“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 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” (1 Pet 1:1-2).
This apostle Peter is the same man who denied knowing Jesus three times before the Roman and Jewish leaders to save his own skin. Roughly thirty years later, he is the primary voice offering salvation to those Jews scattered all across the Roman Empire in the “dispersion” implemented by Rome after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps it was the Romans who created the phrase, “The solution to pollution is dilution”?
Peter’s ministry is totally committed to honoring Jews as the chosen people of God, and then bringing faith in Jesus to Jews scattered everywhere after their long captivity in Babylon:
“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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:3-5).
Peter would, of course, welcome any immediate conversion to faith in Christ. But he is telling the Jews that they have a special place in God’s heart, that will remain open until Jesus returns in the “last days.”
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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” (1 Pet 1:6-7).
While Christian believers are truly born again in Christ to an imperishable hope, the unconverted Jews of the dispersion hold strong faith in the return of the Christ in the last days. This strong faith gives Jews cause to rejoice while the genuineness of their faith is being tested by fire.
But now comes something I have not spent much time thinking about:
“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, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:8-9).
Wait a minute. How could the Jews, who, during the brutal reign of Rome over them, reject the man Jesus and turn him over for execution by the Romans under false charges, then say they love him? You must be joking!
But Peter is saying that their zealotry back then does not change the long-standing destiny of the Jews to see, believe, and celebrate, not only the Messiah, as laid out by their prophets of old, but also their true salvation before God in the end days.
Peter is talking about perfect unity here, even if he does not use the phrase coined by Jesus himself in John 17! This unity is entirely unique, the unity between Jews and Christians.
Hurry back for the next blog, where Peter sets the stage for the unbelieving Jews of his day to realize they are loved as family thanks to the Holy Spirit.