Summary: Regardless of troubles, we have much cause to rejoice. The Lord is going to be with us until we die, then we will move in the house with Him. This old world is not heaven, but there is a heaven, and if we are saved, we are as sure for heaven as if we were already there.
The book of 1 Peter was written around 64 a.d., when a man by the name of Nero become Emperor in Rome, and Rome pretty much ruled the civilized world. There are two things about Nero that stand out: He was crazy (there’s a better medical name for his condition, but his thinking was totally warped;) He hated Christians, and he saw to it that they were severely persecuted. In addition to many having been put to death, Christians had their property seized by this hostile Roman government; and, at the time this was written, the worse had not yet occurred.
I’ve heard people say, “The more I try to serve the Lord, the more trouble I seem to have.” That’s exactly where these Christians were, and whether you are talking about Christians today, or these Christians back in the 1st century, the reason is the same. When a person is lost or lukewarm and backslidden, that person is no threat to the devil’s agenda; but, when someone gets serious about being a follower and a disciple of Christ, that person becomes a problem to the devil’s plan. So, we should ask ourselves if we are having any trouble with the devil.”
For a long time, we have lived in relative comfort in the Western world, but things are now changing. It is likely that we are not too far away from some really serious Christian persecution.
The political arena is different than it has ever been before. Used to, the difference in the major political parties was mostly a matter of which economic approach is best for the country. Now, these two parties are divided by their positions same sex marriage, abortion, the future of our constitution, and role of government in our lives. The book of 1 Peter is very relevant to our present day situation.
Let’s look first at the salutation, the introduction to this letter:
The very first word identifies the writer as Peter, and apostle of Jesus Christ. The word apostle is used in two ways: Someone who is sent by another with a message. That’s in the general sense. Then, there is the usage of the word that Peter uses here: Someone who is sent out by Christ with new revelation.
Now, there are some groups who believe that the Bible is not the complete revelation of God’s word to man. I see preachers on TV giving long dissertations about what God told them. At the end of the book of Revelation, there is a warning against adding to, or taking away, from the prophecy of this book.
God speaks to us today, through the Holy Spirit to illuminate the word that He has already revealed. But Peter identifies himself as one whom Christ had given new revelation.
This is addressed to “strangers scattered.” Some of the newer translations say, “pilgrims of the dispersion.” We are strangers and pilgrims in this world, because heaven is our eternal home, but the more immediate context of this is that they are strangers in these places that are named in v1.
Now, we need to understand why these people were scattered to these places. They had left their beloved homeland because of persecution.
But, I want you to see the hand of God in all this. Jesus had said in Acts 1:8, “After the Holy Ghost is come upon you, you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.” In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said to make disciples of all people from all nations, but after more than 20 years had gone by they were still huddled up in Jerusalem. God allowed persecution to drive them out and get them jump started in doing what he said do. Most of us can identify with that. When we look back on our lives, we see things that we certainly would not have chosen, yet we realize now that the thing we thought was bad opened the door to something very good.
They are called “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” in verse 2. The truth is, God knows everything past, present, and future. Someone said, “Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God?” The elect are the “whosoever wills,” who turn to Christ in faith, but it is absolutely no surprise to God when a person turns to Him, or doesn’t turn to Him. But it’s really more than just fore knowledge, it is God’s sovereign choice. I heard about a a couple who thought they couldn’t have children, so they adopted a baby boy. As sometimes happens, in a very short time after that, they realized that they could have children and they had one on the way. They had another little boy and as these two boys grew, one day the younger one reminded the older one that he was adopted. Well, the little adopted boy was pretty sharp. He told his brother, “When you were born, mom and dad had to take whatever they got, but they came and picked me out special.” Each of us who are saved can rejoice in the fact that we have been chosen.