Sunday, August 23, 2009

August 23rd - Introduction to First and Second Peter

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Text – 1 Peter 1:1-2

Two things from the last two weeks, first, we asked how Elijah could have gone to Heaven if sinners can’t approach the gates of Heaven. He was a special case, but I’ve found that angels are constantly leaving and going into Heaven, even Satan is allowed into Heaven, albeit when he’s in Heaven, he only tells the truth and seems to be very limited in what he can do. When Elijah went to Heaven, angels attended to him and carried him in, so something extra special happened with him. It may be that Enoch and Elijah were the first two men to see Heaven.

Second, last week we talked about the fourth-commandment, I skipped something completely, not on purpose, but because we ran out of time. The verse in Exodus says to give your slave a day off. A lot of people have been brainwashed to think that slavery is bad and that it is non-existent today. Slavery is still alive and well, even in capitalism, where we have to work for room and board and are very limited in our free-time and decisions. It is the law still in America that employees have to get certain amount of time off, the law is still alive and well that slaves are required to get a day off. When the Bible gives laws about slavery, don’t just brush them off, they are hugely important still today.

So, those are two things from previous weeks, lets press forward. Let’s take a look at Peter’s Epistles, we’ll spend a good part of the year on these.

1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

First Peter used to be called the Epistle to the Pontians, but that’s somewhat misleading because it’s to a lot more people than just the Pontians. We’ll talk about that in a moment. A lot of books had different names than what we have given them today, the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon is sometimes called Canticles, when we talk about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, those are actually the Gospel According to the author, meaning they record Jesus’ death and resurrection resulting in the salvation of sinners. Romans has been called the Gospel According to Paul. Ezra and Nehemiah used to be called Ezra-Nehemiah, and First and Second Chronicles used to be Third and Fourth Kings. Finally, Revelation used to be called John’s Apocalypse. The name of the Epistle is far less important than what is in it, but just realize that Peter’s Epistles were written to specific people, not just generally.

Let’s look at who Peter was first. Where was Peter from?

John 1:44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

Bethsaida is on the Northern tip of the Sea of Galilee, very near to Capernaum. What was Peter’s job, since he lived so close to the Sea?

Matthew 4:18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Who was Peter’s brother from these two passages? Andrew. We’ll talk more about him in a moment, he’s very important to the beginning of our study.

Andrew and Peter were disciples of John the Baptist before they were disciples of Jesus. On the day John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Messiah, Andrew up and left John. He was only following John to find Jesus. Do you think John was surprised or sad? No, because his job and joy was to identify the Messiah and to see people repent towards God. Your pastors fully expect the same with you when we see Jesus, that you’ll up and leave us to follow him, because our whole job is to proclaim the Messiah to you.

After you’ve started following Christ, what is the next thing you should do? Bring others to Christ, lets see what Andrew did.

John 1:40-42 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).

Peter and Andrew’s conversion is somewhat difficult to understand, but not impossible. They were in Judah when they first saw and met Jesus. He wasn’t ready to start his ministry yet, so he sent them home to wait for him. At this point Jesus was being baptized, which we’ll talk about eventually (Jan 3rd), but his ministry didn’t start until he performed his first miracle, the changing of water into wine. After this, he went and found Peter and Andrew fishing, and from here called them to full time following.

Peter was known as the bold one of the group. He was constantly speaking without thinking, and often without listening, but because of this he is one of the main Apostles we know about. We’ll talk a lot more about his life, blunders, and redemption as we go through his Epistles.

Peter told Jesus he would die before he denied him, but then what happened? Jesus told him that before the rooster crowed twice, Peter would deny him three times. Did that happen? Peter denied Jesus to a little girl and her friends three times. Then he broke down and wept.

That night Jesus was crucified, but three days later rose again. Peter’s sins of denying the Lord of Glory were paid for by the very Man whom he had denied. When told of the resurrection, John and Peter took off running for the tomb. Who was faster?

John 20:4,8 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first… Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

John really rubs it in, he basically says, “Peter, you’re slow.” So Jesus has been raised from the dead, but the Apostles still didn’t really understand what was going on, so they went and hid until they could figure out what was going on.

John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."

After this Jesus showed himself to a few hundred people, and sent the Apostles back to Bethsaida, where it all began. And being bored waiting for Jesus to come, they decided to go fishing, at which time they caught nothing.

In the morning, Jesus arrived and told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat, something he had previously told Peter to do before his crucifixion. They did, and there were so many fish they couldn’t get them in the boat but had to drag them ashore. They recognized that it was Jesus at this point and Peter couldn’t wait and dove in and swam ashore.

Then Jesus asked him if Peter would ever deny him again, and of course, Peter couldn’t say he wouldn’t deny him, because he didn’t know. Finally Jesus concluded by telling Peter that he would indeed die for the sake of the religion.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, Peter as a new man, he stood in front of thousands of people on Pentecost and boldly proclaimed Christ and him crucified and resurrected to the very Jews who had crucified Jesus. They were forgiven of that sin by the very fact that Christ died on a cross. Peter then preached throughout Judea and Samaria and saw many Jews and Gentiles saved. He became a great leader in Jerusalem, although he spent some time in prison and suffered terribly for Christ. James was the bishop of Jerusalem, and we have no evidence that Peter was ever a pastor, only an evangelist, but a great evangelist.

Before he met Jesus, we have an interesting fact about him.

Mark 1:30-31 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

In order to have a Mother-in-Law, what would Peter need? A wife.

So at the end of Peter’s life, we see him, and through tradition, his wife, travel to Rome, possibly to see Paul, who is in prison awaiting execution. Nero, the emperor, hated Christians with a vengeance, he actually proclaimed himself the chief enemy of the Christian God. Nero takes Peter and his wife prisoner, and sets the date for both of them to be executed. Peter’s wife, whose name we do not know, (albeit the RCC calls her Perpetua to try to pretend Peter was a Pope and Bishop who never consummated his marriage), was taken before Peter, and he called out to her, “My dear, remember the Lord.” (Reference-Clement of Alexandria) We don’t know how she died, but being a woman, they probably were merciful.

Then it came time for Peter to die, and they were set to crucify him, at which time he made the request to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy of dying in the same way as his Lord.

Before Peter’s death, he was hanging out with a young man named Mark, who liked to record his sermons and hear him speak. Which great book did Mark write? The Gospel According to Mark. This Gospel contains some very specific information about Peter’s life, and much of the information contained in Mark’s Gospel was provided by Peter. Peter probably also helped Paul to write Hebrews, and provided information for Luke to write Acts.

So that’s who Peter was. Was he a saint? Yes he was, but only because all Christians are saints, not because he was extra special, even though he did extra special things. How many of the Apostles walked on water? Only one, because it was the only one who trusted Christ enough to get out of the boat when the opportunity presented itself. Peter did a lot of great things because he trusted in Christ. So did his brother.

Andrew never stopped bringing people to Christ. After Pentecost he headed for Asia, where he preached in Pontus and Byzantium, then up into Russia. Thoroughly beaten in Kiev for his preaching, where he lost several teeth and maybe a finger or two, he headed down into Macedonia and converted a young woman named Maximilla to Christianity, her husband was the governor of the region and he was furious that Andrew had converted his wife. Aegeates, the governor, had Andrew crucified on an X-shaped cross. At first they were going to nail him, but decided that he would suffer more if he was only tied.

Andrew preached, and preached, and preached some more, and 20,000 people came to hear him preach from his cross. Aegeates changed his mind about crucifying Andrew and decided to let him go, Andrew’s response was that he was ready to die and be with Jesus, and then he implored Aegeates to repent and believe the Gospel, for he could still be saved. Aegeates was furious and decided to leave Andrew crucified. We don’t know how long it took him to die, but he preached unto his last, it is purported that his last statement was, “The Saviour of the world has come! He is the Christ, the Son of God!

So verse one says, “To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”, these churches, such as Cappadocia, Asia, and Galatia were probably the Jews present at Pentecost whom Peter converted, the others, Pontus and Bithynia, are Peter’s brother’s converts. So we’ve got both Jews and Gentiles that this letter is written to. Every different manner of people too, the Cappadocians are very rural, the Pontians are fishermen, and the Asians are sort of hoity-toity.

In effect, Peter’s letter is written to everybody; or more accurately, everybody that is a Christian. It’s not written to make converts, but to strengthen believers.

v. 1-2 without the locations, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

The word exiles is an interesting word in the Greek, it is Parepademois, and it means a pilgrim, or a foreign traveler, who is living in a foreign land. Someone that has left their home in order to live somewhere else. Where is the Christian's home?

2 Corinthians 5:8-9 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

The Christian’s home is Heaven, the people that Peter is writing to, their original home was Israel, so he’s capturing two things with his one statement, both that the Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman empire, and also that Christians are only visiting as strangers, or as the NASB says, aliens, on earth. Peter is going to talk about us as ambassadors for Christ later in his letter.

Then we see that God has purposefully put us where we are, our exile to our respective place, is according to the foreknowledge of God. God knew he wanted us to be missionaries to Kennesaw and Acworth, to Awtrey and Palmer and Liberty, and so put us in Kennesaw and Acworth, in Awtrey and Palmer and Liberty.

Here we have a very clear view of Peter’s theology, he trusts wholly in the sovereignty of a Triune God, each person of the Godhead is fully active in working in our life. God the Father has predestined our lives, the Holy Spirit is conforming us to Christ’s image, and Jesus Christ has saved us when he poured his blood out, when he died, for our sins.

We’ll talk about this great salvation more next week. Are there any questions about Peter, or anything?


Write a few sentences considering what happened to Peter to cause him to go from being a coward to being fearless.

Can the same thing happen to you? If your major fear is public speaking, ask God to help you overcome that fear. Or maybe your greatest fear is being made fun of, consider Jesus Christ who for your sake endured the shame of the cross, and ask him to give you the strength to endure whatever might happen to you for his sake. You don’t have to tell me what your great fear is, just pray for God to help you overcome it.