Messianic Hope & Grace in Times of Trial

Posted by on Mar 13, 2020 in Teachings, Video
Messianic Hope & Grace in Times of Trial

Message 2: Greetings and Shalom Part 2 (1Peter 1:1-2)

Recap

Author: Shimon Kefa

We have begun a series of sermons from the letter that Shimon Kefa/Simon Peter wrote to primarily messianic Jews who were living in the region of Asia Minor (mostly in modern day Turkey today). Shimon and his brother were Jewish fishermen who had a life-changing encounter with Rabbi Yeshua. They were 2 of the 12 Jewish disciples of Yeshua who not only followed him as their rabbi but also because they believed he was the Promised Messiah of Israel. Shimon Kefa became the leader of this band of disciples and later the chief of the Shl’chim, the Apostles. He is noted as being the Apostle to the Jews while Paul was primarily the Apostle to the Gentiles. Peter turned out to the leader of the early messianic movement of Jews who believed in Yeshua as the Messiah. Peter is known as the Apostle of Hope and Grace and he wrote his first Epistle to Jewish believers in times of trial and suffering. So I have entitled this series “Hope and Grace in Times of Trial.” Yeshua had asked of Peter to “strengthen my brothers” and “feed my sheep” and in this truly pastoral letter, he does just that. I am praying that through the study of this God breathed, God inspired letter, we will all be strengthened and encouraged in our daily walk with God no matter what we are going through in our lives. Peter speaks to our hearts about our identity and our calling in Messiah as a holy priesthood standing fast in the true grace of God, empowered to be his witnesses in this world.

Recipients: God’s Chosen People

To: God’s chosen people, living as alien in the Diaspora—in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia—” (1 Peter 1:1, CJB)

Who are these people in these communities? They are predominately Jewish believers in Yeshua. These messianic communities across Asia Minor (most of modern-day Turkey; Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia) Why do we believe they were Jews? They are clearly identified as “God’s Chosen People,” a term used for the Jewish people, and that they were “exiles living in the Diaspora.” Diaspora, a Greek noun meaning a “sowing” or “scattering,”[1] which is a technical term used for Jewish people living outside the Land that is still used today (Diaspora or maybe equivalent to Galut in Hebrew). The book of James also used this term in addressing the Jewish people (“Jacob, a slave of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, To the twelve tribes in the Diaspora: Shalom!” (James 1:1, TLV)) But also two other things; First of all remember when Peter preached that anointed sermon on the day of Pentecost and 3000 Jewish people were born again? Well, in Jerusalem at that time were Jews from these places (Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia – cf. Acts 2:9). Many became followers of Yeshua and must have gone back home and planted congregations, home-fellowships etc. Also, once persecution broke out against the Jewish believers in Jerusalem after Stephen’s death, they were scattered, and many would have found themselves in these communities. And since Peter was the Apostle called to ministry primarily to the Jews, it is natural that he would be the one who would write this circular letter of instruction, an extended sermon of encouragement to these messianic Jewish believers. The lists of names of these places suggest that this Epistle was an encyclical letter hand-delivered to each one of these communities.

I labour this point about the recipients of this letter because many scholars who espouse the tenants of Replacement Theology would contend that this letter uses terminology that was previously used of Israel to now refer to the Church, the New Israel. This is of course, in our mind, an erroneous and very dangerous view leading to all sorts of distortions of the biblical truth.

However, we should say clearly that these communities would have had many God-fearing Gentiles and Gentile converts to the faith as part of their communities. These communities would have had Jews and Gentiles together in faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Sounds like most of our messianic congregations today. And so even though these communities were primarily made up of messianic Jews, they were together in unity with Gentile believers who had attached themselves to Israel’s God and Israel’s Messiah through faith in Yeshua. They had been grafted into God’s Olive Tree (cf. Rom 11). Gentiles too are chosen in Messiah, not replacing God’s ancient covenant people but sharing in God’s blessings together (cf Eph 2:11-22; 3:6).

General Outline of Messages

(Adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s expository outlines of the Bible):

[2]

Occasion/Reason for Writing

Before we look at the text today, by way of further introduction to 1 Peter, let’s first look at the “occasion” for the Letter/Instructions, i.e. why did Peter write this letter to the believers, and the date of the letter? This background information helps us properly interpret the letter. So, first of all the Occasion/Reason for Writing: Peter is writing to the believers in Asia Minor because he knows that they are already being persecuted for their faith and that more stormy seasons of persecution is yet to come under the hand of the cruel Emperor Nero. Many of Nero’s cruelties are linked to the time of the great fire in Rome (a.d. 64). Nero was accused of setting fire to the city in order to divert attention from himself, but this has never been proven with certainty. The Christians, however, were made the scapegoats for this arson. Many of them, possibly even Peter and Paul, lost their lives.[3] Peter mentions suffering, trials and persecution at least once in every chapter of his letter. The word suffering itself is used 15 times in the Epistle and the word glory is used 10 times. And the word “grace” is also used in every chapter. Grace is God’s generous favor to undeserving sinners and needy saints. When we depend on God’s grace, we can endure suffering and turn trials into triumphs. It is grace alone that saves us (Eph. 2:8–10). God’s grace can give us strength in times of trial, as Yeshua said to Rabbi Sha’ul; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (cf. 2 Cor. 12:1–10). Grace enables us to serve God in spite of difficulties (1 Cor. 15:9–10). Whatever begins with God’s grace will always lead to glory[4] as the Psalmist said; “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11, ESV) The truth is that no true believer avoids suffering whether in the form of personal suffering or suffering/persecution for our faith (loss of privileges, jobs, opportunities etc…). And so, Peter comforts and encourages us in that he shows that suffering now reveals the glory that is to come. And when we go through suffering, we find ourselves digging deeper in our faith as one commentator puts it; “Our deepest needs drive us to our deepest beliefs.[5]

Summary of Theme

As we study 1 Peter, we will see how the three themes of suffering, grace, and glory unite to form an encouraging message for believers experiencing times of trial and persecution. These themes are summarized in 1 Peter 5:10, a verse we would do well to memorize.[6]

10 You will have to suffer only a little while; after that, God, who is full of grace, the one who called you to his eternal glory in union with the Messiah, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you and make you firm. 11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10–11 (CJB))

When was the Letter Written?

If Peter can be argued reasonably to be the author, then our letter was written prior to a.d. 64 or 65, when Peter was martyred at the hands of Nero. In light of the number of references to suffering and persecution in 1 Peter, we maintain that Peter wrote this letter near the outset of Nero’s persecution of the early believers—perhaps between 62 and 63.[7]

Where was the Letter Written?

Peter may have written from either Babylon or from Rome. In 1Peter 5:13 Peter mentions Babylon but it could be that he used the term Babylon to disguise his reference to Rome in order to protect the believers in Rome and the suspicion of Nero.[8] So, let us look at the text. Last week we got as far as verse 1:

Greetings and Shalom (1:1–2)

1 From: Kefa, an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah To: God’s chosen people, living as aliens in the Diaspora—in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia—2 chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obeying Yeshua the Messiah and for sprinkling with his blood: Grace and shalom be yours in full measure. ( 1 Peter 1:1–2 (CJB))

Today, we will continue with Part 2 of the Greetings and Shalom:

We will focus on verse 2 as Peter continues his greeting by further identifying the recipients of his letter and then he prays a blessing over them. Notice that Peter points out that the entire plan of salvation is the work of all three person of the Trinity, God the Father, Yeshua the Messiah and the Ruach HaKodesh. [9] There is a 3 step progression of salvation that is affected by the entire Triune nature of God: we are chosen by the Father, set apart unto faith by the Spirit, and cleansed by the blood of Messiah.

Chosen by God the Father

We are chosen (prognōsin) by God according to his foreknowledge. The Greek word for chosen means more than a passive foresight; it contains the idea of “having regard for” or “centering one’s attention on” one’s choice. God’s foreknowledge is more than prescience (knowing ahead of time), it is is part of His active, predetermined and effective plan for us. God’s chosen of us is also not based on any merit in us, but solely on His grace and love for us even before creation. Rabbi Sha’ul concurs with this in Ephesians 1:4 when he says, “In the Messiah he chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in his presence.” (Ephesians 1:4, CJB). This means that God knows us before we are born and had already predetermined that we would come to him. It amazing to know that God has a wonderful plan for our lives and that we are chosen in him. This should give us comfort especially when we are going through difficult times in our lives. (Ponder! About God)

Set apart the Ruach HaKodesh

God the Father chose you according to his foreknowledge and the Holy Spirit is the one who made it all come to pass. The Holy Spirit is the one who has worked in our lives to bring us to faith in Messiah. The sanctifying work of the Spirit has set us apart for service. It is the Holy Spirit who puts God’s choice and purpose into effect. So, we have been chosen to be set apart. Jews and Gentile believers in Messiah are called to show God to the world, just like ancient Israel’s calling.

Cleansed by the Blood of Messiah

The third step in our salvation is the work of the Son. We are sanctified by the Spirit, so we can be obedient to Yeshua the Messiah and have atonement through his shed blood. The book of Hebrews tells us that “According to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Also, the book of Hebrews tells us that the shed blood brings forgiveness, the sprinkled blood purifies (Heb 9:11–23). In the New Covenant, the significance of shedding and sprinkling blood is the same as in the Tanakh; but instead of being literal, the sprinkling is accomplished inwardly through faith in the accomplished work of Messiah on the cross. We are called to obedience in Messiah – this is the work of the Spirit (sanctification) that we live a life of obedience (Paul calls is the obedience of faith cf. Rom 1:5, 16:26). So, we see in this opening salutation, that all three persons of the Trinity affect our salvation. (Ponder! About God)

Grace and Shalom

Grace and shalom be yours in full measure. (1 Peter 1:2 (CJB)) Grace (charis) is the Greek greeting and this greeting emphasizes God’s free and undeserved favor. The word peace (eirene GK or shalom Heb) is the Jewish greeting and this peace is the result of receiving God’s grace. Hence, Peter provides both the Greek and Jewish greetings—Grace and peace—both are to be multiplied (Meaning “may it be multiplied; might it be conferred abundantly, may it be yours in full measure.”) Grace and peace comes to us through faith in Messiah. And when we are going through difficult times, grace and peace may abound in our lives. God is always there for us, even when it feels like he is silent or absent. He is always there… his grace is always available for us, his peace is always multiplied to us when we need it.

Selah (Ponder)

So, right here, at the beginning of Peter’s instructions to the believers, he reminds us that our salvation is the work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is the theological foundation of our faith. Dear friends, we need to be trained to think theologically at times. We need to be able to reflect on God and his work in our lives. Ponder! About God: We are chosen by God the Father. What does that mean for our daily lives and especially our times of trials/suffering/failures etc…Ponder! About God: We need to have relationship with the full revelation of God as Three in One; Don’t say that “I just have a relationship with God the Father, I don’t need Yeshua or the Holy Spirit. Don’t say that “I just related to Yeshua, I don’t need the Father or the Holy Spirit. Don’t just related to the Holy Spirit either. We need a full relationship with God because it takes all the 3 persons of the Trinity to affect our salvation.


[1] Mason, J. L. (1988). Diaspora of the Jews. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 623). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 737). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 390). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter: the way of the cross (p. 15). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 390). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] McKnight, S. (1996). 1 Peter (p. 29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[8] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 857). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[9] Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2005). The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude (1st ed., p. 322). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.

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