"GRACE to you and peace be multiplied" (1
"Concerning which salvation the prophets
sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the GRACE that should come
unto you" (1 Pet. 1:10).
"Wherefore girding up the loins of your
mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the GRACE that is to be brought
unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13).
"For this is acceptable (GRACE, Gr.), if for
conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully. For what
glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye shall take it
patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it
patiently, this is acceptable (GRACE) with God" (1 Pet. 2:19-20).
"...according as each hath received a gift,
ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold GRACE of God"
(1 Pet. 4:10).
"Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the
elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for
God resisteth the proud, but giveth GRACE to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:5).
"And the God of all GRACE, who called you
unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while,
shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you" (1 Pet. 5:10).
Thus we have the keynote to the whole letter
found in the word grace. It is a word which has several different facets.
Sometimes it is used in the sense of graciousness—graciousness of manner and
attitude, a sense of beauty, causing pleasure to others. Sometimes, as in the
great doctrine of the grace of God, it is that favour which is shown where there
is nothing to warrant it—set over against a situation which is altogether
unworthy of any kindness and goodness; the grace of God as favour unmerited in
forgiving actual debt. That is the great doctrine of grace.
Then sometimes it is used, in a very simple
form, of being in a state of grace. And then, finally, it is used in the sense
of strength and support—"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made
perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). So it is a word used in the New Testament in
these different ways, and here in this brief letter of Peter which we can read
right through from beginning to end in a few minutes, we have all those aspects
of grace brought before us.
Grace is the great theme of Peter, and that in
itself is significant, when you think of Peter. If there is anybody who should
have written about grace, it is Peter. He writes out of his heart. The first
word in the second verse of the first chapter is like the spring. It is the
spring of grace rising up. It is there inclusive. "Grace to you and peace be
multiplied." That is general. As the spring becomes a stream through the letter,
it seems to break out into these various aspects, having these different
Grace as a Ground of
Confidence and Assurance
So you come to the two passages in the tenth
and thirteenth verses of that first chapter. "Concerning which salvation the
prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should
come unto you." "Set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto
you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Here we have grace as a great ground of
expectation, of confidence, of assurance. It is unto us in this dispensation
that the great grace of God, in its full content and full meaning and full
purpose, is brought to light. The prophets knew that there was some tremendous
thing in store for someone. It was fixed by God that some people should come
into something very great; and here it says that we are those people, we are the
people in the eternal counsels of God. A people in this dispensation were to
come into the full meaning of Divine grace, and the full meaning is just
glimpsed with the appearing of the Lord Jesus.
Here is grace as a great basis of confidence
and assurance that the thing is fixed in its fulness in the dispensation in
which we live, and the prophets were in a state of anticipation and not
realisation. They had not the assurance that it was for their time, but it was
for somebody sometime. We have that assurance. The grace of God has come and is
coming to us in His fixed counsels in all the fulness of its meaning.
Grace in Conduct
Then you pass into chapter two, verses 19 and
20. Here we have a strange thing that the translators have done. It is very
difficult to know why they have done it. They have twice translated exactly the
same Greek word into the word 'acceptable.' Properly read, it should be—"For
this is grace, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering
wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye
shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye
shall take it patiently, this is grace with God." I suppose the
translators thought that it sounded a little strange, and so they made the
change. But there is the word. So here grace becomes a matter of our conduct.
One of the outflowings of this grace is expressed in how we behave under trial,
under adversity. The grace of God is to express itself in this way. How easily
we take offence, get upset, retaliate, want our rights established, get under
the weather, when we are misunderstood, when our motives are
misinterpreted—when we meant well but it has been construed that we had some
other motive—when something is brought upon us without any foundation at all. We
can go down under that, or we can flare up under that, to get even and to
establish ourselves; or we can quietly and humbly suffer inside and go on
without showing any spleen at all—just go on. This is grace. And the great
example is the Lord Jesus Himself—"...leaving you an example, that ye should
follow his step: ...who, when he was reviled, reviled not again" (1 Pet. 2:23).
He showed no retaliation in spirit. That is the grace of God. That is grace in
the matter of conduct.
Grace in Character
We pass to the next two references. "As each
hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the
manifold grace of God." "Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to
serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the
humble." Here grace touches down deep—deeper than our conduct. It goes down
to our character; and here the opposites are the proud and the humble. Pride and
humility are character factors. We may have a feigned humility that is not true
humility. Humility is really something which is the very nature of Christ in us,
and so grace here, becomes a matter of character, showing itself in humility. He
gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.
The Source of All Grace
Then finally, chapter 5, verse 10:
"The God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after
that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish,
strengthen you." "The God of all grace." In the light of all that the Apostle
has been saying, the summing up in this phrase, "the God of all grace," is
intended, I think, to provoke courage. God is the God of all grace. There is
grace in God for everything. Do not give up, do not lose heart. There is grace
for every situation. Be of good courage—He is the God of all grace.
That statement and chapter
2:12—"...having your behaviour seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they
speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold,
glorify God in the day of visitation"—is in the light of the various
difficulties and trials to which these believers and ourselves were and are
being subjected. It is when faith is tried, when circumstances are
difficult—they speak evil against you falsely, and other things are present
which create a set of difficult circumstances—when you are suffering for
conscience' sake, and when you are assaulted by the enemy who goes about as a
roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (v. 8); then remember that the God of
all grace called you, and so there is grace for everything, for all situations
and all demands. It seems as though 1:2 is the spring, then there is the
stream breaking out in its varied applications and meanings and values, and then
it seems as though all converge into the sea—the God of all grace; the
spring, the distribution over the whole land to meet every situation, and then
the coming back and flowing into the great ocean—the God of all grace for all
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Nov-Dec 1948 Vol. 26-6