I Peter 3:18-22
Written to Christians in Asia Minor are a minority faith population split between cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Most are probably native to this geographical area, they are now outcasts due to their choice to follow Jesus. Their suffering has historically been attributed to the hostility of the political leaders/institutions toward Christianity. Credible Biblical scholars have, more recently, come to believe this suffering has more to do with Christians inability to hold to the social expectations of the culture of the time while remaining faithful to Christ. Basically, unwritten, community expectations that everyone worshipped the same idols, held to the same attitudes, and practiced the same behaviors were cemented into the thinking of the community. Anyone making a choice to pull away from these expectations became social pariahs – dismissed and shunned by their communities and even their families. This explains Peter’s emphasis on being respectful to all. This is a letter for 2021!