“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” One of the main theological issues in this verse is “who are the elect exiles of the Dispersion?” That the translators of the ESV (English Standard Version) capitalize the word “Dispersion” means that they understand that Peter is addressing the formal “Diaspora.” Thus, Peter is just addressing Christian Jews. In Galatians 2:9, Paul clarifies that Peter focused on Jews while he and Barnabas went to the Gentiles. He says, “When James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” The real difficulty in this view is that most Christians living in the places mentioned, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, are gentiles that came to faith under Paul’s ministry. I think that Peter is talking to all Christians.

God calls Abraham “chosen.” Moses was “chosen,” as were most of the other leading men and women in the Old Testament. Just as Abraham was chosen out of pagan society in Ur of the Chaldees, so too are all Christians the “Chosen.” The popular TV series “The Chosen” is all about the life and ministry of Jesus. Paul wants the believers in Ephesus to understand that they are also chosen because of their faith in Christ. Ephesians 1:4-5 says, Even as He chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” The basis of God’s election is then explained, “In love, He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Peter is addressing the Saints all over the Mediterranean basin. “The letter recipients are identified as coming from five places in Asia Minor, now a part of western Turkey. Pontus is on the South coast of the Black Sea; Galatia is the central part of Asia Minor; Cappadocia is inland, located east of Galatia and south of Pontus. Asia is the land extending along the west coast, comprising the famous cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Miletus, etc. It is not the continent of Asia that is referred to. All the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation belong to this province. Bithynia is west of Pontus along the Black Sea.”[1] Arichea, thinks that with the multiple addressees, it’s easy to see how it was meant for all Christians everywhere. He says, “Some commentaries have suggested that the order of these places is important, in that since the letter is intended to be a circular letter, this would be the circular route that its bearer would follow. He would begin in Pontus and end in Bithynia.”[2]

The term elect is meant to encourage the church. It is to remind the people of God of his great love. It is not a term to be waved in front of those who don’t yet know God. It should be used to bring comfort to those in the faith. Peter intended to assure his early dispersed readers of God’s steadfast love. And certainly, they would have basked in the reassuring strength of the word.”[3] The encouraging truths of a believer’s position as beloved and chosen by God change how we live. Paul explains this in Colossians 3:11-12, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

[1] Arichea, Daniel C., and Eugene Albert Nida. 1980. A Handbook on the First Letter from Peter. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Ibid

[3] Helm, David R. 2008. 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.