Address and Salutation. 1 Pet. 1, l. 2.

V.1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, v.2. elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied. The opening is simple, commensurate with the dignity of an apostle and the message which he proclaimed: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen sojourners of the Dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. The author, using the honoring name given him by Christ Himself, which was to him a greater mark of distinction than the bestowal of many another honor might have been, introduces himself to his readers as one of the number of men whom the Lord had expressly chosen as His messengers and delegates to bring the Gospel of salvation to all men, as an apostle of Jesus Christ, the Savior. He addresses his letter to sojourners, to strangers of the Dispersion, to people that are far from their real, abiding home, that are wanderers and pilgrims on this earth. By thus reminding his readers from the very start of their real status in this world, the apostle cleverly broaches the thought which is found throughout the letter, namely, that the entire life of all believers here on earth is but a time of preparation for the citizenship in the real Homeland above. His words concern the entire Christian Church as the true Israel, God’s people of the New Testament covenant, which is still far from the heavenly home. The Christians are a poor small crew, scattered over the whole world, commonly in small communities or congregations. And yet they are the chosen people of God, having been elected by God before the foundation of the world to be His own. The letter was sent as a general, or encyclical, letter to the congregations which were then existing in various provinces of Asia Minor: Pontus, in the extreme northeastern part, on the Black Sea, Galatia, the large Roman province in the central part, Cappadocia, another inland province, south of Galatia and Pontus, maritime Asia along the Aegean Sea, Bithynia, in the northwestern part, on the Black Sea. In the case of all these provinces we have later information showing that there was a large Christian population in practically this entire district.

The apostle further describes the state of the Christians: According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, unto the obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The election of the believers has taken place according to the foreknowledge, or, better still, according to the predestination, the resolution of God the Father. The Christians are elected, chosen out of the world, out of the great mass of those for whom the redemption of Christ Jesus was earned, in this way, that God selected, appointed them to be His own before the ages of the world. There is absolutely no excellence, no merit, on our part. Out of free grace God the Father has from eternity made us the object of His election in Christ Jesus. In His counsel and resolution our election is founded, and therefore no man can pluck us out of His hand. - The resolution, the plan of God was carried out in time in this way, that the Christians are sanctified, separated from the world, consecrated to God. This work, in the majority of cases, was begun in Baptism, but is carried forward throughout the believer’s life, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, who lives in all Christians through faith, who cleanses their hearts from the filth of idolatry and misbelief, as Luther writes. - And the purpose of this predestination, the aim of God’s election, is that the elect should be brought to the obedience of Jesus Christ, that is, to faith. This faith is wrought in their hearts through the application and transmittance of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. For the reconciliation of man’s guilt, the forgiveness of sins, has been assured through the shedding of the innocent blood of Christ; our faith rests upon His vicarious work. In this way we are obedient to the Gospel, Rom. 10, 16, and to Christ, 2 Cor. 10, 5; Heb. 5, 9. Thus the election of God is unto faith; faith was kindled in our hearts as a result of God’s predestination. These things being true, the apostle may well add his salutation that God would now impart to us the grace which His Son has earned for us, and that He would make us the possessors of the peace which passes all understanding, by which we have entered into the relation of sonship to God once more, in rich measure. Note how strongly the apostle emphasizes in the very beginning of his letter that our salvation is, in every respect, from every side, a work of the Triune God, the three persons of the Godhead being coordinated in this act, as having worked simultaneously, with equal power, and with the same purpose.

A Praise of God for His Manifold Blessings. 1 Pet. 1, 3-12.

The wonderful gifts of God’s grace: V.3. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, v.4. to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, v.5. who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. V.6. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, v.7. that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; v.8. whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; v.9. receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. The apostle knew that the Christians to whom he was writing needed encouragement. But there is no better way of cheering up faint-hearted Christians than by singing the praises of Him to whose goodness and mercy we owe such an overwhelming debt of mercy: Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He who, according to His great mercy, has born us anew unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The apostle gives all blessing, all praise, to God alone, since He is the Author and Finisher of our salvation, reserving none whatever for himself, for his own merits and works. We Christians have reasons for praising God with such full abandon of our hearts and minds, because He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus is our Savior, our Brother, and therefore God, being His God, is now also our God, being His Father, also our Father. This the apostle explains by saying that God has born us anew, that He has made us His spiritual children, and again, not by reason of any merit or worthiness in us, but simply according to His great, His abundant mercy, according to the riches of His love in Jesus Christ. The result, then, of this spiritual begetting should be that there be imparted to us, and that we possess, a living hope, a hope that has sound basis, a hope that is sure to be rewarded. The entire life of regeneration is a life of hope, which looks forward to the precious gifts of the future. With faith there is naturally combined the hope of a future, perfect salvation in eternity, for to the reconciled sinner heaven itself is standing open. This live, this vigorous hope exists in our hearts through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; for this fact has given us the guarantee that our hope will surely be fulfilled. Christ, having risen from the dead and having entered into the state of His glorification, will certainly make good His promise and bring us also into the life of glory.

The beauty and glory of this gift is such as to provoke the apostle to a veritable burst of exultant praise: To an inheritance imperishable and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven with a view to you. That is the aim, the object, of God's regeneration, that is what He wants to give and impart to us. Heaven and all its glory are our inheritance, for we are children of God and joint-heirs with Christ. This heavenly inheritance is imperishable; it cannot perish, cannot decay, cannot be corrupted, cannot lose in beauty and value. Earthly possessions will pass away and become subject to corruption, but the heavenly possession is of a nature that will never deteriorate, It is an unsoiled, undefiled inheritance. Earthly goods and riches are soiled and defiled and violated by reason of unrighteousness, covetousness, avarice, sin. But the salvation which Christ earned for us is pure, unspotted by any sin; it is the inheritance of the saints in the holy light that emanates from the throne of God. Earthly happiness, earthly fortune and glory, is like the flower of the field, which, indeed, shoots up quickly and blossoms soon, but just as quickly loses its beauty and fades away. The heavenly inheritance is unfading, standing before us in everlasting, unchanging beauty. The first indescribable exultation that will take hold of our hearts upon entering the heavenly mansions will never be reduced, will never grow cold. This inheritance is laid up, reserved, for us in heaven. There is no possibility that it may yet be lost to us, since God’s promise is holding it out to us, since it is assured and applied and imparted to us by faith.

And lest some one hesitatingly refer to the possibility of growing weak and of losing hope, which, indeed, is ever present on account of the many temptations which beset us, the apostle adds: Who are protected by the power of God through faith unto the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The Christians are like a house or fortress which is besieged by Satan in many forms of temptation. But they are guarded and protected by God’s almighty power. This is not exhibited in absolute majesty, but through faith, which is the hand that receives the gift of salvation, which clings to the certainty of the everlasting mercy. Thus the keeping of the believers unto salvation is accomplished, namely, to a salvation which was appointed before the beginning of time for the believers, in order that it might be revealed and made known in the last time, at the end of the world. The exact time is not known to the author, nor does the fact of his being ignorant of this date in any way interfere with his faith. Sufficient for him is the fact, as it should be for every believer, that God is keeping watch, that his soul’s salvation is well taken care of in the hands of the heavenly Father. Apostasy is indeed man’s fault all alone, but the opposite condition, the reason for steadfastness of faith, is in no way a better conduct or attitude in man, but it is the work of God all alone. What a wonderful comfort when weakness of faith and doubt tend to assail our hearts!

This it is that causes the apostle to write: in which you greatly rejoice, although now for a little you may be obliged to be grieved in various trials. That is the true attitude of the Christian’s heart, full of joy, exultation, jubilation, even here in time, to be completed, however, with inexpressible happiness, throughout eternity. The believers having the guarantee even now that they are chosen sojourners, incidentally have the assurance that God will preserve for them eternal joy and salvation. Therefore this anticipation cannot be influenced by the fact that the believers are here, for a passing moment, exposed to outward grief on account of their being beset by various trials; their life may make the impression, as if they were subject to nothing but disheartening experiences and never had a glad hour.

But appearances, in this case, are very deceiving; for the apostle continues: That the testing of your faith may (show it to) be much more precious than perishable gold, which is also proved by fire, found unto praise and honor and glory in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Those very trials which a Christian must undergo are at bottom not a cause of sorrow to him, since they redound to his advantage. For if his faith stands the test to which it is subjected, it is thereby proved to be more precious and valuable than any corruptible gold, whose quality is likewise tested by fire, just as faith is tested in trials. And the result, if the believer stand the test properly, will be that he attains to praise and glory and honor. Through the fiery trial of suffering we not only realize the vanity and evanescence of all earthly things and our own helplessness in spiritual matters, but we are also prepared for the final acknowledgment of our faith, for its crowning and glorifying in the bliss of eternal salvation. On the day of the final revelation of Christ’s glory He will, out of His boundless mercy, permit us to share in this glory and to live and triumph with Him throughout eternity.

This happiness is pictured by the apostle: Whom, without seeing, you love, in whom you now, although you do not see Him, yet believing, you exult with unspeakable and glorious joy, obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. The readers, just like the Christians of the present time, had not seen Christ in the flesh, had not been witnesses of His miracles nor heard His wonderful parables and discourses. And yet their love, growing out of the faith in the Gospel-message, had taken root and was firmly established. Even now, when they expect His return to Judgment, their faith in Him is unmoved, although they are still without sight of Him. And with their faith their joy, their happiness, their exultation over their redemption and over their final deliverance, continues. In this way the present joy of the believers leads up to its future culmination, when, in the enjoyment of the heavenly glories, their joy will transcend all human language, the most glowing description which human tongue could give, being beyond the conception of even the most daring speculation on glory which human beings have ever succeeded in bringing forward. Thus will the believers obtain, carry off as a prize, the end, the goal, of their faith; they will go from believing to possessing; they will have and hold forever the salvation of their souls. Thus justifying faith is also saving faith, and by the fact of its having accepted the promises of the Gospel it works deliverance from this earthly life with its misery and affliction, and will finally seal to us this deliverance, world without end.

The revelation concerning God’s gift: V.10. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; v.11. searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. V.12. Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. The apostle now places the proper emphasis on the greatness of the salvation which the believers confidently expect: Concerning which salvation even prophets searched and enquired, they that prophesied of the grace intended for you. The very men who, by the inspiration of the Spirit, revealed the gracious and good will of God, preached of the grace of God as it was intended for all men, these men were, for their own persons, so earnestly concerned about this promised salvation that they searched most eagerly and assiduously how they might become partakers of it, how they might understand its glorious import more fully. Of this the apostle writes: Pondering in reference to whom and what time the Spirit of Christ in them revealed, testifying in advance of the sufferings that were to come upon Christ and of the subsequent glories. Here it is plainly shown that the holy men of God did not put down their own philosophy, their own ideas; for they themselves pored over, and studied, the prophecies which the Spirit of Christ made known through their preaching and writing. Christ, who was thus in existence also during the time of the Old Testament, used His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to bear witness in advance of the Passion of the Messiah and of His exaltation to the glories of heaven, also according to His human nature. The prophets themselves tried to find out to whom these sayings would apply and at what time their fulfillment was to be expected. Thus Jesus Christ, the Savior, is the theme of the Old Testament prophecy, as the apostle indicates in this very letter by quoting Ps. 2, 7; 118, 22, and Is. 53 as Messianic passages. Note that the searching of the prophets presupposes the existence of documents containing these prophecies.

The apostle continues by stating concerning the office of the Old Testament prophets: To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to you they might minister these things, which are now proclaimed to you through those that preach the Gospel to you in the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, into which the angels longed to get a glimpse. While the prophets of old were searching the Scriptures regarding the coming of the Messiah, the Lord continued to make known to them, and through them to the people, the facts concerning the Messiah, fixing the time with sufficient accuracy for their knowledge, Is. 2, 2; Micah 4, 2; Hos. 3, 5; Jer. 31, l. All this was done for the sake of the New Testament believers; for through their writings the prophets conveyed the revelations granted to them for our benefit, through their ministry we have become acquainted with the facts of the salvation of men as set forth in the prophecies of old, the grace and salvation intended for us long before the coming of Christ has been transmitted and imparted to us. And the same facts are now, in the present dispensation, declared to us by the men whom God has given us to preach the Gospel to us, the apostles. These men, as the teachers of the New Testament, were inspired by the Holy Spirit given to them from heaven, by the exalted Christ, on the Day of Pentecost. This testimony of the Spirit is present to this day in the word of the apostles, which is therefore able to work in us the certain conviction of our salvation. So great and glorious is this salvation that, as the apostle says, the very angels long to get a glimpse into its transcendent beauties. Although the angels are blessed spirits, living before God in eternal happiness, yet the world to come is not put in subjection to them, Heb. 2, 5, they cannot possibly feel the unspeakable joy which is the portion of sinners that have been saved by the blood of the Lamb. That is a bliss which is reserved for the perfected saints.

An Admonition to Lead a Godly Life. 1 Pet. 1, 13-25.

The need of holiness: V.13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; v.14. as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; v.15. but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; v.16. because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy. Because the believers are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, therefore there is need that they be strengthened in faith and a holy life day by day, as the apostle writes: Therefore, girded up in the loins of your mind and with soberness of spirit, set your hope definitely upon the grace which is being brought to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. The picture is that of a person who is altogether ready for a journey or for a piece of work in the performance of which he wants to be unhindered, with no loose garments impeding his progress by wrapping themselves about his limbs. The mind of the Christians must ever be alert, full of intent watchfulness, ready for the business of the Master, and sober, not engaged in the lusts and desires of the world. Their minds must be directed exclusively toward Christ and toward the goal which they have set before them. In this condition, in this state of mind, Christians should set their hope definitely, without wavering, without the slightest indication of uncertainty, upon the grace of God as it is set before us again and again in the revelation of Jesus Christ, upon the future salvation which God gives to us out of pure grace and mercy. When Christ will be revealed to our eager eyes on the last day, it will be for the purpose of putting us, the elect sojourners here on earth, into the possession of our heavenly inheritance. This we know; and therefore our hope is so sure, so steadfast.

The apostle now shows what attitude, what conduct agrees with the hope of the future grace: As children of obedience, not molding yourselves after the former lusts in your ignorance. Christians must at all times show themselves children of obedience; that is the sphere in which they should be found, in obedience to the gracious will of God, to the Gospel. For this reason they will avoid everything that might endanger their chances of salvation. They will not fashion themselves, they will not mold their opinion, their conduct, according to the lusts and desires which formerly, while they were still in ignorance of the holy will of God, ruled in them. Every unconverted person, every heathen, knows no better than to seek his fortune, his happiness, the gratification of his ambitions in doing after the lusts of his heart. All this the believers have renounced, with all this they have nothing in common any more.

The thought which governs the life of the Christians is this: But as He that called you is holy, so be also you holy in your entire conduct; for it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. God is the absolutely Pure and Holy One; in Him is no darkness, but He is light. It is He that has called the Christians by the Gospel, converting them to faith in Jesus Christ, their Savior. In accordance with this call, therefore, and with the fact that it is the Holy One that issued the call, the Christians should likewise prove themselves holy, striving in their whole life and conduct after the purity, the righteousness, which is well-pleasing to Him. Instead of bearing in their attitude the form of evil lusts, they should be renewed to the image of God. This is the will of God, as He Himself has stated in His Word, Lev. 11; 44; 19, 2; 20, 26. That is the unchangeable will of God with reference to His children, that they make the holiness which He has in His essence their ideal, that the hope and the faith of their hearts find its expression in the sanctification of their lives, Col. 1, 12; Heb. 12, 14.

The reason for the holiness of Christians: V.17. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear, v.18. forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, v.19. but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; v.20. who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, v.21. who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God. That is a characteristic of the Christians: they invoke God as their Father, they bring all their requests to His attention because He is their Father for the sake of Christ. But of this Father and God it is and remains true, at the same time: If you invoke the Father, who without favor or partiality judges according to the work of each. In God there is no respect of persons; He renders judgment in an altogether impartial way, He will not be influenced in His judgment by the fact that any one bore the name of Christian. The works of every individual, as the fruits of the condition of the heart, will be the standard according to which God will decide on the last day, Rom. 2, 6. In the works of a man it is shown whether faith and the sonship of God is a mere pretense, or whether it is true and genuine. This being true, it follows: In fear pass the time of your life here. The apostle does not speak, of course, of the fear of a slave, but of the holy reverence before the righteousness of the Judge of all men, which should urge the Christians to show all diligence in good works out of a pure heart. This must be kept in mind for the entire time of our sojourning here on earth. Day after day, year after year, the Christians should be mindful of the word, I am the almighty God; walk before Me and be thou perfect, and work out their own salvation, accordingly, with fear and trembling, Phil. 2, 12.

The apostle now names the basic motive for a life of sanctification: Knowing that not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, you were ransomed out of your vain conduct transmitted to you by tradition, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb unblemished and unstained. Here is a reminder of the great, decisive fact of salvation, which is the strongest individual influence in the life of the Christians. Ever since the fall of Adam one generation of men after the other conducted itself, led its life, in the vain, sinful manner which was bound to flow from inherited sin. The entire life of all unbelievers, of all men by nature, is a life of shameful, terrible slavery in the power of sin, all the thoughts, words, and deeds of such people being vain, useless, so far as spiritual life is concerned. From this slavery the believers are redeemed because they have accepted the fact of the payment of the ransom through the blood of Christ. It was indeed no small matter, the price of ransom did not consist in corruptible things, such as gold or silver, no matter how highly these may be valued by the children of this world. It was the precious, the holy, innocent blood of Christ, which was placed into the balances in paying for the guilt of the world, in ransoming all men from the slavery of sin and of the devil. The immense, immeasurable value of this ransom was due to the fact that the Lamb which was slain on Calvary’s altar was not a sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament, whose offering had no atoning value in itself, but it was Christ, the Lamb of God, truly without a single blemish and spot, Heb. 7, 26, holy, sinless, undefiled, separate from sinners. Truly, the wonderful assurance contained in these words cannot be proclaimed and repeated too often, since it is the one fact which opens to all men the doors of everlasting happiness.

How seriously God was concerned about the salvation of mankind is brought out in the next words: Who, indeed, was destined before the foundation of the world, but manifested at the end of the times for your sakes. As the sacrificial Lamb, whose blood should serve for a ransom, as the Savior of the world, Christ was destined by God from eternity. Our salvation, the redemption through the blood of Christ, was not brought about by chance, is not due to some sudden caprice of God, but is based upon a counsel of love which was resolved upon by God before the beginning of time, before the foundations of this earth were laid, John 17, 24; Eph. 1, 4; Acts 2, 23. And now the Son of God, the Savior of the world, was in these last times, at the beginning of the last world period, in the fullness of time, manifested. He who, as the eternal Son of God, had existed from eternity and had taken part in the counsel of God for the salvation of mankind, was made man for our sakes, in order to earn the redemption for us, in order to pay the price, or ransom, which was required in this unusual case. This fact, that the blood of Christ, with its incomparable, priceless value, was paid as the price of our ransom from the power of sin and of Satan, that is the comfort of the Christians at all times, a comfort with which they may calmly defy the accusations of the devil and the terrors of the Judgment, and boldly look forward to the enjoyment of everlasting bliss before the throne of the Lamb.

The apostle not only applies the salvation of Christ to his readers in the words “for your sakes,” but also explains how this application takes place: Who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, in order that your faith and your hope be directed toward God. Faith is not the result of a man’s own effort, of his own reason and sense. Through Christ, through His manifestation in the flesh, through His blood, through His redemption we have been placed into the right relation toward God, we have become believers, we have become sure of our sonship. Our faith thus rests in God, who, by raising Christ from the dead, has testified to the sufficiency of the ransom which was paid for our sins. Thus we rest our confidence in the reconciled Father, who has accepted and is accepting the intercessory prayer of Christ, our Advocate. Therefore our hope and our faith are directed toward God; we have the certain conviction that God will make us partakers of the glory of Christ.

The quality of Christian love: V.22. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; v.23. being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. V.24. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; v.25. but the Word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you. Just as earnestly as the apostle emphasized the necessity of faith and of unwavering trust in God, just so strongly he brings out the need of Christian love: Having your hearts purified in the obedience of the truth to unfeigned love of the brethren, from the heart love one another intently. The characteristic of faith is that it is obedient to the truth of the Gospel, that it is eager to give every manifestation of sonship towards God. This obedience of the Christians has purified their hearts from the former selfishness, from the natural love of self. They are able and willing now to show real, genuine, unfeigned love, without a trace of hypocrisy or affectation. But although this is true only in the same degree as a Christian has made progress in sanctification, yet the faculty, the ability, is there and is being fostered carefully by the Christians. Therefore they can and do accept the admonition of the apostle to love one another from their hearts, fervently, intently, assiduously. The argument is virtually this: Since you Christians can do it, since your faith has given you the ability to give proof of its existence in brotherly love, be sure to exercise this ability with all cheerful eagerness.

This love should appear in the entire life of the Christians on the basis of their regeneration: Since you are born again, not of perishable, but of imperishable seed, through the living and abiding Word of God. The new birth, which took place in us when God kindled faith in our hearts, is supposed to have effected a thorough purification of our hearts, has, in fact, done so, if our faith is of the right kind. And so the fruit of this faith will be a genuine, unselfish love for the brethren. Just why the fact of our regeneration should prove such a strong motive to us to give evidence of our faith in love is shown in the description of regeneration, when the apostle states that this new birth in our hearts is not the result of perishable, corruptible seed, as the growth of earthly plants would be, but of an incorruptible, imperishable seed, the Word of God, the Gospel of the Savior Jesus Christ. This Word of God is in itself living, full of life and of life-giving power. And it abides in eternity; even after the form of the Word, in Scripture and preaching, has passed away, the content of the Gospel will remain in eternity. Thus the life which is wrought in the hearts of men through the Gospel is a true, divine, and therefore imperishable life, and it will continue in the life of eternity.

The apostle substantiates the statement just made by a quotation from the Old Testament: For, All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the grass; the grass dries up, and the flower falls off, but the Word of the Lord lasts forever. Is. 40, 6. 8. All flesh, all mankind, as it now exists, with its nature corrupted by sin, is like grass; and of the grass it is true that it withers, it dries up. All the handsomeness, the beauty, the glory which man is able to produce, with which he delights to boast; honor, art, culture, wisdom, virtue, righteousness: all is vain, without lasting value, subject to the same rapid change and decay as the flowers of the field that fall off even before the stalk is withered. They that trust in the things of this world will find themselves bitterly disappointed at the last. For only God’s Word has lasting value; it endures throughout eternity, it alone stands firm and unmoved in the midst of this world of death. If we but place our trust in this Word, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it will lift and take us safe through the uncertainty and decay and misery and wretchedness of this world to the eternal life of salvation. Once more, then, the apostle calls out: But this is the Word which in the Gospel is preached to you. If we place our trust in this Word, in this glorious Gospel, then we are safe here in time and hereafter in eternity.

Summary. After the address the apostle launches forth in a hymn of praise to God for the gifts of His grace in Christ Jesus, to which he adds an admonition to be firm in Christian hope, in sanctification, and in brotherly love, the motive being the regeneration through the Word of God.