Notes On Peter’s First Epistle (3)

Pondering Peter

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Diaspora 
(Chapter 1 Verses 1-2)

These people now belonged to the community of God’s people (vv1-2). They had been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, that means justified through the sacrificial death of God’s Son (Romans 5.1; Romans 8.1). Now heaven is their home (Philippians 3.20), the Jerusalem above (Galatians 4.26). Wherever God puts us in this world, as Christians there ought always to be a sense of not belonging, uncomfortable, and unsettled. Our greatest comfort should be our assurance of what God has done for us in Jesus. He has ordered our salvation. These Christians who had been scattered throughout Asia minor because of this persecution, felt deserted, despised by the world. Yet they could rejoice, says Peter, in the unchangeable love of the faithful, unchanging, and ageless God, who was their Rock in time of trouble (Psalm 46). The one to whom they could call out to again and again, whose love would be an anchor in the midst of the storm for them. Their hope must be in him alone:

Faithful God,
Faithful God,
All sufficient One;
I worship You,
Shalom my peace,
My Strong Deliverer. (C. Bowater).

The word scattered (vv1-2), refers to the dispersion, the Greek word is diaspora, used in the Greek version of the Old Testament (Septuagint) twelve times. It refers normally to the Jewish community dispersed, scattered amongst the Gentiles (Jeremiah 34.17ff; Psalm 147.2), the diaspora became a technical term for the scattered Jews. The word occurs in the New Testament three times, the Jews among the Greeks (John 7.35), then it is used by James (James 1.1). Who is speaking to almost the same readership as Peter here (1Peter 1.1). Now many of these readers would be Gentiles who had been added to the Church since Pentecost, so it seems that the word takes on a new theological significance, the apostles certainly see a parallel with the Jewish dispersion. As disciples of Jesus, they were not in their true homeland, they were scattered here, there, and everywhere, little groups here and there. The one thing they, and we have in common is, though scattered all over the world, we all belong to the greater community, the twelve tribes of Israel, the Church of the living God (1Corinthians 1.2).

(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)

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