1 Peter 1:10-12 ~ 20080928 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
9/28 1 Peter 1:10-12 what prophets and angels long to know
1: 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith––more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire––may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
1: 10 peri hv swthriav exezhthsan kai exhraunhsan profhtai oi peri thv eiv umav caritov profhteusantev 11 eraunwntev eiv tina h poion kairon edhlou to en autoiv pneuma cristou promarturomenon ta eiv criston payhmata kai tav meta tauta doxav 12 oiv apekalufyh oti ouc eautoiv umin de dihkonoun auta a nun anhggelh umin dia twn euaggelisamenwn umav pneumati agiw apostalenti ap ouranou eiv a epiyumousin aggeloi parakuqai
Peter is addressing Christians who are being persecuted for following Jesus. They are experiencing trials. They have been ostracized in their communities. And Peter is writing them a brief letter
Peter wants to see them stand firm in the true grace of God in spite of the trials. So first, he has acknowledged their alien status in their communities. They are exiles, aliens, sojourners. But then he points them to their status in God's eyes. They are choice, precious, elect. The triune God is at work in them to secure their future hope. And this leads him into doxology – giving praise to God. He says 'blessed be God'. And his blessing or praise has three parts. In verses 3-5 he finds the foundation for praise in our new birth which God brought about and which brings us into an inheritance that is kept securely for us and we by God's power are being securely kept for it. Verses 6-9 point to the purpose of our present experiences. In this salvation, our new birth and future hope, we rejoice while at the same time we are grieved by trials, because we know the trials are a necessary part of our salvation. Trials prove our faith to be genuine. Our genuine faith is displayed by our love for Jesus, our trust in Jesus, our inexpressible joy in spite of our struggles. That joy in Jesus is an expression of worship or praise. And now in verses 10-12, we are pointed to the greatness of our salvation in contrast to the experience of prophets, evangelists, and even angels as fuel for our worship.
So in verse 10 he refers us back to 'this salvation'. This is the salvation he mentioned at the end of verse 9; 'the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls'. Salvation is a word we as Christians throw around a lot. I think it will benefit us greatly to pause and contemplate what we mean by the words we use. Salvation, or being 'saved' has two aspects; what we are saved from and what we are saved for. Let me illustrate these two aspects by using the word in different sentences. 'The firefighter broke through my bedroom window and carried me down the ladder, saving me from the blaze that engulfed my house.' Or 'I am saving every extra penny for our vacation to Hawaii'. Or a young woman might say 'I am saving myself for marriage'. In the first, there is a danger that would destroy us that we are rescued from. In the second, something or someone is being kept for a higher purpose, rather than being wasted. Both of these concepts are carried by the word 'salvation'. Implicit in the word itself is the concept of being saved from a danger that would destroy us – elsewhere in scripture we find the danger identified as the wrath of God or hell, death, and the power of sin. We deserve to suffer under the fury of the Almighty because of our sins. Salvation means we are rescued from that coming punishment and escape out from under the penalty of our sins. Peter focuses our attention in the context more on the other side of salvation; we are kept from wasting our life because there is something so much better to spend it on. We are being saved from the attraction of the world and from wasting our life serving the devil and and for our great inheritance.
Salvation is at the center of the good news message. The good news answers the cry 'what must I do to be saved?' and the good news answer is 'believe on the Lord Jesus' (Acts 16:30-31). Salvation is not your own doing – it is something that is done to you. The firefighter came crashing through your window and woke you up and carried you down the ladder. Your money doesn't save itself up for your vacation. By a conscious act of the will it has to be set aside for that purpose. Salvation is 'by grace through faith' (Eph. 2:8). Peter has explained the 'by grace' part of salvation when he describes his readers as 'those who are elect... according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit'. And he points to the 'through faith' part when he says 'for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood'. He points to the 'by grace' part when he says that it was God's great mercy that caused us to be born again' and the 'through faith' part when he says you 'are being guarded through faith for a salvation' and in spite of not seeing Jesus you love and trust and rejoice in him, and obtain 'the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls'.
It is this salvation of his readers that he has talked about in the first nine verses of his letter that he now points to as the topic of inquiry for prophets and angels. This salvation is also called 'the grace that was to be yours'. We could describe our salvation, our rescue from judgment and for an inheritance simply as God's grace extended in our direction. Literally he says 'the to you grace'. It is undeserved kindness intended for you. The grace that you are right now experiencing from God was the topic of careful search and inquiry of all the prophets who prophesied. Peter is looking back over the entire Old Testament revelation and saying that the grace of God you are experiencing today is the focal point of it all. We learn some things about our bible from these verses. We learn how to use it, where it came from, what its central message is, and what it is meant to do.
I take the instruction on how to use the bible from the phrase 'searched and inquired carefully'. In the Greek original, the phrase is 'exezhthsan kai exhraunhsan', two words that sound similar and have very similar meanings to give emphasis to the intensity of their search. 'exezhthsan' indicates an intensive search or investigation that considers the matter from every point of view. 'exhraunhsan' indicates a search for something that is hidden. These words are not passive. They indicate strenuous effort and persistent mental exertion. The prefix of both words is 'ek' which means 'out of'. There are treasures buried in scripture that are waiting for us to exert the effort to get them out. We don't come to the text bringing our treasures and ideas and try to plant them there. Instead we come with our tools and try to uncover what is really there, waiting to be discovered. If the prophets themselves made such careful search and inquiry into their own prophecies, should we not do the same? Some people might ask why we have spent five weeks on only 12 verses of 1 Peter, examining each phrase and looking behind the English translation to the Greek original. My reply is 'exezhthsan kai exhraunhsan'! God spoke to us. He preserved his word for us. He gave us the tools we need. He gave us a brain and the capacity for curiosity and investigation. Doesn't God's word deserve our careful attention?
I take the source and character of the bible from the phrase in verse 11 'the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating'. The Spirit of the Messiah, or the Holy Spirit, was revealing or indicating or making known. 'Prophets who prophesied' is explained and expanded by 'the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating'. What the prophets wrote was not mere opinion or political commentary on life in ancient Israel. It was God's Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, making truth known to them. Peter describes the source of prophecy in 2 Peter 1:21:
Paul describes it this way:
The author of Hebrews quoted the Old Testament by saying:
So scripture is God's Holy Spirit through the prophet communicating to us. But what is he communicating?
I see the central message or content of the bible indicated by what the prophets were making careful search and inquiry about. It was 'concerning this salvation', and they 'prophesied about the grace that was to be yours'. But what was it that they wanted to know? It says in verse 11 'inquiring what person or time'; they understood salvation by grace through faith. They wanted to know when. What would be the time and circumstances of the Christ? Or who would fulfill the office of Messiah? Later in the verse, it says that 'he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories'. The central theme of all of revelation is God's grace in our salvation; displayed in the sufferings of Christ and his glories. This is what Jesus pointed out to his disciples on the road to Emmaus:
By the example of the prophets, we are encouraged to search and inquire diligently into the biblical text; we understand that the bible is God's Holy Spirit communicating to us; we see that the central theme and the unifying message of the entire bible is God's grace in our salvation displayed by the suffering and subsequent glories of Jesus, and in verse 12 we see the purpose of prophecy. Prophecy was not primarily for the prophets. Prophecy was not even primarily for the people to whom the prophets prophesied. Prophecy's primary purpose was for you! 'It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you'. The Old Testament was written with you in mind!
Listen to how the author of Hebrews describes the Old Testament heroes and prophets:
We get a glimpse into this wrestling and struggling of the prophets to understand their prophecies when we look at Daniel:
So be encouraged, Christian reader, as you stand in awe of the faithful saints of the bible, that they were serving not themselves but you! The prophets of old served you with their prophecy and now Peter brings it up to date and says that the apostles and evangelists also serve you 'in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven'. The things the prophets diligently searched and inquired into but could not understand, have now been declared to you through those who preached the gospel. This sheds some light on the role of the evangelist. God is announcing his good news through the preacher. And the preacher is not preaching in his own power. He preaches 'by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
Suffering Christian, be encouraged. You are the focal point of God's redemptive plan. The prophets desperately wanted to know what you now understand. God has hidden it from them and revealed it to you. He has empowered apostles and evangelists to proclaim the good news of God's grace to you. And not only prophets and evangelists, but also the angels. Peter throws in this provocative phrase at the end of his doxology: 'things into which angels long to look.' I wish we had more time to talk about angels. We learn from texts like Psalm 148:2-5, Nehemiah 9:6 and Colossians 1:16 that angels are created beings. They were created as angels and always will remain angels. They are spirit beings who are a different class of being from humans and animals and plants. Hebrews 1:13-14 tells us that angels serve God by ministering to us for our benefit.
Angels are similar to us in that they are personal moral beings that were created with the capacity to love and serve God or to rebel and disobey. Jude verse 6 tells us that some rebelled against God. Peter tells us
God apparently did not give fallen angels a second chance. They were not spared. They are being kept until the judgment. The author of Hebrews contrasts our situation with that of angels. We too rejected God's authority and rebelled against him and we too deserve judgment. Jesus did not become an angel. Jesus became for a little while lower than the angels so that he could taste death for mankind (Heb.2:9)
Understanding the situation of angels, it is interesting to hear that angels are intensely interested in the grace of God that is extended to us. Angels only know justice. They have never experienced forgiveness. The holy angels have never sinned. They have no need of redemption. But God's plan of salvation for human kind reveals a new facet of the glory of God's grace. That's why Jesus told us:
Look Michael, he took another one who was on his way to hell and made him an heir of heaven! What marvelous grace! What free and undeserved love! Angels have a holy passion to see the grace of God unfold in your life! This should cause us to treasure our salvation all the more – salvation by grace through faith in Jesus – a salvation that was prophesied by the prophets, proclaimed by preachers and displayed before angels