Thursday

22 January 2015

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 86


Background

The first letter of Peter begins in a conventional way by saying who wrote it, to whom it was written, and offering a greeting. The author is said to be "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ" (v. 1) but this and the date of the letter are debated by scholars. The letter was addressed to Christians living in the northern provinces of Asia Minor who are called "the exiles of the Dispersion" (v. 1). This phrase recalled the experiences of Jews before them and emphasised that they lived in alien cultures. On the other hand, in verse 2 the writer immediately stressed the readers' special calling by God. Much of the letter is exhortation to the newly baptized to live out that calling in challenging circumstances. The salutation ends with a greeting: 'May grace and peace be yours in abundance.' The normal Greek word for 'greetings', 'chairein', is replaced by 'charis', 'grace'; 'peace' has the positive sense of wholeness or well-being.

Verses 3-9 are an act of thanksgiving (blessing) for the "new birth" given "through the resurrection of Jesus Chris from the dead". The opening phrase, "Blessed be …" followed by the name of God, appears frequently in the Scriptures and often states the reason for offering thanks (eg Psalm 28:6; Luke 1:68). The contrast between the readers' old and new life is talked about in terms of an imperishable inheritance (verse 4), entered through Baptism, and the various trials they will experience, which are understood as a way of testing their faith and proving that it is genuine (verses 6-7). All this, says the writer, leads to them receiving the outcome of their faith, the salvation of their souls (verse 9).


To Ponder

  • In what ways do you find the idea of being an 'exile' helpful and/or challenging?
  • Do you receive sufficient exhortation and encouragement from others to live the Christian life in your situation?
  • How do you react to the understanding that faith is tested and proved genuine through trials and suffering?


Bible notes writer: The Revd Neil Stubbens

 

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