Tag Archives: New Testament

Peter, an Apostle

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Jesus is a real person and real people encountered Him. The full humanity of those who live in far-away places or long-ago times is often lost on those currently living. Most people are so involved in their lives they do not think or visualize that the names they read in Scripture are attached to a person who lived and breathed, who ate and slept, who felt emotions like love and happiness. Real people saw Jesus and walked with Him, ate with Him, listened to Him. They were His friends and enemies. They watched Him work and heal. They heard Him teach, rebuke and lead. Many either loved Him deeply or hated Him passionately. Many went about their business, seemingly unaffected by His presence. Yet, everyone was and has been affected by Him.

Jesus taught pointed lessons, through word and action, building into the lives of those who are His, qualities and characteristics God’s children throughout history could see and emulate.  Jesus confronted people who fought against him, those who rejected and finally murdered Him.

Peter, one of the apostles, and the author of two epistles in the New Testament, was taught and disciplined by Jesus. Trials and testing are the most effective means God uses to build into Christians the character of the citizen of His kingdom. Peter had a wild and aggressive personality God tamed before his death. He was impulsive, jumping into circumstances without understanding the consequences of his actions. God changed Peter, building discipline and Godliness into his life.  The words in his epistles come from the indwelling of the Spirit and personal experience with the Son of God.

What do we know about Peter? We know he was married. Before Peter was called by Jesus and began following Him, He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (see Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29-30; Luke 4:38).His wife was with him during his ministry years after Jesus’ ascension (1 Corinthians 9:5). We know he was a fisherman who worked the Sea of Galilee and partnered with his brother Andrew, and James and John Zebedee, who also would become apostles (see Matthew 4:18; Luke 5:1-7; John 21:3). He was called by various names including Simon Barjona and Cephas (see Matthew 16:16-19; Mark 3:16; John 1:42, 1 Corinthians 9:5

Peter was a disciple of Jesus, someone who followed Him and learned from Him. He became and apostle, chosen by Jesus after a night of prayer.  Apostle means delegate, messenger, one chosen and sent out with a specific message. Many people followed Christ during His earthly ministry. Jesus chose twelve men to receive specific instruction and direction in preaching the gospel.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16 ESV; see also Matthew 10:2; 16:18-19; Mark 3:16; Acts 1:13.)

As a disciple and apostle of Christ he Peter was commissioned to take the gospel to his own people, the Jews, while Paul carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). During Peter’s ministry, after Jesus’, ascension, he faced hostility and persecution by the Jews and those opposed to the message of Jesus. He was imprisoned and beaten after his encounter with the same high priest who had Jesus murdered (see Acts 5:17-42). He had a vision which disrupted the traditional Jewish understanding of clean and unclean, learning that God had also chosen the Gentiles for citizenship in His kingdom (see Acts 10:1-48). Again, he was imprisoned and scheduled for execution by Herod, who had already killed James, the brother of John (see Acts 12:1-19). But, he was miraculously released from prison by an angel without the knowledge of any of the guards.

He was martyred, probably with Paul, in Rome during the time of Nero. There is no Biblical evidence showing the deaths of either man. Extrabiblical evidence, specifically Origen, suggests Peter was crucified upside down at his own request because he felt himself unworthy of dying like Jesus.

The Gospel of Mark, though written by John Mark, who was not an eye witness of the life of Christ, used Peter as his source of information. As a man who followed, helped and even interpreted for Peter, an eye-witness of Jesus and one of the inner circle of disciples, Mark’s gospel carries both the integrity of an eyewitness and the teachings of one of Jesus’ Apostles. In addition, Peter penned two epistles, entitled First and Second Peter. As an eye witness Peter is an important and critical observer of the teachings of Christ for those who are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

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God’s Word

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said. (Genesis 1:3ESV)

Every word between “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1 ESV) and “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21 ESV) is the Word of God spoken to those created in His image. God has revealed Himself and what we need to know. Revelation is God telling us information we could not otherwise know, especially about Himself. We call the Holy Scripture, comprising the Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament, God’s Word and revelation to us.

General revelation is God showing Himself through creation to everyone created. Creation is the evidence of the reality and truth of God and the determined efforts of His work. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalms 19:1-2 ESV).  Paul is more explicit.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)

Special revelation is God telling those who are His all they need to know to fulfill His eternal purpose for them. Jesus is the incarnate Word of God. His inherent characteristics (homoima) and outward appearance (schema) is of a man and His form (morphe) is of God (see Philippians 2:6).  He is fully God and fully man and when He spoke His words revealed that which none could otherwise know.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 ESV)

God has not stopped speaking.

The Hebrew Scripture

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [Matthew 5:17 ESV]

Why do we think and believe Christ has done away with the Law, making it of no consequence?  God reveals Himself in Scripture. This includes the Hebrew Scripture we call the Old Testament.

When God spoke creation began. He is the only driving force of all creation. John tells us Jesus is the Word and that all was created by Him. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” [John 1:1-3 ESV]. This is a clear statement that Jesus is divine. He is God.

He created Man in His image so all people might have an intimate relationship with Him. When Adam and Eve sinned, rebelling against their Creator, God spoke to them about the consequences. Yet, God determined to provide a Redeemer to crush the head of sin and bring those separated back. Jesus fulfilled this promise through His birth, death, resurrection and ascension.

After the fall God did not simply leave Man to his own devices but revealed what would ultimately happen, beginning with Adam and Eve who were separated from God, then their home. Cain murdered Abel separating him from life while Cain was separated from his family. God began separating people from people. Ultimately, God shows some are separated from Him while others are not.

God also separated people from people to show the human lineage of Jesus, who had the appearance of man but the morphe of a servant and the morphe of God. “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” [Philippians 2:6-7 ESV]. This Jesus, born of a woman, is the same as He who created all, the eternal Word.

Beginning with Moses God gave written revelation of Himself and His expectations. Jesus inspired the authors of the Scripture to write, in their own style and with their own words, exactly what He wanted said. In their words He revealed Himself, that which we could not know any other way.

God gave Moses the ten statements, we call them commandments, before He gave the rest of the Law and before the Histories and Prophets were written. In the Histories, part of the Hebrew Scripture, we see the continual rebellion of the “chosen people” of God while the Prophets continually speak the truth about their rebellion, and the rebellion of the world, demanding all acknowledge sin and obey God. God created man for intimacy and commands man to obedience. God’s words do not give anyone a disciplined means of accomplishing His will but show the complete inability of all to do so in their own strength of will. If no one can do God’s will on their own then someone has to do God’s will for us. This doesn’t keep us from trying to do God’s will in our own strength. Israel’s Jewish leaders codified the Law, breaking it into various parts, and then interpreted the Law through thousands of rules and regulations. Jesus did not come to fulfill the traditions of men but the eternal will of God.

Jesus does not do away with any of the inspired words of God. He is the inspiration for them. What He does, by living as a man with the morphe of a servant, is to fulfill those inspired words. He uses a word which means to fill, as in to level up something which is hollow, to satisfy or execute perfectly, to accomplish. His words imply God revealed to His creation the reality of their need for Him because of their sin. Sin breaks and bends and makes unusable. It destroys any and all ability of the person to live up to the purpose for which they were made. Christ, in living as a man, perfectly lived the purpose for which man was created. He could do nothing less.

Yet, the law does more than simply set the standard against which all are measured. It does more than point out the negative, the inability, the need for. It reveals, in a manner, the character and personality of God. We would not know God had He not shown Himself in the written and living Word. We could have examined the circumstantial evidence and seen the possibility of certain characteristics of God but would have, as is the motivation of sin, corrupted and abused those characteristics making them say that which is not true.

One of the essential characteristics of God is truth. One of the driving forces of those who want to know God intimately is the desire to know truth. Are we driven to know truth? Are we drive to know Christ? They are the same.