1 Peter

Jump to chapter: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Chapter 1

(1-2) My beloved son, Peter—the Rock—wrote this letter. You know from the gospels that he led with his heart. Sometimes his passion got him into trouble, but I specialize in using weakness for my glory. I inspired him to write this letter to my followers outside of Jerusalem, mostly in the region now known as Turkey. Before these believers were ever born, I knew they would be mine. Not only did I choose to save them by the blood of my Son, but by my Spirit, I chose to shape their lives to look more and more like Jesus, which is my will for you too. 

Live more and more by my grace; Rest day by day in my peace. 

 (3-6) Everything begins and ends in me. All things are done for my glory. I will open your eyes to see that everything good is found in me and all blessedness flows from me. Child, I love you so much that despite your great sinfulness, I have chosen mercy, which is greater. My son Jesus willingly took your sin to the cross, overcoming death three days later in resurrection, so that you also could be raised to new life. And listen, your salvation will never be taken from you. Its value will never lessen; it will never lose its gleam. My Son, who is seated beside me, guarantees it. Keep your faith solidly upon him. Although you see glimpses of my glory now, I cannot wait to reveal my fullness at the end of all things!

 (6-7) I know that life is often hard. The world often seems like it is on the edge of collapse. People—believers and non-believers alike—mistreat others. Churches fall apart. Marriages break up. Health fails. You may find this difficult to believe, but I hate these things more than you do, but I also I know how these things fit into my plan. When you are feeling discouraged, keep turning back to me with hope and trust that I know what I am doing. Just as steel becomes stronger when it is exposed to heat through a process called tempering, a tested faith becomes stronger. A tempered faith is worth more than all the gold in the world. When you see my Son face to face, it will be the trials, and not the easy times, that fuel the highest praise. 

 (8-12) Yet even now, in the muddled middle of your story, your love for my Son is evident. You joyfully anticipate the final chapter because you know that in the end, I shall set all things right and we shall celebrate together. I have been telling this salvation story since the beginning of time. Thousands of years before you were born, I used Old Testament storytellers to write the earliest chapters. They asked me questions, they paid attention and listened, and then they told the people about how my Son would come into the world as a suffering servant yet be glorified by me. Just as you have joy in my Son whom you have not seen, so did they. They glorified me and served you by telling my story. You have now heard more of this good story through those, like Peter, who saw my Son and heard from my Spirit. Do not take this gift for granted; even my angels wish they could fully understand the greatness and glory of what I am doing in you.

(13) Live in light of my glorious story knowing that you are a part of it. Set your hope squarely upon what my Son has already accomplished and what will one day be revealed. The gospel is not a fairy tale that can be put on the shelf when you are bored; it is more real than anything that you can comprehend and, because it is true, allow it to shape your entire life. I gave you an agile mind; use it to think about me. I created you with the ability to hope; place all your hope in my Son. You have glimpsed his grace, but what you have seen holds no candle to what is yet to be revealed when you see him face to face. 

(14-16) Before you knew my Son, you were a willing servant to harmful passions. You do not need to live that way anymore. You are free to live in obedience to my Son’s way of life. My Son came not only to deliver you from your sinfulness, but also to show you the way to holiness. He whispers to you, “Child, watch how I live and do likewise.” 

(17-21) I am your Father, but I am also a fair judge. One day, you will come before me and we will talk about your life. Your salvation will never be taken from you, but my Son’s love does not negate my justice. As you live, do not forget that I hate sin and that my righteous judgment will always prevail. Remember that my Son saved you not only from the penalty of your sins, but also from their power. You no longer need to live according to the old way. Because of the blood of my Son, you are free from the penalty of sin, but you are also free to live in holiness and love. Although our salvation plan was in place before I even whispered, “Let there be light,” when Jesus came to earth in bodily form, the plan become fully evident. And, do not miss this, he came for you. As he has been revealed to you, you have seen me and believed in me. I raised him from the dead to strengthen your faith and hope in me. 

Having been made pure by Jesus’s blood, when you live according to my truth, you honor my Son’s finished work. Having been made right with me, you have been freed to sincerely love others. You can take off your mask. There is no need for pretense, because in my Son, you have been given the gift of eternal life that will never be taken from you. Regardless of what happens in this life, I will never leave you. I reminded Peter of a poem from, Isaiah, one of my Old Testament story tellers, to show you that my good news is what remains.

All flesh is like grass
and its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.[1]

Chapter 2

(1-3) When you realize that my love will never disappear nor dim in intensity, it will change the way you relate. In the light of my unfading love, live and speak from who you truly are. I have justified you, so you have no need to justify yourself. You do not need to tear others down with your words. You have no reason to lie about them. You never need to pretend that you are better than you are. You do not need to feed on self-righteousness; you are free to feed on my word, the only true sustenance. My Son, the divine word, is heaven’s nourishment.

 (4-6) Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders. He was not the Messiah they anticipated. Their faulty reasoning led them to believe that someone as “weak” as Jesus would have no place in my kingdom, but my precious Son is the foundation of everything good and right. When you align your life with my Son, you have planted your flag in an everlasting kingdom. You are an essential part of our mission.  Lean all your weight upon Jesus—he is stronger than you could ever imagine—and no shame will ever stick to you.

 (7-8) Sadly, many people will continue to scramble after their own way, doing anything they can to get away from my Son, stumbling over themselves in pursuit of their own version of truth, but those who trip on the cornerstone will be broken to pieces. When you disregard my word and live according to self-centeredness, it leads to destruction. There is no way around it.

 (9-10) Beloved, I have chosen you to be a part of my family and my kingdom, which makes you royalty! I gladly call you my own. Shout it from the rooftops: “I belong to God! I have treasures beyond compare! The King is my Father! He pulled me from the slums and welcomed me into his magnificent court.” Do not ever forget that you once were alone, wilting in isolation, but not anymore. Let your countenance shine as a recipient of my never-ending stream of mercy.

 (11-12) Live as a citizen of my kingdom. Although you will remain in the world until you pass from earthly life or until my Son returns, your true citizenship is not found there anymore. The way the world operates does not suit you either. In fact, selfish ambition damages your soul. You are my representative, so act honorably. Because of the sinfulness in the world, people will still attack you and speak against you, but if you pursue my righteousness, their attacks will not stick. In fact, your example may lead some people to turn and glorify me.

 (13-15) Although your citizenship is firmly in heaven, you still live in the world. I know that you will feel tempted to oppose everything in the world, but for my glory, seek to honor those human institutions—governments, presidents, the police department. It may not seem like it, but I allow those structures to provide a degree of order, punish evil, and celebrate what is good. When you live a holy life, serving others without complaint, your actions take away any legitimate reason for criticism.

 (16-17) When my Son died on the cross and rose again, he freed you from all condemnation, but even though he set you free, too often you do not live like it. You either cower in fear of my wrath or you live unrighteously, saying “God forgives, so I can do whatever I want.” Listen, I have freed you from sin, but I have also freed you to love. Remember, there is no need to justify yourself any longer.

Treat every person honorably.
Show a particular love for other believers.
Live in awe of my power.
Respect your leaders.

 (18-24) Treat those who have authority over you with respect, as though you are serving me. As you well know, authorities are not always good-natured and kind. In fact, sometimes, they are evil. Regardless, serve well because it reflects how much I can transform your character. Life is not always easy, but enduring difficulty is a magnificent thing in my eyes. Almost everyone expects punishment when they do something that deserves it; there is nothing supernatural about it. But when you suffer for faithfully following me, I take notice! No suffering you experience can ever hold a candle to what has happened to him. Not only did he try to live a perfect life, but he also succeeded. Perfect righteousness, yet perfect suffering. People cursed him, spit on him, ripped his flesh from his bones, and hung him on a cross, yet despite the worst suffering imaginable, he trusted in our plan of redemption. He never forgot the intimacy of Trinitarian love nor the justice of heaven. 

 (24-25) My Son took your sins—all of them—upon his body, which was hung upon the cross so that you could be made right with me; however, his death did not just accomplish your righteousness, he actually provided the ability to live in a new way.  You were ignorantly pursuing old way living, but I drew you back into my safe keeping. 

Chapter 3

(1-4) The Christian life is countercultural. This world is watching how you are living in two worlds. Your life is a testimony to me and sometimes I ask you to move against the tide of culture. I ask wives to live respectfully, so that even when their husbands disobey me, they may look at how she is living and be changed. Women do not win their husband’s hearts by putting on makeup and dressing the part. Rebellious hearts are softened by gentleness. When her quiet nature reflects the beauty of Christ, it will stir his affections—for her and for me.

 (5-6) When I think about all the godly women I have known and who have known me, they trusted in me. Consider Sarah. Even though she spoke her mind to Abraham, she still followed him, trusting he had heard my plan. Consider her character as you seek goodness and peace.

(7) Husbands, do not come away from Peter’s words to wives feeling a sense of superiority. Husbands should get to know their wives, not just information about her, but know her intimately, seeking to respect her perspectives and opinions. It is too easy for husbands to harm their wives. Men are often physically bigger, and they can manipulate my word to force submission, but that is not the way of love. Rather go above and beyond to love, honor, and respect your spouse. Pray diligently for her. Neither one is above the other in my eyes. In fact, love, respect, and gentleness should go both ways if you have understood my grace toward you.  

(8) I have placed you in community with other believers. I created you for relationship, but as you know, relationships can go badly. As you live and worship with others, understand that you are seeking the same purpose: glorifying me and loving one another. Seek me together. When others suffer, share in their pain. Love them deeply, not merely as acquaintance, but family. Be kind and gentle, humble, and curious.

 (9-12) Times will come when others will hurt you or speak negatively about you. When they do, respond with blessing. Because you have already been made right with me by Jesus’s blood, you have no need to defend yourself. You are utterly free to bless. Peter recalled the words of David, another one of my passionate sons who wrote in Psalm 34 about the good life. David was right that if anyone wants to live well, he should guard his tongue, speaking truth and not lies, offering blessing and not curses. Turn away from temptation and toward goodness. My disciples are “peace catalysts”, as my servant Rick Love[2] would say, not only appreciating peace, but pursuing it. I am always watching and listening for those who are trying to live according to my ways with a smile on my face, but evil stirs my anger. 

 (13-14) Pursue the good life, knowing that my opinion is the only one that matters. There is no one who can harm you if you are seeking after me. Even when you suffer for following me, I will bless you. In fact, suffering brings blessings you cannot envision, so do not be afraid of those who threaten harm.

 (15-17) Always remember that you are living for me. It is Christ’s holiness that matters, not the world’s approval. Times will come when people will wonder how you could possibly believe in me. Some will curiously ask, and some will sarcastically scoff. Regardless, do not be afraid to tell them why you believe in me, but do so with the character of Christ. I delight in truth delivered with respect, and love offered with gentleness and grace. When scoffers speak poorly of you, they are the ones who look foolish. Bullies who are confronted with grace and peace are left standing as fools. Life on earth is filled with suffering. You may suffer for following me or you may suffer for opposing me. Which suffering will you choose?

(18-22) Even my Son suffered. He was a perfect man—sinless—yet he chose suffering on behalf of every sinful person to restore relationship with me. His body was shattered, but his Spirit remained whole. He descended to hell where he proclaimed my good news to those lost to sin and disobedience, even from the days of Noah, who saved his family from my utter destruction by the flood. Water brings death and water brings life. In baptism, you call to remembrance your salvation. You have been washed clean by the blood of my Son and raised with him to new life! Defeating death, my Son now sits right next to me as your Savior and advocate.

Chapter 4

(1-6) Regularly consider my Son’s life. He willingly suffered for the sake of our plan. With Christ as your example, be willing to accept suffering. When you live for Christ and not to avoid pain, you realize that sin no longer has a hold upon you. You had your fill of sin in the past, but it never fulfilled you. The world is filled with people pursuing sexual lust and carnal pleasures, drunkenness, and greed. Pleasure is their highest goal, so they are shocked when you say, “No thanks.” They may even call you names, but in the end, they will give an account for why they chose idols over Jesus. Everyone is given a choice for life with me, which is why Jesus even shared the good news with dead people. Everyone can live for fleshly lusts or with supernatural power. 

 (7-11) Keep the end in view. Practice godliness. Control your passions with the help of my Spirit. Pray fervently for believers and unbelievers alike. Seek to love well. In the world, the concept of love has been diluted. Recapture what it means to love as my Son loves, with seriousness and service. True love wills another’s good, even when they fail you repeatedly. Open your home and your heart without complaint. I have given you so much, but I did not give so that you could hoard my gifts. I gave lavishly so that you also could give lavishly and thus glorify me. When the abundance and variety of my gifts are shared freely, it brings me pleasure. When you speak, speak my truth. When you serve, serve in my strength. In doing so, you reflect Jesus and glorify the Trinity.

 (12-13) Dear child, I know it seems like I keep beating this drum about suffering, but I do not want you to be surprised when it happens. People are often shocked when they feel pain because they expect to live a pain free life, but pain is a consequence of the fall. Instead, rejoice when you suffer, reminded of your union with my Son, the suffering Savior. You have the privilege of sharing with him in that difficulty, but you will also have the privilege of unspeakable joy when he returns in glory. 

(14-16) When people make fun of you because you are a Christian, or call you hateful, or insist that following my Son is a stupid pipe-dream, my Spirit is with you in your pain. If you pursue evil, you will also suffer, but not in a way that is blessed. If you kill or steal, or even if you stick your nose into other people’s affairs in an unwelcome fashion, you will experience the discipline of pain, guilt, and shame. Let your suffering be on account of me and give thanks when it happens.

(17-19) Judgment comes to everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike. Get your own house in order. You cannot save yourself and it is only by my goodness and mercy that you are made right with me. If even righteousness is not enough to save you, imagine what will become of those who pursue evil. Do not let these mysteries overwhelm you. Live as well as you can and leave the outcome to me.

Chapter 5

(1-2) In my church, I want leaders to bear witness to the sufferings of Good Friday and the glory of Easter. True faith involves death and life, crucifixion and resurrection. Considering my Son’s finished work and in view of his eventual appearing, eagerly point people to the truth of my Son, not because you are pressured by others, but because you are overwhelmed by his goodness and glory. Too often, church leaders use their roles for personal gain, whether it be for wealth, recognition, or power, but those motivations are evil. Let loving me and loving others be its own reward.

 (3-4) Leaders should specialize in gentleness, humility, and love. How can you tell people about my love if there is no evidence of it in your life? My Son was the perfect preacher, but he was also the perfect model; when he comes back, he will reward those whose walk matches their talk.

(5) Be willing to look to those who are further along and whose faith has been tested. Those who have accepted the mantle of leadership have been given an especially difficult task; trying to lead different people with various gifts and personalities would be impossible apart from my Spirit. Leaders will make mistakes; all people do, but do not assume that you would do much better. Where they reflect my righteousness, do likewise. Practice humility with everyone you meet, knowing that I reward humility with grace. 

(6-7) Let me say it again: practice humility. You are always under my sovereign care. When you start feeling the temptation to respond out of prideful self-centeredness because you are mistreated, turn again to me. Remember that I reward meek people. When the brokenness in the world and in your own life makes you feel anxious or depressed, come and talk with me about those feelings. I care for you more deeply than you can possibly know.

 (8-9) Stay alert. The world is filled with sin and suffering. Do not be careless. Although my Son decisively defeated Satan on the cross, the evil one continues to try to draw people away from me. Even though his time is short, he wants to get as many people as he can to doubt my goodness and mercy. When he whispers accusations against you, or when he tempts you to evil, remind him who he is and, more importantly, who I am. My servant Martin Luther once said, “When the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? For I know one who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, son of God, and where he is there shall I be also.”[3] Satan holds no power over your security with me.

You are not walking this path alone. One of the devil’s schemes is to make you believe that there is no one who is dealing with the same things you are. Like a lion, Satan seeks to isolate his prey before devouring them. But listen, you have faithful brothers and sisters all over the world experiencing the same kinds of suffering. There is strength in numbers, so remember that you are not alone.

(10-11) Stay the course. Even when the road gets dark, remember that I am the light-giver. When you feel hopeless, know that your suffering is temporary, but life with me is eternal. I will refresh you continually with the waters of my never-ending river of my grace. You will bask in the light of my Son who himself will eternally remind you that he is your strength and your salvation. 

(12-13) Peter passed this letter along—filled with my grace and encouragement—through his brother Silvanus, sending greetings from the church in Babylon and from John Mark.

(14) Peter’s final exhortation was a call to relational intimacy. Be proactive about reaching out to one another, treating one another lovingly, not only in word, but in action, and reminding one another of the inexplicable peace that only I can offer.

[1] Isa. 40:6b-8.

[2] Rick Love, Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflicts in our Families, Organizations, and Communities (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014). 

[3] Martin Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. and ed. Theodore G. Tappert (Vancouver, British Columbia: Regent College, 2003), 86–87.