24 Jun PETER WROTE TO AN ANCIENT MULTI-SITE CHURCH: A Study in 1 Peter
Peter’s two letters are a mere 166 verses. Although rather brief, they are power packed. The people he wrote to were living in a pagan city which meant that to live as a Christian made them the oddballs. Making matters worse, they were facing a host of troubles, trials, and temptations among uncertain days filled with distressing difficulty. Peter had experienced all of these things himself and watched first-hand how to respond by being at the side of Jesus for three years.
So, he writes from his own experience and points people to Jesus for hope, help, and healing. We tend to think of one church meeting in many locations as something new, but it is not. In our day, just as in the early days of the church, God gives some people apostolic gifting that allows them to lead multiple churches and pastor many pastors. As the opening lines of 1 Peter indicate, he is writing to a multi-campus church scattered over a wide geographic region. The ancient cities of “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” were located in modern-day Turkey which, sadly, is now the least churched nation in the world, a fact I can verify after preaching in that nation on a few trips. Commenting on the size of the region to which Peter writes, Bible commentator Karen Jobes says, “This is a vast area of approximately 129,000 square miles…(As a comparison, the state of California covers about 159,000 square miles.)” (1)
She goes on to say, “The residents practiced many religions, spoke several languages, and were never really assimilated into the Greco- Roman culture…And yet this untamed region became the cradle of Christianity…We may surmise that, in no small part because of this letter [1 Peter] and the faithfulness of those who received it, well- established churches flourished in all five of these regions by AD 180. Their bishops attended the great councils of the second through the fourth centuries, where the doctrines were forged that Christians hold dear yet today.” (2)
(1) Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 19.
(2) Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 22–23.
To download the free e-book ODD LIFE: Good God which is a study in 1 Peter for individuals, groups, and families from Pastor Mark click HERE. To listen to Pastor Mark’s 9 sermons on 1 Peter preached in the summer of 2020, click HERE. These and other resources are made possible by our ministry partners who support Real Faith as a Bible teaching ministry of Mark Driscoll Ministries to whom we say THANK YOU!