David Pawson - Peter Part 2

Thoughtful Thoughts 17.8.18  The letters of Peter Part 2

Background…

Last time we dealt with authorship, because some liberal theologians said 1 & 2 Peter weren’t written by Peter and so had no Scriptural authority. One of their main arguments for saying that was, that the Greek is too good for an uneducated man like Peter. Well, Peter says Silas wrote the letter for him.

This time we will look at Peter’s location. This is relevant as a church has used writings by their own theologians to say Peter was in Rome, and to then create a doctrine of popes. I will show that there is much stronger evidence from the Bible for putting Peter somewhere else. So let’s take a look.

In 1 Peter, Peter says that John Mark is right  there with him and in 1 Timothy we learn that John Mark is with Timothy.

(i)  As it happens, we know where Timothy is.

--  Timothy had been told by Paul to look after the church in Ephesus. Then, whilst he was still there, Paul wrote to Timothy and asked him to return, and to bring John Mark with him to be his helper. (At that time Paul was in Rome.)

(ii) So, how did John Mark get to be working in Ephesus with Timothy?

-- (a). In 1 Peter, Peter says that Mark is with him.

-- (b). When Peter came to write 2 Peter, he says he knew he was about to die. (We know he was crucified upside down.) After Peter is crucified, Mark makes himself available to help Timothy, and we know that Timothy was in Ephesus. At least the Bible text is being used to suppose that Peter had been in Ephesus before his martyrdom, and that John Mark was with him until death.

Then, when Paul heard that Peter had been crucified, he sent for John Mark to come and help him in Rome, and as Mark was not in Rome it meant that Peter had not been in Rome.

Teaching point...

By using Biblical evidence to locate Peter around about this time, it is clear that it was Paul who was in Rome, and not Peter. Church writings were used to create a doctrine of popes, arguing Peter was the first bishop of Rome/pope. But if Peter had been in Rome, John Mark would also have already been in Rome too, helping Peter, and Paul would not have needed to ask Timothy to bring him from Ephesus.

In addition, at the time Peter was alive, there were several bishops to each church, as a bishop was only a kind of a local leader with responsibility, but nothing special. It was not a position of being over other leaders. The church changed “what it says on the tin”, much later. And if I had written this, before the reformation, I would have been burned alive at the stake for heresy, along with everyone else. When I asked a catholic priest about discrepancies between the Bible and catholic doctrine, he said that tradition carried as much weight as the Bible and that the vatican papal letters carried more authority.

Summary of 1 Peter...

-- Peter says (a) that he is an eye-witness, (to Jesus), and (b), knows he doesn’t have long to live.

-- Peter writes about holiness, (1:13 - 2:3, and 4:1-11), which is a constant theme in the N.T.

-- Holiness starts with being “born again”, (1:23), and moving into discipleship.

-- Peter explains we are now the new replacement temple, (2:4-12).

-- Peter emphasises submission, which brings order, (2:13- 3: 21; 4:12-19; and 5:5-6.)

-- Peter explains that suffering brings God’s reward, (3:8-22).

-- Peter orders leaders to be the servants, (5:2); not to be money minded, (5:2); and not to “lord it   

  over” anyone, (5:3).

-- Peter leaves behind instructions for young men, (5:5-9).

-- Peter encourages believers to look to the future hope we have in Christ, (5:10).

-- Peter gives glory to God 8 times in 1 Peter.

Peter’s insight...

Last time, I promised to show where Jesus’ Spirit went after He died on the cross, and before He rose again. In 1 Peter 3:18-20 we read that Jesus went to the place where the spirits are in prison awaiting judgement, to preach to those who had had their lives cut short at the time of Noah’s flood.

The people on earth at the time of Noah’s flood have been treated differently to other souls, by being judged (i), before anyone else, and (ii) part way through their lives. Many of them responded to Jesus’ message and re-started their lives after Jesus rose, Matthew 27:52-53; (being raised from the dead and who witnesses saw in Jerusalem; Matthew 27:52-53). It only happened to that one group because they had been treated differently to the rest of mankind. Whilst they were treated justly, (because the wages of sin is death), everyone else lived without God cutting their life short, in a general early judgement.

Believer’s Immersion...

Another insight Peter gives us is that the flood water around Noah’s ark, is also a symbol of “water immersion”, 3:21, which “saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”, (v.21). Peter says it symbolises our PLEDGE to God of a good conscience; 3:21. Now, babies are not in a position to “pledge” anything at their christening. Biblical immersion is a conscious decision made by someone old enough to be informed, and therefore understand. It is a response.

Summary of 2 Peter…

-- We have to ensure that we actually FINISH the race we started; 2 Peter 1:3-11.

-- Peter says false Bible teachers will go to hell; 2 Peter 2.

-- The “Day of the Lord”, is the the same as the Day of Judgement; (2 Peter 3). God’s patience is meant   

   to save those who “make every effort to be spotless”.

-- Peter uses Noah’s flood to symbolise judgement. God has provided a kind of Noah’s ark.

-- Peter appeals to his fellow Messianic Jewish family of believers, who had successfully transitioned

  from the ‘Old Covenant’ to the ‘New Covenant’, that they must never go back to their old synagogue,

  (which is what many had started doing because Nero was killing believers in Jesus). Peter says that  

  they must make their calling SURE, or else face the consequences of not doing so.  

-- Peter, gives glory to God 3 times in these 3 short chapters of 2 Peter.

All the good work done by the Ephesus church leadership resulted in that church being praised by Jesus in Revelation for having good teaching, (even though their love for Jesus needed reviving). And all that should help you to understand 1 & 2 Peter, when you watch the video and read the letters this week.

I’m John Dunning and that’s “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.

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