When and To Whom was 1 Peter written?

Before we jump into the text of 1 Peter we are going to look briefly at when the book was written and to whom the book was written.

When it was written

The book claims to be written by Peter.  Those claims are substantiated by the letter itself, as it shows evidence of someone who was an eyewitness to the life of Jesus.  Historically, this is also substantiated by evidence from early Christian writers.  Thus, I believe that the author is the Apostle Peter.  This means that the book has to be written, while Peter was alive (yes,  I know that is a deep statement).

Historically speaking, we are fairly confident that Peter died under the reign of Nero.  The story goes that he was crucified upside down.  This would be around A.D. 67, 68.  Thus we know the book has to be written before then.

Secondly, the book claims to be written from Babylon (5:13).  There is debate about whether this is actual Babylon or, like in the book of Revelation, it is referring to Rome.  My belief is that it is referring to Rome because Babylon was a small village town at this point.  If this is the case, and if we believe history, then Peter was in Rome around A.D. 64.* Thus our lower date is A.D. 64.

Therefore, the book is written somewhere between 64-68 A.D.

To Whom

Verse 1 gives us the answer: “To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”  He is writing to Christians in these various regions of the Roman Empire. You can see those areas in the map below.

They are called “elect pilgrims.”  Elect has to do with their position before God.  They are God’s chosen people.  Pilgrim has to do with their position in the world, they are strangers in this world.  They no longer “fit in.”

The historical question is:  How was this area evangelized?  It doesn’t appear that they were a part of Paul’s missionary journey, nor any of the missionary work we see in Acts.  This leaves us with three options:  1. They were evangelized by some unknown person.  2.  Peter evangelized the area, but we have no record of it.  This could be since normally letters written to a region are written from someone who has a relationship with the people.  3. They were evangelized by those who heard Peter’s preaching in Acts 2.

Although, again, I’m not dogmatic I lean to these churches having been established by men and women who heard the preaching of Peter in Acts 2, and during their time in Jerusalem afterwards, who then went back to their homeland and taught their neighbors.

*Those are a lot of “ifs” so I am not dogmatic about the lower date.

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15 Responses to When and To Whom was 1 Peter written?

  1. Pingback: Date and Audience of 2 Peter | Study Your Bible Online

  2. a person. says:

    1 AND 2 peter was written by Paul. It was written to the Jewish Christians of the time to encourage them..i suggest you do your research, not just assume.

  3. Wesley says:

    Proof would be nice. Since the letter claims to be from Peter. I would love to see your “RESEARCH” and not your “assumption.

  4. Holden says:

    I dont think there is any serious question that Peter wrote 1st and 2nd Peter, I mean it does say in the very first verse

    This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

    I don’t think Paul made a habit of lying in his apostle days?

  5. John Gaunt says:

    Babylon is not Rome , Roman Catholicism has him in Rome at this time. There was a small Jewish community in Babylon and Peter was overseeing the work there.

  6. Tamer Al Kharratt says:

    I have found this article very useful, as it does not state facts but rather outlines the debates with scientific structure. I am a strong believer of Christ but in the same time I believe that controversy between certain topics should not be stated as facts. Thank you, Wesley for this clear presentation. For the other commenters, many scholars indicate that this letter might have not been written by Peter himself because the greek language used is of higher sophistication, and the impossibility of him being an apostle and a fellow elder at the same time, and since he did not explicitly witness the suffer of Christ.. It is debatable with evidence from both sides Those Pro-Petrine Authorship and those Anti-Petrine Authorship. It should not be stated that it was for sure written by Peter.

  7. Bishop Kenner says:

    We can see this is the words of the Apostle Peter who penned these word is not so important, through the language can see he is speaking to a Jewish community,
    Paul’s primary focus was to the Gentiles the langauge was not to Gentiles, so we must conclude Peter is the author, this is associate with the Dynamic Theory, Pual can not be the writer because the language does not suggest that he is. Brothers and Sisters is not about debate it about Principles and Applications what we see and how we apply it.

  8. Jacob says:

    Babylon was a code-word for ‘Rome’. This letter was accepted by the early church in the 2nd century as been dictated from Peter – so much for ‘Paul’ being the author as some naively suggest. 1 Peter is a either from Peter or a hoax.

  9. Quincy says:

    How can Paul have writen this letter, when the writer clearly make mention of him in 2 peter 3:15-16? notice there, “our beloved brother Paul” in verse 15b

  10. Geoff says:

    The evidence that Peter’s permanent residence was in Jerusalem is extensive: (Acts 8:1 Acts 8:14 Acts 12:1-4 Galatians 1:18 Galatians 2:1, 9; Galatians 2:7-9.) The tradition that he moved on to Rome is rooted in a theological interpretation of Revelation 17 in which Rome became interpreted as Babylon. It became so unnatural that they even had to force verses that say “the city where Christ was crucified ” (Rev 11:8) to signify Rome. It is unreasonable to suggest that he is speaking of actual Babylon, not only because Babylon no longer existed as a city, but more particularly because the appelation is clearly used as a symbol and metaphor in 1st Peter just as it is in Revelation 17 together with “Sodom” and “egypt” in Rev 11. These were all metaphors intended to describe the spiritual condition of the very city that has occupied the attention of scripture from beginning to end. Christ closes his ministry with a promise of her looming destruction (Mt 23-24) and she is completely destroyed in the very generation that these books were written (Rome and Babylon were certainly not) – the city is Jerusalem. She had lost her standing as the city of God’s peace and had received a more fitting name. It is a sad, but also a crystal clear image.

  11. chris says:

    The arguement that the language is too educated for Peter is a poor arguement. First, that arguement assumes that fishermen are ignorant, and that is not necessarily true. Second, 1 Pet. 5:12 states that Peter authored the lettter through the penning of Silvanus. This is a plausible explanation for better language than an ignorant fisherman, which we do not know for sure that Peter was an ignorant man. Personally, I believe he was reasonably educated.

  12. c wilber says:

    the Jesus of Matthew cant you get along what matters is that you believe in me and the one that sent me. It’s in red spoken by GOD himself tell me the good stuff like 1st peter 2:24 by his stripes you were healed. I have cancer and you guys are in disagreement to what oil to use to pray with. I think [ were ] is future tense.

  13. Ben Ford says:

    I believe that this is a outstanding book now I know where I need to start my text from sermon title if juses cares about us then y don’t cares about each other?

  14. Jonathan says:

    Yes it was not Paul who wrought this book u can see it clearly in 2Peters:3:15_16 if u read it carefully u will notice that some one else was writhing at that time and that person was peter himself…..I agreed with Quincy

  15. Tim says:

    Ok, let’s simplify the logic here. Luke was Paul’s scribe. Why couldn’t Peter have a scribe? Looks pretty simple to me.

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