1 ¶ Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Peter is talking literally to the strangers, that is the dispersed Jewish believers in Christ. They are foreigners in the lands in which they dwell. The Bible defines stranger.
Genesis 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
Ex 12:19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
Obadiah 1:11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
Words in the Bible connected by and define each other as they, typically, are synonyms.
Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia were all Roman provinces in what is today known as the country of Turkey. Paul was forbidden by the Holy Ghost to go to Asia and Bithynia.
Acts 16:6 ¶ Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
All Christians are strangers in the lands in which they live, as their home is in heaven and Christ is their king or chief executive. Unfortunately, some Christians in the past, have, in a patriotic fervor, mixed up their true home with their temporary home on earth. For instance, in the latter part of the 1700’s and in the early to middle 1800’s many American Christians believed that America was the Promised Land of the Bible and that many prophecies that apply to Christ alone applied to America instead.
Congregationalist preacher, David Austin, said in 1794, in reference to Daniel 7:45 and Revelation 12;
…the regnum montis, the kingdom of the mountain, begun on the Fourth of July, 1776, when the birth of the MAN-CHILD – the hero of civil and religious liberty took place in these United States. Let them read the predictions of heaven respecting the increase of his dominion-that he was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; that is, bring them into complete and absolute subjection; and that the young hero might be equal to this mighty conquest, he is supported by an omnipotent arm; he is caught up unto God, and to his throne.(1)
Methodist preacher, Fountain Pitts, preached two sermons before Congress in 1857 declaring that America was the man-child of Revelation 12 and that America is Israel restored, rightfully owning, at least, all of North and South America, if not eventually the world.(2)
(1) David Austin, “The Downfall of Mystical Babylon,” in The Millennium. Elizabeth Town, NJ: Shepard Kollock printers, 1794), 392. https://openlibrary.org/works/OL16763616W/The_Millennium
(2) Fountain E. Pitts, A Defence of Armageddon or Our Great Country Foretold in the Holy Scriptures In two discourses, Delivered in the Capitol of the United States, at the request of several members of Congress, on the anniversary of Washington's birthday, 1857, (Baltimore: J.W. Bull Publishers, 1859) 34, 38, 57.
This heresy was common before the Civil War and explains a great deal of Lincoln’s unusual, apocalyptic wording in his speeches. Every country that was predominantly Christian and powerful, at some point, viewed itself as God’s unique tool of work on earth. England and Germany are also examples.
But, in reality, Biblically speaking, the believer is a sojourner, a stranger on this earth for a period of time whose kingdom is Heaven and whose king is God and Christ.
These believers are elect according to God’s foreknowledge, not according to an eternal decree deciding that some must endure eternal punishment just by virtue of their creation. We are in Christ before the foundation of the world by God’s foreknowledge, as per Paul writing in Ephesians compared to Peter here.
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
They are set apart for God, made holy, or sanctified by the Spirit of God that dwells in them. Notice that it is in opposition to defile in the following verse.
Leviticus 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Leviticus 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
Holy is special, a distinct thing or person, set apart for a special purpose by God.
Exodus 31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
The people that Peter is speaking to are not only elect by God’s foreknowledge through sanctification by the Spirit of God, but the purpose of this is for their obedience under God’s blood. They belong to Christ.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
This phrase has to do with Christ’s shed blood and says absolutely nothing about water baptism so don’t be alarmed about the use of the word sprinkling here as in Hebrews 9:13; 11:28; and 12:24 referring to verses like Exodus 12:7 and Leviticus 16:14.
Peter wishes them to have Grace and Peace multiplied, in abundance.
Grace is mercy magnified to a sinner who believes what God has said, unmerited and unearned and undeserved favor that is dependent upon the giver, not the receiver, except in his or her willingness to receive it only.
Genesis 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life…
Peace has nothing to do with your peace of mind or your not having a rough day. It has to do with peace between you and God. As Paul said to a Gentile church;
Ephesians 2:11 ¶ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 ¶ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Peter wishes these believers unmerited and multiplied mercy from God and peace with Him through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the basis of any favor from God. As Peter himself said;
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.