The hearers of Peter’s first letter were tired and discouraged while living in their pluralistic society. They were routinely persecuted for their faith in God. Publicly ridiculed. Relationally marginalized. Some imprisoned. Others tortured. And as they longed for their eternal inheritance, they needed everyday words of life that their culture could not provide. They did not need advice on how to be happy, wealthy and healthy. What they needed just as much as we do today are words of living hope.
As one of the closest apostles to Christ Jesus, Peter insists that Christians stand firm in the face of suffering. Even though these sufferings are temporary and fading, they are still real and formidable. The call from Christ is not to conform to sin as we suffer but to remain steadfast and holy.
In his opening greeting, Peter’s well-penned words describe the tension all Christians face: We are comfortably elect and uncomfortably in exile. In the midst of this tension we learn that our entire life is a work of salvation by the Triune God, who before the creation of the world, planned to save all his people from their sin through the gospel of Christ. It is the doctrine of God’s sovereign election that under-girds these truths. It provides the purpose and comfort needed in our everyday lives, and only this kind of grace and peace comes from the Spirit of sanctification. By his word alone he teaches us what obedience to Christ means in this present evil age.