1 Peter 1:6-9

1-Peter

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. {1Pe 1:6-9 NASB}

In verse 6, the antecedent to “in this” is “the inheritance” in verse 4, or the process of being born again to obtain the inheritance.  The latest noun is “salvation” but it is feminine (“in this” is neuter).  The logic of the sentence follows.  God caused us to be born again, to obtain an inheritance reserved in heaven.  Salvation in v5 is a side thought about the individual person.  Plus, the entire point of mentioning our joy is to raise the contrast between our joy and the “various” trials.

This joy is the word ἀγαλλιάω.  It’s used 31 times in the NT and 2 times in 3 verses here. It always communicates overwhelming joy.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” {Jhn 8:56 NASB}

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. {Mat 5:12 NASB}

The source of the joy –the inheritance reserved in heaven- is separate from the trials themselves.  Peter is teaching that the joy of the Christian is not found in the midst of their circumstances, but rather on the hope they have in Heaven.

Peter also alludes to the purpose found in suffering itself by saying “if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials”.  Note the linking of the different kind of trials together under a common purpose.  Raising the issue of necessity indicates that suffering becomes a means to an end, and part of a plan in control of someone other than the sufferer.

The Greek for necessary is δεῖ and implies a STRONG obligation. Vines expository dictionary says it “expresses a logical necessity, a moral obligation”  In other words, the elect, the aliens scattered MUST, they are BEHOOVED, the HAVE to suffer various trials.

WHY?

Verse 7 gives us the answer. The reason they must suffer these trials is because it demonstrates their faith is proven and results in its purpose; the praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We do know that our faith will be tested to see if it can be proven:

“Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” {1Co 3:12-13 NASB}

These trials here in 1 Peter act as the figurative fire Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians. Peter plays on that imagery in comparing the preciousness of their faith to gold, even gold tested by fire.

He makes it clear, the faith of the elect, proven by trials, is more precious than gold tested by fire. So then, the reason for the trials is to test the faith of the elect, so that it may be found to be genuine and true, and may then result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

What does Revelation mean? Revelation is the word ἀποκάλυψις and means revealing or manifestation. This echoes the eschatological mindset of Peter from v5.  I believe this must be a reference to the second coming of Christ for two reasons:

1) He is talking to Christians already. If these were people for whom the truth of Christ had not yet been revealed, then their faith could not be tested by the trials currently going on for the simple fact that they would not have faith as unbelievers.

2) the grammar and syntax of the phrase “may be found” carries a future tense connotation.

joy-in-the-unseen-christIt might be argued that revelation of Jesus is the unfolding of the cannon of Scripture going on in their time.  However, this would be a non-normative use of “revelation” in Scripture.  If we were to take this view point, it would be a unique among the other examples.

Verse 8 drives the point home.  His readers have this faith in Christ, in fact they LOVE Christ, even though they haven’t seen Christ in the past; and they believe Christ even though they don’t see Him now in the midst of their trials.  Jesus is as real as the trials they endure.  “See and seen” are clearly references to physical tangible sight because they DO see Him in a metaphorical sense because they believe.  ὁράω, the word for see/seen, carries with it a definite denotation of physical sight and physical coming. The notion of uncovering truth is less a part of the definition. For example, the word is used when Simeon sees the infant Jesus in the temple and praises God that his eyes have beheld the Savior in Luke 2.

So, to summarize:

v7: the result of the purpose of your trials -that your faith is proven- is more precious than refined gold, and will result in praise, honor, and glory when we all see Jesus again.
v8: But that praise isn’t a result of the sight, because you loved Him without seeing Him, and believe Him even though you don’t see Him now.

Verse 8 goes on to describe the rejoicing as “joy inexpressible and full of glory”. In other words, the joy they feel because they believe Christ is joy beyond human words, and beyond human boundaries. It is a supernatural joy. A gift from God.  To tie in verse 6, such joy comes “even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials”.  The joy inexpressible and full of glory comes from our faith, not our circumstances.

Finally, verse 9:  Even better than joy, there is also salvation. Faith leads us to love Him, faith leads us to believe Him, and faith leads us to salvation through Him.  In the NASB, I believe κομίζω is poorly translated as “obtaining”.  It is a poor translation because it forces the sentence (in English) to communicate that the subject is the one doing the action; as if the subject (those believing and loving Christ) are procuring something.  In reality, κομίζω strongly denotes receiving.

For example in 2 Corinthians we see people appearing before the judgment seat. Those at the judgment seat aren’t giving judgment, they’re receiving it.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may berecompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” {2Co 5:10 NASB}

In Colossians, we find that those who do wrong receive consequences, they do not give them.

“For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” {Col 3:25 NASB}

We have to see κομίζω as a passive verb where something is happening to the subject. What then is the object of this verb? What is the subject receiving?

The answer is “the salvation of your souls”. But how? The prepositional phrase sandwiched in between the verb and the object tells us how. Salvation is the “outcome” or τέλος of their faith. Edmund Heibert calls this the “goal” of the faith, the ultimate fullness of salvation. Quite simply, it is the end of their faith. Faith is the means, salvation is the end.

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