I Peter begins with these words: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,”
Today, letters, emails, texts and even tweets begin with either an address to whom we are speaking or the subject of which we are writing. Very rarely, if at all, do we begin a written document by identifying who is doing the writing.
Not so in the first century. Letters, or epistles as they were known, normally began with the identity of the person doing the writing. The Apostle Paul’s epistles began this way. So do Peter’s.
What does the name “Peter” mean? In the Greek language the word is petros, which refers to a rock or a stone. Jesus gave Simon the fisherman his new name in Matthew 16:18. Jesus did so in anticipation of Peter’s role in the early church as one of the original twelve apostles.
Jesus would use Peter in a most significant way by choosing him to be the first person to publically present the gospel to the Jews (Acts 2:14-36). Peter would authenticate Phillip’s gospel ministry to the Samaritans (Acts 8:4-25), who were a people resulting from the intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles. Peter would also be the first individual to share the gospel to a Gentile named Cornelius (Acts 10).
God used Peter in a most unique way. How is God using you? Are you willing to pray that you are available for what He would have you to accomplish for His glory? It may not be the exact same ministry as Peter, but it will be unique.
Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!
The Epistle of I Peter demonstrates the Holy Spirit’s ministry of inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21) through the apostle. Peter’s letter to persecuted Christians is also an example of the apostle’s teaching ministry which began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36).
However, Peter’s preaching and teaching precedes even the events of Acts 2. To see why Peter is so focused before his listeners in Acts 2, and before his readers in his two epistles, we need to focus our attention on the written account found in John 21.
In John 21, we see Jesus restoring and recommissioning Peter from the despair and disillusionment of his threefold denial of his Lord and Savior prior to the crucifixion (Matthew 26:58; Mark 15:54; Luke 22:54; John 18:15-18). Peter rejoiced with the other disciples over Jesus’ resurrection (John 20), but believed he had forfeited the right and responsibilities of being a witness to the resurrection because of his denials. He emphatically meant this when he said, “I am going fishing” (21:3). He was going back to the life he knew before he met Jesus.
Yet Jesus lovingly and gently takes Peter aside and three times he asks Peter whether or not Peter loves Him (John 21:15-17) more than the fish he has gone back to catching. Jesus asks Peter this question three times to parallel Peter’s three-fold denial. Jesus also gives Peter a three-fold commission: feed my lambs, tend my sheep, and feed my sheep (21:15-17).
Jesus tells Peter to no longer seek for fish, but rather to feed and tend the sheepfold of God: the believing community or the church. “My lambs” and “my sheep” refer to “my church” (John 10:14, 26-27; Matthew 16:18). Peter urges his fellow elders to do the same (I Peter 5:1-2). The food upon which the church grows is the Word of God.
Peter’s preaching and teaching reflected the restoration he received from Jesus. We can experience the same restoration from the Savior as Peter did due to our own failures and failings. It is when we receive this forgiveness by faith, we can once again be a vessel the Master can choose to use (I John 1:9).
Ask God right now to forgive you of your failures and sin, and also for Him to begin using you for His glory. All you have to do is ask.
Soli deo Gloria!
What are the themes of the Epistle of I Peter? What is God teaching us through this apostle?
There are several significant doctrinal themes contained in I Peter. First is the reality that Christians will be persecuted for their faith (1:6; 2:12, 19-21; 3:9, 13-18; 4:1, 12-16, 19). This parallels not only truth found in the Old Testament (Psalm 69:26; Isaiah 50:6; 53:7; Jeremiah 15:15; Daniel 3:28; Zechariah 2:8), but also in other New Testament writings (Mark 10:30; Luke 21:12; John 5:16; 15:20; Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 1:10; 4:9; 2 Timothy 3:12). This suffering eventually results in the believer’s maturity (I Peter 5:10-11).
Secondly, there is the recurring theme of the character of God. Several of God’s manifold attributes are mentioned in I Peter. These include God’s accessibility (1:17; 3:18), faithfulness (4:19), holiness (1:15-16), justness (1:17), long-suffering (3:20), mercy (1:3), and righteousness (2:23).
Thirdly, the person and work of Jesus Christ is a central theme found in this epistle. Several aspects of Christ mentioned by Peter include Christ’s sufferings (1:10-12; 2:24; 4:12-13), perseverance (1:13-16), and Christ being the believer’s hope in a hostile world (1:3-4). Preeminent among these is Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners (2:24).
Along with these doctrinal themes are several key words. These include the following: (1) word or logos (1:23; 2:8; 3:1) referring to the gospel message; (2) example (2:21) referring to Christ being our example of godliness and wisdom in the midst of persecution; and (3) love or agape (4:8) which refers to a self-sacrificial love of the will towards strangers and fellow believers.
These doctrinal themes and words are just as applicable to believers today as they were to the first century church.
Soli deo Gloria!
As we begin our study in I Peter, let us notice some background information about this epistle written by the apostle known as “the rock.” (Matthew 16:13-20).
Acceptance of Peter’s authorship of this letter is virtually unanimous. His letter was written during a time of religious persecution of Christians. Rather than an official edict from the Roman government, the sufferings these first century believers faced were then, and are today, the trials common to all Christians. These include insults (4:4; 14), slanderous accusations of wrongdoing (2:12; 3:16) and beatings (2:20); resulting from social isolation and resulting in mob violence.
The Roman government and culture perceived Christians, like many Jews, as antisocial. Certain stereotypes became common: Christians were “atheists” (like some philosophers, for rejecting the many Roman gods), “cannibals” (for claiming to eat Jesus’ “body” and drink his “blood”), and incestuous (for statements like “I love you, brother,” or “I love you, sister”).
According to some early first century historians, the Roman Emperor Nero burned Christians alive as torches to light his gardens at night. He killed other Christians in equally severe ways such as feeding them to animals for public amusement. In all, it is estimated that Nero must have murdered thousands of Roman Christians, although most Christians escaped his grip. Many Christians saw Nero as a type of antichrist.
Peter intends to instruct and encourage believers who are experiencing the pain of persecution for their faith in Christ. Such encouragement was not only needed then, but also today as Christians are increasingly experiencing the pain of persecution and discrimination because of their faith.
God has much to communicate through the Apostle Peter. Let us begin to listen to what He has to say.
Soli deo Gloria!
God has a purpose in our pain. Every Christian who has ever lived on this earth has experienced pain and suffering in some form or fashion. We all have. Whether by the behavior of others or through the reality of living in this sin cursed and fallen world. We get hurt.
However, God has a purpose in our pain. This is a statement of biblical truth. Here is but a sampling from the Scriptures of God’s purpose.
- The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:19.
- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
- I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
- Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4.
- For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17.
While these Scripture references, and many more for that matter, testify to the biblical truth of God’s purposeful plan for His children who are in the midst of pain, one book of the Bible showcases this theme. That book is the New Testament book known as I Peter.
Our initial journey here at hiswordtoday.org will be to examine this stirring and thoughtful book, inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by the Apostle Peter. My prayer is that questions will be answered and greater trust in our sovereign God will be increased.
Thank you for your interest in His Word Today. Beginning September 1, 2017 we will be up and running the race with patience as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). I am so glad you have chosen to join me on the journey.
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If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!