COMMENTARY ON FIRST PETER
" Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."KJV (1 Pet 1:20-21)
There is a manner in which the Spirit speaks-a fashion in which Scripture is written. There is always a Divine perspective set forth-always the heavenly view of things. For this reason, statements are made in passing that are enormous in both content and implication. The Spirit will not always elaborate on these remarkable statements, but will simply state them, reaffirming their truth to our hearts. These expressions consistently reflect the character of God, the need of man, and the nature of salvation. They make perfect sense to faith, and tend to bolster believers, reassuring them their faith is not in vain. We have such an expression in this text. In a few short words, the Spirit spans a period from before the world was created until now. He states pivotal, or central, realities upon which our faith rests. He tells us the Object of both faith and hope, and declares the foundation upon which they both rest. This manner of speaking is totally foreign to the flesh, but gloriously refreshing to the "new man." It will again be affirmed that the entirety of our salvation is founded upon Divine activity and provision.
THE LAMB WAS FOREORDAINED
" Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world . . . "KJV Men often ask questions like this: "Did God know Adam would sin?" "IF He knew, why did He make man in the first place?" "What if man did NOT sin-would he have lived forever with God?" . . . etc., etc. Care must be taken not to get caught up in such queries, for they are all "foolish and unlearned questions," which are to be avoided (2 Tim 2:23). They may well appeal to our curiosity, but they will yield absolutely no benefit to our souls. They are actually a diversion from saving truth. Our text speaks with ultimate reality in mind.
The word "Who" refers to our Lord in the capacity of a "Lamb" to be offered for the sins of the world. He was "foreordained," or selected in advance, to be the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The word may also be translated "foreknown," and is in the NASB. The same word (foreknown) is used in Romans 8:29 regarding those who are to be confirmed to the image of God's Son. It is also used in Romans 11:2, where it is affirmed God has not cast away His people whom He "foreknew."
This word means more than simply seeing what is going to happen. That ought to be obvious from the text itself. It was not simply that God knew ahead of time that Jesus was going to be a sacrificial Lamb. He is the One that made the appointment. He sent the Son, commanded the Son, and delivered Him up. Our text is speaking of an appointment, a predetermination, and something that was cast, as it were, in stone. Other versions emphasize this. "He was chosen before the creation of the world" (NIV). "He was destined before the foundation of the world" (RSV, NRSV). Divine foreknowledge is what causes the event to take place. Thus it is written, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23).
Jesus was appointed to be the Lamb slain, before the creation of the world. Thus we read of "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8). The phrase "foundation of the world" is frequently mentioned in Scripture-and always in relation to Divine determinations. Jesus spoke of things kept secret "from the foundation of the world" (Matt 13:35). He also said the saved would receive a kingdom prepared for them "from the foundation of the world" (Matt 25:34). Our Lord spoke of the relationship He had with the Father "before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). The Spirit affirms we were chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). The book of Hebrews asserts "the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb 4:3). The Revelation refers to those whose names were "not written in book of life from the foundation of the world" (rev 17:8). This is, then, a significant spiritual expression.
Our text is affirming that before the world was ever created, the role of Jesus was firmly established. Salvation is not a reaction of God to an unexpected dilemma, but the purpose of God, determined before the earth was made or man placed upon it. Thus, the New Covenant, sanctified by the blood of this Lamb, was not a change in plans, but the implementation of an "eternal purpose."
Some have asked, "Did God know Adam would sin?" The question is a foolish one, for the Lamb who was to deal with sin, was selected and commissioned "before the foundation of the world." Seeing beforehand the transgression of man, the Lord made provision for it before He made the man. He did not abandon the creation of man because it was all part of an "eternal purpose" to unveil to principalities and powers His great wisdom (Eph 3:10). He would place someone a little lower than the angels in a realm accessed by the one who caused angels to fall, and gloriously bring that weak creature all the way to glory by means of a Lamb slain. Is that not wisdom?
And why does the Spirit speak in this manner? Because our faith needs to be anchored in eternity, and not in time. We need to know our salvation has come from everlasting, just as surely as our Savior (Mic 5:2). If the provision was made for sin before it actually occurred, you should not hesitate to avail yourself of the remedy. Such a salvation, because of its predetermined Lamb, is accessible for all time.
THE LAMB WAS MANIFESTED FOR OUR SAKE
" . . . but was manifest in these last times for you . . . "KJV The nature of salvation requires that Divine determinations pertaining to it must, at some point, be made known. Not only must the appointed "Lamb" be accepted by God, He must also be "received" by men. The Spirit has told us that the appointment of the Lamb was made before the world was created. Of course, there is no possible way we could have known or deduced this on our own. Behind this statement is the assumption that the entrance of the Lamb into the world, and the manifestation of Him to men, had to come in a timely manner. Thus it is written, "But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons"NIV (Gal 4:4-5). The Law had done its work, defining and convincing men of sin (Rom 3:20; Gal 3:24). The realm was now ready for a Savior, and thus He was "manifested," or made known.
Note that the time of the revelation of the Lamb is called "these last times." It is as though He said, Everything prior to the Lamb was but a preparation for Him. Once the Lamb was revealed, the final stage of time began. He is the reason for the existence of the world, "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and FOR HIM" (Col 1:16). Once, therefore, He had been revealed, the defiled realm entered into its final period.
The manifestation of the Lamb was for our sake. Literally, the phrase reads, "because of you," or "on account of you." The idea is that we required this provision. Sin had carried us so far from God, there was no hope of finding our way back-or of being accepted by the offended God if we imagined we could negotiate our way back to Him through our own wisdom. Even above this, the expression reveals the love of God-His intense desire to redeem His "offspring." The New Living Translation captures this sense of the text by reading, "And He did this for you." If, under the law, holy men could say, "The LORD hath been mindful of us" (Psa 115:12), what can be said of those who have been given to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? When Mary, the mother of our Lord, learned of the coming Savior, she responded for us all when she said, "For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden" (Lk 1:48). In this statement the Spirit also emphasizes that, although the fathers experienced mercy from God, more of it has been made known, and poured out upon, those in Christ Jesus. We are under a superior covenant, with superior promises, and superior benefits.
However, more is implied here than the personal entrance of Christ into the world, and the accomplishment of His appointed mission. That was but an introductory revelation, recognized by relatively few people. The manifestation of the Lamb also comes through the proclamation of the Gospel, which is the point being made by the Spirit (1:10-12). The "Gospel of Christ" is also an unveiling of His Person. It openly affirms what was secretly determined before the foundation of the world. There is an important facet of the Gospel to be seen here. Primarily, the Gospel is the announcement of what God determined. It proclaims what God sent Jesus to do (Acts 3:26; Gal 4:5; 1 John 4:9,10,14). Those who preach the Gospel within the context of earthly needs and crises are not wise. It is to be preached with Divine intention in mind. Then it will be accompanied with power, and will accomplish that whereunto it is sent (Isa 55:11).
Actually, there are three manifestations of the Lamb of God. One has already occurred. One is now occurring. One is scheduled to occur. In Christ's birth, life, and death, the preordained Lamb was manifested. Through the Gospel of Christ, the preordained Lamb is being made known. In the last day, the glorified Lamb, who is the "King of kings and Lord of lords," will be unveiled in all of His glory (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 6:16; 14:10). Those who avail themselves of the Lamb revealed in the Gospel, will be joyful when He is unveiled in all of His glory. That appearance will be for them also (Heb 9:28)!
THE ROLE OF JESUS IN OUR FAITH
"Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."KJV Once again, the magnitude of truth that is compressed into a short statement is staggering. Here the entire matter of salvation is summarized in a most provocative manner. 1How we believe in God, 2why God raised and glorified Christ, and 3His purpose for us, are all declared in this verse.
BY HIM DO BELIEVE IN GOD. Believing in God is not ordinarily considered to be a significant achievement. In the churches with which I have been affiliated, this is generally taken for granted, with minimal value assigned to it. But you will not come to that conclusion from this passage! Believing in God is NOT insignificant. Those in Christ Jesus are described as "they which have believed in God" (Tit 3:8). It is said of Abraham, "And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Gen 15:6).
Here the Spirit states that we believe in God "BY HIM (Jesus)." This is precisely the point Jesus made in the eleventh chapter of Matthew: "no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him . . . Take my yoke upon you and learn from me"NIV (11:27-29). You cannot trust in a God you do not know, and you cannot know God except through the ministry of His Son. Jesus is fundamentally the Expositor of God Himself. He comes to give us "an understanding, that we may know Him that is true" (1 John 5:20). Believing in God is not primarily intellectual. It is "with the heart" that we believe (Rom 10:10). Acknowledging that God exists, or that there is one God, is not believing in God. Even the demons have this type of knowledge (James 2:19). To "believe in God" is to depend on Him, rely upon Him, and entrust the keeping of our souls to Him (1 Pet 4:19). How is it that such total reliance is possible? It is "by Him," the Lord Jesus! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and we have learned to believe from Him.
THAT RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD AND GAVE HIM GLORY. The Spirit will not allow us to think of God merely as the Creator, or as a Supreme Being-although He is surely both. In order to receive the blessing of God, He must be seen in relation to His Son. The God in which Jesus enables us to believe is the One who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. A dead Christ is a powerless One-thus God raised Him from the dead. Without being Himself glorified, He could not bring us to glory-therefore God glorified Him. Jesus is no longer in the region of the dead-in any sense. Neither, indeed, does He possess any element of weakness. He has been exalted to the place required to call us, shepherd us, and cause us to stand and triumph. It is God that has placed Him in this exalted position (Phil 2:9; Eph 1:20-23; 1 Pet 3:22). This is the God that will cause all Christ's enemies to become His footstool: "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psa 110:1; Heb 1:13). Although there are "gods many and lords many" (1 Cor 8:5), this is the God in whom Jesus has brought us to believe and trust. Emphatically, it is "through Him" that you "believe in God."
FAITH AND HOPE IN GOD. And WHY did God raise Jesus from the dead and give Him glory? "So that your faith and hope are in God."NKJV Thus you have at least three things required for you to have faith in God and hope in Him. 1The teaching of Jesus. 2The resurrection of Jesus from the dead. 3The glorification of the Son of God following His atoning death and justifying resurrection. Not only does God give us faith (Rom 12:3) and hope (2 Thess 2:16), He has provided a just and unwavering foundation for them both! Here is the totality of salvation: faith and hope in God! Faith has to do with NOW, and hope has to do with THEN. Faith overcomes this world, and hope appropriates the next one-and both of them are "in God."
In view of this stated objective, no person can be content with "little faith" (Matt 6:30) or a failure to "hope to the end" (1 Pet 1:13). Nor, indeed, can any say these are beyond their reach. Jesus has been appointed to enable us to believe in God. Nothing related to death can negate His ministry, for God raised Him from the realm of the dead. All of heaven supports Him in His ministry, because there is where He has been glorified.