1 Peter 1:2

1 Peter 1:2  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 10
They were “elect,” then, “according to foreknowledge of God [the] Father, in (or by) [the] Spirit's sanctification, unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:22Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)).
Israel was the elect people beyond any nation on the earth; but they were elect after quite a different pattern. This clearly appears in Ex. 6:2-42And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: 3And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. 4And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. (Exodus 6:2‑4). “And God spoke to Moses, and said to him, I am Jehovah; and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah I was not made known to them. And I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they sojourned.” The designations as such, were familiar enough previously; but the name was not given by divine authority as a title of relationship to count on, when God first revealed Himself as El-Shaddai to the fathers, next as Jehovah to the sons, of Israel. The true pilgrim fathers were thereby assured of His unfailing protection, weak as they might be, in the midst of the corrupt heathen they were destined to supplant; and the sons were through Moses to know Him as their unchanging Governor who made them a people of possession to Himself through all ages, He that was and is and is to come.
The Christian Jews, believing in Jesus not only Lord and Christ but Son of the living God, as our apostle first confessed Him, were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. So had our Saviour unbosomed Himself in John 17 “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me; and they have kept Thy word....Holy Father, keep them in Thy name which Thou has given to Me that they may be one, even as we are O righteous Father, the world knew Thee not, but I knew Thee; and these knew that Thou didst send Me. And I made known to them Thy name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them.” So on the Resurrection-day His message through Mary of Magdala was, “Go to My brethren and say to them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:1717Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)). How immense the advance in the glory and nearness of the relationship revealed!
According to this form and reality of foreknowledge, then, is the Christian chosen. It was and is Christ's in the fullness of personal divine dignity; it became ours by grace through redemption. The name of “our Father that is in heaven” shone early through the Lord's discourses on the mount, as in Matt. 5-7, and in Luke 6 and elsewhere. But it was definitely and fully made our own by the Lord when risen; and thus the Holy Spirit leads our hearts now in joy and in sorrow. It is so that we are entitled distinctively to know Him, as Christ did perfectly. And it was in God's wisdom that the apostle of the circumcision should make it plain to the believing remnant of the Jews, as the apostle Paul did fully to Gentile believers.
Hence the “sanctification” or “holiness” here spoken of took quite another and far deeper shape. The elect people Israel had been set apart to Jehovah in an outward way. Individually and peremptorily they were circumcised in the flesh on the eighth day. Any other peculiar marks were, as the Epistle to the Hebrews declares, “carnal ordinances imposed until a season of reformation.” On the contrary the Christian, whether Jew or Greek, enjoys the Spirit's holiness; he is even born of the Spirit (John 3:6,86That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6)
8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
), and thus is the sanctification inward to the utmost degree. Accordingly such a one is “a saint” from God's first vital action spiritually in his soul. So Ananias instructed of the Lord goes to Saul, just converted, and at once accosts him as “Brother Saul,” before he was even baptized as he was immediately after; so it is in substance for every one that is begotten by the word of truth. The Spirit's activity is immediate and abiding, the ground of the practical holiness that ensues, which is but partial and relative; whereas what the apostle here introduces is a principle absolute, unfailing, and personal. In practice alas we must confess, with the Epistle of James, that “we all often offend.” Only unspiritual men flatter themselves otherwise. We too frequently need the active care of the blessed Advocate Whom we have with the Father (1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)).
Practical sanctification is a capital and constant duty for every Christian; and it is urged, as throughout the Bible, expressly in 1 Pet. 1:15-1615But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15‑16). But in 1 Pet. 1:22Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2) it is solely sanctification in principle, that is, in the life given by grace rather than in the walk which is bound to manifest it, as all the godly must readily own. “As he who called you is holy, be ye also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.” But so to interpret the Spirit's holiness (or sanctification) here would necessarily dislocate the sentence, and could insinuate nothing but error destructive of truth, even the fundamental truth of the gospel. For what we are taught is that those Christian Jews were chosen, in virtue of the Spirit's sanctification, for obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus: the original spring, the necessary power and process, and the distinct result as a fact. If taken to mean holiness in practice, this would be before coming under the virtue of Christ's blood. In other words the error must follow, that practical holiness is the way to be justified by His blood; which might suit a besotted Romanist, but must be rejected by the least enlightened among Protestants. It denies the gospel of God's grace, and is at issue with all scripture that treats of the matter.
But if we understand the words to mean that the Spirit works in souls when born anew, to set them apart to God in this vital and indelible way, all is clear as well as consistent. For His setting apart is unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ. We are thus sanctified, not externally but in the new life imparted, to obey as Christ obeyed and to be sprinkled with His precious blood. So the same Saul of Tarsus immediately, when converted, says, “What shall I do, Lord?” His heart's primary purpose is to obey; as our Lord Himself could say in His unique perfection, “Lo, I am come to do Thy will, O God.” The Christian is bent on the same character of obedience. It is not like a Jew, to obey and thus gain life, as under law; it is obeying out of life already possessed, because he believes on Jesus.
Even the order, which to some is a difficulty, strictly adheres to the truth. For converted souls in general, perhaps always, have invariably as the instinct of divine life this purpose to obey as Christ obeyed, not legally, in owning God's wondrous grace, before they can or do apprehend at all fully the efficacy of Christ's sacrificial work in blotting out all their sins. The interval may be ever so short where the gospel is distinctly proclaimed; but as this is far from usual, one can see that many a soul truly converted may struggle on for weeks or months or even years, without the comforting assurance that Christ's blood has made them whiter than snow in the eye of God. Saul of Tarsus again supplies an obvious illustration. Was there ever a more notable conversion? Yet was he three days without sight, and did neither eat nor drink: the plain sign of a deep work of self-judgment, in no way of distrust or doubt, before he entered into the settled peace of deliverance by faith of the gospel, which before those days he had only regarded with stern unbelief.
Unquestionably the allusion is to Ex. 24 where Holocaust and Peace-offerings were presented to Jehovah; and Moses took half the blood in basins, and sprinkled half on the altar. Then he read the book of the covenant and the people said, All that Jehovah hath said will we do and obey; and Moses sprinkled the blood on the people, and said, Behold, the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has made with you concerning all these words. The blood here was the special sanction of death, signified by the blood-sprinkling, in case of disobedience. With this ministry of legal condemnation for the sinner the apostle contrasts the Christian, sanctified by the Spirit from his starting-point, to obey as Christ did in filial love, with the immensely blessed addition of His blood-sprinkling, which cleanses from every sin, instead of menacing inevitable death if we fail. If this was the law wherein Jews boasted, that is the gospel of which Peter was ashamed no more than Paul. This resulting obedience, of which our Lord is alike example and power, is (in other words but the truest sense) our practical holiness; and it confirms in the strongest way the refutation, already ample, of the notion that the Spirit's holiness in this scripture imports the same thing. For it would really confuse the sentence and destroy the truth generally.
The fact is that theology in all the schools, Popish or Protestant, Calvinistic or Arminian, has somehow lost, and ignores, this most momentous truth of the Spirit's primary setting apart the renewed soul to God, even before and in order to justification and that obedience which is its inseparable effect. The only person my reading has lit on with any little inkling of its distinctness from the practical holiness which, as all the Reformed at least agree, follows justification, is the excellent and able Abp. Leighton. All others to the best of my knowledge slur over what they did not understand; and this is to say the least.
But I regret to add that none has more impudently tampered with this scripture, to suit his ignorance of it and his desire to uphold mere dogmatic views, than the famous translator and commentator, Beza, or Theodore de Beze. Dean Alford was bold enough sometimes in squeezing the text and its translation through too much confidence in German critics, and his own real desire to be candid, without sufficient knowledge of the truth or subjection to the divine authority of the written word. But even his occasional temerity shines in comparison with Calvin's successor in the college of Geneva. For I ask any competent scholar whether the ill-regulated wit of man could devise a worse or more shameless perversion of our text than his rendering, “ad sanctificationem Spiritus, per obedientiam,” &c. ἐν=ad! είς=per! Were it in Homer or Herodotus, one might smile at lapses so absurd on the part of a learned, able, and zealous Christian. But such a dealing with God's word is atrocious. Yet this flagrant error stands uncorrected in all the five folio editions of his Greek and Latin N.T. from 1559 to 1598.
Had Beza and other theologians been subject to scripture, they would have learned by grace that what the apostle of the circumcision here teaches is implied by the apostle of the uncircumcision in 1 Cor. 6:1111And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11), “But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Do men with the fear of God assume to correct the inspiring Spirit? Do they allow themselves the daring unbelief that they can alter the apostle's word, so as to avoid error and sustain their systems of divinity? It is clear that this greatest even of inspired teachers lets the Corinthians and all believers know, that there is a real and most vital sanctification to God which accompanies the first quickening of the soul, when we are born of water and Spirit, and cleansed from our natural impurity by His life-giving power, before we enjoy the blessed sense of God's justifying us through faith in Jesus and His work. The order of Paul therefore is as necessary and as exact as that of Peter, both conveying the same truth, which has dropped out of all the systematic divinity of all ages, as far as I know. The reader can also compare 2 Thess. 2:1313But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Holiness in practice remains intact, distinct, and imperative, to which justification gives its powerful impulse and cheer.
The Apostle here adds, “Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.” The nearest analogy in O.T. scripture, singular to say, is in Dan. 4:11Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. (Daniel 4:1); though the imperial penitent only says, “Peace be multiplied.” So Peter does yet more fully in the address of his Second Epistle to the same dispersed remnant of Christian Jews. It is characteristic of his fervor. James was content to write, “Greeting.” Paul usually says, “Grace to you and peace” though he almost always adds “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” with “mercy” to an individual. Grace is the source, peace the outflow.