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Do We Really Trust Jesus?

28 Mar
trust-jesus

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In chapter three of Peter’s first epistle he wrote to wives and husbands. Why would he think he needed to write to all the churches in the five Roman provinces mentioned in the first chapter about the duties of wives and husbands? Were families under attack? Was this the fiery trial he spoke of in chapter four? Well, I suppose this could be the case, but I believe it would be very unlikely that the families of Messianic believers were singled out by a particular enemy, during the first century AD to be attacked and destroyed. Peter told the believers that the trial they were experiencing was not a strange thing (1Peter 4:12). Rather, their faith was under fire (1Peter 1:7). If Peter was using a metaphor when writing to wives and husbands, what did he mean?

In John’s second epistle he writes to the elect lady and her children (2John 2:1). It is quite possible that John wrote to a woman pastor. I believe women were indeed called to this office in the first century, but women in that office were oppressed later. However, I don’t believe John is writing specifically to a women in this case, because he concludes his letter with “…the children of your elect sister greet you.” I don’t believe women as pastors or chief elders were used that often, because it was a new thing and the people had to adjust to the idea. The Gospel was not about the liberation of women, but about Jesus and his saving us. The idea of our freedom, whether that of women in society, concerning the subject of slavery or as the behavior of all pertain to God and the law, was secondary to the Gospel. The Gospel specifically concerns God’s attitude toward us, not ours toward him or one another. The latter has its place as a result of the Gospel, but the Gospel is all about God.

Therefore, I believe John is using metaphor to describe the church as a whole, the elect lady (sister), and her children, which is to say, individual believers. Paul also uses this metaphor in chapter five of his letter to the Ephesians. Just as Peter does, Paul begins by instructing the wives (Ephesians 5:22) and then to the husbands (Ephesians 5:25). We know that he is speaking metaphorically, because he tells us in Ephesians 5:32 where he says that his words reveal a great mystery about Christ and the church, and then goes on to say in verse-33: “nevertheless, let the husband love his own wife, and let the wife reverence her husband.” These things were understood very clearly in the first century AD, because the apostles instructed the churches concerning these matters when they were with them. Therefore, their letters were not misunderstood.

In his first letter Peter instructs the wives, the churches, to be in subjection to their own husbands or chief elders (pastors), and if they (the pastors) don’t obey the word, they might be won over through the conduct of the body of believers (the church). They were to adorn themselves not with outward beauty but the inward spirit with meekness (1Peter 3:3-4). Then he refers to Sarah as a model who referred to her husband as her lord. Now, really, should wives refer to their own husbands as “lord”? I can already hear the laughter now at the thought of such a ridiculous thing. However, if Peter is speaking of someone with a great responsibility, then an honorable title is in order. Even mothers referred to their sons as “lord” if he were king. Don’t we use the titles “pastor” or “reverend” for men and women today who bear the responsibility of shepherding the flock of God? Isn’t this what Peter is referring to when he offers Sarah as an example for the wife to refer to her husband in an honorable fashion?

The husband or pastor was to do dwell with his wife or local body of believers according to knowledge—teaching them, because, as a rule, the church body is the weaker vessel, needing to be taught, encouraged, led etc. (1Peter 3:7).[1]

Finally, Peter told all who read his epistle to love one another. He tells us not to render evil for evil, slandering one another etc. It seems, at least in part, the trial that had come upon the believers was that men had either secretly entered into the body as enemies, or men had risen up from the believing body and began accusing one another of wrongdoing, probably attacking the leaders. Nevertheless, Peter’s advise is that we shouldn’t respond in kind, but endure the evil and commit our fate to God (1Peter 3:10-14), but if we are asked, instead of being accused, we should be ready with the appropriate response, tempered with meekness and reverence (1Peter 3:15). At times suffering is inevitable, so it is better to behave honorably and not attack our accusers. It is much better to endure suffering for good behavior than to endure it when we have acted like our accusers (1Peter 3:16-17). Peter’s model for this is that Christ, in his divine form during the days of Noah, preached to all those who had abandoned God and accused him of evil, but in the end only eight people were saved. This same Christ in Peter’s day had ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God (1 Peter 3:22)—the executive position of all authority. All things were in his power, the implication being, we need to pray to him and trust he will respond in our favor, which he will, if we behave properly. That is, if we trust he will act to help us, and if we don’t take our fate into our own hands—expressing our lack of faith in him.

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[1] This point of view is possible, but I have rejected it in favor of what I concluded in a more recent and yet (as of March 2016) unpublished study on 1Peter. It is my hope to publish sometime soon what I have come to learn from a deeper study of this Scripture.

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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Gospel

 

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