Authorship- The book was written from Rome (called Babylon in 5:13 for an unknown reason) by the apostle Peter. The opinion that the apostle Peter is the author is sustained by both history and careful investigation. Arguing from presuppositions about the character and background of Peter, some critics have emphatically rejected Petrine authorship. The opinion that the very fine quality of the language cannot be from a Galilean fisherman ignores the long history of Greek language in Galilee and the fact that Peter had preached for some thirty years by the time he wrote this book. Considering both style and church history, there is no compelling reason to reject Peter’s authorship.
Canonicity- While some modern critics have rejected it, 1 Peter was not among the disputed books by the early church. Its omission in the list of accepted books in the Muratorian Canon is due to the incomplete nature of that text, not because there was any early doubt as to 1 Peter’s acceptance.
The Date- During Nero’s reign there was great persecution of believers, hence the most likely time period for the composition is around A.D. 62-64.
The Destination- The address is to churches of the provinces in northern Asia Minor which is modern Turkey (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythynia). When this area was evangelized, and what part Peter had in it is unknown unless one believes Paul worked this far north.
The Readers- They were converted Jews and Gentiles. Jewishness is implied in the use of the Old Testament and factors cited in 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2:4-9, 11-12. That some were Gentiles is supported in 1 Peter 1:14, 18-19; 2:10. It is likely that the majority were Gentiles.
The Style- The Greek is much more literary in both vocabulary and syntax than one would expect from an ignorant fisherman, but Peter was likely well educated, although not in formal schools (Acts 4:13). His preparation for this task included his background as a tradesman, requiring conversation with Greek-speaking men, training at the feet of Jesus, and the various meetings with the infant church and her leaders (Acts 1:12-2:42; 11:1-18; Gal. 1:18; 2:1-14) The place of the amanuensis in early literary work was greater than a modern secretary, and Silvanus (1 Pet. 5:12) could have been responsible for some of the stylistic sophistication.
The Purpose- The persecuted believers in Asia were encouraged to hope in God’s ultimate deliverance, and hence remain steadfast in their persecutions.
Theological Contributions- The vicarious atonement is stated more clearly in 1 Peter 3:18 (see also 1:18-19; 2:24) than anywhere else in Scripture. This leads to the most difficult passage in the book and one of the most difficult in the entire Scriptures.
First Peter 3:18-22 has the following problems: (1) the meaning of “preached into the spirits in prison” 3:19; (2) the mention of Noah, 3:20; and (3) “baptism doth also now save us.” Two common positions are held regarding Christ preaching to spirits in prison: (1) it is a descent of Christ into Hades to announce that He had died for sinners and victory over Satan is assured; (2) the spirit of Christ was in Noah as he preached to no avail to that hard-hearted generation. Peter was not teaching a second chance for salvation after death. The statement about baptism does not infer that the act of dipping in water accomplishes what Scripture affirms elsewhere is done by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). It is “not a removal of dirt,” but the response of a good conscience to God (1 Pet. 3:21 NRSV).
The appeals to holiness and personal Christian living are everywhere apparent (1:14-2:12; 2:24-25; 3:8-13), but it is the biblical theology of suffering which pervades the book (1:6-9; 2:18-25; 3:9-17; 4:1-6; 4:12-19). His advice to family members is typically Jewish, reflecting his background (2:18-20; 3:1-7). The doctrine of eschatology is often mentioned (1:4, 7, 11, 13; 2:12; 4:7, 13). It is the basis for the appeal to holy living and patiently suffering unjustly, knowing that God will finally establish His kingdom with justice.
The Theme: “The Believer is to Stand in God’s True Grace.”
From Holman's Dictionary (Multimedia Edition)
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