1 Peter teaches the truths of faith and holiness to the “elect” (1:2, Colossians 3:12), both Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity. The “elect” are a class chosen by God to be developed into Christ’s character image (Romans 8:29) . God did not predestinate individuals, but foreordained that there be a class of believers who would obey Jesus’ command to “deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
First and foremost, this letter was written to provide spiritual empowerment. From the opening greeting through every line of the letter flow Peter’s passionate encouragement to focus on the hope of our heavenly, incorruptible inheritance.
The Apostle Peter knew of the trials and sufferings the early church was enduring (1:6). He desired to strengthen their resolve to faithfully endure their persecutions. Chapter one may be outlined as follows: the Apostolic greeting (vv.1-2), the inestimable value of trials which lead to a heavenly reward (vv.3-12), and God’s foreordained plan of salvation through Jesus and the wonderful transformation of believers. (vv.13-25).
Verses 1-2: Peter addresses Jewish Christians scattered in the diaspora as well as Gentile Christians.
Verses 3-12: God foreordained the development of a “church” class which would be tried and developed through suffering in this present life. The trial of believers’ faith is more valuable than gold because the end result of our faith is a heavenly resurrection. However, even in this present life, while experiencing trials, we have unspeakable joy as we more clearly “see” or apprehend our wonderful savior, Jesus Christ, by sharing in his suffering.
Verses 13-16: Believers are exhorted to be holy, both in outward behaviors and within our hearts. The word “conversation” (verse15) is understood to mean conduct.
Verses 17-25: Even before the earth was created, God had a plan for man’s redemption. God foresaw that Adam would sin, and in His great wisdom and love, He had already determined a just way to redeem mankind through the death of His only begotten Son, Jesus (verses 19, 20 and Revelation 5:6.) However, this plan not only foreordained a Savior but a bride class (2 Corinthians 11:2, Romans 8:17) for His Son. The bride of Christ, the “elect” class, would be transformed into Jesus’ character image through their trials. The truly faithful, would “love one another with a pure heart fervently” (verse 22).