In this brief 1 Peter Bible study overview, you are giving attention to a book that is in the latter part of the New Testament.
What is 1 Peter about? When you begin reading 1 Peter, you will soon discover that Peter is addressing the subject of suffering. To conduct a Bible study on the book of 1 Peter is to learn about how to handle the hardships of life.
If you were to identify the one book of the Old Testament that addresses this subject, you would turn to the book of Job. It is in Job you read about all that he had to endure and how he endured it. You read how he challenged God and how God challenged him. Finally, Job came to the conclusion that he should trust God.
The New Testament book of suffering is the book of 1 Peter. You will find the word suffering or a derivative of the word 16 times in five chapters. It is in this book that the Holy Spirit tells us that suffering makes us special.
Think back to the darkest hour in your life. What was the worst day in your life, the worst thing that has ever happened to you?
Maybe it was the worst news you have ever received. Maybe it was the greatest challenge you have ever faced. How do you get through those dark days? Are the dark days you have as a Christian any different than anyone else? Perhaps you have felt agony, suffering, and anguish.
Suffering is a part of life. Whether you are talking about someone who has tripped and fallen breaking a bone, or someone whose heart has been broken because of a decision made by someone else, or someone who has grown older and is struggling with the infirmities of age, suffering is a part of life. How do you deal with it successfully? 1 Peter may be able to offer some help.
To study the book of 1 Peter is to study a book that is designed to help us during our darkest days. It is a book about how to handle suffering.
Any time you want to study the Bible, you have to give attention to the context. To understand the context of 1 Peter, there are three questions that you need to answer.
To answer this question, you can turn to the first verse and notice the first words of the first verse.
Actually, Peter was one of these rare individuals who had more than one name. Peter actually had four different names.
He is called “Peter, an apostle.” The word “apostle” means, “one who is sent.” If you study the passages which list the twelve apostles, you will find that Peter is always listed first. When you follow the life of Peter through the New Testament, you get the impression that Peter was a leader.
Much of the book of Acts follows Peter and his efforts to advance the name of Christ. That is the individual who wrote this book.
The answer to this question is also found in verse 1.
When you study the first verse of 1 Peter, you will find that it was not only written by Peter, but it was written to "the pilgrims of the Dispersion.”
The Bible word translated as “pilgrims” is three Greek words all compounded together. When you look at the word closely, you will find that it refers to people who are over there, off to the side.
In other words, they are the people who belong together but do not belong to society. They are a group of people whom society does not want. The word “pilgrims” is a word often paired with words like “aliens,” “strangers,” and “foreigners.”
These pilgrims were specific. They were pilgrims of the Dispersion. The word “dispersion” means “displaced.” These were the displaced ones, the scattered ones.
It is believed that this is in reference to Acts 8 when the Jewish Christians were scattered as a result of the great tribulation that occurred at the death of Stephen (Acts 8.1-4).
Jewish Christians were forced to leave their homes and set up residence elsewhere, and we know where they went. 1 Peter 1.1 says that they were scattered to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
If you look at a map, you will find that they went to a location that we know today to be Turkey. These were Jews who lived in Jerusalem. They were in their home town. They were where they wanted to be. Because they believed in Jesus and had become Christians, they had to leave.
They were scattered into Judea and into Samaria. Over time they made it to what we know as Turkey. This is important to know contextually because it tells us that this was written to people who knew what it was like to suffer because of their faith in Christ.
To answer this question, let’s read 1 Peter 4.16. If you do a 1 Peter Bible study study closely, you will discover that this is the verse that serves as the thesis statement of the entire book. If you want to know what this book is all about, you find it in this verse.
You are not here just to persevere and endure. You are here so that even when you suffer, you can use it to glorify God. This is a book that was written to tell these Jewish Christians who were scattered and suffering to use their suffering to glorify God. That’s the context of the book of 1 Peter.
The Bible frequently discusses suffering. If you study 1 Peter, you will be reading a book that tells you that you are going to suffer, but you can use that suffering as an opportunity to give glory to God. This book helps us to see suffering as an opportunity rather than obstacle. Do you suffer? Glorify God through your suffering.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that easy. When I am suffering, I don’t want to glorify God. I want to question God. I want to tell God to fix it. I begin to wonder if God is there for me like He promises. I begin to wonder if God even cares. The Bible tells me to cast all my cares upon Him, for He cares for me (1 Pet. 5.7). The Bible tells me that God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able (1 Cor. 10.13). Yet there are times when suffering and temptations seem much more than I can take. Have you have felt that way? When I suffer, I am supposed to use suffering as an opportunity to glorify God? Really? That’s what 1 Peter helps me to do.
When you suffer as Christians, how can you work through it so that you can bring glory to God? That’s what 1 Peter is all about.
1 Peter can be divided into three sections:
To further study the book of 1 Peter: