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Peter’s Exhortation During the Persecution

29 Jul
Map of the Roman Empire with the provinces of ...
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Peter concludes his first epistle by exhorting the elders to feed the flock of God. He mentioned that, if they minister in their office in a godly manner, they would be rewarded when the chief Shepherd appears (1Peter 5:1-4). It could hardly be argued that Peter did not expect Jesus to return in some manner during his generation or expected lifetime. If this did not occur, I have already argued that it could be construed Peter was a false prophet. If not, why not? The Scriptures clearly say that anyone who predicts something would occur is a false prophet, if that thing did not occur as they claimed. Why would Peter be an exception?

Therefore, if we trust that Peter is not a false prophet, he must be referring to something other than Jesus’ second coming, as we understand that to mean today. In previous posts I have argued that when the Apostles asked Jesus for the sign of his coming, they meant his coming into authority as the Messiah. They had no idea that Jesus would die and leave them. Therefore, if Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven was not part of their understanding at the time of their question, how could their question on the Mount of Olives be understood that it does (Matthew 24:3J)? Nevertheless, Jesus gave them the sign of his coming into his office as Messiah, which was his judgment upon Jerusalem and the Temple (Matthew 24:30; cf. Luke 21:21).

In any case, Peter exhorted the elders of the churches in five different Roman provinces to feed the flock of God (1Peter 1:1; 5:1-2). This implies that their doing so would combat the fiery trial all the churches were under at this particular time (1Peter 1:6-7; 4:12). My question throughout this study of 1Peter has been, how could all the churches of these five Roman provinces have been undergoing the same trials without there being a common source for the trouble? Up to the time of the writing of Peter’s epistle, Rome had not been persecuting Christians. On the contrary, the Jesus Movement was the only Messianic movement that Rome did not consider political in nature and a threat to Caesar. All other messianic movements within Judea were sought out and destroyed by the Roman governors there. Therefore, if Rome was not responsible at this date for the problems the churches of these five provinces were experiencing, who was responsible? Such widespread and common trouble logically requires a common source, so what is that source? The only possible figure who was powerful and influential enough to command such persecution would have been Annas, the high priest in Jerusalem. The high priest was a very influential character in 1st century Judaism, especially with the Jews of the Diaspora, because his office was directly responsible for the freedom of the Jews to build synagogues throughout the Empire. It was only through his influence and lobby with Caesar that they had permission to freely worship throughout the nations within the Roman Empire. Annas was directly responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and each of the persecutions that occurred in Judea. Why wouldn’t he be the common source for the persecution in the Diaspora?

Peter’s exhortation against this the current trouble was for the elders to take the oversight of the flock of God and teach the brethren according to the word of God, and for all to submit to one another. Good teaching and mutual submission could not and would not lead to trouble within the church. The enemies of the Messianic movement would have no beachhead upon which to devise their evil work. Peter ended his epistle with a greeting to the churches of the five provinces from the church that is in Babylon—i.e. the church of Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 17:5, 18; 11:8).

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Posted by on July 29, 2010 in Christianity, Prophecy, Religion

 

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