Summary: The hope that God has given to us can fill us with joy even in the worst of circumstances.
The other day I watched some video of the 2004 World Series (won by my Boston Red Sox). When I watched that game live, I was very nervous (many times I had to turn the channel when Boston was in the field). The Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series in 85 years. But now I can calmly watch because I know the outcome.
Sometimes I watch a movie that I’ve already seen. The first time I watch it, I might be a bit anxious wondering how it’s going to end. Now I can watch knowing that everyone will live happily ever after.
When I know the end of a game or a movie will turn out the way I want it to, I can watch in anticipation of a happy ending.
God has told us in the Bible how everything is going to end for the believer. Life might look bleak for you at the present moment, but God encourages us to look to the future with hope in our hearts.
INTRODUCTION TO 1 PETER
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Capadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance (vv. 1-2).
AUTHOR: The apostle Peter
A Quick Biography:
• His given name was Simon son of Jonah (Matthew 16:17).
• He as a fisherman from the village of Bethsaida in the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44).
• Jesus called him to be one of His disciples (Mark 1:16-18) and he later became an apostle.
Liberal View: The author was an unknown person writing in Peter’s name. Arguments for this view:
• The letter’s excellent Greek (Peter is described as “unschooled” and “ordinary” in Acts 4:13)
• The supposed dependence on Pauline theology
• The author’s apparent lack of any “insider” knowledge of the events of Jesus’ life
• The absence of the kind of persecution described in the letter during Peter’s lifetime (1:6; 3:13-17; 4:12-19; 5:9)
• It claims to be written by Peter (1:1).
• The author claims to be “a witness of Christ’s sufferings” (5:1).
• There are similarities between this letter and words attributed to Peter in Acts.
• A number of expressions are used that would naturally come from an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry (one example of this is 2:20-25).
• Peter’s description as “unschooled” and “ordinary” probably refers to the fact that Peter was not skilled in rabbinic training.
• Greek was widely spoken in Palestine (there is no real reason for saying that a Galilean could not have considerable competence in the language).
• The letter was written with the help of Silas (“Silvanus” KJV, 5:12), who may have polished up the language.
• Similarities between Peter and Paul’s theology are not surprising since, as apostles, they would be in agreement on spiritual matters (and to be expected if their letters were inspired by God).
• The persecution described could have occurred under Nero instead of Trajan (the letter nowhere says that there was an empire-wide persecution).
DATE: Probably in the early 60s
• Cannot be placed earlier than 60 since it shows familiarity with Paul’s prison letters (e.g., Colossians and Ephesians, which are to be dated no earlier than 60): Compare 1:1-3 with Eph. 1:1-3; 2:18 with Col. 3:22; 3:1-6 with Eph. 5:22-24.
• Cannot be dated later than 67/68, since Peter was martyred during Nero’s reign.
RECIPIENTS: “Strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1:1)
• 1:18 seems to suggest that the recipients were mostly Gentiles.
• However, this conclusion could be questioned since “the pilgrims of the Dispersion [Diaspora]” (NKJV) would normally be though of as Jews (at that time there were about one million Jews living in Palestine and two to four million outside of it).
• Peter was known as the apostle to the Jews (Galatians. 2:7).
• Possibly a circular letter (a letter than traveled from church to church)
PURPOSE: To encourage Christians to live godly lives in the midst of suffering (the suffering that Peter’s readers were experiencing was suffering caused by being a Christian, not simply bad events)
The Big Idea: The HOPE that God has given to us can fill us with JOY even in the worst of circumstances.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (v. 3a).
How can I “praise God” and “rejoice” during difficult times?