1 Peter 1 - Pilgrim Saints

INTRODUCTION: Simon Peter, the son of Jona and brother of Andrew, was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus: prominently mentioned in various events in all four gospels, and in about the first half of the book of Acts as a leader of the church at Jerusalem. Jesus gave him the name Cephas from the Aramaic, which is the same as Petros in Greek or Peter in English. The resurrected Jesus called Peter away from his fishing a second time in John chapter 21, and instructed him to feed and take care of his sheep to demonstrate that he truly loved the Lord. Based on the wording of the first verse, his first letter was probably written specifically to Jewish Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor. The KJV translates the Greek word "diaspora" as either dispersion or scattered, i.e. John 7:35 "Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed <1290> among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?" James 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad <1290>, greeting." Jews had been scattered for over five hundred years before Christ came, first when the northern kingdom fell, then as the southern kingdom fell about a century later to gentile conquerors. A core of Jews began the return to the environs of Jerusalem some seventy years after the fall of the southern kingdom, but the land remained under the domination of various foreign powers even after the resurrection of Christ. There is no record in Acts or Peter's two letters, of any travel by Peter into Asia Minor, but he did travel to other cities in Israel. In Acts chapter 2, there were many Jews and proselyte Jews who were converted by the Holy Spirit's delivery of the gospel in the many varied languages through the apostles. Peter's letter was either circulated or copied for the mentioned provinces, where churches were likely established by converts to Christianity upon their return to their homelands.

All text for this study of 1 Peter is taken from the 1769 King James Bible, with some information used from the Online bible Greek lexicon, Easton's bible Dictionary, and the Concise Bible Dictionary. A passage from one of Paul's letters indicates that apparently Peter and the other apostles in the Jerusalem church were chosen by the Holy Spirit to deliver the gospel primarily to the Jews. Galatians 2 "7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision as unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."


1 Peter 1:1, 1769 KJV

"1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,"

COMMENTS: Peter writes this letter to saints who are scattered to various provinces throughout Asia Minor, an area about the size of France. Pontus was a maritime province to the northeast, Galatia a large central province, Cappadocia was the most eastern and perhaps the largest as it extended to the Euphrates river, Asia is used to denote roman Proconsular Asia (western Asia Minor) with Ephesus as the capital, and Bithynia was the large district in the north of Asia Minor that bordered the Black Sea. Peter reminds them that they are strangers (pilgrims) in this world, as he repeats in chapter two. 1 Peter 2:11 "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" This pilgrim's status is pointed out even for Old Testament saints by reference in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 11:13 "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." The Psalms provide guidance for saints of all times. Psalms 119:54 "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." And the statutes of our God should continue to be our walk and our song until our time on earth is completed and we go to our true home.


1 Peter 1:2, 1769 KJV

"2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

COMMENTS: Peter draws together the Godhead as he describes how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all involved that we may become saints: those made holy in the Lord. We are elect (chosen) by the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification (a continual setting apart) by the Spirit, and to obedience to Jesus Christ because he fulfilled the law and then became the sprinkled blood of the sacrifice as he was without sin, and thus he covered our sin. Now we are enabled to do all things through Christ who strengthens us. The "sprinkling of the blood" has reference to the law and is further explained in Hebrews. Hebrews 9 "13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Peter enhances his salutation by indicating that he would desire that the grace and peace already conferred by the Lord be even increased by multiples among the readers of his letter.


1 Peter 1:3-5, 1769 KJV

"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

COMMENTS: Now Peter ascribes praise to God the Father who has, through only his exceedingly abundant mercy, made us born again (begotten again) to the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And what a great contrast: to a living hope, through resurrection from the dead! The sure hope for us in this new birth is to receive the most highly valued inheritance that cannot be decayed, is completely pure, and will never fade in value. This is reserved for us in heaven, separated from all sin and unrighteousness of this present world. The further wonder of our hope is that we are maintained absolutely secure by the power of God through faith, to that promised matchless salvation that cannot be deterred from being revealed in the last times by almighty God. For who could deter His will?


1 Peter 1:6-9, 1769 KJV

"6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

COMMENTS: Knowing about this secure hope for resurrection to eternal life in heaven with God because of his mercy is great reason for being filled with joy. But the present world will surely hold various trials, as Jesus said in John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." But the trial of our faith, that faith being more precious than the most highly purified gold, will be found to bring praise, honor, and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ at his appearing. Even though we have not seen Christ in the flesh, our love for him through faith gives us inner joy beyond description and all of this is to his glory. In the upper room after the resurrection, John 20:29 "Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." And though we still do not see Jesus, we have joy which defies description by words, and it is full of glory because we know the end of our faith is the eternal salvation of our souls.


1 Peter 1:10-11, 1769 KJV

"10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."

COMMENTS: The prophets from centuries before the coming of Christ, wrote about the grace of God as directed by the Holy Spirit (or the Spirit of Christ), but could only search diligently, being unable to find the time, or the actual mode of fulfillment. The sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow were veiled to their understanding, and to those who read their words, until the time was made full in God's plan.


1 Peter 1:12, 1769 KJV

"12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."

COMMENTS: And as those prophets died before the fulfillment, it is now evident that their message concerning Messiah was not for their time. But it is preached by those who witnessed the things of Christ, and now have the Holy Spirit to continue to spread the message. Even angels, who are also messengers of God, do not have foreknowledge of these things, but can only desire to look into them.


1 Peter 1:13-16, 1769 KJV

"13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."

COMMENTS: Prepare your minds by the renewal that is yours, and be sober and hold fast to your hope until the end when the promised grace will most surely be delivered at the revelation of Jesus Christ. So be as obedient children and do not follow the old patterns that are characteristic of those who are still in rebellion against the creator God. Become new creatures in Christ, and thus he will enable you to be holy as he is holy. We must be separate, sanctified, different from those who are still of the world. Peter knew that Christ fulfilled the law for us as his words point us to passages from the law, and demonstrate his reliance on scripture. Leviticus 11 "44 For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 45 For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." Leviticus 20 "7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be you holy: for I am the LORD your God. 8 And you shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you." Leviticus 20:26 "And you shall be holy to me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine." The righteousness of Christ is available to those who are converted, and it replaces the filthy rags of our own righteousness so we are not condemned by the law, but are made holy by God our redeemer. . This holiness makes us separate from those not converted, and we must be careful in our thoughts and actions to maintain that separation.


1 Peter 1:17-21, 1769 KJV

"17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."

COMMENTS: If you call on the Father as your God, you must live your life in this present world in the fear of the Lord because he will judge everyone based on the standard of the work that actually comes from him. John 6 "28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." Even the most precious treasures, as man values physical treasure, cannot redeem the soul of man. The precious blood of Christ, the Lamb of God without any spot or blemish, is the perfect sacrifice to remove all sin for those who believe on him in their heart. This Lamb of God was foreordained before the foundation of the world in God's perfect plan to appear at the set time. For this reason, all who believe in God through Christ, who was raised from the dead and then given glory, will then have complete faith and hope firmly placed in God alone.


1 Peter 1:22-23, 1769 KJV

"22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

COMMENTS: Because you have purified your soul, that eternal part of your being, in obedience to the Holy Spirit, to an unfeigned genuine love for the brothers, you must continue in that love for the brothers with a pure heart fervently. You are after all, born again to a new life from a seed that will not see corruption as will the seed of Adam, but this incorruptible seed has come from the Word of God that lasts forever.


1 Peter 1:24-25, 1769 KJV

"24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

COMMENTS: Your hope is not in this mortal body: for all flesh is like grass that lasts only a short time then withers away. Even the most desirable fleshly body is destined for aging and death, like the most beautiful flower will fall from the plant and soon be gone. And even a life of one hundred years with nearly perfect health is very insignificant when compared with eternity. But the Word of the Lord endures forever, and this is the word that by the gospel is preached to you, bringing the power of salvation to eternal life to all who believe.


--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, as I read this first chapter of Peter's letter I realize that it speaks to saints all over the globe, with our life being a pilgrimage taking us to our promised home with you. Gracious Father, you have chosen me through your perfect foreknowledge, to be set apart from nonbelievers, by your Holy Spirit to obedience in Christ, because I have accepted by faith the cleansing of the sacrificial blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My praise wells up within my heart for your abundant mercy that has begotten me again in the spirit to a living hope that is made absolutely sure by the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead. My second birth secures for me an inheritance that cannot decay, is utterly pure, and will never fade in value. And until I complete my pilgrimage, I know you will keep my inheritance secure until the set time for an unstoppable salvation.

Lord, may I honor you with sustained joy for the salvation of my soul, even though outward appearance may not always be indicative of joy as various trials test my faith. I believe Lord that it is not necessary to see you in the flesh in order to have complete trust in your word. Thank you also Lord that I have confidence because of the faith and grace you supply, not because I have superior knowledge. For if the prophets of old searched diligently with no answer, and even the angels who are spirit being desire to look into these matters, who am I to need more than that which your Holy Spirit has revealed to me! Your grace is truly sufficient. So I must make ready my mind for the sober exercise of my faith as I keep a firm grip on the coming grace that will be delivered at the appearing of Jesus Christ. And as an obedient child, I must remember those things that please my heavenly Father, and avoid and disdain the thoughts and actions characteristic of a life devoid of the new birth. Remind me each day Lord that I am to be holy and separated, as you are holy. Lord, it is only through your Spirit that I can be holy, and I must remind myself how foolish it is not to have fear of the one who can cast both body and soul into hell. But your love was so great that you gave your life for me; and the blood of the Lamb of God for remission of my sin, is so precious I cannot begin to comprehend it.

Help me Lord to love my brothers and sisters in Christ with an unfeigned love of fellowship in the word, because we are all born again to a new life that will not see corruption. The seed of Adam within us is sewn to corruption and death, but the seed sewn by the Spirit is to purity and life eternal. And that seed came by the word of God which is the gospel that brings the power of salvation to eternal life to all who believe. Amen.


Bible Studies for the other chapters, and for the Apostle Peter

Published 27 August 2005