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Jesus Fish 3

New Testament Survey: The Book Of First Peter

Written By: Steve Shirley

The Book Of First Peter


  • Peter (1 Pet 1:1)(In 2 Pet 3:1, Peter wrote that it was his second Epistle.) (For more on Peter see: Survey: Biography Of Peter)
  • Because this letter was written in sophisticated and polished Greek, some have argued that Peter, who was an “unlearned” fisherman (Acts 4:13), could not have written it. However, it appears (as was the case with Paul in many of his letters) that Peter dictated his letter to Silas (Silvanus) “By Silvanus… I have written” (1 Pet 5:12). He could have polished or smoothed out Peter’s Greek. (Silas may also have delivered this letter.)
  • The writer was also an eyewitness to several things that occurred to Jesus (1 Pet 1:8)(1 Pet 5:1), and considered Mark to be his “son” (1 Pet 5:13). This term was often used by those who had previously led someone to the Lord (see: Phile 1:10, 1 Tim 1:2,18, 2 Tim 1:2, 1 Cor 4:17). (As we discussed previously in the Survey Of Mark, Peter had a great influence on Mark’s writing of his Gospel.)
  • There is also a great deal of similarity between Peter’s speeches found in Acts, and verses found in 1st Peter. Compare:
(1 Pet 1:17) / (Acts 10:34) (1 Pet 2:24) / (Acts 5:30, 10:39)  **See Note Below
(1 Pet 1:21) / (Acts 2:32, 3:15, 10:40) (1 Pet 4:5) / (Acts 10:42)
(1 Pet 2:7) / (Acts 4:11) (1 Pet 5:1) / (Acts 2:32, 3:15)

** Note: The Greek word for “tree” (“Xulon” in Greek)(figurative of the cross) is used by Peter here.

  • In addition, all 11 key early church fathers (Clement Of Rome, Ignatius, Papias, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement Of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius) agreed that Peter authored this book.
  • As we mentioned in our previous Survey Of James, Peter also paraphrased a number of passages from the Book of James when he wrote 1st Peter.

The Stats:

  • Chapters: 5
  • Verses: 105

Date Written:

  • App. 64 A.D. (Either shortly before, or very soon after, the great fire that destroyed about 3/4 of Rome.)
  • Peter, as well as his readers, had access to a number of Paul’s Epistles (see: 2 Pet 3:15-16). 1st Peter contains a great number of similarities with several of these earlier Epistles, in particular Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Compare: (1 Pet 1:2 to Eph 1:4-7)(1 Pet 1:3 to Eph 1:3)(1 Pet 2:18 to Eph 6:5)(1 Pet 3:1 to Eph 5:22)(1 Pet 5:5 to Eph 5:21). Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was a part of the “Prison Epistles” that he wrote while in prison in Rome (60-62 A.D.), so Peter wrote after this. Peter was martyred in 66 or 67 A.D., so it had to be written before this.

Place Written:

  • Babylon (1 Pet 5:13) (Possibly: Rome)
  • It has been debated over the centuries if Babylon “literally” means the city of Babylon, which was located on the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, or if Babylon was simply “symbolic” of Rome.
  • For the “literal” view, Josephus said that there were a great number of Jews in the Roman province of Babylon, and there was also a large synagogue. In (1 Pet 1:1), the provinces (see below) are listed in the order in which they would naturally occur if writing from Babylon.
  • For the “symbolic” view, Babylon is (thought to be by most) “symbolic” of Rome in (Rev 14:8, 17:5, 18:2,10,21), so called because of its ungodliness. (Symbolic names and symbols were often used to protect Christians in the midst of persecution i.e. the fish symbol that Christians often display today.)
  • In addition, there is no evidence that Peter ever visited the actual city called Babylon, and a great deal of evidence that Peter spent the last years of his life in Rome.

Written To:

  • Christians in the 5 provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Pet 1:1), located in northwestern Asia Minor (modern Turkey).
  • There is some debate as to who Peter’s intended “Christian” audience was: Jews, Gentiles, or both. Verses used in this debate include: (1 Pet 1:1,10-12,18)(1 Pet 2:9-12)(1 Pet 4:3-4).

Key Verses:

(1 Pet 1:3-7,23-25)(1 Pet 2:9-11,24)(1 Pet 3:1-4,7,12,17-22)(1 Pet 4:8,12-14)(1 Pet 5:4-8)


  • To comfort and strengthen these Christians in the face of suffering (possibly due to increased persecution of Christians following the fire in Rome).
  • To more fully explain the doctrines of Christianity.
  • To encourage them to remain steadfast in their faith and live righteous lives in the midst of adversity, and have hope that God would ultimately deliver them.
  • To teach them to be humble (1 Pet 5:5-6) and submit to others for the cause of Christ.

Special Emphasis:

  • Four words are used more in 1st Peter than any other book in the New Testament: “suffer” (Gr: “pentho“) 12 times, “suffering” (Gr: “pathema“) 4 times, “incorruptible” (Gr: “aphthartos“) 3 times, “evildoer” (Gr: “kakopoios“) 4 times.
  • Of the 105 verses in 1st Peter, more than one-third are references to the Old Testament.
  • Peter has often been called the “apostle of hope.” The word “hope” (Gr: “elpizo” / “elpis“) is used 4 times in 1st Peter.


  • The Epistle is in three parts:

1. Christian suffering and conduct in the light of full salvation, 1:1-2:8.

2. The believer’s life in view of his sevenfold position, and of the vicarious suffering of Christ, 2:9-4:19.

3. Christian service in the light of the coming of the Chief Shepherd, 5:1-14.

(Survey from Scofield Reference Notes [1917 ed.]: Public Domain)

Copyright: © Steve Shirley