As we get started in 1st Peter, check out the Bible Project video for an excellent overview of the book:
Peter is writing to Gentile Christians spread throughout the Roman Empire. Although we are often tempted to browse over the first verses of New Testament books as the ol’ apostolic introduction, they are usually very helpful in understanding the book. Peter, in verses 1 & 2, is no different.
Peter is using Old Testament covenant language here in reference to Gentile believers. These verses refer to God’s power and their status before Him. This is very important for the book of 1st Peter. This book is about hope for suffering Christians. Hope is found, not in our ability, but in God’s ability to fulfill his promises.
I had a professor in seminary that would often say, “What God has done in the past is a pattern and a promise for what he will do in the future, but He’s too creative to do the same thing the same way twice.” The Exodus and Babylonian Exile show a microcosm of the lengths to which God will go that people will come to know Him. Exile means suffering for God’s people, but the possibility of redemption for those who do not yet know Him.
We as Gentile believers fit squarely in what Peter is saying. We are in a time of Exile. This world is not our home. We have been grafted into God’s family (Romans 11) and have the future hope that has been promised. But we also have the obligation of the family business and the family reputation. The business is to see people brought into the family. However, our reputation brings resentment and hostility from a lost and dying world.
Nobody has more authority to write such a letter of hope than Peter. As an apostle, Peter is famous for sticking his foot in his mouth, and denying Christ three times during Jesus’ mock trials. After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus redeems Peter on a beach through three confessions of love. Jesus then tells Peter the haunting news that he would be martyred for the faith (John 21:18–19).
Peter knew that one day he would die for Jesus. It would be violent and torturous. And yet, Peter did ministry seemingly haunted by his denials of Christ. He knew his end, and nothing would prevent his faithful obedience ever again.
Church, we may not know how we’re going to die. We just know we will. We may have the family reputation, but we must be about the family business. Like Peter, we must content ourselves with the inevitability of suffering. God is still good, even in suffering. He NEVER wastes our suffering. We may not understand it, but we can trust that it is used. Even still, our job is to suffer well through obedience, worship, and witness as we will continue to see in the rest of 1st Peter.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate