Today’s text is a typical “greeting of any letter in the New Testaments. The author of this letter is Peter. Instead of saying that he is Simon son of Jonah or Simon son of John, he uses the name Peter. Peter was the beloved name that Jesus himself had given to this apostle. It is the Greek form of the Aramaic name meaning “stone” or “rock.” Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (New Living Translation).

Peter who wrote this letter introduced himself as an ‘apostle of Jesus Christ.’ In the New Testament letters, Paul and Peter are the only two who introduced themselves as apostles at the beginning of their letters. Although Paul used lots of additional words to defend his apostleship, Peter simply described himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Unlike Paul, there was no need for Peter to explain or defend his apostleship, for it was never questioned. Although Paul used a phrase like “by the will of God” to explain how he had become an apostle of Jesus, Peter did nothing to explain or justify his apostleship. As a matter of fact, Peter was not merely an apostle, but he was a leader and a spokesperson among the twelve disciples of Jesus. He was an important and influential man in the early church. The term “apostle” means ‘the one who has been sent.” By describing him as an apostle of Jesus, Peter was making sure that he did not try to deliver his own thoughts but the message of Jesus.

Peter’s name is mentioned in the gospels more than anyone except the name of Jesus. No one speaks in the gospels as often as Peter did, and Jesus spoke more to Peter than to any other individual. Since 1 and 2 Peter were written by this Peter, these two letters were received by the first century Christians with a sense of importance. It is my hope that you would listen to his letters with same kind of attitude!

Receiver, God’s Chosen People
Paul wrote this letter to Christians, here called “God’s chosen people,” who were scattered throughout the northern part of Asia Minor–the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These cities are located in modern Turkey. These specific areas were places Christianity had extended in the first several decades after the beginning of the church. It was probably the route that the original carrier of Peter’s letter followed in distributing the letter.

The word. “scattered” or “pilgrims” or “strangers in the world” was used to describe “Diaspora” – the Jews who left the region of Jedea and lived in all over the world after the fall of Jerusalem when the Babylonians conquered Judah. But the meaning of this word has changed over time to describe every Christian including gentles, who are living in the world. So we can say that Peter wrote this letter to every Christian believer in the world. So we are also the pilgrims in this world. All of us are living temporarily on this earth since we have our permanent home in heaven. Christians are residents aliens in this world. A long time ago, someone told me that when Christians die, we are simply changing our home address.

Works of the Triune God
Peter describes three acts of the Triune God. The Father has foreknowledge, the Spirit sanctifies, and Jesus Christ has cleansed us from our sin through his blood.

  • Chosen and destined by God the Father
    “Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” What is foreknowledge? It is much more than the ability to predict future events. It includes the absolute sovereignty of God in determining and implementing his decision to save sinful man. The word “foreknowledge appears in Peter’s Pentecost sermon, where he declares to his Jewish audience that Jesus ‘was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23). Peter implies that God worked according to his sovereign plan and purpose which he had made in advance.
    The word for “chosen” in the Greek language is eklektos, meaning “chosen out, select.” It can also be translated as “elect.” God truly calls and He chooses, but after one’s calling, an individual decision has to be made as well. One must accept the calling and respond to God’s invitation accordingly. We have to make a decision after we hear the word of truth. We must trust God and believe in His Son, and then be sealed with the Holy Spirit. God has chosen his own people. Jesus said in Matthew 22:14, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.
  • Forgiven by Jesus the Son (“To be spirinkled with his blood”)
    “For obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.”
    With the term obedience and sprinkling, Peter refers to the confirmation of the covenant that God made with the people of Israel. In Exodus, 24, Moses read the Book of the Covenant to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” Then Moses sprinkled blood to the people and said, “This is the blood of covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words. The writer of the Epistle Hebrews comments that Jesus shed his blood to take away the sins of God’s people.
Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood . . .
Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood . . .
Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood . . .
Sing Refrain
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.
  • Sanctified by the Holy Spirit
    The Spirit of God transforms our hearts and lifestyle so that we can become more like Christ and be more useful in accomplishing His will. The original Greek indicates that the sanctifying work of the Spirit is a continuing activity or process rather than one time event. In this process, we must not remain passively while the Spirit is active. As we are actively responding to the Spirit’s sanctifying work, we are becoming more obedient to the Word of Jesus and are bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control . . . (Galatians 5:22-23). As we actively respond the Spirit of God, God will make to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, and people who have more self-control.“May grace and peace be yours in abundance”.
    Grace was daily greeting among the Gentiles. The grace has broad meaning of mercy, love and forgiveness of sin. Grace is that which God extends to humanity.
    Peace (Shalom) was daily greeting among the Jews. Peace is a state of internal happiness. In a sense, the concepts grace and peace relate to each other as cause and effect. That is, God’s gift of grace results in peace.So Peter greets every believer whether they are Jews or gentiles with grace and peace. The literal translation of this greeting is, “grace to you and peace be multiplied.” I’d like to encourage you to greet one another like this, every day!–wishing the other person to experience God’s grace and peace abundantly!

Last Tuesday, six of our men joined the men’s group breakfast at the Covenant United Methodist Church. On the way back, we saw a car in front of us that had a bumper sticker says, “Do you follow Jesus this close?” All of us who were in the car laughed. There has no one who followed Jesus more closely than Peter. He is the one who wrote the first and second Peter to every believer in the world including you and me. By team ministries of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are chosen, forgiven , and sanctified. You and I are called to respond to God’s amazing grace and invitation and are called to believe in our hearts; obey God’s words with our actions ; and spread the Good News faithfully. Jesus Christ will come back to make us the final victors. Until then, all of us live in this world as pilgrims. As one of the many immigrants in America, I have personally learned how much pilgrims needed other people’s support (emotional, physical, spiritual . . .). We are pilgrims and strangers in this world too. So let us continue to greet and encourage one another as Peter did. He said, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance!” Let us pray!