Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)
In our study of unconditional election, we should not neglect Peter’s plain teaching regarding those that belong to God. Peter is writing specifically, not to all exiles, but to elect exiles. The word “elect” is in the plural, so it is true of all God’s people that God has specially chosen them, has given preference to them, and has shown divine favor to them, and makes them resident aliens in this world. God has predestinated His elect (Eph 1); that is, before the world began, God destined His elect (unconditional chosen ones) to be in glory with Him. Believers are temporal residents here, who have been born again to a living hope, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for them. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Last week we saw that God does not choose persons for salvation based on faith they might exercise in the future, but rather He elects them unconditionally, “before they were born or had done anything good or bad” (Romans 9:11).
God elects sinners according to His foreknowledge, Peter says. Peter is not speaking of God’s intellect, which of course is perfect and infinite, but rather of His decretal foreknowledge, of God’s determination of whom he would graciously rescue from just condemnation. In His foreknowledge, He intimately knows His own and saves them according to his sovereign purposes.
So, you can see from ‘foreknowledge’ that election is very personal and intimate. Foreknowledge is more affectionate than cerebral. For God, to truly know is to truly love. Amos 3:2, speaking of God’s people Israel says, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” Does this mean that God does not intellectually know what is happening around His world, but only knows what is happening to Israel? No. God knows everything at every time. But God has a special love and affection for His people that He does not have for others. Matthew 7:23 proves this: “Depart from me you that work iniquity. I never knew you.” Does this mean that God did not intellectually know the wicked? No. It means His saving affection was never upon them.
God’s election of a people is the seal of His love for them. Because He elects them, and saves them with His blood, and regenerates them by the Spirit, He will cherish them. He calls them His Bride. God has always loved them (‘In love he predestined us!’ Eph. 1:5). This is what makes unconditional election so amazing – there was nothing in me to be desired. All I had to offer was rebellion, iniquity, self-reliance and sufficiency, and a long list of more of the same, but God in love conquered every barrier. That’s what foreknowledge does. In love He gave me life. He gave me hope in a world that is full of sin and is rapidly passing away.
Thankful for electing grace,