The Book of 1 Peter, nestled between James and (you guessed it) 2 Peter toward the back of the New Testament, is perhaps not as widely read as some of the Pauline epistles, like Romans. But this five-chapter book is packed full of applicable and practical advice for Christians today, whether church members, pastors, husbands, or wives.
Peter wrote this, his first letter, to the pastors of congregations in the Roman province of Asia Minor. These congregations were new, made up largely of Gentiles, and were suffering significant persecution because their new lives in Christ were starkly different from the lives they used to live—the lives their neighbors, family, and friends still lived in the corrupt culture around them. Paul encourages these people to hold fast to their faith and continue to do good works despite the hate around them.
The Book of 1 Peter was written by the apostle Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles—the one who walked on water, cut off the guard’s ear, and denied Jesus three times. Though he identifies himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ” in 1:1, he later identifies himself with the pastors to whom he writes—“I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder”—in 5:1 (emphasis added).
There is, however, some controversy about whether Peter actually wrote this book. Because of the excellent Greek writing style, some doubt that Peter, a (likely uneducated) fisherman, could have written it. Despite this doubt, most scholars still ascribe authorship to Peter based on early Christian testimonies.
Peter wants to encourage pastors who are watching over and nurturing their congregations through difficult times of persecution and suffering. He instructs and offers comfort to the Lord’s people as they endure persecution for the sake of righteousness.
This letter is for the Church at large, too, not just pastors. It offers us great comfort and hope when we pass through our own times of suffering—especially when we are being persecuted for the faith—and reminds us to pray for our fellow Christians who are undergoing persecution.
We, today, often struggle to either (1) live out a godly life or (2) live among people whose lives are drastically different than ours. We face judgment, scrutiny, and temptation. But in this letter, Peter reminds us that we are called to “not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1:14–15).
In the midst of persecution and temptation, we are called to remember our baptism, which “now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (3:21).
The most practical part of Peter’s first letter is the one we perhaps like to gloss over—the passages that have the “taboo” word submit. Despite our usual resistance to submission, Peter calls all Christians to submit to the necessary authorities based on His order of creation that has been corrupted by sin. A deeper reading of this passage reveals that submission is a delight and joy when we view it through Christ!
1 Peter 1:17–19
“And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
1 Peter 2:9–10
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:24
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 3:18
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
Want to learn more? Download the our free Books of the Bible Study Questions for 1 Peter using this link.