Lectionary Year A
May 12, 2002
1 Peter 4;12-14, 5:6-11
(JFC) A. PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY
This lection tells us that the historical context from which it emerged is
tribulations, some of which can seem strange enough to surprise those
affected by them or even those who merely observe them or only hear about
them. Some abusers might well revile any adherents to the Christian
movement. Suffering is global. It is also, according to 1 Peter,
temporary. The image of the devil seems familiar to the author(s) and
recipients of this epistle. God seems even more real, at least to the
author(s). Christ, too, appears real and, maybe even alive, in the
writing. He is portrayed as central to a lot of the assurances, the
explanations and the hope. He seems as eternal as God and as full of
glory, as well. He suffered and admits fellow sufferers to suffer in His
suffering. He has God's kind of glory. God exhibits a mighty hand that
can grasp all human anxieties. God summons recipients of this letter to an
eternal glory in Christ. God is featured as one who will restore, support,
strengthen and establish those who suffer a while. The early Church
believed Christ to be the long awaited Messiah of the Jewish faith. Is the
Messianic question assumed answered by the time 1 Peter is written?
(JFC) B. OLD TESTAMENT AND JUDAISM
* Selwyn explains the use of the image of the "fiery ordeal" by citing its
rarity in biblical literature and further, notes its appearance in Proverbs
27:21 and Psalm 66:10. Selwyn says, "fire played a large part in Jewish
expectations of the end ( cf. Enoch cii. I, cviii. 3, 5, . . ."
* In verse
14's mention of God's glory, Selwyn finds parallels in 1 Kings 8:21, Isaiah
60:1f and 7, and Haggai 2:7, stating "they allude to God's glory rising
upon Jerusalem and God's House of Prayer being glorified and full of His
glory, which would have been suggested to the minds of Jewish Christian
readers." Furthermore, Selwyn finds II Corinthians 3:17f combining glory
and spirit, where the spirit transforms people's hearts to be conformed
more and more to God's glory. Selwyn also notes that the Jewish rabbis
believed God's spirit could rest on people only in joyfulness.
Testament wrongdoers' antics get detailed in 1 Peter, yet, none is named,
per se. We find noticeably many parallels in 1 Peter with 1 and 2
Thessalonians, James and some in Hebrews.
* 5:7 quotes Psalm 55:22, "Cast
your burdens on the Lord who will sustain you".
* 5:8 reminds us of Ephesians
6:11, which admonishes, "Put on the whole armor of God to be able to stand
against the devil".
(JFC) C. HELLENISTIC WORLD
Perhaps the relatively complex format and the rather sophisticated language
Peter would have arrested the attention of and appealed to the intelligent
Hellenists of the earliest centuries of the Common Era. Possibly, the
Greek speaking Jews liked the time lapses mentioned in the paragraphs we
are considering this week. They apparently were in no hurry to set ethical
standards, laws or even didactic methods very high in their lists of
priorities. The many occurrences of the word for "glory" in these
paragraphs might communicate effectively with the Hellenists. 1 Peter is
attempting to replace Hellenistic philosophy that values mere harmony and
community with a strong central influence based in Jesus Christ. 4:16's
use of the term "Christianoi" shows this emphasis.
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