A Devotional Exposition
of 1 Peter 1:1-5
by Son Nguyen
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the sojourners scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace, be multiplied unto you. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy, has regenerated us again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:1-5
"An apostle" - Why does Peter address himself as an apostle instead of a disciple? What is the difference between an apostle and a disciple? Basically, a disciple is one who is taught by or sits under someone while an apostle is one who has been taught by and is empowered by his Master to represent him. Self-examination: Are we living as either a disciple or an apostle? How often as a disciple? How often as an apostle? Do we think about being an apostle or a disciple of Jesus Christ or alas we think nothing of being either?
"An apostle of Jesus Christ" - Peter, being a Christian, represents Jesus, His Master. Self-examination: Who are we representing in our manner of speech, conduct, and pattern of thinking, be it in private or public? How often are we representing ourselves (or bearing the deep imprints of the world on us) rather than representing Jesus? How do we represent Jesus? How do you think Jesus would want us to represent Him?
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ" - Did not Peter fail Jesus miserably and publicly several times? Did not Jesus rebuke Peter to his face because he allowed Satan to occupy his thoughts? Yet, Peter has no shame now saying that he is representing Jesus. This is because with God there is complete forgiveness and our hard heart has been made new again. Because there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, we should never permit past sins, failures, and humiliation to impede us from living for and representing Christ. While we are wise to draw no overt attention to our sordid past (which often tends to inadvertently magnifying the glamour of sins), we do not have to hide anything from anyone, but rather we give glory to God for what He has done in transforming us. God wants us to represent Him as we are. This is so because He loves us unconditionally, and this shows His glorious work in us. Moreover, it is always best and most effective to serve Him with a clean conscience.
"Sojourners" - Note the choice of word 'sojourners' here. God could have used the word 'citizens' but He did not. (Remember that God's Word is very precise and it would do us much benefit paying careful attention to it.) The word 'sojourners' is a reminder to us that we are not here merely to give birth and to die, to laugh and to cry, or to save and to spend, but we are on a journey to a heavenly destination. We are citizens of God's kingdom traveling through this earthly time and place on the way to a special home He has reserved for us. We are in this world but not of this world. Self-examination: If people were to observe our lives for a while, what would they say is our destiny/our permanent home by the way we live?
"Asia" - Among other significance, the name Asia shows that Peter fully understands his calling in his ministry. As a Jew, before he was converted and even after that, Peter would have nothing to do with the people living in Asia because they are regarded as Gentiles, the unclean heathens. Remember that Jesus gave Peter a charge of "Feed My sheep". Peter got the 1st part right, but he was amiss on the 2nd, serving the Jews exclusively until God had to make it clear to him the error of his ways. We cannot effectively serve God unless we have a proper understanding of our calling. God multiplied Peter's service and the ensuing joy after he had come to correctly understand who Jesus' sheep include. Self-examination: Who is our Asia?
"Elect" - Putting aside the theological discussion of the word 'elect' for a moment, note that this letter is addressed to believers. Note then the topics that Peter is expounding to them: the Trinity at work, regeneration, the resurrection of Jesus, inheritance, faith, salvation, and obedience. Are not they the same topics that an unsaved person would also need to hear and believe in? This is why the phrase "Preach the Gospel to yourself everyday!" is so correct. Just because we have become Christians, it does not mean that we should no longer occupy our minds with the basic truths. While deeper meditation and discernment of complex hermeneutics are fruitful, an apostle is one who lives out the essentials and basics of Christianity. The longer we walk with God and the more He reveals the mysteries of life to us, the more we shall see that life tenets essentially boil down to the very basic fundamentals: believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing, loving, and trusting Him.
"Elect" - Note that before these scriptural words from Peter even arrives, these people have already been saved by God. The point here is that God does the saving of souls while we are to simply do what He leads us to do. This will keep us from being prideful if we are to be blessed by being able to share the Gospel in a goodly manner and/or to impact many people, near or far, by our witnessing.
Note how little Peter speaks of himself or builds up his credibility other than to simply attach his name/himself to Jesus. Note also that he rather makes much of God. Peter did not feel the need to say that he had earned this theological degree or done that mission work. The name of Jesus is sufficient to open any doors. If the doors are not open, it is because they reject God, not us. On the other hand, if the doors are open, we can be sure that it is because this is the work of God which will surely last (as opposed to ours which may soon perish). This is a special comfort to us in getting up the courage to witness to someone we do not know. Remove ourselves and let Jesus enter in as much as possible when it comes to witnessing. "He must increase, but I must decrease." If ever there is a formula for success, this is the one to meditate on, to hold on to, and to practice.
"The foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" - Here's the work of the Trinity in vivid display. Note the interwoven of the omnipotence and the omniscience of the Godhead: "foreknowledge" denotes future; "sanctification" conveys the present; and "obedience and sprinkling of the blood" references a past. Be marveled also at how completely God cares for us by how at no point in time of our lives (before, during, after) He is not there with us. Is it not an incomprehensible joy to see that God actively and patiently pursues us throughout eternity? Who would love us so thoroughly?
"Foreknowledge" - God always thinks ahead for our good. Self-examination: How often do we think ahead and plan our actions to please Him?
"Sanctification" - God is living and working within us from the moment we are saved till when we die. Self-examination: Are we aware of His presence in our lives? Are we grateful that the Almighty, who makes His abode in paradise, chooses to dwell in such mean estate? Are we grateful for and receptive to His continual work in our lives or are we dreading and fighting His molding and shaping of us? Do we resent having to get rid of our sinful habits and wicked pleasures because His holy presence living within us and watching us?
"Obedience and sprinkling of the blood" - God obeyed His own Word. What excuse do we have for not doing so? His obedience is out of love and unto death. Self-examination: If we required a kidney/liver transplant or we die and someone donated that organ to us so that we live, we would be forever grateful to that person, never forgetting the debt and always shower that person with the utmost respect and gifts of love. What shall we give to Jesus in return for His love which saved us from an eternal death?
"Grace and peace, be multiplied unto you" - The assumption here is that the people whom Peter wrote to already had grace and peace. But Peter wishes more for them. Never be satisfied with the grace and peace we presently enjoy, no matter how great they may be. Life in Christ gets sweeter as we go on longer with Him. The point here is not to demand more grace and peace but not to rest on our laurels. Perhaps this phrase is also referring to the fact that in everything we do, we need God's peace and grace afresh each time.
"Mercy" - Mercy first implies there was a past transgression that deserved punishment. It also means that we have escaped the deserved judgment through God's kindness. Self-examination: While we are living under grace, have we totally lost sight of the terrible state of woes that we came from? It helps us to be truly grateful if while we are basking in our certain and bright destiny, we do not forget where we have been and where we should have ended up. Are we truly thankful to God for His mercy? Do we love Jesus more than anyone else for loving us to the point of taking all of our punishing upon Himself?
"Regenerated" - Regeneration first means that we were dead (in spirit) and we have been revived. Regeneration is a miracle, the greatest kind of all. It requires tremendous power and comes at an enormous cost. Self-examination: Are we living as though we are still unregenerate? What are the differences in us today versus before we were saved, in any given areas of our lives? Do we like the new life better and demonstratively so or are we still enamored with the old life? How precious to us and how much value do we place on this gift of new life? This ought to cause us to see that the greatest possession we have is not our money, car, job, hobbies, social standing, health, or even spiritual gifts. Nothing is more valuable than our soul and those of others.
"Hope" - Do we even know that we need to have hope? What is our hope or in whom is our hope? Hope means that we are lacking something good and we long for it. Do we know what we are lacking and what we long for? How real are these to us? Hope also denotes a reason for continuing our existence with purpose and in contentment as well as with joy. If we are constantly finding ourselves being empty, unsatisfied, and downtrodden, it may be wise for us to check on our hope department.
"A living hope" - Living is the opposite of dead. Living also conveys the idea of being lively and lucid - the opposite of dormant and delusional. Self-examination: What is the usual state of our hope? Alive and locked on Christ or dead and devoted to the trappings of this world?
"Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" - Our salvation doesn't come from saying the sinner's prayer. The hidden power behind it is Jesus' life and His sacrifice. Never reduce evangelism to a mere reciting of formulaic phrases. A true appreciation for what Christ has done for an individual is harder to express and impart but often far more profound and effective in witnessing. Only the power from One who gives and creates life can bring life again to a dead person. As much as scientists can make very powerful bombs and destructive missiles, they all pale in comparison to the power that can resurrect life from the dead. Self-examination: How often do we truly trust in God and make use of His power which is always available through prayers? No regeneration can come without the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our fate rests on Jesus being raised from the dead. The fact that He did rise meant that our salvation is also secured by the same awesome power.
"Inheritance" - Inheritance speaks to a future in heaven but also of a passing on (death) from this life. For the believers, we have a definitively good and glorious place to go to live again after we die. But die first we must from and to this present life. Self-examination: Are we stock-piling the things of this world as if to perpetuate our earthly pleasures? Unlike the inheritance which we must toil to leave for our children which may vanish suddenly or speedily, the inheritance waiting for us in heaven is free and will never be taken away. What a very kind God we have! Let us praise and thank Him for loving and taking care of us so well.
"Incorruptible, undefiled, unfading" - We tend to be self-focussed and absorbed with ourselves and our desires because we don't see either the false value of who we are and what we have (corruptible, defiled, fading) and/or the true worth of who God will make us to be and what He has in store for us (incorruptible, undefiled, unfading). When we pause long enough to compare the things of God versus our things, we will regain a proper perspective of ourselves and of Him.
"Reserved" - Reserved denotes a forethought on God's part which stems from His love for us even before we ever have any inkling of how precious living an eternity with God really is. If we reserve something nice for someone, it says that we value that person and/or we know that person needs it. In our case, God is saying both of these things are true. What this says is that God has us on His mind all the time. A doting Father He truly is! When we fondly have someone on our minds constantly, it means that we love that person very much. This is exactly what God is saying to us: "I love you and I stretch out My arms all day long to you! Won't you come unto Me to feed and find rest for your soul?" Self-examination: What is our response to His gracious love?
"Kept by the power of God" - When we have something nice, there is also a chance of someone trying to take it away from us, either because they want it or they do so out of spite or just being plain nasty, and worse yet we may be pretty much helpless to do anything about it. So it is with our priceless salvation. Satan and his minions are always on the prow trying to take it away. More often than not, they are more cunning and powerful than we are, especially true for new Christians. Are we not glad and relieved to know that our salvation is secured because no one or entity can ever take away anything that is kept by God Himself? On the flip side, there are also plenty of time when we throw away something very valuable that we own due to either neglect, stupidity, out of resentment, or whatever reasons. But God knows how foolish, frail, and gullible our heart can be. He knows all our weaknesses and how the devils will prey upon these so He keeps our salvation to preserve for us what we can never afford to lose. Amen to His goodness!
The bottom line: "Blessed be God" - How are we blessing God today for who He is and all that He has done for us?
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