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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

1 Peter Overview





THE General Editor does not hold himself responsible, except in the most general sense, for the statements, opinions, and interpretations contained in the several volumes of this Series. He believes that the value of the Introduction and the Commentary in each case is largely dependent on the Editor being free as to his treatment of the questions which arise, provided that that treatment is in harmony with the character and scope of the Series. He has therefore contented himself with offering criticisms, urging the consideration of alternative interpretations, and the like; and as a rule he has left the adoption of these suggestions to the discretion of the Editor.

The Greek Text adopted in this Series is that of Dr Westcott and Dr Hort with the omission of the marginal readings. For permission to use this Text the thanks of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press and of the General Editor are due to Messrs Macmillan & Co.


July 1914.


THE completion of this commentary has been unavoidably delayed by the thronging duties of parochial work since my departure from Cambridge. In the Notes and Introduction I have relied chiefly upon the study of other New Testament Books and of the Septuagint with which the Epistle is saturated. The opinions adopted are in many cases based upon the views of other commentators too numerous to mention. I must, however, express my indebtedness to the commentary of Dr Hort upon the earlier portion of the Epistle, and to that of Dr Bigg upon the whole book, even where I fail to concur with his views. For the problems of date and authorship I have derived most help from the exhaustive articles of Dr Chase on S. Peter and 1 Peter in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, and not without full consideration have I ventured to differ from some of the conclusions of Professor Ramsay in The Church in the Roman Empire.

My thanks are due to the Syndics of the University Press for their patient forbearance and to the General Editor for his great kindness in reading the proofs and for much valuable criticism.

G. W. B.

July 1914.



Simon (or Symeon Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1) was son of Jonas (Matthew 16:17) or John (John 1:42; John 21:15-17) and brother of Andrew. His home was at Capernaum but he may have originally come from Bethsaida (John 1:44). He was married at the time of his call (Mark 1:30) and in later years his wife accompanied him on his missionary travels (1 Corinthians 9:5). He and his brother were partners with James and John as fishermen.

His calls. (a) To personal friendship with Jesus (John 1:41-42). Probably both he and Andrew had been disciples of the Baptist. Andrew having found the Messiah brings Simon to our Lord who at once recognizes in him latent possibilities which will develope into Rock-like strength of character.

(b) His call to discipleship (Matthew 4:18-19; Mark 1:16-18) took place while he was fishing. He and Andrew are summoned to follow Jesus with a promise that they shall be “fishers of men.” St Luke (Luke 5:1-11), either following a different tradition or more probably describing a later repetition of the call to discipleship, records it after the healing of Simon’s wife’s mother and other miracles in Capernaum. Our Lord borrows Simon’s boat from which to preach. An extraordinary draught of fishes convinces Simon that Jesus must possess more than human powers. He exclaims “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” but is assured “From henceforth thou shalt catch men.”

(c) The call to Apostleship was perhaps some six months later, when our Lord selected twelve to be His special companions to be trained as Messengers (Mark 3:14). On their first Mission they were sent “two and two,” and it is a plausible conjecture that St Peter’s companion was St John. They had previously been partners, and together with Andrew, they formed the innermost circle of the Twelve at the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37), at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2), in Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). Peter and John “made ready the Passover” (Luke 22:8). At the Last Supper Peter made signs to John (John 13:24). They alone entered the High Priest’s palace at the Trial (John 18:15). They alone visited the Sepulchre on hearing of the empty tomb (John 20:2-10). It was of St John’s future that St Peter asked the Risen Lord (John 21:20).

Peter and John together healed the cripple (Acts 3:1-10), together they were arrested by the Sanhedrin (Acts 3:11), together they visited Samaria (Acts 8:14). They with James the Lord’s brother were regarded as “pillars” of the Church and supported St Paul’s work among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9).

St Peter’s Character as pourtrayed in the Gospels is that of a warm-hearted, impulsive man ready to dare all and doubt nothing, but, until he had been “sifted as wheat,” his confidence was partly self-confidence which failed in the hour of trial; his impulsiveness led him at times to act and speak hastily.

His impulsiveness in action may be seen in

(a) his request to walk on the water (Matthew 14:28 ff.),

(b) his proposal to make three tabernacles at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:5-6),

(c) his conduct about the tribute money (Matthew 17:24 ff.),

(d) drawing his sword to smite the High Priest’s Servant (John 18:10),

(e) entering the Palace at the Trial and then denying his Master (Matthew 26:69 ff., etc.),

(f) entering the sepulchre (John 20:6),

(g) jumping into the water to hasten to the Risen Lord (John 21:7 ff.).

His impulsiveness of speech led him at times to criticize or contradict his Master.

“All men seek for Thee” (Mark 1:37). “This shall never be unto Thee” (Matthew 16:22). “Thou shalt never wash my feet”; “Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (John 13:8 ff.). “Yet will I not deny Thee” (Matthew 26:35, etc.). “Why cannot I follow Thee even now?” (John 13:37).

The same impulsiveness led him to ask constant questions. “Why say the Scribes that Elias must first come?” (Matthew 17:10). “Speakest Thou this parable unto us or even unto all?” (Luke 12:41). “How oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?” (Matthew 18:21). “We have left all … what then shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27). “What shall be the sign of Thy Coming?” (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:3). Who is to be the traitor? (John 13:24). “Lord, whither goest Thou?” (John 13:36). “Lord, and what shall this man do?” (John 21:21).

But that same impulsiveness made St Peter the spokesman of the rest in confessing Christ. “Of a truth Thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69). That confession may have been based upon impulse rather than settled conviction, and so was received without comment by our Lord—but when (Matthew 16:16) St Peter made the same confession in answer to a definite test of their faith our Lord bestowed a special blessing upon him. “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” The “rock” has been variously explained to mean (a) the truth just asserted by St Peter, (b) St Peter’s faith, (c) St Peter’s character as typical of the other Apostles, who with the prophets are described as the foundations upon which the Church is built (Ephesians 2:20; cf. Revelation 21:14). But if the words are understood in a more personal sense they may mean that St Peter is to support the first stones of the “ecclesia,” the new Israel of God, as we find that he did in the earlier chapters of Acts. A Rabbinic legend, commenting on Numbers 23:9 with Isaiah 51:1-2, uses similar language of Abraham: “As soon as God perceived that there would arise an Abraham He said ‘Behold I have found the “petra” upon which to build and lay foundations’ ” (see Chase, Hastings’ D. of B., iii. 795).

St Peter is also made a “steward” of the kingdom to whom the keys are entrusted (cf. Isaiah 22:22) and the “scribe” who has authority to “bind or loose,” declaring what God has pronounced to be obligatory or otherwise. But in Matthew 18:18 the same power of “binding” or “loosing” is conferred upon all the Apostles.

But with all his faults St Peter was specially dear to his Master, as may be seen from the prayer that his faith might not fail and the charge to strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32), the pitying glance in the hour of his shame (Luke 22:61), the special message about the Resurrection (Mark 16:7). He was the first of the Twelve to see the Risen Lord (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5), and finally on the lake side St Peter greatly forgiven proved how greatly he loved, and was entrusted with a share in the Good Shepherd’s own work and learned that he should glorify God by sharing his Master’s fate in death (John 21:15 ff.).

In the Acts of the Apostles St Peter seems at once to take the lead among his brethren. He proposes the election of a new Apostle (Acts 1:15 ff.) and was the spokesman on the Day of Pentecost. In the successive stages of the development of the Church traced by St Luke, (a) Jerusalem, (b) Judaea, (c) Samaria, (d) “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8), St Peter takes the initiative. He, with St John, performs the first miracle (Acts 3:1-8) and acts as spokesman when they are tried by the Sanhedrin (Acts 3:11 ff.). He asserts his primacy in the first visitation of judgment (Acts 5:1-11). Although all the Apostles are described as working “signs and wonders,” St Peter’s personality seems to have created the greatest impression, so that his very shadow was thought to bring healing (Acts 5:15). When the Apostles were imprisoned and miraculously released St Peter again acted as spokesman before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:29 ff.).

The persecution which followed St Stephen’s martyrdom scattered the Christians but thereby extended the Gospel to Samaria, and in that stage again St Peter with St John is sent by the Apostles to superintend this new development and set his seal upon the work begun by Philip (Acts 8:14 ff.).

Again in the period of rest which followed St Paul’s conversion St Peter undertakes a missionary tour “throughout all quarters” (Acts 9:32) and healed Aeneas at Lydda and Tabitha at Joppa (Acts 9:33-43).

But the greatest conquest of all still awaited him. It was by his mouth that “God made choice among them that the Gentiles should hear the word of the Gospel and believe” (Acts 10; Acts 15:7). For that venture of faith, even in spite of his Master’s world-wide commission, St Peter’s impulsiveness was barely prepared. His old habit of contradiction is seen in his protest against “anything common or unclean” (Acts 10:14). But no sooner did he learn that God was “no respecter of persons” than he boldly vindicated his action in baptizing Cornelius and his companions at Caesarea. The door was thus opened to the Gentiles and the final stage of world-wide development had begun. Here St Peter’s primacy as a pioneer seems to have been completed. His courage and steadfastness had given solid support for laying the foundations of the Church, and from that time the work passed chiefly into other hands.

These events probably took place very soon after St Paul’s conversion (c. 34 or 35 A.D.), and apparently Jerusalem was for some years longer St Peter’s headquarters. He was the only Apostle present, except James the Lord’s brother, when St Paul visited Jerusalem three years after his conversion (Galatians 1:18). On that occasion the Christians were at first afraid to receive St Paul until Barnabas brought him to the Apostles and told the story of his conversion and subsequent work in Damascus (Acts 9:26).

Shortly before the death of Herod Agrippa in 44 A.D. St James was martyred and St Peter imprisoned. Being released by an angel he left Jerusalem and “departed to another place” (Acts 12:17). The tradition that he then went to Rome seems certainly inconsistent with the evidence of St Paul’s Epistles.

A very wide-spread tradition represents St Peter as the founder and organizer of the Church in Antioch, and he may probably have made Antioch a centre for mission work among the Syrian Jews as an “Apostle of the Circumcision” (Galatians 2:7).

We next hear of him at the Apostolic Conference at Jerusalem in A.D. 49 (or? 51). On that occasion St Paul had a private conference with St Peter, St John and James the Lord’s Brother as the reputed “pillars” of the Church. It is possible that they may have suggested some compromise, such as the circumcision of Titus (Galatians 2:3), as a concession to Jewish prejudices. But to this St Paul would not agree, regarding it as a breach of principle to circumcise a Gentile like Titus, despite his prominent position. Ultimately the three leaders fully accepted St Paul’s position, and at the public conference (Acts 15:7-11) St Peter acted as spokesman. He reminded the Assembly that he himself had been selected to admit the first Gentile converts. By bestowing the gift of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his companions God had confirmed that new departure, and had placed Jews and Gentiles on the same level, purifying their hearts by the gift of faith instead of demanding the bodily purification of circumcision. It would therefore be tempting God to impose upon Gentiles the yoke of the Law, which the Jews themselves had found insupportable. In fact the Jewish disciples themselves had learned to depend for salvation not upon the Law but upon faith in the free grace of the Lord Jesus. As a result of this speech St James, the Lord’s brother, who presided at the Conference as the resident head of the Church in Jerusalem, proposed that Gentiles should not be required to adopt circumcision or observe the whole Law. It was however thought wise to impose certain restrictions upon them, by demanding that they should abstain from meats offered in sacrifice to idols, from fornication, and from blood or meat containing blood. (On the meaning of these regulations, see Hort, Judaistic Christianity, pp. 71 f., Lake, Earlier Epp. of St Paul, pp. 48 ff.).

It was probably soon after this Conference that St Peter himself came down to Antioch (Galatians 2:11). Remembering perhaps the vision which had bidden him to “call no man common or unclean” and anxious to “give the right hand of fellowship” to St Paul’s work, St Peter at first mixed freely with the Gentile Christians and shared their meals. Such a step was, not unnaturally perhaps, regarded with some apprehension by the stricter Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. They had no doubt regarded it as an extremely liberal concession to exempt Gentiles from observing Jewish customs. But, if leading Jewish Christians, like St Peter, were now proposing to abandon their own customs and adopt those of Gentiles, they felt that unnecessary liberality was being shewn, which would inevitably distress or even alienate the Jewish majority in the Church, without conferring any real benefit upon the Gentile minority. James, the Lord’s brother, would naturally be appealed to by his flock. On a previous occasion some of them had unwarrantably claimed his authority in endeavouring to impose the Law upon Gentile Christians at Antioch and he had been obliged to repudiate their action (Acts 15:24). But now he may have thought it wise to send a cautious warning to the more impulsive St Peter that his liberal policy was causing great offence to Jewish Christians. Thereupon St Peter and the other Jews, even including Barnabas, withdrew from eating with the Gentiles. Such vacillation seemed to St Paul to be a real breach of principle. He realized that Gentile Christians would inevitably feel that they were regarded as inferiors so long as they were uncircumcised, and would either become a separate Church or feel bound to observe the Law as necessary in order to obtain full recognition in the Church, even though it might not be essential for salvation. Thus St Peter’s action was virtually reimposing the Law, and implied that those who had deliberately abandoned it were committing a transgression. Yet it was to seek justification in Christ that they had done so, and thus Christ would be the cause of their sin, which is impossible. There is no evidence to shew how St Peter received this protest. Probably he accepted the principle laid down by St Paul, but as his own mission was specially to “those of the circumcision” he would seldom have any cause to act upon it. Thus the Judaizing opponents of St Paul, exaggerating St Peter’s position, set up a rival party at Corinth who claimed to be followers of Cephas. Silas at any rate, though himself one of the delegates from the Church at Jerusalem, must have cordially supported St Paul, otherwise he would not have been selected as the companion of his second Missionary journey. Barnabas must also have speedily repented of his temporary vacillation, as St Paul originally invited him to accompany him. But if, as is not improbable, St Mark was among the Jews who “withdrew” at Antioch, this may have confirmed an impression, produced by his previous withdrawal from the first Missionary journey, that St Mark was not yet in full sympathy with St Paul’s attitude towards Gentiles.

After this incident we have no knowledge of St Peter’s movements for several years, except an incidental notice (1 Corinthians 9:5) that his wife accompanied him on his mission work.

The existence of a Cephas party at Corinth affords no sufficient grounds for supposing that St Peter himself visited Corinth, though it may have given rise to the tradition mentioned by Dionysius Bp of Corinth (c. 170 A.D.) that St Peter and St Paul both worked in Corinth (Eus. H. E. ii. 25).

The tradition that St Peter visited Pontus and other provinces of Asia Minor, mentioned by Origen (Eus. H. E. iii. 1), Epiphanius (Haer. xxvii. 6), the Syriac Doctrine of the Apostles and the Acts of Andrew, is probably only based upon the opening salutation in 1 Pet. and is not supported by other references in the Epistle to the evangelization of those districts.

Antioch in Syria is described as a special centre of St Peter’s work. Thus Origen (in Luc. Hom. vi.), possibly borrowing from a second century list of Antiochene Bishops, describes Ignatius as “the second Bishop of Antioch after the blessed Peter” (cf. Eus. H. E. iii. 36). Chrysostom and Theodoret also connect St Peter with Antioch, and later tradition describes him as having been Bishop of Antioch for seven years. The Clementine Romance, despite its Ebionite inventions about the supposed hostility of St Peter towards Pauline teaching, seems itself to have originated in Syria, and is probably correct in making that district one of the chief centres of St Peter’s activity.

Rome. St Peter’s work and martyrdom in Rome are attested by evidence so early, so wide-spread and so unanimous that even the most determined opponent of Papal claims could not dispute it with any success.

For a full discussion of the evidence Dr Chase’s Article in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, and Lightfoot, Clement of Rome, ii. pp. 481 ff. should be consulted.

Clement of Rome (chapter 5) (c. 95 A.D.) seems to select the martyrdoms of SS. Peter and Paul because they took place in Rome.

Ignatius of Antioch (c. 115 A.D.) (ad Rom. c. iv.) says “I do not command you as Peter and Paul”—again probably selecting the two Apostles who had worked in Rome.

Papias of Hierapolis (c. 130 A.D.) (Eus. H. E. iii. 39, cf. ii. 15) probably described 1 Pet. as written from Rome (see p. xxviii).

Dionysius of Corinth (c. 170 A.D.) (Eus. H. E. ii. 25) describes St Peter and St Paul as visiting Italy and suffering martyrdom.

Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 190 A.D.) (Haer. iii. 1) says “Matthew published a Gospel … while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the Church in Rome.” (Haer. iii. 3) “The Churches of Rome founded by the two most glorious Apostles Peter and Paul.… They entrusted the ministration of the bishop to Linus … after Linus Anencletus, after Anencletus in the third place from the Apostles Clement is elected bishop.”

Clement of Alexandria (c. 200 A.D.) (Eus. H. E. vi. 14) says “When Peter had preached the word publicly in Rome the bystanders … exhorted Mark to write out his statements.”

Tertullian of Carthage (c. 200 A.D.) is the earliest writer who describes the mode of St Peter’s death and places it in the reign of Nero at Rome. He also (de Baptismo 4) speaks of those whom Peter baptized in the Tiber and (de Praescriptione 32) says that Clement was ordained by Peter.

Gaius the Roman presbyter (c. 200–220 A.D.) speaks of the tombs of St Peter and St Paul as still existing at the Vatican and the Ostian Way (Eus. H. E. ii. 25).

Origen of Alexandria (c. 250 A.D.) (Eus. H. E. iii. 1) says that St Peter was crucified head downwards at Rome. This last detail is also found in the Gnostic Acts of Peter, which possibly originated in Asia Minor in the second century and contain also the “Domine quo vadis?” legend and the story of St Peter’s conflict with Simon Magus in Rome. The Catholic Acts of Peter, which contain similar details, cannot in their extant form be earlier than the fifth century.

The date and duration of St Peter’s visit to Rome

Eusebius (H. E. ii. 14) describes St Peter as coming to Rome in the reign of Claudius and there contending with Simon Magus, “the author of all heresy,” and (ii. 17) he mentions a report that Philo in the reign of Claudius became acquainted at Rome with Peter who was preaching there.

The Chronicon of Eusebius (? based upon Julian Africanus, c. 221 A.D.) in the Armenian version assigns St Peter’s visit to Rome to the third year of Caius 39–40 A.D. and adds that he remained there as “antistes” of the Church twenty years, but in a later passage the martyrdom of Peter and Paul at Rome is placed in the 13th year of Nero, i.e. 67–68 A.D.

Jerome places St Peter’s arrival in the second year of Claudius 43–43 A.D. and says that he held the bishopric 25 years, placing the martyrdom of Peter and Paul in 68 A.D.

The Liberian Catalogue of Roman Bishops (354 A.D.) describes St Peter as Bishop of Rome for 25 years but dates it 30–55 A.D., apparently assuming that he was made a Bishop by our Lord and that his see must have been Rome.

The Liber Pontificalis has several contradictory notices:

(a) that St Peter held the Bishopric of Antioch for 7 years,

(b) that he entered Rome in the reign of Nero and held the Bishopric of Rome for 25 years,

(c) that he was in the reigns of Tiberius, Caius, Claudius and Nero,

(d) that he suffered martyrdom together with St Paul in the 38th year after the Crucifixion, i.e. 67 A.D.

It would seem therefore that there is no mention of St Peter as Bishop of Rome until the fourth century, and the earlier lists of Bishops all reckon Linus as the first bishop. The 25 years’ episcopate may perhaps have been based upon a legend that our Lord ordered the Apostles to wait 12 years before going out into the world. This story was contained in the Preaching of Peter, probably an early second century book, quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. vi. 5), and also in the Gnostic Acts of Peter, which represented St Peter as coming to Rome when the 12 years had expired and there contending with Simon Magus. But the story is placed after St Paul’s departure to Spain, which would imply a much later date. If however the Crucifixion is dated 30 A.D. 12 years would bring us to 42 A.D. and this would leave 25 years before the traditional date of St Peter’s death.

The evidence of the first three centuries suggests a comparatively late date for St Peter’s work in Rome, placing it after previous work in Antioch, Corinth or Asia Minor, coupling it with St Paul’s work in Rome which certainly did not begin until about 59 A.D., and connecting it with the issue of Gospels by St Matthew and St Mark or with the Neronian persecution.

This later date is far more consistent with the language of St Paul’s Epistles. The Epistle to the Romans alike by its statements and its silence makes it incredible that St Peter was then in Rome or had previously worked there. The ignorance of Christianity professed by the Jews in Rome on St Paul’s arrival (Acts 28:22), even if it was wilfully exaggerated, is hardly consistent with the view that St Peter had been working in Rome.

In the Epistles of his first Roman Captivity St Paul mentions numerous fellow-workers, including St Mark and others “of the circumcision,” but is absolutely silent about St Peter.

Therefore it is most difficult to believe that St Peter worked in Rome earlier than 61 A.D.

On the other hand there is considerable evidence that St Peter did work in Rome for a considerable time, and a fair amount of early evidence that St Peter and St Paul worked together in Rome. It is therefore a very plausible conjecture of Dr Chase (Hastings’ D. of B., iii. 778) that St Peter may have come to Rome on St Paul’s invitation about the time of St Paul’s release, and that they worked there together for a time before St Paul started on the Missionary work implied in the Pastoral Epistles, and that St Peter remained in Rome with St Mark, until he was summoned to Jerusalem in 63 or early in 64 to take part in the election of Symeon Bp of Jerusalem. Dr Chase suggests that St Peter returned to Rome and was one of the earliest victims of the Neronian persecution in 64 A.D. This would tally with his burial place being in the Vatican near the hideous scenes of Nero’s gardens.

If however the traditional date 67 or 68 A.D. is accepted for St Peter’s martyrdom, we must assume that he was absent from Rome during the first fury of the persecution and returned or was brought to Rome only to be martyred at the end of Nero’s reign, possibly after St Paul’s death.

The “first trial” and protracted remand of St Paul, referred to in 2 Tim., and the invitation to Timothy to join him before winter and bring Mark with him seem hardly consistent with the view that the first fury of the Neronian persecution was then raging.

The Mission work implied in the Pastoral Epistles also demands a longer period of liberty than would be the case if St Paul was executed in 64 A.D. It is therefore easier to date St Paul’s martyrdom about 67 A.D., and if St Peter had already suffered we should have expected St Paul to refer to his death.

For an account of the various apocryphal writings ascribed to St Peter and a discussion of the legends about his conflict with Simon Magus the Article “Simon Peter” in Hastings’ D. of B. should be consulted.


The chief arguments in favour of the Petrine authorship are:

A. External

The Epistle is quoted as the work of St Peter by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and other early writers (possibly including Papias), while the Second Epistle of St Peter, which is certainly very early even if not genuine, refers to a previous epistle bearing the name of St Peter which most probably means our Epistle.

The attestation of the Epistle by so many witnesses widely separated in place and circumstances shews that it had a circulation and authority in the early Church such as it could hardly have acquired unless it was regarded as the work of some leading Apostle.

B. Internal

[1] The Epistle itself claims to be written by Peter an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and the opening salutation can only be rejected on one of two theories:

(a) that it is an interpolation added in the second century to a document which was previously circulated anonymously. This view has been suggested by Harnack but it is most improbable. A treatise such as “Hebrews” or a homily such as 2 Clement might have been circulated anonymously, but 1 Peter reads distinctly like a letter, and as such must surely have had some writer’s name attached to it from the first. Moreover if this letter was originally anonymous, it is difficult to account for its subsequent ascription to St Peter rather than to St Paul to whose writings it has a decided resemblance.

(b) that the Epistle is a forgery. For this no adequate reason can be assigned, unless we are to adopt the theory of the Tübingen school that St Peter and St Paul and their respective followers were diametrically opposed to one another and that this Epistle, as well as the Acts of the Apostles, was written by some well-meaning forger of the second century, who desired to promote the union of the two branches of the Church by attributing Pauline views to the leading Jewish Apostle St Peter. Apart from this theory, which is now discredited by nearly all critics, no adequate motive can be suggested for the supposed forgery in St Peter’s name. The Epistle denounces no heresy, it supports no special system of doctrine or Church organization. It shews no traces of any legends or stories about St Peter’s life. It is addressed to an enormous district, large parts of which are connected with no known Apostolic missionary work. Silvanus is elsewhere connected with St Paul rather than St Peter. Why, therefore, should any forger have selected his name as the amanuensis, or bearer, of the Epistle? On the other hand Silvanus (Silas) is described in Acts 15:22 as one of the “chief men among the brethren” in Jerusalem and therefore was certainly well known to St Peter—and unless the writer of this Epistle was a man of recognized apostolic authority he would hardly have been likely to have commanded the services of one so influential as Silvanus as his subordinate.

[2] Again in 1 Peter 5:13 the writer speaks of “Mark, my Son,” and such a claim to parental relationship to St Mark not only indicates the writer’s evident importance, but also agrees with the unanimous testimony of tradition that St Mark was in special attendance upon St Peter.

[3] In 1 Peter 5:1 the writer describes himself as “a witness of the sufferings of Christ” and evidently implies that he is testifying what he himself heard and saw (cf. the graphic imperfects in which he describes our Lord’s conduct during His trial and Passion, 1 Peter 2:23).

[4] There are also several coincidences of thought and language between this Epistle and the speeches of St Peter as recorded in Acts.

In his speeches St Peter constantly emphasizes the fact that the Apostles are “witnesses” Acts 1:22; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15; Acts 5:32; Acts 10:39; Acts 10:41, cf. 1 Peter 5:1, but in Acts the “witness” is of the resurrection whereas in the Epistle it is of the sufferings of Christ.

Christ is spoken of as “the just” Acts 3:14; 1 Peter 3:18.

His sufferings are regarded as “foreordained” Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28, 1 Peter 1:20; and as having been foretold by the prophets Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:11.

The same passage about the stone disallowed by the builders becoming the headstone of the corner is quoted Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4; 1 Peter 2:7.

The Cross is spoken of as “the tree” Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24 (elsewhere only Acts 13:29, and Galatians 3:13 quoting from the O.T.).

The descent into Hell is referred to Acts 2:31 “That Christ’s soul was not left in Hell,” cf. 1 Peter 3:19.

Christ is described as being raised from the dead by God Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:30; Acts 10:40; 1 Peter 1:21.

The judgment of “the quick and the dead” (a phrase which elsewhere occurs only in 2 Timothy 4:1) is mentioned in Acts 10:42 and 1 Peter 4:5.

The exaltation of the ascended Christ at the right hand of God is emphasized in Acts 2:33 and 1 Peter 3:22.

The transgression and fall of Judas to go to “his own place” is recognized as a fulfilment of Scripture Acts 1:16; Acts 1:25, and may suggest the same idea of an underlying purpose of God with regard to the consequences of man’s guilt as is implied in 1 Peter 2:8 “them which stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto they were appointed.”

The importance of Baptism is emphasized in Acts 2:38; Acts 10:47-48; cf. 1 Peter 3:21.

God is described as “no respecter of persons” Acts 10:34; 1 Peter 1:17. His choice of the Gentiles to be His “people” is referred to by St James as having been shewn by St Peter in Acts 15:14, and Gentiles are certainly included in the “people of God” in 1 Peter 2:9-10—and the “purification of their hearts by faith” Acts 15:9 may be compared with 1 Peter 1:22 “seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth.”

The chief arguments which have been urged against the Petrine authorship are:

[1] That the references to organized persecution point to a late date outside the probable limits of St Peter’s life. In answer to this it may be argued (p. xli ff.) that the allusions to persecution do not necessarily imply a persecution organized by the state, and that even if they are so explained they are not inconsistent with what we know of the Neronian persecution to which St Peter’s martyrdom is usually assigned. It is moreover possible (though not in the opinion of the present writer probable) that St Peter’s life may have been prolonged until 70–80 A.D.

[2] That the Epistle is written in good idiomatic Greek, and shews an appreciation of the niceties of the language in the use of tenses, prepositions and synonyms. The writer must have been a diligent student of the LXX., probably including the Apocrypha, and he is saturated with its language. Besides this he uses sixteen Classical words not found in the LXX. or N.T. and several other Greek words (chiefly compounds) for which there is no contemporary or earlier authority. Such literary attainments, it is urged, are incredible in a Galilean peasant like St Peter, who is described in Acts 4:13 as “ignorant and unlearned” (ἰδιώτης καὶ ἀγράμματος), and is stated by Papias and other early Fathers to have required the services of St Mark as his interpreter (ἑρμηνευτής). Dean Armitage Robinson says (Study of the Gospels, p. 16) “It is extremely probable that St Peter could not write or preach, even if he could speak at all, in any language but his mother tongue, the Aramaic of Galilee.” Similarly Dr Swete (St Mark, Int. p. xx) says “Simon Peter, if he could express himself in Greek at all, could scarcely have possessed sufficient knowledge of the language to address a Roman congregation with success.” On the other hand Lightfoot (Excursus on St Peter in Rome, Clement, Vol. ii. p. 494) says “When Mark is called ἑρμηνευτής the interpreter of Peter, the reference must be to the Latin, not to the Greek language. The evidence that Greek was spoken commonly in the towns bordering on the Sea of Galilee is ample, even if this had not been the necessary inference from the whole tenour of the New Testament.” In view of the large element of Greek life in Galilee, it is certainly probable that St Peter had some knowledge of colloquial Greek from the first. The epithets “ignorant and unlearned” applied to the Apostles need not mean more than that they had no professional training in Rabbinic schools. Although there is no warrant for the idea that the “gift of tongues” enabled the Apostles to preach at will in foreign languages, we may well suppose that in choosing St Peter as one of His messengers our Lord discerned in him intellectual as well as spiritual gifts and fitted him for his work by blessing the use which he made of those gifts. In his intercourse with Hellenists at Jerusalem, with Jews of the Dispersion on the day of Pentecost, and with Cornelius the centurion St Peter must almost certainly have spoken in Greek, yet there is no hint of the employment of an interpreter, and his knowledge of the language would steadily increase during his sojourn in Jerusalem and his missionary work (see 1 Corinthians 9:5) when Antioch was perhaps his headquarters. Moreover he would be dependent upon the study of the LXX. in “searching the Scriptures.” It is generally agreed (Edersheim, Nöldeke, etc.) that Hebrew was only familiar to scholars in the time of our Lord. Apparently Jewish children were taught to read Hebrew and the lessons in the Synagogue were still read in Hebrew (except possibly among the Hellenists). But already an “interpreter” was required to give an Aramaic paraphrase, though this did not take written form in the Targums until a much later date. Hebrew Manuscripts seem to have been very costly, whereas Greek Manuscripts were quite cheap. Thus even in Galilee it is probable that the LXX. was “the people’s Bible.” It would therefore be by no means impossible for the language of the Epistle to be chiefly St Peter’s own, though it is conceivable that his amanuensis (possibly Silvanus, as the style is quite unlike that of Mark, his only other known companion) may have assisted him in expressing his thoughts in an idiomatic form.

[3] The comparative absence from the Epistle of allusions to the facts or teaching of our Lord’s earthly life.

It is urged that if the Epistle was written by St Peter, the close companion of Christ, we should find more signs of a vivid remembrance of His life and teaching. But it is surprising how few facts concerning our Lord’s life and ministry are found in any of the N.T. Books outside the Gospels. The story of His words and works must have been constantly preached by the Apostles, as we learn from St Luke’s preface and from the unanimous tradition that St Mark’s Gospel was based upon the preaching of St Peter. Yet in the recorded speeches of St Peter in Acts the only references to events before the Passion are three allusions to the Baptism and two to the Miracles of our Lord. Similarly in the Epistles of St John and of James, the Lord’s brother, very few facts are alluded to. Therefore the absence of such direct allusions in 1 Peter can only be used as an argument against its genuineness if the same is applied also to the other speeches and epistles attributed to Apostles. On the other hand, if they were late forgeries, such allusions would almost certainly have been introduced to support their professed Apostolic authorship.

But although direct allusions to our Lord’s Life and Work are rare there are numerous indirect allusions and undesigned coincidences which support the Petrine authorship.

As in St Peter’s speeches in Acts the author lays special stress upon the fact that he was a “witness” of Christ’s sufferings, and, although the word μάρτυς does not in itself necessarily mean a “spectator,” the vivid imperfects in 1 Peter 2:23 seem to describe the author’s own recollection of the scene of Christ’s Trial and Passion.

The implied contrast between himself and his readers ὃν οὐκ ἰδόντες ἀγαπᾶτε 1 Peter 1:8 is not only an indirect claim to have been himself an eyewitness but suggests a reminiscence of our Lord’s words to St Thomas, John 20:29.

The instruction to gird themselves with humility to serve one another, 1 Peter 5:5, would come most naturally from one who had been so put to shame by the Lord Jesus in girding Himself to wash the disciples’ feet, when none of them would demean themselves to do the slave’s duty.

The exhortation to watch (γρηγορεῖν) and to resist the devil in his attempts to devour them by making them deny their faith in the hour of danger, 1 Peter 5:8, would have special force if it came from one who had himself fallen, in spite of his Master’s warning that Satan had desired to have him and his companions to sift them as wheat, because he failed to watch and pray, from one whose faith had been saved from utter failure by his Master’s prayer and who now that he is converted desires to strengthen his brethren.

The charge to his fellow-presbyters to shepherd (ποιμαίνειν) the flock of God is the same that was given to St Peter on his repentance, John 21:16.

There are also numerous echoes of our Lord’s sayings in the Epistle.

1 Peter 1:4. The Christian’s inheritance reserved in heaven.

Matthew 25:34. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, cf. Matthew 5:5; Matthew 6:20.

1 Peter 1:6. ἀγαλλιᾶσθελυπηθέντες ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς.

1 Peter 1:8. ἀγαλλιᾶτε χαρᾷδεδοξασμένῃ.…

1 Peter 4:13. καθὸ κοινωνεῖτε τοῖς τοῦ χριστοῦ παθήμασιν χαίρετε, ἵναχαρῆτε ἀγαλλιώμενοι.

Matthew 5:12. χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε ὅτι ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολὺς ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· οὕτως γὰρ ἐδίωξαν κ.τ.λ.

1 Peter 1:10 f. The search of the prophets … now revealed.

Luke 10:24. Many prophets … desired to see the things which ye see.

1 Peter 1:11. The prophets foretold the sufferings of Messiah and the glory which should follow them.

Luke 24:26. Behoved it not the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?

Luke 24:46. So it is written that the Messiah should suffer.

1 Peter 1:13. Gird up (ἀναζωσάμενοι) the loins of your mind.

Luke 12:35. Let your loins be girded about (περιεζωσμέναι).

1 Peter 1:17. εἰ πατέρα ἐπικαλεῖσθε.

Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2. The Lord’s Prayer.

1 Peter 2:2. ὡς ἀρτιγέννητα βρέφη.

Matthew 18:3. ἐὰν μὴ γένησθε ὡς τὰ παιδία.

1 Peter 2:6 f. λίθον ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον ἀκρογωνιαῖον.

Matthew 21:42, from Psalms 118:22.

1 Peter 2:12. The sight of your good works will cause men to glorify God.

Matthew 5:16. That they may see your good works and glorify your Father.

1 Peter 2:17. Fear God, honour the king (cf. Proverbs 24:21).

Matthew 22:21. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.

1 Peter 2:21. Follow Christ’s steps by enduring suffering.

Matthew 10:38. Take up his cross and follow me.

1 Peter 2:23. παρεδίδου δὲ τῷ κρίνοντι δικαίως, cf. 1 Peter 4:19, πιστῷ κτίστῃ παρατιθέσθωσαν τὰς ψυχάς.

Luke 23:46. εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου.

1 Peter 2:25. Sheep going astray, cf. Isaiah 53:6.

Matthew 9:36. Sheep having no shepherd.

Luke 15:4. The lost sheep.

1 Peter 3:9. Blessing for reviling.

Luke 6:28. εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς καταρωμένους.

1 Peter 3:13. τίς ὁ κακώσων;

Luke 10:19. οὐδὲν ὑμᾶς οὐ μὴ ἀδικήσει, cf. Luke 21:18.

1 Peter 3:14. εἰ καὶ πάσχοιτε διὰ δικαιοσύνην μακάριοι.

Matthew 5:10. μακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης.

τὸν δὲ φόβον αὐτῶν μὴ φοβηθῆτε, cf. Isaiah 8:12-13.

Matthew 10:26. μὴ φοβήθητε αὐτούς.

1 Peter 3:16. οἱ ἐπηρεάζοντες.

Luke 6:28. τῶν ἐπηρεαζόντων ὑμᾶς.

1 Peter 4:7. νήψατε εἰς προσευχάς.

Matthew 26:41. γρηγορεῖτε καὶ προσεύχεσθε.

1 Peter 4:14. εἰ ὀνειδίζεσθε ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ μακάριοι.

Matthew 5:11. μακάριοι ὅταν ὀνειδίσωσινἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ.

1 Peter 5:1. Witness of sufferings fellow-sharer of glory.

Luke 24:47. Ye are witnesses of these things.

Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30. When the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of his glory ye also, etc.

1 Peter 5:3. κατακυριεύοντες.

Matthew 20:25. οἱ ἄρχοντες τῶν ἔθνων κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν. οὐχ οὕτως ἔσται ἐν ὑμῖν.

1 Peter 5:6. ταπεινώθητεἵνα ὑμᾶς ὑψώσῃ.

Matthew 23:12. ὅστις ταπεινώσει ἑαυτὸν ὑψωθήσεται.


With the exception of the First Epistle of St John, the First Epistle of St Peter is the only one among the Catholic Epistles “of whose authority there never was any doubt in the Church.”

It was rejected by the heretic Marcion because he only accepted the Pauline books of the N.T. Theodore of Mopsuestia is also said by Leontius to have rejected “the Epistle of St James and the other Catholic Epistles in order,” but probably this only means 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter and Jude, which were not accepted by the Syrian Churches. There is however some evidence which tends to shew that originally none of the Catholic Epistles were included in the Syrian Canon, but 1 John, 1 Peter and James had been accepted by them long before Theodore’s time.

It is also omitted in the present text of the Muratorian fragment, which gives a list, possibly drawn up by Hippolytus, of the books accepted in the Church of Rome at the end of the second century. But this list, as we have it, is admitted to be incomplete. Some suggest that St Peter and his Epistle may have been mentioned in the lost portion dealing with St Mark’s Gospel, while Zahn thinks that a passage, which in the existing text deals with the Apocalypse of Peter, may have originally referred to his first Epistle.

With these insignificant and doubtful exceptions the evidence for the reception of 1 Peter by the Church is extraordinarily strong.

In the fourth century Eusebius includes it among those books which are “generally received” (H. E. iii. 25. 2) and says that “the Fathers of former days quoted it in their writings as indisputably authentic.” This statement is amply supported by facts.

In the third century Origen (quoted by Eus. H. E. vi. 25) says “Peter has left one acknowledged Epistle,” and he quotes Matthew 23:13.

Clement of Alexandria constantly quotes the Epistle by name and wrote a commentary on it in his Hypotyposes, of which fragments in a Latin translation by Cassiodorus are still extant.

Tertullian at Carthage also quotes it as the work of St Peter.

Hippolytus (on Daniel 4:29), writing in Rome or the neighbourhood, quotes the words “which things the angels desire to look into” side by side with quotations from St Paul.

In the second century Irenaeus, who was brought up in Asia Minor and afterwards came to Lyons and Rome, and who therefore represents three of the chief centres of Christendom besides being closely connected with Polycarp and other survivors of the Apostolic age, is the earliest writer who quotes the Epistle by name. We have also numerous traces of the Epistle:

(a) In Martyrdoms such as the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs (c. 180) and the letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (177 A.D.) (Eus. H. E. Daniel 4:1).

(b) In Apologists. Theophilus (ad Autolycum ii. 34) and Justin Martyr (Dial. 103) have apparent quotations from it.

(c) Heretics such as the Valentinians both Western (Marcosians quoted by Irenaeus i. 18) and Eastern (in Clem. Al.) and Basilides (Clem. Al. Strom. iv. p. 600) seem to quote the Epistle.

(d) The writer to Diognetus certainly and the Didache probably quote words from 1 Peter.

(e) There are possible allusions to it in The Shepherd of Hermas.

(f) Papias Bp of Hierapolis is stated by Eusebius (H. E. iii. 39) to have used it as a witness, and in ii. 15 Eusebius says that Papias confirms the story given by Clement of Alexandria that St Peter approved Mark’s action in writing his Gospel, and then, quoting either from Clement himself or from Papias, says that “Peter mentions Mark in his former Epistle which, they say, he composed in Rome itself, and that he signified this by describing the city by the metaphorical name Babylon.” This last statement that Babylon in the Epistle means Rome is not found in any of the extant writings of Clement of Alexandria and is therefore probably derived from Papias, and the fragment of Papias on Mark, quoted in Eus. iii. 39, refers back to some previous statement of his (“as I said”) about St Mark’s connexion with St Peter.

(g) Polycarp (c. 115 A.D.) is stated by Eusebius to have used 1 Peter, and in the extant Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians there are at least eight direct quotations from 1 Peter. It is true that these are not by name nor are they introduced by the formula εἴδοτες ὅτι which Polycarp frequently employs in quoting from St Paul, to whom he does refer by name, probably because St Paul had founded the Philippian Church and had himself written a letter to them. But in quoting from the O.T., the Gospels and Acts Polycarp’s quotations are anonymous, therefore there is no necessity to assume, as Harnack does, that Polycarp did not know the Epistle as the work of St Peter.

(h) Clement of Rome (c. 95 A.D.) has several words and phrases from 1 Peter, e.g. “the precious blood” of Christ, “his marvellous light,” Christ’s humility (illustrated by Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22) our example (ὑπογραμμός), a word which is peculiar to St Peter in the N.T. Besides this Clement has two quotations with the same variation from the LXX. as 1 Peter, viz. “Love covers a multitude of sins” and “God (θεός not Κύριος as the LXX.) resisteth the proud.” This however also occurs in the same form in St James and in Ignatius, Eph. v.

(i) In 2 Peter 3:1 the writer says “this is the second Epistle which I am writing to you beloved.” This book, even if it is not authentic, is admitted to be extremely early, and if we could be certain that the words refer to our 1 Peter it would shew that it was already known as the work of the Apostle. But if 2 Peter is not genuine it might of course be referring to some previous epistle by the same writer which is now lost.


In 1 Peter 5:13 St Peter sends the following salutations to his distant readers in Asia Minor Ἀσπάζεται ὑμᾶς ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτὴ καὶ ΄άρκος ὁ υἱός μου. In the notes on that verse reasons are given for adopting the view that ἡ συνεκλεκτή refers to a church and not to an individual. But in either case the words ἐν Βαβυλῶνι must almost certainly refer to the place from which St Peter was writing.

Three possible interpretations have been suggested.

A. Babylon on the Euphrates

In favour of this it may be urged:

[1] That in a letter literal language rather than metaphorical is what would naturally be expected at any rate in the more prosaic details of the address from which and to which the letter is sent. [2] That Babylon was one of the most important centres of the Jewish dispersion. [3] That St Peter was especially appointed to work among “those of the circumcision” and therefore would be very likely to visit such an important Jewish centre as Babylon was.

In answer to these arguments it may be urged:

[1] That the words συνεκλεκτή and υἱός in the immediate context are both to some extent metaphorical and would therefore suggest a metaphorical meaning for Babylon to St Peter’s readers. Also the opening salutation 1 Peter 1:1 ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς is almost certainly metaphorical and does not refer to the Jewish dispersion. Moreover the letter was not sent “through the post” so that there was no necessity for a “post-mark” or address to explain the writer’s present abode. Silvanus would give them all necessary information. [2] That, whereas it is true that there had been a very large Jewish colony down to the reign of the Emperor Caius, we learn from Josephus (Ant. xviii. a) that about the year 40 A.D. great disasters fell upon the Babylonian Jews. Many of them were massacred, while others fled to Seleucia and thence to Ctesiphon. It is therefore very doubtful whether any considerable Jewish colony existed in Babylon at the time when 1 Peter was written. [3] That there is no evidence or tradition to connect either St Peter or St Mark with Babylon or the far East, nor is there any evidence for the existence of a Christian Church in Babylon.

B. Babylon in Egypt

The only arguments for this view are:

[1] That it affords a literal interpretation of the name.

[2] That there was a large Jewish colony in Egypt.

[3] That tradition does connect St Mark, the companion of St Peter, with Egypt.

But against this view it may be urged:

[1] That in the first century Babylon in Egypt seems to have been only a fortress and military station and therefore a most unlikely place for the work of St Peter and his companions.

[2] That no tradition connects St Peter’s name with Egypt.

C. Rome

This seems to have been the generally accepted view until the Reformation, when opposition to Papal claims caused some Protestant writers to set aside as far as possible all connexion between St Peter and Rome. But there is early, wide-spread and unanimous tradition that St Peter suffered martyrdom in Rome, and fairly ample evidence for his previous work in Rome. His companion St Mark was certainly in Rome towards the end of St Paul’s imprisonment, and was again invited to come to Rome shortly before St Paul’s death. Tradition also describes him as having been St Peter’s interpreter in Rome and as writing his record of St Peter’s Preaching primarily for the Romans.

Eusebius (H. E. ii. 15) in the passage referred to above (p. xxviii) mentions the tradition that 1 Peter was composed in Rome and that Rome is intended by the metaphorical name Babylon—and it is not improbable that he found this tradition in the writings either of Papias or of Clement of Alexandria to whom he had just referred. In the fragment of Papias on St Mark’s Gospel (Eus. H. E. iii. 39) Papias refers back to some previous statement of his own about St Mark’s connexion with St Peter, and Eusebius tells us that Papias made use of 1 Peter. There is no passage in the extant writings of Clement of Alexandria which explains Babylon as meaning Rome in 1 Peter, but he does describe the Second Epistle of St John as being addressed “ad quandam Babyloniam Electam nomine, significat autem electionem Ecclesiae Sanctae.” The Rev. J. Chapman, O.S.B. (Journal of Theological Studies, July 1904), suggests that 2 John was addressed to the Church in Rome. The words of Clement do not however state that he regarded 2 John as addressed to the Church in Rome and therefore do not prove that he interpreted Babylon in 1 Peter to mean Rome. They certainly shew that he treated the name Babylon as metaphorical, but if he regarded 2 John as addressed to some Asiatic Church he may have regarded any church in the heathen surroundings of some great city or of the Roman Empire as being “in Babylon.”

In Jewish apocalyptic literature Babylon seems certainly to mean Rome—e.g. the Sibylline Oracles v. 158, the Apocalypse of Baruch xi. 1. The dates of these are however somewhat uncertain and may refer to a period after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, which would give additional force to the name Babylon as applied to Rome. In the Apocalypse of St John however there is no clear reference to the Fall of Jerusalem, but Rome is described as Babylon because she is “the harlot” as contrasted with the Church the Bride of Christ; the centre and ruler of the nations; the source of iniquity and impurity; a great trading centre; enervated by luxury; the arch-persecutor of the saints, with whose blood she is drunken. This last feature would hardly be true of Rome before the Neronian persecution, but it is only one of many reasons for comparing Rome with Babylon. We have no right to assume therefore that the name of Babylon was first used for Rome in the Apocalypse of St John. The language of Old Testament prophecy about the relations of the successive World-powers to the Kingdom of Messiah may well have prompted a comparison between Rome and Babylon even before the outbreak of organized persecution. It is therefore by no means incredible that St Peter might describe Rome as Babylon, despite his other language about the Emperor and Magistrates, as early as the reign of Nero and possibly before the great persecution of 64 A.D.

The arguments in favour of Rome may be summarized as follows:

[1] The widespread tradition that St Peter did work in Rome. [2] The presence of St Mark, who is connected with Rome in St Paul’s Epistles, and with St Peter in Rome in early tradition. [3] The objections to interpreting the name Babylon literally, either of Babylon on the Euphrates or of Babylon in Egypt, force us to adopt some metaphorical meaning for the name. [4] Such metaphorical use is suggested: (a) by the immediate context συνεκλεκτή, (b) by the general tenour of the Epistle in which the titles and experiences of Israel are applied to the Christian Church. [5] If the name is metaphorical it would naturally be understood to mean Rome, and its appropriateness would be easily recognizable to St Peter’s readers even before the Apocalypse of St John. [6] No other interpretation except Rome seems to have been known to early writers. [7] The general tone of the Epistle, especially in regard to persecution, duty towards the state, and the universality of St Peter’s teaching would suggest that he was writing from Rome.


Evidence for the date of the Epistle may be deduced from the following considerations.

A. The apparent traces which it shews of other N.T. books

[1] The Epistle of St James (see p. liii ff.). The most probable date of St James’ death is 62 A.D. but his Epistle may have been written earlier.

[2] The Epistle to the Romans (see p. lx ff.), which was probably written in the spring of 58 A.D. (though some would date it 56 or 57 A.D.).

[3] The Epistle to the Ephesians (see p. lxiv ff.), which was probably written towards the close of St Paul’s imprisonment in Rome? 61 or 62 A.D.

[4] The Epistle to the Hebrews, which Westcott dates 64–67 A.D., but the coincidences with Hebrews are too uncertain to form a serious argument.

It is not necessary to assume that these Epistles were already familiar to St Peter’s readers, but only that St Peter himself knew them. He had been closely connected with James, the Lord’s brother, in Jerusalem, and if he wrote from Rome would certainly have access to Romans, and a copy of Ephesians which was written from Rome would probably be preserved there. Moreover St Mark, who was St Peter’s companion at the time of writing, was certainly with St Paul when he wrote to the Colossians (Colossians 4:10) and was probably therefore present when Ephesians was written, as Colossians and Ephesians were both despatched by the same messenger Tychicus, and Ephesians is almost certainly referred to in Colossians 4:16 as the letter which the Colossians are to exchange with the Church in Laodicea. Possibly, as Dr Chase suggests (Hastings’ D. of B. iii. 778), St Paul may have himself been still in Rome when St Peter reached the city.

If then a knowledge of the Epistle to the Ephesians is implied in 1 Peter the date cannot be earlier than 61 or 62 but need not necessarily be much later.

B. The Spread of Christianity which it implies in so many of the provinces of Asia Minor

Ramsay (Church in the Roman Empire, p. 285) says “they that make St Peter write to the congregations of Pontus during Nero’s reign remove the story of early Christianity from the sphere of history into that of the marvellous and supernatural.”

“If Christianity,” he says, “was extending along the main line of intercourse across the Empire between 50 and 60, it is inconceivable that, before A.D. 64, [1] it had spread away from that line across the country into the northern provinces; [2] so much organization and intercommunication had grown up as is implied in 1 Peter.”

In answer to this sweeping criticism it may be urged:

(a) That the story of the spread of Christianity recorded in Acts or implied in St Paul’s Epistles is confessedly incomplete and is practically limited to St Paul’s own work or influence, and parts of this even are only incidentally alluded to, e.g. the evangelization of the province of Asia (Acts 19:10) and the spread of Christianity in Rome before St Paul’s visit.

(b) That we have not the slightest warrant for supposing that during all this time other Apostles or Missionaries were doing nothing to fulfil their Master’s commission “to go into all the world.”

(c) That the spread of Christianity in the provinces of Asia and Galatia is described in Acts and St Paul’s Epistles. Therefore only Pontus, Bithynia and Cappadocia remain to be accounted for.

(d) That Ramsay himself (p. 10) says that one great line by which the trade of Central Asia was carried to Rome was by the road from the Cilician gates through Tyana and Caesarea of Cappadocia to Amisos, the great harbour of the Black Sea in Pontus. Therefore this would be a natural line for the spread of the Gospel.

(e) That Jews from Pontus and Cappadocia were present on the day of Pentecost, and presumably therefore visited Jerusalem on other later occasions. Therefore some of them or other traders may have helped to introduce Christianity in those districts.

(f) That St Paul himself on his second journey contemplated a missionary journey in Bithynia (Acts 16:7), evidently regarding it as a suitable sphere for work. It is not, therefore, incredible that Silas, who was his companion on that journey, may have afterwards carried out the plan which was then abandoned.

The description of Silas in 1 Peter 5:12 as ὑμῖν τοῦ πιστοῦ ἀδελφοῦ would naturally suggest that he had already worked among the readers of the Epistle.

(g) That Aquila, who was certainly an ardent missionary in Ephesus and Rome and was evidently widely known in “all the Churches of the Gentiles” (see Romans 16:4), was himself a Jew of Pontus and may not improbably have visited his native country during his sojourn in Asia.

(h) That the Epistle does not necessarily imply that all the districts named were fully Christianized or that all the Churches in them were as yet organized. Possibly some of them had not yet regular presbyters.

Therefore, while we may admit that a late date would leave more time for the spread of Christianity over so wide an area of which we are told so little in the N.T., there appears to be nothing either “marvellous” or “supernatural” involved in the supposition that the Epistle was written in the reign of Nero.

C. The relation of the State towards Christianity implied in the Epistle, and the language used about the Emperor and Magistrates

In order to form a fair estimate of this question it is necessary to compare the notices of persecution contained in 1 Peter with the evidence afforded (a) by other Books of the N.T., (b) by other accounts of the imperial policy towards Christianity.

Notices of persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ in the New Testament

In the Acts of the Apostles persecution against Christians is almost entirely instigated by the Jews.

The Sanhedrin arrested, imprisoned and flogged the Apostles, and put St Stephen to death. Saul was allowed to make a house to house visitation and had a mandate from the High Priest to extend his work of persecution as far as Damascus, apparently unchecked by the Roman Procurator.

Agrippa I executed James the Son of Zebedee and imprisoned St Peter.

Henceforward the hatred of the Jews was mainly directed against St Paul. His death was plotted at Damascus (Acts 9:23-24; 2 Corinthians 11:32) and at his first visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:29). On his first journey he was expelled from Antioch in Pisidia and Iconium (Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5) and almost stoned to death by the mob at Lystra (Acts 14:19). On his second journey he was flogged and imprisoned by the magistrates at Philippi [16] on the charge of “teaching customs not lawful for Romans to observe.” At Thessalonica the politarchs merely bound over Jason and his friends to keep the peace, although a political charge had been brought (Acts 17:7-9). At Corinth, when a purely religious charge was brought, Gallio, the proconsul, dismissed the case as being no offence against Roman Law (Acts 18:12-16). On his third journey St Paul and the Christians were attacked because they interfered with the trade of the silversmiths at Ephesus, but the town clerk repressed any attempt at mob-violence (Acts 19:23-41). From Corinth St Paul was obliged to return by land to escape a plot of the Jews (Acts 20:3). At his last visit to Jerusalem he was seized on the charge of having taken Greeks into the Temple, but Lysias the chief captain rescued him from the mob and, discovering that he was a Roman citizen, protected him against the plots of the Jews to kill him, by sending him to be tried before Felix. There the charges were sedition, heresy and sacrilege, to the first and third of which St Paul successfully pleaded “not guilty,” and, although he owned himself to be “a Nazarene,” i.e. a Christian, Felix, Festus and Agrippa all admitted that he had “done nothing worthy of bonds or of death.” Having exercised his privilege as a Roman citizen St Paul was sent to Rome for trial but was leniently treated by the officials and remained in custodia militaris for two years. But he confidently expected release as soon as his case was heard and only mentions martyrdom as an unlikely contingency (Philippians 2:17). Not until his second imprisonment, probably in the reign of Nero, does St Paul describe himself as being “in bonds as a malefactor” (2 Timothy 2:9) and “ready to be offered” (1 Peter 4:6).

Besides these recorded instances St Paul describes himself (2 Corinthians 6:5) as having suffered blows and imprisonments and (2 Corinthians 11:23-24) as having been five times scourged by the Jews and thrice beaten with rods, probably by provincial magistrates. Thus on several occasions not only Jews but the heathen mob took part in the attack. The intervention of the magistrates was also involved.

Other Christians besides St Paul were evidently exposed to persecution. Thus (Acts 14:22) Paul and Barnabas warned their converts in Asia Minor that “we must pass through many afflictions to enter the Kingdom of God.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-6 St Paul refers to the afflictions which they have suffered at the hands of their fellow-countrymen and urges them not to be shaken by them. He asks the Galatians (Galatians 3:4) “Have ye suffered so many things in vain?” (evidently from Jewish opponents).

The Philippians are urged not to be “terrified by their adversaries.” It is a sign of God’s favour to be allowed to suffer in Christ’s behalf. They are taking part in the same contest of suffering which they formerly saw and now hear of St Paul himself being engaged in (Philippians 1:28-30). Aquila and Priscilla must on some occasion have incurred danger of death to save St Paul as they are described as having “risked their own necks for his life” (Romans 16:4). Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), Aristarchus (Colossians 4:10) and Epaphras (Philemon 1:23) are described as St Paul’s “fellow-prisoners.” In 2 Corinthians 11:23 St Paul, in claiming that his share of persecution, blows and imprisonments has been “more abundant” than that of others, does imply that other Christians had also suffered, though to a less degree than himself.

St James, writing probably not later than 62 A.D. to “the twelve tribes of the dispersion” (which may mean the whole Christian Church and not merely Jewish Christians in the neighbourhood of Palestine), reminds them that the rich blaspheme the good name which Christians bear and drag them before courts of law, but he encourages his readers to endure manifold trials as a testing of their faith (James 1:2-3), using the selfsame phrases which St Peter employs.

The writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:32) reminds them how in the early days of their Christianity they had been made a spectacle by sufferings, reproaches and afflictions; how they had sympathized with those in bonds and submitted patiently to the plundering of their goods. He urges them to imitate Christ in facing the dangers which are now in store for them. They must accept suffering as a loving chastisement from God, emulating the heroes of faith in the O.T. They have not yet resisted unto blood (Hebrews 12:4), but they are bidden to remember those who are in bonds and those who are suffering hardship because they themselves are “in the body” and may therefore ere long share the same fate. This may possibly refer to the Neronian persecution, and in that case is an indication of the way in which it spread into the provinces. In the Apocalypse, whether it refers to the period just after Nero’s reign or to the reign of Domitian, we have evidence for a more organized persecution. Many have been slain for the word of God Revelation 6:9, including Antipas at Pergamos Revelation 2:13. Rome is drunken with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus Revelation 17:6; Revelation 18:24.

The Attitude of the State towards Christianity

The policy of Rome towards the subject-nations of the Empire was to allow each of them to retain their own religion on the following conditions: [1] that it was a national religion and was content to take its place side by side with other national religions, without claiming to be absolute, [2] that it did not cause political or other disturbance, [3] that it managed its own religious disputes. Now Judaism did of course claim to be absolute, and repudiated all other Gods than Jehovah as dumb idols, but at the same time it was so intensely national that the Romans not only allowed it toleration but even granted special privileges and exemptions to the Jews.

At first therefore, when Christianity was regarded by Roman officials, like Gallio, as “a question of words and names and Jewish Law,” it shared the same protection as Judaism. On several occasions, as we have seen, the magistrates restrained the attacks made upon St Paul.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 St Paul regards the policy of the reigning Emperor apparently as a restraining influence which makes for toleration.

In Romans 13:1-4 he describes civil magistrates as God’s delegates for avenging wrongdoing, whose praise may be obtained by doing what is good. Nevertheless there was from the very first an inevitable antagonism between the Empire and the Church. The bigotry of the Jews and their open hostility towards Christians would soon make it obvious that Christianity was no mere sect of Judaism. As an absolute religion which could admit of no compromise with idolatry, no worship of the Emperor side by side with that of Jehovah, it could not fit into the Roman system any more than Judaism. Besides this it was not even a national or hereditary religion but a new “superstition,” which soon came to be regarded as a “pestilent superstition” for various reasons. It claimed to provide a universal bond of brotherhood, higher and more paramount than that of the Empire, whereas under Nero Emperor-worship was steadily growing stronger as the necessary link to unite the many nationalities and many gods of the subject-nations. It also caused divisions in families and interfered with the religious rites which formed so large a part of social and municipal life. In many cases, as at Philippi and Ephesus and afterwards (as Pliny shews) in Bithynia, trades which were connected with idolatry were considerably affected by the spread of Christianity. Again no conscientious Christian could take part in the public games and religious festivals or acquiesce in the criminal profligacy of their neighbours. Consequently Christians came to be regarded as gloomy and morose, “enemies of the human race,” or else as officious “busybodies.” Having thus incurred popular odium the Christians would often be compelled to hold their meetings in secret, and the foul imagination of malicious enemies ere long interpreted the Eucharist and Agape or Love Feast as involving cannibalism and incestuous lust. Even as early as St Paul’s arrival in Rome the Jews there told him that their only knowledge of Christianity was that it was everywhere spoken against (Acts 28:22), and according to Tacitus it was because the Christians were already hated by the mob for their supposed crimes, and were regarded as guilty wretches deserving the extremest form of punishment, that Nero a few years later selected them as scapegoats on whom to vent the popular fury and divert suspicion from himself in connexion with the great conflagration in Rome.

From the first therefore Christianity had been an unlawful religion and one which was inevitably in conflict with the state. No official edict was really necessary to legalize the punishment of Christians, and it is quite possible that persecution may have been countenanced in the provinces by some magistrates before the outbreak of the Neronian persecution. Naturally however the policy of Nero in treating Christians as outlaws would be regarded as giving imperial sanction to persecution, and the Emperor’s example would soon be widely followed in the provinces. In the Neronian persecution it is disputed whether Christians suffered merely for their religion “as Christians” or only for other crimes which were attributed to them. Some forty years later in the reign of Trajan Pliny, the governor of Bithynia, in his letter to the Emperor shews that he had himself put Christians to death for the name only, if they obstinately refused to recant, and the rescript of Trajan in reply gives imperial sanction to this procedure, implying that it was not necessary to prove any further crime beyond the fact of being a Christian. But Christians, he says, are not to be sought out, and anonymous accusations are not to be accepted. Ramsay however (Church in the Roman Empire, p. 256) argues that punishment for the name of Christian alone was not in vogue until about the time of Vespasian (70–79 A.D.), whereas previously some further crime was always alleged. But there is no sufficient evidence of any such change of policy, and the account of the Neronian persecution given by Tacitus seems most naturally to imply that as early as 64 A.D. Christians in Rome suffered for the name only. The object of Nero, he says, was to divert suspicion from himself of having caused the great fire in Rome. This he could most easily do by shifting the odium on to the Christians who were already generally hated and credited with all kinds of crimes, and as votaries of an unlawful religion they could be tortured or executed to satisfy the popular thirst for vengeance. Several of those who were first arrested, says Tacitus, “confessed.” What was the nature of this confession? Surely not that they were guilty of arson but that they were Christians. The number of victims was extremely large (ingens multitudo), including, according to Clement of Rome, matrons, girls and slaves. Now it is obviously impossible that all of these could have been legally proved guilty of arson, and Tacitus says that they were charged not so much with arson as with “hatred to the human race.” This probably refers to their religious views, which made Christians run counter to all the religious ideas, the social festivities, and the moral standard of the times. So also Suetonius in his account of the Neronian persecution says that Christians were punished as votaries of a new and pestilent superstition.

In the light of this evidence for the persecution of Christians both before and during the reign of Nero, we must now consider whether the allusions to persecution in 1 Peter necessarily imply that the Neronian persecution was in progress or even demand a later date.

In 1 Peter 1:6-7 St Peter describes his readers as having been put to grief for the time being, if so it must needs be, by manifold trials which are a testing of their faith. The keywords of this passage however ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς and δοκίμιον τῆς πίστεως are apparently borrowed from St James, who probably died in 62 A.D. and therefore wrote before the outbreak of the Neronian persecution. Therefore as borrowed by St Peter the words need not imply any persecution organized by the state.

Similarly in 1 Peter 4:12 the phrase “fiery trial” (πύρωσις) is a metaphor from the refining of gold, like δοκίμιον in 1 Peter 1:7, and does not necessarily refer to death by burning such as was inflicted by Nero.

In 1 Peter 2:19 Christian slaves are described as suffering unjustly at the hands of capricious masters, but here “suffering” is defined as being “buffeted.”

In 1 Peter 3:14 the possible contingency (εἰ καὶ πάσχοιτε) of suffering for righteousness’ sake is regarded as a blessed thing—with an evident allusion to our Lord’s words Matthew 5:10. But such suffering is regarded as by no means inevitable. It may be averted by a zealous devotion to what is good (1 Peter 3:13). If Christians only maintain a good conscience by persistent good conduct those who revile them will be shamed into silence (1 Peter 3:16). Suffering for righteousness’ sake therefore is only an uncertain contingency, expressed by the optative which is very rare in the N.T., εἰ καὶ πάσχοιτε, “supposing that you should be called upon to suffer,” “if God’s will should require that of you” (εἰ θέλοι 1 Peter 3:17).

In 1 Peter 2:12 Christians are described as being spoken against as. evil-doers or malefactors (κακοποιοί), but the spectacle of their good deeds will cause their heathen neighbours to glorify God in “the day of visitation” (see note on 1 Peter 2:12).

In 1 Peter 3:9 They are not to requite evil for evil or reviling for reviling.

In 1 Peter 4:4 Men revile Christians and regard them as fanatics for refusing to join in the profligate excesses of the day.

In 1 Peter 4:14 It is a blessed thing to suffer reproach in the name of Christ.

In 1 Peter 4:19 Any who suffer according to the will of God are bidden to commit their lives by doing good to the safe keeping of God as a faithful Creator who may be trusted to guard His own handiwork.

None of the above passages necessarily imply any organized persecution conducted by the state. They might be used of the insults, abuse, social boycotting, unjust accusations, and rough usage such as Christian converts in a heathen country have constantly had to endure. There are however other passages to which Ramsay (Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 280–281, 290–295) appeals as clearly pointing to organized official persecution.

(a) In 1 Peter 3:15, in a passage dealing with suffering for righteousness’ sake, Christians are bidden to be “always ready to give an answer (ἀπολογία) to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you.” This, says Ramsay, implies persecution after trial and question. Now it is quite true that ἀπολογία is used of a legal defence in Acts 25:16 and 2 Timothy 4:16, and such legal defence might be included in St Peter’s use of the word. But the words ἀεί “at any time” and παντί “to any person” imply that the reference is more general, and ἀπολογία is used in a non-legal sense, in Acts 22:1 and 1 Corinthians 9:3 and most probably in Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:16, though the last passage might possibly refer to St Paul’s first trial. It can hardly therefore be assumed that St Peter is necessarily referring to legal trials. His language may well mean that Christians are always to be ready to shew their colours and give a reason for their hope when any opponent challenges them, cf. Colossians 4:6 “that ye may know how to answer each one.”

(b) Again in 1 Peter 4:14-16 Ramsay (p. 292) argues that “the words ‘Let none of you suffer as a murderer or as a thief (sic) … but if (a man suffer) as a Christian let him glorify God in this name’ have no satisfactory meaning, unless those to whom they are addressed are liable to execution: the verb in the second clause is understood from the preceding clause and must have the same sense”; and (p. 281) he argues from this same passage that Christians suffer for the Name pure and simple, which, according to his theory, was not the case in the reign of Nero. He would therefore date the Epistle about 75–80 A.D. (cf. p. xlvi). In this case the Petrine authorship can only be maintained by supposing that St Peter’s life was prolonged beyond the reign of Nero. Again (p. 293) Ramsay argues that “in the Roman Empire the right of capital punishment belonged only to a small number of high officials. No Asian Christian was liable to suffer death except through the action of the governor of his province. If therefore the Christians are liable to suffer unto death, persecution by the state must be in process.”

In answer to these arguments it may be urged:

[1] That, even if the passage indisputably proved that the penalty of death was inflicted for the Name of Christian pure and simple, it may refer to the Neronian persecution or possibly even to earlier persecution in which provincial magistrates themselves anticipated the policy of Nero towards Christians—or connived at lynch law on the part of the mob.

[2] That, even if “the Name of Christian pure and simple” is implied as a legal charge in this passage, it cannot be proved that the penalty of death was necessarily inflicted.

Of the earlier charges specified “murder” would no doubt be punished with death—but “theft” would surely not incur that penalty ordinarily, while κακοποιός is too general a term to be limited to abominable offences or criminal acts necessarily punishable with death—and ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοπος (which probably refers to tampering with other peoples’ concerns—interfering with their families or their trade) can hardly have constituted a capital offence under Roman Law in ordinary cases. It seems therefore by no means a conclusive argument that the word “suffer,” as supplied in the second clause, must imply death because it would bear that sense in one of the preceding cases. The balance of probability, so far as this particular passage is concerned, seems to be rather on the other side. Moreover 1 Peter 4:14 speaks of “being reproached in the name of Christ,” and this also suggests that the suffering intended does not refer exclusively or even primarily to death. Again, whereas the first three words are coupled together with , implying that they are all legal charges, ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοπος is separated from them by the repetition of ὡς, so that it may be intended as a ground of complaint or dislike rather than as a definite legal charge, and in that case it is hardly safe to assume that “the Name of Christian pure and simple” was a definite legal charge.

(c) In 1 Peter 5:8 Christians are bidden to “be sober, be vigilant, because their adversary the devil goeth about seeking to devour.” This passage does probably refer chiefly to the temptation to deny their Faith in the hour of danger and persecution, because the next verse speaks of the same experiences of suffering as being accomplished in the Christian brotherhood in the world. This certainly shews that the sufferings of the Asian Christians were not unique but were shared by other Christians elsewhere, but it is hardly sufficient to prove that an organized persecution was in progress affecting the whole Church simultaneously. The word ἀντίδικος might be used of Satan as “the accuser of the brethren” before God (Revelation 12:10) without necessarily implying that Satan is represented by some human prosecutor in an actual legal trial on earth, and the words περιπατεῖ ζητῶν are part of the simile of the prowling lion in search of prey and need not necessarily imply that Christians are being “sought out for trial by Roman officials,” as Ramsay suggests (p. 281). If however the words are thus literally interpreted they would merely point to a date before the rescript of Trajan which forbade such search for Christians.

The following conclusions may therefore be suggested:

[1] that the Epistle does not necessarily imply that an official persecution organized by the state was in progress, although some passages would certainly admit of that interpretation;

[2] that if such organized persecution is implied the evidence is not inconsistent with what is known of the Neronian persecution.

Dr Hort (1 Pet. Int. pp. 1 and 3) says that the Epistle “was written during a time of rising persecution to men suffering under it” and he suggests that this was either

[1] the persecution begun by Nero, or [2] a persecution arising out of it, or [3] a persecution in Asia Minor, independent of any known persecution bearing an Emperor’s name and perhaps even a little earlier than Nero’s persecution, as may be suggested by the language used in the Epistle about the Emperor and his officers.

The Emperor and magistrates are described in language, evidently borrowed from Romans 13:1 ff., as God’s agents to exact vengeance on evil-doers but for the praise of them that do well. With regard to this point Dr Chase (Hastings’ D. of B., vol. iii., p. 785) argues “that a Christian teacher writing from Rome after Nero’s attack on the Church to fellow-Christians in the provinces should adopt St Paul’s language” [which was written when he still regarded the Roman State as the “restraining power” and still looked to the Emperor as the protector of the Church] “only making it more explicit and emphasizing its hopefulness seems inconceivable.”

In answer to this argument it might be urged:

(a) That St Peter expressly points his readers to Christ as the example of patience under injustice, and Our Lord recognized the authority of Pilate as being “given him from above,” despite the judicial crime in which he was taking part. He also told His followers that they would be brought before rulers and kings for His name’s sake, and yet bade them bless and pray for their persecutors.

(b) That later Fathers, who certainly wrote during or after periods of violent persecution, in which the state had shewn the greatest cruelty and injustice towards Christians, nevertheless use equally strong language about civil rulers.

E.g. Clement of Rome, c. 96 A.D., says (cc. lx. lxi.) “Give concord and peace to us and to all that dwell on the earth—while we render obedience to Thine Almighty and most excellent Name and to our rulers and governors upon the earth. Thou, O Lord and Master, hast given them the power of sovereignty through Thine excellent and unspeakable might, that we, knowing the glory and honour which Thou hast given them, may submit ourselves unto them, in nothing resisting Thy will.”

Still it must be admitted that it would have been easier for St Peter to speak so hopefully about civil rulers before the outbreak of the Neronian persecution rather than during or after it, and this would add some slight support to other considerations which also point to an early date for the Epistle.

D. The probable date (a) of St Peter’s death, (b) of an occasion when St Peter, St Mark and Silvanus were present together in Rome, as is implied in 1 Peter 5:12-13

(a) Ramsay, who dates this Epistle 75–80 A.D., suggests that St Peter’s life may have been prolonged to that date on the following grounds: [1] that the evidence for St Peter’s martyrdom in the reign of Nero is not very early; [2] that there must be some foundation in fact for the strong tradition that St Peter worked for a long time in Rome, whereas if he died in the reign of Nero it is hardly possible that he can have resided long in Rome.

The evidence for St Peter’s death in the reign of Nero is as follows:

[1] Clement of Rome (c. 96 A.D.) (cc. v, vi) couples the martyrdoms of St Peter and St Paul closely together, placing that of St Peter first, and says that “to them was gathered a great company of the elect, who, being the victims of jealousy, by reason of many outrages and tortures became a noble example among us.”

It is argued (Dr Chase, Hastings’ D. of B., iii. 769) that “the great company” must refer to the Neronian victims, and as they are described as being “gathered to” (συνηθροίσθη) Peter and Paul it is suggested that those two Apostles were among the earliest victims and must consequently have been put to death in A.D. 64 or 65, as the great fire which served as the pretext for Nero’s persecution happened in July 64 A.D.

In answer to this it may be urged:

(a) That when once Nero had set the example of persecuting the Christians such persecution was more or less chronic, and therefore later victims than those of Nero’s reign may be included in “the great company.”

(b) That Peter and Paul are named first, not necessarily because they were the earliest victims, but because they alone were Apostles and therefore the ringleaders to whom both earlier and later victims might be described as being “gathered.”

(c) That the traditional date for St Paul’s death is 67 or 68 A.D., i.e. three or four years after the fire when the first violence of the Neronian persecution had spent itself. If persecution was more or less chronic from 64 A.D. onwards such later date for St Paul’s martyrdom is by no means impossible and is more consistent with the evidence of the Pastoral Epistles. The extended missionary work implied in them can with difficulty be accounted for if the period between his release from his first imprisonment and his death was only two or three years. Again in 2 Tim. St Paul speaks of his “first defence” and yet contemplates surviving till the winter and invites Timothy and Mark to join him in Rome. This evidence implies a lengthy remand and comparative safety for other well known Christians to visit Rome and is hardly consistent with the theory that St Paul suffered in the first outbreak of the Neronian persecution.

It is therefore possible, or even probable, that neither St Peter nor St Paul were present in Rome in 64 A.D. and that consequently they escaped martyrdom until a later date.

Still Clement does couple the martyrdoms of St Peter and St Paul together and that of St Paul was almost certainly in Nero’s reign.

[2] Dionysius of Corinth (c. 170) (as quoted by Eus. H. E. ii. 25. 8) after speaking of the joint work of Peter and Paul in Corinth, says that, “having gone together (or ‘to the same place’) to Italy and taught, they suffered martyrdom at the same time.”

[3] Tertullian (c. 200) (Scorp. 15) says “Nero was the first to stain the rising faith with blood at Rome.” “Then Peter is ‘girded by another’ when he is bound to the cross.” Then Paul etc.

[4] Origen (c. 250) (ap. Eus. iii. 1) mentions St Peter’s death by crucifixion in Rome before St Paul’s martyrdom, and dates the latter in the reign of Nero.

[5] Commodian (c. 250) (Carmen Apologeticum 820 f.) speaks of Peter and Paul as suffering in Rome under Nero.

[6] The Chronicon of Eusebius. The Armenian version puts the Neronian persecution, when the Apostles Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome, in the thirteenth year of Nero, i.e. 67–68 A.D., while Jerome’s version gives the fourteenth year of Nero, i.e. 68 A.D., as the date.

[7] The Catholic Acts of Peter (ed. Lipsius, p. 172 f.) (probably fifth century but based upon a second century document) connect with St Peter’s death a prophecy that “Nero should be destroyed not many days hence.”

[8] The lists of Roman Bishops give Linus as the first Bishop after the Apostles with 12 years’ episcopate, then Anacletus as second Bishop with 12 years’ episcopate, followed by Clement as third Bishop. Eusebius dates the accession of Clement in 92 A.D. which would place the appointment of Linus in 68 A.D., but Lightfoot would date Clement’s accession 86–88 A.D. which would place Linus 62–64 A.D.

If Linus is regarded as succeeding to the Bishopric on St Peter’s death this would corroborate the Neronian date for the martyrdom.

Irenaeus however describes Linus as being appointed Bishop by St Peter and St Paul, the founders of the Church in Rome, and no writers of the first two centuries or more describe St Peter himself as Bishop of Rome. Therefore Linus may have been Bishop in St Peter’s lifetime, and in that case his accession affords no clue for the date of St Peter’s martyrdom.

[9] It seems probable that St Mark’s written record of St Peter’s preaching (which was either our second Gospel or at least the basis of it) was written before the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and Irenaeus states that Mark wrote it after the ἔξοδος of Peter and Paul, which probably means after their death. Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Jerome on the other hand represent St Mark as writing during St Peter’s lifetime. But Irenaeus is more likely to represent the tradition current in Rome, and St Peter’s death would make the need of a written record much stronger. Moreover “the presbyter” quoted by Papias (Eus. iii. 39) describes St Mark as having to rely upon his memory of what St Peter preached, and this suggests that St Peter was dead.

The general consensus of tradition therefore seems to place St Peter’s martyrdom in the reign of Nero, and this would make 68 the latest possible date for the Epistle.

(b) We have next to consider the most probable date at which St Peter, St Mark and Silvanus were in Rome together.

The apparent traces of the Epistle to the Ephesians contained in 1 Peter make it unnecessary to consider any earlier date than 61 A.D., and reasons have been given above (see p. xviii f.) for the view that St Peter had not worked in Rome before that date. On the other hand there is a strong tradition that St Peter worked for a considerable time in Rome, and there is some evidence that St Peter and St Paul worked together in Rome. There is therefore reasonable ground for presuming that St Peter arrived in Rome very soon after Colossians and Ephesians were written and before St Paul left the city. We know from Colossians 4:10 that St Mark was already in Rome, “touching whom,” St Paul says, “ye received commandments, if he come unto you receive him.”

This suggests three questions:

(a) What were these “commandments”? (b) Why had it been necessary to send them? (c) Why does St Paul go out of his way to refer to them?

A plausible answer is (a) that the commands were the words which follow, namely instructions which had been sent to the Colossians (probably by St Paul himself) to receive St Mark if he passed that way on his journey to Rome; (b) that such instructions were necessary because St Mark, as a previous deserter, whom St Paul had declined to accept as a fellow-worker (possibly, as Dr Chase suggests, because St Mark was not in full sympathy with his policy towards the Gentiles) might well have been coldly received unless his journey was known to have St Paul’s full concurrence, (c) that St Paul desired to shew the Colossians how fully St Mark’s visit to Rome had justified the hopes which he had formed in preparing for it. As one of the leading representatives “of the Circumcision” St Mark had been a great comfort to him at a time when others were preaching Christ out of faction (Philippians 1:17).

If this explanation be accepted there is no ground for believing that St Mark was thinking of leaving Rome in 61 A.D. and contemplating a possible visit to Colossae. He may therefore have remained in Rome and been St Peter’s companion there from 61 to 64 A.D. On the other hand it suggests that St Mark’s visit to Rome had been carefully arranged for and undertaken with St Paul’s concurrence, if not at his request.

Dr Chase (Hastings’ D. of B.) hazards a further conjecture that St Peter’s own visit to Rome was also at St Paul’s request. St Paul’s ardent desire was to unite Jewish and Gentile Christians in One Body, and if this could be accomplished in a mixed Church like that of Rome, the capital and meeting-place of the Empire, the problem would be largely solved for the rest of Christendom. This had been the great object of St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Its fulfilment would be enormously furthered if St Peter the Apostle to “those of the Circumcision” and Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles were seen working together in Rome. Such an object-lesson of unity would shew how completely “the middle wall of partition” was broken down. In any case, whether it were at St Paul’s request or on his own initiative, St Peter would certainly welcome such an opportunity of again “giving the right hand of fellowship” to St Paul’s work. He had himself been chosen to “open the door” to Gentile converts. It was he who advocated their exemption from Circumcision and the observance of the Law. If on one occasion at Antioch he withdrew from intercourse with Gentiles it was obviously not from any personal bigotry of his own but merely out of deference to Jewish scruples. There is no evidence that he resented St Paul’s outspoken rebuke when once he realized that his conduct involved a breach of principle.

Although his own sphere of work had been specially among those of the Circumcision he must have been genuinely distressed on finding himself claimed by Judaizers as a supposed opponent of St Paul.

There is therefore no reason to distrust the early tradition that St Peter and St Paul did “work together” and jointly founded the Church in Rome. If this was the case it can only have been just after St Paul’s release in 61 A.D., and the whole tenour of St Peter’s Epistle is easiest to explain if it was written during or just after such a period of fellowship with St Paul.

With regard to St Peter’s other companion Silvanus (or Silas) we are told nothing of his movements after St Paul’s Second Missionary journey. Certainly Silvanus cannot have been in Rome before or during St Paul’s first imprisonment, otherwise so faithful a fellow-worker would inevitably have been mentioned in his Epistles. It is therefore quite possible that St Peter, St Mark and Silas might have been together in Rome at any time from 62 A.D. (or late in 61 A.D.) till the middle of 64 A.D. It is less easy to find an occasion when they might be there together later in Nero’s reign.

If St Peter was in Rome during the first violence of the Neronian persecution he would almost certainly be one of the first victims. It is however possible that he may have returned to Jerusalem to take part in the election of Symeon as Bishop of Jerusalem after the death of James the Lord’s brother—which happened most probably in 62 A.D. Eusebius H. E. iii. 11 quotes a tradition that the surviving Apostles came together from all parts for the election of Symeon.

It is true that Eusebius places this event after the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but he was apparently misled by a rhetorical exaggeration of Hegesippus (Eus. ii. 23) who speaks of Vespasian commencing the siege immediately after the murder of James. But the account given by Josephus (Ant. xx. 9. 1), which is also quoted by Eusebius, would place the death of James in 62 A.D., and in this case the election of Symeon was presumably not long deferred. Some time however would necessarily elapse before the news of James’ death could reach Rome, and further delay would be necessary to summon a meeting of the scattered Apostles (say) in 63 or early in 64 A.D. If then St Peter did leave Rome before the persecution broke out he may have escaped martyrdom until nearly the end of Nero’s reign (or possibly even until a later date). On the other hand it seems inconceivable that either St Peter or Silvanus were in Rome when 2 Timothy was written shortly before St Paul’s martyrdom—and if St Peter had then been recently put to death St Paul would surely have referred to the fact. St Mark was certainly then somewhere in the East as St Paul asks Timothy to bring him with him to Rome (2 Timothy 4:11). It is certainly difficult to believe that St Paul was writing during the first fury of the Neronian persecution, but if he was writing in the autumn of 64 A.D. and St Mark did come to Rome “before winter” in answer to his request, then he may have remained in Rome after St Paul’s death as St Peter’s companion, and there would still remain some three years (65–68 A.D.) within the reign of Nero when 1 Peter might have been written. But if, as seems on the whole more probable, St Paul’s death is placed as late as 67 A.D. there would be hardly time for St Peter’s visit to Rome before Nero’s death.

E. The Silence of the Epistle about St Paul

Arguments from silence are always precarious, but it is certainly difficult to believe that St Peter, if he wrote from Rome shortly after St Paul’s martyrdom, could have failed to mention it. Unless therefore we adopt Ramsay’s view that 1 Peter was written several years after St Paul’s death, and we set aside the tradition that St Peter himself was put to death in the reign of Nero, the absence of all mention of St Paul is more easily explained on the assumption that St Paul was still alive. In this case there are two alternatives. [1] That St Paul was still in Rome but that his old colleague Silvanus, the bearer of this Epistle, was charged with all necessary tidings about him. Possibly, as Dr Chase suggests, Silvanus was being sent on a mission to Asia Minor on St Paul’s behalf.

[2] That St Paul had already left Rome and had himself gone to Asia. He certainly contemplated such a journey soon after his release, as he asked Philemon to prepare him a lodging at Colossae (Philemon 1:22). In this case also Silvanus would perhaps be able to give tidings of St Paul to St Peter’s other readers.

The various arguments as to the date of 1 Peter may therefore be summed up as follows:

[1] The traces of other Books point to a date not earlier than 61 or 62 but not necessarily much later.

[2] The spread of Christianity in the Northern provinces of Asia Minor is not impossible during the reign of Nero.

[3] The relations between the Church and the State which are implied are not inconsistent with what is known of the Neronian persecution, and would even admit of a date shortly before that persecution broke out.

[4] There is not sufficient evidence to set aside the tradition that St Peter suffered martyrdom in the reign of Nero, so that 68 A.D. is the latest date consistent with the Petrine authorship of the Epistle.

[5] That St Peter, St Mark and Silvanus might have been together in Rome between 61 and 64 or possibly, but less probably, at the end of Nero’s reign after St Paul’s death.

[6] That the absence of all mention of St Paul is less difficult to explain before St Paul’s death than shortly after that event.

Therefore the evidence seems to be slightly in favour of dating the Epistle between 62 and 64 A.D., and such a date would suit one of the apparent objects of the Epistle, namely to promote the union between Jewish and Gentile Christians.


(a) 1 Peter and James

1 Peter 1:1 ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς.

James 1:1 ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ.

Three views are possible:

(a) That both Epistles employ the word διασπορά in its literal sense of the Jewish Dispersion. In this case either writer might have used the phrase independently of the other. To St James writing from Jerusalem Jewish Christians in other lands would naturally be thought of as “in the Dispersion.” St Peter writing from the Roman centre of “the Dispersion” might quite naturally use the phrase of another district of the Dispersion. But if one writer did derive the word from the other the borrower was probably St Peter.

(b) It may be literal in St James and metaphorical in St Peter. In this case the natural inference would be that St Peter, with his mind evidently full of the thought of the Christian Church as the new Israel of God, borrowed St James’ greeting to the Dispersion and applied it to his scattered readers as the “new Dispersion.”

(c) That both St James and St Peter use the word metaphorically of the Christian Church. Certainly that suits the general tenour of St Peter’s Epistle, and Parry adduces strong arguments for its use in that sense by St James.

If the report of St James’ speech (Acts 15:14-20) may be accepted as representing his actual arguments, he did speak of God choosing a people (λαός) for His Name from among the Gentiles to be included in the restored “tabernacle of David”; and the language of the prophets about the ideal Jerusalem, coupled with our Lord’s words about “gathering together His elect,” might suggest to one writing from Jerusalem the idea of the Church as forming the Twelve Tribes of the ideal Israel of God at present “scattered abroad.” But if so it is a pregnant seed-thought suggesting the totality and the underlying unity of the Church despite present appearances. St James makes no attempt to expand it in the remainder of his Epistle, and, unless it was an idea already familiarized to the readers either by St James himself or other teachers, they would not readily grasp its meaning.

In St Peter on the other hand the idea is elaborated and worked out by other titles—“holy nation,” “royal priesthood,” etc.

It is however more likely that St Peter should have thus expanded a pregnant thought of St James’ than that St James should have chosen one single title out of St Peter’s list.

It is almost impossible to date St Peter’s Epistle earlier than 61 A.D.; if it was written from Rome, and if St James’ martyrdom was in 62 A.D. there would be barely time for St Peter’s Epistle to become known to him and still less to his readers. This argument affects also all the other passages under discussion in the two Epistles and suggests that St Peter borrowed from St James rather than vice versa.

1 Peter 1:6 f. ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὀλίγον ἄρτι εἰ δέον λυπηθέντες ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κ.τ.λ.

James 1:2 f. πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κ.τ.λ.

In these passages the verbal correspondence is so close and the order of the words in the last clause so unusual that there must be some direct literary connexion between the two writers.

St Peter is referring to outward trials and persecutions, which form one of the main topics of his Epistle. He works out the idea of δοκίμιον by a comparison with the refining of gold, with an apparent allusion to Proverbs 27:21 δοκίμιον ἀργυρίῳ καὶ χρυσῷ πύρωσις (to which he reverts again in 1 Peter 4:12) ἀνὴρ δὲ δοκιμάζεται διὰ στόματος ἐγκωμιαζόντων αὐτὸν and Proverbs 17:3 δοκιμάζεται ἐν καμίνῳ ἄργυρος καὶ χρυσός, οὕτως ἐκλεκταὶ καρδίαι παρὰ Κυρίου.

It may therefore be argued that St Peter borrowed a pregnant thought from St James and elaborated it from the Old Testament, at the same time softening down the uncompromising stoicism of St James πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε by adding ὀλίγον ἄρτι, εἰ δέον, λυπηθέντες. Such expansion and mitigation of an allusive paradox might be natural on the part of the borrower while the reverse process would be less probable.

On the other hand the ordinary view is that in St James also the words refer to external trials, which is not a prominent topic in his Epistle, and that he immediately deserts it to discuss temptations to sin. In this case the words are rather disconnected in St James and it might be argued that he borrowed them from St Peter as a kind of text. Parry however (St Jas. p. 32 ff.) argues that St James is throughout referring to temptations to sin and begins with the startling paradox “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”

In this case the words are connected with their context in St James, but it might be argued that such psychological analysis as St James bases on them is more subtle and therefore presumably later than the lessons of practical experience which St Peter gives. But, whereas the psychological phase would naturally be later than the practical in the same person, it is hardly a conclusive argument as to the relative dates of writings by two different persons. St Peter might have borrowed a subtle idea from St James and either understood it or applied it in a more practical sense to outward trials.

1 Peter 1:23 ff. ἀναγεγεννημένοιδιὰ λόγου ζῶντος θεοῦ καὶ μένοντοςἀποθέμενοι οὖν πᾶσαν κακίαν.

James 1:18; James 1:21 βουληθεὶς ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείαςδιὸ ἀποθέμενοιπερισσείαν κακίαςδέξασθε τὸν ἔμφυτον λόγον.

Here St James begins by referring to “the manifestation of God’s will in creation as a strong warrant and incentive for resistance to temptation” (Parry). In St Peter the only allusion to creation is in 1 Peter 4:19, that God is “a faithful creator” who may be trusted in all trials not to neglect His own handiwork.

St Peter on the other hand is referring to the word of regeneration by which man is begotten anew as a new creature.

But St James goes on to urge his readers to receive the implanted word (λόγος ἔμφυτος), which seems to mean the fiat of creation after God’s likeness, as an active redemptive principle now implanted within the man who receives it, and this must be the word of regeneration, the new principle of life given in Christ Jesus.

Both St Peter and St James shew that those who are thus begotten by the word of God must put away all malice. In St Peter this is urged as a necessary result of being so begotten. If the seed from which they spring is the incorruptible word of God which abides for ever, its fruit should be shewn in a love which is equally incorruptible and abiding, and this involves putting away all malice, etc. In St James the putting away of malice is rather a necessary preliminary in order to receive the implanted word. Thus the treatment of the subject is very different in the two writers. Whichever was the borrower has welded the idea into his own argument without any slavish imitation. But St James’s appeal to the fiat of creation is more subtle and obscure than the appeal to regeneration by St Peter. It would therefore seem that St Peter has adopted one part only of St James’ message, possibly not having himself grasped the allusion to the Gospel of Creation.

The contrast between corruptible seed and the word of God living and abiding for ever is emphasized by St Peter by a quotation from Isaiah 40:6 πᾶσα σὰρξ χόρτος καὶ πᾶσα δόξα ἀνθρώπου ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου, ἐξηράνθη ὁ χόρτος καὶ τὸ ἄνθος ἐξέπεσεν, τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. In 1 Peter 1:24 he quotes the whole passage with three variations from the LXX. ὡς being inserted after σάρξ, αὐτῆς substituted for ἀνθρώπου and Κυρίου for τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν, all of which readings may possibly have been found in the text of the LXX. used by St Peter. Now the main point in St Peter’s use of the passage is the last clause, “the word of the Lord abideth for ever,” but the earlier portion is also very appropriate to his argument. The fading glory of grass is a fitting emblem of “the corruptible seed,” the vain manner of living which his readers had inherited from their heathen forefathers. Moreover the whole passage in Isaiah is a gospel of redemption and new birth for God’s exiled people in Babylon, based upon the lastingness of God’s promise as contrasted with the vanity of human schemes. It is therefore very suitable to describe the new birth of the New Israel, ransomed from their old heathen surroundings.

St Peter therefore might quite well have selected the passage independently. But in view of the other traces of his indebtedness to St James, it is not unlikely that the quotation was partly suggested to his mind by the fact that in James 1:10 a few phrases ὡς ἄνθος χόρτουἐξήρανε τὸν χόρτον καὶ τὸ ἄνθος αὐτοῦ ἐξέπεσε had been applied to the transitoriness of earthly riches.

1 Peter 2:11 ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν σαρκικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς.

James 4:1 ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν ὑμῶν τῶν στρατευομένων ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ὑμῶν; ἐπιθυμεῖτε.

In St Peter the words are an injunction to Christians, as strangers and sojourners, to abstain from the mutinous desires of the flesh which are at war against their true self (ψυχή). They must maintain an honourable standard in all their dealings with heathen neighbours.

In St James pleasures are regarded as hostile occupants of the members, resisting a lawful authority which is not named, and this causes quarrels and fightings. There is therefore not any close connexion of thought between the two passages.

Possibly St Peter may have had St Paul’s words in Romans 7:23 in his mind. βλέπω ἕτερον νόμον ἐν τοῖς μέλεσίν μου ἀντιστρατευόμενον τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου. The use of σαρκικός in a bad sense is decidedly Pauline, but ψυχή must not be identified with πνεῦμαe.g. Galatians 5:17 ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματοςψυχή is the essential “self” in man, of which his bodily life is only a secondary element.

1 Peter 4:8 ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν.

James 5:20 one who converts a sinner καλύψει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν.

In Proverbs 10:12 the LXX. reads μῖσος ἐγείρει νεῖκος πάντας δὲ τοὺς μὴ φιλονεικοῦντας καλύπτει φιλία—but the Hebrew is “love covereth all sins.”

It is possible that some Greek text of Proverbs 10:12 may have read καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν—or ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν may have been an unwritten saying of Christ, as Resch suggests—because it is introduced by φησί in Clem. Al. Paed. iii. 12 and by λέγει Κύριος in Didascalia ii. 3. But otherwise the words in James 5:20 can hardly be regarded as a quotation at all. In St Peter on the other hand there does seem to be an obvious reference to Proverbs 10:20, and, unless πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν occurred in the Greek text used by him or in some familiar saying, it seems probable that the variation from both the LXX. and the Hebrew was suggested by the phrase in St James.

It is less easy to suppose that St Peter originated this variant form of an O.T. proverb, and that St James borrowed part of it from him and used it in a sense which is very different from that in Proverbs and 1 Peter.

1 Peter 5:5-9 ὁ θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν. Ταπεινώθητε οὖν ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα ὑμᾶς ὑψώσῃὁ διάβολοςᾧ ἀντίστητε.

James 4:6 ὁ θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν. ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ θεῷ· ἀντίστητε δὲ τῷ διαβόλῳ … [10] ταπεινώθητε ἐνώπιον Κυρίου καὶ ὑψώσει ὑμᾶς.

Here both writers quote the same verse, Proverbs 3:34, with the same variation from the LXX. ὁ θεός for Κύριος. In St James the quotation is naturally suggested by the preceding words μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν which Parry (St Jas. 40) explains to mean that God not only imparted a living soul to man in creation and therefore jealously demands its sole allegiance to Himself, but also bestows an even greater favour in the gift of regeneration—(cf. the λόγος ἀληθείας and the ἔμφυτος λόγος). This gift can only be received with meekness and humility (cf. ἐν πραΰτητι). Proud self-will, which seeks its own pleasure and the friendship of the world, inevitably means hostility to God—God “ranges Himself against” (ἀντιτάσσεται) the proud. Therefore “range yourselves under” (ὑποτάγητε) God—and thereby take your stand against the devil. The pleasures of sin can only end in wretchedness, whereas humble submission to God leads to true greatness.

According to this interpretation the language about humility does form a natural part of the argument of St James and is not (as some have suggested) a rather disjointed digression based upon a quotation introduced merely to support δίδωσιν χάριν.

In St Peter also the passage suits the context in which it occurs. He had just urged the “elders” not to “lord it over” the flock, and “the younger” on the other hand to “submit” to the elders. All parties must gird themselves with humility to serve each other, “for God resisteth the proud but gives favour to the humble.” Such “favour” is being conferred upon them even in their present sufferings. It is the God of all favour who is calling them to His eternal glory in Christ through suffering. But that favour can only be won by humble submission to God, coupled with stedfast resistance to the devil, who attempts to utilize such sufferings as an opportunity to “devour” his prey.

Thus in St James the quotation from Proverbs was suggested by the words δίδωσιν χάριν, whereas St Peter borrows it to emphasize the need of humility. Then each writer turns to the other idea contained in the quotation. If this coincidence stood alone it might be argued that each quoted the same verse independently of the other (the common variant from the O.T. ὁ θεός for Κύριος being possibly found in their text of the LXX.). But, in view of the other coincidences between the two Epistles, it is more probable that St Peter has borrowed from St James, giving a more practical application to the somewhat subtle ideas suggested by him.

Besides some coincidences in language, e.g. παρακύψαι 1 Peter 1:12, James 1:25; καλὴ ἀναστροφή 1 Peter 2:12, James 3:13; τὸν στέφανον τῆς δόξης 1 Peter 5:4; τὸν στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς James 1:12, there are also coincidences of thought.

Thus it has been suggested (Parry, St Jas. p. 69) that the striking phrase in James 2:1 τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης may explain St Peter’s language about “glory.” The title “our glory” seems to be applied to Christ in St James because in the Person of Christ the divine ideal which manhood was destined to attain is revealed. So in 1 Peter 4:13-14, those who are partakers of Christ’s sufferings will rejoice in the revelation of His glory. To be reproached in the name of Christ is a blessed thing because it means that the Spirit of God, the characteristic sign of that glory, the consummation of manhood in Christ, is already resting upon them. The same idea underlies 1 Peter 5:1; 1 Peter 5:4; 1 Peter 5:10.

But, although there is undoubted contact between the two Epistles and St Peter seems to have borrowed phrases, thoughts and arguments from St James, there is no servile adherence or imitation. St Peter and St James had for years been fellow-workers in Judaea, and all through his missionary work St Peter doubtless kept in touch with his old colleague at Jerusalem and would be acquainted with his Epistle almost as soon as it was written, and he re-echoes some of its thoughts and expressions in his own letter. But he alters and adapts them very freely, and the general tone and method of his letter is very different from that of St James.

(b) 1 Peter and Romans

1 Peter 1:14. μὴ συνσχηματιζόμενοι.

Romans 12:2. μὴ συνσχηματίζεσθε.

This word occurs nowhere else in Biblical Greek.

1 Peter 1:17. τὸν ἀπροσωπολήμπτως κρίνοντα κατὰ τὸ ἑκάστου ἔργον.

Romans 2:6; Romans 2:11. ὃς ἀποδώσει ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦοὐ γάρ ἐστι προσωπολημψία παρὰ τῷ θεῷ.

Here St Paul teaches that there will be no favouritism between Jews and Gentiles, a thought which St Peter expressed at his visit to Cornelius Acts 10:34. St Peter on the other hand shews that God’s children have no right to look for favouritism from Him as their Judge.

1 Peter 1:20 f. προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων διʼ ὑμᾶς (Gentiles) τοὺς διʼ αὐτοῦ πιστούς.

Romans 16:25 f. μυστηρίου χρόνοις αἰωνίοις σεσιγημένου φανερωθέντος δὲ νῦνεἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη.

Here St Peter omits the characteristic Pauline word “mystery” but has the same idea of an eternal purpose of God for the inclusion of the Gentiles on terms of faith.

1 Peter 1:21. τοὺς διʼ αὐτοῦ πιστοὺς εἰς θεὸν τὸν ἐγείραντα αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν.

Romans 4:24. τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐπὶ τὸν ἐγείραντα Ἰησοῦν τὸν Κύριον ἡμῶν ἐκ νεκρῶν.

Here St Peter’s phrase πιστοὺς εἰς θεόν is unique, and the language about the resurrection is an almost creed-like phrase which occurs frequently in St Peter’s speeches as well as in St Paul’s Epistles.

1 Peter 1:22. εἰς φιλαδελφίαν ἀνυπόκριτον. 1 Peter 2:17. τὴν ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε.

Romans 12:9-10. ἡ ἀγαπὴ ἀνυπόκριτος. τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι.

1 Peter 2:5. ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυαίας εὐπροσδέκτους θεῷ.

Romans 12:1. παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν.

Here St Peter is describing the Christian Church, the New Israel of God as a holy priesthood, whereas in Romans St Paul describes himself as the sacrificing priest who presents the Gentiles as an offering to God, but he does also urge his readers to present themselves as a sacrifice—and contrasts their “reasonable” or spiritual sacrifice with that of dead animals, and St Peter has the same idea.

1 Peter 2:6 ff. ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἐκλεκτὸν ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἔντιμον, καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇκαὶ λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου, κ.τ.λ.

Romans 9:33. ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον προσκόμματος καὶ πέτραν σκανδάλου καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται.

Here we have a combination of two passages Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 8:14 (St Peter also introducing a third passage from Psalms 118:22 about the stone which the builders rejected). Both have the same variations from the LXX. τίθημι ἐν Σιών instead of ἐμβάλλω εἰς τὰ θεμέλια Σιών and λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου instead of οὐχ ὡς λίθου προσκόμματι συναντήσεσθε οὐδὲ ὡς πέτρας πτώματι, which is a loose paraphrase of the Hebrew and entirely inverts Isaiah’s meaning by inserting a negative. St Peter and St Paul give an accurate translation of the Hebrew but are hardly likely to have selected independently the same Greek words, which do not occur in any known version. It is however possible that they might have borrowed from a common source, either a Greek Bible the text of which differed from the LXX., or from an early catena of Old Testament Messianic passages in which the passages about “the Stone” were grouped together. This however is pure conjecture, and in view of the other undoubted coincidences between 1 Peter and Romans it is simpler to suppose that St Peter borrowed the composite quotation from St Paul, working it out in fuller detail and adding the verse from Psalms 118. which our Lord had quoted of himself and St Peter had used in one of his speeches Acts 4:11.

1 Peter 2:10. οἵ ποτε οὐ λαὸς νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες.

Romans 9:25. καλέσω τὸν οὐ λαόν μου λαόν μου, καὶ τὴν οὐκ ἠγαπημένην ἠγαπημένην.

The passage is taken from Hosea 2:23 : St Peter agrees with the majority of MSS. of the LXX. which read ἠλεημένην instead of ἠγαπημένην which is found only in the Vatican MS. It might therefore be argued that St Peter is quoting independently from the LXX. But in Hosea the words refer to the restoration of renegade Israelites whereas St Paul applies them to the admission of the Gentiles, and it is in that sense that St Peter almost certainly employs the passage.

1 Peter 2:13-17. ὑποτάγητε πάσῃ ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει διὰ τὸν κύριον· εἴτε βασιλεῖ ὠς ὑπερέχοντι, εἴτε ἡγεμόσιν ὡς διʼ αὐτοῦ πεμπομένοις εἰς ἐκδίκησιν κακοποιῶν ἔπαινον δὲ ἀγαθοποιῶν· (ὅτι οὔτως ἐστὶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ) … πάντας τιμήσατε, τὴν ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε, τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε, τὸν βασιλέα τιμᾶτε.

Romans 13:1. πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω· οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν.

3. οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ.

4. τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς· … θεοῦ γὰρ διά κονός ἐστιν, ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι.

7. ἀπόδοτε πᾶσι τὰς ὀφειλάς, τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον, τῷ τὴν τιμὴν τὴν τιμήν.

In this passage we have not only a number of common words and phrases but the same ideas occur in the same order.

1 Peter 2:24. ἵνα ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἀπογενόμενοι τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ ζήσωμεν.

Romans 6:11. οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς λογίζεσθε ἑαυτοὺς εἶναι νεκροὺς μὲν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ζῶντας δὲ τῷ θεῷ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

In both passages the old life of sin is regarded as being ideally terminated in the death of Christ.

1 Peter 3:8 f. ὁμόφρονες, συμπαθεῖς, … ταπεινόφρονες, μὴ ἀποδιδόντες κακὸν ἀντὶ κακοῦ ἢ λοιδορίαν ἀντὶ λοιδορίας τοὐναντίον δὲ εὐλογοῦντες.

Romans 12:14-19. εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς διώκοντας ὑμᾶς· εὐλογεῖτε καὶ μὴ καταρᾶσθε. χαίρειν μετὰ χαιρόντων, κλαίειν μετὰ κλαιόντων. τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλήλους φρονοῦντες μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες· ἀλλὰ τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι.… μηδενὶ κακὸν ἀντὶ κακοῦ ἀποδιδόντες.

1 Peter 3:18. Χριστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν [ἀπέθανεν].… θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι.

Romans 6:10. ὃ γὰρ ἀπέθανε τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ἀπέθανεν ἐφάπαξ, ὃ δὲ ζῇ ζῇ τῷ θεῷ.

Here the emphatic words ἅπαξ and ἐφάπαξ are used to shew that Christ’s death was the termination of the regime of sin once and for all, and the ushering in of a life of spiritual activity.

This, says St Paul, is the ideal for those who claim to share Christ’s death in Baptism.

This, says St Peter, is the blessed purpose of sufferings in the flesh, whereby Christians are sharing in the sufferings which culminated in death for Christ.

1 Peter 3:21. ὑμᾶςσώζει βάπτισμασυνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς ἐπερώτημα εἰς θεόν, διʼ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Romans 6:4 (cf. Colossians 2:12). συνετάφημεν οὖν αὐτῷ διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσματος εἰς τὸν θάνατον, ἵνα ὥσπερ ἠγέρθη Χριστὸς ἐκ νεκρῶνοὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς περιπατήσωμεν.

St Paul shews that in Baptism we represent the burial of our old sinful self and the rising again of the new self. We claim to share in the death and resurrection of Christ. So St Peter shews that life comes out of death. In the sufferings of Christ the death of His Flesh terminated the regime of sin and set His Spirit free for new life. In the Flood the same water which drowned the guilty world was the medium by which Noah and his family were preserved for a kind of resurrection life. So in Baptism there is a death unto sin and a new birth or resurrection to righteousness in virtue of the resurrection of Christ.

1 Peter 4:1. ὁ παθὼν σαρκὶ πέπαυται ἁμαρτίαις.

Romans 6:7. ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας.

St Paul is arguing that death cancels all previous obligations. A slave can no longer be brought into court by his previous owner. The master must lose his case and the slave be acquitted if his death certificate can be produced. So those who claim to have died with Christ in baptism are exempt from the claims of their old master Sin. Their duty now is to share the resurrection life of Christ.

St Peter is continuing his argument about suffering in the flesh. He has shewn that Christ’s sufferings and death were the termination of the regime of sin once and for all—and that in Baptism we claim to have risen with Christ from a similar death to sin. Sufferings in the flesh therefore should be welcomed as a means by which that ideal death unto sin may be made a greater reality and help us to live unto God in the spirit.

The language and the illustrations used by St Peter are very different from those employed by St Paul—but the ideas are intensely Pauline.

1 Peter 4:3. ἐν ἀσελγείαιςοἰνοφλυγίαις, κώμοις, πότοις.

Romans 13:13. μὴ κώμοις καὶ μέθαις, μὴ κοίταις καὶ ἀσελγείαις.

1 Peter 4:9-11. φιλόξενοι εἱς ἀλλήλουςἕκαστος καθὼς ἔλαβεν χάρισμα, εἰς ἑαυτοὺς αὐτὸ διακονοῦντες ὡς καλοὶ οἰκονόμοι ποικίλης χάριτος θεοῦ· εἴ τις λαλεῖ, ὡς λόγια θεοῦ· εἴ τις διακονεῖ, ὡς ἐξ ἰσχύος ἦς χορηγεῖ ὁ θεός.

Romans 12:3-13. ἑκάστῳ ὡς ὁ θεὸς ἐμέρισε μέτρον πίστεωςἔχοντες δὲ χαρίσματα κατὰ τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν διάφορα, εἴτε προφητείανεἴτε διακονίαντὴν φιλοξενίαν διώκοντες.

Here we have similar language about the diligent use of diverse gifts—but St Paul employs his favourite illustration of the Body and its members, each with its own function to discharge for the good of the whole, while St Peter uses the illustration of stewards entrusted with their Master’s goods.

1 Peter 4:13. καθὸ κοινωνεῖτε τοῖς τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθήμασιν χαίρετε ἵνα καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ χαρῆτε ἀγαλλιώμενοι.

Romans 8:17. εἴπερ συμπάσχομεν ἵνα καὶ συνδοξασθῶμεν.

1 Peter 5:1. μάρτυς τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθημάτων, ὁ καὶ τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης κοινωνός.

Romans 8:18. λογίζομαι γὰρ ὅτι οὐκ ἄξια τὰ παθήματα τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι εἰς ἡμᾶς.

(c) 1 Peter and Ephesians

Most commentators recognize some connexion between the two Epistles, and Seufert actually attributed them to the same author. Weiss and Kühl assign the priority to 1 Peter, but the general view is that St Peter was influenced by St Paul’s Epistle. Abbott (Intr. p. xxiv) says that “the parallelisms between these two Epistles are so numerous that the Epistles may almost be compared throughout.” Dr Hort (Intr. p. 5) says that “the connexion, though very close, does not lie on the surface. It is shewn more by identities of thought and similarity of structure between the two Epistles as wholes than by identities of phrase.”

Again (Prolegomena to Ephesians, p. 169) he says “The truth is that in the First Epistle of St Peter many thoughts are derived from the Epistle to the Ephesians, as others are from that to the Romans, but St Peter makes them fully his own by the form into which he casts them, a form for the most part unlike what we find in any Epistle of St Paul’s.”

The connexion between the two Epistles might plausibly be accounted for by the suggestion that St Peter had come to Rome towards the end of St Paul’s first imprisonment there or just after his release. The object of his visit was not improbably to support St Paul’s great work of binding together Jews and Gentiles in one Body. Either from St Paul himself or from St Mark, who had been St Paul’s companion when Ephesians was written, St Peter learns the inspiring thoughts which St Paul had addressed to the Churches of Asia in that Epistle, and without any slavish imitation he himself echoes some of the same ideas in his own letter, welcoming the Gentiles as members of the New Israel of God. Among such echoes of St Paul’s thought or language the following passages may be noted.

In 1 Peter 1:3 we have the same benediction εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, cf. Ephesians 1:3. This occurs also in 2 Corinthians 1:3 and in itself might possibly be a mere coincidence, as such benedictions were a common formula in the letters of devout Jews. But the whole substance of 1 Peter 1:3-5 corresponds with Ephesians 1:18-20, with the same emphasis upon the Christian’s “hope” and “inheritance” grounded upon the “resurrection of Christ.”

In 1 Peter 1:7 the proved genuineness of Christian faith resulting εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν may be compared with εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ Ephesians 1:6 and εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ 1 Peter 1:12; 1 Peter 1:14.

In 1 Peter 1:10-12 the thought that the admission of the Gentiles was not understood in former times but is now revealed by the Spirit is very similar to that in Ephesians 3:5, but St Peter adds that the prophets themselves had a revelation that their message was not for themselves.

The thought in 1 Peter 1:12 that the extension of God’s favour to the Gentiles is watched by angels with wondering eyes, as opening up a fresh vista of God’s all-embracing love, has no parallel in the N.T. except in Ephesians 3:10, where the manifold wisdom of God is described as being made known to heavenly powers by means of the Church. But the actual phrase παρακύψαι as applied to angels in St Peter may have been borrowed from the Book of Henoch ix. 1.

The description of heathenism as a condition of walking in vanity, ματαίας ἀναστροφῆς 1 Peter 1:18, and ignorance, ἄγνοια 1 Peter 1:14, may be compared with Ephesians 4:17-18. For the call from darkness to light 1 Peter 2:9, cf. Ephesians 5:8.

The idea that redemption through Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world but is only now manifested 1 Peter 1:20 is expressed in varying language in Ephesians 1:4 ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου1:8, 11, 1 Peter 2:10, 1 Peter 3:11.

The designation of Christians as τέκνα ὑπακοῆς and therefore bound to abandon the fashion of their former lusts in the days of their ignorance and model their lives after God (κατά) 1 Peter 1:14-15 is the antithesis to the description in Ephesians 2:1-3 of the υἱοὶ τῆς ἀπειθείας, τέκνα ὀργῆς walking in lusts κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος.

The description of Christians as being built into a spiritual temple (οἶκος), followed by the quotation from Isaiah describing Christ as the ἀκρογωνιαῖον 1 Peter 1:5 f., may be compared with Ephesians 2:20, where Gentiles are described as being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets into a holy temple (ναός) Jesus Christ Himself being the ἀκρογωνιαῖον.

The exhortations to servants and wives to shew due subjection for the Lord’s sake, recognizing earthly relationships as institutions of God to be respected διὰ συνείδησιν θεοῦ in all fear, 1 Peter 2:13-25, is less mystical than St Paul’s description of marriage as an earthly picture of the union between Christ and the Church, Ephesians 5:22-23, but not dissimilar.

The injunction to be εὔσπλαγχνοι, refraining the tongue from evil 1 Peter 3:8-10, is not unlike that in Ephesians 4:31-32, the word εὔσπλαγχνος being found nowhere else in the N.T.

The thought that one great purpose of Christ’s death was to present the Gentiles to God ἵνα ὑμᾶς (v. l.) προσαγάγῃ 1 Peter 3:18 may be compared with Ephesians 2:18, that it is by the Cross that both Jews and Gentiles have access (προσαγωγή) to the Father.

The language about the Ascension of Christ 1 Peter 3:21-22 διʼ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ θεοῦ πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανὸν ὑποταγέντων αὐτῷ ἀγγέλων καὶ ἐξουσιῶν καὶ δυνάμεων may possibly be based upon some early creed-like formula, but it certainly resembles Ephesians 1:20 ἐγείρας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ καθίσας ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ὑπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας καὶ δυνάμεως καὶ κυριότητος.

The following arguments a priori suggest the probability that St Peter made use of St Paul’s Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians.

[1] St Paul was a man of much higher education and a far more prolific writer than St Peter. Therefore it is less likely that he borrowed from St Peter than vice versa.

[2] St Peter’s Epistle seems to have been written from Rome, and it is difficult to believe that he had worked in Rome before the Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians were written.

[3] On the other hand both of those Epistles would almost certainly be brought to St Peter’s notice when he did visit Rome, if not earlier. One of them was addressed to Rome and would be well known there. The other was written from Rome, probably in the presence of St Peter’s companion St Mark (cf. Colossians 4:10), and was addressed to the Churches of Asia, who formed an important section of St Peter’s, readers.

[4] Romans was written about 57 A.D. at Corinth in the midst of active mission work. Ephesians about 61 A.D. in a prison lodging at Rome. It is therefore less likely that St Paul on two occasions, separated by four or five years, at places widely distant from each other, would quote from St Peter’s Epistle than that St Peter on one occasion writing from Rome should quote from two Epistles of St Paul.

Internal evidence is not conclusive and diametrically opposite views have been taken. Many critics, including Lightfoot, Hort, Sanday and Headlam, regard St Peter as having borrowed from St Paul. On the other hand the elder and younger Weiss and Kühl assign the priority to St Peter. Bigg (St Peter, 15 ff.), while admitting that St Peter must have read St Paul’s Epistles and that his amanuensis may have often heard St Paul preach, denies any direct borrowing on St Peter’s part from Romans or Ephesians. He argues that St Peter shews no trace of the fundamental topics dealt with in Romans, nor of the characteristic Pauline figure of the “one body.” Romans and 1 Peter, he says, have a few not very remarkable phrases and a couple of obvious, practical topics in common but are otherwise as different as possible. The common composite quotation from Isaiah, with the same divergence from the LXX., may possibly be explained by the theory that they both borrowed from a common source, possibly an early collection of Messianic prophecies.

Sanday and Headlam (Rom. lxxv f.) on the other hand say “the resemblance (between 1 Peter and Romans) is too great and too constant to be accidental.” Besides the common composite quotation (possibly derived from a common source) not only do we find the same thoughts, such as the metaphorical use of the idea of sacrifice (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5), and the same rare words, such as συνσχηματίζεσθαι, ἀνυπόκριτος, but in one passage (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17) we have, what must be regarded as conclusive evidence, the same ideas occurring in the same order. Nor can there be any doubt that of the two the Epistle to the Romans is the earlier. St Paul works out a thesis logically and clearly. St Peter gives a series of maxims for which he is largely indebted to St Paul. For example, in Romans 13:1-7 we have a broad general principle laid down. St Peter, clearly influenced by the phraseology of that passage, merely gives three rules of conduct.

In St Paul the language and ideas come out of the sequence of thought; in St Peter they are adopted because they had already been used for the same purpose.

(d) 1 Peter and Hebrews

There are certainly some resemblances between the two Epistles.

Both are addressed to Churches which were in danger of persecution. Therefore in both suffering is regarded as a loving discipline, in Hebrews as a fatherly chastisement of beloved sons, in 1 Peter as a crucible to test the purity of their faith.

Both contain warnings against apostasy and resentment under injury.

Both appeal to the example of Christ, exalted through suffering, as the model of patient endurance—suffering being a prelude to glory—1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:10; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:1-3.

Again both Epistles regard Christianity as the natural outcome of Judaism, and shew that Christians have a spiritual priesthood, 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 10:19-22. But the writer to the Hebrews, addressing Jewish readers who hankered after the old regime, shews the imperfections of the old sacrificial system as being merely the shadow of which Christianity is the reality. St Peter on the other hand, writing chiefly for Gentile readers, claims for them all the old titles and privileges of Israel.

Both writers lay stress upon the moral effects of the death of Christ as the termination of the regime of sin—once and for all ἅπαξ, 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 9:26, and use the same sacrificial language, not found elsewhere of Christ, offering up our sins, ἀναφέρειν ἁμαρτίας 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28. The duty of Christians therefore is to have done with sin. But this idea is more probably derived by St Peter from Romans.

But, with the exception of the word ἀντίτυπον 1 Peter 3:21; Hebrews 9:24, the verbal coincidences between the two Epistles can nearly all be accounted for from the Old Testament.

It is therefore probable that both writers drew from the common store of ideas and phrases that belonged to Judaistic Christianity, and both represent the liberal school of Jewish Christians who recognized that old things had passed away and become new in Christ.


A. Their home. The Epistle is addressed to the Christians scattered throughout the Roman provinces which constituted the region now called Asia Minor, with the exception of the coast-land south of the Taurus mountains. The history of each province and the probable means by which Christianity was introduced into it are discussed in the notes on 1 Peter 1:1. The district is certainly a wide one but great facilities for travel were provided by the Roman Empire. Apparently Silvanus was proposing to make a circular tour starting from some seaport in Pontus and ending his journey somewhere on the coast of Bithynia. Such a tour to visit the chief centres of Christianity in a vast district is just what we find in St Paul’s missionary journeys.

B. Their nationality. Were they Jewish or Gentile Christians? Most of the Greek Fathers, e.g. Origen (Eus. H. E. iii. 1), Didymus and Eusebius (iii. 4), seem to have held the view that St Peter’s readers were Jews by birth. This opinion was shared by many commentators after the Reformation, such as Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius and Bengel, and it is supported by some recent critics including B. Weiss and Kühl. On the other hand the Latin Fathers Augustine and Jerome held that it was addressed to Gentile converts (though in one passage, Viri Illust. 1, Jerome repeats Origen’s statement that St Peter preached to those of the Circumcision in the dispersion). Most modern critics of all schools support the view that the Epistle was chiefly addressed to Gentiles, although no doubt there were numerous Jewish Christians among them.

The arguments in favour of the view that the readers were Jewish Christians are as follows:

[1] That the special sphere of work assigned to St Peter was among “those of the Circumcision” (Galatians 2:8-9). In answer to this it may be said that the arrangement was not absolute and in no way precluded St Peter from addressing Gentile Christians, just as St Paul, although especially the Apostle of the Gentiles, constantly worked among Jews, always offering the Gospel “to the Jew first,” and addressing them by name in parts of the Epistle to the Romans.

[2] That the Epistle is expressly addressed to “the sojourners of the dispersion,” παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς, which, it is argued, most naturally refers to the Jewish dispersion. But reasons are given (p. liii f. and note ad loc.) for explaining διασπορά in a metaphorical sense.

[3] That the constant direct or indirect allusions to the Old Testament imply a degree of familiarity with the O.T. on the part of the readers which would be hardly possible for Gentile converts from heathenism. In answer to this it may be urged that the O.T. was “the Bible” of the Apostolic Church whether Jew or Gentile.

[4] That several passages in the Epistle would most naturally refer to Jews, e.g. the words of Hosea, quoted in 1 Peter 2:10 “which in time past were no people but are now the people of God,” were originally spoken to Israelites. But in Romans St Paul applies them to the admission of the Gentiles, and they are much more forcible if addressed to Gentiles in 1 Peter.

Again in 1 Peter 2:25 the readers are described as having strayed away but having now returned to the Shepherd. This, it is urged, could only properly be said of Jews, because they alone had been previously under the Shepherd. But by creation and by God’s design all men are “the sheep of His pasture”—whether they belonged to the Jewish “fold” or not.

Again in 1 Peter 3:6 the women are described as having become the daughters of Sarah by well-doing. Here it is urged that the word “become” cannot be emphasized as pointing to the admission of Gentiles to God’s family, because Gentile women would have “become” daughters of Sarah by their conversion and not by their subsequent conduct. But very possibly the words about Sarah ἧς ἐγενήθητε τέκνα are a parenthesis, and the words which follow about well-doing etc. may refer to the conduct of the holy women of old. Also ἐγενήθητε may be better rendered “whose daughters you proved yourselves to be.” This would have additional force if addressed to Gentiles as being included in the seed of Abraham in Christ, cf. Romans 4:16; Galatians 4:21-31.

None of the above arguments therefore necessitate the view that the readers were Jewish Christians. On the other hand there are several passages in the Epistle which almost certainly refer to Gentiles.

(a) In 1 Peter 1:14 the readers are bidden not to “fashion themselves according to their former lusts in the days of their ignorance.” It is true that ignorance (ἄγνοια) is once used by St Peter of the conduct of Jews in crucifying Christ (Acts 3:17), and St Paul uses the verb ἀγνοεῖν of his own conduct in persecuting the Christians (1 Timothy 1:13), but elsewhere, Acts 17:30; Ephesians 4:18, ἄγνοια is specially used of heathenism.

(b) In 1 Peter 1:18 they are described as having been redeemed from their vain (ματαίας) manner of life handed down by their fathers (πατροπαραδότου). The last word taken by itself might seem to suggest Jewish traditions, but heathenism had equally strong hereditary claims upon its followers, and the phrase “vain things” was constantly used of idolatry in the LXX. and also in Acts 14:15; Ephesians 4:17 (ματαιότης).

(c) In 1 Peter 2:9 they are described as having been “called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light.” Similar language is used of St Paul’s mission to the Gentiles (Acts 26:18 quoting Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 42:16) and “darkness” is specially used of heathenism in Romans 1:21; Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 5:8, but in Colossians 1:13 St Paul regards all Christians (ἡμᾶς) as rescued out of the power of darkness.

(d) In 1 Peter 4:2-4 they are no longer to live the remainder of their life in the flesh according to the lusts of men, but according to the will of God. For the time past of their lives is sufficient for them to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, walking (as they have done) in wantonness and unlawful idolatries. Yet the Gentiles think it strange that they do not join them in their profligate excesses. If this language was addressed to Jewish Christians it would imply that the Jews of the Dispersion had generally lapsed into heathenism and immorality, whereas there is no evidence for such wholesale apostasy. Again it would hardly have been a surprise to their neighbours if Jewish settlers had a different standard of religion and morality. But Gentile converts would doubtless be regarded as fanatics if they abandoned the habitual practices of their own relations and friends.

(e) There are several passages in the Epistle in which St Peter emphasizes the idea that God’s mercies, long reserved and foretold, have at last been extended to his readers (εἰς ὑμᾶς).

After coupling himself with his readers in 1 Peter 1:3 “God hath begotten us (ἡμᾶς) again,” in the next verse he speaks of the inheritance as having been all along kept in reserve (τετηρημένην) to be extended to them (εἰς ὑμᾶς). The concluding words of 1 Peter 1:5 ἑτοίμην ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ may also (as Dr Chase suggests Hastings’ D. of B. iii. 795) refer to the inheritance and not to the immediately preceding substantive σωτηρίαν. In this case the meaning may be that the inheritance was kept in reserve ready to be revealed when “the fulness of the time” was come in the Messianic age of the Christian dispensation, cf. 1 Peter 1:20 φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων διʼ ὑμᾶς, cf. also Romans 16:25-26 and Ephesians 3:5, where the admission of the Gentiles as fellow-heirs (συγκληρονόμα) is described as being now revealed (ἀπεκαλύφθη).

In 1 Peter 1:10-12 St Peter says that the prophets who prophesied of the favour of God destined to be extended to you (τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς χάριτος) learned by revelation that it was not for themselves but for you (ὑμῖν, so W.H. not ἡμῖν as T.R.) that they were ministering.

In 1 Peter 1:25, after quoting the message of good tidings originally addressed to the Jews in Babylon that “the word of the Lord endureth for ever,” he says this is the word which has been preached as good tidings reaching to you (εἰς ὑμᾶς).

In 1 Peter 2:4 the readers are described as “coming” (προσερχόμενοι) to the living stone that even they (καὶ αὐτοί) may be built into a spiritual Temple, because faith is the one requisite for sharing the preciousness of the stone laid in Zion; therefore it belongs to you (ὑμῖν). You who were previously not a people are now the people of God; and all the old titles of honour addressed to God’s chosen people Israel are now true of you (ὑμεῖς), cf. Ephesians 2:20-22 where Jews and Gentiles are built into one Temple united by one corner stone (ἀκρογωνιαῖον).

In 1 Peter 3:18 the best text is ὑμᾶς, and the meaning seems to be that it was only by His death that Christ was able to win access (προσαγάγῃ) to God for Gentiles (cf. Ephesians 2:18 προσαγωγή).

In 1 Peter 1:12 the extension of God’s favours to you (Gentiles) opens up a fresh vista to the angelic students of God’s mysterious purpose for the world, cf. Ephesians 3:10.

If then we regard the Epistle as addressed primarily to Jewish Christians much of its meaning is lost. There were doubtless numerous Jewish settlers in the provinces of Asia Minor, but the bulk of the inhabitants, and therefore presumably of the Christians, were Gentiles, and it is to them that the Epistle is primarily addressed. One great object of St Peter is to assert the truth which he had championed at the Apostolic conference (Acts 15:14), that God had “visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name.”

C. The circumstances of the readers. We have no certain evidence as to when and by whom they had been converted. St Peter makes no claim that he had himself worked among them, and the statement of Origen (Eus. H. E. iii. 1) to that effect is probably based only upon the salutation of this Epistle.

In 1 Peter 1:12 St Peter merely refers to “those who preached the Gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” Some of them doubtless were converts of Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey, others of Paul, Silas and Timothy on the second journey, others may have been converted by Epaphras, or Aquila and Priscilla. Again the description of Silvanus in 1 Peter 5:12 “as a faithful brother to you” very probably may refer to his previous work in the provinces addressed.

In 1 Peter 2:2 they are described as “new-born babes,” but this does not necessarily imply that they were very recent converts. The phrase denotes rather the simple childlike tastes which even the maturest Christian should retain (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:20 “in malice be ye babes”). St Peter assumes that there were presbyters in some at any rate of the Christian communities which he addresses, and such presbyters are exposed to the temptations of “lording it over the flock” (1 Peter 5:3) or of seeking office for the sake of sordid gain, neither of which would be probable dangers in an infant church, even if the latter warning refers to the management of Church funds rather than to official stipend. The Christians are already a marked body among their heathen neighbours. Their lives have a conspicuous influence upon the world around. They are exposed to constant obloquy, insults, injustice, even bodily violence for the sake of their religion. The advice to servants, without any corresponding instruction to Christian masters such as we find in Ephesians and Colossians, may suggest that most of the Christians were of humble rank, but this argument from silence must not be over pressed, as the passage is dealing with submission and patience under unjust treatment, and it would have involved a slight digression to teach masters their duty towards their servants.

There is no reference to any controversial questions about Circumcision or clean and unclean meats, such as we find in St Paul’s earlier Epistles. But even in Ephesians and Colossians these do not seem to have been such burning questions as had been the case a few years earlier. Possibly Jewish influence was not so strong in the northern provinces. At any rate St Peter, in welcoming the Gentiles as included in the New “Israel of God,” abstains from referring to minor questions of ritual and deals only with general principles of Christian conduct.

Moreover the perils, to which Christians were now exposed, were not so much from the Jews or from false brethren as “perils among the heathen.”


The order in which the provinces are named in 1 Peter 1:1, coupled with the fact that Pontus and Bithynia, which formed one Roman province, are mentioned separately, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the list, probably indicates the route which Silvanus, the bearer of the Epistle, proposed to follow. It would seem that he intended to land at one of the seaports in Pontus, possibly Sinope, and travel south through Galatia and Cappadocia and then eastwards, again passing through part of Galatia to Asia and thence northwards, regaining the shore of the Black Sea somewhere in Bithynia. Such a route implies an extensive and organized missionary journey, and it may be conjectured that Silvanus was either intending to revisit districts where he had already been working (cf. 1 Peter 5:12) or, as Dr Chase suggests (Hastings’ D. of B. iii. 791), he may have been undertaking the journey as St Paul’s messenger. At any rate St Peter avails himself of the opportunity afforded by this proposed journey of Silvanus to send a letter to the scattered Christians of that vast district. No doubt there were many Jewish Christians among them but the majority were Gentiles, and it is to them that St Peter chiefly addresses himself. One of the chief objects of St Peter’s visit to Rome was probably to promote union between Jews and Gentiles in the Church. That object, as we know from Acts, was no less dear to Silvanus. It would therefore be a real strength to him in his mission to the provinces of Asia Minor to have such a letter as this, written by the recognized leader of the Jewish Christians, welcoming the Gentiles as members of the New Israel of God.

Moreover it was a time of threatened danger and rising persecution. Satan was going about “desiring to have them” in the smelting fire which was to test their faith. It was therefore a fitting opportunity for St Peter, who had himself known the shame of falling in the hour of trial, when Satan had “sifted him as wheat,” to fulfil his Master’s command, “When thou hast turned again strengthen thy brethren.”

In 1 Peter 5:12 St Peter says that his object in writing to them was (a) to encourage them, (b) to testify that this is in very truth the “grace” or “loving favour” of God, and bid them stand fast in it. What is this “favour”? Does it refer only to the immediately preceding section about persecution or to the whole theme of the Epistle? Probably to the latter, including the thought of suffering as one item in God’s work of loving favour. Their privileges were part of God’s eternal purpose, the extension of God’s “favour” to Gentiles (1 Peter 1:10) had been long foretold and is now revealed.

It is on that “favour” that they are to set their hope (1 Peter 1:13). Husbands and wives are fellow-heirs of the “favour” or free gift of life 1 Peter 3:7. God’s “favour” is only bestowed upon the humble 1 Peter 5:6 : let them therefore humble themselves to bear the discipline of suffering which He is sending upon them. It is the God of all “favour” who called them to eternal glory in Christ (1 Peter 5:10): if the road to that glory leads through a short tract of suffering it is no mark of disfavour but rather of favour, because such suffering is the prelude to the glory.

The three main topics of the Epistle are: (a) the privileges of Christians, (b) the consequent duties of Christians, (c) the present trials of Christians. These three topics respectively form the theme of the three sections into which the Epistle may be divided: (a) 1–2:10, (b) 1 Peter 2:11 to 1 Peter 4:11, (c) 1 Peter 4:12 to 1 Peter 5:14. But the Epistle is no formal treatise capable of being strictly analysed, and the three topics are to some extent interwoven throughout.

(a) The privileges of Christians

They are the New Israel of God, chosen by God’s foreknowledge, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, sprinkled with the Blood of Christ as the Covenant Victim. They are begotten to a living hope of attaining to an incorruptible inheritance which has all along been kept in reserve for them. Prophets long ago foretold this extension of God’s favour to them. Angels are watching this development of God’s all-embracing plan of love with eager eyes. They have been ransomed from slavery, as Israel was from Egypt. They are living stones built into a holy Temple of which Christ is the corner stone. They are a holy nation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood. They are begotten by the word of God who lives and abides for ever. They are called to eternal glory.

(b) The duties of Christians

Such privileges carry with them corresponding responsibilities. In the first section therefore St Peter bids his readers to gird themselves for active service with sober earnestness and confident hopefulness (1 Peter 1:13). They must prove themselves obedient children. In the days of their ignorance it was more excusable to follow the shifting fashion of their own wayward desires, but now they have been called by One who is all-holy and therefore they must be holy (14–16). In claiming God as their Father they must remember that He is also the Judge, by whom everyman’s work must be tried, and He will not shew partiality or favouritism to His children. They must therefore pass their time as sojourners in the world in reverent fear of offending God [17].

The seed from which they are begotten is nothing less than the word of God who lives and abides for ever, its fruits in their lives should therefore be of the same character. Their love for their fellow-members in God’s family must be heartfelt and un-relaxed. Malice, guile, hypocrisy or unkind talk must be put away (1 Peter 1:22 to 1 Peter 2:1).

In the exercise of their “holy priesthood” they must offer spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Peter 2:5). As a “peculiar people” it is their task to proclaim the excellences of the God who has called them out of darkness (1 Peter 2:9).

In the second section the duties of Christians are emphasized in fuller detail. They must remember that they are only settlers in the world whose true home is in heaven, but there are all kinds of fleshly lusts carrying on a constant campaign against their soul, and from these they must abstain (1 Peter 2:11). They must set an example of honourable conduct to the heathen among whom they live [12].

Though they are not of the world they are in the world and must submit to all the institutions which God has appointed for its orderly governance. The state, the household, the family are all intended to be earthly copies of divine ideals. As citizens they must honour the Emperor and magistrates, Christian liberty must not be misused as a cloak for social or political anarchy. They are only free because they are God’s bondslaves. As such they must give all men their due honour, and towards their brethren in Christ this means love. Though they can no longer worship the Emperor, reverent fear of God in no way excludes but rather demands honour to the Emperor (1 Peter 2:13-17).

As members of an earthly household the fear of God should prompt servants to submit to their masters, even though they may be unreasonable and awkward to deal with. To suffer injustice with patience will win God’s verdict of “well done.” It is the path which the Master trod and the servant is called to tread in His steps (1 Peter 2:18-22).

As members of an earthly home wives should submit to their husbands even though they are still heathen. The spectacle of a Christian wife’s chaste conduct is a more potent force than argument to win her husband to the cause of Christ. Instead of outward finery the wife’s truest adornment is a meek and quiet spirit. If they claim to have proved themselves true daughters of Sarah they must imitate her submission. The saintly women of old owed their charm to their persistence in well-doing, undisturbed by any excited exhibition of panic (1 Peter 3:1-6). But such submissive conduct on the part of the wife involves a corresponding duty on the part of a Christian husband. Husband and wife not only share an earthly home but are also co-heirs of the gift of life. Both are “chosen vessels” of God, but the wife is cast in a more fragile mould and therefore needs to be treated with the greater honour. Conjugal intercourse must be based upon this conception, otherwise the blessing promised to united prayer will be curtailed (1 Peter 3:7).

Besides such particular duties there are obligations binding upon all Christians alike. Unanimity, sympathy, love as brethren, tenderness, humility should be the characteristics of the Christian society. There should be no spirit of retaliation of “evil for evil, or reviling for reviling.” Rather curses should be met with blessings, for blessing is the special inheritance to which Christians are called.

The allusion to evil and reviling suggests advice as to how it may be avoided by devoted well-doing (1 Peter 3:13). But if, in spite of all their efforts, Christians are called upon to suffer for righteousness’ sake they must not be panic-stricken. If only they keep the presence of Christ as their Master enshrined in their hearts, they will silence their revilers by living Christ-like lives, and must be ready to answer for their faith with meekness and reverent fear.

Suffering should be faced in the same spirit with which Christ met His sufferings in the flesh (1 Peter 4:1). Their past career of heathen profligacy has been all too long. The remainder of their earthly life must be regulated by the will of God and not by the wayward desires of man (1 Peter 4:2). Christians should live in watchfulness and soberminded prayer because the end of all things is approaching. Above all their love towards one another should never be relaxed (1 Peter 4:7 f.).

They are stewards whom God has entrusted with varied gifts to be used in His service. Claims upon their hospitality should be met without a murmur. Those who have gifts of utterance must remember that their message is not their own but God’s. Those whose duty it is to minister must do their work with all the strength that God gives them (1 Peter 4:10 f.).

In c. 5 St Peter gives a special message to the Presbyters. He bids them shepherd God’s flock not under a sense of compulsion or with any sordid mercenary motives but willingly and gladly, not domineering over those entrusted to their care but leading them by their example (1 Peter 5:1-4).

Those who are junior in age or office should humbly submit to their seniors.

In short all Christians should gird themselves with humility in their relations towards each other, and above all in their attitude towards God, humbly submitting to whatever discipline of suffering He may impose upon them. To be anxious and worried is to distrust God’s loving care (1 Peter 5:5-7).

(c) The present trials of Christians

In 1 Peter 1:7 the varied trials through which Christians have to pass are described as the smelting fire to test the purity of their faith.

In 1 Peter 2:12 Christians are liable to be denounced as malefactors.

In 1 Peter 2:18 servants who suffer wrongfully are to bear it patiently. By so doing they may imitate Christ’s example and follow in His steps.

In 1 Peter 3:9 Christians are to meet revilings with blessings. (1 Peter 3:13) Zealous devotion to what is good will probably spare them from injury, but if they should be required to suffer for righteousness’ sake it is a blessed thing. If only they maintain a good conscience by persistent good conduct they may shame their maligners into silence. But if God’s will should require them to suffer it is far better to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing. Let them consider the sufferings of Christ. His death was:

(a) The termination of sin once and for all (ἅπαξ). (b) The opportunity for new and wider service. By dying He was able to win access to God for the Gentiles (ὑμᾶς). Set free by death His human spirit was quickened for new activity in the world of spirits. He went and preached to the spirits in prison. (c) It was the prelude to glory. He who then suffered and died is now seated at the right hand of God, supreme over angels, principalities and powers.

(1 Peter 4:1) Christians should therefore face sufferings in the flesh, armed with the same conceptions which enabled Christ to endure the Cross and despise the shame. They should regard suffering in the flesh as a means of terminating the old regime of sin and fleshly life, to live a new life unto God in the spirit.

In 1 Peter 4:12 St Peter again reminds his readers that sufferings are a smelting fire to test their faith and character. They must not therefore be regarded as a strange misfortune happening by chance. It should be a matter of joy to have fellowship in Christ’s sufferings in order that they may have exultant joy at the revelation of His glory. To be reproached in the name of Christ is a blessed thing for it means that the spirit of that “glory” is already resting upon them.

The process of judgment is already beginning and it starts with God’s own household first. Even in these initial stages of judgment the process by which the righteous are judged and saved is a painful one, but how far more terrible will the final stages be when the ungodly and sinners are dealt with. Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit their lives to Him, as to a faithful Creator, who may be trusted to deal justly with His own handiwork.

In 1 Peter 5:6-10 Christians should submit humbly to God’s hand in patiently enduring suffering. In one sense their sufferings are the work of Satan, for he employs them to try and devour his prey by inducing Christians to give way. But in another sense they are the accomplishment of a divine purpose of loving favour, and that same purpose is being accomplished in the Christian brotherhood in other parts of the world. In calling His children to His eternal glory in Christ God requires them to pass through a brief period of suffering, and He will provide them with what is necessary to refit, stablish and strengthen them.


Nearly every clause in the Creed can be supported by passages in the Epistle.

I believe in God the Father

1 Peter 1:2. According to the foreknowledge of God the Father.

1 Peter 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:17. If ye invoke as Father.

Almighty (παντοκράτωρ)

1 Peter 4:11. To whom is the glory and the κράτος for ever.

1 Peter 5:6. The mighty hand of God.

Maker of heaven and earth

1 Peter 4:19. A faithful creator.

And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord

1 Peter 1:3. Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:14. Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

who was incarnate

Christ’s Body 1 Peter 2:24, Flesh 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 4:1, Blood 1 Peter 1:19, Human spirit 1 Peter 3:18 are referred to.

who suffered

1 Peter 1:11. The sufferings destined for Messiah.

1 Peter 2:21. Christ suffered for us.

1 Peter 2:23. When He suffered He threatened not.

1 Peter 4:1. Christ having suffered in the flesh.

1 Peter 4:13. Ye have fellowship in the sufferings of Christ.

1 Peter 5:1. A witness of the sufferings of Christ.

was crucified

1 Peter 1:2. Sprinkling of the Blood of Christ.

1 Peter 2:24. Who bare our sins in His own Body on the tree.


1 Peter 3:18. Christ died (ἀπέθανε) for sins once, being put to death in the flesh.

He descended into Hell

1 Peter 3:19. He went (in His human spirit quickened by death) and preached to the spirits in prison.

He rose again

1 Peter 1:3. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1:21. God raised Him from the dead.

1 Peter 3:21. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

He ascended into heaven

1 Peter 3:22. Having gone into heaven.

He sitteth at the right hand of God

1 Peter 1:21. God raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory.

1 Peter 3:22. Who is at the right hand of God, angels and principalities and powers being made subject to Him.

He shall come again with glory.

1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13. At the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:13. At the revelation of His glory.

1 Peter 5:4. When the chief Shepherd is manifested.

To judge both the quick and the dead.

In St Peter the judgment is ascribed to God rather than to Christ.

1 Peter 1:17. If ye invoke as Father Him who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work.

1 Peter 4:5. Who shall give account to Him who is in readiness to judge the quick and the dead.

But in 1 Peter 5:4 the bestowal of the crown of life is connected with the manifestation of the chief Shepherd, i.e. Christ.

I believe in the Holy Ghost

1 Peter 1:2. In sanctification of the Spirit.

1 Peter 1:12. Those that preached good tidings to you by the Holy Ghost sent from heaven.

1 Peter 4:14. The Spirit of the glory even the Spirit of God doth rest upon you. (See note ad loc.)

Who spake by the prophets

1 Peter 1:20. Prophets—searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ (or Messiah) which was in them was signifying in testifying beforehand the sufferings destined for Messiah. (See note ad loc.)

The full divinity of the Holy Spirit is implied by the fact that He is coupled with God the Father and mentioned before Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 1:2. Also the fact that the inspiration of O.T. prophets and Christian teachers is ascribed to Him, and that He now rests on believers in their sufferings presupposes His divinity and omnipresence.

The Holy Catholic Church

As there are so many indirect traces of Ephesians in this Epistle it is somewhat strange that neither the word ἐκκλησία nor the illustration of the Body of Christ should be found in it.

But in 1 Peter 1:1 Christians are called ἐκλεκτοί. They are built as living stones into spiritual temple of which Christ is the chief corner-stone. They are γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν. In other words they are the New Israel of God, which is practically what our Lord meant when He spoke of building His ἐκκλησία in the promise to St Peter, Matthew 16:18. Again the description of Christians as being “in Christ” 1 Peter 3:16, 1 Peter 5:10; 1 Peter 5:14 implies that they are regarded as members of His Body. Christians are a brotherhood, the house of God. The Christian society from which St Peter is writing is ἡ συνεκλεκτή.

I believe in one Baptism for the remission of sins

1 Peter 3:21. Baptism doth save us.

The resurrection of the body

This is not expressly mentioned but is implied in the “living hope” to which Christians are begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ 1 Peter 1:3, and the instruction to rejoice in sufferings as a prelude to glory would be meaningless apart from a sure and certain hope of resurrection.

The life everlasting

Is implied in the “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away” 1 Peter 1:4, and also in the “crown of glory” 1 Peter 5:4, and the eternal glory to which Christians are called 1 Peter 5:10.

Thus the only clauses of the Apostles’ Creed for which no direct support is afforded by the Epistle are:

He came down from heaven.

Was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.

Under Pontius Pilate.


The Communion of Saints.

St Peter’s conception of God

He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Peter 1:3. He is our Father but also our Judge, and will not shew any undue favouritism to His children 1 Peter 1:17. He is a faithful creator and therefore His creatures can entrust their souls to His keeping in perfect confidence despite man’s cruelty or injustice 1 Peter 4:19. He cares for us and therefore we can cast all our anxiety upon Him 1 Peter 5:7. He is a Being of absolute holiness who demands that His children should be holy 1 Peter 1:15-16. He lives and abides for ever 1 Peter 1:23. His purpose of redemption was foreknown to Him before the foundation of the world 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20. It is He who begets us again to a living hope 1 Peter 1:3. He calls us 1 Peter 1:15. He is a God of all favour, even in the discipline of suffering by which He calls us to glory 1 Peter 5:10. His eyes are over the righteous and His ears open to their prayer but His face is against those that do evil 1 Peter 3:12. All human institutions whether in the state, the household or the family are ordained by Him 1 Peter 2:13 to 1 Peter 3:7. He is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls 1 Peter 2:25. The Church is His flock 1 Peter 5:2. His temple 1 Peter 2:5. His house 1 Peter 4:17. Christians are His stewards and are intended to use all His varied gifts in His service 1 Peter 4:10. He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble 1 Peter 5:5.

St Peter’s conception of Jesus Christ

He is very Man. He suffered in the flesh 1 Peter 4:1, was put to death in the flesh 1 Peter 3:18, and thereby was quickened in His (human) spirit for further work in the unseen world. His blood as the Covenant Victim is sprinkled upon Christians 1 Peter 1:1. It was the price of their redemption 1 Peter 1:19. In character He was sinless, a Lamb without spot or blemish 1 Peter 1:19. He did no sin neither was guile found in His mouth 1 Peter 2:22. He was patient under sufferings and injustice, because He committed Himself to the just judgment of God 1 Peter 2:23. In fact He was the ideal Servant of the Lord described in Isaiah 53. He is our example 1 Peter 2:21, our High Priest through whom our spiritual sacrifices must be presented 1 Peter 2:5. He presents men to God 1 Peter 3:18. He has ascended into heaven and is at the right hand of the Father exalted above all angelic powers 1 Peter 3:22.

Suffering in His name is a high privilege 1 Peter 4:14. He will be manifested as the chief Shepherd 1 Peter 5:4. His revelation is referred to 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13.

A few passages, if isolated and exaggerated, might be misinterpreted as suggesting that Christ was a subordinate Being, e.g. He was foreknown by God 1 Peter 1:20, raised from the dead by God 1 Peter 1:21, chosen by God 1 Peter 2:4. In 1 Peter 1:3 God is described as His God and Father.

But such a view is disproved by numerous other passages. He is our Lord 1 Peter 1:3. He is coupled with the Father and the Holy Spirit 1 Peter 1:2. He is to be sanctified as Lord in our hearts 1 Peter 3:15, language which in Isaiah 8:13 is applied to Jehovah of hosts. Similarly other passages which refer to Jehovah in the O.T., “O taste and see that the Lord is gracious” (Psalms 34:8; 1 Peter 2:3) and the stone of stumbling—the corner-stone (Isaiah 28:16—of the presence of Jehovah) 1 Peter 2:6, are applied to Christ. The description of Christians as being “in Christ” 1 Peter 3:16, 1 Peter 5:14 implies His divinity. It is only “through Christ” that Christians are faithful as resting in God. “Through Him” their spiritual sacrifices are offered 1 Peter 2:5. “Through Him” God is glorified by the faithfulness of His members 1 Peter 4:11. “In Him” Christians are called by God to eternal glory 1 Peter 5:10.

Again St Peter’s doctrine of the atonement is that Christ bare our sins 1 Peter 2:24, that by His stripes we were healed 1 Peter 2:24—that His death was the termination of the regime of sin once and for all 1 Peter 3:18, and is intended to produce similar death unto sin in His members 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 4:1, that by His blood the Gentiles were redeemed from the slavery of sin 1 Peter 1:18, that by dying Christ presented them (who were once far off) to God 1 Peter 3:18.

All this would be unintelligible if St Peter regarded Jesus as nothing more than a human martyr.


The Greek Text

[1] Uncial Manuscripts written in capitals

א. CodexSinaiticus (fourth century), discovered by Tischendorf at Mount Sinai, now at St Petersburg.

A. Codex Alexandrinus (fifth century) in the British Museum.

B. Codex Vaticanus (fourth century) in the Vatican Library at Rome.

C. Codex Ephraemi (fifth century), a palimpsest with some of the works of Ephraem Syrus (299–378) written over the original text, now in the Royal Library at Paris.

K. Codex Mosquensis (ninth century) contains the Catholic and Pauline Epistles and came from the Monastery of St Dionysius on Mount Athos.

L. Codex Angelicus (ninth century) contains part of Acts, the Catholic Epistles and the Pauline with part of Hebrews. It belongs to the Augustinian Monks at Rome.

P. Codex Porphyrianus (ninth century) contains the Acts, all the Epistles, the Apocalypse and a few fragments of 4 Maccabees. It was found by Tischendorf in 1863 in the possession of Bishop Porphyry. It is a palimpsest with fragments of the commentary of Euthalius written over the original text.

These are the only uncial MSS. of the Catholic Epistles.

[2] Minuscules or cursive MSS. expressed by numerals. Of these the most important are:

13 (= 33 Gosp. 17 St Paul) (ninth century).

31 (= 69 Gosp. 37 St Paul) (fourteenth century) at Leicester.

34 (= 61 Gosp. 40 St Paul) (fifteenth or sixteenth century).

[3] Versions

Latin. Only a few fragments of 1 Peter are extant in Old Latin VSS. m (= the speculum of Mai) and g. The Latin Vulgate (lat. vg) was made by Jerome 385 A.D., of which countless MSS. are extant.


(a) The Peshitto (syr vg) (? third century).

(b) The Harclean (syr hl) (seventh century) based on an older version of Philoxenus (sixth century).


(a) The Bohairic or Memphitic, the version of Lower Egypt (? second century).

(b) The Sahidic or Thebaic, not much later, the version of Upper Egypt.

Armenian (fifth century).


For a fuller list of literature bearing upon the Epistle see Dr Chase’s Article, Hastings’ D. of B. iii. 817 f.

The following commentaries or books may be mentioned in alphabetical order:

Alford, fourth edition, 1871.

Bigg, International Critical Commentary, 1901.

Chase, Articles on “St Peter,” and “1 Peter,” Hastings’ D. of B. iii. 756–796.

Cook, Speaker’s Commentary, 1881.

Hort, on 1 Peter 1:1 to 1 Peter 2:17, 1898.

Hort, Christian Ecclesia, 1897.

Hort, Judaistic Christianity, 1894.

Kühl, sixth edition, Meyer’s Commentary, 1897.

Leighton, Devotional Exposition, 1845.

Lightfoot, “St Paul and the Three” in Galatians, 1865.

Lightfoot, “St Peter in Rome” in Clement II, 481 ff.

Mason, in Ellicott’s Commentary, 1883.

Masterman, on 1 Peter, 1900.

Plumptre, in Cambridge Bible for Schools, 1880.

Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 1893.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Peter:4 Overview". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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