General Epistles

Sept 9, 1999

I Peter

I Peter follows thew literary format of an epistle, especially Paul's form. In the first two verses, the greeting, "Grace and peace" can be found. This formula which originated with the apostle Paul, soon became the normal standard which Christians used in letter greetings.

According to Church tradition and a tiny bit of internal evidence, The Apostle Peter is the author of I Peter. Peter identifies himself as "Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ". There is not much stated proof in the epistle that Peter is the apostle he claims to be. This is no evidence against Apostle Peter 's authorship. Unlike Paul, Peter had no need to defend himself in his letter. Because of this, there is no reason to believe Peter should think of giving proof to who he claims to be. Everyone knew him to be an Apostle, and did not argue with the fact. Arguments against the Apostle Peter's authorship are around and about. One is based off I Peter 5:1, Where Peter says he was a witness to Christ's sufferings. The argument says; that Peter did not witness Christ's suffering on the cross with his own two eyes.

Peter did not have to see Jesus' actual death in order to be w witness to his sufferings. Peter was around and did see Christ suffer in other ways. Peter was also a witness in the fact that he saw Jesus when he rose from the dead. The marks on him told of the suffering he went through.

The implied readers in the book of I Peter are spread out among various cities. Since if is not specifically to one Church, it is hard to know what Peter thought about them. The readers are most likely Jewish Christians living outside cities. Peter writes about authorities and persecution. These are things that apply to Christians anywhere and of any race.

The structure and integrity of the book has been disgusted among some scholars. Some think that part of the book is a baptismal liturgy, or a worship service of a baptism. If this were the case, there should be a place in the book where the participants are baptized.

There is a clear break in the structure between I Peter 4:11 and 12. The first part is to the people of God speaking about spiritual re-birth. The second part focuses on the reader's ability to show reverence to God.

The people in that time period would have been undergoing persecution from the Romans. The book was probably received about A.D 64. In which case, Nero would have been Emperor of Rome. The Romans thought a lot about honor and shame. These ideas were completely understood by the readers. Peter told his readers that God, not anyone else, determines honor and shame.

It is interesting to see that Paul has twelve books in the New testament, while Peter, the one who Jesus said was the Rock, only has tow books. I Peter was accepted into the cannon, but trouble with II Peter made people skeptical towards both books in general.

I Peter is a relatively short letter, but it says a lot of good things. A short list could be; the hidden in Christ, discipleship as a journey, victory over evil spirits, and other things.

The book of I Peter is a good book to show that Paul was not the only missionary or letter writer in the early Church. The way Paul did things was not the only way to do them. I Peter, when compared to Paul's letters will not contradict the theology of the values. Both apostles understand what they write.

In conclusion, the book of I Peter had a lot more background and information in it than I would have thought possible in a short book. I Peter is not the shortest book, so I will probably be amazed at all I can learn from other tiny books. Small on the outside, and big on the inside.

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