By standing firm on biblical morality, the evangelical Christian church in America faces, and will increasingly face, challenges from the LGBTQ agenda. A church that preaches and teaches that the LGBTQ agenda promotes sin will experience severe push back. The government, many in society and even some churches who call themselves “Christian” will join in the persecution of these churches.
It is easy to see that Christ-followers in such a church will feel like they are on an island in a storm-tossed sea. But, just like Peter’s original audience for 1 Peter, these 21st Century believers ought to gain encouragement by the opening words of 1 Peter, i.e., 1 Peter 1:1–2 (ESV), which read:
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
In the NET translation, this text reads:
1 From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those temporarily residing abroad (in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia) who are chosen2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure!
Let’s examine the Petrine encouragement in the storm that verses 1-2 contains.
The letter is written by “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” so as to impart authority to what it contains. This divine authority ought to give encouragement to the “elect exiles” of the Dispersion. Like their 1st Century brothers and sisters in Christ, 21st Century believers should also be encouraged by the divine authority of the content of 1 Peter.
The recipients are “elect” which means they are special because they have been chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Later in this letter, Peter emphasizes the special status of a Christian in 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV):
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
It must have been a huge encouragement to those 1st Century believers scattered throughout what today is northern Turkey to know that they were chosen by God. The same is true for us today in that Christ-followers have been chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” just the same as those original recipients of 1 Peter.
Peter also describes his audience as “exiles.” The NET Bible uses the phrase, “temporarily residing abroad.” In reference to this term, one commentator suggests that this term reflects:
The idea that Christians are citizens of heaven and live as foreigners on the earth is an important concept that Peter will build upon.
Black, A., & Black, M. C. (1998). 1 & 2 Peter. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub.
The same concept is set forth by Paul in Philippians 3:20 (ESV):
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Encouragement comes from knowing that our real home is in heaven and not here on earth where one is an exile or a temporary resident. Like with the 1st Century audience, 21st Century Christ-followers can take encouragement from the fact that this life is not all there is. We’ve got something better coming!
Peter tells his audience that they were chosen by God “by being set apart by the Spirit.” See NET translation. There is great encouragement in knowing that the Holy Spirit has set one apart (or sanctified one) to be chosen.
One being chosen is “for obedience.” It is a huge encouragement to know that one’s choosing was to be obedient to Jesus Christ. Knowing that God has set them apart for obedience to Christ had to have been an encouragement to them. The same goes for us in the 21st Century. Every believer ought to be encouraged by the fact that God has chosen them by setting them apart for obedience to Jesus Christ. This is especially comforting during times of persecution.
Peter further teaches that the “elect exiles” were chosen “for sprinkling with his [Jesus Christ] blood.” This phrase refers back to the Old Testament sacrificial system in which it was necessary for blood to be shed for the forgiveness of sins. The same is true in the New Testament, except it was Jesus’ blood that was shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Knowing that Jesus died for them had to have encouraged the “elect exiles.” For us in 2020, it is an encouragement knowing that Jesus Christ loved us so much that He died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and rose from the grave in a physical bodily resurrection so that we can have eternal life in God’s presence forever!
1 Peter 1:1-2 may be short, but it is long on encouragement for me, a 21st Century Christ-follower who advocates biblical morals, in the following ways. First, I am encouraged because I know that what Peter wrote has divine authority, i.e., Christ-approved. Second, I am encouraged because I know that I was chosen by God the Father according to His foreknowledge. Third, I am encouraged because I know that my real home is in heaven and not here on earth. Fourth, I am encouraged because I know that the Holy Spirit set me apart to be chosen. Fifth, I am encouraged that God has chosen me by setting me apart for obedience to Jesus Christ. Sixth, I am encouraged because I know that Jesus Christ loved me so much that He died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and rose from the grave in a physical bodily resurrection so that I have eternal life in God’s presence forever!
But, please keep in mind that Peter’s encouraging words only apply to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, if you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
As one final extra point, sometimes God packs a lot into a few words in the Bible. I believe that is the case here. As one commentator writes:
The descriptive phrases that make up most of this greeting are not just ornamental. They introduce themes that will be important for the letter as a whole. By the end of the first two verses Peter has established his authority, reminded his readers of their election and sanctification, framed his readers’ lives with the metaphor of living as strangers in this world, and summoned them to obedience.
Black et al.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day. For Day 158, 1 Peter 1:1-2 was the passage that stood out.
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