Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 1 Peter 1:1
Aliens – The Greek text really says, “to the elect sojourners of the dispersion”. The NASB changes the word order and alters some of the direct translation. The meaning might be the same, but we lose Peter’s emphasis. For Peter, the crucial matter is in the first two words, elektois parepidemois. You can see the word “elect” here. These are God’s chosen. The first Greek word is elektois – a word that differentiates believers from non-believers. It comes from the Greek word for “to select or choose”. It is used again in 1 Peter 2:9. Compare the usage of the word in Paul by looking at 1 Tim 5:21. This is an Old Testament concept (look at Deut. 14:2 and Isaiah 45:4).
These chosen ones reside nearby as strangers (that’s parepidemois). Literally, the word means close in and among the people. So, what does this tell us about Peter’s audience? It tells us that Peter is writing to those followers of Yeshua Messiah who are living close at hand among non-believers. They are resident aliens. They don’t really belong where they are. They really belong in the presence of God. But here they are . . right in the middle of the world. Isn’t it grand?!
This is not accidental. Yeshua Himself prays that the Father will not take us out of the world (so much for waiting for the rapture). Why? Because without salt (a preservative) and light (a guide), the world is doomed, and God is not finished with His redemptive effort yet! We are here, right in the mess, on purpose! We are chosen. That’s the blessing and the guarantee of our purpose. But we are also thrown. We are thrown into the mix of life in order to be redeeming verbs. We are not here to wait it out. We are not here to run to the cloister or withdraw into sacred spaces. We are here to be dispersed among the defiled. And that means we will probably bump into some pretty dirty shoulders along the way. That’s OK. It’s God’s design for salt and light.
Peter was writing to the Messianic Jews who had been shipped all over the place as a result of Roman political persecution. Distribution is God’s plan, not collection. We need to be reminded about the flow of the Spirit. Our God will not be bottled. He breaks every stronghold, every dam, every container. He spills over every barrier. He floods every landscape. And He does it with you.
So, get on your walking shoes. If you’re nicely settled down, waiting for His return, you might be in for a surprise. He will uproot you and scatter you, just as the wind scatters the seed. The unsettledness of our lives is no accident. Verbs move. Is God moving you? Is He uprooting your placid life? Is He pushing you out the door? The more unsettled the world, the more God needs transients. What good are we if we aren’t near at hand among those who need Him?
Topical Index: elektois, parepidemois, elect, aliens, dispersed, distribution