Summary: Peter reminds us that God has chosen us in Christ Jesus to live like pilgrims and strangers in this world. But, do we have a pilgrim’s mindset and lifestyle?
The Chosen Pilgrims
1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:11-12
Verse 1 - “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen…”
The letter writer begins by introducing himself. He simply states that he is “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Peter did not feel the need to further introduce himself because he probably realized that every Christian knew who he was. Of the original apostles, Peter always stood out foremost. Whether it be for the good (as when he attempted to walk on water or as when he confessed his belief that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God) or whether it be for the not-so-good (as when he denied His Lord three times), Peter’s personality always seemed to make him stand-out rather than blend into the crowd of apostles. And, even today, Peter continues to be the most famous follower of Jesus.
It is not so well known that Peter’s name really wasn’t Peter. Peter was a nickname given to him by Jesus at their first meeting. John 1:40-42, “One of the two who heard John [the baptist] speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah‘ (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas (which is translated Peter).’” Peter means ‘stone’. The Lord perceived that Simon would one day be an important foundation stone of the Church.
Note that Peter does not claim any superiority over the other apostles of Christ. He does not claim to be the chief of the apostles. He does not claim a title or a position higher than the other apostles because he did not possess a greater title or position. Thus, he introduces himself, here, simply as “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” I am sure that he is embarrassed and disgusted that the Roman Catholic Church has elevated him as being the first pope.
Peter simply says that he was “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” ‘Apostle’ means ‘one sent forth on a mission’. Peter declares that he was just one of those who were specially sent forth by the Lord to reveal His Will to the world and be, as Jesus put it, ‘a fisher of men.’
Peter says this letter is meant for those who are ‘scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.’ These are all provinces of the old Roman Empire which today make-up the western half of Turkey. Sometimes, this whole region was referred to as Asia Minor.
This letter is not meant for every person in that region but for “the elect” or, better translated, “the chosen.” This title, “the chosen”, is a common one for God’s people. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were chosen by God to be His covenant people. Later, the Israelites were chosen to be His covenant people. Now, with the coming of a new covenant there is another group that carries the designation of God’s chosen - those who are members of the Church.
Verse 2 - “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.”
The fact that the Church is now God’s “chosen” people, says Peter, is “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” This simply means that God the Father knew that the Church would be His chosen before it happened. He foreknew it. It was part of God’s plan from the beginning. There are numerous prophecies in the Old Testament that speaks of the Church centuries before it was established. There are many prophecies that foretold that God, through the Messiah, would bring Jews and Gentiles together into one group - one body - and they would be God’s chosen people. The Church is not an afterthought, it is the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan.
Now, Peter, talks about how a person becomes part of the chosen, the Church. It begins with “the sanctifying work of the Spirit.”
What does “sanctifying” mean? Sanctification means “to be set apart for holy uses.” For one to become part of the chosen, they must be set apart for God by the Holy Spirit. How does the Spirit do this? A major clue is provided by Jesus as found in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.”
God’s word sanctifies or begins the process of setting us apart for God. The truth is, according to Ephesians 6:17, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The Spirit of God works through the Word - the Gospel. The Gospel invites us to separate ourselves from the world and sinfulness and to be joined to God for holy uses.