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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

(68) The Books of Peter

Expecting Grace through suffering!
Peter was originally known as Simon bar Jona, or Simon the son of John.  In Hebrew it is Shim'on which can be translated as "listen intently" or in some cases as "little hyena".  Simon's new name is Kefa in Hebrew.  In Greek it is Petra and Cephus.  All three mean the same thing; rock.  So when Jesus changed Simon's name he said:  "Listen intently you little hyena you are a rock".  It's no wonder Peter was confused all the time.  His books were written separately.  The first was written around 63 AD about 5 years before his death.  The second one was written right before his death in 68 AD.  Both were written in Rome, although the first book does mention the term Babylon.  Perhaps it was used a analogy of evil.  Both places had Jews living in captivity for their beliefs.  Oddly enough the second book was written around the same time Paul was in prison in Rome as well (2 Peter 3:13-16).  If that is the case both Peter and Paul were executed nearly the same time by the same Roman leader, Nero.
First Peter is filled with analogies that are based on the way Christ talked to him such  as using the terms stones and rock.  Silas actually helped him write the letter.  The book focuses on external opposition to the Church and all the suffering the Body must or will go through.  The second book focuses on the internal opposition of the Church.  It tells Christians what to look out for and not to be part of the world.  Christians need to discern right from wrong compare to what the world tells you and what Christ tells us.  This book is the most argued over it's authenticity of authorship because of the different writing style it has with 1st Peter.  But since Silas wrote the first one then the argument should be settled.  In today's canonical Bible it was the last one to be accepted as valid.
Peter was a successful married fisherman.  In Mark 1:29-31 it states that Peter had a mother-in law and in Luke he had hired employees for his occupation.  But he was not an educated man like Paul.  he was just an ordinary person (Acts 4:13).  He may not have been able to write very well which would explain the difference between the two books that bear his name.  Peter was a very rash and  outspoken person (Mark 8:27-33).  He often spoke his mind before thinking about it and that made him very inconsistent with his ideas and words, compare (Mark 14:27-31).  Jesus had to rebuke him and set him straight a couple of times.  Even Paul apparently had to talk to him (Galatians 2:11-21).  But nevertheless Peter was used by Jesus as a force to be reckoned with.  Peter being the strong-willed type could stand up and give his speech without any fear of repercussions.  Jesus in the end restores his character flawed ways to what Catholics believe to be the first Pope.  Tradition says that he was crucified but told the Romans to put him upside down so he would not die the same way Jesus did.
Some of the main points are:
  1. God's mercy gives birth to hope (1 Pet 1:3)
  2. The prophets hope of the OT became our reality (1 Pet 1:10-12)
  3. Living by the example of Christ gives us hope and the grace that is promised (1 Pet 2:21)
  4. We need to manage our spiritual gifts and use them (1 Pet 4:10-11)
  5. Although we will suffer, we will still have grace (1 Pet 5:8-9)
  6. Through our trials, God has escape routes for us (2 Pet 1:3-4)
  7. Beware of false prophets (2 Pet 2)
  8. Live a Godly life, there is a judgment (2 Pet 3:9-13)
These books were written to offer encouragement to those who are suffering based on their beliefs and to warn us not to fall away based on false teachings in the world.  Knowing the truth is the best way to fight the lies.  Unfortunately in today's world the lie seems better.  It's been said over and over again, the truth will set you free.  Perhaps people like to live in prison instead or they just can't accept the truth because the truth hurts.

More about Peter: http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2009/01/9-peter.html

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