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1 Peter 1:6-9

6. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

6. In quo exultatis, paulisper nunc, si opus esti, contristati in variis tentationibus;

7. 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 honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

7. Ut probatio fidel vestrae multo pretiosior auro, quod perit et tamen per ignem probatur, reperiatur in laudem et honorem et gloriam, quum revelabitur Jesus Christus:

8. Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

8. Quem quum non videritis, diligitis, in quem nunc credentes, quum eum non aspicitis, exultatis gaudio inenarrabili et glorificato;

9. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

9. Reportantes finem fidei vestrae, salutem animarum.

 

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, or, In which ye exult. Though the termination of the Greek verb is doubtful, yet the meaning requires that we read, “ye exult,” rather than “exult ye.” In which refers to the whole that is said of the hope of salvation laid up in heaven. But he rather exhorts than praises them; for his object was to shew what fruit was to come from the hope of salvation, even spiritual joy, by which not only the bitterness of all evil might be mitigated, but also all sorrow overcome. At the same time to exult is more expressive than to rejoice. 1010     Some take the verb in a future sense, “At which (time) ye shall exult;” and some as being an imperative, “On account of which exult ye;” but neither of these comports with the context; for the 8th verse proves that he speaks of present joy, and that he states the case as it was among them. It is better with Calvin to refer “wherein,” or, “on account of which,” to the fact stated in the previous verse, that they were kept by God’s power for salvation ready to be revealed. — Ed.

But it seems somewhat inconsistent, when he says that the faithful, who exulted with joy, were at the same time sorrowful, for these are contrary feelings. But the faithful know by experience, how these things can exist together, much better than can be expressed in words. However, to explain the matter in a few words, we may say that the faithful are not logs of wood, nor have they so divested themselves of human feelings, but that they are affected with sorrow, fear danger, and feel poverty as an evil, and persecutions as hard and difficult to be borne. Hence they experience sorrow from evils; but it is so mitigated by faith, that they cease not at the same time to rejoice. Thus sorrow does not prevent their joy, but, on the contrary, give place to it. Again, though joy overcomes sorrow, yet it does not put an end to it, for it does not divest us of humanity. And hence it appears what true patience is; its beginning, and, as it were, its root, is the knowledge of God’s blessings, especially of that gratuitous adoption with which he has favored us; for all who raise hither their minds, find it an easy thing calmly to bear all evils. For whence is it that our minds are pressed down with grief, except that we have no participation of spiritual things? But all they who regard their troubles as necessary trials for their salvation, not only rise above them, but also turn them to an occasion of joy.

Ye are in heaviness, or, Ye are made sorrowful. Is not sorrow also the common lot of the reprobate? for they are not free from evils. But Peter meant that the faithful endure sorrow willingly, while the ungodly murmur and perversely contend with God. Hence the godly bear sorrow, as the tamed ox the yoke, or as a horse, broken in, the bridle, though held by a child. God by sorrow afflicts the reprobate, as when a bridle is by force put in the mouth of a ferocious and refractory horse; he kicks and offers every resistance, but all in vain. Then Peter commends the faithful, because they willingly undergo sorrow, and not as though forced by necessity.

By saying, though now for a season, or, a little while, he supplied consolation; for the shortness of time, however hard evils may be, does not a little lessen them; and the duration of the present life is but a moment of time. If need be; the condition is to be taken for a cause; for he purposed to shew, that God does not, without reason, thus try his people; for, if God afflicted us without a cause, to bear it would be grievous. Hence Peter took an argument for consolation from the design of God; not that the reason always appears to us, but that we ought to be fully persuaded that it ought to be so, because it is God’s will.

We must notice that he does not mention one temptation, but many; and not temptations of one kind, but manifold temptations It is, however, better to seek the exposition of this passage in the first chapter of James

7. Much more precious than of gold The argument is from the less to the greater; for if gold, a corruptible metal, is deemed of so much value that we prove it by fire, that it may become really valuable, what wonder is it that God should require a similar trial as to faith, since faith is deemed by him so excellent? And though the words seem to have a different meaning, he yet compares faith to gold, and makes it more precious than gold, that hence he might draw the conclusion, that it ought to be fully proved. 1111     The seeming difference in meaning referred to, arises from this, that the Apostle uses two nouns (a common thing in Scripture) instead of a noun and an adjective or participle — “the trial of your faith,” instead of “your tried faith,” or, “your faith when tried.” — Ed. It is moreover uncertain how far he extends the meaning of the words, “tried” δοκιμάζεσθαι and “trial” δοκίμιον

Gold is, indeed, tried twice by fire; first, when it is separated from its dross; and then, when a judgment is to be formed of its purity. Both modes of trial may very suitably be applied to faith; for when there is much of the dregs of unbelief remaining in us, and when by various afflictions we are refined as it were in God’s furnace, the dross of our faith is removed, so that it becomes pure and clean before God; and, at the same time, a trial of it is made, as to whether it be true or fictitious. I am disposed to take these two views, and what immediately follows seems to favor this explanation; for as silver is without honor or value before it be refined, so he intimates that our faith is not to be honored and crowned by God until it be duly proved.

At the appearing of Jesus Christ, or, when Jesus Christ shall be revealed. This is added, that the faithful might learn to hold on courageously to the last day. For our life is now hidden in Christ, and will remain hidden, and as it were buried, until Christ shall appear from heaven; and the whole course of our life leads to the destruction of the external man, and all the things we suffer are, as it were, the preludes of death. It is hence necessary, that we should cast our own eyes on Christ, if we wish in our afflictions to behold glory and praise. For trials as to us are full of reproach and shame, and they become glorious in Christ; but that glory in Christ is not yet plainly seen, for the day of consolation is not yet come. 1212     The “praise, honor, and glory,” refer to tried faith; it will be praised or approved by the Judge, honored before men and angels, and followed by eternal glory. — Ed.

8 Whom having not seen, or, Whom though ye have not seen. He lays down two things, that they loved Christ whom they had not seen, and that they believed on him whom they did not then behold. But the first arises from the second; for the cause of love is faith, not only because the knowledge of those blessings which Christ bestows on us, moves us to love him, but because he offers us perfect felicity, and thus draws us up to himself. He then commends the Jews, because they believed in Christ whom they did not see, that they might know that the nature of faith is to acquiesce in those blessings which are hid from our eyes. They had indeed given some proof of this very thing, though he rather directs what was to be done by praising them.

The first clause in order is, that faith is not to be measured by sight. For when the life of Christians is apparently miserable, they would instantly fail, were not their happiness dependent on hope. Faith, indeed, has also its eyes, but they are such as penetrate into the invisible kingdom of God, and are contented with the mirror of the Word; for it is the demonstration of invisible things, as it is said in Hebrews 11:1. Hence true is that saying of Paul, that

we are absent from the Lord while we are in the flesh;
for we walk by faith and not by sight.
(2 Corinthians 5:6-7.)

The second clause is, that faith is not a cold notion, but that it kindles in our hearts love to Christ. For faith does not (as the sophists prattle) lay hold on God in a confused and implicit manner, (for this would be to wander through devious paths;) but it has Christ as its object. Moreover, it does not lay hold on the bare name of Christ, or his naked essence, but regards what he is to us, and what blessings he brings; for it cannot be but that the affections of man should be led there, where his happiness is, according to that saying,

“Where your treasure is, there is also your heart.” (Matthew 6:21.)

Ye rejoice, or, Ye exult. He again refers to the fruit of faith which he had mentioned, and not without reason; for it is an incomparable benefit, that consciences are not only at peace before God, but confidently exult in the hope of eternal life. And he calls it joy unspeakable, or unutterable, because the peace of God exceeds all comprehension. What is added, full of glory, or glorified, admits of two explanations. It means either what is magnificent and glorious, or what is contrary to that which is empty and fading, of which men will soon be ashamed. Thus “glorified” is the same with what is solid and permanent, beyond the danger of being brought to nothing. 1313     After “unspeakable,” “glorified” must mean something greater, or it may be viewed as more specific, it is a joy unspeakable, it being a glorified joy in a measure, or the joy of the glorified in heaven. According to this view the words may be thus rendered, “with joy unspeakable and heavenly.” Doddridge gives this paraphrase, “With unutterable and even glorified joy, with such a joy as seems to anticipate that of the saints in glory.” — Ed. Those who are not elevated by this joy above the heavens, so that being content with Christ alone, they despise the world, in vain boast that they have faith.

9 Receiving the end of your faith He reminds the faithful where they ought to direct all their thoughts, even to eternal salvation. For this world holds all our affections ensnared by is allurements; this life and all things belonging to the body are great impediments, which prevent us from applying our minds to the contemplation of the future and spiritual life. Hence the Apostle sets before us this future life as a subject of deep meditation, and he indirectly intimates that the loss of all other things is to be deemed as nothing, provided our souls be saved. By saying receiving, he takes away all doubt, in order that they might more cheerfully go on, being certain of obtaining salvation. 1414     It is necessary either to give a future meaning to this participle, “Being about to receive;” or to view the Apostle as speaking of the salvation of the soul now, as distinct from the salvation of the soul and body hereafter. The latter view seems most appropriate to the passage. The soul is now saved by faith. The end of faith, its object and accomplishment, is reconciliation with God, and reconciliation is salvation. — Ed. In the meantime, however, he shews what the end of faith is, lest they should be over-anxious, because it is as yet deferred. For our adoption ought now to satisfy us; nor ought we to ask to be introduced before the time into the possession of our inheritance. We may also take the end for reward; but the meaning would be the same. For we learn from the Apostle’s words, that salvation is not otherwise obtained than by faith; and we know that faith leans on the sole promise of gratuitous adoption; but if it be so, doubtless salvation is not owing to the merits of works, nor can it be hoped for on their account.

But why does he mention souls only, when the glory of a resurrection is promised to our bodies? As the soul is immortal, salvation is properly ascribed to it, as Paul sometimes is wont to speak, —

“That the soul may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 5:5.)

But it is the same as though he had said “Eternal salvation.” For there is an implied comparison between it and the mortal and fading life which belongs to the body. At the same time, the body is not excluded from a participation of glory when annexed to the soul.


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