1 Peter 1:3, 4 – A LIVING HOPE

Christians are the elect of the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, and sprinkled by the blood of the Son. We read about such wonderful blessings in one Bible verse: 1 Peter 1:2. From there, the Lord’s apostle goes on to speak about a living hope:

(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.

There are some Bible students who conclude that in this instance, the ones who have been begotten again by the Father (the “us” in verse 3) refers to the apostles. We personally see no reason why we should conclude that the message of being begotten applies only to those specially-chosen disciples. The context of Peter’s statements points to all saints as being part of the elect, sanctified, sprinkled people of God (1:1,2) and possessors of a living hope (1:4). When it comes to a Christian’s living hope, what can we learn from 1 Peter 1:3,4?

The Reality of our hope – To face life without hope in the heart makes life dismal and depressing. Christians are blessed to have “one hope” (Ephesians 4:4), a hope about which we learned from the gospel (Colossians 1:23), and a hope that sustains us. In fact, the Bible says that we are saved by hope (Romans 8;24). Thank God for it.

The Basis of our hope – When you look back at 1 Peter 1:3, you can see at least three things that are part of what causes us to have hope.

First, we owe our living hope to God’s abundant mercy (1:3). Our great God is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4), and “according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). We owe Him . . . big time.

Second, we owe our living hope to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (1:3). Later in this same epistle, we read that it is by His resurrection that we are saved (1 Peter 3:21). The fact that Jesus rose from the dead gives us the hope that the same will happen with us. He was “the firstfruits” from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). The fact that Jesus is called “the firstfruits” indicates that there is more fruit to come, so to speak. As Paul continued to write in that context about the resurrection, he concluded, “But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (15:23).

Third, the text of 1 Peter 1:3 indicates that those who have living hope are those who have been begotten again by the heavenly Father. Why do God’s children have a living hope? Because the Father “brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). Being born into the family of God, we are part of the saved body (Ephesians 5:23), and that makes us people of hope! The stock market may crash, our health may decline, and our pets may leave us, but through Jesus we have a living hope, a hope that neither other humans nor the devil can take from us.

The Nature of our hope – In the inspired language of 1 Peter 1:3,4, the living hope of Christians causes us to look to an inheritance: a spiritual inheritance that is incorruptible (1:4), undefiled (1:4), does not fade away (1:4), and is reserved (1:4). What is the difference between “incorruptible” and “undefiled?”

– “Incorruptible” (“ /aphthartos”) means “uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable . . . immortal” [Thayer, word no. 862].

– “undefiled” (“ /amiantos”) means “without defect or flaw” [Robertson’s Word Pictures]; “not defiled, unsoiled” [Thayer, word no. 283].

The Fulfillment of our hope – Yes, an inheritance awaits each faithful child of God. Here is the good part: the fulfillment of our hope will not be a material, temporary inheritance which eventually will be “blown” or end up in someone else’s hands. Let us highlight again some of the thoughts of 1 Peter 1:3,4: “. . . to a living hope . . . to an inheritance . . . reserved in heaven for you” (emphasis mine, rdc). God is guarding our inheritance, so it is, as we say, “in safe hands.” In view of the out-of-this-world inheritance that awaits us, does it not make good sense to heed the instruction of Colossians 3:2 and set our minds on things above?!

The book of 1 Peter was written to saints who were experiencing various trials in life (1 Peter 1:6).

How severe could some of those trials/tests be? Peter spoke about the “fiery trial” before them (4:12). Yet, despite such challenges, Peter called on them to continue to “greatly rejoice” (1:6).

Having a living hope did not remove all challenges and trials from the lives of Christians in the first century, nor does our living hope eliminate all forms of tests and difficulties in our lives. But, with a living hope in our heart, we can face whatever today brings by trusting in a living Lord Who has promised us an amazing, eternal inheritance in heaven.

— Roger D. Campbell

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