1 Peter 1: 1-2
Peter starts off his letter with a song of praise for what God has done, so we can express our gratitude and worship to Him (Eph. 1:2-14). Then he gives us a litany of loaded theological words filled with power and meaning, showing us who our God is and, more prevalently, what He has done for us. We have to realize-for the ability to survive and to thrive on this earth-we are precious in His sight! We have a Hope Who is real for us now and eternally. He gives us kindness, protection, and understanding beyond what we can fathom, love and forgiveness beyond comprehension, and the ultimate gift of our salvation that will never decay even when we totally do not deserve nor could ever merit it. We have a precious inheritance, expectation, privilege, and power in Jesus Christ, our loving Savior and Lord. We have HOPE!
- Apostle. The word, Apostle (Apostolos), means emissary, or sent one, as in Jesus' personally commissioned representatives (Matt. 10:40; 15:24; Mark 6:7-13; 30; 9:37; Luke 9:1-6; 48; John 4:34; 5:24, 30, 36-38; 6:38; 1 Cor. 1:1; 9. 1-2; 2 Cor. 8:23; Gal. 1:1; Col. 1:1; Heb. 3:1). They also had to be an eye witness of the resurrection (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 15:8), and they governed the early church (1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Thess. 2:13; 4:8, 15; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; 2 Pet. 3:15-16). In 2 Corinthians, the words, representatives/messengers, are also used for apostle in a broader sense (2 Cor. 1:1; 8:23; Phil. 2:25). This title does not apply today; it is reserved only for the original twelve plus Paul. Today, all Christians are emissaries (2 Cor. 5:20). Also today, this role is filled by Elders (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 28; Eph. 4:11)! Thus, the original Apostles started the church and the Elders today continue to run the church.
- Elect here means our privilege to be eternally called in Christ, and that our salvation is secured by God's grace alone, received by our faith alone (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Elect or election in biblical theology means "to select" or "to choose," that God chose us by His purpose and nothing else. Because, if it was accordingly by His foreknowledge, that would mean it was by our future means, therefore the need and work of Christ would be thwarted (John 17:24; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). Divine election is a continuous theme in Paul's Epistles (Rom. 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5, 7, 28; 16:13; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 1:1).
- Foreknowledge refers to God as sovereign and "omniscient," meaning He is all-knowing, crossing time and space; thus, He knows the future. This is where "predestination" comes from, (Gen. 4:1; Psalm 90; Amos 3:2; Mal. 1:2; Matt 1:25; 1 Cor. 1:9;) that God's plan is sovereign and eternal. We have a personal plan and agenda to follow, a purpose that is God's. The argument in theology is not that He elects us; rather by what means God uses His foreknowledge or His purpose. The book of Romans says it is by His purpose. Human reason says it is by God seeing ahead.
- Grace…peace is a standard greeting meaning a pronouncing of a blessing or God's special favor upon someone. These would be cool, quenching words for Christians in distress! The blessing is that we are right with God, no matter what happens, when we are in relationship with Christ our Redeemer (Isa. 44:6; Jonah 4:2; John 14:27; 20:19; Rom. 5:1-2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2)!
- Suffering, Glory. The greater our suffering, the greater we become in Him. We shine in His glory and shine His glory to others when we endure trials and learn and grow from them.
- The key words of chosen, elect, foreknew, and predestined have been topics of hot debate amongst many Christian groups over the centuries. The principle theme is agreed upon, that God does choose us and makes us holy-to which this passage attests and the rest of the Bible clearly proclaims. If He did not, we could never obtain salvation on our own (Gen. 45:8; 50:20; Job 14:5; Psalm 33:13-14; 115:3; 147:5; Prov. 5:21; 15:3; 16:1, 4, 9, 33; Is. 14:26-27; Dan. 4:33-34; John. 1:13; Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29-30; 9:9-18; 1 Pet. 1:1, 20).
The debate rages over how He chooses: by His Sovereign purpose (which the Reformers believed) or by His foreknowledge (as many Evangelicals today believe.) Such debates, although invigorating and insightful to know more and establish a position, sometime cause us to ignore the main thing-that God is God, He loves us, He chooses us, He makes us holy, and now, because of what He did for us, we are to spend our energies growing and serving Him. What we are not to do is make a nuisance of ourselves by spending all of our energies in supercilious debate, and ignoring what Jesus did, so it does not impact our lives. The key thing we forget is our obedience and faith development, which is far more important in God's eyes than getting the particulars of theology correct. Correct theology is very important because it teaches us who God is! But, our faith development is even more important, because it is our response to what God did!
We cannot fathom this true implication, meaning, or reasoning. We have to trust that God is God and we are not; thus, we have no idea of His plan or purpose. All Christian groups who use the Bible teach election; the division is in its meaning and purpose, which God has not revealed to us, and about which we can only speculate. We only know what He has revealed and that He does elect; our call is to trust and obey (1 Cor. 1:8-9; Phil.1:6; 1 Thess. 1:3-6; 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 1-12; 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:10). Our purpose is not to argue over this, but to accept His amazing grace.
1. How scattered is your family and how often do you have reunions?
2. Have you ever felt disconnected from your home and all that you know?
3. Do you have a better understanding of these hot theological topics once they are explained?
4. Have you realized that when we are in Christ, we are all foreigners? This world is not our real or permanent home; rather, our true home is to come!
5. What does this mean for your trust and growth in Him?
6. A lot of Christians today do not see the importance of theology. Why is that?
7. Why is correct theology very important?
8. Why is responding to what God did even more important? How do these two go together?
9. Have you realized the incredible, theological wonder of what Christ did for you? Who He is and what He is? Well, this is all about theology; thus, to know, grow in, and worship Christ, we have to know Him, and that is to know theology. So, what do you think of this?
10. What are you going to do about theology?
11. Some misguided Christians think they are "apostles." Why do you suppose that a person would make that claim when Scripture tells us clearly what an apostle is?
12. How does it make you feel that the greater our suffering, the greater we become in Him? Does this scare you? What can you do to take comfort in this and not be scared?
© 2005, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org