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Reaching Out for the Hope Set Before Us

14 Nov
from Google Images

from Google Images

We are told in Scripture that God made certain promises to Abraham concerning “blessing” and “multiplying” (Hebrews 6:13-14). There we are told that, once God says he will do something, we can be sure he will do the thing he says. However, in order to emphasize that he would, indeed, bless and multiply Abraham, he confirmed his statement with an oath (Hebrews 6:17). Thus, God expressed his intention toward Abraham in the two ways in which he is unable to lie–first he says the thing, and secondly he confirms the thing with an oath. He did this for our sake, in order that we might have great comfort in what God says he will do for us, so that we are enabled to lay hold upon the hope that he has set before us (Hebrews 6:18).

Paul makes a similar statement in his letter to the Philippians:

“…reaching forth unto those things which are before, press(ing) toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

Peter elaborates on these things in his first letter to the Jews of the Diaspora living in Asia Minor (1Peter 1:1). The hope that Peter mentions in 1Peter 1:13 is quite different from that mentioned in 1Peter 1:3. In verse-3 Peter is speaking of our indestructible salvation that is eternal, reserved for us in heaven. In verse-13, however, he writes of hoping to the end of the trial for the reward of Christ that comes with knowing he is pleased in our behavior, i.e. our faithful endurance of the fiery trial because of our love for and trust we have in him.

The revelation of Jesus Christ (1Peter 1:13) points to what we call his Second Coming at the end of that age in which Peter lived. The Bible never speaks of our age or the Gospel age ending (cf. Daniel 2:44). Rather, the phrase points to the time of judgment, or time of rewards. Jesus, as Lord of lords (Messiah), ‘appeared’ in the end of the age (first century AD) when he worked through the Jewish nation to reach out to the world. He judged Jerusalem and the Temple and thereby vindicated the Gospel, giving the ministry of caring for his people over to a ‘nation’ or a ‘people’ who would be faithful (cf. Matthew 21:33-43; 1Peter 1:9). The Old Covenant ended at that very time, the resurrection and judgment occurred and Jesus kept his promise to return to us then, cir. 70 AD.

In 1Peter 1:13 Peter told the church to do three things. First, “gird up the loins of one’s mind”. That is, be ready. Having one’s loins girded points to the readiness in which God’s people were to be on the day he would deliver them from the authority of Pharaoh (Exodus 12:11). Secondly, Peter commanded the church to be sober. In other words, ‘be in control of one’s mind and behavior’ and don’t be taken in by the world all around, its philosophies, how it treats believers, etc. Believers are to direct their minds to the things of God. Finally, Peter tells the church to hope to the end. That is, don’t give up. Remember that God is faithful; believers can depend upon him, and they won’t be ashamed. God is worthy of our trust. Therefore, hope in him to the end of the trial, expecting his help and continual presence with his people.

In 1Peter 1:14 Peter calls upon the church to be obedient. In other words, be ready, setting one’s mind on the things of God, hoping in him until the end (1Peter 1:13). The ignorance he mentions has to do with our former lifestyle (Acts 17:30; Ephesians 4:18), which is to be set aside and repented of in order to set one’s mind (and behavior) on the things of God. Peter intends for his readers to understand that we should not be conformed to the ways of this world. The same Greek word (G4964) is used by Paul in Romans 12:2. Paul’s “renewing of one’s mind” (Romans 12:2) answers to Peter’s (not) “fashioning yourselves” in 1Peter 1:14. If, as both Peter and Paul say, we are fashioning ourselves (1Peter 1:14) by renewing our minds in order to prove God’s holy and perfect will, then it is impossible for the believer who does these things to conform himself to the world, because we are presenting our bodies (including our minds) as a living sacrifice, not to the world and its goals, but to God and his will (Romans 12:1-2).

Obedience (1Peter 1:14), as expressed in 1Peter 1:13, would evidence our relationship to God in the same manner as children evidence or witness to the character of their parents. This is what is behind the idea of Peter calling believers to be holy, because God is holy (1Peter 1:16; cf. Genesis 1:27; 3:22)? The idea represents the ideal expressed in God’s creation of mankind in Genesis. We are to be his images—representing him in his creation, and his indwelling us permits him to enjoy all that he has made.

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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in Epistles of Peter

 

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