1 Peter 1:10-12 – “Things into which angels long to look!”


As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things into which angels long to look. {1Pe 1:10-12 NASB}

In verse 10, Peter tells us that those who came much before his audience, “the prophets who prophesied”, made “careful searches and inquires”. This is revealing about a number of aspects of salvation.  First, it demonstrates that it is the longing of the saints of old. They did not view their Christless circumstances as sufficient. They longed for Christ, they awaited their Messiah. They searched and inquired and hoped for Him to come.  Edmund Heibert, in his excellent commentary, calls to our attention that Peter emphasizes the search over the people doing the searching.

Second, since the saints of old prophesied of the grace which Peter’s audience now possess tells us that this grace was not a “plan B”. Rather it was always what history was leading toward.  This is instructive of in helping us to understand a number of basic theologies.  It tells us that the revelation of Scripture is progressive, that the saints in the Old Testament did not have the entire story but yet knew enough to be searching for something.  Not just some THING, but some ONE.  They knew enough to know that God would send a Messiah.  Additionally it instructs us on the sovereignty of God.  God was not foiled in His plan of creating innocent human beings who fell unforseen by Him.  Rather it was ALWAYS the plan of God to send His messiah.  Finally, it teaches us about God’s faithfulness.  The Savior was long promised to come, and everyone who knew God knew to expect Him.  God did not disappoint, He kept the promise.

JMACThey sought to know who the Messiah was or what time He would appear. What they probably didn’t know was that the same Spirit speaking to them was the God who would come as their Messiah.  The words used in verse 11 are Πνεῦμα Χριστός, which means “The Spirit of Christ”. Peter is telling us Christ Himself directed the prophecies regarding Himself .

In his commentary, John MacArthur states “The Eternal Christ, inseparable from the Holy Spirit, worked within the Old Testament writers to record God’s infallible revelation.”  There’s no reason to believe Πνεῦμα Χριστός is talking about anyone other than Christ in the Old Testament. This is particularly the case when Peter takes pains to denote that the Holy Spirit is present in the happenings of verse 12. If Peter makes the distinction there, why would he not make it here?  This lends great weight to the idea of an eternal Christ, per-existent to creation, present at creation (John 1), at work in the Old Testament, and alive today.

Peter is building a tremendous Christology in this chapter!

  • He’s the Lord (v3)
  • part of triune God (v2)
  • the son of God (v3)
  • the coming King (v7)
  • the object of our faith and love (v8)
  • the self prophesied Messiah (v11)
  • the one to be revealed, bringing grace (v13)
  • the lamb unblemished and spotless (v19)
  • foreknown before the foundation of the world (v20)
  • resurrected and glorified (v21)

Peter has a HIGH VIEW of Christ.

Christ’s suffering and His glories were foreseen by prophecies, and were not, as many critics would raise, unbecoming events that proved Jesus was an impostor. While many Jews expected Him to be a military and political leader, Peter understood Jesus had to die and that had been the plan and purpose of His first coming all along.

lambNote that both comings of Christ are foreseen in the Old Testament. “the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow”.  The reason both comings are in view here is simply because Peter divides the prediction into two categories, and the way of describing those categories correlates with the purpose of the two comings.  Certainly there is some aspects of both in each coming, but the purpose of each is clear.  Christ may have been glorified in the transfiguration and in the resurrection during His first coming, but the purpose of that coming was to die, exchanging His righteousness for our sin.  In the second coming He is described as a “lamb slain” standing near the throne (Rev 5:6) but His return in Rev 19 is not to be slain, but a return in glory.

We find examples of those foretold sufferings of His first coming such as this one in Isaiah:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. {Isa 53:4-5 NASB}

We also examples of those foretold “glories to follow” of His second coming such as this one in Zechariah:

Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. {Zec 14:3-4 NASB}

Those in the Old Testament served the purpose not of edifying themselves, but rather edifying those who saw their prophesies fulfilled.  Peter declares prophesy fulfilled in the day and age of the audience of 1 Peter; and so the Old Testament saints looked forward, and the New Testament saints look back.  The Old Testament tells us what was going to happen, and the New Testament tells us how it did happen. Jesus is Lord even over history, using the world’s timeline to serve His purposes.  Peter affirms that what the Old Testament had seen is, in Christ, fulfilled and revealed. Jesus is the pinnacle of history, and the Old Testament looked forward to Him and His complete ministry.

Just as the Old Testament prophets had the “Spirit of Christ” within them predicting the sufferings and glories of Christ, now those who preached the Gospel to Peter’s audience do so by the power of the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven.

These are things in which “angels long to look”, which is a strong indication of God’s unique relationship with man. He has servants in Heaven in His angels, but the Gospel is for man. Christ came for man. God ordered the events of the cross, prior to the cross, and after the cross so that man would know Him and the elect would be saved by Him. He was at work in all of it, and that work was unique in how God deals with mankind and no one else. The angels will never experience salvation from sin, and the intimacy of calling God “Father”.  The elect will.  Jesus’ ministry, the pinnacle of history, makes this possible.

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