Summary: Introduction to a study in 1 & 2 Peter
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”
The scriptures record for us example after example of the dynamic change wrought in the heart and life of men and women when God becomes the reigning force in their life.
We see it in the Old Testament saints, of course, and then more and more in the pages of the New Testament as the Holy Spirit comes to fill those God has chosen and the results of that filling are recorded for us more specifically.
One of the most apparent and amazing contrasts given to us has to be in the life of the Apostle Peter. Poor Peter was right out front, being the spokesman for the twelve. Just being the audacious, adventuresome one of the group put him in the spotlight most often and thereby illuminating both his most magnificent moments and his most contemptible.
Throughout the gospel accounts Peter gives us cause to scratch our heads, to laugh out loud, to smile and be proud of him and to groan in discouragement as he falls hard on his face.
Peter’s story is an inspiration, sometimes a warning, but in the end a great encouragement to us as we see him walking down that road next to the risen Jesus; the Lord reassuring Peter of His love and charging him with the three-fold commission to ‘feed My sheep’.
Then we go to Acts and read about the post Pentecost Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit and doing all the things that Jesus had predicted he and the other Apostles would do, and we stand in awe of this ‘new’ Peter that God has made. And we pause to thank God that He is able and willing to take the lives we have squandered and make them brand new and worthwhile and filled with the hope of eternal glory in His Kingdom, through this great salvation He has provided and of which Peter now speaks in terms that evidence revelation by the Holy Spirit of God.
For how could any mere man even begin to fathom the things he says even in the opening statements of this letter unless he had been taught by Jesus?
We see in just these two verses the working of the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit in setting apart those whom He chose before the foundation of the world to be cleansed by Christ’s atoning blood and called to the obedience of faith.
These are spiritual truths that had to be spiritually discerned by the Apostle but which he speaks of very matter-of-factly, making no apologies for his assertions nor defenses. He just states the facts as the Lord has taught them to him, and this doctrine of foreknowledge and choosing by the Father lays the groundwork for the blessings Peter will go on to reveal in this letter, as well as the practical instruction and exhortation to Godly living.
These believers he is writing to have been through much persecution and we know in hindsight that the worst was yet to come. Yet through it all Peter knows they can stand strong in their faith with the assurance that their grievous testing now will result in inexpressible and glorious joy (1:8).
So let’s begin by zooming our focus in on today’s text and let it both instruct and bless us and also prepare us for the richness of this letter to the church of Jesus Christ, aliens scattered through a dark world about to pass away.
Peter addressed his letter to a group of regions north of and at the east end of the Mediterranean.
If your Bible has maps you can go to one of the maps that traces the missionary journeys of Paul, and you can easily find these Roman regions there in the area that is present day Turkey.
The letter is not just generally sent to anyone who lives in this widespread area who might care to read it though. He addressed it to those residing there as aliens. Now in fact they were probably not alien to those regions and may even have been there all their lives.
But they were now, through whatever individual and personal circumstances, followers of Jesus Christ and therefore no longer of this present world, but of another, spiritual kingdom.
Some of them were probably Jews, many of them were Gentiles, but the addressees of this letter were all believers in Christ and therefore ‘aliens’.
More than that, they were scattered aliens. That has kind of a temporary tone to it, doesn’t it? Sort of unsettled?