1 Peter 1

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

1 Peter 1

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise to God for a living hope
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Be holy
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,

‘All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25     but the word of the Lord endures for ever.’

And this is the word that was preached to you.


Peter quotes Leviticus saying: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ (Lev 11:44)

Holiness in the Old Testament means being set apart. The temple is set apart for worship and for sacrifices to God - it’s holy. The high priest is set apart to offer sacrifice and worship - he’s holy. The city of Jerusalem is where God decided the temple should be - it’s holy. There is a sense of separation and distinction here.

Holiness also has an implied sense of danger. When Moses meets God at the burning bush, God says ‘Take off your shoes. This is holy ground.” And later God instructs the people of Israel not to approach Mt Sinai because it’s holy - such is the otherness of God.

But in the New Testament, there is a bit of a contrast. Paul begins his letters by addressing them to the holy people in Corinth, or the holy people in Philippi. Paul doesn’t seem to use the word holy in the way it’s used in the Old Testament. It doesn’t sound dangerous or forbidding.

When Jesus has his last supper with his disciples he says that he’s about to sanctify himself (John 17:17); in other words, he’s just about to make himself holy, and he wants his disciples to be holy in the same way.

Jesus makes himself holy by stepping towards his death, by stepping towards the cross. There are a number of other passages in the New Testament that describe the crucifixion as the holiest event that ever happens. And yet, this event takes place a long way from what would be considered holy place, and a long way from what would be considered holy people. The crucifixion is a state mandated execution on a rubbish dump outside the walls of the holy city.

The holiness that Jesus speaks of and lives out is about going right into the middle of the mess and suffering of human nature.


The New Testament understanding of holiness isn’t about separating yourself off but by being absolutely involved. It’s about going go into the heart of where it’s most difficult for human beings to be human.

I wonder if Peter thought back to that meal with Jesus when he is writing to this group of scattered and persecuted Christians and he encourages them to be holy.

Jesus, the holy Son of God, goes right into the mess to the sinners, the disregarded, the ceremonially unclean, and they are not left feeling shamed, or smaller, but are raised up and his holiness seems to rub off on them. They see that God has drawn near to them.

How do we become holy like Jesus?

Firstly we recognise that because of Jesus we have been made holy, so we are to cooperate with what the Spirit is doing.

But we grow in holiness not by thinking about ourselves more and anxiously obsessing over what we are doing, but by thinking more about God and becoming increasingly obsessed about who God is and what God has done and is yet to do.

It is by dwelling on the person of Jesus, that we begin to want to be more like him. We desire to leave the old way of life behind, we are proactive about living differently. We too move towards the mess and brokenness of the world with compassion and love. We see other people in a new light, the desire to slander, or be envious or any of the things Peter speaks of pale in comparison to being holy as Jesus is holy.

Becoming holy is about being taken over by the extraordinariness of God. When that is what you are really interested in, that is what radiates from you and reflects on other people.

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