As I have said in a previous blogpost, Peter knew Jesus and witnessed what he said and did during his three and a half years of public ministry. Such knowledge, when believed, imparts joy, because the believer is shown how he is able to share in the inheritance of Christ—eternal or unending life. A special blessing is given to those of us who have not seen yet believe and love Jesus (1Peter 1:8; John 20:29) who is preached in the Gospel narratives, the record of the Apostles of Jesus. Our faith in and love for Jesus (1Peter 1:8) is expressed in our willingness to spread the Gospel (1Peter 1:9) to the end that others would be saved (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Titus 2:14).
The inexpressible joy the believer experiences in the revelation of his salvation was not experienced by God’s people before the coming of Christ. Peter tells us that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets of old, as they prophesied about Christ (1Peter 1:11). Yet, although they prophesied about Christ, they didn’t fully comprehend what they recorded and believed. Therefore, they diligently searched (the available Scriptures) and enquired (from those in the visions they experienced) about the very things they recorded, wondering not only when their prophecy would transpire, but what sort of time that would be. That is, what the age would be like when Christ would appear (1Peter 1:10-11).
They were able to understand that in the end, all things would come together with fairness and God’s righteousness would be vindicated, and that this would include the gentiles in some manner (Psalm 72:11; Daniel 7:14). However, they didn’t understand how the sufferings of Christ should impact the world in such a way that the glorious salvation they spoke of would occur. They didn’t understand what we who live in the last age are privileged to understand—the resurrection of Christ, his ascension, coronation and his reign at the right hand of God. They neither understood how the gentiles could have equal partnership in such a salvation, nor did they comprehend the creation of the Church that would be used by Jesus instead of the nation of Israel to gather a people for God out of all nations.
When the prophets of old diligently inquired and searched for understanding about what was told them (1Peter 1:10), they were told that their words were meant for another generation, not their own (1Peter 1:12; cf. Daniel 12:8-13; Habakkuk 2:1-4). The generation of which the prophesies speak was the generation to which Christ personally ministered. The salvation of which the prophets foretold but didn’t understand (1Peter 1:4) was unveiled for the first time in the first century AD (the last age, 1Peter 1:5) with the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles of Jesus. For the very first time in history, the people of God could rejoice in the full knowledge of their salvation. It was understood and embraced by that generation and continues to be understood and embraced today by all who come to believe in and love Jesus in this final age before judgment.
Our Salvation includes both suffering and glory. What happened to Jesus will also come to pass in our lives. We are crucified with him (Romans 6:6), buried with him, rise together with him (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12), and live with him (2Timothy 11). We who are baptized by Christ are not only baptized in the Spirit, but also in the fire of trials (Luke 3:16). These trials are meant not only to strengthen our resolve to trust and love Jesus, but our doing so is a witness to unbelievers to the end that though we (like they) feel hard pressed by the circumstances of life (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:11), we display hope; although we (like they) are at times perplexed with what life gives us, we don’t despair; although some of us are persecuted for what we believe, say or do, we don’t feel forsaken; though we may experience defeat, we are not destroyed. Rather we bear about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our lives, his Life may be witnessed by others. It is our lot, our duty and our glory to surrender ourselves to this dying for Jesus sake, so that it may be displayed in our mortal flesh that Jesus lives (2Corinthians 4:8-11).