The main them in 1 Peter is to stand firm in God’s grace and is both validated and illustrated by the contents of the New Testament book. 1 Peter explains that the grace of God involves suffering. Suffering grows the faith of a believer and Peter encourages suffering Christians to stand firm in the faith knowing that the grace of God will be with them. 1 Peter 1:5–7 affirms that God will help His children to remain strong in the faith throughout their trials and tribulations until the judgment day of Christ comes.
Peter also encourages believers by telling them that although they may suffer through many trials, “these [trials] have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine…” (1 Pet 1:7, NIV). When Christians live their lives to glorify God, they will face persecution. However, in this verse, Peter urges believers not to be discouraged when they face persecution but to view their troubles as part of the process of perfecting their faith. When believers stand firm in God’s grace, the struggles that they face will develop them and perfect them so that God can use them in the way that He wants to. Peter further encourages believers to stand firm in God’s grace by remaining steadfast in the faith regardless of what their enemies may do.
In 1 Peter 3:13–17, Peter acknowledges that believers can suffer for doing good and for their allegiance to Jesus Christ. However, even if they are slandered, Peter tells them that they are to “…always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15, NIV). Instead of being shaken by what others may say, Christians are told to stand firm by telling those that slander them about their hope in Christ in a respectable and honorable manner. When this is done, those who have slandered those believers in Christ will be ashamed and embarrassed of their condemnation towards them. When one makes the decision to stand firm in the faith, the grace of God will be there to strengthen them and give them the words to say even in the midst of persecution. Christians are encouraged to stand firm in God’s grace regardless of what their enemies may do as well as stand firm so that their faith may be refined for God’s purposes.
Peter continues to address the truth that believers will suffer for their allegiance to the LORD in 1 Peter 4:12–19. Here, Peter encourages believers to praise God when they suffer for the cause of Christ. Standing firm in God’s grace enables Christians to rejoice because they are suffering for Christ’s sake. Believers should rejoice in their present suffering so that they “…may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:13, NIV). Not only should believers rejoice in their suffering, they should also glorify God for the allowing them to suffer for His names sake and not be ashamed. Peter advises believers saying, “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Pet 4:16, NIV). Believers should not be ashamed of their suffering and persecution because it is a blessing to suffer for the cause of Christ and it is also an indication that God sanctions the work that they are doing.
The true follower of Christ should understand that God’s grace doesn’t come without suffering. In order to experience God’s grace, in the context of 1 Peter, one must also endure suffering. When a person endures suffering, their faith in God will be strengthened and they will be able to stand firm in their faith and rejoice in the suffering that comes along with it, knowing that God’s grace will be there to guide them and lift them up.