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Learning from 1 Peter: Let’s get to the important stuff

August 14, 2008

(I was recently criticized by a friend for writing too much about college football and not enough about theology. This is a post to meet such a request, though I was planning on writing about this anyways. With that said, I am still planning to give season predictions for both Carolina and Clemson in the next few days as well. Now to what I planned to write…)

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We may not necessarily say “let’s get to the important stuff” when reading the Bible, but we often live it out by the way we read the text. We all tend to form “canons within the canon” as D.A. Carson would put it. This morning I spent time reading a section of Scripture that I would usually bypass to get to the “important stuff.” I’ve just started reading 1 Peter (which I’ve almost never heard preached); yesterday I read the letter in its entirety and this morning I resolved to read chapter 1. However, when I began I was able to recognize Peter’s beautiful introduction, which is only two verses but has incredible complexity and depth. Here’s how it goes:

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Excited yet? How often do you skip over the introduction of a letter to see what the author is really going to say? I do it all the time! But look how Peter has set up his introduction:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ

to those who are elect exiles

of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father

in the sanctification of the Spiritasdfdsf

for obedience to Jesus Christd

and for sprinkling with his blood

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Do we see here an author who just carelessly threw together an introduction so that he could get to what he really wanted to say? No, we see Peter carefully crafting his introduction to offer encouragement and a theological foundation for what he is about to write. Notice that he is writing to exiles – much of his letter will deal with how to properly handle suffering. Who would think that the introduction of a letter would provide one of the best passages on suffering?

He is writing to exiles, but they are not hopeless exiles suffering without purpose, cause, or an advocate. They are exiles according to the foreknowledge of God. God was not surprised or caught off guard by their persecutions, but instead knew them from the beginning of all time. They are also being sanctified by the Spirit in their sufferings. They are becoming increasingly conformed to the image of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Finally, they are identifying with Christ in their sufferings and being obedient to Him. In case you didn’t pick up, that’s all three members of the Trinity in these first two verses. So the entire three-member, Trinitarian Godhead identifies and is actively involved in the suffering and exile of His creatures. If that isn’t cause for relief when I suffer, I don’t know what is!

The moral of the story is that all Scripture is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16) and therefore the biblical authors never offered some good stuff while the rest is just filler. Instead, it all serves a purpose and may be learned from. More thoughts on 1 Peter to come…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Andy permalink
    August 14, 2008 10:07 pm

    that’s what i like to hear, cowboy!

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