In the first book of Peter, believed by scholars to have likely been indirectly written by Peter himself (directly written by Silvanus), he writes to Christians that are scattered abroad and persecuted throughout Asia Minor. He urges them to be holy in all their conduct – for God is holy. Despite the trials they were going through, the believers were to remain focused on Christ and His coming return.
The word “holy” means set apart or different from that which is common or ordinary. To be holy is to be consecrated, sanctified, and dedicated to God.
In 1 Peter 1:13-16, the author urges believers to “gird up the loins of their mind,” be self-controlled and set their hope fully on the grace that will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. He goes on to say that they should be obedient children, not conforming to their former lusts, or desires, as they did previously in their ignorance.
In this article we will be adapting our chapter summary method of Bible study.
How would you caption the book?
Peter writes a letter to the Christians of Asia Minor, urging them to pursue holiness despite their suffering and reminding them that they are chosen by God with a future of hope in His Son.
What are the contents? Provide an Outline.
From the outset of the book, we are told that we have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus, that while we may be grieved by trials, genuine faith is more precious than gold. Although we cannot see Him, we rejoice with joy and at the end of our faith, we will be rewarded with the salvation of our souls.
Christians must remember that we are not redeemed with corruptible things, but from the “precious blood of Christ.” For he was a lamb without blemish and manifested in these last times for us. We must cast aside ungodly living and live a life committed to honoring God.
The first chapter of Peter also tells them to “be holy, for I am holy.” A direct quote from Leviticus 11:44-45, where God is commanding the Israelites to reflect holiness because he is holy.
In the second chapter, Peter reminds the Christians to remain steadfast in their faith despite the persecution they were facing, and that they are a special, chosen, generation.
Peter applies this command to the Christian existence, saying that we are to “proclaim the praises” of God who has brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Christians are to live in such a way that others will see our good deeds and give glory to God.
This call to holiness is not a call to live in absolute sinlessness, but it is a call to live lives that are distinct from the world around us. We are to be different because we have been called by God to be his people.
As the chapter comes to a close, Peter writes that the Christians must be submissive to their masters, not just the ones that are good and gentle, but also to the harshest masters. The Lord expects us to live a holy life and follow the examples of Jesus, for it is commendable to the Father when we do good yet still suffer and “take it patiently” the same way Jesus did.
Chapter 3 reflects on the family dynamics of Christians. Peter encourages wives to be submissive to their husbands and to set an example through their actions so that “even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives”. Husbands on the other hand should give honor to their wives and “as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
To Christians as a whole:
The chapter closes with a reminder that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are saved by way of baptism “(not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God).”
In the fourth chapter, we are reminded that we will be judged accordingly, that we must move beyond our past lifetime in “doing the will of the Gentiles” such as walking in lewdness, lust, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.
Most importantly, we must not be ashamed to suffer as Christians, and should instead use the opportunity to glorify God.
Above all things, we should have fervent love for each other, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
As the first book of Peter comes to a close, he looks to encourage and strengthen the bonds of these Christians dispersed throughout Asia Minor.
He initially turns to the elders among them, encouraging them to shepherd their flock appropriately. And emphasizes their reward:
For the younger generations amongst them, they should submit themselves to their elders. They shall find humility in their submissiveness and be humbled under the mighty hand of God.
Lastly, to all of those that follow the Father; be sober, and be vigilant:
Key Takeaways on 1 Peter
- 1 Peter urges persecuted believers to find hope in Christ and live holy lives set apart for God’s purposes.
- Christians are called to obey God’s Word, reject worldly lusts, and reflect His holy nature in all conduct.
- Jesus set the example by suffering righteously. His followers must be willing to patiently endure mistreatment.
- Marriage relationships should exemplify respect and humility. Wives and husbands have distinct roles in honoring each other.
- Elders are to shepherd God’s people eagerly and lead by example. Younger believers should submit to their authority.
- During trials, Christians can rejoice because suffering draws them nearer to Christ. His grace will restore them.
- 1 Peter continually points to the living hope found in Jesus and His soon return. This hope sustains believers amidst hardship.
Who are the important figures?
The Father: God’s word stands above all, and we must remember that it is He who sent his Son to be our sacrificial lamb for the forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus: It is written you shall be holy the same way He is. The sacrifice He made means behavior like ours, sinful behavior, can be forgiven. But the journey will not be easy, as the punishment and suffering Jesus experienced will be felt ourselves in one way or another. We must remember to be submissive to leaders both good and harsh, we must rejoice during our hardships and bring glory to God, knowing this brings us closer to Him and if He can endure hardships for us, we can do the same for Him.
Christians: As it stands written and understood contemporarily, the Christians here are effectively stand-ins for the readers. These lessons not only reflect upon them as a people but on us as the audience. We must find our own strength in the world today and embrace suffering the same way our Lord Jesus Christ did, remembering to be holy ones.
Any keywords or phrases you may or may not understand.
True holiness means constantly facing temptations and sin, and saying “no” out of love for God. It means living a life that is radically different from the world around us, and it means being willing to suffer for doing what is right.
The pursuit of being holy may involve changing our lives tremendously but we do not need to struggle in finding our own purpose for doing so, because the Bible puts it simply and bluntly “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Cross-reference the book against others, are there any other passages connecting to this book?
Thematically, there are many cross-references to the first book of Peter and we will provide just a few verses below:
What are the central themes and lessons?
Christians are to pursue holiness regardless of the suffering and persecution they may be experiencing in their lives, “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Holiness requires that we live life separate from ordinary people and dedicate ourselves to God, but still show this exemplified holiness to everyone around us so that they may know and understand what He can do for us; perhaps turning ordinary people into fellow believers.
How can you apply what you’ve learned to your own life?
If a morally blameless man in Jesus, that is a perfect example of true holiness, can endure persecution, then we can as well. We must cast aside evil desires and recognize that the Lord has a sincere love for us and that He will never leave or forsake us, no matter what we go through in this world.
Pursuing holiness means living a life that is consecrated, or set apart, for God’s purposes. This includes obedience to His commands and living according to His standards – not the world’s. It also means having our hope firmly placed in Jesus Christ and His promises, regardless of our circumstances.
When we are facing trials and persecution, we can take comfort in knowing that we are not alone. Jesus Himself was persecuted and suffered immensely, and He is sympathetic to our sufferings. We can also find strength in knowing that He has overcome the world, and that He has promised to return for His people. In the meantime, we have a calling to be holy – set apart from the world – and to remain faithful to Him.
What is the main theme of 1 Peter?
The main theme is living holy lives dedicated to God and finding hope in Christ, even during times of suffering and persecution.
Who was 1 Peter written to?
It was written to Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor who were facing persecution for their faith.
What are Christians called to do in 1 Peter?
They are called to pursue holiness, reject worldly living, willingly suffer for doing good, respect authorities, love each other deeply, and set their hope fully on Christ.
How does 1 Peter portray Jesus?
It portrays Jesus as the perfect righteous sufferer whose sacrifice enables redemption. His example guides Christians in handling mistreatment.
What is the living hope mentioned in 1 Peter?
The living hope refers to salvation and the inheritance believers have in heaven based on Jesus’ resurrection. This hope remains steadfast during trials.
How does 1 Peter describe Christian marriage roles?
It teaches that wives should win over unbelieving husbands through humble, pure conduct and husbands should honor their wives as co-heirs of eternal life.
Why does 1 Peter focus so much on suffering?
Suffering was a daily reality for many early Christians. Peter wanted to reassure them of Christ’s presence in their pain and exhort them to endure faithfully.
What are elders called to do in 1 Peter 5?
They are called to shepherd God’s flock eagerly, lead by example, and exercise oversight willingly. They will receive an unfading crown of glory from Jesus.
How does 1 Peter portray the devil?
It describes the devil as a roaring lion looking to devour believers. But they have power to resist him by remaining firm in their faith.
What is the purpose of 1 Peter according to 1:13?
Peter wants to exhort believers to set their hope fully on the grace that will be brought by Jesus at His coming and live accordingly.
For more on the book of 1 Peter, please reference our articles here.
This article primarily references verses written from the New King James Version (NKJV) translation of the Bible.