1From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
To God's people who are scattered like foreigners in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
2God the Father decided to choose you as his people, and his Spirit has made you holy. You have obeyed Jesus Christ and are sprinkled with his blood.
I pray that God will be kind to you and will keep on giving you peace!
A Real Reason for Hope
3Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on. 4 God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear.
5You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day. Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. 6On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. 7 Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns.
8You have never seen Jesus, and you don't see him now. But still you love him and have faith in him, and no words can tell how glad and happy 9you are to be saved. This is why you have faith.
10Some prophets told how God would treat you with undeserved grace, and they searched hard to find out more about the way you would be saved. 11The Spirit of Christ was in them and was telling them how Christ would suffer and would then be given great honor. So they searched to find out exactly who Christ would be and when this would happen. 12But they were told that they were serving you and not themselves. They preached to you by the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven. And their message was only for you, even though angels would like to know more about it.
Who needs a message of hope? We all do, of course, yet hope has special meaning for people living under adverse conditions. The earliest audiences for the letter of 1 Peter were small groups of Christians under attack, little bands of exiled believers huddling in scattered communities. The cost of following Jesus was steep in their region.
This letter was written to encourage – to hearten – these faithful few who certainly would have wondered about the suffering they were enduring. In a noble effort to acknowledge and calm the bitterness of the now, the writer delivers a message of “new life and a hope that lives on” (1:3) – a glorious future to anticipate.
This hope is anchored in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1:3), in continuity with the prophets of old whose words came to fullness in the life of Jesus and who promise even better things to come, “things into which angels long to look” (1:12 NRSV).
The writer is saying that the faith of these struggling congregations is in lockstep with the wisdom of the ages. The things they are enduring are a test of their resolve, of the authenticity of their commitment to Christian convictions. Their righteous suffering can survive the most demanding of trials, refining them into a purer and more precious state of being. They are surviving a season of exile, a time of not belonging.
To those who are longing to reconnect, to be reestablished, Peter makes it clear that the followers of Jesus do belong to a community greater than they can imagine; that they are heirs of a living hope; that the slogging season will pass and all will be well in the end.
Stay the course, he advises. Jesus is the way. “The outcome of your faith is the salvation of your souls” (1:9).
O God. It’s hard for me to identify with the suffering of persecuted peoples, if only because my own freedom to worship and serve faces few obstacles. My own indifference is the biggest barrier. Help me to realize how precious it is to belong to the family of God. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.