Monday, March 03, 2014

1 Peter 1:13-21 Exegetical Notes

Text


13 Διὸ ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν, νήφοντες τελείως, ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 14 ὡς τέκνα ὑπακοῆς, μὴ συσχηματιζόμενοι ταῖς πρότερον ἐν τῇ ἀγνοίᾳ ὑμῶν ἐπιθυμίαις, 15 ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα ὑμᾶς ἅγιον καὶ αὐτοὶ ἅγιοι ἐν πάσῃ ἀναστροφῇ γενήθητε, 16 διότι γέγραπται ὅτι Ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἅγιος.
17 Καὶ εἰ πατέρα ἐπικαλεῖσθε τὸν ἀπροσωπολήμπτως κρίνοντα κατὰ τὸ ἑκάστου ἔργον, ἐν φόβῳ τὸν τῆς παροικίας ὑμῶν χρόνον ἀναστράφητε· 18 εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ φθαρτοῖς, ἀργυρίῳ χρυσίῳ, ἐλυτρώθητε ἐκ τῆς ματαίας ὑμῶν ἀναστροφῆς πατροπαραδότου, 19 ἀλλὰ τιμίῳ αἵματι ὡς ἀμνοῦ ἀμώμου καὶ ἀσπίλου Χριστοῦ, 20 προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων διʼ ὑμᾶς 21 τοὺς διʼ αὐτοῦ πιστοὺς εἰς θεὸν τὸν ἐγείραντα αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ δόξαν αὐτῷ δόντα, ὥστε τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν καὶ ἐλπίδα εἶναι εἰς θεόν.

Critical

v19-20 Metzger notes the presence of a whole section added in several Latin mss. It is extremely unlikely to be original
v21 πιστούς / πιστεύοντας / πιστεύσαντας Although the 2nd option is extremely common, it seems that the first option would be ‘corrected’ to the far more common second way of expressing this idea.
v22 ἀληθείας / ἀληθείας διὰ πνεύματος / πίστωες διὰ πνεύματος The addition of an explanatory phrase seems the best way to account for the longer versions.

Translation

Wherefore, girding up the loins of your understanding, being self-controlled, completely hope in the grace that is being brought to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. As children of obedience, [do] not  [be] conformed to the desires in your former ignorance, but according to the holy one that called you, you also become holy in every way of life, since it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.”

And if you call upon the father that judges impartially according to each one’s work, conduct the time of your sojourning in fear: knowing that not with perishable things, silver or gold, were you redeemed from your futile ancestral way of life, but by the precious blood as of an unblemished and faultless lamb , Christ, foreknown before the foundation of the cosmos, revealed in the last of times for the sake of you, who believe through him in God that raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are unto God.

Commentary

In 1:13 Peter moves from the praise of God for his sweeping majestic work in Christ, to application of these spiritual truths in exhortation to holiness and obedience. The particle διό picks up the whole train of thought of vv3-12 and presents them as the basis for exhortation. This first verse contains two participles, the second concretising the first, which adverbially modify the main imperative. Firstly, “girding up the loins of your minds” provides a vivid picture of intentional preparation for serious exertion, but in the realm of thinking. This is further explained by “being completely self-controlled”, an attitude of mental self-awareness and self-control that restrains passions and excess. These two ideas feed into the main idea “hope in the grace”, a thought that draws from the good news presented in vv3-12. This grace is further expanded as that which comes to them (i.e. the grace of the Gospel preached to them and so present in their lives) and the repetition from v7 of “at the revelation of Jesus Christ”, as their hope continues to hold an eschatological focus.
It is unclear whether the adverb “completely” should modify the preceding participle or the following verb; in my translation I have placed it with the verb. Here the idea is of a total and utter placing of dependence and assurance in the grace that has already come, as the basis for future hope also.

Verse 14 introduces a comparison that begins of this minor section (14-16). He first depicts them as “children of obedience”, a genitive construction that simply means “obedient children”. What follows in the second half of 14 is a negative imperative framed with a participle. It is not so much that it is an imperative grammatically, so much as that it expresses “not doing this” in preparation for a contrast in v15. The readers are to avoid conformity to “desires” or “passions” which are qualified as “former” (i.e. part and parcel of their former way of life) and “in your ignorance”, referring to their former state of not knowing God, his gospel, or his word.

Verse 15 opens with the contrastive ἀλλά followed by a qualifying prepositional phrase that sets up the holiness of the one that called you, i.e. God, as the standard for which the readers also ought to be holy, “in [their] whole way of life.” What Peter has in mind is a holiness that corresponds to God’s character and is all-encompassing. Verse 16 then connects this with the Old Testament with a quotation that directly cites Leviticus 19:2 LXX, with echoes of Lev 11:44, 20:7-8, 20:26.

Verse 17 opens up a further section of exhortation, a long sentence that runs through to the end of 21, and all predicated on the conditional “If you call upon [the] Father”. That Peter’s addressees have been born again, adopted, and are to live as “obedient children” presupposes that this is indeed what they do, and so the implications that Peter outlines flow from this. “Father” is qualified by being “the [one] that judges impartially according to each person’s deed[s]”. God’s impartial judgment removes any temptation to indulge in licence or seek to use the new relationship with God for moral privileges. Instead believers are to “conduct the time of their sojourning in fear”. Peter makes considerable use of ἀναστροφή and cognates in this section. The reference to time and sojourning connects to verse 1 and a persistent theme in the letter: the dual ‘foreigner’ status of believers as socio-historical condition and theological situation.

Verse 18 is an adverbial participial clause that attaches back to the main imperative in v17, “Since you know that”. Just as Peter has contrasted the genuineness of their faith back in 1:7 with gold, so too now he draws a comparison with the means of their redemption. He also picks up the language of “mortal” which he has used in v4. Their redemption, or purchased freedom from slavery, was not effected by silver or gold. The resolution of this contrast is held off to verse 19, while in verse 18b we are told what this redemption is from: “your foolish ancestral way of life”. The adjective πατρπαραδότου may be seen as a specific reference to either Gentile-background or Jewish-background believers, but neither is necessarily in view. Van Unnik (1969) establishes that this ancestral handing-down was viewed as the basis of stable society in both Jewish and Hellenistic cultures at the time. This is part of Christianity’s PR problem – it is novel, not ancient, in its contemporaries’ eyes. Peter radically employs “ancestral” with “foolish”, a direct reversal of the received norms.

Verse 19 is resumptive and provides the positive contrast with 18a, “but with the precious blood”. That blood that is the instrumental ‘payment’ of redemption is not further developed into any analogy or theory of redemption here (i.e. to whom it was paid), but is mapped out instead in terms of Christ as unblemished and spotless lamb. The thought here is covenantal and sacrificial. Christ is further the subject of description in verse 20, “foreknown before the foundation of the world”. The thought here connects with the foreknowledge of God the Father in verse 1 as applied to believers, so now to the economic plan of salvation. And just as the logic of verse 1 moves from the past to the present reality of believers, so too does verse 20 move from God’s foreknowledge to the manifestation of Christ “in the last of times for you”; Peter understands the ‘now’ to be the eschatological end times.


The final verse of this section, 21, is dependent upon the preceding ὑμᾶς, with the first phrase “those who are faithful through him unto God”. The choice of πιστούς rather than πιστεύοντες seems odd, which is part of the internal evidence for preferring this reading, as it nominalises a typically verbal idea elsewhere. The believers’ faith and fidelity are through Christ and unto God, with God further describes at the one who both “raised him from the dead” and “gave him glory”. This two actions should be understood as related. God’s raising of Christ is itself glorifying, but is also the precedent to Christ’s exaltation, as seen also in the Pauline literature. The result is that both faith and hope, twin themes and concepts in the early part of the letter, are in God [himself]. There is no division between the faith that is in Christ and the hope that is in God, or vice versa, but believers’ ultimate hopes and so faith reside in the Resurrector of the Lord Jesus.

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