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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 that, as was the case with Paul in many of his letters, Peter dictated his letter to Silas (Silvanus) “By Silvanus… I have written” (1 Pet 5:12) who 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 1:12) / (Acts 5:32) (1 Pet 2:24) / (Acts 5:30, 10:39)  **See Note Below
(1 Pet 1:17) / (Acts 10:34) (1 Pet 4:5) / (Acts 10:42)
(1 Pet 1:21) / (Acts 2:32, 3:15, 10:40) (1 Pet 5:1) / (Acts 2:32, 3:15)
(1 Pet 2:7) / (Acts 4:11)  

** 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 half 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 67 or 68 A.D. so it had to be written before this.

Place Written:

  • Babylon (1 Pet 5:13)
  • Babylon could “literally” have been the place called Babylon which was located on the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia. Josephus said that there were a great number of Jews in the Roman province of Babylon, and there was also a large synagogue. The provinces are also listed in (1 Pet 1:1) in the order in which they would naturally occur if writing from Babylon.
  • Babylon could also have been “symbolic” of Rome (see: 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 Christians often display today.)
  • Because 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, most scholars today believe it was symbolic of 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).
  • These were most likely scattered former Jews (1 Pet 1:10-12)(1 Pet 2:11-12), but also Gentiles (1 Pet 1:14,18)(1 Pet 2:9-10)(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:

  • Some form of the word “suffer” is used 15 times in 1st Peter. This is more than any book in the New Testament but Acts (16 times).
  • Being “holy” is mentioned 4 times. This is more than any other book in the New Testament.
  • 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” and this an “Epistle of hope.” The word “hope” 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