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By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018





Over 50 Interpreters

Explain First Peter











Compiled and Edited


Roland H. Worth, Jr.




Copyright © 2018 by author

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The primary text of this work is the traditional King James Version.  More modern renditions are included from the New King James Version of selected words and phrases and occasionally others.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version.  Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  All rights reserved.






List of All Sources Quoted At End of File





2018 Preface


            Those who have already used the entry in this series on the gospel of Luke may recall that the strong majority of that text had already been researched when I finally decided to finish that lengthy work.  In contrast only about a quarter had been done for 1 Peter and 2 Peter/Jude.  None had been done on the epistles of John, which had to be researched "from scratch," thereby permitting an entire significant "section" of the New Testament to be completed and presented together.

            In the years since Mark and Luke were done, a tremendous amount of material has been made available in internet editions, facilitating the speed and ease of research immensely.  In these compilations that come afterwards these titles are typically only noted as coming from an "Internet edition" or a similar phrase.  A few books have been available in pdf form--another wonderful research tool--and in those cases full bibliographical information has been provided.  

            Individuals quoted are often edited in regard to length but never in a manner to alter the point they intend to make--which will vary to different degrees from one commentator to another.  Alterations on two minor matters also deserve to be noticed.  I typically remove the bulk of the “St.” references describing the apostles because it virtually turns a valid description (“saint”) into a title.  Similarly I often adopted the American way of noticing a quotation—“and”--instead of the British—‘and’ but one will find a mixture of styles on both of these points.

            I hope these new entries in the series will be useful to their readers.  I encourage you to "copy out" the entire volume--and all of the others I have on my website--to assure they will remain available to you and friends.  In my mid-70s, death is no longer an abstract possibility, especially when I carry with me such things as a quadruple heart bypass and a double bypass.  On the optimistic side, the first heart attack a decade ago should have killed me but God has blessed me well and I'm a stubborn soul so far as getting more gospel work accomplished.  A highly desirable combination in my opinion.


                                                            Roland H. Worth, Jr.

                                                            Fall 2017














                        The Biblical Peter:  His Family Background and Early Life [38].  The early years of the Apostle whose writings are now before us appear to have been passed in the village of Bethsaida (= Fishtown, or more literally Home of Fish), on the West coast of the Sea of Galilee, not far from Chorazin and Capernaum (John 1:44).  Among the fishermen from whose occupation the town derived its name was one who bore the name either of Jona (John 1:42; Matthew 16:17) or Joannes (in the best MSS of John 21:15-17), as being a Grecised reproduction of the old Hebrew Jochanan, or Jehohanan (1 Chronicles 6:9-10), and conveying, like its Greek equivalents, Theodorus or Dorotheus, the meaning of “the gift of God.”

                        The name which [he and his wife gave their son was] Symeon (Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1), commonly appearing, like his father’s, in an abbreviated form, as Simon, had been made popular by the achievements of the captain of the Maccabean house who had borne it (1 Maccabees 5:17), and by the virtues of Simon the Priest (Sirach 50:1-20).  The fact that his brother, probably his younger brother, bore the Greek name of Andreas [= Andrew; John 1:40], is significant, like that of Philippos, borne by another native of Bethsaida (John 1:44), as indicating the prevalence of that language along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and as making it probable that a certain colloquial familiarity with it was common both to the sons of Jona and the other disciples as to our Lord Himself.

                        The date of the Apostle’s birth cannot be fixed with certainty, but as we find him married and probably with children (compare Matthew 19:29), about the year A.D. 27 or 28, we may fairly assume that his life ran parallel in its earlier years to that of our Lord and the Baptist.  He was not sent to study the law or the traditions of the elders at the feet of Gamaliel or any other Rabbi of the Schools of Jerusalem, and when he appeared before the Sanhedrin was looked on as an “unlettered layman” (ἰδιώτης καὶ ἀγράμματος, Acts 4:13).  This did not imply, however, an entire absence of education.  Well-nigh every Jewish Synagogue had a school attached to it, and there, as well as in the Sabbath services, the young Symeon may have learnt, like Timotheus, to know the Holy Writings daily (2 Timothy 3:15).  He was destined, however, to follow what had probably been his father’s calling.

The absence of any mention of that father in the Gospel history suggests the inference that the two brothers had been left orphans at a comparatively early age, and had begun their career as fishermen under the protection of Zebedæus and his wife Salome (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; Mark 16:1), with whose sons, James and John (Joannes and Jacôbus), we find them in partnership, himself also probably of Bethsaida or of some neighboring village.  Zebedæus appears to have been a man of some wealth.  He had his “hired servants” to assist his sons and their partners (Mark 1:20).  His wife ministered to the Lord out of her “substance” (Luke 8:3).  One of their sons was known (if we adopt the commonly received identification of the “other disciple” of John 18:15) to the high-priest Caiaphas.

                        When the Gospel history opens Peter was living not at Bethsaida but at Capernaum, with his wife and his wife’s mother (Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29; Luke 4:38).  That he had children is, perhaps, implied in the language addressed to him by our Lord in Matthew 19:29, but if so, nothing is known of them.  Of his wife too but little is known, but there are traces of her living with him during his work as an Apostle (1 Corinthians 9:5; and probably 1 Peter 5:13), and an interesting and not incredible tradition makes her the companion of his martyrdom.


                        The Biblical Peter:  His relationship to Jesus and role in the early church as recorded in Acts [47].  No person, who has read with attention the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, can be unacquainted with the character of St. Peter, whether as a follower of Christ, or as an apostle.  He and his brother Andrew were the first two that were called by the Lord Jesus to be his disciples, John 1:41; Matthew 4:18-20.  And in all the passages in which the names of the twelve apostles are recorded, Peter is mentioned first.

He was one of the three whom Jesus admitted to witness the resurrection of Jairus’s daughter; before whom he was transfigured, and with whom he retired to pray in the garden, the night before he suffered.  And although afterward, in an hour of sore temptation, termed by Jesus “the hour and power of darkness,” Peter gave a sad proof of human weakness, in denying three times, and that with oaths, that very Master with whom, a few hours before, he had declared his readiness to go to prison and to death; yet in consequence of the deep remorse he felt for his crime, Jesus, having pardoned him, ordered the women, to whom he first “showed himself alive after his passion,” to carry the news of his resurrection to Peter by name; and appeared to him before he appeared to any other of his apostles.

And at another appearance, (John 21:15-17), he confirmed him in his apostolical office, by giving him a special commission to “feed his sheep;” and soon after judged him worthy, under the impulse and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to open the gospel dispensation in all its glory, and first to preach salvation through a crucified Redeemer to Jews (Acts 2) and Gentiles, Acts 10.

When he and John were brought before the Jewish council, to be examined concerning the miracle wrought on the impotent man, Peter boldly testified that the man had been healed in the name, and by the power of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had crucified, but whom God had raised from the dead; assuring them that there was salvation in no other.

It was Peter who questioned Ananias and Sapphira about the price of their lands; and for their lying in that matter [God] punished them miraculously with death.  And, what is yet more remarkable, although by the hands of all the apostles many signs and wonders were wrought, it was by Peter’s shadow only, that the sick, who were laid in the streets of Jerusalem, were healed as he passed by.

Soon after, when, to please the Jews, enraged at his zeal and success in preaching the gospel, Herod Agrippa, who had lately killed James, the brother of John, with the sword, had cast Peter into prison, intending to put him to death also, he was delivered by an angel. 

From these and many other facts, recorded in the gospel history, and well known to every Christian reader, it appears that Peter was very early distinguished as an apostle, and that his Master highly esteemed him for his courage, zeal, and various other good qualities, and conferred on him various marks of his favor, in common with James and John; who likewise distinguished themselves by their fortitude, zeal, and faithfulness in the execution of their apostolic office.

But, that Peter received from Christ any authority over his brethren, or possessed any superior dignity as an apostle, as the Romanists contend he did, there is no reason for believing.  All the apostles were equal in office and authority, as is plain from our Lord’s declaration, “One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.”  And it appears, from Peter’s epistles, that he did not think himself superior in authority to the other apostles; for if he had entertained any imagination of that sort, insinuations of his superiority, if not direct assertions thereof, might have been expected in his epistles, and especially in their inscriptions; yet there is nothing of that sort in either of his letters.  On the contrary, the highest title he takes to himself, in writing to the elders of the churches, is that of their “fellow-elder,” 1 Peter 5:1.          


                        The Biblical Peter:  His Later Life [1].    The Apostle Peter is not mentioned in the Acts after the council at Jerusalem (50 A.D.), but Gal. 2.11 refers to a subsequent visit by him to Antioch.  His history after that incident has been overlaid with legends.  It is impossible that he spent twenty-five years in Rome, though it is probable that his last years were passed there, and that he there suffered martyrdom.  It is less probable that he and Paul were put to death at the same time.  If “Babylon” (in 1 Pet. 5:13) is to be taken literally, that city was the scene of his labor during some part of the interval between the visit to Antioch and his arrival in Rome.  Many hold that the term is a mystical name for the latter city, which is possible, but scarcely probable.  Paul makes no reference to Peter’s presence there.


                        The apostle Peter after the Biblical record stops [45].  He is not mentioned in the account of Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem (Acts 21:18); probably he had left the city.  Both the New Testament and tradition convey the impression that the leadership of the Jewish Christians had passed from Peter to James.  [James] enjoyed the prestige of being the brother of the Lord.

                        There are a very large number of traditions about Peter, in which history and legend are so intertwined that they cannot be disentangled with any certainty.  The Clementine literature—a collection of apocryphal writings written in the name of, but certainly not by, Clement of Rome, about A.D. 200--contains unhistorical legends concerning a series of contests between Peter and Simon Magus.  Clement of Alexandria, writing about the same time (Stromateis, iii) tells us that Peter’s wife anticipated the modern Zenana Mission, thus:  “Peter and Philip had children, and both took about their wives, who helped them by ministering to women in their own homes [i.e. the women’s]; by their means the doctrine of the Lord penetrated without scandal into the privacy of women’s apartments.”

                        Tradition, however, does not throw any clear light on the questions when the Apostle left Jerusalem or where he went to.  Apart from this Epistle, we last hear of him, in the New Testament, at Antioch, at variance with Paul.  He may have returned to Jerusalem, or he may have at once journeyed further afield.

                        It is a natural conjecture that, at some time or other, he visited the churches in the north-east of Asia Minor to which this Epistle is addressed; but it is nothing more than a conjecture.

                        Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, writing about A.D. 180, speaks of Peter as having taught at Corinth (Eusebius, Church History, ii.25); and some have seen allusions to such teaching in 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:22).  But this tradition may have arisen from the anxiety of the Church of Corinth to identify itself with the chief of the apostles.

                        If the term “Babylon” in 1 Peter 5:13 denotes either the great city on the Euphrates, or the town of that name near the modern Cairo, Peter must have exercised his ministry at one or other of these places.

                        But there is an early and widespread tradition that Rome was the scene of the last years or months of Peter’s ministry, and of his martyrdom.  Indeed Eusebius (Chronicon) speaks of Peter as spending twenty years at Rome, and Jerome extends the period to twenty-five years; but these statements cannot be reconciled with the narrative in Acts, and must be due to some mistaken reckoning of Eusebius or his authority.

                        But several early authorities (Dionysius of Corinth, l. c.; Tertullian, Scorp. 15; Caius, c. A.D. 220; Lactantius, c. A.D. 300; Eusebius, etc.) agree that Peter preached at Rome; and that, like Paul, he suffered martyrdom in the Neronian persecution.

                        Origen (circa A.D. 250, Eusebius, Church History, iii. 1) tells us that, being condemned to be crucified, he asked to be allowed to suffer head downwards, because he was not worthy to die in the same way as his Master; and that his request was granted.

                        A picturesque legend (found in some editions of the works of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, A.D. 374-397) tells us that the Christians of Rome, on the strength of our Lord’s words, “If they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another,” persuaded the Apostle to leave Rome to escape the persecution.  But at the gate Christ met him; and Peter asked, “Lord, whither goest thou?”  (Quo vadis?)  “I go to Rome,” he replied, “there to be crucified once more.”  Peter went back into the city to await his martyrdom.   

                        An early second-century tradition (Papias, etc.) tells us that the second Gospel is Mark’s record of the preaching of Peter.  The contents of the Gospel are consistent with this account of its origin, and the tradition is accepted by very many scholars. 

In the first four centuries there were current several apocryphal works, bearing the name of the Apostle, viz., The Acts of Peter, The Gospel According to Peter, The Doctrine (or) Preaching of Peter, and The Revelation of Peter.


                        Case against the apostle Peter being the author of this epistle [16].  The fact that the form and thought of the Epistle are Pauline, that the apostle’s ideas are not only presupposed, but also hospitably appropriated, stands unquestionably against the supposition that Peter was its author.  There is little probability that Peter could have been so well-read in the Pauline literature as the author of the Epistle, evidently, was that he could so far have forgotten the fundamental ideas of Jesus’ teaching as to give them little place in an Epistle to the churches—the conceptions of “the kingdom of God, Son of God, Son of Man.”

                        The man who was one of the “pillars” at Jerusalem in support of the law could hardly have written without reference to it.  A personal companion of Jesus could not, as this writer does, omit reminiscences of the Master’s life and words, and put faith and atonement in the Pauline sense in the place of the immediate relation of man to God represented as His teaching in the synoptic gospels.  The man who was “resisted” by Paul and stood “condemned” before him with respect to a fundamental question of Christianity, would not write an Epistle whose essential contents accuse him of being his disciple.

                        A Jewish fisherman who was an apostle required an interpreter, according to Papias, could not write in a Greek style like that of this Epistle.  The style shows no evidences of a translation from Aramaic into Greek, and the supposition that it was written by Mark or Silas after the dictation of Peter is totally unsupported.      


                        Case for a Petrine authorship—A brief survey [23].  Peter no doubt knew and read the Epistles of Paul; in fact he speaks of them in his second letter (2 Peter 3:15-16).  But that does not mean that he copied and reproduced the statements found in some of Paul’s Epistles; nor does it mean that he depended on Paul when he wrote his Epistle. 

The Holy Spirit who guided Paul’s pen guided also the hand of Peter; all is the direct work of the Holy Spirit.  If Peter uses some of the great truths found in the Epistles of Paul it was because the Spirit of God desired to have them restated.

If we examine these parallels closely we discover that they cover the most essential truths of Christianity and are used for practical exhortations.  Those whom Peter addressed needed these truths and the practical application.

On the other hand there are many internal evidences which prove that none but Peter wrote this Epistle.  It has been pointed out that there is a similarity between Peter’s statements in the book of Acts and in this first Epistle.  Compare Acts 4:11; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15 with 1 Peter 2:7; 1 Peter 1:3-4; 1 Peter 1:8 and 1 Peter 5:1.  He also uses a peculiar word for the cross. It is the word “tree” (the Greek word xulon). See Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24.  

Furthermore, the writer speaks of having been an eyewitness of the Lord’s sufferings (1 Peter 5:1).  He describes these sufferings, how He was reviled and reviled not, how He suffered and threatened not.  And Peter was an eyewitness of all this.

Nor is it without significance that in this Epistle alone the Lord Jesus Christ is called “the chief Shepherd.”  On the shores of Lake Tiberias the risen Lord restored Simon Peter to service and told him “shepherd My sheep;” hence Peter speaks of the Lord as the chief Shepherd, and also exhorts the elders to be faithful in feeding the flock of God.


                        Weakness of internal arguments against a Petrine authorship [45].  As regards internal evidence, we have already shown that the Epistle has some points of contact with the Synoptic Gospels and the speeches of Peter, such as we should look for in an Epistle written by that Apostle.  But neither in these respects nor generally is the Epistle so characteristically Petrine as to afford conclusive proof that Peter was its author.

                        On the other hand, certain objections to the Petrine authorship have been based on the contents of the Epistle.  Some of these are trivial.

                        It is urged that the Apostle could not have written such good Greek; but we have no exact information as to how far Greek was spoken amongst the Jews of Galilee, or as to the linguistic attainments of Peter, or as to what use he may have made of secretarial assistance. 

                        Peter at Babylon, it is said, was not likely to have been familiarly acquainted with either Paul’s writings or his teaching; but, probably here, as in the Revelation, Babylon means Rome.  [Does anyone really believe that after his embarrassing encounter with Paul that is recorded in Galatians, that he did not take care to consider whatever Paul had to say—no matter where Peter found himself?  Even in Persia’s Babylon?  rw]

                        Again, it is pointed out that the quotations in this Epistle mostly follow the LXX, and some critics suppose that Peter, as a Palestinian Jew, would have translated for himself from the Hebrew; but the LXX was the one Greek Bible of the times, and it was as natural for a Jew writing in Greek to take his quotations from the LXX, as it is for any one writing today in English to use the Authorized or Revised Version.  Even Paul usually follows the LXX, except where he finds it necessary to correct its renderings, and Peter had not the scholarly training and attainment of the pupil of Gamaliel.

                        Again, our Epistle is addressed to the churches of Asia Minor, among the rest to those of Galatia and Asia.  Paul had founded the churches in both these provinces, for Asia included Ephesus and Miletus; and we have his letters to the Galatians and Ephesians.  Yet 1 Peter makes no reference to the Apostle of the Gentiles.  Perhaps Peter wrote specially to Jewish Christians whose churches may have been organized apart from the followers of Paul; or there might be other special circumstances to account for silence on this subject. 

[Would anyone like to conjecture what would be the proper protocol of one apostle writing to an area where some of the congregations were founded or had the apostle Paul working among them at some point—while others (quite possibly the majority) had not?  How should he word himself?  How does he avoid sounding like he was making a distinction between a spiritually elite (those who had heard Paul) versus the "unwashed masses" (who had not)? He simply chose the manner that seemed best to him to cover both situations.  rw]  

Similar considerations may explain the absence of personal reminiscences of the sayings and doings of our Lord.  [Of course the inclusion would not be enough to satisfy a significant number of critics.  We have mention of the Transfiguration in the Second epistle and yet that does little or nothing to change the minds of many who are convinced it is a counterfeit epistle!  rw]  

                        There are, however, two serious difficulties in the way of accepting the Petrine authorship—first, certain features which are said to point to a late date, and the large use of the Pauline Epistles.

                        First, the alleged indications of a late date.  The use of the Pauline Epistles implies that 1 Peter must have been written after A.D. 62.  The same conclusion seems to follow from 5:13, where the author of the Epistle sends his readers a greeting from Mark.  According to Colossians 4:12, Mark was at Rome with Paul during his first imprisonment; and according to 2 Timothy 4:13, Paul wished Mark to join him at Rome during the same, or it may be a later, imprisonment.  If, as seems most probable, “Babylon” stands for Rome, the author of 1 Peter was in Rome with Mark.  As he makes no mention of Paul, the letter must have been written after his death, or, at any rate, after he was released from his first imprisonment.         

                        Another special point of raised by Prof. Ramsay.  The Epistle speaks of its readers “being reproached for the name of Christ” and suffering as Christians.  The motive of the first persecutions was hatred of Christianity, but the pretext was put forward that the persecuted were disturbers of the public peace.  Nero, for instance, tortured and burnt the Christians because he charged them with having set fire to Rome.  But, according to Prof. Ramsay, Christianity in itself cannot have been regarded as a crime earlier than the emperor Domitian, i.e., not before A.D. 80.  Prof. Ramsay, indeed, ascribes the epistle to Peter [but insists that the persecution described had to be at such a later date because it was carried out explicitly on the grounds of their faith].

                        Such a view is improbable on the face of it, and sets aside the weighty traditional evidence which points to A.D. 66 as the approximate date of Peter’s death.  Prof. Ramsay’s criterion is not decisive; whatever pretexts for persecution were put forward, both Christians and persecutors were aware of the distinction between martyrs whose only crime was their religion, and malefactors who had broken the ordinary law.

                        Hence, while the indications of date fix the Epistle as near to A.D. 66 as possible, they are consistent with authorship by Peter about A.D. 64-66.

                        The second main objection is the large dependence of the Epistle on the Pauline writings.  Can we believe that the chief of the Apostles of the Circumcision, the teacher regarded by Paul’s opponents as their leader, the Cephas of whom Paul wrote, in an Epistle used by the author of 1 Peter, “I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11)—can we believe that he would write as if he were a disciple of the Apostle of the Gentiles?

                        At first sight the difficulty seems insuperable; yet it may fairly be maintained that after a careful consideration of  Peter’s character and history this objection ceases to be serious.  The Apostle was impulsive and generous, too impulsive to harden into the slave of any stereotyped set of dogmatic phrases, too generous to ignore the power and truth of the Pauline teaching, or to resist its influence, either on account of an ancient grudge, or because of sectarian bitterness towards a teacher of another school, or through jealousy of a rival apostle.   

                         Conclusion.  Thus these objections do not seem fatal to the traditional view, and we may follow [= embrace the claim of] the opening verse, and the opinion known to have been held by the church since about A.D. 150, in accepting the Petrine authorship.


                        There are internal references which make the most sense if this was a genuine epistle of the apostle Peter [51].  There are not a few things in the Epistle which become all the more natural and intelligible if it was written by Peter the Apostle.  There are various points of affinity between it and the discourses of Peter which are recorded in the Book of Acts.

These are of a kind to suggest an argument in favor of the Petrine authorship from undesigned coincidences.  There is a habit of immediate personal appeal.  There is an abundant use of direct terms of address, such as "to you," "for you" etc., which sharpen general statements into distinct personal applications to the readers.  This is seen in passages like 1 Peter 1:4, 20, 25; 2:7; 3:6, etc. 

                        There is also the habit of repeating Christ’s own words, or of using expressions which show that these were in the writer’s mind, as in 1 Peter 3:9, 14, etc.  And at several points, in a simple and unstudied style, the Epistle gives a singular reflection of Peter’s personal history. It contains much that is quite in character, if Peter is the author.


                        Note on why Peter almost had to have a greater acquaintance with Greek than many have supposed.  Galilee was a half-Greek country, studded with Greek cities; St. Peter’s brother bore a Greek name.  No Galilean of the middle classes (to which St. Peter evidently belonged) could have been ignorant of the language; indeed, there is sufficient evidence that Greek was as much used in Galilee as Aramaic.  [46]







Place of Writing




The Roman Option


.                       Either Babylon or Rome was the place of writing, more probably the former.  Mark was with the apostle when he wrote (5.13); but this fact does not decide in favor of Rome, since Mark was absent from that city at some time between 62 and 66 A.D. (cf. Col. 4.10 and 2 Tim. 4.11), having gone eastward.  He might have been with Peter during this journey, or at an earlier period, before either visited Rome.  [1]


                        The probability of the epistle being written from Rome is enhanced if one assumes a lengthy stay of Peter in that capital rather than one for only a few years.  Unfortunately the ancient references to Peter’s “lengthy” presence have clearly been exaggerated beyond whatever it actually was [20].  Jerome [On Illustrious Men, 1] states that “Peter, after having been bishop of Antioch, and after having preached to the believers of the circumcision in Pontus, etc. [plainly inferred from 1 Peter 1:1], in the second year of Claudius went to Rome to refute Simon Magus, and for twenty-five years there held the episcopal chair, down to the last year of Nero, that is, the fourteenth, by whom he was crucified with his head downwards, declaring himself unworthy to be crucified as his Lord, and was buried in the Vatican, near the triumphal way.”  Eusebius [Chronicles, Anno 3], also asserts his episcopate at Antioch; his assertion that Peter founded that Church contradicts Acts 11:19-22.

His journey to Rome to oppose Simon Magus arose from Justin's story of the statue found at Rome (really the statue of the Sabine god, Semo Sanctus, or Hercules, mistaken as if Simon Magus were worshipped by that name, “Simoni Deo Sancto), combined with the account in Acts 8:9-24.  The twenty-five years' bishopric is chronologically impossible, as it would make Peter, at the interview with Paul at Antioch, to have been then for some years bishop of Rome!

His crucifixion is certain from Christ‘s prophecy, John 21:18-19. Dionysius of Corinth (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 2.25]) asserted in an epistle to the Romans, that Paul and Peter planted both the Roman and Corinthian churches, and endured martyrdom in Italy at the same time.  So Tertullian [Against Marcion, 4.5, and The Prescription Against Heretics, 36, 38].  Also Caius, the presbyter of Rome, in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 2.25] asserts that some memorials of their martyrdom were to be seen at Rome on the road to Ostia.  So Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 2.25, and Demonstration of the Gospel, 3.116].  So Lactantius [Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died, 2].  Many of the details are palpably false; whether the whole be so or not is dubious, considering the tendency to concentrate at Rome events of interest [Alford].

What is certain is, that Peter was not there before the writing of the Epistle to the Romans (A.D. 58), otherwise he would have been mentioned in it; nor during Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, otherwise he would have been mentioned in some one of Paul's many other Epistles written from Rome; nor during Paul's second imprisonment, at least when he was writing the Second Epistle to Timothy, just before his martyrdom.  He may have gone to Rome after Paul's death, and, as common tradition represents, been imprisoned in the Mamertine dungeon, and crucified on the Janiculum, on the eminence of St. Pietro in Montorio, and his remains deposited under the great altar in the center of the famous basilica of St. Peter.

Ambrose [Epistles, 33 (Edition Paris, 1586), p. 1022] relates that St. Peter, not long before his death, being overcome by the solicitations of his fellow Christians to save himself, was fleeing from Rome when he was met by our Lord, and on asking, “Lord, whither goest Thou?” received the answer, “I go to be crucified afresh.” On this he returned and joyfully went to martyrdom. The church called “Domine quo vadis” on the Appian Way, commemorates the legend     


                        Paul’s silence as evidence that Peter never went to Rome (or, if he did, was there for only a rather limited period of time) [23].  But the most conclusive evidence against Babylon, meaning Rome, is the complete silence of the Apostle Paul about Peter being in Rome.  Paul sent his Epistle to the Roman Church in the year 58 A.D.  In that Epistle he greets many believers who were in Rome.  If Peter had been there, why did he not mention him also?  He went to Rome as a prisoner in the year 61, but there is not a word about meeting Peter in Rome.

Finally, when Paul penned his very last Epistle from Rome he makes the significant statement: “Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11). This silence about Peter in the Pauline Epistle can only be explained by the fact that Peter was not in Rome at all.        


Other objections to the Roman interpretation [31].   [1]  As has been already observed, the apostles, when they sent an epistle to the churches, and mentioned a place as the one where the Epistle was written, were accustomed to mention the real place.  [2]  It would be hardly consistent with the dignity of an apostle, or any grave writer, to make use of what would be regarded as a nickname, when suggesting the name of a place where he then was.  [3]  If Rome had been meant, it would have been hardly respectful to the church there which sent the salutation - “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you”--to have given it this name.  Peter mentions the church with respect and kindness; and yet it would have been scarcely regarded as kind to mention it as a “Church in Babylon,” if he used the term Babylon, as he must have done on such a supposition, to denote a place of eminent depravity.  [4]  The testimony of the Fathers on this subject does not demonstrate that Rome was the place intended.  So far as appears from the extracts relied on by Lardner, they do not give this as historical testimony, but as their own interpretation; and, from anything that appears, we are as well qualified to interpret the word as they were.


Ancient sources on the length of Peter’s alleged stay in Rome [37].  Eusebius (H.E. ii. 14) describes St. Peter as coming to Rome in the reign of Claudius and there contending with Simon Magnus, “the author of all heresy,” and (ii. 17) he mentions a report that Philo in the reign of Claudius became acquainted at Rome with Peter who was preaching there.

The Chronicon of Eusebius (?based upon Julian Africanus, c. 221 A.D.) in the Armenian version assigns St. Peter’s visit to Rome to the third year of Caius 39-40 A.D. and adds that he remained there as “antistes” of the Church twenty years, but in a later passage the martyrdom of Peter and Paul at Rome is placed in the 13th year of Nero, i.e., 67-68 A.D.

Jerome places St. Peter’s arrival in the second year of Claudius 42-43 A.D. and says that he held the bishopric 25 years, placing the martyrdom of Peter and Paul in 68 A.D.

The Liberian Catalogue of Roman Bishops (354 A.D.) describes St. Peter as Bishop of Rome for 25 years but dates it 30-55 A.D., apparently assuming that he was made a Bishop by our Lord and that his see must have been Rome.

The Liber Pontificalis has several contradictory notices:  (1)  that St. Peter held the Bishopric of Antioich for 7 years, (b) that he entered Rome in the reign of Nero and held the Bishopric of Rome for 25 years, (c) that he was in the reigns of Tiberius, Caius, Claudius and Nero, (d) that he suffered martyrdom together with St. Paul in the 38th year after the Crucifixion, i.e., 67 A.D.

It would seem therefore that there is no mention of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome until the fourth century, and the earlier lists of Bishops all reckon Linus as the first bishop.  The 25 year episcopate may perhaps have been based upon a legend that our Lord ordered the Apostles to wait 12 years before going out into the world.  This story was contained in the Preaching of Peter, probably an early second century book, quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. vi. 5), and also in the Gnostic Acts of Peter, which represented St. Peter as coming to Rome when the 12 years had expired and there contending with Simon Magus.  But the story is placed after St. Paul’s departure to Spain, which would imply a much later date.  If however the Crucifixion is dated 30 A.D., 12 years would bring us to 42 A.D. and this would leave 25 years before the traditional date of St. Peter’s death.

The evidence of the first three centuries suggests a comparatively late date for St. Peter’s work in Rome, placing it after previous work in Antioch, Corinth or Asia Minor, coupling it with St. Paul’s work in Rome which certainly did not begin until about 59 A.D., and connecting it with the issue of Gospels by St. Matthew and St. Mark or with the Neronian persecution.

This later date is far more consistent with the language of St. Paul’s Epistles.  The Epistle to the Romans alike by its statements and its silence makes it incredible that St. Peter was then in Rome or had previously worked there.  The ignorance of Christianity professed by the Jews in Rome on St. Paul’s arrival (Acts 28:22), even if it was willfully exaggerated, is hardly consistent with the view that St. Peter had been working in Rome.

In the Epistles of his first Roman Captivity St. Paul mentions numerous fellow-workers, including St. Mark and others “of the circumcision,” but is absolutely silent about St. Peter.

Therefore it is most difficult to believe that St. Peter worked in Rome earlier than 61 A.D.

[The reader may well note that in this paragraph the author passes from the summary of the evidence and evaluation of it, into presenting his own evaluation without the presentation of any early supporting evidence to back it up beyond his own reconstruction of events.  rw]  On the other hand there is considerable evidence that St. Peter did work in Rome for a considerable time, and a fair amount of early evidence that St. Peter and St. Paul worked together in Rome.  It is therefore a very plausible conjecture of Dr. Chase (Hastings’ D. of B., iii. 778) that St. Peter may have come to Rome on St. Paul’s invitation about the time of St. Paul’s release, and that they worked there together for a time before St. Paul started on the missionary work implied in the Pastoral Epistles, and that St. Peter remained in Rome with St. Mark, until he was summoned to Jerusalem in 63 or early in 64 to take part in the election of Symeon Bishop of Jerusalem.  Dr. Chase suggests that St. Peter returned to Rome and was one of the earliest victims of the Neronian persecution in 64 A.D.  This would tally with his burial place being in the Vatican near the hideous scenes of Nero’s gardens.                        

If however the traditional date 67 or 68 A.D. is accepted for St. Peter’s martyrdom, we must assume that he was absent from Rome during the first fury of the persecution and returned or was brought to Rome only to be martyred at the end of Nero’s reign, possibly after St. Paul’s death.

The “first trial” and protracted remand of St. Paul, referred to in 2 Timothy, and the invitation to Timothy to join him before winter and bring Mark with him seem hardly consistent with the view that the first fury of the Neronian persecution was then raging.

The mission work implied in the Pastoral Epistles demands a longer period of liberty than would be the case if St. Paul was executed in 64 A.D.  It is therefore easier to date St. Paul’s martyrdom about 67 A.D., and if St. Peter had already suffered we should have expected St. Paul to refer to his death.




The Babylonian Option


                        Case for Babylon being the place of writing [22].  It seems strange that there should be any question in view of the fact that in all the ancient world, the word Babylon without any other explanations always mean the great city on the Euphrates, or the territory adjacent, which took its name from the city. True, its former greatness was gone, and it was a Roman province, but it had been the home of tens of thousands of the Circumcision, the class to whom Peter directed his labors, ever since the Captivity.

            We know that in the latter part of the first century and in the second the Rabbinical schools of Babylon vied in importance with that at Tiberias, and that "the Prince of the Captivity" was a formidable potentate for a subject. It is opposed to all the facts of history to contend that there was not, at the date of this epistle, a great Jewish population on the banks of the Euphrates, and an indefinite passage of Josephus belonging to a period a generation earlier, would never have been used for this purpose had it not been that it is essential to the argument of the Papacy to give Peter a long residence at Rome.

It is equally out of the question to assert that Peter in a plain, matter of fact letter, speaks of Rome by a name that was only applied to it later in a book of symbols, with the statement that it is used as a symbol. Babylon had carried Israel into captivity; when pagan Rome did the same thing she became a mystical Babylon; and spiritual Rome also merited the designation by carrying into captivity the church of God. There is no reasonable ground for doubt that Peter extended his labors for his own race to Mesopotamia and from thence wrote this epistle.




The Egyptian Option


                        Barnes’ analysis [31].  [There is] the opinion that the “Babylon” mentioned in the Epistle refers to a place of that name in Egypt, not far from Cairo.  This opinion was held by Pearson and Le Clere, and by most of the Coptic interpreters, who have endeavored to vindicate the honor of their own country, Egypt, as a place where one of the books of Scripture was composed.  See Koppe, Prolegomena, 12.

That there was such a place in Egypt, there can be no doubt. It was a small town to the northeast of Cairo, where there was a strong castle in the time of Strabo, (i. 17, p. 807,) in which, under Tiberius, there were quartered three Roman legions, designed to keep the Egyptians in order.  But there is little reason to suppose that there were many Jews there, or that a church was early collected there.  The Jews would have been little likely to resort to a place which was merely a Roman garrison, nor would the apostles have been likely to go early to such a place to preach the gospel.

As Lardner well remarks, if Peter had written an Epistle from Egypt, it would have been likely to have been from Alexandria.  Besides, there is not, for the first four centuries, any notice of a church at Babylon in Egypt; a fact which can hardly be accounted for, if it had been supposed that one of the sacred books had been composed there. - Lardner, vol. vi. 265.

It may be added, also, that as there was another place of that name on the Euphrates, a place much better known, and which would be naturally supposed to be the one referred to, it is probable that if the Epistle had been composed at the Babylon in Egypt, there would have been something said clearly to distinguish it.  If the Epistle was written at the Babylon on the Euphrates, so well known was that place that no one would be likely to understand that the Babylon in Egypt was the place referred to.




The Jerusalem Option


                        Barnes’ analysis [31].  Others have supposed that Jerusalem is intended, and that the name was given to it on account of its wickedness, and because it resembled Babylon. This was the opinion of Capellus, Spanheim, Hardouin, and some others.  But the objections to this are obvious:

                        (a)  There is no evidence that the name Babylon was ever given to Jerusalem, or so given to it as to make it commonly understood that that was the place intended when the term was employed.  If not so, its use would be likely to lead those to whom the Epistle was addressed into a mistake.

                        (b)  There is every reason to suppose that an apostle in writing a letter, if he mentioned the place at all where it was written, would mention the real name.  So Paul uniformly does.

                        (c)  The name Babylon is not one which an apostle would be likely to give to Jerusalem; certainly not as the name by which it was to be familiarly known.

                        (d)  If the Epistle had been written there, there is no conceivable reason why the name of the place should not have been mentioned.






Date of Writing



                        The date of the epistle is uncertain.  Some place it in 61 A.D., before Paul’s Roman imprisonment; others, in 63 or 64 A.D., after the release of that apostle.  The probabilities are slightly in favor of the latter date.  It was addressed to Christians in certain regions of Asia Minor (1:1).  Strictly interpreted, the language points to Jewish Christians, but it is now generally held that all Christians are included in the address.  [1]


                        Alternatives:  The date of the Epistle has been brought down by some as late as the period of Trajan’s persecution.  But if the Epistle is by Peter, the persecution in view, as now in action, or as casting its shadow over them, must be the Neronic.  Some suppose it to have been written at the beginning of Paul’s third missionary journey; others, at the end of that; others, during the latter part of Paul’s captivity; others, immediately after Paul’s release from his two years’ imprisonment at Rome.  The most probable opinion on the whole, however, is that it was written after Paul’s martyrdom, and towards the close of Peter’s career, about the year 66 A.D.  [51]






Intended Audience



                        One approach:  The intended audience is primarily Jewish Christians though Gentiles are not excluded [4].   He writes especially to the dispersion of the Jews, to whom the word “strangers,” or foreigners, here chiefly doth belong; but not to them only, for he speaks to them also who in time past had “walked according to the will of the gentiles, in abominable idolatries” (4:3), and of them who “formerly were not the people of God, and had not found mercy:” we therefore are to understand that among them were many devout Greeks and proselytes of the gentiles, converted with them to the Christian faith. 

Thus when Paul and Barnabas preached in the synagogue of the Jews at Iconium,” a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed” (Acts 14:1):  and Paul preaching at Ephesus, and thereabouts, two years, prevailed so, “that all that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts xix. 10, see 17:4. 12, 18:4).  In the Acts of the Apostles, we read of proselytes of all nations.  They were reckoned, in the days of David and Solomon, one hundred and fifty-three thousand six hundred persons (2 Chronicles 2:17). 

In the days of Artaxerxes, we are told, that [in Greek], “many of the heathens were circumcised, and turned Jews” (Esther 8:17).  And so it was also in the succeeding ages; for Josephus informs us that after the times of Antiochus Epiphanes, “the Jews, in Antioch and other places, always converting to their worship a great many Greeks, made them, as it were, a part of themselves:” and at Damascus, he saith, “They would have destroyed the Jews among them, but that they feared their own wives, who all, except some few, were converts to the religion of the Jews.” 


                        Another approach:  The intended audience is primarily Gentile Christians and traditional Jewish language is used, in effect, to show that this new spiritual combination represents the modern fulfillment of Jewish aspirations [27].  The words rendered “strangers scattered” are literally "sojourners of the Dispersion," and are so rendered in the Revised Version.  The Dispersion was the recognized name for the Jews dwelling in Gentile countries; as, for instance, it is employed in John’s Gospel, when the people in Jerusalem say, Whither will this man go that we shall not find Him? Will he go to the Dispersion amongst the Greeks?”  Obviously, therefore the word here may refer to the scattered Jewish people, but the question arises whether the letter corresponds to its apparent address, or whether the language which is employed in it does not almost oblige us to see here a reference, not to the Jew, but to the whole body of Christian people, who, whatever may be their outward circumstances, are, in the deepest sense, in the foundations of their life, “strangers of the Dispersion.”

                        Now if we look at the letter we find such words as these—“The times of your ignorance”—“your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers”—“in time past were not a people”—“the time past may suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles”--all of which, as you see, can only be accommodated to Jewish believers by a little gentle violence, but all of which find a proper significance if we suppose them addressed to Gentiles. 

          If we understand them so, we have here an instance of what runs all through the letter; the taking hold of Jewish ideas for the purpose of lifting them into a loftier region, and transfiguring them into the expression of Christian truth.  For example, we read in it:  “Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”; and again: “Ye are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices.”  These and other similar passages are instances of precisely the same transference of Jewish ideas as I find, in accordance with many good commentators, in the words of my text.


                                    Detailed nternal evidence that both ethnically Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity are addressed and, therefore, the epistle intentionally targets all Christians [31].  Nothing can be plainer than that the apostle, while in the main he addresses Christians as such, whether they had been Jews or pagan, yet occasionally makes such allusions, and uses such language, as to show that he had his eye, at one time, on some who had been Jews, and again on some who had been pagans. This is clear, I think, from the following considerations:

                        (1)  The address of the Epistle is general, not directed particularly either to the Jews or to the Gentiles.  Thus, in 1 Peter 5:14, he says, “Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus.”  From this it would seem that the Epistle was addressed to all true Christians in the region designated in 1 Peter 1:1.  But no one can doubt that there were Christians there who had been Jews, and also those who had been Gentiles.

                        The same thing is apparent from the Second Epistle; for it is certain, from 2 Peter 3:2, that the Second Epistle was addressed to the same persons as the First.  But the address in the Second Epistle is to Christians residing in Asia Minor, without particular reference to their origin:  Thus, in 2 Peter 1:1, “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

The same thing is apparent also from the address of the First Epistle:  “To the elect strangers scattered throughout Pontus,” etc.; that is, “to the strangers of the dispersion who are chosen, or who are true Christians, scattered abroad.” The term “elect” is one which would apply to all who were Christians; and the phrase, “the strangers of the dispersion,” is that which one who had been educated as a Hebrew would be likely to apply to those whom he regarded as the people of God dwelling out of Palestine.  The Jews were accustomed to use this expression to denote their own people who were dispersed among the Gentiles; and nothing would be more natural than that one who had been educated as a Hebrew, and then converted to Christianity, should apply this phrase indiscriminately to Christians living out of Palestine [as well].

(2)  Yet there are some allusions in the Epistle which look as if a part of them at least had been Jews before their conversion, or such as a Jew would better understand than a Gentile would.  Indeed, nothing is more probable than that there were Jewish converts in that region.  We know that there were many Jews in Asia Minor; and, from the Acts of the Apostles, it is morally certain that not a few of them had been converted to the Christian faith under the labors of Paul.

Of the allusions of the kind referred to in the Epistle, the following may be taken as specimens:  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” 1 Peter 2:9.  This is such language as was commonly used by the Jews when addressing their own countrymen as the people of God; and would seem to imply that to some of those at least to whom the Epistle was addressed, it was language which would be familiar.  See also 1 Peter 3:6.  It should be said, however, it is also true that it is such language as one who had himself been educated as an Hebrew would not unnaturally employ when addressing any whom he regarded as the people of God.

(3)  The passages in the Epistle which imply that many of those to whom it was addressed had been Gentiles or idolaters, are still more clear.  Such passages are the following:  “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance,” 1 Peter 1:14.  “This,” says Dr. Lardner, “might be very pertinently said to men converted from Gentilism to Christianity; but no such thing is ever said by the apostles concerning the Jewish people who had been favored with the Divine revelation, and had the knowledge of the true God.”

So in 1 Peter 2:9, Peter speaks of them as “having been called out of darkness into marvelous light.”  The word “darkness” is one which would be naturally applied to those who had been pagans, but would not be likely to be applied to those who had had the knowledge of God as revealed in the Jewish Scriptures.  So in 1 Peter 2:10, it is expressly said of them, “which in time past was not a people, but are now the people of God”--language which would not be applied to those who had been Jews.

So also 1 Peter 4:3, “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.”  Though the apostle here uses the word “us,” grouping himself with them, yet it cannot be supposed that he means to charge himself with these things.  It is a mild and gentle way of speech, adopted not to give offence, and is such language as a minister of the gospel would now use, who felt that he was himself a sinner, in addressing a church made up of many individuals.






Purpose / Reason for Writing


                        The occasion of the epistle was impending trial, probably not State persecution, but social and personal opposition and reproach.  Hence the tone of consolation and encouragement, even in the exhortations.  As often remarked, the keynote is “hope.” [1]


                        With emphasis on the oppression as already underway [45].  The occasion of the Epistle was some special outbreak of persecution, whereby the Christians of Asia Minor “had been put to grief in manifold trials,” and were exposed to a “fiery trial” which “came upon” them “to prove” them (1:6; 4:4).  The Apostle wrote to comfort and encourage them in their distress, and to urge them to remain loyal to Christ in spite of persecution.

                        Probably these persecutions were the sequel to that instituted by Nero at Rome.  The enemies of the Christians would be encouraged by his hostility to the new faith, and the Roman officials in the provinces would seek to ingratiate themselves with the emperor by following his example.  

                        Those who reject the Petrine authorship have found the occasion of the Epistle in the persecution under Domitian, or in that under Hadrian.

                        [Of Nero in particular:  Although this is a quite reasonable reconstruction based upon the “practical politics” of local rulers wishing to engrate themselves with the Emperor, there remain serious problems with it.  However odious their faith might be to Nero, what they were being punished for was their supposed role in burning much of the city to the ground.  And that charge was only made to try to blot out the popular suspicion that Nero himself was behind the fire! 

[Barring some local inflammatory incident to use as an excuse, would the area administrators really feel comfortable exchanging a stable local situation for one in which deep rooted passions were stirred up, whose long-term control they could not guarantee?  Civic disruption could encourage actions against or between other hated local groups and impede the peaceful functioning of the local city or province.  Did they really wish to run that risk when their own political future was best served by stability within their realm? 

[To be brutally candid, by 64 A.D. there were suspicions about what to make of Nero—the accusations of starting and spreading the fire would never have had any credibility at all without a track record of personal excess.  With this background, would even pro-Nero elements wish to go this far out on a limb without official encouragement or orders?  rw]      


                        Assuming that Paul was now dead—to offer the encouragement that the pioneer preacher in this region was no longer able to provide [51].  The First Epistle of Peter, like that of John, explains its own intention.  The latter is declared to be written in order that its readers’ "joy may be full" (1 John 1:4), that they may know that they "have eternal life," and that they may "believe on the name of the Son of God" (1 Peter 5:13).  The former gives the key to its own design in these words:  "By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand" (1 Peter 5:12).  Its object, therefore, is to assure its readers of the truth of that which they had received, and to encourage them to abide by it at all hazards.

It was not to Peter himself that they owed their introduction to the kingdom of Christ.  It is true that Jews from some of the regions addressed had been present at Pentecost, and may have heard Peter’s discourse on that occasion (Acts 2).  But the churches mentioned in the inscription of this letter, were churches which stood indebted to Paul and his associates for their existence. 

The faith which they had received through this channel had now to be maintained in the face of trials arising from the threatenings or persecutions of the heathen world.  It was essential that these scattered believers should see that the Christian vocation for which they might be called to suffer, was worth the suffering for, and that the grace which had been made known to them was the true grace of God.  If there was no Paul to do this service for them, Peter was the man to take his place.  Could not he set his seal upon his "beloved brother’s" teaching?  Could not he testify as none other of the "living hope," and of the sureness of the things in which they had been instructed?

He had confessed Christ.  Upon that confession, and what it proved him capable of becoming, the Church itself was to be built.  He had denied Christ, and knew by experience what manner of adversary these Christians had to cope with.  As a witness of Christ, he can urge them to witness a good confession in evil times.  As once threatened, he can speak to those who are now threatened.

So in this letter he carries out the commission given him by Christ in reference to Satan’s sifting of himself—"when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32).  And the sum of his exhortations in it is an unfolding of the meaning of that simple, piercing question, at once reproof, expostulation, and counsel, and never to be forgotten when once heard, which his suffering Lord had spoken into his drowsy ear in the garden of Gethsemane—"What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" (Matthew 26:40).

The voice of the Epistle, therefore, has been correctly recognized to be the voice of animation.  It is not enough, however, to say of it that it is a letter of strength and confirmation.  It is eminently one of reminiscence.  It strengthens and confirms by putting in remembrance.  It recalls the great facts of grace which had made these believers what they are.

It makes the warm colors of the doctrine in which they had been trained by Paul and their first teachers, revive again.  The spiritual truths which they had once received, were the only things which could illumine the dark night of trial which was closing in about them.  On these, as on so many tracks of heavenly light shot across the gloom, Peter concentrates their fading attention.






Similarities of 1 Peter with Other New Testament Epistles



                        Similarities to James and Paul:  A Chart [2].  The resemblance, both in ideas and expressions, to passages in the epistles of Paul and James is marked, especially in the first epistle.  It will be instructive to compare the following:


                                    James                                     1 Peter


                                    i. 2, 3                                       i. 6, 7

                                    i. 10, 11                                   i. 24

                                    i. 18                                         i. 23

                                    iv. 6, 10                                    v. 5, 6

                                    v. 20                                        iv. 8



                                    Paul                                         1 Peter


                                    Rom. xii. 2                                i. 14

                                    Rom. iv. 24                              i. 21

                                    Rom. xii. 1                                ii. 5

                                    Rom. ix. 33                              ii. 6-8

                                    Rom. ix. 25, 26                        ii. 10

                                    Rom. xiii. 1-4                           ii. 13, 14

                                    Gal. v. 13                                ii. 16

                                    Rom. vi. 18                              ii. 24

                                    Rom. xii. 17                              iii. 9

                                    Rom. xii. 6, 7                            iv. 10, 11

                                    Rom. viii. 18                             v. i

                                    Rom. ii. 7, 10                           i. 7

                                    Rom. viii. 17                             iv. 13

                                    Rom. xii. 13                              iv. 9

                                    Rom. xiii. 13                             iv. 3

                                    Rom. xiii. 14                             iv. 1

                                    1 Thess. v. 6                             v. 8

                                    1 Cor. xvi. 20                           v. 14


                        Importance of Pauline “reliance” as an indication of when written [16].  The relation of the Epistle to other New Testament writings is of importance with reference to the question of its date.  A literary dependence upon Romans is almost universally conceded.  Especially does the section of Romans 12:1-13:14 furnish material which the writer of 1 Peter has in several passages reproduced.  Weiss is the only scholar of note who maintains that Romans shows dependence on 1 Peter.           


                        Have the similarities actually crossed the line into reliance of one author on the other [40]?   Some ingenious critics have detected numerous resemblances in thought and style between this epistle and the epistles of Paul, and also between this epistle and the epistle of James, and have inferred that one must have been copied, or imitated, or borrowed from the other.  But these parallelisms as also between the epistles of Peter and those of John are due to the possession of a common stock of Christian ideas and facts with which all the apostles were familiar and upon which no doubt they had conferred together, and which they would naturally express in similar and sometimes identical terms.  The same fact is [a] matter of frequent observation in poets and other writers, that when engaged upon the same subjects they naturally fall into similar trains of expression and imagery.   


                        There Are Both Similarities and Uniqueness when Comparing 1 Peter with the Epistles of Other New Testament Writers [51].  The Epistle was rightly described by Luther as one of the noblest in the New Testament.  It is strange that its individuality and independence should have been denied, and that some should still speak of it as a compilation of other men’s thoughts, a [combination] of other men’s modes of expression.

It is true that there are unmistakable resemblances between it and others of the New Testament Epistles.  There are some decided points of conjunction, for example, between it and the Epistle of James.  These are so remarkable, indeed, that some regard Peter as reiterating James’s teaching, and preparing the way for Paul’s.  Both James and Peter have a peculiar term for trial; both speak of the manifold temptations; both introduce the grass as a figure of human glory; both cite or echo the same passage from Proverbs; both adopt similar forms of exhortation (cf. James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1).

There are things again which this Epistle has in common with the First Epistle of John.  Both speak, for example, of Christ as the righteous, of believers being begotten or born again, purifying themselves, etc. 

Above all, there are striking similarities between Peter and Paul, in the use made of the Old Testament, in the counsels on the subject of the relative duties, in the doctrine of civil and political obligation, and in other matters.  These are of a kind to indicate that Peter must have written with familiar knowledge of much that Paul had written before him.  They make it difficult not to suppose that he had the Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians in particular before him or in his mind.  They have induced some, indeed, to suppose that his First Epistle was purposely constructed to some extent, as regards the introductory greeting and the exhortations to various orders of society, on the plan of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

But there is nothing wonderful in such resemblances.  As the Book of Acts shows, Peter must have been well acquainted with the views and methods of statement characteristic of James.  John and Peter, again, were usually together, as long as that was possible.  They were to each other what Mary and Martha were to one another.

And as to Paul, his system of teaching was certainly not unknown to Peter.  Paul is careful to tell us himself how he laid it before the Apostles (Galatians 2:2).  Nor do these apparent repetitions take from the distinct character of the Epistle.  They are affinities, not borrowings.  Peter puts all in a form of his own. 

Even when he most reminds us of Paul, he has an independent method of expression.  The Pauline formula live to God becomes in Peter live to righteousness. The Pauline idea of dying to sin receives in Peter a notably different phraseology.

                        The individuality of the Epistle appears in many things.  Not a few of its conceptions and terms are peculiar to Peter.  Among these may be named the "kiss of charity" (1 Peter 5:14), the "conscience toward God" (1 Peter 2:19), the "living hope," and the whole description of the inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-4), the declaration that baptism is "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (1 Peter 3:21), the phrase "gone into heaven" applied to Christ (1 Peter 3:22), the sections on the preaching to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19-20), and the gospel preached to them that are dead (1 Peter 4:6), etc.

He has his own modes of expounding the doctrines of Christianity, and of illustrating the Christian life.  Thus it has been noticed that good works, which appear in John as the fruits of love, in James as the substance of the Christian life, and in Paul as the results of faith, are in Peter rather the "tests of the soundness and stability of a faith which rests on the resurrection of Christ and looks to the future" (Cook).

He has his own way of looking at the Person and Work of Christ.  It has been rightly observed that the prominent thing with him is the mediatorial position of his Lord, and that this is made to turn upon His resurrection.  He presents this in great breadth.  Christ is the medium of our regeneration (1 Peter 1:3), of our belief in God (1 Peter 1:21), of acceptable sacrifice (1 Peter 2:5), of baptism (1 Peter 3:21), of the glorifying of God (1 Peter 4:11); and it is through His resurrection that we are begotten again to a lively hope (1 Peter 1:3), and that we come to have faith and hope in God (1 Peter 2:1).

There is a remarkable fondness for dwelling on the character of Christ, and bringing out the power of His example.  He is our Pattern in suffering, in respect at once of the unmerited nature of His sufferings and of His sinlessness and patience in enduring them.  The Christ, too, with whom Peter connects the great deeds of grace is all the while not so much the Christ of history as the Christ of glory, in the might of His ascension, exaltation, sitting at God’s right hand, headship over the Church and all angels, and Second Coming.

The Epistle is distinguished, too, by its comparatively non-systematic form.  It is less dialectical by far than any of the greater Pauline Epistles.  It is not without its plan.  But its unity is not a reasoned unity.  The logical particles, which abound in Paul’s writings, are rare in Peter.  Here the method is simply to let the one sentence suggest the next.

There is the habit, too, of insisting on the same truths in repeated forms.  Thus the trial of faith like gold tried with fire (1 Peter 1:7) reappears in the "fiery trial" of 1 Peter 4:12; the "be sober" of 1 Peter 1:13 rings out again in the "be ye therefore sober" of 1 Peter 4:7, and the "be sober," etc., of 1 Peter 5:8; the injunction not to fashion themselves "according to the former lusts in their ignorance" (1 Peter 1:14) is repeated in 1 Peter 2:11 as a charge to "abstain from fleshly lusts," and in 1 Peter 4:2 as a warning not to "live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men;" the idea of the well-doing of the Christian as the best argument for silencing the slanderous Gentile (1 Peter 2:15), meets us again in the conversation [= lifestyle]  of the wives which wins over the husbands (1 Peter 3:1), and in the good conversation in Christ which puts to shame the false accusers (1 Peter 3:16); the thankworthiness of suffering wrongfully (1 Peter 2:19) rises again in the happiness of suffering for righteousness’ sake (1 Peter 3:14), and in the blessedness of being reproached for the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:14).

It has its pointed warnings against the lusts of the flesh.  But we find little in it like the Pauline representations of the struggle between two kingdoms in the soul, or the profound experiences of a competition between the evil that the man would not and yet does, and the good which he would and yet does not.  Still less do we see of anything like a conflict between intellect and faith.

And almost as little of the deep intuition of John.  What Peter dwells on is not the subjective but the objective, not the mysteries of the work of grace within us, but the gifts which grace brings to us, and the obligations it lays us under.  It is the acts of God that he sets forth,—His foreordaining of Christ, His calling a people, His raising Christ from the dead, etc.

And with all this the attitude of the Epistle is distinctively prospective.  It lives in the future.  What has arrested the attention of most expositors is the fact that its face is turned so steadily to the future.  Everything is seen in the light of the end.

The "appearing" of Jesus Christ fills the view.  The present life of the believer recedes into the background, or is read in terms of what it shall be when Christ returns.  Glory and honour are the keynotes of the Epistle.  It regards salvation itself as something "ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5), and as the end of faith (1 Peter 1:9).  It is engaged with the contents of Christian hope, where Paul might occupy himself with the gladness of the present life of justification, or with the seriousness of the present struggle between grace and nature in the individual.

"In this Epistle," says Wordsworth, "Peter views all the sufferings of Calvary as glorified by triumph.  He sees Christ’s decease, he sees his own decease, he sees the decease of all Christ’s faithful followers, as invested with a heavenly radiance by the light of the Transfiguration.  He writes his Epistle in the joyful light of that prophetic Vision of Glory."









                        A positive overview of the evidence [37].  With the exception of the First Epistle of St. John, the First Epistle of St. Peter is the only one among the Catholic Epistles “of whose authority there never was any doubt in the Church.”

                        It was rejected by the heretic Marcion because he only accepted the Pauline books of the N.T.  Theodore of Mopsuestia is also said by Leontius to have rejected “the Epistle of St. James and the other Catholic Epistles in order,” but probably this only means 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter and Jude, which were not accepted by the Syrian Churches.  There is, however some evidence which tends to show that originally none of the Catholic Epistles were included in the Syrian Canon, but 1 John, 1 Peter and James had been accepted by them long before Theodore’s time.   

                        It is also omitted in the present text of the Muratorian fragment, which gives a list, possibly drawn up by Hippolytus, of the books accepted in the Church of Rome at the end of the second century.  But this list, as we have it, is admitted to be incomplete.  Some suggest that St. Peter and his Epistle may have been mentioned in the lost portion dealing with St. Mark’s Gospel, while Zahn thinks that a passage, which in the existing text deals with the Apocalypse of Peter, may have originally referred to his first Epistle

                        With these insignificant and doubtful exceptions the evidence for the reception of 1 Peter by the Church is extraordinarily strong.

                        In the fourth century Eusebius includes it among those books which are “generally received” (H.E. iii. 25. 2) and says that “the Fathers of former days quoted it in their writings as indisputably authentic.  This statement is amply supported by facts.

                        In the third century Origin (quoted by Eisebius, H.E. vi. 25) says “Peter has left one acknowledged Epistle,” and he quotes Matthew 23:13.

                        Clement of Alexandria constantly quotes the Epistle by name and wrote a commentary on it in his Hypotyposes, of which fragments in a Latin translation by Cassiodorus are still extant.

                        Tertullian at Carthage also quotes it as the work of St. Peter.

                        Hippolytus (on Daniel 4:29), writing in Rome or the neighborhood, quotes the words “which things the angels desire to look into” side by side with quotations from St. Paul.

                        In the second century Irenaeus, who was brought up in Asia Minor and afterwards came to Lyons and Rome, and who therefore represents three of the chief centers of Christendom besides being closely connected with Polycarp and other survivors of the Apostolic age, is the earliest writer who quotes the Epistle by name. 

We also have numerous traces of the Epistle:

(a)  In Martyrdoms such as the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs (c. 180) and the letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (177 A.D.).

(b)  In Apologists.  Theophilus (ad Autolycum ii. 34) and Justin Martyr (Dial. 103) have apparent quotations from it.

(c)  Heretics such as the Valentinians both Western (Marcosians quoted by Irenaeus i. 18) and Eastern (in Clem. Al.) and Basilides (Clem. Al. Strom. iv.) seem to quote the Epistle.

(d)  The writer to Diognetus certainly and the Didache probably quote words from 1 Peter.

(e)  There are possible allusions to it in The Shepherd of Hermas.

(f)  Papias Bishop of Hierapolis is stated by Eusebius (H.E. iii. 39) to have used it as a witness, and in ii. 15 Eusebius says that Papias confirms the story given by Clement of Alexandria that St. Peter approved Mark’s action in writing his Gospel, and then, quoting either from Clement himself or from Papias, says that “Peter mentions Mark in his former Epistle which, they say, he composed in Rome itself, and that he signified this by describing the city by the metaphorical name Babylon.”  This last statement that Babylon in the Epistle means Rome is not found in any of the extant writings of Clement of Alexandria and is therefore probably derived from Papias; the fragment of Papias on Mark, quoted in Eusebius iii. 39, refers back to some previous statement of his (“as I said”) about St. Mark’s connection with St. Peter.    

(g)  Polycarp (c. 115 A.D.) is stated by Eusebius to have used 1 Peter, and in the extant Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians there are at least eight direct quotations from 1 Peter.  It is true that they are not by name nor are they introduced by the formula which Polycarp frequently employs in quoting from St. Paul, to whom he does refer by name, probably because St. Paul had founded the Philippian Church and had himself written a letter to them.  But in quoting from the O.T., the Gospels and Acts, Polycarp’s quotations are anonymous, therefore there is no necessity to assume, as Harnack does, that Polycarp did not know the Epistle as the work of St. Peter.

(h)  Clement of Rome (c. 95 A.D.) has several words and phrases from 1 Peter, e.g., “the precious blood” of Christ, “his marvelous light,” Christ’s humility (illustrated by Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22) [cited as] our example, [utilizing] a [Greek] word which is peculiar to St. Peter in the N.T.  Besides this Clement has quotations with the same variation from the LXX as 1 Peter, viz. “Love covers a multitude of sins” and “God resisteth the proud.”  This however also occurs in the same form in St. James and in Igantius, Eph. v.

(i)  In 2 Peter 3:1 the writer says “this is the second Epistle which I am writing to you beloved.”  This book, even if it is not authentic, is admitted to be extremely early, and if we could be certain that the words refer to our 1 Peter it would show that it was already known as the work of the Apostle.  But if 2 Peter is not genuine it might of course be referring to some previous epistle by the same writer which is now lost.       


                        Validity of place in the canon—argued from the viewpoint that the epistle was not written by the apostle Peter [16].  Testimonies to the existence of the Epistle very early in the second century are doubtful.  The second Epistle of Peter refers to it (3:1), and apparent contacts with one or two expressions contained in it are found in Clement of Rome, the Ignatian letters, and Barnabas.  But these contacts are too doubtful to warrant the affirmation that the writers in question were acquainted with it.  The common expressions may have been current in the religious language of the time, so that they may as reasonably be supposed to indicate the contemporaneous origin of the several writings as the one of one of them by the writers of another.

            The writer of Hermas is thought by Zahn to have been acquainted with the Epistle, but this scholar’s argument is not conclusive.  Eusebius found traces of a knowledge of it in Papias (about A.D. 140), and thought that Polycarp, who died after the middle of the second century, had read it.  Neither he nor Justin Martyr, however, expressly quotes it. 

            It is wanting in the Canon of Muratori—a list of received New Testament books made by an unknown writer toward the end of the second century.  It is accepted as a writing of Peter’s by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian, and Origen called it, “an acknowledged Epistle.”   


                        Defended from the standpoint that it was written by the apostle Peter [41].  The First Epistle of Peter is placed by Eusebius among among the books said never to have been disputed [as to deserving a place in the Biblical canon].  Clement of Rome, on Epistle to Corinthians (chapter xlix), quotes 1 Peter 4:8:  “Love covereth a multitude of sins.”  Polycarp (chapter i) cites 1 Peter 1:8:  “In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakabke.”  Also (chapter ii):  “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing.”  Also (chapter viii):  “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”  Also (chapter x):  “Love the brotherhood.” 

                        Irenaeus quotes Peter by name (“Against Heresies,” iv.9.2):  “And Peter says in his Epistle, ‘Whom not seeing ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, ye have believed, ye shall rejoice with joy unspeakable.”  Again (ii.17.9):  Rehearsers of those super-celestial mysteries ‘which the angels desire to look into’ ” (1 Peter 1:12).  Also (iv.16.5):  “For this reason Peter says that we have not liberty as a cloak of maliciousness.”

                        Clement of Alexandria also quotes Peter by name (“Miscellanies,” iv.20):  “Peter in his Epistle says:  Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious’ ” (1 Peter 1:6-9).  Again (“Miscel.” iii.18):  “And Peter says similar things in his Epistle, ‘That your faith and hope may be in God,’ ” etc.  And again (“Miscel.” vi.6):  “Do not [the Scriptures] show that the Lord preached the Gospel to those that perished in the flood, or rather had been chained, and to those kept ‘in ward and guard’ ” (1 Peter 3:19-20).        

                        In Tertullian, in an index I have now before me, I find thirty-three references to 1 Peter.  Thus “Scorpiace,” 14:  “Peter no doubt had likewise said that the king, indeed, must be honored” (1 Peter 2:13).  Again (“Scorpiace”), “Addressing the Christians of Pontus, Peter, at all events, says:  ‘How great, indeed, is the glory, if ye suffer patiently without being punished as evil doers . . . even hereunto were ye called, since Christ also suffered for us, leaving you himself as an example,’ ” etc.  (1 Peter 2:20).


                        Additional Evidence of reliance on the epistle in the early centuries [45]:  Apostolic Fathers:  There are numerous more or less striking parallels between 1 Peter and the Apostolic Fathers.  According to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist.  iii. 39), Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, about the middle of the second century, made use of our Epistle.  In the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, a church manual often dated about A.D. 100, we find:  “Abstain from fleshly and bodily lusts.”  Chapter i. 4.  Compare—“I beseech you . . . to abstain from fleshly lusts.”  1 Peter 2:11.

                        Many other parallels with Hermas, Clement of Rome, &c., are like those already illustrated in connexion with James, and do not materially help us to determine the date of the Epistle.  But Polycarp, bishop of Smjyrna, in his Epistle to the Philippians written just before his martyrdom in A.D. 155, clearly makes use of 1 Peter, e.g.—“Whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy speakable and fully of glory.”  1 Peter 1:8.

                        “Which things angels desire to look into.”  1 Peter 1:12.

                        “On whom, not having seen (him), ye believe with joy unspeakable and full of glory, which many desire to enter into.”  Polycarp, i. 3.  

                        “Wherefore girding up the loins of your minds.”  1 Peter 1:13.

                        “Believers in God, which raised him from the dead, and gave him glory.”  1 Peter 1:21.

                        “Wherefore girding up your loins, serve God in fear and truth . . . believing on him who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave him glory and a throne at his right hand.”  Polycarp, ii. 1.

                        (Doubts have been cast upon the genuineness of this letter of Polycarp, but it is now generally accepted.)

                        Later Literature:  The various Christian documents of the close of the second and the beginning of the third century show clearly that the Epistle was universally known and accepted as the Apostle’s after about A.D. 200.  It is contained in the Old Latin and Syriac versions; it is expressly quoted as Peter’s by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian.  Eusebius preserves a statement of Origen to the effect that Peter left one Epistle which was fully acknowledged; and Eusebius himself places 1 Peter amongst those books of the New Testament which were universally accepted.  From his time, c. A.D. 320 onwards, the Petrine authorship remained unchallenged until the modern revival of the critical study of the Bible.

                        On the other hand, there is no mention of this Epistle in the Muratorian Canon; there is, however, nothing in that document which implies that the Epistle was known to the author and rejected; moreover, the Canon, as it has reached us, is incomplete in parts; and in its original form it may have mentioned 1 Peter.

                        Thus, as far as external evidence is concerned, the early witnesses show that our Epistle was in existence in the first half of the second century and that it was universally accepted as Peter’s at the close of that century, unless indeed it was unknown to certain Italian churches represented by the Muratorian Canon.  This branch of the evidence therefore is strongly in favor of the Petrine authorship.









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