Lectionary Year A
May 5, 2002
1 Peter 3:13-22
(JFC) A. PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY
Long before Guttenburg's printing press,
papyrus & writing instruments and time for scribes and copyists were at a
premium. Ergo, several subjects needed to be written about in small
spaces. Many an infant Christian needed to read and/or hear discussions of
those several subject. Therefore, authors wrote in condensed styles.
Epistles could serve as bare outlines of topics leaders could suggest
warranted attention. After an epistle was read, the hearers could discuss
for hours, days, weeks, months the topics raised in the letter circulated.
Novice Christians throughout the then known world longed for such messages
as epistles carried. They listened, heard, pondered, discussed and debated
the contents and allusions these letters mentioned. This rather long
paragraph cites upwards to 50 different identifiable topics early believers
needed to consider.
(JFC) B. OLD TESTAMENT AND JUDAISM
Peter 3:14b through 15a quotes
Isaiah 8:12f, which might be
part of an early Christian hymn, according to Selwyn. In Isaiah 29;23,
Ecclesiasticus 36:4 and in the Lord's Prayer (Mt. 6:9) "hagiazo", means,
holy", Selwyn. Furthermore, Selwyn suggests that that 1 Peter's 3:15
might "recall to the
minds of the Jewish Christians Ezekiel 11:16f".
Verses 18ff might be
based on a hymn on
the "harrowing of hell", comparable to Ode to Solomon, again, according to
Verse 19's "phulake pneumasin", according the Strack-Billerbeck,
iv. ii. p. 1076, says that the Rabbis often speak of hell as a prison or
dungeon; and Josephus (Ant. viii.1.3) says that it was part of Pharisaic
doctrine that the souls of the wicked were to be detained in an
Verse 20's mention of Noah recalls the popularity with
which Jewish literature held the Noah of Genesis 7.
(JFC) C. HELLENISTIC WORLD
The sufferings in verses 14-17 seem milder than some
alluded to in the
Old & New Testaments. In fact, here, they appear more hypothetical
than actual, or even mild
if real at all. If the maligned and molested get so disrespectfully
abused, the who does it
question pales in comparison to the one that asks, "Do we get
maligned, molested, abused
and/or abused for appearing to be 'in Christ'?" Hellenistic
progress needed disciplined
perspective on such doctrines as Christ and Him crucified, which this
passage centralizes in
Christian dogma, as well as in this paragraph and several others in
this epistle, as previously
This passage might be addressing some of the Hellenists'
disjunction between spirit
and matter. In Christ, in this pericope, orthodox Christians can
find spirit and matter uniting.
The advice this passage offers is generally good and sound,
especially when believers get
challenged by believers from another culture, e.g., the Hellenists
and first and/or second
century Christians. Goppelt (Theology of the New Testament, volume
2) calls it
"discrimination" rather than "persecution that the Christians faced
in Asia Minor in the earliest
days of its life.
The accusations referred to in verse 15, Goppelt
does call "malicious", to be
sure. However, a further and more careful reading of the text might
more sensibly call them
"mild challenges" at the worst. If the Hellenists challenged the
orthodox Christians, wherever
they had gone via the dispersion referred to in 1:1, their challenges
were to be met civilly.
This civility comes from the Christ who suffered and died and descended
unto those predeceased
to bring the Good News of salvation, even their salvation.
| Return to gospel listings | Return to epistle listings |
| Return to Old Testament listings | Return to Psalm listings |
| User response form |