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UNDERSTANDING: Precious Gems from Peter

Discover them in his Epistles…..


The world’s largest gem diamond early in the twentieth century was known as the Cullinan. It was found in the Premier Mine in the Republic of South Africa in 1905. The diamond weighed 1306 carats – over 250 grammes! Recognizing its great value, the government of Transvaal purchased the stone and presented it to King Edward VII of England. It was certainly a most valuable treasure.


Anyone familiar with the writings of Peter in the New Testament will at once remember that the word precious is used a number of times in his epistles. The English word “precious” is actually used to translate four different Greek words. In 1 Peter 2:7. Christ is “precious” to those who believe in Him – or, “the preciousness”, according to J.N.Darby’s New Translation of the Holy Scriptures. The word speaks of a value placed upon something, and it is rendered “honour” in three other places, (1 Pet.1:7; 3:7; 2 Pet.1:17).


A similar word, timios, meaning costly or valuable is found three times in Peter’s writings. A study of the three verses where it occurs can be a great blessing to the soul, for we discover in them things of inestimable value.



The first of these verses where timios is found (1) is 1 Peter 1:7. Peter writes of “the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire,” (KJV). Gold, when tested by fire, is proved genuine. Pyrite (otherwise known as iron pyrites) looks like gold and is sometimes called “fool’s gold”. Experts, however, are not deceived by this pale brassy yellow mineral. Pyrite is usually mined for its sulphur, and the true nature of this mineral is seen when it is “tried with fire”. In this verse Peter is concerned with something “much more precious” than gold – and that is the believer’s faith. Gold can be placed in a furnace for an extended period of time and may withstand very high temperatures, but it will not increase in size or in value. However, when a believer passes through the furnace of affliction, his faith is multiplied and strengthened, and its true value is seen.


After the Cullinan diamond was discovered, it was handed to an expert craftsman in Amsterdam. For weeks he studied the diamond’s design and produced diagrams of its structure. Eventually, using the special tools of his trade, he cut a notch in it and with a hard blow broke it into two pieces. A wasteful act of destruction? Not at all. This lapidary knew what he was doing, and his single blow multiplied the value of the treasure. From those two halves, nine large diamonds and 96 smaller stones were produced. The rough, uncut stone contained those precious jewels that none but the expert could see.


In a similar way we are living stones (see 1 Pet.2:5) in the hands of God. He wants to fashion us by His skill into objects of beauty that will glorify His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The blow that strikes us may be painful, and the fires of testing may be hard to endure, but God’s purpose is that the believer’s faith “might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet.1:7, KJV).


The trial of our faith is “much more precious” than gold tried in the intense heat. When we find ourselves in the furnace of affliction, we must patiently trust our God who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph.1:11) and always does that which is for our ultimate good.




The second time Peter uses timios is in 1 Peter 1:19 where he refers to “the precious blood of Christ.” Once again we find gold brought into the comparison. Our redemption, Peter tells us, is not with “silver and gold” which are “corruptible”.


In the Old Testament atonement money was paid by the Israelites (Ex.30:11-16), but long before Peter’s day Judaism had degenerated into mere tradition. The redemption Peter writes about is altogether on a different plane, for it is “with the precious blood of Christ”. He was “a lamb without blemish and without spot,” (1 Pet.1:19). John the Baptist had pointed to the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sin of the world, (Jn.1:29). In Him no “blemish” or “spot” could be found. His life was perfect. That sinless life was to be laid down, bringing to an end the animal sacrifices which had been required under the Law. Through His blood which was shed, eternal redemption has been obtained, (Heb.9:12). In heaven He is worshipped as the One who has redeemed people from every nation upon earth by His blood, (Rev.5:9).


How precious is that blood to those who believe! Considering the price of our redemption, our one desire now should be to please Him by living holy lives, (1 Pet.1:16) that bring glory to our Father.




The third time Peter uses the word timios is in his second epistle. Writing to those who have “obtained like precious faith” (2 Pet.1:1), Peter unfolds the bountiful provisions that God has supplied for His people. (2)  He then reveals that “exceeding great and precious promises” have been given to us by our faithful God, (2 Pet.1:4). These promises relate to what God is going to do for us in the future. We have become “partakers of the divine nature” by which we are able to escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust”. God has not only given to us a new life but has also given all the resources necessary to maintain it. When we know the One who has “called us to glory and virtue,” (v.3), we can appreciate the promises He has made. He can never break His promises!


These promises are not just “great” but “exceeding great,”(2 Pet.1:4). Although Peter does not enumerate them here, they are all connected with the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and with what God will do for us then. Being connected with such an event, they are certainly “precious” to us! John tells us that “when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is,” (1 Jn.3:2). These promises, like the precious blood of Christ, have eternal value. We ought to search them out and rejoice in this “treasure” that God has given to us, (Gen.43:23).




 One other related word which is found twice in 1 Peter 2 is entimos, meaning valued. On both occasions this word (which is translated “precious”) refers to Christ, the “living stone” (v.4) and the “chief corner stone” (v.6). Although rejected by ungodly men, the Lord Jesus Christ was chosen of God and is “precious” to Him.


We, who by grace believe in the Lord Jesus, find Him precious too. All our blessings come from Him. Our “precious” faith and the “precious promises” that have been given to us are both on account of His “precious blood” that was shed atCalvary. No wonder we shall praise Him eternally! 




(1)Some ancient manuscripts have polutimoteros here, being a comparative. Hence, “much more precious”.    

(2)”Precious” here (2 Pet.1:1) is isotimos, and it refers to the readers’ faith which was of equal value to Peter’s, thus “like precious faith”.