“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”
Peter now pinpoints the physical address to those to whom he is writing. He gives their physical address then their spiritual address (1:2). Today we come to their physical address.
To the pilgrims of the Dispersion
Peter writes to Christians dispersed in the following list of countries. The dispersion was Jews who spread throughout the Roman Empire. Here they were Christian Jews spread in Asia Minor (northwest Turkey today).
The word “pilgrim” comes from three words meaning “alongside,” “upon,” and “people.” The word here describes those who settled down alongside those who are not Christian (1 Pe 2:11). The English word “epidemic” is derived from this word. An epidemic is a disease that comes upon a great number of people. Peter does not let us forget that we live among those without Christ. They carefully observe our lives.
The word “dispersion” refers back to the captivity of the Northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC by Assyria. In 586 BC, the Southern kingdom (Judah and Benjamin) went into captivity. In AD 70, the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem. Many in Israel dispersed throughout the Roman world.
The word “dispersion” means to “sow through.” God has sown Christians throughout the world. God providentially sows us where we are in the world to become disseminators of the Gospel. That is why you are where you are. We are pilgrims because we are Christ’s. Our souls cannot satisfy themselves with the trivialities of the earth any more than a human can satisfy himself with eating hog slop. Coming to Christ means we have new desires, tastes, aspirations, and affinities. God has kindled new life in us.
There is no loneliness like standing for Christ by ourselves. The Christian who draws a line of separate distinction will make an impact on those without Christ. We cannot forget the imperial connection to Christ. Our citizenship is in heaven.
in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia
These are the names of the provinces to whom Peter wrote. They were Jews who had lived there for about 200 years.
These provinces are bounded on three sides by water. On the South is the Mediterranean, on the West by the Aegean Sea, and on the North by the Black Sea.
These provinces were in Asia Minor during the writing of I Peter. Christians in these provinces were about to go through great persecutions by Nero. The sixth verse talks about “manifold trials.”
God has called us to come alongside those without Christ to share our personal testimony.
The nature of the Christian’s life upon earth is only temporary. That is why God calls him a pilgrim. This world is not our home. We are merely pilgrims passing through this world. We are temporary residents upon the earth.
God has given us a more profound attachment than allegiance to our native country. Everything in this life is transitory. Christians are not to look at the things that are seen (2 Cor. 4:18). God wants us to fix our eyes on the eternal (Heb. 11:13-16). Soon we will pull up stakes and leave for another country (heaven).