Separated From the World Chapter 1 Verses 1-2
The purpose of Peter’s writing to these Christians, is to strengthen and encourage them in the face of fearsome and fiery trials (1Peter 1.7). That Peter was an Apostle of Jesus Christ, one of the original twelve, is without question (vv1-2). Both Peter and his readers belong to Jesus, every part, every stage of the process initiated by God himself in sovereign grace. Together they are chosen in love, and in their present circumstances of suffering they need to be reminded of their choice character. The heights to which Peter lifts them as he progresses into these opening verses the dignity that is theirs in Christ (1Peter 2.9). He intends to remind them of their high calling right from the very beginning (vv1-2). These are God’s elect, his chosen race (1Peter 2.9), chosen and precious, living stones (1Peter 2.4). They are strangers who belong to another country (Hebrews 11.9-16), a people on their own, temporary residents in this world. They are not natives, they don’t belong here, and it was never intended that they should. They don’t want to be considered, or treated as natives. They live in this foreign world knowing that at any moment they could be expelled from it (Galatians 6.14). And the sooner the better.
Why does Peter begin at this place? Because that is what explains the difficulty they now find themselves in, the suffering, the persecution, the fiery trials. It is simply because they are strangers, because they don’t conduct themselves as the natives do. It is because they don’t conform to this world’s pattern that they are considered with contempt. But Peter wants them to lift up their eyes, he wants them to take comfort from their spiritual union with God. How did they obtain it? Through God’s setting his love upon them, through his Spirit sanctifying, or if you like, separating God’s separating process. So who was it that made them different? It was God (1Corinthians 4.7)! He separated them from the world, he made them strangers, he called them out of the world. There was a time when they weren’t strangers, when they were quite happy amongst the natives of the land, they lived by the same standards, and on the same level as them. But not now. They would not, and Peter demands with Apostolic authority, that they must not descend to their former life-style, from which God removed them by his grace. They had spent enough of their life-time living at that level (1Pet.4.3).
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)