Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Peter’s Greeting – 1 Peter 1:1-3

1 Peter Bible Study Notes, Week 2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect exiles[1] scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, [elect] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit for obedience, and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . . 1 Peter 1:1-3.

Additional Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-20.


Things to think about

Are you chosen (elect) by God?  Do you feel chosen by God?

There are quite a few theological concepts alluded to in verse 2.  Can you identify them?  Which concept “resonates” with you the most?  Why?

What is your role in salvation?

Can you state the gospel message in just a couple of sentences?


Peter’s Greeting and Introduction – 1 Peter 1:1-2

In the two opening verses of his letter, Peters alludes to several important Christian doctrines associated with salvation.  He touches on the doctrine of God’s foreknowledge and election; the doctrine of sanctification (holiness) by the Holy Spirit; the doctrine of discipleship or obedience; the doctrine of redemption through the blood of Christ.

Peter highlights the fact that each member of the Trinity has a role in salvation.  The Father’s role is choosing, the Holy Spirit’s role is sanctifying, and the Son’s role was to be the redemptive sacrifice.  But we have a role too.  Our role is to be obedient to the Father’s choice, to be obedient to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and to obediently accept the atonement and the forgiveness of sins, which Jesus Christ accomplished by shedding his blood  on the cross.

All of this theology is crammed into a couple of verses – and this is just the greeting!  Peter’s greeting is not unlike an introduction of an essay.  Peter briefly mentions the subjects of his “essay” in his greeting and then elaborates on them in the body of his letter.  We will very briefly look at just a few of these theological concepts in this session.

Following the letter writing conventions of the day, Peter ends the greeting with a blessing: “May grace and peace abound to you.”  Grace and peace were Paul’s usual blessing in his letters; Peter emphasises it.  “Grace” was adapted from the usual Greek greeting charien; “peace” was adapted from the usual Jewish greeting shalom.

Chosen – 1 Peter 1:1-2

The Greek word which is translated as “elect” or “chosen” in 1 Peter 1:1-2, has the precise meaning of being “selected” or “picked out”.  As Christians we have been selected and chosen to be recipients of divine favour and privilege.   You have been picked out to be sanctified (set apart and made holy) by the Holy Spirit; you have been picked out to become an obedient follower of Jesus Christ; and you have been picked out to be redeemed by the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ.  I, for one, am tremendously grateful that God has chosen me to be one of his children and be a recipient of his favour and mercy.

God has chosen us according to his foreknowledge.  God knows the people who will respond to his leading and revelation.  He knew that you would respond, and so he has chosen you.  There is so much more that can be said about God’s foreknowledge and choosing, but just let me add that many are called, or invited, but few are chosen (Mat 22:14).  I take this to mean that we need to make the decision to respond to God’s invitation to receive his offer of salvation and sonship.  We can choose to be chosen.

The Triune God – 1 Peter 1:2

It is interesting that all three members of the triune Godhead are mentioned in verse 2: God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ the Son.  There are several New Testament verses that mention all three members of the Godhead.  All three members are present at Jesus baptism (Mat 3:16-17;  Luke 3:21-22).  In Ephesians 2:18, we are told that access to God is facilitated by the entire Trinity: “For through him [Jesus] we have access to the Father, by the one Spirit”.  In Peter’s speech in Acts 10:38a, we are told that the entire Godhead was involved in empowering Jesus for his earthly ministry: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power . . .”

Jesus told his disciples to baptise people in the “name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).  Paul ends his second letter to the Corinthians by praying that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).  Peter tells his Christian readers that they are “chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).  Jude exhorts his readers to “pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” (Jude 20-21).  Repeatedly, we see the Biblical revelation of “Three Persons and One God” (Watson 1973:33) [2]

New Life and Resurrection Power – 1 Peter 1:3

We cannot be Christians – followers of Jesus – unless we have been born again.  We must be born again! (John 3:7)  Some people regard Christianity as just an improved version of life.  I knew a church that, at one time, had as their slogan: “Making Life Better”.  Jesus doesn’t just make life better.  Christianity is a whole new life – a life transformed.  To follow Jesus requires us to die to our old sinful nature and our old life – and keep dying – as we are born again into a new life – and keep being renewed and transformed (2 Cor 3:18; 4:16).

Our new birth into a living hope is possible because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  The Apostle Paul said that Jesus’ death without a resurrection would have been pointless (1 Cor 15:12-20).[3]   A complete gospel account will always include both Jesus’ death and his resurrection.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul gives a summary of the Gospel message:

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [that is, Peter], and then to the Twelve.  1 Corinthians 15:1-5.

Paul also said that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in us (Rom 8:11).  God resurrection power is within you!  I actually believe that some churches that continually focus on Jesus’ suffering and sacrificial death, without also continually focussing on Jesus’ resurrection from death, are in danger of promoting a powerless Gospel.

The Gospel is about “life”.  Peter speaks about a “living hope” in verse 3; and he says that we are “living stones” being built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5).  There is vitality, dynamism and growth in belonging to the risen Christ.  And we can have access to this new life because of God’s great mercy!  No wonder Peter exclaims:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!  1 Peter 1:3.


Endnotes

[1]  I discuss who the recipients of Peter’s letter were in last week’s session.

[2] I have written an article entitled Proving that Jesus is God from Old Testament Scripture.  There are a few Scriptures which show that the Holy Spirit in not just a “force” or “agent” of God, but a distinct person of the Godhead.  The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted (Lk 4:1,14 cf Mat 4:1; Mark 1:12; ).  And the Holy Spirit gives his spiritual abilities and manifestations to people “as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

[3] 1 Corinthians 15:12-20:

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.


< < < Week 1: An Introduction to Peter’s First Letter

> > > Week 3: Glory, Joy and Suffering – 1 Peter 1:4-9 


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Posted May 11th, 2011 . Categories/Tags: 1 Peter, Bible Study Notes, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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