1 Peter

Author: The author identifies himself as Peter and of course the book carries his name.  His authorship has been upheld by some of the earliest church historians going all the way back to Clement and Polycarp.  Nevertheless, some believe that the Greek used in this letter is too elegant for a man who worked as a fisherman before being called as a disciple.

The criticism of the more elegant Greek is refuted easily enough in a few ways.  Even if Peter had not spoken or written in Greek as a fisherman (it is quite possible that he still conducted some business in Greek, but ignoring that possibility) Peter would have had three decades to learn and hone his language skills since his time as a fisherman.  Furthermore, 1 Peter 5:12 makes reference to Silas assisting with the letter.  It is possible that Silas worked as a scribe for Peter and thus recorded his words in a more elegant form than Peter himself may have written.  If this is the case, 2 Peter was likely written by Peter himself without the assistance of Silas.

Date: 1 Peter was like written in the early 60’s.  It shows a familiarity with Paul’s prison epistles which were written around AD 60.  And it would have been written no later than AD 67-68 when Peter was martyred at the hands of Nero.  While some want to pin the persecution mentioned here as happening under Domitian, there is no reason to jump to this conclusion as there was also a great persecution under Nero.

Recipients: 1 Peter appears to be written to Christians all over the world and thus would have been distributed everywhere.  The letter opens by addressing the elect “scattered throughout” and then mentions several specific locations.  These are places that Paul preached at as well as locations mentioned in Acts 2 that people had gathered from in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost.  This should not be considered an exclusive list but rather a simple indication of how wide Christianity had spread and that the letter should be distributed to all of the churches.

Place of writing: Peter indicates that he is writing from Babylon.  Nevertheless it is unclear whether this is a literal Babylon or a figurative one.  Likewise, there are several locations that are known by that name.  There was a Babylon in Egypt which was a military post and there was also a small town near the Euphrates which carried the same name of the once great city that existed in the region.  It has also been suggested that Babylon is a code word for Rome as many believe is done in the book of Revelation as well.  While there is no indication that Babylon was used as a code for Rome outside of the book of Revelation, the later that this book was written, the more likely that Peter actually was in Rome as he will be imprisoned and martyred there.

Theme: Peter gives his purpose for writing as encouragement in 1 Peter 5:12 and certainly this is an important theme in the book.  He also touches on several different areas in his short letter.  He addresses Christian life and doctrine as well.  And while he seeks to offer encouragement, he also discusses suffering and persecution which he was no doubt familiar with.

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