1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims [aliens along side; to make oneself at home along side] of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
The letter of 1 Peter is intended to be a letter of encouragement to struggling Christians. Imagine yourself going through a painful ordeal (emotionally, physically, spiritually).
Take for example someone going through physical therapy after having a knee replaced, or shoulder surgery; the therapy is not easy or painless. The therapist is there not only to aid you so that you will know what is good to do and what you should not do, he or she is there to encourage you. When it is painful, or uncomfortable, we are tempted to quit. It is easier to not do anything that is going to make us uncomfortable. However, if we want to gain full use of the arm or the knee again, the therapy is absolutely necessary. Because it is painful we need an incentive and encouragers to help us endure.
That's what Peter is doing in this book, both to the saints in those cities mentioned in verse 1 and to the saints that live today in troublesome times or situations. He is giving us an incentive and being an encourager. The incentive is amazing: 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. His words of encouragement are found throughout the epistle, but I wanted you to see that he begins the letter with encouragement that is just as amazing as is the incentive.
In verse 2 Peter describes the Christians as being "elect." In others words, they were chosen by God because they were His favorite. He says they were "elect according to the foreknowledge of God." A lot of confusion has been caused because people have tried to make this say something it does not say. In Matthew 22:14 Jesus said that "Many are called but few are chosen." All people are called to come away from sin, but only a few actually do that. Those who answer the call are the ones that God choses ... they are His favorite. God loves all humans, but only those who make the choice to come away from sin can be saved. They are the elect. It is not by some arbitrary decision that God chooses. Before the foundations of the world were laid God had devised a means whereby men could be saved from sin. Any who choose to come to Him by means of the way, the truth and the life (Jesus) are those who are chosen by God. Peter wants to remind the Christians, "Don't forget that God chose you. You are His favorite." He is encouraging us.
He also says that those who are God's chosen are those who are sanctified by the Spirit. It's really another way of saying the same thing. Those who are made holy by the Spirit, those who are sprinkled by the blood of Christ, are those who have heard the message of the Spirit and have chosen to be molded by it. If I hear that I am to give up a life of fornication because it is sin and sin cannot be where God is, I then have a choice to believe that or not. If I believe it and do what the Spirit teaches is necessary to be cleansed of that old life, I am sanctified by the Spirit. That sanctification is something that takes place at our conversion and continues throughout our lives. The Spirit, through His teaching and our submission to it exchanges the old sinful spirit for a new spirit recreated in the image of God. That is who you are. The chosen ones of God who have been made holy. Because that is who you are, you can do this. Nothing is too hard, too painful. "You can do this!" What a great message!