- Gwen Diaz
Peter’s First Letter to Persecuted Believers (Part 1)
December 12 - Nº 346 1 Peter 1:1 – 2:12; 2:21-25; 3:15–22
Christianity spread rapidly across the world in the 30 years following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But opposition grew rapidly as well. · Jewish religious authorities hated Christianity because it taught that Jesus was the Messiah they were waiting for. It claimed that he was the Son of God and the Savior that had been promised by their prophets. But Jesus’ actions and teachings had not fit traditional Jewish expectations, so they had crucified him. · Greek philosophical leaders hated Christianity because it challenged the many gods they worshiped, and it threatened their immoral lifestyle. · The Roman political rulers hated Christianity because it declared that there was only one King—and that King was not the Emperor of Rome! So, the Jewish believers who had been forced to flee from Israel were now being persecuted wherever they lived. And Gentile believers were being mistreated as well. Although there is no record of any apostles visiting the northern provinces in Asia Minor, several Christian churches had sprung up as travelers passed through or returned home with the Gospel message. Peter heard that these converts were facing severe persecution and that some were beginning to question the things they had been taught. Realizing that the suffering was only going to get worse, he wrote a letter to strengthen the believers’ faith and give them hope. He also defined how they should live. He intended for the letter to be circulated throughout the northern churches in Asia Minor. Peter began his letter by praising God for the salvation that was available through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Whatever suffering the believers had to endure was miniscule compared to the amazing glory and honor they would receive in heaven. They could be filled with joy despite the trials they were going through as they anticipated the glorious inheritance that was waiting for them. He emphasized that the things other people counted on to bring them prestige would one day wither and disappear. None of them would be left! But believers would always have the magnificent inheritance that God had promised them—because His promises last forever! Peter had walked with Jesus for more than three years and had become one of his closest friends. He had witnessed what it looked like to live a holy life in a hostile world. No one had ever suffered more ridicule, rejection, and pain than Jesus Christ, yet no one had ever lived a godlier life! So, Peter challenged the believers to follow Jesus’ example. Their lives should not look like the lives of the pagans around them. As a matter of fact, their lives should be so different that others couldn’t help but notice and ask questions. Enduring suffering in the same way Jesus did would give them a chance to introduce others to the Gospel message. Peter challenged them to always be ready to explain the amazing hope they enjoyed as they anticipated the future promised by God.
Do you live your life differently from others who don’t know Jesus? Are you willing to explain to them why you do (or don’t do) certain things that they think are exciting or fun? Sharing your faith is God’s ultimate purpose for your life while you are still here on earth. And it is one the greatest joys you can experience!
Psalm 96:2-3; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 12:8-9; Romans 1:16