1 Peter 1:1-2 – Foreknowledge

By Wayne Jackson

In the salutation of his first letter, Peter wrote: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect. . . according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1,2). Note that the epistle is addressed to “the elect.” The Bible theme of election has been made unnecessarily obscure by baseless theological theories (e.g., Calvinism, which teaches that God, before the creation of the world, arbitrarily elected those who would be lost and saved, irrespective of obedience or disobedience on their part). There are several important facts regarding this matter suggested in this context.

  1. Election is according to the foreknowledge of God. This simply means that God, before the foundation of the world, elected (chose, determined) to provide a plan of redemption for man (whom he knew would fall from his initial holy estate), and that this choosing would be upon the basis of those who are “in him” (Christ) as opposed to those who are not (Ephesians 1:4).
  2. From the divine side, election is accomplished by virtue of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. This is a reference to the atoning death of the Son of God, who was foreshadowed by the animal offerings of the Old Testament economy (cf. Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:13,14). Jesus’ death satisfied the justice of God which demanded the payment for the penalty of sin (cf. Romans 3:24-26).
  3. Our election involves a sanctification of the Spirit, i.e., by means of the Spirit’s guidance (through the word of God – John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26; 6:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:4,5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14) we learn of our need to be sanctified (separated from the world unto God’s service), hence, we are led to accept the heavenly election.
  4. The design of Jehovah’s interest in our behalf is that we might be motivated unto obedience, since it is by means of our obedience that our souls are purified. (1 Peter 1:22).

So, election involves: God’s redemptive plan, Christ’s sacrificial death, the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the truth, and man’s obedience to the same!

When 1 Peter 1:1,2 is thus seen in concert with related biblical material, the doctrine of election is removed from the confusing fog of sectarian dogma. Underline each of the foregoing phrases in your Bible and make a few appropriate notations in the margin. These will enhance your instruction of others as you seek to teach the truth.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.