Introduction to 1 Peter
We'll introduce 1 Peter using 5 basic questions:
- Who wrote 1 Peter?
This is easy (and the clue is in the question!) The very first verse tells us that the author is “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ”.
- Where were the readers living?
Again verse 1 gives us the essence: Peter is writing to believers in Jesus Christ, who are scattered throughout what is modern-day Turkey. These places are on the fringe of some of the regions the apostle Paul travelled through. (Most of these churches probably weren't planted by Paul - but they may have been planted by churches he planted.)
Also: there's a good chance Peter is writing this letter from Rome. Read on to see why.
- Why did Peter write this letter?
These believers are going through tough times - persecution for their faith. (See e.g. 2v14-17.) Peter writes to encourage them to keep going.
If we're right in thinking that they are newer, "fringe" churches, then they will be particularly vulnerable to attack - and so Peter wants to particularly encourage them.
1 Peter is probably written around the time when Paul was executed (see below). If this has happened (or is about to happen), then again these churches will especially need encouragement.
- When was 1 Peter written?
We don't know for sure, because people didn't generally put dates on their letters in Peter's day. But, based on what we said above...
1 Peter was probably written during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero, when he was persecuting Christians - perhaps in 64AD.
It was (obviously) written before Peter was executed - but perhaps not long before.
It may have been written shortly after the apostle Paul was executed. (Which would explain why Peter chooses to address specifically churches in places where Paul had worked.
- What's in 1 Peter?
Here's a basic outline:
- 1v1-2 - Greeting
- 1v3-2v10 - Our Gospel Identity
- 2v11-4v11 - How to live out the Gospel, in the world
- 4v12-5v11 - How to live out the Gospel, in the church
For a more in-depth introduction, see:
This article is much longer, but it covers some of the debates and arguments that we've skipped over here.
Alternatively, the NIV Study Bible introduction is online here:
This article is more concise.
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