Read the Passage: 1 Peter 1:1-12
Peter’s Greeting (1:1–2)
Peter begins his epistle by disclosing the identity of his intended readers, whom he writes were “pilgrims of the Dispersion” (1 Pet. 1:1). These are Christians who were cast out from Rome and were scattered across five of the Roman provinces in modern day Turkey. Peter describes these believers as “elect according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Peter 1:2). Some people object to the idea of election, as they believe it makes God unjust. Yet, election is not about God’s justice, but about His grace. If no man seeks God (cf. Rom. 3:10–18) and man’s heart is wicked and deceitful (cf. Jer. 17:9), then the only way to salvation is if God facilitates the event. Note that foreknowledge refers to a predetermined, intimate relationship, not to prior intellectual knowledge. The reason for man’s election and foreordination, as Peter notes, is sanctification and obedience.
Saints’ Inheritance (1:3–9)
Having revealed that the purpose of salvation is sanctification and obedience, Peter reminds his readers that their salvation was made possible “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). Moreover, salvation entails “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved for you” (1 Pet. 1:4). These would have been encouraging words for a persecuted people who had likely lost many of their possessions. Jesus, then, does not just save people, but also keeps them “for salvation” (1 Pet. 3:5). Note that the Bible speaks of salvation as being past (cf. Eph. 2:8), present (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18), and future (cf. Rom. 5:9). In 1 Pet. 1:6–9 Peter touches upon the theme of suffering, noting for his readers that suffering proves “the genuineness of your faith” (1 Pet. 1:7) and is proof of “the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:9).
Prophets’ Ministry (1:10–12)
In 1 Pet. 1:10–12 Peter reminds his readers of the preciousness of the faith that they possessed. The apostle notes that the Old Testament prophets, as well as the angels, longed for understanding of salvation. Regarding the prophets, Peter notes that they “searched carefully” (1 Pet. 1:10) in Scripture—including their own writings—for information about the gospel. They wanted to know when Christ would come and why He would suffer, as well as about the coming glory. Peter is teaching his suffering readers are actually in a better position than were the prophets. Regarding the angels, Peter writes that the angels long for information about the gospel. Given angels’ access to God, their longevity, and supernatural nature, this is as important commentary on the preciousness of the gospel. It is sufficient and cannot be exhausted, there is no need to innovate.
- What is your understanding of the doctrine of election? Given that election is a prominent theme in Scripture, why is it avoided in many churches today?
- Have you ever suffered because of your faith? What has been your reaction to suffering in the past? How can we better minister to those who are suffering?
- Given their position, why do the angels long to know more about the gospel?