“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1 Peter 1:1–2, NASB95) With this quote, we begin our next Walk Through … Bible Study Series.
Lambchow’s Walk Through studies are designed to be just that – a walk. We’re not in a hurry to get through, we don’t bend the outline to fit into a set pattern, but we do seek to fully engage the flow and content of each book of the Bible we explore together. This study will walk through 1st and 2nd Peter.
The early church and church leaders affirmed these two letters as coming from the hand of Peter, the apostle. In many ways, we see a different Peter than the headstrong fisherman of the Gospels. Instead, we hear a settled and pastoral voice in the letters. It is probable that Peter wrote these near the end of his life, around the time of Nero’s persecution of Christians. Peter probably wrote the letters while in Rome which is indicated by the coded word Babylon at the close of his letter (1 Peter 5:13) His intended audience was the various churches and believers of northern Asia Minor which are part of modern-day Turkey. Peter’s letters are pastoral in nature. They are intended to ground his readers in faith, give assurance for the hope they have in Christ, provide instruction on living for God, and encouragement in the face of struggles and persecution.
We learn in 1 Peter 1:1-2 that his readers were residing as aliens and strangers seemingly scattered across the region yet they were chosen according to God the Father’s foreknowledge. They weren’t there by accident, fate, luck, or their own choices. Neither were his readers left to their own devices, the Holy Spirit was continually working to lead them into a fuller obedience having been sprinkled clean by the blood of Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 10:22). These intertwined thoughts are Peter’s guide rope that keeps him steady and on the path no matter how strongly the storms of life blow.
I believe that Peter’s letters have a special place for this season of time. Christians around the world are facing an increasing amount of persecution due to their faith. ISIS and other groups have targeted churches and Christians in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the United States. Culture and society are increasingly dismissive of Christian faith in the public square unless it affirms their beliefs and desires. So how are we to react? How do we live as strangers and aliens yet be witnesses and ambassadors for Christ? I believe that we’ll find the answers to those questions as we walk through the Letters of 1st and 2nd Peter.