by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 February 15, 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 Dual "Unto" Phrases.
A. The phrases are more easily seen by the ASV translation of the opening of 1:4.
B. The phrases deliberately point us to two fundamental objectives of our "begetting".
1. The first objective is "a hope". This objective has to do with an issue that directly affects our current status as "elect sojourners" (unsettled non-citizens who are chosen of God). There are few issues that affect us as much as "hope", or the lack thereof. Granted, there are a few things that are more basic. Hope does not exist in a vacuum. When the apostle Paul posited the "now abides faith, hope, and love these three, but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13) thesis, he put them in a reverse order of significance so that "love" would be both last and greatest. This means that there will always be a value system (love) behind every agenda that gives it substance and direction. But it also means that "hope" is "next in line", making it the second most important issue. The rationale for this is not hard to see: once an objective is set as "valuable" (this is the function of "love"), the next most important issue is the question of whether that "valuable entity" will be an extended part of the person's experience whose "love" has made it valuable. There is little point to "loving" what is not/will not be an aspect of one's "life" (experience). Thus enters the issue of "hope". "Hope" means two things: first, the "valued commodity" is either not currently a part of our experience, or its current participation with us is tenuous; and, second, the "valued commodity" is expected (by us) to be a permanent fixture in our experience at some point in our future. Paul explained this in Romans 8:24 with his, "...hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" The importance of this reality is seen in how the issue of "hope" affects the quality of our current experience as well as the choices we make and the actions we take. If a "beloved" entity ever begins to be seen as permanently outside of our experience (either now or later), "hope" turns into "despair" and the actions of the despairing are significantly different from those of the "hopeful". Thus, when Peter inserts "a living hope" into the mix as one of the more basic aspects of the new birth, he is actually addressing the second most significant "life-impacting" issue. This is absolutely in harmony with his overall thesis of "true grace" in a "suffering unto glory" reality. The question we must ask at this point is this: what did Peter mean by characterizing the "hope" as "living"? The answer, I believe, is that "living" describes the impact made upon our experience. If one has a "dead" hope, he, in reality, has no "hope" at all. It is only as "hope" possesses within us the capacity to sponsor joy that it is really hope. Thus, a "living" hope is, really, the only kind there is. Thus, if "joy" is not present, neither is "hope". This is why the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is brought into play: it is both the proof and substance of the "hope" that sheds joy abroad in our hearts. It needs to be recognized, in addition to the above, that "Love" is an issue of the "Spirit", "Hope" is an issue of the "Soul", and "Faith" is an issue of the "Spirit's" impetus upon the "Body" unto action.
2. The second objective is "an inheritance". This objective has to do with an issue that directly affects our future status as "settled citizens". Here is where the issue of "hope" is most directly addressed. This phrase identifies the content of the "valued commodity": the actual and final experience of the creature. We have been "begotten" by God "unto" an inheritance of "final Life".
a. That this inheritance is "incorruptible" signals a parallel between the physical realm wherein decay is a settled principle (Romans 8:20-21) and the eternal reality that is undergirded by the "true grace of God". However, the only way this can be the case is if it is rooted in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. There are simply too many cautions in the Word of God that posit "loss" in regard to what one's experience is going to be in the ultimate form of the Kingdom for Peter to be able to declare that one's "inheritance" is "incorruptible" if it rests upon human "faith" and/or "cooperation with God". Paul, for instance, declares of a believer who lives in an unworthy way that "...he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved..." (1 Corinthians 3:15). And John warned his readers of the possibility that one could not "receive a full reward" (2 John 8). Thus, we conclude that what Peter had in mind with his "inheritance" thesis is that "basic package" that salvation brings to all who believe; not the "potential" that John calls "a full reward". The "basic package" is rooted in the Person and Works of Jesus Christ alone; the "potential" is developed, or not, by the Person and Works of the Indwelling Spirit in the post-justification era of a believer's experience.
b. That Peter stacks up the "inevitability" themes (incorruptible, undefiled, fadeth not, reserved...) indicates that he wants his readers to begin their understanding of his words from the vantage point of "true grace" as it is exclusively in Jesus sothat they may move beyond the "basic package" into the "glory" that develops out of a right, Spirit-guided, response to the "fiery trials".