1-2: Peter is writing to believers in the area of what is now Turkey. "Exiles of the dispersion" may refer to those dispersed because of persecution or it could mean Christians are exiles in this world because we belong to a heavenly kingdom.
3: It is God who causes us to be born again. We can't cause our spiritual birth any more than we can cause our physical birth: they are gifts from God. Repentance and faith are only possible when God convicts us of sin and compels us with the beauty of the Gospel. The power of our spiritual birth hinges on Jesus' resurrection.
4-5: The inheritance we receive, based on His works, is imperishable because it is immaterial and provided by God.
6-7: We can rejoice in our eternal inheritance in Christ despite what trials we go through. Even our trials will ultimately result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus.
8-9: Because we can't physically see Jesus, we must trust him on other grounds. Scripture, history, philosophy, conscience and science all point us to Jesus, making the burden of faith light.
10-12: When Old Testament prophets wrote concerning Jesus, future generations benefitted by having a way to identify the Messiah and understand his work of redemption.
13: When Jesus returns and judges the world, those who trusted in His atoning work will not receive the judgement we deserve. God's wrath will pass over us because Jesus paid for our sins and clothed us in his righteousness. In light of Jesus' sacrifice we must put our hope fully on the grace that will come when Jesus returns at the end of the age. There is no room for hope in our own "righteousness".
14-16: The "passions of our former ignorance" refers to the sinful pleasures we indulged in prior to redemption. God is our standard of holiness. Though it's a standard we cannot reach, we should not become complacent just because we might sin less than we did before. God will continue to sanctify us until we die.
17-19: The Christian's time on earth is merely an "exile" during which we should have a respectful fear of God, the one who judges perfectly and saved us through the death of Christ.
20-21: As part of the Trinity Jesus always existed yet became a man to pay for our sins and rise from the dead. He did this so we could be raised and glorify God.
22-25: The "obedience to the truth" that purifies our souls is repentance and faith in Jesus. This means submitting to God by renouncing our sin while trusting completely in Jesus who sacrificed himself to purify us from all sin. In light of this knowledge we should be compelled to love one another from a pure heart
1-3: These instructions are a continuation of the final verses in chapter 1. In light of the Gospel we should put away these sins, craving sanctification through God's word by the power of the Holy Spirit as a baby craves milk. Verse 3 is a qualification that one must first taste that the Lord is good, by experiencing His grace, before truly craving God and His sanctifying power.
4-6: The Old Covenant temple was replaced by the Church (those redeemed through Christ) who are its building blocks and priests, Jesus being the high priest. We offer "spiritual sacrifices" of obedience to God with our bodies, minds, time, money, and possessions. However, these are out of gratitude rather than an attempt to atone for our sins. Jesus already paid for them once and for all.
7-8: Jesus is a stumbling block to those who reject him. Many people are offended by Jesus' exclusive claim that he is the only way to God. This is offensive because it implies out of necessity that every other religion is a false.
9-10: We are sinful people chosen by God to be forgiven and adopted as His Children. His choice is not on the basis of a person's good works or superiority. Scripture doesn't say how or why he chooses but it's clear he does so by grace. The chosen person doesn't deserve to be saved any more than the unchosen. His purpose for saving us is that we would glorify him by proclaiming the Gospel and his greatness.
11: Passions of the flesh such as fornication, adultery, pornography, and drunkenness wage war against our soul by stunting spiritual growth and grieving the Holy Spirit. The Christian's citizenship is in heaven with Christ rather than in this world.
12-17: Our conduct among others should be honorable, which includes being good citizens who obey government institutions put in place by God. Accusations that the Bible teaches hatred and intolerance are powerfully silenced when the accuser meets loving, selfless believers who apply God's word rightly.
18-23: Among Paul's Christian audience were slaves with unjust masters. By honoring unjust masters and enduring suffering, they followed Jesus' example of honoring his enemies who put him to death. In God's sight this is a gracious thing because the servants model the Gospel by giving undeserved honor.
24-25: Jesus sacrificed himself to pay for the sins that separated us from God so we might repent and live for him.
1-2: A wife's submission and respectful conduct toward her disobedient husband can often bring him to repentance.
3-6: In making herself beautiful, a woman should focus on more than just external appearances. What matters to God is her character and actions.
7: Husbands are commanded not to abuse their headship in marriage; they are to honor and lead in an understanding way. This means putting his wife's needs and desires above his own as she trustfully submits to him. When men don't honor their wives their prayers will not be answered. The phrase "honoring her as the weaker vessel" simply means women are usually physically weaker than their husbands so he is commanded to protect her from physical harm.
8-12: Living in peace among fellow sinners requires a loving response to evil. By blessing those who do evil against us we end the multiplication of evil deeds and obtain God's favor. Those who do evil are opposed by God.
13-17: We should not be troubled when we suffer for doing good or fear those who cause suffering. All we can do is be prepared to give a biblical, rational defense of the faith. It's easy to become defensive and rude given the nature of debate but we must treat others with gentleness and respect. Doing so causes the accuser to feel shame for his slander.
18: Even Christ suffered for doing good because it fit within His divine plan. The unrighteous are made righteous because Jesus bore God's wrath while in the flesh, paying for every sin committed by His followers. We are then judged as if we lived Jesus' perfect life.
19-20: There is debate on who the "spirits in prison" are but verse 20 seems to identify them as Noah's contemporaries who now await God's judgement. In other words, the passage says that by the Holy Spirit Jesus went and preached (through Noah) to the spirits now in prison (Noah's contemporaries who rejected his message and now await judgement). It would be pointless for Jesus to preach to demons or the deceased because it's too late for the Gospel to change their eternal state, so they're probably not the 'spirits in prison' spoken of here.
21: The baptism that corresponds to Noah's ark and the waters of judgement is found in verse 18 where Jesus was put to death in the flesh and made alive in the spirit. This baptism (Jesus' death and resurrection), saves us the same way the ark saved Noah and his family from the flood of God's judgement. Water baptism is merely an outward proclamation that we died and rose with Jesus in his baptism on the cross.
22: Jesus returned to his exalted place in heaven after humbling himself in the form of a man.
1-5: As Christians, we need to arm ourselves with the willingness to suffer for Christ. The options are to participate with unbelievers in the pleasures of sin or suffer with Christ by being mocked and slandered for not joining them. We spent enough time in these sins, now is the time to be obedient to Jesus at all costs. By choosing to suffer with Christ, we have chosen the opposite of sin.
7: Life is quickly fleeting. One benefit of being self-controlled and sober minded is that it can directly impact our prayers.
8: Love covers a multitude of sins because when you treat someone with love you will not sin against them. For example, you won't steal or lie to someone you truly love.
10-11: God has given each believer gifts to serve and glorify him. Being a good steward of these gifts means using them faithfully to serve God.
12-19: We shouldn't be surprised when we suffer or are insulted when we faithfully follow Christ. Jesus said in John 15:18-25 that Christians would be persecuted. If we are insulted for our identity with Christ it is confirmation that even the outside world can see evidence we received the Holy Spirit and belong to him. This is cause for rejoicing.
1-5: This section addresses Elders and pastors. They are commanded to shepherd the church intentionally, not on the basis of a compulsive decision. They must be examples to the flock rather than serve for shameful gain or domineering power.
6: We should never exalt ourselves. We should be humble and let God exalt us at his own time and in his own way.
7: The omnipotent creator of the universe cares for us. This should give us the freedom and confidence to cast our cares upon him rather than bear them ourselves. He knows what's best for us in the grand scheme of things.
8-11: Satan and his demons play a part in bringing discouragement, temptation, and persecution toward Christians. God allows us to suffer through these trials because it causes us to grow in character. After His purpose is complete God himself will restore and firmly establish us.
12-13: Peter closed the letter with personal notes.