1 Peter Bible Study Notes, Week 5
Since [or if] you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:17–21.
Additional Reading: Hebrews 10:1–25
Things to think about
How often do you think about your future judgement?
How does it make you feel knowing that your heavenly Father is also your Judge?
Are you comfortable with the political, social and religious systems and traditions of the world? Or do you feel out of place, like a stranger?
Are you storing treasure in heaven and working for rewards?
Do you live your life in reverent fear of God?
What is the currency that God used to pay for our redemption?
1 Peter 1:17–21 is one long sentence in the Greek text. In this single sentence, Peter tells his readers that their works will be judged. He also tells them about the precious cost of their redemption which has freed them from futility.
We will be Judged – 1 Peter 1:17
I remember as a teenager struggling with certain habitual sins. I was so relieved that I could confess my weaknesses and failings to God, and that he would forgive me, and pardon me, and I would no longer be held accountable for them. Forgiveness from sin and guilt is a wonderful thing! Christians will still be judged, however. We won’t be judged for our sin, but we will be judged for our works. Paul expressed this clearly in 1 Corinthians 3:12–15.
If anyone builds on this foundation [of Jesus Christ] using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
If we build on our faith in Jesus Christ with attitudes and actions of devotion and obedience, our work (which is compared with gold, silver and precious stones) will survive the fire of testing. If we fail to build or to grow in our faith, we will still be saved, but our works, which may have been done in our own strength or with faulty motives, etc, will be burnt up (like wood, hay or straw). We will scrape into eternity “by the skin of our teeth” with nothing to show for our faith in Christ.
God wants us to store up treasure in heaven. He wants us to be obedient to his leading and devote our time and energy and finances to things that have eternal value. God wants us to have rich rewards and blessings in this life and in our future life.
Impartial and Just – 1 Peter 1:17
One of the wonderful truths of Christianity is that all people are equal in God’s eyes. Unlike most of us, God does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or gender or earthly wealth and status. As redeemed people, made righteous and reconciled by Jesus’ sacrifice, we are all equally loved and valued by him.
God does not show favouritism. Rather, all Christian men and women are his favourites in that God has freely bestowed his favour and grace on us even though we don’t deserve it. God is impartial in bestowing grace, and he is impartial in exercising judgement. His impartiality and lack of prejudice is mentioned several times in the New Testament, in Acts 10:34–35, Romans 2:6–11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:8–9, Colossians 3:24–25, and 1 Peter 1:17.
God is both a loving Father and a righteous Judge. Our works will be judged fairly and justly, but they will be judged. Knowing that our works will be judged should make us careful in the way we live. (See Matthew 12:36–37.) It should motivate us to, as Peter put it, “live with reverent fear” like foreigners and not like those who are at home in the world, comfortable and complacent.
Our Costly Redemption – 1 Peter 1:18–19
Our redemption has been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). Nothing is more costly than the price that was paid for our redemption. The price—the currency—of our redemption, which released us from the captive hold of sin and death, is the blood of Jesus. Under the Old Covenant, there were sacrifices of blood which temporarily atoned for sin, but under the New Covenant, Jesus’ sinless blood paid the full price for all our sin for all time.
Jesus was the sinless spotless lamb, the ultimate sacrificial Passover Lamb. Only perfect lambs without defects and blemishes were allowed to be sacrificed for the Jewish feast of Passover (Exod. 12:1ff; Lev. 23:1ff cf. Lev. 22:20–24; Mal. 1:8). The Passover lamb was a symbol that Peter’s Jewish audience would have readily understood. Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb, however, was a concept widely taught in the church. The New Testament writers recognised that Christ was the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7; Rev. 5:6, 12; 13:8 cf. Eph. 1:4; 5:27; Col. 1:22; Heb. 9:14). Jesus took on our sins and imperfections and redeemed us with the sacrifice of his innocent lifeblood on the cross.
In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament), cognates of the same Greek word for “redeemed” used in 1 Peter 1:19, occur 26 times. The Jews understood that for redemption to take place, blood had to be spilled.
Redemption was also a practice that the Gentiles understood. Karen Jobes (2009:116–118) writes,
The verb translated “redeemed” (lytroō) and its cognate noun (lytron) were used in Greco-Roman culture to refer to the manumission of a slave. The slave would receive his or her freedom after depositing money in a temple of a god or goddess, money which would then be paid via the temple’s treasury (minus a commission) to the slave’s owner with the thought that the god or goddess was buying the slave . . . The sum of money paid for the redemption was referred to as the timē (price) . . . Peter’s thoughts resonate with this custom for he describes his Christian readers as having been redeemed (elytrōthete) using the passive voice that implies God as the subject. They are free but nevertheless slaves of God, bought not with a timē of silver or gold but, in what seems to be a play on words, with the timiō (precious, valuable) blood of Jesus (1:19).
Jesus is the Eternal Solution – 1 Peter 1:20–21
Jesus was chosen to become our Saviour and Redeemer before the creation of the world. Jesus and his sacrifice was not a last-minute, ad hoc solution to an unexpected sin problem. Jesus has always been the solution. As Revelation 13:8 puts it, Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
This brings up questions such as, If God knew mankind would sin, why did he create us? These kinds of questions defy comprehensive answers.
Jesus was not only the Lamb who was slain, however. Jesus rose from death and he has been glorified and exalted to the Father’s right hand in the heavenly realms (Phil. 2:9). Because Jesus has conquered death and is alive, we can put our faith and hope in him, and we can put our faith and hope in the Father.
A futile way of life to a new way of life – 1 Peter 1:18
Both the Jews and the Gentiles regarded their traditional, ancestral way of life (patroparadotos) as an important and venerable basis for a stable society; however, Peter used the word in a negative sense. (Jobes 2009:118) Both the Jewish and Gentile Christians had experienced futility in their former lives—their lives before coming to know Jesus Christ. As wonderful as the Old Covenant was, the Jews had repeatedly failed to uphold their part. They had repeatedly failed to obey God’s precepts and they had frequently engaged in idolatry. Under the Old Covenant, it was difficult for the Jews to gain access to God. The pagan religions and traditional way of life of the Gentiles were completely futile and empty, and even ridiculous. But Jesus introduced a whole new way of living. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). All religious, philosophical and cultural paths without Jesus at the centre are futile, empty and ultimately without true meaning or purpose.
Because of Jesus’ sacrificial act of redemption, we are no longer God’s enemies but his friends. Jesus has reconciled us with God. Only through Jesus do we have access to God the Father, access with hope, confidence and assurance. Moreover, we can have hope, confidence and assurance in our new life in Christ which is full of meaning and purpose.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19–23