I’ve been studying 1Peter with some expat friends. As I do, I’ve been finding it helpful keep in mind what Tom Wright has said about first century Hebrew theology: monotheism, election and eschatology. Or, to put it another way: one God, one People of God, and one Hope for the People of God. So, here are some things I’m noticing in 1Peter1 –
v.1-2: Election (the Jewish version) is redefined in trinitarian terms. Check it out…it’s cool.
v.3-9: Our salvation hasn’t happened yet. Not really. To borrow Paul’s term, we have the earnest money. When I think of what I was saved from, what I enjoy now, all that I have experienced – I am so grateful. But to think that this is just the earnest money – just the beginning and just a tiny portion of what “being saved” will eventually mean for me, that begins to really warm my tired heart, and it begins to broaden my view and to set my imagination on the deep future.
And that Future – our sure and certain Hope – appears here (the third element of Jewish theology). We, though we are presently tried, hold up and even rejoice, because of our sure and certain hope. We KNOW something very good is coming. What to do with that hope appears in the second half of the chapter.
There is another nifty Hebrew thing going on here. The language in v.8-9 is Abrahamic faith-talk. The language of the Hebrew imagination of God’s Promise. God has Promised, and though you don’t see it you believe; though you wait for it you remain loyal. But here, this immensely Godward and identifyingly Jewish language is used concerning our attachment to the person of Jesus. This reshapes what it means to be a Jew, and indeed what it means to be a person in God’s covenant community. The “People of God” are those who trust Jesus, and who love him, though we have never seen him.
And somehow, by deeply celebrating King Jesus, we presently obtain something of our future salvation. ‘Mechanism’ is a terrible word for this, but I lack a better one at the moment: the ‘mechanism’ of our present obtaining of our salvation – the way we download our future life into our present reality – is by celebrating Jesus in ways that are ‘inexpressible and saturated with glory’. There’s more there in verse 9 than meets the eye, I think.