Throughout his ministry, Peter faithfully watched over the flock entrusted to his care, and thus proved himself worthy of the charge and responsibility given him by the Saviour. Ever he exalted Jesus of Nazareth as the Hope of Israel, the Saviour of mankind. He brought his own life under the discipline of the Master Worker. By every means within his power he sought to educate the believers for active service. His godly example and untiring activity inspired many young men of promise to give themselves wholly to the work of the ministry. As time went on, the apostle’s influence as an educator and leader increased; and while he never lost his burden to labor especially for the Jews, yet he bore his testimony in many lands and strengthened the faith of multitudes in the gospel.
In the later years of his ministry, Peter was inspired to write to the believers “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Peter 1:1). His letters were the means of reviving the courage and strengthening the faith of those who were enduring trial and affliction, and of renewing to good works those who through manifold temptations were in danger of losing their hold upon God. These letters bear the impress of having been written by one in whom the sufferings of Christ and also His consolation had been made to abound; one whose entire being had been transformed by grace, and whose hope of eternal life was sure and steadfast.
At the very beginning of his first letter the aged servant of God ascribed to his Lord a tribute of praise and thanksgiving. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he exclaimed, “which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, 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” (verses 3–5).
In this hope of a sure inheritance in the earth made new, the early Christians rejoiced, even in times of severe trial and affliction. “Ye greatly rejoice,” Peter wrote, “though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 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: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, … ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (verses 6–9).
The apostle’s words were written for the instruction of believers in every age, and they have a special significance for those who live at the time when “the end of all things is at hand” (I Peter 4:7). His exhortations and warnings, and his words of faith and courage, are needed by every soul who would maintain his faith “steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
The apostle sought to teach the believers how important it is to keep the mind from wandering to forbidden themes or from spending its energies on trifling subjects. Those who would not fall a prey to Satan’s devices, must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy of souls may suggest. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness. “Gird up the loins of your mind,” Peter wrote, “be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ … not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13–16).
“Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 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; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 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” (verses 17–21).
Had silver and gold been sufficient to purchase the salvation of men, how easily might it have been accomplished by Him who says, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine” (Haggai 2:8). But only by the precious blood of the Son of God could the transgressor be redeemed. The plan of salvation was laid in sacrifice. The apostle Paul wrote, “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). Christ gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity. And as the crowning blessing of salvation, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren,” Peter continued, “see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (I Peter 1:22). The word of God—the truth—is the channel through which the Lord manifests His Spirit and power. Obedience to the word produces fruit of the required quality—”unfeigned love of the brethren.” This love is heaven-born and leads to high motives and unselfish actions.
When truth becomes an abiding principle in the life, the soul is “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (verse 23). This new birth is the result of receiving Christ as the Word of God. When by the Holy Spirit divine truths are impressed upon the heart, new conceptions are awakened, and the energies hitherto dormant are aroused to co-operate with God.
The Acts of the Apostles, 516–520.