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7.13.14.focused.faith.1.pet.1.commentary

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Commentary on 1 Peter Chapter 1

Commentary on 1 Peter Chapter 1

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  • 1. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 1 July 13, 2014. Session 7—Focused Faith. 1 Peter 1:3-9,13. Commentary. The Point: Our faith is focused on a sure hope. The Bible Meets Life:We refer to hope in a lot of different ways, but such hope is often little more than a desire or a wish. We hope for a winning season; we hope our vacation is relaxing this summer. The Bible offers a different perspective on hope, one that is far greater and far more certain. Biblical hope is grounded in the same thing as biblical faith: Jesus Christ. Biblical hope means confidence; there is no element of doubt. The Passage:1 Peter 1:3-9,13 The Setting: The First Epistle attributed to Peter is addressed to Christians in Asia Minor who were experi- encing persecution that had spread from Rome into their locality in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia (Mi- nor) and Bithynia, specifically, in the Roman province of Anatolia, which is now modern Turkey. The loca- tions are interesting because in none of these named towns do we have evidence that the Apostle, Paul visit- ed. Peter encouraged believers by reminding them of the nature of salvation, then hope Christians experience in Christ, and the heavenly inheritance belonging to those who follow Christ. In response to their sufferings and persecution, Peter challenged his readers to a lifestyle of personal and corporate holiness. Even with all of this in mind, He did not begin his letter with a bunker mentality. Instead, he offered praise, joy, hope, and encouragement. Both the authorship and date of writing are subjects of scholarly debate. Conservative writers like Scofield attribute the Book to Peter the Apostle written circa. AD 651. Others variously attribute it to unknown disci- ples and even to Paul and put the date as late as AD 80-90. Some even consider it pseudepigrapha with its dating as late as AD 160. Reliable tradition says Peter was martyred about AD 64-67 during the first great Christian persecution in Rome by Emperor Nero who reputedly used them as a popular scapegoat for the disastrous fire that swept certain lower class quarters of Rome. Some scholars claim that the fires were commenced at the very order of Nero to make way for public building projects – sort of an early “urban re- newal,” Roman style. Peter wrote this letter to believers scattered across Asia Minor, most of whom were probably Gentile con- verts. Though Christianity was not officially illegal at the time, many of the letter’s recipients likely experi- enced, or knew the potential for, local persecution and discrimination. Realizing these believers’ circum- stances, Peter wrote to encourage them to remain strong in their faith, even in the midst of the present diffi- culties. 1 (Tertullian,Scorp. 15; Origen in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl.; Lactantius,Mort 2; Macarius Magnus, Unigenitus 3.22, 4.4; Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 2.25.5-8)
  • 2. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 2 Dr. Scofield2 gives us an introduction. WRITER: The Apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:1.) DATE: Probably A.D. 65. THEME: While Peter undoubtedly has scattered Jewish believers in mind, his Epistles comprehend Gentile believers also (1 Peter 2:10). The present Epistle, written from a church on Gentile ground (1 Peter 5:13), presents all the foundational truths of the Christian faith, with special emphasis on the atonement. The distinctive note of First Peter is preparation for victory over suffering. The last-name word occurs about fifteen times, and is the key word to the Epistle. The Epistle is in three parts: 1. Christian suffering and conduct in the light of full salvation, 1 Peter 1 Peter 1:1 to 1 Peter 2:8 2. The believer's life in view of his sevenfold position, and of the vicarious suffering of Christ, 1 Pe- ter 1 Peter 2:9 to 1 Peter 4:19 3. Christian service in the light of the coming of the Chief Shepherd, 1 Peter 5:1-14 1 Peter 1:3-4 3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. KEY WORDS: Living hope (v. 3)—Expecting with certainty the resources to face life’s difficulties and the encouragement that comes when life is hard because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter began this section with a typical blessing expressing praise to God for Jesus and the joy He brings to those who are the recipients of His great mercy. Mercy is the divine disposition to extend compassion to those who are in need or distraught when justice demands punishment. While believers deserve judgment, God’s mercy first gives a new birth. This new birth is not based on performance or future works, but whol- ly based on God’s mercy. Nothing we can say or do will merit new birth. The gift, freely given and be- stowed, is an act of God’s mercy and grace. It results in a living hope, not dependent on surroundings or circumstances, but a hope that comes from God Himself. Hope refers to a certainty or reality that one can expect with confidence. This hope is vital and alive. It springs from the source of all hope—God. Time works against most hopes, but not so the believer’s hope. 2 Scofield,C. I."Scofield Reference Notes on 1 Peter overview". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=0". 1917. Accessed July 8, 2014.
  • 3. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 3 To the contrary, the march of time only swells the Christian’s hope and makes it more glorious and pre- cious. Hope in contemporary language is often associated with a wish—“I hope it does not rain” or “I hope the stock market improves” or “I hope my team wins.” Christian hope is based on the certainty and validity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. . . . Because Jesus triumphed over death, the believer has the certainty of unrelenting hope. It will not die or fade away. Though believers face trials or persecutions, they have the assurance of a better future. Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation for the hope of abundant life now and eternal life to come. Second, God’s mercy grants an inheritance. In the Old Testament, an inheritance was land God prom- ised to His people and taken in the conquest of Canaan. The inheritance Peter referred to is not land but the future hope and promises that await the believer. In a sense, because believers have been given new birth, living as children of the King, they have a stake in His inheritance. Believers are included in God’s last will and testament. Peter used three terms to describe this inheritance: imperishable, not subject to deterioration or decay; uncorrupted, not blemished by moral or spiritual filth, always remaining fresh and unpolluted; and unfad- ing, not prone to wither, always vivid and vital. In other words, the believer’s inheritance will never grow old, never wear out, never be stained, and never die, the reason being that God reserves and preserves the inheritance. It is kept in heaven for you. Kept is a military term reflecting the securing, guarding, or protecting of a person place, or item. God’s promise to believers is that He will guard, protect, reserve, and keep our heavenly inheritance. His promise, power, and presence will see to its safekeeping. The hope and inheritance believers possess because of the finished work of Christ provide the sub- stance to face the realities of a painful and cruel world. When Christ’s followers look to the past—what Jesus has done—it enables them to face the future with confidence. Whatever assaults them in the present is trivial compared to what awaits them in the future. 1 Peter 1:5-7 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. KEY WORD: Revelation (v. 7)—Disclosure of what has been hidden. Though presently with His people, Jesus is not seen, but at His second coming, He will be revealed physically.
  • 4. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 4 Believers’ future inheritance is not only protected, but they themselves are being protected, too. Believers are not protected in their own strength, but by God’s power. Until that day when we claim our inheritance, God has promised to provide spiritual protection; therefore, we have in the present the living hope and the promised shield of His protection for salvation. This protection is activated through faith, or the “living hope” (v. 3) or steadfast conviction that trusts in God. Faith is no better than its object. This powerful shield is available as people exercise faith in the liv- ing Christ. Believers come to Christ by faith; they live each day by faith. Such faith results in salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. Salvation refers to the fact of being delivered from God’s final judgment. Salvation is at one and the same time a past reality (“I was saved”), a present reality (“I am be- ing saved”), and, as Peter focused here, a future reality (“I will be saved”). Salvation is an initial experi- ence (Luke 19:9), a process of sanctification (Phil. 2:12), and the finished product of God’s redemption at Jesus’ return. The Christians whom Peter addressed certainly did not feel rescued in their present circumstances of hardship and persecution, but they had the hope of Jesus’ return and complete fulfillment in heaven. They would wait for this reality until it was revealed in the last time, indicating God will disclose this sal- vation when Jesus returns. Consequently, the believers could rejoice in this, referring back to the entire content of verses 3-5, focusing on believers’ hope. They can rejoice in the present because of the coming salvation. Meanwhile they can expect various trials. These trials are not common difficulties (disease, illness, or difficult people) or general problems of life, but those that result from a person’s walk with Jesus in the midst of a world of unbelievers. Often such trials are undeserved and unexplainable. [3Importantly, these “trials” are generally not believed by most scholars to refer to common diffi- culties (disease, illness, or difficult people) or general problems of life, but specifically to those that result from a person’s walk with Jesus in the midst of a world of unbelievers. These could refer to and/or predict the Neronic persecutions of about AD 65, the sack and burning of Jerusalem of AD 70, or to later persecu- tions under Dominition circa. AD 90 as well as a myriad of Roman-tolerated local persecutions in various provinces. Further, James says: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 3 Editor’s note for emphasis.
  • 5. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 5 Likewise, James is referring to persecutions suffered because of the Gospel. In fact, my search of the whole New Testament reveals that any time a writer is referring to trials and temptations; he is referring to these Gospel-related occurrences. This raised a question for me. Is there no place in the New Testament that God addresses the regular struggles that are common to all of us? Actually, there are three places. One signal place, known to us all, covers all the bases. 1 Corinthians 12: 7-10. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a mes- senger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times, I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecu- tions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. There is no reason that I can find that would prohibit Peter’s treatise on trials from applying to the mun- dane undeserved occurrences of life enumerated supra. Indeed, in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul refers to the pov- erty of the Corinthians as a “trial.” Likewise, in Galatians 4, Paul refers to his illness as a “trial” to the Galatians. James in his first Chapter refers to “trials” as including being “of humble circumstance.” This certainly sounds like it could refer to disasters that befall us, the bearing of which with faith certainly producing perseverance and as an additional befit, adding to our witness and example to others..] Peter revealed several characteristics about these trials. First, they are temporary, for a short time. In comparison to the eternal nature of salvation, they are limited. They don’t last forever. Second, they meet needs. This is reflected in the next few words, have had to. Some trials that believers experience do not result from circumstances or the happenstance of nature, but are the result of God’s will. God allows some trials to discipline, others to teach, a few to prepare for growth, a number to prevent from sinning, and all to draw His people closer to Him. We might not always know the reason for the tri- als, but we can trust God to know and do what is best. Third, they cause pain. Struggle obviously implies an experience of grief or pain. Sometimes this word is translated grievous. To deny the pain of trials is to live in a pseudo-spiritual world void of reality. Diffi- cult times occur in the believer’s life brought on by one’s allegiance to Jesus Christ. Being a Christ fol- lower does not exempt one from pain. In fact, it may bring it on. Fourth, they are diverse or various. The word means many-colored. Trials come in many forms and from many sources.
  • 6. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 6 Trials have a threefold purpose, according to Peter. First, they prove the genuineness of your faith. It describes what is left after going through suffering. The genuine faith will reveal a positive attitude, a hopeful spirit, and a praiseful worship. The key word here is faith. Believers’ response to trials reveals whether or not their faith is authentic. Trials often destroy the lives of those without faith; but for those trusting in Jesus, trials will actually strengthen their faith. Second, they purify one’s faith. Peter used the analogy of gold that is tested or refined by fire. God uses trials to remove the impurities from our lives so that our faith is more precious. Supposedly, a goldsmith would leave the gold in the fiery heat until the gold became so pure he could see his reflection in it. Per- haps God chooses to keep us in the purifying fire until He sees the reflection of His Son. A purified faith is more valuable than gold because gold perishes or is temporary, whereas faith is eternal. Third, they praise, glory, and honor Jesus both now and at His return. The word praise means to extol, honor, acclaim, and express approval. But praise is incomplete if we only acknowledge blessings. Genuine praise realizes that in all things God deserves to be praised, in both the good and the bad, the pleasant and the persecution. To praise Jesus in the face of trials is to acknowledge His sovereignty, His plan, His pres- ence, and His power. We praise Jesus now and we will praise Him ultimately at the revelation of Jesus Christ, His second coming, when He comes for His own. 1 Peter 1:8-9,13 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ................................ 13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. KEY WORD: Hope (v. 13)—Peter used hope in much the same way Paul used faith, as trust in God for the future. It is the certainty God is working, not mere wishful thinking. Peter transitioned from the future return of Jesus Christ, when his readers will see Jesus in physical form, to its implications for living in the present. How should they live now, though you have not seen Him? This statement refers to the fact Peter’s readers were in Asia Minor. Contrary to Peter, it is unlikely many recipients, if any at all, had ever seen Jesus in the flesh. Peter’s observations to his readers still instruct us today. First, love Him. Peter wasn’t commanding his readers to love Jesus; he was commending them for lov- ing Jesus. Their trials and testing had not made them miserable but instead had prompted them to love Je- sus more. These believers showed that even though they were experiencing trials, it brought out the best in them—love.
  • 7. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 7 Second, believe in Him. Again, believing is not based on seeing; rather it is walking in faith, trusting in Jesus each step of the way. We live by faith not be sight. God knows what is best for us and He is doing what is best for us. But we must trust Him in faith, obeying His Word regardless of costs or potential re- percussions. Such faith, along with our love for God, will work together to strengthen hope. Where faith in God and love for God dwell, one will find unshakable hope and confidence in the future—assurance the best is yet to come. Third, rejoice in Christ, revealing how believers are to live now. Believers can rejoice in Christ though they do not see Him now. This may be the greatest evidence of faith, especially when one is encountering various trials. When we rejoice in the midst of trials, we might not be happy for them, but we are confi- dent that God is at work through them. Rejoicing comes as we center our minds and our hearts on Jesus. We look past the events, focusing on the person of Jesus. Rejoicing is always dependent on living in a vi- tal, growing relationship with Christ. Where Jesus is, there is authentic joy. This joy that Peter wrote about is inexpressible. Sometimes we don’t know why we are joyful when suffering and pain is all around us. The joy is also glorious. The word links the word glory in verse 7, suggesting a future glory when Jesus is revealed—when we can see Him—is intended. So this attitude and action has both a present and future reality. Loving, believing, and rejoicing in Christ has intended outcomes that are real. When we live rightly in the face of trials, we can experience in the present some of the future glory. When believers face trials with adoration for Jesus, trust in His plan, and express an attitude of joy, then benefits occur. One is: You are receiving the goal of your faith. The word goal has the idea of result, consummation, or product of faith. Two is: the salvation of your souls. Peter was not thinking of soul in contrast to body. The word souls is a reference to the whole person, including body, life, and self-identity. Salvation in the New Tes- tament impacts the total person, not just the “spiritual” part, but the mental, physical, and emotional parts, too—the whole person. Therefore, as verse 13 begins, recounts all of verses 1-12. Peter challenged his readers, even as they faced trials, to live godly lives, beginning with the mind: with your minds ready for action. Literally, this command was to “gird up the loins of your minds.” In contemporary language, it might be said, “Clean up your mind. Have a disciplined thought life.” The image is of ancient man, wearing a long robe, needing to run or do some serious work, gathering up then tucking his robe under his belt, so he could be free to move easier. For the believer to get his or her mind ready for action meant to clear the mind of any un- healthy or ungodly thoughts that could sidetrack one from holy living. Being serious meant being composed, judicious, or self-controlled. In Peter’s day, this action included not only avoiding intoxication but also a lifestyle fitting of a sober person, that is, with proper decorum and dignity—the polar opposite of the impaired, bumbling, out-of-control nature of intoxication.
  • 8. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 8 Peter was challenging his readers to think clearly in the light of Jesus’ coming revelation. Drunkenness in any form dulls the minds of believers. They are lulled into worldly actions that displease God and hurt their Christian witness. Self-control comes when we are God-controlled. Set your hope completely meant to focus on the coming of Jesus. This hope trusts the future to God. As believers, we don’t have to be fatalistic, negative, or pessimistic. Hope is a uniquely Christian concept. Without the resurrection and the revelation of Jesus Christ, hope is nothing more than wishful thinking. When Jesus comes—at His first coming and at His second coming—He brings grace, God’s unmerited favor. His unlimited and eternal riches are given to believers freely and unconditionally. He brings victory. On that day, all of our trials will be over. We will bask in the eternal light of God’s presence. We will see Him fully and know Him completely. We should live each day with that marvelous hope. LIVE IT OUT The circumstances of life may tempt you to shift your focus from your hope in Christ to the difficulty you are facing. Consider which application below will help you stay focused on your sure hope.  Display your hope. Choose key phrases or sentences from this session’s Bible passage that speak to you in a special way, and write them on a piece of paper. Attach the paper to your refrigerator. Say the words out loud each time you open the refrigerator this week. Ask God to challenge you to live ac- cording to that hope.  Journal your hope. Spend at least 10 minutes each day this week reflecting on a different verse from this session, and write everything God brings to mind about your hope in Christ.  Give hope. If you’ve struggled at times with maintaining faith in the hope Christians have, ask God this week to lead you to someone going through a situation similar to what you faced. Share the tes- timony of your struggles and how Christ led you to where you are today. Walking in the sure hope of Christ won’t guarantee that life’s circumstances will always turn in your favor. But it will help you face whatever life throws at you. It will give you a foundation on which you can stand and say, “I may get rattled, but I won’t be moved. On Christ the solid rock I stand!”
  • 9. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 9 ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING: In the First Epistle of Peter, the author presents himself as Peter the apostle, and the epistle was traditionally held to have been written during his time as bishop of Rome or Bishop of Antioch, though neither title is used in the epistle. The letter is addressed to various churches in Asia Minor suffering religious persecution.4 Some scholars reject Peter’s authorship because it is said that 1 Peter was most likely written during the reign of Domitian in AD 81, which is when it is believed that widespread Christian persecution began. This is long after the death of Peter. 5,6 Current scholarship has abandoned the persecution argument because the described persecution within the work does not necessitate a time-period outside of the period of Peter.7 Other scholars doubt Petrine authorship because they are convinced that 1 Peter is dependent on the Pauline epistles and thus was written after Paul the Apostle’s ministry because it shares many of the same motifs.8 They argue that it makes little sense to ascribe the work to Peter when it could have been ascribed to Paul.9 However, Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Senior Emeritus Professor of Theology at Dallas Seminary states that the epistle is addressed to areas of Asia Minor not visited by Paul.10 Some scholars 11 are convinced that the language, dating, literary style, and structure of this text make it im- plausible to conclude that 1 Peter was written by Peter; according to these scholars, it is more likely that 1 Peter is a pseudonymous letter, written later by one of the disciples of Peter in his honor. In contrast, one theory used to support Petrine authorship is the "secretarial hypothesis", which suggests that 1 Peter was dictated by Peter and was written in Greek by his secretary, Silvanus (5:12.) 12 Still others see Mark as a contributive amanuensis in the composition and writing of the work.13 Still other scholars argue that there is not enough evidence to conclude that Peter did not write 1 Peter. 4 Achtemeier, Paul.Peter 1 Hermeneia. Fortress Press.1996. 5 Stanton, Graham. Eerdmans Commentary of the Bible.Wm.B. Eerdmans PublishingCompany.2003. 6 Early church tradition holds that Peter probably died at the time of the Great Fire of Rome of the year 64. The researcher leadingto the rediscovery of Peter's reputed tomb in its laststages (1963–1968),concludes thatPeter died on 13 October AD 64 duringthe festivities on the occasion of the "dies imperii"of Emperor Nero. This took placethree months after the disastrousfirethatde- stroyed Rome for which the emperor (Nero) wished to blame the Christians. 7 Travis B. Williams (1 November 2012). Persecution in 1 Peter: Differentiating and Contextualizing Early Christian Suffering. BRILL. pp. 28. Retrieved 1 April 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 8 Bartlett, David.New Interpreters BibleCommentary, 1 Peter. Abingdon Press.1998. 9 Elliot,John. 1 Peter: Anchor BibleCommentary. Yale University Press.2001. 10 Constable,Dr. Thomas L., Commentary on 1 Peter. http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/1peter.pdf 11 Ehrman, BartD., (2011). Forged. HarperOne, HarperCollins.pp.65–77. 12 Elliot,John. 1 Peter: Anchor BibleCommentary. Yale University Press.2001. 13 Münster. ISBN 978-3-643-10428-1.Retrieved 1 April 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  • 10. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 10 For instance, there are similarities between 1 Peter and Peter's speeches in the Biblical book of Acts14 and the earliest attestation of Peter's authorship comes from 2 Peter and the letters of Clement (AD 70-140). 15Ultimately, it can only be concluded certainly that the authorship of 1 Peter remains contested. Hope For PersecutedBelievers—The Lord Is Good By Mark A. Rathel, associate professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville, Florida. SIMON PETER WROTE his first epistle to Christians in Asia Minor experiencing persecution. He encour- aged believers by reminding them of the nature of salvation, then hope Christians experience in Christ, and the heavenly inheritance belonging to those who follow Christ. In response to their sufferings and persecu- tion, Peter challenged his readers to a lifestyle of personal and corporate holiness. In 1 Peter 2:1-10, the apostle challenged his readers to a new understanding of the church. The church is God’s chosen people, a spiritual temple, and priests in His service. Before proclaiming a radical understand- ing of God’s people, Peter commanded his readers to mature in relation to salvation (1 Pet. 2:2). He focused on the vital importance of the entire Christian community growing spiritually together. All the verbs in 1 Peter 2:1-3 are plural, addressing the entire Christian community. Peter detailed two specific matters in the spiritual growth of the community. First, together believers must decisively put away attitudes destructive to the development of the community, namely, wickedness, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Second, like the strong cravings of babies for milk, believers must eagerly desire the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God. The Word of God is “pure” (uncontaminated) and “spiritual.” The term “spiritual” means “reasonable.” To encourage Christians to spiritual growth, Peter reminded believers “the Lord is good” (v. 3). What is the meaning of the adjective “good,” the Greek word chrestos? What is the background of the con- cept “good” in ancient Greek? What is the meaning of “good” in Hebrew, particularly Psalm 34:8 that Peter quotes? What does the adjective “good” mean as a description of God? The Greek Term People used the ancient Greek term chrestos (good) to describe things, people, and occasionally gods. The corresponding verb chresteuomai, which does not occur in secular Greek, means “to be good, kind, or be- nevolent.”1 The adjective functions as a relational term to describe either the standing of a person or thing in relation to others or the purpose to the person or thing.2 Applied to things, the term described what was “useful, good of its kind, serviceable.”3 14 Stanton, Graham. Eerdmans Commentary of the Bible.Wm. B. Eerdmans PublishingCompany.2000. 15 Travis B. Williams (1 November 2012). Persecution in 1 Peter: Differentiating and Contextualizing Early Christian Suffering. BRILL. pp. 28. Retrieved 1 April 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2014
  • 11. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 11 In particular, the term denoted something “superior for a particular purpose.”4 The term occasionally denot- ed the good as opposed to evil. As applied to people, the term described people as “honest,” “upright,” or “conforming to the rules” or simply a “good person.” Yet, even as a descriptive moral term for people, chrestos retained the concept of usefulness or fulfillment of purpose. Hellenistic culture uplifted the ideal of morality as that which was useful in society at large.5 Because a “good” person reached the condition in which he or she possessed a genuine goodness of heart, the individual possessed of heart, the individual pos- sessed the capacity to show or demonstrate kindness to others. In secular Greek the term rarely described the gods because the ancients regarded the concept of a “good king god” with disdain and not a concept worthy of a deity.6 On the rare occasions in ancient literature in which the term “good” (cherstos) was applied to a god, it described the benevolence of a god who had sup- posedly provided wealth or healing.7 Hebrew and the Septuagint In 1 Peter 2:3, Peter quoted Psalm 34:8 from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testa- ment. Cherstos serves as the translation of the Hebrew noun tob. The usages of the Hebrew term parallel the usages outlined for the Greek term as descriptive of moral goodness, practical good, and quality.8 The term most frequently described a person, especially in the ethical sense. The most characteristic usage of cherstos (good) in the Septuagint occurred in the context of worship and praise of God.9 In contrast to the hesitancy at which Greeks applied the concept “good” to a god, the Hebrew Bible frequently described God as “good,” particularly in the Psalms. Rather than “good” describing only an attribute of God, the Psalms primarily use the word to highlight God’s actions on behalf of His people’s welfare.10 Peter focused on Psalm 34:8. The psalm celebrates God’s deliverance of the afflicted and highlights God’s greatness, answered prayer, divine presence, and abundant provision. The psalmist commanded his readers to “taste,” “see,” and “fear.” To “taste” required one to “examine by sampling.”11 Believers “taste” God by seeking shelter in Him (Ps. 34:8) and submitting to God in fearful respect (v. 9).12 The New Testament The Greek term chrestos (good) occurs seven times in the New Testament. The term describes Jesus’ easy yoke (Matt. 11:30), better wine (Luke 5:39), God being good to the ungrateful (6:35), Him showing kindness that leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4), good morals (1 Cor. 15:33), and the act of being kind (Eph. 4:32). Peter used chrestos to describe God succinctly: “the Lord is good” (1 Pet. 2:3, emphasis added). The central message of Psalm 34 correlates with four aspects of the message of 1 Peter to believing suffer- ers. First, the psalm highlights God’s delivering the afflicted. Second, the psalmist encouraged believers to hope (trust) only in God. The noun or verb “hope” occurs five times in 1 Peter (1:3,13,21; 3:5,15). Third, David praised God for deliverance from all his “sojourning,” a term the Septuagint used (or “fears” in HCSB; Ps. 34:4), again a term describing the pilgrims Peter was addressing (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11). Fourth, both Psalm 34 and 1 Peter highlight the importance of the “fear” of the Lord (Ps. 34:9,11; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:17-18; 3:2,14-15).13
  • 12. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 12 Peter appealed to the readers’ past experience of God’s goodness in salvation in encourage them to further growth “unto salvation.” The verb “taste” in a metaphor describing personal experience and involvement in the past.14 In their Christian experiences, the readers had experienced the “goodness” of God in His mighty actions on behalf of His people. What action did Peter urge from his readers? In 2:4, he encouraged them to come continually (prosercho- mai) to God, a term the Septuagint used to describe priests approaching God (here Jesus) to worship.15 Si- mon Peter’s was a reminder that, even in the face of persecution, the Lord is worthy of worship.16 Gentile Believers: HowConversion AffectedTheir Lives By Mark R. Dunn, a freelance writer living in Duncanville, Texas. Gentile Christians suffered for their faith by enduring insults, abuse, rejection, economic distress, the loss of personal property, and the ability to practice their trades. “THE ALMIGHTY GOD accepts Gentile believers.” This astounding message swept through villages, towns, cities, and metropolises like wild fire as the gospel radiated outward from Jerusalem. The Book of Acts repeatedly claims that Gentiles were attracted en masse to the Christian message and flocked into the first churches. Although the Jewish Christian “old guard” had centuries of religious customs, traditions, and beliefs, and although they had only been in “the Way”1 a handful of years, they still glorified God when they saw Gentiles coming to Jesus. Hearing Peter’s report of such, they exclaimed, “So God has granted repent- ance resulting in life to even the Gentiles!” (Acts 11:18.)2 A Light to the Gentiles That Gentiles could come to faith was an astounding realization for these spiritually seasoned Jewish believ- ers who were familiar with God’s ways. They understood the signs of God’s movement. They saw God campaigning for Gentile hearts—just as He had campaigned for Jewish hearts. Now the light dawned that their holy God was powerfully guiding Gentile hearts to repentance. An onlooker might assume the Christian message was but the latest fad among the religiously ignorant and over-saturated Gentiles. This, though, was far from being a fad. When the true God offered the Gentiles spiritual nourishment, they realized they were famished. Paul’s speech in Athens provides an example of the message the Gentiles received: “Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He was appointed. He has provided proof of this to 16 Citations omitted.
  • 13. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 13 everyone by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). This was not a “dumbed-down” gospel for the bottom-dwellers of civilization. In one breath, Paul delivered the message with all the elements the Jews had received: repentance, grace, divine confrontation, judgment, righteousness, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and resurrection. For their part, the Gentiles did not hear a message of inescapable judgment, but one of grace from the com- passionate God of the universe who called all people to know Him and experience eternity with Him. One author has observed, “The people initially impacted by that message generally concluded that they would be fools to disregard it.”3 The Gentiles’ enthusiastic response to God’s offer to establish personal relations with them was so welcome that Gentile Christians gladly practiced Christ’s teachings. In fact, Gentile enthusiasm for Christ earned believers the name “Christian.”4 God’s pursuit of Gentile hearts still astounds. They were distant from God, living lives that repulsed Him, often happily uninterested in spiritual truth, and barely tolerant of the minimal religious requirements society pressed upon them. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit worked in the Gentiles as they heard spiritual truths. God’s light shined in the most spiritually remote and hostile locales of humanity, and myriads of Gentiles gladly exchanged their old lives for new lives in Christ. So the question arises: how did Christians conversion affect their lives? Simon Peter, in his first epistle, which went to regions predominantly populated by Gentiles (1 Peter 1:1), offered valuable insight into the effects Christian conversion had on Gentiles in the first century. A Transformative Conversion Without doubt, the greatest impact of Christian conversion on Gentiles was their transformed lives. These Gentile believers once participated in a “flood of wild living” when they pursued their evil desires (4:4). When the gospel illuminated their lives, however, they willingly reached for God and consciously chose to live by the high standards of His kingdom. Peter urged his readers not to be conformed to the wicked life- styles of their former ignorance but to live holy lives. From all indications, Gentile believers were generally successful in living out their commitments to obedience and holiness.5 Their astonishing reversal of lifestyles profoundly impressed Jewish believers, made the case for God’s tre- mendous transforming grace, and demonstrated His astounding power to change human hearts. If a Gentile convert of Peter’s day was asked how Christian conversion had impacted his life, he might have pointed to his radically new life. Former behaviors and lifestyles had become foreign and repulsive. God’s divine power had transformed persons’ lives—lives now characterized by genuine faith, living hope, and an imperishable inheritance (1:3-7,22). Soon these new believers began to realize God’s protective cultivation of their faith for the day of salvation.
  • 14. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 14 The Gentiles’ conversion to Christ had an even greater payoff. They witnessed God’s work within them. Once, their inner lives had been scenes of warring and destructive sinful urges. Now, they joyously sensed a living hope welling up inside. Surprisingly, obedience to the Lord’s two great commands spontaneously generated in their lives: love for their Lord and love for their Christian brothers and sisters. Seeing Gentiles repent was remarkable. Their repentance blossomed into the genuine practice of Christian love. Further- more, their faith in Christ was growing. They rejoiced in their Lord because, although they could not see Him, they could see His marvelous work in their lives.6 Choosing to follow Jesus constantly impacted their lifestyles. Their repentance progressed through life transformation until they could see God’s positive work inside and the world’s negative response outside. With the Holy Spirit’s prompting, Simon Peter also could see the dynamic impact of the gospel in his read- ers’ lives. An anticipated Persecution Peter had personally endured suffering for his faith. Encouragements to endure suffering for the sake of righteousness thus abound in this letter. Questions arise, though, regarding the types of suffering to which Peter was referring. Many look for con- nections to known persecutions in history. The common New Testament Greek word for persecution (thlip- sis) is not in 1 Peter. Nevertheless, Simon Peter anticipated sufferings and trials for his readers. These sufferings and trials for his readers. These sufferings could possibly include persecution, but the book is vague regarding official resistance the readers of Peter’s first epistle would have faced. Some point to Ne- ro’s persecution of Christians in AD 64, during which church tradition places Peter’s martyrdom. This per- secution, though, occurred in Rome and was not empire wide. During the years AD 109-111, Roman governor Pliny persecuted Christians in the province of Bithynia, one of the provinces mentioned in 1 Peter 1:1, but he date is beyond Peter’s era.7 Therefore, connecting the suf- fering discussed in 1 Peter to specific known historical events seems unadvisable. Peter’s discussion of suffering was necessary, however, due to the progress of his readers’ faith. Having re- sponded to the gospel and witnessed the transformation of their lives, inside and out, these Christians experi- enced the Lord’s presence in their daily lives. Due to the non-believing world’s reaction to their conversion, Christians had to “struggle in various trials” (1:6). Gentile Christians were so different from how they had formerly lived that they no longer participated when their neighbors plunged into the sinful behaviors that reflected their non-believing lifestyles (4:1-4). From a believer’s viewpoint, Peter’s readers had stopped practicing sins harmful to their relationships with God and people. Nonbelievers, however, regarded these Christians as unpatriotic because they refused to worship the gods of the region or empire.
  • 15. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 15 Further, they considered the believers disloyal because they no longer participated in local and trade cere- monies that acknowledged and honored certain gods. Some viewed Christians as family haters because they refrained from joining family gatherings in pagan worship centers.8 The reversal in moral behavior enraged neighbors who saw Christians as judgmental toward behaviors they once practiced. As a result, Christians suffered for their faith by enduring insults, abuse, rejection, economic distress, the loss of personal property, and the ability to practice their trades.9 Peter knew these responses to the radical Christian lifestyle were common and would increase as more men and women responded to the gospel. The story of early Gentile Christians astounds, from the surprising extension of God’s grace to Gentiles to their widespread acceptance of God’s offer. Their conversion to a walk with Jesus Christ resulted in a trans- formation of living and an indwelling of God’s presence so compelling that they were willing to endure ex- ternal sufferings attracted by their newly found faith. Though they suffered, sometimes severely, Gentile Christians generally remained steadfast in their adopted faith, considering the gains of their faith to far out- weigh the sufferings they endured. What was true for Gentile Christians in the ancient world remains true for all Christians today: the extension of God’s grace, dynamic lives filled with hope and God’s personal presence, and yet the ever-present threat of suffering await those who dare to respond to God’s magnani- mous offer of salvation.17 Faith 18 By Scott Andrew, PhD candidate in theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE mean when it tells us to “have faith”? In Ephesians 2:8-9 the Bible says that we are saved by grace through faith. We are not saved by our works. Yet in James 2:14 the Bible asks, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds [works]? Can such faith save him?”1 This rhetorical question is answered in James 2:26 where the Bible says, “faith without deeds is dead.” This apparent contradiction has troubled biblical scholars for centuries. Martin Luther wanted to throw the Book of James out of the New Testament because of its emphasis on works. A few early twentieth-century theologians felt that the subject of faith and works revealed that the theologies of James and Paul are contra- dictory. However, the Bible is the Word of God. It is not contradictory. Apparent contradictions often can be resolved through further study. Perhaps we would do well to study the word faith and its meaning for the early church. What did the Greek word for faith mean for the writers of Old Testament concept of faith relationships between people and God. 17 Citations omitted. 18 Citations omitted.
  • 16. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 16 In other words, to properly understand what the word meant for the writers of the New Testament, we must look briefly at the Old Testament idea of faith. Several Hebrew words are translated by the Greek word in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Tes- tament). Of these terms the Hebrew word ‘aman [ah-MAN] portrays best what is incorporated in the Old Testament idea of faith.3 The root idea of ‘aman is “firmness” or “certainty.” The verb forms mean “to con- firm, to support, to be established, to believe in.” The noun forms can mean “faithfulness, steadfastness, fi- delity, truth.” This word was transliterated into the Greek New Testament as the word “aman.”4 In the Old Testament, faith is seen as a process through which a believer goes. It is not merely an event, but a growing relationship as one moves through life. Faith begins with the person of God. Deuteronomy 7:9 refers to God as “the faithful God” (NIV). He is the God who faithfully keeps His covenant with those who love Him. The faithful God also is mentioned in Isaiah 49:7. This verse refers to the coming Redeemer—a Holy One of Israel who shall bring salvation to all people, including the Gentiles, and who shall establish a people. The faithful God is the origin of this redemption. The faithful God is the starting point of salvation. The Old Testament concept of faith then moves from God to people. Artur Weiser states that “As the TO understands it, faith is always man’s reaction to God’s primary action.”5 In Genesis 15, the Lord promised Abraham that his seed would be like the stars in heaven, that is, without number. In Genesis 15:6 Abraham responded to God’s promise by having faith in God. Another aspect of faith in the Old Testament is seen in the verb tense of aman that is translated “to believe.” In the Old Testament when people believed in God, He transformed their entire lives. In Psalm 116:10, the psalmist’s belief in the goodness of God transformed his entire life. In Jonah 3:5, the Ninevites believed the message that Jonah preached. Their belief in God transformed their entire city. Belief in God also becomes the basis for a person’s righteous acts. In 2 Chronicles 20:20-27 the people of Judah believed the message of God’s prophet. They went into battle armed with only a song of praise. Be- cause they believed the Lord’s message, the enemy was routed by a mighty act of God. Thus, faith begins with the person of God. When God reaches out to us, we should respond with faith. This response results in a transformed life—a life full of actions that are based on faith in God. Perhaps this short study of aman will help to resolve our New Testament problem concerning Ephesians 2:8- 9 and James 2:14. William Barclay explains that the main difference between these two passages is that they are speaking about different times in a Christian’s life. According to Barclay, in Ephesians 2:8-9 the apostle Paul described the beginning of a Christian’s life.6 Barclay’s interpretation is confirmed by the Greek New Testament. In the Greek, we are saved dia pisteos (“through faith”). The word dia shows means or agency.7 Thus faith is the means or agency through which we are saved. We are not saved ex ergon (“from works”; these are the Greek words in Eph. 2:9). The Greek word ex shows origin or cause.8 Our salvation does not originate from works and is not caused by works.
  • 17. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 17 Salvation is by God’s grace through the agency of our faith. What happens after this? In the Old Testament, a person’s faith resulted in a changed life—a life filled with godly acts. In the New Testament, faith in Jesus Christ also results in a transformed life. Paul described the transformation of a Christian’s life in passages such as 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Colossians 3:1-11. James re- ferred to this new life-style in James 2:14-26. Barclay states that James 2:14 is talking about the professing Christian, the man who says that he has faith. Such a man will demonstrate his faith by his deeds.9 Saving faith results in a transformed life. The Chris- tian’s transformed life will shine forth in good deeds. Thus, Paul and James agreed regarding the kind of life a Christian should live. Those who claim that Ephesians 2:8-9 contradicts James 2:14-26 should study these verses in context with Ephesians 2:10. In Ephesians 2:10 Paul stated, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” The Greek words translated “unto good works” are epi (“unto”) ertois (“works”) agathois (“good”). The word epi also can be translated “for the purpose of.” One Greek-English lexicon describes it as a word that shows the result of a state of being.10 Our state of being is that each Christian is a new crea- tion in Jesus Christ. This new creation performs good works. There is no contradiction between Paul and James. Faith is a process. It begins with the person of God. God is a faithful God who wants to reconcile the world to Himself through Jesus Christ. God reaches down to us. When we respond to God, we are transformed. This transformation results in good works. The Christian life is based on a transforming faith and results in a life that is full of good works performed for the glory of God.
  • 18. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 18 Barclay’s Commentary19 Chapter 1 THE GREAT INHERITANCE (1 Peter 1:1-2) 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's Chosen People, who are scattered as exiles throughout Pon- tus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. I am an apostle, and you are chosen, according to the fore- knowledge of God, through the consecration of the Spirit, for obedience and to be sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. It happens again and again in the New Testament that the true greatness of a passage lies not only on the sur- face and in what is actually said, but in the ideas and the convictions that lie behind it. That is particularly so here. It is clear that this letter was written to people who were Gentiles. They have been released from the futile way of life which they had learned from their fathers (1 Peter 1:18). Those who were once not a people had become nothing less than the people of God (1 Peter 2:10). In previous times, they had walked after the will and the lusts of the Gentiles (1 Peter 4:3). But the outstanding thing about this passage is that it takes words and conceptions that had originally applied only to the Jews, the Chosen Nation, and applies them to the Gentiles, who had once been believed to be outside the mercy of God. Once it had been said that "God cre- ated the Gentiles to be fuel for the fires of Hell." Once it had been said that, just as the best of the snakes must be crushed, so even the best of the Gentiles must be destroyed. Once it had been said that God loved only Israel of all nations upon the earth. But now the mercy, the privileges, and the grace of God have gone out to all the earth and to all men, even to those who could never have expected them. (i) Peter calls the people to whom he writes the elect, God's Chosen People, Once that had been a title which belonged to Israel alone: "You are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6; compare Deuteronomy 14:2). The prophet speaks of "Israel, my chosen" (Isaiah 45:4). The Psalmist speaks of "the sons of Jacob, his chosen ones" (Psalms 105:6; Psalms 105:43). But the nation of Israel failed in the purposes of God, for, when he sent his Son into the world, they rejected and crucified him. When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, he said that the inheritance of Israel was to be taken from them and given to others (Matthew 21:41; Mark 12:9; Luke 20:16). That is the basis of the great New Testament conception of the Christian Church as the true Israel, the new Israel, the Israel of God (compare Galatians 6:16). All the privileges which had once belonged to Israel now belonged to the Christian Church. The mercy of God has gone out to the ends of the earth, and all nations have seen the glory and experienced the grace of God. 19 Barclay,William."Commentary on 1 Peter 1:1". "WilliamBarclay'sDaily Study Bible". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=1". 1956-1959.Accessed July 8, 2014.
  • 19. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 19 (ii) There is another word here which once belonged exclusively to Israel. The address literally reads: "To the elect strangers of the Diaspora throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia." Diaspora, literally the dispersion, was the technical name for the Jews scattered in exile in all the countries outside the bounds of Palestine. Sometimes in their troubled history the Jews had been forcibly deported from their na- tive land; sometimes they had gone of their own free will to work, and often to prosper, in other lands. Those exiled Jews were called the Diaspora. But now, the real Diaspora is not the Jewish nation; it is the Christian Church scattered abroad throughout the provinces of the Roman Empire and the nations of the world. Once the people who had been different from others were the Jews; now the people who are different are the Christians. They are the people whose King is God, whose home is eternity, and who are exiles in the world. What we have just been saying means that the two great titles of which we have been thinking belong to us who are Christians. (i) We are the Chosen People of God. There is uplift here. Surely, there can be no greater compliment and privilege in all the world than to be chosen by God. The word eklektos candescribe anything that is specially chosen; it can describe specially chosen fruit, articles specially chosen because they are so outstandingly well made, picked troops specially chosen for some great exploit. We have the honour of being specially chosen by God. But there is also challenge and responsibility here. God always chooses for service. The honour which he gives a man is that of being used for his purposes. It was precisely there that the Jews failed, and we have to see to it that the tragedy of a like failure does not mark our lives. (ii) We are the exiles of eternity. This is never to say that we must withdraw from the world, but that in the realest sense we must be at the same time both in the world and not of it. It has been wisely said that the Christian must be apart from the world but never aloof from it. Wherever the exiled Jew settled, his eyes were towards Jerusalem. In foreign countries his synagogues were so built that, when the worshipper en- tered, he was facing towards Jerusalem. However useful a citizen of his adopted country the Jew was, his greatest loyalty was to Jerusalem. The Greek word for such a sojourner in a strange land is paroikos.A paroikos. was a man who was in a strange land and whose thoughts ever turned home. Such a sojourning was called a paroiias; and paroikia is the direct derivation of the English word parish. The Christians in any place are a group of people whose eyes are turned to God and whose loyalty is beyond. "Here," said the writer to the Hebrews, "we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come" (Hebrews 13:14). We must repeat that this does not mean withdrawal from the world; but it does mean that the Christian sees all things in the light of eternity and life as a journey towards God. It is this which decides the importance which he attaches to anything; it is this which dictates his conduct. It is the touchstone and the dynamic of his life. There is a famous unwritten saying of Jesus: "The world is a bridge. The wise man will pass over it, but he will not build his house upon it." This is the thought which is behind the famous passage in The Epistle to Diognetus, one of the best-known works of the post-apostolic age: "Christians are not marked out from the
  • 20. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 20 rest of mankind by their country or their speech or their customs.... They dwell in cities both Greek and bar- barian, each as his lot is cast, following the customs of the region in clothing and in food and in the outward things of life generally; yet they manifest the wonderful and openly paradoxical character of their own state. They inhabit the lands of their birth, but as temporary residents thereof; they take their share of all responsi- bilities as citizens, and endure all disabilities as aliens. Every foreign land is their native land, and every native land a foreign land.... They pass their days upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven." It would be wrong to think that this makes the Christian a bad citizen of the land in which he lives. It is be- cause he sees all things in the light of eternity that he is the best of all citizens, for it is only in the light of eternity that the true values of things can be seen. We, as Christians, are the Chosen People of God; we are the exiles of eternity. Therein lie both our priceless privilege and our inescapable responsibility. In 1 Peter 1:2, we are confronted with the three great facts of the Christian life. (i) The Christian is chosen according to the foreknowledge of God. C. E. B. Cranfield has a fine comment on this phrase: "If all our attention is concentrated on the hostility or indifference of the world or the exiguous- ness of our own progress in the Christian life, we may well be discouraged. At such times, we need to be reminded that our election is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. The Church is not just a human organization--though, of course, it is that. Its origin lies, not in the will of the flesh, in the idealism of men, in human aspirations and plans, but in the eternal purpose of God." When we are discouraged, we may well remind ourselves that the Christian Church came into being according to the purpose and plan of God and, if it is true to him, it can never ultimately fail. (ii) The Christian is chosen to be consecrated by the Spirit. Luther said: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him." For the Christian the Holy Spirit is es- sential to every part of the Christian life and every step in it. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens within us the first faint longings for God and goodness. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin and leads us to the Cross where that sin is forgiven. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to be freed from the sins which have us in their grip and to gain the virtues which are the fruit of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the as- surance that our sins are forgiven and that Jesus Christ is Lord. The beginning, the middle and the end of the Christian life are the work of the Holy Spirit. (iii) The Christian is chosen for obedience and for sprinkling by the blood of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testa- ment, there are three occasions when sprinkling with blood is mentioned. It may well be that all three were present in Peter's mind and that all three have something to contribute to the thought behind these words. (a) When a leper had been healed, he was sprinkled with the blood of a bird (Leviticus 14:1-7). Sprinkling with blood is, therefore, the symbol of cleansing. By the sacrifice of Christ, the Christian is cleansed from sin.
  • 21. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 21 (b) Sprinkling with blood was part of the ritual of the setting apart of Aaron and the priests (Exodus 29:20- 21; Leviticus 8:30). It was the sign of setting apart for the service of God. The Christian is specially set apart for the service of God, not only within the Temple, but also within the world. (c) The great picture of the sprinkling comes from the covenant relationship between Israel and God. In the covenant, God, of his own gracious will, approached Israel that they might be his people and that he might be their God. But that relationship depended on the Israelites accepting the conditions of the covenant and obeying the law. Obedience was a necessary condition of the covenant, and failure in obedience meant fail- ure of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. So the book of the covenant was read to Israel and the people pledged themselves: "All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do." As a token of this relationship of obedience between the people and God, Moses took half the blood of the sacrifice and sprin- kled it on the altar, and half the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkled it on the people (Exodus 24:1-8). Sprin- kling was for obedience. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Christian is called into a new relationship with God, in which the sins of the past are forgiven and he is pledged to obedience in the time to come. It is in the purpose of God that the Christian is called. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit that his life is hal- lowed towards God. It is by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ that he is cleansed from past sin and dedi- cated to future obedience to God. THE REBIRTH OF THE CHRISTIAN (1 Peter 1:3-5) 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his great mercy, has brought about in us that rebirth which leads to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, an inheritance imperishable, undefilable, and unfading, kept safe in heaven for us, who are pro- tected by the power of God through faith, until there comes that deliverance which is ready to be revealed at the last time. It will take us a long time to appropriate the riches of this passage, for there are few passages in the New Testament where more of the great fundamental Christian ideas come together. It begins with a doxology to God--but a doxology with a difference. For a Jew the commonest of all begin- nings to prayer was, "Blessed art thou, O God." The Christian takes over that prayer--but with a difference. His prayer begins, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." He is not praying to a distant, unknown God; he is praying to the God who is like Jesus and to whom, through Jesus Christ, he may come with childlike confidence. This passage begins with the idea of rebirth; the Christian is a man who has been reborn; begotten again by God to a new kind of life. Whatever else this means, it means that, when a man becomes a Christian, there comes into his life a change so radical that the only thing that can be said is that life has begun all over again for him. This idea of rebirth runs all through the New Testament. Let us try to collect what it says about it.
  • 22. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 22 (i) The Christian rebirth happens by the will and by the act of God (John 1:13; James 1:18). It is not some- thing which a man achieves any more than he achieves his physical birth. (ii) Another way to put that is to say that this rebirth is the work of the Spirit (John 3:1-15). It happens to a man, not by his own effort, but when he yields himself to be possessed and re-created by the Spirit within him. (iii) It happens by the word of truth (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). In the beginning, it was the word of God which created heaven and earth and all that is in them. God spoke and the chaos became a world, and the world was equipped with and for life. It is the creative word of God in Jesus Christ which brings about this rebirth in a man's life. (iv) The result of this rebirth is that the man who is reborn becomes the first fruits of a new creation (James 1:18). It lifts him out of this world of space and time, of change and decay, of sin and defeat, and brings him here and now into touch with eternity and eternal life. (v) When a man is reborn, it is to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). Paul describes the heathen world as being without hope (Ephesians 2:12). Sophocles wrote: "Not to be born at all--that is by far the best fortune; the second best is as soon as one is born with all speed to return thither whence one has come." To the heathen the world was a place where all things faded and decayed; it might be pleasant enough in itself but it was leading out into nothing but an endless dark. To the ancient world, the Christian characteristic was hope. That hope came from two things. (a) The Christian felt that he had been born, not of corruptible, but of in- corruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23). He had something of the very seed of God in him and, therefore, had in him a life which neither time nor eternity could destroy. (b) It came from the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3). The Christian had for ever beside him--even more, was one with--this Jesus Christ who had conquered even death and, therefore, there was nothing of which he need be afraid. (vi) The rebirth of the Christian is a rebirth to righteousness (1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18). In this rebirth, he is cleansed from himself, the sins which shackle him and the habits which bind him; and he is given a power which enables him to walk in righteousness. That is not to say that the man who is reborn will never sin; but it is to say that every time he falls he will be given the power and the grace to rise again. (vii) The rebirth of the Christian is a rebirth to love (1 John 4:7). Because the life of God is in him, he is cleansed from the essential unforgiving bitterness of the self-centered life and there is in him something of the forgiving and sacrificial love of God. (viii) Finally, the rebirth of the Christian is rebirth to victory (1 John 5:4). Life ceases to be defeat and begins to be victory, over self and sin and circumstances. Because the life of God is in him, the Christian has learned the secret of victorious living. Further, the Christian has entered into a great inheritance (kleronomia). Here is a word with a great history; for it is the word which is regularly used in the Greek Old Testament for the inheritance of Canaan, the Promised Land. Again and again the Old Testament speaks of the land which God had given his people for
  • 23. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 23 an inheritance to possess (Deuteronomy 15:4; Deuteronomy 19:10). To us inheritance tends to mean some- thing which in the future we shall possess; as the Bible uses the word, it rather means a secure possession. To the Jew the great settled possession was the Promised Land. But the Christian inheritance is even greater. Peter uses three words with three great pictures behind them to describe it. It is imperishable (aphthartos). The word does mean imperishable but it can also mean unrav- aged by any invading army. Many and many a time Palestine had been ravaged by the armies of the aliens; it had been fought over and blasted and destroyed. But the Christian possesses a peace and a joy, which no in- vading army can ravage and destroy. It is undefilable. The word is amiantos, and the verb miainein, from which this adjective comes, means to pollute with impious impurity. Many and many a time Palestine had been rendered impure by false worship of false gods (Jeremiah 2:7; Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 3:2; Ezekiel 20:43). The defiling things had often left their touch even on the Promised Land; but the Christian has a pu- rity which the sin of the world cannot infect. It is unfading (amarantos). In the Promised Land, as in any land, even the loveliest flower fades and the loveliest blossom dies. But the Christian is lifted into a world where there is no change and decay and where his peace and joy are un- touched by the chances and the changes of life. What, then, is this wonderful inheritance which the reborn Christian possesses? There may be many second- ary answers to that question but there is only one primary answer--the inheritance of the Christian is God himself. The Psalmist said, "The Lord is my chosen portion... I have a goodly heritage" (Psalms 16:5). God is his portion for ever (Psalms 73:23-26). "The Lord," said the prophet, "is my portion; therefore I will hope in him" (Lamentations 3:24). It is because the Christian possesses God and is possessed by God that he has the inheritance which is imper- ishable, undefilable and which can never fade away. The inheritance of the Christian, the full joy of God, is waiting for him in heaven; and of that Peter has two great things to say. (i) On our journey through this world to eternity, we are protected by the power of God through faith. The word which Peter uses for protect (phrourein) is a military word. It means that our life is garrisoned by God and that he stands sentinel over us all our days. The man who has faith never doubts, even when he cannot see him, that God is standing within the shadows keeping watch upon his own. It is not that God saves us from the troubles and the sorrows and the problems of life; but he enables us to conquer them and march on. (ii) The final salvation will be revealed at the last time. Here we have two conceptions which are at the very basis of New Testament thought. The New Testament frequently speaks of the last day or days, or the last time. At the back of this is the way the Jews divided all time into two ages--the present age, which is wholly under the domination of evil and the age to come, which will be the golden age of God. In between came the day of the Lord during which the world would be destroyed and remade and judgment would come.
  • 24. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 24 It is this in between time which is the last days or the last time, that time when the world as we know it will come to an end. It is not given to us to know when that time will come nor what will happen then. But we can gather together what the New Testament says about these last days. (i) The Christians believed that they were already living in the last days. "It is the last hour," says John to his people (1 John 2:18). The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the fullness of the revelation which has come to men in Christ in these last days (Hebrews 1:2). As the first Christians saw it, God had already invaded time and the end was hastening on. (ii) The last times were to be times of the pouring out of God's Spirit upon men (Acts 2:17). The early Chris- tians saw that being fulfilled in Pentecost and in the Spirit-filled Church. (iii) It was the regular conviction of the early Christians that before the end the powers of evil would make a final assault and that all kinds of false teachers would arise (2 Timothy 3:1; 1 John 2:18; Jude 18 ). (iv) The dead would be resurrected. It is Jesus' promise that at the last time he will raise up his own (John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:54; John 11:24). (v) Inevitably it would be a time of judgment when God's justice would be exercised and his enemies find their just condemnation and punishment (John 12:48; James 5:3). Such are the ideas which are in the minds of the New Testament writers when they use this phrase the last times or the last days. Clearly, for many a man such a time will be a time of terror; but for the Christian there is, not terror, but de- liverance. The word sozein means to save in far more than a theological sense. It is the regular word for to rescue from danger and to heal in sickness. Charles Bigg, in his commentary points out that in the New Tes- tament sozein , to save, and soteria, salvation, have four different, but closely related, spheres of meaning. (a) They describe deliverance from danger (Matthew 8:25). (b) They describe deliverance from disease (Matthew 9:21). (c) They describe deliverance from the condemnation of God (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13). (d) They describe deliverance from the disease and power of sin (Matthew 1:21). Salvation is a many-sided thing. In it, there is deliverance from danger, deliverance from disease, deliverance from con- demnation and deliverance from sin. And it is that, and nothing less than that, to which the Christian can look forward at the end. THE SECRET OF ENDURANCE (1 Peter 1:6-7) 1:6-7 Herein you rejoice, even if it is at present necessary that for a brief time you should be grieved by all kinds of trials, for the object of these trials is that your tried and tested faith, more precious than gold which perishes though it is tested by the fire, may win praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ shall appear. Peter comes to the actual situation in life in which his readers found themselves. Their Christianity had al- ways made them unpopular, but now they were facing almost certain persecution. Soon the storm was going to break and life was going to be an agonizing thing. In face of that threatening situation
  • 25. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 25 Peter in effect reminds them of three reasons why they can stand anything that may come upon them. (i) They can stand anything because of what they are able to look forward to. At the end, there is for them the magnificent inheritance, life with God. In fact this is how Westcott understands the phrase, "in the last time" (en) kairo eschato. We have taken it to mean in the time when the world as we know it will come to an end; but the Greek can mean when the worst comes to the worst. It is then, says Westcott, when things have reached their limit, that the saving power of Christ will be displayed. In any event, the ultimate meaning is the same. For the Christian persecution and trouble are not the end; beyond lies the glory; and in the hope of that glory he can endure anything that life brings to him. It some- times happens that a man has to undergo a painful operation or course of treatment; but he gladly accepts the pain and the discomfort because of the renewed health and strength which lie beyond. It is one of the basic facts of life that a man can endure anything so long as he has something to look forward to--and the Chris- tian can look forward to the ultimate joy. (ii) They can stand anything that comes if they remember that every trial is, in fact, a test. Before gold is pure, it has to be tested in the fire. The trials which come to a man test his faith and out of them, that faith can emerge stronger than ever it was before. The rigors which the athlete has to undergo are not meant to make him collapse but to make him able to develop more strength and staying-power. In this world, trials are not meant to take the strength out of us, but to put the strength into us. In this connection, there is something most suggestive in the language Peter uses. He says that the Christian for the moment may well have to undergo various trials. The Greek is poikilos, which literally means many- coloured. Peter uses that word only one other time and it is to describe the grace of God (1 Peter 4:10). Our troubles may be many-coloured, but so is the grace of God; there is no colour in the human situation which that grace cannot match. There is a grace to match every trial and there is no trial without its grace. (iii) They can stand anything, because at the end of it, when Jesus Christ appears, they will receive from him praise and glory and honour. Again and again in this life, we make our biggest efforts and do our best work, not for pay or profit, but in order to see the light in someone's eyes and to hear his word of praise. These things mean more than anything else in the world. The Christian knows that, if he endures, he will in the end hear the Master's "Well done!" Here is the recipe for endurance when life is hard and faith is difficult. We can stand up to things because of the greatness to which we can look forward, because every trial is another test to strengthen and to purify our faith, and because at the end of it Jesus Christ is waiting to say, "Well done!" to all his faithful servants. UNSEEN BUT NOTUNKNOWN (1 Peter 1:8-9) 1:8-9 Although you never knew him, you love him; although you do not see him, you believe in him. And you rejoice with unspeakable and glorious joy because you are receiving that which faith must end in--the salva- tion of your souls.
  • 26. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 26 Peter is drawing an implicit contrast between himself and his readers. It was his great privilege to have known Jesus in the days of his flesh. His readers had not had that joy; but, although they never knew Jesus in the flesh, they love him; and although they do not see him with the bodily eye, they believe. And that belief brings to them a joy beyond speech and clad with glory, for even here and now it makes them certain of the ultimate welfare of their souls. E. G. Selwyn in his commentary distinguishes four stages in man's apprehension of Christ. (i) The first is the stage of hope and desire, the stage of those who throughout the ages dreamed of the com- ing of the King. As Jesus himself said to his disciples, "Many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it" (Luke 10:23-24). There were the days of longings and expectations which were never fully realized. (ii) The second stage came to those who knew Christ in the flesh. That is what Peter is thinking about here. That is what he was thinking about when he said to Cornelius, "We are witnesses to all that he did, both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem" (Acts 10:39). There were those who walked with Jesus and on whose witness our knowledge of his life and the words depends. (iii) There are those in every nation and time who see Jesus with the eye of faith. Jesus said to Thomas, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe" (John 20:29). This way of seeing Jesus is possible only because he is not someone who lived and died and exists now only as a figure in a book but someone who lived and died and is alive for evermore. It has been said that "no apostle ever remembered Jesus." That is to say, Jesus is not only a memory; he is a person whom we can meet. . . . (iv) There is the beatific vision. It was John's confidence that we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2). "Now," said Paul, "we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12). If the eye of faith endures, the day will come when it will be the eye of sight, and we shall see face to face and know even as we are known. THE NECESSARY VIRILITY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH (1 Peter 1:13) 1:13 So, then, gird up the loins of your mind; be sober; come to a final decision to place your hope on the grace which is going to be brought to you at the revealing of Jesus Christ. Peter has been talking about the greatness and the glory to which the Christian may look forward; but the Christian can never be lost in dreams of the future; he must always be virile in the battle of the present. So Peter sends out three challenges to his people. (i) He tells them to gird up the loins of their mind This is a deliberately vivid phrase. In the east, men wore long flowing robes which hindered fast progress or strenuous action. Round the waist, they wore a broad belt or girdle; and when strenuous action was necessary, they shortened the long robe by pulling it up within the belt in order to give them freedom of movement. The English equivalent of the phrase would be to roll up one's sleeves or to take off one's jacket.
  • 27. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 27 Peter is telling his people that they must be ready for the most strenuous mental endeavour. They must never be content with a flabby and unexamined faith; they must set to and think things out and think them through. It may be that they will have to discard some things. It may be that they will make mistakes. But what they are left with will be theirs in such a way that nothing and nobody can ever take it away from them. (ii) He tells them to be sober. The Greek word, like the English, can have two meanings. It can mean that they must refrain from drunkenness in the literal sense of the term; and it can also mean that they must be steady in their minds. They must become intoxicated neither with intoxicating liquor nor with intoxicating thoughts; they must preserve a balanced judgment. It is easy for the Christian to be carried away with this, that, or the next sudden enthusiasm and to become readily intoxicated with the latest fashion and the newest craze. Peter is appealing to them to maintain the essential steadiness of the man who knows what he be- lieves. (iii) He tells them to set their hope on the grace which is going to be given to them when Jesus Christ comes. It is the great characteristic of the Christian that he lives in hope; and because he lives in hope, he can endure the trials of the present. Any man can endure struggle and effort and toil, if he is certain that it is all leading somewhere. That is why the athlete accepts his training and the student his study. For the Christian the best is always still to come. He can live with gratitude for all the mercies of the past, with resolution to meet the challenge of the present and with the certain hope that in Christ the best is yet to be. Authorship, Date, and Provenance of 1 Peter20 Introduction In the case of 1 Peter, the issues of authorship, date, and provenance are inter-related. A decision on one item can influence one’s decision on another item. The traditional view is that the apostle Peter wrote the epistle in Rome prior to his martyrdom, which occurred around AD 65 (Tertullian, Scorp. 15; Origen in Eusebius, Hist eccl. 3.1.2; Lactantius, Mort. 2; Macarius Magnus, Unigenitus 3.22, 4.4; Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 2.25.5-8). However, the traditional view is challenged by many modern scholars who believe the epistle to be pseu- donymous, meaning the epistle was written in the name of Peter but by someone other than Peter. Provenance According to 1 Peter 5:13 the epistle was written from “Babylon.” At first we might suppose that the epistle was written from a place literally called Babylon; either Babylon in Mesopotamia or Babylon in Egypt. Closer inspection reveals that neither candidate is plausible. Babylon, the former capital of the Babylonian 20 Pseudonymic attribution,Blog: Biblical Scholarship. Alayman's views on biblical scholarship,religion,philosophy and more. Janu- ary 6, 2012. http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/authorship-date-and-provenance-of-1-peter/. Accessed July 8, 2014. Editor’s note: I have selected a pseudonymic blog writing because it cites the best authority I have observed even from recog- nized authors.
  • 28. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 28 Empire, was a shadow of its former self and was nearly desolate by the time of Trajan’s visit in AD 115 (Philo, Legal. 282; Josephus, Ant. 15.14, 39; Pliny, Nat. 6.121-122; Dio Cass., Hist. Rom. 68.30.1; Strabo, Geogr. 16.739). There is no evidence of any connection of Peter, Silvanus, or Mark with Mesopotamia. A military stronghold on the Nile Delta, near Memphis, was also called Babylon (Josephus, Ant. 2.315; Strabo, Geogr. 17.1.30). While a later tradition links Mark to Alexandria in Egypt (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 2.16.1) there is no evidence linking Peter or Silvanus to Egypt. In fact, neither of these Babylons were associated with Christian communities in general. A more fruitful approach is to realize that “Babylon” was used as a reference to Rome in Jewish and Chris- tian literature (2 Bar. 11:1; 67:7; 77:12, 17, 19; 79:1; 80:4; 4 Ezra 3:1-5:20; 10:19-48; 11:1-12:51; 15:43-63; 16:1-34; Sib. Or. 3:63-74, 303-313; 5:137-178; Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). Peter, Mark, and the epistle itself were linked to Rome in subsequent early tradition (Col 4:10; Philemon 24; 2 Tim 4:11; 1 Clem. 5:1-7; Ignatius, Rom. 4:3; Irenaeus, Haer. 3.1.5; Origen, Comm. Matt. 1; Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 2.14.6; 2.15.2; 2.25.1-8; 3.39.14-15). There is no competing tradition to suggest the epistle was written in any other loca- tion. A Roman location also explains similarities of thought between 1 Peter and other writings from Rome (e.g., Romans, Hebrews, Mark, Luke-Acts, 1 Clement, Hermas). Therefore, I agree with the vast majority of scholars that 1 Peter was written in Rome. Date No explicit date for when the letter was written is provided in 1 Peter itself. Other forms of evidence allow us to provide a window in which the epistle was written. This evidence suggests the epistle was written be- fore about AD 65:  Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians, written in about AD 112-114, clearly alludes to 1 Peter (Schreiner 22).  The description of charisms (4:10-11) and church order (5:1-5) are too vague to be precise but they are a better fit for the first century than the second century.  By the time Revelation was written, in about AD 95, the conditions of Christians in Asia Minor had deteriorated from what they were when 1 Peter was written. Some believers had been put to death (Rev 2:13; 6:9-10; 16:6; 18:24; 19:2) and the depiction of Rome is very negative (Rev 12-18). On the other hand, 1 Peter refers to verbal harassment and takes a neutral view towards Rome (2:13-17).  Pliny the Younger (Ep. 10.97), writing around AD 111-112 about the Christians in Asia Minor, notes that a Christian had renounced his faith 20 years ago (ca. AD 90). 1 Peter does not mention anyone renouncing the faith despite knowledge of harassment and suffering.  Knowledge of Peter’s death would have been known to the letter’s recipients. Therefore, even if 1 Peter was written by someone other than Peter, it is difficult to see how it could have been passed off as Petrine if it was written after the apostle’s death around AD 65.
  • 29. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 29 Determining the lower bound of the date range is more difficult:  The close and numerous correspondences between 1 Peter and Romans suggests to some scholars that 1 Peter had knowledge of Romans (this is not to say that 1 Peter was literarily dependent on Romans). If these scholars are correct then 1 Peter must have been written after Romans, which was written around AD 56-58 (Elliott 136-137). But it is also possible the similarities reflect early Chris- tian themes in general.  As noted above, the term “Babylon” in 5:13 is a reference to Rome. Since this usage is only attested in documents written after AD 70, when Rome destroyed Jerusalem like Babylon had in 587 BC, many scholars consider this a strong indication that 1 Peter was written after AD 70. However, the above writings were politically subversive apocalyptic literature while 1 Peter is an epistle contain- ing nothing subversive (2:13-17). As noted in the commentary, the reference to Babylon forms an in- clusio with “Diaspora” in 1:1 and functions to identify both author and reader as “exiles.” These dif- ferences prevent the reference to “Babylon” from requiring a date after Peter’s death. It is not known when, exactly, Peter arrived in Rome. That would establish the earliest possible date of the letter. I favor a date between AD 60 and AD 65. Authorship The author explicitly identifies himself as the apostle Peter in 1:1. This identification was unanimously agreed upon by the early church (2 Pet 3:1; Irenaeus, Haer. 4.9.2; 4.16.5; 5.7.2; Tertullian, Scopr. 12; Euse- bius, Hist. eccl. 3.3.4; 3.4.2; 3.25.2; 3.39.16; 4.14.9; 6.25.5; 6.25.8). It wasn’t until the 19th century that scholars began to question the authorship of the letter (Robinson 164). Peter (Acts 2:9-11; Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.1; Epiphanius, Pan. 27.7; Jerome Vir. ill. 1; Acts of Peter and Andrew [Peter and Andrew in Cappado- cia and Pontus]), Silvanus (Acts 15:40-18:22; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), and Mark (Acts 12:25-14:28) had early contact with people from Asia Minor. This is consistent with the let- ter’s addressees (1:1) and the lack of information about these figures as if they were already known to the recipients. Despite the unanimous witness of our earliest sources, many modern scholars doubt 1 Peter was written by the apostle Peter. The primary reason for this doubt is the high literary quality of the Greek in the epistle. This suggests to them that the author had a good education (Achtemeier 2ff., Elliott 120), the kind of educa- tion the apostle Peter did not have. Acts 4:13 calls Peter unschooled but this merely means he did not have a formal rabbinic education. The strongest evidence that Peter did not have the required education in Greek is the later tradition which notes Mark acted as Peter’s interpreter in composing the Gospel of Mark (Irenaeus, Haer. 3.1.1; Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.39.15). But this is not as decisive an objection to Petrine authorship as it first appears. In New Testament times, writers sometimes used a secretary (amanuensis) to write a letter (Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Gala- tians 6:11; Philemon 19; Pliny, Ep. 9.36). If Peter wrote the epistle with the assistance of a secretary this ex- plains both the early tradition attributing the letter to Peter and the quality of the Greek.
  • 30. John R. Wible, Editor. Sources: Southern Baptist Uniform Sunday School Lesson and Commentary, Summer, 2014; Southern Bap- tist Advanced Bible Study and Southern Baptist Biblical Illustrator, selected articles; Herschel Hobbs Commentary and Family Bi- ble Study, except where noted. Page 30 While it is tempting to believe Silvanus was Peter’s secretary, the language in 5:12 indicates only that Silva- nus delivered the letter, not that he composed it. A related objection notes that the Old Testament quotations are from the Greek LXX, not the Hebrew or Ar- amaic text. But this can be explained by the fact that the letter’s recipients probably used the LXX and its use would make the text more understandable to them. Conclusion In conclusion, I agree with nearly all scholars that 1 Peter was written in Rome. However, I follow the tradi- tional view that the epistle was written by Peter (with the help of a secretary) between AD 60 and 65. The arguments against Petrine authorship do not overcome the clear testimony from the earliest sources. Bibliography Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter. Minneapolis Minn.: Fortress Press, 1996. Elliott, John H. 1 Peter.Yale University Press, 2001. Freedman, D. N. Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Jobes, Karen H. 1 Peter. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic & Brazos Press, 2005. Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1 Peter. Waco: Thomas Nelson, 1988. Robinson, John A. T. Redating the New Testament. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001. Schreiner, Thomas R. 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Holman Reference, 2003.