the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
The Bible Study New Testament Bible Study NT
- 1 Peter
by Rhoderick D. Ice
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST LETTER FROM PETER
Simon Peter is the best known of the Twelve. He was a native of Bethsaida (John 1:44) and had a home in Capernaum (Mark 1:29). He had a large and successful fishing business on Lake Galilee (Luke 5:1-11) when Jesus called him to be an apostle. From then on Peter’s life was close to Jesus, and he along with James, John, and Andrew, formed the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. It was Peter who first declared Jesus is the Messiah (Matthew 16:16). Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter (Greek for a rock) or Cephas (Aramaic for a rock). Compare note on Matthew 16:18. He is the first to publicly proclaim the Good News on Pentecost (Acts ch 2), and is the leader in the activities of the first years of Christian history. But Peter disappears in Acts 12:17 and appears briefly in Galatians 2:11 and 1 Corinthians 1:12. These two letters imply that he visited among the churches of the province of Asia. He took his wife along on his tours (1 Corinthians 9:5). There is no evidence that he spent his last twenty-five years at Rome, as some claim. But there is proof that he died at Rome, about the same time that Paul did, in 67 or 68 A.D. Tradition says he was crucified upside-down.
First Peter has probably the most complete synopsis of the teaching and ethics of the Good News of any New Testament Letter. Christian living is linked with the example of Jesus, and great emphasis is put on the need to live a holy life! In the first century, as the number of Christians rapidly increased, so did persecution. Compare Revelation 6:2-6 and notes. Peter writes to encourage those who suffer. Erasmus said about this Letter: “It is worthy of the Prince of the apostles, and full of apostolic dignity and authority. It is sparing in words, but full of sense.” Peter probably writes from Babylon on the Euphrates (1 Peter 5:13). Some think Babylon is being used as a code-name for Rome, but no evidence places Peter in Rome at this date. Johnson says: “There are reasons for thinking that Peter has seen the Ephesian Letter, one of the epistles of Paul’s (first) imprisonment, and so this Epistle was probably written as late, at least, as 63 A.D.”