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                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

                    Pilgrims Of The Dispersion (1:1)

INTRODUCTION

1. Throughout the New Testament, various phrases are used to describe
   those people of God who make up the Lord's church
   a. Individually, they are referred to as disciples, saints,
      believers, priests, Christians, etc.
   b. Collectively, they are called the church, the church of God,
      churches of Christ, the body of Christ, the temple of God, the
      family of God, etc.
   -- Each of these terms describe various relationships maintained by
      those who are Christians

2. An interesting phrase not commonly used in reference to the people of
   God is found in 1Pe 1:1, where Peter addresses "the pilgrims of
   the Dispersion"

3. A proper understanding of this phrase can be very beneficial, and 
   give us insight into:
   a. What the Christian life is
   b. An important responsibility expected of Christians
   c. Our true home, and goal in this life

[Let's start by...]

I. DEFINING "PILGRIMS OF THE DISPERSION"

   A. THE WORD TRANSLATED "PILGRIM" IS INTERESTING...
      1. Transliterated from Grk., it is parepidemos {par-ep-id'-ay-mos}
         which is a combination of three words:
         a. para - "alongside of"
         b. epi - "upon"
         c. demos - "used in Biblical Greek of the people of a heathen
            city" (Wuest)
      2. Here, then, is how Thayer defines the word...
         a. "one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to
            reside there by the side of the natives"
         b. "a stranger"
         c. "sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner"
         d. "in the NT metaph. in reference to heaven as the native 
            country, one who sojourns on earth:  so of Christians (1 Pe
            1:1)...of the patriarchs (He 11:13)."
      3. Another definition:  "One who stays in a place as a stranger or
         visitor; to describe Christians whose final citizenship is in
         heaven and who are regarded as temporary dwellers on earth."
         (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible)

   B. THE MEANING OF THE WORD "DISPERSION"...
      1. The Greek word is diaspora {dee-as-por-ah'}
         a. It is noun form of the verb diaspeiro
         b. Which means "to sow, to scatter seed"
      2. The term is found in Jn 7:35, and there it refers to the Jews
         who were scattered among the Greeks
         a. As a result of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities
         b. This has caused some to conclude that Peter was writing to
            Jewish Christians
         c. Who were living in the regions of Asia Minor (modern day 
            Turkey) - cf. 1Pe 1:1
      3. But there is good reason to believe that Peter was writing to 
         ALL the Christians, both Jewish and Gentile, who were scattered
         throughout Asia Minor
         a. Comments are made in this epistle that cannot be understood
            in reference to the original recipients being Jews - cf. 
            1Pe 1:14,18,20-21
         b. More likely, Peter employs terms once limited to the Jews, 
            but now applicable to all who are in Christ
            1) For example, terms like "elect" (1:2), "holy nation"
               (2:9), "people of God" (2:10)
            2) Even as Paul did:  "circumcision" (Php 3:3), "Israel of 
               God" (Ga 6:16)
      4. If this be so, then Peter implies by using the term "pilgrims 
         of the dispersion" that all Christians are:
         a. Pilgrims living in a world not their own
         b. Like scattered seed, spread out among those in the world

[With this understanding of the phrase, "pilgrims of the dispersion," we
can now draw insights that are implied by it...]

II. INSIGHTS FROM BEING CALLED "PILGRIMS OF THE DISPERSION"

   A. THIS PHRASE REVEALS WHAT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE REALLY IS...
      1. It is but a JOURNEY, begun when we first became Christians, 
         ending only when we reach our true destination
         a. This ought to affect our entire perspective on life
            1) It is not an end in itself
            2) Only a temporary trip toward our final destination
            3) Our homes, our jobs, take on a different meaning when 
               viewed in this light
         b. This ought to affect our perspective on death
            1) Not the end of life, but the end of our journey!
            2) Not the end of life, but the beginning of eternity in our
               true home!
      2. Embarked on this JOURNEY, we become like our spiritual father,
         Abraham
         a. Notice He 11:8-10, 13-16
         b. If this be our attitude towards this life...
            1) Then God is not ashamed to be called our God
            2) And we can honestly sing songs like "This World Is Not My
               Home"

   B. THIS PHRASE REMINDS US OF AN IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITY...
      1. Our responsibility as "pilgrims" is to be SEPARATE - cf. 1 Pe
         2:11-12
         a. We may be "in the world," but we are not to be "of the 
            world" - Jn 17:15-16; 2Co 6:14-7:1
         b. Remaining separate may cause some in the world to think we
            are strange - cf. 1Pe 4:3-4
         c. But Jesus said this would happen, even as it did to Him - 
            Jn 15:18-19
      2. Figuratively speaking, we should be like those foreign refugees
         now in our country:
         a. Who resist giving up their heritage, their language
         b. Who resist attempts to "Americanize" them and destroy their
            cultural traditions
      3. Can it be said of us who are Christians, that we are keeping 
         ourselves SEPARATE from the world?
         a. Are we allowing the world to influence our...
            1) Speech?
            2) Dress?
            3) Conduct?
         b. If we so, then we are no longer "pilgrims," but "naturalized
            citizens" of this world!
         c. Remember John's warning in 1Jn 2:15-17

   C. THIS PHRASE OUGHT TO REMIND US OF OUR TRUE HOME...
      1. Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly await our 
         Savior - Php 3:20-21
      2. We are to be looking for "a new heavens and a new earth" - 
         2Pe 3:13-14
      3. That is where we will find our true home, the CITY...
         a. "which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." 
            - He 11:10,16
         b. That is "the one to come" - He 13:14
         c. That "comes down out of heaven from God" - Re 21:1-22:5
         -- That is where we, who are now simply strangers and 
            foreigners scattered like seed in this world, will one day 
            be gathered together!
      4. Those who are truly "pilgrims" will think often of their true 
         home
         a. When my family lived in Taiwan, we thought often of our home
            in the states
         b. And so we will think often of our heavenly home, if we are
            truly "pilgrims of the Dispersion"!

CONCLUSION

1. Are we "pilgrims of the Dispersion"?  We are, if as Christians we...
   a. View our life here on earth as a journey in a foreign land!
   b. Keep ourselves separate from things in the world that would lead
      us away from God!
   c. View as our true home, the heavenly city God has prepared from
      those who confess they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth!

2. But you are NOT a "pilgrim of the Dispersion" if...
   a. You have not yet begun your spiritual sojourn by obeying the 
      gospel of Christ!
   b. Having done so, you allow the attractions of the world to 
      discontinue your journey and "settle down" in things which would 
      separate you from God!

Are YOU a "pilgrim of the Dispersion"?
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