Our Reward at the Appearing of Jesus

09 Nov
from Google Images

from Google Images

James tells us that the trial of our faith brings patience or endurance (James 1:3-4). Our reward for enduring the fiery trials of our faith is praise, honor and glory (1Peter 1:7). That is, if we endure until the end of the trial, even our enemies will have to reassess their opinion of us, even if they cannot or will not embrace what we believe. Often an enemy will commend the inner strength of his foe, even if such commendation is expressed in a negative manner. He may even express his respect for the believer’s apparent integrity. Nevertheless, whether or not accolades come from our enemies, Jesus highly esteems the believer (cf. Matthew 10:32). Such is the reward of enduring the troubles of life or the deliberate attacks of those who oppose us. Although our salvation cannot be lost, marred or destroyed (1Peter 1:4), we can lose our reward (cf. 1Corinthians 3:11-15 and Matthew 10:33)—the praise of Jesus for the display of the believer’s inner strength (built up and exemplified in the fiery trial) that demonstrates his or her trust in God.

Peter tells us that the reward of the believer’s trial of faith is to be received at the apokalupsis (G602–revelation—same word as in Revelation 1:1 ) or the appearing of Jesus Christ (1Peter 1:7). This Greek word does not mean that Jesus would actually be seen with the naked eye, just as the high priest didn’t actually see Jesus coming in the clouds (Matthew 26:64-65). Nevertheless, he knew what Jesus meant and lived to see him come to judge Jerusalem in 66 AD, marking the beginning of the Jewish war with Rome. The term apokalupsis (G602), meaning revealing, is used to express God’s coming to judge or reward mankind according to their works (cf. Jeremiah 4:13; Isaiah 19:1; Psalm 18:10-12). This was especially so as it concerned Jerusalem and the Temple (Joel 2:1-2; cf. Mark 13:26; 14:62; Isaiah 64:1-12).

Once the war broke out between Jerusalem and Rome, it would have become evident that what believers had predicted about Jesus was true. Just as the high priest would have been able to recall Jesus’ words in Mark 14:62 and know Jesus didn’t blaspheme (Mark 14:63), so non believing Jews around the empire and unbelieving gentiles, who were familiar in some sense with the Christian faith, would have to reassess how they perceived believers in Jesus. This would also be true concerning any trial of our faith. Trials are temporary, but if the believer endures to the end of the trial (expressed by Peter in the phrase: the revelation or appearing of Jesus – i.e. judgment), he would have the praise, honor and acknowledgment of Jesus before the Father (1Peter 1:7; cf. Matthew 10:32).

Peter knew Jesus. He witnessed all that Jesus said and did, and because of it he both loved Jesus and trusted him to perform all that he said he would do. But, the Jews in Asia Minor (and by extension all believers, including us today), though they hadn’t seen Jesus, loved him and trusted him (1Peter 1:8). Jesus once told Thomas that a special blessing would be given those of us who have not seen but yet believe (John 20:29). This blessing concerns our happiness or joy in the Lord. It is evidenced by it overflowing into good works resulting in the salvation of souls (1Peter 1:9), to which Christ has called us (Matthew 28:18-20; Titus 2:14). The believer’s joy anticipates or implies their good works, in that they continue to spread the good news that was given to them, and as the Scripture says, their works glorify God, because they are often rendered for evil done to them (cf. Matthew 5:10-12).

Spreading the Gospel is often done under duress. This was certainly so during the first century AD, as one can see in the New Testament by reading the book of Acts. Both the ministries of Peter and Paul were administered through persecution. This was no less so for those in Asia Minor, Peter’s intended readers. It is also true of our day, especially in areas were another religion exercises almost exclusive authority over the people. Nevertheless, Peter claims the trouble is temporary. If believers in Jesus endure to the end, their reward from Christ will be forthcoming at the appearing of Jesus (i.e. the end of the trial), both in this life and in the next.

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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Epistles of Peter


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