1. 1 Peter 5:6 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What is “the mighty hand of God”?

1 Peter 5:6 (ESV)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

This is the only place in the New Testament where this phrase occurs, though there are numerous references to the hand of the Lord (or your hand) without the adjective mighty (Luke 1:66; Acts 4:30; Acts 11:21; Acts 13:11). In the Old Testament, however, the phrase occurred repeatedly in relation to the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 6:1; Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:14, Exodus 13:16; Exodus 32:11; Deuteronomy 3:24; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15). Over against the heavy hand of Pharaoh that generated so much suffering for enslaved Israelites (Exodus 2:23), God’s mighty hand provided deliverance, and did so in a surprising and highly effective manner. In the above-mentioned New Testament texts, the hand of the Lord also provided deliverance in wonderful ways.

The striking thing about the present text is that the mighty hand of God does not seem to describe deliverance from suffering but describes the suffering itself, that is, the fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12). Yet putting it that way would miss the point. Though all suffering certainly comes from God’s hand (Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:15–17, Genesis 3:23–24), the suffering is itself a tool the Lord uses to provide benefit to his people.