What is your favorite book of the Bible? Bible Gateway—a website that receives visitors from over 200 countries and offers 200 versions of the Bible in 70 languages—published a report a few years ago that showed the books of the Bible most read online. Perhaps one of these is your favorites.
Number one is the book of Psalms. With its broad range of human emotions and with favorites like Psalm 23, it’s not hard to see why. Numbers two and three are the gospels of Matthew and John, two important books that tell us the story of Jesus’ life. Number four is the book of Romans, beloved by many for its deep and detailed theology. Number five is the book of Proverbs, celebrated for its practical wisdom. Number six is the book of Genesis, perhaps because that’s where many people begin when they start reading the Bible. Rounding out the top ten are Luke, 1 Corinthians, Isaiah, and Acts.
If you were able to ask Christians in certain areas of the world, or in certain eras of church history, you might be surprised to hear how many would answer. Across the world and through the centuries, suffering Christians have often found comfort in a book of the Bible that American Christians often neglect, the book of 1 Peter. When Christian university students in Germany encountered persecution from the Soviet Union, they found comfort in 1 Peter.[i] In the war-torn region formerly known as Yugoslavia, 1 Peter is said to be the most popular book among Christians.[ii] The same is true in Muslim-dominated Indonesia, a country where it’s increasingly difficult to be a Christian.[iii] Martin Luther, who faced his fair share of suffering, believed 1 Peter contained all that was necessary for a Christian to know, and he considered it “one of the noblest books in the New Testament” and a “paragon of excellence” along with books like Romans and the Gospel of John.[iv]
What is it about this short book of the Bible that resonates with so many hurting Christians? I believe the answer is found when you understand the theme of the book. 1 Peter is written to teach us how to live as faithful exiles in a hostile world.
As Poquoson Baptist Church begins our study in 1 Peter together, would you join me in a challenge? Would you commit to spend personal devotional time in 1 Peter every week through the duration of our study? For some of you that might mean carving out some time during the week to read the text for the upcoming sermon. For others that might mean reading a chapter a day so you're marinating in the entire book every week. Or perhaps it will be something in between. Whatever your current circumstances allow, will you commit to dive into this book with me as we learn how to live as faithful exiles in a hostile world?
[i] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 2.
[ii] Jobes, 2.
[iii] Jobes, 2.
[iv] Jobes, 1.