COMMENTARY ON FIRST PETER
"10As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look."NASB (1 Pet 1:10-12)
The salvation that is enjoyed in Christ Jesus is appropriately called "so great a salvation"NKJV (Heb 2:3). It is of such magnitude that is has engaged the minds of holy prophets, inspired of God to tell of its coming. It even is the object of earnest inquiry among the holy angels. The fact that it receives such little attention among men confirms the power of unbelief and the aggression of our adversary the devil. Amidst all of the religious clamor that reigns in the church-world, the Gospel of our salvation has become obscured. However, thanks be unto God, for those who will focus their minds upon the Word of God, the darkness created by misplaced emphases and gross spiritual ignorance is displaced by the glory of God. In that flush of heavenly illumination, faith, hope, and love rise to prominence, the peace of God rules the heart, and we are strengthened with might by God's Spirit in the inner man. This text is about a salvation belonging to US!
AS TO THIS SALVATION . . .
"As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry . . . " NASB The "salvation" of reference is the one "ready to be revealed" (v 9). It is exceedingly large, and is the reason for both Jesus and the Scriptures. Already, we are tasting of this salvation in the firstfruits sense. Think of what has already been affirmed of "this salvation" in this Epistle. (1) It involves God's election. (2) In it the foreknowledge of God is revealed. (3) The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. (4) Empowerment to obedience. (5) The sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. (6) The multiplication of grace and peace. (7) God's abundant mercy. (8) The new birth. (9) A living, dominating hope. (10) The power of Christ's resurrection. (11) An incorruptible and undefiled inheritance. (12) An inheritance reserved in heaven for us. (13) The keeping power of God until the salvation is revealed. (14) The trying of our precious faith that it might be found honorable at Jesus' appearing. (15) The ability to love Jesus, Whom we have not seen. (16) Rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory. (17) The reception of the objective of faith. How is it possible for anything to be of a greater magnitude than this!
This is the salvation of reference. It is not simply the remission of sin, or deliverance from the clutches of the devil. These, while precious beyond measure, are not even mentioned in Peter's introduction. He is calling us to an even more powerful consideration-WHY the Lord has delivered us and forgiven us. He is declaring the objective God has in our salvation, and summoning us to contemplate it.
THE GRACE THAT WOULD COME TO YOU. Throughout history, God has raised up holy prophets to prophesy, or foretell, the salvation which we ourselves have tasted. In foretelling this salvation, a single word is used that encapsulates this great provision: "GRACE!"- "the GRACE that would come to you." They told of a time when God would lavish His love upon His people, bringing them into unparalleled favor and benefit. Jacob prophesied of the coming of "Shiloh," or the peace-making Messiah. The people, he declared, would be "gathered to Him" (Gen 49:10). Until Jacob, only two personalities were told of the coming Savior: The devil (Gen 3:15), and Abraham (Gen 12:3). In both cases, God Himself declared the promise. But beginning with Jacob, MEN were given to prophesy of the coming salvation. Moses said God would "raise up" a Prophet to whom the people would listen (Deut 18:15). Isaiah spoke of drawing water out of the wells of salvation (Isa 12:3), and the raising up of a highway of safety through the desert (Isa 35:8). Ezekiel foretold that God would give people a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek 36:26). Jeremiah spoke of God's people being saved, dwelling safely, and a Savior identified as "the Lord OUR righteousness" (Jer 23:6). Daniel foretold of a kingdom being set up by God that would decimate all other kingdoms (Dan 2:44). Haggai told of the coming of "the Desire of all nations" (Hag 2:7), and Malachi wrote of the rising of "the Sun of righteousness, with healing in His wings" (Mal 4:2). It was all about "the GRACE that would come to you!" This was the focus of the message of the prophets.
The magnitude of their message captured the heart of the prophets. They knew of the condition of humanity, and they sensed the greatness of God's promise concerning what was coming. It is written that they "made careful search and inquiry" concerning their inspired message. They did not view it simply as for the people to whom they prophesied. It sounded too good to be limited to a specific people or generation. They sensed it was a "great salvation" God was promising through them. The NIV reads they "searched intently and with the greatest care." They scrutinized their prophecies, diligently investigating them. Their search was intent and assiduous not casual and seasonal. Their's was the proper reaction to any word about this salvation. All other responses are out of order, and are the result of hardness of heart and spiritual blindness
One man has well said, "Peter lingers over the word 'salvation,' with something new to say each time."Bigg, Robertson's Word Pictures Indeed, it is the Spirit's intention to cause us to do the same. In our perusal and contemplation of this "great salvation" we will experience afresh "the grace of God," which is the driving force behind every aspect of this deliverance.
SEEKING TO KNOW THE PERSON AND THE TIME
" . . . seeking to know what Person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow . . . "NASB The Prophets singled out two aspects of the salvation they foretold. (1) "The Person," and (2) "The time." Both of these whetted their spiritual appetite. Of the Prophets, Jesus also said, "For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them" (Matt 13:17). They set a notable example of inquiry for us all!
The "salvation" of which they spoke would center in a Person, and it would come at a certain time. It would not simply be a condition developed in humanity, but the accomplishment of a single Individual. It would not develop over a period of time, being the natural result of improvement in human conduct. Rather, there would come a specific time when the salvation would suddenly be implemented and realized entirely apart from human effort. Who would the Person be? and when would He appear? The inquiry dominated their hearts and minds. Whatever else they were called to say or do, they eventually got back to this consideration: "what Person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was signifying." I fear these Prophets sensed more of the greatness of salvation than many in later generations who profess they have participated in it. How can this be? Jesus Christ was the Person, and "the fulness of time," or "day of salvation," or "acceptable time," or "acceptable year" was the time (Gal 4:4; Isa 49:8; 2 Cor 6:2; Isa 61:2; Lk 4:19).
"THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST." Ordinarily, the inspiration of the prophets is traced back to the Holy Spirit (Mk 12:36; 2 Pet 1:21). There is no contradiction here. There are at least two senses in which "the Spirit of Christ" is intended. First, the ONLY reason the Spirit moved upon the Prophets was because of the coming Christ. Were it not for the promised Deliverer, there would be no need for men to hear from God at all! Second, the very heart of Christ was declared through the Prophets-how He would suffer, and how He would be glorified. Some notable examples of the unveiling of the coming Savior's heart should be noted. The 22nd Psalm is a vivid depiction of the Lord's suffering upon the cross. The humility involved in Jesus coming into the world is expressed in Psalm 40:6-8 (Heb 10:5-9). His desire to proclaim the name of God to His brethren is expressed in Psalm 40:8-10 and Psalm 111:1 (Heb 2:12). The fact that He would live by faith was foretold in Psalm 16:1, 18:2, and Isaiah 12:2 (Heb 1:13). The fact that He would stand at last with His children was affirmed by Isaiah (Isa 8:18; Heb 2:13). These are samples of the heart and mind of Jesus, declared centuries before He came into the world.
"SUFFERINGS and GLORIES." The essential message of the Prophets is summarized in two views: "the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow." Both of these are Divine appointments! The "sufferings of Christ" are the means to salvation, and the "glories to follow" are the result of that salvation. What was required to reconcile men to God was declared, and what would result from reconciliation was also affirmed. The wrath of God would cause the "sufferings," and the grace of God would bring the "glories." The sin of man necessitated the "sufferings," the love of God produced the "glories." The "glories" could not come until the "sufferings" were accomplished: they "followed." Also, the "sufferings" were endured by Christ, but the "glories" are administered by Him.
Peter early proclaimed the "sufferings of Christ" were a subject of prophetic emphasis (Acts 3:18,24). The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is an excellent example of such prophecies. But what of "the glory that should follow"?KJV The wake of salvation would yield a time when "they shall all be taught of (by) God" (Isa 2:3; John 6:45). It would induct an era when men would go "from strength unto strength" (Psa 84:7; 2 Cor 3:18), and come with "everlasting joy upon their heads" (Isa 35:10; Jude 24). Because of the "sufferings of Christ," the redeemed would ultimately be confirmed to His image, being glorified (Job 19:26-27; Psa 17:15; Rom 8:29-30). Praise God for the marvelous grace revealed in His great salvation!
THE IMPACT ON THOSE WHO MINISTERED TO US
"It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look." NASB Precisely when or how this revelation was made to them, we do not know. Just as Paul was not given to understand his "thorn" until he had sought three times to have it removed, so the prophets, after diligent inquiry, were told "they were not serving themselves." How this devastates the notion that pleasing self is the acme of all human experience!
This does not mean the holy Prophets would not participate in the coming salvation, for Jesus affirmed they would (Lk 13:28). They are included in the vast body of those redeemed by the blood of Christ (Rev 11:18; 18:20,24). Yet, when they were in the body, God showed them their message was intended for later generations, and not, at that time, for themselves. Like Abraham, they lived in anticipation of the fulfillment of the truth shown to them, AFTER their own time. How my heart is knit to these holy prophets! They set before us an exemplary standard of what it means to serve the Lord.
Now the Spirit declares that in prophesying, the prophets were "serving" us. They spread before us a vast table of rich things-food for the soul that delights the heart. When our blessed Lord expounded things concerning Himself out of the holy Prophets, it caused the hearts of Cleopas and his companion to "burn within" them (Lk 24:27-32). Paul affirmed He spoke "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles" (Acts 26:22-23). Let those who spend their time outlining the close of history, the rise of anarchic governments, and activities in the holy land, consider this! Let them turn their attention to "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." Then the Prophets will serve them!
If the Prophets were "serving" us in their essential message, what possible reason could be adduced for ignoring that message? How is it that anyone would choose the prattling of psychiatrists, economists, or mere motivators to their prophecies of Christ?
The Apostles are referred to as announcing the fulfillment of the Prophet's message in preaching the Gospel. They did not declare Jesus as "the answer to all of your problems, but the fulfillment of what the Prophets promised. This announcement was made "by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven." Their exposition and emphasis were therefore flawless, and could thus be used to implement the promised salvation. Here the uniqueness of the Gospel is seen. It is not the a word outlining the manner in which we are to live, but the announcement of Divine provision-"salvation." It is a message that could only be known or proclaimed in the energy of the Holy Spirit. Any Gospel that does not require the Holy Spirit is no gospel at all. The Holy Spirit, who "searches" all things, announces in the Gospel "The things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9-10).
The preaching of the fulfillment of the Prophet's word has elicited the attention of holy angels. There is precious little in the world that draws their attention. They are primarily "ministers," not students (Heb 1:13-14). Yet, in their ministry to the "heirs," they have been exposed to a message that intrigues them. The "Gospel" concerns "things into which angels long to look"NASB. Too, this Gospel is "now reported" to us-not merely to those who have never heard it before. And, if this message has fascinated holy angels, "who are greater in power and might" (2 Pet 2:11), how is it that any mortal would not be attracted by the message? What would constrain a person to probe into the writings or words of uninspired men-many of whom are actually God's enemies-when the holy angels long to inquire into the Gospel? What would compel a person to become an expert in some supposed facet of religion, all the while ignoring its central message? If saints will "judge angels" (1 Cor 6:3), it will not doubt be true that holy angels will have something to say to any person who knew of the Gospel, yet did not look intently into it. God is greatly to be praised for a salvation, and the Gospel of it, that has so impacted upon even holy angels.