Designation of the Readers in 1 Peter 1:1-2 -- By: D. Edmond Hiebert

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 137:545 (Jan 1980)
Article: Designation of the Readers in 1 Peter 1:1-2
Author: D. Edmond Hiebert


Designation of the Readers in 1 Peter 1:1-2

D. Edmond Hiebert

[D. Edmond Hiebert, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California.]

The salutation of 1 Peter conforms to the conventional three-point opening employed in first-century correspondence: writer, readers, greeting. Each of these three parts might be expanded according to the author’s purpose and the situation confronted. Peter expands each part and gives each of them a distinctive Christian content. But his major expansion is in connection with the designation of his readers. They are his chief concern in writing.

Peter’s lengthy designation of his readers presents certain problems for the interpreter. The passage is not beset with textual problems but contains some uncertainties concerning the intended connections in the language employed. The passage is here quoted in the American Standard Version as most adequately reflecting the order of the original: “To the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

In the original there is no definite article in this lengthy designation, implying that Peter is concerned with the spiritual character rather than the mere identity of his readers. In view of the difficult situation which they face, Peter’s “concern is to emphasize, in the most solemn manner, the supernatural vocation of his correspondents, which should be their sheet-anchor in their trials.”1 The entire designation constitutes a unit, but for purposes of study three points will be noted: the readers’ true

character (v. 1b), their geographic location (v. 1c), and the spiritual supports of the readers (v. 2a).

The Essential Character of the Readers

“To the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion” (v. 1b) renders three words in the original (ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς). The added place names make it obvious that specific groups of believers are in view, yet the absence of any article imparts a qualitative character,2 “to such as are….” That the terms are intended to have a figurative import seems obvious.

The interpreter at once faces t...

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