Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away – and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
I added some bold in there so we could talk about what stuck out to me that I usually don’t think about. We’ve all heard messages about having joy in trials, and often this passage is used – rightly so.
But as so often happens, other layers to the text can get subdued because of one understanding. Often times the biblical authors are saying a whole lot, and we boil a passage like this down to the place we go when times get hard.
Another common one is John 3:16, that’s that passage all about going to heaven after you die. Well, yes, but there’s so much more there in the dialogue – especially verses 17-19!
But I digress. It’s been a hard season for my wife and I, so I read this passage thinking, “Oh good, I’ll get that nice reminder about it showing the character of our faith, etc.” But I noticed something here that I have missed before.
The first part that talks about joy is before Peter even says anything about trials. If you boil the passage down, you essentially get him saying, ‘you guys are always taking joy in your inheritance of salvation, even though sometimes times are going to be hard, it proves your faith has character, and so you rejoice because you are attaining the end goal of your faith (salvation).
So while he mentions trials, the main point of this section is really more about rejoicing in two main things, despite the trials of this earth.
First thing to rejoice in: “By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Second thing to rejoice in: “because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls.”
In this view, the thing we are rejoicing in is the finished present/future work of Jesus, despite the trials.
Rather than the rejoicing in the trials because they prove something about my faith.
And of course there’s nothing wrong with rejoicing in a trial, we should rejoice at all times! But I think the subtle nuance in this passage of what we are rejoicing in, is the thing that will ultimately allow us to withstand the trials of this life.