by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4 February 22, 2009 Lincolnton, N.C.
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:
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 "Keeping" of the Saints.
A. This declaration is the tail end of the series of Peter's encouragements regarding the future of the "elect sojourners".
B. The issue involved has to do with the meaning of the verb he chose to use to describe the impact of the power of God upon the elect in regard to the coming salvation.
1. The verb is a word that is only used four times in the New Testament and only once by Peter. It is used in a military context in 2 Corinthians 11:32 with the meaning "to seek to accomplish an end by the use of soldiers". In that case, the "end" was the apprehension of Saul of Tarsus and it was "foiled" by his going over the wall in a basket. The point, however, is not the success or failure of the attempt, but the attempt itself. In Galatians 3:23 the apostle Paul applied this quasi "military" term to his description of God's purpose in the Law as a restrainer until the freedom of faith was revealed. In Philippians 4:7 the same apostle applied the word to "the peace of God" in its "keeping" of the hearts and minds of believers who pray. What we discover is that this word keeps its main concept in all of the uses found in the New Testament: "to seek to accomplish an end by the use of some significant means".
2. In Peter's case, the issue of seeking to accomplish an end is buttressed by his use of the "means": the "power of God".
3. However, this "means" is somewhat mitigated by Peter's phrase "through faith". This phrase removes the issue from being a "power of God alone" matter. The "faith" issue introduces the reality of the human response. Thus, the "seeking of the objective" is done by the God of power, but it does not ignore the element of "faith". This means that the bottomline is not what God has done, or is capable of doing, but is whether a person trusts Him to do what He has declared He is willing to do. This may sound a bit strange in terms of "election" but the fact is that the "elect" only come to the knowledge of their election by the fruit it produces. In his second letter, Peter actually insists that his readers deal with this tension: makeyourcallingandelectionsure. So, though there is strong encouragement for the readers in the "kept by the power of God" theme, there is no allowance of presumption. Judas was called to be one of the Twelve; he was present when Jesus said, "...in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel"; and he forfeited his participation in that promise (Acts 1:16-22) by presumption, not "faith". The issue here is not the issue of whether an "elect sojourner" will be "kept by the power of God"; it is whether one/any of Peter's readers have presumed themselves to be such in self-delusion.
II. The "Unto" Phrase.
A. In some of the translations, the readings imply that the salvation is "ready to be revealed" (using "ready" as an adverb). However, the word translated "ready" is actually an adjective that modifies "salvation": the salvation is "ready" in the sense of "prepared". A cursory reading through the texts wherein the word is used show that "preparedness" is the issue. This means that Peter is writing of a "prepared salvation" -- indicating that God has been at work in bringing it up to speed so that He might bring us to it in due time.
B. The "salvation" is larger than any one of its parts (justification; sanctification; glorification).
C. The "salvation" is "to be revealed in the last time. Time, for Peter, is simply God's tool for preparing the salvation for the saints and preparing the saints for the salvation.