Friday, 20 September 2019
…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. 1 Peter 1:2
The word here, elect, signifies that Peter is speaking to believing Jews, not merely all Jews. This will continue to be seen in the remaining clauses of this verse as well. It signifies a truly chosen group. It comes from the Greek word, eklektos, which shows the obvious connection to our modern word.
The word covers various aspects of humanity. The Hebrew race was chosen to represent the Lord, particular people within the race were chosen for various appointments, the Messiah was selected by God out of humanity, and those of faith in Messiah are elect. Each instance bears its own significance.
As noted in the previous verse, the word should be united with the word pilgrims – the elect pilgrims. Peter is writing to those Jews of the Dispersion who are believers in Christ. He then notes that they are elect “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”
God the Father did not arbitrarily select people for coming to Christ. He also did not choose at some point to regenerate some and pass over others. Rather, God the Father knew, in advance, who would come to Him through Christ. However, it must be understood that foreknowledge does not negate free will in man.
A person may know that if he leaves $10.00 on the mantle that his son will steal it, but this does not mean that the son does not have the choice to do the act. The foreknowledge is simply His knowing what will occur, but the guilt of a sinful action cannot be imputed to Him. And the reciprocal is true as well. The voluntary choosing of believing in Christ is left up to the individual.
The word “foreknowledge,” or prognósis in the Greek, is where our modern word prognosis comes from. This is its second and last use in Scripture. It does signify a previous determination which is in accord with His grand plan. The individual choices within His plan are known to Him, and occur as He knew they would, but they are still individual choices.
Next, Peter brings in the third member of the Trinity by saying, “in sanctification of the Spirit.” This is the act of the Spirit in setting someone apart as holy. It is the same thought given by Paul, for example, in 2 Thessalonians –
“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, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14
This occurs when a person believes the gospel message. At that time, the Spirit seals that person for salvation as a guarantee (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Thus, that person is considered holy and set apart to God. Peter then explains further by saying, “for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Here, the word “for” is used in an after the fact sense. The idea is “unto,” or “that you may obey.” Christ died and shed His blood to provide a sprinkling of His blood upon them. The Greek word is rhantismos, and it is used only here and in Hebrews 12:24. It signifies sprinkling for purification.
This is a rite which was accomplished under the Old Covenant in Numbers 19 which was to purify a person from the taint of death. The person was (and we are) passively sprinkled as the work is accomplished upon us. We receive Christ, and the work of Christ is imputed to us, and the sanctification of the Spirit is worked upon us.
As all people are born in sin, all people are born spiritually dead. The sprinkling of Christ is what purifies the believer from this taint of death, and the Holy Spirit then sanctifies that person as holy – all in accord with the foreknowledge of God the Father.
Vincent’s Word Studies asks the reader to stop and “Note the three prepositions: according to (κατά) the foreknowledge; in (ἐν) sanctification; unto (εἰς) obedience. The ground, sphere, and end of spiritual sanctification.” As one can see, Peter’s words here cover roles of all three members of the Triune God.
To understand this right of sprinkling and the marvelous pictures of Christ and His work that they reveal, one can go back to watch these two sermons on YouTube –
After this short theologically packed description of those he is addressing, Peter then says, “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” Grace is unmerited favor; it cannot be earned. This is a common greeting among the Greek people. Peace, however, is a common greeting among the Hebrew people. In their language, the word is shalom. The idea of shalom is more than a greeting for calm or quiet, but is rather a state of wholeness and completion in all ways.
Peter unites the two terms. The audience is those of the Dispersion, and they would be fully aware of both terms and how they were applied in the common language spoken where they were. This extending of grace and peace is seen in Paul’s epistles as well. In their words, the common order is “grace” and then “peace.” Grace precedes peace because only after receiving the grace of God can a person experience the peace of God.
Life application: There is a lot of theology contained in Peter’s words of this verse. A recap of election here may help bring to remembrance the importance of the doctrine. He says that those he mentioned in verse 1 are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Paul also speaks of election in Romans 9 and 11 (and elsewhere). As noted, it is a concept which indicates that even before creation God knew who would be saved. There are different views on this, e.g. –
1) God knew what choice would be made by those who received Him;
2) God chose the elect and the elect have no choice in the matter.
Proponents of either view have verses which they use to justify their stand, but salvation is clearly described as a “gift” many times in Scripture. If something is forced, it is not a gift; a gift must be received. Further, to say God actively chose only some while actively passing others violates the precept that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Think on these things. Understand that God has a plan, it is being worked out in the stream of time which He created, and that plan includes our voluntary choice to receive or reject Jesus Christ.
Lord God, thank You for the gift of Jesus. Thank You also for the wonderful gift of being sanctified by Your Holy Spirit. We look to You in adoration for what You have done for us that we could never have accomplished on our own. It took the sprinkling of the precious blood of Jesus to cleanse us from our defilement. Thank You for this gift! Amen.