1 Peter addresses the sufferings and problems experienced by the young Church in the first century AD. Peter was uniquely qualified to speak to the church about such issues. He personally witnessed the suffering of Christ, he received Christ’s grace even after forsaking Him three times, and he preached the Pentecost sermon when the Holy Spirit first arrived on the scene.
When Peter wrote this Epistle, it is believed that the Roman Emperor, Nero, was in power. Nero took particular pleasure in persecuting the young Church in the most terrible and gruesome ways. Jews persecuted Christians as well. They considered Christianity a heretical religion. To top it off, Christians were persecuted by their own unbelieving family members because Roman law allowed for such treatment.
The budding Church also grappled with a new set of rules. Under the new covenant of grace, the Church struggled with operating in relationship to one another. New questions arose such as “what should our relationships with [spouses/church leadership/servants/authority/children/government] look like?”
A progression of a believer as generally outlined in 1 Peter can be summarized using an acronym for J.E.S.U.S.
J – ustification by Faith
E – edification of God’s Holy Word
S – uffer for Faith in Christ/Obedience
U – se spiritual Gifts
S – anctification
The process as depicted in the acronym moves believers from what Jesus accomplished for us, to us abiding in Him, to us conforming into His likeness.
Believers are first justified not by their works, but by their faith in Jesus. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior and repent, we begin life again with a new purpose. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
In order to discern that purpose, we seek pure spiritual milk through the Word of God. We edify our hearts and minds by indoctrinating ourselves with the truths contained therein. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
Next, we suffer because true faith is solidified and strengthened through trials and adversity. Jesus suffered for us. It should be no surprise when we suffer for our faith in Christ because the world hated Him first. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). We will suffer for obeying God, but as a believer seeking the Word of God, we trust and obey God even when we are persecuted for our faith. “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
Use of Spiritual Gifts:
With our strengthened faith and endurance, we build up the church by using the spiritual gifts endowed to us by God. By employing our unique set of skills for the building of Christ’s Church, we enable God to complete His work of reconciliation on earth. “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve on another” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Finally, the aggregation of justification, edification, suffering, and use of spiritual gifts sanctifies our Spirit. As we progress through each stage, we grow into conformity with the person and Deity of our Savior, Jesus Christ. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
We pray the study of 1 Peter will penetrate your hearts and minds. We pray that as you open your Bibles and begin this journey, the experiences of those similarly situated Christians who were living in a world opposed to the truth and liberty offered through Jesus Christ would resonate with you. We pray that Peter’s words will encourage you to persevere through trials of every kind and develop a faith in you that produces spiritual fruit.
1 The Roman emperor changes depending when it is believed that Peter wrote the epistle. This study presupposes that Peter wrote around AD 64. The date matters because not all Emperors were as cruel to Christians.
1 Peter –Lesson 1 1. Who is Peter? (Read John 1:41-42 and Matthew 16:15-18) Peter is one of Jesus’ Tweleve Disciples. God often renames those He calls to His service to reflect the nature of His calling on their life. This is true for Simon. Jesus renamed him Peter, meaning “rock.” Such name alluded to … Continue reading Lesson 1 [1 Peter]
1 Peter – Lesson 2 1. List the heart conditions of which believers should rid themselves. What does the admonition to “rid” oneself imply? (See also Matthew 15:19) Tying into the previous message of the excellence and trustworthiness of the Word of God, Peter states that the believer should be inclined, as regenerated by the Holy … Continue reading Lesson 2 [1 Peter]
1 Peter -Lesson 3 1. How is Peter’s instruction to wives “like” his previous instruction to servants? How do you perceive this instruction? How does the world perceive this instruction? (see John 15:18-21) Peter connects his previous instruction to submit to authority with his instruction for wives to submit to husbands, even unbelieving husbands. In … Continue reading Lesson 3 [1 Peter]
1 Peter – Lesson 4 1. What does Peter mean when he says, “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin”? (See Isaiah 52-53 and Revelation 12:11) Christ, who was without sin, led by example when He submitted to human authorities who literally bruised and crushed his flesh. Jesus not only died for … Continue reading Lesson 4 [1 Peter]
1 Peter – Lesson Five 1. Who is Peter addressing in 1 Peter 5:1-4? How and why does Peter identify with this group? Peter opens chapter five by specifically addressing the elders of the Church. Peter has a special pleading for them using the Greek word parakalo, which has been translated in English … Continue reading Lesson 5 [1 Peter]