The Expository Files.


 Victims, but Elect

1 Peter 1:2


Those Peter wrote to were addressed as "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."

Just imagine that you are being punished and mistreated in various ways, but you are innocent of any crime. In fact, you are subjected to this injustice because of what you believe and how you live. You suffer open ridicule, employment/economic difficulty, strained relationships and perhaps the threat of death - all of this because you believe the gospel, you love Jesus Christ and your life is directed by His teaching. In this unfortunate circumstance of pain and suffering, how would you regard yourself? What would you call yourself? A victim?

The apostle Peter wrote to people in Asia and they were having to endure a fiery trial of persecution, and perhaps were tempted to view themselves as poor, unfortunate victims. Peter acknowledged their suffering, but did not describe them as victims. He called them the "elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ ... " (1 Pet. 1:3).

The apostle wanted them to know their relationship to all three members of the Godhead. They were the elect of God, based on His foreknowledge. They were set apart by the Holy Spirit, and the blood of Christ had been applied to their lives upon their obedience to the gospel (see Romans 6:1-6)! Persecuted and mistreated by men, but chosen by God, sanctified by the Spirit and pardoned by the blood. What imposing concepts of identify for these suffering disciples.

They were elect! This English word is from the Greek EKLEGO, which has to do with a choice or selection. God - even before the world began - choose to have as His people, those in Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 1). Therefore, when an alien sinner hears about Christ, believes in Him and responds by obeying - he enters into this relationship (in Christ), and is part of God's chosen people. The elect are simply God's people (see Matt. 24:24; Col. 3:12 and Titus 1:1). An older preacher in rural Arkansas was once asked to explain the doctrine of election. They had been studying in Romans 9-11, so the question came up - "Preacher, explain the doctrine of election." He said, "Brethren, it's this way . . The Lord, He is always a votin' for man; The Devil, he is always a votin' against man; then the man himself - he has to vote, and that breaks the tie!" Not technical but true. Those disciples suffering in Asia were the elect of God.

Their status as "the elect" was according to a plan God formed and knew before the world began; the idea is, a resolution formed beforehand: "the foreknowledge of God." God thought about our needs and how to meet them long before we existed! This foreknowledge "is that those who obey the gospel ... according to his predetermined will are those who are purified and made elect (1:22)." {First Peter, Truth Commentaries, by Clinton Hamilton, p.#6}.

Next consider, if you are part of the elect now, what was it that brought you to the place where you wanted to obey the gospel? What was it that separated you from the desire to sin and worked in you the desire to repent and do right? It was the preaching of the gospel given by the Holy Spirit (see 1:12). So, through the Word communicated by the Holy Spirit, we are separated from the desire to sin and motivated to repent and do right. This is the sanctification of the Spirit (see also 2 Thess. 2:14 & Jno. 17:17), and its object is obedience.

This obedience results in cleansing by the blood. In obedience to the gospel the blood of Christ is applied (captured by the word "sprinkling"), which results in pardon. So, the limited earthly perspective may emphasize the temporal suffering, and cry out, "I'm a victim!" The perspective reflected by the apostle is: You are God's people according to His foreknown plan. The Word of the Spirit separated you from sin, and brought you to the blood of Christ. Victims, but elect!

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 4.7; July 1997
 

 

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