Peter wrote this letter around 60 A.D. to encourage Christians who were suffering and to call them to personal holiness. The central focus of the letter is persecution.
1 Peter 1–2 reminds believers scattered around the world that the gospel has the power to sustain them even in difficult times. Because God has guaranteed through Christ’s resurrection the future reward of all His people, believers should live differently even in times of trial and loss.
The world and Christ’s enemies may try to shame believers by disowning or excluding them, but believers can be encouraged that Christ also was rejected by men but accepted by God. In the end, it’s the unbelieving rebels who will be shamed because they stumble over Christ. Followers of Jesus, however, embrace lives of personal holiness. They live differently by being good people, and they do not indulge bad desires or follow evil inclinations.
In 1 Peter 3–4, Peter prepares God’s scattered people to live well when persecuted for Christ. God is in control, and believers are to turn to God and rely on Him. They should continue to live well and do good to others, even as they trust God to rescue them—either in this life or the life to come.
In 1 Peter 5, Peter encouraged believers to resist the devil and be firm in their faith. God, Peter said, has called believers to a future and eternal glory in Christ Jesus. He will finally support and establish suffering Christians—during and after the time they suffer. By God’s grace and power, suffering Christians can take their stand as God’s chosen, holy, beloved people whose future is secure in Christ.
The gospel transforms those who believe. We see this pattern established in the life of the Apostle Peter, the brash fisherman turned fisher-for-men in Christ. Now an old man, Peter writes his second letter (from prison in Rome) to the churches in Asia Minor to warn them against false teachings and to equip them to defend the true faith. He writes out of concern about the purity of the faith and because he knows he’s reaching the end of his life. Peter was crucified around A.D. 65, during the Roman emperor Nero’s persecution of Christian believers. This epistle probably was written shortly before his death.
Since writing his first letter, Peter had become increasingly alarmed about false teachers coming into the churches in Asia Minor. He denounces them as promoters of “destructive heresies” (2:1), distorters of Scripture and mockers of Christ’s divinity and predicted return. The remedy: True believers must know and obey true doctrine and partake in God’s divine nature (1:4), which will produce holy and fruitful lives.
Peter begins this letter with a reminder of our utter dependence on Christ. He reminds God’s people that, in Christ, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. As part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, Peter was an eyewitness to Christ’s teachings, miracles and resurrection (1:16), so he speaks authoritatively on matters of doctrine. When false prophets infiltrate churches and begin to lead people astray, Peter confronts their lies. He warns the churches of earlier believers who had abandoned God’s truth in favor of pursuing fleshly pleasures, believing something other than God’s truth and even leading others to believe those same lies (2:14).
He goes on to encourage believers in the face of “scoffers” (3:3-4). The early church expected that Christ would return within their lifetimes. So when church members died, their hope in Christ’s promise to return was challenged. Peter explains that God is not subject to time as we know it; He always acts exactly when He means to (3:9). The challenge for us is to wait faithfully for Christ’s return (3:12), understand God’s Word and live by it.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
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