Monday 04 September 2017

Bible Book:
1 Peter

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia...”

1 Peter 1:1-12 Monday 4 September 2017

Psalm: Psalm 73:1-14


Given the sophisticated, literary Greek style of the writing,and apparent references to events that happened after his death (avictim of Roman persecution, in the mid-60s, as far as we know), itis unlikely that Peter himself wrote this letter. It was probablywritten by one of his later followers, addressed to JewishChristians, "the exiles of the Dispersion", rather than gentile(non-Jewish) Christians who were followers of Paul. (TheDispersion, or Diaspora was the name given to Greek-speaking Jewswho lived 'in exile' around the Roman Empire and beyond.) So thisletter, like James and Hebrews (and, indeed, Matthew's Gospel), waswritten for those who saw the Church as a kind of purified,reformed Judaism, which excluded Gentiles (unless they acceptedJewish traditions). And, like Matthew's Gospel, it was written at atime of intense persecution - probably in the turbulent decadestowards the end of the 1st century.

The letter begins with encouragement to hold on to faith in theresurrection of Jesus, and to endure persecution (verse 6) with thepromise of his imminent re-appearing to bring to an end the"various trials" they were enduring and the reward of an"inheritance" (v. 4) of "praise and glory and honour"(v. 7). Thiswas a common theme in New Testament writings - 'the End is nigh, sohang in there'. And 1 Peter picks up other themes too, includingthe one we met yesterday (link)- Jesus as the "Son of Man"who must first suffer before he appears in glory to rescue hisfollowers and rule the earth, an idea based on Daniel and Isaiah("the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours"(v. 10)). So, although 1 Peter doesn't use the phrase "Son of Man",it is certainly implied by verse 11. For 'Peter' (as we will callthe writer of this letter) and his followers, the "gospel" ("goodnews" (v. 12)) was hidden in the words of the prophets, and now,miraculously, revealed to them.

To Ponder

  • Assuming we are not 1st-century Jewish Christians facingviolent persecution, how might we read this letter today, giventhat it was not addressed to us?
  • For 'Peter', the gospel was the promise of "praise and gloryand honour" as a reward for enduring persecution. What does "thegospel" mean to you?
  • Do you think that the prophets of the Old Testament had Jesusin mind when they wrote? Why?
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