1 Peter 1:3-9
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, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice,* even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so 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 honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although 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, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
First, an apology – Yesterday I said that the letter was written around 80 CE, at the earliest, and Peter would have been an old man. But Peter is believed to have been martyred by Nero, whose reign ended in 68 CE, 12 years before that. So, either the letter was written earlier than scholars believe, or it was written by someone other than Peter, perhaps as an honor to the martyred saint.
Verses 1 & 2 were the greeting of the letter; verses 3 – 12 are a blessing, that also anticipates what is coming in the letter. It begins with a blessing to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, going on to say that it is through God’s mercy that Jesus came to us, and through God’s mercy that we have been reborn into a living hope. Not just a static, “I’m supposed to believe” kind of hope, but a “living hope”, a dynamic, sent-from-God, founded in the resurrection hope! Not only are we reborn into this hope, but into an inheritance from our Father that is not perishable or defiled, as are things on earth, but is unfading and kept for us in heaven. The author then says that those to whom he is writing are protected by the power of God, through faith – even though they are now undergoing persecution.
The author is writing to a people who are being persecuted – whether by a Roman emperor, or as now seems to be more common, a local authority (remember Paul in Ephesus being persecuted by those who crafted silver idols?). Even while he tells them they have God’s protection, he does not say that will keep them from persecution, but that the trials will be used by God – their faith will grow through them.
As Christians, our prayers are sometimes not answered. Loved ones, for whom we prayed for healing, are not healed, but die. We face trials, perhaps not persecution because we are Christians (although many today are being persecuted), but sickness or cancer or troubles in our families. Loving God, and receiving God’s protection does not mean those things don’t happen to us. It means we get through them! We come through by leaning on the love and presence of Christ, by knowing, as Adam Hamilton often says, “The worst thing is never the last thing.” We come through them, and on the other side we will rejoice with Christ. For the outcome of our faith is the salvation of our souls.