1 Peter

Peter was one of the 12 special disciples who later became Apostles - ones specially sent out with the power of God (the Holy Spirit) to help establish the early church. Peter had once been a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus called him and his brother Andrew to become "fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). This big fisherman was really called Simon, but Jesus gave him the name "Peter", which means "a stone". He was a rugged, tough man who often spoke out when others would not have done.

After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter became a changed man. Jesus told him that from now on he must be like a shepherd and "feed my lambs" (John 21:15). This meant he must teach and help the Christian converts and show love to them as Jesus did. By this means he would be loving Jesus (John 21:17).

Peter wrote his epistle (letter) first to Jewish believers scattered across Syria and Asia Minor. These were Jews who had either been deported or had emigrated throughout the Roman world. They did not live in Judea - they were "exiles". All Christ's true followers are "exiles" because they belong to a future kingdom - the Kingdom of God, which Christ will set up when he returns to the earth.

As "strangers" in this world, true believers must maintain their faith until Christ returns. However, like Peter himself and like Jesus their master, Christians would face great suffering and persecution because of their faith. But they must face it patiently anmd try not to retaliate (2:11-23).

Peter reminds Christians that, like Israel, they are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" (2:9). As such, they have a duty to show the world God's wonderful deeds and should show concern for their fellows. Those who believe in God's word and are baptised (1:23, 3:21) will be granted an eternal crown of life when Christ comes (5:4), if they have remained faithful.

 

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