The first epistle was written from “Babylon” (probably Rome) soon after the outbreak of the Neronian persecution, A.D. 64, and is addressed to Christians in the different provinces of what is now called Asia Minor. Its object is to encourage men who were in danger of being terrified into a denial of their Lord (compare Luke 22:32), but it also contains valuable teaching about the Atonement (1 Pet. 1:11, 18–19; 2:21–25; 3:18; 4:1, 12–19) and the doctrines of baptism and resurrection (1:3, 23).
1:1–2, salutation; 3–12, thanksgiving for the new life that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ had brought with it; 13–25, an earnest call to a life of holiness, obedience, and love, remembering the price of our redemption.
2:1–10, Christ is the Cornerstone in the “spiritual house” into which individual Christians are built as “lively stones”; 11–12, the flesh must therefore be kept in subjection, and, 13–25, obedience must be rendered to constituted authority, even undeserved punishment being endured with patience, remembering the sufferings of Christ.
3:1–7, the duties of wives and husbands; 8–12, exhortation to unity and love; 13–17, the need of care lest the force of our witness should be marred by arrogance or moral laxity; 18–22, if suffering comes, there is strength to endure in the thought of the sufferings of Christ, who, after His mortal death, preached the gospel also in the spirit world (see also 1 Pet. 4:6).
4:1–6, fresh exhortation to avoid the lusts of men and live according to the will of God, and, 7–11, to exercise our gifts for the good of all and the glory of Jesus Christ; 12–19, to be partakers in Christ’s sufferings is to rejoice in His glory, and a ground for thanksgiving, but not for presumption or moral carelessness.
The second epistle was apparently addressed to the same churches as the first (3:1). It was written in the near prospect of death (1:14) and aims at guarding against apostasy. In 2 Pet. 1 we read some of Peter’s most forceful language, explaining how man can lay hold of the promise of eternal life and obtain the more sure word of prophecy (1:19; see also D&C 131:5). In 2 Pet. 2, Peter speaks of the sophistry and lack of faith that often accompanies worldly learning and acclaim. In 2 Pet. 3, Peter reaffirms that the Lord will come from heaven in great glory and in judgment upon the earth. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles” (HC 5:392).