How do you respond to 1 Peter 1:1–2?

As I read it, I Pet 1:2 is the thematic statement for the whole chapter. As I will show in a moment, the rest of the chapter unpacks this statement, so the rest of the chapter should be used to interpret this statement. In the rest of the chapter we find that believers…

* have been given mercy through the resurrection of Jesus (vs 3)

* have received an inheritance that can never perish (vs. 4)

* are protected by the power of God until all is revealed (vs. 5)

* are refined by the suffering we undergo (vs. 6-7)

* and live in hope (8-9)

Then Peter says in vss. 10-12:

Concerning THIS SALVATION, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

It seems to me that all of this fleshes out the “foreknowledge” in the thematic verse. What was foreknown and partially revealed to the prophets was the plan of salvation that God was going to bring about and which Peter’s audience was now experiencing. In light of this, Peter says, we should live holy lives (vss. 13-9), fleshing out the sanctification theme in vs. 2. And he then returns to the foreknowledge theme when he says that Christ “was chosen (prognostico — same word as in vs. 2) before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (vs. 20). What God foreknew (because he predetermined it) was that Jesus would come and bring salvation, as Peter again reiterates in vss. 21-2).

So, in light of the whole passage, I don’t think Peter is saying God chose us INDIVIDUALLY according to his foreknowledge. What I think he’s rather saying is that God foreknew the plan of salvation centered in Jesus Christ, a plan that included the gracious invitation that whoever believes would be chosen as one of God’s people. What was left open was which individuals would accept this invitation. But now that we’re “in,” we can all say “we were chosen according to God’s foreknown and foreordained plan.”

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