Peter is only laying the foundation here; you do not get anything of the proper subject of his Epistle until “Dearly beloved, I beseech you,” in chapter 2. In each Epistle he lays the foundation of redemption. They give the government of God that the Jews were put under. “He that will love life and see good days,” that is not redemption for heavenly glory. Or, again, “The eyes of Jehovah are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers.” As far as I have seen, the first Epistle is government in favour of saints, telling them they will suffer, and so on; and the second is government in respect of the wicked. In this chapter he tells first of redemption, and then how judgment begins at the house of God. And it is very instructive as to the order of the revelations and dealings of God. It is addressed to the scattered Jews through Pontus, etc.: “sojourners of the dispersion” it really is. “Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles?” is the same. They are Christians, converted Jews, though scattered, before the destruction of Jerusalem. Peter was put to death before Jerusalem was destroyed, according to common chronology. You never find anything about the church as a body in Peter, but as a house. Paul alone speaks of it as the body of Christ; this was his special ministry. Peter does address them in their new standing, but it is individually in accomplished redemption, not as in the one body united to Christ.
At the end “the church that is at Babylon,” I doubt. “Elected” is in the feminine, and no word is given for “church” at all; many have thought it refers to Peter’s wife—a sister. Only Paul touches the subject of the body of Christ, and so he alone speaks of the rapture. There is in John’s Gospel, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself,” but nothing more. As to the house it is in chapter 2. They were converted or Christian Jews, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father; it was any quickened soul among the dispersion. Peter was specially the minister of the circumcision.
James writes on a larger scale. He says “the twelve tribes,” and he talks about anyone coming into their “synagogue”; it is like a national body, but he singles out those who are believers. And he says “twelve,” though ten are in captivity; this is faith. Like Paul, “Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come”; and like the twelve stones of Elijah at Carmel. He could say “instantly,” as it was so, though they were doing it very ignorantly and badly; just as Paul himself had been doing when he was Saul. All really honest Jews were doing so. They might have done it in a bigoted way; still they were serving. Just as you may have a church so-called kept open night and day, it is kept open whatever may be there beside the truth itself.
The cross really ended Judaism, though it continued after. You see “how many thousands of the Jews there are that believe, and they are all zealous of the law,” offering sacrifices, etc.: and you get Paul going on to do as much. What is striking enough is, that in James you never have a word about redemption; grace you get, “of his own will begat he us by the word of truth.” It fits in pretty close to the conscience, if you will only let it. It does not allow will in man at all, but patience. Its general character is practical righteousness, the total destruction of self-will in the Christian, and the renouncing of the world. He takes them where they avowedly are, and says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations,” and so on. He takes the cross for granted; but you get the grace that quickens us. And it is all the putting down of the working of evil in every shape. In James you get positive grace, but there is the judgment of all a man’s heart.
Peter goes farther than that; he takes up the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ” applies to both those. Is it the obedience of Jesus Christ instead of the law? No; I take it, the obedience of Jesus Christ is not merely that there is a rule given, but rather His own. “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” There is a whole life which has no spring of action except the will of God; and if there was no will of God, He did nothing. At the beginning the Lord says, as it were, to Satan, “I am come to live by the word of God.” He could have turned the stones into bread, of course, but He had no will of God for it, and so He did nothing.
There are two characters of it—obedience such as Christ’s, and confiding dependence (or dependent confidence, if you like). “Through sanctification of the Spirit” means that the Holy Ghost has wrought in us to put us apart for these two things. You are elect to both, but the way by which you are brought into them is by “sanctification of the Spirit.” Thus the Holy Ghost has come and taken man out of the flesh altogether, and put him into this place. And then these two things are, if you please, His life and His death. It is a different kind of obedience from that of an obedient child now; my child wants to run out, and I say, “Sit down, and do your lesson.” Well, he does so, and that is very pleasant and right. But Christ never obeyed thus, He never wanted to be stopped; He says “I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” In 2 Thessalonians 2 you get “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” together—the same thing pretty much.
You must begin practical sanctification by setting me apart first. The Holy Ghost comes, and sets us apart to God, separated out of the flesh to obedience. It is not so much the fact of the new life, as it is that the word has wrought in me; “being born of the word of God that liveth and abideth for ever.” In Hebrews sanctified by the blood of the covenant is another aspect of sanctification. Here the Spirit is the one who. brings it into actual operation. In “by the which will we have been sanctified,” you get that which sets us apart judicially; but the direct action of God at all times is by the Holy Ghost. So we are born of the Spirit; there is a new life communicated, the Holy Ghost giving me a renewed mind, bringing that into me, whereby my thoughts and feelings are all changed. It is God’s purpose to set me apart by the Spirit. God’s purpose is in His own mind, and God gave His Son that we may be, in a redemption way, set apart to Him. But we all the while are still sinners. Then comes the Holy Ghost, who operates in us, and sets us actually apart. Sanctification of the Spirit is actual operation. All the working of God is by the Spirit. We are born of the Spirit, born of the Father in one sense, and the Son quickens whom He will. And the Holy Ghost still operates, for He takes the word, and He makes the children grow.
Sprinkling is the application of blood, in opposition to what we had under law. There was a certain sanctification of Israel to God, but not by the Holy Ghost, and they had the blood of sprinkling in a way; but it is Christ’s blood that we are sanctified to, and not that of bulls and goats. Obedience comes first, because you get the actual thing that I am sanctified to—the obedience of Christ. But if I am to be before God, it must be by His blood; the one is for cleansing, and the other is His life. It is general, but more the person that is in view, because the blood has been put upon the mercy-seat, and this made God approachable.
It was Jehovah’s lot, and without that we could not have had the sprinkling. John uses the fuller word, and says “washed.” If God had not been glorified as to the question of sin, which is specifically Jehovah’s lot, you could not have had this; the two goats make one Christ. It is the general idea here of sprinkled blood; sometimes it was on the person, sometimes on the altar to God, but then the person got the benefit of it. When it was sprinkled on all the people, it was to hold them though under the penalty of death. It is the legal character of it there, but this is not for us. It is not the new covenant here, but just what it says: I am set apart to obey, and to all the value of Christ’s blood. It is a great thing not to bring into a verse what is not in it. You get other verses and other truths, and clearer light by putting them together, but it is an amazing help to keep clearly what a verse gives. There is nothing about the covenant here, but a set of people, elect, chosen, and set apart to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. “Sanctified by blood,” in Hebrews, applies strictly to Jews, though we come under it in the fatness of the olive-tree.
A person could not walk practically in the path of obedience without the sprinkling of the blood; we should not be set apart to God at all without it. It is in contrast with Judaism, where, as a matter of fact, they were brought through the Red sea, and so separated from Egypt. Here it is the Holy Ghost that does it, and it is a real thing in the soul. In Hebrews you do not get the sanctification of the Spirit at all, though you get holiness; they are sanctified by blood, and are warned not to fall away. Where there was faith, they, of course, had the actual value of it all; and where it is individual, it says, “perfected for ever.” It is a great thing to take our verse up absolutely and simply. Here am I set apart to have no will at all, only God’s; obedience is not having a will of my own, and that is the law of liberty. Just as if I told my child again to go off and play in the street, he would go off, and be obedient in doing so, but it would be what he liked to do. Here, He says, I am bringing you out of a sinful world, where the carnal mind is enmity against God, and I set you apart to do my will in the world, and nothing else. And then comes the second blessed thing, all the value of Christ’s blood.
“Blessed be the God and Father,”—you often get that, Christ as Son, and as Man, “my Father and your Father, my God and your God” — “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Lord is another title: “God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ.” “Hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” We had got into this state of death and sin, and Christ came there, and took us out of it, so that I have a living hope, and there I get the key of all this government. “Reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” I am not to be catching up theories, but have a positive thing from God, kept there for me, and I am kept while down here by the power of God through faith. God’s power keeps me, but it is keeping me by faith, unto a salvation ready to be revealed. The salvation here is the full description of the status of a Christian, and he is kept by the power of God. Peter is shewing the way of the government of God; there is nothing about advancement in this world.
Hebrews is very much upon “Peter” ground, chapter 12:22-24 describing all the millennial blessedness from top to bottom, but you do not get “union.” “Fellows “is not union. If he speaks of the Father and of Christ, then he can speak of first-born among many brethren, but it is individual still. John, too, is always individual, and yet he carries us quite as high, dwelling in God, and God in me, but this is not union with Christ. When I get union with Christ, it is God raising Him from the dead as a man, and putting Him at His right hand, and He takes and puts me into Him there. Christ as Head (Eph. 1) is looked at as a Man whom God has raised. Peter answers to wilderness experience in measure, but “ready to be revealed” is a different thing. Paul’s revelation in Colossians is more like Peter, and so you get only, “we shall appear with him in glory,” but not the rapture; “called in one body” you have, and “not holding the head,” but even that is not developed at all. Peter here is the contrast with having Canaan and all that on earth. Here the inheritance is in heaven; the difference in Ephesians is, that there I am seen sitting in heaven in Christ, that is, in Christ in glory. He says, “inheritance incorruptible, undefiled,” and so on. The one thing you do not get here is the union with Christ by the Holy Ghost.
Would you say that you have eternal life in Peter? It is not developed in Peter. You never get a hint about God’s love in Peter, though you get the things that flow from it. It is, God has wrought this, and has given that, and He keeps us safe, and so on; but you never have what you find in Paul and John, “God so loved the world.” It is a governed world, people in view for whom redemption has been wrought, the perfect standing of a Christian with an inheritance in heaven, and the Holy Ghost come down from heaven. You get the fact of redemption and actual standing, but you never find Peter saying, “Ye are dead”; he does say, “He that hath suffered in the flesh.” Paul says, “dead to sin,” and goes to the root. Peter says, “dead to sins,” which is another thing, being practice, and not root.
The moment I am in Christ, I am in a totally new place, where man looked at as born of Adam is done with. But Peter gives you the whole statement of my relationship to God, as redeemed, and quickened, and walking down here, but with a hope up there. And then government comes in—I am kept by God’s power through faith. The rapture is not mentioned, for it is not an act of government, but of sovereign grace. But 2 Peter 1:19 is a most interesting passage, for you have this dark world—Satan’s darkness—and this light of God, which shews how all here is going on rapidly to judgment.
In the Epistle to the Ephesians is the most extreme contrast that can be conceived: “Be ye followers of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour”— “but fornication, and all uncleanness.” Paul goes down from my being an imitator of God Himself down to all that is vile in a man. Verses 6, 7 are government again, but it is as to men who are walking down here, yet redeemed and having this inheritance above. In verse 7 the fruits of all these dealings in government will come out. It is not that you find a poor sinner, who is taken up and put up in glory with Christ, that is not Peter.
What is the salvation of soul? It is in contrast with the deliverance that Israel had, I think. Soul-salvation is contrasted with temporal deliverance. Then comes an orderly statement in verses 10, 11. The prophets which were before speak both of the sufferings of Christ, and of glories which were to follow; but we now stand in between the sufferings finished and the glories not yet come.
The prophets were telling of both; neither had yet come, and they searched to see what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, and it was revealed to them, when they studied their own testimonies, that they ministered not to themselves, but to us. This is very striking; for, so far from its being the expectations of their own minds that they were telling, they had to study their prophecies to understand them if possible. But now the Holy Ghost come down reports these things to us, things which are to be brought unto us, but are reported now.
It does not state that we have got them, but the glory is reported, and by the Holy Ghost sent down. The Holy Ghost was not until Pentecost, but the thing that distinguishes Christianity is the Holy Ghost down here; just as of old Christ, looked at as coming down here, was not yet. All this does not go on into Paul’s statement, nor into John’s. Peter’s is complete and perfect in itself.
I have soul-salvation and eternal life, and Christianity makes me wait for glory. It is a report now. I am changed, but I have not a single thing but life and the Holy Ghost. Of the things that belong to me as being alive, I have nothing but the earnest of the inheritance. You have the new nature? Yes, this is eternal life, and yet, in the full purpose of God, the end is everlasting life. God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, He has called me to His kingdom and glory, but I am not there yet. I am waiting for that. The grace of God has appeared, teaching me to wait for the glory; it is all revealed, and I have the life that enjoys it as a revelation, but I have not come into the estate yet. When the revelation comes by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, other things are brought in. As the Lord says to Nicodemus, “If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?” It was necessary, even for the Jews, to be born again for their earthly things. In John’s “last time” you get Antichrist, the day of the Lord; and yet the days immediately preceding are the last time. Messiah is come, and yet He is not come: Elias is come, and he is not come, and you never see clearly in this kind of statement until you see that. Messiah shall be cut off and have nothing, He has none of the things that belong to Him yet. But the moment the Son was there, the Father’s name was revealed, though they did not understand it. And when the Holy Ghost came down, you get the Spirit of adoption, and Christ’s place where we are heirs; all that was not in the Jewish promises, any more than the church was. The whole state in Peter is different, without going to Paul, because the veil is rent.
Present relationship with God is made perfectly clear by redemption and the new nature, and the Holy Ghost too, and this is an immense thing. We read in this very chapter, “Who by him do believe in God that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory.” Do you mean to say that God gave His Son for you? Then there is perfect love in the sight of God. I believe in God by Christ, and I say, God out of the depth of His own heart would have me with Him. He shewed it by rending the veil from top to bottom. Certain privileges were not thereby revealed, but my soul’s relationship with God, as brought to Him, is revealed. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end,” v. 13-17. So I am calling upon the Father as a child during the time of my sojourning here, and such is my place of relationship with God during that time. This is practically where we are. “In fear” is a very good thing; “Blessed is he that feareth always.” “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It has nothing to do here with final judgment, of course—Peter does not think of that with fear. But if you are calling on the Father, and His name has been revealed, and the Holy Ghost has come down from heaven, and the Father is keeping His children, still it is as a holy Father—so mind what you are about.
Judging according to every man’s work is a present thing; otherwise, “the Father judgeth no man.” Then he goes to the foundation of it: “Forasmuch as ye know ye were redeemed.” Silver and gold are the general character: the infinite price with which we have been redeemed is contrasted with poor corruptible things—silver and gold. The Jews understood it very well.
You get in Jude the corruption of the church brought in by false brethren, and in John you get them going out in apostasy. The two characters of the last days are, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and apostasy or giving it up. These are all going on to this day; they crept in then. Though the last days be spoken of and perilous times, yet the Lord let it come out in germ at that time, that we should have the word of God about all. Enoch prophesied about them. The moment Christ was rejected, all was closed, except the present time of mercy. As Christians we do not belong to this world at all.
“Who by him do believe in God.” The statement is general, and the effect is that their faith and hope are in God. I know God through His means; this gives a distinct aspect of God altogether. It is trust in God in everything, for I know that God has come into my case. I know the love of God in giving Christ, and I know that all my sins are gone, and God Himself is God my Saviour. He is not in the character of Judge there; nor is it faith in Christ before God, but in God Himself who raised Christ from the dead, so that it takes in everything between me and God, and alters His whole character from Judge. I may believe God as a righteous Judge, and so He is; but this will not save me, though there must be that for salvation. Abraham believed God, that is, believed what God said, and you get various forms of that. There is the Jewish expression, “hope”; but hope is used as confidence, as “in him shall the Gentiles trust,” that is, hope. “Hope thou in God.” Hope is used as counting on a person; but He will give us glory too; here it is the general thought— we reckon on Him. Believing on Him, and in Him, are different. “I believe in God” is a different thing. This is the object and the confidence: God is the object of the faith. It is the Red Sea. God raised Christ from the dead. There is no knowing God any other way, except as Creator. I do not know God really, save as I know Him in Christ. “This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” is knowing God the Father, not merely God. The other names of God do not give eternal life, but the Father sent the Son that we might live through Him, and He gives eternal life. Then comes another thing—first, the revelation in Christ, and then, obeying the truth through the Spirit. This is what sanctifies the soul.
“Unto unfeigned love of the brethren.” It is wonderful how purifying the heart, and love, go together. You may get hold of truth, but it is always imperfect, badly put together, and that kind of thing, in man’s hand; but here it is obedience to the truth through the Spirit—another thing. You see selfishness is at the bottom of all sin; the opposite of selfishness is love, and we are purified from selfishness by this love. It is love of the brethren, and love which brings in holiness. You get the two things so in 1 Thessalonians 3:12: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one towards another, and towards all men, even as we do towards you, to the end he may stablished your hearts unblameable in holiness before God.” Love and holiness—it is a wonderful power which has come out in Christianity. Paul adds, in Thessalonians, “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” It is not, establish your hearts here, but he is looking at it in all its fulness when Christ comes. It is the power of the hope too, “He that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure.” And therefore it is in John 17, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth; and for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” It all takes us up into the other world. “As we do towards you” is the pattern of it, but it is towards one another, and towards all. Observe, you never find that Christ loved the world, nor that God loved the church, because that is the relationship of Christ and the church, His body and His bride. When you get “love as brethren,” it is again relationship, love unfeigned. It is the opposite of feigned; it is not “putting it on,” as you say, but real. It is the converse here of what it is in Thessalonians. It is the bringing in of divine life, and the Holy Ghost was there, and He is the spring that is in my heart. So it is not talking about inconsistencies, but what is love, and what is God’s nature. It is a wonderful thing for us to look at in all our path—Christ, and then in that sense we could not know any man after the flesh. Purity and love is what God is looking for here. Self is dead, and consideration for others is what reigns in the heart according to God. And the recognition of God’s presence is the great secret of that. I was struck some time back with this, that when the apostle describes what love is, it is all subjective. In 1 Corinthians 13 you do not get one atom of activity in it; it bears, endures, hopes, and so on, and that is all. Love is not always subjective, but it is so in 1 Corinthians 13. Disappointing! You go and live it out, and see if other people will be disappointed. Activity, of course, is all right too. God gives to us in the blessedness of His nature, He makes us enjoy Himself, and, besides that, He gives us a share in the activity of His love. “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” These instructions are drawn from the very depths of God’s nature, and you get God and grace instead of self. Suppose a man is giving way to bad feelings, the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. I ask myself how should I feel if I met that man at the door of heaven, going in—supposing I had met a heretic, or anything else. Would it not be nice to meet people here as you will meet them there? Only when you have to meet opponents, take care that it does not connect itself with anything of feeling as regards the individual. Look at Christ in Gethsemane in an agony. He asked His disciples to stay, and He went farther, and when He comes to them again, He finds them sleeping, but He only says, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” and He goes back again into His agony; and this was His way to them when He was thinking of meeting God in judgment!
Verse 22 is love “fervently.” “Seeing ye have purified,” etc., is the principle; now let us have the practice in all its extent. He is looking for fervent love in a pure heart, seeing that they have been brought into this relationship. God is light, and He is love, and He has come down in light and love, and He wants this divine nature which has root in us to come out. “Increase and abound” is to be brought about by keeping nearer to God. I have often thought that it requires great grace to see a little grace. If you go out in love, it will find some response. At one place they complained that all was so dreadfully cold, and I could only say, Why do you not go out in love, and warm the rest?
“Born again.” This is divine life, for this connection of purity and love is by the Holy Ghost. John 3 is the same truth, but more specific. John says “born anew “; he insists on its being altogether new, and so it is more emphatic. Here it is connected with the word; in John with the Spirit. In John, too, you get the positive communication of the new life, in Peter you get the practical effect and working, not the source. It is similar in 1 Peter 4:1: “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin,” but in Paul I get “He that is dead”; it is the same truth, only the one is the principle, and the other is the outward practical carrying of it out. Again the Jews must be born again. We are born of the Spirit, and get a new life, but it brings in divine thoughts, so that I am cleansed. The sin in them, then, remains, as in Ezekiel 36, and so it does in us now.
It is a great thing that the word lives, it comes from God, and is really in the power of the Holy Ghost, but then it brings in the things it tells about. In John 8:25 the Lord tells them what He was—in principle (or altogether) what I also say; in our version it is, “even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.” His word expressed Himself. And the word not only lives, but it judges what is in us too, because it is true.