The Trinitarian Work of Redemption in 1 Peter 1:1-2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

— 1 Peter 1:1-2

Here at the beginning of 1 Peter, we see that Peter starts out his letter on an incredible note: by rooting the identity of his audience in the Trinitarian work of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I think this is probably one of the most explicit references to the Trinity and the work of each person in the Bible.

Peter identifies his audience in two ways. First, they are “those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”. These five regions are almost wholly covered by what is today the nation of Turkey. “Aliens” (παρεπιδήμοις) refers to sojourners or exiles—people living in a land not their own.

In verse two Peter narrows his audience, as is revealed in verse 2; “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God”. I am working here from the New American Standard Bible, which puts chosen at the end of verse one—some other versions (ESV, for example) use elect (Ἐκλεκτοῖς) more directly in relation to exiles, as “elect who are sojourners” (ASV), “elect exiles” (ESV), or “chosen, living as exiles” (CSB).

The Trinity’s Work

The Father Chooses

Christians are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (v.2). God knew whom He will choose from before creation, “[God] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), and Paul tells us in Romans that “those whom He foreknew, He also predestined... those whom He predestined, He also called” (Romans 8:29-30).

The work of the Father, then, is that He is the chooser—He is the one who chooses and gives the chosen to the Son. Jesus speaks of this in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (emphasis mine).

The Holy Spirit Sanctifies

Next, we see that Christians are “chosen… by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ”. The work of the Holy Spirit here is plain; the Spirit sets us apart (sanctifies) for Christ, that we would “obey .. and be sprinkled with His blood”.

It is the Holy Spirit that works within the heart of a man to regenerate him. In Ezekiel 26:27 the Lord tells us, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes”. Jesus tells us in John 6:63 that, “it is the Spirit who gives life”.

The Son Suffers

Lastly, we see that the reason the elect are chosen by the Father and sanctified by the Spirit is so that they would “obey Jesus Christ, and be sprinkled with his blood.”

While focusing on the work of the Trinity in redemption, in passing I should point out that Jesus the Christ is the King—all glory and honour and praise is due His name. We are saved to Jesus; “for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:14).

But I want to look at what Peter here says we gain from Christ. We are to “be sprinkled with His blood.” Peter is pointing us directly to the cross, where Christ suffered the wrath of God, pouring out his blood as the propitiation—the atoning sacrifice (Romans 3:25).

So the Father chooses and draws, the Spirit draws and regenerates and sanctifies, the Son suffers—all three roles clearly defined here in 1 Peter.

Sprinkled with His Blood

As a final note, I want to point out that according to verses 1 and 2, it is a specific people that receive the sprinkling of blood.

The logic is simple: those who “reside as aliens… who are chosen”

  • according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
  • by the sanctifying work of the Spirit
  • to obey Jesus Christ
  • and be sprinkled by His blood.

This is all one thought; Peter is reminding his audience of how and why they were chosen, and one of those reasons is so that they would be “sprinkled by His blood.” The ones sprinkled are the ones chosen.

If we restrict any of the three roles, then we break the cooperation of the Trinity: if the Father doesn’t choose, then the Spirit would sanctify all and all would be sprinkled by the Christ’s blood. We end up with Universalism, and worse, disagreement within the Trinity. If the Father chooses but the Spirit doesn’t sanctify, then the sprinkling doesn’t apply—and disagreement within the Trinity. If the Father chooses and the Spirit sanctifies but the Son doesn’t suffer, then God is not propitiated—we suffer in hell, and still there is disagreement within the Trinity.

So it is complete harmony or Universalism, and Universalism cannot be held without rejecting Jesus—for the Universalist must reject Jesus’ teaching about hell (e.g. Matthew 25:31-46) and the wrath of God (John 3:36).

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