Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
1 Peter 1:10-12
On one occasion Jesus told His disciples that “many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matt. 13:17). Combine this statement with Peter’s declaration that the Old Testament prophets “searched and inquired carefully” about the grace and salvation given to us as Christians, and the implications are thought-provoking.
Picture through the lens of faith the prophet Moses telling the Israelites that “the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen” (Deut. 18:15, 18-19; cf. Acts 3:22-23). Peter said that Moses and other Old Testament prophets wanted to know “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Pet. 1:11). With that in mind, picture the aged servant of God asking Him exactly when this Prophet would come and what would happen when He arrived.
Imagine Isaiah leaning back on his stool after writing the heart-wrenching prophecy of the Messiah’s terrible demise (Is. 53) and taking a few minutes to contemplate what the Holy Spirit had just given him through inspiration (cf. 2 Pet. 1:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Sam. 23:2). How he must have longed to learn more and prayed to have the blessing of seeing the Savior of mankind with his own eyes, just as Simeon had also desired (Lk. 2:25-35).
Think of Daniel who, while being given the vision of the four beasts and the vision of Christ’s triumphant ascension into heaven (Dan. 7:1-27), asked an angel to interpret because he wanted to understand what the visions meant (v. 16). Imagine him sitting up in his bed and being greatly troubled by what he had seen (vs. 15, 28). He would be perplexed by other visions God would give him and not understand them (cf. 8:26-27; 12:8a), asking “what shall be the outcome of these things?” (12:8b). Since Christians are those “on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11b; cf. Heb. 1:1-2), it is noteworthy that the prophet was told, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (12:9). This correlates with what Peter was saying to Christians about how it was “revealed” to the Old Testament prophets who were “search(ing) and inquir(ing) carefully” about these prophecies that “they were serving not themselves but you” (1 Pet. 1:12a).
When Peter wrote of “the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1:12b), he wanted his first century Christian readers to understand that the gospel he and his fellow apostles and prophets had preached to them originated from the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Pet. 1:19-21). This “good news” – “the salvation of your souls” (1:9b-10a) – was the fulfillment of these Old Testament prophecies that the prophets had diligently “searched and inquired” about (1:11). It had not been completely revealed to them during Old Testament times. Even “angels long to look” into these matters (1:12c), the Greek rendering of this phrase indicating that the angels so passionately desired to know more about these matters that they would in a figurative sense bend or crouch down to see it. Yet God’s plan to save mankind was now completely revealed to Peter’s readers, and us today, within the New Testament (cf. Rom. 16:25-26; Eph. 3:3-5). We today can now see and know that of which they could only glimpse and ask. What a blessing that is!