8. There are two parts to the Epistle: I. The giving of thanks for the grace and hope given in temptations to dispersed believers (1 Peter 1:1-12). II. Various exhortations, both to all believers, and to various classes of men (1 Peter 1:13-5:14). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
But, even if a precise division or partition of this Epistle is not able to be established, seeing that the text itself teaches that one thing follows from another, that many things are spoken as if occasionally, and that a συμπλοκὴν/ intertwining of precepts of this sort is only with difficulty reduced to the rules of method: nevertheless, it will be easy, with the inscription and Epilogue removed, to establish two parts to the Epistle. For, first, the Apostle gives thanks to God for the grace given to the believing Jews and hope in temptations (1 Peter 1:1-12). Second, he sets forth various exhortations, both to all believers, and to certain classes of believers (1 Peter 1:13-5:14).
I. The giving of thanks for the grace and hope in temptations to dispersed believers, Chapter 1:1-12.
With an inscription and prayer set before (verses 1, 2), he gives thanks to God, that He regenerated believers to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible, reserved in Heaven for them, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (verses 3-5), and that they, although weighted by various temptations, whereby their faith is tried, rejoice (verses 6, 7), even indeed in their love of Christ, and their faith in Him, the end of which is salvation (verses 8, 9), promised and predicted by the Prophets, knowing that they minister not to themselves, but to us, searching into the time of the sufferings and glory of Christ (verses 10-12): chapter 1:1-12.
II. Various exhortations, both to all believers, and to various classes of men, Chapters 1:13-5:14. In which are:
1. General exhortations: chapters 1:13-2:10. He exhorts:
a. That they prepare themselves for all the grace presented in the revelation of Jesus Christ (verse 13), by shedding their lusts (verse 14), by imitating the holiness of the God calling them (verses 15, 16), by fearing God the Father as judge, and that because of the magnitude of the price paid for them (verses 17-21), by purifying their hears in obedience of the truth through the Spirit unto the love of the brethren, since they were born again of incorruptible seed, the word of God, living and abiding forever (verses 22-25): chapter 1:13-25.
b. That, with all malice laid aside, they, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, and grow in it (verses 1, 2), if indeed the Lord is good, to whom coming, as to a living stone, so that they, as living stones, might be built up as a spiritual house (verses 3-5), where from an oracle of Isaiah he deduces the honor of believers, an elect people, a royal priesthood, now the people of God, and the stumbling of unbelievers over the corner stone (verses 6-10): chapter 2:1-10.
2. Particular exhortations, to honest conversation among the Gentiles: chapters 2:11-5:14. See:
a. The exhortation itself: chapter 2:11, 12.
b. Particular commandments for conversing honestly among the Gentiles, given:
α. To subjects, that they be subject to every ordinance of man, as free indeed, but as the servants of God (verses 13-17): to servants, that they be subject to their masters, even the forward (verses 18-20), since Christ also suffered for them, leaving behind an example, righteous, not setting Himself in opposition, bearing our sins on the tree (verses 21-25): chapter 2:13-25.
β. To wives, that they be subject to their husbands, so that by their conversation they might gain them; with their inward adornment prescribed to them (verses 1-6): to husbands, that they dwell with their wives in wisdom (verse 7): to all, that they be of one mind; that they return not evil for evil, but rather bless all; that they restrain the tongue; that they decline from evil and do good (verses 8-11); that they suffer willingly for righteousness’ sake, fear not persecutors, readily render a reason for their faith, study a good conscience (verses 12-16); that they, doing good, suffer willingly, after the example of Christ and Noah, preaching by the Spirit of Christ to the disobedient (verses 17-20), with baptism now saving, as then the ark, through the resurrection of Christ, advancing to the right hand of God (verses 21, 22): chapter 3.
γ. To all he commands, that, with Christ having suffered for sins, they desist from their sins, since they were already sufficiently lascivious beforehand (verses 1-4), who are soon to render an account to the Judge of the living and the dead, even of those that perished in the flood (verses 5-7); that they study modesty, fervent charity, hospitality, and the right use of gifts (verses 8-11), comforting the same in their afflictions with the hope of glory (verses 12-16), even because the time is at hand for judgment to begin at the house of God (verses 17-19): chapter 4.
δ. To elders, that they feed the flock of God, not as those exercising dominion (verses 1-4); to the younger, that they submit themselves to their elders with humility (verse 5); to all, that they humble themselves under the mighty hand of God (verse 6), cast their care upon God (verse 7), be sober, be vigilant against the Devil (verses 8, 9); he closes the Epistle for the present with a prayer, with the reason for his writing indicated, and with greetings related (verses 10-14): chapter 5.