1 Peter – Chapter 5 – Chapter 1591
Elders to provide an Example — Vv. 1-4
In the face of impending persecution there was the possibility of many deserting the faith, and so elders are called upon to give an example that tlie flock may follow.
"The elders which are among you I exhort" — The word "elder" can relate to age, but is applied frequently in the N.T. as a title for those who manifested maturity in the word and experience and so were appointed to oversee Ecclesias. Timothy was an elder, though he was comparatively young in years. Elders were ordained to their positions by the Apostles (Acts 14:23), who had spirit guidance in such matters. Such elders were expected to care for the Ecclesia in instruction of both doctrine and ethics. On the other hand, those appoint-pointed to attend to the business of an Ecclesia were elected by vote, as in the case of the seven brethren referred to in Acts 6:3. Apparently, a qualification of eldership was age, or at least experience, and certainly maturity, for the Apostle contrasts them with younger members in v. 4. Notice, also, that Peter "exhorts" these elders. He appeals to them, rather than commands them, as he would have the authority to do as an Apostle. This illustrates the maturity of Peter in his status as a shepherd to the flock (see our character sketch on him).
"I am also an elder"—Gr. Sum-presbuteros, "a fellow elder." Notice that Peter does not claim to be the chief elder, or pope! There had been a time when the Apostles argued among themselves as to who was the greatest ,and submitted the question to Christ (Matt. 18:1), but Peter had now by far outgrown such an immature state of mind.
"A witness"—Gr. Martus, "one who testifies unto death." The word does not always have this rigid significance, but in its literal form it does so. Christ had told Peter that he would die for the faith he espoused (John 21:19), and this use of the word by the Apostle implies that he was ready to do so.
"Of the sufferings of Christ" — Peter, indeed, was a witness of the sufferings of Christ, because in full view of them he denied his Lord, though afterwards he wept bitterly. He also apparently followed him to the place of crucifixion, with others of the Lord's "acquaintances" (Luke 23:49). Yet despite the manner in which the Lord conducted himself, Peter still doubted. However, the Resurrection completely changed the Apostles attitude, and contributed to the spiritual maturity that he subsequently manifested.
"And a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed"—See notes on Ch. 4:13. Peter kept his eyes firmly fixed upon the goal of his hope, and was confident of sharing in the glory to be then revealed. Indeed, he had received that assurance from Christ, who had told him that he would "glorify" the truth in death (John 21:19), and to do that is to be sure of receiving the glory in the future (cp. Rev. 2:10).
"Feed the flock of God"—The word means "to shepherd" the flock, and is so rendered by Roth-erham, and the noun of the verb is translated "pastors" in Eph. 4:11. Christ had exhorted Peter to do this as a manifestation of love towards him (John 21:16), and now Peter passes on the exhortation to his fellow-elders.
"Not by constraint"—If any had the ability, they should willingly assume the responsibilities that eldership entails, and not wait to be unwillingly forced to do so, nor to seek material reward for such service.
"Filthy lucre"—Gr. Aischroker-rfoi,="greed for base gain" (1 Tim. 3:3). The term, therefore, does not mean money as such, but an unwarranted greed of gain. The words of Peter should be compared with those of Paul (1 Cor. 9:11), for despite seeming conflict, there is actually perfect agreement between the two Apostles. There is a world of difference between the proper payment for services rendered, and the greed for base gain that dominates some, and causes them to make merchandise of religion.
"But of a ready mind" — The elders were called upon to labour cheerfully, and to act promptly, on the behalf of others. There is all the difference between one who does a thing because he is paid for it, and one who does it for love. As Christ had suffered to help them, they should sacrifice to help others.
"Neither as being lords over God's heritage"—Elders were not to be overbearing (see margin) in their demands. "Heritage" is Kleros, "a lot" or that which is assigned by lot; in other words, God's heritage or portion among humanity (Acts 15:14). The so-called successors of Peter have not kept his exhortation in this regard, and those who assume responsibility in ecclesial life today, need to bear it in mind.
"Ensamples to the flock"—Gr. Tupos. It signifies "type." The exhortation is that these elders should manifest an example in conduct such as would prove an inspiration in leadership to those under them. Their lives were to typify the life demanded of the flock. They were to lead and guide by practical example rather than mere words (cp. 1 Tim. 1:7; 2 Thess. 3:7-9).
"The chief Shepherd"—This is the good shepherd, even the Lord (John 10:11), and Peter and his fellow-elders were but under-shepherds. (See Ezek. 34:23; Heb. 13: 20; 1 Pet. 2:25). As chief Shepherd, the Lord had led the way through death to life, and the Apostles, as under-shepherds, were appointed to continue in the same service (see 1 Cor. 4:9).
"Appear"—Gr. Phaneroo=-"lo be publicly manifested."
"A crown"—Gr. Stephanos. This was the crown that was given to victors in contests, or the winners in games, so that figuratively it speaks of success after striving (Rev. 3:11; 2 Tim. 4:8, and see Eureka vol. i).
"That fadeth not away" — The crown given those successful in the contests were of laurel leaf, and soon faded; but the crown to be given those successful in the race of life will never fade, because it is the golden crown of eternal life.
The Flock to Submit in Humility —Vv. 5-11
The flock also has responsibilities to play its part in manifesting the will of God in action. The shepherds are there to lead, but the flock must follow; and it must learn to discriminate between the voice of a true and a false shepherd. It is the voice of the Good Shepherd that must be heeded.
"Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder"—Age and experience should be respected where the Truth is held in regard.
"All of you"—The responsibilities of the Truth reach out to every individual, for salvation is a personal, individual matter (see Rom. 12:10).
"Be subject one to another"— This is omitted by many texts, so that the R.V. reads: "All of you gird yoursejves with humility." The expression is derived from the custom of the day of tying or tucking up the long outer garments as a roll around the waist so as to work better. When humility is the girdle, work will be better performed. The expression also suggests the attitude of Israelites when eating the Passover (Exod. 12:11).
"And be clothed with humility" — The Greek word here used, occurs nowhere else in the N.T. It is egkom-boomai and signifies to engirdle oneself. According to Strong it points to the apron, as a badge of servitude, the garment commonly worn by slaves. Peter's exhortation, therefore, was that disciples should be willing to take any place, and to perform any office, however humble, in order to serve or benefit others. They are not to assume an attitude of lordship over others, nor refuse a form of service as being beneath their dignity, but cheerfully give themselves to whatever labour or duty asked of them. Peter, doubtless, recalled the incident when the Lord, in the upper room, girded himself with a towel, and humbled himself by kneeling before the Apostles, providing them with a lesson in humility (John 13).
"God resisteth the proud"—This is another quotation from the Proverbs (Ch. 3:3-4). The word "resisteth" is a military term, and Rotherham translates: "God array-eth Himself against the haughty." He thus fights against both them and their deeds, and in bearing this in mind, Christ's brethren can remind themselves of the great Power that is on their side.
"Giveth grace unto the humble" — Yahweh's favour is extended to those who humble themselves in service. The passage is from Prov. 3:34. Humility is an act of grace, and shall be rewarded by grace from on high. See notes on James 4:6 where the passage is also quoted.
"Humble yourselves therefore"— This is in the passive voice: "allow yourselves to be humbled." Peter might well be referring to his own past experience, namely, the heart-searching discourse with the Lord, recorded in John Ch. 21. There he was tested by the Lord as to his humility, and after conceding his limitations he was exalted by Christ, and declared worthy of "feeding the flock" in the absence of his Master.
"Under the mighty hand of God" — Seeing that God resisteth the proud (v. 5), and recognising His omnipotence, how wise it is to humbly submit to whatever trials may come upon one; to act the part of a slave, if necessary, realising that if it is done in faith it is pleasing to God Who is able and willing to reward and elevate those who do His will.
"That He may exalt you in due time" — This exhortation demands that disciples also recognise the wisdom of Yahweh, and in view of such knowledge, await His time to exalt them. They may be partially elevated now, but they certainly will be completely so at the coming of the Lord. Then acts of humility motivated by faith and love will be recognised for their true worth.
"Casting care upon Him"—True humility will recognise the need of God, and the weakness of flesh to conquer all the problems of life that face one. Peter's exhortation was particularly needful then in view of the impending persecution about to be initiated against Christians by Nero.
"He careth for you"—How wonderful to realise that God does this, and that He overlooks our lives with a desire to help! His thoughts towards us are for good and not evil, as He Himself has stated (Jer. 29:11).
"Be sober" — Gr. Sophroneo, which signifies "to mentally control oneself." We should not be guided by fleshly emotions, but by the Word of God.
"Be vigilant" — "Keep awake, keep on your guard, do not sleep." This word Jesus had used when speaking to Peter, James and John on the night he was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. There they had failed (Matt. 26:38.40.41).
"Your adversary"—Gr. Antidikos signifies an opponent at law. There were many prepared to hail Christians before the courts, even as Paul had done before conversion. With the hardening attitude of Rome towards Christians the danger was about to grow.
"The devil"—The adversary, the false accuser. Like Christ before the Jewish authorities, many Christians were hailed before the courts and falsely accused of crimes they never committed. Nero himself made false accusations against Christians and ordered their deaths.
"As a roaring lion"—The adversary is likened to a hungry, ferocious beast, seeking prey (see 2 Tim. 4:17; Ps. 22:12-13.21).
"Walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" — The figure is that of a hungry, roaring lion stalking his prey. It is an apt illustration of the ferocity of Rome against the Christians in the days of Nero, and of the Roman Catholic Church in its persecuting fervour during the fulness of its power.
"Whom resist steadfast" — Gr. Stereos = "inflexible, hard, firm, solid, immovable"—like the closed up ranks of defensive infantry, cooperating one with the other, and with determined countenance facing the enemy (see 2 Tim. 2:3).
"In the faith" — It is faith that will win the victory in such circumstances, because faith sees beyond this life to that which is to be revealed. See notes 1 John 5:4.
"The same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world"—These brethren in the world were the Jews who were likewise subject to persecution, particularly after A.D. 70, but who had not the advantage' of the defence of faith (Rom. 9:3, same word).
"But the God of all grace" — This is. the same God as is described as "Mighty" in v. 6, and Who is capable of resisting the proud, and giving grace to the humble (v. 5). He is the God of "all grace" for "every good and perfect gift" cometh from Him (James 1:17). Among the gifts He can grant is the strength to rise above every problem, every difficulty. This Paul learned when he was taught that the divine grace is all-sufficient for every need, so that His strength "is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:7-9). The greatest gift of grace, of course, will be the bestowal of life eternal in the age to come.
"Who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus"—In these words Peter underlines the difference between Jews "in the world" (V. 9), and the believing "strangers" (Ch. 1:1) to whom he was writing. Both were subjected to persecution, and both had to endure it. But the one group had faith on their side, and the assurance that they were suffering for a worthy cause and a glorious calling. This strengthened them to endure all things, and enabled them to view their trials in faith, knowing that God would not desert them. That had been Peter's own experience (see Luke 22:31-32). So, out of the depths of his own personal knowledge the Apostle exhorted his brethren that God would perfect them, removing all defects; that He would strengthen them, so that they would be enabled to overcome every adverse force. This would be the result if they met their impending sufferings in the manner suggested in the earlier verses.
"After ye have suffered a while" — Christ warned Peter that a measure of suffering and endurance is needful to perfect a character for the Kingdom (see Matt. 16:21-28). Christ first suffered and then "entered into his glory". Suffering can take various forms, and is not limited to physical persecution. A person may suffer mentally or in other ways, but it is of comparatively short duration in contrast to life eternal. Paul wrote of "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, and worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:15-18). He called upon disciples to arm themselves with that knowledge, and "look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal".
"Make you perfect"—Gr. Katar-tizo—"to make fully ready, put in full order, thoroughly equip" (cp. Luke 6:40). The word is used of James and John "mending" their nets and making them ready for service (Mark 1:19). Trials and suffering, if met in faith, and viewed properly, can help equip believers for proper service in the Age to come (cp. Heb. 5:2).
"Stablish, strengthen, settle you" — The first word signifies to set fast; to fix firmly; to render immovable (Luke 16:26; 9:51; 22:32). The second word denotes to provide sufficient spiritual strength to successfully bear anything one is called upon to endure. The third word is omitted by many texts, but relates to one being established on an immovable foundation (see Matt. 7:24).
"To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever" — This verse is expressive of the proclamation of the angels at the birth of the Lord: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14). See also the Lord's prayer (Matt. 6:13), and the following places (Jude 25; Rev. 1:6; 5:13). The word "ever" is in the plural, "the ages". Long epochs, such as the Millennium, are divided up into smaller ages, so the use of the plural includes them all.
"Amen" — See note on Ch. 4:11.
Final Words (Vv. 12-14)
The "Amen" (So be it!) brings the main portion of the Epistle to an end. A few words of personal greeting remain to be uttered, and a final plea for unity, love and fellowship.
Greetings from Babylon —Vv. 12-14
Peter gathers his co-laborers about him, and sends forth his final words of encouragement and hope from the city that was the symbol of fleshly power, even Babylon.
"By Silvanus"—Silvanus is also known as Silas, and his name signifies "Lover of words." He was a distinguished member of the Ecclesia at Jerusalem, and was sent with Paul to communicate the decision of the council held at that city to the Christians at Antioch (Acts 15:22.27.32). When Paul declined to take John Mark with him on the second missionary journey, and parted from Barnabas, he chose Silas as his companion (V. 40). Silas gave him faithful, consistent support. The two were imprisoned together at Philippi (Acts 16:19.25.29), but joining together in prayers and praises in the prison-cell, they converted the jailer of the prison. Silas was with Paul also during the riot at Thessalonica (Acts 17:4), and afterwards with him at Berea, there remaining with Timothy after the Apostle had been forced to depart, (V. 14). Timothy and Silas, were then directed to follow Paul to Athens, though it does not seem as though they came up with the Apostle till after his arrival at Corinth (Acts 18:5). In this city, Silas was noted as an esteemed co-laborer (2 Cor. 1:19), and is mentioned by Paul in his epistles to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 2:1). Though he is invariably named Silas in the Acts, he is given his full name of Silvanus in the Epistles. At the time of the writing of Peter's Epistle, he had evidently become associated with the Apostle and was made the bearer of this first letter.
"A faithful brother"—Gr. "the" faithful brother. The brother well known for his faith.
"As I suppose"—Gr. Egizomai ="reckon," "esteem." Rotherham renders: "As I account him." There was no doubt in Peter's mind as to the qualifications of Silyanus.
"I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying" — Though the Epistle is short, it is profound. It expresses ideas with the minimum of words. The Apostle's purpose was not to write a lengthy treatise, but to comfort, or exhort believers as the word can signify. The word "testifying" signifies to bear witness.
Peter accomplished his purpose in sending this Epistle to confirm the brethren in the faith so that they might be fortified against the problems and persecutions that are incidental to a walk in Christ; and particularly in view of the "fiery trial" which was to try them.
"This is the true grace of God wherein ye stand"—In view of the prevailing trials and tribulations, and the impending heavier ones to come, some may have doubted that God was with the believers, or Christianity as such, or that they stood in a position of favor with Him; and so Peter wrote to give them comfort and assurance in this matter.
"The church that is at Babylon" —The words in italics should be omitted, and the phrase read, as per Rotherham: "She at Babylon ..." The "she" constituted the ecclesia, portion of the bride of Christ. She was "elected" or "selected," as the word signifies. The Babylon in question comprised the ancient city, which still partially remained, and included a large community of Jews. It is sometimes thought that Peter was at Rome, and was using the term Babylon to define Rome, in a similar way in which it is used in the Apocalypse, but there does not seem any warrant for such an interpretation, nor any need for Peter to use Babylon as a synonym for Rome. If he had so used it, surely he would have included some indication of its mystical use and significance as is done in the Apocalypse (Rev. 17:18). When Peter wrote, Paganism was still triumphant in the capital, and the term Babylon as indicating an apostate religious system did not apply. These and other reasons suggest that he wrote from the site of the ancient city, and that there had been an Ecclesia established there.
"Saluteth you" — The word expresses a graceful acknowledgement from a sister Ecclesia, in paying its respects to another.
"Marcus my son"—The word "Mark" signifies "a large hammer," but the word John that is appended thereto, signifies "Yah has been gracious." Mark was probably a convert of Peter, and is thus described by him as "my son" (see Paul's similar use of the phrase in regard to Timothy: "my son in the faith"—1 Tim. 1:2). He is thought to have been the young man referred to in Mark 14:51-52, and it is considered that he wrote this Gospel account at the instigation of Peter, who declared his purpose of arranging to put on record an account of Christ's life (2 Pet. 1:15). Mark's mother was in comfortable circumstances, and her house was a meeting place for the disciples (Acts 12:12-17). Mark was related to Barnabas (Col. 4:10), and accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 12:25), and afterwards on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). But the rigors of the work proved too much for Mark at the time, and at Perga he deserted his companions and returned home (v. 13). This earned for him the severe disapproval of Paul who refused to have him as a companion on the next projected journey, despite the pleadings of Barnabas (Acts 15:38). So sharp was the interchange between the two brethren that they parted: Paul leaving with Silas, and Barnabas with Mark.
But Mark was evidently a young man of courage, who had sufficient faith and determination to surmount his early failure. He applied himself to the work of the Truth so conscientiously as to soon vindicate himself in the eyes of Paul. He associated himself with Paul when the latter was imprisoned in Rome, and gave him great assistance (Phil. 24). Paul makes a special mention of him as being among the few who, at that time, were "a comfort unto" him (Col. 4:10-11). As Paul's ministry neared its end, he came to more greatly esteem Mark, so that to Timothy he wrote: "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry" (2 Tim. 4:11). This statement indicates the extent to which Mark had risen above his earlier weakness, and the degree to which he had vindicated himself in the eyes of the great Apostle. It is obvious, from the comments of the verse before us, that he was also very closely associated with Peter in his labors. At the time the Epistle was written he was resident in Babylon.
"Greet ye one another" — Peter would have disciples develop the warmth of fellowship one with the other particularly in view of the growing hostility to the Truth, and the fierce persecution about to be unleashed against the brethren.
"A kiss of charity"—The kiss was the normal form of greeting in Apostolic days, and a "kiss of charity" signified that more than a mere formal, conventional greeting is required. Conventional greetings can very often hide hidden animosity or antagonism, but "a kiss of charity" expressed a genuine warmth of regard for one another, a mutual consideration generated by a mutual intellectual understanding of the principles and precepts of Christ. The very opposite of the "kiss of charity" was the kiss of deception and betrayal by which Judas greeted Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and of which Peter had been an indignant witness!
"Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus"—Such peace implies fellowship, for to "be at peace" is to be at one. This is the peace that Christ left with his Apostles (John 14:27), and which, through their words, reaches down to us (John 17:20-21).
"Amen"—This word is transliterated from Hebrew into both Greek and Hebrew (Vine), and expresses the certainty by which a certain thing shall be done. In the mouth of God it signifies "it is and shall be so," and by men, "so let it be." Yahweh is styled the "God of truth (Amen)" in Isa. 65: 16, implying the faithfulness and certainty by which all He promises and predicts shall be fulfilled. However, the word "Amen" in the verse before us is omitted by the Diaglott.
The Foundation of the World
In 1 Peter 1:20, the Apostle declares that Christ was "foreordained before the foundation of the world." This statement has not been defined in the verse-by-verse notes, as it requires more detailed exposition than it was possible to give in our brief comments.
What is meant by the phrase "the foundation of the world?"
It is normally suggested that Peter refers here to the establishment of the material world upon which we live. However, the Greek word kosmos, here rendered "world," signifies primarily "the order or arrangement of things," and denotes, apart from few exceptions, the political, religious or social order of things relating to particular epochs of time. For example, the Mosaic world was that system of things introduced by the Law of Moses, whilst the Gentile world is that arrangement of things established by the "powers that be," the rulers of this present kosmos which shall soon be overthrown.
In the beginning God had established a Divine order, or arrangement, in which, according to Genesis 1 and 2, He had pronounced that man and woman should have dominion over the lower creation (1:26). He had provided them with all things needful for life (v.29), had placed them in the Garden of Delight (Ch. 2:8), had instituted marriage (Ch. 2:23-25), and had subjected them to law (Vv. 16-17).
In that garden there was complete harmony, and Adam and Eve, walking in the light of the Divine revelation, had fellowship with God through the angels who conversed with them. The obvious objective (in the light of Isaiah 45:18 and Num. 14:21. etc.) was that ultimately they should attain unto Divine nature by continued obedience. However, sin intervened, to destroy the original harmony, and to require a new system of things to replace the first that had been overthrown.
Therefore, in Elpis Israel, Brother Thomas uses the term "foundation of the world" in such a way as to indicate that it referred to the new order of things that was introduced by God when sin and death had entered (pp. 122).
This new arrangement, or kosnws, involved a changed status for man and woman, effected the condition of the lower creation, the state of the earth, the mortality to which man was now made subject, and so forth.
Does, then, the phrase "foundation of the world" as used by Peter, and many others of the N.T. writers, refer to that new order of things instituted by God according to Genesis Chapter 3?
To answer that question, it is necessary to consider the literal meaning of the word "foundation." We note two altogether different Greek words occur in the New Testament, both of which have been translated "foundation."
1. Themelios — "belonging to a foundation,"used in such references as Luke 6:48-49; Luke 14:29; Heb. 11:10.
2. Katahole — which in its literal meaning does not signify a foundation at all, but a "casting down" (Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Moulton & Milligan, Vocabulary of the New Testament, shows that the frequent use of Katabole in the normal Greek papyri was that of a payment made, or money thrown down in payment. This is the word contained in the phrase "foundation of the Kosmos" and found in such places as: Matt. 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; John 17:24; Eph. 1:4; Heb. 4:3; 9:26; 11:11 (conceive); 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8; 17:8.
The verb kataballo is used for payment of taxes, payment of debts due, and also of a woman "stricken" with sickness.
In the New Testament, the verb occurs three times and is rendered as follows: 2 Cor. 4:9: "cast down"; Rev. 12:10: "cast down"; Heb. 6:1: "laying again". The first two references relate to a casting down, an overthrow, and are very appropriate, for the verb is compounded of kata, "down", and ballo, "to hurl, or cast".
As the Companion Bible suggests, consistency demands that the same idea should be incorporated in the translation of Hebrew 6:1, in which case we would read: "... not casting down again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God" (the word "foundation" here is our first word above, themelios). This rendition is appropriate to the background of Hebrews 6:1, for the Apostle was writing to those who had virtually "cast down" or "overthrown" the foundation already laid, and he was writing to them to restore them to the faith, and now appeals to them to not "cast down again" the foundation laid, but to go on unto perfection.
Granted this meaning of the verb kataballo (and this cannot be disputed), what of the noun katabole, found consistently in the phrase: "the foundation of the kosmos"? It is acknowledged (see Vine), that its meaning is "a casting down," but it is claimed that it is never so used in Scripture, and is accordingly rendered metaphorically as "the foundation" of the world. But if that were the meaning to be conveyed, why did not the New Testament writers use the obvious word thelemiosl There seems no reason why they should not have done so, if they wanted really to express the idea of a foundation being laid. But, did they want to express that idea? An investigation of all Ihe passages where the word katabole occurs suggests that the spirit of God in the writers speaks of a casting down of the kosmos. This occurred when sin entered the world, and the original "very good" state of creation was changed. At this point, the promise of redemption through the conquest of sin was made, and sacrifice was introduced as a means thereto. Such were the changed circumstances brought about by the "casting down" of the Divine order that had existed in the beginning. What did that Divine order involve?
God had intended man to "have dominion" over all His creation: this was promised to both "male and female" when they were formed (Gen. 1:27-28). Thus the conclusion of the sixth day saw man formed in the "image" of the Elohim; woman made in the glory of man (Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:7); a perfect marriage instituted (Gen. 2:23-24) and the proclamation of man's dominion over all God's creation on earth with the invitation to fill it with fruit (Gen. 1:28).
A pattern with great spiritual significance had been laid. Adam typified Christ, Eve typified the Ecclesia, the marriage related to the coming union (Rev. 19:8), and the dominion given to their coming rule (Rev. 5:9-10).
Sin brought disharmony in Eden, and made obvious that what was originally intended, would now only be attained by war and conquest. David revealed this when he quoted the words of Genesis 1:26-28 as expressive of ihe future intentions of Yahweh, and saw a typical fulfilment of them in his victory over Goliath (Psalm 8:5-8). Paul says that this has now been partially fulfilled in Christ (Heb. 2:6-10), that many other sons might be brought to glory. In anticipation of this victory, the Lord could tell his Apostles, though facing betrayal and shameful death, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). And again, in his prayer to the Father: "Thou hast given him (the Son) power (dominion) over all flesh..." (John 17:2). "All flesh" is a Hebraism denoting all of the lower creation (Gen. 6:19; 7:15.16.21 etc.) and Chrisi's use of this statement in this intercessory prayer indicates the means whereby the promise of Genesis 1:26.28 could alone be fulfilled; by his conquest of those forces of sin and death that were adverse to the purpose of God. Thus Peter was able to write:
"Jesus Christ... is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels, and authorities and powers being made subject unto him" (1 Pet 3:22).
The two references alluded to here (Psalm 8:4-6; Psalm 110) both show Christ as Son of Man gaining the victory over the enemy.
The Divine order (kosmos) was overthrown by sin in the beginning, but is to be restored by the Lord Jesus. Thus the term "foundation of the world," seems to signify the overthrow of the harmony set before man at the epoch of Creation.
With this in mind, see how the references where this phrase occurs, fit into the picture thus presented:
Matthew 13:35: "I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."
Not things kept secret since the creation of the literal world, but concealed things that were brought into being as the result of the overthrow of the original harmony that existed in Eden. (The word "from" is the preposition apo, and signifies something that develops from out of that with which it is associated.)
Matthew 25:34: "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
An implication of the special preparations entailed in establishing the kingdom (the dominion promised in Gen. 1:26.28) because of the overthrow of the unity that had existed in the beginning between God and man.
Luke 11:50: "The blood of prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world."
A particular reminder of the murder of Abel as first victim of the enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, in consequence of the overthrow of the original order.
John 17:24: "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
In this statement the preposition is pro, and signifies "before" in the sense of time. It shows that Christ was in the mind of the Father before the overthrow of the harmony that took place as recorded in Genesis 3. Evidence of this is seen by the provision of Christ as the seed of the woman, in the declaration of Genesis 3:15. The "foundation of the world" does not relate to physical creation.
Ephesians 1:4: "He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." See comments on John 17:24 above. The term "seed of the woman" refers not only to Christ, but embraces all "in him."
Hebrews 4:3: "The works were finished from the foundation of the world." In this statement the word "finished" (Gr. xinomai) signifies "to cause to exist," "to bring into being." The "works" of God include His provision for the true rest of His creation through the blood of the Lamb, and these were "brought into being" from out of the overthrow of the original harmony, caused by sin, and are revealed in the provisions implied in the promise in Gen. 3:15, and the sacrifice of the animal by which the coverings for Adam and Eve were provided.
Hebrews 9:26: "He must often have suffered since the foundation of the world." This obviously means that he must often have suffered since the overthrow of the original harmony, for there was no need for sacrifice before the introduction of sin. The word "since" is the preposition apo, indicating something that has developed out of the circumstances indicated.
Hebrews 11:11: "Sara received strength to conceive seed." In this statement, the word "conceive" is a translation of kalabolcn, and the Diaglott renders it as "a laying down of seed." This is the only place where the noun is not associated with the word kosmos in the New Testament, and can be explained as "received strength as regards the deposition of seed," the throwing down, or depositing of the male seed in the womb.
1 Peter 1:20: "Foreordained before the foundation of the world." The word "before" is pro, and the same explanation applies here as in John 17:24 above.
Revelation 13:8: "The book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
At the time of the overthrow of the original order of things the record of the book of Life was commenced on behalf of those who would gain conquest over sin and death through faith in the sacrifice of the "Lamb slain." The word "from" is the preposition apo concerning which see notes above.
Revelation 17:8: "Whose names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world."
Here, see again the comments on Revelation 13:8. Every time the phrase "the foundation of the world," or rather "the casting down of the kosmos" is used, or read, it is to bring to mind the disruption of the original harmony between God and man, caused by sin. The term thus indicates the extent of the disruption caused, and the use of the phrase, particularly in the light of the significance of the prepositions apo and pro indicates how Yahweh immediately moved to counter its effects, and to eventually restore the unity that existed at the first. Peter, in the statement under consideration, thus shows that what was foreordained had been made manifest at the appointed time, in the victory that the Son of Man had gained in his conquest of sin and death.
Brother Thomas has beautifully commented:
"Men were not ushered into being for the purpose of being saved or lost! GOD MANIFESTATION not human salvation was the great purpose of the Eternal Spirit. The salvation of the multitude is incidental to the manifestation, but was not the end proposed. The Eternal Spirit intended to enthrone Himself on the earth, and in so doing to develop a divine family from among men, every one of whom shall be Spirit, because born of the Spirit, and that this family shall be large enough to fill the earth, when perfected, to the entire exclusion of flesh and blood."
This concludes Peter's first epistle, a document expressing the Truth in precept and practice, and illustrating the transforming power of Christ's teaching and example to change and mould a life to the glory of Yahweh.
As sheep we should follow the wise direction of our Ecclesial elders
HP Mansfield – 1 Peter
John Thomas – Elphis Israel
Vine – Bible dictionary
What is the foundation of the world?
Why is it essential that we choose our Ecclesial elders well?
Who is the head of an Ecclesia?