1 Peter 1 vs 1

People usually say that the bible is a collection of books, but some of the books are actually letters. Two of the letters were written by Peter, who was one of Jesus' disciples. "1 Peter" is the first letter.

The other numbers are the chapters and verses. They're used to divide the text so that specific parts can be referred to easily. They're not part of the original text - chapters were introduced around the 13th^{th} century, and verses in the 16th^{th} century, apparently.

1^{1}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.

This is the start of a letter to a specific group of people. It's intended to be encouraging and dense from the very beginning. It is intended that the letter is remembered and paid attention to.

The sentence structure is awkward when its translated into modern English because its a translation. Presumably in the original language you could create long statements with many clauses in them and people would be comfortable with that. I'm unaware of the letter writing customs of the day, so maybe Peter is using a very normal type of introduction, or maybe he is deliberately imitating the style of a specific type of letter, or person.

The first sentence implies that exiles of the Dispersion (what dispersion? I don't know.) are not exiles by accident. Even though I bet becoming exiled felt like an unplanned interruption to their life. The first sentence says that God chose them, and that there is a purpose. There is a chain of reasoning that involves God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - the trinity. One God in three persons... I don't get it, I can't explain it, but I'm going to try and work with this understanding.

  • 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

It's like 1 and 2 are requirements for 3, because "for" means "the reason why something was done".

I should find out what "sprinkling with his blood" means, instead of guessing. Clearly its a weird and gross idea...

It means... being marked by Jesus' blood. It seems clear enough that this is the blood that was spilt when he was sacrificially murdered, and it seems that the benefit or the reason why this would be desirable is already obvious to the readers. Having Jesus' blood on you is to associate yourself with the benefits of that sacrifice as well as to count the cost of the sacrifice.

It's probably a line of reasoning that would be intuitive to believers with a Jewish background if they've previously sacrificed animals in temples during various festivals. Is this letter written to a group of believers with a Jewish (rather than gentile) background?

Back to the chain of reasoning: the foreknowledge of the Father and the sanctification of the Spirit is necessary for being associated with Jesus sacrifice and for being obedient to Jesus. That's a big conclusion from only the first sentence.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

I like that exhortation so much I could get it as a tattoo. Grace and Peace, better than fine dining and a comfortable bed. Also, chewing over the implications of the previous sentence is enough to cause confusion and angst - so the exhortation is well timed. Chill - even though you've been exiled, you weren't planning on being a migrant, and God planned this for you, and this is part of your necessary sanctification in order to be associated with Jesus' sacrifice - you can be full of peace, and there is lots of grace (which is forgiveness, and patience, and maybe gentleness) available to you.

Next sentence...