Apostle Peter wrote his first letter to Christians who were scattered in the Roman provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. It was a time of persecution and suffering. Peter wrote this letter to encourage Christians to remain faithful in spite of their suffering. Their character and conduct must be above reproach. Peter wants them to know that holiness and suffering are vitally connected. He wants them to knew that those who live holy will suffer (1:7). So it is not some strange thing happened to them (4:12). Christians are not exempted from suffering in this fallen world. Believers are called to become partakers of the suffering of Christ. This letter also encourages them to rejoice in suffering. Peter also exhorts Christians about the importance of humility and unity among them. Christ has set an example for us to follow his steps (2:21). In Chapter one Peter exhorts Christians that God’s grace is sufficient in their salvation. In chapter two we see that grace leads them to sanctification. In Chapter three Peter explains how God’s grace should motivate them to submission. Chapters four and five explain the importance of God’s grace in suffering. Scholars suggest that this letter was written from Rome around A.D 64, when Christians were going through severe persecution under Nero (5:13).
Greetings: 1:1, 2.
Peter begins his letter by calling himself an apostle of Jesus Christ. He is called and commissioned by Christ. Peter knew that he was chosen to be an apostle by the grace of God. He calls himself a bond slave of Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:1). Peter was totally committed to serve Christ. His Jewish name was Simon. Cephas was his Aramaic name. His Greek name, Peter was given by Jesus Christ which means a stone (John 1:42). Peter did not become a disciple of Christ in his first meeting with Jesus (John 1:42). Later when Jesus invited, Peter left everything and followed Him (Luke 5:11). He was a slow learner of faith (Matt 14:31). At times he acted impulsively and was fearful (John 18:10, 25). Peter was privileged to see the glory of Christ on the mount of transfiguration (Matt 17). Also Peter was enlightened to testify Jesus as the "Son of the living God "(John 6:69). Jesus knew how weak Peter was and prayed for him that his faith may not fail (Luke 22:31, 32). Being a Jew it was difficult for Peter to believe that Christ should suffer and enter into His glory (Matt 16:23). It took Peter many years to understand this truth (1 Peter 4:12, 13). Peter failed many times yet he was restored by Christ (John 21:15-17). He understood that love will cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Failure does not disqualify anyone from serving the Lord, if he is willing to be restored by the Lord. Christian life is a series of new beginnings (Phil 3:13, 14). Peter refers to Trinity in the work of our salvation in his greeting (1:2). The believers are included in the foreknowledge of God when it comes to their salvation (Acts 2:23; Rom 8:29). They are are sanctified people or set apart for the obedience to Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. These are done by the Father and the Holy Spirit toward our salvation.
Christian’s Heavenly Inheritance: 1:3-5.
Peter desires that Christians should be thankful for their salvation. Salvation is entirely of God’s initiative. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only Savior. We have been begotten by His mercy. Mercy is the compassion shown to the miserable. We were dead in sin and trespasses. God saved us not because of the good works we have done but of His mercy (Eph 2:4; Titus 3: 4, 5). We are born again to a living hope (1:3). Our inheritance is in heaven. We live in a world where people have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). Our hope is the confident expectation built upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:18). It is not a wishful thinking (1:3). Christians look beyond present circumstances with a living hope in Christ. This is a spiritual inheritance which we have not earned but received. This inheritance is in the person of Jesus Christ and to be like Him. This is reserved in heaven and kept by the power of God. It is imperishable, without pollution and unfading. Being born again, we are kept by the power of God through faith for the salvation ready to be revealed on the last day. It is a military term for protection. This also speaks of the finished work of Christ on Calvary. The last day corresponds to the second coming of Christ. Christians are saved from the penalty of sin, they are being saved from the power of sin and one day they will be saved from the presence of sin. The blessings we experience in our salvation today are only a foretaste of the glories salvation we will enjoy in heaven (1 Cor 2:9). Peter reminds believers of their future hope so that they have strength to face suffering today.
Why God permits Trials and Sufferings: 1:6-9.
God wants Christians to rejoice in their salvation even though they have to endure many trials. God has never promised us an easy life rather promised to make us like his Son (Rom 8:28, 29). Christians can rejoice in suffering because our suffering is momentary and it is the steppingstone to lasting glory (2 Cor 4:17). Suffering is designed to prove the true nature of our faith. Trials should not be wasted though it is painful. But later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:11). When we suffer for righteousness, we become partakers of Christ’s suffering. Someone has said "A faith that is not tested cannot be trusted". We love Christ and rejoice with inexpressible joy because we are kept by the power of God for the future glory. One day we will be with Christ and be like Him in glory (Rom 8:28-29). No one is exempted from suffering and it is a fact of life in this fallen world. In our sufferings, God has promised us His presence and grace (2 Cor 12:9). Though believers do not see Christ, we love and rejoice in Him. Trials are inevitable and useful in Christian life (John 16:33; Phil 1:29). It helps us to humble ourselves before God and develop intimacy with Him
(2 Cor 12:7, 8). This helps us to see suffering from God’s view point and reveals that our faith in Christ is precious than gold that perishes. It will bring much praise and glory when Christ returns. Love and joy characterize Christian life. The believers find strength while facing suffering knowing that they are forgiven and their salvation is secured for ever.
Salvation Revealed: 1:10-12.
Peter explains the wonder of salvation we posses. Salvation is a gift of God and it cannot be earned but only be received by faith (Eph 2:8, 9). It is more than the deliverance from sin and its consequences. The Old Testament prophets knew a great deal about the coming Savior. They searched and inquired in whom the Messianic prophecies will be fulfilled and when it would happen. These prophecies are found in every pages of the Bible (Luke 24:25-27). The whole Bible is the unfolding story of Jesus Christ and the gospel (2 Tim 2:8). Someone has said “Christ is predicated in the Old Testament, revealed in the Gospels, preached in the book of Acts, explained in the Letters and anticipated in the book of Revelation”. They did prophecy about Christ’s suffering and the glory to come. In Christ all these prophecies are fulfilled. This is the good news proclaimed to us by the apostles. What a privilege to live is such a time which angels desired to look into it (1:12). Although the Old Testament prophets and angels did not understand the details of this great salvation, by grace we have entered into this great salvation through faith. The Old Testament prophecies about Christ also proves the unity of the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:15). The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was to point forward to Jesus Christ. And the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is to proclaim Christ to the end of the earth. Old Testament was sufficient to lead a sinner into salvation (Acts 8:26- 39). How thankful we must be for the whole Bible! The salvation was not an afterthought but a divine plan that God had made before the world was made.
A Call to Holy Living: 1:13-17.
Peter now calls to holy living. Being saved by grace we should live with our hope fixed upon the coming of Christ. Salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone and through faith alone. We cannot add anything to salvation. It is a life transforming work of God (Rom 12:1, 2). Peter exhorts us to be sober minded and look forward to the salvation that will come to us when Christ is revealed to the world (1:13). This grace will be revealed before the world at the second coming of Christ. Meanwhile we must live like obedient children and do not slip back to our old ways of living to satisfy our own desires. Without holiness no one can see God. Holiness is not something we earn but what God has already done for us in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:30; Heb 10:14). Christ’s atoning death is the basis of all our spiritual blessings. Our greatest joy is that our sins have been fully paid on the cross and we have been saved from sin. Meditating on Christ’s suffering for us would stir our hearts to love Christ deeply and live a holy life. Since we are the children of God, we should be holy in all our conduct. Holiness has both positive side and negative side. We must not follow our former sinful lust but imitate Christ in our daily lives.
Basis for Holy Living: 1:18-25.
Christians must live in reverential fear towards God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7). This is the healthy and wholesome fear that respects God as our heavenly Father. It is the most essential aspect in Christian living. There is a negative kind of fear that causes people to live in fear. It is difficult to imagine anything worse than to live every day in fear. Only when we take God at His word with confidence we can live in peace. Jesus who conquered Satan, sin and death lives for us. Christ is our peace and He alone is our security. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid” (John 14:1). We are redeemed by the blood of Christ from sin to live a holy life. We cannot earn redemption but only receive it by faith in the finished work of Christ (Eph 1:7). We are ransomed by the imperishable blood of Christ (1:18). God the Father planned our redemption before the foundation of the world. Christ has revealed and procured it in these last days through His death on the cross (1:20). His blood is far greater in value than silver and gold. The wonder of redemption is that God pursued us with this salvation which He planned in eternity past. Christ purchased it by His death and the Holy Spirit applies it to all those who truth in Christ. It is our privilege to trust and obey the risen Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal 2:20). Hearing the gospel will not save anyone but obeying is the proof of our salvation. The born again believers will love each other intensely with pure heart. The living Word is the instrument, the Holy Spirit uses to impart the new life in us. Only God’s Word endures forever and everything else is temporary. Grass withers and flower fades but God’s Word last forever (Isaiah 40:8). Our emotions and feelings will change but God’s Word never changes (Matt 5:18). So the key to the Christian living is the obedience of the written Word of God. The gospel that we believe has no expiration date! That is the Word that was preached to us (1:25). The gospel endures forever.