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1 Peter - Introduction


HIS OBJECT seems to be, by the prospect of their heavenly portion and by Christ's example, to afford consolation to the persecuted, and prepare them for a greater approaching ordeal, and to exhort all, husbands, wives, servants, presbyters, and people, to a due discharge of relative duties, so as to give no handle to the enemy to reproach Christianity, but rather to win them to it, and so to establish them in "the true grace of God wherein they stand" ( 1 Peter 5:12 ALFORD rightly argues that "exhorting and testifying" there, refer to Peter's exhortations throughout the Epistle grounded on testimony which he bears to the Gospel truth, already well known to his readers by the teaching of Paul in those churches. They were already introduced "into" (so the Greek, 1 Peter 5:12 safe standing-ground. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:1 Gospel wherein ye stand." Therefore he does not, in this Epistle, set forth a complete statement of this Gospel doctrine of grace, but falls back on it as already known. Compare 1 Peter 1:8 1 Peter 1:18 1 Peter 3:15 ; 2 Peter 3:1 of teaching of Paul, but as an independent witness in his own style attests the same truths. We may divide the Epistle into: (I) The inscription ( 1 Peter 1:1 1 Peter 1:2 believers as born again of God. By the motive of hope to which God has regenerated us ( 1 Peter 1:3-12 faith, considering the costly price paid for our redemption from sin ( 1 Peter 1:14-21 brethren as begotten of God's eternal word, as spiritual priest-kings, to whom alone Christ is precious ( 1 Peter 1:22 ; 2:10 example in suffering, maintaining a good conversation in every relation ( 1 Peter 2:10 ; 3:14 having in view Christ's once-offered sacrifice, and His future coming to judgment ( 1 Peter 3:15 ; 4:11 adversity, as looking for future glorification with Christ, (1) in general as Christians, 1 Peter 4:12-19 1 Peter 5:1-11 second part from the first, 1 Peter 2:11 the second, 1 Peter 4:12 [BENGEL]. (III). The conclusion.

TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING.--It was plainly before the open and systematic persecution of the later years of Nero had begun. That this Epistle was written after Paul's Epistles, even those written during his imprisonment at Rome, ending in A.D. 63, appears from the acquaintance which Peter in this Epistle shows he has with them. Compare 1 Peter 2:13 1 Peter 1:2">Eph 1:3; 1 Peter 1:14 1 Peter 2:13 1 Peter 2:18">Eph 5:22; 1 Peter 3:9,Ro+12:13">Php 2:14 Ro 12:13 Hebrews 13:2">1Pe 5:1 with Romans 8:18 with 1 Thessalonians 5:6 1 Peter 5:13 have been after Colossians 4:10 (A.D. 61-63), when Mark was with Paul at Rome, but intending to go to Asia Minor. Again, in 2 Timothy 4:11 (A.D. 67 or 68), Mark was in or near Ephesus, in Asia Minor, and Timothy is told to bring him to Rome. So that it is likely it was after this, namely, after Paul's martyrdom, that Mark joined Peter, and consequently that this Epistle was written. It is not likely that Peter would have entrenched on Paul's field of labor, the churches of Asia Minor, during Paul's lifetime. The death of the apostle of the uncircumcision, and the consequent need of someone to follow up his teachings, probably gave occasion to the testimony given by Peter to the same churches, collectively addressed, in behalf of the same truth. The relation in which the Pauline Gentile churches stood towards the apostles at Jerusalem favors this view. Even the Gentile Christians would naturally look to the spiritual fathers of the Church at Jerusalem, the center whence the Gospel had emanated to them, for counsel wherewith to meet the pretensions of Judaizing Christians and heretics; and Peter, always prominent among the apostles in Jerusalem, would even when elsewhere feel a deep interest in them, especially when they were by death bereft of Paul's guidance. BIRKS [Horæ Evangelicæ] suggests that false teachers may have appealed from Paul's doctrine to that of James and Peter. Peter then would naturally write to confirm the doctrines of grace and tacitly show there was no difference between his teaching and Paul's. BIRKS prefers dating the Epistle A.D. 58, after Paul's second visit to Galatia, when Silvanus was with him, and so could not have been with Peter (A.D. 54), and before his imprisonment at Rome, when Mark was with him, and so could not have been with Peter (A.D. 62); perhaps when Paul was detained at Cæsarea, and so debarred from personal intercourse with those churches. I prefer the view previously stated. This sets aside the tradition that Paul and Peter suffered martyrdom together at Rome. ORIGEN'S and EUSEBIUS' statement that Peter visited the churches of Asia in person seems very probable.

The PLACE OF WRITING was doubtless Babylon on the Euphrates ( 1 Peter 5:13 matter-of-fact communications and salutations in a remarkably plain Epistle, the symbolical language of prophecy (namely, "Babylon" for Rome) should be used. JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 15.2.2; 3.1] states that there was a great multitude of Jews in the Chaldean Babylon; it is therefore likely that "the apostle of the circumcision" ( Galatians 2:7 Galatians 2:8 would at some time or other visit them. Some have maintained that the Babylon meant was in Egypt because Mark preached in and around Alexandria after Peter's death, and therefore it is likely he did so along with that apostle in the same region previously. But no mention elsewhere in Scripture is made of this Egyptian Babylon, but only of the Chaldean one. And though towards the close of Caligula's reign a persecution drove the Jews thence to Seleucia, and a plague five years after still further thinned their numbers, yet this does not preclude their return and multiplication during the twenty years that elapsed between the plague and the writing of the Epistle. Moreover, the order in which the countries are enumerated, from northeast to south and west, is such as would be adopted by one writing from the Oriental Babylon on the Euphrates, not from Egypt or Rome. Indeed, COSMAS INDICOPLEUSTES, in the sixth century, understood the Babylon meant to be outside the Roman empire. Silvanus, Paul's companion, became subsequently Peter's, and was the carrier of this Epistle.

STYLE.--Fervor and practical truth, rather than logical reasoning, are the characteristics, of this Epistle, as they were of its energetic, warm-hearted writer. His familiarity with Paul's Epistles shown in the language accords with what we should expect from the fact of Paul's having "communicated the Gospel which he preached among the Gentiles" (as revealed specially to him) to Peter among others "of reputation" ( Galatians 2:2 answer of a good conscience toward God" ( 1 Peter 3:21 of God" (Greek), 1 Peter 2:19 "living hope" ( 1 Peter 1:3 and that fadeth not away" ( 1 Peter 1:4 ( 1 Peter 5:14 than as at present exalted and hereafter to be manifested in all His majesty. Glory and hope are prominent features in this Epistle ( 1 Peter 1:8 WEISS entitles him "the apostle of hope." The realization of future bliss as near causes him to regard believers as but "strangers" and "sojourners" here. Chastened fervor, deep humility, and ardent love appear, just as we should expect from one who had been so graciously restored after his grievous fall. "Being converted," he truly does "strengthen his brethren." His fervor shows itself in often repeating the same thought in similar words.

In some passages he shows familiarity with the Epistle of James, the apostle of special weight with the Jewish legalizing party, whose inspiration he thus confirms (compare 1 Peter 1:6 1 Peter 1:7 1 Peter 1:24">Jas 1:21; 1 Peter 4:8 James 4:6 Testament quotations are the common ground of both. "Strong susceptibility to outward impressions, liveliness of feeling, dexterity in handling subjects, dispose natures like that of Peter to repeat afresh the thoughts of others" [STEIGER].

The diction of this Epistle and of his speeches in Acts is very similar: an undesigned coincidence, and so a mark of genuineness (compare 1 Peter 2:7 1 Peter 2:24 1 Peter 1:10 Acts 3:15 ; 10:40 Acts 3:19 Acts 3:26

There is, too, a recurrence to the language of the Lord at the last interview after His resurrection, recorded in John 21:15-23 "the Shepherd . . . of . . . souls," 1 Peter 2:25 God," "the chief Shepherd," 1 Peter 5:2 1 Peter 5:4 "Feed My lambs . . . sheep"; also "Whom . . . ye love," 1 Peter 1:8 ; 2:7 2 Peter 1:14 WIESINGER well says, "He who in loving impatience cast himself into the sea to meet the Lord, is also the man who most earnestly testifies to the hope of His return; he who dated his own faith from the sufferings of his Master, is never weary in holding up the suffering form of the Lord before his readers to comfort and stimulate them; he before whom the death of a martyr is in assured expectation, is the man who, in the greatest variety of aspects, sets forth the duty, as well as the consolation, of suffering for Christ; as a rock of the Church he grounds his readers against the storm of present tribulation on the true Rock of ages."

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