?" (John 21:17, cf. 20:29; 2 Cor. 4:16-18, 5:7), these become some of the more poignant words in the New Testament.  Peter, who had seen Jesus, denied Him.  Now he is calling on people who had never seen Him to affirm Him even in persecution, even to the point of death. (1 John 4:20; Heb. 11:1; Prov. 23:4-5) 

F. Prize "receiving the goal of your faith - the salvation of your souls" (9) Peter encourages us, like a coach to his runners, to keep our eyes on the prize (Philippians 3:14).  With eyes of faith, we concentrate not on present circumstances but rather on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  (1 Ths. 1:3)

 lV.     Hope: Recall God's Grace (1:10-12)

     A.  Prophecy "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated." (10) According to one source, there are 333 OT prophecies concerning Jesus Christ (DJK, Evangelism Explosion, p. 152). 

     B. Persecution "They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic suffering and the glories that would follow." (11) The Messiah (Christ) was prophesied to be a suffering servant (Isa. 53). Sufferings by believers should come as no surprise.

     C. Perspective "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you.  These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  Angels desire to look into these things." (12)  HCSB, p. 2149: 1:10-12 "The OT people of God did not specifically know Christ or the gospel, but they did believe the promises of God that pointed to Christ (Heb. 11:13).  Peter conveyed to his readers that the good news of salvation that the prophets sought and looked forward to had now been revealed.  Salvation in Christ is so great and the blessings so tremendous that angels desire to look into these things. The gospel excites their interest so much that they want to study it intently."


  1. Salvation enables us to praise God and rejoice even when times are difficult.
  2. Salvation is given to us by God through Christ's atoning work.
  3. Salvation is secured for us throughout eternity.




1 Peter 1:3-9

Lesson for September 3-4, 2016


This is our first lesson from the book of 1 Peter, so it is important for us to note who exactly is writing the book. This is the same Peter who was in Jesus' inner circle, who dropped everything in his life to follow Jesus, who began as an impetuous fisherman who lacked self-control, who experienced an

emotional roller-coaster by denying Christ in His last days and then witnessing His death and resurrection, who watched Jesus as He ascended into heaven, and who had experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter began his adulthood as a simple Jewish fisherman, but encountering Jesus led him to change completely the way he understood the world, as well as the way he understood himself-this change led Peter to become one of the most influential men in human history. What brought about this drastic change in Peter? The profound change came because he met Jesus.

In conjunction with Peter's life and the content of this week's verses, the overwhelming truth that Peter wants to communicate is that knowing Jesus will change everything in your life.

Big idea: Knowing Jesus changes everything.

1) Knowing Jesus changes your eternity.

2) Knowing Jesus changes your sufferings.

3) Knowing Jesus changes your view of the world.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1) Knowing Jesus changes your eternity

Peter begins the letter by declaring his thankfulness to God. Taking a surface look at these three verses,it becomes clear that Peter is thanking God for the gift of eternal life that comes through Jesus. But let's take a look at the specifics of what makes Peter so excited. In verse 4, Peter is thanking God because he has given us "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you." He also mentions a salvation that will be "revealed in the last time." A belief that God has something good in store for His people after death is certainly a core tenant of Christianity, but we have to be careful to not confuse the New Testament picture of life in the age to come with some vague idea of a Heaven far away where our souls float away on clouds to play harps. The New Testament is clear that believers will be resurrected with real, physical bodies that God will create a real, physical New Heavens and New Earth where we will experience a quality of life that is beyond our current comprehension. Sometimes it is difficult to get excited about Heaven because it's hard to get excited about something when we have no way to explain or understand what it will be like.


Imagine a grown person trying to explain to a 6 year old what it is like to fall in love and share companionship with a spouse in marriage. You can explain some things to the child about what marriage is and you can convey that it is a good thing. But as a 6 year old, the child cannot fully understand the joy of experiencing a deep, intimate love.

We are now in a similar situation when we talk about Heaven. We just don't have the physical, spiritual,or mental makeup to understand fully what is in store for us for the rest of eternity. In the meantime,we can only anticipate and have hope in what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 when he says: "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him."

"6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith-being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

2) Knowing Jesus changes your sufferings

When inevitable difficulties, trials, and sufferings come, those who know Jesus have an entirely different way to process these events than those who are in the world. While those who are without Christ can only despair and feel devoid of hope when pain and loss come, those who are in Christ can see these trials as an opportunity to refine our faith and our character. This does not mean that Christians do not feel the pain and emptiness that comes from the trials and tribulations that will befall us. However, it means that when life's difficulties and tragedies do come, we know that God has the means and the desire to work in and through our sufferings to bring a beautiful result, which will ultimately culminate when we are resurrected, just as Christ was resurrected. But even in the meantime, God can use these sufferings and trials to form our character, to make us more like Christ, and to make us more equipped to love others and live in service to His kingdom. James says it this way: "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4) Knowing Jesus changes our sufferings because we can now know that the suffering is temporary and that Jesus can and will use this result to make us 'mature and complete.' Peter gives the example of gold, which is purified by applying heat in a furnace to burn away the imperfections so that only the best, top-grade pure gold is left. When we know Jesus, life's difficulties, and sufferings are no longer random and meaningless, but they can be used as the refining fire that will help burn away the chaff and make us into who God has created us to be.

3) Knowing Jesus changes your view of the world

8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Peter now describes a key aspect of living as Christians. Although we have not physically seen Jesus, we still know Him. Through faith in Christ we have come to experience what it means to know God and to be forgiven by Him. We trust that the final outcome of our faith will be the salvation we experience at the end when Jesus returns and God creates the New Heavens and the New Earth, but the question for us in the meantime is, 'how should we live now?' I think this is what Peter is getting at in verse 8 when he says 'even though you do not see him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy'. Peter isn't only talking about the fact that we do not physically see Jesus, but he is also talking about the fact that it is sometimes difficult to even see the evidence of God working in the world.  Sometimes this happens because the world can be so ugly, cruel, and sad when we see the suffering of those around us. Sometimes this happens because we get distracted by the cares of the world, and we start pursuing money, power, or status instead of pursuing the Kingdom and His righteousness. Whatever the case, we are called as believers to walk the tightrope of living in the world, yet still having our eyes set on Jesus and His Kingdom, even though we can't always see it as clearly as we want to.


There is a pastor in Arizona who has a saying, 'Act based on what you know, not based on what you feel.' The point the pastor wants to make is that if you base all of your decisions, actions, and relationship choices on your immediate circumstances and how you feel at a particular moment, then those decisions and actions will be short-sighted and faulty. We should make decisions based on what we know to be true, not simply on how we feel at the moment. This is also the case with the way we are aware of and understand the world. Our circumstances, our feelings, and our frustrations can change moment to moment, but if we live believing in Christ and rejoicing in the joy that comes from knowing Him, then our outlook on the world changes completely. We receive the freedom to love our enemies as Christ loved those who persecuted Him, we can value people unconditionally in the same way that God does instead of only valuing people based on what they can give to us, and we can use both good and bad moments to be part of what God is doing in the world.


The point that everyone who reads these verses should walk away with is that if you truly know and follow Jesus, then He will change you. He will transform your desires, your dreams, your character, your view of the world, and the makeup of your heart. If you know Jesus, but you see that your life is not changing, then it means that you need to look carefully and circumspectly into your own heart and life and ask the question: am I truly walking with Him? We all have stubborn behaviors and patterns of life that are difficult to change, and allowing Jesus to change us is certainly not an easy or painless process. But if you want to become the person that God has created you to be, then it is imperative that you make a conscious, daily choice to follow Jesus and to allow Him to change your heart. Only then can we experience the fullness of the hope and the joy that Peter describes in these verses.