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(6) His language in i. 17 ("And if ye call on him as Father, who without respect of persons," etc.) bears a strong resemblance to Peter's words at Cæsarea, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons," etc. (Acts x. 34). (7) In ii. 13-16, "Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake . . . as free,” we have probably the reproduction of the lesson taught to Peter by his Lord with regard to the payment of the tribute money (Matt. xvii. 24-27).
In the last-mentioned passage, as in many others, we can discern traces of the same graphic and pictorial style as we have seen to be characteristic of the Gospel of Mark, which, there is reason to believe, is largely a record of Peter's preaching. Such are the expressions, "not using your freedom for a cloke of wickedness" (ii. 16), the word translated "cloke" being peculiar to Peter (only used here), and meaning a veil or covering; “ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (ii. 15), the word rendered "put to silence" meaning, in a literal sense, to muzzle (as a dog), and being only applied elsewhere in the New Testament to the subduing of an unclean spirit, and the stilling of the raging sea-both in the Gospel of Mark (i. 25; iv. 39); "leaving you an example that ye should follow his steps" (ii. 21), the literal meaning of the word translated “example" being the copy-head set before a scholar for his patient and persevering imitation; "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour" (v. 8). Akin to the pictorial style of the epistle is the "wealth of epithets" by which it is distinguished, e.g. "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away" (i. 4). Cf. i. 7, 19; ii. 9, etc.
It appears from v. 12 that in writing this epistle Peter had the assistance of "Silvanus, our faithful brother," as his amanuensis, who is, no doubt, to be identified with
the "Silas" associated with Paul in Acts xv.-xviii., and the Silvanus of 1 Thess. i. 1; 2 Thess. i. 1; 2 Cor. i. 19.
2. The Readers. "To the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." The meaning of this address has been much disputed. By some it has been taken in a literal sense as denoting the Christian Jews of the Dispersion residing in the various parts of Asia Minor that are here specified. But this is inconsistent with the language used by the apostle to his readers in i. 14; ii. 9, 10 (where he quotes the same passage from Hosea that Paul applies to the calling of the Gentiles in Rom. ix. 25); iii. 6 (R.V.); iv. 3 (R.V.). All these passages would lead us to suppose that the readers of the epistle were largely Gentiles, as we know the members of the Churches in Asia Minor for the most part were.1
The words "sojourners of the Dispersion" are probably to be interpreted in a spiritual sense with reference to the heavenly Canaan, from which Christ's followers on earth may be regarded as temporary exiles, the Churches to which they belong being scattered branches of a commonwealth that has its home and its metropolis in heaven. This interpretation is justified by the whole tone of the epistle, which gives a spiritual meaning to the blessings of the Old Covenant.2 It accords in particular with ii. 11, "Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
3. Date and Place of Composition. The only thing
For information regarding the Church in Pontus see Acts ii. 9; xviii. 2; in Galatia, pp. 87-94; in Cappadocia, Acts ii. 9; in Asia, Acts xviii. 24-26; xx. 17-35; Eph. and Col. Some of these Churches had received the Gospel from Paul and his associates. But Peter may also have laboured among them.
2 In accordance with this is the view which regards Paul as the apostle of Gentile Christianity, James as the apostle of Jewish Christianity, Peter as holding an intermediate position between the two, and John as the apostle of universal Christianity.
we have to guide us as to the place of writing is in one of the closing salutations: "She that is in Babylon, elect together with you, saluteth you" (v. 13). Some suppose Peter's wife (1 Cor. ix. 5; Matt. viii. 14) to be here alluded to, but it is better to understand the Church in Rome, which city is here called "Babylon," as the new seat of oppression and cruelty to God's people. This was the view generally held by the early Church Fathers; it is in accordance with the figurative language of the epistle, referred to in the previous section; and it accounts for the strong resemblance between this epistle and that of Paul to the Romans, with which Peter could scarcely have failed to become acquainted during his residence in the capital. It is almost certain that Babylon has this meaning in the Revelation; and it would add to the force of Peter's exhortations to courage and patience, that he was himself, when he wrote, in the very thick of the conflict.2
With regard to the date of its composition, the probability seems to be that the letter was written shortly after the outbreak of the Neronian persecution, when the Churches in the provinces were beginning to experience the effects of the imperial example at Rome, about 64-65 A.D.3
1 E.g. cf. ii. 6-8, Rom. ix. 33, and Isa. viii. 14, xxviii. 16; ii. 13, 14, Rom. xiii. 1-4. A resemblance can also be traced to Ephesians and the Epistle of James, showing how little truth there is in Baur's theory of an irreconcilable opposition between Paul and the rest of the apostles (Salmon's Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 485-489).
2 "That this epistle was written from Rome, I cannot doubt. It is impregnated with Roman thought to a degree beyond any other book in the Bible; the relation to the state and its officers forms an unusually large part of the whole" (Prof. Ramsay).
3 The readers are addressed as liable to persecution, both of a social and a legal character, the very name of Christian having become a term of reproach, and still worse evils being imminent. Indeed, the signs of persecution are so pronounced in this epistle, that it has, on this account, been assigned by many to a later date.
4. Character and Contents.—This epistle breathes the spirit of practical earnestness so characteristic of its author. The Greek word "to do good" occurs no less than nine times in the course of the five chapters. There is no want of allusion to Christian privilege and Christian doctrine; but it is always for a practical purpose, as furnishing motives for Christian obedience. Of this we have an illustration in the frequent use of the words "wherefore," "therefore," "because," etc., by way of enforcing practical applications (i. 13, 16, 22; ii. 1, etc.). The chief duty which the writer wishes to inculcate is that of patience under trial (i. 6, 7; ii. 19-21; iii. 13-18; iv. 12-19). In many cases the suffering arose from persecution-proceeding from suspicion and ill-will on the part of the non-Christian members of the community (ii. 18, 19; iii. 16). The very name of Christian was becoming a term of reproach (iv. 16); and even worse trials were in store for them (iv. 12, 17). For the endurance of all such unmerited sufferings the apostle points them to the example of the Saviour (whose sufferings are referred to in every chapter), at the same time bidding them take care that they do not bring trouble on themselves by their unworthy conduct. Their trials, he reminds them, are only for a time (i. 6; iv. 7; v. 10), and will receive abundant compensation at the revelation of Christ's glory (i. 7; iv. 13, 14; v. 10). "The sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow are indeed the two poles around which the whole argument of the epistle turns, resulting in a beautiful blending of patience and hope. Hence Peter has been styled "the Apostle of Hope."
Along with the calls to patience there are mingled various other admonitions addressed to citizens, ii. 13-17; servants, ii. 18-20; wives, iii. 1-6; husbands, iii. 7; elders
1 As compared with John the apostle of love, Paul the apostle of faith, and James the apostle of works.
of the Church, v. 1-4; and the congregation generally, with reference to various duties, iv. 5-11, etc. It is worthy of note, that although this epistle has so little of a speculative character, it has been the means of revealing two interesting truths, which would not have been otherwise known to us (i. 12, last clause; iii. 18-20). It may also be said to contain a practical refutation of the Romish theory as to Peter's jurisdiction in the Church. So far from making any claim to authority or preeminence, the writer expressly puts himself on a level with the other presbyters, and deprecates anything like a spirit of lordship in the exercise of their ministry (v. 1-3). The names "" priest," " 'bishop," ," "Church," are never even mentioned by him.1
1 Except "Bishop" in ii. 25, where, however, it is Christ Himself who is so designated.