The apostle Peter wrote this epistle to the believing Jews that were scattered as strangers throughout Asia (1 Pet 1:1) in order to exhort them to be faithful in their suffering and remind them of the coming glory they will see and experience at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Pet 1:11; 4:13; 5:10). He refers to suffering 17 times and glory 14 times. The end of James naturally leads into this epistle (Jam 5:7-11). There is no doubt that Peter is writing to Jews (1 Pet 1:18-21; 2:11-12).
There were Jews from the areas mentioned in the first verse of the epistle that heard Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). Those that repented waited in Jerusalem for the kingdom until they were scattered by persecution.
Peter is writing as a faithful shepherd to those sheep (Jn 21:15-17; 1 Pet 2:25; 5:1-4). They are part of the little flock that Christ promised the kingdom (Lk 12:32; Matt 21:43; 1 Pet 2:9-10). Most commentators mistakenly think that Peter is talking about Gentiles in 1 Peter 2:10, but he is referring to prophecy concerning Israel (Hos 1:6-11).
The Lord called Andrew and his brother Simon to leave their fishing business to follow Him and become fishers of men (Matt 4:18-20). He later chose them to be 2 of His 12 apostles (Matt 10:2). He gave Simon the name Cephas which means, a stone (Jn 1:42). Peter is the same name as Cephas (Mk 3:16). Of the 12 apostles, Peter, James, and John seemed to be the Lord’s inner circle (Mk 5:37; 9:2; 14:32-33). Of the three, Peter was the leader (Matt 16:13-19). That is why Peter was the prominent figure in the first part of the book of Acts. Peter is certainly not the rock upon which Christ will build His kingdom church. Peter himself testified as to who the rock is (1 Pet 2:4-8).
Although Peter came to know something of Paul’s message and ministry (but he confessed that it was hard to understand, 2 Pet 3:15-16), there is no evidence to suggest that he ever became an apostle to the Body of Christ. He continued to be an apostle to the circumcision until his death (2 Pet 1:10-21). There are three passages that settle this issue (Matt 19:28; Gal 2:9; Rev 21:14). Of course, as is the case with all Scripture, there are spiritual applications in Peter’s epistles for us today.
Most commentators date this epistle in the 60’s AD, but it was written earlier than that. Peter wrote it from Babylon and Silas and Mark were with him (1 Pet 5:12-13). Babylon is not Rome. There is no evidence that Peter ever went to Rome. The Roman Catholic Church claims he was the first pope and that he spent many years in Rome. Paul did not salute him in Romans 16, and neither did he mention him in 2 Timothy 4. Peter, Silas, and Mark were in Jerusalem in Acts 15. Silas began to travel with Paul after Acts 15. After escaping prison Peter likely traveled and went to Babylon (Acts 12: 17) and went back to Jerusalem several years later. There is internal evidence that he wrote this epistle no earlier than Acts 11 (1 Pet 4:16; Acts 11:26).
Peter came to learn some things about Paul’s ministry in Acts 15. In his second letter, he knows that the Second Coming of Christ has been postponed, but in his first letter, he believed it was at hand (1 Pet 4:7, 17-18). This epistle has a future application to the tribulation saints when the Second Coming will once again be at hand (1 Pet 1:1-21; 5:8-9; cf. Rev 12:12). The great tribulation will certainly be a “fiery trial” (Zech 13:9; 1 Pet 1:7; 4:12-13).
I. Greeting (1:1-2)
II. Salvation (1:3-2:10)
III. Submission (2:11-3:12)
IV. Suffering (3:13-5:11)
V. Greeting (5:12-14)