Nero began all out persecution in AD64 – Peter died in that persecution.
This letter doesn’t read like it’s all out persecution and slaughter, but it has a smell like it’s on the horizon. It addresses fear and shows the goodness of God’s grace and hope. It is just 105 verses and takes 30 mins to read.
Donnie Griggs comments on today’s reading – “Is there a more potent chapter in the Bible on the beauty and power of the gospel to save us, keep us saved and make us holy?”
To the elect exiles of the dispersion
‘Exiles’ is imagery from the Old Testament, where the people of God were dispersed from Israel into the nations, some never to return.
i) Jews from Palestine
ii) Christians away from heaven – 1 Peter 2:9-10, once not a people; 1 Peter 4:3-4, don’t join in what they do anymore. The new covenant concept is that our citizenship is in heaven, this is not our home – Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 13:14. We are foreigners, aliens and strangers here.
This carries forward the Old Testament chosen people of God who were Israel, to the new Israel; the new covenant people of God, being Jew and Gentile in Christ who have found, or been found by, Jesus. Peter was called the apostle to the Jews – he could have denied that Gentiles are included. It’s astonishing that he’s calling them chosen of God the Father. He could have discounted Cornelius as a divine afterthought, a parenthesis to the real plan of Israel. No! He’d had the revelation that they are included. The people of God is much more inclusive – it’s made up of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus. The plan was foreknown by the Father before the creation of the world! Hallelujah!
In Asia Minor
The readers are in the Roman provinces of what is now Turkey. Last year I went to a conference there – for safety we could not fly into Istanbul, it is considered too dangerous even now.
There was the smell of tough times ahead and Peter wanted them to be anchored and grounded in the hope of the gospel. Hope is NOT a ‘hope so’, it’s a ‘know so’. He wanted them to know who and what they really were. So they could stand firm.
Elect This is a controversial doctrine! Because if we are chosen it implies some are not. In the Scriptures all talk of being chosen and elect is addressed to people who are already followers of Christ. That information is not given to us to make us think we are special – it’s to comfort us that God chose us and won’t let go. It’s unconditional election or we are going to get snotty proud that He chose us! If you go silly on it you don’t tell others about Jesus because if they are elect He will do it. No! Treat everyone like they are elect and love them, be Jesus to them, tell them – God knows who will respond! Election is a doctrine for the saved – to give us comfort, not pride or laziness.
You are chosen – know it, feel it. I am a chosen one, because God is good! If you are sitting on the fence – choose Jesus today, because if you are reading this, know that he has chosen you too. Knowing you are chosen makes a big difference if you are facing difficult stuff. So now Peter gives us some fixed points to triangulate.
Scouts learn to use a compass and map to take bearings of fixed landmarks (trig points) to triangulate their position. Satnavs and smart phones use satellite technology to do the same thing. Peter uses three fixed points for us to take bearings from, to know who we are and what we are.
I’m elect – trig point 1 – ACCORDING to the foreknowledge of the Father;
I’m elect – trig point 2 – IN sanctification of the Spirit;
I’m elect – trig point 3 – FOR obedience to the Son and for sprinkling by His blood.
This early Trinitarian reference of Father, Son and Spirit gives us fixed bearings to know who we are. When times are tough we have got to know who we are!
We are chosen according to the foreknowledge of the Father
They need not panic at the news that James has been killed, because the Father knows every event in history long before it happens.
They need not feel isolated and vulnerable, because the all-knowing God has told them to call him Father. Your earthly dad met you when you were born, Your heavenly Dad has known you and pursued you since before the dawn of time. He chose to love them, and you, and to make them, and you, part of His earthly family.
Two thousand years ago, when Jesus died on the cross, He threw out a rope of hope to each one of us. You just have to grab hold of it and God ties an unbreakable loop to hold onto you. Even as persecution is beginning to hit, in their darkest hour, their position never ever changes. They can still call the Lord God Almighty, the Sovereign One, Dad.
Christian, you have been CHOSEN
We have been chosen in the sanctification of the Spirit
Jesus won your forgiveness on the cross, paid for all your sin, ransomed and redeemed you, so that you are freed from slavery to sin – forgiven and free. The Spirit is the one that applied it to you. He was the one that regenerated your spirit that was dead in sin, made it alive so that you could respond to the rope of hope. The phrase ‘in the sanctification of the Spirit’ – is literally through the sanctifying work of the Spirit – being made holy, set apart. So the Spirit made your spirit alive and it is He that has come and filled you and made you God’s dwelling place on earth. He is the one sanctifying you ongoingly. He made you holy and is making you holy.
When you feel weak and fearful, the Holy Spirit strengthens you with God’s power to be brave.
When you are grieving, the Holy Spirit is the God of all comfort who comforts you.
If you are arrested for your faith, the Spirit will tell you what Father wants you to say.
If you feel like throwing in the towel, the Spirit will encourage you with a fresh glimpse of God’s glory. He will remind you that you are God’s child, whom He chose, whom He loves, with whom He is well pleased.
Thirdly, we are chosen for obedience to Jesus and for sprinkling by His blood.
Being chosen according to the foreknowledge of the Father IN the sanctification of the Spirit is FOR a purpose. It’s not about a generic spirituality, all nicey nicey in our culture, but the new covenant founded on the blood of Jesus.
Jesus’s last words were that we should go and make disciples, baptise them and teach them to OBEY what they have been taught. The apostle Paul’s introduction to his letter to the church in Rome tells us he received grace and apostleship to bring about obedience. God doesn’t just forgive us and set us free. He wants us to walk in the Spirit, follow Him, let Him be Lord. He knows best. He wants us to obey Him.
So I can understand that we are chosen for obedience. But we are chosen to be sprinkled in the blood too! In my sanitised ‘buy my meat in a cellophane pack’ society, that is weird!
I love learning new words. Here’s the ‘word for the week’ – HENDIADYS. It’s when you express a single idea with two words. Obedience and sprinkling is a hendiadys.
Peter is showing us that the new covenant is foreshadowed in the old covenant and much better too!
In Exodus 24:6-8 Moses sprinkled the blood on the people to seal the covenant, and the people said they would obey. That newly formed people of God, Israel, pledged their obedience to God and then they were sprinkled with the blood of the covenant. But they only had human willpower to obey and they weren’t very good at it. They needed to be sprinkled with blood regularly to purify them and consecrate them to the Lord.
Naem Fazal is ex Muslim and now a Christian pastor in the States. He was talking with a Muslim about the issue of sin, which is universal, and sacrifices. He asked ‘Did your family make sacrifices for sin?’ ” Yes”. ‘Did you ever get together with other families to make a bigger sacrifice?’ “Yes”. ‘How big a sacrifice would it take for the whole world?’ “That, that would be a God sized amount.” ‘Yes – it would take God himself.’
All through the Old Testament there’s a promise of a better covenant: Jesus’ blood, the perfect sacrifice, was shed to spiritually sprinkle us. Only one sacrifice was needed for evermore. We get to obey in the power of the Spirit.
Peter’s original readers, and we, are the ones for whom Jesus shed His precious blood. They and we are the ones who have been declared pure and sinless in God’s sight, consecrated as holy and obedient work tools in Jesus’ hands. Samaritan’s Purse missionary doctor Kent Brantly caught Ebola during the recent West Africa outbreak. He survived and then gave his blood to three others, so they could benefit from his antibodies. Those affected had to be open to the idea and then receive the blood for it to work.
So we have triangulated our position – pointed the compass at three known landmarks, received our position from GPS – God’s Positioning System. Christian, you were and are chosen, elect, a foreigner on earth, but living here for now with huge purpose:
God chose you according to his foreknowledge – despite not because!
He chose you to sanctify you, set you apart in the power of the Spirit.
He chose you for obedience and to be sprinkled with the blood of Christ – the new covenant that covers the new people of God, made up of Jews and Gentiles who receive Jesus.
Salvation – 2,000 years ago Jesus made the perfect sacrifice on the cross, throwing out the rope of hope to each and every one of us. Some are sitting on the fence, thinking about it. You need to let go of other things you have been using to keep you safe – status, job, career, visa, drinking, addictions – whatever it is – and grab hold of the rope of hope. Jesus is throwing it directly to you today – grab it. Be forgiven, made new and brought into friendship with the Father.
Identity – some of you need to ground your identity today. You have been chosen by the Father, saved through the Son, filled with the Spirit; given a new passport with position and status guaranteed. It was given the moment you received Jesus, grabbed hold of that rope of hope He threw you.In Ephesians (1:17), Paul prayed that we would receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him better.
Maybe you feel like giving up – it’s been a struggle, the battle has been hard, you are tired and weary. The Spirit wants to meet with you and pour His mighty dunamis power into you. To lift up your eyes again, so you can prevail.