Temporal Suffering and Eternal Inheritance
One overarching theme of the 1st chapter of the Apostle Peter’s 1st letter is his use of the terms “perishable” and “imperishable” in 4 different verses. The obvious implication conveys a contrast between the temporal and the eternal as we consider these two realities.
Peter used this comparison in light of the on-going suffering due to the persecution of believers in the Northern regions of Asia Minor. He reminded them, not only of the unique relationship that they have with God, but that as followers of Christ, their eyes should no longer be set on temporal things (their present suffering). The eternal inheritance that is reserved for every genuine child of God (1 Peter 1:4) is not worthy to be compared to the temporal nature of the sufferings that a believer experiences in this present life. (Romans 8:18)
His use of analogy to further illustrate his point is also evident as he used earthly elements and objects like gold, silver, flower and grass which are subject to decay and will eventually fade away. Because they are temporary things, they will all pass away. Similar to the suffering due to the persecution that they are going through, it will also pass away. Reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian believers (2 Corinthians 4:16-18), Peter is also expressing the same truth. The “trial” that they are going through is only “for a little while”, only “for a season”. It will not remain forever.
Unlike the object of their calling unto salvation, the means of their redemption, and the indescribable and matchless inheritance from God, they all point to something (someone) eternal. Being redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, born again according to God’s great mercy, through the living and enduring word of God are truths that are eternal in nature. And it is in these truths that Peter greatly encouraged them to be mindful of despite their present predicament.
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT)