Week 1, 1 Peter 1: 1-2

1: 1-2

  • Most important thing it tells us – this is a letter
  • Letters have common outlines – true from Jude to Revelation
    • Sender
    • Receiver
    • Grace and Peace
    • Thanksgiving/Blessing
    • Body
      • First 3 in these two verses
  • Letters have common characteristics
    • Written by someone specific to someone specific at a specific time for a specific purpose
  • Issue with letters – things that are common/obvious to sender and receiver may not make sense to a third party
  • Who – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ
    • Seems obvious, but not so fast
    • 2 potential issues
      1. Talks about church structure in away that makes people think it has to be later
        • Response – groups order themselves quickly
          • 3rd graders playing kickball will know to pick captains
      2. Best Greek in the New Testament – no way a Galilean fisherman could write this Greek
        • Counter Arguments
          • Greek was the universal language, everyone spoke and wrote it
            • Mark Twain, Jack London, Maya Angelou, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury – never went to college. You don’t need formal training to write well
        • Peter may not have been as backwards as we think
          • Question of how big Zebedee’s business was
            • Multiple ships, employees, Peter seems to know people other places (Antioch, Rome)
            • If Peter was raised to lead a major family business then he would have a better grasp of Greek than we might otherwise expect
        • Peter spoke and Silvanus wrote
          • We know that happened in the NT
      • Fact – in the ancient world people wrote under more famous people’s names – way you learned rhetoric – learn famous voices before you got your own
        • Chance that someone wrote later as an appeal to what Peter would say in the face of adversity
          • Ex. Like we do with founding fathers, what would “they” want/do
        • Does it matter: if you believe that the Holy Spirit guided the process of making the canon then the author becomes less significant
  • When – depends on the author
    • Peter died mid 60s so if he wrote it was earlier than that, if he didn’t then it was later
      • Arguments for later:
        • Knows Jesus traditions – makes reference to gospel stuff in a way Paul doesn’t
        • Elements of Paul and James are addressed in the letter
          • Response to both – Peter would have known all that
  • Who it was written to – churches in verse 1
    • Regions in northwest Turkey
    • All under Roman rule
    • Believers
    • Former gentiles – 1: 14, 1: 18
    • “Exiles”
      • Literal Translations – Exiles of the dispersion” – OT reference
        • Assyrians disperse the 10 northern tribes
        • What does it mean – folks who aren’t at home
          • Sojourner, ex-pats, they aren’t where they belong
          • Where’s their home – heaven
    • Righteous Sufferers – under some kind of pressure – 1:6
      • Recurring theme of this letter – how do we face and respond to sufferin

 

Why is the letter written- two main themes

  • Response to suffering
    • What’s happening to them?
      • Letter from Pleni – what do I do with these Christians, the rest of the people are turning against them
        • Economy – wealth at very top and then poverty for the rest
          • To survive you needed patrons
            • They gave money, you gave support
          • Went all the way up to the emperor who was everyone’s patron and whose patrons were the gods
        • People had patrons, cities had patrons
          • Artemis = Ephesus
          • Athena = Athens
            • These gods demanded loyalty from everyone, and when bad things happened it was a sign of their displeasure
              • Christians were a problem because they didn’t play along
  • Honor and Shame
    • What society ran on – everything increases one or the other
    • Only so much honor to go around
    • Has to be taken
    • Crucifixion was the ultimate shaming mechanism
      • Public, slow, the person is naked and exposed
      • Choosing to follow Jesus is to choose to follow a shamed one which shames them
        • Peter is going to flip that – suffering and shame now will be riches and honor later

Big idea of the letter: how do we live in this new situation and why are we going through all this?

  • Leave you with this – questions of suffering and how to react to culture aren’t new. Christians have always faced them. Our times aren’t as unique and scary as we might think

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