First Peter is actually a letter written by the Apostle Peter to “the dispersion”, the Jewish-background believers from the original church in Jerusalem who had been scattered by the violent persecution of Christians. He wrote to the same type of audience as James, only several years later when the persecution had become much worse.
Peter’s writing has a ring of authority: he was one of Jesus’s closest disciples and arguably His best friend on earth; he is given more “ink” in the four gospels than the other disciples, often speaking first and speaking for the group; he confessed Jesus as “the Christ”, the truth upon which Jesus would build His church; he took the lead on the Day of Pentecost when the church was born; and he pioneered Gentile evangelism (see Acts 10-11). Peter is an important man, so we should respect him — but he was an imperfect man, so we can relate to him (who can forget his awful denials and then his touching restoration?). One of the strongest confirmations of the transforming work of Jesus in Peter’s life is the excellence of this letter. From a literary standpoint, scholars tell us the quality of the writing in First Peter is uncommonly beautiful and majestic — a miracle given that Peter was a common man with no formal education (see Acts 4:13).
The letter begins on an encouraging note, a reminder of what Jesus had done in the lives of His people. We have been “born again”, given a living hope, and granted an everlasting “inheritance” in heaven — eternal life (v.2-5). It is that hope that gets us through the difficult days when our faith is being tested (v.6-7). Even though our final reward and rest in heaven is still in the future, it is so real and so certain that we can live as if we already possess it (v.8-9)! Our salvation in Christ is a precious gift. It is what the prophets preached about but did not fully understand (v.10-12). Our souls have been ransomed and emancipated from the domination of sin and Satan at the high cost of the blood of Jesus (v.18-19).
Because we have been given such a wonderful gift, we should live lives that are holy, completely dedicated to our Savior. With our hearts set on Him, we should be different from the world (v.14-16) and obedient to the truth we have learned from the Word of God (v.22). This truth — the gospel — that has saved us is the “good news” that we must share with others (v.25). What a privilege!