1 Peter 1: 1-2
God's grace and abundant mercy is available to us both now and as an inheritance to come! This passage is about salutations and greetings, acknowledgments and hope. Peter writes to a group of struggling Christians, whose hope is on the verge of extinction and whose options are limited. These are mostly Jews who have been disconnected from their homeland and all that they know, but also Gentile converts who are scattered from their families, careers, and status because of their faith. They are all really aliens in a foreign land; they are all-both Jew and Gentile-scattered physically and spiritually. Now, they realize, when we are in Christ, we are all foreigners as the world is not our real or permanent home; rather, our true home is to come. We become scattered from all that we know and need so to honor and embrace our Lord Jesus Christ more firmly, more fully, and more joyfully-to enjoy Him.
- Pilgrims/ elect, strangers referred to the Jewish Christians who were on a journey, scattered from their mission, work, and family, some even fleeing from persecution. Chapter 2:10 gives us a clearer picture of their work amongst the Gentiles, too. The word "saints" is used in 2 Corinthians 1:1 as a general term, and here, referring to people who are in Christ. The word we use now is "Christians," which comes about later (Acts 26:28; Rom. 15:25; Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 4:16).
- Dispersion (Greek diaspora) means "dispersed" or "isolated," a colloquialism that referred to the Jews who had scattered, or moved away from their homeland (John 7:35; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11). For us, it means we are "resident aliens" living in a foreign world; our real home is in Heaven to come (1 Chron. 29:15; Psalm 39:12; Heb. 13:14). This epistle was an "encyclical" letter, meaning it was copied and sent out to many churches in Asia Minor. The sequence of the names of the readers in this epistle may reflect the courier's route and schedule, or those who were on Peter's heart.
- Sanctification here means the application of our redemption, of setting us apart from sin (Gal. 6:14; 2 Thess. 2:13). This is the growth we have and do in Christ-in our trust and obedience that He provides. This is not saving action; it is a response action where we become more like Christ's character. The work of the Spirit intercedes in us; our response is our progressive growth and spiritual formation in Him (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Luke 24:26; John 15; 17:2; Phil. 3:10; 1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. 2:10).
- Obedience means our continual acts of trusting in God and obeying His precepts (John 6:28-29; Eph. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 1:9). We are chosen for obedience! This is not initiated by us, only a response by us. This is our part-our result, answer, and responsibility to His election and sanctification. This leads us to the Will of God, which is God's sovereignty and control, and He places us where we need to be for His glory (2 Cor. 1:1-3).
- The blood of Christ refers to the O.T. rituals of sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood for redemption, which Christ now takes the place of. It was the initiation of the Covenant of God to Israel; now, it is the Covenant of God to us. It also now means we have a covenant that we are forgiven (Gen. 4:10; Ex. 24:7-8; Luke 9:23-24; 23:34; Heb. 9:11-14, 18-28; 12:24; 1 John 1:7).
- Remember, the continual acts of trusting in God and obeying His precepts are our part and responsibility. This will help us enjoy our inherence and love in Christ and receive a blessing of God's special favor.
So what is our call in this? To be joyful, thankful, and glad! To honor and enjoy our inherence and love that we have received, so it overflows to others around us. Then, we can grow and endure through all things! Why? Because, we will face trials and sufferings, they are a part of this world and life. There is no escape from them. We can either learn to grow or withdraw and stagnate!
This passage is a call to continue in prayer and faithfulness. In that way, we can continue to be better used by our Lord. We are to remain firm in our stand of faith even when life is falling apart around us, and when we do not see hope or the light at the end of the tunnel. The call is to be encouraged and to stand firm. When we persevere in our faith, we allow God to use us even more where we are. Then, we learn and we grow further in Him, which helps us grow and be used more. This is circular. The more we endure, the more we grow. Then, the more we are used, the more we go through and so forth. This is the spiral of our faith-building that draws us higher in Him. When we are growing, we are ministering, too. As our faith grows, we are more likely to hear God's call, see the needs of others, and find opportunities to serve. Our faith development is not to be selfish, although the primary benefit is for ourselves, but we also are to see how it affects others. When we grow, then we inspire, encourage, and minister to others faster and better!
1. Why do you suppose Peter starts off his letter with a song of praise? Have you ever done that in your correspondences? Why, or why not?
2. What would a blessing or God's special favor mean to you? What is it? How could you receive it?
3. What does it mean to you that God's grace and abundant mercy are available to you now as well as being an inheritance to come?
4. If your hope was on the verge of extinction, your options limited, and you felt desperate, what would it take to reassure you? How have you responded to people in these circumstances?
5. How can the favor of God speak cool, quenching words to Christians in distress? So, what can you and your church do to be better at being a cool refresher to others in need or distress?
6. How can you do better at continuing in prayer and faithfulness?
7. In that way can you continue to be better used by our Lord?
8. Why are we called to remain firm in our stand of faith even when life is falling apart around us? How would this help us see hope or the light at the end of the tunnel?
9. How can you respond to His call to be encouraged and to stand firm? How can you be an encourager to others?
10. When we persevere in our faith, we allow God to use us even more where we are. How has them been so for you? How can it be more so?
11. Why is our faith development not to be selfish? How would you describe being selfish with faith?
12. What are you going to do to grow further in Him? What d you need to help you grow and be used more?
©1998, 2001, 2004, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org