The first verse of The First Epistle General of Peter indicates that it was written to Christians scattered across several Roman territories in northern Asia Minor. They are described with the Greek term parepidemois, which means “sojourners.” The KJV translates it appropriately as “strangers,” underlining the Christian community's fragile status there as resident aliens. The author is also aware that the believers' rights are limited and that they have suffered discrimination and persecution because of their faith (4.14-16). Thus the chief purpose of the letter is to bring words of encouragement and hope to them, particularly by reminding them of all that God has accomplished in Jesus the Christ. Drawing on Old Testament texts with great literary skill, the author also reminds them that, like the people of Israel, they too have been “chosen” by God to be a special people (2.4-10; cf. Exod 19.5,6). This is the central point of the letter, and given the fragile social status of these people, this message in 2.4-10 is very encouraging. They are reminded that the calling of ancient Israel to be God's holy people (Exod 19.6), and to make known the grace of God to the world, has been extended even to them.
The theme of baptism is prominent in this letter and the deliverance of Noah through the waters (3.18-22) is here said to be the Old Testament prototype of salvation by the grace of God. As the KJV translates 3.20, Noah and his family “were saved by water,” language that resonated in the Early Church with the waters of baptism whereby people made their entry into the life of the Christian people of God. First Peter calls for a strong ethic of serving those in need and of practicing a welcoming hospitality (4.9-11). It also calls on the people to endure their suffering and not give up because it can be a test of faith and because the “reward” for steadfastness will be immeasurable on the day of Christ's appearing (1.3-9).
Some scholars have questioned whether a Galilean fisherman could have written a letter with the sophisticated literary style evidenced here. Additionally, given the strong tradition that Peter was martyred in Rome around a.d. 64, almost two decades before the persecution of Christians attributed to Domitian that is the subject of this letter, some feel it is probable that the letter may have been composed by someone writing in Peter's name rather than by the apostle himself.
Thanks to God for the Gift of Salvation (1.3-12)
Live the Calling as God's Holy People (1.13—2.10)
How Christians Live in Times of Suffering (2.11—4.19)
Living in Humility and Service (5.1-11)
Final Greetings and Blessing (5.12-14)
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