Author: Peter the Apostle
Date Written: c. 60-68 AD
The apostle Peter, the first pope, writes this letter from
The letter begins with a celebratory description of God's mercy and salvation (1:3-12) into which we have been invited. Peter states the purpose of his letter when he calls his readers to be sober-minded and to fully set their hope on the grace of Jesus Christ (1:13).
We are to be holy as God is holy (1:15-16) because of the abiding word of God (1:23) which is the good news (1:25). Peter paints a picture of the Church as a house in which Christians are the "living stones" which make up the walls of the house (2:4-5) and Jesus is the cornerstone (2:7). Because of God's mercy, we have become a "holy nation" (2:9). Since we are holy, Peter exhorts us to live as good citizens, obedient to the laws of our governments and to do good for others (2:11-17). He teaches that our example of good living will prevent people from slandering us (2:12, 3:16) and cause them to be more receptive to the gospel. He gives specific teachings to slaves (2:18-25), wives (3:1-6), husbands (3:7) and to all believers (3:8-12).
One of 1 Peter's central teachings is that we should be ready to suffer for doing good. Christians should be ready to suffer persecution for the gospel (3:14, 4:14) or for simply doing good deeds (3:17). He even calls Christian slaves to humbly suffer injustice at the hands of their masters (2:18-19). He clarifies that it is unrighteous (and even unlikely) for anyone to inflict harm on a person for the good they do (3:13). Yet he wants the Christians in Asia to be ready for persecution, which is breaking out in the
Peter takes a few verses to specifically exhort presbyters-the pastors of the early Church. He follows his exhortation of presbyters immediately with a couple lines just for the youth (5:5). In the last section, Peter charges his readers to depend on God and to fight the spiritual battle (5:6-11). Finally, he recaps the purpose for the letter: to encourage the communities and testify to the truth of God's grace (5:12).
Peter teaches that the whole of salvation history was pointing to Jesus, so much so that he can say the Old Testament prophets served the New Testament Christians (1:11-12). Appropriate to this theme, Peter adopts Old Testament images for
By Mark Giszczak