We know almost nothing about the life of the apostle Peter from the Council of Jerusalem, in the year 49 (see Acts 15
), until the time he wrote this letter, around the year 64. It is certain that he went to Rome. Being in charge of the entire Church, he, like Paul, had to go to the center of the Roman world, though their motives were different.
A very ancient tradition affirms that he was killed in the persecution of Nero, in 66, and that he was buried on the grounds of the Vatican Hill. Inves tigations carried out these past years have enabled us to discover a grave and bones with various inscriptions which are, almost certainly, those of the apostle, the first Rock of the church.
Thus it was a short time before his death that he wrote this letter from Rome. Peter had neither the genius nor the literary talent of Paul. Instead, with simple words, he addressed the Chris tians of the Asian province, where the first persecutions were beginning. Different from Paul, he is not concerned with clarifying or defending the faith. He tries to encourage believers who are suffering by presenting the example of Christ to them and by explaining the consequences of baptism.
In this letter, everything from 1:3 to 3:7 is inspired by the baptismal ceremony in the early Church: hymns, homily on the ritual and on Christian life. For Peter, it is an excellent way to remind his readers that they are Christians.
The end of the letter tells us that Peter wrote through Silvanus, who had been a disciple of Paul. This may be why, in various passages, we find the same topics found in Paul’s letters.
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