Those Addressed. The sojourn of the dispersion (1:1) points to Jewish Christians. They were strangers (sojourners) 1:1, 17; 2:11, who were persecuted, 3:17; 4:12-19, but whose persecution came, not from the Jews, but from pagans, 4:3-4. They had certain faults and wrong tendencies, 2:1, 11, 12, 16; 8:8-12; 4:9; 5:2-3.
Purpose. To console them in their suffering, and to exhort them to faithfulness and duty.
Date. Probably about 64-68 A. D. Certainly not after 70 A. D., as he was not doubt put to death before then.
I. Thanksgiving for the Blessing of Grace, 1:3-12.
1. For a living hope and an abiding inheritance, 3-5.
2. For joyful faith during trials, 6-9.
3. For salvation, 10-12.
II. Obligations Growing out of the Blessings of Grace, 1:13-4:19.
1. A right relation of the heart toward God and man, 1:13-2:10.
2. Right conduct in life relations, 2:11-3:12.
3. Right attitude toward suffering, 3:13-4:19 end.
III. Exhortations to Particular Classes, 5:1-9.
Conclusion 5:10 end.
For Study and Discussion. (1) Peter’s loyalty to Christ. (a) He makes everything depend on Christ, his cross (1:18-19; 2:24; 3:18), his suffering (2:21; 3:18; 4:13), his resurrection (1:3), his manifestation (1:7-13), his exaltation (3:22; 4:11; 5:10). (b) He calls Christ a living stone, 2:4-8. (c) He clings to Christ’s teaching, submission to rightful authority (2:13-16), forgiveness of others (4:8; Matt. 18:22), humility (5:5). (2) The mercy of God our hope 1:3-7. From this passage list what is said of spiritual inheritors and their inheritance. (3) How to obtain the Christian ideal, 1:13-21. (4) Spiritual development. 2:1-10. (5) Various deities of society, 2:13-17; of domestic life 2:18; 3:1, 7; of Christian brotherhood, 1:22, 2:1-5; 3:8-9; 4:8-11; 5:1-5. (6) The work of the different persons of the Trinity. (7) The words precious, joy and rejoicing, mercy, love and faith.
The Occasion. The occasion of the epistle is found in the harm being done to the church by false teachers, who were of two classes, the libertines and the mockers about whom he warns.
Purpose. Its purpose was to exhort them to Christian growth and to warn them against false teachers.
Comparison with First Peter. It has no reference to Christ’s death, suffering, resurrection and ascension. Glance through 1 Peter again to see how often these are mentioned. The spirit manifested is one of anxiety, severity, and denunciation, white in 1 Peter it is one of mildness, sweetness and fatherly dignity. It connects the second coming of Christ with the punishment of the wicked, while 1 Peter connects it with the glorification of the saints. Its key-note is knowledge, while that of 1 Peter is hope.
Some Teachings. (1) To be holy, not to secure an inheritance, but because we already have it. (2) To love the brethren, not to purify our soul, but because it is pure. (3) That we sacrifice, not as penance, but as an expression of praise.
I. Progress in the Christian Life, 1:3-21 end.
1. An exhortation to growth, 3-11.
2. Reasons for these exhortations, 12-21.
II. False Teachers, Ch. 2.
1. The evil teachers and their followers, 1-3.
2. Their punishment, 5-10.
3. Their character, evil ways and end, 11-32.
III. The Second Coming of Christ, 3:1-13. He will bring both blessings and destruction.
For Study and Discussion. (1) What our salvation involves, 1:5-11. (2) The characteristics of the false teachers, 2:1-3, 10, 12-14. (3) The certain punishment of these false teachers, 2:4-6, 15, 16, 21, 22. (4) The exhortations of the book such as to sobriety, 1:13. (5) The predictions of the book.