Study #2 of 1 Peter 1:3-5
“Living or Lifeless Hope?”
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Just to quickly review from the last study… Peter is the author of this letter. He was a man who both failed and succeeded. He was real and, just like us, prone to mess up from time to time. He suffered. He was not always strong or steadfast. Still, God chose him and loved him and used Him greatly…in fact He continues to use him as we study this tremendously encouraging epistle. Peter was writing to the Christian exiles scattered around the land. He was writing to us too. We are exiles in a place that is not really our home. Like us, these Christians had and were experiencing tremendous suffering and persecution. So we can truly own these words that the Spirit wrote through Peter as being written to us.
In verses 3-5, Peter is praising the Lord for His grace and work, but also encouraging us to remember what Jesus has done for us. Jesus “has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” I recall when Jesus used these words in describing to Nicodemus one night how one could be saved. Born again.
“1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus[fn] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[fn] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” John 3:1-6
Jesus said to be saved we must be born again. There is a birth of water (our natural birth from the womb) and a birth of the Spirit when we accept Christ’s gift of salvation. One thought that came to mind as I read this was that before we were covered by the blood of the Lamb, we were spiritually dead. So it makes perfect sense that we would need to be born again. Now here in 1 Peter, we are told we were born to a living hope.
The Greek word for “living” there is “zao” and it has many descriptive definitions. It means: living full life, enjoying life, alive, active, fresh, strong, efficient, blessed, endless and powerful. When I read those definitions of what our hope should look like, I felt both excited and challenged. The “hope” we are talking about is the confident assurance of Christ’s salvation. It’s not “hope” like, “I HOPE I get to have Starbucks today,” or “I sure HOPE I can sleep tonight.” It’s not a wish. This hope is assured. It’s expectation. It’s faith that was God has promised will come to pass.
So…let’s put that all together using those really great descriptive words for “living”.
We are born again to a living (alive, active, fresh, strong, efficient, blessed, endless, powerful) hope (assurance of Christ’s salvation). That’s amazing. That’s what we are born into. Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t usually live in that “living hope” way. I don’t feel that most of the time. I feel sick. I feel discouraged. I feel lonely. I feel like I’m just trying to survive day by day…sometimes minute by minute. I feel betrayed by doctors. I feel abandoned by loved ones. I feel down and often depressed.
Do I know that I have salvation through Jesus? Yes.
Do I believe confidently that He is who the Bible says He is? Yes.
Have I accepted His gift of salvation and been born again? Yes.
So why don’t I have the kind of “living hope” that is described beautifully here? Why does my hope often feel so lifeless and dead? I have hope but my hope isn’t flourishing. Maybe you feel like that too? Maybe you are praying but your prayers feel empty? Maybe you believe but you allow the enemy to whisper lies that your hope is foolish instead of assured and strong? I’ve been there and continue to fall into that from time to time. It’s easy to do when we are hurting, isn’t it? So easy. What can we do about it? Let’s read on.
“4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Peter goes on to talk about our inheritance in Christ. I found this part so encouraging. He says our inheritance is: 1. Imperishable; 2. Undefiled; and 3. Unfading. I decided to look these Greek words up also to get a good understanding of what they mean.
- Imperishable. “Aphthartos” – It means, “uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay.” Basically this means our inheritance doesn’t fall apart. It won’t decay or change or get ruined over time. That’s pretty exciting. Most things decay. Our bodies sure do. Sometimes our friendships do. Material things definitely decay and fall apart over time, but our inheritance doesn’t. It never grows old. It’s steadfast, concrete and dependable.
- Undefiled. “Amiantos” – This word means, “not defiled, unsoiled, free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigour impaired.” Our inheritance has not been defiled by sin or corruption. It’s not been soiled or stained….not even by us!!! That’s huge. So my failure, lack of faith at times, mess ups, depressions, bad thoughts…none of it has defiled or stained my inheritance? NO! When you are in Christ Jesus, NOTHING you have done has defiled your inheritance. It is pure and spotless because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His blood has purchased us an inheritance that is free from spot or blemish and no one can defile it, not even us. Pretty cool.
- Unfading. “Amarantos” – This word means, “not fading away, perennial, steady, perpetual.” Our inheritance isn’t going anywhere. It’s not like our dwindling bank accounts, our strength on our bad days or the beautiful roses bought by a loved one that we wish would never die. Our inheritance doesn’t fade. We can count on it being there always, no matter what.
Now Peter writes that this inheritance is kept safe for us in heaven and that we are being guarded by the power of God Himself for the salvation ready to be revealed in the last times. I think the Spirit points that out to us for good cause. It doesn’t make much sense to be super excited about the inheritance that’s waiting for us in heaven if we weren’t sure that God was going to protect us and get us there to enjoy it, right?
I mean, if you’re like me it’s hard to keep my eyes looking forward and upward when I’m dealing with daily pain and suffering and loss and loneliness. When my earthly world feels like it’s crashing down around me (which is often, haha), I only see the current pain and chaos. I forget that I have an inheritance that’s awaiting me or I feel like it’s so far away from me that I can’t glean any encouragement from the knowledge of it. But God reminds us that He’s guarding us for that salvation. He’s keeping us safe until we get that inheritance.
It may not seem like God’s keeping you safe. It may seem more like He’s allowing every bad thing to happen to you. I totally get it and I feel the same way. I really do. Even today I struggled greatly with the feeling of abandonment and that God couldn’t love me and let me go through such misery. What we have to remember is that God may allow the fire to test us (as we will read next time), and He has allowed free will for mankind so that we are affected by our sin and the sin of others, and He does allow His beloved to suffer at times for reasons we cannot possibly understand…
….but HE IS GUARDING US AND WILL BRING US TO HIS GLORY AND OUR GLORIOUS INHERITANCE WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT!
Christ suffered. The disciples suffered. Job suffered. Joseph and Jonah and Paul and David suffered. Suffering is part of the deal and there’s no doubt that some of us suffer more than others. And it may not seem fair or right. It may not feel loving, but Jesus gave His life on the cross and rose again to give us an imperishable, undefiled and unfading inheritance. We just have to trust Him, cling to Him and allow the power of God to guard us until the time is right for us to receive it.
May we pray and ask God to give us a truly “living hope” this week. Not a dead, lifeless hope, but a LIVING HOPE. Praying that you are comforted, that you receive healing and relief, that you are supported and encouraged by friends and family, and that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves you and that He will never leave or forsake you. God bless!