Introduction to 1 Peter

We begin by noticing certain features which characterize the whole epistle:-

1. It is definitely called in its heading a general or catholic epistle, inasmuch as it is not written to any particular church, nor to an individual, as most of the others.

2. It definitely addresses the "strangers scattered" in the provinces of Asia Minor, yet "elect"-i.e., Peter writes to converted people of his own nation scattered throughout the regions to the north of Palestine. Peter was the apostle to the circumcision (see Gal. 2: 7, 8), yet it was Paul who traversed these lands and evangelized the Jews while carrying the Gospel to the Gentiles; so Peter exercised his ministry towards them by pen and ink.

3. It is a definitely pastoral epistle. Peter manifests throughout it his shepherd care for the spiritual well-being of those to whom he wrote. He gives instruction in Christian truth, but even before he concludes his instruction and turns to exhortation, he pauses to deal with the practical state of their souls, as witness verses 13-17 in the midst of chapter 1. In all this Peter was true to his commission to "feed" or "shepherd" the sheep and lambs of Christ (John 21: 15-17).

4. These things being so, there are a very large number of allusions to Old Testament Scripture, with which his original readers were so well acquainted. This is especially marked in chapters 1 and 2, wherein he unfolds the place and condition and hopes which now were theirs as Christians. He quotes plentifully from the Old Testament; but beyond this, almost every sentence contains an allusion to the ancient Scriptures, and it is the catching of these allusions that so greatly helps in the understanding of the Epistle.