One only has to listen or read the evening news to realize that there is great turmoil in the world and that it has reached into the borders of this nation. While there are periods of seemingly calmness and prosperity, the tumultuous times appear to be increasing and lengthening in duration.
Such was the time of the writing of Peter’s letters to Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Persecution was increasing; to be a Christian made one a target for those who perpetrated evil. Believers were being imprisoned, homes destroyed, people brutalized and divided by forced slavery, and some were being killed for their faith. Sadly, such actions still exist and are becoming more intense, for evil does not halt its pursuit to destroy people and nations who adhere to the moral principles and laws established by God for blessing, happiness and prosperity.
Knowing that times would grow even more difficult under Roman oppression, Peter lifts the thinking of the people from their immediate circumstances in life to that which has eternal value. He will instruct those who suffer under cruel masters, but reminds them that their suffering is not unique. Generations of people have experienced cruelty at the hands of others and no greater example is that of Jesus Christ. Thus the Apostle takes his readers to that which has eternal value rather than the things that pertain to the brevity of physical life. He begins with the Truth that God knows where the persecuted saints are living and all that will occur in our lives... “to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia… who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit” (1 Pet 1:1-2a NASB).
These were individuals who had placed their faith and trust in Christ as their Savior, the Chosen One from eternity past. The Apostle Paul, Peter’s mentor, said of believers… “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:3-4a NASB). Nothing has been denied those in Christ which is necessary for living in time in order to effectively represent Christ.
In his second epistle, Peter will give a summary statement that encompasses the provision of God for both the physical and spiritual lives of Christians. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness , through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:2-3 NASB).
Those grace blessings are enumerated at the beginning of his first epistle. Leaving the details for extensive teaching to the Apostle Paul, Peter merely lists magnificent truths to encourage his readers. To counter any feelings of despair, he writes… “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ , who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3 NASB).
Times are perilous and martyrdom may be on the horizon, but you, Christian, suffering under great adversity, take courage, for you are… "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13 NASB). The things of this life will pass, whether pleasant or not, but the one who has placed their faith in Christ has… “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:4-5 NASB). Therefore, be encouraged for … Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom 8:34b NASB).