What does it say?
Tradition says that Peter is killed in Rome during the wave of persecution that began in 64 AD. Peter probably writes this letter from Rome not long after this persecution begins. The recipients are believers scattered in five Roman provinces in what is now Turkey.
Peter aims to communicate hope by explaining God’s purposes in our trials and suffering (1Pe 1). Even in trial God’s people are to live in such a way as to reflect his life and truth. As Paul speaks to the Ephesians and Colossians, so Peter now instructs his readers about the practicalities of living out biblical faith in the world around us and in all our relationships including marriage. Peter also focuses on baptism as a powerful witness of our clean conscience before God and of his transforming power (1Pe 2-3).
Directly addressing the persecution confronting believers, Peter gives very practical instruction for living through such times (1Pe 4). He also knows that leadership is critical in difficult times, and he addresses elders, urging them to live lives of humility and in submission to Christ and to each other (1Pe 5). Before final greetings, Peter concludes with a call to stand firm in the faith and to know that God is being glorified as we both suffer and grow in walk with him.
What does it mean?
The practical teaching in 1 Peter is obvious about God’s purposes in trials and suffering and about how to prosper in missional living during such times. Everything Peter says has benefit for us today even though the nature of our trials and suffering may be far different than that of the first century.
Beneath the surface is another important theme that appears in 1 Peter 5:5-6 as Peter urges other church leaders to humble themselves under God’s mighty hand. As a young follower of Jesus, Peter appears in the Gospels as impetuous, brash and often a bit prideful. Remarkably, some three decades later, Peter is preaching humility. Peter writes that God uses trials and suffering to accomplish his mission in the world and in us. Learning to trust God in trials is transformational, and Peter himself is the prime example here, having been transformed through his walk of faith.
How will I respond?
What is the point of suffering or trial in my life right now? What is one way that God may be using this suffering to accomplish him mission in others? What is one way that God may be using this suffering to equip me and to further my personal growth?