First Peter, the longer of the two epistles, is written in fine Greek and refers frequently to the Old Testament. It is an epistle for the downhearted, written to give encouragement in times of trial and disappointment. First Peter anchors the Christian's hope not on logic or persuasion, but on the matchless sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who "suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" <2:21>.
Structure of the Epistles. Following a greeting <1:1-2>, 1 Peter begins on a positive note, praising God for the blessings of a "living hope" which He has reserved for believers <1:3-12>. This Doxology of praise sets a triumphant tone for the remainder of the letter, which can be divided into three parts: blessings, duties, and trials. The blessings extend from <1:3> to <2:10>. Because of the "inheritance incorruptible and undefiled... reserved in heaven for you" <1:4>, Peter calls on his readers to live a life holy and blameless, reminding them that they are a "holy nation, His [God's] own special people" <2:9>.
The second part of 1 Peter extends from <2:11> to <3:22>. This section consists of guidance for social duties. The Christian's life-style ought to be a testimony to non-believers <2:11-17>; slaves ought to obey their masters-- even unjust ones-- bearing their humiliation as Christ bore His <2:18-25>; the silent example of a Christian wife has great effect on a non-Christian husband <3:1-6>; Christian husbands are to treat their wives as joint-heirs of the grace of life <3:7>. In all things, let a blameless lifestyle bring shame on whomever would show opposition <3:8-22>.
The third and final part of 1 Peter addresses the question of trials <4:1--5:11>. In light of the nearness of the end, Christians must be "good stewards of the manifold grace of God" <4:1-11>. They can rejoice in sharing Christ's sufferings because of the glory that awaits them <4:12-19>. In their pastoral duties, church elders are to follow the example of Jesus, who perfects, establishes, and strengthens the flock <5:1-11>. The epistle closes with mention of Silvanus, the secretary who wrote the letter, and with greetings from "Babylon" <5:12-14>.
Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
(Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
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