Trials Amplify Praise
Central Idea: Peter affirms his readers’ joy in salvation - joy that is the fruit of a faith that, refined by trials, sees its way through to love for Christ and a joy that makes no sense in this world. Prophets and angels alike were intrigued by this salvation, wanting to know who and when. It is you who get to hear this glorious gospel.
Explanations / Questions:
I have two primary arcs in this passage, v.6-9 and v.10-12. I considered relating these as Id-Ex as v.10 begins, “concerning this salvation…” which directly follows, “… the salvation of your souls” in v.9. However, v.6, “In this…”, and v.10, “Concerning this…” are both pointing back to the same antecedent - the salvation that Peter was praising God for in v.3-5. In this way v.6-12 are the two-part explanation of the idea presented in v.3-5.
v.6-9, Peter both affirms that his readers are rejoicing in their salvation even though they are facing trials as well as instructs them in how it is possible to rejoice in trials:
v.6-7, Peter does not merely put a silver lining on a dark cloud. Far from hindering our joy in God, trials actually serve to amplify praise.
v.8, The logic is as follows:
Even though you did not see Christ, you came to love him; You still don’t see him but you are trusting him and so you rejoice with a joy that has no earthly counterpart.
v.10-12, The ‘Action’: prophets intently sought to understand the details of God’s salvation plan. Their ‘Manner’: asking specifically who? and when?
v.11, Question: Is Peter referring to specific prophets, specific OT passages? (We can only speculate, but Isaiah 53 certainly comes to mind.)
v.12, a & b could be combined as one assertion as 12a only introduces the main point which is the answer that was revealed. If arced this way there would be no Id-Ex, only the -/+ answer.
v.6-9, Many authors have written on Peter’s maturing as a man of God as seen through the lens of the Gospels, Acts, Paul, and finally in Peter’s own letters. It is striking to me how masterfully Peter weaves encouragement and instruction seamlessly together. At the same time that he gives instruction concerning the necessity of trials in refining faith, he affirms their faith and joy in salvation. So much like the Chief-Shepherd, Peter models a deep pastoral sensitivity.
Jonathan Edwards finds in this passage, particularly verse 8, the foundation for his treatise on Religious Affections. He affirms,
“True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections. We see that the apostle, in observing and remarking the operations and exercises of religion in the Christians he wrote to, wherein their religion appeared to be true and of the right kind, when it had its greatest trial of what sort it was, being tried by persecution as gold is tried in the fire, and when their religion not only proved true, but was most pure, and cleansed from its dross and mixtures of that which was not true, and when religion appeared in them most in its genuine excellency and native beauty, and was found to praise, and honor, and glory; he singles out the religious affections of love and joy, that were then in exercise in them: these are the exercises of religion he takes notice of wherein their religion did thus appear true and pure, and in its proper glory.” Religious Affections, Part I
v.12, cf. Hebrews 11:39-40, concerning the many faithful who have gone before us, it is written, “…that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Oh, the wonderful grace of God’s patience that brings salvation down through the ages.