Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: 1 Peter 4-5 and 2 Peter 1-3

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

This week, I am working through 1 Peter, chapters 4-5 and 2 Peter, chapters 1-3.

Chapter 4

  • Verses 3-4 - I can't speak for others, but this bit about how (at least some) non-Christians treat Christians (especially those who were known before conversion) actually rings true to me.
  • Verse 6: "For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead" - I wonder how many decades after Christ's resurrection this letter was written, that Peter would make a point of mentioning those who have already died. McKnight suggests that the book was written sometime between AD 62 and 65 (Peter having been martyred in AD 65).1
  • Verse 7 - Either Peter had an expansive view of "near" (encompassing nearly 2000 years!) or he was simply mistaken.  What does that mean if we assume the latter? 
  • Verses 15-16 - I like that Peter isn't just saying that suffering, per se, is to be commended.  Indeed, he is quick to suggest that suffering for reasons of misconduct is not a good thing.  I would take as a corollary that Christians (either then or today) shouldn't be too quick to assume that, if they suffer, they are suffering because they are Christians. 
Chapter 5
  • Verses 1-5- In the first few mentions of the word "elder," the term is clearly used in the sense of a church officer, yet in verse 5, it is used in the more conventional sense (explicitly contrasted with "younger").  It does seem that the same Greek word (πρεσβυτέροις) is used in both instances.
  • Verse 13 - Because Mark is well-known as one of Peter's followers, it immediately my inclination not to take the word "son" as meaning Peter's biological son (despite the fact that, knowing Peter had a mother-in-law, it is a foregone conclusion that Peter was married, and thus a biological son would not be improbable).  Yet, it was a quick thought for me to jump from "son" to wondering if the unnamed woman mentioned here could be Peter's wife.  I could find no consideration of this possibility in McKnight, where the focus is on the probability that Babylon ("a notorious place of sin") is used here to reference a place of exile, probably Rome, from which Peter was believed to be writing.2 Michaels considers the possibility of a reference to Peter's wife, but ultimately dismisses this as Peter's intention for grammatical reasons.  He suggests that the "she" Peter refers to is, in fact, a congregation, possibly in Rome, but not necessarily there.3
2 Peter
Chapter 1
  • Verses 5-7 - For some reason, this list reminds me of the one Paul writes in Romans 5:3-4.
Chapter 2
  • Verses 1-10 - Woah!  Don't hold back!
  • Verses 15-16 - This story (the only one featuring a talking animal other than the serpent of Eden) comes from Numbers 22.
Chapter 3
  • Verse 1: "my second letter to you" - A surprisingly exact designation...  Even when Paul refers to other letters he'd written to the Corinthians, it is evident that, as often as not, he's referring to letters we no longer possess, rather than the ones we have....
  • Verse 9 - Honestly, given some of the other parts of this letter, it's almost a surprise to see an acknowledgement that God doesn't want people to perish....

1Scot McKnight, 1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary), Zondervan, 1996, p. 29.
2McKnight, p. 280.
3J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter (Word Biblical Commentary), Word Books, 1988, pp. 310-311.

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