1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,…
St. Peter here tells you what you are — for what purpose you are such, and to how great privilege you may reach. "Elect," he says, "according to the foreknowledge of God."
I. WHAT DOES ELECT MEAN? The word is taken from the Old Testament, where it is applied not to one or two individuals, but to the Jewish nation. They were highly favoured, they were gathered from other nations; they had the law and the prophets and means which others had not. To the Christian Church it is now said, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." Again, the very title of this Epistle shows for whom it was meant. "Elect according to the fore knowledge of God." For what is the title? The general — in Greek, the catholic — Epistle of St. Peter. Now what does this mean but that it is not for a small number of Christians, nor yet for the Church of a particular district, like some of St. Paul's Epistles; but for the Church universal, all the members of which he calls "elect"? Again, observe the first verse: "To the strangers scattered throughout Pontus," etc. As to the greater part of the persons whom he addresses, St. Peter could have known nothing of their character or habits any more than we can tell how individuals are living in private in France or Ireland. How, then, could he pronounce upon their eternal salvation? But he means nothing of the sort. He knew that life was before them; that they had light, and knowledge, and grace, and opportunities not given to others; he knew that they had been gathered into the Christian fold, which was not the case with others. Upon all these grounds he calls them elect, and predestined to this before the foundation of the world. That which is true of the Church as a whole is true of its parts. Accordingly, St. Paul, addressing different parts of the Christian body, at different times, calls them in turn elect, chosen, called, saints, sanctified. He does not mean to say that all he calls saints were so in their practice, any more than those whom we call Christians are really such. But he means that they were designed by God to be truly saints upon earth and triumphing souls in heaven. Why, I would ask, do you send missions to the heathen if you have not something to enrich them with which they possess not? You are in the light: you are a chosen people. I say not as to the use of privileges, but as to their possession. A man may shut his eyes though the sun be beaming; a man may turn back from the brink of heaven. Nevertheless, the possession of such privileges proves you to be high in God's favour — His chosen people, for an exalted purpose.
II. And now WHAT DOES GOD, ACCORDING TO ST. PETER, TO HIS ELECT PEOPLE? How does He assure them of their election, and enable them to make their calling and election sure? He gives them His Spirit in their hearts: "through sanctification," it is said, "of the Spirit." It is affirmed in the following words, "that God hath elected you unto obedience." Surely to bear the fruits of the Spirit a man must have the Spirit. Therefore St. Paul writes, "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father," etc. Let me mention two reasons why it is necessary to believe that Christians are sanctified, or receive the Spirit in their childhood.
1. The first is that our children are all expected to serve God, to renounce the devil, keep the Commandments, and believe the faith. But they are not able to do it without the Spirit.
2. When God takes away any of your children from you in their early years you have a confident belief that they are saved.
3. And this conducts me very naturally to the third point: supposing people to grow up, and to have passed the unconscious time of childhood, what is the immediate object of their sanctification? The text informs us, "Unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." The apostle is thought to allude here to the covenant God made with Israel, which was confirmed by the sprinkling of blood. Another meaning is, that the Spirit hath been given to us in order that we might obey and so be pardoned; in either case the result is the same, that without obeying Christ none shall be saved. Let me address these who think they shall be saved without obedience. It cannot be denied that this is a fearfully large number. Every man who puts off repentance thinks he can be saved without obedience; for if he keep putting it off, when does he hope to obey? Again, are there not persons who arrive at the same deceit in another way? who are not careful to inquire whether they keep the commandments of Christ, but only whether they feel in a particular manner?
(J. M. Chanter, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,