1 and 2 Peter

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9780816361830 (pbk.)


220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)

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This book starts with a careful examination of the text of 1 and 2 Peter, and then teases out the implications that the words of Peter have for the everyday life of a Christian. It has many of the characteristics of a commentary. For example, it considers the historical, social and literary background of the passages under consideration, and it comments at the meaning of many of the key words and others features of the Greek text of the epistles. From time to time it does what Peter himself does in his letters, it considers the practical application of the theology expressed in the letters to the every-day life of Christians.

While there are significant commentaries and articles written on 1 and 2 Peter which I have been able to consult while writing this book, much less is written on the two epistles than on the letters of Paul, any of the Four Gospels, and the Apocalypse of John, even when you take into consideration 1 and 2 Peter are short in length. In some respects, the relative neglect of 1 and 2 Peter can be understood. The Gospels record the deeds and sayings of the founder of Christianity. The letters of Paul carry within them profound ideas that have shaped much of Christian theology, and which played a significant role in the extraordinary upheaval in Christianity associated with the emergence of Protestantism. 1 and 2 Peter, on the other hand, are quite small letters tucked away towards the back of the New Testament, and written to address situations that can seem a little alien to the modern reader.

Yet there is much to commend 1 and 2 Peter to our attention. Sure, they are written to people very different in culture and circumstances than those living today. Even so, Peter addresses their concerns with carefully reasoned answers, rich in theology and practical advice. The resultant letters have many interesting features. We discover something of the stressful circumstances that the early Christian believers in Asia Minor were facing, and how Peter addresses their real concerns. We find out that there are false teachers troubling these very churches, and discover the consequences of their teaching in the lives of those who they influence. The theology that Peter shares has been formed to meet very practical needs. Because of that, they have a relevance to contemporary believers that is quite remarkable.

This book explore the concerns that Peter has with regard to the Christian communities he addresses, and his response to their circumstances. The first chapter looks at Peter himself, to discover the stature of the one from whom these letters originated. The next 11 chapters deal with the leading ideas covered in the two letters, more or less in the order in which they are found in the letters. The final chapter looks at some of the larger themes that have emerged as we have studied the details of the letters.


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