1 Peter 1:10-12, “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”
I remember these verses in 1 Peter as ones that were discussed in theology classes regarding angels, prophets, progressive revelation, etc. Indeed, there are some intriguing thoughts and ideas brought up here concerning realms for which we don’t have all the answers. For the curious mind, there is much that can occupy the theological study. While there is a purpose for that, if we get too caught up in the details and the intrigue, we will miss the simple message that Peter gives in conclusion to this first part of his letter, which is we live in a position of privilege. From the perspective of the prophets before and the angels above, we are given this great privilege of knowing the whole truth of the joy of salvation, to be experienced in part now and in full at the end of time.
The prophets knew about it but did not know the time. Peter tells us that the prophets prophesied about the grace that was to come, but searched and tried to find the time or person who it was going to be. They had some information, but it was limited. They spoke by faith in God that there would be a fulfillment of this prophecy at some point, but they were not informed of when that would be. We who have been given grace by God know that Jesus has come, that Jesus’ substitutionary death and resurrection has paid the price for sin and made way for us to have eternal life in fulfillment of the prophets. What a privilege we have to be called the children of God, to know and believe what the prophets could only inquire and prophesy about.
While the time or person of this salvation was not told to the prophets, what was told them was that they were serving a future generation. They did not know who the “you” was other than it was a future people of God, chosen by God to be part of God’s family. It is an interesting thought to consider as we read through the Old Testament that these things were written for us. Paul says that as clearly as possible when he writes in 1 Corinthians 10 that “these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” (1 Cor. 10:6). Later in the same chapter, he writes that these examples were written down for our instruction. The prophets prophesied for us. The writers of Scripture wrote for us. We who are reading and we who have believed are in a wonderful position of privilege.
We are also in a position of privilege because God prepared and sent preachers to bring us the good news of Jesus Christ. While the prophets spoke of a future day, the apostles like Peter spoke of an event that happened in fulfillment of all those prophecies. Paul writes in Romans 10 that preachers are sent with the good news, and asks the question of how people would believe if they had not been sent with the good news. We, who know Jesus, are in the privileged position of having this gospel proclaimed to us. The prophets prophesied about it; the apostles saw it, but we get to enjoy the fruits of all of their work.
Finally, we are in a position of privilege because we have been given privileged information. The last phrase of this section references that the angels long to look into these things. While this verse does shed some light on the limitations of angels, the greater point is that we have something special. The imagery of this verse reminds me of the crowd that gathers to get a look at the famous person passing by. There was a recent royal wedding that was televised around the world. As the cars with various royal persons passed by, those who lined the streets waved with great joy. For those of us watching on television, we were treated to cameras trying to get a glimpse of who was in the car. The person in the car, due to the royal connections, was someone special. The rest of us could only seek to look inside and get a glimpse. For those who are followers of Jesus, we have been invited into the car, and the angels are on the outside trying to get that glimpse. Now, we are not anything special, but this great salvation of which Peter writes, of which the prophets prophesied and the apostles preached is such a treasure that even angels are longing to see.
Putting this whole first twelve verses together, we are chosen people of God, born again to a living hope, enduring difficult times, yet full of joy because of the anticipation of our eternal home with God. What a privilege we have to live in a time when the good news has happened and has been revealed to people like us! Scott McKnight writes in his commentary on 1 Peter:
“This is the great privilege of the church age: the enjoyment of the inauguration of God’s salvation in Christ. It is so great that even the angels are looking down to gain a view, like wedding attendees attempting to steal a glance at the bride before her appearance.” (NIV Application commentary on 1 Peter, Kindle loc. 1299)