This volume in the Bible Speaks Today series presents the main themes of 1 Peter as the suffering that Christians must face as “resident aliens” in a world of rebels against God. The introduction is brief, and the style of commentary is expository – almost a series of sermons. At over 230 pages, the material is covered quite slowly, allowing Clowney to take time to discuss other related passages, and use examples from church history. There are places where it approaches being an academic commentary, for example a number of pages are devoted to the problematic section in 3:18-22, establishing his interpretation very methodically, and utilising a number of quotes from apocryphal writings to bolster his case.
The theme of suffering runs through the whole book, and it is presented as unavoidable for Christians, but beneficial in developing character, an opportunity to meet evil with good, and an occasion for witness. Most importantly it is the route to glory, as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus from suffering to glory.
Along the way, there is consideration of the mutual submission that should exist between Christians, and Clowney downplays differences in the instructions to husbands and wives in chapter 3. He argues that submission is to people (as made in the image of God), not structures, and warns against the dangers of “political” and “liberation” theologies.
The book closes with three appendices, the first two essentially being extended footnotes, and the third develops the background of eldership in the Old Testament, to augment the exposition of 1 Peter 5. As with others in the series it includes a study guide for small groups to use.
Although I feel that the book was slightly too long for the series it is part of, taking time to explore the subject of suffering will be beneficial to any Christian who reads it. Its thoroughness will be appreciated by those looking for inspiration on sermons and Bible studies who have the time to read it.