27 December 2022

Day of Visitation


Peter exhorts Christians to persevere in trials and live holy lives in the knowledge of the coming day of visitation

Peter writes to Christians under pressure to conform to the expectations of the surrounding society. Their situation is not unique - they were members of a worldwide suffering community.

A key theme of his first letter is the necessity to remain steadfast in tribulations and persecution until the “day of visitation” when Jesus is “revealed.”

His reference to the “revelation” of Jesus is intended to encourage believers who are being marginalized by a hostile society, reminding them of the rewards that the faithful will receive on that day.

Peter begins by applying language from Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness to his largely Gentile audience. They are the “elect sojourners of the diaspora” alienated from the rest of society, “resident aliens” on their way to the New Promised Land.

INHERITANCE


But the church is not without hope, for it will receive the promised “incorruptible inheritance” when Jesus is “revealed” at the end of the age:

  • (1 Peter 1:3-6) – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who  according to his great mercy has regenerated us for a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead, for an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, reserved in the heavens for you, who, in God’s power, are being guarded through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last season, wherein you exult, though for a little, just now, if needful, put to grief in manifold temptations.”

The “inheritance” was bequeathed to the church through “the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Peter anchors all that disciples will receive in the future in the past death and resurrection of Jesus.

His readers have not yet received their full salvation, and they remain subject to trials and persecution. Nevertheless, their final reward is assured. It is waiting for them, “reserved in the heavens,” to be “revealed” at the proper “season” when Jesus is “revealed” – (Compare - Colossians 3:3-4).

The Greek term rendered “revealed” in the English translation represents the verb apokaluptō, meaning “uncover, unveil, reveal.” It is related to the noun apokalupsis which is used for “revelation” in the New Testament.

Here, the verb indicates that the promised rewards are currently hidden and waiting in heaven until they are revealed when Jesus arrives in glory.

PROOF OF YOUR FAITH


  • (1 Peter 1:6-9) – Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now, for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes, though it is proved by fire, may be found for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ… and receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

For the present, followers of Jesus find themselves enduring trials that test their faith. Suffering is not an aberration but an integral part of what it means to be his disciple. Trials prepare and purify them so they may be found in holiness at the “revelation of Jesus Christ.”

And his “revelation” is linked to the “salvation” which is received on the “last” day. Considering this hope, his disciples must remain sober and direct their hope to the grace that is “being borne along to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ…and become holy in all manner of behavior.”

Thus, the faith taught by Peter is very much forward-looking. It remains fixed on that future day when the Lord of Glory will appear “on the clouds” to gather his “elect.”

  • (1 Peter 1:13-16) – “Wherefore, girding up the loins of your mind, keeping sober, perseveringly direct your hope unto the grace that is being borne along to you at the revealing of Jesus Christ. As obedient persons, not configuring yourselves unto your former lusts in your ignorance, but according as he that has called you is holy, do you yourselves also become holy in all manner of behavior, just as it is written: Holy shall you be, because I am holy.”

Once again, Peter stresses the future aspect of salvation. It is received in all its fullness at the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, believers must live soberly and persevere through all trials.

Holiness is not optional. This does not mean we are not “saved” at the time of our conversion, but it does mean that our full salvation will be received in the future.

PILGRIM PEOPLE


  • (1 Peter 2:11-12) – “Beloved! I exhort you as sojourners and pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts, such as take the field against the soul; Having your conduct among the nations honorable, in order that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, owing to the honorable deeds they are permitted to behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

His disciples are “sojourners and pilgrims” who no longer belong to the present age. By living holy lives, their pagan neighbors may glorify God “on the day of visitation.”

In this context, the “day of visitation” is identical to the day of Christ’s “revelation.” The fact that pagans will “glorify God” at that time means that both believers and unbelievers will be present when Jesus is “revealed” from heaven.

The Greek term translated as “visitation” is episkopos. It is used elsewhere in the New Testament for “overseer” or “bishop,” and it is related to the verb episkeptomai, meaning “examine, investigate, oversee, visit.” The change in terms from “revelation” to “visitation” adds the aspect of judgment to this future event.

Between now and then, disciples will endure persecution because they are “Christians.” But they should not be ashamed, and instead, they ought to “glorify God in this nameit is the season for the judgment to begin with the house of God” – (1 Peter 4:12-17).

The judgment that “begins with the house of God” is a foretaste of the judgment that will occur “on the day of visitation.” Christians undergo examination now to purify them from sin.

But if judgment begins with the house of God, “what shall be the end of them who yield not to the gospel of God?” Presumably, the fate of the wicked will not be pleasant.

  • (1 Peter 5:1-4) – “Elders, therefore, among you I exhort, I who am their co-elder and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, who also in the glory about to be revealed have a share. Shepherd the beloved flock of God, which is among you, not by compulsion but by choice, nor yet for base gain but of a ready mind, nor yet as lording it over the allotted portions, but becoming ensamples to the beloved flock. And when the Chief Shepherd is manifested, you shall bear away the unfading crown of glory.”

In the meantime, elders must “shepherd” God’s flock while considering the “glory about to be revealed” in which they will have a share. Those who do so will receive an “unfading crown of glory.”

Peter now refers to the day when Jesus will be “manifested,” and in this context, “manifested” must refer to the same event as “revealed” and “day of visitation.”

Peter does not delve into the finer details about the return of Jesus or the events that will precede it. His purpose is to encourage Christians to persevere in trials and live holy lives in the knowledge of Christ’s impending “revelation.”

His “visitation” will mean rewards for the faithful and condemnation for the wicked.  Final salvation and judgment will occur at the same time when he is “revealed from heaven” on the “day of visitation.”



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