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1 Peter Reading Guide

September 20, 202323 min read

1 Peter Reading Guide

You're about to embark on a journey through 1 Peter, a letter dripping with insights and depth that still echo in our lives today. Peter, writing to a community under duress, manages to weave hope, resilience, and foundational truths about our faith into his words. 

In exploring 1 Peter, we've leaned heavily on Jerry Vines' approach. His "7 Questions of 1 Peter" have been a valuable guide, helping us dig deeper into the key themes Peter touches on. From understanding salvation to grappling with suffering and the challenge of Satan, Vines' insights have been instrumental. While we've drawn from his wisdom, we encourage everyone to also dive into Peter's words personally, finding the messages that resonate most with your journey.

Setting the Stage: A Dive into the Historical and Cultural Context of 1 Peter

The Date & Setting:

The general consensus among scholars dates 1 Peter to the mid-60s AD. This places it within a particularly tumultuous period for the early Christians. If we were to pinpoint a specific year, many suggest around 64 AD, which aligns significantly with a devastating event: the Great Fire of Rome.

The Great Fire of Rome:

In the summer of 64 AD, a colossal fire swept through Rome, decimating much of the city. This wasn’t just any fire; it raged for six days and seven nights, consuming nearly three-quarters of Rome. The aftermath was chaotic, and the tragedy demanded a scapegoat. Emperor Nero, needing to divert blame for the catastrophe (amidst rumors that he had a hand in starting the fire), pointed fingers at the already marginalized and misunderstood group: the Christians. This led to one of the first major persecutions of the early Christian church. Brutal tortures, mockeries, and public executions became the order of the day for many believers.

Authorship - Peter: A Voice Amidst the Flames:

The letter's opening reveals its author: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ." This is the same Peter – once a fisherman, now a pivotal figure in the early church's foundation. Peter had grown from the impetuous disciple of the Gospels to a leader guiding and comforting believers during their tribulations.

The Audience - Diaspora Believers:

Peter addresses the "elect exiles of the dispersion" spread across regions of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). These believers, likely including many Gentile converts, found themselves in a minority position, both culturally and religiously. In a society increasingly hostile towards Christians, especially after the events in Rome, their status as "exiles" wasn't merely geographical but deeply societal.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (NKJV)

"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls."

1 Peter 1:3-9: The Assurance of Salvation

  • Verses 3-4: Peter bursts forth with praise to God, grounding us immediately in the abundant mercy of the Father. It’s through this mercy that believers are "begotten again" or "born again," which underscores the transformative nature of salvation. This isn’t just a one-time event; it points to a "living hope" made possible by the resurrection of Jesus. Further, this salvation isn't just spiritual or ephemeral. There's a tangible aspect – an "inheritance" that's incorruptible, pure, and enduring, stored securely in heaven.

  • Verse 5: God's role isn't passive after granting salvation. There's an ongoing protective aspect. Believers are "kept by the power of God" – emphasizing the Divine safeguarding of our faith. Salvation is now, but there's also a completeness, a fullness to it that will be "revealed in the last time."

  • Verses 6-7: Here, Peter gets real. Salvation doesn’t make one immune to life's challenges. Believers can and will face "various trials." But these aren’t senseless sufferings. They serve a purpose. Just as gold is refined and purified by fire, our faith gets tested in life's crucible. The outcome? A faith that emerges stronger, more genuine, and will result in "praise, honor, and glory" when Jesus is revealed.

  • Verses 8-9: The relationship between believers and Jesus is profound. Even without a physical sighting of Jesus, there's a deep-seated love and belief in Him. This faith brings about a joy that’s hard to put into words – it’s "inexpressible." And this faith journey, with all its highs and lows, culminates in the "salvation of your souls."

1 Peter 1:10-12 (NKJV)

"10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 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. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us 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."

1 Peter 1:10-12: Scripture

  • Verse 10: Peter takes us on a journey back in time to the prophets of the Old Testament. These individuals were not just passive recipients of God's word; they actively "inquired and searched carefully." Their prophecies, inspired by God, spoke of the "grace" that would eventually manifest in the coming of Christ. It's a compelling reminder that the message of salvation, realized fully in Christ, was not an afterthought but a central theme woven throughout the tapestry of scripture.

  • Verse 11: The prophets' inquiry wasn't always about seeking specifics. Sometimes it was about understanding the broader strokes – "what, or what manner of time." The "Spirit of Christ" was at work in them, revealing bits and pieces about the Messiah’s forthcoming sufferings and the subsequent glory. This speaks to the depth and richness of scripture; even those inspired to write it were pondering its mysteries and trying to fathom its full implications.

  • Verse 12: There's a sense of divine order and purpose in this verse. While the prophets played a crucial role in declaring God's word, they understood that their messages were not exclusively for their time but for future generations as well. The truths they conveyed were not solely for them but for "us" – pointing to Peter’s audience and extending to all believers. And it's not just the prophets who are eager to understand these truths; even "angels desire to look into" these matters. The gospel isn't just good news for humanity; it's a focal point of interest in the heavenly realms.

In these verses, Peter affirms the continuity and cohesion of God's message throughout time. The Old Testament prophets, led by the Spirit, laid the foundation

1 Peter 1:13-25 (NKJV)

"13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.' 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; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 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. 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because '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, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you."

1 Peter 1:13-25: Sanctification

  • Verses 13-14: Peter encourages believers to maintain a focused and disciplined mindset, reminiscent of a soldier preparing for battle by "girding up the loins." This readiness stems from anchoring one's hope on the grace we'll fully grasp when Jesus is revealed. Living in this hope influences behavior. Instead of being swayed by past desires, believers are called to live as "obedient children," indicating a process of growth and maturity.

  • Verses 15-16: The call to sanctification is unmistakably clear: "be holy in all your conduct." Holiness isn't just an abstract concept; it's a daily lived reality, mirroring the character of God Himself. Quoting Leviticus, Peter emphasizes that the same holy standard God set for the Israelites still stands for New Testament believers.

  • Verses 17-19: Recognizing God as the impartial Judge should inspire a reverent lifestyle among believers. The price of their redemption wasn't trivial. They weren't redeemed with perishable commodities but with the invaluable "blood of Christ." This realization places a profound responsibility on believers to live sanctified lives.

  • Verses 20-21: Christ's sacrifice wasn't an afterthought; He was "foreordained" for this purpose. His manifestation in the recent past has eternal implications, grounding the believer's faith and hope squarely in God.

  • Verses 22-23: Sanctification is evident in relationships. Having purified their souls by obeying the truth, believers are called to exhibit sincere, fervent love for one another. This new birth and the subsequent transformation are initiated by the incorruptible "word of God," signaling the power of scripture in the sanctification process.

  • Verses 24-25: Peter contrasts the transience of human life with the permanence of God's word. While human achievements fade, the "word of the Lord endures forever." This enduring word, the gospel, is the foundation for the believer's sanctified life.

1 Peter 2:1-12 (NKJV)

"1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, 'Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.' 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,' 8 and 'A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.' They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."

1 Peter 2:1-12: Separation

  • Verses 1-3: Peter starts by identifying behaviors and attitudes that believers must cast aside. Like infants who instinctively crave milk for growth, believers should earnestly seek spiritual nourishment from the "pure milk of the word." Peter's urging is based on a presupposition that they've experienced God's kindness, which should drive them towards further spiritual growth.

  • Verses 4-5: Christ, represented as a "living stone," is foundational to the believer's faith. While rejected by humanity at large, He remains invaluable to God. Believers, in turn, are likened to "living stones" too, collaboratively forming a spiritual edifice. This house is not constructed of bricks and mortar but of believers themselves, serving as a "holy priesthood" offering spiritual sacrifices.

  • Verses 6-8: Peter reaffirms the prophecies of old, signifying the importance and the foundational role of Jesus. While believers recognize His unmatched worth, others, especially those who reject the word, find Him as a "stone of stumbling." This division underscores the difference in perspective between the world and the faithful.

  • Verses 9-10: This section draws a stark line of distinction between believers and the world. They're "chosen," "royal," "holy," and unique. Peter alludes to their transformed identity: from nobodies to God's people, from those devoid of mercy to recipients of His grace. Their purpose? To declare the praises of God, showcasing the transformative power of His light in their lives.

  • Verses 11-12: As "sojourners and pilgrims" on Earth, believers are reminded of their transient nature. Their true home is elsewhere, reinforcing the concept of separation from worldly desires. Yet, even in this temporary residence, their conduct must remain unblemished. Not for personal gain but so that the non-believers, even in their accusations, may ultimately see God's glory through the honorable deeds of the faithful

1 Peter 2:13-3:13 (NKJV)

"13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. ... 3:1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, ... 7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing."

1 Peter 2:13-3:13: Submission

  • 2:13-17: Peter introduces the theme of submission by first addressing societal structures. He calls believers to submit to human institutions, not out of fear or obligation, but "for the Lord's sake." Such submission is an act of witness, demonstrating a life shaped by God's principles. Peter isn't suggesting blind allegiance, but a submission that recognizes the God-given purpose of governing authorities.

  • 2:18-25: The focus shifts to servants and their relationship with their masters. Peter encourages submission even in difficult circumstances, emphasizing the merit of enduring suffering for doing good. It's a call to mirror Jesus, who Himself suffered wrongfully, setting a precedent of righteous submission.

  • 3:1-6: Peter addresses wives, urging them to be submissive to their husbands, even those not following the word. It's not a call to vulnerability but a strategic approach, where righteous behavior might lead non-believing husbands to the truth. Peter cites the example of holy women from the past, showcasing the strength in godly submission.

  • 3:7: Husbands aren't left out of the equation. They're called to understand and honor their wives. The mutual respect between husband and wife is vital for their spiritual journey, as they're "heirs together of the grace of life." Disrespect could obstruct their spiritual communion, even hindering prayers.

  • 3:8-9: These verses encapsulate the heart of submission. It's not about subservience but cultivating a harmonious community. Love, compassion, courtesy, and unity are at the forefront. Instead of retaliating, believers are urged to bless, embodying Christ's principles in every interaction.

  • 3:10-13: These verses, borrowing from Psalm 34, offer truth: seeking peace and avoiding evil leads to a fulfilling life. It's another affirmation that the call to submission is not about oppression but pursuing a life in line with God's design.

In this passage, submission emerges not as a mere societal convention but as a reflection of God's nature and the structure He's instituted. Whether in the context of governance, employment, or marital relationships, submission, when practiced rightly, leads to harmony, witness, and blessing. Peter's overarching message is clear: submission, rooted in Christ's example, becomes an avenue of divine testimony in a world that often misunderstands the concept.

1 Peter 3:14-4:19 (NKJV)

"14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. 'And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.' 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; ... 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, ... 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, ... 12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. ... 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."

1 Peter 3:14-4:19: The Question of Suffering

  • 3:14-15: Peter begins with a comforting assertion: suffering for righteousness is a blessing. Rather than cowering in fear, believers are urged to set apart Christ as Lord in their hearts, ready to articulate their hope with gentleness and respect, even in the face of persecution.

  • 3:18: This verse forms the theological cornerstone for understanding Christian suffering. Christ's suffering was redemptive, bringing humanity closer to God. By reflecting on Christ's sacrifice, believers find purpose and meaning in their own experiences of suffering.

  • 4:1-2: Christ's suffering is presented as a model for believers. Just as He suffered and triumphed over sin, so believers, in facing suffering, can experience liberation from sin's grip. Suffering refines one's priorities, aligning them more closely with God's will.

  • 4:12-13: Peter addresses the surprise some believers might feel upon encountering suffering. Instead of viewing trials as unexpected anomalies, they are to be seen as participations in Christ's own sufferings. In the midst of trials, there's an invitation to rejoice, for suffering now paves the way for unsurpassed joy when Christ's glory is ultimately unveiled.

  • 4:14-18: These verses reiterate the blessing of suffering for Christ's name. Suffering, paradoxically, becomes a mark of the Spirit's presence. Peter contrasts the eternal outcomes of the believer's momentary afflictions with the dire fate awaiting those who reject the gospel. He underscores the importance of self-evaluation, emphasizing that judgment begins with the household of God.

  • 4:19: Concluding this section, Peter encourages those suffering according to God's will to entrust themselves to their Creator. Faithful endurance, complemented by a commitment to doing good, becomes the believer's response in the face of suffering.

In these verses, Peter reframes suffering. Rather than a random, meaningless ordeal, suffering for the sake of Christ becomes a transformative experience, tethering believers closer to their Savior and preparing them for eternal glory. By rooting the believer's experience in the redemptive suffering of Christ, Peter offers a profound perspective: suffering, when approached with faith and hope, becomes a means of deep spiritual growth and testimony.

1 Peter 5:1-7 (NKJV)

"1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

1 Peter 5:1-7: Shepherding

  • 5:1: Peter, positioning himself as a fellow elder, speaks with both authority and camaraderie. He has witnessed Christ's sufferings and looks forward to the shared glory that awaits, providing a foundation for his exhortation.

  • 5:2-3: The primary task of the elders is articulated here: "Shepherd the flock." The imagery of shepherding encapsulates guidance, protection, and nurturing. The call isn't to rule but to serve, ensuring that leadership is driven by genuine concern and not by external pressures, personal gain, or a hunger for dominance. The shepherd is to lead by example, embodying the principles they preach.

  • 5:4: The work of earthly shepherds is placed in the broader cosmic context. When Jesus, the "Chief Shepherd," returns, faithful leaders will be rewarded with an eternal, unfading crown of glory. This eternal perspective shapes the pastoral role, reminding leaders of their accountability to Christ.

  • 5:5: Peter shifts his focus to the younger individuals, urging them to submit to their elders. But he doesn't stop there; mutual submission is key among all believers. The fabric that binds this community is humility, an antidote to pride which can fracture relationships and obstruct God's grace.

  • 5:6-7: These verses offer a broader spiritual principle that's relevant for leaders and followers alike. Humility involves recognizing God's sovereignty and trusting His timing. Even in challenging pastoral situations or personal trials, believers can offload their anxieties onto God, taking comfort in the knowledge that He genuinely cares.

Peter's pastoral heart shines in this passage. He presents a model of leadership that's grounded in service, humility, and a keen awareness of the eternal implications of earthly ministry. The shepherd's role is not just about guidance but about embodying the very essence of Christ's selfless love. In doing so, they pave the way for a community where mutual respect, humility, and care thrive.

1 Peter 5:8-11 (NKJV)

"8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

1 Peter 5:8-11: Satan

  • 5:8: Peter wastes no time in his warning. He portrays the devil as a "roaring lion," emphasizing not just the devil's intent (to devour) but also his method: prowling, sneaky, and always on the lookout. The call for sobriety and vigilance is a call for spiritual alertness. Believers need to be awake, aware, and discerning in recognizing and combating the enemy's schemes.

  • 5:9: Resistance is the key response. Rather than succumbing to fear or defeat, believers are encouraged to stand firm in their faith. This resistance is not undertaken in isolation; there's comfort in knowing that believers worldwide face similar challenges. The enemy's tactics might be fierce, but they're not unique. The shared struggle against Satan fosters a sense of global camaraderie among Christians.

  • 5:10: Even in the midst of spiritual warfare, Peter brings the focus back to God's transformative work. There's a promise here: despite the hardships and the enemy's onslaughts, God's purpose is to refine and fortify believers. The journey might involve suffering, but the destination is one of perfection, stability, strength, and foundation in Christ.

  • 5:11: The doxology centers everything back to God. Despite the immediate threat posed by Satan, God's glory and dominion are eternal. This not only offers a perspective shift but also a source of hope. No matter how formidable the enemy may seem, God's power and majesty are unmatched.

The theme of Satan in this passage underscores the reality of spiritual warfare faced by believers. Yet, in typical Petrine fashion, the emphasis isn't just on the battle but on the Victor. Even as believers are called to awareness and resistance, they're reminded of God's redemptive and strengthening work in their lives. The battle may be fierce, but with divine assistance, victory is assured.

In a world that felt like it was up in flames, with the distant hum of Nero's Rome and its troubles, Peter penned words that resonate with believers across time. Maybe he had the great fire of Rome in mind or perhaps just the spiritual and societal fires his community faced; we can't be entirely sure. But, picturing Peter in that turbulent backdrop, it's like he's offering a clandestine gathering in the midst of Rome's bustling streets, sharing whispered wisdom. "Here," his voice steady amidst uncertainty, "is a way to navigate these trying times." 1 Peter gives a rallying cry for hope amidst despair, faith amidst doubt. As we pivot back to our own realities, we possess a hope, a resilience, rooted not in mere circumstances but in an unwavering faith. Find strength in unity and solace in shared hope.

William Hamilton

I am a humble follower of Jesus Christ, dedicated to sharing the truth of the gospel. As a writer and seeker of knowledge, I am continually learning and growing in my faith. With a passion for deep theological understanding and a heart for apologetics, I strive to articulate the message of God's love and grace with clarity and humility. Through my website, I aim to provide thoughtful and edifying content, offering insights into biblical truths, cultural issues, and the relevance of Christianity in today's world. My desire is to glorify God, make disciples, and point others to the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ.

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