1 Peter


From the New Bible Commentary:

Who wrote 1 Peter?

The writer says he is ‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ’ (1:1), and was a ‘witness of Christ’s suffering’ (5:1). He is writing with the help of Silas (Silvanus) from a place he calls ‘Babylon’, where his ‘son’ Mark is with him (5:12–13). As well as this direct evidence that Peter the apostle was the author, the letter frequently alludes to the life and teaching of Jesus.

To whom was the letter written?

Peter answers the question in 1:1. The region described was in the Roman provinces in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) north of the Taurus mountains. It is difficult to be precise as the place-names can refer to both ancient kingdoms and contemporary Roman provinces, and the two did not always have the same boundaries. 

The social status of the recipients probably reflected that of most of the churches of the day, as a cross-section of the community. There were husbands and wives (3:1, 7), slaves (2:18—but no reference to masters as in Eph. 6:5–9; Col. 3:22–4:1), younger men (5:5) and an eldership giving pastoral care (5:1–4). Some of the women appear to have been able to afford a comfortable lifestyle (3:3). The description of the readers’ pre-Christian manner of life (4:3–4) suggests that some of them might have been involved in the local pagan trade-guilds. Peter calls them ‘strangers in the world’ (1:1 cf. 1:17; 2:11).


The religious background of the original readers appears to have been both Jewish and Gentile. We know from Acts 2:9 that there were Jewish visitors from Asia Minor in Jerusalem for Pentecost, and those among them who were converted at that time would have taken the gospel message back with them. Converts at Pisidian Antioch and Iconium came from the synagogue (Acts 13:43; 14:1), and Luke specifically mentions in the latter case that the church was formed both of Jews and Gentiles. So Peter’s writing reflects such a mixed gathering of believers. He uses the OT to prove his points (1:24–25; 2:6, 7–8, 22–24; 3:10–12; 4:18; 5:5) and makes other allusions that would be meaningful to Jewish readers (e.g. in 1:1 ‘scattered’ [Gk. diaspora] is the technical term for the Jewish community outside Israel; see also 2:4–10 and 3:20). Other comments he makes would be more relevant to Gentile readers (e.g. 1:18, ‘the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers’; 2:10, ‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God’; 4:3, ‘you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans[Gentiles] choose to do’).

Whether his readers were Jewish or Gentile Christians, Peter is keen to encourage them to believe that they are the ‘new Israel’. In the Christian church they inherit all that God promised his chosen people in the OT (see 1:1; 2:5, 9–10).

Why was the letter written?

Peter sees Christians in danger of persecution (1:6) and not prepared for it (4:12). In the light of this, he aimed to do two things: to encourage and to testify to the true grace of God (5:12) in which he urged his readers to stand. These two purposes are intertwined as Peter gives encouragement by declaring God’s gracious acts in Christ, made known and mediated by his Spirit. We can list some of the encouragements as follows:

  • The scope and goal of God’s purposes (1:3–9)
  • The excitement of the prophets and eagerness of the angels to grasp this wonderful plan (1:10–12)
  • The costliness of our redemption (1:18–21)
  • The enduring nature of God’s promises (1:22–25)
  • The privilege of belonging to God’s people (2:4–10)
  • The example of Jesus (2:22–25)
  • What Jesus has done for us (3:18–22)
  • The confidence we can have in our Creator and his faithfulness (4:17–19)
  • The certainty that God will triumph in the end and that his own will share the victory (5:10–11; cf. 1:7).

Such encouragements, and such a statement of the grace of God, offer an equally firm foothold for Christian believers facing whatever the twenty-first century after Christ may bring.

Scripture for the series

October 10, 2021- November 21, 2021

Week 1- 1 Peter 1:1-2

Week 2- 1 Peter 1:3-12

Week 3- 1 Peter 1:13-2:3

Week 4- 1 Peter 2:4-10

Week 5- 1 Peter 2:11-17

Week 6- 1 Peter 2:18-25

Week 7- 1 Peter 3:1-7

January 2021- Feb 2022

Week 8- 1 Peter 3:8-12

Week 9- 1 Peter 3:13-22

Week 10- 1 Peter 4:1-11

Week 11- 1 Peter 4:12-19

Week 12- 1 Peter 5:1-5

Week 13- 1 Peter 5:6-14