What does Peter mean by saying: “through him you believe in God” (1Peter 1:21)? If his intended readers were believing Jews of the Diaspora (1Peter 1:1), didn’t they already believe in God prior to the coming of Christ and their submission to him? I don’t think Peter meant for us to view his statement quite like that. For example, Jesus claimed in John 12:44 and 14:6 that believing in him is the same as believing in God. Moreover, no one (Jew or gentile) is able to come to the Father (God) except through Jesus. I believe this is what is behind Peter’s statement “through him you believe in God” (1Peter 1:21). It was Jesus who fully expressed the God whom no one had seen (John 1:18) or known (Luke 10:22), so Peter is correct in saying the Jews of the Diaspora believe in God through Jesus, because, prior to Jesus’ coming, the Jews had a poor understanding of God who is love.
Moreover, Peter tells us that God “gave him glory”. That is, God made Jesus the Messiah. Paul makes this clear and points out that it occurred at the time of Jesus’ resurrection: “You are my Son; this day have I begotten you!” (Acts 13:33; cf. Psalm 2). Jesus became the Messiah, the Son of God, using terms found in Psalm 2, and Paul concludes this occurred at the Resurrection. How does this cause our faith and hope to be in God? If God raised Jesus, as he promised to do, he will also raise us, as he promised to do and reward us according to our works. Therefore, the hope of our resurrection is founded upon the fact of Jesus resurrection.
1Peter 1:22 almost seems out of place in Peter’s argument, until it is realized that to preach the love and mercy of God requires that we act out the love and mercy of God, as imitators of him. We need to be a “doer” rather than a mere “listener” (James 1:20-22). Simple agreement with the truth is not the same as obedience to the truth. We need to be imitators of God, not simply agree with him.
Seeing that Peter’s intended recipients are Jews of the Diaspora (1Peter 1:1), by referring to their not being born again of corruptible seed (1Peter 1:23), Peter seems to put us in mind of Malachi 2:3. There God says he will corrupt the “seed” of the priests (cf. Malachi 2:1-9). What the prophet seems to mean is that God has rejected the Levitical priesthood (cf. 1Samuel 2:29-30), and intends to raise up a righteous Priest (1Samuel 2:35) whose house shall be faithful. In other words, they are born again of incorruptible Seed. This Seed (Priest) “lives and abides forever” and is the Word (Logos—G3056) of God who “lives and remains forever” (1Peter 1:23).
All this may be well and good for the Jews of the Diaspora, but how would this apply to gentiles, since they too would read Peter’s epistle but were not his “intended” recipients? Paul never mentions either our being born again or that we have a second birth. Yet, this does not exclude gentiles from being coinheritors of the promises with Jewish believers. Paul’s Gospel uses words that are different from Peter’s, but he gets us to the same place. According to Paul’s Gospel (cf. 2Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), we are new creatures of the “incorruptible Seed”, which is Christ, the Logos (Word) of the Lord. He has become our second Adam, and by our being ‘in Him’ we are become a part of a new creation. So, whether we are believing Jews of the Diaspora or believing gentiles, we are joint heirs in Christ to the promises of God.
In 1Peter 1:24 Peter is probably quoting from Psalm 103:15 and refers to the message in verses 11-16 in the Psalm, showing that man is really helpless to improve his state. Death has an insurmountable grip on him, but God is merciful. Peter concludes with what we find in Psalm 103:17 “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;”
The “word of the Lord” in 1Peter 1:25 answers to God’s mercy in Psalm 103:17, which is forever and ever. Thus, referring to the incorruptible salvation that God as promised (1Peter 1:3-4). This is the word that is preached through the Gospel to the world. It is God’s unending mercy, which is his intention to nullify death and give us eternal life.