David Pawson - Unlocking the Bible - Peter Pt2
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Thoughtful Thoughts 17.3.23 by John Dunning. Peter’s letters, Part 2.
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 written Greek is too good for an uneducated man like Peter. Well, Peter gives all the credit to Silas for writing the letter for him, so that explains that.
Peter took John Mark under his wing after John Mark had run away from persecution when on a mission trip with Paul and Barnabus. Now at the end of this letter, Peter called John Mark ‘his son’. Mark went on to write Peter’s story in what we call the Gospel of Mark. Well, John Mark is still here with Peter towards the latter part of Peter’s life. Peter saw that John Mark needed someone to train and father him. When he was a young man he had run away when he saw that you could die being a disciple of Jesus. Well, Peter too had run away when Jesus was on trial. Peter is now writing a letter to set the example of standing firm to the end. That was the difference that discipleship had made.
This time we will look at Peter’s location. This is relevant as the Catholic 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 Bible evidence for putting Peter in Ephesus. 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. So where was Timothy?
(i) As it happens, we know where Timothy was.
— Timothy had been told by Paul to look after the church in Ephesus. Then, while he was still there, Paul wrote to Timothy and asked him to return and 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. (He was about to be crucified upside down.) After Peter is crucified, Mark makes himself available to help Timothy. As we know that Timothy was in Ephesus and that John Mark was him, we suddenly realise that Peter was in Ephesus before his death. John Mark was Peter’s right-hand man who wrote down the gospel for Peter, which we call “Mark”. John Mark was still there in Ephesus when Timothy found him, which places him with Peter until his martyrdom. Mark then become a pillar in the church when Timothy suddenly came across him.
When Paul learned from Timothy that Mark was there in Ephesus with him, he sent for John Mark to be brought to him in Rome. He would not have asked for Mark unless he knew that Peter had been killed and that Mark was free to come. Paul would not have ‘pinched’ Mark from Peter.
This means that as Mark was not in Rome at that time, it meant that Peter was also not in Rome either. It was the Catholic church that claimed that Peter was in Rome so that they could claim he was the first Pope. They kept on banging that drum until repetition made it a theological doctrine, and theologians simply let sleeping dogs lie, so as not to upset the Catholic church, as if it didn’t matter.
I believe it does matter because that fiction was used to create the man-made theology of Popes.
I say ‘man-made’ because Jesus said the Holy Spirit would replace Him on earth, and yet the Popes take the title, “In the place of Christ on earth”. (They use the Latin word, ‘ “vicar” of Christ on earth’. It is a heresy because Jesus taught the opposite. In fact, I would say it is blasphemy to take one of the titles of God for themselves.)
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 New Testament theme.
— Holiness starts with being “born again”, (1:23), and moves into discipleship.
— Peter explains WE are the new 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 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 eight times in 1 Peter.
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 judgment, to preach to those who had had their lives cut short at the time of Noah’s flood. Why?
The people on earth at the time of Noah’s flood had been treated differently to other souls, by being judged differently;- (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 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), but everyone else who lived did so without God cutting their life short, in a general early judgment.
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. New Testament believer’s immersion is a conscious decision made by someone old enough to be informed and therefore understand. It is a response. (The English translation is ‘immersion’. The word ‘baptism’ comes from the Greek word.)
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 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 “judgment”. God provided a kind of Noah’s ark.
— Peter appeals to his fellow Messianic Jewish family of believers (who had transitioned from the ‘Old Covenant’ to the ‘New Covenant’,) not to 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.
These letters by Peter are about faith under fire. All the good work done by Timothy fixing the Ephesus church leadership problem, resulted in that church later on being praised by Jesus in Revelation for having good teaching, (even though their love for Jesus needed reviving).
One Christian cartoon had the ‘caption’; “The trouble with a living sacrifice, is, that it’s always crawling off the altar!” Peter and John Mark had once run away, but they became pillars of the church, facing persecution and death. When we read the Bible, we are reading God’s story of how His message of salvation started and spread and what we need to do to join His family.
In the UK now, if a Christian’s conscience causes him to put the New Testament into practice, the law can criminalize you.
All of this should help you to understand 1 & 2 Peter, when you watch the video and read the letters this week.
This is John Dunning signing off from “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.
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