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New Testament Notes

The First Epistle of Peter

The following notes are intended to supplement, not replace, the readings from the Bible and the text book.
Comments or questions should be sent to: Dr. Rollinson.

I Peter

The author of I Peter identifies himself as Peter the apostle (I Pet. 1:1), and as an eye-witness to Christ's suffering, and implies that he is writing from "Babylon" - which is probably a code name for Rome (see Rev. 17:9, where the woman identified as Babylon is described as sitting on seven hills - Rome was famous for being built on seven hills). He also states that Silvanus helped write the letter (I Peter 5:12), which probably explains the high standard of its Greek. Silvanus was also one of Paul's companions (II Cor. 1:19, I Thess 1:1, II Thess 1:1) and may be the same person as Silas.
Some translations use the name Silas for the person referred to in I Peter 5:12. Silvanus may be the Latin form of the Greek name Silas. Silas had been one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem, and was sent to Antioch with Paul (Acts 15:22). He had accompanied Paul on his second evangelistic mission (Acts 15:40). The account of Paul and Silas in Philippi implies that Silas, like Paul, was a Roman citizen as well as a Jew (Acts 16:16-40).

The epistle is addressed to "the elect (chosen) of the Diaspora" in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia. These are all regions in what is now Turkey ("Asia" in New Testament times referred to the western coast of what is now Turkey). Jews from these regions had been present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, had heard Peter's speech, and some had become Christians (Acts 2:5-12, 40-41).
The epistle assumes a knowledge of the Old Testament, which might point to a Jewish-Christian readership. However, it also addresses slaves (I Peter 2:18-25) and Christian wives of unbelieving husbands (I Peter 3:1), so it would seem that Christianity had spread from the first Jewish converts to a wider circle. Although Paul's second missionary journey included parts of Phrygia and Galatia, he did not reach Asia and Bythinia (Acts 16:6-8).
The date of the epistle must be before AD 67/68, as Peter was martyred during the reign of the Emperor Nero. It may have been written while Peter was imprisoned in Rome awaiting "trial" and death. It was probably written later than Paul's letter to the Galatians, which dates to ca. AD 55. The Christians to whom Peter writes were not concerned with questions about circumcision, but were facing persecution for their faith (I Peter 1:6, 2:21, 4:12, 16).



I Peter 1:2 - all three Persons of the Trinity are at work in our sanctification.
I Peter 1:6 - the Christians were facing trials and persecution
I Peter 1:8 - Peter might be remembering when he heard Jesus make a similar statement (see John 20:29)
I Peter 1:16 - see Ex. 19:6. Lev. 19:2, 20:7, 21:8)
I Peter 1:20 - Christ was destined to come into the world to save mankind from sin - even before the creation of the world. He was not God's "Plan B" in case mankind should sin. God knew before He created us that we would sin, but He went ahead and made us, and provided for our atonement. Christ was God's "Plan A" from the beginning.
I Peter 1:34-35 - see Isaiah 40:6-8, Psalm 103:15-16
I Peter 2:4 - see Ps. 118:22, Isaiah 28:16, Matt. 21:42
I Peter 2:6 - see Isaiah 28:16
I Peter 2:7 - see Psalm 118:22
I Peter 2:8 - see Isaiah 8:14-15
I Peter 2:10 - see Hosea 2:23
I Peter 2:12 - see Matt. 5:16
I Peter 2:22 - see Isaiah 53:9, Isaiah 53:7, Acts 8:32-33
I Peter 2:23-25 - see Isaiah 53:3-8
I Peter 3:6 - see Genesis 16:12 (some translations say "husband", but the Hebrew word is "Adonai" - my Lord)
I Peter 3:9 - see Matt. 5:43-45
I Peter 3:10-12 - see Psalm 34:12-16
I Peter 3:19 - this may refer to the tradition that, during the time between his death on the Cross and his Resurrection, Christ went to those who had already died, and preached to them, bringing salvation to them also.
I Peter 3:20 - see Genesis, chapters 6-8
I Peter 3:22 - see Psalm 110:1, Acts 1:9-11, Acts 7:55-56
I Peter 4:6 - see note on I Peter 3:19
I Peter 4:10-11 - see I Cor. 12:4-11
I Peter 4:18 - see Proverbs 11:31 in the Septuagint
I Peter 5:5 - see Proverbs 3:34
I Peter 5:7 - see Psalm 55:22, Matt. 6:25-33, Matt. 11:28-30
I Peter 5:12 - the name of this person in the Greek text is Σιλουανος - Silvanus, not Σιλας - Silas. It may be the same person, known by the Latin name (Silvanus) as well as the Greek name (Silas)
I Peter 5:13 - Mark (also known as John Mark)is probably the same person who wrote the Gospel of Mark, and may be the young man who was watching in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:51) and heard the words of Jesus' prayer while all others were asleep (Mark 14:35-41). His family were among the leaders of the early Church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), and he started on a missionary journey with Paul (Acts 13:5), but did not complete it (Acts 13:13). His desertion caused a rift between Paul and Barnabas, which resulted in Barnabas taking Mark with him on a mission to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:37-10). Evidently the rift was healed in time, because later, when Paul was in prison, he asked Mark to join him as a helper (II Tim. 4:11, Col. 4:10, Philemon v.24). Traditionally, Mark was Peter's assistant when Peter was imprisoned in Rome, and obtained most of the material for his Gospel from Peter.

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