Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look! (NRSV)
This is yet another biblical passage that, at least initially, seems to pose quite a problem for inductive Bible study. 1 Peter seems to say that prophetic texts about the Christ were understood by the biblical authors not to be about their own times but about the time when Christ would come.
The difficulty here is of course the fact that inductive Bible study leads us to conclude that most of the texts that NT authors read in relation to Christ had a first meaning that related to the time of the prophet. As is often said (even in Osborne's Hermeneutical Spiral), the prophetic genre was far more about forth-telling than fore-telling. There was a lively debate in the 1900's over whether it made sense to speak of a "fuller sense" to such texts (double sense, progressive fulfillment, analogous fulfillment, etc...), a "near" and a "far" interpretation.
Yet 1 Peter 1 seems to take a posture similar to Paul when he finds it difficult to believe that God really cares about cattle (he was a city boy, after all: 1 Cor. 9:9-10). 1 Peter seems to picture the prophets as recognizing that they were not talking about their own time but about the time of the Christ.
The problem is solved by applying the "incarnational truth" principle even here. It is easy for us to apply it when it comes to hair coverings or holy kisses, that is, to recognize that the Bible gives us incarnated truth in the categories of its original audience. Yet the principle applies to ideas as well, as when Paul speaks of everything under the earth bowing to Christ or being taken up into the third sky.
Another factor to take into the equation is the fact that pre-modern exegesis blurs the "characters" of the biblical text with the historical individuals of the biblical text. In that sense, 1 Peter is as much thinking of the "implied prophet" in the text as about what the "historical prophet" was thinking.
The affirmation that 1 Peter is making is the surety of salvation that the audience has despite their current sufferings, and it bolsters this affirmation by recourse to the collection of prophetic texts from Scripture that must have been part of early Christian proclamation. The incarnational aspect is the fact that the early Christians did not follow "inductive Bible study" methods but the methods of interpretation common to their day. These methods paid varying degrees of attention to the original context of the passages in which they heard God's voice speaking to them about Christ.
So I find no fault or error in 1 Peter. But what we do have is yet another serious undermining of the sole legitimacy of contextual exegesis, the idea that "it cannot mean something now that it did not mean then." The NT itself deconstructs this hermeneutic.