Introduction to I Peter


During the time Peter wrote his letter, Christians around the Roman Empire were facing mounting persecutions. Though the church started among the Jews, it was never accepted by the Jewish leaders. Their persecutions caused the church to spread beyond the borders of Judea (Acts 8:1) and as it spread to other regions, an attempt was made to chase down the Christians.

The Jewish religion was tolerated, Emperor Claudius became increasingly frustrated with the Jews (Acts 18:2). Since Christianity was viewed to be a sect of Judaism (Acts 24:5), it also was persecuted. But by A.D. 50, Christianity was listed as an illicit sect, and by A.D. 64 Nero blamed Christians for his burning of the slums in Rome, and Christianity was declared to be illegal. The major point of contention was that Christians refused to accept the ancient religions that came before them. Persecution was getting more frequent and more severe when I Peter was written.

I Peter deals with how the Christian is to respond to persecution and suffering (I Peter 4:12-14). That Christians were persecuted should not be surprising to any follower of Christ since he himself suffered (I Peter 2:21; 3:18; 4:1, 12-14). Thus, Peter argues that to share in Christ’s sufferings when persecuted for doing good is a privilege. The suffering was not a punishment by God but an opportunity to grow strong in the faith and it was suffering shared with other believers (I Peter 5:9-10).

Peter seeks to encourage all Christians who suffer persecution to remember their true destiny (I Peter 5:12). It is filled with advice on how to behave in the face of hostility.

Class Discussion:

  1. What verse in I Peter do you think is the key verse that best captures the theme of Peter’s letter?
  2. A frequent thought that appears in I Peter is that things happen because it is what God wants. Underline the phrases that indicate that something is according to the will of God. What do you learn from this?


  1. Salutation - I Peter 1:1-2
  2. The salvation of Christians - I Peter 1:3-1:12
    1. Hope for the future - I Peter 1:3-4
    2. Trials for the present - I Peter 1:5-9
    3. Anticipation in the past - I Peter 1:10-12
  3. Our response to salvation - I Peter 1:13-2:12
    1. Prepare your minds by being holy - I Peter 1:13-16
    2. Conduct yourselves with fear - I Peter 1:17-21
    3. Purify yourselves with a sincere love of the brethren - I Peter 1:22-25
    4. Desire the word so you can grow - I Peter 2:1-3
    5. Offer up spiritual sacrifices to God - I Peter 2:4-8
    6. Proclaim the excellencies of Christ - I Peter 2:9-10
    7. Abstain from lusts - I Peter 2:11-12
  4. The submission of Christians - I Peter 2:13-3:12
    1. Submission to government - I Peter 2:13-17
    2. Submission to employers - I Peter 2:18-20
    3. The example of Christ - I Peter 2:21-25
    4. Submission in marriage - I Peter 3:1-7
    5. Summary of how to live as a Christian - I Peter 3:8-12
  5. The sufferings of Christians - I Peter 3:13-5:14
    1. How to conduct yourselves in suffering - I Peter 3:13-17
    2. The example of Christ - I Peter 3:18-3:22
    3. Arm yourselves against lusts to follow Christ - I Peter 4:1-6
    4. Living under persecution - I Peter 4:7-11
    5. Be prepared to share in Christ’s sufferings - I Peter 4:12-19
    6. The service of elders - I Peter 5:1-4
    7. Humble yourselves - I Peter 5:5-7
    8. Resist Satan - I Peter 5:8-9
    9. It isn’t forever - I Peter 5:10-11
  6. Closing - I Peter 5:12-14
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