John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. To the sojourners - Upon earth, the Christians, chiefly those of Jewish extraction. Scattered - Long ago driven out of their own land. Those scattered by the persecution mentioned Acts 8:1, were scattered only through Judea and Samaria, though afterwards some of them travelled to Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch. Through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia - He names these five provinces in the order wherein they occurred to him, writing from the east. All these countries lie in the Lesser Asia. The Asia here distinguished from the other provinces is that which was usually called the Proconsular Asia being a Roman province.
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According to the foreknowledge of God - Speaking after the manner of men. Strictly speaking, there is no foreknowledge, no more than afterknowledge, with God: but all things are known to him as present from eternity to eternity. This is therefore no other than an instance of the divine condescension to our low capacities. Elect - By the free love and almighty power of God taken out of, separated from, the world. Election, in the scripture sense, is God's doing anything that our merit or power have no part in. The true predestination, or fore-appointment of God is, 1. He that believeth shall be saved from the guilt and power of sin. 2. He that endureth to the end shall be saved eternally. 3. They who receive the precious gift of faith, thereby become the sons of God; and, being sons, they shall receive the Spirit of holiness to walk as Christ also walked. Throughout every part of this appointment of God, promise and duty go hand in hand. All is free gift; and yet such is the gift, that the final issue depends on our future obedience to the heavenly call. But other predestination than this, either to life or death eternal, the scripture knows not of. Moreover, it is. 1. Cruel respect of persons; an unjust regard of one, and an unjust disregard of another. It is mere creature partiality, and not infinite justice. 2. It is not plain scripture doctrine, if true; but rather, inconsistent with the express written word, that speaks of God's universal offers of grace; his invitations, promises, threatenings, being all general. 3. We are bid to choose life, and reprehended for not doing it. 4. It is inconsistent with a state of probation in those that must be saved or must be lost. 5. It is of fatal consequence; all men being ready, on very slight grounds, to fancy themselves of the elect number. But the doctrine of predestination is entirely changed from what it formerly was. Now it implies neither faith, peace, nor purity. It is something that will do without them all. Faith is no longer, according to the modern predestinarian scheme, a divine "evidence of things not seen," wrought in the soul by the immediate power of the Holy Ghost; not an evidence at all; but a mere notion. Neither is faith made any longer a means of holiness; but something that will do without it. Christ is no more a Saviour from sin; but a defence, a countenancer of it. He is no more a fountain of spiritual life in the soul of believers, but leaves his elect inwardly dry, and outwardly unfruitful; and is made little more than a refuge from the image of the heavenly; even from righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Through sanctification of the Spirit - Through the renewing and purifying influences of his Spirit on their souls. Unto obedience - To engage and enable them to yield themselves up to all holy obedience, the foundation of all which is, the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ - The atoning blood of Christ, which was typified by the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices under the law; in allusion to which it is called "the blood of sprinkling."
Verse 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ -His Father, with respect to his divine nature; his God, with respect to his human. Who hath regenerated us to a living hope -An hope which implies true spiritual life, which revives the heart, and makes the soul lively and vigorous. By the resurrection of Christ - Which is not only a pledge of ours, but a part of the purchase-price. It has also a close connexion with our rising from spiritual death, that as he liveth, so shall we live with him. He was acknowledged to be the Christ, but usually called Jesus till his resurrection; then he was also called Christ.
Verse 4. To an inheritance - For if we are sons, then heirs. Incorruptible - Not like earthly treasures. Undefiled - Pure and holy, incapable of being itself defiled, or of being enjoyed by any polluted soul. And that fadeth not away - That never decays in its value, sweetness, or beauty, like all the enjoyments of this world, like the garlands of leaves or flowers, with which the ancient conquerors were wont to be crowned. Reserved in heaven for you - Who "by patient continuance in welldoing, seek for glory and honour and immortality."
Verse 5. Who are kept - The inheritance is reserved; the heirs are kept for it. By the power of God - Which worketh all in all, which guards us against all our enemies. Through faith - Through which alone salvation is both received and retained. Ready to be revealed - That revelation is made in the last day. It was more and more ready to be revealed, ever since Christ came.
Verse 6. Wherein - That is, in being so kept. Ye even now greatly rejoice, though now for a little while - Such is our whole life, compared to eternity. If need be - For it is not always needful. If God sees it to be the best means for your spiritual profit. Ye are in heaviness - Or sorrow; but not in darkness; for they still retained both faith, 1 Peter 1:5, hope, and love; yea, at this very time were rejoicing with joy unspeakable, 1 Peter 1:8.
Verse 7. That the trial of your faith - That is, your faith which is tried. Which is much more precious than gold - For gold, though it bear the fire, yet will perish with the world. May be found - Though it doth not yet appear. Unto praise - From God himself. And honour - From men and angels. And glory - Assigned by the great Judge.
Verse 8. Having not seen - In the flesh.
Verse 9. Receiving - Now already. Salvation - From all sin into all holiness, which is the qualification for, the forerunner and pledge of, eternal salvation.
Verse 10. Of which salvation - So far beyond all that was experienced under the Jewish dispensation. The very prophets who prophesied long ago of the grace of God toward you - Of his abundant, overflowing grace to be bestowed on believers under the Christian dispensation. Inquired - Were earnestly inquisitive. And searched diligently - Like miners searching after precious ore, after the meaning of the prophecies which they delivered.
Verse 11. Searching what time - What particular period. And what manner of time - By what marks to be distinguished. The glories that were to follow - His sufferings; namely, the glory of his resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and the effusion of his Spirit; the glory of the last judgment, and of his eternal kingdom; and also the glories of his grace in the hearts and lives of Christians.
Verse 12. To whom - So searching. It was revealed, that not for themselves, but for us they ministered - They did not so much by those predictions serve themselves, or that generation, as they did us, who now enjoy what they saw afar off. With the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven - Confirmed by the inward, powerful testimony of the Holy Ghost, as well as the mighty effusion of his miraculous gifts. Which things angels desire to look into -A beautiful gradation; prophets, righteous men, kings, desired to see and hear what Christ did and taught. What the Holy Ghost taught concerning Christ the very angels long to know.
Verse 13. Wherefore - Having such encouragement. Gird up the loins of your mind - As persons in the eastern countries were wont, in travelling or running, to gird up their long garments, so gather ye up all your thoughts and affections, and keep your mind always disencumbered and prepared to run the race which is set before you. Be watchful - As servants that wait for their Lord. And hope to the end - Maintain a full expectation of all the grace - The blessings flowing from the free favour of God. Which shall be brought to you at the final revelation of Jesus Christ - And which are now brought to you by the revelation of Christ in you.
Verse 14. Your desires - Which ye had while ye were ignorant of God.
Verse 16. Leviticus 11:44.
Verse 17. Who judgeth according to every man's work - According to the tenor of his life and conversation. Pass the time of your sojourning - Your short abode on earth. In humble, loving fear - The proper companion and guard of hope.
Verse 18. Your vain conversation - Your foolish, sinful way of life.
Verse 19. Without blemish - In himself. Without spot - From the world.
Verse 21. Who through him believe - For all our faith and hope proceed from the power of his resurrection. In God that raised Jesus, and gave him glory - At his ascension. Without Christ we should only dread God; whereas through him we believe, hope, and love.
Verse 22. Having purified your souls by obeying the truth through the Spirit, who bestows upon you freely, both obedience and purity of heart, and unfeigned love of the brethren, go on to still higher degrees of love. Love one another fervently -With the most strong and tender affection; and yet with a pure heart - Pure from any spot of unholy desire or inordinate passion.
Verse 23. Which liveth - Is full of divine virtue. And abideth the same for ever.
Verse 24. All flesh - Every human creature is transient and withering as grass. And all the glory of it - His wisdom, strength, wealth, righteousness. As the flower - The most short-lived part of it. The grass - That is, man. The flower -That is, his glory. Is fallen off - As it were, while we are speaking. Isaiah 40:6, &c.