In our former article on we noticed that the Apostle exhorts the pilgrim strangers unto hoping perfectly for the grace to be brought unto us in the revelation of Jesus Christ, that is, in the day when Christ shall be revealed fully to be the Son of God in power and glory. Then shall the dead be called forth from the grave; they who have done evil shall go forth unto the resurrection of damnation, and they who have believed and hoped in the mercies of God in Christ Jesus shall go forth unto the resurrection of life and immortality. Our bodies shall be manifestly redeemed from the graves’ corruption, death shall be fully swallowed up of life, and it shall be forever evident that all the labors of God’s people in the midst of this world were indeed not vain in the Lord!
All the eyes of God’s people should be riveted in hope upon the grace that is brought unto us in that day. Such were the eyes of the prophets who prophesied of the sufferings to come upon Christ and of the glory to follow. And this very salvation is such in nature and intent that it is all in readiness to be revealed in that day. Wherefore our hoping for it must not be imperfect, incomplete, but it must be wholly perfect in intensity and nature, and thus be a hoping even to the very end. We must hope perfectly in the very power in which we are kept by faith unto that day.
There are still a few elements in the text that call for our attention.
In the first place there is the peculiar construction in the original Greek which we must notice. We refer to the phrase “the grace being brought unto you in the revelation of Jesus Christ.” There are those who would see in this sentence construction the expression of the fact that this bringing in of the final grace is a continued process. The present grace of regeneration, calling, justification, sanctification is such that it culminates in the final grace, so it is asserted. This is true in itself; it is a very Scriptural thought. We prefer, however, to explain the use of the present passive present participle as expressing the viewpoint of the living hope of the Christian. In this hope we are already saved and possess this final grace. It is being brought to us. We live now as if we were in that day. Always in hope our heart reaches out for the final glory now while we are spiritual strangers and pilgrims. And we say: it is being brought to us in the revelation of Jesus Christ in His final glory. It is ready to be revealed and in hope we see it brought to us, even as we are kept unto that day by the almighty and saving power of God.
Such is the viewpoint and the aspiration of hope!
And in this hoping we are to be perfect; nothing may be lacking in it.
This brings us to the second observation concerning this text.
Let it be clearly understood that the perfection here spoken of is in no wise the perfection of works of law that we perform. It is, on the contrary, simply the perfection of the living hope in the entire scope of our lives unto which we have been born again through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The text speaks of the perfection of the hope of righteousness which is ours in the blood of Christ, as He was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification. In this hope all old things have indeed passed away; we no more live in ourselves, but what we now live we live by the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave His soul a ransom for our sins. In this hope our longing hearts look for this same Lord Jesus Christ to return in the last day to finish the work of our justification finally and publicly, and to glorify us with His own glory.
As to the idea of the term “perfectly” we should notice that perfection is here akin to maturity, that which has reached the limits of the possibility and development of anything. Thus the plant of wheat can go no farther than the harvest. When the harvest has come that is the end, the telos, the perfection of the season. An apple may be free from sickness, blight and rottenness and yet not be perfect in development. And so we might go on. But the point that we would make is clear. A perfectly hoping is living exclusively for the things above, is a complete and an exclusive setting of our affections on the things above, the things that are heavenly. While we are strangers and pilgrims here below we must set all our affections on the Jerusalem above. As a holy nation, a royal people, a peculiar treasure unto the Lord in all the earth, we are to walk the footsteps of the faith of Abraham, who saw the day of Christ and rejoiced.
The requisite of such a perfectly hoping upon the grace of Christ is that we “have the loins of our mind girt up, and be sober.”
The figure of the “loins girt up” is taken from the dress of the oriental. Their clothing is such that it hangs long about their bodies and that shall they walk they must gird their clothing up so that they may be able to walk and be in readiness. They must be ready for action. This figure of the loins girt up is here applied by Peter to the “mind”. It is worthy of notice, that Peter does not speak here of the loins of the “heart” or the loins of the “soul”. He speaks of the loins of the mind. That we call attention to this distinction between “heart”, “soul”, and “mind” should not seem strange. For Jesus enumerates all of these in where we read “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind”. Now certainly this is an important and an instructive passage, shedding a good deal of light on the question of having our mind’s loins girt up.
Now it is surely true that just as we believe with the heart so also we hope with the heart. And it is equally true, that we also hope with all of our “soul” waiting for the salvation of our “souls”. Yet, heart, soul and mind are not to be identified, but are clearly to be distinguished. When we see the difference and relationship of these concepts it will aid us in understanding why the “mind” must be girt up!
Our heart is the spiritual center of our being controlling both soul and mind. In our hearts we either hate or love God; God sheds His love abroad in our hearts. From the heart are the issues of life. Here we are to love God with all of the heart. And this means that in Christ Jesus we are to hope in God with all of our hearts. Only thus can there be perfect hope in God when we do so with all our hearts, having the law of God written in our hearts.
Then, too, we must love God with all our soul. In our soul we have our pains and disappointments, as well as our joys. And our whole soul must be lifted up to God; Him alone we are to extol with our whole soul. In grief and sorrow, in perplexity and trials, always our soul is to overflow with thankful and hopeful trust.
Our mind is the penetrating insight and knowledge of the will of God. Our serving the Lord in hope is a question also of the mind. To be sure this “mind” is more than bare abstract intellect, and it is also more than the bare power of natural analysis and synthesis, the ability to discern natural things in a natural way. The mind here is that of the spiritual man who has the mind of Christ, since he is illumined by the Spirit of grace and revelation. It is the mind that is able to see and perceive the Kingdom of heaven; the mind of him who is born out of God from incorruptible Seed by the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever. Such is the mind in Scripture. It is never to be separated from heart and soul. For this mind is a matter of the entire man with all his thoughts and longings. And this mind is thus in both the regenerated and the unregenerated. In the latter this mind is darkened because of the perversity of the heart! It is ethical blindness; it is the blindness of stubborn unbelief. Connected with the evil heart and .soul the mind is in every reprobate. Wherefore we say that he is of a reprobate mind! But also the mind is inseparably connected with soul and heart. In our text the enlightened mind is rooted in the regenerated heart.
Peter is here speaking of the mind of the regenerated.
He admonishes the reborn church to walk in her rebirth, to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. In this case walking according to the Spirit is the walking in perfect hope. For only he who has the hope of everlasting life in God will walk in the purity of God’s commandments. Wherefore we read in “And everyone having this hope in Him ihimself as he is pure”. The admonition here to the Churches is rooted in what they have been made in the regeneration in Christ; standing in the “status quo” in Christ we are to walk in this newness of life, saved in hope!
Now, we must gird up the loins of that new mind in Christ!
Someone may say: but man cannot gird up the loins of his mind. He is dead in trespasses and sins! I say: hush up! You are speaking beside the point and are beclouding the issue! The point here is that the regenerated church must gird up the loins of her mind. And she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her! Oh, it is true: by nature the church cannot do this. But the people of God are principally not “by nature” anymore, but have been made alive with Christ and set with Him in heavenly places. Hence, we joy in God with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And this joy of the hope of salvation must become a full cup each day in hope.
Again someone may object and say: God’s people do hope and therefore must not be told “what they must do”. I answer: the former is true, but the latter may be very fallacious, though not necessarily. The truth is that in my text the Apostle is really speaking of an abounding more and more in hope. All the longing, joyful expectation of the soul must be upon this hope. This hope is not always perfect; fact is that it often is very imperfect. Then the Lord Himself revives us to hope in Him by the exhortations and precepts of the preaching of the gospel, efficaciously working the grace of hope in our hearts by this gospel. And then we do hope and hope more perfectly; yet, we do this because God works this hope in our hearts by calling attention in an efficacious way to what He has done for us in Christ and what we have become unto Him in Christ Jesus, our Lord.