This Bible Study is part of the "1st and 2nd Peter" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
The Apostle Peter was one of the first disciples whom Jesus Christ called. Peter is a very interesting person, a very impetuous person, a person that lived life to the full.
Greetings! My name is Doug Winnail. I am a Regional Pastor with the Living Church of God. We are going to begin a series on 1 and 2 Peter, which are considered part of the general epistles. The Apostle Paul wrote epistles to the Corinthians, to the Romans and to the Galatians. Peter and James wrote general epistles-addressing a general audience. In this series, we are going to be looking at 1 Peter and 2 Peter.
The Apostle Peter was one of the first disciples whom Jesus Christ called. Peter is a very interesting person, a very impetuous person, a person that lived life to the full. He was a man who very quickly became the spokesman as well as the leader of the Twelve. Peter was the Apostle, you will remember, who jumped out of the boat and walked towards Jesus Christ. He seemed to like to try things. He was not afraid to try things. Peter was the disciple who pulled out his sword the night that Christ was being arrested, and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Peter was very impetuous. He was a person who acted with his emotions. Peter also denied Jesus Christ the night before He was crucified. But as we read the books of 1 and 2 Peter, it is interesting to see the change in Peter. In 1 Peter, we find a man who was very stable, a man who was writing to encourage another group of Christians.
Let's begin in verse 1.
1 Peter 1:1
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…
The author of 1 Peter is identified as the Apostle Peter. Some modern critics today suggest that this is a pseudonym-that it is not really Peter writing. But there really isn't any direct evidence to suggest that Peter did not write the book of 1 Peter.
The book of 1 Peter was accepted as an inspired book as early as the second century. Some feel the book was written from Rome around 62 AD. Their thought is that because Peter talks about persecution, and Nero's persecution was taking place in Rome at that time, the book was possibly written from Rome. However, Peter identifies the source of his writing in Chapter 5. He says he is writing from Babylon. Some critics today say that that is a cryptic reference to Rome. Yet Peter did serve in Babylon. Peter apparently traveled quite widely. He operated out of Antioch for a number of years. There is historical evidence to suggest that he was also in Gaul (modern France), in Germany and even in Britain. Peter apparently traveled quite extensively. But it is not really that critical where that book was written, because Peter does identify the audience to whom he is writing. In verse 1 it says he is writing to the pilgrims-or the strangers, those who are temporary residents on this earth. He is writing to Christians.
1 Peter 1:1
…To the pilgrims of the Dispersion [These would be Israelites that had been dispersed throughout the Middle East as a result of the captivities both for Israel and Judah.] in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
If you take your Bible and look at the maps in the back, you are going to see that these areas to which Peter is writing are in northern Asia Minor, along the southern edge of the Black Sea. It is interesting that Paul made most of his visits and wrote most of his letters to churches lying along the southern part of Asia Minor-modern Turkey. Peter is writing to a group of people from a different area than those Paul was writing to. All of these areas are the northern part of what is today modern Turkey. It is also interesting that this area of Asia Minor was an administrative area from Syria. If Peter operated out of Antioch-when Syria became powerful-they basically moved over into and took over some of the area in northern Asia Minor. Historically, when Syria was strong and they were allied with the Hittites, there was a lot of trade between Syria and the northern part of Asia Minor. It makes sense, if Peter was writing from Babylon or from Antioch, that he would be writing to people in this area, because it was normally connected, trade-wise and otherwise, with Antioch and Syria. This is the group of people he is writing to: not a specific church, but a whole series of churches. It does appear that Peter is writing during a time of persecution. He is encouraging people to stay firm, to stay solid in their beliefs.
1 Peter 1:2-3
…elect according to the foreknowledge of God [God is calling a group of firstfruits. So, this is the group He is talking to. Christians, today, are considered firstfruits.] the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit [Being set apart by the Holy Spirit.], for obedience [We are called to obey the Word of God.] and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ [for our forgiveness]: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [So, here he is talking about God's plan. It is part of the introduction to the letter.], who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope…
Christianity is not a dead faith. It is a very lively, living faith-looking forward to the coming of Jesus Christ and the establishing of the Kingdom of God on this earth. We have been begotten by God's Spirit to prepare for that.
1 Peter 1:4-6
[Also begotten] to an inheritance incorruptible [We are going to be made spirit beings. We are going to be made part of God's family.] and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while [Now, here, Peter is talking about the trials we will have in this life.], if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.
We are all going to have to deal with trials. Peter is addressing this to people who are being persecuted. Why are we being persecuted? Often we think, "We are becoming Christians, so why shouldn't our life go really great?" Peter explains…
1 Peter 1:7
[The trials come] 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.
God is calling us, but He wants to see if we are going to hold on fast to those things that are right and true. The only way He is going to know is to see how we do under trial.
1 Peter 1:8
[We look forward to the revelation of Jesus Christ] whom having not seen you love.
Peter, James and John saw Jesus Christ. But you and I, if we are called by God, have not seen Him, directly. But, we are going to have to believe, based on what we see and what we hear and what we read in the scriptures.
It is interesting that Peter-in both 1 and 2 Peter-emphasizes truth. He emphasizes facts-not feeling so much, but facts-real life things.
1 Peter 1:10
[It is] Of this salvation [that he has been talking about] the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.
The prophets such as Daniel and Isaiah and Jeremiah in the Old Testament didn't understand fully everything that they were inspired to write. But, as Peter mentions here, they wrote about things that would affect us in times to come.
1 Peter 1:11
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.
The prophets talked about Christ's coming. They talked about His trials and sufferings. If we walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we are also going to have trials to go through. But then, talking about the Old Testament prophets Peter proceeds on.
1 Peter 1:12
To them [the Old Testament prophets] it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us [Many of the things that they wrote about are coming true today. They were written to inspire us and also to inform us about what was going to come in the future.] 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.
Even as Paul mentions in his writings, God opens our minds to begin to understand the Bible by His Spirit.
With that introduction, Peter begins to move into the meat of his letter. He is writing to encourage Christians who are being persecuted.
1 Peter 1:13-15
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind [Prepare your minds for action. Turn on your spiritual alert mechanisms.], be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace [the unmerited pardon] that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children [This is our calling, to learn to obey the Words of God and to learn to benefit from learning to live that way.], not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance [before you were called]; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
Christians have to live differently. We can't just do everything that they do in the world. We can't just drift along with the crowd. We have been called to live a different life. Peter is encouraging his audience to do that.
1 Peter 1:17
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 [that is fearing God-not trembling, not fearing men, but fearing God.]; knowing that you were not redeemed [that is, bought back by Christ's sacrifice] with corruptible things [not with just physical money], like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers. [God calls Christians to come out of this world.] but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. [Here Peter is referring to imagery in the Old Testament in Exodus 12-where a lamb picturing the coming Jesus Christ who would suffer and die for us.] He indeed was foreordained [God planned for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the world [He knew that we would sin. He knew that we would need a Savior. Therefore, Jesus Christ's life was planned before He came.]…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. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently…
Keep in mind that Peter is talking to people that are being persecuted. He is saying that the essence of Christianity is to love one another-even when we are persecuted. When someone persecutes you, you have to ask yourself questions: how can I show this person love, how can I be forgiving and not judgmental or strike back at the person?
1 Peter 1:22-25
…in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
having been born again [The word here means being given a new birth or being begotten by God's Spirit; we will actually be born again spiritually-to become spirit beings at the resurrection. Peter, here, is talking about beginning a new life as a Christian-being begotten by God's Spirit and learning to use that Spirit.] having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible [that is, God's Spirit], through the word of God which lives and abides forever, [then he quotes the Old Testament] "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, But the word of the LORD endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Peter in this first chapter addresses scattered churches throughout the northern part of Asia Minor-churches that were being persecuted. He is telling them, "We have incredible promises that God has called us to." He says, "Gird up your mind. Stay focused on the Gospel that you understand. Make your lives holy, be examples and be lights to the world. This is the Gospel to which you were called."
In our next segment, we will pick up with the second chapter of 1 Peter.