An Introduction to First Peter

Sermon One in a Series Preached at Pilgrims Hope Baptist Church

By Wayne Camp

Scripture: I Peter 1:1-9

TEXT: Heb. 11:13; I Pet. 2:11

INTRO: Throughout Scripture the people of God are referred to in various ways. We are sheep; we are his people; we are the called; we are the elect; we are the saints; we are the seed; we are the chosen; we are the children; we are believers; we are priests; and we are kings. This is not all but it gives you some idea of the various ways in which we are designated in Scripture.

We are also called pilgrims. Throughout the history of mankind, God’s people have looked on themselves as pilgrims on the earth. With this message I am beginning a series of studies from the book of I Peter. Today I want to ask us a question to begin this study. In this world, are we pilgrims, or have we become naturalized citizens?

I know that question may make us a little uncomfortable. The idea of being a pilgrim suggests a number of things, among them is the fact that we should be careful to remain separate from the world in our dress, in our speech, in our conduct, and traditions. I will have more to say on this later but it would be well if we remember it as we journey through this month of December. ARE WE STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS IN THIS WORLD, OR HAVE WE BECOME NATURALIZED CITIZENS? The problem that Lot faced in Sodom was not that he was there, but that he had nearly become a naturalized citizen of that wicked city. His family had gone farther and had become naturalized citizens.

    1. The exact time of its writing is uncertain—some say as early as 45 AD while others argue it was written about 61 to 65 AD.
    2. It is fairly certain that it was written from the city of Babylon, the metropolis of Chaldea or Assyria.
    3. It is called a general epistle by scholars because it was not written to a particular person or to a particular church as were several of the epistles.
      1. Some epistles were written to specific persons—Timothy, Titus, Philemon.
      2. Others were written to a specific church or to churches specifically indicated—the church of God at Corinth, at Thessalonica, at Ephesus, at Philippi, at Rome, the seven churches in Asia.
      3. Then there are those epistles which are very general in nature such as I and II Peter, I, II, III, John, Hebrews.
    4. This epistle was chiefly written to Christians who were Jews and who had been scattered abroad and were living among the Gentiles.
      1. Actually, in verse one the expression translated strangers scattered might be clearer to us if translated pilgrims of the dispersion.
      2. Peter is the apostle of the circumcision. Galatians 2:8-9 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
      3. Paul on the other hand is designated as the apostle to the Gentiles. Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.
      4. The design of the book seems to be a call to these pilgrims to endure suffering patiently in light of the blessings of grace that have been bestowed upon them through the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
      5. Among the doctrines set forth in the book are election, redemption, regeneration, sanctification, preservation, and perseverance, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
      6. He calls on those addressed to exercise themselves in the graces of faith, hope, love, and to adorn the doctrine of grace so that those among whom they sojourned would see the evidences of the grace of God that was upon them.

    1. It is Peter, an apostle installed in that office in the church that finally located in Jerusalem.
      1. I would point out that Peter no where indicates he was any kind of pope as claimed by the Roman Catholic Church.
      2. He was no higher in office than Paul, or John, or James or Jude, or Matthew, Mark, or Luke.
      3. He was not even the apostle who apparently pastored the church at Jerusalem. Scholars generally agree that James was the pastor.
    2. The author is Peter who was a pillar in the first church Jesus planted on this earth. Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

    1. The word translated "pilgrim" is interesting.
      1. Transliterated from Grk., it is parepidemos {parepidhmoi"}, which is a combination of three words.
        1. para - "alongside of"
        2. epi - "upon"
        3. demos - "used in Biblical Greek of the people of a heathen city" (Wuest)
      2. Thayer defines the word in this manner.
        1. "one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives"
        2. "a stranger"
        3. "sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner"
        4. "in the NT metaph. in reference to heaven as the native country, one who sojourns on earth: so of Christians (1 Pet 1:1)...of the patriarchs (He 11:13)."
      3. Another definition: "One who stays in a place as a stranger or visitor; to describe Christians whose final citizenship is in heaven and who are regarded as temporary dwellers on earth." (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible)
      4. W. E. Vine defines the word as follows (and I am only giving a part of his definition for more would repeat definitions I have already noted.
        1. An adjective signifying "sojourning in a strange place, away from one’s own people."
        2. The word is used metaphorically of those to whom Heaven is their own country, and who are sojourners on earth.
    2. The meaning of the word "dispersion".
      1. The Greek word is diaspora {diaspora"}
        1. It is noun form of the verb diaspeiro which means "to sow, to scatter seed"
        2. The term is found in Jn 7:35, and there it refers to the Jews who were scattered among the Greeks as a result of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. John 7:35 Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
        3. This has caused some to conclude that Peter was writing to Jewish Christians who were living in the regions of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) - cf. 1 Pet 1:1
        4. But what Peter was writing may be applied to ALL the Christians, both Jewish and Gentile, who were scattered throughout Asia Minor, and to Christians who are on earth today since we are citizens of heaven and are only strangers and pilgrims in the earth.
          1. Peter addresses the elect which can apply to all Christians, not just Jewish. 1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
          2. Peter refers to those redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which certainly encompasses all Christians though it may be said of any individual or group of Christians. 1 Peter 1:18-20 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
          3. In another place he used terminology which is sometimes used of the Gentiles. 1 Peter 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
          4. Paul uses this terminology of both Jews and Gentiles, but especially of Gentiles. Romans 9:23-26 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
    3. In the light of this we can say that Peter implies by using the term "pilgrims of the dispersion" that all Christians are Pilgrims living in a world not their own, like scattered seed, spread out among those in the world.

    1. This phrase reveals what the Christian life really is.
      1. It is but a JOURNEY, which began when we first became Christians, and will not end until we reach our true destination and place of citizenship which is heaven.
      2. This ought to affect our entire perspective on life.
        1. It is not an end in itself.
        2. It is only a temporary trip toward our final destination.
        3. Our homes, our jobs, take on a different meaning when viewed in this light.
      3. This ought to affect our perspective on death.
        1. Not the end of life, but the end of our journey!
          1. When you take a journey, especially one that lasts a number of days, how glad you are when you see you are nearly home.
            1. When I pastored in Illinois, how I loved to see the lights of Peoria when I had been on a trip.
            2. How I look forward to seeing the lights on the bridge over the Mississippi when I have been west of here on a trip.
            3. When I see and feel the evidences of aging, it always reminds me that I am nearer home than I was yesterday.
        2. Not the end of life, but the beginning of eternity in our true home, a home from which we will never travel.
    2. Embarked on this JOURNEY, we become like our spiritual father, Abraham. Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
      1. When we know we are pilgrims on this earth and that God is our guide and protector on this journey, it is not as important to us to know exactly where we are going on the journey. V-8
      2. When we know that we are only pilgrims, it becomes less important to have a permanent dwelling place in this world. V-9
      3. When we approach life as a pilgrim, it is much easier for us to look beyond the troubles and trials of this life and look for that city whose builder and maker is God. V-10
      4. When we approach this life as a pilgrimage on the way to a better place that is truly our home, it makes us expectant Christians. V-13-15
      5. When this is our attitude towards this life God is not ashamed to be called our God. V-16
      6. When this is our attitude we can honestly sing songs like "This World Is Not My Home, I’m just passing through."

    1. Our responsibility as "pilgrims" is to be separate from the world. 1 Peter 2:11-12 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
    2. We may be "in the world," but we are not to be "of the world." John 17:15-16 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
    3. Remaining separate may cause some in the world to think we are strange. 1 Peter 4:3-4 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.
      1. Jesus said this would happen, even as it did to Him. John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
      2. Are we who are Christians keeping ourselves separate from the world?
        1. Are we allowing the world to influence our speech? Our dress? Our conduct?
        2. If we are allowing the world to influence us overmuch, we are no longer "pilgrims," but "naturalized citizens" of this world!
        3. Pilgrims do not become conformed to the place in which they are pilgrims. Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
        4. Pilgrims use this world but do not abuse it by adapting to its fashions. 1 Corinthians 7:31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
        5. Pilgrims remember John's warning in 1 Jn 2:15-17. 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

    1. Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we eagerly await our Savior. Philippians 3:20-21 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
    2. We are to be looking for "new heavens and a new earth." 2 Peter 3:13-14 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that, without spot, and blameless.
    3. We are looking for a city "which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

CONCLUSION: Are we "pilgrims of the Dispersion"? We are, if as Christians we...

a. View our life here on earth as a journey in a foreign land!

b. Keep ourselves separate from things in the world that would lead us away from God!

c. View as our true home, the heavenly city God has prepared from those who confess they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth!

2. But you are NOT a "pilgrim of the Dispersion" if...

a. You have not yet begun your spiritual sojourn by obeying the gospel of Christ!

b. Having done so, you allow the attractions of the world to

discontinue your journey and "settle down" in things which would separate you from God!

Are YOU a "pilgrim of the Dispersion"?

Click to return to Central Baptist Church HomePage

Click to go to Table of Contents of This Site

email(active).gif (14954 bytes) Send E-mail to rwcamp@gpp-5grace.com

Return to Index of Sermons on First Peter

This page last updated Friday, March 04, 2011