Pastor David B. Curtis


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Suffering With Joy

1 Peter 1:6-7

Delivered 05/12/24

Good morning, Bereans. This morning we are continuing our study of 1 Peter. Today we will be looking at verses 6 and 7 of chapter 1.

Remember that from verse 1 we saw that Peter is writing to people who have been "dispersed" because of persecution and so these folks are experiencing "various trials." To encourage them in their suffering, he stresses the fact that they have been chosen by God for salvation. He calls them "elect exiles" in verse 1. The word "elect" signifies picked out or chosen.

Peter goes on to explain their election in greater detail by three prepositional phrases in verse 2. First, he says that they are elect according to God's foreknowledge. Foreknowledge is not about God's knowing facts but about God's knowing his people in an intimate saving relationship. The background of the term must be located in the Hebrew Scriptures which reveal that "to know" in reference to God refers not to simple knowledge but to covenantal love. Love and choosing go together; God chooses because He loves.

Then he says "in the sanctification of the Spirit." "Sanctification" is the Greek word hagiasmos which means "to consecrate, set apart, sanctify." It carries the idea of a "setting apart" from the secular to that which is holy or reserved for God's special purposes. The Spirit separates the elect from the rest of humanity and sets them aside from the world. This is the sovereign, sanctifying work of the Spirit.

Peter continues with the third prepositional saying, "for obedience to Yeshua the Christ and for sprinkling with his blood." A single preposition governs both "obedience" and "sprinkling," pointing us to the purpose of God's electing love which is salvation.

Then in verse 3 he says, "he has caused us to be born again to a living hope." This phrase is used to assert God's sovereignty in the new birth. Peter is saying that God caused us to be born again, and it seems to refer the readers back to what he talked about in verses 1 and 2. There he taught about the believer's election—of how God chose them before time.

I think that Peter stresses the doctrine of election in the beginning of this letter to encourage these suffering believers. When you're in the midst of despair, it is comforting to remember that Yahweh loved you in eternity past and has chosen you to be His child.

No matter what trials and suffering that you go through, there is great peace in knowing that God has chosen you to be a part of His people and nothing and no one can change that. When people around you mistreat you, impugn your character, refuse to associate with you, or try to do you harm because you are a Christian, you must remember that you are elect of God.

The recurring theme of suffering is first introduced in verse 6.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV

This theme of suffering will be developed further as this letter continues. He repeats this theme of persecution often. It is introduced in verses 6 and 7. Then we see it throughout the letter.

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 1 Peter 2:19 ESV
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled… For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:14 and 17 ESV
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 1 Peter 4:1 ESV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12 ESV
But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 1 Peter 4:15 ESV
Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19 ESV
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:9 ESV

Now, all of those verses let us know in no uncertain terms that they were in a very, very difficult time. And that time of persecution would eventually catch Peter himself because, according to tradition, he, along with his wife, would be killed for their faith and proclamation of the gospel of Christ. It was a time that easily could rob them of their hope and destroy all joy. And that is why Peter ties joy to their salvation, reminding them of the blessedness of knowing God through Christ. Notice what he said in verse 3.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 ESV

It is the new birth that gives us eternal hope. According to Proverbs 13, not having hope is a very destructive position.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 ESV

Hope sustains us through hardship. People have been known to endure severe affliction as long as they had hope. I read about an interesting experiment that was conducted a while back. A group of behavioral Scientists put some Wharf Rats in a tank of water and observed them to see how long they would survive before drowning. The average time was 17 minutes. Then, they repeated the experiment, but this time they "rescued" the rats just before the point of drowning. They dried them off, returned them to their cages, fed them, and let them play for a few days, and then repeated the drowning experiment.

This time, the average survival time for these rats increased from 17 minutes to 36 hours! The Scientists explained that phenomenon by pointing out that the second time around, the rats had HOPE. They believed that they could survive this because they had done so before.

So, we see that hope is very important. We need to have hope. So, what Is HOPE? Let me give you the biblical definition of hope, because the word "hope" has come to have a different meaning today than that which was originally used in the New Testament. Today it indicates something of contingency; an expectancy that something will happen, but there is some question as to whether or not it will really occur. We say, "I hope it doesn't rain," or "I hope I can make it to next payday." Such statements express some uneasiness or uncertainty about the future. But this is not the New Testament usage. In the New Testament it indicates an absolute certainty about the future, an attitude of eager expectancy, of confidence in God, and of His ability to do what He has promised. It is an attitude that says: "I have the resources in Yeshua to meet the world head-on."

Our text today in vss. 6-7 reflects the relationship between future hope and the present exile experience. The motif of rejoicing occurs in vss. 6, 8; 4:13. Future hope effects present outlook.

Peter is writing to Christians that are spread throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). They had been scattered because of the persecution coming from Rome. Why were Christians being persecuted? Why were they so hated? Paul writing to Timothy, his son in the faith, said:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Yeshua will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV

So, it seems that all believers who live a godly life will suffer some form of persecution. Why is this so? It's because the world is so evil that when you live a godly life, it really bothers them. When you call out their sin, they are going to attack you.

Let me give you a little history as to why the scattered Christians were being persecuted. In July of AD 64, the city of Rome was consumed by a holocaust of fire. The historian Tacitus was in Rome during the great fire. During his lifetime, he wrote a number of histories chronicling the reigns of the early emperors. In his final work, The Annals, written around the year AD 116, he gives and eye-witness account of the burning of Rome.

It is said that during the first three days and nights the fire spread rapidly. It was somewhat checked but not totally put out; it broke out again even worse. Before it was done, it had consumed most of the homes of most of the people.

Nero found a front-row seat in the Tower of Maecenas and watched the raging inferno consume the city of Rome. Historians tell us that he was rather charmed by the flames, in fact, he considered them quite lovely.

Rumors soon arose accusing Emperor Nero of ordering the torching of the city and standing on the summit of the Palatine playing his lyre as flames devoured the world around him. These rumors have never been confirmed.

But the rumors persisted. It was not just an economic loss and a social loss. It brought about religious chaos and confusion for the citizens of Rome because it led them to realize that their own deities had been unable to deal with this inferno and protect them. In many cases, in fact in most cases, the people were victims of the fires because they became homeless. Many had also lost one another in death and in a very real sense, they had also lost their gods.

So, their resentment was bitter and it was deep and it was deadly. And Nero realized that he had to redirect the hostility. He had to have a scapegoat to blame for this, and so he chose a group that were known as Christians. He spread the word as fast as he could that they were the ones who had set the fires.

His choice was a rather ingenious one. Christians were already hated. First of all, they were already being slandered because of their association with Jews, and there was a very toxic anti-Semitism in Rome. In the second place, Christians were hated because they were seen as those who would not fully cooperate in emperor worship and as those who rejected all the other gods of the Romans.

Furthermore, the Lord's Supper was closed to pagans. And since the pagans were not a part of it, when they heard that Christians were eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, they assumed that some kind of cannibalism was going on. And so, the word spread that Christians were cannibals; that they were eating and drinking each other. In fact, the story circulated that mostly they ate babies and Gentiles at their Communion service.

And then there was the Christian kiss of love, the embrace that Christians commonly gave to each other when greeting. They used it at the love feast as a way to express their affection, and pagans spread the word that they were having unbridled orgies of lust and vice. A rumor then spread that Christian men were homosexuals because they were embracing each other with a kiss of love.

Also, Christians were always talking about a day when the age would dissolve in flames. And it was very, very fitting to easily blame them for a fire. So, Nero picked the right group. There were several very valid reasons that they would be suspect and the blame could easily be pinned on them.

As a result of this accusation, the persecution of Christians under Nero began. It had already been incipient. It had already been latent because the hatred was already there. And there were some prior incidents of the abuse of Christians, but now it was a wholesale persecution by Nero. Tacitus, the Roman historian, reported that Nero rolled Christians in pitch and then set them on fire while they were still alive and used them as living torches to light his garden parties. He served them up also in the skin of wild animals and set his hunting dogs on them to tear them to pieces. They were also nailed to crosses. As a result, Christians began to perish in somewhat of a delirium of savagery. Even lynching them, without even a trial, became rather common. Within a very few months, Christians were imprisoned, racked, seared, broiled, burned, scourged, stoned, and hanged. Others were lacerated with red hot knives and some were thrown on the horns of wild bulls.

That persecution, which was generated in Rome, began to spread throughout the Roman Empire. And as it spread, it touched places like Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. And as it spread into those places, it began to affect the Christians of those places, whom Peter called aliens and strangers. And it began to greatly impact their lives.

Now it's obvious from this history that these believers were in a time of great suffering. The emphasis of this epistle, then, is to teach believers how to live victoriously in the midst of hostility without losing heart, without wavering in faith.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 1 Peter 1:6 ESV

This may sound weird to us, but Peter says it is possible for these believers to have both great joy and grief in the midst of their trials.

"In this"—the antecedent of "this" is the gracious work of God by which we have been saved. In the flow of thought, this is pointing back to their new birth and inheritance in heaven in verses 3–5. Listen to what he says in the previous verses.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV

Peter encourages the suffering believers by writing that not only is their future inheritance in heaven secure, but even now on earth they are safeguarded through their faith in Christ Yeshua for a salvation that is ready to be revealed. Knowing and resting in God's saving purpose is what enables the believer to "rejoice" in the midst of "various trials."

          "You rejoice"—this is the Greek word agalliaō which is a very expressive term. Peter uses it three times while Paul never uses it. It is a much stronger word than the word to rejoice. It means "to be exceedingly glad, to be super abundantly happy" (in the profound sense, not in the circumstantial sense). And so, he calls for great rejoicing. This can also be translated as a command: "Rejoice in this."

Peter not only taught this—he lived it out. After being flogged and warned to speak no further in the name of Yeshua, he and the other apostles' response was to rejoice!

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Acts 5:41 ESV

In the midst of persecution, these believers could rejoice in the new birth. As Peter said in verse 3, "he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead." Prior to Yahweh causing us to be born again, we were dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-5). This is something we can rejoice in even in the midst of trials. But Peter says there is more.

They can rejoice in their undefiled inheritance. They were at the present time benefitting from their inheritance.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, Ephesians 1:3 ESV

The believers could proclaim that Yeshua

raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Yeshua, Ephesians 2:6 ESV

This means Christ is ruling in heaven but we are there in spirit with him. Everything that is his, is ours; we are co-heirs. This is a phenomenal concept.

They can also rejoice in their eternal security.

who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5 ESV

Some people are kept from their inheritance because of their own death. Too many Christians fail to focus on the benefits of their salvation, and therefore, have lost joy when their inheritance on earth is affected. Scripture says we should "rejoice in this." We should rejoice in all the benefits of our salvation. This is how Paul could suffer and yet still be joyful. His salvation was always on his mind and he did not lose focus on it.

"Though now for a little while"— he says the trials are only for "a little while." Now for some of us who have been going through a difficult situation for six months, a year, or ten years, the timing may not feel short at all. Maybe we have been in a bad marriage or dealing with a difficult boss or some type of persecution. In what way is this temporary? Our sufferings as Christians are relatively brief compared with eternity with our Lord.

"If necessary"— this is the Greek term dei, which means required or necessary.

Peter here tells us that there is a "necessity" not only for the various trials but especially for being grieved itself. God has a purpose not only for the trial but also for the heavy grief we feel in the trial. You know why trouble comes into your life? Because it's necessary. God is in control of our trials, and they do not happen by accident.

Trials serve a purpose. Some trials are necessary to turn us away from sin. This is what we see happening to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11. They were abusing the Lord's Supper, and God brought weakness, sickness, and even death on them. Look at what Paul says.

That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:30-32 ESV

Trials sometimes are necessary to protect us from sin. What does that mean? Let me explain through the illustration of Paul and his thorn in the flesh.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 2 Corinthians 12:7 ESV

It does not say Paul was prideful, but God was saving him from the sin of pride through this humbling experience. Pride is a very destructive attitude.

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5 ESV
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."  James 4:6 ESV

The word "opposes" is from the Greek antitassō which means "to range in battle against, to set oneself against."

In the same way, many trials we go through could possibly be a form of God's grace to keep us from sin. We have probably seen this in some of the people God has chosen to use in the greatest ways. Charles Spurgeon, who was called the Prince of Preachers, used to struggle with depression that was so bad at times he couldn't leave his bed for weeks.

Trials are ultimately needed in order for us to grow in character. Listen to what Hebrews says.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 ESV

Look at the life of any truly godly man or woman, and you will see that godliness has always been marked by trials.

"You have been grieved by various trials"—notice what these trials caused—grief. Grieved here is from the Greek word, lupeō, which means "to distress, to grieve: — cause…sorrow." Peter says it is possible for these believers to both rejoice and grieve in the midst of their trials. Peter is not the only writer who teaches this apparent paradox. Paul in fact lived it. Look at what Paul said about his trials.

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:10 ESV

Paul said he was at the same time "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." To have joy in trials is not to deny the pain or sorrow. It's real, and we shouldn't pretend that it isn't there. We need to recognize the fact that they can exist together. They can co-exist in the same way an expectant mother can go through the travail of birth and still have joy in thinking about what is to come. She has joy because she has the "right focus" as she considers this new baby that will be birthed into the world. In the same way, believers must have the right focus in order to have joy in their various trials.

"Various trials"—various is from the Greek word poikilos which means many-colored. It was used to describe the skin of a leopard, the different-colored veining of marble, or an embroidered robe. Peter uses that same word one other time, not to describe trials, but to describe the grace of God.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:  1 Peter 4:10 ESV

Think about this—our trials and troubles are multi-colored, and God's grace is poikilos, multi-colored. It's as if there is no color trial that God can't match with a color of grace.

"Trials"—is from the Greek peirasmois, which are all kinds of tests that challenge our fidelity to God's will. Peirasmos here means not the inner wrestling with evil inclination but the undeserved sufferings from outside the person who is distressed by them. Peter was not denying that we face temptations from within, rather, he was addressing temptations from external sources particularly.

These believers were suffering multicolored trials, all kinds of trials. Some had, no doubt, lost their land, their loved ones, and their careers. And yet Peter says they can still have great joy in the midst of these multicolored trials.

What is the secret to joy in trials? What's the secret for a Christian to have joy while suffering through bankruptcy, cancer, or even the loss of a child? Is it realistic that both joy and grief can exist together? Yes. In the midst of grief, we should rejoice in all the benefits of our salvation. This is how Paul could suffer and yet still be joyful; his salvation was always on his mind and he did not lose focus on who he was and what he had in Christ.

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ. 1 Peter 1:7 ESV

"So that the tested genuineness of your faith"—this is a hina or purpose clause. Trials are for the purpose of testing the genuineness of our faith. Suffering tests our faith. Throughout the Bible, God has tested His children. This verse has the noun dikimon ("tested") and the participle of dikimazō ("tested"). Both terms have the connotation of testing with a view towards strengthening and thereby achieving approval.

Why does God test our faith? Does He need to test your faith? Does God need to do something to find out if you're real? No, He knows what's in your heart. So, who is the test going to benefit? You!

"More precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—the word for "tested" here is used because it is borrowed from the process of assaying metal. Trials do to "faith" what "fire" does to gold. They purify it and reveal its true value and genuineness. The metallurgist will put metal in the fire and see at what temperature it melts. As gold is heated in the fire beyond the point of becoming molten, the impurities separate from the precious metal, leaving the purest of gold. God purifies our faith with trials by helping us to realize the inadequacy of anything other than trust in Him in these situations.The analogy, however, enables Peter to make the observation that gold "perishes" under extreme conditions, whereas the same cannot be said of true Christians under trial during which the very presence of the Holy Spirit strengthens them and causes them to be refined by it. Proven faith is far more precious. What a thought. Why is it more precious than gold? Because proven faith is eternal.

"May be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ"—God is honored and pleased when by faith we endure trials caused by our faith in Him. Faith pleases God.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 ESV

Trials help us grow in faith and faith pleases God.

To what event is Peter referring when he writes about "the revelation of Yeshua the Christ"? The word "revelation" here is apokalupsis, which is the same word used as the title for the last book of the New Testament—Revelation. It means "to uncover," "fully disclose," or "make known." Here it refers to the Second Coming—a common theme in Peter's writings. Peter also mentions this verse 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 Yeshua the Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 ESV

Who is the grace going to be brought to at the Second Coming? The text says "to YOU." Who is the "you"? It is the first century saints that Peter is writing to. Look at what Peter says in 4:13.

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13 ESV

Who is going to be glad when his glory is revealed? The "You!"—the very same you as in 1:13. It is the first-century saints whom Peter is writing to. So, who receives the "grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ?  And who is to "be glad when his glory is revealed?"  It is the first-century saints. Therefore, whom was Christ to return to? Those in the first century. Yet, contemporary Commentator Stephen Cole writes, "In a short while, Jesus Christ is returning in glory and we will spend all eternity with Him… Thus, in the midst of our pain, we can have great joy if we will focus on the shortness of time and the eternal glory that awaits us when Jesus returns."

How could Peter tell the first-century saints that they would see the coming of Christ and two thousand years later people are still waiting for his coming? We have been robbed of the simple meaning of the Scripture because the Church has failed to teach hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the method of biblical interpretation. If we are going to study the Bible, we must have some understanding of the principles of hermeneutics. The purpose of hermeneutics is to establish guidelines and rules for interpreting the Bible. Any written document is subject to misinterpretation, and thus we have developed rules that safeguard us from such misunderstanding. Yahweh has spoken, and what He has said is recorded in Scripture. The basic goal of hermeneutics is to ascertain what God meant by what he said.

One of the principles of hermeneutics is Audience Relevance which requires that the interpreter ascertain the meaning of the words of Scripture by what they meant to the original, intended audience. Furthermore, the concern of the interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.

So, in our text in 1 Peter, it is the first-century Christians who were to receives the "grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Christ?  And who is to "be glad when his glory is revealed?" For this to happen, Christ would need to have returned in the first century. As a matter of fact, almost all references to the coming of Christ in the New Testament have a time stamp connected to them and it is always declared to be soon or shortly. The timing is clearly while some of them are still alive. It is to their generation. So, why are people today still looking forward to his coming? If it was soon to the first-century believers, what is it to us? History!

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