The twenty-first book of the NT. An epistle of great beauty dealing with baptism and suffering, with appropriate ethical exhortations to different classes of converts. Some think it may have originated as a homily at Easter, the time for baptisms, in Rome, which is concealed under ‘Babylon’ in 1 Pet. 5: 13 (cf. Rev. 17: 5–6). Then, with an introduction (1: 1–2) and conclusion (5: 12–14), it served as a letter to encourage former pagans (1: 18) converted to Christianity and now facing oppression (4: 12). They are marginalized citizens, mere ‘resident aliens’ (Greek, paroikoi) in Asia Minor. Their new faith has evidently increased the local hostility towards them. They have become a sect with a culture which separates them from the surrounding society. Members of the Church belong to an alternative family (1 Pet. 4: 17), though they are warned not to withhold their proper duties to the State (1 Pet. 2: 17). By their example they will win over unbelievers (2: 11–12). Authorship by Peter depends on the view taken of the reference in 4: 15–16 to being a Christian. Some scholars regard this reference as so like circumstances detailed in correspondence between the younger Pliny and the emperor Trajan that it must belong to the early part of the 2nd cent. The language about being reborn (1: 3) is similar to the propaganda of the pagan mysteries, which could also imply a 2nd-cent. date. On the other hand, the letter may reflect the recent destruction of the Temple in 70 CE (5: 12–13); ancient Babylon had destroyed the first Temple in 586 BCE. If so, there is a case for composition in the late 1st century. An even earlier date is maintained by a minority of scholars who defend the Petrine authorship, by suggesting that the words of the former Galilean fisherman (Peter was martyred in the Neronian persecution of 64 CE) have been worked over by Silvanus (Silas), the amanuensis, showing evidence of Hellenistic culture, knowledge of the LXX, and a felicitous style of writing. The references to persecution might denote the hostility of neighbours and families (3: 6) rather than official imperial policy.