Friday, August 31, 2012

A Letter of Encouragement


Today we begin a new study on 1 Peter. Once again we will look at this inductively and from an early century Jewish perspective, looking at the culture of the time as well as Jewish words and their meanings.

We will start with the opening greeting from the NIV in 1 Peter 1:1-2 and compare it with the Complete Jewish Bible.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Peter addresses the letter to God's elect, however, in the CJB it is translated as God's chosen people. We know that God's chosen people have always been the Jews. Which is why Peter addresses them this way. We also know that Peter's personal mission was to go to the Jews with the Good News of Jesus Christ. This letter therefore, is for those Jews who have believed in Jesus as their Messiah.

The NIV goes on to say that God's elect are strangers in the world who have been scattered. The CJB translation says, "...living as aliens in the Diaspora — in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia." Diaspora simply means they have been scattered or dispersed from their homeland and now they live as aliens (or strangers) in these other lands.

Why have they been scattered? At this point in time, Nero would be in power in Rome. It is quite possible that the persecutions that began for Roman Christians forced many of them to flee. But, these Christians were Jews and because of their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, they were also suffering persecution from the hands of those Jews who did not believe in Jesus. A double whammy! Not accepted by anyone - as the NIV says, "strangers in the world."

The map I've included here, shows you where they had fled. 

Peter is aware of the trouble they are going through and seeks to encourage them by reminding them that they were "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obeying Yeshua the Messiah and for sprinkling with his blood." (CJB)

Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God. Notice the difference between the NIV and the CJB. The CJB says they were "set apart by the Spirit" and the NIV says, "through the sanctifying work of the Spirit". I love the CJB interpretation the most, first because it is closer to the Hebrew translation and second because it stresses the fact that these "chosen ones" were set apart by the Holy Spirit because they obeyed Yeshua and because they had been saved by His blood. 

So, Peter's letter gets off to a good start! It acknowledges the problems these Christians were going through and encourages them with the reminder that God chose them for a specific task.

We will quickly learn that this entire letter is one of encouragement for these dear brothers and sisters and one which we can apply to our own lives as well.

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