Theological Themes in 1 Peter
Exhortations to do good works and to do what is right come with acknowledgements that in a hostile world these actions will often bring unwelcome consequences. The point is, for people who have been born anew and set free from this world’s judgment, this behavior not only will accomplish good things that God needs for the world, but it also will bear witness to the truth of the Christian faith to unbelievers.
Hope refers to a sure and certain future reality (promised or otherwise guaranteed by God) in which we are to put our hope. The Bible might be said to speak of hope as something “objective,” to which our “subjective” attitude of hope corresponds. Therefore, in 1 The disciple who denied Jesus during his trial but later became a leader in proclaiming Jesus More 1:3 the risen Christ is our living hope; in 1:13 we are to set our hope on the Grace is the unmerited gift of God’s love and acceptance. In Martin Luther’s favorite expression from the Apostle Paul, we are saved by grace through faith, which means that God showers grace upon us even though we do not deserve it. More Jesus is the Messiah whose life, death, and resurrection are God’s saving act for humanity More Christ will bring; in 1:21 faith and hope are pictured as set on God; in 3:15 Christians are expected to be able to give persuasive reasons for their hope.
A clear distinction is to be made between suffering that is justly deserved and suffering that is undeserved because people have not done something bad but nevertheless are treated badly. Such unjust suffering is an important theme in 1 Peter because it could have been misunderstood by Christian converts as meaning that the Christian faith was not true and that they were being punished by other gods for the actions that follow from faith in Christ. There is no glorification of suffering in this letter; suffering simply is to be expected in the sense that Christians who do right and suffer for it do so in a way that is similar to Jesus’ sufferings. Only this specific way of sharing in Jesus’ sufferings is to be seen as an occasion for rejoicing about suffering (4:13).