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.
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.