Summary: The prophets of old and even the angels of heaven sought eagerly to see what we possess.
We have learned some great news in just the first nine verses of 1 Peter. What have we learn? We are God’s elect for whom all three persons of the godhead have actively worked for our salvation. We have been born again into a living hope of an inheritance of eternal life that we cannot lose. Even our trials are only serving to strengthen our faith for the day when we ourselves will receive praise and glory. Is there anything more that can be said? Well, Peter, as if all this news was not enough, wants to let us know what other rather important people think of what we have.
The One Message
Peter inserts an interesting term in place of salvation. He uses the term grace: the prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you. He is reminding us that the work of salvation is not our work, but the free gift of God to us. The grace (the free gift) coming to us is the work of Christ – his incarnation, atonement (the sufferings) and resurrection and ascension (the glories).
These prophets would be the prophets of the Old Testament. We have to be careful not to limit them to the writers of the section that we label prophets.
They would include not only those persons with the label but other writers and men of God. David is a prophet who spoke of the Christ, as is Moses. Peter would be thinking of all those who spoke of the Messiah or Christ.
Indeed, Peter’s understanding is that all of the Scriptures, which would be the Old Testament, look forward to Christ. He learned this lesson from Jesus himself. Peter would have been present when Jesus rebuked those who rejected him: If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me (John 5:46). He would have received the report of the disciples who returned from the Emmaus road after encountering Jesus:
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:25-27).
More to the point, he received instruction from Jesus himself regarding Scriptures. In Acts 1:1-8 we read:
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…
8 ”But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Note what Jesus was doing during the forty-day period with his disciples – he was instructing them about the kingdom of God. In a moment we will see that this instruction must have included, if not centered around, interpreting the Scriptures.
Note quickly other facets of these passages. Peter refers to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. Remember? Jesus taught the disciples, Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26) Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8, You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem… and to the ends of the earth. Peter writes in verse 12, they (the prophets) spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you.
Do you see the linkage? The prophets predicted the sufferings and glories of the Christ. Jesus Christ comes, fulfills the prophecies, and then gives instruction to his disciples on how to understand the Scriptures. These disciples become his apostles whom he sends out to bear witness about him. They do this by testifying what they have seen as eyewitnesses and by turning to the Scriptures that reveal him. They are the heirs to the gospel ministry begun by the prophets and embodied by Jesus Christ.
Peter is a great model for this concept. After Jesus’ ascension, Peter takes charge of the group of followers, calling for a replacement for Judas. He justifies the replacement and explains Judas’ downfall through interpreting Scripture (Acts 1:15ff). Where did he get this ability to interpret but through Jesus? Observe how he preaches. On the day of Pentecost, he bears witness of Jesus by interpreting scripture: