ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 305

T H E A P O S T L E P E T E R K N E W that he needed to write a letter to encourage
certain believers who were encountering opposition and persecution
from their unbelieving neighbors. Such difficult experiences were also
impacting these believers’ perspective of God.
In the early 60s ad, Peter was living in Rome, which he calls “­Babylon,”
alluding to the ancient city that oppressed God’s people in the First
Testament. He had learned about the difficult situation that the followers of Jesus were facing in another part of the Roman Empire: the
provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (all in Asia
Minor, which is modern-day Turkey). Peter now writes to those believers, largely made up of Gentiles, encouraging them in the face of suffering. He also gives them a clear sense of identity as God’s chosen
people, and he urges them to continue on the path of holy living.
Peter begins by reminding the believers of the great hope they now
have in Christ. God’s new world is being kept in heaven for them, waiting for the day it will come down and be revealed as their inheritance.
Next Peter marvels at the transformation their faith in Jesus has
brought about. “God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life
you inherited from your ancestors,” he says, so now “you can show
others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into
his wonderful light.” Alluding to the First Testament, Peter tells them,
“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.”
Then, using language that further echoed descriptions of Israel, he declares, “You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.”
However, their new identity has created a number of earthly problems. Peter says, “Your former friends are surprised when you no longer
plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they
slander you.” The slander may have included accusations that the
believers were disloyal to the emperor because of their allegiance to
Jesus. Peter tells them not to worry about these charges and insults but
rather to remain devoted to Christ while continuing to be good citizens.
They are to keep their consciences clear, to honor the emperor, and to
worship Christ. That’s all the defense they should need.

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