- In the business world, a company is irrelevant when it becomes indistinguishable from its competitors. Likewise, the Church becomes irrelevant when she is indistinguishable from the world.
- Thaddeus Williams, in an article titled “The Secret to Becoming Irrelevant: Spend All Your Time Trying to Be Relevant”
The Relevance Question (What would it look like for us, as believers, to be relevant to unbelievers?) is a good question; it is just not to be the first question. When relevance is our first priority we end up powered not by the Spirit of Christ, but the spirit of the age. There is a more fundamental question we must face squarely together. Before asking what relevance looks like to this or that culture (or subculture), we must first ask “Who is the Jesus we exist to reverently worship and reflect with our lives?”
- In other words, the secret to maintaining relevance is to begin with reverence.
- In this letter, Peter asks the question “How should the Church interact with the world?” And his answer begins with a description of who she is in relation to God.
Read 1 Peter 1:1-2
- Our election reminds us who we are as well as Who’s we are.
- Called by the Son (1a)
- Chosen by the Father (1b-2a)
- Consecrated by the Spirit (2c)
Called by the Son (1a)
- Author = Simon at birth, Petros/“rock” (John 1:42; Matt. 16:18).
- Eyewitness of Christ’s suffering 5:1 and 2:23.
- Writing from Rome (5:13 Babylon symbolic for Rome) during Nero’s persecution. After AD 60, before 64 (Paul’s death). Mark was in Rome about the time Peter was written (Col 4:10; Phlm 24).
- Heavily borrows from Paul.
- Similarities > Christianese (Not collusion, but community).
- Nuanced theology.
- Compares with Acts speeches.
- Peter uneducated (Acts 4:13) and needed interpreter (Eusebius, Irenaeus), but letter contains high quality Greek.
- Not necessarily uneducated , but not formally educated by rabbi. Jobes, “Assigning Latin rhetorical terms…” (Antithesis, Hendiadys, Hyperbole, Metaphor) proves nothing.
- Mark “interprets” Peter by expounding his message.
- Intense persecution after Peter’s death.
- Persecution existed under Claudius, Nero (54-68), Domitian, and Trajan.
- Intensity/extent seems low (1:6-7; 2:12, 15; 3:9, 16; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:9).
- Heavily borrows from Paul.
- Apostleship as “calling” (Rom. 1:1). Position of honor, authority.
- Are you listening?
- God routinely sent prophets to a rebellious people who typically ignored or mistreated them.
- Are we not the same when we treat God’s Word lightly?
- This letter was sent by a man called/commissioned by Jesus Himself, guided by the Holy Spirit.
- Are you prepared to listen and apply what he teaches?
The one called by the Son is writing to those…
Chosen by the Father (1b-2a)
- v.1 Original readers > “Exiles” primarily physical > not heaven (spiritual), but living in secular environment. Christians analogous to Jewish Diaspora (1:14, 18; 2:10; 4:3-4). Two possibilities:
- Gentile as if Jews.
- Jews in Gentile territory.
- Strangers in society, but chosen by God.
- “Know” = “Chosen” (Abraham, Jeremiah, Israelites, antonym of rejected in Rom. 11:2, 8:29).
- Jesus was “foreknown” 1 Peter 1:20, predestined!
- Theological/covenantal term denoting the objects of God’s love (not prior information, but foreordination).
- Chosen because God chose to love them.
- Strangers because Election. Diaspora frames worldview.
- Regions in Asia Minor (80% size of CA) where Jewish disciples fled or relocated under Roman colonization (Acts 18:2).
- Jobes case for Roman colonization: Claudius established colonies in named regions, expelled people associated with “Chrestus,” typically populated by cities (i.e. Rome), Peter possibly in Rome during Claudius’ reign.
- What is the role of Christians living in a secular society? Flee? Fight? Conform? Transform?
- How do we cope with the trials and suffering we endure because of our context? How do we deal with the inevitable doubts that arise?
- Peter answers these questions emphasizing God’s activity. In light of God’s purpose in election > How should we live?
- Remember who we are as well as Who’s we are.
Peter’s reader’s were chosen by the Father.
- In her introduction, Karen Jobes writes,
Perhaps this letter’s universal relevance is due to its presentation of how the gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundational principle by which the Christian life is lived out within the larger unbelieving society.
- In other words, the secret to maintaining relevance is to begin with reverence for our King.
- That would surely involve giving your full attention to the message of Peter, one who was “Called By the Son”.
- In writing to those who had been “Chosen By the Father”, the recipients were reminded that their election makes them foreigners in this world.