Today I would like to take you to a much higher level of hope which Peter wrote to the Christians that were facing trials and tribulations in their life. It is very interesting to notice that as Peter begins his letter he bursts forth into this great and magnificent doxology. Just after giving his salutation Peter mentions these thrilling and powerful words, 1 Pet.1:3-5.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (NKJV).
Peter was not talking about “I hope-so” or a dead hopeless hope, but a living, lively hope. Peter was simply doing what the early Christians were doing the moment they mentioned the Name of Jesus their Lord and Saviour. Take for example the apostle Paul in Ephesians Chapter 1:3 he also begins, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
What is the characteristic of a true believer? To bless God, according to v. 3 ‘Blessed be the God and Father.” Then in v. 6 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.”
Let me give a brief historical insight. When Peter wrote this letter, the Christians were suffering from trials, and persecution according to v.1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces (Roman) of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (NIV)
1 Peter (this epistle) was written about 64-65 AD, just shortly before or after the city of Rome was burned under Nero. Thirty years earlier, around 33-34 AD, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter empowered by the Holy Spirit preached on that Day. One of those groups of people listening to Peter’s sermon were from the Roman province of Cappadocia. Let us take Cappadocia as an example.
No doubt, some Cappadocian’s Jews got converted on the Day of Pentecost. Even after more than 30 years we can see that persecution of Christians continues, especially during the time of Nero around 54-68 AD. Cappadocia was one of the Roman provinces of Anatolia addressed by Peter in this Letter according to v.1 Cappadocia is in Turkey, in the region of central Anatolia, bound on the east by the Euphrates River and on the south by the Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountain ranges. The name is believed to be a Persian word, meaning “the land of beautiful horses.”
Peter wrote this Letter to the diaspora Christians about 64-65 to encourage them and never to lose hope. This is an Epistle of Hope. One of the beautiful areas in Cappadocia is the fairy chimneys and caves where it is now a beautiful tourist spot and known throughout the world. In the early stage of Christianity this is where some of the Christians hid, even up to the 13th century. There are chapels here, underground. The modern Turkey you see today is very different. From the 14th to the 20th C. Turkey is a beautiful country.
The early Christians were characterised by praises to God and by a sense of joy, “blessed be the God and Father….v.3a” In the history of Christianity, you will discover that joy and praise have been the characteristic of the true church in every revival. At every time there is renewal and reformation this original note has come back. And once again the church is filled and thrilled with a sense of wonder, love and praise.
Every Christian church should be filled with wonder, love and praise. That should be the normal life of the church. A local church is composed of each individual Christian. Therefore every individual believer should be filled with wonder, love and praise. Remember, we have a lively hope!
Christians must always be joyful. It is gift of God’s grace. All by grace and by grace alone! (to be continued)