Why does the message of the gospel come to sinners? The answer to this question is found in the heart of God – he desired to show mercy. Sometimes the idea of mercy in the Bible is similar to the concept of mercy that is generally accepted today, that of showing compassion to the needy. For example, we send people on mercy missions to disaster areas. We now use the term ‘mercy’ in reference to supply of needs. That is not the meaning that Peter has in mind when he says that his readers received mercy.
The other meaning of mercy in the Bible is the idea of a sovereign showing clemency, of bestowing pardon on those who had rebelled against him. This is the aspect that Peter is referring to here. His readers had been pardoned by God and restored to fellowship with him. Peter is describing a change of state, a change of relationship with God.
It was not sufficient that God would merely desire mercy for them. In addition, he had to provide them with mercy. They could experience mercy because the penalty for their sins had been dealt with by the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus. The outcome was that they had become God’s people (v. 10). Even although they were not yet living in heaven, Peter’s readers belonged to those who would yet experience life there.