“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion on Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
1 Peter 1:1-2
Two small words that describe our identity and reality as Christians in this fallen world — elect exiles. They remind us that God has claimed us and this world disowns us.
We are the chosen of God. The word ‘elect’ points not only to our being saved but to the reassuring truth that God has fully intended to save us. God has acted eternally and decisively to bring about our salvation. Peter wants his readers in times of affliction to remember who they are to God, namely, his. The authors of catechisms have found this to be a primary source of hope for the believer. They ask, “What is our only hope in life and in death?” and they comfortingly answer, “That we are not our own but belong in body and spirit both in life and death to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.” Where suffering can bring about the sense of being forgotten and left alone, Peter reminds his readers that they are the chosen of God. God’s stamp of ownership on them continues to identify them even in their present suffering.
Note also that God has acted in the entirety of the Trinity. The Father foreknew us, the Spirit is sanctifying us, and the Son has cleansed us with his precious blood. You have the full attention of the Triune God in all his love, power and grace. It is a truly comforting thing to know that the entire Trinity is effectually working to bring about your salvation.
These opening verses also acknowledge the present condition of the saints being addressed. They are exiles scattered across Asia Minor. Note that they are exiles not only because they are far away from home but because God has called them his own. Belonging to God means that this world is not their home.
As a church facing many hardships today, we can read these words addressed to the churches in Asia Minor that were also facing many hardships long before our time. We can rest assured that even though we suffer as they did, we shall also be comforted as they were when they considered their salvation.
These words testify that God’s eternal plan for us is being worked out even through the suffering and pain of our present reality. Therefore, we can be confident that our present circumstances, though sometimes difficult and heartbreaking, have not disrupted God’s plan to save us.
May grace and peace indeed be multiplied to you as you consider these wonderful truths.
Are you in any way tempted to draw your identity from your present circumstances? How differently would you react to your suffering if you truly believed that you have been eternally loved by God?