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As Peter penned this epistle, the dark clouds of the first great outbreak of official persecution, investigated by the insane Emperor Nero, were already gathering on the horizon. Seeking scapegoats to divert the public's suspicion that he had started the great fire of July, A.D. 64 that devastated Rome, Nero pinned the blame on the Christians, whom he already perceived as enemies of Rome because they would worship none but Christ. As a result, they were encased in wax and burned at the stake to light his gardens, crucified and thrown to wild beasts. Though the official persecution apparently was confined to the vicinity of Rome, attacks on Christians undoubtedly spread unchecked by the authorities to other parts of the Empire. It was as a result of Nero's persecution that both Peter and Paul were martyred. But before he died, Peter wrote this magnificent epistle to believers whose suffering would soon intensify. Throughout the centuries, beleaguered Christians have benefited from the apostle's wise counsel and gentle, encouraging words of comfort.