Hope in Exile
The Book of I Peter
Peter wrote to God’s elect saints in exile, people like us who needed the hope of the gospel. Peter’s letter offered first-century believers hope—but not through asserting their rights or retreating from their communities. Instead, he told believers to suffer with joy, entrust themselves to their Creator, and remember that this world is not their home.
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God often uses the least likely people to do the most extraordinary things. Out of all the characters from the early church, there was no one quite like Simon Peter. He was a fiery boisterous troublemaker who was often rebuked by Jesus, and the disciples, and Paul. Nevertheless, Peter demonstrated great faith that pleased the Lord.
He began as a fisherman and ended as an apostle. He was crucified in Rome upside down on a cross, but before the end of his life God would use this man to establish the early church and write some of the New Testament. Now 2,000 years later, we are the fruit of this early church leader’s labor.
Through the first letter of Peter, we hear God speaking to us today and the message has never been more relevant. We are exiles in a foreign land but have been born again to a living hope.
To better understand the message of 1 Peter, let’s look at the story of the author and the recipients of his letter.
Jesus calls Simon, a fisherman, to be his disciple. (Matthew 4:18 -22)
Jesus changes Simon’s name to “Peter.” (Matthew 16:18)
Peter denies Christ. (Matthew 26:69-75)
Death and Resurrection of Jesus. (Luke 23:26-24:12)
Peter Preaches at Pentecost and 3,000 are saved. (Acts 2:41)
Peter preaches at Solomon’s Portico for Jews to repent. (Acts 3:11-26)
Peter meets with Paul. (Acts 9:26-30)
God brings Peter to a centurion named Cornelius and Peter preaches at Caesarea for Gentiles to repent. (Acts 10:1-48)
Peter goes to Rome.
Peter writes first letter (1 Peter) from Rome.
The Temple in Jerusalem is completed.
We have put together 10 readings to help you dive into the content and context of Peter’s first letter. Each reading will include Scripture from 1 Peter, related passages, and the book of Acts.
At the end of each reading, there will be a few questions for you to process and a prayer point relating to the text. We suggest using the REAP method to study through these readings. Don’t know what that is? Click here.
The disciples stood in disbelief, but there He was, Jesus in the flesh!
For 40 days, He walked and talked with the disciples and then said this:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 ESV)
These were the final words of Jesus before ascending into heaven.
The remaining chapters of the book of Acts tell the story of how these words were fulfilled.
Acts 1-7 show the disciples bearing witness in Jerusalem.
Acts 8-12 show the disciples bearing witness in Judea & Samaria.
Acts 13-28 show the disciples bearing witness to the ends of the earth.
People, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bore witness about Jesus in a hostile world and the gospel flourished.
The New Testament consists of 27 different books, 21 of which are “epistles,” which simply means “letters.” Near the end of his life, the Apostle Peter traveled to Rome, which was at the time the center of power in the world. The Roman Empire controlled much of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Under the control of Emperor Nero, most Christ followers faced hostility and even brutal persecution in those regions.
The book of 1 Peter is a letter written by the Apostle Peter from Rome to several churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). These churches were primarily made up of Gentiles and suffered greatly at the hand of their Roman and Greek rulers. In his letter, Peter encourages these churches to endure suffering with joy because they have received an inheritance that cannot be destroyed or diminished. This inheritance is eternal life and infinite joy in Christ.
For this reason, Peter calls them “elect exiles” that have been “born again to a living hope” that should “endure suffering” because this world is not their home.
Despite a fierce opposition from the culture and rulers of the day, the gospel flourished and spread to the ends of the earth. These are the roots of the early church and we are the fruit of that labor. People bore witness to Christ throughout the ages and now the gospel has come to us.