1 Peter

Peter knew that there would soon be persecution. So he reminded the people who read his letters about something important. He reminded them what it meant to be a Christian. And he used a variety of word pictures to do this. Peter was like the author of the letter to the Hebrews. He told his readers that Christians who suffer are special. This was because the same things happened to their Lord. But Jesus overcame, and they too would overcome.

Strangers (Chapter 1:1-21)

Peter greeted his readers. He called them ‘strangers in the world’ (1:1; 2:11). There were Jews who wanted to please God. Previously, they had to scatter to all the countries of their world. God's new special people were Christians. And, in the same way, they scattered too. They travelled to many nations, and they told people about Jesus. This present world was not their final home. God had chosen them (1:2). Christians (believers) now enjoyed new life in Christ (1:3).

But salvation is not just for this life. It is for the future (1:5, 11). Salvation means that God keeps special good things for us (1:4). Christians can expect great things (1:7). Future salvation is a necessary goal (1:9). There is the ‘gift of grace’ that will be ours (1:13). The prophets were expecting this salvation. The Holy Spirit spoke about it. The apostles declared it. And the angels desired to understand it (1:10-12).

Christians are like the Jews who left the land of Egypt. The people who lived in Egypt at that time did not understand moral and spiritual things (1:14). But God called his people to be holy (1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44-45). So they needed to sacrifice a young sheep at their special ceremony (1:17-21). The ceremony was called Passover. [Note: Read Exodus 12, which explains about the Passover. Jews today still have this ceremony every year.] The young sheep (lamb) had to die. And Christ died to save all those who put their trust in him. So Jesus was like a pure and perfect Passover Lamb (1:19). But God made Jesus alive again. And this fact encourages faith and hope (1:21).

Children (Chapters 1:22−2:3)

Christians have been ‘born again’ (1:3, 23). And their new life will show itself. There will be love for God's people (1:22). Their new life will also show itself in a love for God's word (1:23-2:3). This word gives life. It will always last. And it will always be alive. A believer's desire for God's word should be like a constant hunger. It will make sure that there is spiritual growth. It is the way to become a mature Christian.

Stones (Chapter 2:4-10)

Then Peter writes about the importance of the Christian group's common life. Believers are like priests who offer sacrifices. But Christian ‘priests’ do not offer young sheep. They offer spiritual sacrifices. Believers are also like ‘living stones’ in God's church. And Christ is the most important stone. God chose him. His enemies rejected him (2:4). But he is very dear to believers (2:7). Some ‘builders’ decided that they did not want him. And, for them, Christ becomes like a stone that makes them slip and fall (2:8-9).

There are wonderful names for God's people, the Jews. And now all these names are for Christians (believers) too. God chose us. We are God's priests. We are a holy nation. We belong to God (2:9). He has been very generous with his mercy to us (2:10).

Slaves (Chapter 2:11-25)

Christians are:

Slaves who are free (2:11-12). The people who read Peter's letters were slaves. Sin was their master. And everybody could see how God rescued them. They were proof of the gospel's power to change people.

Slaves who obey. Christians are good citizens. And this shows other people that they are serving God. They obey officials and judges (2:14-15). They respect all people (2:15-17). They honour the king (2:17). They serve their employers, even if they are bad (2:18-20).

Slaves who belong to Christ (2:21-25). Masters could be cruel to their slaves. And slaves could suffer even when they had done nothing wrong. Then they should remember all that Christ suffered. And this would help them. It would give them strength and courage. Christ was their ‘example’ or model (2:21. This word has a special meaning. The schoolteacher writes down the letters of the alphabet. And the child copies them.)

Jesus’ suffering was unfair (2:22). He was silent when people said bad things to him (2:23). He had confidence in God. And Jesus knew that he was suffering for a purpose (2:24). The effect of his suffering was powerful. It brought us back to God (2:25).

All these things should be the same for Christians today.

Partners (Chapter 3:1-7)

Peter had been explaining about Christian responsibility in:

  • the church (2:4-10)
  • the neighbourhood (2:11-12)
  • the nation (2:13-17)
  • the place of work (2:18-25).

Now Peter spoke about:

  • the home (3:1-6). And he referred to a certain situation. Perhaps a Christian wife had a husband who was not a believer. These wives must still accept their husbands’ authority. And they should do this ‘in the same way’ as Jesus did (3:1). Their lives must preach. Peter reminded the wives about two things. They had a moral responsibility. Their lives must be holy (3:2). Then, spiritual qualities were most important. They were more important than physical appearance (3:3-4). Peter reminded them about some women who were in the Old Testament. One of them was Sarah (3:5-6).

Husbands also had responsibilities to their wives. They should live with them in an understanding way. They should respect their wives. They should be sincere. And their behaviour should match what they believed. If it did not, it was a serious matter. It would hinder their prayers (3:7).

Sufferers (Chapters 3:8−4:19)

Peter now explained his main subject. It was what Christians think about suffering. (Read 3:14, 17; 4:1, 12-13, 16, 19.) At the beginning of his letter, Peter warned the people who read it. He told the Christians that they would have troubles. These troubles would test them. And they would find out if their faith was real (1:6-7). Believers should be those who make peace. They must not hurt each other. And they must not hurt anybody else (3:8-15).

Peter gave them advice about their times of trouble. They must not be afraid of people who make them suffer (3:14). Christ must always come first in their lives. People might ask them to explain about their hopes for the future. And they must always be ready to answer them (3:15). But they must answer them in a gentle way. It must be with respect too (3:16).

A Christian's suffering may be unfair. Christ suffered in a way that nobody else ever could. His suffering on the cross was unfair too (3:15-16). And a Christian who is suffering should remember this. Christ is the Lord who overcame. And he did something wonderful. He declared the benefits of his salvation to certain people. They were the people who had died before he came (3:19; 4:6).

Peter spoke about the salvation of a few people who lived in Noah's time. And he used this event as a sign of baptism. [Note: This is a Greek word. It means to put in or under water for a brief time. It is a ceremony]. The water does not wash away sin (3:2). It is Christ who saves us. He died and he became alive again. He returned to heaven. And he rules over all authorities and powers (3:20-22).

Believers should live in a new way now. This would show that they were refusing a life of sin (4:1-2). Other people would not understand this (4:3). They would say bad things about them (4:4). And believers must expect this. They must think about the future, when time will end (4:5-7). Believers must also: • love other people (4:8-9). • serve other people (4:10). • declare the truth. • have the strength that God gives. • bring honour to God (4:11).

All Christians must expect to suffer (4:12). We should think that this is a special privilege. We are sharing in Christ's suffering (4:13). We are happy because the Spirit is with us (4:14). We can trust God who made us (4:19).

Shepherds (Chapter 5:1-14)

Peter now spoke to Christian leaders. They must be like shepherds. The leaders were each responsible for a group of people. They must want to care for them (5:1-2). They must be humble (5:3-6). And they must give all their worries to God. God cared for them (5:7). But they must be careful. The devil (Satan) was their enemy (5:8-9). Their confidence must be in God (5:9-11).

Peter ended his letter with greetings. He praised his Christian ‘brother’, Silas (5:12). Maybe Silas wrote down the letter and delivered it. Peter also sent greetings from a Christian ‘sister’ (5:13). This probably referred to a local church; perhaps it was in Rome. The Christians there were having a hard time. (Read Revelation 18:2, 10.) Then he sent greetings from his Christian ‘son’. Mark was now a very different person (5:13. Read Acts 15:37-39).