Posted On September 22, 2021

Born of Mercy

by | Sep 22, 2021 | Theology

Play

In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter gives glory to God highlighting His blessedness and His great mercy for His causing sinners to be born again. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” Of this verse, Wayne Grudem notes,

This being born anew is by his great mercy, a phrase with the same preposition (kata) as ‘according to the foreknowledge’ (v. 2). No foreknowledge of the fact that we would believe, no foreseeing of any desirableness or merit on our part, is mentioned here or anywhere else in Scripture when indicating God’s ultimate reason for our salvation. It is simply ‘according to his great mercy’ that he gave us new life.

Being born again is not a work of God and man, but a work of God in man. It is not according to our merits, but His mercy. Now, let’s contemplate this whole sentence in 1 Peter 1:3-5.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In the Old Testament, there is a Hebrew word “chesed”. It is often translated as “steadfast love”. It might be better understood as “covenantal love” or “loyal love.” It’s a word pregnant with comfort for the Christian. According to the CSB Study Bible, it’s used 249 times in the Old Testament and 129 of those times in the Psalms. It appears in Isaiah 54:8, which says, “’In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love (chesed) I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD, your Redeemer.”

In Psalm 136 this word is used 26x, once in each verse. Psalm 136 ends this way in verse 26, “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” For Greek writers to convey that word they would usually use the Greek word eleos which is translated in the New Testament as “mercy” (Luke 10:37, Romans 9:23, Jude 1:21, etc.). In the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, both Isaiah 54:8 and Psalm 136 use the Greek word eleos to translate the Hebrew word chesed. This word for “mercy” is used to communicate the Hebrew understanding of Yahweh’s loyal covenantal steadfast love.

It is right for us, then, at times, when we see the word for mercy used in the New Testament, to understand a connection with the Hebrew concept of chesed. And that’s exactly what we have going on in 1 Peter 1:3. The way we are born again is by God and the reason He does this is because of His loyal covenantal steadfast love. Peter understood the concept of chesed. He understood the Greek Septuagint.

It is not a stretch, therefore, to surmise that Peter is communicating this Hebrew idea of chesed to us by the Greek phrase “great mercy”. The Apostle emphasizes more than mere mercy, but an eternal, sovereign, loyal, faithful, covenantal love. We are born again according to God’s steadfast love. We owe our lives to God’s mercy. The cause of our regeneration does not originate in us but from the incalculable depths of God’s abundant mercy.

There is nothing in us to bring about our new birth. In fact, all that is in us – sin – demands justice. We are not neutral and in hope of God showing us a bit of kindness. Rather, we are rebellious by nature and choice and in desperate need of great mercy.

Being born again, then, is all of God, in God, by God, through God, and for God’s glory. And this is possible because of the gospel – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Richard Sibbes wrote, “God quickens us with Christ and in Christ.” Regeneration and union with Christ are inseparably linked and the point here is this is all attributed to God’s great mercy.

Related Posts

Ep. 054 | Avoid the Appearance of Evil?

Ep. 054 | Avoid the Appearance of Evil?

There is a verse in 1 Thess 5:22 which is rendered as "Abstain from all appearance of evil" in some translations. In this episode, Cuatro and Michael talk about the effect of this translation on our lives and offer some other ways to think about this verse. Feedback...

Ep. 053 | Cuatro Preaches at the Fair

Ep. 053 | Cuatro Preaches at the Fair

One of the most despised yet biblical methods of evangelism is public preaching. Even seasoned church-building preachers are afraid to try it and can be found treating it with scorn. In this episode, Michael asks Cuatro about some recent open-air preaching he has done...

Overwhelmed? Just Do These Five Things! (part 5)

Overwhelmed? Just Do These Five Things! (part 5)

If you haven't read the previous posts in this series on rejoicing, prioritization, taking action, and appropriate rest, they may be helpful. Receive counsel humbly When you are overwhelmed there will be people who mean well and want to help. Someone might immediately...

Do You Support Missions?

Do You Support Missions?

Benjamin Candee is one of my friends and colaborers in the gospel ministry. He recently provided this update of their progress in Brazil; I thought it was inspiring and hopeful. He did not ask me to do this. Still, I am writing to explicitly ask you to pray about...

Ep. 052 | What If I’m Having Trouble Praying?

Ep. 052 | What If I’m Having Trouble Praying?

Saints often find it hard to pray. Why is prayer so difficult? Cuatro Nelson and Michael Coughlin offer some theological thinking and practical tips for getting your prayer life on track.  

Overwhelmed? Just Do These Five Things! (part 4)

Overwhelmed? Just Do These Five Things! (part 4)

If you haven't read the previous posts in this series on rejoicing, prioritization, and taking action, they may be helpful. Rest Appropriately Now that I've admonished you for potential laziness, my next piece of advice is to rest. Yes, it sounds contradictory but it...

2 Comments

  1. Joan

    Hallelujah!

    Reply
    • Allen Nelson IV

      Thanks for reading Joan as always!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.