First Peter is a letter to a people who have are called “elect exiles.” They are Christians, chosen by God, but exiled in the world. It is a book from God’s word that teaches us how to live out our faith in the midst of a culture where we are strangers. It is a book that reminds us of our identity as exiles in the world who have been chosen by God and saved through Jesus. 1 Peter is a letter from God, written through Peter, for a church that needs to learn what it means to be the church.
This letter comes from God through the Apostle Peter. This letter comes with apostolic authority and written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus, Peter is the second most prominent character in the gospels, and after Jesus and Paul, Peter is the next most mentioned New Testament character. He was the first apostle that Jesus called. He was in many ways the ‘ring-leader’ of the close-knit men who followed Jesus throughout his earthly ministry. From Peter we get some of the greatest highlights, along with some of the most embarrassing blunders in the New Testament. As you study 1 Peter, you’ll find that its human author was a man with first-hand experience of the depths of depravity as well as the heights of redemption.
What is the goal of 1 Peter?
This isn’t a hypothetical theological treatise written from an ivory tower to a group of academics who sit around all day theologizing about life. This letter comes from the furnace of trial and speaks to followers of Jesus about how we bear witness to the truth of the gospel in a culture where we are strangers and exiles. First Peter is a letter sent from God to lead us to Jesus. It’s a call for exiles, who have been called out of the world, to be the church in the world.
What are some other major themes in 1 Peter?
- Perseverance in trial
- Interacting with authority structures: in the nation where you are a citizen, in the marketplace in which you work, in the home is which you live.
- Perseverance in persecution
- Living as the church in a hostile culture
- Living as the church within the church community
- Church leadership
- Church unity
- Spiritual warfare
What’s the relation of 1 Peter to the rest of the canon of Scripture?
As a letter from one of the chief apostles, First Peter is a key witness in the canon. It has a unique place, in that it is a non-Pauline epistle. As a witness to a church bearing the burdens of persecution it somewhat resembles 1 Thessalonians, but it also gives some key texts on subjects that are paramount for living as the church in the world. Chapter 1 is one of the most complete soteriological chapters in the NT canon. Chapter 2 gives a great picture of the Christian’s identity in Christ and the practical implications of that. Chapter 3 continues the practical guidance as it instructs the Christian in the life of an exile in a culture that is wildly counter to a biblical value system. Chapter 4 gets wider in scope as it handles the way Christians interact in the church, even through persecution. Chapter 5 culminates the exile theme as it instructs on church leadership and calls the church to mission together in a world where Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion.