Here’s the reason I don’t like Paul’s letters, and I am beginning to dislike Peter’s: they are not about Christ’s teachings, but are instead about seeing Christ as a god figure. Instead of talking about the man, they talk about the concept (“exalt Christ as Lord in your hearts”). Instead of internalizing the message – as James did – Peter keeps everything at an external, exterior level. While James defined sin and why a person should watch their thoughts, Peter brings such wisdom as “who will harm you if you are devoted to doing good” (ignoring the fact that, in Chapter 2, he said that people will be harmed for doing good) and “Baptism […] saves you also, not by removing dirt from the body.”
Another reason to dislike both? Blatant sexism. Just like Paul, Peter exhorts women to submit to their husbands. Women should follow the example of Sarah and obey their husbands in everything. This is the way that holy women have done in the past. What, social progress wasn’t considered a good thing back then, either?
Paul’s letters made it sounds that he expected Jesus to return soon. Peter states this straight out: “The end of everything is near.” That was 2,000 years ago. Peter “keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Church elders must be like Shepherds, who will be much like the Chief Shepherd, and will be given a crown of Glory when Jesus returns. I think that Peter reveals a lot about how he views himself and other church elders. He practically puts them on the same level as Christ (they are all shepherds. Jesus is chief, but still a shepherd like the rest of them). Elders will be reward with crowns of power. Church members should be submissive to elders… Well, you get the idea.
Ugh. At least it was a short letter. Peter has turned out to be just as infuriating as Paul. Actually, he sounds pretty much exactly like Paul. You can tell that they were on the same page with many aspects of the new church. Reading one is pretty much the same as reading the other. That provides internal consistency, but it is also preaching to the choir. Peter and Paul have a view for how the church should be arranged, what should be taught, how people should be guided. None if it seems much like what Jesus taught and how Jesus lived.
My recommendation is to skip this letter and re-read James.
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Tuesday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.
- Christ’s message personified– James 3-5 (biffster.org)
- Cry Like a Baby – 1 Peter 2:1-3 (dianneguthmuller.com)