Sunday, January 27, 2013

Collecting Confidence Part I


Series:  Profiting From Peter
A Challenge to Joyful Steadfastness

Title:  Collecting Confidence  Part I

Text:  I Peter 1:1a

Theme:  Introduction and overview 

Thesis:  This is a general introduction to this letter  

Target:  

1)  To present a basic overview of the author, audience, age, argument, and aim of Peter

2)  To provide confidence in the veracity and validity of this epistle

3)  To promote the glorious character of our majestic God

Persecution can produce spiritual maturity or bitterness in a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is no secret that response determines the result. Peter writes a warm and pastoral letter to the members of a number of congregations made up of both Jews and Gentiles. These believers are struggling as they experience bitter persecution. Peter challenges these believers (as well as you and I) to conduct themselves courageously and to remain resolute and steadfast for Jesus Chris.

Peter reminds them that irregardless of their circumstances their character and conduct must be above reproach. Peter reminds them that having been born from above to a living hope they are to imitate Jesus Christ.

The fruit of that character will be Christlike conduct that is rooted in their salvation, their sanctification, their selection, their submission, and even in their suffering. Peter even informs them that they should not be surprised or overwhelmed by suffering. [He writes to them...]

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing has happened to you, but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." (I Peter 4:12, NKJV)

This response, this challenge for this kind of steadfastness is truly the climax of a believer's complete submission to the good hands of a sovereign God.

[Listen to what some have said concerning this beloved letter of Peter...]

E. F. Scott - "one of the most beautiful writings in the New Testament."

William Barclay - "it is one of the easiest letters in the New Testament to read, for it has never lost its winsome appeal to the human heart."

Edwin Selwyn - "a microcosm of Christian faith and duty, the model of a pastoral charge

Von Soden - "this short, impressive letter as one of the most precious monuments of primitive Christianity, a jewel of the New Testament worthy to be inscribed with the name of the great apostle."

D. Edmond Hiebert - "it exultantly proclaims the Christ-centered hope of the believer in the midst of an unbelieving and antagonistic world. It contains some of the most vivid expressions of Christian hope, ennobling ethical admonitions and challenges to courage in suffering to be found in the New Testament. As such First Peter may appropriately be designated 'the epistle of the living hope,' for it breathes a spirit of undaunted courage and exhibits as noble a type of piety as can be found in any writing of the New Testament outside of the gospels...down through the ages the persecuted church has always treasured it as a priceless possession."

After, hearing such wonderful thoughts and sentiments about this short letter, it beckons and behooves us to examine it closely. In order to fully appreciate this letter and to properly interpret it in order to properly and profitably apply the implications of this letter, we need to introduce it.

Any good and valuable introduction to any Scripture will have at least seven (7) elements that aid in the interpretation and application of its principles. We will examine those seven (7) key elements.

These key elements are: The Authenticity, the Apparatus, the author, the audience, the age, aim, and the argument.




[Let's examine first the...]

A.  Authenticity

     The first question we should ask ourselves, "Is why was this letter included in the New
      Testament canon?"

      Thanks to the Discover Channel, the History Channel, magazines, articles, and books, more
       people are being exposed to many other "writings" that were not included in the New  
       Testament canon.

      Writings like - The Gospel According to Mary, or The Gospel According to Thomas, or The
      Gospel According to Peter, and The Shepherd of Hermas.

       So, why did the early church consider this epistle from Peter to be authenticate? Don't forget,
       there is no evidence that the early church had any doubt concerning the authenticity of this
       letter. The evidence that we have suggests that this epistle was considered genuine and was
       accepted by the early church very early and is very clear.

[We have for example...]

       1.  Traditional Evidence

           a.  Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History (AD 325) placed this epistle among
                what is called the homologoumena (the spoken for) or the agreed upon books which
                where accepted by the whole church at large.

               Hiebert writes, "There is no indication that the knew of any other view. It was used by
               the ancient Fathers in their writings as an undoubted work of the apostle.

          b.  Clement of Rome is the first known individual to quote from First Peter. Clement was
               the third pastor (not Pope) of the Church at Rome. He followed Linus and Anacletus.
               Clement quoted from this epistle when he wrote his own letter to the Church at
               Corinth around AD 96.

          c.  Papias of Hierapolis lived around 60-130 AD. He was a pastor at Hierapolis. He quoted
               from both First John and First Peter indicating their authenticity.

          d.  Polycarp of Smyrna who was martyred approximately AD 155-160 was a pastor in
               Smyrna. He quoted from this letter numerous times when he wrote a letter to the
               Church in Philippi.

          e.  Irenaeus of Gaul quoted from this letter. He is the first to actually name Peter as the
               author in his book entitled Against the Heresies (AD 180).

So, we have very early evidence that the early church knew of this letter and used it. The fact that this letter was used often without even crediting Peter gives support to the fact that this letter was considered genuine and with the apostolic authority of the Apostle Peter. This external evidence lends itself to the authenticity of this epistle.

[The second example we examine is the...]

    2.   Internal Evidence

          We have limited but precise information from inside the letter itself that attests to its own
          authenticity.

[For example...]

         a.  The letter identifies the author as Peter - "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ..." (I Peter
              1:1a, ESV). This letter follows the pattern of letters that were written during this time.
              The author is named in the opening lines of the letter.

         b.  The author calls himself a "fellow-elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings." (I Peter 5:1,
              ESV) Selwyn makes this observation, "This impression of eyewitness runs through
              the epistle and gives it a distinctive character."

         c.  The author in 5:13 refers to Mark, most probably John Mark, as "my son." This is
              consistent with the tradition that identifies Mark as Peter's interpreter.

         d.  There are two (2) observations that can be made from a close examination which
              gives credence to this letter being authentic and from the Apostle Peter:

              -  The epistle contains a number of analogies with the speeches of Peter in Acts
              -  Beneath the surface, the epistle reveals clear connections with the gospel. Although
                 this letter does not contain or reproduce any specific words of Jesus, it contains
                 clear echoes of his sayings.

[There you have it - traditional and internal evidence supporting the authenticity of this letter. Let's look at a third example supporting authenticity, the...]

     3.  External attacks

         [There are critics who deny the authenticity of this letter. These critics deny Peter as the
         author and they assign a date for the writing of this letter well beyond Peter's life.

        [There are at least five (5) areas of attacks against the authenticity of this letter. The first is...]
       
        a.  The Good Greek

             It is argued that the Greek of this letter is to good for a Galilean fisherman to have
             written. First - it is ridiculous to believe that Peter did not know Greek. Galilee was a
             bi-lingual district. Peter would have known Greek in order to do business. He was a
             successful business man with a partnership in a large and thriving fishing enterprise.
             Matthew knew Greek. James knew Greek very well. Peter would have known Greek
             and Aramaic, and even quite possibly some Hebrew.

             Secondly, when Peter traveled preaching and teaching he would have almost certainly
             used Greek

             Thirdly, it is possible that Peter didn't physically write this letter. Chapter five and verse
             twelve reads, "By Silvanus (Silas) our faitful brother as I consider him, I have written
             to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you
             stand." (I Peter 5:12, ESV)

            It seems that ancient scribes and amanuensis (secretaries) had considerable freedom in
            composing the message entrusted to them. Peter could have assigned the task to Silvanus
            given him the gist of what he wanted written. Then he could have let Silvanus write the
            letter and then examine it before it was sent out to the various churches.

           At any rate there is no valid argument to support the fact that the Greek is "too god" for
          a simple, red-neck, back-woods fisherman.

     b.  The Quotations from the Old Testament are from the LXX

          The quotations from the Old Testament in this letter comes from the Greek translation of
          of the Hebrew text, rather from the Hebrew itself. It is stretching the fact to say that when
          the apostles worked among the Gentiles that they would not use the readily available
          Greek LXX (Septuagint) rather than the awkward Hebrew text.

     c.  Strong Paulinisms

         There are the critics who would have us reject Petrine authorship thereby denying
         authenticity because the letter seems to be heavily laced or saturated with Pauline
         influence. The argument goes like this - such a leading figure as an apostle, especially an
         apostle to the leand would not lean so heavily on Paul.

        The letter does seem to have words and phrases that seem to be "borrowed" from Romans
         and Ephesians. It is not impossible to think that Peter by the time he had written this letter
        had read both Romans and Ephesians.

       According to Bigg, "there can be little doubt that Peter had read several of Paul's letters. In
       the second letter (3:16) he tells us so; and if the second epistle is regarded as a forgery, it
       lies in the nature of things that each apostle would desire to know hat the other was doing
       and would take pains to keep himself informed."

      Don't forget, Silvanus (Silas) who actually composed this letter or at least had a major hand
      in it, had been heavily influenced by Paul having traveled extensively with Paul. He had even
      been imprisoned with Paul.

    d.  Lack of personal reminiscences

        Peter does not include in this letter any references to Jesus or events that took place when
        he was with Jesus. Peter's purpose was not to reveal his knowledge of Jesus. Peter wanted
        to fortify, strengthen, and encourage these suffering Christians and churches.

      However having said this, a man named Ebright found thirty-two (32) passages in this letter
      that find equivalents in the teachings of Jesus. Ebright concludes that these passages prove
      the author's acquaintance with Jesus.

   e.  Its picture of the persecution

       Those who oppose Peter as the author state that this letter reflects official Roman 
       persecution of Christians. This official Roman persecution did not develop until far beyond
       the lifetime of Peter.

       It is usually stated that this letter was written during the persecution by the Emperor Trajan
       (AD 98-117). Of course Peter died around AD 68 by crucifixion.

      The logical answer is that more than likely this persecution that these believers are 
       experiencing is local and not necessarily official.

There you have it! There is a lot of evidence that lends itself to the authenticity of this letter. This evidence is both internal and external. Even the attacks against the authenticity of this letter lend credibility to the authenticity of this epistle.

Therefore, you can place great confidence in this letter. Allow it to comfort and encourage you in the midst of your trials, tribulations, and persecutions.

Lord willing, next week we will examine the second element of a good introduction. That element is the aparatus.

2 comments:

Yvonne's World of Poetry said...

WOW that was some post Gregg, confidence is so very important in all aspects of life,

Yvonne.

Gregg Metcalf said...

Thanks. I agree, confidence is a benefit in any portion of life. However, it is vital to have confidence in the Scriptures that are included in our Canon. If they are authentic, then they are binding and we are subject to obeying the divine principles contained within.