1 Peter is a letter written during a period of suffering for the early Christian Church (1 Pt. 4:12-19). It is likely written by the Apostle Peter with little dissenting opinion on authorship or pseudepigraphic authorship. In 1 Peter 1, the author presents three imperatives that ultimately call us to holiness.
- set your hope fully on the grace (v.13)
- also be holy in all your conduct (v.15)
- conduct yourselves with fear (v.17)
1 Peter 1:13–15 (ESV): “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,”
Peter calls us to live lives that are focused upon the grace that comes forth from our faith in Jesus Christ. He asserts that in order to do so fully, we must be alert and sober-minded. This is a parallel in that we are to live in expectation of the return of Christ, the Parousia. As many were caught off-guard when Christ first came, not expecting the Messiah at that time, we are not to be caught off-guard again. Just as the prophecy was known that the Messiah was coming, we know Christ will return. So, while we wait for the Parousia, we should conduct our lives accordingly. If a parent leaves their children home alone, it is expected that the children behave as a sign of their maturity, so if a Christian behaves poorly, is it not a sign of spiritual immaturity? For the Lord is Holy, we are called to be conformed to Christ’s image and be holy in our living as well.
1 Peter 1:17–18 (ESV): “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,”
Peter then calls us to live in fearful reverence, abstaining from our sin, for we were justified before the Lord. In living our lives fearfully, we direct our attention solely on Christ, for He paid the ransom that justified us. For we were ransomed, we are no longer slaves of our sin, the passions of the flesh, so we should stop acting as slaves to the sin, and live the lives of holiness in which we were created for.
1 Peter 1:19–20 (ESV): “but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you”
Peter then gives us some Christology that explains the nature of Jesus and the significance of the sacrifice he made. The book of Hebrews goes into detail regarding this subject, but here we are presented with two points that are of great importance albeit only mentioned briefly. The price of sin is human death. God extended grace in the Old Covenant that animal sacrifices may be made by the priests to atone for the people’s sins, but these were imperfect sacrifices that had to be made repeatedly. Christ’s death was the final lamb that was sacrificed—one that was perfect and without blemish that would never need to be sacrificed again. Further, we see that Jesus has existed before time began, but only became known to us when we presented himself as our sacrifice.
1 Peter 1:21–22 (ESV): “who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,”
Verse 21 explains to us that we have confidence in our faith for God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and exalted him gloriously. This evidence of Lordship is why we must live holy lives and love each other. Our love is not limited to just those that are easy to get along with but must be extended to every person. It is not just love for other Christians, but the pagans and other unsaved as well.
1 Peter 1:23–25 (ESV): “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
When we became followers of Christ, we were born again. We were dead in our trespasses, but we were raised to life in Jesus Christ. Since we were raised with Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are no longer to hold to the fleshly passions for they fade away. It is our faith that brings us eternal life that we must hold close to that will not perish. The happiness of the world ebbs and flows leaving one to seek something new to find more temporary happiness in. It is Jesus Christ that we have eternal joy that prevails over any circumstance.
So remember where your hope is found. It is Jesus Christ, and we must direct our focus on him. It is not something we do a couple of times a year or once a week. It is a life that we must live. No longer should you make excuses for your sins for you can overcome them through Jesus. You sinned before you became a Christian for your flesh was your directing power, but now that it is the Holy God, your direction is that of holiness and no longer your flesh. Yes, we are sinful by nature, but we have no excuse to succumb to it. Are you not a new creature? Why do you live your life as you once did?