Intro to 1 Peter

Intro to 1 Peter

1 Peter 1:1–2

In verse 1, Peter specifies the addressees of this letter: “Peter, an apostle of Messiah Yeshua, to those in the diaspora scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” When Peter wrote this letter, he was in Antioch.

One of the questions that arises upon reading 1 Peter is: How did the people in these places come to faith in Yeshua? The answer to this question is found in the book of Acts. In Acts 1, after his resurrection, Yeshua is with his disciples for 40 days, teaching them about the Kingdom of God until his ascension. Before his ascension, Yeshua promises that when he goes, they will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. In Chapter 2, we are told that the disciples and an additional 120 believers were baptized for the first time together by the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. There were many witnesses to this event as it happened in Jerusalem during the Feast of Weeks (Shavu’ot), one of the three pilgrimage festivals. For this reason, Jerusalem was full of Jews from all over Israel and the diaspora who had come to fulfill the commandment to visit Jerusalem for the feast. Many were astounded by this baptism in the Spirit and 3,000 came to faith in Yeshua that day because of what they witnessed when Peter invited them into an understanding of what happened. Some of that 3,000 were from the same places mentioned in Peter’s introduction in 1 Peter 1 (see Acts 2:8-9).

From this, we can understand that 1 Peter is likely aimed at those who came to faith that day as described in the book of Acts. It is very likely that Peter is writing to a Jewish readership since if they are those who were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks. It is also likely that he is writing his letter to Jews since he refers to them as the “diaspora”. Moreover, it is very likely that Peter is writing to a Jewish readership since Paul writes in Galatians 2:7 that Peter had been entrusted with bringing the Gospel to the Jews (as opposed to Paul who was entrusted to bring the Gospel primarily to the gentiles).

In verses 1–2, Peter addresses his readers by saying: “To those… who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Messiah Yeshua and be sprinkled with his blood.” Peter reminds them of the foundation of the Gospel: they were chosen by God from the very beginning to be set apart by the Holy Spirit so that they might serve Messiah Yeshua being forgiven of their sins by the power of his blood. Peter is reminding them of their identity as children of God in order to strengthen them in their faith and encourage them in their current circumstances. At the time this letter was written, the believers in Asia Minor were controlled by the Roman Empire under the Roman Emperor Nero. During Nero’s time as emperor, the believers were persecuted heavily by the Roman authorities, in constant danger of being physically mutilated or even killed. Peter continues to write: “May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure”. These words are in no way superficial but are addressed to believers who very much needed the grace and peace of God in trying times. Peter is reminding them that no matter what hardships may come their way, God is in control and His Will will be done. In times of trouble and confusion, we must remember those things that are trustworthy and true, we must return to the foundations of our faith and to our identity in the Messiah. In this way, we will be filled with hope and peace, encouraged to press into solutions to our hardships that honor God to the fullest.

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