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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
1 Peter

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Book Overview - 1 Peter

by Johann Peter Lange

            

THE

EPISTLES GENERAL OF PETER

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by

G. F. C. FRONMÜLLER, Ph. D.

Pastor At Kemnath, Würtemberg

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TRANSLATED FROM THE SECOND REVISED GERMAN EDITION, WITH ADDITIONS ORIGINAL AND SELECTED

by

J. ISIDOR MOMBERT, D. D.

Rector Of St. James’s Church, Lancaster, PA.

THE

FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER

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INTRODUCTION

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§ 1. LIFE AND CHARCTER OF THE APOSTLE

Simon Peter, son of Jonas ( Matthew 16:17; John 1:42; John 21:16), and brother of Andrew ( Matthew 10:2; John 1:41), was born at Bethsaida, a village on the coast of the sea of Galilee ( John 1:44), where in those days many receptive minds were animated by a desire for the advent of the Messiah. He owned a house at Capernaum ( Matthew 8:14; Luke 4:38), was married there, and followed the trade of a fisherman ( Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16; Luke 5:2). Andrew, his brother, a disciple of John the Baptist, who had believed his teacher’s word, “Behold the Lamb of God,” and thereupon had become a disciple of Jesus, told him the glorious discovery he had made, and took him to Jesus. On his first acquaintance with the Searcher of hearts, he received the surname, Cephas, Peter, the man of rock ( John 1:42). This circumstance partly denotes his natural disposition, and partly a prediction of what, on the foundation of that disposition, grace would make of him. His fiery temperament, his quick resoluteness, his fearless courage, and his unreserved candour, were to be purified, glorified and confirmed by his love of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus only could he become a rocky foundation of the church of Christ ( Matthew 16:18). After sundry meetings and preparations, the Lord attached him to the number of his permanent disciples. The miraculous blessing which is recorded in Luke 5:1, etc, and made Peter deeply conscious of his own unworthiness and of our Lord’s exaltation and holiness, was the turning point in his career. His call to the Apostolate is narrated in Matthew 4:18-20; and Luke 5:10-11. In the four catalogues enumerating the twelve apostles, he is invariably named first, Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13. His full resignation to the Lord, and his deeper insight of his Divine Sonship, made him not only share with John and James their Master’s more intimate friendship ( Mark 5:37; Matthew 26:37), but also enjoy a special preference over the rest of the apostles ( Matthew 16:18-19). Every where he appears as first among the apostles, but only as first among equals, placed not above, but on a level with them. (cf. Matthew 18:18; John 20:21; Luke 8:45; Luke 9:32; John 1:42; John 21:15; Acts 1:15; Acts 2:14; Acts 8:14; Acts 10:5; Acts 15:7.) Among the other disciples he was clothed with the dignity of being their spokesman, ( Matthew 16:16; Matthew 26:33; Matthew 17:24,) without thereby having a claim to outward superiority, for all believers were to regard each other as brethren and members under their one head, Christ ( Matthew 23:8; John 13:14). Besides the important and characteristic epochs of his life already mentioned, we have the following: his walking on the sea, which was designed to make him clearly conscious of the value of his own strength, in which he had so much confided ( Matthew 14:29, etc.); his offence at the Passion of Jesus, when he undertook to censure and reprove his Master, while the word of the keys of the kingdom was still ringing in his ears ( Matthew 16:22; Matthew 16:19).—Again, his wish to build tabernacles on the mount of transfiguration ( Matthew 17:4); his believing obedience to a direction which ran wholly counter to reason, occasioned by a question concerning the temple-tribute ( Matthew 17:27); his inquiry as to the reward flowing from his following Christ ( Matthew 19:27); his refusal to allow Jesus to wash his feet, hastily followed by the opposite extreme, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” ( John 13:8, etc.); his promise to go with the loved Master into prison and death; his asseveration rather to die than deny his Lord [ Matthew 26:35], arising from reliance on his own strength and disregard of the words of Jesus, followed by the deep fall of his threefold denial ( Matthew 26:31-35; Matthew 26:58; Matthew 26:69, etc.). The wilful defence of his Master with the sword ( John 18:10-11); his tearful repentance after meeting the look of Jesus ( Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72); his hurrying forth to the tomb of the risen Saviour, who had appeared to him before the other disciples ( Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5); the loving zeal with which he anticipated the others in greeting the Master on the shore of the lake ( John 21:7), where Jesus foretold him his destiny ( John 21:18, etc.); his reply to the Redeemer’s question, “Lovest thou me?” and his restoration to the pastoral office by the charge, “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” ( John 21:15, etc.)

In the first twelve chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, Peter appears as the chief organ of the Church at Jerusalem. ( Acts 1:15; Acts 2:14). He is the spokesman of the other Apostles on the day of Pentecost, and preaches a mighty sermon on repentance, which pierces the hearts of three thousand hearers like a fiery arrow. He multiplies the number of believers both by the working of miracles, and the victorious power of the Gospel. ( Acts 3:4; Acts 5:15; Acts 9:34; Acts 9:40). He deems it joy to endure the ignominy of Christ; and suffers neither threatenings nor ill treatment to make him falter in confessing the name of Jesus. ( Acts 4:8; Acts 5:29). He joins John in carrying the Gospel to Samaria ( Acts 8:14), and the coast regions of the Mediterranean. ( Acts 10:23). He is the first Apostle, who, in consequence of a vision with which he was honoured, received Gentiles into communion of the Christian Church. ( Acts 10:34). He defends this measure against the reproaches of the Jewish Christians, and protects the Gentile Christians from the heavy yoke of the Mosaic Law. ( Acts 11:1, etc.; Acts 15:7, etc.). If, under the impulse of the moment, he was carried away into a course of action which contradicted those principles ( Galatians 2:12), he suffered himself by the correction of Paul the Apostle, to abandon the transient wavering of the new position he had taken. After the beheading of James the Apostle, Herod Agrippa cast Peter into prison, whence he was miraculously delivered by an angel. ( Acts 12:1). After a brief absence, ( Acts 12:17), subsequent to the death of his enemy, he reappears at Jerusalem ( Acts 15:7) and declares, with a view to settling the dispute between the Jewish and Gentile Christians, that circumcision and the observance of the ceremonial law ought not to be exacted as necessary to the justification and salvation of believers. This event falls into the year50 A. D. Since, in the subsequent account of the transactions at Jerusalem, recorded in the book of Acts, Peter ceases to be mentioned, we may conclude that his subsequent sphere of labour had called him away from there. His abode at Antioch, and the incident already mentioned above, belongs to the time from A. D 52 to54 ( Galatians 2:11-14). It is clear, from 1 Corinthians 9:5, that Peter undertook various journeys for the spread of the kingdom of God. According to an ancient tradition in Origen, which originated probably in the title of his first Epistle, Peter is said to have preached the Gospel to the Jews scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and Bithynia. He appears for some time to have had his sphere of labour in the Parthian empire, since he sends salutations from his co-elected at Babylon ( 1 Peter 5:13), which is probably not to be understood of Rome, but of Babylon, in Chaldea. Many Jews were dispersed there, and Christianity was early diffused in those regions. According to Dionysius of Corinth, who wrote in the second half of the second century, and according to Irenæus and Eusebius, Peter and Paul are said to have been together at Rome, and to have conjointly founded the Church at that place; Eusebius narrates that the two Apostles had shared a common martyrdom there; Peter was crucified with his head downwards. The fourteenth year of the reign of Nero, from the middle of October, A. D67, to the middle of A. D68, is mentioned as the year of the Apostle’s death. Tertullian and Lactantius also report the common execution of the two Apostles, whose tombs were shown at Rome as early as the end of the second century. See Winer s. v. Petrus. The most ancient witness for the Apostle’s stay at Rome, is Papias, who refers to John (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. iii39; ii15). With these early testimonies to support us, we refuse being misled by the critics (Spanheim, Baur, Schwegler, and others), who dispute Peter’s stay at Rome. With reference to the Apostle’s sphere of labour, we have still to mention the circumstance that, (as we learn from Galatians 2:9), Paul and the pillars among the first Apostles gave to each other the right hand of fellowship at the apostolic council of Jerusalem, in token that Paul would recognize as his peculiar vocation, and carry out the mission among the Gentiles, while they would act in like manner with regard to the mission among the Jews. Peter is particularly named, as having had confided to him the Gospel of the circumcision ( Galatians 2:7-8), for which he would seem to have been peculiarly fitted, on account of the national peculiarities which were so strongly stamped upon his character. Of him, as the Apostle of the circumcision, it may consequently be presupposed that he would move much on the foundation of the Old Testament, that he would set his testimony of Christ and the salvation that is in Him in the light of the Old Testament, and that he would lay stress on the oneness of both Testaments; while, as the immediate disciple of our Lord, as the witness of His entire ministerial activity and history, and as His favourite Apostle, he would often refer to the words of that beloved Master to whom he was so ardently and devotedly attached. We shall see whether the event confirms these pre-suppositions.

§ 2. SCOPE OF THE EPISTLE

“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” Luke 22:32. Acting on this, his Master’s charge, Peter wrote to the strangers of the dispersion. He indicates the design of his writing himself, in 1 Peter 5:12 : “I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God, wherein ye stand.” They were already converted, believing Christians, who needed not so much a testimony that laid the foundation, as one that was edifying and confirmative (ἐπιμαρτυρεῖν), who required comfort in their tribulation and encouragements to a holy life. The sifting period of believers had partly come already, and was partly approaching; the roaring of the lion that threatened to devour the faithful, was already heard. On this account, the Apostle abounds in exhortations to vigilance and soberness, to right preparation and readiness, to fidelity in confession and life, and endeavours to cast the bright beams of hope of the approaching day of glory into the night of suffering they were about to encounter. He would have them triumph over the sufferings of this present time, with a stedfast look on Christ and their heavenly inheritance. The testimony of Christ is richly interwoven with such repeated encouragements. The sequel will show that Dogmatics and Ethics do not occur separately in this Epistle, but are often directly conjoined, and frequently present a quick, even a bold transition from the one to the other. (cf. 1 Peter 2:21, etc.; 1 Peter 3:18, etc.; 1 Peter 4:1, etc.).

§ 3. CONTENTS AND ANALYSIS OF THE EPISTLE

The Title and Salutation of consolation ( 1 Peter 1:1-2), is followed by the exordium, as basis of the argument ( 1 Peter 1:3-12), gratitude for God’s saving grace to Christians. The hope of the heavenly inheritance, prepared for them by Christ, should raise them above all temporal suffering. They might measure the greatness of their salvation by the fact that it had been the object of the anxious longing, and diligent search of the prophets, and that even the blessed angels of heaven were looking with profound admiration on this mystery. The entire subsequent contents of the Epistle rest and move on the basis of their possession of salvation and hope. With reference to the state of regeneration, which is presupposed in believers, exhortation and consolation [παραίνεσις and παράκλησις.—M.], appear as leading tendencies from 1 Peter 1:13, onwards. The first part of the Epistle comprises 1 Peter 1:13 to 1 Peter 2:10. The general exhortation to become ever more firmly grounded in hope, and on that account, also, in a holy conversation, 1 Peter 1:14-16, to walk in the fear of God, 1 Peter 1:17-21, to persevere in brotherly love, 1 Peter 1:22-25, which is again founded on regeneration, 1 Peter 1:23. The same idea governs the exhortation to grow in the new life, wherein they stand, and to remove whatever hinders or destroys that growth, and more particularly the love of the brethren, 1 Peter 2:1-3. Whereas that growth is designed to be not only individual, but contemplates the founding of a holy people of God, it is followed by a description of the glory of the Divine edifice, into which they were to suffer themselves to be builded more and more. ( 1 Peter 2:4-10). At 1 Peter 2:11, the apostle passes to the second part, which continues to 1 Peter 4:6. It contains particular exhortations to Christians, adapted to the circumstances in which they were then placed. As strangers, they should be so much the more dutiful to authority. ( 1 Peter 2:13-17). Servants were, with constant regard to the example of Christ, to exhibit self-denying obedience to their masters. ( 1 Peter 2:18-25). Wives should be subject to their husbands in simplicity, quietness, and meekness ( 1 Peter 3:1-6); while husbands were to treat their wives with consideration and affection. ( 1 Peter 3:7). Then follows an exhortation addressed to all to the practice of mutual affection and brotherly kindness, and of patience and gentleness toward unbelievers. ( 1 Peter 3:8 to 1 Peter 4:6). The exhortation is enforced by the consideration of the example of Christ, His sufferings and death, His descent into the nether world, His resurrection and ascension. ( 1 Peter 3:17-22). From Christ’s suffering for us is derived the double duty of patient endurance and of being dead unto sin. They were not to endeavour to avoid suffering, by joining in the vicious practices of the Gentiles, else they would, with them, be exposed to the judgment of God. ( 1 Peter 4:1-6). The third part ( 1 Peter 4:71 Peter 5:11), treats first of the inward union of Christians in the world, without regard to their relations to unbelievers. In view of the end of all things, the Apostle exhorts Christians to prayer, to brotherly love and its exhibitions, to an obliging disposition, and to conscientiousness in the administration of offices of trust. In the second section of this part of the Epistle, we have a new exhortation to readiness of enduring afflictions, which treats the matter from a point of view different from 1 Peter 2:21, etc.; 1 Peter 3:14, etc, and affords proof that this was the main object contemplated in this Epistle. They were to regard suffering as necessary to the imitation of Christ, as a refining process, and as a judgment by which the Church of Christ must be sifted according to indispensable laws of the kingdom of heaven. ( 1 Peter 4:12-19). In the third section, the Apostle addresses the elders in particular, exhorting them rightly to feed the flock of Christ, and to be ensamples to the flock ( 1 Peter 5:1-4); then the younger to submit themselves to the elder ( 1 Peter 5:5), and lastly, he entreats all to cleave to humility, meekly to bow under the hand of God, to remain in the faith, to be vigilant, and firmly to resist the devil ( 1 Peter 5:5-9). The conclusion contains a promise full of strong consolation, a remark on the design of his writing, with salutations and the benediction.

§ 4. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EPISTLE

Luther justly designates the Epistle of St. Peter as one of the most noble of the New Testatament. It exhibits a wealth of thought, a dignity, a fervour, a humility and love, a believing hope, a readiness for the advent of Christ, in exact harmony with the individuality of the Apostle. His conception of Christianity as the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament ( 1 Peter 1:10-12), in perfect agreement with his speeches in the book of Acts ( 1 Peter 3:18-22), his treatment of Christians as those in whom is realized the idea of the theocratic nation ( 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 5:4-5), and his uniform plan of tracing back his doctrine of the Person and work of Christ to the Old Testament, show him as the Apostle of the circumcision, whose sphere of labour lay among the Jews, who viewed the Gospel chiefly from the side of its oneness with the Old Covenant. His numerous references to the sayings of our Lord, which will be authenticated below, prove him to have been the ear-witness of the words of Jesus, to whom his soul was attached with the fullest devotion and resignation. The description of Paul, as the Apostle, of faith, of John as the Apostle of love, and of Peter as the Apostle of hope, may easily be misunderstood, but it is well-founded, if regarded as indicative of the predominant aim of their respective writings. Weiss has well shown that with Peter hope occupies a central position, that it governs the range of his thoughts, and gives it a peculiar, distinctive impress. Compare particularly 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:9; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 3:9-15; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:4. It is seen throughout the Epistle that his eye is firmly fixed upon the coming of Christ and the glory in store for believers. This agrees perfectly with the quick and fiery character of Peter, and has been interestingly developed by Weiss. “His natural tendency to look forward to the end of perfection, and to anticipate it at least ideally, was, in the Apostle, glorified and refined into Christian hope by the influence of the Holy Ghost.” With respect to manner of statement, it Isaiah, its great simplicity notwithstanding, very pregnant. forcible and lively; sentences and thoughts are manifoldly intertwined and connected by participial constructions, while sudden and abrupt transitions, which are of frequent occurrence, reflect the Apostle’s mind. His mode of doctrinal statements concerning Christ and sin, is not as fully developed as in Paul, and lacks the fundamental views which are peculiar to the latter (e. g. concerning the believer’s communion of life with Christ, concerning the sinner’s justification by faith in the merits of Jesus), but their germs and beginnings are unmistakable in the Epistle. (Cf. Schmid, Bibl. Theology and Weiss). The latter, after a careful examination of the degree of affinity between the Epistles of Peter and Paul, arrives at the conclusion that Peter’s language and mode of instruction are wholly independent of Paul, and rich in exclusive peculiarities, that they contain not less than sixty ἅπαξ λεγόμενα. Of the parallel passages in the Epistle to the Romans, and the First Epistle of Peter, he says that they can by no means be considered accidental; that while it must be assumed that the one had read and freely used the other’s Epistle, it seems more probable that Paul had read the First Epistle of Peter, when he wrote the Romans, than the reverse. The most important passages to be considered in this respect are:— Romans 12:3-8, 1 Peter 4:10; Romans 12:9-13, 1 Peter 1:22; Romans 12:10, 1 Peter 2:17; Romans 12:14, etc, 1 Peter 3:8-12; Romans 13:1-6, 1 Peter 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:17; Romans 13:11-12, 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 2:9; that the originality belongs to Peter. The same remarks apply to the correspondencies between Ephesians and 1 Peter. Compare 1 Peter 1:3, Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 2:18-20, Ephesians 6:5-9; 1 Peter 3:1-7, Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 1:1, Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 5:3, Ephesians 1:11; 1 Peter 1:1, Ephesians 1:18; 1 Peter 3:5, Ephesians 1:12; 1 Peter 1:5, Ephesians 1:19; 1 Peter 3:22, Ephesians 1:20-21; 1 Peter 1:14-15, Ephesians 2:3; 1 Peter 1:18, Ephesians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 2:18; 1 Peter 2:5-6, Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:2, Ephesians 2:21; 1 Peter 1:12, Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:15, Ephesians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10, Ephesians 4:7; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6, Ephesians 4:8-10; 1 Peter 1:14-19, Ephesians 4:17-24; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16; 1 Peter 4:14, Ephesians 4:25-32; 1 Peter 4:3, Ephesians 5:5; 1 Peter 5:5, Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:18, Ephesians 6:5-9; 1 Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 6:10-20. “In all those passages,” says Weiss, “which render a critical opinion possible, all goes in favour of the dependence of the Epistle to the Ephesians.” A writer in the German Magazine for Christian Science and Christian Life, objects to the foregoing conclusion, particularly in regard of the Epistle to the Romans, and remarks on Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5, that the Pauline figure is more lucid and simple, and on that account more original; that the same is true of Romans 12:3-8; cf. 1 Peter 4:10. Also Romans 12:14-19; cf. 1 Peter 3:8-12; and Romans 13:1-6; cf. 1 Peter 2:13, favour the originality of Paul. Romans 9:33 also seems to be original, cf. 1 Peter 2:6. The problem must be regarded as unsolved. There are only a few passages in the Epistle of James resembling those in St. Peter, e. g. James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6; James 1:10; James 4:6-7; James 4:10; 1 Peter 1:24; 1 Peter 5:5. Some of them contain quotations from the Old Testament; there is only one passage ( James 4:7; James 4:10) which renders a relationship to 1 Peter 5:8, etc, probable. Peter may have read and made free use of the Epistle of James.

§ 5. READERS OF THE EPISTLE

The believers, to whom the Epistle is addressed ( 1 Peter 1:1), were scattered over almost the entire peninsula of Asia Minor. The ancient fathers, with the exception of Augustine and Cassiodorus, thought that the ἐκλεκτοῖς related to Jewish Christians. This opinion was prevalent until modern times: several commentators added only the modification that those Churches contained also Gentile Christians, who were, however, in the minority. On the other hand, Steiger, followed by Wiesinger, tried to prove, in his commentary, that the majority in those churches were, at all events, Gentiles. Weiss produces, however, convincing arguments that the Epistle was intended for Jewish Christians; he justly affirms:

a. That διασπορά ( 1 Peter 1:1) is a terminus technicus, and denotes the totality of Jews outside of Palestine, scattered through heathen countries ( James 1:1; 2 Maccabees 1:27; Judith 5:19), and cannot be taken metaphorically.

b. That the Epistle is entirely permeated by views taken from the Old Testament; it contains numerous Old Testament figures and termini technici, allusions to the religious institutions and the history of the Old Covenant. Compare 1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 Peter 3:5-6; 1 Peter 3:20. Peter frequently intertwines quotations from the Old Testament into his language, without designating them as such, and mostly in connections where it is of essential importance that they should be recognized as Scripture ( 1 Peter 1:24; 1 Peter 2:7; 1 Peter 2:9-10, and other passages). No portion of the New Testament is so thoroughly interwoven with quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. (It contains, in105 verses, twenty-three quotations, while the Epistle to the Ephesians has only seven, and that to the Galatians, only thirteen).

c. That this peculiarity agrees entirely with the fact that it was Peter’s vocation to be the Apostle of the circumcision. The mode of speech which he took from the Old Testament, must have particularly recommended him to Jewish Christians. The passages quoted in favour of Gentile Christians, prove just the opposite, e. g. 1 Peter 3:6; 1 Peter 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 2:9-10. See the Commentary on these passages. The same holds good of 1 Peter 4:3. It would be curious, indeed, that Peter should reproach former Gentiles with having done the will of the Gentiles. The expression ἀθεμίτοις εἰδωλολατρείαις only seems to relate to Gentiles; but this presents no obstacle on the supposition that those Churches contained individual Gentile Christians. The Jewish Christians formed, doubtless, the substance and main stem of those Churches (cf. Acts 2:9; Acts 11:19), until after the third missionary journey of the Apostle, the element of Gentile Christians became more important in those parts of Asia Minor. (Weiss, p115, 116).

§ 6. GENUINENESS OF THE EPISTLE

1 Peter 4:17 ought to convince the most undecided that the Epistle was written, at all events, before the destruction of Jerusalem. This is equally evident from the entire presupposed historical situation of the Epistle. Peter describes himself as the author at 1 Peter 1:1; and as witness of the sufferings of Christ, 1 Peter 5:1; this is confirmed by the affinity which exists between the Epistle and Peter’s speeches in the book of Acts (cf. Acts 2:32; Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:10, etc.; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4), and by the testimony of 2 Peter 3:1, even if the second Epistle were not genuine. The author’s apostolic consciousness is involuntarily expressed in passages like 1 Peter 1:8, in the historical testimony of Jesus, and its application as an exemplar ( 1 Peter 2:21, etc.; 1 Peter 3:18, etc.). We have seen above that the contents and mode of statement agree with the Apostle’s portrait. Guerike calls particular attention to the harmony between the tone of the Epistle and the sensuousness which is characteristic in Peter: “Peter knew, indeed, from his own experience; better than any other, the weakness of the heart of man; for this reason his exhortations are both humane and evangelical, both forcible and gentle; for the same reason he recommends, with so much earnestness, the practice of constancy of faith, in humility and patience, with constant reference to the pattern and glory of Christ; this accounts also for his earnest exhortation to diligent vigilance, in precise proportion to the exalted condition of believers, and especially for his touching and repeated recommendation of humility.” The same author notices the only slight intimation of Peter’s acknowledging Paul as a true Apostle ( 1 Peter 5:12), the suppression of all personality and marked designedness with respect to his agreement with the Apostle of the Gentiles, and, lastly, the clearness, precision, and emphasis of Peter’s language. The most weighty external reasons support the genuineness of this Epistle. Eusebius testifies that the Epistle was used by Papias and Polycarp. Several passages in Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians confirm the testimony of Eusebius. Theodotus, the Valentinian, after the middle of the second century, cites passages from the Epistle (Clem. Alex. ἐκ τῶν Θεοδότου ἐπιτομαί). Express testimony in favour of its genuineness, is found in Irenæus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. The Epistle stood already in the Old Syriac Peshito, and Eusebius mentions it among the Homologoumena. The new school of Tübingen, which rejects this Epistle on internal grounds, because it does not correspond with its premises, Isaiah, therefore, guilty of the most arbitrary hypercriticism. “Among all the writers of Christian Antiquity, there is not one who doubted the genuineness of the Epistle, or had even heard of any doubts concerning it.” (Olshausen).

§ 7. DATE OF THE COMPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE

Many circumstances in the Epistle refer its composition to an early date—e. g., the newness of the afflictions which the Churches had to endure, consisting less in persecution than in reproaches ( 1 Peter 3:16; 1 Peter 4:12; 1 Peter 4:14); the astonishment of the Gentiles at the Christians abandoning their sinful practices ( 1 Peter 4:4); the expectation that the Gentiles, on becoming better acquainted with the good conversation of Christians, would relinquish their enmity, which was founded on ignorance ( 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16). To this must be added the as yet undeveloped state of the constitution of the Church, in which the office of presbyter did apparently coincide with the free office of the elders of the Jewish congregation, which may be gleaned from the circumstances that the πρεσβύτεροι of 1 Peter 5:1, are contrasted with the νεώτεροι of 1 Peter 5:5, while there is made no mention of any other ecclesiastical office; and again the predominance of the Jewish Christians in these Churches (see above), and especially the absence of an antithesis between legalism and true Christianity, beyond the slight allusion at 1 Peter 5:2, must not be overlooked. Weiss, moreover, adduces, in this respect, the whole Petrine form of doctrine, which he regards as preliminary to the Pauline, as well as the peculiar freshness and energy of hope of the impending parousia of Christ. With regard to the latter, we must, in addition to the other reasons for the early composition of this Epistle, lay special emphasis on the circumstance, that it contains no allusion to a twofold parousia, such as we find in the synoptical Gospels and the Revelation of St. John (v. pp97,53). On the supposition that Paul made use of the Epistle of Peter, and not the reverse (that Peter had seen the Epistle of Paul), and considering that Sylvanus was in53 A. D, still with Paul ( Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), Weiss argues that the Epistle could hardly have been written before A. D54. Since Paul made his third missionary journey between54,57 A. D, when he passed through Galatia and Phrygia, and remained two years at Ephesus, where he wrote the Epistle to the Galatians, the date of the composition of this Epistle would fall into 54 or55 A. D. Assuming, on the other hand, with the majority of commentators, that Peter had seen and made use of the Epistles of Paul, its date would belong to a much later period. Since, according to Hug and de Wette, 63–65 A. D. is the date of the Epistle to the Ephesians; the period65–67, the year of Peter’s death, would be the date of the present Epistle. Thiersch gives the date 63 or64 A. D, soon after the Epistle to the Hebrews had been forwarded. If it be objected to the date assigned by Weiss, as has been done by Wiesinger: Where did the Jewish Christian Churches, in Pontus, etc, come from as early as 54 or55 A. D.? the answer should refer not only to Acts 2:9, but also to Acts 11:19, where mention is made of the wide dispersion of those who fled “in the persecution that arose about Stephen.” Paul had, as early as45,51 A. D, visited those districts during his first and second missionary journeys. The First Epistle of Peter has no record of Churches already organized, but makes mention of elect strangers of the dispersion.

§ 8. LITERATURE

Especially noteworthy are: Luther, Exposition of the First Epistle of St. Peter, 1523.—Calvini Commentarii in omnes N. T. epistolas.—Gerhardi Comm. super priorem et posteriorem D. Petri epistolam, Jena, 1641.—Calovii Biblia illustrata.—W. Steiger, The First Epistle of Peter, 1832.—Huther, in Meyer’s Critico-exegetical Comment. of the N. T., 1852 2d ed1859.]—Brückner’s Revision of De Wette’s Commentary, 1853.—Wiesinger, in the continuation of Olshausen’s Commentary, 1856 3d ed1865].—Weiss, der Petrinische Lehrbegriff, 1856.

Among the older practical works on this Epistle, we mention, besides, Bengel’s Gnomon, Roos, Brief Explanation of the two Epistles of Peter, 1798; H. Rieger’s Contemplations on the New Testament.

Among the more modern, W. F. Besser’s Epistles of St. Peter Explained to Bible Classes, 1854, deserves special attention.

[Among British authors, Archbishop Leighton on the First Epistle of Peter, 2vols 8 vo, in various editions, and Dr. John Brown’s Expository Lectures on the First Epistle of Peter, New York, Carters’, will be found most valuable, to which may be added the following:—

1. The General Commentaries on the whole Scriptures, by Poole, Henry, Goadby, S. Clark, Scott, A. Clark, Mant, and D’Oyley; and on the New Testament by Hammond, Whitby, Guyse, Wells, Doddridge, Gilpin, Bloomfield, Alford, and Wordsworth.

2. Commentaries and other works on the Apostolical Epistles, the Catholic Epistles, and the Epistle of St. Peter.

a. An Exposition of all St. Paul’s Epistles, together with an Explanation of those other Epistles of the Apostles St. James, Peter, John, and Jude, by David Dickson, Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow. Folio. London, 1659.

b. A Paraphrase and Notes on the Seven (commonly called) Catholic Epistles, attempted in imitation of Mr. Locke’s manner; to which are annexed several Critical Dissertations, by George Benson, D. D 4 to. London, 1756.

c. A New Literal Translation from the Original Greek, of all the Apostolical Epistles; with a Commentary and Notes, philological, critical, explanatory, and practical, by James Macknight, D. D 4 vols4to. Edinb, 1795.

d. Sermons on the First Epistle General of Saint Peter, by Nicholas Byfield. Folio. London, 1637.

e. A Brief Exposition of the First and Second Epistles General of St. Peter, by Alexander Nisbet, Minister at Irwin 12 mo. London, 1658.

In German.

Joachim Lange, Mosaisches Licht und Recht. Halle, 1734.

In French.

Paraphrase sur les Epistres Catholiques, par Moyse Amyraut 8 vo. Saumur, 1646.

In Latin.

a. Particularly the Annotata in the Critici Sacri.

b. In priorem B. Petri Apost. Canonicam Epistolam, eruditissimus Commentarius. Auctore D. Joanne Hesselio Regis Lovanii Professore. 8vo. Lovanii1658.

c. Epistolarum Cath. Septem. Græce, cum nova versione Latina ac scholiis grammaticis et criticis, opera Jo. B. Carpzovii 8 vo. Folio. Halæ, 1790.

d. D. Sam. Fred. Nath. Mori Prælectiones in Jacobi et Petri Epist. 8vo. Lipsiæ, 1794.

e. Versio Latina Epistolarum, etc., perpetua annotatione illustrata a Godf. Sigism. Jaspis. ii. tom 8 vo. Lipsiæ, 1797.

f. S. Apost. Petri Ep. Cath. prior, perpetuo Comm. explicata, etc, per Jacobum Laurentium 4 to. Campis, 1640.

g. D. Jo. Sal. Semleri Paraphrasis in Ephesians 2 Petri et Judæ, etc. 12mo. Halæ, 1784. Idem: Paraphrasis in Ephesians 1 Petri. Halæ, 1783.

Besides many others of minor account.—M.]

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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