by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 February 8, 2009 Lincolnton, N.C.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
I. The Issue(s) of "Begetting Again".
A. The verbal form is only used twice in the New Testament and both times in this letter (1:3 and 23). Not only is this verb rare in the New Testament, it is rare in the Greek literature that is extant today from the past. The author of the article regarding it in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament regards its origins as too obscure to identify, but goes on to make some fairly dogmatic, but unsubstantiated, claims as to its meaning in Peter's thought. So, we are left with the general doctrine of the New Testament regarding the issues involved as our sources of his meaning.
B. It is an indisputable fact that John came on the scene proclaiming that his hearers were a "generation of vipers" (Luke 3:7). This descriptive terminology uses the root of Peter's word. Clearly, John did not mean that there was any "literal" (genetic/chromosomal) connection between snakes and people, but, just as clearly, his doctrine was that people needed to have a fundamental "change of nature" so that they could be identified as "a godly generation". After John's demise, Jesus countered Nicodemus' theological confusion with a frank declaration that in order to enter, or even "see", the Kingdom of God, one had to be "born again" (John 3:3 and 7). Though Nicodemus did not understand much of what Jesus meant, we can be fairly certain that he did understand Jesus to be reiterating John's fundamental thesis: men, as they are from birth, are corrupted so significantly that a "new" reality has to be produced "somehow" if they are to have any hope of participation in the Kingdom of God. John, the son of Zebedee, author of the fourth Gospel (recorder of Jesus' words to Nicodemus), picked up on this thesis in his first letter and openly declared that "everyone" who is "born of God" does not "manufacture sin" because the "seed" of Him remains in him and he "is incapable of sinning" (1 John 3:9). And, finally, the apostle Paul openly declared that "mortal (corrupt) flesh and blood" cannot enter into the Kingdom of God in its final state, but must, rather, either be resurrected or "instantaneously changed". Given these realities, the demand for a "newness" of "being" for those who would inherit in God's Kingdom covers the whole reality of what it means to be "man". Not only does his "serpentine nature" have to be altered through "re-generation", so also does his mortal frame through resurrection/instantaneous transformation.
C. With this biblical background, Peter's words indicate that he firmly believed in something profoundly significant about our present condition as "born again" people as well as our future state in the post-resurrection reality, underwritten by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Thus, the initiation, by the merciful God, of a "living hope" -- seen most dramatically in the resurrection of the Christ -- is developed and matured by the presence of the living words given to us in authoritative revelation, preserved in written form. The major "problem" with this scenario of hope and maturation is, from the burden of the letter in its entirety, man's attitude toward suffering and his false thinking about its implications. He does not see the link between suffering and glory.