1. The Privileges Of Election (1 Peter 1:1-2)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1–2
How does it feel to know you are special and loved? How does it feel to be promoted or to be set apart for special favor?
In this passage and in this book, Peter is seeking to encourage Christians who are being mistreated and persecuted for their faith. They are scattered among five Roman provinces in modern-day Turkey, probably seeking to hide for safety from Nero who is burning Christians at the stake and having their lands confiscated.
Peter seeks to encourage them by sharing with them how special they are to God. He starts off the passage saying they are “elect.” Election is often a controversial doctrine among Christians, but here it is given as an encouragement. He then talks about what happens to those who are elect. He talks about how each person of the triune God is involved in their salvation. God the Father elects them, the Son dies for them and sprinkles his blood on them, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies them to make them holy. Believers are special among the people in the world.
In the letter of First Peter, we learn about how to deal with persecution. Peter, the apostle who initially denied Christ at the prospect of death, writes a book to encourage people who are suffering and to teach them how to suffer. After his initial lapse of faith, in the book of Acts we see a man empowered by the Holy Spirit and encouraged by the resurrection of the dead. No more does he cower in fear, but he speaks boldly and suffers valiantly for Christ in the face of persecution.
Now he writes to strengthen the brethren who are receiving the same attacks that he previously encountered. In the first two sentences, Peter seeks to encourage these suffering saints by their election and the benefits of this election. Even though the world mocks them and persecutes them, they are loved by God. This would encourage them in their suffering and it should encourage us as well. Peter tells them that they are different from the world because they are so special to God.
Big Question: What are the privileges of God’s election that should encourage the believer in suffering as seen in 1 Peter 1:1–2? How should these privileges practically affect our lives?
The Elect Are Chosen by God
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect…who have been chosen.
1 Peter 1:1
Interpretation Question: What does it mean to be chosen and elect by God?
One of the things that should comfort believers in this world, especially amidst suffering, is recognizing that they are elect by God. The word elect really means to be chosen by God as mentioned in verse 2. The world rejects believers because of their belief system, their lifestyle, and because they choose to not condone or participate in sin. However, even though they are rejected by the world, they are chosen by God. Christ said this to his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you (emphasis mine) and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 15:16).
Election is often a doctrine that gets many people upset, but as we see here, this doctrine was the treasure of the saints. It was such a treasure that it had become a common title among the saints. They were elect ones (1 Pet 1:1).
Why did God choose these saints? It had nothing to do with their good works, but it was a work of sovereign grace. Look at what Paul says in Romans about the election of Jacob:
Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (emphasis mine).
In Jewish society the oldest was always chosen to receive the blessing and the inheritance, but in God’s economy it is always a work of grace—unmerited favor. God chose Jacob not based on anything he had done, for the twins, Jacob and Esau, weren’t even born yet.
It says, “In order that God’s purpose in election might stand, not by works but by him who calls” (v. 11). God selected the younger brother to receive the blessing. In the same way, election is a mystery to us. It is based on God’s sovereign right as king and not on the basis of anything we have done.
Often people in Western countries, whom have never been under an absolute monarch, chafe at the thought of this. “This is not right! This is not democracy!” they proclaim. But under a monarchy the King has absolute power; he does what he wants because it is his right. Here we see God chooses based on his right. Scripture everywhere declares that God is king, and he does what he chooses. Some are elect based on God’s choice, not on ours. Look at what Christ says in John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (emphasis mine).
Christ chose us out of the world, and because of this, the world hates us. Election is a sovereign right of God. We are no longer part of this world because God chose us out of it.
Application Question: Often, the doctrine of election is met with anger, but how should the doctrine of election encourage the believer?
1. Election should make the believer worship God.
Salvation is a work of God that should make us worship him. We may not fully understand election, but we do understand that it demonstrates the glory and power of God. It also demonstrates that his ways are higher than our ways. Look at Paul’s response to election (cf. Rom 11:28).
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
2. Election should be an encouragement to evangelize.
Some see election as a hindrance to evangelism. Why share the gospel if some weren’t chosen? On the contrary, it should give boldness to share the gospel because we know some will respond. That is what happened in Acts. “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed (emphasis mine) for eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Since God is sovereign, we should share the gospel.
3. Election should make the believer humble.
God is God and he does what he wants to. Look at how Paul responded to those who seemed to struggle with the concept of election.
One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Paul challenged these believers about their response to God’s election. “Who are you, O man to talk back to God?” Essentially, he is calling them to humble themselves before God. God is God, we are not. He is the Potter, and we are the clay. He is the Creator, we are the creatures. This doctrine should create humility in us before God and before others.
The Elect Are Strangers in this World
Strangers in this world.
1 Peter 1:1
Peter will talk about this throughout this letter. Because we are elect we are no longer part of this world (cf. John 17:14, Galatians 6:14). We are strangers in this world or sojourners. This word has the meaning of being a temporary resident. We are only here for a short time as we are just passing through. Our home is now in heaven.
We see this said about Abraham and the patriarchs in the faith chapter of Hebrews. Look at what it says:
By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (emphasis mine).
Hebrews 11:9–10, 16
Because we are elect, strangers in this world, and citizens of heaven, we must have a different culture, a different language, and different expectations for life. God has a prepared a better place for us and this is not our home.
Application Question: What does being a stranger on earth mean practically for a believer?
1. We should expect some amount of suffering or being considered strange on this earth.
We are not part of this world, and therefore, we will at times be misunderstood and hated.
2. We must continually be looking toward our heavenly country.
The writer of Hebrews says Abraham was “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:9).” Paul calls Christians to set their mind on things above and not below (Col 3:2). Therefore, we should develop a mind-set of looking toward our heavenly country.
3. We should be different than those around us for this not our home.
We are only here temporarily. This includes such things as not storing up on this earth. Look at what Christ said:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When I visit a hotel, I don’t spend much effort trying to fix it up and make it nice, because I will only be there for a short period of time. In a similar way, a Christian should not spend so much effort focusing on the temporary things of this life. But instead, should be consumed with storing up eternal riches in his heavenly home.
The elect are strangers to this world because their home is in heaven; therefore, they don’t bare the marks of the world’s culture. Let this encourage the believer especially when they are persecuted for being different.
The Elect Are Scattered like Seed to Produce a Harvest
Scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.
1 Peter 1:1
What is another privilege of the elect?
The elect are scattered. The word scattered comes from the word diaspora and carries the idea of that which is sown. It was a word used of the farmer sowing seed in the field.1 These believers were scattered because of persecution. We see this happening in the book of Acts. As persecution intensified, the believers moved from Jerusalem and Judea, to Samaria, and eventually to the ends of the earth. The gospel was spread throughout because of this persecution. Look at some of the narrative:
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there (emphasis mine).
Acts 8: 3–5
This seems to be an implication of Peter’s use of the word scattered, which again means “that which is sown.” When a farmer sows seed, he does it with the hope of having a harvest. This farming term would have encouraged the saints. Behind the persecution, God was ultimately sowing these believers throughout the world in order to bring a harvest from the gospel. God may have allowed these Christians to suffer, lose their homes, etc., but it was not without purpose. It was ultimately used to spread the kingdom of God and help more people know him.
Throughout this letter, Peter continually encourages them about this hope of evangelism even amid persecution. Look at what he says in 1 Peter 2:12: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (emphasis mine).
One second-century church father said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Historically, we have seen this to be true. Wherever the church has suffered and been scattered because of persecution, the seed of the Word of God has spread and the church has grown. In fact, it is in nations where persecution is not rampant that the church is declining the fastest.
We serve a God that often makes the worst things the best things. He took the death of his Son, the worst thing that ever happened on the earth, and made it the best thing.
The believer must take comfort in the fact that even though this scattering resulted from the intention to harm the church, it was something that God used for good. It was like seed being sown everywhere to build his church. Certainly, we get some picture of this in how Christ talks about the church being salt. We are spread on the earth in order to bring positive change. “You are the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13).
Application Question: Scripture teaches us to rejoice in trials and tribulations (Rom 5:3, James 1:2). Does this mean that a lack of persecution for the faith is more dangerous spiritually to the church, than times of acceptance from the culture? Why or why not?
The Elect Are Intimate with God
Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 1:2
What is another privilege of election?
The elect are intimate with God, and this intimacy began before time. In fact, this verse tells us why believers are elect and chosen by God. It says “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” This has created great controversy over the doctrine of election. Some would say that foreknowledge means that God chose us based on the fact that he knew we would accept him. However, this makes God’s choice not a choice at all. It makes man the initiator of salvation instead of God.
Though God is omniscient and knows all things, this foreknowledge is not referring to knowing facts, but God knowing people in an intimate saving relationship. To “know” throughout the Old Testament is used of the most intimate relationships including sex. We see that Adam “knew” his wife and had a son (Gen 4:1 KJV). In the same way, God “knew” certain believers even before they were born and chose them for salvation. Look at Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (emphasis mine).
God knew Jeremiah in a saving intimate relationship and called him to be a prophet to the nations before birth. God is not saying he knew Jeremiah would accept, follow him, and be a prophet. That is passive. God actively set him apart. God knew Jeremiah in an intimate relationship and called him to be a prophet before birth.
We also see this intimate knowledge used in reference to those who do not know God. Look at what Jesus said:
Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers” (emphasis mine)!
Jesus says to these professors, “I never knew you.” It’s not talking about having knowledge of them because God knows everybody. It’s talking about not knowing them in a saving relationship. These people never had a saving relationship with God.
One of the things that should comfort the believer about his election is the fact that God knew us before the creation of the earth. He knew us in a saving relationship and called us to be ones that serve him, not based on anything we have done, but based on his grace. This should comfort us in suffering. Look at what Paul says:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will
The elect are intimate with God. He foreknew them even before time and this intimacy continues in time. This is a tremendous comfort, especially, because God knows all our failures, sins, and insecurities, yet he chooses to be intimate with us anyway. This is an amazing fact of election. God chose to be intimate with us, and this intimacy of election should comfort us in suffering.
Application Question: What ways does the fact that God knew you intimately before you were born comfort you? How should it comfort you in the midst of suffering?
The Elect Are Sanctified by the Spirit
Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
1 Peter 1:2
Interpretation Question: What does the “sanctifying work of the Spirit” include in the life of the believer?
The next benefit of election is this “sanctifying work” of the Spirit. This is a work that starts at salvation but continues until we see Christ. In fact, much like election, sanctification is a common term used to describe believers. Look at what Paul calls the Church of Corinth: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints (emphasis mine) throughout Achaia” (2 Cor 1:1).
Paul addresses the people at Corinth as saints. This means they were set apart for the purpose of being holy. He also calls them sanctified in 1 Corinthians 1:2. He speaks about it as a past action. Look at what Paul says:
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours (emphasis mine).
1 Corinthians 1:1–2
Sanctification happens to every believer at the moment of salvation. They are set apart from the world to be holy. Some call this positional sanctification, as we are separated from the world and placed in Christ. At salvation, there are immediate changes in the life of the believer. That is why Paul can say “he who be in Christ is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). At salvation, Christ translated the believer from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Let’s look at Colossians:
Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (emphasis mine).
However, as mentioned previously, Peter speaks about this action as continuing. He calls it the “sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, sanctification refers not only to what happens at new birth, but also to the continuing process of becoming more like Christ that takes place throughout the believer’s life, and is completed when we meet Christ. This is called progressive sanctification. Below are some verses that talk about this process.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (emphasis mine).
1 Thessalonians 4:3
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (emphasis mine).
Paul commands the Thessalonian church to become sanctified by abstaining from sexual immorality. It was a continuous process. Similarly, Paul talks about this continuous process in Philippians.
This process of sanctification, or progressive sanctification, is a process that involves the believer. At salvation, the work is totally of God; we are translated from the kingdom of darkness to light, but in our daily walk, we must work with God in order to become holy. This includes daily spiritual disciplines like prayer, reading the Bible, and the fellowship of the saints (1 Tim 4:7).
This process will ultimately end when we see Christ. The Apostle John talks about this in First John. When we see Christ, we will be just like him. At this point, we will not battle with sin anymore for we will have new bodies. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him (emphasis mine), for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
This final stage of sanctification is called glorification. This is when we will be just like Christ. This makes the believer unique among the world. They are saints, ones who have been set apart for the purpose of becoming holy like Christ.
Let us take encouragement as ones who are elect. God, who began this work in us will complete it until the day of Christ. Listen to what Paul said about the Philippians: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).
Application Question: What does it mean if a believer is not continually growing in Christ? What should he do?
The Elect Are Obedient to Christ
For obedience to Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:2
Interpretation Question: What does Peter mean by obedience to Christ?
Another privilege of election is that believers have been set apart for obedience to Christ. This happens as a part of the work of sanctification. The believer that initially did not obey God, receives a nature that desires God and desires to obey God’s Word. We see the initial antagonism of the unbeliever in Romans 8:7–8: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
The unbeliever is hostile to the things of God; they are hostile to his commands and teaching. However, when a person is saved, he receives a nature that delights in God’s laws. Look at how Paul described his experience: “For in my inner being, I delight in God’s law” (Rom 7:22). David said something similar: “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Ps 119:14–16).
The born again believer delights in God’s law. He still stumbles and is disobedient at times, but the direction of his life is obedience, instead of disobedience which characterizes people who don’t know God (Eph 2:2).
In fact, in the book of 1 John the apostle gives obedience as a test of salvation (1 John 5:13). Those who are children of God are obedient to the Scripture. Look at what he says:
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:10
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3
Christ taught the same thing in John 8:31: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
Listen to what one commentator said:
Obedience is the essential characteristic of the elect pilgrim. His transformation from an enemy of God to a pilgrim in this world reveals itself in a life of obedience to God. God’s people obey those in authority over them for God’s sake. They are subject to their employers as serving Christ. They love their spouses because they love God. When the demands of earth’s relationships get in the way of obedience to God, they obey God rather than man. The law of God is their rule throughout life. Without living in obedience, the people of God could not be pilgrims.2
Application Question: In what ways have you seen this change in your life since you became a follower of Christ?
The Elect Are Sprinkled with Christ’s Blood
And sprinkling by his blood.
1 Peter 1:2
Interpretation Question: What is Peter referring to when he talks about the elect being sprinkled by his blood? Why is it a “continuous” action?
Peter talks about the sprinkling of Christ’s blood as a continuous action and not just something that happened in the past to a believer. What is he referring to? This must at least refer to the forgiveness of sins that occurred as a result of Christ’s death. We see this in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
It says we were “justified,” which means to be made “just as though we never sinned.” However, the “sprinkling” Peter mentions is a continuous action and not just something that happened in the past to a believer—meaning, it still affects us today. John talks about this in his epistle. Look at what he says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us (emphasis mine) from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
John says if we walk in the light as Christ is in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sins. When he says “walk in the light,” it seems to mean not only holiness, but specifically confession of our sins to God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When we confess known sins, God takes Christ’s blood and cleanses us so we can have a restored relationship with God.
In fact, John says “from all unrighteousness,” which means that when the believer confesses a known sin, God cleanses us even from sins we are not aware of. The blood of Christ is still effective in the believer’s life. The blood of Christ purchases for us forgiveness of our sins, and therefore, justification before God. It also purifies us so we can walk in continual relationship with God as we confess known sins.
Some might ask, why is there a need for confession and continual cleansing by Christ if we were initially cleansed at salvation? Some have called the initial cleansing judicial forgiveness so we can stand before God as righteous since Christ paid for all our sins on the cross. Because of this cleansing, we no longer have to be separated from God and will never ultimately be separated from him.
The other type of cleansing is often called parental or familial forgiveness. If I sin against my wife, this creates a distance in our relationship. It doesn’t change the fact that she is my wife. However, in order to be in right relationship with my wife again, I need to confess and make it right. Christ’s blood not only changes my relationship to God at salvation, making me a son, but it continues to cleanse me so I can be in right relationship with God when I fail.
In addition to this, there are several times in the Old Testament that this sprinkling with blood is mentioned, which may help us further understand what Peter is talking about. In the book of 1 Peter the apostle continually uses Old Covenant references and, therefore, many see this as an Old Covenant allusion fulfilled in Christ.
Interpretation Question: What did sprinkling with blood represent in the Old Covenant, and therefore, what could this mean for Peter’s reference to the believer being “sprinkled” with Christ’s blood?
1. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer’s obedience and participation in the New Covenant.
When Moses initiated the Old Covenant with the Jews he sprinkled blood over the people. This meant they would participate in the covenant and obey God’s laws. Look at what Exodus says:
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.
Similarly, Christ as our High Priest has sprinkled us with his blood as we participate in the benefits of the New Covenant. We see this in Hebrews 12:24, “To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (emphasis mine).
2. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer being set apart to serve God as a priest.
When the Old Testament priest was set apart to do ministry, he was sprinkled with blood. We see this in Exodus:
And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.
Similarly, believers have been set apart for ministry. Peter talks about how believers are now a royal priesthood that offer spiritual sacrifices unto God (1 Pet 2:5). As priests, believers pray for people; they serve, they sing praises unto God, and they seek to bring those apart from God into relationship with him. No doubt, Peter speaks of this reality.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 2:4–5
3. Sprinkling with blood represents the believer’s cleansing from sin.
In the Old Covenant, a leper would have to be sprinkled with blood after his cleansing from leprosy.
He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
Similarly, our High Priest cleanses us from sin by his blood.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
One of the benefits of our election, is that we have been sprinkled with the precious blood of Christ. He cleanses us from sin and forgives us, he initiates us into the New Covenant, he anoints us to be priests of God.
Application Question: How should the believer apply or actualize the reality of Christ’s blood, in order to walk in victory over sin and to have a clear conscience?
The Elect Are Called to Abundant Grace and Peace
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:2
Finally, one of the privileges of election is that the believer is a continual recipient of God’s grace and peace. This was a common greeting in the early church. However, it is more than a greeting; it is the inheritance a believer should continually receive from God.
Paul talks about these blessings as something that comes from Christ. Listen to what he says in Ephesians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (emphasis mine). In the same way, there is more grace and peace in Christ that each believer can receive. James says this: “But he gives us more grace” (Jas 4:6).
In fact, Paul talks about the peace that God desires to give each believer in Philippians 4. Listen to what he says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).
Grace means “unmerited favor.” It is favor over one’s spiritual life, one’s work, one’s family and everything the believer does. It is grace to find freedom from sin and addictions.
Peace is not the absence of problems or conflict; it is the state of the heart of a believer who is walking with Christ. The believer has peace of mind even in the midst of the storm. This peace of heart and mind leads to peace in relationships with God and man.
Interpretation Question: How does the believer receive abundant grace and peace?
1. Abundant grace and peace come through prayer.
In this text, Peter prays for these believers to have abundant grace and peace, because this is one of the ways we receive more of God’s blessings. This includes other believer’s praying for us but also our continual practice of prayer. Again, look at what Paul says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).
In this text, peace is promised to those who pray and give thanks in everything. When believers live in an atmosphere of prayer God “guards” their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus with peace.
2. Abundant grace and peace come through obedience to Christ.
God blesses those who are obedient to him. It was Abraham’s faith that led to not only his blessing and favor but also to that of his family. Listen to how the Psalmist describes the blessing of the believer that stays away from sin and delights in God’s Word.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (emphasis mine).
This delight in God’s Word is a form of obedience that results in grace. Everything this person does prospers. He bears fruit in season, which includes peace, joy, perseverance, etc. Grace and peace come through faithful prayer and obedience.
3. Abundant grace and peace come through a constant meditation on God.
Listen to Isaiah: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3 KJV).
Application Question: What ways is God calling you to pursue grace and peace in your life? Who is God calling you to pray for, so that they may receive these blessings?
What are the privileges of God’s election? What makes the believer so special?
The elect are chosen by God.
The elect are strangers in the world. Their home is in heaven, and therefore, they are different.
The elect are scattered by God throughout the world to be a blessing to it.
The elect are intimate with God, foreknown before creation in a saving relationship.
The elect are sanctified by the Holy Spirit to be holy and righteous in the world.
The elect are set apart for obedience. Whereas before, they were disobedient to God, now they love and obey his Word.
The elect are sprinkled with Christ’s blood. This is a rich allusion that means forgiveness of sins. It means to be set apart as a priest to serve God, to be purified from sin, and to participate in the New Covenant.
The elect are recipients of God’s abundant grace and peace.
The church is special, and we must know that. This will help us understand why our relationship to the world has changed and how our relationship with God has changed. This should encourage us even in the midst of suffering.