Verses 1-2 are his greeting, they read
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 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.
Peter established who the letter was from, Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ. He sent the letter with the authority of Jesus’ name and his position in Christ. The once impulsive fisherman was now an apostle, a man chosen by Jesus to spread the Gospel and shape the church as it grew across the world. He wrote to those believers who because of persecution and been exiled, evacuated, and displaced to places far from where they knew, places where they had to start over, establish themselves, and establish the Church. They needed encouragement, courage, and teaching.
And Peter reassured them that God knew they would be dispersed. And much more than that, God knew, willed, and wanted them as His very own people. Even something so terrible as the Dispersion to all these places would be used for their good, their sanctification. The Holy Spirit was taking the distress of their banishment and using it to conform them to the image of Christ. He was making them righteous disciples of Jesus.
How glorious is it that even something as awful as persecution so bad that it caused the Dispersion would result in good for the people suffering and even good for the world. The Dispersion is what led to the Gospel beginning its trek around the world. The exiles were not home, the place they knew and were comfortable being. They were not citizens of the places they now lived. But they knew too that they were not yet in their true eternal home of Heaven. They lived physically as sojourners in cities which were not their own, but they belonged to the City of God where they had full citizenship, their real home.
This is fact for you and I, the world where we live is not our home; Jesus is our home. We belong to God, not the world. And Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. “But remember the root command: Love one another. “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you” (John 15:16-19 The Message).
If we think of this world as our home, that is where our heart will be, and we’ll focus our efforts there, but keeping our hearts in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit and with our brothers and sisters in Christ keeps us growing in Him, it edifies us and builds up the church as we grow more like Jesus each day. We do not just have a new home, we have a new life. There is so much more to this life than the world can offer or knows. Verses 3-5 read,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
The hope we have as Christians is not the same kind of hope the world knows. They say things like, “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow,” “I hope I get a raise,” and “Joe is the hope of the football team.” Their hopes are like wishes that may or may not come true. Their hopes are based on their own efforts, luck, and fate. The hope we know is not a wish, it is a fact, guaranteed, and already done. It is a promise that gives us confidence, courage, and joy as it strengthens our resolve and faith. It is not based on how well we do or how well Joe does, it is based on the perfect work Jesus did, the perfect work the Holy Spirit does and the will, grace, and mercy of the Father. We don’t have to lose hope because no matter how badly we mess up, no matter how great we do, God will not change His mind, love us less, or retract the promise. Even when we feel hopeless, even we behave in a faithless manner, God is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). We may think we will never be like Jesus, we won’t ever be like those giants of faith we aspire to and admire, but God knows otherwise! Philippians 1:6-11 says,
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Isn’t that wonderful? And listen if God saved you by His grace, if Jesus’ blood was enough to start with, why would He suddenly change His mind and decide now your salvation is merit-based? Is there some secret sin line, once you’ve committed sin number 157,964 that’s it, you’re on your own, Jesus’ death and resurrection aren’t enough anymore? No! Where is the sense and love in that? Galatians 3:2-6 reads,
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
What an amazing thing our hope is, how beautiful our salvation is, and how lovely an amazing God’s grace! This is the hope we rejoice in, this is what keeps us pursuing the kingdom of God. Yes, this world can get tough, we do suffer. I do not know a single Christian who is not going through difficult things or has not recently come through tough times. But, oh how God uses even the worst things of this world to our benefit and to make us more and more like Jesus all the time (Romans 8:28-29). Verses 6-9 reads,
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Do you know that Jesus is awesome?! And each day of our walk in the kingdom of God He is revealed further to be beyond what we knew of Him yesterday. One day we will know Him and see Him completely and absolutely and that day is the same day that we will be perfected, finally attaining the goal we strive towards. This isn’t some wish, it is our hope, already done. Read 1 John 2:1-6.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
To know Jesus is to believe the Gospel and to follow Jesus by obeying Him. That is how His love is perfected in us, meaning how we are conformed to His image and bear the fruit of that transformation. But look at verse 5, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. It is already done in the here and now even as it is being done. We may not see it yet, but in our hope, we know that one day we will see this completion. So, we walk as Jesus walked. He walked in love, He is love manifested, made tangible. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 describes why what is already completed doesn’t always feel realized.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We know Jesus now, but oh on the Day, we will know Him wholly, more completely than we can ever know Him. We need faith now as sojourners in the world. We need hope now as exiles. We need and have love now as strangers in this world and citizens of Heaven; and love will continue, love remains. That is why love is greater. Love is lived out in faith, hope, kindness, joy, patience, forgiveness, persistence, and self-control. Love encompasses all of this.
Believer, you may be a stranger to the world but you are a friend of God. You are His child, His beloved, and His chosen. We are the bride of Christ and the body of Christ, how much less of a stranger could we be than to be the very body of Jesus Christ? You suffer, you struggle, and you fall short but that does not take away your hope.