Summary: Presents how Christ's redemption works in us.
In our previous passage, we looked at the subject of redemption, specifically what it means and how it is made. It means to make a ransom payment, to buy one’s freedom. In our case, a payment is made to free us from the slavery of sin. This payment was made by the blood of Christ. He offered his life as payment. He took on himself our just punishment so that we may go free.
The next step for us to explore is how this redemption is actually applied to us. How do we experience it? Or do we even need to experience it? If Christ has made the payment for the world, is not the world free, whether or not we feel the experience? Remember, I had said that redemption was a matter of a change in status. We are no longer owned by sin, but by God. And I even made the point through an illustration that one man could be good yet owned by sin, and another sin and yet owned by God. Just where do we enter the picture? What role do we play, if any? How again, is redemption applied to us now? Verse 21 leads us to the answer.
Through Him You Believe in God
Look at the first phrase. In the Greek the word for believe is a plural noun. It reads, “through him you are believers in God.” The communities from which the Christians came, would have considered that an odd distinction to make of the Christians. For whether Peter is speaking here to Christian Jews or Gentiles, both nonChristian Jews and Gentiles would have claimed that they were believers in God. This is not the age of atheism. God has not been discarded. The Jews would have been especially offended at such terminology. None of the readers to whom Peter is writing would have testified that they had not believed in God before. So what is Peter’s meaning?
The key is found in the first two words – “through him.” And to understand how close the connection these two terms are to the whole phrase, let me write it literally as presented in the Greek. Verse 21 actually does not begin a new sentence; rather, it continues the previous train of thought. Picking up with verse 20: He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for you, the through-him believers of God.
Christians are the through-Christ believers of God. The redeemed-by-Christ are the believers-through-Christ. Peter is saying, “You are now true believers in God, because, one, you know him in your redeemed status no longer being under the slavery of sin, and, two, you know him through knowing Christ.” See the distinction? As slaves of sin, we could not know God because our hearts and minds were in the wrong condition. Christ’s redemption changed that condition so we can now know God. Furthermore, Christ himself now reveals God to us. By knowing Christ, we can now know God.
Who Raised Him From the Dead and Glorified Him
Let’s go on. If we are the ones who believe in God through Christ, God is the one who raised Christ from the dead and glorified him so that we would believe and hope in God.
This is not the only place where the resurrection and belief and hope are connected.
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).
Let’s explore this connection. What is it about the resurrection that produces belief and hope? What does the resurrection signify that lends credence to our faith and nourishes our hope?
It will help to go back to the lesson of the previous chapter. What is it that Jesus did for us? He redeemed us from sin. How? By offering his precious blood as a ransom payment or sacrifice for us. But that leads to another question: how do we know that his payment, the sacrificing of his life, was sufficient? How do we know that God the Father accepted it? What if during Jesus’ life, he had developed a blemish or two? Think about it: what do we hear from Jesus on the cross? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Those are not exactly the words we want to hear from one making a payment for us. The truth is we don’t know if Jesus’ ransom payment was sufficient without evidence, and his resurrection is that evidence.
1 Corinthians 15 gives the definitive exposition of the importance of the resurrection. Verses 17-19 summarize the consequence for Christians if Christ did not rise.