II. Author

II. Author

The author identifies himself as Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1). Undoubtedly this is a reference to Simon Peter, spokesman for Jesus' disciples in all of the Gospels. Two other specific references have a bearing on the question of authorship. In 5:1 the author makes his appeal to the elders as a “fellow elder.” Significantly Peter establishes his partnership with them as the basis for his exhortations. The second reference is found in 5:12 where the author indicates he has written “with the help of Silas” (5:12). That is, Silas is identified as the secretary who actually formulated the letter at the direction of the author. Consequently 1 Peter claims the apostle Peter as its author with the secretarial help of Silas (a variant of the Gk. “Silvanus”).

Several considerations make the Petrine authorship plausible though not certain. One of the earliest creedal statements in the NT (1Co 15:1-5) shows that Peter was recognized widely as an apostolic witness to the Christ event. Peter could well have written to and gained a hearing from Christians anywhere in the world. Moreover, “Peter” claims to have written from “Babylon,” a cryptic reference to Rome, and there is clear evidence from early Christian traditions (c. a.d. 150-200) that he ended his apostolic career in Rome and was executed in the Neronian persecution (c. a.d. 64). These traditions establish not only the possibility that Peter wrote this epistle from Rome but also suggest an upper limit for dating the document. If he wrote 1 Peter, he must have done so no later than a.d. 64. On the face of it, the claim of Peter's authorship is credible.

With the rise of the modern critical investigation of Scripture, however, a number of scholars have raised serious questions about this claim. But we do not find that these questions compel a rejection of this claim and conclude that 1 Peter most probably was written by Peter from Rome sometime before a.d. 64. (For detailed discussions of this question see especially the commentaries by Selwyn, Kelly, and Best).