Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
First Peter 1:1 says, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen pilgrims of the dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” The name Peter denotes his regenerated and spiritual man, whereas Simon denotes his natural man by birth (John 1:42; Matt. 16:17-18). Originally, he was Simon, not Peter. The name Simon denotes the old man, the natural man, full of self. But when Peter came to the Lord Jesus, the Lord immediately gave him a new name. The Lord looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (John 1:42). The Lord Jesus never does anything merely in name. His changing of Simon’s name had a reality behind it. By changing Simon’s name the Lord Jesus indicated that He would change Simon into Peter, into a stone.
If we read the four Gospels and Peter’s Epistles, we may find it difficult to believe that Simon, a Galilean fisherman, could be such a writer. By the time he wrote his Epistles, Peter had been changed, transformed. One of the hymns in our hymnal begins with the words, “Earthen vessel I was made, Christ in me the treasure laid” (Hymns, #548). The last stanza of this hymn says, “Transformation is my need.” Simon was an earthen vessel; Peter, however, was a transformed person. He had been regenerated and had become altogether new. Therefore, in his two Epistles we cannot see his flesh, the self, or his natural life. Instead, what we see is the new man expressed in his writing. Christ is expressed in Peter’s writing.
In 1:1 Peter refers to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. From Galatians 2:8 we know that Peter was an apostle to the Jews.
The first Epistle of Peter is addressed to “the chosen pilgrims of the dispersion.” These chosen ones were sojourning on the earth, somewhat like the children of Israel sojourning in the wilderness. Although they were chosen ones, they had been scattered and they were sojourning.
The word “chosen” brings in the thought of God’s government. Both of Peter’s Epistles (2 Pet. 3:1) are concerned with the government of God. God’s government is universal; it deals with all His creatures in order that He may have a clean and pure universe (2 Pet. 3:13) to express Himself. In the New Testament age, this dealing begins from His chosen people, His elect, His own household (1 Pet. 4:17), especially from His chosen pilgrims who are dispersed and sojourning among the nations, the Gentiles, as His testimony. Hence, these two books emphasize the believers’ being chosen (2:9; 5:13; 2 Pet. 1:10). As God’s chosen race, God’s choice, God’s particular possession, the dispersed chosen pilgrims need to see that they are under God’s governmental dealing for a positive purpose, regardless of the situation and environment they are in. Anything and everything that happens to them, whether persecution or any other kind of trial and suffering (1 Pet. 1:6; 5:9), is just a part of God’s precious governmental dealing. Such a vision will perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground them (5:10) that they may grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18).
The Greek word rendered pilgrims can also be translated sojourners. Strictly speaking, this term in this book refers to the Jewish believers who were sojourners, foreigners, dispersed in the Gentile world (2:11-12). However, the principle of pilgrims can be applied to all believers, both Jewish and Gentile, because all are the heavenly pilgrims sojourning as foreigners on this earth. These pilgrims are God’s elect, chosen by God out of the human race, out of all the nations (Rev. 5:9-10), according to His foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2).
The term “dispersion” was familiar to all the scattered Jews among the nations. This word indicates that this Epistle was written to the Jewish believers. It is from the Greek word that means to scatter or spread abroad, with a root meaning to sow. This implies that the scattered Jews were sown as seeds among the Gentiles.
In verse 1 Peter speaks of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. All these were provinces in Asia Minor, between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
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