Regeneration; Love One Another
1 Peter 1:21–25
1 Peter Lesson #053
June 16, 2016
“Father, we’re thankful we have this time to come together to focus on Your Word, focus on You, and be reminded of Who You are and who we are.
Father, it is Your Word that has power, as Isaiah said in the Old Testament. Father, we know that it is through Your Word that we are transformed. As our Lord prayed that it is in the Word of God and the Spirit of God that we are cleansed and are sanctified and that we grow spiritually.
Father, we understand that our mission is to be transformed, not to be conformed to the world, but to be conformed to the image of Your Son. That is our destiny as stated in Romans 8:29. We do that through the means which You have also decreed, which is Your Word and Your Spirit.
Father, we pray that tonight as we study this will be used by God the Holy Spirit in our spiritual growth and our edification, strengthening us and reminding us of the important truths of Scripture. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles to 1 Peter 1. Last time as were looking at these verses, which are not simple verses, as I said from the beginning here of 1 Peter, that one of the problems we have in 1 Peter is we tend, as American evangelicals to put a certain set of glasses on when we start studying the Bible.
That set of glasses is really defined by a vocabulary set where words like “saved” and “faith” are focused on getting justified rather than spiritual growth. Both of these words and other words are used sometimes of justification and sometimes related to spiritual life and spiritual growth.
We put this set of glasses on so that every time we see the word “saved” or “faith” or “sanctify” or “cleanse” we think immediately of Phase One or Phase Two. Sometimes it’s not that way, so we misunderstand Scripture. This is especially true of epistles like James and 1 and 2 Peter.
If we’re talking about James and Peter, what do these books have in common, these epistles? They’re both written to a Jewish-background Christian audience. That’s another issue we’re going to have to resurrect and go back and study some more when we get into 1 Peter 2.
That makes it a little convoluted and also, if you don’t dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” correctly, you lay the groundwork for replacement theology in the second chapter of 1 Peter.
We’re also going to see a verse on Sunday morning in Matthew, which is a foundational verse for people who hold to replacement theology. We’ll get there in due time.
What I wanted to do is give you a little illustration to think about. Here I’ve got pictures from two different jigsaw puzzles, both of which have to do with ocean life. You can see a lot of similarity between those two puzzles, those two pictures.
If you had the pieces for both of those puzzles dumped out on the table in front of you, you would think if you saw certain colors, especially blue, in front of you, you might think it would go into the puzzle on top. Actually it fits in the one below.
It could be an identically cut piece, almost interchangeable between the two. What tells you what that piece means is the context around it. That’s what we find in talking about these words.
If you think of those pieces as appearing to be interchangeable but they really aren’t, that’s the same thing when you’re talking about words like “faith” and “sanctify” and “consecrated” and “believe” and “save”, is that those words in and of themselves could mean two or three different things. It’s the context that surrounds it that tells you what it means.
You can’t jump to conclusions about those particular words. The way you can identify a particular piece as to which way it goes is by looking at the over-all box top, the picture that fits that jigsaw puzzle. That informs the meaning of the parts.
That’s why it’s important at times to sit down and do an overview of the whole epistle. You need to understand that if what Peter or Paul or James are talking about in the whole epistle is growing, maturing, and going through the spiritual growth dealing with both trials and tribulations as both James and 1 Peter have in common, then when you get to these passages in the context that are talking about faith, salvation, and cleansing you have to interpret those words in terms of spiritual growth.
If the topic in the whole epistle is Phase Two and not Phase One, if it’s spiritual growth and not how to have eternal life, then you have to interpret those words in terms of spiritual growth rather than how to have eternal life. Even though everything may look, when you just look at that verse in isolation, like it could mean and could be used to mean how to get to Heaven, it may not mean that.
A classic example is Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life.” How many times have you and I used that verse in a gospel presentation?
If we look at the text in the context, Paul has moved way beyond talking about justification. That’s chapters three, four, and part of chapter 5. Starting in chapters 6–8 he’s only talking about the spiritual life.
What he’s talking about in Romans 6:23 is that the wages of sin for the believer is death. Not eternal spiritual death, but carnal death. He’s going to be out of fellowship.
But through spiritual growth we can have eternal life. That’s not talking about getting saved and spending eternity in Heaven but having the full experience right now of that “abundant life” that Jesus has for us.
Because people jump to these conclusions that the wages of sin is death, they think that’s got to be, and it could mean that. That meaning fits if all you have is that verse. It looks like it could mean that. Why not? Because it isn’t what it says. It isn’t what Paul intended. It wasn’t the intent of the Holy Spirit or Paul and you’re taking something out of context that is talking about one thing and you’re making it apply to another.
That’s mishandling the Word of God. I don’t care what your justification is, nothing justifies mishandling the Word of God. That’s why we spend so much time going over these things in Bible class.
Having said that, I want to go back and pick up the flow of what Peter is saying here in these verses, starting in 1 Peter 1:20. Remember that verse 20 in the Greek is not a new sentence. It’s a continuation of the sentence before.
Verses 18 and 19 are actually a continuation of the sentence that begins back in verse 17. It all relates to that command to conduct yourself during your stay here in fear.
He gives a reason for that command. In fact, it’s interesting. There are more imperatives here. How many commandments are there in the Torah? 613. That’s the Law.
People never understand legalism. They say, “We live in the age of grace. We’re not under Law.” There are probably 500 times as many imperatival verbs and phrases in the New Testament in the section of the epistles for the Church Age than 613, which means we are expected to obey those commands.
That is not legalism. Legalism is not the idea that I need to and am expected to and am commanded to live a certain way in the Christian life. Legalism is the idea that because I do that, that’s the basis for God blessing me. Legalism is the idea that if I’m doing that, then I become judgmental of others who are not doing that. That’s legalism.
Legalism is not the idea that there are mandates that we’re supposed to obey. That’s not legalism. Legalism is someone doing it out of arrogance and thinking that’s the foundation for all of our spiritual blessings. The reason we’re blessed is because we possess the perfect righteousness of Christ.
We have to carefully look at these pictures, these overviews of Scripture, and the themes of a book to understand how the individual words and parts fit together.
We looked at 1 Peter 1:20, which continued that main thought still relating to conducting yourself during your time here in fear. Why? Because you are not redeemed with corruptible things. The motivation for the spiritual life is understanding the height, the breadth, and width of the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross.
That motivates us to respond to God’s grace through obedience. It ends by talking about Christ. Then Peter adds something to that in relation to Christ, that He has been known before the foundation of the world [a cleaner paraphrase which I put together here], that He was known before the foundation of the world but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God.
We have to look at this meaning of the word “known”. I have a couple of questions. What does “foreknowledge” mean? This is the definition I quoted from the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT), that it has that basic idea of predicting or knowing the future.
It is knowing ahead of time what will happen. So the writer of that article said, “The corresponding noun PROGNOSIS (attested as a medical technical term since Hippocrates) denotes the foreknowledge which makes it possible to predict the future.” We use it all the time when we go to the doctor and ask, “What is my prognosis? What is going to happen?” It is knowing ahead of time what’s going to happen.
I said last time that foreknowledge means to know beforehand. It is prescience. Thus, foreknowledge is a subcategory of God’s omniscience, which means God knows all the knowable.
The other term that is confusing for people is the one that foreknowledge is often associated with. It’s often translated foreordination or even predestination. We have those two words together in Romans 8:29, but there we see that foreknowledge is the basis for predestination.
First God knows what’s going to happen ahead of time. And then to those people He sets a destiny for them. So predestination means to determine a destiny.
The destiny of Romans 8:28–29 isn’t Heaven or Hell; it’s not with the Father or in the Lake of Fire. Destiny is defined in Romans 8:29 as those who are justified are to be conformed to the image of Christ.
That’s what God is doing to all of us. That’s His plan for us. Now some people resist that. Some people resist it to a tremendous amount. The plan that God has for every believer is to bring us into conformity with the character of God’s Son.
Here is an expanded paraphrase of verse 20, “God knew Him [Christ] as your ransom [the Redeemer] long before the creation of the universe but He was manifest in these last times for you.” That’s the idea.
This plan of God, which is the same thing we see in Acts 2 in Peter’s speech, is that God has a plan and this was set before the creation of the universe.
It says He’s manifested in these last times. I pointed this out last time. It was a blinding flash of the obvious for some of you. We’re in the last days. Not because we see the “signs of the times”. Even though Hal Lindsey’s book has sold a lot of copies and God’s used it to bring a lot of people to salvation, he’s wrong and so are so many other prophecy people that popularize prophecy and talk about us being in the last days.
There are two ways in which that term is used. One has to do with the last days of the church. The other has to do with the last days of Israel. The last days of Israel don’t occur until you’re in the Tribulation. The last days of the church actually began with the ascension of Christ and the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost.
We’ve been in the last days since the ascension of Christ. You have passages like this, “In the last days perilous times will come.” Now you may think that’s talking about the future, but if you read the context, that’s talking about things that are currently happening in Ephesus. Paul is writing to Timothy, who is pastoring a church in Ephesus.
In Hebrews 1:2 talking about what Christ has done it says, “He has in these last days …” These last days. That was written in about AD 65. So in these “last days” refer to the early apostolic period.
1 John 2:18 says, “Little children, it is the last hour …” He’s writing probably closer to AD 90, and he’s saying that we’re in the last hour. That was more than a couple of weeks ago. So we’ve definitely been in the last days ever since the beginning of the Church Age.
So as we go forward, we need to understand that unfortunately in several places here the second chapter break is really in a bad spot. The verse break at the end of verse 20 to verse 21 is really bad because it’s a continuation. That’s why I put that together in this slide to try to make that clear.
The last two words in verse 21 continue it. “He was manifested in these last times for you who …” It goes on. It says, “He was manifested in these last days for you who through Him believe in God.” That whole phrase needs to be taken together.
What we see in the Greek here that’s translated “for you” is a preposition DIA. DIA can either have a genitive noun following it or an accusative. They’re going to mean different things.
If you have a genitive, it means “through”, like “by grace are you saved through faith”, which indicates means or instrumentality. But when you have an accusative case, it indicates because of something or on account of something or for your sake.
We translate that as He who in these last days was manifest for your sake, on account of you, or because of you. That’s believers in the Church Age.
Then we have it another time in this same passage. “Who through Him” is the DIA plus the genitive construction. That indicates instrumentality or means. So He was manifest because of us or for our sake, who [that defines the “you” a little more] through Him [through the Lord Jesus Christ] believe.
That’s the translation that we have here in the English, the New King James. A lot of translations translate this believe. But that raises a conundrum: are we saved by believing in God?
You’ll hear a lot of people say, “I believe in God so I’m going to go to Heaven.” But is that what the Bible teaches? Does the Bible teach that belief in God is the way we get to Heaven? Not at all. It talks about we have to believe in Jesus.
That’s really clear from the gospel of John. We have a similar construction. The verb is PISTEO and then it’s the preposition EIS, which is the same preposition we have here. But we don’t have a verb here. We have a noun here.
The way it’s translated in the English, it’s translated as if it’s a verb. But it’s not a verb in the original Greek. It is a noun.
We have to understand the distinction between these two nouns. They’re both based off the same root. The first noun is the word PISTOS and the second noun is the word PISTIS. They have slightly different meanings.
They’re going to be very close in certain places, but they’re distinct. The first word PISTOS is the one we have here. That has as its primary meaning faithful, reliable, or trustworthy. It’s not talking about the act of believing or trusting in something, which is the way the verb is used over 85 times in the Gospel of John.
We have this participial phrase here, “Who through Him believe in …” That “in” word really means the direction of our faith. What’s the object of our faith? It’s a directional prepositional there.
“Through Him” is Jesus. Through Him we believe in God. That is not the salvific condition. We believe in Christ on the Cross so it can’t be talking about Phase One.
Just to remind you we talk about these three phases of salvation. Phase One takes place in an instant of time. This is when we put our faith in Christ and we trust in Him, that He died on the Cross for our sins. The instant we believe that, we receive the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. We are made a new creature in Christ. We’re born again. We’re regenerate and we are given eternal life. All of those things happen simultaneously. That happens in a microsecond.
Following that new birth we have to grow. Just like the birth of a baby, the baby has to grow. A baby grows because he’s nourished. How is a baby nourished? He is nourished through milk. We’re going to get into this in just a few verses when we get into 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes you are to desire the pure milk of the Word.” So that’s talking about spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth is very different from spiritual birth, just like human and physical birth are different from physical growth. One precedes the other. In the spiritual life we are to be faithful toward God. That’s the issue in 1 Peter, because all through this, Peter is talking about how the believer is to handle difficulty, opposition, persecution, meeting fiery trials, and suffering.
In all these things we’re not to fade out. We’re not to quit. We’re not to give up. We are to continue to trust the Lord, continue to grow and mature. We’re to be faithful. That’s the meaning here of PISTOS. It is distinct from justification. It is experiential sanctification.
When we look at this slide we see that the word PISTOS is that first “believe” in 1 Peter 1:21, but PISTIS is the second. PISTIS is down at the end when it says we are to be faithful in or toward God. That’s this phrase here EIS THEON. EIS is the preposition. THEON is the noun for God.
The preposition EIS indicates motion to or toward something, the direction toward which you are expressing your faith.
We have a parallel here in Acts 20:21. Paul says “Testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now ignore the terms “repent” and “faith”. What we’re looking at is how the prepositional phrase is translated.
It’s translated “toward God” because EIS plus the accusative indicates directionality. What is the direction or object of that verbal action?
We look at this “Who through Him [Christ] … we are faithful toward God.” That is the spiritual life. That is sanctification. God is identified as the One who raised Him from the dead. What we’ll see is that the reason that’s important is that all through the epistle, when Peter starts encouraging believers to hang in there in the midst of suffering, his model for that is what Christ did in the midst of His unjustified suffering.
He was obedient to the Father. He submitted to the Father’s will. He did not deserve to be arrested. He did not deserve to go to the Cross, but He kept His mouth shut and He fulfilled the Father’s plan and the Father’s will.
God the Father is identified as the One who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. That goes back to what we find in the introduction to 1 Peter. If we endure the trials of suffering then that leads to further glorification in Phase Three when we are “absent from the body and face-to-face with the Lord”.
Peter says that God is the One who raised Him [Christ] from the dead and gave Him glory so that, with the result, which is tied not to the intermediate relative clause there [who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory], but to the first part. Take out that appositional relative clause there and it would read, “Who through Him are faithful toward God so that your faith, PISTIS, and hope are toward God.”
That faith there cannot be Phase One faith because God is not the object of our faith in Phase One justification. This is Phase Two, the Faith-Rest Drill.
Through Him we’re faithful toward God so that our faith [our act of believing and trusting Him, which is mixing faith with the promises of God] and our hope [our confident expectation that all things will work together for good and even though now we’re going through suffering for a time, God ultimately is going to work it all together for good and we will understand that God’s will was vindicated once we get face-to-face with the Lord] are directed toward God.
That helps us to get through 1 Peter 1:21.
The glory reminds us that suffering in this present time is nothing compared with the glory to come. We have to understand the end game. We have to live today in light of eternity, so that no matter what we’re going through now, just as Jesus endured the Cross for the glory that was set before Him.
It didn’t mean the Cross was joyful. It meant that He endured the suffering on the Cross because of the end results in the end game.
So Peter talks in 1 Peter 1:6–7 that we’re grieved by various trials. There are tests of fire. Ultimately they are found to the praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. That’s at the Rapture.
1 Peter 1:8 says we have joy now because we’re looking forward to that future glory.
So the faith and the hope that we have here in 1 Peter 1:21 is that the faith refers to the Faith-Rest Drill. Post-salvation or after salvation we are to trust in God when we’re mixing our faith with the promises of God. That’s spiritual growth.
The hope summarizes the adolescent stage of our confident expectation in terms of our personal sense of destiny.
This takes us up through the end of verse 21.
There’s a break. Remember that verse 21 is a continuation of a long sentence that began in verse 17. The command there was to conduct yourselves through the time of your stay here in fear.
Everything from verse 18 down through verse 21 is related to understanding and implementing that command. We do it because we understand our redemption, what it cost the Father to redeem us, and that this is grounded in the Lord Jesus Christ and that it’s through Him that we are faithful toward God and that we will have our faith and hope directed toward Him.
Now we’re going to shift gears again. We go to a new sentence and a new paragraph and this is in 1 Peter l: 22. Verse 22 extends in one sentence down through verse 25. It contains in the midst of it a quotation from the Old Testament from Isaiah 40:6–7. These are verses that you’ve heard me quote numerous times.
We have to look at this. It starts in 1 Peter 1:22–23 before we get to the quote. I’m just going to read this and then we’ll start working our way through this. “Since you have purified your soul in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever.”
Then he talks about the Word of God and the nature of the Word of God and the quote from Isaiah 40 and his concluding statement at the end of verse 25.
What’s interesting here is we get into the next command. This whole section has to be understood in terms of these commands. These commands are all going to be related to understanding the spiritual life.
Let me review this. Every now and then I talk about the spiritual skills and we have new people around who don’t know what they are, so this is a good time to quickly review them.
Based on studies I did in 1 John many years ago, John in 1 John talks about three groups of believers: the children, the young men, and the fathers. Those correspond to three basic stages of growth, just as they do today. We talk about children. We talk about adolescents. We talk about adults. Those are the three categories: the children, the young men, and then the fathers.
When we look at these spiritual skills we have five that lay the foundation. Everything else grows on them. This is an induction and a summarization of basic things that are taught in the Scripture. Sometimes people say, “Where do you get that?” You get that from reading through the Scripture over a period of time, just condensing it and summarizing it into these basic categories.
Whenever we sin, we stop walking by the Spirit and we start walking by in accordance with the flesh. This is fundamental. The first way to address any issue in life is to make sure we’re walking by the Spirit.
All of the other terms that are somewhat related to it: abiding in Christ, being filled by means of the Spirit, being filled by His Word, walking in the light, walking in the truth, all of those are foundational. When we sin we’re no longer doing those things so to do it right, we’ve got to make sure we get back in fellowship, and that’s in 1 John 1:9. We confess sin.
Then we continue by walking by the Spirit (WHS). When we walk by the Spirit, the Spirit fills (FHS) us with the Word of God and produces fruit in our lives. That’s foundational, to understand that the Christian life is spiritually empowered. You may not realize this. There are a whole lot of Christians who don’t have a clue about this.
On the one hand you have people who are influenced by the “holiness/charismatic” movement who have a really distorted view of pneumatology. When I was in Israel on this last trip we went to a charismatic church and we experienced the wonders of contemporary worship. I used to think contemporary Christian music was bad. I would gladly trade the contemporary Christian music of the 1980s for the contemporary Christian music of now, because it at least attempted to be biblical. It was part of that transition to desensitize people to how the culture was impacting on our understanding of music.
What this thread that ran through all the choruses they sang, was all about calling on the Holy Spirit to come, calling upon God to change me, apart from the Word. Was God just going to zap them and change them? It’s a failure to understand divine institution #1, personal responsibility, a failure to understand that God the Holy Spirit is already there indwelling every single believer in the Church Age and that God the Holy Spirit is always working in our life to either produce growth or to get us back in fellowship so He can produce growth.
We have to walk by the Spirit. If we don’t have a biblical understanding of pneumatology, we’re just dead in the water.
The next three really go together. They interact together. Faith-Rest Drill (FRD) is when we mix our faith with the doctrine of Scripture where we’re trusting what the Scripture says. The process of that is understanding what the Scripture says and that’s doctrinal orientation (D/O).
In the midst of all that we have to understand that God is going to take care of us on the basis of His grace. These three things correlate. They’re three things that are interdependent. They’re distinct skills. In one we’re trusting in the Word. In another we’re trusting in God to deal with us in grace and we have to understand it’s not because of who we are, but because of who and what God is. Then the other one is based upon our understanding of God’s Word.
If we misunderstand God’s Word, then we’re going to misapply it. We have to orient to what the Word of God actually teaches. This is foundational to everything else we see emphasized in the Scripture.
Now in spiritual adolescence, just like in yours and my growth, we have to move from being self-absorbed to thinking about others. We have to move from living today in light of the next minute and immediate self-gratification and moving to thinking about how are my thoughts and actions going to impact tomorrow and next week and next year or into eternity. We begin to think not just in terms of what’s happening immediately but what the long-term consequences are.
This is what I call a personal sense of our eternal destiny. We’re living today in light of eternity. The biblical word that summarizes that is “hope”. The biblical word that summarizes the first five skills is “faith”. We’re learning to walk by means of faith and by means of the Holy Spirit.
Now in this second stage of spiritual adolescence, we’re learning to live today in light of what God’s doing in our life and where He’s taking us. That’s hope, a confident expectation of the future related to the Judgment Seat of Christ, and related to our future position of awards and responsibilities in the kingdom.
As we move through spiritual adolescence, then we begin to truly understand who God is and how we’re to love one another. It’s not that we don’t have some idea of our personal sense of our eternal destiny when we’re younger spiritually, but we don’t really begin to maximize it and capitalize on it until we reach a certain timeframe within our spiritual growth.
It is the same thing with love for God. Many of you have had children and when they begin to speak and they’re two or two and a half years old, they say, “I love you, Mommy.” Then when they’re forty years old and they say, “I love you, Mommy” it means something very different because it’s not just the thinking of a young child. It’s the thinking of someone who is intelligent. You have a long-term relationship with someone who is mature and it means something that is much richer and much more in-depth.
When we talk about personal love for God, impersonal love for all mankind, and occupation with Christ, these three also go together like Faith-Rest Drill, grace orientation, and doctrinal orientation. When we look at those, they all interrelate. It’s not that as a baby you don’t have a measure of love for others or a measure of love for God, but it’s not reaching that full, mature level that it does as you grow and mature.
Personal love for God comes first because it is that love for God based on that understanding of Who God is and what He’s done for us that becomes the basis for being able to love others. We can love those we don’t like. We can love those we don’t know. That’s why we call it impersonal, because we don’t necessarily know them. They’re the person on the customer service line, the checkout person, and the idiot that’s driving in front of us on the highway.
Today I was out and I thought everyone had a bad case of the “idiots” everywhere. They all kept getting in front of me. I know that’s never happened to y’all, but it happens to me occasionally. It’s got to be dealing with the world system.
The crowning thing based on James 1:2 is personal happiness. I derived this exegetically from looking at James. James says to “count it all joy”. That’s the first command in James 1:2. “Count it all joy, my brethren”. If you understand James, then James tells you in the rest of the epistle how to get to the point where you can count it all joy.
You have all these spiritual skills laid out in James and if you do them all, then you’re able to count it joy. You understand those spiritual dimensions. This is really the spiritual skill where we’re counting it all joy when we encounter various trials.
That’s a very quick fly-over of these ten spiritual skills, how they work together, and how they develop.
If you want to know more about that, go back and listen to my 1 John series, my James series, and to some degree, listen to the Hebrews series. All of this is fully developed in those series.
This is important because as we get into this section of 1 Peter 1:22–25, we ask what is the main command? “Love one another”. That is the prime directive for the Christian life. We’re to love one another. That’s a more mature spiritual skill, personal love for all mankind. We’re to love one another so let’s see how this fits.
This is a fun little section, but it’s not talking about what you think it’s talking about based on the English, and just at first glance. Peter starts in 1 Peter 1:22, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”
If you’ve been around good Bible teaching for any length of time, you understand that these words “purification” and “cleansing” are sometimes interchanged. Whenever you think of cleansing, what verse should come to your mind? 1 John 1:9.
1 John 1:9 is related to how you grow in terms of Phase Two. You have to confess your sins. It’s not related to Phase One, but it could fit. Since you’ve purified your souls, since you’ve gotten in fellowship by obeying the truth [1 John 1:9] through the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, and sincere love of the brethren. Love of the brethren is the fruit of the Spirit. It’s the first fruit of the Spirit. It could mean that, but it doesn’t.
You can’t get that in the English. You have to look at what the Greek says, and that’s what gets us into looking at this verse and saying, “Well, on the one hand it looks like it might mean one thing, and on the other hand, it may mean something else and probably does.”
The first thing we ought to note is that this word translated “purify” is the word HAGNIZO. Grammatically it’s a perfect tense verb. I know when I talk about grammar some people just immediately glaze over. Why do we have to talk about grammar? Because God obviously uses grammar to communicate truth.
This is a perfect active participle. Perfect tense, whether it’s dealing with a participle or finite verb, it has the same connotation. It’s talking about completed action, action that is over and done with. You’re either emphasizing the completedness of the past action, or you’re emphasizing the present results of a completed past action.
This is probably that second category, emphasizing the present results: “you are purified”. But it’s because of some action that happened in the indefinite past with results that continue on into the future. That can’t be talking about Phase Two. In Phase Two you’re constantly being cleansed. This is talking about an action that’s completed. It’s not in process. It’s completed in past time.
We have to understand a little bit more about this and we will get there. This is talking about past-completed action. It’s a participle. Certain kinds of participles are always related to a main verb. The main verb in this section is “love one another”. It’s the command.
Interestingly enough, it’s an aorist active imperative, to love one another. There’s a participle at the beginning and that participle is telling us something about loving one another. Because it’s a perfect tense and the verb is an aorist tense, it means the action of the participle precedes the action of the main verb.
So you have past, present, and future tenses in terms of the main verb. A past tense or perfect tense in the participle means the action of the participle precedes the action of the verb, whatever the verb tense. If the participle is in a present tense, then the action of the participle happens at the same time as the action of the main verb. If the participle is in a future tense, then the action of the participle comes after the action of the main verb.
Here we have a perfect tense participle which means the action of purification takes place and is completed before the main verb is engaged. The main verb is to love one another. It’s going to relate to Phase One.
Let’s connect this back to the context. We have four of these commands. If I were to outline this, that’s how I would outline it. Everything revolves around these four commands.
To rest your hope fully, which is brought to you through sober thinking [1 Peter 1:13–14].
The second command is to be holy as I am holy, which means to set yourself apart to the service of God in every area of your lifestyle [1 Peter 1:15–16].
The third was the section we just looked at and reviewed: to conduct ourselves in fearful respect of God [1 Peter 1:17–21].
This last section, 1 Peter 1:22–25, all relates to this command to love one another. Everything that’s said here is going to help us understand what it means biblically and why we are to love one another.
So we have these two participles surrounding the command. The first participle is the one I have already mentioned to you. The second one is going to be mentioned in 1 Peter 1:23. It is because you have been born again.
So he’s saying in 1 Peter 1:22 that since you have purified your soul [when you were saved, positional sanctification]. Then he finishes it by saying because you have been born again. That takes us right back to Phase One. The beginning of verse 22 and the beginning of verse 23, those two participles, surround the “love one another” and they’re both based on the reason of the fact that you’ve been regenerated and you were purified when you trusted in Christ as your Savior.
You look back at 1 Peter 1:22 because you have purified your soul by obeying the truth. What truth was it that you obeyed to purify your soul? You responded to the command to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that you might be saved”.
Now the command there is to believe. It’s an active voice verb and it means we are to respond by believing. It’s an imperative. Imperatives are called a volitional mood. It’s addressed to your volition. There are people within the free grace movement who are trying to say that belief is not active, it is not volitional. [You need to pay attention to this.] I don’t understand this. I think what they’re reacting to is a certain number of evangelicals who say if you don’t know when you decided to believe in Jesus, maybe you’re not saved. You’ve got to know when you made that decision.
I’m not sure that’s what they’re saying. This is a problem. The counter to this is that you have commands to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and it’s addressed to your volition. It’s an active voice: you do it. There are only two options, either you do it or you don’t do it. It’s not something that’s passive. It’s not something you’re just passive to.
You’re passive to being saved, but you’re not passive to belief. I think that opens the door to problems with Calvinism; but that’s a totally different area.
So we obey the truth. That is the truth of the gospel: “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”. It’s through the Spirit. He’s saying that because you have already been purified by obeying the truth in the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, then love one another fervently with a pure heart
That starts us down this particular road and it’s telling us that this command is to love one another. It is done through the Spirit, so this is the role of God the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5, “It’s not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” All that ties together.
The idea there is that we have this idea of sanctification. We’re going to get into this as we go forward, but how are we sanctified? We’re sanctified by Your truth, “Your word is truth”. That’s the word HAGIAZO. That relates to Phase Two growth. What we have to figure out here … I’ve already told you what the conclusion is, but we need to document this a little more ... is this purification of your soul Phase One or Phase Two? It’s Phase One. It’s obeying through the Spirit, and then he brings in again the idea of the Word of God in verse 23, and illustrates in verses 24 and 25. That’s how we’re sanctified. This is what Jesus prays in John 17:17 for believers, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” So that’s post-salvation sanctification.
It’s reiterated in a couple of verses later in John 17:19, “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
We see it even in the Old Testament. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.”
Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” All of this could fit for talking about post-salvation sanctification, but it doesn’t fit with that perfect tense participle.
Another passage, but this one deals with positional sanctification. This is in Acts 15, which is known as the Jerusalem Conference or Council. Peter is reiterating what has happened when he took the gospel to the Gentiles, Cornelius, and others. The apostles are starting to argue about this because it’s the first time Gentiles have been treated equally along with Jews, so they begin to dispute.
Peter stands up in the middle of Acts 15:7, “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.” Just as a side note—what is necessary in Peter’s statement in order to be justified? You heard the Word and believed. It doesn’t say they heard the Word and were baptized. It doesn’t say they heard the Word and were obedient. It doesn’t add anything to it. It’s just believe. It doesn’t say commit or any of these other things. It doesn’t say invite Jesus into your life or invite Jesus into your heart. It doesn’t ask you to invite Jesus anywhere. It just says to believe.
Then he says in Acts 15:8, “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us.” That happened immediately at faith alone in Christ alone. “Just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” This is Phase One. They are cleansed positionally at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone.
That shows that these terms are used for both Phase One and Phase Two. When we look at this, the question is whether this purification is Phase One or Phase Two. This word HAGNIZO is used in experiential cleansing in Phase Two. We’ll come back to these verses in a minute.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts.”
In a parallelism there, the word “cleanse” is KATHARIZO. That’s the word we have in 1 John, and it’s HAGNIZO in terms of purify. Those are parallel. Those are synonyms. Those are interchangeable.
In 1 John 3:3 John says, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself.” That’s that same word. So in both of those passages HAGNIZO is used in terms of Phase Two. The point I’m making is going back to that jigsaw puzzle picture. These are those pieces that look like they could fit in either one and they’re used both ways. You have to decide on the basis of context which one it is.
Then 1 Peter 1:23 comes along and gives this further qualification: because you have been born again. That’s the reason you’re to love one another, because you have been born again, because you have purified yourself. So purifying yourself at the beginning of 1 Peter 1:22 and because you’ve been born again in verse 23 are both perfect participles. They connect together. So that tells us on the basis of grammatical analysis that these terms have to be talking about the same time when a person is first justified, what happens at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone.
Now this word HAGNIZO is pretty interesting. We’ve gone a little bit far afield looking at the context already, because we have to understand the context and look at all these different details, as I’ve said already, it’s used both ways. It is used for ritual in the Old Testament that had to do with purifying those who were already saved.
So we have passages like Exodus 19:10. This occurs right before they are to receive the Ten Commandments. Are the three and a half million Jews at the foot of Mount Sinai already justified? Scripture says yes very clearly. They believed God at the Red Sea. They believed God at the original Passover. They’re already saved. They’re already justified.
Now they have to go and consecrate, or purify. The translation in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, is the word HAGNIZO.
Joshua 3:5 is about the conquest generation before they go to battle against Jericho and go into the Promised Land. They have to sanctify themselves. That’s post-salvation.
Acts 21:26. Paul is already saved and the next day he goes into the Temple and purifies himself. This is also ritual purification post-salvation.
So you have all these verses. James 4:8 and 1 John 3:3, which we just talked about: that these can all be experiential. It’s that fact that it’s a perfect tense makes it that this purification is what happens at salvation.
So then what happens? Then what he says in 1 Peter 1:22 is, “Because you have purified your souls …” That’s Phase One, justification, “By obeying the truth [the truth of the gospel] in sincere love of the brethren [which modifies the command] love one another …”
We could rephrase that to read “love one another in sincere love of the brethren”. The love is supposed to be a sincere love.
This command to love one another is one that is repeated numerous times in the New Testament. It’s grounded upon what Jesus says in the Upper Room, after they have their Seder meal, after He kicks Judas out to go betray Him, then once He’s cleansed them, He begins to talk to the disciples.
He says in John 13:34, “A new command I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you.” They’re to love one another. This isn’t like the Old Testament commandment in Leviticus 19:18 that says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” You neighbor may not be a believer.
The standard of comparison is to love your neighbor like you’re to love yourself. Here we’re not to love anyone like we love ourselves. We’re to love one another as Christ loves us. That’s a whole new standard.
In John 15:12 He repeats it again. This is when they’ve left the Upper Room and are now on their way to Gethsemane. Jesus says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:17, “These things I command you, that you love one another.” Over and over again this is repeated.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 uses the same term, brotherly love [PHILADELPHIA]. “But concerning brotherly love, you have no need that I should write you, because you yourselves were taught by God to love one another.”
This is the command that distinguishes the growing, maturing disciple, who is a student of Christ, as a disciple of Christ. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples,” Jesus said.
It’s called a sincere love. That’s this first word in the box in the Greek, ANUPOKRITOS. It’s the preposition ANU at the beginning attached to the word HUPOKRITOS, which is where we get our word hypocrite. It’s not a hypocritical or two-faced love. It’s free from pretense and deceit.
It’s a sincere love and we’re to love fervently. That’s the word EKTENOS, which means constantly. It’s a steadfast, consistent love. Fervent has the idea of passion. That’s not in the dictionary meaning of the word EKTENOS. It’s constant. It’s not going to waver.
It’s with a pure heart. That’s one that’s been cleansed: KATHAROS, the noun form of the verb KATHARIZO.
With that we’ve laid down the basis of this new command. Next time we’re going to come back and see the relationship of the Word of God in bringing about this transformation and how that fits, both in terms of the quotation here in 1 Peter, but also how it fits coming out of Isaiah 40.
A lot of you have memorized over the years Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” That’s at the end of the chapter. This quotation Isaiah 40:7–8 comes at the beginning of the chapter. What’s that chapter all about? We’ll look at that next time.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to be reminded that You are working in our lives to transform us and that it’s grounded in the redemption of Christ on the Cross. It’s grounded in the regeneration we experience at salvation that purifies our souls. Those two events imply a mode of operation that should show the transformation in our lives.
We are to conduct ourselves in fear because we have been redeemed with incorruptible things. We are to love one another because we have been purified and born again.
Father, we pray You will help us to understand these things and to challenge us with this. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”