Summary: This is an introductory sermon to a series on First Peter. In this sermon, we get reacquainted with the man who wrote it, the people to whom he sent it, and the particular situation that prompted him to write it.
A. Maybe you’ve heard the statement: “Where there’s life, there’s hope!”
1. Like most sayings, it has an element of truth, but no guarantee of certainty.
2. It is not the fact of life and determines hope, rather it is the faith of life that determines hope.
B. As Christians we have a living hope because we have a living God.
1. This “living hope” is a major theme of Peter’s first letter.
2. Peter wants to encourage us all to be hopeful.
3. As we begin to explore the wonderful letter we call First Peter, let’s get reacquainted with the man who wrote it, the people to whom he sent it, and the particular situation that prompted him to write it.
I. The Writer
A. First Peter begins with these words: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ...” (1 Pet. 1:1)
1. Some liberal scholars have questioned whether a common fisherman could have penned this letter, especially because Peter and John were both called “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13).
2. But this description only suggests that they were without formal education and status.
3. We must never underestimate the three years of training that Peter received from Jesus.
4. Nor should we minimize what the Holy Spirit could do in his life.
B. What do we know about Peter?
1. We know that he always stood out among the group of apostles – whether it was for a good reason or a bad one.
2. Peter was the one who was willing to get out of the boat and walk on the water to Jesus.
3. Peter was the one who confessed that Jesus was the Christ.
4. But Peter was also the one who denied Jesus three times.
5. So Peter simply introduced himself as Peter, and apostle of Jesus Christ – He didn’t feel the need to identify himself any further, because he realized that every Christian in the early church knew who he was.
C. It is interesting that he identified himself as “Peter,” because that wasn’t his given or legal name.
1. His given name was Simon.
2. At their first meeting, Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter” – which means “rock” or “stone.”
3. Jesus perceived that Simon would one day be an important foundation stone of the church.
D. We know that Peter and Paul were the two leading apostles in the early church.
1. Paul was assigned to minister especially to the Gentiles, and Peter to the Jews.
2. Just before the crucifixion, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him. Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Lk. 22:31-32)
3. Then after Peter had denied Jesus, and Jesus was crucified and resurrected, Jesus appeared to Peter and the apostles on the shore of the sea of Galilee in John 21.
a. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus and three times Peter replied, “You know I love you.”
b. Jesus followed up each response with “Feed my lambs…take care of my sheep…feed my sheep.”
4. As Peter wrote this letter we call First Peter, he was doing what Jesus had commanded him to do – He was strengthening the brethren and feeding the flock.
E. Let’s notice some things at the end of the letter.
1. Look at chapter 5, verse 12: With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.
2. Do you remember who was Silas? Silas was one of the leading men in the early church. He was there at the council in Acts 15, and was chosen to go with Paul and Barnabas to share the official letter that resulted from that Jerusalem council.
3. Then after Paul and Barnabas had their disagreement over John Mark, Silas became Paul’s missionary traveling companion.
4. So it is interesting that Silas was now working with Peter and his ministry.
5. So Silas was a faithful brother and fellow missionary with both Paul and Peter.
7. Notice that Silas is working with Peter to make this letter available. It is possible that Silas was the bearer of this letter, and the secretary who wrote it.
F. Look at the next verse: She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. (1 Pet. 5:13)
1. Peter also mentions Mark, his son (most likely in the faith). This is the Mark who caused the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.
2. As you know, Mark rebounded after that early failure and became valuable to Paul and to Peter as well.