1 Peter 1:1

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 1 Peter 1:1

Peter begins his epistle in a manner similar to Paul. Neither uses their given name (Simon or Saul). The name Peter (Petros – Rock, or the Aramaic Cephas) was given to Peter by Christ Jesus in Matthew 16 –

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:13-19

Peter made the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ. In return, Jesus stated that Simon was Peter, the Rock. He then said, “and on this rock I will build my church.” As a point of theology, Jesus called him Peter (Petros), a masculine noun. He then said that “on this rock (petra)” He would build His church. The noun is feminine. Thus, Jesus was not saying that the rock on which He would build the church is Peter. Rather, it was on the proclamation that Peter made – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Roman Catholic claim that Peter was their first Pope based on this exchange is thus shown to be false.

Peter next says, “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” This is unlike Paul who, in his initial greetings, always added in a qualifier, such as “a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,” “called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” and so on. Peter, however, simply states the fact that he is an apostle. He was one of the original twelve that were called, and the name and title speak for themselves. Whenever the apostles are listed in the gospel records, Peter is always listed first, and Judas the betrayer is always listed last.

Peter then says, “to the pilgrims of the Dispersion.” What should follow immediately after that are the continued words of verse 2. Here are the two options –

1) To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father… (KJV et al.)

2) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia… (ERV et al)

The importance of joining “elect” to “sojourners of the Dispersion” is that not all of the Dispersion are elect. Only those in Christ Jesus are. The Greek is specific to show this. By incorrectly separating these, one could also incorrectly assume that all in the Dispersion are elect.

This word, Dispersion, is referenced in John 7:35 and James 1:1. The idea of the Dispersion of the Jews is also alluded to in Acts 2. Based on the context, those accounts can speak of all Jews, regardless of their having received Christ or not. Peter’s words are to those who have received Christ. Any other Jews of the Dispersion who read this epistle would be incidental, not actual addressees.

Peter then states where in the Dispersion he is writing to with, “in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” The term “pilgrim” signifies “residing in a strange country,” and thus a stranger or sojourner. In other words, they are not in the land of Israel, and are thus out of their homeland. But more, these are believers in Christ, and so even in the land of Israel, they are sojourners in the same sense as were the fathers whose true home is in a restored, heavenly paradise.

These locations had believing Jews in them. Their faith probably came in several ways. One is that of the scattering of believers after the martyrdom of Stephen. That began in Acts 11 as believing Jews began to spread out. Paul’s missionary journeys also always went to the Jews first where quite often some would believe. Further, Aquila and Priscilla carried the message with them, as is seen in Acts. Slowly but surely, the message extended out so that by this time (mid to late 60s) there was a solid group of believing Jews.

Vincent’s Word Studies notes –

Of all the catholic epistles, Peter’s alone puts forward his apostleship in the introduction. He is addressing churches with which he had no immediate connection, and which were distinctively Pauline. Hence, he appeals to his apostleship in explanation of his writing to them, and as his warrant for taking Paul’s place.”

This seems correct, but the important thing to understand is that Peter is addressing Jews (the pilgrims of the Dispersion). Paul’s apostleship was to the Jew first, but specifically to the Gentiles. Peter’s is solely to the Jews. This is explicitly stated in Galatians 2 –

But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles).” Galatians 2:7, 8

Life application: After this opening verse, it is exciting to think on the wonders that lay ahead in the next 104 days of study. Set your mind now on continuing through with this study to the end. Make it a part of your daily life so that you will be built up and edified each day in an analysis of the word. Let us take time now to pray and ask for both wisdom and discernment as we move ahead –

Glorious and Almighty Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the opportunity to look into the pages of the Bible. Though it was transmitted through fallible men who made mistakes throughout the journeys of their lives, You still worked through them, breathing out Your precious word. Help us to be wise and discerning as we look into Your perfect word, understanding that You are the Author through their inspired writings. Amen.

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