1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. (During Nero’s reign of terror)

 INTRODUCTION TO 1 PETER

Persecution can cause either growth or bitterness in the Christian life. One’s response determines the result. In writing to Jewish and Gentile believers struggling amid persecution, Peter encourages them to conduct themselves courageously for the Person and Purpose of Christ in a world set against Christ and His kingdom of righteousness and justice. Both their character and conduct must be above reproach. “Having been born again to a living hope, they are to imitate the Holy One, who has called them.” The fruit of the character of Christ in them will manifest in their conduct rooted in submission to the will of God. That manifestation will be seen in how they relate as citizens to government, servants to masters, wives to husband, husbands to wives, and Christians to one another.

Only after submission is fully understood does Peter deal with the problematic area of suffering. The Christians are not to “think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (4:12), but are to rejoice as partakers of the suffering of Christ. That response to life is truly the climax of one’s submission to the good hand of God.

The epistle begins with the phrase Petros apostolos Iesou Christou, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” This is the basis of the early title Petrou A, the “First of Peter.”

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion:

An apostle, yes one of twelve. The term apostle was not meant to be a title as many use the term today. The word speaks to function, “a sent one.” The Father sent Jesus, and this is why He called the “Apostle of our confession.” (see Hebrews 3:1-2).

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.”

Christ Jesus is our Lord “anointed Savior.” God sent him first to the covenant people as their Messiah and then to the world as the Redeemer King.

Notice the lower case (apostle) and not in front of Peter’s name as a title. Peter was an apostle that the Father had given to Jesus. He became part of a team of men that Jesus sent into the nation of Israel and out to the whole world. So the apostle is a sent one that carries authority from the one who sent him to establish that one’s rule and governmental order in the place that the apostle is sent.

Apostle is not a title but a function. It’s meaning is a “sent out one,” as described before. Peter was an “apostle of the Lamb.” He was given to Jesus by the Father according to what Jesus prays in His high priestly prayer as recorded in John 17:6, “I have ministered Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” Peter was given to Jesus by the Father. For three and a half years, the disciples learned the word of God; they received the word, and they were committed to keeping the word of God that they had received from Christ Jesus. They were faithful to walk and stay to the end with Jesus. The enemy tried to distract and take them off course, but Jesus was able to keep His own. One was a devil, the son of perdition. The others were appointed to be the “apostles of Christ, sent out first to the lost nation of Israel and then to the Samaritans, and finally to the Gentile nations.

The apostles laid the foundation for a redeemed Israel consisting of Jews, Samaritans, and those from every nation, tribe, and tongue. It is what the Old Testament Prophets foretold but was hidden in mystery. The apostles were given the grace to know the mysteries of the kingdom and reveal them to the believers, the Lord’s church, as Paul says in Galatians 6:16, “And as many as walk according to the rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” Paul establishes this understanding in Ephesians 2:20.

Peter and all the apostles understood the mysteries of the kingdom of God that are hidden in Christ. Peter was recognized as a pillar and one who carried this message to the natural Jews of his day. Paul and Barnabas were recognized as receiving grace to be sent to the gentiles, (see Galatians 2:9). The fuller story of God’s plans for the Gentiles to be united with the Jews unfolds in Acts 13 through 14. Paul establishes God’s purpose of the “one new man” in the earth in Ephesians chapter two. That speaks to the creation of a new man on the earth.

Peter is writing this epistle to those he calls pilgrims: “to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” Acts 12:1-3, 17 gives us a picture of the persecution that was taking place throughout the Roman empire. James 1:1 references “the twelve tribes which had been scattered abroad.”

         Keep in mind that God is doing a new thing that had not been seen before nor anticipated because it was kept hidden in mystery. The Jews themselves had become a divided people. They are now being redeemed by Jesus and are being united amid great persecution.

The Gentiles are being added to their numbers and made acceptable because of the same redemption the Jews had been given through Christ (see Acts 10:44-48). A new covenant had been established in the broken body and the shed blood of Christ. This covenant was provided in fulfillment of the Old Testament types and shadows for both Jew and Gentile, creating “One New Man” in the earth. The redeemed Israel of God, His church made up of a “royal priesthood.” Peter speaks to the priesthood and holy nation in the second chapter of this epistle.

Verse 2 continues, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

         The subject of the election has been one of those divisive doctrines in the Lord’s church. Coming out of the Reformation, different thoughts immerged concerning God’s election of an individual’s salvation. It is unfortunate because we end up missing the bigger picture that Peter is communicating. Peter says, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” That foreknowledge God had before He created the heavens and the earth. His plan from the beginning was in Christ Jesus. Paul lays this out very firmly in Ephesians chapter one. The Father foreknew that He would sum everything up in Christ. He planned that men would reflect the image of Christ. Let us take a moment of review before we go on with Peter’s teaching.

The Father chose Abram whose name He changed to Abraham, meaning “the father of many.” God elected Abraham to be His centerpiece for bringing forth a people to fill the earth with righteousness. That people would be directly connected to the Seed, which God had promised to Abraham. The blessing to the nations would be found in that Seed. That Seed was Christ who came in the fullness of time (see Galatians 4:4). Those who receive Christ as Redeemer King, whether they are Jew or Gentile, became part of the “elect” of God.

The foreknowledge included “sanctification.” A holy people are set apart for God’s eternal purposes in Christ. It is by the Spirit of the Lord that one is set apart for God. The means of that sanctification is “by obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” In the obedience and the receiving of the cleansing of the blood of Christ is found God’s election. First, we see this in the faith of Abraham. He was obedient. He came out of UR of the Chaldeans looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. God made a covenant with Abraham, and Abraham became the father of the faithful (see Romans 4:16 and Galatians 4:28-29).

The next picture of faith and obedience revealed in the Seed, Christ Jesus Himself. Hebrews 5:8 records, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which he suffered.” Listen to the writer of Hebrews as he deals with obedience and sacrifice,

        And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds, I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

(Hebrews 10:11-18 NKJV)

Peter lays the foundation seen in the obedience and shed blood of Christ for these pilgrims who have been called to “grace and a multiplication of peace.” The heavenly Father’s will and plan for His elect in Christ is grace multiplying in peace, even in the midst of trouble, persecution, and trials. The Lord wants to give us heavens perspective. Heaven sees the victory already complete in Christ Jesus. The key to working out our salvation with fear and with trembling is seeing in what God has already established in Christ and bringing about in that victory in the world, resisting the flesh, and overcoming the devil by the completed work of Christ.

Please understand what Peter is saying even to us. See yourself in the world as a pilgrim. A pilgrim that has been elected or chosen to suffer as Christ suffered, “sanctified,” or set apart in the world. A pilgrim who has been foreordained to be created in the image of Christ. One, having the nature of Christ through His resurrection power. A pilgrim who can reflect heavens plan and will on earth through obedience received in the blood of Christ.

Next time we will consider our heavenly inheritance, accessed today in the power of Christ’s resurrection. Incorruptible and undefiled and is not fading away.