Peter, the apostle, the friend of Jesus and an eye witness to Jesus’ miraculous work, had a deep and abiding affection for the Christians; the elect exiles in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Those who received his letter of encouragement had never seen Jesus. They did not see Jesus heal. They had not listened to him preach. They were not there when Jesus raised a dead man to life. Peter had seen all these things. They were burned into his memory. He could have easily looked down on those exiles because they had not walked with Jesus. But for Peter it worked the opposite way. He took Jesus’ words seriously when He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Instead of looking down on the believers who were not eye witnesses, Peter esteems them. He commends their love for Christ. He celebrates their joy in Christ’s finished work of salvation.
To encourage the elect exiles who were presently suffering from persecution and various trials, Peter pointed them to their salvation. Though the fire of their trials was very real, Peter strengthened them with the hope of future glory. They may not have been spared from their current suffering, but their eternal salvation was secure. He called them to be heavenly minded as they endure their circumstances with joy.
The present hope of their salvation was not some fleeting thing. It was rooted in God’s work through the ages. Theirs was a salvation that was prophesied about by the prophets of old. Peter was clear that those fathers in the faith labored on behalf of these elect exiles. The great prophets looked forward to their day! Not only that, but the whole of the Old Testament was written to prepare God’s people for Jesus so that when the Old Testament was rightly preached it pointed to salvation through Christ. Though their exile was hard they could take heart in their privileged place in the story of salvation! They could understand their suffering in light of the prediction of Christ’s suffering. God intended their suffering for His glory just as He had for Christ. Their redemption was such that even angels longed to look in to it.
As a people who suffer and wish God would provide us some visual evidence for the faith we hold, we too can take heart in Peter’s words. We too are the elect in Christ. We too feel the pains of our exile. Our present hope of salvation looks to the glorious future reality of eternity with Christ and is anchored in the past prophetic words stored up for us in the Scriptures. O what a sweet salvation. “Hallelujah! Glory to the bleeding Lamb!”
As the people of God we come together and sing, “All people on earth, come hear of the finished work of Christ on the cross. Come hear that God who is the Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End has revealed the wondrous mystery of the salvation of His people. This salvation that He has wrought for us in Christ is from Him and for His glory. Because of this salvation we joyfully praise God from whom all blessings flow.”