Background Information on the BOOK OF 1st PETER
The author of this epistle clearly identifies himself as “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1). Although this claim has been accepted throughout church history, some scholars have questioned Peter’s authorship, suggesting that the book’s excellent literary style seems too advanced for a Galilean fisherman. However, Luke states that Peter’s impact on the religious leaders was impressive (Acts 4:13). After his thirty years of ministry, Peter’s usage of the language certainly should have improved and his presentations could well have become more polished. Some suggest that Silvanus acted as Peter’s amanuensis or secretary, recording his message (1 Peter 5:12). The early church fathers maintained that the epistle was composed by the apostle himself. There is no compelling reason to deny Petrine authorship.
In this letter, Peter referred to serious persecution as imminent (1 Peter 1:6, 7). Therefore, many scholars feel that the book was written just prior to the persecutions of Nero, which began in A.D. 64. Evidently, persecutions had already begun in some parts of the Roman Empire and in Rome in particular, if “Babylon” is used symbolically for the Roman capital (1 Peter 5:13, note). First Peter was probably written in A.D. 63-64.
Setting: Trials were common to first-century Christians. The Book of Acts testifies that Christians were slandered, defamed, boycotted, mobbed, imprisoned, and even killed because of their faith. Public suspicion and antagonism escalated with time. Christians believed in a Messiah, Jesus the King, who would someday return to establish His kingdom on earth. This idea made rulers nervous. They viewed Christians as a potential menace to the security of the empire. The first official persecution was instigated by Nero, who blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome in A.D. 64. The government forthwith instituted regular proceedings against Christians so that it became a criminal offense to bear the name of Christ in many quarters of the empire. One historian records that Christians were slaughtered, with public approval, for the alleged crime of promoting hatred of the human race. Peter wrote this epistle just prior to the outbreak of the Neronian persecution. He was acutely aware of the ever increasing antagonism toward Christians and anticipated that the situation would worsen. His foresight was correct. Both Peter and the apostle Paul were subsequently tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus, according to early church tradition. Peter is said to have been crucified upside down.
Purpose: In view of the start of government-sanctioned persecution, the rising opposition from the surrounding pagan world, and the everyday hostility from unsaved neighbors and family, Peter wrote to give Christians counsel on how to live in difficult times. He desired that they follow Christ’s example (1 Peter 2:21) and that the life of Christ might become evident in their godly response to opposition and trial (1 Peter 4:16). He encouraged them to focus on the eternal (1 Peter 1:3-9). Peter wanted Christians to be prepared to give an answer when their faith was attacked and when they faced trials as a result of trying to live out their Christian faith in the everyday world (1 Peter 3:15).
Audience: The letter is addressed to the “pilgrims of the Dispersion” (1 Peter 1:1). This common designation was applied to Christian Jews scattered by persecution throughout the Roman Empire. Peter applied it to converted Gentiles who had similarly been scattered (1 Peter 2:9, 10). The letter was to be circulated through Pontus, Galaita, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia – the region now known as Turkey.
The theme of 1 Peter is summarized: “I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand” (1 Peter 5:12). “Grace” (Gk. charis, lit. “favor”) is a common theme in Peter’s letter (1 Peter 1:2, 10, 13; 3:7; 4:10; 5:5, 10, 12). Some have defined “grace” through the acrostic:
Interwoven with the theme of grace is a second theme of encouragement in suffering. God gives grace to believers, particularly in the midst of suffering and difficulty.
1st Peter Chapter 1
Greeting to the Elect Pilgrims
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the pilgrims 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.
A Heavenly Inheritance
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.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.
Living Before God Our Father
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
The Enduring Word
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
February 10 Devotional 1st Peter 1
1. Before beginning the book of 1 Peter- it is important to understand to whom Peter is writing and why. Read the background information provided at the beginning of this blog and list the answers below:
Peter is writing to the “pilgrims of the Dispersion”- Explain whom this group represents:
Explain Peter’s purpose for writing:
2. In verse 2 Peter tells the recipients his prayer for them: “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” ‘Grace’ is a common theme in 1 Peter.
Peter also hoped that the recipients would have a greater amount of peace than they currently were experiencing. What a great prayer for each of us. Take a moment and pray that God’s peace would be multiplied in your life. What else could you use an extra dose of today- spend time praying for extra hope, extra wisdom, extra guidance or direction, extra patience, extra comfort…
Write out your prayer below:
3. Reread verses 5-9. What is the word ‘this’ in verse 6 referencing? In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials…
What do we need to remember when we go through difficult times? What could happen if we forget ‘THIS’?
4. Verses 13-16 remind us that endurance is a mental battle. 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
What happens when we lose the mental battle? Can you give an example of a time where you have struggled mentally and the results that took place?
1. Pray for yourself and others in need that they will be strong through trials