Article by: Sarah Koontz
In this week’s blog, I will share the topics and themes of Peter’s Epistles. Together, we will establish a foundational understanding of the key concepts in these two epistles. We will also seek to develop an action plan based on the truth woven into these powerful books. My goal is to help you grasp the “big picture” of Peter’s letters without overlooking the smaller, life-changing truths woven into each. If you have never read this portion of Scripture, I encourage you to take a few minutes to do that right now. You will get so much more from this article if you set aside time to read the Bible yourself.
An Overview of Peter’s First Epistle
“You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7 HCSB
The purpose of 1 Peter is to urge believers to live according to the eternal truth of the Gospel and cling to the living hope of Christ as they endure earthly suffering.
Amid growing persecution, Peter writes to exhort Christians to view their suffering with spiritual eyes.
His message is rich in theological truths to help believers see God clearly as they stand firm against compromise, immaturity, and slander.
After establishing the power of God unto salvation, Peter encourages his readers to embrace holy lifestyles that are marked by submission, sanctification, suffering, and service.
By offering a clear explanation of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, he summons believers to embrace holy living, engage in sincere love, and exult in the gift of salvation.
Peter’s clear instruction helps his readers understand why & how the sanctification process produces a maturing faith that silences ignorance and increases favor in the eyes of God.
By encouraging believers to submit to God and to one another, exposing the spiritual benefits of suffering, and warning against spiritual attacks, Peter equips his readers to establish lifestyles that glorify God.
The book of 1 Peter contributes to the Biblical story by offering a theology of God as Father, Judge, and Creator.
Like other New Testament authors, Peter’s writing reminds Christians of the role suffering plays in the sanctification process and warns against the schemes of the enemy.
Peter builds on the message of the gospels by clearly communicating the spiritual benefits of salvation and the role of submission in the Christian life.
Like many other epistles, the themes of persecution, perseverance, and hope are present throughout the book of 1 Peter.Peter's Epistles urge believers to live according to the eternal truth of the Gospel and cling to the living hope of Christ as they endure earthly suffering.
Four Powerful Lessons We Can Learn from 1 Peter
1 – Suffering and sacrifice lead to sanctification (1 Pt 1:6-7).
The Bible is packed with stories of suffering, sacrifice, and sanctification. And the sanctification part generally comes after all the suffering and sacrifice. It seems there is a divine order to it. And no one is exempt. Because Christ suffered (1 Pt 4:1-2), sacrificed, and was sanctified—we do not have to face life, or death, alone (1 Pt 3:18). When we ask God for the strength to see His goodness during our suffering, we find hope to carry on (1 Pt 3:13-14).
2 – Don’t allow persecution to hinder your spiritual progress (1 Pt 4:19).
Persecution is part of the Christian life. We must not allow it to discourage or distract us from holy living. Instead, we need to continue moving forward with Christ as we entrust our souls to God. No matter how people choose to treat us, we have nothing to be ashamed of (1 Pt 4:16), and our conscience is clear before Christ (1 Pt 3:16). It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pt 3:14).
3 – Jesus Christ is the only trustworthy source of joy (1 Pt 1:8-9).
Biblical joy—enduring, enabling, eternal joy—is found in Christ alone. His life, death, resurrection, and promised return are the only true source of joy on this earth. As Christians, we are called to rejoice when allowed to suffer for His name and joyfully anticipate His return (1 Pt 4:13).
4 – Submission is part of God’s design for humankind (1 Pt 5:5).
God has designed you specifically for His divine purpose and will equip you to accomplish what He has called you to do. Submission is a symbol of humility, and the act of biblical submission allows God to raise us up in His perfect timing (1 Pt 5:6). Submission not only invites the favor of God, but it also positions us as ambassadors of the Gospel to our spouses (1 Pt 3:1) and supervisors (1 Pt 2:18).The purpose of 1 Peter is to urge believers to live according to the eternal truth of the Gospel and cling to the living hope of Christ as they endure earthly suffering.
My Key Takeaway from Peter’s First Epistle
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13 HCSB
My key takeaway from this study comes from 1 Peter 4:12-19.
This passage teaches us to expect trials and suffering and fiery ordeals in this lifetime.
Rather than being surprised when these things happen, I long to invite God’s presence and sanctification into the process.
Testing and tribulation are part of the Christian experience, and much good can come from embracing challenges and facing them head-on.
As believers, we can rejoice when we are ridiculed for our faith. What an amazing, transformative truth!
Because of what Christ has done for us, we can have joy and hope even when life is hard.
Peter’s Epistles remind us that suffering well glorifies God.Because of what Christ has done for us, we can have joy and hope even when life is hard.
An Overview of Peter’s Second Epistle
“Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability.” – 2 Peter 3:17 HCSB
The purpose of 2 Peter is to encourage a crumbling church within a pagan culture to guard the truth and grow in faith.
In this letter to a church in crisis, Peter cautions against complacency and encourages faithful progress.
He seeks to build up their commitment to Christ and warns against heresy.
He encourages the church to resist adversaries and stand on the truth against all immorality, impurity, and irreverent behavior.
The themes addressed include spiritual growth and maturity, standing against false teachers, and faith in the returning Christ.
2 Peter contributes to the overall message of Scripture by offering insight on the day of judgment and the new heaven and earth.
Peter’s writing reminds us that God keeps His promises, and He is powerful.
In this brief epistle, Peter urges his readers to prioritize spiritual growth and build their faith upon eyewitness testimonies about Christ.Peter's Epistles encourage a crumbling church within a pagan culture to guard the truth and grow in faith.
Four Powerful Lessons We Can Learn from 2 Peter
1 – Don’t be spiritually complacent; keep making progress (2 Pt 1:1-11).
Fruitfulness, vision, and stability are key ingredients for a strong faith. Thankfully, God divinely resources our growth and provides the building blocks for our faith. So long as we keep stepping forward in faith and obedience, we will experience the blessing and benefit of spiritual progress.
2 – Test your sources to see if they meet the biblical standard (2 Pt 1:12-21).
Bible-based teaching is based on God’s truth and eyewitness testimony about Christ. Conversely, false teachers are arrogant, greedy, destructive, and depraved. As Christians, we must be alert and avoid perversion at all costs (2 Pt 2:1-3).
3 – Our ultimate hope is in Christ’s return (2 Pt 3:1-18).
Because Christ’s return is certain, we can live godly lives without fear of the future. We know that, ultimately, justice will prevail, and God’s peace will be brought to this earth. Therefore, we can be faithful people who are dedicated to loving and serving the lost, no matter the personal cost.
4 – We are safe in God’s divine care (2 Pt 3:17-18).
God has provided resources and tools to ensure our safety and security. He is faithful to keep His promises (2 Pt 3:9) and to protect the spiritual wellbeing of His people (2 Pt 3:15). But we are not without responsibility! Our job is to fill our minds with wholesome thinking and our lives with wholesome deeds (2 Pt 3:1).Fruitfulness, vision, and stability are key ingredients for a strong faith.
Two Action Points from 2 Peter
Action Point #1: As Bible-believing Christians, we must learn to discern false teaching (2 Pt 2:1-2).
If we want to be able to recognize the lies, we must know the truth! It is impossible to pull the wool over the eyes of one whose heart is filled with the Word of God.
Take just a few minutes today to write down a few “false truths” you’ve heard from the “church” recently.
Who is promoting this “truth,” and what is the fruit of this teaching?
Run it through the filter of 2 Peter 2:1-2 and see if you can define the destruction and depravity associated with the disillusionment caused by this type of teaching.
Search through the Scriptures to figure out exactly where the truth of God has been traded for a lie, and equip yourself to stand firm against this type of false doctrine.
You will know that you have grown in this area when your first instinct is to turn to the Word to test the trustworthiness of Bible teachers.If we want to be able to recognize the lies, we must know the truth!
Action Point #2: As Bible-believing Christians, we must rely on God’s power for our spiritual growth and maturity (2 Pt 1:3-4).
Do you believe God has given you all you need to live a godly life?
If not, I encourage you to take the time to do a closer study of 2 Peter 1:3-4.
This passage contains the secret to spiritual maturity.
It teaches us that knowledge of God’s promises and choosing to participate in the divine nature equips us to stand firm against the corruption of this world.
God is the source of our hope, the refiner of our character, and the protector of our reputation on this earth.
He is powerful enough to grow us up in the faith, and He is committed to our spiritual progress.
If you feel weak and vulnerable, dedicate your time and resources to studying God’s promises and growing your knowledge of His character.
This action will spur a series of divine reactions in your life, and you will grow in godliness, guaranteed!
You will know that you are experiencing this growth when you begin to define yourself by God’s promises rather than measure yourself by the world’s standards.God is the source of our hope, the refiner of our character, and the protector of our reputation on this earth.
Concluding Thoughts on Peter’s Epistles
I believe the Bible gives us everything we need to navigate the cultural complexities facing the twenty-first-century church.
This is why I dedicate so much time and energy to developing free Bible study resources and equipping people to be faithful students of the Word.
My study of Peter’s Epistles has reminded me how important it is for Christians to stuffer well and stand firm against heresy.
We are guardians of the faith and must protect the Church from their empty words, enticing offers, and sinful strategies.
Sadly, so many “false teachers” peddle truth that is 99.8% biblical, and it is difficult to discern the deviation in their message.
Therefore, I will continue to strive to create biblically accurate, exegetical Bible studies that respect and esteem the absolute sufficiency of the Word of God and teach Christians the foundational principles of our faith.
In doing so, I will equip our community with the tools and education they need to stand firm against all heresies while protecting my spiritual integrity at the same time.
To God be the glory and power, forever and ever. Amen (1 Pt 5:11).
 From Gospels to Glory, Kenneth Hannah.