1 Peter: Lesson 4: It’s All About Jesus

Intro

Last week, we saw Peter focus on “the futile ways inherited from [the ethnic Jewish Christians’] forefathers”—their Jewish work-righteous thinking.  So, we found Peter establish a pattern.  First, he sets up one’s righteous standing before God by what someone does.  Next, he destroys such foolish thinking by what showing what God does.  Two times, he did this.  Will he do so a third?

Love

So, Peter continues with 1 Peter 1:22 as a continuing part of 1:21.

Read 1 Peter 1:22a (through “brotherly love”)

… so your faith and hope are in God, your souls purifying by obedience of the truth in an unhypocritical, brotherly love …

  • What may Peter be implying about how one’s soul (here used in the Jewish way to mean “your entire being”) is purified?
  • Contrary to what the ESV translation, why doesn’t Peter write “your obedience” but “obedience”?

Peter taps into Jeremiah 6:16 from the Septuagint.

Jeremiah 6:16, Hebrew Masoretic Text Jeremiah 6:16, Septuagint
Thus says the Lord [Yahweh]:      “Stand by the roads, and look,        and ask for the ancient paths,    where the good way is; and walk in it,        and find rest [margoa] for your souls.    But they said, “We will not walk in it.’” Thus says the Lord [Kyrios]:      “Stand in the ways and see,        and ask about the eternal paths of the Lord,      and see what the good way is and walk in it,           and find purification [hagnismos] for your souls.      But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

This purification is the result of being the people of God, from the rest He gives to His people.  Of course, this does involve walking in the ways of God, but ancient Israel did do.  In the early New-Testament Church, we find the phrase, “having purified your souls” referring to baptism (J.N.D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and Jude [London: A& C Black, 1969]).  If this is so, don’t be surprised if Peter will use baptismal language.

Read 1 Peter 1:22b

Though Peter’s commands are often lost in our translations (with many non-commands coming across as commands), he now gives his third command.  The first two were: hope fully in God’s grace (1:13) and be holy (1:15).  Now, he commands them to “love.”

  • How is the Christian to love?
  • Thus, the Christian’s ability to love comes from what?

Though “purifying” (“your souls purifying”) is an active participle, the overall flow of thought is passive.  So, purity is not an end in itself, for “purify” is not the imperative verb, a command.  Instead, “purifying” connects to something else—one’s ability to love.

Now, if the first hearers are thinking in a work-righteous way, they will understand Peter’s words to mean “your obedience.”  They will think they need to purify their entire beings, which will enable them to love.  If one receives this verse in the way of the Gospel, the overall passive flow of thought will transport them toward something else—that which will enable them to love.

So, whatever awaits them should either chop down one’s self-righteousness thinking or further affirm the work of God.  Peter’s vagueness is brilliant, recognizing his audience and playing into their thinking to reinforce his message.

Read 1 Peter 1:23

“since you have been born again”: This is one verb in the Greek, anagennao, a passive participle, “being reborn.”

  • If the imagery of birth isn’t clear enough, what does Peter do by the passive “being reborn”? 

“reborn, not of perishable seed but of imperishable”: Greek, spora (where we get our word “spore”).  Spora only occurs here the New Testament.  The most common word for “seed” is sperma, where we get our word “sperm.” 

Peter chooses this less-common word to focus on the process of sowing, how the imperishable seed is planted within the Christian.  Peter will bring this home in a bit when he chooses to use another word that focuses on “how” something comes about.

  • In other words, who is responsible for this rebirth and what is its influence on the Christian’s ability to love?
  • How then did God cause this rebirth?

In this section, Peter repeats what he taught in the beginning of his letter: One’s rebirth is a gift of God’s mercy through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead into a living hope (1:3).

  • Since the word of God is living and abiding, what does this mean about the rebirth God brings about through this word?

Read 1 Peter 1:24-25a (to the end of the Isaiah quote)

Isaiah 40:6-8, Hebrew Masoretic Text Isaiah 40:6-8, Greek Septuagint
“All flesh is grass,     and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower droops     when the breath of the Lord [Yahweh] blows on it;     surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower droops,     but the word [davar] of our God [Elohim] stands forever. “All flesh is grass     and all man’s glory, like the flower of grass.       The grass withers, and the flower falls away,     but the word [rhema] of our God [Theos] remains into the ages.”
  • How does Peter’s quotation of Isaiah 40:6-8 affirm what he just said?

“the living and abiding word of Godand “the word of the Lord remains forever”: Peter doesn’t simply use this passage to reinforce his point; he further specifies and clarifies.  Peter switches Theos (God) in the Septuagint to Kyrios (the Lord), refining further who “the Word” is: Jesus.  By using this quote, Peter also switches from logos, a general term for “word” to rhema, which focusing on how the Word comes to us—through speaking. 

So how is the imperishable Seed planted within someone?  Through the spoken Word of the Lord, Jesus.

  • How does Peter explicitly affirm all he alluded to earlier, about “souls purifying by obedience of the truth”?

Read 1 Peter 1:25b

this word: “the rhema,” emphasizing the spoken nature of how “the Word” came to them.

“the good news that was preached to you”: “the good news that was preached” is one verb, which is the “good news” coming to another.  It could mean preached, delivered, brought.  Here Peter means delivered.  Why?  Because the Word (the Lord Jesus) was delivered “into you”: the accusative form (eis) denotes movement from one place to another.

  • So when and how did the enduring Word, which came through spoken words, deliver Jesus into them, causing them to be reborn?

Peter wrote of how God is at work:

  • “for you” in 1 Peter 1:4 and 10,
  • “through you” in vs. 20, and
  • “into you” in vs. 25.

Peter reinforces the above “yous” by a further repetition of “you” in vs. 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, and 22.  With so many repeated pronouns, he builds up the identity of his epistle’s recipients.  Thus, who they are in Christ, their identity, is a needed component for them to do what he commands.

Crave

Peter just explained the Christian’s new life is planted within them by God’s Word, Jesus, spoken and delivered to them, and is characterized by love.  Now, Peter unpacks the need to stay alive in Christ.  Again, he starts with participle.  “… the good news that was delivered into you, putting away all…”

Read 1 Peter 2:1

“putting away”: Greek, apotithemi, this is word used for taking off your clothes.

  • By starting with a participle, the “putting away” Peter mentions is a result of what?

“putting away all malice: Greek, singular, kakia: practices, a general ill will contrary to the expected standards of behavior.

“all deceit: Greek, singular, dolos: This deals more with a sinful internal attitude.

Peter now switches to plural nouns.  His singular nouns are more general; the plurals are more specific.  This is the difference between sin, in general, and the specific sins someone may commit.  What Peter mentions in the plural may be the sins he is aware of taking place among the recipients of his epistle.

“hypocrisy”: Greek, plural, hupokrisis: A specific form of deceit, an attitude of pretense and phoniness.

“envy”: Greek, plural, phthonos: A specific form of deceit, an attitude of jealousy about another.

“slander”: Greek, plural, katalalia: A specific form of ill will, verbally insulting others to inflict harm.

Here Peter understands to whom he is writing.  Typical of the Asiatic style of Greek, he piles up the conjunctions to intensify the effect of what he says: “putting away all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envies and all slanders.”

Read 1 Peter 2:2 (through infants)

  • Peter is using the imagery of a Christians being like “newborn infants.”  Everyone knows “newborn infants” can’t take garments on and off, or vices on or off like garments.  So, what’s the point?

Now comes Peter’s fourth command.

Read all of 1 Peter 2:2

  • What are Christians commanded to do? 

“long”: Greek, imperative, epipotheo: crave, yearn for, desire.  Though this is not the word for “hunger,” the context can allow for such a translation.

  • Why?  What does the “pure spiritual milk” do?

“spiritual”: Greek, logikon.  A form of logos, which is the word for “word.”  The ESV translators understand Peter’s usage as metaphorical and so make a metaphorical translation.  Hence, they use “spiritual,” though logikon itself has little to do with being spiritual (pneumatikos).  If one, however, taps into the wordplay of Peter to understand what he is teaching, then “worded” can do this.

Read 1 Peter 2:3

Peter links what he is teaching back to Psalm 34:8: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”  Not only does Peter use Asiatic Greek, he also uses a pattern of quotes and allusions from the Septuagint to reinforce his arguments.  A useful tactic to persuade and sway ethnic Jews who are Christian.

But consider Peter sneaking in another use of “wordplay.”  The word for “good” is chrestos, which when heard in Greek sounds almost exactly to Christos (Christ).  With all his talk of God, even switching an Old Testament text from God to “the Lord,” meaning Christ, he now he uses a Psalm where “good” can easily be heard as “Christ.”

  • Where does one taste and see Christ, where one receives the “worded milk” to grow in salvation?

The Two Levels of the Logos: The More Probable

reborn, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Logos of God = Baptism As newborn infants, long for the logikon milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation = Lord’s Supper

The Two Levels of the Logos: The Less Probable

reborn, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Logos of God = the preached Word As newborn infants, long for the logikon milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation = the preached Word   This is a much weaker possible meaning.  If Peter meant this, he should have used “to gala tou logou,” the milk of the word, not “logikon… gala.”

Link to next Lesson.

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