PETER, AN APOSTLE
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with His blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance (1 Peter 1: 1-2).
Who wrote this letter, Peter or Paul? It sounds a lot like Paul, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t Paul; it was Peter, the fisherman.
When we read these letters, we read them as inspired writings rather than as letters written by human beings who must have been in contact with one another and influenced one another in many ways. These men were apostles and leaders in the early church. They had a profound influence on the believers and would have spent time together whenever they could so that they would speak with one voice.
Peter had been with Jesus for more than three years. Paul had his three years in the desert of Arabia, communing and learning the message he was to take to the world from the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised, would lead him into all truth. They learned from the same Master and taught the same message wherever they went.
To whom did Peter write this letter? To believers scattered throughout Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. How can one write a letter to people scattered all over the place? Perhaps Peter made many copies and had one of his compatriots drop them off as they travelled from place to place. We can send e-mails anywhere simultaneously simply by adding an address to our list of addressees and pressing ‘send’. In a flash, through technology we use but do not understand, our recipients can read our letter within seconds.
Peter’s way of communicating was tedious and took many months to reach his readers but his message was permanent, preserved on material that has survived thousands of years. What happens to our messages on computer? They disappear as fast as they were sent simply by pressing ‘delete’. Unfortunately, we often dismiss God’s word from our minds as quickly as we delete our e-mails from our computers, instead of saving them on the ‘hard drive’ of our hearts.
Peter’s greeting was in itself a short but profound summary of his message to these scattered believers:
Who were they? They were God’s elect, unknown and unnamed people as far as the world was concerned but, as far as God was concerned, known and chosen to belong to Him before the world was even created. From the world’s perspective they were exiles, aliens, rejected by the world, refugees living in foreign lands, not belonging anywhere in this world but, nevertheless, citizens of the heavenly kingdom, their true homeland.
What a contrast! Rejected by the world but belonging to God. Their identity was not rooted in the world’s favour. What did it matter if the world did not want them? They were God’s chosen, chosen by Him and identified with Him. That made them secure for time and eternity. And it was a God-thing from beginning to end. Why? The triune God is involved in their election.
Firstly, God the Father was behind the choice of every individual who made up the elect. They did not happen to be in His kingdom by chance. They did not stumble into it by accident. They were there by the Father’s choice and for a purpose.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit was involved in their election. He made it all happen. He wooed and won the heart of every person who was called ‘elect’. He drew them to Jesus, opened the eyes of their understanding, brought them to faith and set them apart for God.
Thirdly, Jesus was also involved in their election. He was the object of their faith and the reason for their salvation. It was through His blood that they were forgiven, cleansed and made fit to be citizens of God’s kingdom and members of His family. It was for obedience to Him that they were chosen and called. This was ultimately the evidence and the outcome of their election.
If you are a citizen of God’s kingdom, you are also ‘elect’ of God, unknown and unwanted by the world, but belonging to God and set apart for him.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.