1 Peter 1:1–5 Introduction

1 Peter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:24
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1 Peter 1:1–5 NKJV
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
God willing we will look at 1st and 2nd Peter and the letter from Jude. There is a close correlation between them. Peter, of course, was the disciple of Jesus, the fisherman and Jude was the eventual convert, the half-brother of Jesus. We’ll look more at Jude when we come to 2nd Peter.
We know something of the background to Peter and Jude’s letters:

It was a shaky time for Christians in the Roman Empire. In A.D. 68 Emperor Nero saw himself surrounded by political enemies and took the easy way out: suicide. In the next year three emperors, in rapid succession, took his place but couldn’t hold the job. So in A.D. 69 troops proclaimed the military leader Vespasian as emperor—and saw that he stayed there.

Vespasian hated Jews, and he counted Christians among them. Prior to becoming emperor his goal had been to trample Judea and erase it from existence. As emperor he sent his oldest son, Titus, to finish the job. Titus put Jerusalem under siege for three months. Then he tightened the noose. Troops leveled buildings to the ground. The temple became a crumble of stones. Jerusalem fell. Jews (and Christians) became Roman captives.

Aftershocks vibrated throughout the Roman Empire, blending with the general persecution against “atheists” (people who refused to worship Roman gods) that Nero had begun. Christians everywhere suffered. They were driven from their homes, deported to the outer borders of the empire, forbidden to worship openly and, worse yet, splintered by their own internal doctrinal disputes.

Early Christians were subject to many kinds of isolation. Though their faith originated in Judaism, the Jews rejected them because Christians saw Jesus as Messiah. Romans would eventually use Christians as scapegoats, blaming them for all sorts of political woes. And pagans saw Christians as atheists because they insisted on worshiping only one God. In this setting, Peter offers beleaguered first-century Christians (and us) a different kind of belonging.

And this has to do with a future hope that goes beyond all that we experience in this life.
In November of 2000, baseball player Darryl Strawberry, plagued by drug addictions, jail time, and cancer, stood before a judge in Tampa, Florida in the USA and said:
“I’m an addict. I go out and use drugs. I figure the drugs may kill me.” He continued, “Life hasn’t been worth living for me, that’s the honest truth...I basically wanted to die. At the time, I would rather just go ahead and kill myself. I couldn’t kill myself because of the fact of my five children. I started to look at them and that wouldn’t be fair to them for me to kill myself that way.”
This is a desperate, hopeless statement from a man who is famous and has it all but that is no guarantee that he would be spared the pain and suffering of life. The fact is that we all go through certain “dark nights of the soul” when life is potholed with pain. Another such man was Simon Peter; he had such a night. The friend whom he deserted in the garden and also denied three times had been crucified, and his own heart shattered. He must have been thinking and reflecting back at those days as he picked up his pen and began his letter with the words that we read at the beginning.
We will look particularly at verse 3:
1 Peter 1:3 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
We can see four great truths from this verse:
A Great Mercy. Peter cannot help himself – in the same kind of way we find Paul rejoicing – here is Peter rejoicing and blessing God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – why? Because of His great mercy. Mercy is not a frequent word in people’s vocabulary. So what does it mean? Mercy is compassionate treatment for those who don’t deserve it or who can’t afford it.
There are many instances in the Gospels of mercy, for instance:
Matthew 9:27–31 ESV
27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
In fact we find in Matthew 20 two other blind men who asked for mercy and received it.
A father whose son was an epileptic was also cured when asking for mercy in Matt 17.
The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 found mercy when she cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!”
Luke 18:13 (NKJV) — 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
So, whether it was for healing or for forgiveness mercy was given to the one who was humbly asking and crying out for it.
He shows mercy to us by alleviating our pain and not condemning us for our sin. And that is why Peter starts straight off with mercy – because he had experienced it first-hand when Jesus extended it to him. Let us recall what happened. Peter had denied Jesus three times and the One He had denied had just cooked breakfast for them. Peter is feeling very self-consious and no doubt beating himself up over all that had happened.
John 21:15–19 ESV
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
I’ve added this here because I want you to know that even if you or I fail He does not fail us and remains faithful to us through it all and He desires to draw us back to Him.
Paul speaks of this same mercy in a sister verse that we heard about at Anne’s baptism a couple of weeks ago:
Titus 3:5 ESV
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
So we find that we did nothing to deserve mercy but this mercy saved us. And so we find that Peter goes on to say:
2. A New Birth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again.”
A painter on a Paris sidewalk set up his easel, opened his paints, and started to paint a picture called “Life.” He noticed pigeons in the park, tulips blooming along the Champs-Elysees, and the bustle of people on the street. But he messed up his painting. His colours weren’t true and his perspective was poor. Looking at his work with disfavour, he threw it away. He took another canvas and started “Life” all over again. Jesus allows us to do that through the new birth.
When we came to Jesus we were changed. We were given a second chance at life. A brand-new life. Or as this ‘begotten us again’ means: We are given new birth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
We have been radically changed. We are new creations. And every day is a new day with new mercies as made clear in:
Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
We fail every day. But we can always find mercy in God and His promise is sure:
1 John 1:9 ESV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It is as if we had never sinned when we come to Him. This is one of the most amazing truths we can ever discover.
So, we have found mercy and new life, what now? Well we have been given what Peter calls ‘a living hope’. There are benefits now that we have new birth.
Some people go through life moping around. Some by groping for answers. Some by coping as well as they can. The Christian, though, responds by hoping, and not just empty positivism – you know, the kind that pretends that everything is going to be alright when everything is all wrong. But the Christians hope is a long-lasting optimism grounded in God’s promises.
Christians can be optimistic about the here and now; and about the ‘in the end’, the future. This is one of the reasons I have a promise put into the bulletin each week. And there are so many promises to choose from such as the fact that He is always with us and will not desert us.
And if you are finding things particularly tough there is no better chapter than Romans 8 to turn to telling us that we are no longer under judgement and what the result of that is. The promises found here strengthen us in God – and takes away our reliance upon ourselves. So let me read some of that chapter:
When things are tough we can turn to:
Romans 8:28–32 ESV
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Is God for us or against us? Have we not accepted Jesus into our lives? Then we have already have His favour.
And can we stop there? Let us remind ourselves that we really are not without hope:
Romans 8:35 ESV
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:37–39 ESV
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Can it get any better than that? So, remember when things are not easy – turn to His Word and find the promises that He gives us – and there is no better chapter than found in Romans 8.
This living hope that we have has come about by one thing – the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Oh how Peter is thankful for this! He had betrayed His trust. He probably could not have stopped what happened to Jesus during His arrest and sentence to death and the crucifixion but in the end it all came right beyond anyone’s expectations. The One He denied had accepted him back and so Peter started the letter with:
1 Peter 1:1 ESV
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
This is the mercy of God. Peter has been sent with a message. There is a living hope because there is an empty tomb – all those other false religions know where the graves of their founders are but there is no grace if there is a grave with the body of Jesus. Jesus is no longer there. He rose from the dead.
[There have been many who have set out to disprove the resurrection, that anyone could possibly come back alive after they are pronounced dead – and instead have found that there was One who did – Jesus Christ and the evidence is overwhelming – people like Josh McDowell and Frank Morrison among many others who became Christians as a result of their investigations.]
Jesus is alive - He won the victory over death as well as sin and hell – and He did it all for us. Now He is in Heaven preparing a place for us which nothing can destroy, He is interceding for us, and He is living in us. We have hope now and for the future.
During one difficult period when things appeared especially depressing, the reformer Martin Luther was seen tracing two words on the table with his fingertip: Vivit, vivit! Which translates in English as: He lives, He lives! And because Christ lives, we can live abundantly today and eternally tomorrow, a life that is both forgiven and forever.
Peter addresses this letter to the chosen exiles. Of course, he means this both literally and spiritually. We have a Spiritually we are all exiles on the outside of the world for we do not belong here. We have a homesickness but one day we shall finally enter in either at the moment of death or when He returns again. Either way victory is ours.
Let us not forget that the whole of the Trinity is at work to make this happen:

• “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.”

So lift up your hearts, focus on your Lord, put on a smile, and say:
1 Peter 1:3 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,


Ephesians 3:17–19 NIV
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Nystrom, C. (2002). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: 12 Studies for Individuals or Groups: With Notes for Leaders. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Connect: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press.
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