I would like to return to a Bible study that was started last summer in the Epistle of 1st Peter. We had begun in 1st Peter Chapter 1. We have already done a couple of studies in this Epistle, so I am just going to read the first few verses and sort of re-cap some of the things that we look for. In future weeks, Lord willing, we will continue to pick up this study.
We read in 1 Peter 1:1-5:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
I will stop reading there.
I am sure that many of you are familiar with the fact that Peter’s name means “rock” or “stone.” Actually, the name “Peter” comes from a word that means “part of a rock” or “piece of a stone.” This word is not referring to the complete rock. There are two words that are very close. The word that is the underlying Greek word for “Peter” is petros. It is Strong’s #4074 and it is always used for the name “Peter.” In every case, “Peter” is the Greek word petros. But there is another word that is Strong’s #4073. This word is petra. This is a word that is used for the word “rock” in many places, and this would be the full mass of the rock; and so Peter has a name that points to the rock or to a piece of the rock.
I am bringing this up because of what we read in Matthew 16:13-18. This says:
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [petros], and upon this rock [petra] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
It is very difficult to distinguish between the two words in the English King James Bible. Because of this, many people have assumed that the “rock” that God is building His Church upon is Peter [petros], but that is not the word that is used when the statement is made, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” In this case, it is the word petra. It is a slightly different word, but God makes sure that He never confuses the two.
Peter was witnessing and proclaiming that Christ is the Messiah because God had opened up His eyes to that truth, but it is Christ Himself who is the Rock [petra]. This is referring to the eternal Church, not the corporate church or the external churches that we have in the world with many denominations that are in many locations. The external church is not the Church that was built upon Christ and that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against.” It is the eternal Church that is made up only of the elect people of God, only of those whom God has saved and paid for all of their sins.
This has not been the case with the external church, with the outward corporate body that we find on our local street corner. Even when God was using the churches down through history, there have always been multitudes of people within the external church who were never saved. They were not the elect of God.
It is enough to know that when we are reading the 1st Epistle or the 2nd Epistle of Peter, or anything about Peter in the Bible, that he is not the Rock that God builds His eternal Church upon. That Church has always been built upon Jesus.
Peter is also not the first pope. He is not in any sense some sort of holy religious individual from whom has been handed down from generation to generation some sort of spirituality or holiness that is bestowed upon the spiritual descendants of his, such as we find in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has the idea of the pope being the representation of God on earth. But, no; the representation of God on earth is His Word, the Bible.
So it says again in 1 Peter 1:1:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
The word for “strangers” is only translated here as “strangers.” It is found three times in the New Testament. The other two times, this word is translated as “pilgrims.”
1 Peter 2:11 is the second place where this word is found. This says:
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
This word for “pilgrims” is the same Greek word that is translated as “strangers” in 1 Peter 1:1.
The third place where this word is found is in Hebrews 11:13, which says:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Again, the word that we are looking at is translated as “strangers” in 1 Peter 1:1, but it is not the word that is translated as “strangers” here in Hebrews 11:13. It is the word “pilgrims”:
…they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
In both cases, in 1 Peter 2:11 and here in Hebrews 11, we find that “pilgrims” and “strangers” are mentioned in association with one another. Basically, this word is a synonym for a stranger. If you are a pilgrim, you are a sojourner; you are a traveler, which is just like a stranger who is coming to a location that he has never been before. He is a stranger because it is not his home; and so God uses this word.
There is a similar use of the word “pilgrim” in the Old Testament. In Exodus 6:3-4, it says:
And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
Canaan is a picture of something. God had promised to Abraham that He would give this land “for an everlasting possession.” When God says that He will give the land of Canaan, this is a picture of the new earth.
So when the Bible indicates that God’s people dwelt in Canaan as strangers during the time of their pilgrimage, this is pointing to God’s people living in the world during our present period of pilgrimage.
This is just as Jacob had said when he was before Pharaoh. At that time, Jacob was asked how old he was. In Genesis 47:9, we read:
And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been…
Jacob is a picture of the elect people of God. God uses him to typify His people, the elect; and we use the word “elect” because the Bible uses it. This word is actually in 1 Peter. The elect are the ones who have been chosen by God out of the whole sum or the whole total of all human beings.
Every human being has fallen short of God’s glory. They have sinned and brought the wrath of God down upon them. Due to this, each human being is subject to eternal destruction, to be annihilated forevermore; yet God, in His mercy and grace, determined to have a people who were made in His image for Himself. This is why He developed a salvation plan.
So out of all of these rebels, these sinners, these dirty rotten sinners who constantly shake their tiny little fists at Him and rebel continually before Him, who would He save? Who was worthy? Who of all of mankind’s billions would be worthy enough to experience the salvation of God, eternal life, and to be redeemed from their transgressions?
The answer is that none are worthy. The Bible says, “no, not one”; there is none that doeth good”; “there is none righteous.” There is no one who deserves God’s grace and salvation.
God, of course, knows everything. He knows “the end from the beginning.” He knows the life of every single human being. He knows the things that we would do, the things that we would say, and the things that we would think, even those things that are deep-down within our hearts. When God would look out and see these things, God knew that He would not be able to save anyone based on their works.
This is why He determined to save some based on the work of Jesus Christ, based on what Christ would do. Jesus determined to take the sins of certain ones. Why one over another? It was nothing within them. It was not because they had done good or evil. It was only because of God’s good pleasure that He picked this one and not that one.
So He chose a people for Himself and then He would bring salvation to these people, which was only by His grace and not based on anything that they might have done to merit, to deserve, or to earn salvation in any way. These individuals would live in this world, even after salvation, as sojourners. They would be strangers now in a strange land and their lives would be like a pilgrimage. They would be travelers who were just waiting for the time when they could go home.
All of the days of their lives on this earth is summed up by Jacob as “few and evil,” as those 130 years of his life typified the 13,000 years of history from creation until 1988, because we are now at the end of the world. We are in the very last days and the world will end shortly after 13,000 years.
This is why God makes the point of having Jacob state his age; and Jacob’s age was the length of his pilgrimage. This was because his age was really picturing the length of time that the elect people of God will dwell and live in this world.
Going back to 1st Peter, notice that Peter was moved by God to write to a certain group of people. Peter was moved by God to write to “strangers.” By the way, this is not in the King James version of the Bible; but in the Greek, the word “elect” that we find in 1 Peter 1:2, which says:
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God…
In the original Greek, this word is actually found in verse one. This word is modifying the word “strangers.” If you look at verse one in an Interlinear Bible, you will find that the Greek word eklektos is in front of the word “strangers” in verse one.
So 1 Peter 1:1 should really read:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the [elect] strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
So God is very carefully writing to His people.
The Bible is for the whole world; but in another sense, the Bible is more specifically to the elect. First of all, much of the world does not care about the Bible, because they are not elect. They have no interest in it and they do not understand it; but God gives His people a tremendous interest in the things of God in the Bible and He gives them an understanding concerning the Bible.
So Peter is writing to the “elect strangers” who are scattered in these five regions. I think that we went into the locations of these places when we began this study last summer, but we will just notice this time that there were five of them and that the number 5, on one hand, points to grace; and so these are the elect who have experienced the elect of God and they are found scattered throughout these five regions, just as the elect are scattered throughout the whole world. They are everywhere in the world amongst all of the nations of the earth.
Then in 1 Peter 1:2 in the King James translation, we find the word “elect” because this verse is a continuation from 1 Peter 1:1. The elect are those who are being addressed, but the translators, for whatever reason, moved the word order around. I guess they felt that it made more sense this way, but I do not think that we have permission to do this. This word “elect” should have been left back in 1 Peter 1:1.
The word “elect” or eklektos is translated as “chosen” in Matthew 20:16, which says:
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
There are few eklektos, and eklektos is the plural word for elect.
So there are many who are called by the Gospel. The Gospel goes into all of the world and has gone into all of the world for centuries, and people then hear the sound of the Gospel. They hear the Bible and they respond to it. They have been called; and yet within that vast number who has been called, there are few who are actually chosen. We read in the book of Romans, “There is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
We are sometimes discouraged when we find individuals who have sojourned with us in our pilgrimage who we thought were of the elect along with ourselves; and yet as we go throughout this pilgrimage, we find things to be as Jacob said, “Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.” We find that there is a constant testing and a constant trial of our faith; and yet even though we are in a time when this has been intensified today, this has actually been true all throughout history. But it is sorrowful when we find individuals who no longer walk with us.
If you are old enough to remember this, we experienced this in the churches. If you were someone who used to go to church several decades ago or even longer, there were people there who we thought were our brethren. We thought that they were strangers in this world, along with us. But as we go along, God opens up truth through His Word. He is the One who does this. We do not make this distinction. We do not decide these things. But through His Word, He brings tests. When He does this, individuals fail these tests and they are left behind by the Word of God.
So we can actually see the truth of this statement:
…many be called, but few chosen [eklektos].
Few are chosen by God and they will continue on the path of following the truth of the Bible, no matter how hard or how difficult things get. No matter how much trouble or how much affliction comes their way and no matter how severe the trial may be, they have no other place to go. They continue on, and yet this is not the case with the “many”; and the reason for this is because they are not elect. They were never chosen by God from before the foundation of the world.
Let us take a look at this. There is a big teaching today of the freewill gospel. The freewill gospel teaches that people can choose Christ. Yet what does Jesus Himself say in John 15:16? We read there:
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you…
This is just as Matthew 20:16 tells us:
…for many be called, but few chosen.
Few are chosen and they are the elect.
God tells us in the book of Ephesians when He made this choice. It says in Ephesians 1:4-5:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
This is really fairly straightforward and very simply put, although people do not want to accept this. They like the idea that their will plays a part. They really like the idea that they can bring salvation to themselves, and they are fearful of the truth, which is that we cannot save ourselves and that we cannot ever bring salvation to ourselves. No one ever could, just as Jesus said:
Ye have not chosen me…
This is God’s statement on the free will of man. It continues:
…but I have chosen you…
If you are one of God’s elect, this is how you did become saved, and this choice, according to Ephesians 1:4, was made “before the foundation of the world.” It was not made in your lifetime based on the things that you have done in any way. It was not made based on any work of keeping the law or of being good enough. It was done before the world even began. God knew at that time that all of mankind would be sinners; and so at that point, He made the choice. He ordained certain individuals to salvation.
Was it luck? No it was not luck. It was God’s determinate will. He predestinated this to take place.
We hear a lot about how wonderful it would be to win the lottery, but winning all of that money is nothing compared to being chosen to receive the tremendous spiritual riches forevermore of eternal life. This is the real riches that anyone might have if they have received this gift, if they have received the salvation of God.
Going back to 1 Peter 1:2, we read:
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…
It is helpful to look at the Greek. If we look at the Greek word for the word “foreknowledge,” this word is pro-gno-sis. We get our English word “prognosis” from this, and this literally means “before knowing.”
Again, this is all in relationship to the elect of God. We were elected, as Ephesians 1 told us, “before the foundation of the world,” before we were born, before the human race was created, before the world was created. This was when God worked everything out. We know that His whole salvation plan took place as the sins of certain ones were laid upon Christ. Before the world began, He died. He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He also rose after completing payment for the sins of His elect before the foundation of the world in order to be declared the Son of God.
So, as 1 Peter 1:2 continues, this was all:
…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit…
“Sanctification” is a big word in our English language, but this word just means to be “set apart.” This was done through the setting apart of these individuals by the Spirit of God. Again, election itself means that there were some set apart. There were certain ones who were chosen, but not all.
Jacob was set apart to salvation, but not Esau. God says, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” This is the way things have been with all of mankind. Certain ones were sanctified by the Spirit of God. God has set them apart, and so God has a very keen watch on all of His elect, even before they are born. When they are born and enter into the human race, God basically has His eyes on them in a very special way. He watches over them very carefully and closely and He will not allow any true or ultimate harm to come to them; that is, He would never allow them to die before experiencing redemption or the application of that salvation that Christ has already won or wrought for them as it becomes applied to them through the hearing of His Word.
So they are sanctified all throughout their lives, even though they might have been saved as a baby like John the Baptist, or maybe they will be saved like the thief on the cross who was saved at the very last couple of hours of his life, and yet God had His eyes on that thief throughout the whole period of his pilgrimage. Throughout the whole length of time that he lived on this earth, God watched over him. He came as close as anyone could come to perilously leaving this world without salvation, and yet this could not have happened since God had obligated Himself to save each and every one of His elect.
It is not possible for any elect person to perish, for any elect individual to somehow miss out on salvation. This is not possible. We do not have to worry, for instance, if we somehow got it wrong by proclaiming that there is no salvation available. We do not have to worry that this would prevent anyone from becoming saved.
God watches over His elect people, and their salvation is guaranteed. He has obligated Himself and He will fulfill His obligation and make sure that every single child of God, every single one whom Christ died for, will experience the salvation of God. They have been set apart in this way.
Then 1 Peter 1:2 goes on to say:
…unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…
It is interesting that we find these two ideas together, as we read that these elect are sanctified or set apart by the Spirit of God to obedience; that is, they will become obedient. They will become obedient to the Word of God, to the Bible, to the laws of God in the Bible. To one degree or another, this is going to happen in the lives of all of these elect, and they will become obedient.
Then notice how this is joined to the:
…sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…
It is interesting that we find these same two ideas together in the book of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 36:25, it says:
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you…
Here, this is talking about water. In 1st Peter 1, it is referring to the sprinkling of blood. But, basically and spiritually, they are one and the same.
When Jesus had His side pierced, what came out was water and blood. This is because they both point to the Gospel. They both point to the Word of God: the blood of Christ that covers over the sins of sinners and the water of the Gospel that flows out into the world and accomplishes the same thing.
So we read in Ezekiel 36:25-27:
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Here we have the same two elements that are in 1 Peter 1:2 where it speaks of:
…obedience and sprinkling of the blood…
In Ezekiel 36, God is saying that He will “sprinkle clean water upon you”; and, of course, this is referring to the elect. This “clean water,” or the hearing of the Gospel, will create a new heart within them, a heart that is not of stone but “an heart of flesh” that is born again. This heart will be a heart that desires to obey God.
God tells us elsewhere that the new heart He gives us is perfect and without sin. This is the new spiritual nature that He imparts and gives to the child of God, and this heart will be obedient. As a result of salvation and the taking out of the sinful and rebellious heart that is natural to man and giving him a new heart or a new spirit, God will cause that person to walk in His Word and in His statutes.
This is why these two ideas are brought together in 1 Peter 1:2:
…unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…
We will finish this study with what we read here in the last part of 1 Peter 1:2:
…Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Here is the sincere desire and well-wishing of the believer for everyone. We hope that each person is of the elect, even though we know that not everyone can be. We do not know who are of the elect and who are not, and so we desire grace and peace to everyone.
This is speaking of the grace of God, as Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
1 Peter 1:2 is saying:
…Grace unto you…
This is speaking of the grace that brings salvation, and this is our desire for everyone. We would hope this for everyone. This is wanting the best for each person, “May you experience the grace of God.” This can only be a gift of God, “May this gift be in your possession. May He have saved you by His grace. If you are a professed Christian,” and there are many of them, “may you not think that you have been saved through any other means than through God’s grace or than through the grace of Christ in saving you.”
So here, Peter is addressing the “elect strangers” who are scattered in these five regions and he is expressing that this is his desire for them:
…Grace unto you, and peace…
In Ephesians, we also read of peace where it tells us that Christ is our peace. He tells us there that He has “broken down the middle wall of partition between us” and that we are no longer at enmity with God. The warfare between God and the individual who has become a child of God is done. It is finished and they are now at peace with him. This has been made possible all through the grace of God, through His wonderful working within that individual to bring them to this point, to break them in their rebellion, to humble them, and to bring them to Him.
So this peace and grace is desired and we would want to share this with others, but notice that this says:
…Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
This is something that we wonder about, because how can God’s grace be multiplied? How can peace with God be multiplied?
When God saves us, at the moment that this salvation is applied to our heart and we are born again, we have a new heart and a new spirit, the rebellion with God is done, the warfare with God is finished, and we are at perfect peace with God.
It is the same with God’s grace. The moment that He saves us, He has already given us abundant grace to cover all sin – the sin of our past, the sin of our present, and the sin of our future – so how can this grace multiply? Since we have all of the grace that is necessary at the moment that we are saved, how can it increase?
I think that the answer is found in 2 Peter 1:2, where we find a similar verse:
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
So here we find the same two things:
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you…
But we are given the added information:
…through the knowledge of God…
All sin is already forgiven and that wonderful grace of God is already bestowed, and yet we are not quite fully aware of just how much grace and just how much peace – and we could also include all sorts of other spiritual blessing as well – that God has actually bestowed upon us. We understand more only as we continue on and as we continue learning “through the knowledge of God.”
As we read the Bible, we increase in our understanding of the law of God, the perfection of God, the holiness of God; and as we learn, we realize more and more our own sinfulness and our failure to keep this perfect standard of the Bible.
So we grow in the knowledge of grace more and more. We realize that God forgave this or that sin also. Maybe we did not even know that something was a sin until we learned about this a few years after becoming a child of God, but we continue to grow and we realize the peace of God more and more as we learn about the wonderful salvation that God has given us and all of the tremendous blessings that are associated with it.
We are going to stop here today. Lord willing, we will pick up 1st Peter next Sunday. Maybe we should say that if the Lord tarries further, then, Lord willing, we will continue next week.
In a couple of weeks, we will also start doing a Bible study on Friday nights. Then as we go along, hopefully as we learn more, we will be able to increase the number of nights for the Bible study.
I think that it is better to go slow. This allows more time to study, more time to read the Bible and to pray, especially for wisdom and for understanding. We can pray that God would show us and guide us and teach us what He is doing and what His plan is for this period of time. We will just continue going slowly, hoping that God will open up our eyes to more truth.