Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Brief Survey of 1 Peter, Part 1

 A Short Survey of 1 Peter, Part 1

The author is the Apostle Peter.  There has never been any controversy or doubt concerning the Petrine authorship of this Epistle.  The Epistle of Clement of Rome (fl. 95 AD) contains six allusions and quotations.  Polycarp, a contemporary and associate of John, gives ten allusions or citations.  The letters of Ignatius of Antioch contain five.  And Irenaeus’ (120 – 202) works contain fifteen citations.[i]  If any controversy has been broached, it is concerning Peter’s second Epistle, which some questioned in the Ante-Nicene era.  The diction of this Epistle and of his speeches in Acts is very similar: an unplanned coincidence, and so a mark of authenticity[ii]

This letter was composed circa 63 A.D.  It was probably written towards the end of Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.  There are reasons for thinking that Peter had seen Paul’s Ephesian letter, hence this letter was written as late as 63.  “Mark is mentioned as with Peter in Babylon.  This must have been after Col 4:10 (A.D. 61-63), when Mark was with Paul at Rome, but intending to go to Asia Minor.”[iii]

Place of Writing:
It seems most likely that the place of writing was Babylon on the Euphrates.[iv]  Commentators have frequently take Babylon as a symbolic reference to Rome.  But it is unlikely that in the middle of writing a very plain and matter-of-fact letter, he would inexplicably change milieus to a mystical prophetic style.  Josephus states that there was a great multitude of Jews in Chaldean Babylon.[v]  It was probable, at least that the apostle of the circumcision[vi] would visit them. 

Since no doubt exists concerning the authorship, there is no reason either to question the book’s canonicity.

The letter is addressed to Diaspora.  They were Jewish believers, over whom Peter had a special charge.[vii]  Peter labels these people Elect.


*      1:1 - 2             Introduction
*      1:3 - 12           A Reminder of God’s Salvation
*      1:13 – 2:10    Exhortations to Holy Living
*      2:11 – 4:19    The Christian’s Responsibility in Suffering
*      5:1 – 11          Christian Humility and Service

[i] Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1
[ii] Compare 1Pe 2:7 with Ac 4:11; 1Pe 1:12 with Ac 5:32; 1Pe 2:24 with Ac 5:30; 10:39; 1Pe 5:1 with Ac 2:32; 3:15; 1Pe 1:10 with Ac 3:18; 10:43; 1Pe 1:21 with Ac 3:15; 10:40; 1Pe 4:5 with Ac 10:42; 1Pe 2:24 with Ac 3:19, 26.
[iii] B.W. Johnson, The People’s New Testament (Introduction to 1 Peter)
[iv] 1 Peter 5:13
[v] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15.2.2; 3.1
[vi] Galatians 2:7, 8
[vii] Galatians 2:8

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