The First Epistle of Peter

The disciple Peter’s first letter was written for him by the more educated Sivanus (Silas) early in the 60’s A.D. It was written to brethren in areas of Asia Minor who would soon be suffering persecution in the same way the Christians were in Rome, to give them encouragement to stand firm and to live out their lives as Christians in a hostile world. These two themes are interwoven throughout Peter’s letter.

Faith and a living hope

[1] Peter praises God for His grace in selecting, through foreknowledge, those to be born again and saved through faith, having a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, who are able to rejoice at sufferings, for sufferings refine His people in readiness for the salvation of their souls. These things were foretold by the prophets and fulfilled in Christ. Christians are exhorted to live a holy life, having been redeemed from their former ways by the sacrifice of Christ, and to live according to the gospel, which is the everlasting truth.

A spiritual house; Submission to authority

[2] God’s word is the food for spiritual growth, enabling Christians to be the living stones that form the spiritual house, which is the church. In this house, God’s people are a holy priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices in praise and worship to the one who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. Christians should bear witness by submission to authority, not being seen to be unlawful and thereby inviting criticism from unbelievers. Servants, or slaves, likewise should submit to their masters, even if they are treated unjustly, as this was the example of Christ who suffered for all without just cause.

Wives and husbands; The duty of all Christians

[3] Wives should submit to their husbands. In doing so, husbands who sin will be won over by their pure conversation and their meek and quiet spirit. Husbands are to honour their wives as equal heirs to God’s grace, lest their prayers be hindered. All Christians are called to love one another, displaying the fruits that love brings, and to seek peace. This will favour the eyes of the Lord and open His ears to prayer. Expect to suffer for your faith and be prepared to answer those who are puzzled concerning the hope that is in you. Take care your sufferings are for doing good rather than evil, for Christ once suffered for the sins of all that He might bring them closer to God, having been put to death in the flesh, then brought to life by the Spirit and is now at the right hand of God.

Living and suffering for Christ

[4] Christians should arm themselves with the mind of Christ, considering a life according to the flesh to be in the past, regardless of peer pressure, for all must give account to God as judge. Conduct yourselves with a view that we are in the end times, being prayerful, loving, hospitable and serving with the proper use of God’s gifts. You should not be surprised that you have to suffer, but rejoice that you are worthy to be partakers of Christ’s sufferings. Nevertheless, beware that your suffering is for Christ’s sake and not for your own wrongdoings.

Conduct of elders and young men; Final greetings

[5] Elders are to teach and oversee willingly and with humility. Younger brethren are to submit themselves to their elders, treat one another as equals and with humility, and guard against the influence of the Devil. Remain steadfast in the faith, knowing your brethren throughout the world also suffer the same afflictions. Final greetings and a blessing are then given.
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