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1 Peter 1:2 – Christian Hope: Part 1

March 1, 2020

There are no shortages of men and women who step forward to offer hope. Unfortunately, many try to sell a pseudo hope. You can hear voices from modern evangelicalism, the voice of the Muslim, or the voice of the secular Humanist, or the voice of the Roman Catholic or any other “leader” and guru, religious or irreligious all trying to sell hope. However, if one desires to possess hope, one must come to the truth and know that true hope is tied to a position and Person, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from a salvific position in Him there is no hope.

During the time in which the epistle of Peter was written, the known world, especially Christians, were under the hopeless, crushing weight of the Roman Empire. Through investigating the facts of Church history, one will discover that Peter himself suffered a gruesome death as a martyr under the wicked and diabolical rule of the Roman Caesar Nero. Paul shared in the same blessed martyrdom, although at a different time, but under the same circumstances, namely death by execution. But even though the epistle was written to those who were suffering under the weight of the Roman Empire, the apostle Peter did not call for men to hide in his person or in his ministry, as so many personality cultists are prone to do today. Peter established the new birth in Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit as the sure foundation, the hope that is within every believer in the midst of unspeakable trials and relentless oppression.

Peter did not call for the hope of better days ahead simply because one’s outlook is geared toward the “hope” of better days ahead. Peter began where the Christian must: position in Christ, the finished work of Christ, and the Person of Christ. This is the foundation of the believer’s hope, whether in trials and sufferings, or in the face of the last enemy: death. It is inconsistent and callous for the believer to offer a false hope to unbelievers, such as man-centered mantras telling them “we will get through this together,” “stay strong,” or “stay positive.” Even the hashtag social media campaigns that play on the emotions, gather a consensus around a trial, but never really addresses man’s sin nature and how that sin nature has alienated he or she from God. It is hopeless to disguise hope in man’s performance or state of mind, as if positive thinking will remedy the world’s ills. Peter, however, began His encouragement toward Christians with what God had accomplished for sinners.

He wrote to those of specific regions and identified them as the “chosen” (verse 1) or as one translations puts it, “the elect” (ESV). But in either case these people are “the chosen.” They are those whom God has appointed and elected unto salvation in the churches to whom Peter wrote. They are aliens, not in the terrestrial sense, but those who would be considered immigrants, scattered by the dispersion of Jews throughout the Roman Empire whose physical and geographical home is Israel. But more than Jews, they are believers, Christians who find their homes in the regions of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (see verse 1). This is a broad group of believing Jews and likely some of them Gentiles whose faith was in Jesus Christ. Their faith was so strong, they suffered for it.

Peter identified himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. This is the office to which Christ directly and specifically appointed Peter to bear fruit for the kingdom of God and to feed the Lord’s sheep (cf. John 21:17). Peter was far removed from his personal denial of the Lord at the mock trial of Christ (cf. Matthew 26:72). In this epistle, He is armed with the power of the Holy Spirit, boldness in Christ, the compassion and desire to see Christians walking upright in the way of truth, in Christ (cf. 1 Peter 1:13-23). He had demonstrated, by his own example, the believer’s hope is in Christ alone.

It is clear as to what standard Peter called the believers to hope. All efforts to stimulate hope are not equal. Some men call for hope in their personal experiences. Some call for hope in the results of their ministry. Some call for hope in feelings and vague reassurances. However, Peter invoked the standard to which all men must hold to have real hope. First, he called for a hope rooted in divine election, the sound doctrine by which God the Father appointed and chose for Himself those where to receive salvation, faith, and eternal life in Jesus Christ on the basis of what Christ has fully accomplished on the cross—that is propitiation (the satisfaction of wrath) for the sins of the elect. Peter first identified this by calling the believers “the chosen” or “chosen ones.” This is not a general or hypothetical group, but a specific group among the entire regions of Asia Minor. This was not the general populace but solely, and exclusively those who were the “elect” within the specified regions.

From chapter 1 verse 2 of 1 Peter, Peter identified the standard to which these believers were held and to which they were appointed. But more than that, he identified the standard of election. The beginning of verse 2 answers the standard of election. It answers these questions, namely “who chose these believers?”, “how were they chosen?”, and “how are they kept and sustained as chosen ones?”

Verse 2: κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ πατρὸς ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος εἰς ὑπακοὴν καὶ ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη.

(according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctification of [the] Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace may be multiplied)

It is through the foreknowledge of God the Father that these believers were chosen, appointed to be heirs of eternal life in Christ, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit is identified as the agent through which the work of sanctification has taken place to cleanse the believers of sin and to commend them to God based on what Christ has accomplished. The Spirit’s work of cleansing the believer produces a sure hope because the cleansing in the believer eliminates alienation from God, eliminates abiding in His wrath, and as such eliminates condemnation before Him (cf. Romans 8). This work of sanctifying those who are believers is Spirit’s work. To this effect, the believer will act in accordance with what He or she has been given. Peter wrote these believers were, by evidence of their obedience to Christ and being sprinkled with his blood, chosen ones. The standard to which the believer is elected is the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying means of the Spirit, and this produces the obedience that assures the believer he or she belongs to Christ, who has satisfied the wrath of God against them as their substitute on the cross through the vicarious, propitiatory, penal-substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead whereby men are saved if they confess with their mouths the Lord Jesus, repent of their sins, and believe God raised Him from the dead. Peter’s initial greeting concluded with the premise that if these things were indeed the case what belonged to the “chosen ones” in the regions represented was grace and peace supplied to them in the fullest measure and multiplied, that is to be increasing! This is where hope begins. Hope begins with who God is, what He has accomplished, and for whom He has accomplished the work of redemption. Although this epistle has a historical context, the elect from every nation can rest in the hope supplied in this initial greeting. What follows is how the believer must respond in the face of trials given the sound doctrine of the new birth and kingdom of God.

– Doron Gladden

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