Tested by Fire:

A Lenten Bible Study on 1 Peter

Tested by Fire: Living as a Christian in a Post-Christian Era

First Week of Lent - February 21-27, 1996

A Living Hope

A Study of 1 Peter 1.1-12, 5.12-14

For Openers:

For Your Information:

Background Information on First Peter

Nature, Date and Authorship: First Peter is a letter written from Rome (code-named Babylon in 5.13) to Christians living in the region of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The letter frequently refers to the Old Testament Scriptures and their fulfillment in Christ. In addition, we find allusions to sayings from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and excerpts from Christian catechetical traditions and hymns and liturgies. There are two main views regarding the date and authorship of the letter. A) "Peter" is identified as the author in 1.1. Peter was martyred in Rome in the mid-60's, so the letter would date to that time. The emperor Nero watched Rome burn in 64 AD and blamed it on the Christians, so mentioning a "fiery ordeal" (4.12) might be an allusion to the persecutions Christians began to suffer at that time. The elegant Greek in which the letter is written indicates the prominent role Silvanus (5.12) had in composing it. B) There are a number of hints in the letter (assumptions about the number and organization of Christians in Asia Minor, the reference to Rome as Babylon, the nature of the Christians' sufferings, etc.) which would suggest a more appropriate date between 75 and 92 AD. The attribution to Peter would indicate that the letter comes from someone who identifies himself with the disciple Peter and his followers. (It was common in this period for writings to be associated with a prominent figure.)

Click here for a map of the regions addressed in 1 Peter


Read 1 Peter 1.1-2

Exiles of the Dispersion - A reference to the Jewish experience of being exiled in and scattered throughout Babylon. "Exile" may also be translated as "alien, stranger, temporary resident."

Sprinkled with his blood - Read Exodus 24.3-8 for how the blood of the covenant was sprinkled on the people or Numbers 19.9-21 for how water was sprinkled for purification.

Read 1 Peter 5.12-14

Silvanus - See Acts 15.22 (=Silas) and 1 Thessalonians 1.1.

Babylon - A reference to Rome. See Revelation 17.5, 18.

Mark - See Acts 12.12-17.

Kiss of love - A sign of greeting and affection between family members, in this case, members of the family of God. See Romans 16.16.

Read 1 Peter 1.3-12

New birth (3) - Or regeneration; a reference to Baptism. See John 3.3-8.

In this you rejoice (6) - Or, Rejoice in this! The Greek word can be translated either way, but the word connotes an exuberance of joy. Used again in 1.8.

Suffer (6) - In the sense of enduring pain. The word is used again in 2.19.

Trials (6) - A key concept for 1 Peter; used again in 4.12.

Tested by fire (7) - The word for test refers to certifying the genuineness or authenticity of something. Here in 1.7, it occurs through fire. The Greek word for fire is pur from which comes our word, "purify."

For you are receiving the outcome... (9) - The verbal form emphasizes that they are in the process of receiving/acquiring/experiencing... The word for outcome may also be translated as goal, end, purpose.

Sufferings destined for Christ (11) - This phrase introduces another key theme in 1 Peter. See 2.21; 3.18; 4.1, 13; 5.1. Looking ahead, the application of this theme is made in 5.9-10.

For Your Consideration:

  1. In 1.1 it refers to Christians as being exiles or aliens. What are some of the hardships faced by someone who is an exile? In what ways are we as Christians exiles or aliens in our society today?
  2. In 1.3 it refers to a living hope. What other kinds of hope are there? What are some areas of your life where you are or are not experiencing hope?
  3. What are some things that we experience right now because we are Christians? What are some things we are looking forward to experiencing?
  4. What do you think were some of the trials (1.6) faced by the early Christians? What are some trials we face today because we are Christians? How have things changed or not changed?
  5. Give some examples of how someone might be rejoicing even when they suffering or enduring pain. (1.6)
  6. Mark Twain once said, "The weakest of all weak things is a virtue that has not been tested." Do you agree? Why or why not?
  7. Is it absolutely necessary for faith to be tested and purified? (1.7) What are ways in which such testing is helpful and positive? Hurtful or negative? Do the benefits outweigh the gains?
  8. In 1.9 it speaks of the outcome or goal of your faith. Why do you believe in Jesus Christ? What kind of goal for your faith do you have?
  9. In 1.10-12 it speaks of the prophets and even the angels diligently searching into the matters of salvation accomplished through Christ. In what ways are we better off than these prophets and angels?
  10. In 5.12 it speaks of a kiss of love. What other kinds of kisses are there? (Don't forget Judas!) How do you share a kiss of love with other Christians?

For Later:

Set aside time for prayer, reflection, and the daily Bible readings.

Start a spiritual journal to record your thoughts and insights.

'Give up' something for Lent. It can be something rather insignificant, but it should be something that you do regularly. The point is not that you are doing some good work, but the goal is to have a regular reminder that we are indeed in Lent and that it is a time for preparation and change.

Daily Bible Readings for Feb. 21-28

These daily Bible readings are given with the hope that they will help you on your spiritual journey through Lent. Before beginning a Bible reading, start your meditation time with prayer, perhaps the Lord's Prayer. Then read the passage from 1 Peter which is given for that day. (Readings for Sunday are not given. Go to church!) Through the course of Lent, you will read the entire letter of 1 Peter. A second passage is also suggested and part of your meditation should be to determine what connections there are between this passage and the 1 Peter reading for that day. The Lord be with you

Wednesday: 1 Peter 1.1-2; John 15.16-19

Thursday: 1 Peter 1.3-5; Romans 5.1-5

Friday: 1 Peter 1.6-7; 2 Corinthians 4.7-18

Saturday: 1 Peter 1.8-9; Romans 15.13

Monday: 1 Peter 1.10-12; Hebrews 1.1-4

Tuesday: 1 Peter 5.12-14; 2 Corinthians 13.11-13