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Hope that Perseveres: A Look at 1 Peter

Anyone else notice how the world is getting more and more crazy? We are seeing things today we would had never thought to see happen. People are marrying animals, slaughtering the unborn, rebuilding temples to Norse gods, sexuality is getting all twisted, and there is an increasing hostility towards Christian ideas. While these things may be a cause for alarm to us, we as Christians need to remember how persecution is normal. So it should come to no surprise to us that the apostle Peter wrote an epistle during a time of persecution. 1 Peter offers a hope that perseveres. Since our culture is headed towards hostility, this epistle should be studied.

Background to 1 Peter

Authorship

Peter identifies himself as the author of this epistle in 1 Peter 1:1. He even says he is the apostle of Jesus Christ. We know that Peter was a fisherman in Galilee, but Jesus called him to become a fisher of men (Mark 1:16-17). In Mark 3:14-16 he is appointed as one of Jesus’ apostles. His birth name is Simon, but Jesus renames him Peter in John 1:42. Peter is his name in Greek, and in Aramaic it is Cephas. Peter often speaks and acts quickly. There is no reason to doubt he wrote this New Testament letter. His epistle bears resemblance to messages in Acts. He also claims to have witnessed the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 5:1). Moreover, the early church agreed that he was the author.

Date

The epistle was most likely written after Rome was burned in A.D. 64.

Historical Setting

The emperor Nero is believed to have burned Rome down because he loved to build and had nowhere left for construction. So he set fire to Rome. The fire burned down many homes, temples, shrines, and household idols. So he used the Christians as a scapegoat; blaming them. He said they burnt down the city because they were hostile to Roman culture. So persecution spread throughout the empire.

Theological Themes

“In this epistle, Peter is rather effusive in reciting two categories of truth.”[1] Peter focuses on a hope that perseveres in the midst of persecution. He shows that Christians are blessed despite their suffering. His letter begins with remembering our salvation (1:3-2:10), then remembering our example before men (2:11-4:6), and remembering Jesus’ second coming (4:7-5:11).

For a more detailed background, click here.

The Importance of Studying

Therefore, due to the fact the West is getting more and more hostile towards Christians, it is beneficial to study this epistle; because we might see persecution coming our way in the near future. Peter lays out how we are to live in the midst of this persecution. Over the next weeks, we will go verse by verse through this epistle as we begin a series on 1 Peter.

[1] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997.