This is what we see in the first twelve verses of 1 Peter. It is here that we find the apostle Peter writing a letter of encouragement to a group of exiles scattered around Asia Minor. Peter reminds and encourages these Christians. The apostle reminds this dispersed people of their living hope and their future inheritance. And he encourages them to live in the midst of suffering for the glory of their Savior, King Jesus.
We can read through the first ten verses of 1 Peter and be encouraged and reminded ourselves. For those of us who are Christians, we have been “born again to a living hope” (verse 3), to an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven” (verse 4). Peter reminds us that we are “being guarded” (verse 5) by the Holy Spirit in the midst of “various trials” (verse 6). We continue to read through verse 10 and think, ‘Thanks, Peter. In the midst of a stressful week at work or a difficult day of parenting a toddler, this is good news. I’m being refined. And there’s hope.‘
But then we get to verses 10-12. In these three verses, Peter uses the nouns prophets, angels, and heaven. Not three words we typically talk about in our weekly small groups or early morning accountability coffee meetings with a close friend, right? So if you’re anything like me, you’d rather skip these three verses. After all, the sermons we hear each Sunday morning probably don’t mention prophets, angels, and heaven much. So why should we bother with trying to understand?
Well, here’s the good news. Paul tells Timothy that all of Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). So these verses matter. Now, we agree that they matter. Now, let’s figure out what they mean.
Let’s all acknowledge that we wished Peter would have used additional periods here. There’s a lot here in three verses separated with only two periods. But aside from grammar, what do we see in verses 10-12 of 1 Peter?
First, the prophets studied salvation (verses 10-11). Peter says that they “searched and inquired carefully” (verse 10). They literally wanted to know all they could about God’s promised salvation. Let’s not forget that these prophets only had a partial revelation of “the grace that was to be yours” (verse 10). And despite this future grace that would come with the arrival of Jesus Christ, they shamed me and maybe even you – in how they studied the words of God. Peter encourages us: study like the prophets. Grow in your devotion so you can fully embrace this future hope of salvation.
Next, the apostles and others preached salvation (verse 12). Peter uses “the things” to refer to the salvation grace that was to come with the arrival of Christ. So who are these people who are preaching the Good News? Peter, the other disciples and apostles, and others who are not named. These were ministers of the Gospel, sent out by the church, as messengers of the gospel. And they preached salvation as those who were empowered by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Again, Peter encourages us: preach like the apostles. Walk by the Spirit so that you can faithfully bear witness to the Good News.
And lastly, the angels longed for salvation. There’s much discussion around both what angels do and what they experience. Even the Jews elevated angels, supremely worshipping them rather than seeing them as messengers of God. And today, we can see the same practice – with ideas like guardian angels and the like. As such, we affirm that angels aren’t superior. And they aren’t like us. They’ve never sinned so they can’t experience the fullness of saving and sustaining grace. And yet, they possessed a holy curiosity to understand this saving grace. The holy angels witnessed the glory of God’s salvation. And they respond with a longing for and worship of God. Lastly, Peter encourages us: long for like the angels. Desperately long to look into the beautiful mystery of the Gospel so that you might glory in the God of our salvation.
So there’s the introductory verses of 1 Peter. Peter reminds us of our rich hope, our future inheritance, and then encourages (and probably also confuses us) with talk about angels, prophets, and heaven. And yet, we have the full revelation. We know the end of the story. We have the Good News that the angels longed for and the prophets preached. Now that’s some encouragement. Be eager like the angels. And be encouraged like the prophets.