Chapter 1

Defining Moments

The date was AD 63 or early 64. A man in his late sixties was talking slowly enough for his friend to write down his words. Together they were composing a letter to believers in Christ who had become targets of religious persecution. The man dictating the letter was Peter, the passionate, impulsive, unpredictable disciple of Christ described in the New Testament Gospels.

Dark clouds of persecution had broken on believers scattered throughout Asia Minor in the area north of the Taurus Mountains. Peter longed to encourage them and decided to do so by writing a letter that they could circulate among them. Silas, a dedicated, welleducated, and gifted man who had proven his trustworthiness as Paul’s companion (Acts 15:22-32) and co-writer (1 Th. 1:1; 2 Th. 1:1), gave Peter secretarial and editorial help (1 Pet. 5:12.)

Peter had earned the right to encourage his readers. He knew what it was like to be overcome by fear and discouragement. Years earlier he had temporarily abandoned Christ when times got difficult. He too had been afraid. He too had been unprepared for the hostility he experienced as a follower of Christ. Along the way, however, he learned that God is never more real, or more reassuring, than in those moments when He is all we have. So, Peter dictated:

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance (1:1-2).

Peter had a high view of these displaced refugees. Even though they were “strangers in the world,” they were known to God, and God had a plan for them. They were to show the world that real life does not consist in the abundance of material possessions. In fact, it doesn’t even begin until we possess something worth dying for. This truth echoed through the halls of history to rest in the soul of Jim Elliot, who in 1956 was speared to death by the South American Indian tribe he was trying to reach with the gospel. Not long before his death, Jim wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” —Jim Elliot

Peter’s regard for these people came through in the first words of his letter (1:2). He longed for them to recognize, in the middle of their trouble, those defining moments that would prove to them they were among the most privileged people in the world. He desired that they be so overwhelmed by the love of God they would consider it an honor to suffer for the One who had done so much for them.