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Jesus Creed

Emerging Peter: Are We Saved?

posted by xscot mcknight

Peter’s readers are exhorted to put behind them their previous lifestyles — and the sins of that lifestyle are communal-distortions: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Getting rid of sins is not the whole story: growth in grace is both ridding ourselves of sin and acquiring something new. What is that something new?
Notice what Peter says in 2:1-3. In sum it is this: by feasting on the Lord Jesus they are to be nurtured into salvation. But this leaves us with a distinctive note in Peter’s letter: salvation is largely something in the future instead of something in the now. It is, to be sure, both now and later, but his focus is that salvation is something we await.
By feasting on the Lord, the way infants feast on milk, his readers are to “grow into salvation.” They’ve been purified, they’ve been sprinkled, they’ve been ransomed — but salvation is something they are growing into. And it is something they will find at the End of Time: 1:5 is a good example.
How to get there? Desire the Lord. Why? Because he is tasty. Peter’s language is clever and potent. They can expect that their yearnings for feasting on the Lord will lead to salvation because “you have tasted that the Lord is good.” The word translated here “good” in Greek is chrestos and it clearly a pun: The “Christ” is “chrestos” — sweet, good-tasting, good.
Good food leads to growth. The “goodest” food for these Christians was Jesus himself.
Peter’s strategy for living out the gospel in the Roman Empire was to create a community that feasted on the Lord for its growth and that learned to put social sins behind: put off and put on is Peter’s strategy.
What makes this emerging? Because Peter is working out a theology of how the Church relates to the State in his day and in his way. These are powerless people; powerless people have to be good if they wish to influence the State; Peter calls them, therefore, to be good. And they are to be good together — and this would lead to their salvation.

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Duane Young

posted February 28, 2006 at 7:37 am

Is the eucharist visible in this this teaching?
In traditional parlance this sounds like “sanctification.” Is this just another nuance to “being saved” as a many splendored thing? Is “decision evangelism” called into question here?

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Scot McKnight

posted February 28, 2006 at 8:08 am

Christian theology will incorporate Eucharist, but it would be anachronistic of 1 Peter.
On your last question, not directly unless it is not a decision to a life of conversion.

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Mark Eberly

posted February 28, 2006 at 9:37 am

I never saw the put off and put on strategy in 1 Peter (of course I never really looked for it there). This will be a helpful addition to THE sermon in Matthew and some of Paul’s writings in working with addicts and such.
It is not enough to NOT do something. More one thinks about not doing something, the more difficult it becomes. Instead, we teach people to replace the ‘NOTS’ with something positive (ie. Think on these things…).
In Christ,

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posted February 28, 2006 at 12:12 pm

Powerless is so key to Peter… He’s the only guy in the NT who equates Jesus with the suffering servent in Isaiah 53… and all in a portion written to slaves (2:24). And then the whole idea that He is the Shepherd and Overseer/Biship of their souls. It’s like, “Submit and show them love, but remember who your boss is.”
Their new lifestyle was incredibly intense…Asia Minor Christians following Jesus and taking everything on the chin.

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Greg Mc

posted February 28, 2006 at 4:46 pm

This did not show up the fist time I posted it so I’ll try again.
“Good points Scot but it seems you are really stretching it to make this a particularly Emergent/political epistle. You seem to put a great deal of emphasis on a strictly literal interpretation of “aliens and strangers” as “a social class”. I am not sure this holds up when you
look at the usage of similar language (I have not compared Heb vs Grk) in Lev 25:23 where the Jews are all permanent “aliens and sojourners” because actually God owns the Land. Does God only own the land of Israel? God was speaking to the entire nation: does Peter see these new
Christians as an extension of that Jewish salvation which was prophesied of the grace to come? Israel was a nation among nations, not powerless, but just not tied to the same earthly hope that the surrounding nations ONLY had. I see a lot of allusions to “living hope” and “imperishable
inheritance” that seems to juxtapose the physical and the spiritual. (Not that we do not have a hope in a physical resurrection.) it’s just that the this is not (to answer Jack Nickleson) “as good as it gets?”. That kind of heavenly hope makes it easier to endure the present earthly suffering. I don’t see anything overtly political there that would correspond with or the American DNC.”

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Ted Gossard,

posted February 28, 2006 at 5:53 pm

Scot, Thanks. Very good stuff. Illuminating to me since I haven’t seen some of what you point out here.
I do very much like the picture here and think it adds a much needed element to our normal evangelical outlook on the Christian life.
Powerless people of the kingdom making a difference should speak huge volumes to us. We live in a day in which, I’m afraid we’ve left the power of living in Jesus and his kingdom largely behind for a world political kind of power. And this should make a difference in all of life to others where we live.

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posted February 28, 2006 at 8:49 pm

“What makes this emerging? Because Peter is working out a theology of how the Church relates to the State in his day and in his way.”
Now I can see. Its coming togethor now.

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posted February 28, 2006 at 9:13 pm

I was reading something earlier this morning by W.R. Telford (Cambridge Press.) He makes notes of comparrison with Mark and 1& 2 Peter,while noting the difference in genre and purpose.
He basically ays that 1 &2 Peter could have been heavily influenced by Mark and that their theology is very comparable, epscially with a Gentile slant. He notes the high Christology of the letters contrasted to Gospel that tend to focus on his teachings, prophetic voice etc.
Do you have any thoughts on this and how it may tie-in to your recent post of Mark, the Letters and the emerging church. I don’t know, but there seems to be somethng here for the emergenng church and its theology???
Thanks for you consideration on this…

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Scot McKnight

posted February 28, 2006 at 9:28 pm

The biblical evidence actually works against using Lev 25:23. Lev 25:23 is an important background for some, but the problem is that the Hebrew has only “ger toshav” (or something similar) and this means “resident alien” but does not use “temporary resident” — thus, Hebrew
has only one term and Peter has two. The LXX (Greek translation) has “convert and temporary resident”. And, 1:1 in 1 Peter starts off with the very term absent in Leviticus (and Gen 23:4). The OT could explain the “resident aliens” (paroikos) but not the other term.
More importantly, Gen 23:4 in Greek has our very terms (the same as 2:11-12) and there Abraham is clearly speaking of his social condition.

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Scot McKnight

posted February 28, 2006 at 9:29 pm

The question delves into things I’ve not considered here, and I don’t recall blogging about Mark.

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posted March 1, 2006 at 1:06 am

Dear Scot,
February 23 “Mark as History”.
That’s cool. I was just curious what your take on it was considering that you have made several posts on 1 Peter and recently Mark.
I realize the question may have been more deeper than what you have considered here.
I found it interesting to come across this unexpectedly in my morning reflections.
God be with you.

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