Summary of 1 Peter
This letter is one of the most hope-filled books in the New Testament. Its purpose is to encourage Christian converts living in the midst of a hostile society. It does this by emphasizing their new life and salvation in the risen Christ (who is their “living hope”), showing how they became heirs of the people of God described in the Old Testament, and helping them understand what it means to live faithfully among people who ridicule and harass them. Throughout this letter, Jesus is the Messiah whose life, death, and resurrection are God’s saving act for humanity Christ’s life, and especially his suffering, is used as an example of how they are to understand and bear their sufferings as they seek to do God’s will.
This letter expresses the gospel in rich, varied, and powerful ways and then draws from it interesting, complex, and specific implications for how Christians might think about living faithfully in their society. The distance between 1 Peter’s context in the first century and the context of the modern world is huge in many ways, requiring us to avoid making too easy applications of the letter’s words to our own lives. On the other hand, the daring and creative ways in which the letter works out its view of faith and life challenge us to take these ideas seriously and to think with equal daring and creativity regarding the challenges facing Christians today.
WHERE DO I FIND IT?
The First Letter of Peter is the twenty-first book in the New Testament. It is situated among the books typically referred to as the “Catholic Letters” (James through Jude)–“catholic” in the sense of being generally applicable.
WHO WROTE IT?
A pseudonymous work, 1 The disciple who denied Jesus during his trial but later became a leader in proclaiming Jesus is the work of an unknown author, writing from Rome, in the name and memory of the Derived from a Greek word meaning “one who is sent,” an apostle is a person who embraces and advocates another person’s idea or beliefs. At the beginning of his ministry Jesus called twelve apostles to follow and serve him. Paul became an apostle of Jesus… Peter.
WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?
Most scholars support a date between 75 and 95 C.E., with the early 90s being most likely. This would mean that 1 Peter was written a generation after the deaths of Peter and A Christian missionary who once persecuted the church in the mid 60s.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Believers have reasons for hope, even in times of apparent hopelessness and persecution, because Christ is raised and living, and God is at work in the world.
HOW DO I READ IT?
First Peter is carefully written and repays careful reading. Read it as good news for bad times: truth from the One who is the truth, hope from the One who is our living hope, and encouragement from the One who has promised to be faithful to us all the way through eternity, no matter how difficult and chaotic the present may seem.