- As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth. Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24. “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
- Read 1 Peter 1:3-9
- Peter begins the heart of this letter by praising God for the mercy He has shown to His people. The specific expression of mercy referenced in 1:3 is the giving of hope. Have you ever had a time in your life when you had no hope? What caused you to feel that way? Are you experiencing any hopelessness now?
- The letter of 1 Peter is a letter of hope. Throughout the book, believers in Jesus are encouraged and given hope, even while they are living in very difficult circumstances (as we will see later in today’s study). How is it possible (in your opinion) for someone to have hope when their immediate circumstances are disheartening?
- Peter anchors their hope to the living Son of God in 1 Peter 1:3 who rose from the dead and offers us a new life out of the dying world around us. He describes it as being “born again” or given a new identity . . . a new direction . . . a fresh start with a certain future in Christ. Why do you think Jesus chose the phrase “born again” to describe someone after they have come into a saving relationship with Him (Peter borrows the phrase “born again” from Jesus use of it in John 3)?
- The hope that Christians have is alive now, but is also tied to a future reality. The inheritance of the Christian is protected and waiting for followers of Jesus in heaven (1:4). What are some of the things that a Christian has to look forward to in heaven? Can you think of any advantages to our primary reward/inheritance being in heaven and not simply now?
- STUDY NOTE: In 1:6, we see our first reference to trials or difficulties endured by the Christian in this life. 1 Peter was a letter written during a time of intense difficulty by Christians, and Peter does not dodge this issue. 15 times in this short letter Peter references hardship, using 8 different words to describe its suffering. The general phrase “various trials” is used in 1:6, and this phrase includes (but is not limited to) direct persecution for their faith. Good tradition dates 1 Peter to around 64 CE. Peter wrote the letter while he was living in the city of Rome. This was a particularly difficult time for Christians in the Roman Empire. In July of 64, The Roman Emperor Nero blamed a fire in the capital on Christians (for no reason) and began a systematic persecution of Christians throughout the empire. This persecution would impact all Christians to various degrees, and ultimately lead to the martyrdom of both Peter and Paul just a few years removed from the writing of this letter. Indeed, the Lord knew that His church would need encouragement in the trials they were facing, so He directed Peter to write this letter of hope and encouragement to those living in this difficult land.
- What are some of the difficulties you are currently facing in life? Peter encourages us to rejoice as we are experiencing these trials. How does knowing your future in Christ help you rejoice in present struggle?
- Reflecting on 1 Peter 1:7, Tom Constable says, “Trials do to faith what fire does to gold. They purify it and show it to be what it really is.” How do you think trials help reveal what we really believe? Can you think of any examples from your own life?
To link to the entire “True Grace” Study of 1 Peter for download, click here.