The Sacred Scrolls of the Scriptures
THE WRITINGS OF THE CIRCUMCISION:
TURNING now to Peters first epistle we find the address as
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen expatriates of the
dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Capµpadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythynia, according
to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, in holiness of spirit, for obedience and
sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
translates strangers here, but pilgrims in 1 Peter 2:11
(where it uses strangers for another word) and Heb.11:13, the only other
occurrences. It is a form of the word public, and refers to a foreigner living
among an alien people. Our word expatriates is very close to the meaning
Peter limits his letter even more than
James. The whole tone of his introduction is distinctly more spiritual. Jacob was
Israels physical name; Peter is Simons spiritual name. He writes to the
elect; James to all in the twelve tribes.
There are two dispersions spoken of in
the Scriptures. Our Lord spoke of those who had left the land, doubtless for mercenary
reasons, for the religious Jew had no right to leave the land and the allotment Yahweh had
given to him. Of such were Pauls parents, Jews of Tarsus. We cannot help contrasting
his father with Peters, who was in Gods appointed place.
The other dispersion was of an
opposite character. Unfaithfulness led many away from Yahwehs land; but later
faithfulness drove many away from their patrimony.
Stephens martyrdom proved a
crisis for many in Israel. Those in Jerusalem, except the apostles, were driven throughout
Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1-4). Some went as far as Venice and Cyprus and Antioch,
preaching the word to none but unto Jews only. Later some spoke to the Hellenists also
(Acts 10:19,20). The reason there was no outcry against this procedure, as when Peter
preached to Cornelius, lies in the fact that these Hellenists or Grecians,
though they did not follow the customs as the true Jews did, were of the Circumcision and
the stock of Israel and not aliens of the other nations, not Greeks.
Peter undoubtedly writes to this
second dispersion. It is only as we, in spirit, enter into their experiences that we can
appreciate this epistle. A letter written to us is easy to understand. The references to
our own life and affairs are a part of us and we cannot miss their point. A letter written
to another is more difficult to apprehend. Our comprehension is limited by our
acquaintance with the recipient and his private circumstances.
To illustrate! Their allotment, or
inheritance in the land has been spoiled and defiled and has faded quite away
so far as their enjoyment of it is concerned. They have been chased from it. But they have
a living expectation, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, of obtaining a better
allotment, kept in heaven for them.
Who cannot see, in the opening strain
of Peters letter, a distinct allusion to the exodus, when the nation, having been
chosen in the patriarchs, with the foreknowledge of their deliverance and destiny, a
separate or sanctified people in Goshen, sprinkle the blood of the lamb in obedience to
Yahweh's command? In spirit Israel has come to precisely the same crisis once more. They
are in the midst of the wilderness. The allotment lies ahead to cheer them in their
manifold trials. They are redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver and gold
(Ex.30:11-16), not with the atonement money, but with the precious blood of
Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
They are the regeneration of which our
Lord spoke (Matt.19:28; 2 Peter 1:23).
Even if the address on Peters
first epistle had been obliterated and it had been sent to the dead letter office, there
is abundant internal evidence to insure its proper delivery and to keep us from
appropriating it to ourselves. People smile when we speak of the legal penalty
attached to the stealing of mail matter. If this is the case with our letters, which are
of so little importance, is it not tremendously serious when we dare to tamper with
Surely we cannot forget His words to
Moses at the foot of Sinai: Thus are you saying to the house of Jacob, and
telling the sons of Israel: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians when
bearing you on vultures wings and bringing you to Myself. And now, if you are
hearing to hearken to My voice, and observe My covenant, then you become Mine, specially,
more than any of the peoples, for Mine is all the earth. And you are becoming Mine, a
kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which you are speaking to
the sons of Israel (Ex.19:4-6).
Internal evidence shows that Peter
wrote to A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people procured for Himself . . . which once were
not a people but now are the people of God, which had not
obtained mercy but now are being shown mercy (Ex.19:5,6;
Hos.1:9,10; 2:23; 1 Peter 2:9,10).
Such a multitude of marks of
identification should surely keep us straight. We are not a race, or a
priesthood, or a nation, or a procured people.
Let us suppose that Moses did as we do
today and applied all this to the Amorite and the Moabite and the Canaanite
and the Egyptians! But such crimes may go unpunished only in a day of grace, not at the
foot of Sinai.
Though the church which is His
body is largely taken out from among the nations, it cannot be a nation in any sense
of the word. Though we have access into Gods presence which no high priest in Israel
ever knew, yet we approach ourselves, not for others. We are not priests in any way.
Priesthood pertains only to the sons of Israel. Though we come from the peoples and may be
called a people, we are not, we cannot rob Israel of the special place accorded them by
But many will take refuge in the
statement which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.
Surely, some will protest, this must refer to the Gentiles! It is a quotation from
Hosea. The whole first chapter should be read to get the connection. Israel and Judah are
the subjects before the prophet. The prophets children are named as representatives
of the nation. And He is saying, Call his name Lo-ammi, for you are not My
people, and I am not your I Am Becoming. Yet the number of the sons of Israel shall become
as the sand of the sea, which is not being measured nor numbered. And it comes to be in
the place in which it was being said to them, Not My people are you, there
shall it be said to them, Sons of the living El. And the sons of Judah and the
sons of Israel shall be convened together (Hos.1:9-11).
Can this refer to the nations? While
the nations were always Lo-Ammi, this refers to the time when Israel, too, was
so far estranged from Him that He repudiated them. But the promise of becoming His people
again does not refer to the nations but to His apostate people, Israel.
But what of the quotation in the ninth
chapter of Romans? It certainly seems as though this passage is applied to the nations
there. The subject of the chapter is Gods sovereignty. The passage which is quoted
is introduced by a comparitive connective as. That is, it is not cited as fulfilled
but as illustrative. In Peter the quotation is introduced very differently:
once were, yet now are. That is, Peter gives a scripture and its
fulfillment (1 Peter 2:10), Paul illustrates his theme by a passage in harmony
with his argument (Rom.9:25,26).
While the statement immediately
preceding Pauls quotationus, whom He calls, also, not only out of the
Jews, but out of the nations alsowhile this seems to us to be a
direct reference to the salvation of the nations, it is evident from the next verse that
this is only on account of our bias, and that he has no idea of changing it from its plain
intent in Hosea. He continues Now Isaiah is crying over Israelwhich, if
it is read with the emphasis on Israel, as indicated in the Greek, will give us the
proper impression that Hosea, too, has been speaking of Israel, and the apostle takes it
for granted that we are acquainted with that fact, as we certainly ought to be.
This ought to be enough to send this
epistle to the Circumcision, to whom it properly belongs. But, if this is not sufficient,
the twelfth verse ought to make it plain whom Peter had in mind. If he was writing all
this to the nations, why, in this verse, does he exhort them: Having your behaviour among
the nations ideal?
PETER'S SECOND EPISTLE
second epistle of Peter was really written by Simon Peter. This gives
us a clue to the distinct character of these two letters. Peter was not his
original name. That was Simeon or Simon. Now Simeon in Hebrew means to hear or
hearken. This indicates his state when he was called. Israel was deaf and refused to hear,
but Simon is representative of that class which had ears to hear. When his brother Andrew
told him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being construed, Christ, he
heard and came (John 1:40-42).
The Lord immediately gives him another
name, You are Simon, the son of John (not Jona), you shall be called Cephas, (which
is, being translated, Peter). In fulfillment of this promise, after our Lord
was rejected by the nation, and Simon had acknowledged Him to be the Christ, the Son of
the Living God, He exclaims Happy are you Simon, Bar-Jonah, for flesh and
blood does not reveal it to you, but My Father who is in the heaven. Now I, also, am
saying to you that you are Peter (petros) and on this rock (petra) will I be
building My ecclesia . . .
Job came to a crisis when he cried
the hearing of the ear I had heard of You,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I recant and repent
On soil and ashes.
Peter saw. Simon obeyed; Peter believed. Simons father was
John; Peters father was Jonah, a dove, the emblem of Gods spirit.
It is a pity that Protestant
expositors in their zeal against the Catholics, have tried to rob the name Peter of its
true significance. Cephas and Peter are equivalents and do not refer to a loose,
rolling stone, unstable and treacherous. They always denote a solid rock, the very
best of foundations. And Peter is in the foundation of the new Jerusalem. True, the
present church which is His body is not founded on Peter. Paul laid that foundation. Peter
is a special title of honor bestowed by our Lord in recognition of Peters spiritual
apprehension, not a nickname given him for his failings.
We are prepared, then, to see that the
first letter was written by Peter, an apostle, the second by Simon
Peter, a slave and an apostle. The dominant note in the second letter is service.
Simon, the obedient slave, subordinates Peter the apostle. And is not the whole epistle
burdened with the thought of behaviour, deportment, conduct, ser vice? It is of vast
importance that it be read in this light.
This letter is written to the same
ones to whom the first epistle was written, for the apostle calls it his second epistle to
them (2 Peter 3:1). It is expressly written to those who are chancing upon an
equally precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and our Saviour, Jesus
Christ (2 Peter 1:1). In Israel the lot settled everything. Instead of being
regarded a lottery of blind chance, it was seen to be an appeal to Yahweh
direct. The whole disposal of it was of Yahweh. When the soldiers did not wish to tear our
Lords tunic they cast lots for it just as soldiers today would toss up a coin among
So those to whom Peter writes had
obtained equally precious faith with Him as a direct result of Gods
lottery. In conformity with the epistle, however, this is in the righteousness of
God. This precious faith was theirs because of the divine decree that their service and
suffering must be rewarded. God is doing right in giving it to them.
Let us not rob Peter to pay
Paul, for Paul has no need of aught which belongs to Peter. Everything we filch from
Peter impoverishes us. It hides and hinders the enjoyment of the transcendent celestial
grace which Peter himself was never able to apprehend, much less enjoy.
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