Verse two of the first chapter of Peter’s first epistle introduces us to some pretty heavy theological topics. First, the foreknowledge of God is mentioned regarding election. Second, is the idea of the sanctification of the Spirit for the obedience to Jesus and the sprinkling with his blood. The passage says, “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.” There are so many philosophical complexities related to God’s foreknowledge and election, that I’ve given up trying to understand them all. I did a google search on “God’s foreknowledge” and had 754,000 hits! I tried to read a couple of them but then went back to Peter’s letter and determined to allow God’s omniscience to remain a mystery with me. However, I do come away with the impression that Peter is telling his suffering readers that God knows all about it from beginning to end and he knows it will all turn out for our best. I don’t know much, but I trust in the God who knows all.

The scattered believers that Peter is addressing are called the elect “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” When a loved one is sick and we take them to the doctor we might ask what’s the “prognosis”. That is we want to know what will come of this particular sickness in the future. The doctor’s answer is always based on his medical knowledge but doesn’t involve a supernatural insight into the future. In the Bible, the Greek word for foreknowledge is “prognosis.” It expressed the idea of knowing reality before it becomes reality. One writer says, “In Christian theology, foreknowledge refers to the all-knowing, omniscient nature of God whereby He knows reality before it is real, all things and events before they happen, and all people before they exist.” But, as the writer continues, “The foreknowledge of God is far more than His ability to see the future; His foreknowledge is a true knowing of what will come to pass, based on His free choice. He decrees what will come to pass. In other words, foreknowledge is not just intellectual; it is personal and relational.”[1]

Several commentators see the foreknowledge issue being one way Peter wants to encourage all believers amid their trials. Sam Storms concludes, “It’s simply amazing that at the beginning of Peter’s letter to the hurting, persecuted, oppressed people facing a myriad of trials he focuses on election! Why? Because God’s eternal purpose for us and in us and through us is the only thing ultimately that will sustain us in hard times. Knowing who we are as God’s elect and whose we are is a truth that the Spirit will repeatedly bring to mind to encourage us in times of affliction and to strengthen our wills when tempted and to sustain hope when everything appears to be falling apart.”[2] David Helm gives us an encouraging summary as well. He writes, “In the strongest way possible, Peter has told us: The Lord God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, is behind all of this. The hidden counsel of the Eternal Trinity has planned for us to be known as his ‘elect exiles.’ And he has done all of this through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. So take heart. Be encouraged. Christians are those who are chosen by God and called to live in this world. There is something in this letter for every Christian. This is a fine mail day. As you read on, Peter’s desire is that you would experience God’s grace and know his peace. In fact, verse 2 says that he wants them to be yours in abundance (May grace and peace be multiplied to you).”[3]



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