“To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” (I Peter 1:1b).
From the very outset of his epistle, the Apostle Peter identifies believers by three specific words: elect, exiles and scattered (of the Dispersion). The purpose of using these words was to comfort and encourage Christians facing persecution for their faith. What was true of Peter’s original audience remains true today.
First, believers are elect. The word elect comes from the Greek word ἐκλεκτός (eklektos) meaning chosen. Throughout the New Testament, believers in Christ are identified as ones chosen by God unto salvation (Mt. 22:14; Mk. 13:20; Lk. 18:7; Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2Ti. 2:10; 1Pe. 2:9; Rev. 17:14). Believers in Christ are God’s elect. This is not by chance or human decision but rather by God’s sovereign, unconditional and gracious choice made before the foundation of the world (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:3-4).
Second, believers are exiles (parepidēmois). The word means alien, sojourner, stranger or temporary resident. Christians are therefore chosen exiles who live in this world only for a relatively brief period of time. This is because this world is not their eternal home.
Thirdly, believers are scattered (diasporas) or dispersed ones. This word, much as it is used in James 1:1, refers to Christians who had been scattered like salt due to increasing persecution by non-believers. Within the context of I Peter, the believers to whom he was writing were scattered in five Roman Provinces which comprise much of modern day Turkey.
Today, believers in Christ continue to be chosen exiles who are often scattered like salt because of their faith. Rejoice and rest today in the truth that your salvation, from beginning to end and everything in between, is a sovereign work of God.
Remember, God is in control not only in what you experience as a Christian, but also that you are a Christian!
Soli deo Gloria!