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  • The Epistles, or letters, from the apostles were meant as guides and reminders to converts, both pagan and Hebrew, of the duties of the Christian life. Some of them were written to specific individuals, such as Paul's epistles to Titus, Philemon, and Timothy. Others, like this one by Peter, was meant to be circulated to the churches in general and read aloud to congregations when they met.

    This is not the Simon Peter who was told by Jesus, “get thee behind me Satan”, but an older, wiser, and more seasoned Peter who has experienced suffering and rejection for his beliefs. The message of this letter is plain. Be true to your faith, suffer and your suffering will be rewarded.

    When you read this, try thinking of it as personal. You never know, the Spirit may decide to make it so.

    From Peter, the apostle of the Lord, Jesus, to the believers who are scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.

    You have been chosen by God before he sent His Messiah to know the truth. You have within you the sanctified Spirit, which has allowed you to accept the shed blood of Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for your sins. May God bless you richly in all that you do.

    How wonderful is our salvation given by God, for with His sacrifice we are given the promise of resurrection, and an inheritance which will not rot or fade away, but will remain for us in heaven until we arrive and will be everlasting.

    It is God who supplies you with the faith to endure until the time you are with Him, and it is that same God in whom you so greatly rejoice. Even when you face terrible challenges and trials, you do not falter; even when the evil one tempts you, you remain strong in your faith.

    These trials are nothing more than the perfection of your faith, my brothers and sisters, just gold that is passed through the fire seven times to remove the dross, so are these trials to remove the last vestiges of your old selves, so that when you are before our God, you will appear to Him as Jesus did.

    You have not seen God, yet you love Him; you have not seen Jesus, yet you believe him. Not only do you believe, but you rejoice with joy and glory for the truth of the living God. For this faith, you have already received the salvation of your souls.

    This is the salvation the prophets spoke of in the Holy Scriptures, the salvation promised by God and personified in Jesus, who suffered all things yet did not sin.

    Instead, Jesus lived as an example to us all, as you have heard from those who visited you, and you have believed. I am writing this to encourage you to continue to live as witnesses to this example.

    Be convicted in your thoughts and actions, be strong witnesses of the gospel of Jesus, so that you will not lose your salvation through backsliding into sinful ways. Be obedient to the commandments, even as Jesus was obedient. Be seen as law-abiding citizens and more, being honest and faithful to the example of the Lord.

    In all your dealings with all men, remember what He said. “Be holy, for I am holy.”

    When you pray, do so in humility and with soberness, knowing the Lord is no respecter of persons, and asking His protection from the temptations of this world. For you were not redeemed from sin with silver or gold or even the birthright of the chosen, as many of the Jews would believe, but by the precious blood of the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice given by God himself to redeem you.

    God promised his savior even from the garden, but He has now come to us. He has given us the covenant, fulfilled all prophecy, and has died for us, was redeemed from the tomb and given glory and honor and power to secure your faith in God.

    And seeing as this is the free gift of God, be purified by the Spirit and obey the truth through love for one another with a pure and open heart. You have been born again, not from flesh and blood as men of this world, but of incorruptible spirit through the grace and mercy of Jesus, the Christ, who lives forever and ever.

    All flesh is like grass, it comes up and withers in its season. All the glory of man is like that as well. But the word of the Lord is forever, and this is the word preached to you for your salvation.

    I call upon you then to lay aside all anger and hatred, all cunning and hypocrisy, and all gossip and evil thoughts. Because you are newborn in Christ, listen carefully and feed upon the milk of the Gospel. Nourish yourselves in the word and you will grow strong in the Lord.

    For his love is gracious and merciful, and He has drawn you to Him as a living stone, rejected by men, but precious to you.

    You are spiritual beings now, a holy priesthood who will offer up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable before God.

    Jesus is the stone upon which all is built, just as it is written in the scriptures that God would set a cornerstone elect and precious as the foundation for salvation and those who accept it will be saved.

    Therefore, you are saved by your faith that Jesus is the precious stone promised, but to those who are disobedient and do not accept the truth, it shall become a stumbling block for them.

    But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a particular people; and you should spend you days praising the God who has called you from the darkness.

    In the past, you were ordinary people, not even known to one another, but now you are the chosen of God. Where once there was no mercy, there is now mercy in abundance.

    And so, my beloved brothers and sisters, I humbly ask you as the chosen of God to reject the sins of the flesh which will war against your souls. Be honest in your conversations with Jews and Gentiles alike, do not react to their accusations of evil, but continue to do good so your actions will glorify God.

    Be law-abiding citizens and obey the laws of the kings, of governors, and of those sent out to punish criminals and reward those who do well. This is the will of God, so that your good reputation will go against the the claims of those who say you do evil, and will show your accusers to be foolish and ignorant of the truth. Conduct yourself as free men, ready to do the will of God for the good of the people. Hate no one, but respect all men. Love your brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the king.

    If you are a servant, be a good servant and honor your master. Even if your master is not kind, your conscience will be clear, and your suffering for God will be rewarded. Think about it. If you are only kind and merciful to those who are kind and merciful to you, yet treat others with disdain and intolerance, what kind of a witness is that? Did Christ treat those who misused him like that?

    No, Jesus was kind and forgiving to all men, no matter how they treated him. So if you must suffer, suffer as He suffered. Be righteous even when others are not, accept their cruelty and show them it does not affect you. Be silent in the face of adversity and let your actions speak for you, just as Jesus did. For it is by Jesus' sufferings you are healed of your sins.

    As non-believers, you were once like sheep who wandered away and were lost. Now it is time for you to return to your Shepherd and obey him.

    Wives, be subject to the rule of your husband, just as the church is subject to the will of God. If your husband does not believe, be for him the example of Christ, so that your good works and righteous conversation will convict him of the Spirit.

    Do not criticize and gossip, do not waste time in idle banter complaining and condemning as others do, but support your family, take care of your children and your home. Bring peace into your house with a quiet and incorruptible devotion to their needs. Just as Jesus placed the needs of man above his own, place the needs of your husband and children above yours.

    The women of the Old Testament acted in this manner and often saved their husbands by the strength of their convictions. They did not adorn themselves in jewelry, but in good works and righteous conversation. Their strength served the Lord and their families.

    Husbands, honor and cherish your wives. Make them your partners and helpmates, treat them with respect and love. With their help, your children will grow in the paths of righteousness, and in your last years you will be counted as wise among the elders.

    Talk with your wife and respect her opinion, have compassion and understanding toward each other, for if you do, you will receive a blessing and be happy in your marriage and your family.

    Brothers and Sisters, if you want the blessings of the Lord, then behave as examples of Christ in all your dealings. Do not speak evil things or use foul language. Do not plot or plan for personal gain at the expense of others. In all dealings with others, seek peace as your primary concern.

    If you do these things, then who has anything to say against you? If you are honest and speak only the truth, there will be no evidence of wrong doing because you have done nothing wrong. And if you are falsely accused and suffer it, you have nothing to fear, for the strength and power of the Lord Jesus will defend the righteous and the innocent.

    So sanctify yourselves to the Spirit, and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks. Know the scripture and the reason for your belief. Be meek and kind and cheerful in all your dealings, so that your witness will reflect your faith in our Lord, Jesus, who is the Messiah promised by God.

    Your conscience will be clear and you will have no reason to be ashamed. Let them who falsely accuse you be ashamed, for the Spirit will deal with them as evil men who worship false gods.

    If you are persecuted for your beliefs, then you are in good company. Christ himself was blameless in all things and yet suffered for all of us, so that His witness and His blood might redeem us from sin. His sacrifice was the ultimate sacrifice, and when He was put to death, it was only death in the flesh. But He was risen in the Spirit first, so that He could rise to free the souls imprisoned by their sins. They had waited for His arrival, and through His sacrifice received mercy.

    These souls, like the souls of the disobedient before the time of Noah, were redeemed by his coming. And while the eight lives were saved on the ark, the children who inhabit the earth now have continued in sin. But His sacrifice has erased their sins from their lives, if they choose to accept it. For while we are baptized to remove the outer filth from our bodies in a gesture of the repentance of our hearts, it is the shed blood of Jesus that cleanses our souls so that we will join in his resurrection at the time of our mortal death. He awaits us there in heaven, and has power over all things both here and there.

    Therefore, since Christ suffered for you, follow His example and suffer all things for Him, for when you suffer in the flesh, you are witnessing for Him and cannot sin. Surrender your lives to the Spirit and do not lust after the things of men.

    In the past we were exactly the same as the non-believers. We chose wealth over righteousness, power over mercy, wine and excess over piety and mercy. We worshiped idols and indulged our lusts and did not think of God.

    But now, men look at us and see their own sins reflected in our repentance. They witness our abstinence and are convicted by their conscience, and their hatred of themselves is so great they speak evil lies and false claims against us. They are so consumed by their lusts they forget that all men will have to come before God and give an accounting for their lives.

    This is why the Gospel was preached to all, this is why the Messiah has come; to give all men the chance to repent and turn from their sins. So that when they die and must give an accounting, they might claim the blood of Christ and be redeemed.

    Remember, the old world will pass away, so be sober-minded and righteous in all aspects of your lives. Pray for everyone, focus your minds on the will of God and pray for His mercy.

    Above all, make charity of the Spirit your guide in all things. Open your doors to your brothers and sisters and deny them nothing. For you are stewards of the things you have. Use them wisely and without thought to what you will get back in return.

    Each one among you have received a gift of the Spirit and all gifts have their purpose. If your gift is to speak, speak out the words of the Lord, the words given you by the Spirit. If your gift is to minister, minister to others with mercy and kindness, condemning no man, but by your witness allowing the Spirit to convict the of the truth; that God was glorified through Jesus who now holds power over all the souls who live and have ever lived and will live on when we have been gathered. Amen.

    Do not be afraid of the trials you will endure for your faith. Instead, be happy that you are able through your surrender to witness and testify to the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. If you are beaten for the name of Jesus, do not be ashamed, for your innocence is known to God and will be seen for persecution and not deserved.

    Give no one cause to accuse you, remain faithful and follow the law. Do not kill, do not steal, do not lie or cheat or desire that which is not yours. Do not gossip or neglect your families or do any other thing that gives non-believers the opportunity to shame you, and by association, those around you who also believe.

    We must be faithful witnesses to Christ and not hypocrites, for what have we accomplished if we say we are Christians, yet sin as the non-believer do? We must be the standard set by our witness, for if we are in sin, how much less will we suffer than those who do not accept the grace and mercy of Jesus?

    So commit your souls to the mercy of the Spirit in all things, trusting Him as the creator of all things, trusting in His infinite mercy and care.

    Elders, lead the young and set the example for all who are entrusted to your care. Show love and mercy and patience and tolerance and be spoke of unkindly by no one. Provide the right kind of leadership, the kind that encourages others to remain true to the faith. Care for them as your own children, being a father to them instead of a master or a lord. If you do this, when Christ returns you will be rewarded for your gentle care, for remember these are not your children but His.

    Those of you who are young, show honor and respect to your leaders as you do your own parents, and treat others in your congregation as brothers and sisters. Be a servant to one another, and wear your humility as a crown every day. Be humble in the sight of God, for He sees your actions and will one day reward them. He cares for you and loves you.

    Be careful in all you say and do, pay attention to what is happening around you. Remember, Satan is a friend to the world and the enemy of God. He will try to find ways to destroy your witness and shame you before men. Resist him, deny his call of lust and personal gain, and he will never win. For our God is a God of grace who calls us to eternal glory through the suffering of Jesus Christ. Regardless of your sufferings, He will call those who have suffered to make you perfect; to strengthen you, to sanctify you, and to justify you.

    To God be all glory forever and ever. Amen.

    Silvanus has written this for me, as I have spoken it to him. He is a faithful brother and has given you my words of encouragement and my testimony that what I have said is the true grace of God. I send my greetings to all of you in the church in Babylon, and so does Marcus, my brother who is here with me.

    Greet each other with a Holy Kiss. Peace be with you all. Amen.

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