About this letter
In this letter Peter has much to say about suffering. He shows how it can be a way of serving the Lord, of sharing the faith, and of being tested. The letter was written to Christians scattered all over the northern part of Asia Minor. In this part of the Roman Empire many Christians had already suffered unfair treatment from people who did not believe in Jesus. And they could expect to suffer even more.
Peter was quick to offer encouragement. His letter reminds the readers that some of the Lord's followers may have to go through times of hard testing. But this should make them glad, Peter declares, because it will strengthen their faith and bring them honour on the day when Jesus Christ returns (1.6,7).
Peter reminds them that Christ suffered here on earth, and when his followers suffer for doing right they are sharing his sufferings (2.18–25; 4.12–17). In fact, Christians should expect to suffer for their faith (3.8—4.19).
But because of who God is and because of what God has done by raising Jesus Christ from death, Christians can have hope in the future. Just as Christ suffered before he received honour from God, so will Christians be tested by suffering before they receive honour when the Lord returns. Peter uses poetic language to remind his readers of what Christ has done:
Christ died once for our sins.
An innocent person died
for those who are guilty.
Christ did this
to bring you to God,
when his body
was put to death
and his spirit
was made alive.
(3.18)
A quick look at this letter
1. Greetings and prayer (1.1,2)
2. A real reason for hope (1.3–12)
3. Living as God's holy people (1.13—2.17)
4. The example of Christ's suffering (2.18–25)
5. Being a Christian and suffering (3.1—4.19)
6. Advice for church leaders (5.1–11)
7. Final greetings (5.12–14)
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