The book of 1 Peter (1 Peter 1)

Bilderesultat for 1 Peter

The authorship of 1 and 2 Peter is disputed today, with many denying that Peter wrote either epistle. However, substantial evidence, both internal and from the early church, favours Petrine authorship of these letters (see The authorship of Peter’s epistles also under 1 Peter 1).

Fairly strong tradition asserts that Peter was martyred under Nero about A.D. 66 (after the great fire in Rome of A.D.64 but before Nero’s death in A.D. 68). In addition, Peter demonstrated familiarity with Colossians and Ephesians (see 2 Peter 3:15, cf. 1 Peter 1:1-3 with Ephesians 1:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:18 with Colossian 3:22). These letters of Paul are dated to A.D. 60 at the earliest-, thus 1 Peter must be dated between 60 and 64, before the beginning of the persecutions under Nero.

1 Peter 5:13 states that Peter wrote from “Babylon”. Although several places have been suggested as Peter’s “Babylon”, only two seem reasonable: the actual Babylon, in Mesopotamia (a premier centre of Jewish culture), or a metaphorical Babylon (Rome), although the context of 5:13 does not appear to  be figurative or cryptic.

The letter was addressed to Christians in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1:1). This would seem to include most of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), although Peter may have used the terms in a more restricted sense. Believers in those areas were suffering persecution for their faith (1:6, 4:12-19, 5:9-10), and Peter described his recipients as God’s elect in Diaspora (1:1), terms normally reserved for Jews. On the other hand, he stated that his recipients had formerly followed the empty manner of the life they had inherited from their forefathers (1:18, cf. 4:3-5). From this it appears that Peter’s original readers were Gentiles who had come to Christ and were therefore metaphorically strangers and aliens (2:11) in this world.

Peter did not address some specific issues or crisis but offered counsel regarding the fundamentals of the Christian life. The letter is in effect a pamphlet on Christian living, written for the benefit of believers in many different places and circumstances.

As you read, watch for general principles regarding the problematic issues of pain, suffering and persecution, and note Peter’s reason for hope. Observe Peter’s style and his blending of doctrine and practical guidelines for Christian living. Study his teaching on submission to authority and its ramifications.

Did you know that in the language of the first century, “prepare… for action” literally suggested that the readers should gather up their long, flowing garments and be ready for physical activity (1:13)? Did you know that in the Greek world slaves could be redeemed by a monetary payment, made either by someone else or by the slave on his or her own behalf (1:18)? Did you know that “slaves” referred to household servants, whatever their particular training or functions (2:18)?


 

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