STUDY FOUR: 1PETER 1:10-12 – THE WORD OF GOD

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018

A. THE SPIRIT AND THE WORD

We have already seen in an earlier study that the Holy Spirit is intimately involved in getting us saved: Peter referred to ‘the sanctifying work of the Spirit’ [1:2] by which the Holy Spirit set us apart to be God’s special possession, obedient to Jesus Christ and saved by his blood.

Now in verses 10-12 Peter refers to two other aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Read 1Peter 1:10-12. How does Peter describe the work of the Holy Spirit in these verses?

 

 

Here Peter teaches us that:

It was the Spirit of Christ who moved the Old Testament prophets to speak and to write about Christ, his sufferings and the glorious salvation that would result.

The apostles who preached the gospel did so informed, empowered and enabled by that same Holy Spirit.

Both of these are important in our twenty-first century context where the authenticity of the Scripture as the Word of God is questioned and often disbelieved even by many in the church.

In 1Peter 1:10-11 Peter affirms the deliberate and active involvement of the Spirit in the words written by the Old Testament writers. We must not let his reference to ‘prophets’ limit this to those books we recognize as ‘prophets’. The whole of the Old Testament, not just the books of the prophets, are prophetic of Christ, whether it be the fall narrative [Genesis 3:16], or personal history [Genesis 22], or ritual regulation [Leviticus 16], or song [Psalm 22], or prophetic word [Isaiah 53] – all of these words about Christ, his suffering and the salvation that follows, were inspired and informed by the Spirit of Christ, who was ‘in’ the writers.

Peter further affirms this revelatory work of the Spirit in 2Peter 1:19-21.

Read 2Peter 1:19-21. What does Peter say about the role of the Spirit in God’s self-revelation?

 

 

Just as Peter indicates in 1:10-11 that the prophets had no idea what they were writing about when they predicted the sufferings of Christ, so here in his second letter he states ‘no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man...’ The Old Testament is simply not a collection of human ideas, of human interpretation of life and reality, of human wishful thinking about the future.

No, says Peter. Rather, ‘men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’. The word translated ‘were carried along’ refers to an action like that of the wind in a sail. Without the wind the sail, the ship, is powerless, motionless. But when the wind comes, the ship is borne along by the power of the wind. The sail, the ship, is but a passive object empowered by a force not its own. This is how the Scripture came into existence. This is how men spoke the word of God. The Holy Spirit empowered them not just to speak or to write, but to speak and to write the very words of God.

In 1Peter 1:12 Peter affirms the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the proclamation of the gospel. The apostles preached the gospel ‘by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven’. Peter was present when Jesus promised to send the Spirit who would teach them all things and remind them of everything he had said to them [John 14:26]. Peter was one of those few upon whom the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, empowering them to boldly proclaim Jesus Christ as the all-powerful and divine risen Lord [Acts 2]. The message of the apostles, thus proclaimed and committed to writing by themselves and their close associates, became known as the ‘New Testament’.

The question ‘Can we trust the Bible?’ actually becomes the question ‘Do we trust God?’ Do we trust that the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, empowered and oversaw these writings of men so that what they wrote is indeed God’s self-revelation, God speaking to us?

If we do not trust the Spirit of Christ here in this question of the authenticity and trustworthiness of the Bible then we really cannot trust him anywhere, and that plummets us into an intolerable position because the Holy Spirit plays a critical role in our salvation:

Read these verses. What role or work does the Spirit do?
John 3:1-8:

1Peter 1:2:

Ephesians 1:13,14:

2Corinthians 1:22:

2Corinthians 5:5:

Romans 8:15,16:

Galatians 4:6:

 

From these verses we learn:

It is the Spirit of God who brings us to new birth [John 3:1-8].
It is the Spirit who sets us apart as God’s possession and unites us to Christ [1Peter 1:2].
It is the Spirit who seals us and guarantees our eternal redemption [Ephesians 1:13,14; 2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5].
It is the Spirit who testifies that we are God’s children [Romans 8:15,16; Galatians 4:6].

This Holy Spirit who works the miracle of salvation within us, uniting us to Christ and restoring us to a right relationship with God, is the same Spirit who empowered, directed and administered the written record of God’s revelation which we call ‘the Bible’.

If we trust him with our salvation then we ought also trust him in his act of revelation. But if we question his act of revelation then we have no rational basis for confidence in his work of salvation.

 

B. THE UNITY OF THE BIBLE

Read 1Peter 1:10-12. What words and phrases Peter use to refer to the content of the Old Testament?

 

 

As Peter understood it, the prophets [the Old Testament writers], wrote about:

this salvation’ – that is the salvation proclaimed by the apostles and recorded in the New Testament.

the grace that was to come to you’ – that is the grace of God, which God had planned from eternity, that comes, in and through Christ, to both Jew and Gentile.

‘the sufferings of Christ’ – the incarnation of Christ, during which he suffered every pressure known to humans, as well as being misunderstood, insulted and rejected; and the horrendous death of Christ: sin-bearing, substitutionary, atoning, in which he, the innocent one, took the place of us, the guilty ones.

the glories that would follow’ – the God-planned purpose and outcome of the death of Christ: the restoration of humans to their intended relationship with God, the restoration of the glory of God as humans once again acknowledge him, and the ultimate eternal glory of the renewed heavens and earth, from which all that entered in Genesis 3 is terminated in an absolute and final way.

things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you’ – what the New Testament Gospel states clearly, the Old Testament also teaches.

The Old Testament writers knew that they were writing about something magnificent, something totally awesome, but they did not understand it. It was, at that time, still a mystery, something that was as yet not clearly seen.

Study these texts. What do they say about this ‘mystery’ factor embedded in the Old Testament but now brought out into the open by the Gospel:
Romans 16:25,26

1Corinthians 2:6-10

 

Ephesians 1:9,10

Ephesians 3:2-12

 

Colossians 1:24-2:3

 

Notice the high value put on the salvation/grace/Christ content of the Old Testament message:

The Old Testament writers ‘searched intently and with the greatest care’ in their efforts to understand this hidden message, this mystery [1Peter 1:10,11].

Even angels long to look into these things [verse 12].

This attitude which put such high value on the salvation/grace/Christ content of the Old Testament is actually quite a challenge for us: do we, who know Christ and his salvation and grace, put equally high value on them? Do we want to understand them more and more? Are we diligent in our search to know Christ, to know his grace, to know his salvation?

Personal questions:
To what extent has your familiarity with the Gospel dulled your enthusiasm as you read the Bible?

 

How relevant do you find the Old Testament?

 

When you read the Bible are you looking for truth about Christ, or are you looking for what God wants you to do?

 

Do you see the Old Testament as moral instruction or as teaching about Jesus Christ?

 

Do you see the Old Testament as ‘law’ and the New Testament as ‘grace’, or do you find ‘grace’ throughout both Testaments?

 

If our enthusiasm is blunted, if our attitude to Christ, grace and salvation is rather ‘ho-hum’, then we are seriously diddling ourselves. We are robbing ourselves of the peace with God and the great joy promised by the angelic messengers in Luke 2.

The more we know of Christ the greater our peace and joy.
The more we understand our salvation the greater our peace and joy.
The more we understand and embrace the grace of God the greater our peace and joy.

As Paul urged his Corinthian readers:

‘we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain’ [2Corinthians 6:1] – don’t receive this salvation in an empty, flippant, ineffective way.

For if we value it lightly, its impact in our hearts, minds and lives will, from our perspective, also be light. But if we value it highly, then we will also more fully understand and enjoy its immeasurable richness and completeness – as God intends.

 

C. DO YOU TRUST THE BIBLE?

Peter’s comments about the intimate connection between the Spirit and the written Word, confront us with a very important question: Do we trust the Bible?

Various words are used by Christians to describe the trustworthiness of the Bible.

What is your understanding of each of these descriptions of the Bible?
‘Infallible’ –

‘Authoritative’ –

‘Inspired’ –

‘Absolute’ –

‘Final’ –

All of these perceptions of the Bible express confidence that the Bible, in its original manuscripts,

• originated in God [is ‘inspired’ – ‘God-breathed’];
• was written under God’s sovereign control, and is therefore ‘infallible’ (without error) and ‘authoritative’ (is God himself speaking to us);
• is the complete, and therefore ‘absolute’ and ‘final’, word of God, without any expectation or possibility of addition or variation.

There are also some other helpful descriptions of the Bible.

Suggest what these words phrases mean when used to refer to the Bible:
‘self-interpreting’ -

‘perspicuous’ -

‘unity’ -

‘anticipation/fulfilment’ –

‘Christocentric’ -

These concepts refer to the Bible as a unified whole, with a dominant focus on Christ that binds the two Testaments and the sixty-six books together and facilitates clear understanding of each individual part, as we understand each part as it either anticipates the Christ-event or reflects on the Christ-event.

‘self-interpreting’ means that any part of the Bible can be understood when seen in relation to the whole.

‘perspicuous’ means that the meaning of the Bible is essentially clear.

‘unity’ means that there is no division or dichotomy in the Bible; it presents the one message throughout.

‘anticipation/fulfilment’ refers to the Old Testament as looking forward to Christ and the New Testament as recording the fulfilment of that anticipation in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ.

‘Christocentric’ identifies Jesus Christ as the centre and focus of the whole Bible.

All of these attributes of the Bible both help us to understand the Bible and put a boundary around the way it is permitted to interpret and understand the Bible.

For comprehensive studies on this topic - http://www.godswordforyou.com/how-to/understand-the-bible.html