Question:

Question

Answer:

I kindly ask you to consider the questions of my searching heart and mind regarding this passage in the Holy Writ, which I want to be clarified without a shadow of a doubt.  It is my desire to know the truth for it is by obeying the truth that our hearts our purified and set free.  I would like to refer you to the first Epistle of Peter chapter 1:1-5.  I have questions on each verse which I humbly ask God to be answered by Him using his servant.  I hope that you’ll answer my questions with great care.  Here are my questions.

v1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia,

Who are the “strangers” whom Peter is referring to; to whom he is writing this epistle? Was he referring to Jewish Christians or to both Jewish and Gentile Christians alike who were scattered?

v2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.  Grace to you, and peace be multiplied.

What does he mean by “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”? Does this prove the doctrine of predestination?  Could you put some light on this verse and not just on the issue of predestination but also on sanctification and obedience?           

v3 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,

I understand that the great apostle was referring to the new birth when he said the words, “begotten us again”.  And I understand that this new birth is by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  My question is this: Did not the followers of Christ experience the new birth when he was still with them on earth before he died and resurrected?  When he told Nicodemus to be born again did he not mean that he could be born again at that very instant?

v4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Does this verse support the doctrine of eternal security? 

v5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Does this verse say that faith alone is what is needed for one to be saved and to be kept saved?  What is this salvation which is “ready to be revealed in the last time”?

Dear sir, I hope that you won’t mind that I have posted a number of questions.  These are sincere questions which have resulted from my reading of the Bible and upon reflecting on the passage above.  As you might probably notice, I’m sort of asking you to comment on the verses given.  Sometimes commentaries are helpful but they leave a lot of questions unanswered.  I hope that God will keep using you to make His will known to men through the Bible.  I thank you in advance.  May the God of glory bless you dear sir. 

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia," (I Peter 1:1)

It is commonly ascribe that Peter was addressing Jewish Christians because there was a great scattering of Christians recorded in Acts 8:4. There is a similar salutation at the beginning of James, "James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings" (James 1:1). But both Peter and James wrote their letters long after the dispersion, so it would seem strange to continue to refer to it. We also know that in the church the barrier dividing Jews and Gentiles was removed (Ephesians 2:11-22). "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). To address letters to only one subgroup would be strange unless there was a purpose.

Add to this that Peter does address those Gentiles who had become Christians. "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (I Peter 2:9-10). The phrase "who once were not a people" is one way the Old Testament prophets referred to the Gentiles. "Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!'"" (Hosea 2:23). And right after this Peter refers to these people as strangers and pilgrims (I Peter 2:11). Peter also mentions that those he is addressing once lived according to the ways of the Gentiles, but no longer (I Peter 4:3).

He also contrasts them to the Gentiles (I Peter 2:12). Therefore, in Peter's letters, Gentiles generally refer to non-believers, but pilgrims refer to Christians, whether they had a Jewish or Gentile background before becoming a child of God.

"elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied" (I Peter 1:2).

You are assuming that individuals were elected by the foreknowledge of God, but this is not what is said in this verse. Peter said the election was done by the foreknowledge of God and then continues to explain how God accomplished this election: in the sanctification of the Spirit, by obedience, and by the sprinkling of the Jesus' blood. It is similar to what Paul stated, "But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 2:13-14). It was the method or the plan for saving men that God laid out in advance.

Other verses tell us that Jesus death upon the cross was planned by God before the world was created. "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Acts 2:22-23). And as Peter says a bit later in his letter, "He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (I Peter 1:20).

What Peter is telling us is that God pre-planned how Christians were to be saved from their sins, how they would become His chosen people, how they would be purified from those sins, and what they would be expected to do all in advance. Christianity is not some last minute plan to cover a mistake made when Jesus was killed. Each step was a part of a greater purpose. See Predetermined Destiny and The Role of Obedience in Salvation for more information.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3).

The concept of being born again is a repeated reference to becoming a child of God. "Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."" (John 3:3-5). No, Jesus was not telling Nicodemus that he could be born again at that instance. The subject was entering the kingdom of God and that kingdom had not yet come (Matthew 6:10; Mark 9:1). Jesus was telling Nicodemus what he would need to do in the near future.

Being born again means practicing righteousness. "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him" (I John 2:29). It means displaying love. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" (I John 4:7). It means believing in Jesus. "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him" (I John 5:1). And that new birth is accomplished through baptism. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). As Peter said, we are begotten through Jesus' resurrection.

"to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Peter 1:4).

This verse speak of the certainty of the promised reward. It does not state that each believer is permanently given this reward. Jesus spoke of the same. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). But the reception of that reward depends on the person's behavior. In the very next statements Jesus warns you cannot serve both God and Mammon (Matthew 6:22-24). Such is even apparent in Paul's statement to the rich. "Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (I Timothy 6:18-19). Notice that Paul stated that "they may lay hold of eternal life." Certainty doesn't come until our life is done.

"who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (I Peter 1:5).

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:4-6). The people had a taste of the heavenly gift, but they fell way so far that it was impossible to bring them back. Such are not guaranteed the inheritance.

God works to help preserve us despite our failings, but He does not hold people back who are determined to leave. Just as Jesus stated, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand" (John 1:28-29). Notice that Jesus speaks of external forces. Satan cannot forcibly take us from God. But Jesus didn't talk about internal force. He didn't say that people cannot be persuaded to leave on their own. We cannot be taken from God against our will, but we can of our own free will walk away from God.

We can talk about the promise of salvation and the promised reward and we can speak of them with confidence because of God's faithfulness. Yet, it is one thing to speak of a future hope and another to receive the prize. "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (II Timothy 1:12). Paul expressed confidence that God would uphold His promise and that in the Judgment Day he would receive recompense for his labors. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (II Timothy 4:7-8). Notice that at the end of Paul's life, he could express great confidence in his coming reward because "I have kept the faith." Paul did not walk away as some did. He held on. Thus, he knew what awaited him. "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!" (II Timothy 4:17-18).


See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Predestination
Questions and Answers regarding Once Saved, Always Saved
Questions and Answers regarding Perseverance of the Saints