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Bible Commentaries

Dunagan's Commentary on the Bible

1 Peter

- 1 Peter

by Mark Dunagan


Besides the direct statement in 1:1 ‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ’. The author claims to have been an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ (5:1). Which gives added meaning to 1Pe_2:23 , when we realize that the author personally beheld the events described in that verse. In addition, besides being an Apostle this writer was also an elder (5:1), therefore a man who was married and had believing children ( 1Ti_3:1-4 ). Matthew and Paul, both record Peter as being married ( Mat_8:14-15 ; 1Co_9:5 ).

Evidence can also be gained by looking at Second Peter: a. Second Peter claims to be a second letter (3:1 ‘This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you’). b. The author of Second Peter witnessed the transfiguration (1:17-18), which only Peter, James and John beheld ( Mat_17:1-4 ).

‘The earliest definite citation of 1 Peter outside the New Testament is found in Polycarp (died AD 155), Epistle to the Philippians . Polycarp quotes 1 Peter several times..The first extant writing which quotes Peter by name is Irenaeus, Against Heresies (AD 182-188): “Peter says in his epistle: ‘Whom, not seeing, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, you have believed, you shall rejoice with joy unspeakable’ ( cf . 1Pe_1:8 ).’ [Note: 1 Peter, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Wayne Grudem, pp. 22-23]

Valuable lessons can be learned from the life of Peter: 1. He was a man from a blue collar background, who was interested in spiritual things ( Luk_5:10 ). So much for the idea that Christianity is just for women, children and effeminate men. 2. His Hebrew name was Simon or Symeon ( Joh_1:41 ; Act_15:14 ), which means ‘God has heard’. Jesus gave Him the name ‘Peter’ (Greek), which means ‘a rock or stone’. He is also called ‘Cephas’, which is Aramaic ( Joh_1:42 ; 1Co_15:5 ) and is the equivalent of ‘Peter’. His father was named ‘John’ ( Joh_1:42 ) or ‘Jonas’ ( Mat_16:17 ), and his brother was Andrew ( Joh_1:40 ).

The theme of First Peter is suffering and Peter, even previous to his death had endured his share of suffering. In addition, Peter is a great example of how to recover from failure and how to handle humiliation. Peter found himself rebuked by Jesus, and called ‘Satan’ ( Mat_16:23 ). Guilty of denying the Lord three times, after promising complete loyalty to the very end ( Mat_26:35 ; Mat_26:69-75 ). Being called on the carpet by the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem after having baptized the first Gentile converts ( Act_11:2 ). And being rebuke by Paul, after finding himself caught up in playing the role of a hypocrite ( Gal_2:11-13 ). This is truly a man with which we can identify! And yet, this man never gave up. He didn’t become resentful, he didn’t complain that the Church had failed him, he didn’t wallow in self-pity, he didn’t assume a false humility, ‘Why do I even try, I guess you are right-I am no good, I’m just not cut out to live the Christian life, no matter how hard I try---I will still end up lost.’

And how many of us try to excuse ourselves due to some negative personality trait? Are we tempted to feel that something in our genes makes it more difficult for us to live the Christian life---than the next person? In Peter we see the great lesson that genetics is a neutral factor. A personality trait can neither be a help or hindrance. The trait isn’t the issue, it’s how we use the trait. Concerning Peter, the ISBE states, “He was hopeful, bold, confident, courageous, frank, impulsive, energetic, vigorous, strong…It is true that he was liable to change and inconsistency, and because of his peculiar temperament he sometimes appeared forward and rash ( Mat_16:22 ; Luk_8:45 ; Luk_9:33 )..’ (p. 2349) The same outspokenness which landed Peter in trouble, is the same quality which could also glorify God ( Mat_16:16-17 ). Peter’s questions allowed Jesus to give us tremendous teaching on needed subjects ( Mat_17:4 ; Mat_18:21 ; Mat_19:27 ). One of the most impressive things about Peter is his sincere repentance when he sinned ( Mat_26:74 ). God can use imperfect people. And please note that my sins won’t destroy the Church-so long as I sincerely repent when I do sin.

To Whom The Letter Was Written: