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Bible Studies

1 Peter


As is the case with the letter of James (see previous chapter), the two letters of Peter, together with those of John and Jude, belong to the 'general epistles'. This expression, invented by people, is somewhat misleading: as if these letters to Christians are written in general, while all these letters are predominantly Jewish/Israeli in character.

Writer, origin and destination

The apostle Peter was one of the twelve and occupied a very important position among them. He is also the apostle that is the focus of the first half of the book of Acts. Like James, Peter was also one of the pillars of the congregation in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:9). He had been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19); keys he uses in Acts first for the benefit of the Jewish people, later for the benefit of the Gentiles.

When we read in 1 Peter 1:1 that Peter addresses the diaspora (= scattering), we must immediately realize that this does not mean the Gentiles (or the church). In that sense, in the light of the Bible, there is only one nation that is scattered and that is the nation of Israel; compare here also James 1: "...the twelve tribes in the dispersion" (v. 1). Peter thereby addresses believers from Israel who at that time lived in different areas; areas in present-day Turkey.

According to 2 Peter 3:15 Paul also wrote to them (eg through the letter to Galatians). In addition, he wrote from his own apostleship in which (also) some things were difficult for Peter to understand (2 Pet. 3:16).

Furthermore, we see that Peter also refers to the "fathers" (1 Pet. 1:18 and 2 Pet. 3:4), which also defines us with the people of Israel (cf. Rom. 9:5 and Heb. 1: 1).

It is likely that Peter wrote both his letters around AD 60; so that is just before the close of the Acts period. He wrote his letter according to chapter 5:13 from Babylon (the Greek name of the Hebrew Babel), the city that is the great counterpart of Jerusalem, the city of the great King, during this present evil age.

Whole letter structure

A.1:1 and 2 Letter style.
B. 1:3-12 Introduction, thanksgiving; preview of the subject of the letter.
C. 1:13-2:10 General exhortations in view of the end.
D. 2:11-4:6 Special exhortations concerning suffering and glory.
C. 4:7-19 General exhortations in view of the end.
D. 5:1-9 Special exhortations concerning suffering and glory.
B. 5:10 and 11 Closing, prayer; finalization and summary of the subject of the letter.
A. 5:12-14 Letter style.

Purpose and content

In order to properly 'place' this letter (and also the second letter of Peter) it is important that we understand that Peter had received a specific apostleship from the Lord; namely, for the circumcised (Gal. 2:9). The message he brought is entirely in the context of that apostleship. That is why this letter is also an extension of the message he preached in Jerusalem, for example. The heart of this is found in Acts 3:19-21, which reads: "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He the Christ who was foreordained, Jesus, send him; heaven must receive him until the times of the restoration of all things, of which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old."

Reading through the first letter of Peter, we need little effort to discover that what Peter writes is set against the background of this coming of Christ (see chap. 1:5, 7; 4:13, 17, and 5:8) . The kingdom of the Lord was apparently still at hand. By referring to the "days of Noah" (chap. 3:20), Peter shows that they were again on the cusp of passing from one "century" to the "next." This time the age to come would dawn with Christ's revelation; the age of Christ's kingship.

What is also striking is that Peter determines his readers to take the position they have in God's plan. Israel was made a kingdom of priests under the old covenant (Exod. 19:6) and now (during the Acts time) Peter calls the believers to take their place as such, but now under the new covenant (chap. 2 :4 and 5).

core text

"But the God of all grace, who called you in Christ to His eternal glory, after a while of suffering, He will perfect, establish, strengthen, and establish you" (chap. 5:10).