Book Background: 1 Peter

Written by Heather Zempel | June 23, 2010 | 1 Peter 1 - 3

While the authorship and timing of 1 Peter are somewhat debated, most scholars take the book at face value at ascribe it to the author as listed—Peter—who likely wrote it from Rome during Nero’s persecution in AD 62-63. The book is addressed to Gentile believers dispersed to a number of different places around the ancient world—Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. While these territories were ethnically and sometimes linguistically diverse, they were all under the control of the Roman Empire. Referring to Rome as “Babylon,” he repeatedly refers to his readers as the “exiles” and encourages them to endure suffering, remain faithful, and look forward with hope to their future with Christ in eternity.

Peter’s writing follows the same general outline as the Pauline epistles—introduction, thanksgiving, instruction, closing. Moving fluidly between theological instruction and practical application, he employs more than 30 imperative verbs—an average of one command every 3 verses—giving the book a tone of urgency and intensity.

You can outline the book as follows:

1 Peter 1:1-2, Introduction
1 Peter 1:3-2:10- Salvation of the Exiles
1 Peter 2:11-4:11- Instructions for Living in a Way That Glorifies God
1 Peter 4:12-5:11- Persevere in Suffering
1 Peter 5:12-14- Closing

One of my favorite verses in 1 Peter is found in chapter 2, verse 17: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” It sounds like a mantra from Gladiator. It also sounds like good instruction for life.