Hope in the Hurting, 1 Peter 1:1-2, 5:12 ESV, Colin Munroe Lead Pastor

Hope in the Hurting

The same Peter who denied Jesus and experienced The Lord’s redeeming ministry on the shores of the Sea of Galilee shares this message of hope with us as he feeds and cares for the Lord’s sheep and lambs.

Peter shared this message with Christians who were going through painful moments and knew that fiery trails were a part of the Jesus journey. This letter is filled with principles and promises to see us through the inevitable trials and suffering the kingdom kids will face.

“What life does to us depends on what life finds in us.”

From a global perspective we must confess that we live very comfortable lives. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world face harsh and daily persecution. All the indicators point to this reality being in our not so distant future. But a comfortable Christian in a context of suffering will often be a compromising Christian and their comfort will be costly!

Suffering leads to glory and that is our hope! Our future is as hopeful as the promises of God are faithful!

1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 5:12 (ESV)
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

It is not the fact of life that determines hope, but the faith of life.

A Christian believer has a “living hope” because his faith and hope are in Christ. This “living hope” is the major theme of Peter’s first letter. He is saying to all believers, “Live hopeful!”

1 Peter 1:1 (ESV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…

Many have questioned whether a common fisherman could have penned this letter, especially since Peter and John were both called “unschooled ordinary men”. We must never underestimate the training Peter had for three years with the Lord Jesus, nor should we minimize the work and power of the Holy Spirit in his life. Peter is a perfect example of the truth in:

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ESV)
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

His name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter, which means “a stone”. The Aramaic equivalent of “Peter” is “Cephas,” so Peter was a man with three names. Nearly fifty times in the New Testament, he is called “Simon”; and often he is called “Simon Peter.” Perhaps the two names suggest a believer’s two natures: an old nature (Simon) that is prone to fail, and a new nature (Peter) that can walk in victory.

Peter and Paul were the two leading apostles in the early church. Paul was assigned especially to minister to the Gentiles, and Peter to the Jews. The Lord had commanded Peter to strengthen his brothers and later to tend the flock, and the writing of this letter was a part of that ministry. 

This letter is also associated with Silas (Silvanus). He was one of the “chief men” in the early church and a prophet. This means that he communicated God’s messages to the congregations as he was directed by the Holy Spirit. The Apostles and prophets worked together to lay the foundation of the church.

1 Peter 1:1b (ESV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia

Peter called them exiles or “strangers”, which means “resident aliens, sojourners.” These people were citizens of heaven through faith in Christ, and therefore were not permanent residents on earth. They were in the world, but not of the world.

Because Christians are “strangers” in the world, they are considered to be “strange” in the eyes of the world. Christians have standards and values different from those of the world, and this gives opportunity both for witness and for warfare.

The word translated “dispersion or scattered” (diaspora) was a technical term for the Jews who lived outside of Palestine.

Peter’s use of this word does not imply that he was writing only to Jewish Christians, because some statements in his letter suggest that some of his readers were converts. There was undoubtedly a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles in the churches that received this letter.

These Christians were scattered in 5 different parts of the Roman Empire, all of them in northern Asia Minor. There were Jews at Pentecost from Pontus and Cappadocia, and perhaps they carried the Gospel to their neighboring province. Possibly Jewish believers who had been under Peter’s ministry in other places had migrated to towns in these provinces.

At least 15 times, Peter referred to suffering; and he used eight different Greek words to do so. Some of these Christians were suffering because they were living godly lives and doing what was good and right. Others were suffering reproach for the name of Christ and being railed at by unsaved people. Peter wrote to encourage them to be good witnesses to their persecutors, and to remember that their suffering would lead to glory.

1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

But Peter had another purpose in mind. He knew that a “fiery trial” was about to begin—official persecution from the Roman Empire. When the church began in Jerusalem, it was looked on as a “sect” of the traditional Jewish faith. The Roman government took no official action against the Christians since the Jewish religion was accepted and approved. But when it became clear that Christianity was not a “sect” of Judaism, Rome had to take official steps.

Several events occurred that helped to initiate this “fiery trial.” To begin with, Paul had defended the Christian faith before the official court in Rome. He had been released but then was arrested again. The second defense failed, and he was martyred. Second, the unstable Emperor, Nero, blamed the fire of Rome on the Christians, using them as a scapegoat. Peter was probably in Rome about that time and was slain by Nero, who had also killed Paul.

We must not get the idea that all Christians in every part of the Empire were going through the same trials to the same degree at the same time. Nero introduced official persecution of the church and other emperors followed his example in later years. Christians in the world today may still learn the value of Peter’s letter when their own “fiery trials” of persecution begin.

1 Peter 5:12 (ESV)
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

Theme of suffering runs throughout the letter, but so also does the theme of glory. One of the encouragements that Peter gives suffering saints is the assurance that their suffering will one day be transformed into glory. This is possible only because Jesus our savior suffered for us and then entered into His glory. The sufferings of Christ are mentioned often in this letter.

1 Peter 1:13 (ESV)
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 Jesus Christ.

Since suffering brings glory, and because Jesus is coming again, we can definitely be hopeful!

But suffering does not automatically bring glory to God and blessing to God’s people. Some believers have fainted and fallen in times of trial and have brought shame to the name of Christ. It is only when we depend on the grace of God that we can glorify God in times of suffering. Peter also emphasized God’s grace in this letter.

The word “grace” is used in every chapter of 1 Peter. Grace is God’s generous favor to undeserving sinners and needy saints. When we depend on God’s grace, we can endure suffering as He turn trials into triumphs. God’s grace can give us strength in times of trial. Grace enables us to serve God in spite of difficulties. Whatever begins with God’s grace will always lead to glory.

Psalm 84:11 (ESV)
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

The Italian poet, Dante, in his Divine Comedy, put this inscription over the world of the dead: “Abandon all hope, you who enter here!”

Ephesians 2:12 (ESV)
remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

This confident hope gives us the encouragement and strength we need for daily living. It does not put us in a rocking chair where we complacently await the return of Jesus. Instead, it puts us in the marketplace, on the battlefield, where we keep on going when the burdens are heavy and the battles are hard. Hope is not a tranquilizer; it is a shot of adrenaline, a blood transfusion. Like an anchor, our hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of life, but unlike an anchor, our hope moves us forward it does not hold us back.

Everything begins with salvation, our personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ. If we know Christ as Savior, then we have hope! If we have hope, then we can walk in holiness and in harmony with God and others. There should be no problem submitting to those around us in society, the home, and the church family. Salvation and submission are preparation for suffering, but if we focus on Christ, we will overcome and God will transform suffering into glory.

Closing Prayer