1 Peter 1:3-2:10 (aliens and strangers in an oppressive context)
1 Peter 2:11-3:7 (slaves, wives, people in the empire, sit up straight around the bully)
1 Peter 3:8-4:6 (Christ conquering powers and saving the dead)
1. The end is near.
There is clearly a sense in 1 Peter that the sufferings that the church was undergoing were the beginning of the final judgment, beginning with the household of God (4:17). "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (4:18).
The application, I think, is that we must always live in readiness with the expectation that Christ could return at any time.
Peter says not to be surprised at the sufferings the church was undergoing (4:12). Instead, they should rejoice that they were participating in the sufferings of the Christ (4:13). They should entrust themselves to the Almighty God (4:19).
2. In the meantime...
Some great memory verses in the last part of 1 Peter:
- "Be clear minded and self-controlled so you can pray." (4:7)
- "Love each other deeply… offer hospitality to each other without grumbling." (4:8-9)
- "Love covers a multitude of sins." (4:8)
- Serve as dispensing the grace of God: speaking, serving… (4:10-11).
- Clothe yourselves with humility.
- Humble yourselves under God’s hand.
- Cast your cares on him.
- Be alert—the Devil’s prowling.
- Resist the Devil… you’re not alone.
- "After you have suffered a little while, God will restore everything."
Chapter 5 gives hints, I suspect, of the leadership structure of the earliest church. Peter calls himself an elder writing to elders. I suspect the elders who led these local assemblies were mostly old men. I believe "elder" and "overseer" are pretty much synonymous at this point. So Peter tells young men to be subject to those older men (5:5). They are...
- Not to be greedy, eager to serve.
- Not to lord it over the church.
- "Pastors" are to be examples to the flock.
- Chief shepherd will reward them.
- Peter’s right there with them as a shepherd.
- Written "through Silas." Most right now think this means that Silas delivered the letter.
- Mark also greets the audience, from Rome, which is code named Babylon.