ritten around A.D. 62-64, First Peter contains valuable teachings meant to encourage Christians enduring trials and persecution.
Likely to be written by the apostle Peter, a close friend of Jesus and the “rock” onto which Christ built His church, the fisherman and deacon of the early Christian church is believed to have written this letter when fulfilling his mission in Babylon or Rome.
This letter’s outline is divided in five sections. First Peter invites his readers to find comfort and reassurance in suffering. Peter also writes about practical holiness, then explains the spiritual significance of suffering. The letter also includes scripture exhortations to both young and mature Christians and finally, Peter closes with a benediction according to God’s ever lasting grace in which we stand.
This week’s message focuses on the first chapter of this letter in which Peter identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. In the first few verses, the author addresses his audience, wordily Christian outcasts belonging to a heavenly world dispersed throughout Asia Minor (present day Turkey).
“1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)
By ‘sanctifying’ Peter refers to the ongoing spiritual maturing process in believers brought on by the Holy Spirit through obedience in Christ and the word of God. By ‘strangers in the world’ Peter calls on his readers to embrace our role as the church scattered among the world from which we are not to be distracted.
Peter then describes the heavenly inheritance bestowed upon believers through God’s abundant mercy where our hope resides. In these verses the apostle Peter acknowledges the fact believers will ‘suffer grief and trails’ and that through these challenges, we will be allowed to grow spiritually in Christ Jesus.
“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9)
The ‘goal of our faith’ or nature of our heavenly inheritance is in direct proportion with the level of spiritual maturity and trust we place in God and His son Jesus Christ.
Expanding the concept of salvation, Peter then writes about the prophets chosen by God to speak of events to come. Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel are among those blessed with the great gift of prophecy. The same men gave and even lost their lives to serve God and us instead of themselves.
“10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)
Calling on believers to hold steadfast, Peter follows with exhortations to both young and old, both spiritual babes and elders. Calling on new believers to resist temptation, Peter invites us to be ‘holy’ just as God is holy, just as Jesus is holy. To prepare we must dwell in God’s word and immerse ourselves in His church where God will provide growth opportunities that will serve as preparation for Jesus’ return.
“13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
In these first verses of his letter, Peter greets his readers and invites them (us), as the church scattered to faithfully endure trials with confidence that challenges brought on by the world will strengthen our faith in Jesus christ. Peter also reminds us of the great inheritance that come along with the our sanctification.
I invite you to read ahead and complete the first chapter of First Peter so to familiarize yourself with the scripture we will study in next week’s message. More importantly I hope and pray you will hold this message close to your heart knowing that God will keep His promise and reward us according to our faith, to our works. Remember discipleship will also lead us into trials that involve suffering which is a tool used by God to sculpt His children as they endure through challenges filled with hope brought on by the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray!
We thank you for this day and for your servant Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ
We praise you for his wisdom and for his works through this letter,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use this scripture in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of Peter.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure trials and suffering
As we trust your plan for our lives and acknowledge our need to fulfill this perfect plan,
Allowing us to spread your divine light as part of your church scattered
Reaching out to those who dwell in darkness or have strayed from righteousness.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
As you provide us with all we need
To fulfill your plan for our lives.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre