Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages 1 Peter

1 Peter 1:3 - What does it mean?

Postby Human » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:36 pm

What does the Bible mean in 1 Peter 1:3 when it says we are born again to “a living hope”?

As I spend this week meditating on the Resurrection I keep coming back to this verse and wonder what exactly Peter means by the phrase living hope. I have a few ideas, but I would love to hear your take on it. Blessings brothers and sisters in Christ.
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Re: 1 Peter 1:3 - What does it mean?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:50 pm

"New birth" is the word ἀναγεννήσας (anagennesas). You probably recognize the "gennesas" part (genesis) as "beginning." It often refers to the beginning of life, or being born. "Becoming a person." The *ana* prefix connotes "again." It's a new life that Peter is talking about, a regeneration. We a person comes to Christ, he or she is reborn (John 3.1-15)—you get to start over, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5.17). The Holy Spirit comes into you, and you are made alive in Jesus (Romans 6.11; 8.1-4).

The theme of new birth is common in in 1 peter (1.3, 14, 17, 22-23; 2.2, 17; 4.17; 5.9) and implies new creation, different nature, a fresh start, under new management and under different rules. We blew the first birth to the point where it wasn’t just a matter of having to be fixed, but of having to be replaced. New birth also connotes a different family, and therefore a different relational network, a different group of belonging, and new obligations.

Unfortunately, “born again” has become a catch-phrase, and in the minds of some it symbolizes a certain understanding or “sect” of Christianity, which is most unfortunate. It's a biblical concept, straight from the mouth of Jesus, almost in the form of a parable, that helps us understand new life in Christ and adoption into God's family. In that sense, it's quite impossible to “follow Christ” and yet not be “born again.” If any person is in Christ, he or she is a new creation.

The "living hope" is Christ's resurrection life. God 's life is alive in us because of Jesus's resurrection and the indwelling Holy Spirit. It's not a metaphor, but a reality. It's not just optimism. Jesus's resurrection guarantees the reality of our spiritual life now and eternal life to come. It is a contrast to the culture of death, pessimism, and despair. It's the qualification and consummation of where the new birth takes us—to a living hope. In the NT hope often relates to salvation and of Christ in whom it is found. It is Christ’s redemption of us that makes us alive, regenerates us (new birth), and orients our life in a completely new direction with new and true values as well as purpose, all embedded in a meaningful love relationship. That’s hope.

In the Bible hope is not just wishful thinking or a bright optimism. Paul uses the term to refer to confidence and certainty about the things we've been taught, and therefore believe. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, meaning He is the foundation of all we believe, and we know by evidence that He lived, died, and rose again. Therefore we can be confident and certain that our sins are forgiven, that Jesus was who He said He was, and the relationship with Him is real, and there is life after death with Him. This is our "hope". It's what we know. "Hope" has to do with the object of our faith (Jesus and his death and resurrection), the content of our faith (the Holy Spirit in us and the reality of new life), the means of our faith (salvation by faith through the blood of Christ), and the goal of our faith (eternity with Jesus and our ultimate deliverance from this world).

Our hope gives us the ability to look beyond our circumstances that otherwise appear hopeless. Hope is what we know to be true, what we know is our past life-change, our present situation as saved and filled, and our confidence that the future holds exactly what we've been promised.
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