Daily Bible Study Tips: 1 Peter
1 Peter 1:1-12, Salvation.
1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3, Sanctity.
1 Peter 3:1-17, More Christian obligations.
1 Peter 3:18 – 4:19, Teachings.
1 Peter 5:1-14, Practical instructions and greetings.
Comments on 2 Peter
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1 Peter 1:1-12, Salvation. (7/12/2010)
I'll tell you my bias right up front. I think Simon Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter. You may read commentaries or books that say, roughly, that Peter could not have written them because the Greek is too good for a simple Galilean fisherman. The technical term for that argument is "silly."
First, I have known quite a few non-native speakers of English, and after 10 or twenty years of living and working in the United States, some of them are as fluent in English as I am. By the time Peter wrote these letters, he might have been teaching and preaching in Greek for 20 or 30 years. In fact, we don't have any particular reason to believe that he didn't speak Greek even in childhood, since he was from Galilee, way north of Judea on the other side of Samaria - and we know for a fact that he spoke Aramaic with an accent (Mat. 26:73). Second, Peter was a businessman and a good public speaker, so I don't know where this "simple" stuff comes from. Third, I give the early church leaders credit for enough intelligence and discernment to know who wrote what, especially when it comes to books attributed to such a prominent figure as Peter. And finally, even if we believed that Peter's Greek was bad, vs. 5:12 implies that he was using an amanuensis for this letter.
Peter talks about the most important thing first: salvation.
1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3, Sanctity. (7/13/2010)
Some time back, there was an uproar because the University of New Mexico lowered its entry standards to the point that just about anybody could get in. They didn't lower their standards for graduation, however, which seemed to me to be the crucial point. In order to become a UNM graduate, you still had to go to classes, pass tests, and meet requirements.
God loves you, and no matter how bad you are, he wants to give you salvation. Once you are saved, however, he is not satisfied to let you stay
bad. You have to become holy. This requires some effort, yes. You have to go to church, study scripture, do good works, and give up sin. The good news is that God offers intensive one-on-one tutoring.
1 Peter 3:1-17, More Christian obligations. (7/15/2010)
It's a mistake to take scripture out of context, because it's liable to come back to bite you. Today we read one of the fairly famous out-of-context verses, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands." I don't have to tell you all the ways this verse has been used and abused.
Reading it in context tells a different story. First, this passage starts with yesterday's reading, which says, "Act respectable," and then gives a number of examples about how to do that. It continues by giving instructions for husbands and "all of you": the point is that everybody
should give way to everybody
for the Lord's sake.
Second, why should wives be subject to their husbands? So that
the wives may influence their husbands toward Christian behavior. Husbands should be good to their wives so that
their prayers aren't hindered. I hesitate to suggest that Peter has a higher opinion of Christian women's behavior than Christian men's, but...
Finally, wives are supposed to submit to their husbands in the same way that Sarah submitted to Abraham. This is the Sarah who insisted that her husband take a her serving girl Hagar as a concubine so that she, Sarah, could have a child, and he did (Gen. 16:1-2). Then when Hagar began thinking she was better than Sarah, Abraham told Sarah to do whatever she wanted with Hagar (Gen. 16:6). Then when Sarah had her own child, she insisted that Hagar and Abraham's son, Ishmael, should be freed and sent away, and Abraham did it, even though it grieved him greatly (Gen. 21:10-11). So Sarah is hardly a model of of wishy-washy subservience.
1 Peter 3:18 – 4:19, Teachings. (7/16/2010)
My husband has been talking to a fellow who is annoyed with God for allowing a young woman who was out jogging to be assaulted and killed. My husband's friend didn't know the woman; he is just annoyed on general principles that God allowed this crime and suffering. He thinks God should have stopped the criminal. I asked my husband, does his friend want God to stop him from smoking cigars? More to the point, does he want God to stop him from driving his sports car 120 mph on the freeway? As Christians we are required to follow human laws that do not contradict the laws of God, as we saw the day before yesterday in 1 Peter 2:13-14. Exceeding the speed limit - especially to the endangerment of other drivers, as this fellow does - is a sin.
I'm sorry for the young woman and her family. Bad things happen to good people, and the question is, why? One answer is, because you are free to commit a sin if you want to, and so is everybody else. The only way God can stop murderers is to stop speeders and whatever kind of sinners you and I are, that is, by taking away all human free will. Peter says, don't be surprised when bad things happen to you. Better they should happen because you choose to do right than because you choose to do wrong.
1 Peter 5:1-14, Practical instructions and greetings. (7/19/2010)
I love the contrasting image of the shepherds - God, Jesus Christ, and the elders - vs. the lion - the devil. The shepherds care for the flock; the lion devours any sheep who gets separated from the flock. The shepherds are leaders who invite the flock to follow, willingly and not under compulsion; the lion roars and prowls around trying to capture the sheep and must be resisted.
I'm also impressed by Peter's humility. Do you remember Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.? You don't? Really? You don't remember all the movies he made? Big star! Oh, wait a minute, maybe you knew him as Rock Hudson. Just in case anyone was inclined to forget that Simon was was the rock upon whom Jesus founded the Church, Jesus changed his name to Petros, Rock
. Peter was a big star in the Church, but he speaks to the elders in the Church "as a fellow elder," and not as one who is trying to compel them.
Reader Question: Okay, who is "she who is in Babylon"? "Babylon" may have been a reference to Rome in Peter's time, according to footnotes. Was this code or just Peter, et al. acknowledging that Rome was their modern day version of what Babylon had been to earlier Jews? (1/22/11)
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Response: Special thanks to this reader for showing us the value of footnotes in our Bibles.
Your footnotes are correct, although I think most scholars would say it was a reference to Rome, not may have been a reference to Rome. “She who is in Babylon” is the church in Rome. Being a Christian was a dangerous business at that time, and it didn’t pay to write things like, “I, Peter, and the church in Rome, greet you. I’m enclosing a membership list.” You and your friends were likely to end up in jail, in the arena as lion food, or, as in Peter’s case, on a cross. So yes, Babylon was a code word for Rome, and she is the church.
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