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1 Peter 1:17-21

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.

Verse 17 reminds us that our new life in Christ makes us ‘foreigners’ in every society. It recalls Peter’s comments in 1:1, and brings to mind the exile of the children of Israel in Babylon and Egypt; just as Israel had no permanent home there, we are reminded that that is out lot here.

We are, he reminds us ransomed (see Exodus 6:6, and many other mentions), but not by gold or silver. Slaves, or captives, need ransoming; what were we enslaved to? From our ancestors we received not, as was common in the ancient world, a way of life to be treasured and preserved, but one which was ‘futile’ in so far as it led to nothing but death and extinction.

Our ransom was not of the marketplace, but of the Temple. Exodus 12:5 tells us that at the Passover the people of Israel were commanded to sacrifice a lamb without blemish and to put the blood on the door posts and lintels to turn away the Angel of Death. Peter clearly has this sacrifice in mind here. In 1 Cor. 5:7 St. Paul refers to Christ as our ‘Pascal lamb’. There is a reference here in both to Isaiah 53: 7, 10.

We are sometimes told by ‘modernists’ that references to Christ as anything more than a man are ‘late’ inventions, but here, in a letter by the Apostle Peter himself, we have proof to the contrary. In Acts 2:23 Peter refers to Christ being ‘delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God’, and we get the same comment here. The manifestation of the Incarnate Word marks what St. Paul called ‘the end of the ages’ (1 Cor. 10:11). By ‘glory’ Peter refers to the glorious state of His Risen Body and His exalted position at the right hand of the Father (Acts 3:13; Phil. 2:9-11; 3:21).

This makes a nonsense of any attempts to say that Jesus was ‘just a man’ and that His divinity was a late invention. Here the Prince of the Apostles himself tells us that our faith in not in a human teacher, but in one whom God raised from the dead and seated at His right hand. Our faith and our hope are firmly anchored in God. The redemptive work He began through His people Israel, He continues through His Son.

It seems, at least to me, that the more one reads and studies Peter’s words, the more they seem the very epitome of the Christian message.

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