People occasionally ask me why I do what I do. Why do I go to Russia once a year to teach and train leaders? Why do I mentor students through online classes at Regent University? Why did I teach a class on the character and habits of a leader last fall? Why do I invest in interns?
My passion for leadership development is because I failed as a leader. When I started in ministry, people assumed I knew what I was doing and no one mentored me. Getting fired from my first ministry was the best thing that happened to me because it shaped the course of my ministry. I learned the hard way of how to lead and I wanted to help others succeed without making the same mistakes I did.
As we see in the apostle Peter’s first letter, his message is shaped by several key events that took place earlier in the gospels. As we begin our study of 1 Peter today, we’re going to focus more on the background of the letter. Next week we’ll begin our exposition of the letter.
Author: Peter was one of the twelve disciples (Mark 3:13-19). The word, apostle, is used in a technical sense of one who was sent on a mission. He was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. Along with James and John, Peter was present during Christ’s transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8) and when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 26:37). His name, Peter, was actually a nickname given to him by Jesus (John 1:42) and means “rock.” Jesus saw potential in his life and pictured his future strength of character.
Recipients: The letter is written to both Jewish (1:1; 2:12) and Gentile (2:10) believers who were scattered abroad because of persecution.
Date: The letter was written from Babylon (5:13) which is probably a code word for Rome. It was most likely written about A.D. 64, just before the persecution begun by Emperor Nero.
Theme: The theme of the book is Hope in a Hostile World. 1 Peter was written to Christians who were experiencing various forms of persecution. Peter exhorted them to steadfast endurance (5:13) that resulted from putting one’s focus on Christ even though they lived as aliens and strangers (2:11). Peter reminded his readers that we have a living hope because of a living Christ (1:3).
Divisions: There are three main divisions in the book. Each one focuses on a theme and answers a basic question. Salvation: What does it mean to be a Christian? (1:1-2:12). Submission: How are we to living in relationship to others? (2:13-3:12). Suffering: How should we respond to those who oppose the gospel? (3:13-5:14).
The events of Peter’s life shaped his heart and his message.
||Peter confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.
Christ will build his church and Peter will be involved.
|1 Peter 1:15, 20-21; 2:4-8
Jesus is the Holy One who called you.
Jesus is the cornerstone of the Church.
|Peter was proud and unwilling to have Jesus wash his feet.
||1 Peter 5:5-6
||God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
|Matthew 26:30-35, 69-75
||Peter is unaware of the spiritual warfare taking place.
Operating in his own strength, he denies Jesus three times.
|1 Peter 5:12
Stand fast in the trued grace of God. Don’t give up and walk away.
|Jesus restored Peter and gave him a task—Be a good shepherd of God’s flock.
||1 Peter 5:1-4
||The elders are to shepherd the flock of God. They are accountable to the Good Shepherd.
||Peter was prejudiced. God had to help him understand that the body of Christ is bigger than his narrow theological convictions.
||1 Peter 2:9-10
The body of Christ is unique.
When you compare Peter in the gospels with the message of 1 Peter, you see a profound transformation. Peter goes from spiritually dense to spiritually discerning; from listening to Satan to listening to God; for worldly minded to heavenly minded; from proud to humble; from walking away from Christ to standing fast in God’s grace; from having a narrow view of the gospel to having a broad view of the church; from being a failure as a disciple to being a restored servant; from being a stumbling block to God’s plan to being used by God to help build the church.
- Nothing is ever wasted in the will of God. The trials and experiences we go through are part of God’s curriculum to prepare us for an even more determinative ministry.
- Failure is not fatal. No matter what you’ve done. God can forgive and restore and use you in ministering to others.
- Don’t allow pride to keep you from serving and ministering to others.
- The Body of Christ is BIG. It is bigger than just us and those of our narrow theological persuasion.
This is a synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on March 4, 2018. It is the opening message in a series on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.