What is hope? A normal use of the word hope can be explained as, “desiring something good in the future based upon a reason that our desire will be fulfilled.” Peter the apostle, is known as the apostle of hope from the first epistle of Peter. From the first two verses of this letter we get an understanding of what biblical hope really is based upon. It is connected to the eternal. There are four eternal aspects that hope is founded upon. Peter calls this a “living hope.”
I have talked to people over the years who have lost hope. Every time when asked about their loss of hope it is always centered around the temporal. The may say something like, “I don’t have hope that things will ever change.” “I don’t have hope that my family will ever come together.” “I don’t have hope that life will get better.” “I don’t have hope . . .” In each of these scenarios, hope is placed upon circumstances and events that need to change. The hope is focused upon what will get better. It seems right at first. After all the mere definition of hope is desiring something good in the future. Doesn’t the Bible teach we are to have hope? What about Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope?
What Peter is introducing here is true biblical hope. We get a glance into biblical hope from the Psalmist when he wrote: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” Hope in anything else will not stand in the face of true adversity. Hope that circumstances will change, families will be better, or life will be different will all disappoint you. Each of those situations are not centered on God and God alone. Even though change and things getting better can be a by-product of hope true hope is not focused on circumstances.
Without true biblical hope people lose their focus on God. When that happens and there is not change for the better, the man or woman with that kind of hope will charge God foolishly and out of their own anger say that God cannot be trusted. That is not hope in God and God alone. In Jeremiah when God says I have plans for peace and not for evil to give you a future and a hope, there was nothing changing for 70 years. Hope was not to be based upon what they could see even in their lifetime. He even says do not let your prophets deceive you and do not listen to the dreams they dream. Those dreams were fixed on things getting better, but God wanted their hope centered only in and on Him and nothing more. He gave them instructions to plant crops, build homes, marry, have children, and continue with life even knowing they would not see change for 70 years. Yet, God is telling them they were to be given a future and a hope.
Most Christians are not satisfied with simply hope in God. It is because they do not really know Him. They really don’t trust Him. They think it is a mind game, yet it is the only true hope when everything else comes crashing down. What does the Psalmist mean to Hope in God? What does he know that we don’t? Well, Peter the apostle of hope sets that course for us.
1 Peter 1:1-2 — Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
This is the bases for the ‘living hope” he introduces in the next verse that says, “According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This living hope stretches beyond this life.
Peter is writing to believers in five cities of Turkey. He is writing from Babylon, which is located south in Assyria, the region of modern day Iraq. There were a large number of believers some of Jewish heritage in that region.
He calls the believers “exile of the dispersion.” It is interesting that he uses the same reference of Jeremiah, who wrote to the exiles. He uses this Old Testament terminology reflecting on the past notion of Jews living in exile as a result of the Babylonian captivity. By using this term, Peter shows the recipients of this letter, who were Christians are regarded as exiled Israel. He is making it clear like James the apostle, these Christians after the cross are the true fulfillment of the Israel of God. James the apostle, opens his letter, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” James calls these believers the twelve tribes scattered. Scattered from what? They are exiles. While writing to the twelve tribes, James proves there are not 10 lost tribes. Why does he call them the twelve tribes? He like Peter, is referencing all believers, who are as Paul taught, the children of Abraham, one new body, made up of Jews and Gentiles who are now the Israel of God.
This reflects the full plan and picture of all that God has intended throughout the ages. His people, as God’s chosen people, continue in His fulfilled purpose through Christ. They are Christians both Jewish and Gentiles. We know those exiles Peter is writing to are Gentiles by the reference to their inheritance of “an empty way of life” (1 Peter 1:18). That terminology would not be used in reference to the rich spiritual inheritance of Jews. Peter uses this term “exiles of the dispersion,” that includes Gentiles to acknowledge these believers are God’s chosen people. We can also assume there were some Jews among these believers because we know the church in Jerusalem was scattered through persecution and, no doubt, some would have journeyed northward beyond Samaria preaching the gospel. Peter and others had preached there as well. Peter reminds them there are other believers in other parts of the world in “exile” along with them when he writes, “she who is in Babylon greets you” (1 Peter 5:13).
Why use the word exile? It shows Christians are sojourners. Though this present time is valuable and important to the purpose of God, He works beyond the temporal and sees from His point of view the eternal and that our victories and hope does not lie in this life. The Psalmist tells us, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years” (Ps 90:10). As Jeremiah tells God’s people they will be given a future and a hope but no change in 70 years, Christians must understand that true hope is connected to something beyond this life. That is not to say that this life cannot have change and be better at times, but it tells us that our hope is not connected to this life.
Peter says our incorruptible inheritance is being kept in heaven to be revealed on the last day. The last day is when Jesus said the resurrection would occur in John 6. He says he will raise up those who are his on the “last day.” Our bodies will be resurrected and we will receive our full inheritance. So our hope reaches beyond this life. What does the resurrection have to do with hope in this life? It tells us the purposes of God are more then temporal. It tells us that we are eternal beings and true hope is not dependent upon present circumstances.
Peter writes to the believers who are facing persecution and great suffering. He encourages them with eternal hope fixed upon Christ and their eternal inheritance. Jesus is held up as a model to follow in persevering through suffering and difficult times. The central theme of the entire epistle can be summed up in the phrase “hope, trust, and obey in the face of everything.”
Peter explains the bases for biblical hope. It begins by knowing you are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. Paul tells us that as believers we are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love; He predestined us to adoption as sons to Himself through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph 1:3-5). Our choosiness was before the creation of the world. Our hope is beyond the temporal and is connected with the eternal foreknowledge of God. Hope arises just with that thought alone.
Peter continues with this thought, however; saying we are chosen according to the foreknowledge of the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. That means you have been set apart as holy and special. Paul the apostle, tells us that we who are sanctified in Christ Jesus are called to be saints (1 Cor 1:2). Not only are we saints, but that sanctification is “to be obedient to Jesus Christ.” We have been delivered from “the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph 2:2). God has placed within us both the desire and the ability to do HIs good pleasure (Phil 2:13). As believers we can know for certain we can be men and and women of God. Hope is present in each one who knows that God is at work in you to transformation.
Peter adds the words, “sprinkled with his blood,” as the fourth aspect of having a living hope. Hebrews tells us that we can “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” (Heb 10:22). Jesus is our “mediator of the new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb 12:24). Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance so much so that God promised to avenge anyone seven times who might avenge Abel’s blood (Gen 4:15). Jesus’ blood cries out more, but for mercy. We are being sprinkled or covered by Christ’s blood as He sits at the Father’s right hand ever living making intercession for us. We have hope beyond this life because the man Christ Jesus sits in the heavens (1 Tim 2:5). Our hope is eternal.
To have hope in God is to know that you are chosen by the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood. Hope connected to anything temporal will leave you disappointed and empty.