An Overview Of The Book Of 1 Peter

Writer Of The First Letter Of Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:1, who was a witness to the sufferings of Christ, 1 Peter 5:1

Peter stated that he wrote his first letter by means of, or through, Silvanus, whose name was also Silas (cf. 1 Peter 5:12). Silas accompanied Paul on the second missionary journey to Macedonia. He was a close co-worker and assistant of Paul's. He was with Peter when the First Letter of Peter was written, as was John Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark and who also was an assistant of Paul's (cf. Acts 12:12; 12:25; 13:13; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11).

Just what part Silas played in the writing of the First Letter of Peter cannot be stated with any certainty. It has been suggested that Silas served as Peter's secretary. Perhaps. Some have thought that because Peter was a Jew from Galilee, he was more proficient in Aramaic than in Greek. Silas therefore served as Peter's translator. This seems less than likely, for the people within the Roman Empire were bilingual and even trilingual. They spoke the native language of their country, conversed in Greek which was the international language of commerce, and knew Latin which was the official, legal language of the Roman Empire. Whether Silas served as a consultant to Peter or wrote the letter following Peter's general instructions is also conjecture. If Silas in some way played a supportive, contributing role in the letter, it would seem proper for Peter to have included Silas' name in the greeting, which Peter did not do. Peter is the author of the letter as the existent greeting indicates.

Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew and became one of Jesus' first disciples (cf. John 1:40-42). He became a prominent member of the twelve disciples, being with James and John a member of the innermost circle around Jesus. He at times served as the spokesman for the group (cf. Matthew 16:15,16). He was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:1,2).

Peter showed that he was an impulsive man, however, as he did when he rebuked Jesus for intending to go to Jerusalem where Jesus would be rejected and killed (Matthew 16:21,22), and as he also did on the Mount of Transfiguration where he suggested building three tabernacles, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah (cf. Matthew 17:1-4; Mark 9:5,6; Luke 9:32,33). He also showed he was overly self-confident, asserting he would never deny Jesus, even if all the rest did. This proved to be an empty boast, for he denied knowing Jesus three times (cf. Matthew 26:33,34). Peter immediately repented of his sinful denial (cf. Matthew 26:74,75). After Jesus had risen from the dead, he reinstated Peter as his disciple and apostle (cf. John 21:15-19).

Peter again arose as a prominent member and spokesman of the apostles. Peter was the one who declared another apostle must be named to replace Judas Iscariot (cf. Acts 1:15-26). Peter was also the one who on Pentecost preached to the multitude, which resulted in 3,000 being added to the church of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 2:14-41). After healing the man who was lame from birth, Peter again preached powerfully to the crowd in the temple (cf. Acts 3:1-26), and stood boldly before the ruling council of the Jews when he was arrested with John and the other apostles (cf. Acts 4 & 5). Peter later actively spread the gospel of Jesus in Judea and Samaria (cf. Acts 9:32-12:24).

Toward the end of his life it appears that Peter went to Rome. Historical accounts indicate he died a martyr's death in Rome under Emperor Nero about the same time Paul was imprisoned in Rome for the second time before his martyrdom.

Recipients Of The First Letter Of Peter

To God’s elect sojourners scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 1 Peter 1:1

Peter addressed the recipients as strangers, sojourners, exiles in the diaspora, or dispersion. The term diaspora came into use during the Old Testament era after the Jews were taken as captives to Babylon, a time known as the Babylonian Captivity. Diaspora denoted those Jews who were dispersed and scattered among the nations away from their Jewish homeland of Israel.

Peter's use of the term diaspora has led some to think that he wrote to Jewish Christians, not to Gentile Christians. In support of their opinion they point to the fact that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles while Peter was the apostle to the Jews, as stated in Galatians 2:7-9. The internal evidence within the letter itself, however, indicates the recipients came from a Gentile background. Peter wrote of their evil desires and lusts of which they were formerly guilty in their spiritual ignorance (cf. 1 Peter 1:14). He stated that formerly they were not a people, but that then they had become the people of God who had received mercy (cf. 1 Peter 2:10). He noted that his recipients had already had enough time in the past to do what the pagan Gentiles did, and that the pagan Gentiles thought it strange that the recipients did not indulge with them in their sins (cf. 1 Peter 4:3,4). These facts indicate the recipients were Gentile Christians.

Peter's addressing them as strangers and exiles in the diaspora is to be understood figuratively, not literally for the Jews who were scattered among the nations. The Gentile Christians were strangers, aliens, and exiles in this world away from their true homeland, which was with the Lord in heaven. They were foreigners in a land and world to which they did not belong. They were in the world but not a part of the world, for their true citizenship was in heaven, as Paul also told the Philippians (cf. Philippians 3:20).

The Gentile recipients lived in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia (Minor), and Bithynia. These were provinces of the Roman Empire in what is now the country of Turkey. On his first missionary journey Paul brought the gospel of Christ to the province of Galatia, establishing congregations in Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, as well as in nearby Pisidian Antioch (cf. Acts 13:13-14:23). On his second missionary journey Paul wanted to go into Bithynia, which was to the north of Galatia, as well as into Asia Minor, which was to the west of Galatia. But the Holy Spirit forbid Paul to do mission work in those places, because he wanted Paul to cross over the Aegean Sea into Macedonia and Europe (cf. Acts 16:6-10). Paul never did go to Bithynia or neighboring Pontus, but on his third missionary journey he worked in Ephesus for more than two years, which was the leading city of Asia Minor.

During the 15 years or so that elapsed from the time of Paul's first missionary work in Galatia to the time Peter wrote his first letter, Christianity spread from Galatia to the northern provinces of Pontus and Bithynia. Whether from Galatia, or Cilicia, or both, Christianity had also spread into the eastern province of Cappadocia. It is apparent that Christianity and the gospel spread quite rapidly due to an intense missionary zeal within the early Christians.

Place Where The First Letter Of Peter Was Written

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:13, “She in Babylon, chosen together with you, and my son Mark, greet you.” “She” designates the church where Peter was at when he wrote his first letter. That church was located in Babylon. Babylon is not to be understood literally. The great city of ancient Babylon was destroyed by the Medes and the Persians centuries earlier. Among the Jews “Babylon” stood for a great seat of political power that was an enemy hostile to God's people. It seems relatively certain that Peter used the name of Babylon for Rome, which was the great seat of political power that was hostile to God's people, the Christians who confessed Christ. This being the case, Peter wrote his first letter in Rome.

Date Of The First Letter Of Peter

There is no reason not to believe that later in life Peter did go to Rome and died a martyr's death there. The persecution to which the recipients of Peter's letter were being subjected does not appear to have been a part of the persecution initiated by Roman Emperor Nero in A.D. 64. This suggests Peter's first letter was written before A.D. 64. It is thought Peter may have written it around A.D. 62 and after Paul was released from his first imprisonment in Rome. It seems probable that Peter wrote his first letter sometime between A.D. 62 and the spring of A.D. 64.

Occasion For The Writing Of The First Letter Of Peter

The circumstances that led Peter to write his first letter cannot be cited definitively. No particular situation or event that prompted his writing is known.

The internal evidence within the letter indicates the recipients were suffering persecution for their faith. Peter referred to it as a fiery ordeal and painful trial (cf. 1 Peter 4:12). Since Peter wrote that his readers should not be surprised at the ordeal they were suffering, which they thought was strange, the persecution may have begun not long before Peter wrote his letter. They were being maliciously slandered for living their faith in Christ (cf. 1 Peter 3:16) and insulted because of the name of Christ (cf. 1 Peter 4:14). They had already suffered grief in all kinds of trials (cf. 1 Peter 1:6). “Suffering” is a key word that is often repeated in the letter. Thus it seems that Peter wrote to encourage them in their faith, holding before them the hope that was theirs in Christ so they might persevere and endure the trials they suffered.

It has been suggested that Paul may have urged Peter to write the letter just before Paul left from Rome to do missionary work in Spain in the spring of A.D. 64, which has been suggested as the probable date. If Paul did urge Peter to write the letter before leaving for Spain, this would date the letter around the spring of A.D. 64. It has been thought that Paul learned of the persecution and suffering of the Christians in the areas in which he had worked extensively on his first and third missionary journeys. Before leaving for Spain he therefore asked Peter to write a general letter that could be circulated among the Christians in the areas of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and Bithynia. This suggestion has some support in the fact that Silas, Paul's co-worker, played some part in the writing of the letter, and John Mark, another co-worker of Paul's, was present when the letter was written (cf. 1 Peter 5:12,13). Perhaps Silas was present with Paul and Peter when they discussed and planned what the content of the letter should be.

Purpose Of The First Letter Of Peter

To encourage the suffering Christians within Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and Bithynia to stand firm in the true grace of God, 1 Peter 5:12

Theme Of The First Letter Of Peter

Born To A Living Hope

Outline Of The First Letter Of Peter

Part 1: Greeting, 1 Peter 1:1,2

A. From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:1

B. To the Christians scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 1 Peter 1:1

1. Who are strangers and aliens in the world, 1 Peter 1:1

2. Who are the elect chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to an obedience of faith in Jesus Christ and in his redeeming blood, 1 Peter 1:1,2

Part 2: Born To A Living Hope To Rejoice, (A Doxology, Hymn Of Praise) 1 Peter 1:3-12

A. Born to a living hope, 1 Peter 1:3-5

1. Caused by God the Father according to his great mercy, 1 Peter 1:3

2. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3

3. To an eternal inheritance that is reserved in heaven for you, who through faith are protected by God's power for the salvation that will be revealed in the last time, 1 Peter 1:4,5

B. In this living hope you rejoice, 1 Peter 1:6-9

1. In the midst of the grief you have suffered due to all kinds of trials, 1 Peter 1:6

2. Those trials serve as a test to prove the genuineness of your faith, 1 Peter 1:7

a. Which will result in praise when Jesus is revealed in glory, even though you have not seen him but do joyfully love and believe in him, 1 Peter 1:8

b. Which obtains in the end the salvation of your souls, 1 Peter 1:9

C. About this hope of salvation to which you were born the prophets spoke, 1 Peter 1:10-12

1. The prophets spoke of this grace, 1 Peter 1:10

2. The prophets themselves carefully searched their own prophecies, seeking to learn about the person and time of Christ to which the Spirit was pointing when he predicted Christ's sufferings and the glory to follow, 1 Peter 1:10,11

3. It was revealed to the prophets that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things you have now come to know through the preaching of the gospel, which things the angels long to look into, 1 Peter 1:12

Part 3: Born To A Living Hope For Holy Living, 1 Peter 1:13-4:6

A. As obedient children of God, 1 Peter 1:13-2:3

1. Therefore, because you have been born to this living hope, 1 Peter 1:13

a. Prepare your minds for action, 1 Peter 1:13

b. Be self-controlled, sober in spirit, 1 Peter 1:13

c. Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus comes in glory, 1 Peter 1:13

2. As God's obedient children:

a. You Gentile Christians, do not be conformed to your former evil desires which you had when you were spiritually ignorant. Rather, be holy in your living as God himself is holy, 1 Peter 1:14-16

b. Live your lives in reverent fear as strangers on earth, 1 Peter 1:17-21

b.1 Knowing your heavenly Father judges each person's work impartially, 1 Peter 1:17

b.2 Knowing you were redeemed with the precious blood of the holy, perfect Christ, who appeared in these last times for your sake so that your faith and hope are in God, 1 Peter 1:18-21

c. Love one another deeply from the heart, 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

c.1 Because you have been born spiritually by the living and enduring Word of God which was preached to you, 1 Peter 1:22-25

c.2 Therefore rid yourselves of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander, 1 Peter 2:1

c.3 And crave the Word of God in its truth and purity for your spiritual growth, now that you have sampled the Lord's goodness, 1 Peter 2:2,3

B. As the new people of God, 1 Peter 2:4-10

1. Having come to the Living Stone, Jesus Christ, you are living stones who are being built into a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer sacrifices acceptable to God, 1 Peter 2:4-6

2. To you believers Jesus is a precious Stone, but to the unbelievers Jesus is a Stone over which they stumble and fall, 1 Peter 2:7,8

3. You believers are God's chosen people, kings and priests, a holy nation to proclaim the excellencies of God who called you out of spiritual darkness into his marvelous light of the gospel and life, 1 Peter 2:9

4. You Gentile Christians were formerly not the people of God, but now you are the people of God who have received his mercy, 1 Peter 2:10

C. As aliens and strangers in the world, 1 Peter 2:11-4:6

1. Abstain from your sinful desires to live such good lives among the pagan Gentiles that, though they slander you as evildoers, your good lives will compel them to glorify God on the day of judgment, 1 Peter 2:11,12

2. Live such good lives as subjects to your governing authorities, which is God's will that you may silence the ignorant talk of those who foolishly accuse you, 1 Peter 2:13-17

3. Live such good lives as slaves who respect your masters, even the masters who are harsh and subject you to unjust suffering, 1 Peter 2:18-25

a. When you bear such unjust suffering for God's sake, it is commendable, 1 Peter 2:19,20

b. To such unjust suffering you were called, because Christ suffered unjustly to save you when he bore our sins and died, so you would die to sins and would live for righteousness, 1 Peter 2:21-25

4. Live such good lives as married spouses, 1 Peter 3:1-7

a. Live such good lives, you wives, by being submissive to your husbands. If your husbands are unbelievers, win them over without a word by means of your chaste, respectful behavior and your gentle, quiet spirit, which are your true beauty, 1 Peter 3:1-6

b. Live such good lives, you husbands, by living with your wives in an understanding manner and by honoring them as fellow heirs of God's grace, so your prayers will not go unanswered, 1 Peter 3:7

5. Live such good lives among your fellow Christians, by being harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, compassionate, and humble; rather than repaying evil with evil and insult with insult. Do this for you were called to inherit a blessing as Psalm 34:12-16 states, 1 Peter 3:8-12

D. Live such good lives, for no one will harm you when you are eager to do good, 1 Peter 3:13-4:6

1. Should you suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed: 1 Peter 3:14

a. When you set apart Christ as Lord, 1 Peter 3:15

b. When you are ready to give the reason for the hope that is yours, 1 Peter 3:15

c. When you keep a clear conscience, so those who maliciously slander you may be put to shame, 1 Peter 3:15,16

2. Should you suffer for doing what is right, if this is God's will for you, you follow in the footsteps of Christ, who being the righteous one died once for the sins of us unrighteous ones to bring us to God, 1 Peter 3:17,18

a. When he had been put to death in his earthly body and made alive in his glorified spiritual body, he descended into hell to proclaim his victory to the spirits who had not believed the gospel of God's grace in the days of Noah, 1 Peter 3:18-20

b. But as the flood waters lifted up the ark to save Noah and his family, so baptism saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at God's right hand in heaven, 1 Peter 3:20-22

3. When it comes to suffering, arm yourselves with the attitude of Christ, 1 Peter 4:1-6

a. He who has suffered in his body is done with sin to live the rest of his life to do the will of God, 1 Peter 4:1,2

b. You Gentile Christians have already had enough time in the past to do all the wicked things the pagan Gentiles choose to do, 1 Peter 4:3

c. Those pagan Gentiles think it strange that you do not join them in indulging yourselves in their sins of dissipation. Thus they heap abuse on you, but they will be judged by God, 1 Peter 4:4,5

d. The gospel was preached to those who were spiritually dead, so that though they are judged according to men, they might live in the spirit to God, 1 Peter 4:6

Part 4: Born To A Living Hope For Living In The End Time, 1 Peter 4:7-5:11

A. Be sound in judgment and self-controlled for the purpose of praying, 1 Peter 4:7

B. Love one another by covering one another's many sins and by being hospitable without grumbling, 1 Peter 4:8,9

C. Employ your gifts in serving one another as good stewards, 1 Peter 4:10,11

D. Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal you are suffering as a testing of your faith, nor think it strange, 1 Peter 4:12-19

1. To the extent you share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice because the Spirit rests on you and be not ashamed for suffering as a Christian 1 Peter 4:13-16

2. It is time for judgment to begin with the family of God. What then will the judgment be for the unbelievers? 1 Peter 4:17,18

3. Let those who suffer entrust their souls to God, 1 Peter 4:19

E. In your congregation:

1. You pastors shepherd your flocks willingly with eagerness as examples, 1 Peter 5:1-4

2. You young men be subject to your pastors, 1 Peter 5:5

3. All of you be humble toward one another, 1 Peter 5:5

4. Humble yourselves under God's almighty power and put your worries in his hand, for he cares for you, 1 Peter 5:6,7

5. Be self-controlled and alert for the devil, who wants to destroy you, 1 Peter 5:8-11

a. Resist the devil by standing firm in your faith, knowing your fellow Christians are suffering the same kind of trials, 1 Peter 5:9

b. After you have suffered for a little while, God will sustain you, 1 Peter 5:10,11

Part 5: Conclusion

A. Through Silas, I, Peter, have written to you to encourage you to stand fast in this grace of God, 1 Peter 5:12

B. Greeting, 1 Peter 5:13,14

C. Closing benediction, 1 Peter 5:14