- Lesson 1 in the Connect 360 unit “Hunger for Holiness: Living Pure in an Impure World” focuses on 1 Peter 1:1-9.
We are strangers in this world. There are two terms in Greek for a nonresident. One means a temporary resident, traveler or, in a modern sense, a vacationer, usually translated “stranger.” The second means a permanent resident or an immigrant usually translated “alien” or “sojourner.” Peter used both terms through his letter: “strangers” in 1:1, “aliens” in 1:17 and “aliens and strangers” in 2:11. He used the terms to describe the very temporary life we have in this world compared to eternity.
We are citizens of another world, God’s kingdom. Yet, if we are not careful, we can make the comforts of this world the priority over God’s kingdom work in our lives and the world around us. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-2, the Apostle Paul also wrote of the temporariness of this world when he compared our earthly bodies as tents next to our heavenly bodies as eternal houses. Aliens and strangers do not have any power or privilege in a foreign land and never completely feel at home. Peter reminded Christians not to feel too “at home” in this world. We belong to a permanent world.
As strangers in this world, and holding onto a permanent hope, we walk in obedience to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to continue doing a sanctifying work in us. There are three aspects of our salvation: past, present and future. The three can be defined as our justification, our sanctification and our glorification. We were justified in the past, are being sanctified in the present, and will be glorified in the future at the return of Christ. In the past, we were saved from the penalty of sin. In the present, we are being saved from the power of sin. In the future, we will be saved from the presence of sin. Peter used a trinitarian concept of our being sanctified in this world in preparation for the world to come. We are chosen by God the Father, sanctified through the Holy Spirit for obedience to the Son.
First Peter 1:1 also indirectly gives a glimpse into God’s plan to reach people when we see closed doors. Paul was kept from traveling through Asia, Bithynia and Mysia. He had planned to go through that region, but the Holy Spirit would not let him and instead sent Paul to Macedonia to initiate the early church’s European missions. Even though the book of Acts does not report who reached these areas, we know God had a plan to reach them. Peter addressed the churches in these areas, mentioning three by name: Galatia, Asia and Bithynia. A glance at the maps in the back of your Bible would show that God indeed reached the churches Paul had planned to. God did it his way. We can have a permanent hope that God has a plan for us, as well.
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