1 Peter: Guide to Commentaries

Classics of the Christian Tradition Online


20th Century Commentaries Online

There are a large number of online commentaries and other resources on 1 Peter available here (these are mostly by preachers and popular treatments rather than academic) and also links to various whole Bible and other commentaries at StudyLight here


Which modern commentaries are best?

Biblical Studies Bulletin

In BSB 21, in Sept 2001, Jeff Dryden wrote:

1 Peter has been characterized as 'one of the most pastorally attractive and vigorously confident documents in the NT'. It was a favourite book of the reformers, making Luther's short list of 'desert island' books, and continues to be a cherished source for preachers and parishioners alike. The past two decades has seen a flurry of work on the letter, and a steady flow of new commentaries.

The best contemporary scholarly commentaries are those by P J Achtemeier (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), J R Michaels (WBC; Waco, TX: Word, 1988), and J H Elliott (Anchor Bible; New York: Doubleday, 2000). Of these three, Achtemeier nudges out the others as the most consistently careful exegete. He joins other recent commentators (Elliott and L Goppelt) in stressing the importance of social identity and social ethics in the epistle. Michaels is sound and capable with details, but lacks any real vision for the epistle as a whole. Elliott's commentary is the culmination of a life's work, and it shows; at nearly a thousand pages (150 for bibliography), it wins points for thoroughness, but is no friend to the tree lover. In his important A Home for the Homeless (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), he developed a 'socio-scientific' methodology, studying how 1 Peter functions to strengthen the 'sectarian' Christian communities addressed. He adopts this approach in the commentary, and aside from a few key places where things are squeezed into his sociological mould, it is a sound, clear commentary. All of these commentaries assume the letter to be pseudepigraphic. (See J N D Kelly for a good summary of the issues at hand.)

The scholarly commentary of E G Selwyn (London: MacMillan, 19472; often still available second-hand) has yet to be equalled for its sensitivity to the text and overall import of the letter. While his form-critical analysis (summarized in 'essays' following the textual commentary) seems dated, his exegesis and introductory comments are still well worth reading. J N D Kelly (BNTC; London: Black, 1969) deserves mention as a very careful and readable commentary, sure-footed in its judgments and sensitive to the letter's significance for the Christian life. Also in this category are the works by P H Davids (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), whose desire to defend evangelical doctrines tends to override exegesis, and L Goppelt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), who has a particular interest in the social ethics of the epistle as addressed to Christians living in a non-Christian society. F W Beare (Oxford: Blackwell, 19703), while famous for endorsing the now passé interpretation of 1 Peter as a 'baptismal homily', is strong on the ethical implications of conversion and baptism. Though interesting at points for exegetical nuggets, C Bigg (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1908) is long overdue for a replacement.

At the next tier are commentaries shorter in length, which are aimed at sound exegesis with some level of applicability to the church today. Of all these the volume by I H Marshall (IVPNTCS; Leicester: IVP, 1991) consistently succeeds on both fronts, and is the best commentary of this class. It is careful exegetically, bringing in important points as necessary, and is well attuned to the aims and purposes of the letter. Along similar lines, W Grudem (TNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988) is a good bet as well (with a serviceable response to pseudepigraphic arguments). The commentary by E Boring (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 1999) is good for its practical bent and his important emphasis on the narrative logic of the letter's theology. If you can manage to find it, the little commentary by C E B Cranfield (London: SCM, 1950) is a gem for its clear explanations and pastoral tone. Also in this category are respectable commentaries by N Hillyer (NIBC; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992) and D Horrell (EC; Peterborough: Epworth, 1998). Although I have never had a chance to look at it, presumably the commentary from S McKnight in the NIV Application series (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) is rich in contemporary application. Finally, the volume in the Ancient Christian Commentary series (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000) is a good collection of illustrative quotations from commentators of ages past.

Summing up, Achtemeier and Selwyn share top honours in the upper echelons, with Elliott and Kelly close behind. Of the more compact commentaries, Marshall and then Grudem are ideal places to begin.

William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg and David Mathewson of the New Testament Department of Denver Seminary, January 2014 bibliography

The lists of top commentaries for each N.T. book are divided into three sections: the first contains those we consider the best detailed, critical commentaries using the Greek text; the second lists more mid-level works using the English text (some with references to the Greek in footnotes); and the third consists of commentaries that are briefer and/or have a special focus on application. At least one priority title is asterisked for each level.


Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter (Hermeneia). Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996.

*Elliott, John H. 1 Peter (AB, rev.). New York: Doubleday, 2000.

Feldmeier, Reinhard. The First Letter of Peter.  Waco: Baylor University Press, 2008.

*Jobes, Karen H. 1 Peter (BECNT). Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1 Peter (WBC). Waco: Word, 1988.


Davids, Peter H. The First Epistle of Peter (NICNT). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.

Goppelt, Leonhard. A Commentary on 1 Peter. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983.

Green, Joel B. 1 Peter (THNTC). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

*Schreiner, Thomas R. 1, 2 Peter, Jude (NAC). Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2003.

Witherington, Ben, III. Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, vol. 2: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1-2 Peter. Downers Grove: IVP, 2007.


Grudem, Wayne. A. The First Epistle of Peter (TNTC, rev.). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.

*Marshall, I. Howard. 1 Peter (NTC). Downers Grove: IVP, 1991.

McKnight, Scot. 1 Peter (NIVAC). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.


The Gospel Coalition

In May 2009, Keith Mathison's article recommended

  • Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter (Bible Speaks Today, 1988)
  • Karen Jobes, 1 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2005)
  • Thomas Schreiner, 1 & 2 Peter, Jude (New American Commentary, 2003)
  • Peter Davids, The First Epistle of Peter (New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1990)
  • Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1988)

Among other helpful commentaries it listed I. Howard Marshall, J. Ramsey Michaels, John Brown, J.N.D. Kelly, and C.E.B. Cranfield.

Best Commentaries Website

The page on 1 Peter has a long list and can be searched by various criteria.  Its top 3 are Jobes (2005), Marshall (1991) and Grudem (1998).

Other recommendations

Tim Challies (Nov 2013) lists his top 5 commentaries - Schrenier, Jobes, Clowney, Achetemeier and Grudem.

Reading Acts has an August 2012 account of top 5 - Elliott (2000), Jobes (2005), Witherington (2007), Ramsey Michaels (1988) and Best (1971).  It also has a Dec 2014 review of new exegetical guide to the Greek text by Greg Forbes (front matter and first chapter available as PDF)

Jeremy Pierce at Parableman (Dec 2006) has an extensive survey of commentaries with Schreiner and Jobes as top.

Gene Green at Catalyst (April 2013) offers the following assessment

Once upon a time J.H. Elliott called 1 Peter an “exegetical stepchild.” No more is that the case, largely due to Elliott’s efforts. His AB commentary (2001) is bedrock for the study of this letter. Elliott’s work is weak theologically but presents the reader an excellent exposition of the letter’s message within its social environment. Elliott regards the readers as “resident aliens” who were converted to Christ. Karen H. Jobes, on the other hand, in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT; Baker Academic, 2005) argues that the readers were Jewish believers who emigrated to Asia Minor after Claudius expelled them from Rome. Her commentary is especially useful for those who wish to attend to the grammatical issues of the letter’s fine Greek. Paul J. Achtemeier (Hermeneia; 1996) manages concise exegetical insights coupled with copious notes, should one wish to explore the primary sources that are useful for understanding the letter. Both he and Elliott express doubt about the book’s authenticity while Jobes argues in favor of Petrine authorship. Joel B. Green, in the Two Horizons New Testament Commentary (THNTC: Eerdmans, 2007) helps us understand the deep theological currents running through the letter; thus, his work becomes an essential supplement to Elliott or Achtemeier.


Fulcrum Articles on 1 Peter

1 thought on “1 Peter: Guide to Commentaries”

Leave a comment