We Are Elect Exiles

“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.” (1Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

Christians are elect. To call believers “the elect” is biblical. Jesus (Matt 24:31), Paul (2 Tim 2:10), and John (2 John 1) were not ashamed of this term for true believers. God, before the foundation of the world, chose us to salvation in Christ Jesus. Election is according to His foreknowledge, His “foreloving” a people by His gracious pleasure. God chooses people unconditionally, not according to some foreseen faith or response or works, but solely by His special love and sovereign purpose (Rom 9:10-13). Peter calls his readers the “elect” to assure them in suffering by establishing their irrevocable standing in Christ Jesus. God has chosen us. He will bring us all the way home. Nothing will separate His elect from His love in Christ Jesus. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Rom 8:33)

Christians are also exiles. We are sojourners among a people to whom we do not belong. We are strangers in a non-Christian world that is hostile to God. We are salt and light and ambassadors for the King. But we are resident aliens looking for our heavenly home (Heb 11:16). Here is how an anonymous work from the second century put it:

Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by either country, speech, or customs… They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land… They find themselves in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their days on earth, but hold citizenship in heaven.

We are elect exiles. God has chosen us and called us out as a people of His own possession to proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9-10). By God’s mercy, this is our position in Christ. Let us stand firm in such wondrous grace.

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