Heidelast 169: As It Was In The Days Of Noah (15): Living Among The Pagans

The chapter divisions we see in our Bibles were not present originally. Stephen Langton (c. 1150–1228), a Paris theologian and, later, Archbishop of Canterbury, is usually credited with introducing the divisions that we know. This is one place where we see the artificiality of the chapter divisions because Peter is carrying on the same (Ὁμοίως) argument he made with respect to servants (slaves). In 1 Peter 3:1–6, however, he turns to another socially marginal class, wives. That Peter spends so much time addressing those in the congregation whom the world then regarded so little tells us something about the sorts of people who composed the early Christian congregations in (modern) Turkey to which Peter wrote. We should not exaggerate this fact, however. There is clear witness in the New Testament that there were wealthy members of the congregations too, who are mentioned in the New Testament. Nevertheless, it is clear in 1 Peter that he regards the congregations as composed not so much of the socially powerful but the socially powerless. In the ancient world, wives would ordinarily have adopted their husband’s religion. Peter, however, assumes that some of the wives to whom this epistle was being read (in the assembly of the congregation), had come to faith and remained married to their non-Christian (pagan) husbands. Thus, we have an interesting dynamic at work. The very act of rejecting their husband’s paganism was a sort of divinely-ordained rebellion. By God’s grace, these women had been given new life and true faith in Christ and in that new life and had put the Triune God ahead of their husbands. They feared God more than their husbands. Yet, Peter insists, there are limits to the rebellion. He did not seek to overturn the Greco-Roman social order but to subvert it quietly from within. This passage is a fascinating illustration of the way the eschatology of 1 & 2 Peter colors the way we relate to the world around us.



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One comment

  1. I think Paul in Colossians 4:5-7 sums it up quite nicely.
    Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

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