Good Morning! And Welcome to October!So – we finished Mark yesterday, and I have been debating what scripture we can study next. We have done all four of the Gospels, fairly recently, as well as Acts and Paul’s Epistles, and the 3 letters of John.
Peter was a main character in Mark’s Gospel, so let’s look at Peter’s letters.
The First Letter of Peter:
Before we begin, let’s consider the letter itself. Authorities say that this letter is written in an educated, sophisticated form of Greek, not the common Greek that would have been spoken by a fisherman. There is, therefore, much debate about the letter’s actually having been written by Peter – it may have been dictated by Peter, then put into form by a sophisticated writer; or it may have been written by a follower of Peter, using his name as a form of respect. This was not uncommon in biblical days, and was not intended to deceive, but to show respect for a leader. It may well have originated from a Christian circle in Rome. There is also debate about a date for the letter – which is given a general range of from 75 to 99 CE.
1 Peter 1:1-2
THE FIRST LETTER OF
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood:
May grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Even though we have said that the letter was likely not actually written by Peter himself, let’s assume that he is at least dictating, and speak of Peter as the originator. He is identified as an apostle of Jesus Christ. If we give a date of around 80 CE for the book, it has been 50 years since the resurrection; Peter is an old man, but a leader still, and remembers well the years he spent with Jesus.
The letter is addressed to a group of churches in provinces in the northern half of Asia Minor – they may be arranged in a sequence through which this circular letter was intended to travel. Letters were taken by a missionary, a representative of the author, not sent by a post office, and were read aloud to the churches to which they were addressed. Why does Peter call them “exiles of the Dispersion”? This could refer to Jews who had been taken away in the times of exile, but not likely. It could also refer to the dispersion of all Jews, including Christians, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, in 70 CE. But more likely, it is a reference to the earthly state of the Christian people, scattered and away from their true home. (ref. Donald Senior writing in “The New Interpreter’s Study Bible).
The author says that these Christians have been chosen and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood. Let’s consider this thought in relation, not to a “predestined” sort of spirit, which would say that those chosen had no choice in the matter, but in the spirit of John Wesley’s definitions of grace. Wesley would say that the Spirit had indeed chosen these people through prevenient grace, sending missionaries to bring the Word to them, urging them to go hear – but he would have said that all people, at least those in the vicinity of those missionaries the Spirit sent out, received that same work of the Spirit within. The people then respond to the Spirit, or do not, effectively silencing the work of prevenient grace within them for a time. Those who respond, go to hear the speaker, or in our day, go to church or a revival meeting or a “Night of Joy” with other youth or a women’s retreat, and there they respond to the message of Jesus Christ. The Spirit enters, and they are justified – restored to relationship with God, figuratively sprinkled with the blood of Jesus; and the Spirit within then sanctifies their life, as they continue to grow in Christ. And so, we have folks who are “chosen”, by Prevenient Grace as the Spirit lures them/us to Christ, by Justifying Grace, as they/we accept the gift and are restored to relationship with God, and Sanctifying Grace, as they/we continue to grow in Christ Jesus.
And you thought the discussion of only two verses would be short! (Honestly, so did I, but it did not turn out that way!)
Have a blessed day!