My Take: 1 Peter 1 (Part 1)
For the past year I was studiously investigating the book of 1 Peter. The Lord had different plans for me and my family and as a result of His plans I was unable to teach through the book. But in the process, and after announcing I would not teach it, I've been asked a lot of questions about what I would have taught. I am going to address this in a series of My Takes. This isn't meant to be a commentary so I won't provide as many of the arguments that exist in my notes. These will simply touch on some of the questions I got and most popular topics of debate in the book.
Who was 1 Peter written by and to?
I am pretty conventional on both of these issues. I believe 1 Peter was written by Peter (don't ask me about 2 Peter yet) and written to Jews. This was the position of John Calvin and a few modern commentators. I certainly understand and have sympathy for the view that the book was written to Gentiles. Unfortunately, I don't think the evidence it available to support such a symbolic view for Peter's letter. The Scriptures testify that Peter was the apostle to the Jews and the book of Acts tells us the Jews were evicted from Rome. Both of these Biblical facts line up well with history to persuade me that the safest conservative, Orthodox position on 1 Peter is to affirm Petrine authorship while affirming a Jewish audience. This of course has an impact on my views of the book.
What does "sprinkling with his blood" (1:2) mean?
Most modern conservative commentaries spoke of this as being the blood of Jesus Christ in an atonement sense. But I am persuaded that this isn't consistent with Peter's Jewish up bringing or Biblical history. You might be asking, "what's more Jewish than the atonement?" and I would answer you "any symbolic image where blood went on the people." More commonly instead, the image of the sprinkling of blood on a people is associated with the Mosaic Covenant. This is a covenant sprinkling obligating the people to a certain lifestyle that Peter details and weaves throughout the book.
What is the "inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading" (1:4)?
I am persuaded that it is "hope" (1:3). Which means from my perspective that it is unseen and unrealized. Far from believing that being "born again" is an ontological event in this context, I believe it is a covenant event for God's covenant people. It is something that initiates what we are waiting for and can only arrive at through suffering and judgment (the major theme of 1 Peter).
What does the phrase "outcome of your faith" mean (1:9)?
It means that the full blessings of faith are not yet known. Salvation is not complete. The enduring and persevering faith is the one that is saved. I believe this factors into Peter's thinking because of his conviction that Christ's return would be imminent. However, unlike liberal theology, I believe Peter was right to expect Christ's return to judge the people of Israel in AD 70. So Peter is looking at persecution leading up to that moment and the salvation provided by God's judgement against His old covenant people.