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New Testament Interpretation VII:

Questions on Peter and his Epistles

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Question #1: 

Thanks for the reply Bob,

I had a random thought about what your thoughts are on those who teach that the Apostle Paul preached a different Gospel compared to the 12 Apostles? They state that Paul preached the Gospel of the Grace of God and that the other Apostles preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. They say this because Paul refers to the Gospel he preaches as “My Gospel” a lot in Scripture. And for whatever reason the Jews have rejected it and so he preached it to the Gentiles. And so it makes it seem like Peter preached a Gospel that the Jews agreed with and Paul preached another that was meant for the Gentiles.

And they will point out the difference that Paul was commanded by Jesus to not baptize but to preach the Gospel. But the other Apostles on the other hand were commanded to baptize on top of preaching the Gospel.

Do you think Paul received revelations that the other Apostles never learned or received themselves? Even Peter himself stated that Paul’s teachings can be hard to understand.

Your Brother in Christ,

Response #1:  

You're most welcome, my friend.

One thing is very clear: the Bible is absolutely uniform in its truth from Genesis to Revelation. There is only one truth. Only one gospel. Only one baptism (Eph.4:4-6). If we see contradictions between something in the OT or between different writers of the NT, it is we who have the problem. I have found, however, that in time if we are patient and "work the problem" in the Spirit, all questions are eventually answered, and all supposed contradictions or doctrinal differences (as implied by the people you refer to here) always vanish. God is not the author of confusion, and all scripture is "God-breathed" (2Tim.3:16), inspired by God the Holy Spirit Himself.

For the record, I find Peter's modes of expression and the particular meaning behind them just as difficult as Paul's, but I find both of them entirely understandable if sufficient time and effort in the Spirit are applied. Paul taught the truth to Jews and gentiles both in every letter and in every town. And Peter, while he was more focused on Jewish believers in the beginning, wrote his two letters to predominately gentile congregations. So this is a distinction I do not see at all in the actual scriptures.

Peter expresses harmony in teaching with Paul where he makes the comment about some of the expressions of their common doctrine being "hard to understand" in places (1Pet.3:15-16). That is my perception as well. As to revelation, I can't think of a single major doctrine which isn't found throughout the epistles; clearly there is more detail given to some of the writers by the Spirit to pen than to others, but as with the gospels the variety of expression makes things more clear by benefitting from more than one representation of the same truths. This is only confusing to those who haven't bothered to try and figure it out. All things yield to work. Of course it is true that to be able to figure these things out takes the Spirit, the gift of teaching, and the necessary training and preparation. If the "answer" to some question is really not to be found in English translations, as is sometimes the case, then the justification for pastor-teachers learning Greek and Hebrew well ought to be evident.

On baptism, there is only "one baptism" (Eph.4:5), namely, the baptism of the Spirit.

"I baptize you with water (i.e., physically) for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Matthew 3:11 NIV

(4) And gathering them together [Jesus] commanded [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father (i.e., the Holy Spirit) "which you heard about from Me. (5) For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Spirit not many days from now".
Acts 1:4-5

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".
Acts 1:8

I applaud your interest in finding the truth. I hope and pray that you will find a good source of it – and take pains to believe it once found. No one can grow spiritually until getting beyond the "Smorgasbord" approach that is all too prevalent in our Laodicean age.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Could you explain to me, Sir, how Luke 12:42 - 48 is an answer to 41?

Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”
Luke 12:41 NKJV

And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
Luke 12:42-48 NKJV

Response #2: 

Our Lord answers the question Peter poses according to the truth which underlies all of the assumptions and motivations inherent in his question. Peter and the others assumed at this point that all Israel would be saved, but also suspected that they were a special group. In answering the way He does, our Lord makes all issues clear without reproaching Peter for lack of understanding. First, this response makes it clear that some will respond to the truth, but others won't; second, that it is the disciples' job to present the truth to all in a workman-like way, for that is how to earn a good report and a good reward; third, that the Lord desires all to be saved, even though many will refuse the Gift, so it is doubly important for those entrusted with the Word of God to take pains not to be the reason that the Word was not received, i.e., for lack of due diligence on the disciples part (and this obviously applies to us all).

Question #3: 

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees,
Luke 5:8a NKJV

Was it at Jesus' feet or His knees that Peter was said to fall? The latter is in the NASB footnote. I wonder because if our Lord was on His Knees, He may have been helping with the catch? It would fit the popular idea of humility but I am not certain that He was ever for such displays. Still, how should we read that place?

Response #3:  

The Bible says knees. It doesn't say that the Lord caught him. This is a gesture of worship on Peter's part, and of recognition his powerlessness and inferiority in the presence of God as of one needing forgiveness.

Question #4:

saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
Luke 5:8 NKJV

Does Peter say this because he thought that his earlier answer to our Lord bordered on insulting? Was that in fact the case? Or was it that as seemed to be their experience then he had caught a typical glimpse of the gulf between himself and our Lord Whose Word was sufficient to far outstrip what his efforts could accomplish?

Response #4: 

Peter is only speaking the truth. How could any of us have contact with God? But God had a plan in bringing His Son into the world to save us, and part of that plan is His ministry of light and truth to us before the cross, sinners that we are.

Question #5: 

and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
Luke 5:10 NKJV

Does this mean then that Peter and Andrew and James and John knew each other and had some relationship, at least one of a business nature, before they began to follow our Lord?

Response #5:  

Matthew and Mark relate an incident which occurred earlier than the one presented here by Luke. The two sets of brothers indeed do seem to have been business partners.

Question #6: 

For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.
2 Corinthians 11:5 NKJV

Who is Paul talking about here? Apostles like Peter or the false apostles that the Corinthians were so enamoured with at the time? If the former, this seems to be further proof that Paul thought of himself as equal to and one of the Twelve. If the latter, then, at least he thought of himself as holding Apostolic authority that the Corinthians ought to be acknowledging at least as much as the "super apostles" (this is the term in the footnote). The context suggests the latter to me. Is that what it is?

Response #6: 

Paul was one of the twelve – one of Jesus' twelve since our Lord personally picked him to replace Judas – and he was certainly aware of that fact (see the link). However, he also speaking here other "apostles" whom the Corinthians may have had in mind, not only Peter and John, but Apollos and other legitimate teachers who were genuine apostles but with a lower case "a", and also other individuals who were not apostles at all but self-proclaimed teachers of the Law to whom the Corinthians (and other congregations, notably the Galatians) foolishly gave their attention (cf. Rev.2:2: "who say they are apostles and are not").

Question #7: 

Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
1 Corinthians 9:5 NKJV

I always wondered about the authority that James, our Lord's brother, wielded in the church. Does verse 5 indicate that the church of those first days accepted the apostles AND the brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ as spiritual authorities?

Response #7:  

This is an important point often overlooked. The "pope" is recognized by all in the R.C. church as THE authority, and cardinals and bishops likewise wield power that everyone in the groups accepts – and that is true of all religious organizations . . . which are man-made. In the actual Church of Jesus Christ, however, apostles were "first" in rank (1Cor.12:28), but that authority was God-given, not man-made, and had to be accepted by those to whom the apostles ministered. Paul, therefore, who "worked harder" (1Cor.15:10; 2Cor.11:23) was by rights "first", but we see that not everyone accepted him, and he was continually having to support his authority in a loving but firm way, one that relied upon persuading those he taught to do what was right for the sake of the truth and Jesus Christ. In Jerusalem, rather than accept this principle, we see even Peter having to "play second fiddle" and defend his own conduct on occasion (e.g., Acts 11:2ff.; Gal.2:11-14); we also see John's apostleship being disrespected even when he was probably the last of the twelve still alive (e.g., 3Jn.1:9-12). So even at this early point we see human institutionalizing of the church-visible developing and splitting off from God's true economy in the actual Church. That has always been a trend seems to exist in inverse proportion to teaching the truth, so that the more cult-like the "teacher", the more resolute the following, and the more considerate and dedicated to the truth the teacher is, the less respect he generally receives.

In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
2nd Corinthians 11:20-21a NIV

Question #8: 

2 Peter 1:16-21 (NASB)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

I know you take this passage to mean that the scripture is to be trusted more than what we see, but I wanted to ask if verse 19 could not be interpreted as saying “And so (having heard the utterance from God ourselves”) we have the prophetic word made even more sure (not only we read it, but we've also seen it being fulfilled)”. What do you think? If such rendering is incorrect, could you explain why? Verse 19 starts with kai, which I'm not sure if it should stand for “and” (interpretation above) or “but” (your interpretation).

Response #8: 

In terms of "And so (having heard the utterance from God ourselves”) we have the prophetic word made even more sure", 1) there is no "so" here; 2) also, bebaioteron, "more secure", is in the predicative position so that when I read it in Greek I get "[something] more certain, [namely] the prophetic word"; and 3) the following context (rightly understood) is all about the importance of the written Word: that is what "you would do well to heed", and that is what Peter supports in next two verses by expounding the principle of Holy Spirit inspiration; 4) we also know this to be true from everything we read in scripture: it's not what we see, hear or feel that counts; it's what we know from the Bible through faith. So while I am certain that most exegetes do want to take it this way, I would personally resist that strenuously. If Peter had meant to say that, he would have made that connection; merely using kai, a necessary connective to avoid asyndeton, shows that he is now taking the argument to a different place: it's not what I saw that counts (though you readers may assume so); no, it's what I know from the prophetic Word of God: that is even more certain what I saw with my own eyes. I think the fact that most exegetes don't want to accept this clear and fundamental principle of scripture may account for the popularity of the interpretation suggested.

Question #9: 

How should the text read? UBS5 textual note proposes different readings than ἀπὸ θεου , including Sinaiticus which reads ἅγιοι θεου.

Response #9:  

On 2nd Peter 1:21, I do read hagioi, "holy", with Aleph and some other witnesses and disagree with the logic in the Metzger commentary. I don't think it makes any difference to the meaning here, but read in Greek pheromenoi , "being borne/directed/carried", definitely seems to need a leading modifier and would sound quite strange without one. Confusing this with hagiou as going with the Spirit is probably the origin of the mistake. Translation:

For true prophecy has never occurred by human will, but only when holy men of God have spoken under the direction and agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:21

Question #10: 

What does it mean to "give way to fear" in 1st Peter 3:6?

Response #10: 

NKJV has, a bit more literally, "not afraid with any terror" in 1st Peter 3:6. In other words, Peter is commending respect for husbands from their wives, but is very careful to distinguish this godly behavior from being terrified of – or terrorized by – their husbands. Marriage is a two-way street as Peter is also very clear about in the context. So a husband is to treat his wife with love so that she feels no terror, and she is to show respect even though it is not being forced upon her. Also, "not afraid of any terror" will mean that a wife will do the right thing for Jesus Christ first, even as she truly respects her husband. And she will not allow herself to be terrorized into omitting what she should do or doing what she should not do as a Christian woman, even though she is married (and possibly to a less than honorable man).

Here is a link on this: "Patriarchy?".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:12 NKJV

Why would nonbelievers glorify God at all? I just mean isn't the whole point that they refuse to do so? Not that I don't want them to glorify God, of course...

Response #11:  

On 1st Peter 2:12, the "day of visitation" is the key phrase here in regard to this question. That is a reference in general to the day of judgment, but episkope ("visitation") also specifically means the day when the Lord "looks in" on things, namely, the second advent. So some unbelievers, having observed the power of the lives of believers, will be primed thereby to respond FINALLY when the see the Lord return (and so be saved); for others (most), this "glorification" will come as it does with all unbelievers who stay that way throughout their lives, namely, at the last judgment:

"By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear."
Isaiah 45:23 NIV (cf. Rom.14:11)

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV

So God obtains glory from unbelievers who will have no choice but to worship Him in the end, and part of His refutation of their "defenses of clay" and their false arguments which are "proverbs of ashes" (Job 13:12) will be our Lord calling their attention to the witness of believers they encountered in life.

Question #12: 

1 Peter 4:1-2 (NASB)
1 Therefore, since Christ has [a]suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has [b]suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

a. 1 Peter 4:1 I.e. suffered death
b. 1 Peter 4:1 I.e. suffered death

NIV SB: 4:1 Therefore. Since 3:19–22 is parenthetical, 4:1 ties directly back to 3:18. The aspect of Christ’s suffering that these passages stress is suffering unjustly because one has done good. Furthermore, it is physical suffering—“in his body.” arm yourselves also with the same attitude. Believers are to be prepared also to suffer unjustly and to face such abuse with Christ’s attitude—with his willingness to suffer for doing good. (For a similar principle in Paul’s writings, see Php 2:5–11.) because … is done with sin. Such suffering enables believers to straighten out their priorities. Sinful desires and practices that once seemed important seem insignificant when one’s life is in jeopardy. Serious suffering for Christ advances the progress of sanctification.

Do you agree that by "suffered in the flesh" Peter means that our Lord suffered death, as it says in the footnotes? Since twice the same verb is used and our Lord suffered in a unique way, why does Peter liken His suffering to the suffering of a believer (“because one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin”)? Do you agree with the interpretation given here that suffering equips us in a sense of perspective and changes priorities? I'm not sure about it and cannot understand Peter's argument. This is a difficult question and I am still not certain in what way the suffering specifically helps us to cease from sin.

Response #12: 

Let's dispense with the NIV SB's note. It would be better expunged (i.e., suffering is a burden not a help – except to the extent that it forces us to rely on the Lord: 2Cor.12:10).

Sharing the suffering of Christ is a ubiquitous NT principle (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 2Tim.2:12; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Matt.10:38; 16:24; Mk.8:34; 10:21; 10:38-39; Lk.9:23; 14:27; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12; see the link: in CT 2A: "sharing in the sufferings of Christ" is a part of the normal Christian experience).

Christ suffered in every way. He suffered physically and emotionally – can the two really be disaggregated for any human being? And He was and is since the virgin birth truly human. It is VERY true that our Lord's suffering for the sins of the world, His spiritual death on the cross, cannot be so much as touched by anyone. That does not mean that we are not called to carry our crosses in emulation of Him, even giving up our lives in martyrdom if so wills the Will of God. But our suffering cannot approach His in any way, not during His life, not during His suffering before the darkness fell, and certainly not in being judged for the sins of the world. But He is still our Model. He endured all in complete focus on carrying out the Father's plan; likewise we too ought to push through whatever suffering we are called to endure to carry out the mission our Lord has for us. Peter presents the issue pretty plainly to his listeners. There are two paths: 1) following Christ and His example; 2) giving in to sin. If we love Him, we leave the other path, but if we follow the other path, how much do we love Him?

Question #13: 

On 1 Peter 4:1-2 - it seems to me that Peter says things in such a way as to make the point that suffering causes us to cease from sin ("because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin"), but I don't know what mechanism specifically he has in mind here and in what way specifically suffering helps us part with sin. Or maybe I am misunderstanding this verse and rather then making a point that suffering causes us to cease from sin, Peter simply means that "if we follow Christ - and if we do, we will suffer - we have ceased from sin". Let me know your take on this issue, maybe Peter just means the latter and I am overcomplicating things. Or maybe he has something specific in mind here.

Response #13:  

I think rather that the point of this is to remind us of our identification with Christ. We are sharing His sufferings. Peter makes it clear that this is what he is aiming at latter in the chapter (1Pet.4:12-13). When we do so, we are fighting the fight in a positive way. And, clearly, lapsing back into sin is turning around and heading back in the opposite direction, giving up the ground we've won, risking our eternal rewards and more. Now that we've made it to the point where we really are "resisting to the point of blood", adopting a sinful lifestyle again is like fleeing in the face of the enemy. So the way in which suffering would help is by considering how much we've sacrificed to get "here", and being unwilling to give up our hard-won progress for a mess of pottage.

Question #14:

2 Peter 1:1-4 (NASB)
1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

NIV SB: have received. God in his justice ("righteousness") imparts to people the ability to believe. God imparts the ability to believe, but faith is our free will choice, so the expression λαχουσιν πιστιν is somewhat difficult.

How specifically should we understand receiving faith “by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (or “in the righteousness”)? There seems to be numerous ways in which this expression could be taken.

Response #14: 

"who have received a faith of the same kind as ours": I often call faith "free will faith", because faith is the essential expression of our free will, the image of God. We choose what to believe and whom to believe. That is what life is all about, beginning with the choice to accept Christ and thereafter to accept all the truth that He has for us. If Peter had written "who have received an image of God of the same kind as ours" or "who have received a free will of the same kind as ours", there would be no difficultly. But that is what is meant. Peter is congratulating his readers for being believers, for "having a faith" that has resulted in salvation and spiritual growth. We might say the same sort of thing – all the while understanding that by this "faith" we are actually meaning "how the person has chosen to use their ability to believe".

"by righteousness": This calls attention to the fact that the only way that we can have faith that is valuable (of equal value to Peter's) is through God's righteousness: Christ had to die to satisfy that righteousness otherwise none could be saved no matter what they chose to believe. But when we do believe, we receive the righteous of God, the righteousness that comes "through faith" (e.g., Rom.1:17; 4:3ff.; Gal.3:6).

Question #15: 

The question on receiving the faith is still not clear to me. Peter, as you wrote, is referring to the faith that brings salvation and spiritual growth and this is a result of our choice, so I still cannot conceptualise "receiving the faith". You wrote that we can take faith here as "how the person has chosen to use their ability to believe", but wouldn't that still amount to the same problem - "who have received the same choice as ours" - and the choice is something we make and not receive? I have given it more thought and I wonder whether rather than seeing "faith" here as the ability to choose, we shouldn't take it as the equivalent to salvation that comes through the right choice - "salvation-faith" ("who have received the same saving faith as ours having chosen to believe the truth"). Do you think this is possible?

Response #15:  

I wouldn't rule it out – that is clearly the result of the choice: "a faith which was exercised in a godly way and has resulted in being saved"; all of these elements are certainly present in the word "faith" when applied to believers, as in "of the faith" = believers who are people who have believed and who now believe so as to be saved. Faith characterizes us. That is why the Bible calls us "believers".

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power whereby God may save everyone who believes (whether the Jew first, or the Greek). Because in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith [at salvation] to faith [in living a life of faith], as it is written, "[it is he who is] righteous on account of his faith [who] shall live [by means of his faith]".
Romans 1:16-17

And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith [in Christ]!
1st John 5:4 (cf. v.1)

Question #16: 

I'm not sure how to understand the pronouns in verse 3 - “His divine power”, “knowledge of Him”, “His own glory and excellence” – are these referring to God the Father or Jesus?

Response #16: 

Verse 2 speaks of our epignosis (i.e., our knowledge mixed with faith) of both Father and Son as being the means of our spiritual fulfillment.

(2) May [God's] grace to you and [His] peace be multiplied by means of the full-knowledge (epignosis: truth believed) of God and our Lord Jesus, (3) inasmuch as His divine power has bestowed upon us [every]thing we need to live and to live in a godly way (i.e., physical and spiritual provision) through this full-knowledge (epignosis) of Him who has called us for His own glory and renown (i.e., the continued provision is based upon continuing attention to the truth).
2nd Peter 1:2-3 (cf. 2Pet.1:8)

Peter does not given any more information as to the antecedents of the pronouns, and the above could be equally true of either Father or Son – or both. Which means that Peter is not worried about confusion. However, since you ask, the Father comes first in verse two and so should be considered the One referred to primarily in verse three.

Question #17: 

Do you agree with what the NIV SB here proposes as the meaning of the “divine nature”?

Response #17:  

As in the translation above, this phrase refers to our positional separation from the corruption of this world which in turn looks forward to our eternal communion with the Trinity in the blessed future we all anticipate. The Holy Spirit is the pledge we have of that resurrection and ultimate sanctification, living with the Lord forever with eternal life, but the indwelling of the Spirit per se is not what is meant.

Question #18: 

What specifically is Peter referring by “by these” at the beginning of verse 4? Most commentators take it as referring to the immediately preceding "glory and virtue", but Meyer interprets differently. I'm still unclear about this, as the whole concept just seems vague to me at the moment - we receive honourable promises through divine blessings (and these divine blessings are only expressed with the Greek "παντα", "all things") - so I'm not sure what it's really supposed to mean. Taking the "through which" as referring to glory and virtue" would give the "through which" a more solid definition to work with, but I'm not sure about this.

Response #18: 

The antecedent of "through which" is panta, i.e., "everything necessary for us to live as Christians and walk a godly walk, given to us from the Lord through epignosis, that is, through our believing of the truth"; it is precisely these spiritual blessings that the promised of resurrection and reward are attained, that is "through them" (di hOn). In support of the other interpretation, however, I'm at a lose to say where else in scripture God is said to do anything "by means of His glory" or "by means of His virtue"; but seeing that our growth and reward redound TO His glory and reputation (doxa kai arete) makes good sense.

(1) Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have been allotted a faith of equal value to ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. (2) May [God's] grace to you and [His] peace be multiplied by means of the full-knowledge (epignosis: truth believed) of God and our Lord Jesus, (3) inasmuch as His divine power has bestowed upon us [every]thing we need for life and to live in a godly way (i.e., physical and spiritual provision) through this full-knowledge (epignosis) of Him who has called us for His own glory and renown. (4) [It is] through these [divine blessings] that the great and honorable promises have been granted to us, so that through them we might become partakers of the divine nature (i.e., in contrast with our earthly sinful nature), having [through salvation] escaped earthly corruption and its lust.
2nd Peter 1:1-4

2nd Peter chapter one is difficult, no doubt about it. Peter was allowed to put things his way by the Spirit, and this another indication of the Lord making it clear to anyone with an ounce of humility that qualified and prepared teachers are necessary for the edification of the Body – because no one else has a prayer of figuring this out. A little ironic, I suppose, that Peter will say at the end of this letter, "as also in all [Paul's] epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand" (2Pet.3:16 NKJV).

Question #19: 

You wrote: "Review: Let us take a moment to recall the connection between our current topics of suffering and spiritual growth and the passage above. Peter's readers were experiencing hard times, and in their distress, began to question God, thus jeopardizing their spiritual growth."

How do we know that Peter's readers began to question God?

Response #19:  

This is, admittedly, a supposition based upon the content of Peter's teaching. I suppose it could be that none of those for whom this epistle was penned had any doubts under the pressures they were enduring. But I suspect that Peter's heavy emphasis upon bearing up under suffering has to do with his own impression that many of those he is led to write this letter to are not in fact bearing up under suffering – at least not well enough. I admit that this particular phrasing came out of my own observation of Christians under pressure at the time of writing – and it was my impression that many of these were in fact beginning to doubt (which is what questioning God really is, not fully accepting that whatever happens is for the ultimate good – because His plan is perfect, He loves us perfectly, and He is absolutely faithful to us and could not in fact be otherwise).

Question #20: 

In your Peter series you explain the translation "deliverance of your lives" as opposed to "salvation of your souls". While the rendering "lives" instead of "souls" is clear to me, having read this section I'm not certain I understand your explanation of the choice of the word "deliverance" over "salvation". I would think that the point you are making is that rather than our salvation which we achieve by placing our faith in Christ, Peter has in mind one of the results of this salvation - and that is the preservation of our lives for eternity rather than the second death. But I cannot reconcile with this explanation is that in your translation you add "personal salvation" in the parenthesis, as if personal salvation was actually meant.

(8) Though you have never laid eyes on Him, yet you love Him. And though you cannot see Him at this present time, yet you have faith in Him. For this reason you rejoice with an inexpressible joy that bespeaks the glorious future to come, (9) when you shall carry off in victory the ultimate prize - the deliverance (lit. "salvation") of your lives (i.e., personal salvation) - which is the very purpose and objective of this faith of yours.
1st Peter 1:8-9

Response #20: 

Having read over this section many times, everything said seems to me to reflect salvation. The expanded translation in the text is, in fact, "the safe deliverance of our lives", and is explained as follows: "that is, our safe arrival in heaven to begin an eternal life with Christ in contrast with those who reject Christ and "lose their lives" ". The problem is actually an English one. One cannot say "salvation of lives" and be understood; one cannot say "salvation of souls" and not be misunderstood; so I chose "deliverance of lives" and explained as I did in the text that this does mean salvation: life eternal for all who believe in Jesus Christ and hold onto that faith firmly until the end.

Question #21: 

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind in spiritually mature alertness, and set your hope upon that grace which is coming your way when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1st Peter 1:13

I noticed that you don't seem to make a direct reference to the adverb τελειως. I have been wondering whether we should refer it to νηφοντες or to ἐλπισατε.

Response #21:  

The tele- morpheme has to do with completeness and in the epistles usually has to do with spiritual maturity, "completeness in growth". So "alertness" translates nephontes while "spiritually mature" is my rendering of teleios.

Question #22: 

This was something I wasn't sure about. You take τελειως as going with νηφοντες, NASB links it with ἐλπισατε.

Response #22: 

The adverb lies between both verb forms, but the rhythm of the Greek (as well as the meaning) demands taking it with the former, not the latter – otherwise (e.g.) nephontes would have to be taken and pronounced all on its own in a most unusual way.

Question #23: 

I understand your interpretation here. I have read this verse numerous times in Greek now, although without a sufficient language faculty and sensitivity this hasn't resulted in me being confident about this issue. I can definitely see that nephontes would be somewhat isolated if read without the adverb, but I wonder if Peter could have written it, so to say, as an addition to the expression just made at the start of the verse, with the emphasis lying on this first expression and nephontes being added in a way of further clarification and to define his exhortation more precisely. When it comes to meaning, as I understand it now, I would think that the adverb could work with either, so if there is a semantic point that you have in mind here that sways the interpretation on this ground, then let me know.

Response #23:  

I have been chewing on this one too. You make some good points. I see in my Greek NT that WH and NEB have construed things as I do, but that others have gone the other way and that many have left it ambiguous for the reader to decide. Greek does do this too, and I have see this in the NT as well, namely, adopting an apo koinou stance where (in this case) an adverb can be applied equally to both verbal ideas – and is meant to be applied thus. My thinking in translating this passage the way I did was not only that the rhythm of the Greek recommended it, but also that nephontes profited from being explained in this way much more so than elpisate since, for one thing, it explains the inherent metaphor in alertness as being of a spiritual kind, whereas hope is obviously spiritual in any case.

Question #24:

I can understand now what you meant about the adverb explaining nephontes as spiritual. But here I thought I would explain to you why I see τελειως ἐλπισατε as a real possibility. [details omitted] Don't put some of your hope in some worldly hope or desire or in your physical shape pride of life or in your earthly comfort. Not only don't split the ratio between this ultimate hope of the coming grace when your Lord is revealed and the earthly hope as 6 to 4, 7 to 3, or even 9 to 1. It must 10 to 0 - anything different than that will get you into trouble.

This is how I see τελειως ἐλπισατε can work and this is also what I observe with other Christians. Now, Professor, don't think that this is a call to some asceticism, it's not. I know we are to enjoy all these graces that God keeps pouring each day. But placing undue hope in them - and that always happens at the cost of the only true hope - brings trouble.

Response #24: 

On the first issue, it strikes me that taking the adverb with the participle works for your situation too: "waking up in a spiritual mature / complete way, [then] set your hope . . . ". If a person has "snapped out of it", "it" being in this example various types of worldliness, then directing hope will be possible; otherwise not. And how to direct hope "completely" without first "sobering up" (nephontes)? It seems the best solution is to take all three together. That was also my first impression, but not so easy to translate that into English; one can explain it, but I wasn't able to translate it. So I made a choice. Your points are all good ones.

Question #25: 

You are exactly right - the alertness determines how we set our hope and this applies to what I wrote too. It is quite correct that even what I saw as the cause of evil was itself a result of another evil - spiritual alertness being stupefied. Still, the two go hand in hand to such a degree that taking the adverb as applying to both may be the best solution, as you wrote. And on this - could you point me to some reading on this issue? I haven't come across an adverb being used in this way in "Reading Greek" and I haven't started "First Year of Greek" yet (I should soon though). In fact, although alertness would seem to precede hope, as also other scriptures could be taken to mean (Romans 5:3-5), these two are also linked so closely that I wonder if the cause-effect relationship is one directional. For example - hope of what is to come could reinforce our spiritual alertness. This is just a thought.

Response #25:  

apo koinou is what is called a "figure of speech". Metaphor, alliteration and assonance are figures well known in English, but many of the Classical figures, used widely in poetry and rhetoric, are not necessarily employed often or at all in English. There is, in my view, a great need for a good book on this subject which is not all in Greek and Latin (such as Oxford's Encyclopedia of Rhetoric or some titles in German I have forgotten) and which is not too simplified (such as the list in the back of Smyth). One of the problems with "figures" is that there are different ways of viewing many of them. One man's brachylogy is another man's metonymy, e.g. Bullinger's Figures of Speech in the Bible is the standard work for this sort of thin in scripture. However, to my mind it is overblown and I would disagree with many of his classifications (that is the "figure" problem always) – and I note that even with his extensive analysis he says nothing about this particular figure. This sort of knowledge comes with reading a lot of Greek and Latin poetry / rhetoric and reading a lot of commentaries which track these sorts of things. Have a brief go through Smyth (which I know you have: p.671 ff.) and you'll get the idea. I have a nice handout done my dear friend who died prematurely in graduate school. If I have a chance and remember this summer, I try to scan it and send you a copy (however I'm still on jury duty and we were supposed to get a new copier at work so there may be a learning curve there to in regards to doing this).

Question #26: 

One question I wanted to ask you about apo koinou - although the adverb fits both νηφοντες and ἐλπισατε, how likely is it that Peter would have known this figure of speech and used it in his writing? This question appeared to me as I have been thinking of this passage after our discussion. On the one hand, this figure seems to fit here perfectly both linguistically and semantically, but although I don't know how frequently it is utilised in secular Greek, I'm not sure if it is ever again used in the New Testament (at least I cannot remember coming across it) and if Peter would have consciously made use of it.

Response #26: 

It's a good question. What I would wish to do here is to distinguish between actual language the way people actually use it and analytical tools designed to help describe it. For example, in Latin they have construction we call "the double dative" wherein writers often say "it is FOR the benefit FOR you", which in English we translate "it is FOR the benefit OF you" – because that is our idiom. If Cicero were reading me instead of the other way around (lol), he might explain to his students that "this is the 'English dative/genitive construction' which conforms to our use of two datives". Now would that mean that I am consciously using such a construction? Not at all. I speak / write the way I do based upon years of hearing English, reading English and (one would hope) being educated. The language is the language, and as a native speaker who has had a fair amount of schooling I have a good idea of how I may use it and how I may not. People in our country do use figures of speech all the time without even realizing that is what they are doing, and that includes highly educated folks who think "Classics" means Shakespeare and Milton.

One critical difference is that in classical times those who practiced poetry and rhetoric at the time of the writing of the NT probably did as a rule possess a much greater cognizance of this issue than is true today of the average writer and intellectual. But that also cuts both ways. Things such as figures of speech were "in the ether" much more than is the case today. For example, pretty much everyone would have seen / heard their share of zeugmas and so would not be shocked or prompted to laugh upon hearing "He ate a prodigious amount of beef and wine".

So on the one hand, this sort of thing, using an adverb flexibly so as to have it apply to two verbal elements, is nothing unusual at the time, and on the other hand if what is written "works" then all is well for the writer and also for the contemporary native speakers and readers. Our problem today, being neither contemporary (and thus having to jump a wide cultural divide), nor being native speakers (and thus having to approach these writings somewhat artificially no matter how good our Greek is), is that sometimes we do have to resort to a depth of analysis of the text that otherwise would not be the case. If we know what we are doing, that is no problem – unless we make it a problem by committing the cardinal error of assuming that our lens of analysis is determinative and thus is, in effect, able to dictate to the text about what it can and can't mean. In fact, the text says what it says and means what it means. Our job is to use whatever means and talents we have to get to the bottom of the meaning in the Holy Spirit. "Wake up and set your hope in a spiritually mature way . . ." or "In a spiritually mature way wake up and set your hope . . ." are two possible ways of blurring the line. The line is definitely blurry in Greek since the adverb sits directly between two verbal elements, each of which could take an adverb and each of which are reasonable benefitted by being modified by this particular adverb. So, no, I doubt if Peter thought about this figure when he wrote what he wrote. But we do know that he had a good idea what he wrote meant, and the Spirit has produced the perfect meaning – in Greek. And it works in Greek when read in Greek. Our job is to understand that meaning and express it the best we can: "Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind in spiritually mature alertness, and set your hope upon that grace which is coming your way when Jesus Christ is revealed.

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