1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
May God give you more and more grace and peace.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (NLT)
I don’t know about you but I am sometimes tempted to skip over the greetings in some of the New Testament letters. I want to jump right to the “good stuff” so I don’t bother reading the opening words and I think that is unwise. I do my best to keep things in context and that is difficult when jumping over the salutation. That is where the author typically identifies himself and his audience. There is often information there explaining why the letter is being written. To ignore that is to run the risk of missing the author’s message. I think there is a lot to be seen here. This is more than just a list of places where believers are gathered.
Notice that Peter begins by addressing himself as an apostle of Jesus. In case there is any doubt, he’s letting them know that he is writing with authority. Next he reminds his readers that they are God’s chosen people (NIV uses elect) in spite of the fact that they are living as foreigners in the different places he mentions. It is possible that Peter is writing from Rome where he will eventually by executed during the persecution of Nero. He understands what it means to be living as a stranger or an outsider. Peter wants them to remember who they belong to especially in light of the hard times ahead of them.
He encourages them, reminding them that God knows them intimately. He chose them and is making them holy through the work of His Holy Spirit. Their obedience is possible because Jesus died for them and his blood has cleansed them. He wants them to remain strong in the knowledge of this. It is interesting that Peter mentions all three members of what we commonly refer to as the Trinity. This passage is one of the ones often used to support that idea. Notice how each member works together to bring salvation. The Father chose us, the Son died for us, and the Spirit sets us apart (sanctifies).
There is a quite a bit to digest in those two short verses. As I said, we (myself included) are sometimes tempted to skip the opening section and dig into what we think is the important stuff. By doing so we often miss some REALLY important stuff. Peter’s entire letter is built upon the foundation he lays right here in the greeting. I hope you take the time to absorb all of what the biblical writers say. I definitely benefit when I do.
May God our Father give you grace and peace.