To whom did Peter write this epistle and what was their situation?
Peter has been attested by some to have written his letter to Jewish Christians. Evidence of this can be seen in several verses that carry with them terms and ideas pertaining to Jewish terminology and understanding (1:1, 1:4). In 2:9-10 where words such as “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own…” all have point to a direction they were Jews. But on the contrary there are strong arguments against that. Evidence for this can be seen in 1:14 or 1:18 where they indicate that they were not speaking not of Jews. Even stronger in 4:3-4 Peter speaks of the previous way of life they used to live and their change ways in that they do not practice what they did before after their conversion. With all these considerations at hand we could come to a conclusion that the readers were predominantly Gentile but this is not to exclude Jews who were addressed by Peter in the terms of “oikos” in the Greek which refers them to household communities.
They were comprised of people of the lower classes. Example of this can be found in 2:18ff where it does not indicate ethical practices of masters but only slaves. A theological intent can be discerned in that Peter was concerned with people in subordinate roles.
It can be noted from reading through 1 Peter that the theme of suffering. There were two other known state persecutions that were Nero in AD 64 in Rome and Domitian in AD 95 in Asia Minor where both are not possible in support of state charged persecution. Another indication comes from positive overtones of the government in 1 Pet 2:13-17. They were more likely being victimized by their pagan neighbours. This happened because they did not participate in pagan religious practices and they withdrew from their past life. These steps they took were considered improper, that is to leave the religion of their ancestors. Therefore Peter used terms like aliens and exiles based on the nature of their persecution.