Recently, I finished reading a children’s biography of Marie Antoinette with my daughter. I owe nothing to the French queen, and yet, by the time we’d reached the last page, we were sufficiently interested in her to study the timeline together. Suppose we came across a timeline of something that had radically transformed our life, past, present, and future. Wouldn’t we be willing to study it closely together?
The Apostle Peter has spent the first nine verses of his letter telling us about our salvation. In 1:10-12 he continues the same topic, but uses a new word: grace. This little paragraph reads like a selective timeline of God’s unmerited favor. Peter knew that for Christians going through a rough patch in life, there’s nothing like poring over the major events in the timeline of God’s grace.
Grace Was Planned (1:10)
It’s a timeline that begins even before time itself. When Peter writes of “the grace that was to be yours” (1:10), he literally says “the for you grace,” that is, the grace meant for you. The things that have now been freely given us by God – things that no eye had seen, ear heard, or heart imagined – were prepared, planned, and decreed “before the ages for our glory” (1Co 2:6-13). Grace was so securely headed our way that Paul can say God gave it to us “in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2Ti 1:9; cf. Titus 1:2). When your todays are tough, God wants you to go back to a time before there was time and know that all of heaven’s storehouses of grace were bulging for you.
Prophesied in the OT Era (1:11)
Next on the timeline, this grace was prophesied by the prophets. The source of their prophesying comes as no surprise: they prophesied by the power of the Holy Spirit. How else could they know what was to take place centuries later but by the Spirit who knows all “the deep things of God” (1Co 2:10 KJV)?
It’s what the Spirit gave them to prophesy that’s shocking: “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1Pe 1:11). Notice the parallel Peter has created: the prophets prophesied “the for you grace” and the Spirit predicted “the for Christ sufferings.”
At the heart of the grace planned for us were the sufferings planned for our Messiah. Like sheep we have gone astray. We have turned from our Creator to our own way. We have rebelled against His authority and have incurred His wrath and judgment.
But grace had planned for this! A Lamb was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1:20). God’s only begotten Son would bear “our sins in his body on the tree” (2:24); the Christ would suffer “once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (3:18). The grace of God is God giving Himself.
Thus Isaiah could prophesy: “It was the will of the Lord to crush him” (Isa 53:10). But praise God that’s not all Isaiah prophesied. Because of the sufferings would come the glories: “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (52:13). When the prophets predicted Christ’s sufferings and the glories, they were prophesying about the grace to be ours.
We fly on to Peter’s third stop on the timeline, conscious that we are passing over that majestic event called the appearing of God’s grace (Titus 2:11). We are now at our current moment in history: the preaching of God’s grace.
Peter writes of “the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you” (1:12). These “things” are the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories of 1:11, which are, in turn, the content of the grace that was prophesied to be ours in the OT. The preaching of the gospel is the announcement of the death and resurrection of Christ in fulfillment of the Scriptures and the offer of the salvation Christ has thereby procured (1Co 15:3-8). No wonder Paul calls it “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24,32).
The preaching of this grace is empowered by the Holy Spirit “sent from heaven” (1Pe 1:12). What a privileged time we live in (Mat 13:17)! The prophets carefully investigated these things. They longed for them to take place in their lifetimes, but the Spirit showed them that they were serving us instead. The same Spirit who carried them along to write such things had descended at Pentecost to empower the announcement of the fulfillment of these things, things that even angels long to look into. Because Christ endured the sufferings planned for Him, we are receiving the grace that was planned for us, grace that was never intended for angels. Grace’s timeline makes exiles more privileged than prophets and angels.
Pining for Future Grace (1:13)
Yes, grace makes a person scratch his head and think. By preparing our minds for action, and being sober-minded, we are to set our “hope fully on the grace that will be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). God’s grace does not terminate in history; its timeline begins before time and stretches forward eternally. We get to anticipate all of God’s future grace: a living hope, a secure inheritance, a salvation ready to be revealed, and praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:3-7).
The Grace Parade
Jumping over to Paul, we can add one more mark to Peter’s timeline of grace. God’s purpose in bestowing such grace upon us is so that in the endless ages He can showcase its riches (Eph 2:7). The brightest display of His glory is when He moves in grace (Eph 1:3-14; Exo 33:17-34:8). We will be in God’s future grace parade. The angels will watch with wonder from the sidelines. Creation itself longs for that day (Rom 8:19).
¹All Scripture references in this article are from the ESV unless otherwise noted.