Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the writings of Peter a single word is often rich in meaning. Take, for example, Peter’s use of the word “sprinkling” in 1:2. In this verse Peter speaks concerning the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” As Peter wrote these words, it seems he was saying, “You scattered Jewish believers are familiar with the sprinkling of the blood of sheep and goats described in the Old Testament. However, you must realize that the sprinkling of animal blood is a type of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The old sprinkling, the sprinkling of the blood of animals, merely brought God’s people into the Old Testament blessing. But the new sprinkling, the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, brings us into the full enjoyment of God’s new covenant.” By this example we see that in the Epistles of Peter a single word can indicate a great deal.
In 1:3 Peter goes on to say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead.” We need to pay close attention to the definite article used before the word “God.” In this verse Peter speaks not only of God, but speaks of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The unbelieving Jews knew about God. Their God was the One who created the universe. But these Jews would not believe that their God was also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is an important difference here. Of course, it is not true to say that the Jews believe in one God and that Christians believe in a different God. The crucial point here is that there is a great difference between the understanding and realization concerning God among Jews and among Christians. According to the understanding of the Jews, God is the Creator of the universe, but He is not the God and Father of Jesus Christ. In our understanding, however, God is both the Creator of the universe and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 20:17). This is the reason Peter uses the definite article before “God” in 1:3.
In 1:3 Peter declares that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has regenerated us unto a living hope according to His great mercy. Here we see that once again Peter uses an adjective: he speaks not merely of God’s mercy, but speaks of His great mercy. Paul also speaks concerning God’s mercy, but he does not use the adjective “great” to describe it.
From 1:3 we see that the Father has not only chosen us, but has also regenerated us. In 1:1 through 3 we have four actions in the following sequence: choosing, sanctifying, redeeming, and regenerating. In eternity past God chose us, selected us. Then His Spirit came to us to separate us. Following that, we received the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, the application of His redemption. At the very moment we were sprinkled outwardly by the blood, we were inwardly regenerated by the sanctifying Spirit. Therefore, following God’s choosing, the Spirit’s sanctifying, and Christ’s redeeming, we were regenerated.
Regeneration, like redemption and justification, is an aspect of God’s full salvation. Redemption and justification solve our problem with God and reconcile us to God. Regeneration enlivens us with God’s life and brings us into a relationship of life, an organic union, with God. Hence, regeneration issues and results in a living hope. Such regeneration takes place through the resurrection of Christ from among the dead. When Christ was resurrected, we, His believers, were all included in Him. Thus, we were resurrected with Him (Eph. 2:6). In His resurrection He imparted the divine life into us and made us the same as He is in life and nature. This is the basic factor of our regeneration.
To be regenerated is to receive another life, the divine life, in addition to the human life. We all received the human life from our parents. But because of God’s choosing, the Spirit’s sanctifying, and Christ’s redeeming, God begets us, regenerates us. As a result, we have a second birth. Through regeneration God the Father imparts the divine life into us. Therefore, the first birth was the birth of our human life, and the second birth, the birth of the divine life. We all have been born of the divine life. This is what it means to be regenerated.
In 1:3 Peter tells us that we have been regenerated unto a living hope. The Greek word rendered “unto” means issuing in, resulting in, with a view to. God has regenerated us with a view to a living hope. This hope in our pilgrimage today is for the future. It is not a hope of objective things; it is a hope of life, even eternal life, with all the endless divine blessings. It is this hope that we should set completely on the coming grace (1:13).
In verse 3 Peter speaks not merely of hope, but of a living hope. It is not easy to explain what this living hope is. Some may interpret it to mean a hope that is living and not dead. Yes, it is correct to say that the hope we have is living in contrast to a dead hope. Nevertheless, if we have the skill to interpret this expression according to our experience, we shall realize that more is involved. From experience we know that the life-giving Spirit has come into us to enliven us. Formerly we were dead, and everything related to us, in particular any expectation for the future, was also dead. But the enlivening which we have experienced through the life-giving Spirit results in a living hope, in the hope that everything related to us will become living.
When we were sprinkled with the blood of Christ, immediately the life-giving Spirit came into us to enliven us. Using the word “life” as a verb, we may say that the Spirit came into us to “life” us. Formerly we were dead and altogether without hope, but we have been “lifed” through the life-giving Spirit unto a living hope. Now we have the hope that every part of our being will be lifed. This is the living hope. To have a living hope is to be lifed.
The regeneration of God the Father results in the hope that every part of our being and everything related to us will be lifed, enlivened. Everything related to an unsaved person is dead. But with one who has been regenerated by God with the divine life, there is the hope that everything will be enlivened and thus become living.
In the Gospel of John the apostle John speaks about being born again. Although Paul does not use the word “regenerated” or the expression “born again,” in 1 Corinthians 4 he says something that indicates regeneration: he tells the believers that he begot them through the gospel. This is related to regeneration. But Peter is the only one who tells us clearly how we are regenerated and unto what we have been regenerated. We have been regenerated through the living and abiding word of God unto a living hope.
Through regeneration God has made us alive. In Adam we all are dead. When we were born of our parents, we were born dead. Furthermore, all unbelievers are dying a little more each day. All of them are marching toward the tomb. Their destination is the tomb, and their destiny is death. Hence, in Adam every man is born dead and is also born to die. According to the Bible the gospel is preached not merely to sinners; it is also preached to those who are dead in Adam. We know from Peter’s word in 1:3 that through the means, the instrumentality, of the resurrection of Christ, God has regenerated us. Through Christ’s resurrection God has made us alive. In Adam we all died, but in Christ we all have been made alive.
Do you realize that you were born six thousand years ago, when Adam was created? If Adam had not been created, you would not have been born. Because we were born in Adam, we are all the same age—six thousand years. We also died in Adam. But nearly two thousand years ago, when Christ was resurrected, we were made alive, regenerated. According to the New Testament, when Christ was resurrected, we were resurrected in Him (Eph. 2:5-6). Hallelujah, although we were born with Adam, we have been reborn with Christ in His resurrection!
At this point I would quote a word from Dean Alford: “The resurrection of Christ, bringing in life and the gift of the life-giving Spirit, is that which potentiates the new birth into a living hope.” The concept here is deep. The resurrection of Christ potentiates our regeneration into a living hope. When we were regenerated, the resurrected Christ entered into us. He is not only the living One—He is also the resurrected One. Now He is the life within us that potentiates the new birth and causes every aspect of our being to become living. Therefore, regeneration results in a living hope.
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