1 Peter is written to a group of people who are doubting that Christianity is where the true grace of God is found. They are concerned that the persecution they are facing shows that they are out of favor with God, instead of recipients of God’s grace. As Peter begins to address this situation and exhort the Christians to both believe they are in God’s grace and to stand in it, he begins with reminding them of their salvation.
The Trinity’s Involvement
Peter begins by calling these brethren the “elect” of God. This has to do with their special status as God’s chosen people. In verse 2 he describes in more detail this election. In doing so we see how all three members of the Trinity are involved in our salvation:
1. The Father foreordained the salvation. Before this world began God had planned salvation for His people.
2. The Spirit sanctified us. This means to be set apart. It comes from the same Greek word as the word “holy.” As we will see later in this chapter, the sanctification of the Spirit means we will lead “holy” lives. This is also the reason that we are pilgrims in this land.
3. The Son’s blood sealed our salvation and it is to the Son that we are to obey. The sprinkling of the blood completes our santification. This clause in verse 2, though, tells us what we are sanctified for–We are sanctified to “obey the Son.”
Being Born Again
Peter in verse 3 offers praise to God. He praises God for his mercy that leads us to be “born again.” This has to do with complete conversion. Peter does not focus so much on the mechanics of how we are born again (he will do this later in the chapter), but rather in the blessings of being born again. These are two fold. First, we are born again to a living hope. Second, we are born again to an inheritance (v.4). Both of these facts should provide encouragement to persecuted Christians. They have a hope that will never die and they have a future reward that will never diminish!
God’s Continued Work
Peter’s comments, on the salvation that these Christians have, continues in verse 5. Here he lays out how God is continuing to work on behalf of the Christians. God has not only been involved in our salvation in the past by planning it before the foundation of the world, but He is also involved in our present salvation by guarding it. This guarding is by God’s power and through our faith. As we trust in God we can be confident in the power of God that our salvation will not be taken.
The Reason for this Teaching On Salvation
Why is Peter spending so much time on salvation? The problem is persecution. That is what is discouraging these Christians. We might expect Peter to start by describing how we can overcome persecution. However, Peter is not interested in a how-to-not-be persecuted manual (in fact later he is going to say it is a part of the Christian life), but rather he wants us to change our perspective.
This changing of perspective allows us to REJOICE, even during persecution. Peter spends his time on salvation because he wants us to be a joyful people, even though we are facing “fiery trials.” The main reason is because no matter what we face the great salvation God has given us cannot be taken away.
As Peter begins to exhort the Christians into a conviction concerning their relationship to God’s grace, he begins by having them focus on their salvation. This focus on salvation will help them better process the persecution they are going through and even be able to rejoice while being persecuted!