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About the Book of the First Epistle General of Peter – 1 Peter 1:1; 5:12-13

Introduction: Here are some observations regarding the contents of this book and some of the points that it makes overall (these are from Willmington’s Guide to the Bible).

Peter develops the doctrine of Christ in a remarkable way in the short epistle. He discusses:

The incarnation of Christ (1:20)

The names for Christ:

A spotless Lamb (1:19)

The Chief Cornerstone—his relationship to the Scriptures (2:6)

The precious Stone — His relationship to believers (2:7)

The stumbling Stone — His relationship to unbelievers (2:8)

The Bishop of our souls (2:25)

The chief Shepherd (5:4)

His sinless life (1:19; 2:22)

His suffering and death (1:11; 2:23, 24; 3:18; 4:1, 13; 5:1)

His resurrection (3:21, 22)

His ascension (3:22)

His presence at God’s right hand (3:22)

His Second Coming (1:13, 17; 4:13; 5:1, 4)

Peter also offers a number of titles which describe believers. Perhaps in no other New Testament book are so many given. We are referred to as:

Obedient children (1:14)

Newborn babes (2:2)

Living stones (2:5)

A holy priesthood (2:5)

A royal priesthood (2:5)

A holy nation (2:9)

A peculiar people (2:9)

Strangers and pilgrims (2:11)

Christians (4:16)

The righteous (4:18)

The elect of God (1:2)

The people of God (2:10)

The oracles of God (4:11)

The flock of God (5:2)

I. Who wrote it – 1:1a

A. “Peter”

1. Of the original twelve apostles, three were chosen to write inspired New Testament books or epistles. The three are Matthew, John, and Peter.

2. In his two epistles, Peter continues to fulfill Christ’s commandment to him to feed his sheep and lambs. (See Jn. 21:15-17.)

Joh 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

3. Peter’s name appears 210 times in the New Testament. Paul’s name is found 162 times. The names of the remaining eleven apostles combined appear 142 times. —Willmington's Guide to the Bible

4. His first name was Simon, and Jesus Christ gave him the surname of Peter, which signifies a rock, as a commendation of his faith, and to denote that he should be an eminent pillar in the church of God

Gal 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

5. He was a fisherman, son of Jonah, brother of Andrew, and born at Bethsaida; and one of the first disciples of our Lord

B. “An apostle of Jesus Christ” – he simply made claim to this to show his authority to write what he was given to write

II. To whom is it written – 1:1b

A. “To the strangers scattered throughout”

1. This is referring to the Jews that had been scattered from Jerusalem because of persecution and were now living in lands where persecution had begun by the Roman government under Nero

2. The word used for “scattered throughout” is one word in the Greek

and it is a transliterated word from which we get the word “dispersion” from

3. Although it may have been written with the converted Jew in mind, Peter makes references to Gentile converts as well, and considering that the early church was made up with many converted Jews and Gentiles, this book is as important for us today as it was back then

4. “They were chiefly Jews, descended (as Dr. Prideaux thinks) from those Jews who were translated from Babylon, by order of Antiochus king of Syria, about two hundred years before the coming of Christ, and placed in the cities of Asia Minor. It is very likely that our apostle had been among them, and converted them, being the apostle of the circumcision, and that he afterwards wrote this epistle to them from Babylon, where multitudes of the Jewish nation then resided.” (Matthew Henry)

B. “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”

1. These are cities in what is now Turkey

2. It would appear that Peter had been to these cities and was writing back to them to let them know how to deal with the persecution and suffering they were enduring

III. Where was it written from – 5:13

A. “The church that is at Babylon”

1. No reason to believe this isn’t the actual city of Babylon – not a metaphor for Rome, as the Catholic Church teaches

2. There would have been Jews in Babylon, even if many were scattered during the early days of the Roman Empire – they were the ones Peter was there teaching

3. There was apparently a church there at the time – which would have been made up of both Jews and Gentiles – Peter could have been the Bishop of those churches at the time, although, as an Apostle, he would not have stayed there too long

B. “Elected together with you”

1. More on the issue of election in a later message

2. The fact that Peter refers to his readers as “elected together” indicates he wrote this to the church in the cities mentioned above, not to individuals

IV. Why was it written – 5:12

A. “I have written briefly, exhorting

1. This indicates he had more to tell them – and he quite possibly could have written more times to them but this was the only portion that was part of the inspired Scripture

2. “Exhorting” – comes from a word that means to call along side of – and to aid, to help, to encourage

3. One main reason for the writing of this book was to encourage the believers to keep their testimony no matter what happened to them

Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

B. “And testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand”

1. A second main reason is found in the word “testifying”

a) Only time in the NT this particular word is used and it means to testify emphatically, appear as a witness decidedly for something

b) In order for the believers to be encouraged they had to know what they stood for, and being saved by grace, and their confidence in that, would be the means for them to take that stand – at any cost

c) Peter was writing this to “testify” to them that they would have to “testify” to others – he was testifying that grace was enough

2. “That this is the true grace of God” – there is no other, no matter what anyone else teaches

Act 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Gal 1:8-9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

2Pe 2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

3. “Ye stand” – what do we stand in?


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