1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
As we start the letter of 1 Peter, the first two verses give us insight into who this letter is written to, and it's purpose. We see it starts, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ". If we date this letter around 62-63 AD, most scholars agree that is indeed Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus three times, but was reinstated after Jesus' resurrection. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down under Emperor Nero's brutal reign, because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified as Jesus was.
We also see who Peter is writing to. It says to the exiles scattered throughout Asia Minor. Both Jews and converted Gentiles were exiled after the temple was overrun. Most of these regions were populated by Gentiles though and were churches planted by the apostle Paul on his missionary trips recorded in Acts. Peter's purpose is to encourage the early believers in the midst of their trials. Ultimately their encouragement comes from their being God's elect people who He has chosen in His foreknowledge according to His grace. Simply put, if God had chosen them, God would give them power in the Risen Christ to withstand these fiery ordeals.
1 Peter has great encouragement for Christians who are suffering in any way. Sometimes it is hard to see God's purpose when we are suffering. It is hard to take a long view when in the short term we are in pain. Not only is Peter's letter meant to encourage us, but also to challenge us to live out our faith in bold ways. He knows that as we stay faithful in the midst of suffering it will be the proof of their faith in Jesus Christ. As we read this book I think it will have a lot to say to us today. Although we may not be suffering in the same way as these first Christians, we still will undergo trials and temptations. Peter's letter will encourage and challenge you to remember that God has chosen you out of the world to be a witness to His only Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to be ready at any time to give an answer for the hope we have within us!