Sojourners and Exiles

sojourners and exilesAlong with many biblical scholars, I am persuaded that Peter wrote his first New Testament letter to Jewish Christians. As such, 1 Peter 2:11 makes a lot of sense.

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

Jewish people, more than most, would understand the idea of being sojourners and exiles. One of the strongest Jewish traditions was to pass along their history orally. As they sat together as extended families—clans—the older members of the family would often retell, once again, the history (or at least part of the history) of their people. The point was to be sure that no one ever forgot what they had been through. Episodes like the enslavement in Egypt and subsequent exodus, as well as the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, were reiterated so that each generation would remember—and remember vividly—the details.

So, when Peter told the Jewish Christians to act like sojourners and exiles, they understood what that meant. The story-telling of their history had made alive to them what it was like to be exiled from their homes. They grasped the idea of being a sojourner in a land that was not their own. They could relate to the notion that home was somewhere else.

I’m not so sure we understand this as fully as those early Jewish Christians would have understood. But we should. This world is not our home. Since that’s true, we shouldn’t be caught up in “passions of the flesh,” things that pull us away from our relationship with Christ. In fact, according to the Apostle Peter, we should do whatever is necessary to avoid those things because they wage war against our souls.

We’re sojourners and exiles here. Don’t be caught up in things that are contrary to our real home.

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