Bible Study Guides

1 Peter

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,

that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:21

In this letter, Peter encourages believers to persevere in the Christian life despite the persecution they were facing. He taught them that persecution was simply part of the privilege of belonging to Christ.  Believers ought to expect persecution, prepare for it and respond in godly ways when persecution does occur.

We have provided some resources for a small group discussion. There are questions for four sessions and we encourage everyone in the group to read the book before the first session.  You can download these questions in an A5 booklet or A4 format or you can view them online by clicking on the links below. 

 

Resources provided by Bibleworld Museum & Discovery Centre, Rotorua, New Zealand

Introduction to 

the Book of 1 Peter

The author of this letter identifies himself as Peter, and there is no reason to doubt that this was the apostle Peter, the fisherman from Galilee who became Jesus’ disciple and close friend.  The gospels present Peter as an impulsive, fearful man who frequently said foolish things. The book of Acts records the transformation of Peter into a bold preacher and leader of the church. This letter reveals a patient and mature Peter who dearly loved Jesus and was courageously willing to suffer for Christ.

 

Peter wrote this letter to encourage the believers to persevere despite the persecution they were facing. Peter did not tell his audience how to avoid persecution, rather he instructed his readers to endure persecution. He had three pieces of advice for them: make sure you don’t deserve the persecution; don’t take revenge on your persecutors and don’t let persecution discourage you.

 

Peter reassures his readers that God would richly reward them when their lives here on earth are over. In the meantime he encourages them to live godly lives, submitting to one another and submitting to the state authorities.

 
 

Discussion Questions for the Book of 1 Peter

Session One: A Letter from the Apostle Peter!

Discuss your responses as you read this letter.  What passage or verses struck you as being particularly important? What passages or verses did you find hard to understand?

 

 

The apostle Peter had spent about three years of his life living and travelling with Jesus. He then saw his beloved friend arrested, before being unfairly crucified as a criminal. What can we learn about Peter from this letter he wrote? What do we learn about his relationship with Jesus?

 

 

Imagine being a part of the congregation who received this letter from Peter. What can we learn from the letter about the audience (people receiving the letter)? What do you think their response would have been to receiving this letter? What feelings or emotions may have been aroused?

 

 

What was Peter’s purpose/s in writing to them? What might the audience have felt compelled to do in light of what Peter wrote? 

 

What do you find most compelling about Peter’s letter?

Discussion Questions for the Book of 1 Peter

Session Two: Christ’s Example in Suffering

In this letter, Peter assures his readers that suffering is a part of the Christian life. What type of suffering can the follower of Christ expect to face? What other types of suffering does Peter refer to? What sort of suffering should we seek to avoid (1 Peter 2:20; 4:15)? Have you experienced suffering for following Christ?

 

Peter presents Jesus as an example for us to follow:  ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps’. (1 Peter 2:21). In what ways did Jesus suffer? What can we learn about Jesus’ example in suffering? (1 Peter 1:19; 2:4; 2:21-25; 3:18; 4:1)

 

There are many people around the world suffering for Christ.  Open Doors estimate that 255 Christians are killed for their faith each month. In what ways can we help those who are suffering (Hebrews 13:3)? How might we be able to learn from those who do suffer imprisonment and martyrdom for their Christian faith?

 

How do you think you would cope if you were required to suffer for being a Christian? Do you think your relationship with Christ would change during a time of suffering? Is there anything you could be doing now to prepare for the possibility of Christian suffering?

 

Discussion Questions for the Book of 1 Peter

Session Three: The tricky Submission passages

Read through 1 Peter 2:13-3:7 and 1 Peter 5:1-6 together as a group. What is Peter’s reason for encouraging his audience to submit? What does he see as the potential positive outcome in each situation?

 

The word submission is generally not a very popular term and the passages particularly about wives submitting to husbands have been hotly disputed by many people, possibly in part because of a misunderstanding about the meaning of the term submission. How do you understand the meaning of the word submission? What would be the opposite of submission? Can you come up with a helpful working definition of what it means to submit?

 

In what ways does Jesus provide us with an example of submission (1 Peter 2:21-23)?

 

Can you describe a situation when you chose to submit to someone and it had a positive outcome?

 

In what specific ways is God prompting you to submit to others?

 

Discussion Questions for the Book of 1 Peter

Session Four: Holiness and Hope

Peter describes the high price that Christ paid for us (1:18-21; 3:18). He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24). What impact should this have on our lifestyle? What are the reasons Peter gives for us to seek to live holy lives? In what specific ways does Peter urge people to live holy lives?

 

Peter identifies many attributes, attitudes and behaviours that ought to describe the character and behaviour of a believer. On a white board or large piece of paper, as a group, make a list of these words or attributes.  How can we develop these positive characteristic in our lives? How can we work together to nurture the growth of these characteristics in each other?

 

Which of Peter’s instructions do you find hardest to follow?

 

Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. The book of 1 Peter indicates blessings for the believer, both in this present life and in the eternal life to come.  What are some of the benefits for the believer in this present life?

 

Peter uses fairly general terms to describe our future inheritance.  What can we know about this future from the book of 1 Peter? How might this message of hope help you as you live your life on earth?

 

Suggestions for leading a small group Bible study

We believe there is great value in studying a book of the Bible as a whole, within a small group setting. If you are new to this we encourage you to begin with a shorter book such as Colossians, James or Ruth. We have put together these study guides based on the following five guidelines.

 

1. Encourage everyone in the group to read the book repeatedly.

2. Trust God to help you understand and apply his Word.

3. Focus on what the book reveals about God/Jesus.

4. Focus on what it clearly reveals about how God wants us to live.

5. Don't get bogged down on minor, uncertain or controversial issues. 

 

1. Encourage everyone in the group to read the book repeatedly.

We enjoy a Bible study group when everyone has read the Biblical text and comes along ready to discuss it. It makes for a much more interesting evening than a leader providing a monologue about the Bible! For that reason, we also like to hand out questions to everyone ahead of time, so everyone can come prepared to contribute in a thoughtful way. As a leader we encourage you to try and get everyone in the group to participate if they wish to.

 

There can be a temptation to read books or commentaries about the Bible rather than reading the Bible itself. Books about the Bible can be helpful, but we encourage everyone to spend the majority of their time becoming familiar with the Bible text itself. It may sound like a huge commitment to read through a book of the Bible ten times, but for a 15 minute book like James, this only takes about 2 ½ hours in total.

 

We have used the term ‘read the Bible’ however we are increasingly becoming fans of the practice of ‘listening to the Bible’. We highly recommend that everyone tries out an audio Bible to see how they find it. We suggest checking out the Bibleis app. An audio bible on your phone provides the opportunity to listen to the Bible while waiting, doing housework, commuting or while exercising.

 

2. Trust God to help you understand and apply his Word.

We need to trust that God wants to help us understand his Word. We encourage you to pray for wisdom as individuals and to pray when you come together as a group.

'If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.' James 1:5.

 

3. Focus on what the book reveals about God/Jesus.

God reveals so much about himself through the Bible. We have tried to come up with questions that focus on God - his abilities, his activity in our world and his character.  How does God work in people’s lives? What is important to God? For New Testament books, we are also interested in what we can learn about Jesus? What mattered to him?

 

4. Focus on what it clearly reveals about how God wants us to live.

Try to focus on how the members of your group can apply the message of the Biblical book to their lives. What does this book clearly reveal about how God wants us to live? What can we specifically do? What are the particular challenges that people are facing? What hope does this book provide?

 

5. Don't get bogged down on minor, uncertain or controversial issues. 

Accept that there are things in the Bible that we don't understand. We can waste a lot of time in a small groups on unhelpful discussion. Paul sums this up well in his letter to Timothy: Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Timothy 2:23). There is however a difference between a robust healthy discussion and petty quarrelling. We encourage you to aim for the former and seek to avoid the latter.

 

There is a sense in which the Bible is both easy to understand and hard to understand. It covers over 4000 years of history. It is set in locations on three different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe). It is written in a range of literary styles (history, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, letters, gospels and apocalyptic). Some of the customs and practices of the people are quite foreign to us. However despite these difficulties there is a sense it which the Bible is easy to understand. We have a loving God who has sent his son Jesus so that we can enjoy life to the full and spend eternity with him. If you would like some further help with Bible study, we recommend the book ‘How to Read the Bible for all its worth’ by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.