Hope as the Motivation of Love

If you want to understand the message of 1 Peter,
or how hope in God's grace affects our command to love,
or if you just want to see a lucid example of careful exegetical method. . .

let me commend to you John Piper's 1980 article for Cambridge's New Testament Studies: "Hope as the Motivation of Love: 1 Peter 3:9–12."

A new web version has just been added to our Resource Library, full of the original British –ours, German lines, Greek inserts, and 72 footnotes (now hyperlinked).

Read the full article.

Here's a snapshot of the work:


In the long run it is the mutually correcting interaction between detailed analyses of particular texts (at the risk of conceptual myopia) and more general syntheses of an author's total thought (at the risk of superficiality) which will yield the most balanced and true picture of how he may conceive of ethical motivation (or anything else).


  1. Introduction: the problem at hand
  2. The motif of hope as it's grounded in the work of Christ and functions to motivate Christian behavior.
  3. 1 Peter 3:9–12 considered in detail.
  4. The conclusion as a result of points 2 and 3: general synthesis of the author's thought and detailed analysis of a paritcular text.


Rather, when we hold the two parts together [points 2 and 3 above] a more balanced and true picture emerges of how 1 Peter aims to motivate enemy–love. . . .

Instead (taking the whole message of 1 Peter into account) we will recognize in our own ill will a failure to "hope fully" in the grace of Christ (1:13) who by bearing our own sins in his body (2:24) has brought us home to God (3:18) — our faithful creator (4:19). We will admit that not legalistic moral effort but a change of heart is demanded. To that end we will "be sober unto prayer" (4:7), and girding up our minds (1:13) will direct our attention to the reality of the Lord's kindness in the living word (2:2, 3; 1:23). Thus by the grace of God we may experience a renewal of hope so that in all sincerity and earnestness (1:22) we can speak and act toward our enemy from a hopeful, humble and loving heart that truly desires his blessedness.


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