1 Peter:1-2

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We come now to our scripture reading, and you might notice that it comes from 1st Peter,
the very beginning thereof, and hopefully that is not to be troubling as you all are
going later, that you are further along in such a series.
Let us now read the first two verses of 1st Peter chapter 1.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion, in Pontus,
Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 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. Amen.
Let us pray the help of God’s Spirit.
Oh Father, we thank You for Your Word, and we thank You for this time to meditate upon it,
and we pray, Lord, that You would work in our hearts at the proclamation of Your Word,
that Your Spirit would move us, that Your Spirit would enlighten our minds in the knowledge of Christ, that we would grow to love You more and more, and we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
You may be seated.
We come today to the opening of this epistle of 1st Peter, and the passage serves as the opening
greeting to the churches to whom Peter wrote. It serves as a heading that tells us who the letter
is from, and to whom it is written, and then a salutation is given. And while this letter follows
the general format of most letters sent during that time, the content of these opening verses
contain rich truth for Peter’s hearers, both at that time and now. As can be noted in this
first verse, the letter clearly states that it is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
And since you might at some point pick up a commentary, you may have even done so in
preparation for the series that is ongoing. You might find yourself surprised that there are those
who do not agree with the letter here. They would say, no, no, this can’t be from Peter.
The Greek in this letter, it seems too good for one such as Peter. It seems too polished compared
to 2nd Peter, for instance. Plus, wasn’t Peter just this Galilean fisherman? It further is noted
that there are some things in this letter that apparently sound rather Pauline rather than
Petrine, and it sounds kind of like Paul here and there. If you come across such things,
there’s no need to be troubled, as I’m hopeful that you would not be to begin with.
The letter clearly says it is from Peter, and we know that scholars sometimes make a living by
discussing at length matters that boil down to that which we simply cannot prove.
We come in some of these things with our own ideas to begin with.
And plus, there are compelling answers to such objections as these. For instance,
people in the ancient world sometimes would make use of scribes and amanuensis to
write down a letter for them. So even if the criticism held true that the Greek of the letter
is too high quality for Peter himself, we could readily conclude that Peter made use of a
particularly good scribe when he wrote this letter. Furthermore, in 1 Peter 512,
we find that the man who will be delivering and reading the letter to these within-named churches
is none other than a close associate of the apostle Paul by the name of Silvanus, also known as Silas.
So it is possible that Silvanus himself could have served as a scribe for Peter and could have had
for Peter and could have had some freedom in the exact wording of this letter, which he himself
was to deliver and read to the churches, which could explain some language sounding vaguely
Pauline or similar to Pauline language, as Silas, after all, spent a lot of time with Paul
and would have likely been influenced by his speech patterns. But again, these are things which
we cannot really delve into. In the end, whatever the process of the writing of this letter may have
looked like, we find that the letter itself claims to be from Peter. We find also that there are no
compelling reasons to doubt the truthfulness of that claim. And I submit to you that taking this
to be true, that Peter wrote this letter, truly enriches the content of the letter.
And we’ll get into that more as we consider the passage.
Our passage today teaches us that our triune God gives grace and peace to his people.
And we see this in three points. We see first the elect exiles mentioned by Peter. We see
second, God’s triune work. And we see third, the apostolic greeting. And so our theme is our triune
God gives grace and peace to his people. And we consider that first point as we consider the part
of the passage where Peter calls his hearers elect exiles.
He calls them elect exiles of the dispersion. And for Peter to address his hearers as being
of the dispersion, this would typically be a term that properly referred to Israelites exiled to
foreign lands outside of the promised land that had been given to Israel.
So here in the opening, it seems to be a letter written to Jews who have been dispersed away
from their homeland. But as the letter goes forward, there are problems with that assumption,
potential problems. For instance, Peter tells his hearers in verse 14,
do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.
And this doesn’t seem to describe people who were raised in a Jewish community who would likely
have known the scriptures of the Old Testament from an early age and would have been encouraged
to abstain from passions of foreign ignorance, of former ignorance, of
ignorance by their own fathers, they would have been taught this.
And he goes on in verse 18, you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers.
That doesn’t quite seem to jive with this being written at least exclusively to a Jewish community.
The faith was to be transmitted from one generation to another in the Jewish community.
The one faith from of old that spoke of Christ. Christ had called his disciples to bring the
gospel to the ends of the earth. In Acts 10, we find that the apostle Peter was the first to preach
to the Gentiles when he entered the home of Cornelius. And the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter
the fact that to the Gentiles also, God granted repentance that leads to life.
God granted repentance that leads to life. That’s found in Acts 11, 18.
So who then are these elect exiles of the dispersion to whom Peter writes?
Why even use this language of dispersion that typically refers to those who have been scattered
like seeds from their homeland, from the promised land?
Well, I do believe that Peter is speaking primarily to Gentiles in this letter.
And that by calling them according to this term, he is teaching them about their citizenship
and the citizenship of all who have been born again in Christ.
And this truth would be there, whether for Gentiles or for Israelites, so that surely in
their midst, those who were of Jewish descent would also fall under that heading. You see,
Christians are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, a heavenly kingdom that has come in Christ and
that is to come. We are citizens from above, born in the heavenly Mount Zion.
We are those who fulfill the words of the Psalm that this one and that one is born in Zion.
And as a result of our new creation, identity, Christians are strangers and exiles
in the earth until that day when Christ makes all things new.
And so the land about which Peter is writing to us is the land of our promised inheritance
in Christ, the new heavens and the new earth. As we continue to read the letter,
we find clues that Peter is writing to believers who have faced some local persecution
and alienation because of their faith. Some of them truly found themselves to be exiles
in their own country as they tried to live for the glory of God in a pagan setting.
And so this language is fitting to their situation. Peter addresses them as elect
exiles according to the foreknowledge of God. They’re going through hardship and pain.
And in that hardship and pain, Peter points them that they are elect exiles according
to the foreknowledge of God. They are elect having been chosen by God. They are exiles
having been rejected by men. And this exile is on account of Christ’s name.
And it is not outside of God’s plan and purpose, and that is a comfort.
This is according to God’s foreknowledge. This suffering and oppression under which they live
has been appointed by God. It is something like what we find in Genesis 15 13,
where God told Abram ahead of time,
Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs,
and will be servants there or slaves there, and they will be afflicted for 400 years.
And indeed, as God spoke to Abram, so did it come to pass. Even to the time of Moses,
these people were enslaved, 400 years. And in Exodus chapter 2 verses 22 through 25,
we find that Moses, the redeemer of Israel, was made a sojourner in a foreign land.
There we read, During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned
because of their slavery, and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God,
and God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with
Jacob. God saw the people of Israel, and God knew. Yes, God saw, and God knew. It was he who had
ordained it ahead of time for their good and for his glory. It was he who had foreordained this
thing coming to pass. Even Moses’ own exile from Egypt taught him humility and obedience to the
Lord, and it prepared the way for his being able to lead God’s people out of Egypt where they had
grown up their whole lives, leading them towards a land of promise that they had never seen.
See, these sufferings that God put in the life of his people and in the life of Moses, they prepared
them for God’s plan. And so it is a comfort to know that our suffering is ordained by God to bring
about his purposes. After all, man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. And the
Lord tells us ahead of time that we are to suffer. Surely it’s true. The Lord told his
disciples ahead of time that they would suffer for his name. And so, Peter, by addressing the
saints in these places as elect exiles of the dispersion according to the foreknowledge of God
the Father, he begins to point his hears to the grace of God in their election and the peace that
is theirs even amid suffering as exiles. He reminds them that this suffering is a sign that they belong
to Christ, who is their master. And if their master suffered, so surely would they. Indeed, Peter is
teaching that our triune God gives grace and peace to his people. And we see this even more
clearly as we consider how Peter points us to God’s triune work. We see that he writes,
to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
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.
Notice the working of our triune God and how Peter describes his work. Remember, though there are
three persons in the Trinity, these three persons are one and the same God. He revealed himself to
Israel saying, hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. In his working out of the plan
of redemption for his people, we see that the Father chose his elect and planned for new their
ways, including their sufferings. We see that the Father planned this election and suffering to be
worked out in the sanctification of the Spirit. And so we see the presence of the Spirit in us
through this suffering sanctifying us. According to the teaching of our shorter catechism,
question and answer 35, in answer to the question, what is sanctification? We read,
sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man
after the image of God and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness.
In other words, sanctification involves our being made holy.
As we are set apart and consecrated for a renewed and holy use,
a division is made between believers and the world at large. This involves a separation from
the world, such that we become like those who no longer belong here. Exiles in our own countries,
in our own communities, in our own families at times. Our loyalties now lie in another place,
in another place, in another kingdom, in another community, in another family.
We need not be surprised when we meet these trials because we suffer with Christ
whose blood consecrates us to this holy use. And as we suffer with Christ, we are called to die to sin
and to live to righteousness more and more.
And this suffering is meant to produce in us steadfastness, to grow us knowing that all
things work together for the good of those who belong to Christ. And so we grow in sanctification
and God does this work in us according to his plan.
This plan involves our being brought into obedience to Christ. And so we see in this,
the triune work of God, as in giving grace and peace to his people. In the midst of suffering,
we receive the sanctification of the spirit. And that spirit is to us a comforter.
Though we have not yet attained to perfect holiness and righteousness,
God is at work in us, to will and to work for his good pleasure.
He equips those who are citizens of his heavenly kingdom. He is not far from us,
but he is with us in our sufferings. We who belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed and heirs according
to the promise as we believe in that promise. In the midst of suffering and exile, we need not fear
that these sufferings are a sign of doom and condemnation because God has planned our salvation
and has told us ahead of time that we would suffer for his name. And as we suffer in this world,
we bear witness to God who is good. We are those who come to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant
into the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. And so we are at
peace with God because of the work of Jesus. In him we have redemption through his blood
according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time.
Ephesians 1. It is upon the basis of this wondrous work of redemption that Peter writes,
teaching us that our triune God gives grace and peace to his people. As he gives the apostolic
salutation or greeting saying, may grace and peace be multiplied to you.
As mentioned earlier, at the time of the New Testament, part of the general format for letters
included who the letter was from, to whom it was written, and then a greeting from the sender.
It’s not really different very much from our own openings of letters. And the standard greeting
of that time was the word Kyrain, which in Greek meant greetings. But Peter here changes this
greeting from Kyrain to include two Greek words, charis and arane, which together sounds similar
to that usual word for greeting, charis arane, Kyrain. But here he greets the church’s more
meaningfully. The greeting is an authoritative pronouncement upon the hearers from one whose
fellowship is with God. And so it does matter that this letter says it is from Peter
as he gives this blessed greeting. We find written in our passage that Peter was called
to be an apostle of Christ. Peter was expressly commissioned by Christ with the task of feeding
Christ’s sheep. And somehow Peter had learned of the persecution taking place among these churches
out in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. And he decided to write to them.
If you think about it, we know that Peter knew firsthand what it was to be afraid of persecution
on account of the name of Christ. He himself, as we read, had denied Jesus three times after Jesus
was arrested. In Luke 22 verses 31 through 34, I’ll read it again, Jesus told him ahead of time
what was to come. Jesus said to him that, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,
that he might sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.
And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. This was the commission of Peter
to strengthen his brothers. That was the commission of Peter, the purpose of the suffering
that was to come. And of course, Peter said to him, Lord, I’m ready to go with you both to prison
and to death. At that time of peace, that was his thought. But Jesus again told him
that the rooster would not crow that day until he had denied him three times. And we know that when
Peter denied Jesus that third time out of fear, we’re told in verses 60 through 62 that immediately
while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord, in the midst of his sufferings,
the Lord turned to find his disciple. He turned and looked at Peter.
And Peter remembered as Christ looked at him what the Lord had said to him.
And he went out and wept bitterly. Peter knew whereof he spoke here.
In John 21, after Christ’s resurrection, we’re told how Jesus restored Peter, prompting him
three times with the question, do you love me? And three times he told Peter to feed his sheep.
Peter, who truly betrayed Christ, who was weak in a time of fear,
wrote to the churches to strengthen them, to feed them, because he knew the grace and the peace that
comes from God. He knew what it was to be afraid and to be an outcast because of the name of Christ.
What it was to be afraid and to be an outcast because of the name of Christ.
And by revelation from the Spirit, Jesus came to know that Peter would deny him,
and he told him ahead of time what was going to happen, and even spoke ahead of time
about that restoration. So that when it came to pass, Peter was humbled.
And so we see in Peter’s own story the plan of God for his redemption, which abounded and multiplied
to the blessing of countless people who have been blessed by Peter’s ministry.
We see in Peter’s own story the sanctification of the Spirit at work in his life.
And we see in Peter’s own story how he was brought to obedience,
and was himself in need of the sprinkling of his blood.
And this is in many ways our calling as Christians, in witnessing to one another,
as the Lord has led us through various times of suffering for his name, or even times where we’ve
suffered because of our own sin, and yet the Lord brought about repentance.
And yet the Lord brought about repentance.
As with the apostles, so too with us, we are to bear witness to him who we have believed,
to him who we know. Our triune God gives grace and peace to his people.
What Peter has been given, this he imparts.
I received a text message just this morning from a co-worker who I had shared my story with
of troubles that the Lord had brought me through. And he sent me a text message this morning
saying that he was very thankful for my having shared that time, and then he shared a truly
a more sorrowful story than mine, which I had not, he had not shared with me and said that it
had encouraged him. That’s something that just happened this morning from a passing conversation.
The Lord is good, and he works in our suffering, and we do well to remember and to give thanks to
him and to glorify his name to our brothers and sisters.
What then ought we to conclude, brothers and sisters?
Have you met with suffering and sorrow? Have you met with opposition for the name of Christ?
Have you found even among the members of the church that there are betrayals and wrongs done
to you? Has your heart been discouraged by the pain, the horror, the betrayal, and the injustices
that you meet in this life? What greater pain ever took place than that the Son of God
drank down to the dregs the Father’s wrath against our sin? What greater horror than this
Son being sent in love as the long-announced King to his people only to be handed over to death
by his rightful subjects? What greater betrayal than to have been handed over at the hands
of a close disciple and even to be denied publicly by the most outspokenly loyal of them?
What greater injustice was suffered than to have been truly and perfectly sinless
in glorifying the Father only to be accused of blasphemy by false witnesses
and turned over to be condemned by the courts?
What greater injustice than to have been a true man of peace
but to be accused of treachery and though the Judge knew his innocence
turned him over for political reasons?
It is the blood of this Christ which sprinkles us and cleanses us. It is unto this Christ
that we entrust ourselves in faith knowing that he is good and righteous and just and knowing too
that he has made a way in his justice to be merciful to miserable sinners like us
and that he does sprinkle us with his blood.
Yes, our triune God gives grace and peace to his people in Christ.
In all his sufferings, Christ imparted blessing to us
and took the faithlessness and weakness of his own disciple and turned it into a witness
to strengthen others. And so take heart. Christ’s grace and peace he imparts and he imparts
and it is truly abundant. Take heart and hear the word of greeting from Peter, an apostle of Christ
Jesus. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Amen. Let us pray.
Oh Father, we thank you for your goodness. We thank you that you lift us up into that story
of redemption which you have been telling from before the foundation of the world.
Oh Father, we pray that you would make our hearts stand firm in the faith that we would
meet the darkest trials with hope, with faith, with love, having peace that passes all understanding
by your spirit. Father, we pray that you would work in us by that spirit to make us walk
according to the weight of your glory. We pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.
Well people of God, let us now respond to the word that we have heard and considered
by turning in your hymnal to 362 oh sons and daughters let us sing and if you’re able please stand.