You will find an introduction and outline of 1 Peter, here.
A prayer from the Book of Common Worship, for your use before reading;
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
I. A New Person in Christ and How to React 1:1-2:10
A. Greeting 1:1-2 Notice the reference to the Jewish diaspora in verse 1. This letter is addressed to gentiles. What is the author suggesting about their situation? The order of the cities may be the delivery route of the letter.
B. The Christian’s New Situation Thanksgiving 1:3-12 This section serves as an introduction to the points that will be made in the letter.
1. 1:3-9 Newness in Christ: New birth, gold, new inheritance- all images to describe their situation.
2. 1:10-12 Long Ago Foretold: This is no accident, God is in control.
C. How to React 1:13-2:3: “Therefore” A transition
1. 1:13-16 To New Life: What are they to be doing?
2. 1:17-21 To Old Life: What has happened to them?
3. 1:22-2:3 To the Christian Community: How to act and why.
D. A New People, Strange to Others 2:4-10:
Verses 4-8 The metaphor changes, from new birth to new building/rock., Verse 6 Isaiah 28:17. Verse 7 Ps 118:22. Verse 8 Isaiah 8:14-15. The Isaiah 28 passage is also quoted in Rome 9:33. Both authors are concerned with similar ideas.
Verses 9-10 Another metaphor, a new people, Hosea 2:23, Ex 19:6, Isa 57:15.
II. Appropriate Conduct for a New People in Christ 2:11-4:11
A. How to React to the World 2:11-3:7: three examples are given, citizens, slaves, husbands and wives, then “all of you”- the Christian community. Remember that Roman society was very hierarchical and patriarchal. The emperor ruled the empire just as masters/husbands/fathers ruled their families. Everyone knew their place in the social structure.
2:11-12: what is the relationship between believers and the culture?
2:13-17 Good Citizens: Because Christians will not participate in social/cultural practices they believe are unacceptable, it is important not to make things worse, but rather to be good citizens.
2:18-25 Good Slaves: Christ’s conduct is the slaves example. Slavery was nearly ubiquitous in the Roman world. 30-40% of the population were slaves. (see here for more information.)
Christians in ancient times and today must somehow reconcile what they believe faith in Jesus Christ demands and the realities of life in a particular social order and in a particular r time in history. How has the balance been struck here?
Read More About It
Achtemeier, Paul J. “1 Peter” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary, rev. ed.James L Mays, ed. (New York: Society of Bible Literature) 2000.
Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, rev. ed. (Minneapolis:Fortress Press) 1999. Chapter 21 “1 Peter”.
Quanbeck, Warren A., Pheme Perkins, “1 Peter” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Bruce M. Metzger, Roland E. Murphy eds. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.