THEME: touches on various doctrines, and guidance to Christian life and duties. Offers hope in severe trials through a firm faith in the “God of all grace” .
RECIPIENTS: Jewish and Gentile Christians scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. .
PART 1: THE SALVATION OF THE BELIEVER
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” . Who is an apostle? “A special messenger of Jesus Christ; a person to whom Jesus delegated authority for certain tasks. The word apostle is used of those twelve disciples whom Jesus sent out, two by two, during His ministry in Galilee to expand His own ministry of preaching and healing. It was on that occasion, evidently, that they were first called “apostles” (Mark 3:14; 6:30). These same disciples, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, were recommissioned by Jesus after His resurrection to be His witnesses throughout the world (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8). After Jesus’ ASCENSION, the apostles brought their number to twelve by choosing Matthias (Acts 1:23-26).” (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers) Peter was called by our Lord Jesus and commissioned to do the work of an apostle .
“To God’s elect, strangers in the world” ; God’s people that live as strangers, with no permanent abode, in this world; looking forward to a better dwelling place ; specifically to those “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia”, who were dispersed, no doubt, due to persecution that had begun in Jerusalem and the surrounding cities: “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood” . The term “chosen”has been interpreted in various ways to suit various doctrines, but a brief examination of the term, as used by Paul the Apostle, reveals that in the same way as not all descendants of Israel (Jacob) are Israelites, God chose a remnant by His grace and mercy , and in the case of the Gentiles, chosen because of the preaching of the gospel . We must understand that because God is sovereign and knows the end from the beginning (foreknowledge), He knows from the beginning of time those who will choose to follow Him , and has given every individual, that has ever, or will live, on this earth the ability to choose life or death . Therefore, our being chosen (salvation) is only through the work of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to the message of the gospel.
So Peter greets his readers “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” , grace and peace is offered to those who are chosen .
2. Salvation of the Believer
(a) Hope for the Future
“God……In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Peter encourages us to offer our praise and thanksgiving to our God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for His great mercy, which none of us deserve, but given to us because of His love to all sinners . He has also given us a “living”hope, regardless of all the doom and gloom that this world has to offer and the sufferings that we have to endure, a hope that is not wishful thinking but a firm conviction of better things to come , a hope that is guaranteed through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. That hope also ensures us “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” reserved in heaven for us, promised by none other than our Lord Jesus Christ .
(b) Trials for the Present
Through faith in Christ we are protected, presently and eternally by God’s power, from the outcome of our present sufferings until our salvation is completed at Christ’s return to this earth, and in this we can rejoice ; even though we may have to suffer greatly for our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The affliction we experience comes to prove our faithfulness and removes the irrelevant qualities from our lives – “These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine” , resulting in praise, glory and honour to the Lord Jesus Christ at His return . Although we do not see Christ in the physical realm we love Him and are filled with joy at what He has accomplished and will accomplish on our behalf, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”.
(c) Anticipation In The Past
The ancient prophets and the angels in heaven anticipated our salvation but were unable to comprehend it, searching diligently the significance of their predictions, “..trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” . The Holy Spirit – “Spirit of Christ” – had revealed to them that their writings were for the benefit of us today as we hear the gospel message and read the contents of the Scriptures, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” .