Background: From Rome (Babylon) the Apostle Peter addresses christians throughout Asia Minor, around 63-64 AD
Theme: The proper response to suffering
Outline: Holiness, Harmony and Humility
Key Verse: " Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (1 Pet 4:12-13, NIV)

First Peter

Author: Written by Peter, known also as Simeon, Simon, Cephas, and Simon Peter. Peter was often the spokesman for the disciples during Jesus earthly ministry.

I. Customary Salutation 1:1-2)

1:1b-2 Christians are of foreign nationality (our home is in heaven) and temporary residents in the world. This was especially true in a more literal sense for the Hebrew Christians, who as Jews were scattered outside of the national boundaries of Israel. We tend to live as if this life is all there is, as if our houses and possessions are our true home.

1:2 Notice the reference to all three persons of the Trinity. Although this does not prove the doctrine of the Trinity by itself, it does show that the purposes of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united. It also appears that our salvation is not simply an end in itself (Whew! I will make it to heaven someday.) but is for the purpose of obedience to Christ, even during this lifetime.

II. Chosen for New Birth (1:3-2:10)

1:5 "Who by faith are shielded ..." Even when going through trials and suffering, we are shielded. God does not remove His protective hand from us, our suffering is under His control and limits.

1:8 "Though you have not seen him ... " The 'scattered believers' were not eyewitnesses of the earthly ministry of Jesus, as Peter was. They were either not living in Judea during Jesus' lifetime (the provinces mentioned are in modern Turkey or Asia Minor), or were second generation belivers. In this way they are similiar to us, who believe although we have not seen.

1:10-11 Although the prophets were infallible, never inaccurate, as they proclaimed God's word; they did not fully understand the implications and working out of their far distant predictions. Compare the opening chapter of Hebrews for comparison between the revelation of the prophets and the revelation we have in Christ.

1:13" Prepare your minds for action ..." Literally, "gird up the loins of your mind". The literal translation doesn't make much sense to us, but if we wore long robes as Romans did, we would have to tuck up (gird up) some of the garment into our waist belt or rope to get it out of the way of our legs (loins) if we were going to run or carry something. A similar English idiom would be, "Roll up the sleeves of your mind". It means actively prepare your minds for action right now.

1:13 "Set you hope fully ... " In effect, put all of your eggs in this basket. Business planners often have alternate plans, military leaders have 'fall back' positions. In both cases, they 'hedge their bets', planning for what to do if their hopes and plans fail. For the believer, we are to fully set our hope, not hold back. We are to commit our entire being, desire, hope, ambition, resources, money, and energy on following the Lord. There is no fall back position, there is no doubting "what if we are wrong about Jesus?" or alternative plan.

1:17 "Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." Keeping in mind verse 2, "grace and peace be yours", we can have peace. The balance is reverent awe, not terror, but understanding the power, might, and glory of God who does evaluate what we do with our lives.

1:20 "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." This is more than God simply knowing ahead of time what would happen. God willed or purposed or intentionally planned before creation, before man's first sin, that Jesus would come for our salvation. This was revealed during the life of Peter for the sake of those who would be saved, including us.

1:23,25 "enduring word of God" and "the word of the Lord stands forever". The 'word' is the self-revelation of God, specifically what God has said about himself through the prophets, Jesus, the apostles, and others and preserved in the Scriptures. Our own ideas about God and even our best achievements fade in time, but the 'word' given by God remains.

2:1-3 These three verses are one sentence in the Greek. Verse one describes what we were and must put off (like taking off a dirty shirt), verse two describes what we desire by our new nature, and verse three what we have tasted of (the Lord). Because we tasted of the new life (or the Lord), I translate verse two as "Like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk" as does the NIV. The New King James is "pure milk of the word", but this would imply that we tasted of Scripture rather than the Lord. While we do grow by reading Scripture, I believe the emphasis of this verse is tasting of the Lord or the new life, putting off the old, actually doing and living the new life and not only that aspect of reading the Word. The Greek 'logika' is tranlated either 'spiritual' or 'regarding the word'. It may also be translated reasonable, and this would imply that in contrast to verse 1 of deceit and evil motives, the pure milk is straight-talking or reasonable.

2:9-10 Mr. Raymer (BKC) states, "While these descriptions of the church are similar to those used of Israel in the Old Testament, this in no way indicates that the church supplants Israel and assumes the national blessings promised to Israel (and to be fulfilled in the Millennium)." While I agree that Israel is still heir to the national blessings which will be fulfilled in the future, I also see a continuity of the Kingdom of God. The Church is a participant in that Kingdom. While the Church and Israel are not identical, they do share a deeper relationship than just similarity.

III. Challenged to New Behavior (2:11-3:7)

2:13-15 This verse contains an important principle - the Christian is to submit to civil authority unless doing so would cause him to violate God's law.

IV. Cautioned about New Persecution (3:8-4:19)

4:10 Some characteristics of spiritual gifts evidenced by this section include:

Source: God's grace

Purpose: For service to others

Gifted Person: A steward of God's gift

V. Charged with New Responsibility (5:1-11)

VI. Conclusion (5:12-14)

5:13 Note that 'she' was probably referring to the church (not to Peter's wife).


New Testament Survey by Merrill Tenney : Highly recommend this book for a good background to the life of Jesus and the New Testament. The first half covers background, what the world was like under Roman rule and what the conditions of the Jews were. The second half gives background, outline, and introductions to each of the New Testament books.

Bible Background Commentary (New Testament) by Craig S. Keener: Printed by InterVarsity Press, this is an excellent one-volume resource for understanding the customs and background (history, language, and geography) behind the verses of the New Testament. It is not an interpretation of the New Testament as are most commentaries, its purpose is to give background information. I highly recommend this to the serious student of Scripture, who already has a good grasp of the meaning and application of the New Testament.

Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament, Volume II) by the Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary: Admittedly a 'dispensational' interpretation, meaning that the authors take the book of Revelation very literally and teach that Jesus will take the Church out of the world before the 'Tribulation Period'. Although I do not agree totally with their opinions, I have found this to be a fair commentary, also explaining the views of others which the authors do not hold. If you use my notes you will receive some insight as to where the points of disagreement are. Highly recommended as the best short commentary on the market. I am easily in agreement with 98% of what this commentary teaches, and admith that I might not certain about the other 2%.

Updated March 2017