Summary: We must know who Peter is to understand his letters.
We will start a new study series today. We will look at the letters from Peter. Open your bibles to 1 Peter 1…
Today, we will look at the background of this letter to have a better understanding of what it is saying; but let us go ahead and read v1-9 of 1 Peter Chapter 1; read along with me…..
We read in v1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect….” And so we note in general who wrote it and to whom it is written to. Let’s take a closer look.
Who is Peter?- an apostle of Jesus Christ! Who is this Peter?
In order to answer this, we need to understand what an apostle is and who Jesus Christ is. Of course, the people who read this letter 2000 years ago knew exactly who Peter and Jesus were. And so, if we are going to learn from this letter, we need to know who Peter was and who Jesus is.
Peter was an apostle of Christ; so let us first define what an apostle was. The original Greek word for apostle is simply apostolos which means a messenger, envoy, delegate, one commissioned by another to represent them. And if we study the word apostle in the bible, we will only see the designation to the first 12 disciples and the Apostle Paul. If we put all of this together, an apostle is one called, taught, and designated by Jesus Christ to be a special messenger for God. Peter was called, taught, and designated by Jesus Christ to give a message to others. Our ears should be open to hear what Peter says.
Let us also note the truths about Peter from the Gospels and Book of Acts: Peter was
a fisherman, a brother, one of the first disciples/apostles of Christ, he walked on the water (until he took his eyes of Jesus – we then find out that he was a fisherman who couldn’t swim!), Peter was always talking ahead of everybody else, but also first who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus called him the rock on which to build the church, but Jesus also rebuked Peter by telling him, “Get behind me satan!”, Peter was one of the three disciples closest to Jesus, publicly denied he knew Jesus three times, Jesus called him to take care of the church, Peter was the leader of the first Christian church, performed many miracles, persecuted for His Christian faith, Peter was a missionary for Christ (history books tell us he ended up in Rome where he was crucified by the Roman Empire).
And so, if we can sum up who Peter was, we can also say, Peter was an ordinary man, a sinner who needed a Savior, called by Jesus Christ and his response and yielding produced much fruit for the Kingdom of God!
The early church knew Peter’s respectful life testimony and they listened to him with open ears! We too should be so focused on what Peter has to say, but not because of his own success but because of Peter’s focus in honoring Jesus Christ!
And again, Peter’s audience already knew who Jesus Christ is but God through Peter continued to remind the people who Jesus is:
We can read v1-3 that Jesus calls apostles, to be obey, and to be praised; what does this indicate?
v1-3: Lord God!
In v2 we note that people are to be sprinkled with Jesus’ blood. And again in v3, we read Jesus rose from the dead! And take a glimpse of v18-19….
What does this all tell us about Jesus? v2-3, 18-19: Jesus suffered, died, was buried, but rose from the dead for all people.
Let us also note that Biblical scholars tell us that the letter by Peter was written around 65 AD.
This is worth noting because of the situation in the Middle East at that time. During the middle of the 1st Century, the Roman Empire ruled the western world but it was corrupt. At that time, Rome had many enemies and both Jews and Christians were persecuted. Remember that Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70AD. And so, because of persecution when Peter wrote, many Christians left Jerusalem. And this is exactly what we read in v1.
And so we read who the letter was written to:
v2: chosen according to God, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, those who are to obey Christ, cleansed with Christ’s death!
And at the end of v2 - we read a blessing.
And so, we have the background for the letter. How can we say that this letter is applicable to us today??
We today are just like the Christians Peter wrote to 2000 years ago.
All Christians, those 2000 years ago, us today, and those to follow, are all chosen, being sanctified, cleansed by the cross, and called to obey Christ; and no Christian is truly home until they see Jesus face to face!