Lesson 8 - I Peter 1: 20-25

Lesson 8 - Chapter 1:20-25

Lesson for March 3, 2013

The Book of I Peter

Chapter 1:20-25

Verse 20

For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world is a reference to the fact that Jesus Christ existed as God in eternity past.  It also refers to the fact that the plan of God the Father regarding Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was known in eternity past. The Greek word for foreknown is “proginosko” meaning to know in advance.  God the Father decree in eternity past that Jesus Christ would pay the penalty for mankind’s sin and that eternal life would depend on the personal volition of each member of the human race to choose faith in Christ.

Divine decrees are defined as the sum total of God’s plan designed in eternity past.  The plan centers in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Entrance into the plan of God is based on the principle of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (1 John 3:23; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:8-9)  God’s decrees are defined as: “God’s plan in eternity past which includes all events and actions related to their causes and conditions as a part of a complete system, every link being a part of the integrity of the whole.  Under His plan, God has decreed to do some things directly and some through agencies [like Israel and the Church], some through individuals.  Therefore, there are primary and secondary functions within the plan of God. But all these constitute one great comprehensive plan: perfect, eternal, unchangeable, without loss of integrity.”

The plan of God is consistent with human freedom.  Human freedom demands privacy.  God does not limit or coerce human freedom.  However, distinction should be made between what God causes, like the Cross; and what God permits, like sin.  God never condones or causes sin.  The fact of sin in the human race demonstrates man’s free will.  Distinction should be made, therefore, between divine decrees which are related to the plan of God in both design and action and divine laws which regulate human conduct and function in the universe (like government).

God’s decrees do not originate from His foreknowledge. The foreknowledge of God makes nothing certain. The foreknowledge of God in eternity past merely perceives in the things that are certain.  God knew ahead of time which way every free will would decide at any given point in history.  This does not imply divine coercion.   Since God cannot contradict His own essence He plans the best for the believer. God is perfect; His provision is perfect.  The Cross was decreed in eternity past but the human volition of Christ decided for the Cross in Gethsemane.  (Matthew 26:39, 42)

But has appeared in these last times for the sake of you refers to the latest moments in the dispensation of Israel.  Christ, in His incarnation and His death, came in the Age of Israel. He had to come and offer Himself under the Davidic covenant as the Son of David who would reign forever.  He could not do that in the Church Age; it had to be accomplished in the Age of Israel.  Therefore, the appearance of Christ on the scene of human history was perfectly timed by God the Father at the end of the Age of Israel.  Shortly after Christ appeared on the scene and went to the Cross, the Church Age began.  All this was done within the perfect timing of God’s decrees.

Verse 21

Who through Him are believers in God Who raised Him from the dead refers to the only way to be a believer in God.  Many people believe that God exists, including Satan.  But not all people believe in God in the sense of believing Who He is and what He has done for them in the Person of Christ.  The resurrection is a major part of God’s plan regarding salvation.  Without the Resurrection we have no salvation. 

Glory refers to the ascension and the seating of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father.  Glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ intensifies the Angelic Conflict and demands a change in the dispensation.  There were several things that demanded the change in the dispensation from Israel to the Church.  The first was the fact that Christ was now seated at the right hand of the Father and therefore superior in His humanity to all angels.  The second reason was because forty years into the Church Age the nation Israel, as it existed then, would be destroyed and under divine discipline until the second advent.  A new client nation under grace had to be established since Israel failed.

So that your faith and hope are in God is the obvious result of being a believer.  When you realize that you were redeemed through the spiritual death of Christ on the Cross which was God’s eternal plan, you will place your faith and hope for the future in God.  This is a personal sense of destiny – living life in the light of eternity with God’s eternal perspective.

Verse 22

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart is your expected response to what God through Christ has accomplished for you.  Obedience to the truth is a reference to the consistent intake and application of Bible doctrine.  Positionally you have purified your soul through faith in Christ for salvation.  Experientally however it is a process to purify your soul.  It takes obedience to the truth on a consistent basis.  One of the demonstrations that you have purified your soul is impersonal love, especially for fellow believers.

When we are properly functioning under the control of the Holy Spirit, we will adhere to the principles found throughout the Word of God.  These principles will enable us to exhibit impersonal love toward others.  This means that we will treat everyone with respect, not on the basis of our “pet prejudices” regarding race, social status, ability or what a person can or cannot do for us. We will refrain from gossip, maligning, judging, character assassination, etc. In other words, we will “live and let live.”  The principle of treating everyone with respect also means that we will be tolerant, be thoughtful and be kind toward others.  We will hold no grudges or resentment against anyone. (I John 4:17-18)

Impersonal love is not what we normally think of as love.  It is the virtue in your soul that causes you to have a relaxed mental attitude toward others and treat them with kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness.  In other words, impersonal love is how we treat others.  Therefore, impersonal love must be based on the virtue of the subject, the one doing the loving (“the treating”).

Verse 23

For you have been born again not with seed which is perishable but imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God is a reference to regeneration.

Regeneration, a theological term for being “born again”, is the term for when God creates a human spirit in the believer at salvation.  “Born again” is a poor translation of the Greek and leads one to think that the human spirit already exists and is simply being regenerated.  The Greek words for born again help us to fully understand the meaning: born - “gennao”, which means “to bear or to bring forth a child”; again - “anothen”, which means “anew or from above.”  The word regenerate in English can mean to be restored, to reform, to bring into existence again, but it can also mean to be made anew.  However, the Greek word for regeneration is “palingenesia” and means a new birth.  Regeneration is a new birth, a spiritual birth from above (from God).   It is the “new creation” of II Corinthians 5:17, which is better translated “a new spiritual species.”  When a person is “born again” he becomes God’s seed (Galatians 3:29).  It is a brand new nature, something that did not exist prior to faith in Christ. (John 3:1-8; I Thessalonians 5:23; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:1,5; II Corinthians 5:14-21)

It is the human spirit that provides the believer with the ability to have a relationship with God, to learn, to understand and to apply Bible doctrine and to produce divine good (service to God).  (Romans 1:9; 8:16; Job 32:8)  An unbeliever does not possess a human spirit and is therefore unable to have a relationship with God, to understand spiritual things or to produce divine good. (I Corinthians 2:14)  It is the human spirit that the Holy Spirit teaches and this becomes the positive influence in your soul.  Divine Viewpoint Thinking is the result of this influence and overrules Human Viewpoint Thinking when properly applied.  The soul of man has the potential to be corrupted since it contains free will.  The human spirit, on the other hand, does not contain free will and, therefore, has no potential for corruption.  The creation of the human spirit also sets up a battle in the soul.  This battle between the sin nature and the new spiritual nature is for the control of the soul. (Galatians 5:16-17; I John 3:9)

The seed in this verse is a reference to the Word of God, which is planted in the soul of the believer by studying Bible doctrine consistently.  The context clearly shows this when it says through the living and abiding Word of God.  God’s Word is eternal therefore the doctrine in your soul is eternal. 

Verse 24-25

Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8.  The details of life are temporary in contrast to the Word of God which is permanent. If you emphasize in your soul the details of life you will be a slave to the details of life.  But if your emphasis is the Word then you become the master of the details of life.  A believer is to put Bible doctrine before the details of life.  By so doing he will enjoy the details of life and will not be disappointed or frustrated if these are lost to him.  In this way stability of soul is established and emotional revolt of the soul is avoided.

However, if the believer puts the details of life before doctrine then he will have self-induced misery and will be full of scar tissue on his soul.  And the next step will be the emotional revolt of the soul.   A believer’s capacity for life depends upon Bible doctrine, not the details of life.  Therefore a believer must have the Word of God which lives and abides forever resident in his soul.

Orientation to Bible doctrine will set you free. “And you shall know the truth (doctrine) and the truth (doctrine) shall make you free.” (John 8:32) “I will walk in freedom: for I seek thy doctrine.” (Psalms 119:45) “ …Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name.”  (Psalm 138:2)

The word “doctrinal” means pertaining to a teaching, a body of principles or a branch of knowledge.  “Orientation” means familiarization with a particular person, thing or field of knowledge.  Doctrinal orientation, therefore, means to familiarize oneself with the teachings and principles of the Word of God.

We believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible in its original form.  We believe that God so directed the writers of Scripture that His complete and coherent word was transferred to the pages of Scriptures in its original form without altering the literary style or personality of the author.

Bible doctrine is the word of God the Father. (Hebrews 4:12)  It is the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) and the voice of God the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 3:7)  The Word of God is profitable for doctrine (the body of teaching that we believe), for reproof (the Word of God is a mirror into our souls so that we can evaluate ourselves before God), for correction (once we evaluate ourselves and find there needs to be corrective action, the Word of God gives the correct course of action), and for instruction in righteousness (once we discover the right course of action, the Word of God gives us a blueprint of how to accomplish our goal). (II Timothy 3:16)