1 Peter

How to glorify God in the midst of trials.

Authorship and Audience

As claimed by the name of the letter and 1 Peter 1:1, the Apostle Peter wrote this book. The primary objection to this claim is that 1 Peter contains elements of classical Greek which is very different from 2 Peter. This can be explained, however, by 1 Peter 5:12 which suggests that Silvanus (see Acts 15:32) was as an amenuensis who helped to write 1 Peter and could have added the more sophisticated elements of Greek grammar to the letter.

Based on 1 Peter 1:1, this letter is addressed to believers who were "aliens" in various places throughout modern-day Turkey. These believers were facing persecution (1 Peter 1:6), possibly as a result of Nero blaming Christians for the burning of Rome.1 Based on the references to "Gentiles" (2:12 and 4:3) and the Old Testament quotations (e.g. 2:6, 2:7, 3:10-12), it is most likely that Peter wrote this letter to Jewish believers.

Date and Historical Context

By tradition, Peter was martyred between 65 and 68 AD. Thus, we can safely assume the letter was written in or before 65 AD. According to Tacitus, Emperor Nero started a fire in Rome in 64 AD which he blamed on Christians. This began a wave of persecution against Christians which would have lead many to flee Rome and live elsewhere, as described in 1 Peter 1:1. 1 Peter may have been written after this persecution had begun.

Literary Context

This is one of two letters we have from the Apostle Peter. Like the other epistles of the New Testament, it describes the work of Christ and its consequences for believers.


I argue that Peter discusses the theme in three 'dimensions' of life. First, he examines the 'vertical' dimension which captures our individual relationship with God (this is 1 Peter 1:13 - 2:10). Second, he discusses the 'horizontal' dimension that describes how an individual relates with other people (specifically unbelievers). Third, Peter examines how to live out the theme within the Church. This is significant not only because it appropriately outlines the text and provides us with a way to think about this book, but also because it reminds us that glorifying God is not a part-time job. It is something every Christian must do at all times and in all 'dimensions' of life.

0. Greeting [1:1-2]

I. Introduction: The Glory of our Salvation and God's Purpose for Suffering [1:3-12]

II. Glorifying God through Holiness [1:13 - 2:10]

III. Glorifying God through Submission and a Godly Testimony [2:11 - 4:6]

IV. Glorifying God within the Church [4:7 - 5:11]

V. Final Greetings [5:12-14]

Theological Theme

  1. How to glorify God in the midst of trials and persecutions. One of the common words in this letter is "glory". It frequently refers to God's, innate glory (1 Peter 1:21, 4:11, 4:13-14, 5:10) and often describes the honor given to God by those who persevere (1:7, 2:9, 2:12, 4:11, 4:13-14). Faithful elders even receive a "crown of glory" (5:4). If God is working for His own glory (see Ephesians 1:3-14 and Exodus 34:14), 1 Peter is a guide on how to bring God glory, even in the midst of suffering and persecutions. This theme is clearly presented in 1 Peter 1:6-9. In the letter, Peter provides two, primary principles for how to glorify God in trials:

    A. Be holy and above reproach. One of the recurring themes throughout the letter is that believers are to be holy; that is, set apart from the world around them. 1 Peter 1:14-21, 2:9-12, 3:13-17, 4:1-6, 4:15 all make this point very clearly. In the midst of suffering, it can be tempting to give up or compromise our holiness. Peter challenges his readers to keep pursuing holiness out of a fear for God (1 Peter 1:17-19) and a desire to bring God glory even from an unbelieving world (2:11-12 and 3:13-17). B. Godly submission. Throughout this letter, Peter discusses how believers need to submit in many different contexts. We are to submit to "human institutions" (1 Peter 2:13-17), servants are to submit to their masters (2:18-25) - even "unreasonable" masters (2:18), wives are to submit to their husbands (3:1-6). Furthermore, young men are to submit to elders (5:5) and to God (5:6). When trials and persecutions come, it can be tempting to want to rise up and fight back against those who oppress you, but Peter admonishes us to entrust our souls to God (2:23 and 4:19) like Jesus did when He "did not revile in return" and "uttered no threats" (2:23). Patiently enduring unjust suffering "finds favor with God" (2:20).


  • The phrase "born again" occurs twice in 1 Peter 1 (1 Peter 1:3 and 1:23). The only other place this phrase occurs in the Bible is John 3.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 - 2:3 is reminiscent of James 1:18-25 in that it describes Christians as having been "born again" (or "brought forth" in James 1:18) by the word of God.
  • There are two "entrust" statements in 1 Peter 2:23 and 4:19. The first describes Christ "entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" and the second encourages those suffering to "entrust their souls to a faithful Creator" as Christ did.


1. "First Peter," Grace to You, August 18, 2016, accessed April 09, 2018, https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB60.

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