1 Peter 1:6-7 Rejoice While Suffering Trials
Have you ever been tempted to despair because of troubles that tested your faith? Why should God’s children have problems and suffer affliction? This Bible study explains the meaning of 1 Peter 1:6-7. These verses encourage joy during trials and temptations because spiritual testing demonstrates the genuineness of our faith, which brings God glory and gives us reason to rejoice.
This is the 4th in a series of articles examining the trials God allows to test His children, using COVID-19 as an example. The previous post was on the “James 1:2-4 – Patience and Spiritual Maturity Through Trials.” To begin the series with the introduction which includes an outline with links to the various posts, please go to “Christlike During the COVID-19 Trial.”
The series is based on a 29-page e-Book on Biblical trials and God’s testing, and how Christians should behave. The e-book is called “7 Spiritual Tests – During the COVID-19b Trial” and is available as a free PDF.
Table of contents
1 Peter 1:6-7 Bible Study
First, we will examine the context of 1 Peter 1:6-7. Next, we will define some key words and explain their meanings. Then, we will explain each phrase. We will then summarize the meaning of the whole passage and provide a Q&A on the meaning of “manifold temptations.”
Peter addressed his first epistle to the scattered Christians of his day (1 Peter 1:1). He blessed those who were chosen for salvation through the foreknowledge of God the Father by their faith in Christ and sanctification by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). He then blessed God who caused us to be born again unto a living hope reserved in heaven for those who are being kept for salvation by the power of God through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-5).
We will begin our study of 1 Peter 1:6-7 by examining the meaning of six key words used in the passage. These words can have more than one meaning. The proper meaning of a word is always based on how it is used in context.
Greatly Rejoice – agalliao – This Greek verb means to be exceedingly joyful, extremely glad, overjoyed.
Grieve / heaviness – lupeo – This Greek verb means to cause or experience distress:
- Cause severe distress, irritate, vex, insult, offend
- To be sad, distressed, sorrowful, grieve
Various / Manifold – poikilos – This Greek adjective refers to the existence of something in multiple kinds or aspects. It means: ‘of many kinds,’ various, diversified, manifold.
Trials / Temptations – peirasmos – This Greek noun has 2 meanings:
- Trial, test, examination
- Temptation, enticement to sin (to do wrong)
Trial / Genuineness – dokimion – This Greek noun has two meanings:
- The process by which something’s genuineness is determined; test/testing, proving
- Genuineness demonstrated as the result of a test; genuine, without impurity
Tried / Tested – dokimazo – This related Greek verb has two meanings:
- To carefully examine something to determine its genuineness; examine, put to the test
- To draw a conclusion about the value of something based on testing; prove, approve
Rejoicing Despite Trials – 1 Peter 1:6
We, as God’s children, should be continually rejoicing in our confident expectation of eternal life in heaven through faith in Christ, even when we are being distressed by various trials (peirasmos) (1 Peter 1:6).
In this you Greatly Rejoice
1 Peter 1:6 reflects on verses 3-5 when it says, “wherein” / “in this.” Peter says, “you are greatly rejoicing” in the blessings he just described. The Greek verb, agalliao, means to be intensely joyful, overjoyed, exceedingly glad, and so, rejoicing greatly.
The word is in the present tense, which indicates that this is an ongoing action, occurring now. It is also stated in the Indicative mood, which is a statement of reality, not just a possibility. Genuine Christians, who have been born again to a living hope, are routinely joyful because we have an eternal reason to rejoice.
What are the blessings we rejoice in?
- We have been born again to a living hope by the grace of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3)
- We have a pure and incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven (1 Peter 1:4).
- Through faith, we are being protected by the power of God to salvation (1 Peter 1:5).
We who have been born into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ should always be rejoicing in the assurance our salvation and our new spiritual life in Christ.
Despite Distressing Trials
Our living hope should give us great joy regardless of our circumstances, even during distressing trials.
Peter said that the great joy of his believing readers was occurring even if they were being grieved by various trials (“manifold temptations”) at the time. A literal word-for-word translation of 1 Peter 1:6b would be: “briefly now, if need be, you are distressed in various trials.”
The end of verse 6 has been translated manifold ways by various English translations:
- “though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (KJV)
- “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (NIV)
- “though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (ESV)
- “even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” (NASB95)
- “though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (NKJV)
Though Now = arti – now, in the present or immediate past, at this moment
The word “though” does not exist in the Greek text, but it is implied by the conditional phrase “if need be” and by the disparity between rejoicing and being grieved by trials. You are overjoyed even if you are now experiencing trouble.
“If need be” / “if necessary” is a first-class conditional phrase based on the real possibility that you may be experiencing trouble right now.
“For a little while / season” comes from one Greek word, which means: brief, slight, small, little, short. Our earthly troubles may be painful, but they are generally short in duration. Even if they last our whole lifetime, they are short compared to the eternal blessings that await us. As Paul said, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
“In grief / heaviness / distress” comes from the Greek word, lypeo, which means to grieve, distress, irritate, make sad. It is given in the passive mood, which indicates that the trouble comes to us from the outside. We are receiving it, not doing it. It is given as a simple statement timewise with no indication of it be an ongoing or continual condition. Our distress is brief. We can rejoice in the fact that it will end.
“Manifold (KJV) / various” means: ‘of many kinds,’ various, diversified. There are many different types of troubles that try us.
“Trials / Temptations” – The Greek word peirasmos is a noun with two meanings.
- Trial, test, examination; an attempt to learn (discern) the character of something.
- Temptation, enticement to sin (to do wrong); an attempt to make someone do something wrong.
“Trial” or “test” is the better translation in this case because of the immediately following context of “the testing of (the genuineness of) your faith.”
Eliphaz reminded Job that “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Trials and trouble have been part of the human experience, ever since Adam fell. But Christians should be characterized by great joy even during trials because we have an eternal reason to rejoice.
Reason for Rejoicing – 1 Peter 1:7
Why does Peter say this? After all, it is not natural for people to rejoice while experiencing grievous troubles. One simple reason could be because our trials our temporary, but our new life in heaven will last forever. Another reason could be because our joy is not natural. Our joy is based on our relationship with our supernatural Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3-4).
The reason Peter gives is because the demonstration (through dokimion – testing) that our living faith is genuine is more precious than gold (the most precious substance on earth). Gold is refined in fire to purify it and increase its value, but it is temporary (1 Peter 1:7). A day is coming when the heavens and the earth shall be destroyed by fire, and gold along with all other elements shall melt in the heat (2 Peter 3:12).
Just as gold is refined by being melted by the heat of a refining fire, so our lives are purified by the troubles of life which test us. And if we let these purifying trials accomplish God’s purpose, as James said, then our lives will come out of the refining process perfect and complete (spiritually mature and Christlike); resulting in praise, honor and glory when Jesus returns.
We should rejoice during trials because they give us the opportunity to prove the genuineness of our faith to God, ourselves and the world. This brings praise, honor and glory to God (1 Peter 1:7).
For example, Acts 5 records Peter and the apostles being arrested, thrown in jail and tried by the Sanhedrin for doing miracles and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Sanhedrin commanded them to stop teaching in the name of Christ. In response, Peter and the others boldly responded, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Once they were released, the apostles left “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His (Christ’s) name” (Acts 5:41).
And during the sermon on the mount, Jesus said:
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.Matthew 5:10-12
Summary of 1 Peter 1:6-7
In this Bible study of 1 Peter 1:6-7 we learned:
- We as Christians should always be overjoyed because we have been born again to a living hope. We have a pure and indestructible inheritance reserved for us in heaven, and our salvation is protected by the power of God. (1 Peter 1:3-6)
- We should therefore continue rejoicing greatly even when distressed by various trials because our afflictions in this life are brief compared to eternity (1 Peter 1:6).
- We should rejoice in the opportunity to prove the genuineness of our faith because that brings praise, glory and honor to God (1 Peter1:7).
We should rejoice during the testing of our faith no matter how severe the test, even when tried by fire (or a pandemic).
1 Peter 1:6 Q&A
The King James Version of the Bible translates 1 Peter 1:6 (KJV) as, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through ‘manifold temptations’.”
“Manifold” is an old English word that means “various” or “of many kinds.”
“Temptations” is how the KJV translated the Greek word, “peirasmos.” This word can mean “temptation,” referring to an enticement to sin (do wrong), or it can mean “trial” or “test” as in an examination. In the context of 1 Peter 1:6-7, “trial” or “test” is the better meaning, although many trials come in the form of temptation.
Putting it together, “manifold temptations” in 1 Peter 1:6 means “various trials.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused “manifold temptations,” “various trials” and trouble throughout the whole world. How have you responded to this test? The previous post in this series examined another Scripture about having Joy during Trials, James 1:2-4.
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