1 Peter: Life of the Spirit, life of mission

Colin recently made so good comments about the Spirit in 1 Peter.  So it sent me back to my whiteboard, my scribbles and my Bible to try make some sense of it…

1) 1 v10-12 “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”

The prophets spoke the gospel (“the suffering of the Messiah and the glories that would follow”) in advance through the Spirit of Christ in them.

2) 3v18-20 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.  After being made alive,he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.”

This is a very controversial verse, and its primary interpretative context must be the text of 1 Peter itself.  In the flow of the book it seems to make sense to me (and I confess at this point I have done very little commentary work) to understand it in a similar vein to 1v10-12.  Noah spoke the gospel in advance (3v18 is the immediate context) to the people of his day through the Spirit of Christ in him.

3) 1v12 “…the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.”

Those who preached the gospel (“the sufferings of the Christ and the glories that would follow” 1v11), did so by the Holy Spirit.  This gospel is the fullness of God’s plan of redemption longed and searched for by the prophets and preached by Noah.

4) Christ himself is said to be “put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”  And it is similar said of us that “this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead” that they may “live according to God in regard to the Spirit” (4v6).  It is the Spirit who raises Jesus to life and who raises us to life and a living hope (1v3).  We are raised for salvation and good work (1v2).  Or put another way for reconciliation and restoration.

5) Finally in 4v14 Peter says “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”  It is this same Spirit of Christ that rests on those who “participate in the sufferings of Christ” (4v13).  It is through the Spirit of Christ that we participate in God’s Story (the suffering of Christ and the glories to be revealed in 4v13).

Summary:  It is through the Spirit of Christ in/among us that we are called to participate in God’s great Story of redemption and reconciliation.  Participation in God’s Story through the Spirit is participation in missional life and proclamation.  That same Spirit who was at work in the life and words of the prophets (1v10-12), Noah (3v18-22), the apostles (1v12) is now at work in you.  It is the same story, the same Christ at work and the same Spirit of mission that rests on you(4v12).  The Spirit that has raised Christ to life (3v18) has given you a new life, a new identity (4v7; 2v9-10).  Our new identity is to participate in the life and the mission of God’s Kingdom – through our lives together we (imperfectly) demonstrate the life of that Kingdom, a taste of the future, and through our words we speak of Christ,  our rescuer and king (2v11-12; 3v15-16)

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “1 Peter: Life of the Spirit, life of mission

  1. Colin

    Hey John

    Nice work! And nicely put.

    I am excited to see you developing some of my conclusions and suspicions and tightening them up. Can I comment on this last sentence in your conclusion?

    “Our new identity is to participate in the life and the mission of God’s Kingdom – through our lives together we (imperfectly) demonstrate the life of that Kingdom, a taste of the future, and through our words we speak of Christ, our rescuer and king (2v11-12; 3v15-16)”

    I would add that it is not only through our words, or even our life together, but also a key dimension that you have mentioned earlier, but must be included in a summary – the participation in the suffering and the glory.

    I see in 1 Peter an actual participation in the sufferings of Christ by the prophets and Noah … and a very real chance that the Spirit of Christ in the Christian may result in the same rejection that Christ suffered (you already pointed that out from Ch 4).

    This has to be closely related to what the ‘True grace of God’ in the final verses means. Mostly because the verse just preceding that, speaks of the suffering and glory once again.

    Perhaps in the end we can say this about our life in Christ: we have come to the one who was rejected by men but chosen and precious to God; as Christ submitted to the One who judges justly and served the people who reject Him, so we are called to this same life and must not think it strange (Ch 4 … that is also the example we are called to follow in Ch 2:21); as Christ was made alive by the Spirit, so are we when we believe the Gospel, and our words and actions are then animated by the Spirit of Christ; the reaction from those who experience the work of the Spirit through us causes us to be rejected by some and suffer as Christ suffered; when this happens they are not only hearing the gospel, but witnessing the gospel (the life, grace, submission, suffering and death of Christ) all over again in us (the predictions of the suffering in Ch 1 I think were tangible sufferings experienced by the prophets); those people who hear us and see us also witness a hope (CH 3:15) which puzzles them, just as the commitment of Jesus to go to the cross and his promises of resurrection puzzled his own disciples; and so we are willing to die for people now (at their hands) in the light of the resurrection and glory to follow and because we (caught up in the Gospel and life of Christ) know with all our heart that we are the hope of a sick and dying world.

    If that wasn’t an incredibly confusing bunch of thoughts, what do you think?

    Like

    Reply
  2. John Post author

    I really like this clarification and addition
    “they are not only hearing the gospel, but witnessing the gospel (the life, grace, submission, suffering and death of Christ) all over again in us”

    Sounds feasible but not sure if you are perhaps stretching the “evidence” a bit with this statement? “the predictions of the suffering in Ch 1 I think were tangible sufferings experienced by the prophets”;

    Like

    Reply
  3. Pingback: A Week in Woodstock « a missional life

  4. Pingback: Big Idea in 1 Peter « a missional life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s