1 Peter 1:1-2

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:

To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”

I began 1 Peter by writing about who Peter is. I won’t go over that again here. I’ll just do a brief overview. In his letter he introduces himself as “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” He does not qualify it with anything else, as Paul does in his letters. He was one of the 12, chosen by Jesus. David Guzik writes in his commentary, “Peter’s name is mentioned in the gospels more than anyone except the name of Jesus. No one speaks in the gospels as often as Peter did, and Jesus spoke more to Peter than to any other individual.” Peter was a leader in the early church.

He wrote to those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. There are two parts to this- ‘chosen’ and the locations. We’ll look at locations first. The church had scattered from its original location in Jerusalem after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Persecution started and the church scattered. Had the church stayed in one place, growth wouldn’t have happened the way it did. Jesus said before he ascended to heaven, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The church spread from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. We know that it had spread as far as Rome (Paul’s letter to the Romans) and to modern day Turkey, which is where many of the places here are located. The bearer of the letter, likely Silvanus who was mentioned at the end of the letter, would take it from city to city, church to church, until they all had been reached.

Peter uses “chosen” twice in this passage. He will use it again later in the letter to describe them. The churches in Asia minor would have consisted of both Gentiles and converted Jews. In the Old Testament, the Jews were God’s chosen people. Deuteronomy 7:6 says, “For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.”  But now, because of Christ, the Gentiles now share in this privileged status. We went into depth on this in our study in Ephesians. Read Ephesians 2: 11-22 for a refresher.

They were “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.” There are three things mentioned here. We will take them one at a time.

The first is that they were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the father. In Ephesians 1:4-6 Paul writes, “For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.”  In 2 Timothy 1:9 he writes, “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”  David Guzik writes in his commentary, “An essential result of election is sanctification and obedience. While some would like to think that election has only to do with going to heaven or hell, Peter reminds us that it also touches earth. A claim to be among the elect is doubtful if there is no evidence of sanctification and obedience.”

Next is the sanctifying work of the Spirit. This is the Spirit’s work in consecrating, or setting apart as holy, the elect. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”  Remember what we learned in Ephesians! “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed” (1:13). When we put our hope in Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and sanctified, set apart.

Lastly, they were chosen to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. Wayne Grudem writes, “For obedience to Jesus Christ indicates God’s purpose in the reader’s present existence as ‘chosen sojourners’ in their native lands; their lives ought to be leading ‘toward’ increasing obedience…” The sprinkling of the blood could be an allusion to Exodus 24:3-8 where Moses initiates the Israelites into into covenant with God, or it could be an allusion to Leviticus 14:54-57, where the leper is purified after he is healed. It can be a reference to being set apart or to being forgiven. I think that both work here.

Notice that Peter mentions the three persons of the Trinity here. The Father plans. We were chosen according to the foreknowledge of the Father. The Holy Spirit empowers. We are set apart, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. The Son redeems us. We are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus.

Peter ends his letter in much the same way that Paul ends his. He uses the words grace and peace. Something new that I have learned is that peace is an Old Testament or Hebrew blessing, and grace is a New Testament or Greek blessing. Grudem writes that the New Testament blessing of grace (charis) is God’s freely given, undeserved favor toward his people.

Grace be with you!


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