First Peter was written by one who sensed the triumphant outcome of God's purpose for the world <1:4>. The triumph of the future depends in no way on what we have done but on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because God has raised Jesus from the dead, God is deserving of praise; for "His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope" <1:3>.
The unshakableness of our hope in Jesus Christ, which awaits us in heaven, resounds like a clap of thunder throughout this epistle. Because Christ has been raised from the dead, His suffering and death have meaning. The believer can gain courage in present adversity by looking to the example of Christ in His suffering. We have a sure hope for the future because of Christ's resurrection. This truly is a "living hope," for it is one we can live by, even in the midst of "various trials" <1:6>.
If 1 Peter is an epistle of hope, the accent falls not on wishful thinking, but on present help. No biblical writer shows the connection between faith and conduct in a clearer manner than does Peter. "Conduct," in fact, is a key word in this epistle <1:15,17-18; 2:12; 3:1-2,16>. For Peter, practice is not simply the most important thing; it is the only thing.
Peter's stress on behavior, however, is not an appeal to some vague sense of "moral goodness" in people. The conduct Peter describes is the result of a life reclaimed by the perfect power of Jesus Christ. Christ has redeemed believers <1:18-19>; Christ upholds and guides them <1:8; 2:25>; and Christ will reward them <5:4>. Christ is both the model and goal of the redeemed life. Consequently, believers may move forward on the pilgrim way, confident that the end will rise up to meet them with joy and salvation <2:11; 4:13-14>.
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" <Matt. 5:10>. There is no better commentary on this Beatitude than the Epistle of 1 Peter. Here is no pale, tight-lipped religion. Rather, "living from the end" cultivates an abiding joy even in the trials of the present. Here, too, Jesus is our sole help and our sure Lord, "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross" <Heb. 12:2>.
Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
(Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
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