I Peter 1:1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
Today’s post is short. I considered coupling it with v. 2, but there are several words in v. 2 that need to be looked at closely, so I thought it better to just focus on “strangers” today.
Translated from Greek, the word strangers here refers to “one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives; hence, stranger; sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner.” Today, we would say “immigrants.”
They were also strangers in the sense that most of them were probably Gentiles, believers who were escaping Jerusalem because of persecution at the hands of Jewish religious leaders after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees had been furious with Jesus for a long time, and the spread of Christianity drove them to a frenzy in their efforts to stamp it out.
Peter knew that Christians were also being persecuted by Rome. The Emperors had been fairly tolerant of Christianity until the time of Nero, who is suspected of setting fire to Rome and blaming it on the Christians. It really would seem as if the Romans were just waiting for a good excuse to persecute Christians, and there was no hesitation in putting them to death wherever they could be found.
Peter’s message, then, was all about how to face persecution with a living hope and a sure salvation.
Christians all around the world today are living in the reality of persecution. America has long been seen as a refuge, a place of safety for believers. I am convinced that such freedom is coming to an end. What we have long taken for granted–freedom to meet, pray, sing, share our faith with others–is being taken away in little bites that we hardly notice. I believe the time is coming when we won’t be able to ignore those bites, though, as they grow stronger and more destructive of our cherished freedoms, bought with the blood of our ancestors.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at v. 2. I would appreciate your prayers as I study in preparation.