Peter addressed the first of his two letters to the eklektoi (“those whom God has chosen . . . and drawn to himself,” BDAG) who were living as refugees throughout the provinces. The Chosen — how good that sounds. Those selected from the human race and placed in a special relationship with the One who spoke our universe into existence (Ps 33:9 NLT). What a privilege! What a remarkable favor! Imagine, Chosen by God!
But wait, chosen for what? When we look at the Greek text we notice that the first two verses of chapter 1 form one sentence. We were chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God.” That was his basis for choosing. But be careful with that word “foreknowledge.” It is not so much God knowing something ahead of time (although that is certainly true from our standpoint) as it is a way of saying that since God is not trapped in what we call time, he lives in an eternal now. To speak of his “foreknowledge” is our way of describing sequence in a timeless universe.
But for what purpose did God choose us? That’s made clear as the verse continues — we were chosen “for obedience.” That’s what God had in mind when he chose us. It wasn’t to grant us some special favor, but to enable us to live out our lives in conformity with his nature. We were chosen to obey. Freedom allowed us to disobey but election placed us in a relationship where obedience is to be the primary characteristic of our new life in Christ.
Unfortunately, in many contexts obedience has a bad name. Did God choose us so we would have to give up all the fun things in life? No, that’s not the God who made himself known in Christ Jesus. Disobedience is a crafty form of Satan-assisted suicide, but obedience is the sure path to happiness. It is a map of this world’s minefield so we can safely make it through in time for the great Festival of the Lamb.