Cappadocia was the largest province of Asia Minor, located in what is today eastern Turkey. It became more easily accessible to points south, including Jerusalem, after the Romans constructed roads through the Cilician Gates in the Taurus range. Despite the Roman empire’s disdain for Christians, these roads actually helped the Gospel to spread.
Peter’s first letter begins with him declaring his authorship, and it was accepted as such by the early church fathers. It is addressed to the “elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” These are all in an area of Asia minor which is now northern Turkey. Because Peter speaks to them as “exiles of the Dispersion,” some have taken that to mean that Peter is addressing Jews that have scattered to these lands.
But it is clear from many passages in the letter that Peter is addressing all Christians – and probably Gentiles in particular – in this letter. One such example is 1 Peter 1:14, where Peter urges them not to “be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” which is indicative of Gentiles. Obviously, he refers to a more symbolic form of exile and dispersion, as he says they are exiles “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ.” The best explanation is that these Christians, who will dwell in heaven, are in a strange land – this world is not our home. “The foreknowledge of God” refers to the fact that God always knew that the Gentiles would be part of the kingdom, as evidenced in many passages, all the way back to, and including, Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.“
English: Political map of Asia Minor in 500 BC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Several references in the text indicate that Peter probably wrote this letter before the persecutions by Nero began, putting it about 62-63 A.D. It is also indicated that he wrote it from Rome. The mention of Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13 is believed by most scholars to be a figurative reference to Rome. The order of the churches addressed in that opening section of chapter one is thought by many to be the actual order in which the letter would have been delivered. 1 Peter 5:12 states that it was to be delivered by Sylvanus (another name for Silas). If coming by way of the Black Sea, a logical port for a starting point would be Pontus. Then a counter-clockwise circuit through the other cities would end up at Bithynia.
The letter is full of encouragement for those who are suffering, and reminders of the suffering and resurrection of the Lord, Jesus. There is much encouragement to remember the hope they have of their inheritance of an eternal home (1 Peter 1:3-9); and they admonished to live righteously, abstaining from fleshly passions (1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 3:7). But the most famous passage in this letter might be the one that has become synonymous with the area of apologetics (1 Peter 3:15), which says:
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.
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