Major Themes in 1 and 2 Peter

The First and Second Epistles of Peter were written for practical purposes. Whereas the First Epistle of Peter deals with the persecution of the believers, the Second Epistle deals with false teachers. What is interesting is that Peter dealt with both challenges in theological terms. The persecution of the believers helped Peter to meditate on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. The false teachers encouraged Peter to address the idea that false teachers are not going to escape the judgment. The Epistles of Peter address five major themes, these are:

The first theme Peter deals with is the suffering of Jesus that led to salvation. The salvation motif is mentioned in the context of the suffering of Jesus. Christ’s suffering serves as a substitute for sinners. In First Peter 2:22-24, Peter seems to have drawn many images from Isaiah 53, where it focuses on the suffering servant — the sacrifice. The sacrifices in the OT constituted the gospel for the children of Israel. The sacrifices:

pointed the way to communion and fellowship with God. There are professed Christians who do not see much of importance or value for them in the divinely appointed Temple services; yet the gospel plan of salvation as revealed more fully in the NT is made clearer by an understanding of the OT. In fact, he who understands the Levitical system as presented in the OT can much better understand and appreciate gospel as set forth in the NT. The one foreshadows the other and is a type of it.[1]

If the sacrificial system is well understood, it will enhance ones understanding of the cross of Christ and what He has done. In other words, the sacrificial system served as a type and foreshadowed the antitype — death of Christ. Every sacrifice in the OT pointed towards the Messiah. In the symbolic sanctuary services of ancient Israel, the sinner was to bring an animal sacrifice that was “without blemish” (Exod 12:5; 29:1; Lev 1:3, 10; 22:21). Every animal sacrificed represented Christ, “the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The animal sacrificed by the repentant Israelite was to be “without blemish,” or “perfect,” because it symbolized the spiritual perfection of Jesus Christ. Peter likened Christ to the lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet 1:19).

Jesus is the only human person who has ever lived a sinless life. His life was acceptable to His Father, and His death a perfect sacrifice for sin because “he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (Isa 53:9).[2] Ellen G. White echoes this beautiful aspect when she said:

None need fail of attaining, in his sphere, to perfection of Christian character. By the sacrifice of Christ, provision has been made for the believer to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ’s character. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through co-operation with Divinity, human beings may in this life attain to perfection of character. This is God’s assurance to us that we, too, may obtain complete victory.[3]

What promoted Christ to die is His love for mankind. He who has suffered has lived and he who has loved has lived, too. The two are inseparable. Thus, love involves sacrifice, and sacrifice often involves suffering. This kind of love is very crucial for love counts sacrifice a privilege.[4]

The second theme: our practical response to the knowledge that God will judge our actions at the last judgment. This theme places Christians to be true followers of Christ. The way one should “behave” and “live,” to be a “sermon in shoes” is critical because Peter links between man’s behavior and God’s judgment (1 Pet 1:17 and 2 Pet. 3:11). Thus, a man ought to be holy as God is holy. In the OT, the word for holy means to set aside, dedicated for holy use. This concept of setting something aside is called sanctification. Peter admonishes believers to live a holy life just as Christ is holy. The concept of holiness is not an abstract thing; holiness in Leviticus 11 is linked to dietary habits. Holiness, therefore, includes obedience to the laws of God that relate to the physical being.[5] In Leviticus, if you want to be holy, don’t pass out a tract, love your neighbor as yourself; show hospitality to strangers and be a person of justice. Holiness is so essential thus the book of Hebrews says, “without holiness no once can see God” (Heb 12:14b). At every step of life the call to holiness confronts us: in the field, in the office, in the classroom, at home, in business, with friends, aliens and foreigners, in acts of worship, and in the family.

The third theme that Peter discusses is the hope we have in the soon return of Jesus. While it is true that Peter talked about the persecution of the believers in the first century, he did talk about hope, a future reward waiting for them in heaven, a reward that cannot be taken away. In this theme, Peter highlights two things: the reward and the judgment. That is to say, believers will receive a future reward while the wicked will be destroyed. According to the Bible, the judgment means, “to justify.” Regarding the judgment, Peter says that the judgment will be done on three different occasions. First God will judge all human according to their deeds (1 Pet 1:17). Second, God will judge the living and the dead (1 Pet 4:5). Third, judgment will start in the household of God (1 Pet 4:17). The words of Peter Brunner are comforting about the judgment. He suggests:

Living in every instance in the judgment of God makes our life what it is. Living in the judgment of God is the creative power that makes us what we actually are. We do not make ourselves what we are; God’s judgment about us makes what we are, for the judgment of God works very differently from human judgment. . . . I am what God thinks about me. God’s judgment carries with it the immediate power of execution. God’s decree creates what it says. . . . If God decrees, ‘He is my beloved child,’ then that is what I really am, even when so much seems to speak against it. . . . God’s judgment about you and me creates the basic foundation of our existence. I live as I live in the judgment of God. I am what I am through the judgment of God. Any weight that I might place on the scale of my life produces only a superficial and temporary swing. But what God’s judgment brings into my life shifts the balance for all time and eternity. That is why the question of what God thinks of me is the most important of all questions.[6]

Jirí Moskala in his article, The Gospel According to God’s Judgment: Judgment as Salvation, where he discusses four phases, concludes his article on judgment saying, “Praise the Lord that God is our Judge!”[7] Therefore, judgment should not be perceived negatively but rather positively.

In Second Peter 3:1-10, Peter spends time regarding the second coming of Christ. As Peter emphasized in chapter one, he returned here to tell the readers that the second epistle also does not bring anything new, but rather exhorts them regarding “the second advent of the Lord” that is:

1. The Prophets have already prophesied about His coming.

2. The Lord recommended it (Matt 24: 26-29; Mark 13: 35-37; Luke 12:40).

3. Recommended by the apostles and disciples (1 Tim 5: 2-4).

This is the very purpose of the Word of God in the Old and New Testaments that we await the coming of the Lord and meet Him and be with Him forever. In Hebrew, yom Adoni is a genitive construction chain, which means, the “Day of the Lord.” Apart from being a day of judgment, the “Day of the Lord” is one of the eschatological concepts the believer in the OT looked forward to — a day to long for. It is a day of judgment and salvation. Therefore, the “Day of the Lord” refers to any time in history in which YHWH takes conspicuous and decisive action in order to bring punitive destruction or/and saving restoration. It can refer to (1) an imminent day; (2) the future eschatological day, or (3) it can blend the immediate historical Day of Judgment with the eschatological judgment. The Day of the Lord shall be for the wicked, like a thief, that it shall defile them at night, in the midst of their iniquity. As for the righteous, it will be a wedding day, when the persons will be filled with the heavenly bridegroom. The Bible says:

7Let us rejoice, be glad, and give him glory, because the marriage of the lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. 8She has been given the privilege of wearing fine linen, dazzling and pure.

The fourth theme, the order in society and in the church. While the apostle Peter lived in troublous times, one of his themes was: an order in the society and in the church. Learning the divine order in both the society and the church is of fundamental importance in the days in which we live. God’s order has been established at all levels: in societies, in civil circles, in marriage, at home, and in relationships.

The fifth and last theme Peter addresses, the role Scripture has in providing guidance in our lives. Peter directs the false teacher and the readers today to the authority of the Scriptures when he said, “to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the commandment of our Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles” (2 Pet 3:2). The words “inspiration” and “inspired” are derived from the Latin and appeared in the Vulgate translation of 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21. Their basic meaning is to “breathe in.” In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul affirms that all Scripture is theopneustos, or “breathed by God.” Benjamin Warfield concludes that “Scripture is called theopneustos in order to designate it as ‘God-breathed,’ the product of divine inspiration.” Thus, “the Scriptures owe their origin to an activity of God the Holy Ghost and are in the highest and truest sense His creation.” The authority of the Scripture is important, for “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). It is necessary consequences of our submission to the Lordship of Christ Jesus.[8]

The epistles of Peter place great emphasis on how Christians should treat each other. Apart from knowing the truth, believers should live the truth, too. Ellen G. White says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”[9] Truth is consistent with the heart, mind, and will, and being of God. Truth changes, it makes us a true people of God, and it helps us to love and to be loved.

[1]Francis Nichol, ed. Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. (Washington, DC: Review & Herald, 1976-1980), 1:711.

[2]Leo R. Van Dolson, RELT 255 Christian Beliefs Syllabus (Berrien Springs, MI, 1980), p.46.

[3]Ellen G. White. The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1911), 531.

[4]Nichol, ed. Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 1:721.

[6]Peter Brunner, “The Forgiveness of God and the Judgment of God,” Word & World 21, no. 3 (2001): 282.

[7]Jirí Moskala, “The Gospel According to God’s Judgment: Judgment as SalvationI,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 22/1 (2011): 28-49.

[8]John Stott, The Authority of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1974), 9

[9]Ellen G. White, Selected Messages (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1958), 2:373.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8074

From the article…

What does “complete victory” really mean ??

Is this just SDA fantasy, fanatic religious lingo?

If one dares to say it means that humans can stop sinning before the 2nd coming…then they are stigmatized as LGT heretics and fringe fanatics.

By the way…I challenge any Sabbath school attender…as few as they have become …to do a survey in your church to see how many read the 166 verses of 1 & 2 Peter.,during April, May & June. (91 days)

Next SS lessons cover the letter of Galatians. I wonder how many would groan in their reaction.

Verses from Galatians are probably the most often used verses, that are warped/corrupted, by “Christians,” in these contemporary times, to trash the moral law of 10 commandments. (In fulfillment of 2 Peter 3:16)

Ray…

This is just case of parroting shallow obscure religious lingo.

  1. Look at Neh 8:8 and then try to explain in detail, to any others, what you posted
  2. Consider telling a 12 year old who just heard that Jesus died for their sins and rose again that they don’t need to read any bible, they just should listen to the Holy Spirit lead them or let Jesus channel their body and make decisions for them.

I have heard these NON elaborated on theological sweet nothins for decades and observe the continued experience of Adventist zombies continue their carnal, secular walk to the 2nd resurrection.

I suggest you spend considerable time meditating on…

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Gal 5:18

Wrong conclusion…justified means pardoned or set right…not saved.
The publican had his mind in the right attitude by confessing (agreeing with God) and knew God was the judge and the one who can forgive. Don’t add more than what is written.

Here is a very ignored, unpopular SOP quote that makes most SDA cringe and/or mad.

"Those only who through faith in Christ obey all of God’s commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression. SDA EGW commentary Vol 6 1118

Dave,

Get away from those 2 Pet 3:16 false teachers ASAP! They are still in the ROM 8:7 mode.
Until you understand what salvation really means you will be a victim of their deception.
Review Jesus’ words in Matthew about parable of soils, talents, building on sand, helping those who were not considered brothers. Most in SDA world are being deceived as the scholars become contaminated with Calvin & evangelical doctrine. Modern Christian doctrine actually is promoting lawlessness and trending society from civilized mode to barbarianism.

Can’t you see that all of the conflict & discord among Christians is evidence of lack of salvation?
The meek inherit the Earth and those who do justly, love mercy, walk humbly and have eradicated sinful thoughts from their minds. IS 55:7 2 Cor 10:5…

2 Themes in 1 & 2 Peter…
Outside danger of physical persecution
Inside danger of false teachers.

For SDA members…countering false SDA teachers will lead to INSIDE persecution.

1 Like

Gideon –
I would venture to say that MOST probably do not read Scripture for Scripture sake.
I would venture to say that MOST probably read the assigned Scripture to VERIFY in their minds WHAT the EDITORS want them to know and HOW to think.
It would probably drive Most SDAs CRAZY IF the teacher threw the Lesson Quarterly away and just had the class read the assigned Scripture out loud, and then open the HOUR for JUST comments on the Scripture texts as they spoke to them HEARING it.
Refuse to allow ANY EGW or Lesson Quarterly comments to be voiced.
REALLY, SDAs are NOT a people of the Book when it comes down to it.
Our Culture DOES NOT allow that to happen.

Sirje – Yes! Years ago when I was a young adult, I heard one person who wrote a Quarterly Topic relate how what he turned in came out on the other end NOT the same as he submitted it.
Apparently even today the Editors take a lot of Editorial License with materials submitted.

PERFECTION-- WHAT is Perfection? HOW can it be defined. AND HOW will a person EVER KNOW when they have ATTAINED Perfection?? What are the Criteria? So one can make a Check-List and check off everything, and finally tell God — I’m PERFECT!! Yeah!!!
I think this PERFECTION DOCTRINE that we SDAs have is a real killer for a lot of members’ Psyche. And it is continued to be promoted by otherwise Intelligent persons.

3 Likes

Gideon, the teaching that born again Christians live under the law of ten commandments or by obedience to that law is the distortion that Galatians exposes. We died to the law as partakers in Christ’s death and we now live by the ministry of the Spirit of life. This means Christ living His resurrected life in us. Huge difference.

It’s by grace that the Holy Spirit counsels, guides and teaches us on a day by day basis.

Paul didn’t trash the 10 commandments. He put them in their proper place. Law is for rebellious sinners, not for the righteous according to 1 Timothy 1. Pseudo-religion is using Scripture to prove our pre-conceived ideas. There’s no point in reading Scripture or all 166 verses of Peter’s unless we take to heart what really is written.

3 Likes

That is exactly what I did for years (a couple or three decades ago). I would use, either, the “memory verse” or the subject title of the lesson (not always coordinated in the quarterly) and made up my own lesson. When you skip the canned question-answer model of the lessons people look surprised and often become speechless. The idea that they should simply read the Bible and form thoughts of their own based on what they, themselves, read is an anathema. Frankly, I think it might even be considered a sin - “private interpretation” of scripture. It’s not legitimate unless Cliff has placed his stamp of approval on any thoughts. Even the authors of the lessons find their thoughts and emphasis changed by the time the lessons find their way into the quarterly.

2 Likes

Youssry,
I read the passage relating to footnote #3 in the article. It is from Acts of the Apostles chapter 52. On the page following this quote, Mrs. White writes,

‘Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of the law. But of himself man is utterly unable to reach this condition. The holiness that God’s word declares he must have before he can be saved is the result of the working of divine grace as he bows in submission to the discipline and restraining influences of the Spirit of truth.’

I don’t know how one is to understand this other than she is stating that one must attain a degree of holiness or sanctification before one is saved. Is this Scriptural?
Please consider:
-the publican who realized he was a sinner, beat his chest and asked for mercy. Jesus said, ‘I tell you, this man went to his house justified (a legal term meaning freed from the claims of the law, i.e., saved) rather than the other;’ (the Pharisee who thought he was holy.)
-the woman who washed Jesus’ feet and to whom Jesus said, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’
-the thief on the cross who was told by Jesus, 'Truly I say to you today, you shall be with Me in paradise.'
When did these people undergo the process of sanctification (the required discipline and restraint as Mrs. White calls it) before they were saved? Clearly, they didn’t.

It’s interesting that the article refers to the Old Testament sacrifices as a key to understanding the plan of salvation. The three primary feasts of OT Israel also give us insight in this regard. The physical feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles have spiritual application to each Christian. In the journey of the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised land, the first step was placing the blood of a lamb on the doorpost so the angel of death would ‘pass over’. For us, belief in what the shed blood of Christ, our Passover lamb, has accomplished for us is what saves us. This justification by faith is the first step of our journey as well.
It is only later, at Mt. Sinai when the law is given, that the Israelites are called to begin the sanctification process to holy living by submission and obedience to God’s law. (and what’s wonderful for us is the New Covenant’s unconditional promise of God that He will place the law in our hearts). This process will culminate in our glorification which is foreshadowed by the fall feast of Tabernacles.
The point is that according to the types given to us in the OT, salvation comes before sanctification, not after.

How can one draw any conclusion other than Mrs. White is wrong about this?

WRT the idea of attaining perfection now: yes, God sees us as perfect (Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to us or reckoned to our account) but I believe we will not actually become perfect until our glorification.

The article relates that Peter says that God will judge all of us according to our deeds (1Peter 1:17). (Hence we go back to the confusion about faith vs. works.) That is true but can you conceive of the idea that in this ‘investigative judgment’ (as Adventists call it) of our deeds our salvation is not the issue? We are saved by the grace and mercy of God which we receive through faith. (The books of Romans & Galatians state this many times and this was Luther’s great discovery.) The IJ is concerned with what degree of sanctification we have attained in this life through our ‘fiery ordeal’ as Peter calls it (1Peter 4:12). What then is the purpose of the IJ?
Paul spoke of an ‘upward call’ of God he was straining to attain (Phil 3:12-14) and Peter says to ‘make your calling and election sure’ (2Peter 1:10).
Do we not have an election to choose someone to serve in some capacity?
In the IJ, I believe God will examine our lives, i.e., our works, to choose (or elect and thus reward) those who are further along on the road to holiness with positions of authority (and thus service) in the coming kingdom.
Is not your ‘calling’ your profession? The NT identifies three such callings in the coming kingdom. Some will be judges (Matt 19:28; 1Cor 6:2,3), some gov’t. administrators (Luke 19:15-19, Rev 20:4) and some priests (Rev 5:10; 20:6). Jesus is our Judge, Lord and High Priest but I believe others will be chosen to be given the honour of assisting Him in these roles.
I think this is the purpose of the coming judgment based on how we have lived our lives. Our salvation, based entirely on God’s love and mercy and claimed solely by faith is not the issue in this judgment. Can you see how this view helps eliminate the confusion about faith and works?

Gideon,
I appreciate that you have a different definition for justification. My belief is that it is always associated with salvation (not just forgiveness of past sins upon conversion).
I think mine is the more traditional Protestant position but not that of very many in Adventism. This is in line with my understanding:


Adventism is more anthropocentric in that there is a belief that works (sanctification) of each person are integral to their salvation. I now see our redemption as much more God’s and Christ’s doing than ours. See 1Cor 1:30. (The only reason I believe the New Covenant cannot fail is because it is an unconditional promise of God (so we can’t screw it up)).

I would like to share what I have found over the last few years but I find it almost impossible because so many of my older, significant concepts have changed. Part of that was brought about by study of more literal translations of the Bible and learning some words in their original languages (and hence their original meanings). These things have certainly changed my understanding.
I now believe that God’s plan of salvation for us will be manifested in several ages (Heb 1:2) and stages. As Paul says in Eph 2:7, there are ‘ages to come’ and we are not to follow the wisdom or rulers of this age but ‘God’s wisdom’, which God ‘predestined before the ages to our glory;’ (1Cor 2:6-7). I am not a Calvinist but I can now reconcile the verses that support Calvinism to my theology (which I could not do as an Adventist) which agrees with 2Tim 3:16.
I now see that salvation and the sanctification required for entry into the kingdom are two different things. When I realized that I should separate salvation issues from kingdom parables, things got clearer for me. Certainly we are called to become more like Christ. I just no longer believe that my salvation depends on my works, or me reaching a certain level of holiness. To me, this is what 1Cor 3:10-15 is saying.
I don’t see Heb 12:24 as being about salvation but rather entry into the kingdom. I tried to relate something of what I believe about the coming kingdom in part of my comment above.

1 Like

Is there going to be anything posted on Galatians, the book for the new quarter? What’s going on?

Thanks…

Frank

Hi Frank,

Thanks for checking in. We’re working on it. We appreciate your patience.

-WebEd