STUDIES IN FIRST PETER
"1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Peter 1:1)
This book will present several unique views of life in Christ Jesus. Among the subjects presented from a different perspective are, 1- The status of the saints (1:2), 2-The new birth (1:3), 3-Our inheritance (1:3-4), 4-The preserving of the saints (1:5), 5-The trial of faith (1:7), 6-The Prophets announcement of salvation (1:10-11), 7-Domestic responsibilities (3:1-7), 8-Baptism (3:21-22), 9-Elders (5:1-4), and10-The resistance of the devil (5:8-9). There is a freshness to this letter that only can come through the power of the Holy Spirit. It challenges our thinking, expanding our understanding of key elements in the life of faith. We will sense a profound spiritual concern throughout the Epistle. It has the tone of a father speaking with his children. While not unique to the writings of Peter, this is a most significant thing. Like all Scripture, it is not the mere conveyance of information, but contains words whereby spiritual life is nurtured and reinforced. Through Peter, the Holy Spirit pleads with those in Christ Jesus, urging them to a deeper involvement with Christ, a more profound faith, and more hearty effort in the good fight of faith. It is a call upward, into the heavenly realm, where faith and hope are strengthened, making us superior to the enemies of our soul. This Epistle will confirm the magnitude of our salvation, and help us put to death stilted and small-minded views of what has taken place in our reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
INTRODUCTION TO PETER
"1Peter . . . " (KJV) Anyone familiar with the Word of God has some acquaintance with Peter. He is one of the premier figures in The Gospel of Christ. He was not born with the name "Peter," which was given to him by Jesus. His father, who was named Jonah (Jonas in the KJV), had named him Simon. He is first referred to as "Simon Barjona," or Simon the son of Jonah (Matt 16:17). He was brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew, who informed him, "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (John 1;40). It was at that time, before he became one of Christ's disciples, that Jesus renamed him. "And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (John 1:42). After Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus said to Him, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:18). The "rock"upon which Christ would build His church was the confession of Peter, the very first man to make that insightful acknowledgment. Prior to him, only dem ons said that of Jesus (Lk 4:41). That rock (that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God") was like a large ledge of rock upon which a foundation and structure could be placed. Peter was a "rock" in the sense of having preeminence among men, stable and solid in the faith-traits religious sophists refuse to ascribe to him. Both "Cephas" and "Peter" mean"rock." "Cephas" is an Aramaic equivalent of the Greek name "Peter." Both are surnames, or names that were added. Such names were given to depict either the character or trade of the one so named. In Peter's case, the name defined his character. Although men have derided Peter as being unstable and always speaking out of turn, Jesus identified him as a "rock." Those who ridicule Peter should be ashamed that they have spoken in such contradiction of Jesus.
There are only two men in Scripture that Satan is said to have wanted to put to the test. The first is the well-known Job (Job 1:9-10; 2:4-5). The other is Peter. While no one told Job of Satan's desire, Jesus did tell Peter of the old serpent's yearning. "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22:31-32). The grievous trial that Peter endured erupted in his three-time denial of Jesus on the night of His betrayal (Matt 26:69-74). Settle it in your mind that it was no ordinary man who denied Jesus three times. It was a man who was being more sorely tested than any of the other Apostles. He did recover from this occasion, according to the prayer of Jesus for him. The desire of Satan to sift Peter is itself a commentary on the man. It shows how Satan regarded him-as he did Job of old. The trouble Job endured was due to Satan's assault, not a weakness of character. Likewise, the denial of Peter was also the result of a fierce and unimaginable attack by Satan. Both men recovered, and are honored.
Peter is referred to as "the first" among the Apostles, which is a most remarkable distinction. "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter" (Matt 10:2). He and his brother Andrew were the very first Jesus called to His side to be special disciples. "And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Their response was immediate, indicating the tenderness of their hearts. "They immediately left their nets and followed Him"(Matt 4:18-19). Peter is mentioned no less than 94 times in the Gospels, as compared to John (30 times) and James (24 times).
I have labored to show how sharply the Spirit's representation of Peter differs from that of would-be commentators. Before we can appreciate the writings of this unique man, we must first behold him as Jesus did. His failings, however great they may seem, are nothing to compare with the shortcomings of those who have chosen to criticize him.
PETER, AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ . . . " KJV. In every list of the Apostles, Peter is mentioned first-there is no exception (Matt 10:2-4; Mk 3:14-19; Lk 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). Peter and his brother Andrew were the first called to be disciples (Matt 4:18-19). Luke provides an additional detail of this calling. When our Lord first began His ministry, He chose to teach out of Simon Peter's boat, afterward granting him a miraculous catch of fish (Lk 5:1-9). Peter saw the resurrected Christ before the twelve together (1 Cor 15:5). He was the one who was used to instigate the choosing of a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15ff). He was the first to preach the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit to the Jews (Acts 2:14ff). Peter was also the first to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:5-48). He was so prominent, that some in Corinth chose to call themselves after his name, which was wrong (1 Cor 1:12). Paul affirms that "the Gospel for the circumcised" (the Jews), was committed "to Peter," stating that God"worked effectively" in him (Gal 2:8-9).
In spite of these distinctions, Peter does not identify himself as the "first" Apostle, or as a "pillar" in the church (Gal 2:9). He refers to himself as "AN Apostle of Jesus Christ." He seems to sense the grandeur of such a call, realizing it was owing to the grace of God, and not to personal merit. It is true that Paul once rebuked Peter for separating himself from the Gentiles because of certain Jewish brethren (Gal 1:11-14). Yet, such rebuke was not a consistent requirement, and is the only such reproof of him on record following Christ's ascension. Later, in his second Epistle, Peter refers to Paul as "our beloved brother," acknowledging that wisdom had been "given unto him" (2 Pet 3:15-16). It is certainly in order for God's servants to refer to themselves humbly, yet in recognition of where God has placed them. Like Moses, the Prophets, John the Baptist, and the other Apostles, Peter did not "think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Rom 12:3). Yet, neither did he abandon his calling, but proved faithful to it.
The significance of Peter as an "Apostle" is most remarkable. He was among the inner-circle of the Apostles, being named first among them: "Peter, James, and John." He was among the only three men in history who saw Jesus transfigured (Matt 17:1). He was the first of three who were allowed by Jesus to see Jairus' daughter raised from the dead (Mk 5:37). He also was listed as the first of the three whom Jesus took with him further into Gethsemane, when His soul was "exceeding sorrowful unto death" (Lk 14:33-34).
Peter wrote this book around 65 A.D., after more than thirty years of faithful Apostleship. Church history records that he preached in Rome, Britain, and Gaul. He was martyred for his testimony by wicked Nero around 67 A.D., about the same time Nero also had Paul beheaded. He met his death in an unusual way, as Jesus told him he would. "'Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.' This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, 'Follow Me'" (John 21:l8-29). History provides some details about the death of Peter. He was crucified with his head down at his own request. We are told he affirmed he was unworthy to die as his Lord. I share the following quote about Peter's closing days to confirm his greatness in the Kingdom. "How Peter managed to survive those nine long dreadful months is beyond human imagination. During his entire incarceration, he was manacled in a upright position, chained to the column, unable to lie down and rest. Yet his magnificent spirit remained undaunted. It flamed with the immortal fervor of his noble soul, proclaiming the glory of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ" William Steuart McBernie, THE SEARCH FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES. Thus I pay tribute to this princely Apostle of Christ, thanking God for the most noble testimony he has left with us, and for his receptivity to God's Spirit in the writing of this Epistle.