Test of Fire
1 Peter 1 6-9
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen[a] you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice – In which hope of salvation. The idea is, that the prospect which they had of the future inheritance was to them a source of the highest joy, even in the midst of their many sufferings and trials. On the general grounds for rejoicing, see the Romans 5:1-2 notes; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4 notes; 1 Thessalonians 5:16 note. See also the notes at 1 Peter 1:8. The particular meaning here is, that the hope which they had of their future inheritance enabled them to rejoice even in the midst of persecutions and trials. It not only sustained them, but it made them happy. That must be a valuable religion which will make people happy in the midst of persecutions and heavy calamities.
Though now for a season – A short period – ὀλίγον oligon. It would be in fact only for a brief period, even if it should continue through the whole of life. Compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 4:17; “Our light affliction which is but for a moment.” It is possible, however, that Peter supposed that the trials which they then experienced would soon pass over. They may have been suffering persecutions which he hoped would not long continue.
If need be – This phrase seems to have been thrown in here to intimate that there was a necessity for their afflictions, or that there was “need” that they should pass through these trials. There was some good to be accomplished by them, which made it desirable and proper that they should be thus afflicted. The sense is, “since there is need;” though the apostle expresses it more delicately by suggesting the possibility that there might be need of it, instead of saying absolutely that there was need. It is the kind of language which we would use in respect to one who was greatly afflicted, by suggesting to him, in the most tender manner, that there might be things in his character which God designed to correct by trials, instead of saying roughly and bluntly that such was undoubtedly the fact. We would not say to such a person, “you certainly needed this affliction to lead you to amend your life;” but, “it may be that there is something in your character which makes it desirable, or that God intends that some good results shall come from it which will show that it is wisely ordered.”
Through manifold temptations – Through many kinds of trials, for so the word rendered “temptation” (πειρασμος peirasmos) means, James 1:2, James 1:12. See the notes at Matthew 4:1; Matthew 6:13. The meaning here is, that they now endured many things which were suited to try or test their faith. These might have consisted of poverty, persecution, sickness, or the efforts of ethers to lead them to renounce their religion, and to go back to their former state of unbelief. Anyone or all of these would try them, and would show whether their religion was genuine. On the various ways which God has of trying his people, compare the notes at Isaiah 28:23-29.