1 Peter 1:10-13
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober- minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ESV
Once again we begin where we left off in 1 Peter chapter 1.
We’ve been working our way through 1 Peter chapter 1 and last time we looked at verses 10 to 12. That brought us to the end of the first section of the letter. In those first twelve verses we’ve been told that believers in Christ are “scattered, elect sojourners” in this present world but we’ve also been shown many encouraging, heart warming truths. Those first 12 verses were spent in blessing God for the wonderful salvation that He has provided for believers through the Lord Jesus Christ and in emphasising the benefits that believers in Christ have received. We’ve received a new birth. We look forward to an eternal inheritance. We have an assured hope. That first section was all about what God has done for us in Christ.
Having covered the first section of the letter we’re now going to start to look at the second section of the letter this morning by concentrating on verse 13. It represents something of a turning point as it’s the beginning of the second section of the letter. One commentator has likened it to a hinge because it connects the two sections. The new theme that begins at verse 13 and really continues throughout the rest of the letter is concerned with the difference that this salvation brings to the life of the Christian.
We’ve been shown the fact of salvation and the blessing that flows from it.
Now we’re moving on to see the impact of salvation, the effect that this salvation ought to have on us. Believers in Christ have been given a new birth. They have entered into a new life and have a new identity. That has to have an effect on us and Peter goes on to point out some of the ways in which it should affect us. So, in verse 13 the difference that salvation should make in the believer is “hope”. In verses 14 to 16 it is “holiness”. In verses 17 to 21 it is “fear of God”. In verses 22 to 25 it is love for one another. Moving into chapter 2 we see in verse 2 that it’s a craving for that which sustains spiritual growth.
You see, this salvation that Peter has spoken of in verses 1 to 12 isn’t just an interesting, encouraging fact that we can tuck away in our minds. This salvation is life changing or life transforming so it must have an impact on our lives. It must be worked out in our lives. As Paul says in Philippians 2v12-13: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”.
In saying “work out your own salvation” he isn’t saying work for your salvation.
He’s saying “work out the salvation that you’ve already freely received from God through Christ” and, by “work out” he doesn’t mean “figure out”. He means live and work accordingly.
Now, before we try to understand what verse 13 teaches us we need to be clear about the content and structure of the text because you’ll find that different versions express it in different ways. The NIV puts it as “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed”.
It begins with “Therefore” so it points back to the preceding verses as the reason for what it’s going to say. Then, it seems to go on to give a list of three imperatives or commands. The first is: “prepare your minds for action”. The second is: “be self-controlled”. The third is: “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed”.
At first sight that probably seems reasonable enough.
However, if we look at the ESV we find that it says: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
Again, it begins with “Therefore” so it’s clearly pointing back to the preceding verses as the reason for what it’s going to say but then the emphasis is different from that found in the NIV. Instead of listing three imperatives or commands it just gives one imperative or command. That is: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. The preceding clauses “preparing your minds for action” and “being sober-minded” are not imperatives. They are subordinate or instrumental to the one imperative to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
Which version is right?
If we were to give the NKJV the deciding vote we would have to say that the NIV is right because the NKJV says “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. However, it’s actually the ESV that gets it right. Who knows why the other versions have decided to change the sense of the Greek text. The verse actually contains one command. That is to “set your hope fully”. The text could perhaps be expressed more clearly as “Therefore, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ by preparing your minds for action, and by being sober-minded”.
So, having got the text itself clear in our minds let us turn to trying to understand what verse 13 is saying to us. In order to do that we will consider three simple questions: WHY, WHAT and HOW?
For this session we will take up the question of “Why?”
WHY do we have this imperative or command? What is the basis for it? WHAT is the imperative or command in verse 13? HOW are we to obey the command?
The reason for the imperative given in verse 13, and also for those that follow, is indicated by the word “therefore” at the beginning of the verse. That points us back to verses 1 to 12 as the basis for the imperatives that are about to be given.
What were verses 1 to 12 all about?
They were about the salvation that that God has given through the work of Christ. They were about what we have as a result of what He has done. What God has done for us in Christ must always be the basis for what we do and not vice versa. Exactly the same pattern is clearly seen in Paul’s letters. In Romans for instance the first section can perhaps be summed up by Romans 1 v16-17 where we read: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith””.
Paul was speaking of salvation just as Peter has been and he’s emphasising that it’s salvation by the power of God on the basis of righteousness provided by God. Paul went on to spend a good many chapters expanding on that and explaining it in some detail. He begins by showing the need for such salvation and goes on to show how that salvation has been brought about by the person and work of Christ but then he gets to chapter 12v1 and what do we find? He said: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”.
There you have it again: “Therefore”. That is, on the basis of this salvation brought about by the power of God and freely given by the grace of God on the basis of the work of Christ that Paul was talking about in the first eleven chapters, this is what you should do. This is how it should be outworked in your lives as believers in Christ.
Now, it’s extremely important that we see that pattern and maintain its order.
As soon as you put what we do before what God has graciously done for us in Christ you undermine the gospel and stray into the realm of salvation by works. We must always be very clear that any imperatives or commands that we find in the New Testament do not lead to salvation but stem from salvation by God’s grace in Christ. There are some “chicken and egg” situations where we can go round and round in circles trying to work out what came first – “the chicken or the egg”. That is not the case with God’s grace and our obedience to His commands. It is always God’s grace that comes first.
Next session we will consider the question of “What?”
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!