Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,.... The writer of this epistle describes himself first by his name, Peter, the same with Cephas, which signifies a rock, or stone; a name given him by Christ at his first conversion, and which respected his after firmness, solidity, resolution, and constancy; for his former name was Simeon, or Simon, as sometimes called; see Matthew 4:18 and he further describes himself by his office, an apostle of Jesus Christ; being one of the twelve apostles, and the first of that number; who saw Christ in the flesh, was conversant with him, had his call and commission immediately from him, and was qualified by him to preach the Gospel; and was sent out first into Judea, and then into all the world to publish it, with a power of working miracles to confirm it; and this his character he makes mention of, in order to give the greater weight and authority to his epistle; and it is to be observed, that he does not style himself, as his pretended successor does, the head of the church, and Christ's vicar on earth; nor does he call himself the prince of the apostles, but only an apostle, as he was upon an equal foot with the rest. The persons he writes to are
the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia: these Jews here intended are called strangers; not in a metaphorical sense, either because they were, as the wicked are, estranged from the womb, and alienated from the life of God, as all unconverted men are, and as they were before conversion; for now they were no more strangers in this sense: or because of their unsettled state and condition in this life; having no continuing city, and seeking one to come, an heavenly country; and living as pilgrims and strangers, in which respect they are indeed so styled, 1 Peter 2:11 but in a civil sense, and not as the Gentiles were, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, for these were Jews; but on account of their not being in their own land, and in a foreign country, and therefore said to be "scattered", or "the strangers of the dispersion"; either on account of the persecution at the death of Stephen, when multitudes of the converted Jews were scattered abroad, not only throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, but as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch; see Acts 8:1 and so it may be afterwards throughout the places here mentioned; or else these were some remains of the ten tribes carried captive by Shalmaneser, and of the two tribes by Nebuchadnezzar; or rather the dispersion of the Greeks, mentioned in John 7:35 under the Macedonians, by Ptolemy Lagus: however, there were Jews of Pontus, who inhabited that place, and of such we read in Acts 2:9 who came to worship at the feast of Pentecost, some of which were converted to the Christian faith, and being mentioned first, has occasioned this epistle to be called, both by TertullianF1Scorpiace, c. 12. , and CyprianF2Testimon. ad Quirin. l. 3. c. 36, 37, 39. , "the epistle to the Pontians". Perhaps these Jews converted on the day of Pentecost, on their return hither, laid the first foundation of a Gospel church state in this country: it is a tradition of the ancients, mentioned by EusebiusF3Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 1. , that Peter himself preached here, and so, very likely, formed the Christians he found, and those that were converted by him, into Gospel churches; and it appears by a letter of Dionysius, bishop of CorinthF4Apud Euseb. ib. l. 4. c. 23. , that there were churches in Poutus in the "second" century, particularly at Amastris, the bishop of which was one Palma, whom he commends, and Focas is said to be bishop of Syncope, in the same age; and in the "third" century, Gregory and Athenodorus, disciples of Origen, were bishops in this countryF5Ib. l. 7. c. 14. Hieron. Script. Eccles. Catalog. sect. 75. ; the former was a very famous man, called Gregory Thaumaturgus, the wonder worker, and was bishop of Neocaesarea: in the "fourth" century there was a church in the same place, of which Longinus was bishop, as appears from the Nicene council, at which he and other bishops in Pontus were present; and in this age, in the times of Dioclesian, many in this country endured most shocking sufferings, related by EusebiusF6Ib. l. 8. c. 12. ; and in the same century Helladius is said to govern the churches of Pontus; and in the "fifth" century we read of churches in Pontus, reformed by Chrysostom; in this age Theodorus was bishop of Heraclea, and Themistius of Amastris, both in this province, and both these bishops were in the Chalcedon council; and in the "sixth" century there were churches in Pontus, whose bishops were in the fifth synod held at Rome and Constantinople; and so there were in the "seventh" and "eighth" centuriesF7Hist. Eccl. Magdeburg. cent. 2. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. c. 7. p. 289. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 4. c. 1O. p. 602. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 5. .
Galatia, next mentioned, is that part of the lesser Asia, called Gallo Graecia, in which were several churches, to whom the Apostle Paul wrote his epistle, called the epistle to the Galatians; See Gill on Acts 16:6, Galatians 1:2.
Cappadocia, according to PtolomyF8Geograph. l. 5. c. 6. , was bounded on the west by Galatia, on the south by Cilicia, on the east by Armenia the great, on the north by part of the Euxine Pontus; it had many famous cities in it, as SolinusF9Polyhist. c. 57. says; as Archelais, Neocaesarea, Melita, and Mazaca. The Jews oftentimes talkF11Zohar in Gen. fol. 51. 3. & in Exod. fol. 33. 2. & 35. 4. of going from Cappadocia to Lud, or Lydda; so that, according to them, it seems to be near to that place, or, at least, that there was a place near Lydda so called; of this see Gill on Acts 2:9. From this country also there were Jews at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, some of whom were converted; and here likewise the Apostle Peter is said to preach, as before observed of Pontus, and who probably founded a church or churches here in the "first" century; and in the "second" century, according to TertullianF12Adv. Judaeos, c. 7. ad Scapulam, c. 3. , there were believers in Christ dwelling in this country; and in the "third" century, EusebiusF13Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 19. makes mention of Neon, bishop of Larandis, and Celsus, bishop of Iconium, both in Cappadocia; there was also Phedimus of Amasea, in the same country, in this age, and at Caesarea, in Cappadocia, several martyrs suffered under Decius; and in this century, Stephen, bishop of Rome, threatened to excommunicate some bishops in Cappadocia, because they had rebaptized some that had been heretics: in the "fourth" century there were churches in Cappadocia, of one of which, namely, at Sasimi, the famous Gregory Nazianzen was first bishop, and afterwards of Nazianzum, as was also the famous Basil of Caesarea, in the same country; hither the persecution under Dioclesian reached, and many had their thighs broken, as Eusebius relatesF14lb. l. 8. 12. ; from hence were sent several bishops, who assisted at the council of Nice, under Constantine, and at another held at Jerusalem: in the "fifth" century there were churches in Cappadocia, in several places, the names of whose bishops are on record; as Firmus, Thalassius, Theodosins, Daniel, Aristomachus, Patricius, and others: in the "sixth" century there were many famous churches in this country, whose bishops were in the fifth synod held at Rome and Constantinople; and in the "seventh" century there were several of them in the sixth synod of Constantinople; and in the "eighth" century mention is made of bishops of several churches in Cappadocia, in the second Nicene synod; and even in the "ninth" century there were Christians in these partsF15Eccl. Hist. Magdeburg. cent. 3. c. 2. p. 2. c. 3. p. 11. c. 7. p. 117. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 4. c. 9. p. 350, 390. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 4. c. 10. p. 605, 859. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 5. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. c. 10. p. 254. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 5. cent. 9. c. 2. p. 3. ,
Asia here intends neither the lesser nor the greater Asia, but Asia, properly so called; and which, according to SolinusF16C. 53. , Lycia and Phrygia bounded on the east, the Aegean shores on the west, the Egyptian sea on the south, and Paphlagonia on the north; the chief city in it was Ephesus, and so it is distinguished from Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, and Bithynia, in Acts 16:6 as here from Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia, and from Pontus and Cappadocia, in Acts 2:9 though they were all in lesser Asia. Here also were Jews converted on the day of Pentecost; and here likewise Peter is said to preach; and by him, and by the Apostle John, who also lived and died in this country, churches were planted; and churches there were here, even in the "seventh" century, as distinct from the other Asia, greater or less; for out of it bishops were sent to, and were present at, the sixth council at Constantinople, whose names are recorded; yea, in the "eighth" century there were churches and bishops, one of which persuaded Leo to remove images from places of worship; and another was in the Nicene synodF17Ib. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. c. 10. p. 254. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 5. . The last place mentioned is
Bithynia, of which See Gill on Acts 16:7. And though the Apostle Paul, and his compassions, were not suffered at a certain time to go into Bithynia, and preach the Gospel there, yet it is certain that it was afterwards carried thither; and as Peter is said to preach in Pontus, Asia, and Capadocia, so likewise in Bithynia; here, according to the Roman martyrology, Luke, the evangelist, died; and, according to tradition, Prochorus, one of the seven deacons in Acts 6:5 was bishop of Nicomedia, in this country; and Tychicus, of whom the Apostle Paul makes frequent mention, was bishop of Chalcedon, another city in it; and who are both said to be of the seventy disciples; see Gill on Luke 10:1, and it is certain, from the testimony of PlinyF18Epist. l. 10. ep. 97. , an Heathen writer, in a letter of his to Trajan the emperor, written about the year 104, that there were then great numbers of Christians in Bithynia; not only the cities, but the towns and villages were full of them; and in the "third" century, the persecution under Dioclesian raged, particularly at Nicomedia, where Anthimus, the pastor of the church in that place, had his head cut off as EusebiusF19Eccl. Hist. l. 8. c. 5, 6. relates: in the beginning of the "fourth" century, Nice, in Bithynia, became famous for the council held there under Constantine, against Arius; and in this century, bishops from Bithynia assisted at a synod held at Tyre, in Phoenicia; and in the "fifth" century was held a synod at Chalcedon, a city in this country, against the Nestorinn heresy; and the names of several bishops of Chalcedon, Nicomedia, and Nice, who lived, in this age, are on record; and in the "sixth" century there were bishops from these several places, and others, who were present in the fifth synod at Constantinople; as there were also in the "seventh" century, at the sixth synod held at the same place, whose names are particularly mentioned; and in the "eighth" century bishops from hence were in the Nicene synod; and even in the ninth century there were some that bore the Christian name in BithyniaF20Hist. Eccl. Magdeburg. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. c. 9. p. 390. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 4. c. 10. p. 601, 602. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. c. 10. p. 254. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 5. cent. 9. c. 2. p. 3. . In these places however, it seems, dwelt many Jews, who were converted to Christ, to whom the apostle inscribes this epistle, and whom he further describes in the following verse,