1 Peter 1:8-9 – ..because of an invisible Person (II)


Peter's first letter

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1:8-9)

For this session we’re going to pick up where we left off and move on to consider the remaining two points of verses 8 and 9. As I said preciously those verses might not appear to contain such a blatant contradiction as verses 6 and 7 but they certainly include a couple of conundrums. Perhaps a suitable title would be something like “Inexpressible rejoicing because of an invisible Person”.
We’re now going to look at the remaining two of the four components of those two verses for they are really four important facets of the Christian life. They are all true of those who are “scattered, elect sojourners”. Once again, the four points are:

The FOCUS in these verses

The RELATIONSHIP in these verses

The EXPERIENCE in these verses

The END in these verses

For this post we will consider the remaining two of these four points. So let us notice:
The EXPERIENCE in these verses
We read that as well as loving Jesus Christ and believing in Him, believers also “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”. Peter spoke of our rejoicing back in verse 6 where he said: “In this you rejoice”. As we saw last time believers really rejoice as well as genuinely grieving. Although it’s difficult we can perhaps just about get our heads round the apparent contradiction of really rejoicing in spite of trials that cause genuine grief. But now Peter goes a step further. He, as it were, ups the ante. He’s not merely saying that his readers rejoice. He tells us two quite amazing things about their rejoicing.
Firstly, he says that they rejoiced with joy that was “inexpressible” or, it could be translated as “unutterable”.
The Greek word only occurs on this one occasion in the New Testament and it’s saying that the joy in question is so profound that it is beyond the power of words to adequately express it. Peter is saying that we rejoice with a joy that is beyond words. If you try to express this joy, words will fail you. It doesn’t matter how good your vocabulary might be. Adequate, suitable, appropriate words simply don’t exist! I wonder if that is why singing has such a prominent place in Christian experience and worship. Singing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” expresses our joy more effectively than spoken words alone. Somehow, the combination of true, sound words and a moving tune is greater than the sum of its parts as an expression of what is in our hearts.
Secondly, Peter says that we rejoice with joy that is “filled with glory”.
There’s actually a single Greek word there that has been translated as “filled with glory” in the ESV. I suppose, because there’s a single Greek word, the NIV refers to it as a “glorious” joy. However, the Greek word is actually the verb that corresponds to “glory” and the ESV has attempted to convey that by saying that it is “filled with glory”. A literal translation would be “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and glorified”. The idea is that this joy is exalted and has something of the glory of God about it. It’s beyond any natural joy and has a heavenly quality to it.
As with loving Jesus and believing in Jesus, Peter wasn’t exhorting his readers to rejoice with this sort of “inexpressible joy” that is “filled with glory”. He was stating categorically that they were rejoicing with such joy! What’s more, it’s again in the present continuous tense! That’s challenging isn’t it? It could even seem very disheartening because when you look at your life you probably conclude that you seldom, if ever, feel such inexpressible and amazing joy.
We need to recognise that elsewhere in the Word of God we are exhorted to rejoice. Joy is prayed for. Let’s read a few examples:

Philippians 1v25: “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith”. Paul’s remaining with them would be, along with other things, would be for the benefit of their “joy in the faith”.

Philippians 4v4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”. So, believers are being exhorted to rejoice and to keep it up.

Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”. This is a prayer to be filled with joy in believing.

It’s very clear that this joy is linked with faith.
I think we have to take it that the “inexpressible joy” that is “filled with glory” that Peter speaks of is a deep seated joy within us that comes about as a consequence of loving Jesus and believing in Him. True Christianity is first and foremost a matter of the heart. It’s not primarily a matter of external performances or intellectual conviction or outward observances. It’s a matter of love, trust, and joy focussed on Jesus Christ. In this life we can only experience something of that – that’s why we have those exhortations and prayers for joy and rejoicing. Its true fullness won’t be experienced until we are glorified. That brings us, finally, to:
The END in these verses
Peter goes on to say in verse 9: “obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls”.
Firstly, notice that our faith has an “outcome”.
It has a goal. It has an end. It’s leading somewhere. It isn’t just something to help us get through the day or to get through the week. It isn’t just something to cling on to in hard times. It certainly should help us day to day and in hard times but it isn’t just some sort of emotional prop. It’s so much more than that. It will have a long term “outcome”. It has a definite end in view.
Next, notice that Peter says that we are “obtaining” that “outcome”. Yet again, the verb “obtaining” is in the present continuous tense. So, there’s a sense of development here. There’s a sense of progress towards the end of our faith. We don’t yet have the full outcome of our faith but we are in the process of obtaining it. Something is happening to us. In this life we might not love Christ perfectly. We might not trust in Him fully. We might not rejoice in Him constantly. But, we should be loving Him more and trusting Him more and rejoicing in Him more. We are in the process of “obtaining the outcome of our faith”.
What is “the outcome of your faith”?
Well, Peter describes it as: “the salvation of your souls”. It’s what Peter described back in verse 4 as “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”. When will that outcome, that salvation, be? Well, in verse 5 Peter said that it is “a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”. What will happen then? According to verse 7 there will be “the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
As we saw earlier, we have not seen Him in the past and we don’t see Him at present but we will see Him in the future when we finally obtain “the outcome of our faith”. In the words of 1 John 3v2: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”.
What an amazing prospect!
Not only will we “see him as he is” but “we shall be like him”! In the meantime, “though we do not now see him”, may we look forward to the time when we will and increasingly love Him and trust in Him and rejoice in Him. May Jesus Christ be our focus. May our relationship with him be one of love for Him and belief in Him. May our experience be that we rejoice in Him. May we know that the end of our faith is nothing less than the salvation of our souls.
~ Steve
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!