“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 1:2
Peter’s first letter is addressed to “the elect… according to the foreknowledge of God…” These words are meant to bring comfort to a people in dire need of it. As Rome intensified the persecution against the Jews, many believers left Israel and became residents of Gentile cities. They are now reduced to exiles and pilgrims. Peter encourages them with the knowledge of who they are. By divine providence, they are the elect of God. As the elect, they have been redeemed.
The term election, finds its origin in the eternal purpose of God. When Peter refers to “what was according to the foreknowledge of God,” he is speaking of something that was determined beforehand. He is not saying that God simply knew beforehand, but that God purposed the election beforehand, that they would believe the gospel.
Peter unleashes a mass of theology with this one verse. An unavoidable point is his attributing their elective placement to all three persons of the Trinity. In this single verse, he describes the Father’s divine appointment, the Son’s redemptive work, and the Spirit’s intervening act of regeneration and sanctification.
To describe salvation, Peter uses a term that would be very familiar to these exiled Jews; now believers in Christ. He says, “for sprinkling with His blood.” This phrase is either meant to reference the consummation of the covenant between Israel and God as described by Exodus chapter twenty-four, or it is representative of the ceremony that took place on the Day of Atonement where the blood of slain animals was sprinkled on the mercy-seat in the Holy of Holies by the high priest. Either way, it denotes the people’s sin being covered by the blood of the innocent and it was meant to provide a shadow of better things to come.
Peter is of course pointing his readers to the atoning work of Jesus at the cross, where His blood was poured out.
Concerning this atoning work, consider the complexity that the author has confirmed by attributing salvation to the work of a Triune God. When someone comes to faith in Christ, it is described and remembered as the day the Holy Spirit made that person aware of their sin and need for the gospel. Many remember the exact time and date; others an approximate point in their life. We consider this the time of our new birth. But in relation to the cross of Christ, that person received forgiveness and new life nearly two thousand years ago. To further scramble things, the Bible concludes we must look further back than even that. How about, before the foundations of the world (Ephesian 1:4).
“Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.” Peter uses a familiar greeting with a personalized touch. He is asking that the grace and peace found only in Jesus’ redemptive work be multiplied in the lives of these believers. He is not to be heard as saying there is more grace needed than was provided through the cross, but that the grace of sanctification can be augmented in their growth. It is the practice of the true man of God to not only desire personal sanctification, but also corporate throughout the body of Christ.