In the Synoptic Gospels, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, poor Galilean fishermen, are the first two disciples called by Jesus to follow him (Mark 1:16-17);
Peter becomes one of Jesus' closest disciples.
In John's Gospel, Jesus' first disciple is Andrew, who then brings his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1:35-42).
When Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answers, "You are the Christ" (Mark 8:29 & par.), and Jesus in turn says, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah... you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." (only in Matt 16:16-20; cf. John 6:66-69)
His original name is "Simon," while "Peter" is a Greek nickname meaning "Rocky"; Paul often calls him "Cephas," an Aramaic name that also means "Rocky" (1 Cor 9:5; 15:5; Gal 1:18—2:14)
The NT does not mention the death of Peter, but later Christian tradition records that he preached in Rome and was martyred there under Emperor Nero in 64 or 65 AD
He later comes to be regarded as the first "bishop" of Rome, based partly on 1 Peter 5:1-2.
Associates of Peter:
James and John: these two "sons of Zebedee" are the "core three" apostles during Jesus' public ministry; they sometimes accompany Jesus alone, without the rest of "the twelve" (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; 14:33).
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter and John sometimes preach and minister together (Acts 3:1-11; 4:1-23; 8:14-25).
Paul: although Paul was not one of the first 12 apostles, he crossed paths with Peter several times during his lifetime, in Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 15; Gal 1:18—2:14), possibly in Corinth (1 Cor 1:12; 3:22), and later probably also in Rome.
Silvanus: the scribe or co-author of 1 Peter (see 5:12); a leader of the Jerusalem church and missionary associate of Paul.
Mark: called "my son" in 1 Peter 5:13; also from Jerusalem and associated with Paul.
The Authorship of 1 Peter and 2 Peter:
Many scholars think 1 Peter is pseudepigraphic, since "Babylon" (5:13) is not used until after 70 AD, and since the Greek is much too good for
a simple Galilean fisherman.
Yet the good quality of this epistle's Greek could be due to Silvanus, Peter's assistant and scribe who actually wrote it; so it could very well be authentic,
with only few later changes.
Most scholars agree that 2 Peter is pseudepigraphic, written long after Peter's death, but still drawing upon his authority.
Much of 2 Peter quotes from the Letter of Jude, thus it must be written later than Jude.
Important Themes of 1 Peter:
Christianity does not Threaten the Social Order of the Roman Empire:
Christianity was perceived by some outsiders as a dangerous, subversive, anti-Roman religion:
as a "new" religion, it was suspect and/or despised by many
as monotheists, Christians refused to worship the emperor or other Greco-Roman gods
Christian preaching of "freedom" for everyone might be misinterpreted
1 Peter stresses that Christians are to be God's obedient children (1:14), a "chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, God's own people" (2:9-10)
live holy lives, just as God is holy (1:15; 4:1-6)
love one another (i.e., other believers) genuinely (1:22; 3:8; 4:8-11)
accept the authority of the emperor, governors, every human institution; "honor" the emperor (2:13-17)
you are free; but do not misuse your freedom as a pretext for evil (2:16; cf. Gal 5:13)
1 Peter also contains a Household Code with instructions especially for slaves and wives (2:18—3:12); it seems to presuppose mixed Christian/non-Christian families, esp. with non-Christian masters/husbands
Gentiles who see the honorable lives of Christians might even become converts (2:12; 3:1, 15-16)
Accept Innocent Suffering as Christians:
Rejoice, even if you have to endure trials and testing (1:6-7; 4:12-13)
Follow the example of Christ in suffering unjustly (1:11; 2:21-25; 3:18; 4:1; 5:9)
Don't do anything to deserve punishment (2:20; 3:16-17; 4:15)
Don't repay evil with evil, but respond by blessing and doing good to those who persecute you (2:23; 3:9; 4:19)
You are blessed if you are reviled or suffer "for the name of Christ" or "as a Christian" (4:14, 16)
Eschatology: Maintain Hope for your Future Reward:
Jesus' resurrection gives us hope for an imperishable inheritance (1:3-4, 11), the salvation of our souls (1:5, 9)
Judgment day, the "end of all things" is near, so be prepared (2:12; 4:5-7; 5:8)
In 1 Peter, the focus is on Theo-logy more than Christo-logy:
Jesus is the model of obedient suffering, but God is the eschatological judge.
The Christian community is the "Household of God," rather than the "Body of Christ" (as in Paul).
Use of Hebrew Scriptures in 1 Peter:
1:16 quotes Lev 19:2 (cf. Matt 5:48; Luke 6:36)
1:24-25a quotes Isa 40:6-8
2:6-10 quotes Isa 28:16; Ps 118:22; Isa 8:14; Exod 19:6; Isa 43:20-21; Hos 1:6-9; 2:23
2:22-25 quotes Isa 53:4-9 (in different order)
3:10-12 quotes Ps 34:12-16
4:18 quotes Prov 11:31; and 5:5 quotes Prov 3:34
There are many other allusions to images and phrases from the Hebrew Bible
Use of Christian Traditions:
1:20-21 sounds like it may be an early Christian "confession" (a brief profession of faith)
3:18-22 sounds like it may be a quotation of an early Christian "hymn"
"Love one another" (1:22; 3:8; 4:8) is a major theme of the Johannine Jesus (cf. John 13:34-35; 15:12-17; 1 John 3:11-14; Rom 12:10; etc.)
"You have been born anew of imperishable seed" (1:23) alludes to John 1:13
"You are blessed if you are reviled for the name of Christ" (4:14) alludes to the beatitudes of Jesus (Matt 5:11; Luke 6:22)
Important Themes of 2 Peter:
Preserve and Pass On the Apostolic Teachings, and Avoid False Teachers:
The whole letter is written in the form of a "Testament," as the dying words of the apostle Peter (1:12-15; 3:1-2)
Peter was an eyewitness of Jesus, not someone who made up or passed on myths (1:16-18)
In contrast, f alse prophets and false teachers will try to deceive the believers (2:1-3, 10-22; 3:3-4, 16)
Ethics: Live a Virtuous and Godly Life; Avoid Evil and Immorality:
build up your lives step-by-step: faith / goodness / knowledge / self-control / endurance / godliness / mutual affection / love (1:5-7)
the Lord will punish the unrighteous, but rescue the righteous (2:4-10)
avoid sinners and any kind of sin: slander, revelry, adultery, greed, etc. (2:11-22)
live ethical holy lives as you wait for the coming of the "Day of the Lord" (1:3-4; 3:11-12)
Eschatology: Don't Be Deceived or Discouraged about the Delay of the Parousia:
some people ("scoffers") doubt that the Lord will come; they believe that the world simply goes on (3:3-4)
time is irrelevant for God: "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day" (3:8)
God is not slow, but is patient, giving time for more people to repent (3:9)
the "day of the Lord" will come suddenly, unexpectedly, "like a thief" (3:10a; cf. Matt 24:43-44; 1 Thess 5:2)
the final destruction/purification of everything will occur with "fire" (3:7, 10, 12)
finally, there will be "new heavens and a new earth" (3:13; cf. Rev 21:1)
Use of Scriptures (Hebrew and Christian):
2:22a quotes the Hebrew Bible (Prov 26:11), while 2:22b quotes a non-biblical proverb
several other passages (1:20-21; 2:4-10; 3:11-13; etc.) mention the "prophets" or allude to other OT texts
1:17-18 reflects Peter's experience as an eyewitness to the Transfiguration of Jesus (cf. Matt 17:1-8)
3:1-2 presupposes knowledge of the First Letter of Peter
3:15-16 indicates that the letters of Paulwere revered as "scripture" (since compared with the "other scriptures"); but they are also difficult to understand, and thus misinterpreted by some people
much of 2 Peter 2-3 is closely based on the Letter of Jude:
Questions for Review and Discussion:
What does 1 Peter say about how and why Christians might suffer?
What are several different connections between 1 Peter and the city of Rome?
What does 1 Peter teach us about how Christians should interact with civil/political structures and authorities?
What does 2 Peter say about eschatology, about the coming of "the Day of the Lord"?
What are some indications that 2 Peter was written very late (in the late first century or early second century)?
How do 1 Peter and 2 Peter treat the Hebrew Scriptures? How do they treat other early Christian writings?