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
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
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.