Peter – The Rock

1 Peter 1:1-12

I’ve been leading a local Bible study on 1 Peter. I thought maybe I would post my notes here, a few verses at a time, in case anyone is interested in following along. Again, this is from my notes, so it may seem a little choppy here and there. Here is the first section. Hope you can gain something from this.

Written around 64 AD; most commentators believe that Peter was in Rome at the time this letter was written. This was around the time of the persecution of Christians by Nero (54-68 AD). An old tradition states that Nero had Peter crucified head-downward. John 21:18 hints at this, as Jesus told Peter, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

“Gird” means to bind oneself; speaking of clothing, or a belt, in the first instance of the above verse. In the second instance, commentators believe it means that he was tied to a cross, or a cross-bar, with rope; nails were not always used. There is little written by the early church fathers about Peter’s death, so the actual truth is unknown. Eusebius wrote, “Thus Nero publicly announcing himself as the chief enemy of God, was led on in his fury to slaughter the Apostles. Paul is therefore said to have been beheaded at Rome, and Peter to have been crucified under him.”

Few realize this, but the name “Peter” is actually more like a nickname. He was a Jewish fisherman; his real name in Hebrew was Shim’on Bar-Yochanan, Simon Bar-Jonah (Matthew 16:17), meaning Simon Son of John. Jesus gave him the Hebrew nickname Kefa in John 1:42, which transliterated into Greek as Cephas, which is actually pronounced Kay-phus, not See-phus. The Hebrew word Kefa means “rock.” In Matthew 16:18, Jesus called him “Rock,” and the Greek language of the NT often emphasized that term by using the name Petros, which translated into English as Peter. In Scripture where he is called Simon Peter, that is calling him Simon the Rock. Kefa was called “The Rock” long before Dwayne Johnson 😊. He was to become a rock of the faith, but the church was not built upon him; the church was built upon the truth, the solid rock foundation, of Jesus. Peter was NOT the first pope. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Hebrew “Kefa” – means “Rock” – transliterated into Greek as “Cephas [Kay-phus]”

Greek “Petros” – means “Rock” – transliterated into English as “Peter”

The word most often translated as “and,” in the Greek can also be translated as “but.” We can understand Jesus’ statement then as “You are the Rock, but upon THIS rock I will build my ek-klay-see’-ah (assembly, congregation).” What is THIS rock? In Matthew 16:15-16 “He [Jesus] said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” I believe we can see that from the beginning Jesus was instilling confidence within Simon Bar-Jonah, Simon Son of John, by calling him Simon the Rock.

1:1 – Peter calls himself an apostle – Gr: apostolos – specifically sent out by Jesus the Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). The Hebrew term, “Mashiakh,” we read in English as Messiah; Christ is from the Greek “Christos.” Both terms are defined as “the Anointed One.” Definition of apostle: a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders; when the Bible was translated into English, the Greek word apostolos was retained and transliterated, instead of translating it into English. The Greek word was in usage prior to the New Testament, at least from 300-400 years BC. Originally, the word apostolos described an admiral or team leader who led a team to establish new communities in uncivilized territories. In the New Testament, it is specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ (see Matthew 10:2-5). In a broader sense the title is applied to other eminent Christian teachers, such as Barnabas (Acts 14:14); Timothy & Erastus were sent out as apostles (Acts 19:22), apostellō – “to order (one) to go to a place appointed.” In John 20:21, Jesus said, “As the father has sent, apostellō, me, so send (different word here – pem’-po, ‘dispatch, to bid a thing to be carried to one, to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another’) I you.” Jesus thrust His apostles into a society that was partly secular, partly works religion, to tell the world about Him.

Mattathias was added as an apostle in Acts 1. Paul was an apostle. Outside of the Gospels and Acts, Paul is the only writer in the NT to use the term apostle extensively; Peter uses the term twice. In Hebrews, the writer calls Jesus “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”

An apostle sent out by Jesus had specifics: Peter proclaimed such in Acts 1:21-22, “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection. And also in Acts 10:39-42, “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.”

Therefore, in the broadest usage of the term, and according to the original understanding of, “an admiral or team leader who led a team to establish new communities in uncivilized territories,” we are all apostles, if we understand Matthew 28:19-20 as our charge, and Jesus as the One who sends us out. This is not to say that we are to self-promote or self-title ourselves as such.

Peter wrote to believers scattered throughout many varied locations. These were largely Messianic Jews, along with the Gentiles who had joined with them in the faith. Peter was called the apostle to the circumcised (Jews-Galatians 2:7-9). Most had probably scattered to escape the persecution then being imposed by Nero and Rome upon followers of Yeshua/Jesus.

1:2 – “chosen / elect” (some Bibles have this at the end of vs 1); Greek: eklektos, picked out, chosen; by implication favorite. “According to the foreknowledge of God;” very different from predestination. “Those who have been chosen” – how is this done? Matthew 11:27 says, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” In John 6:44, Jesus tells us, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” The Son reveals the Father to whom He chooses; the Father draws those He chooses to the Son. This is a Biblical paradox, for they desire to choose everyone. Then the choice to be chosen is our part.

These chosen, or elect, have been then set apart – sanctified, purified – by the Holy Spirit for “obedience to Jesus.” Again, this is not predestination, in the sense that only certain people have been chosen. That is a falsehood, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“And for sprinkling with His blood, to be sprinkled with His blood.” How does that happen? Here’s how Messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn describes it: “On the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the high priest of Israel entered the holy of holies with the blood of the sacrifice. He then sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, as he made atonement for the people. Isaiah 52 and 53 prophesy of the coming Messiah. In those chapters, it’s revealed that Messiah will suffer for the sins of His people, and will bear their punishment, their sorrows, their guilt, and their judgment. But it also says this (52:15), ‘He shall sprinkle many nations.’ What does that mean? The Hebrew word for sprinkle in Isaiah 52:15 is נָזָה nazah. It’s the same word used for what the high priest did on the Day of Atonement inside the Holy of Holies. What does that mean? It means that if you’re born again, Messiah has not only saved you – He’s sprinkled you – just as the high priest sprinkled the mercy seat – so that your life, too, would become a most holy vessel.”

Sprinkled blood is also spoken of in the book of Hebrews at least five times, depending upon the version – 9:19 & 21, 10:22, 11:28, 12:24. The latter verse says that  “[You have come to] Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

“May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure;” multiplied, abound, increased. The Amplified Bible words this as, “May grace (spiritual blessing) and peace be given you in increasing abundance [that spiritual peace to be realized in and through Christ, freedom from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts].” Grace in Greek is charis, “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, good will, loving-kindness, favor of the merciful kindness of God.” If Peter originally wrote in Hebrew, the word he would have used was chên [khen] – “graciousness, that is, subjectively (kindness, favor) or objectively (beauty),” from the word khaw-nan’, “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow; causatively to implore (that is, move to favor by petition).” Can we dare to picture the Creator God bowing, bending, stooping in kindness to you, an inferior to Him? He doesn’t owe us His grace, but He graciously and lovingly offers His grace to everyone; it is our choice whether to accept or not.

Peace in Greek is i-rah’-nay(eye-rah’-nay – sounds like irony, but it’s a totally different word), “harmony, security, safety, prosperity.” In Hebrew, peace is shalom, “peace, tranquility, safety, well-being, welfare, health, contentment, success, comfort, wholeness, and integrity.”

The word Trinity is not used in Scripture, but here in vs 2 we have mention of all three members of the mysterious triunity of the Godhead. Father, Spirit, Son. The Father has chosen and exercised foreknowledge; the Holy Spirit as set believers apart from sin; the Son, Jesus the Messiah, is the one who is to be the object of obedience and is the one whose blood is sprinkled.

The Message (1 Ptr 1:1-2) – I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!

1:3 – “Blessed be” – Greek: eulog-ētos [yoo-log-ay-tos’], “well-spoken of,” from Greek eulogeō [yoo-log-eh’-o], “to speak well of.” Vincent says of this word, “[It is] used in the New Testament of God only.” Wuest notes, “The mention of God in verse two is followed by the Benediction (blessing) of the Name, as Jewish piety prescribed. God the Father is the central figure in verses 3-5, God the Son in verses 6-9, and God the Holy Spirit in verses 10-12. The word ‘blessed’ is the translation of eulogetos from which we get our words ‘eulogize’ and ‘eulogy.’ The Greek word also means ‘to praise, to celebrate with praises.’” In Hebrew, the word bless is barak, “to kneel.” Paul uses this same exact line (“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”), or a portion of it, in 2 Cor 1:3, Eph 1:3, 2 Cor 11:31, Rom 15:6. Jesus uses a similar phrase in John 20:17.

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary says that, “The whole Epistle accords with the Lord’s Prayer” (not necessarily each word itself in the verses noted, but often the concept; Peter was with Jesus when He taught the Lord’s [model] prayer):

“Our,” 1Ptr 1:4

“Father,” 1 Ptr 1:3, 1 Ptr 1:14, 1 Ptr 1:17, 1 Ptr 1:23; 1 Ptr 2:2

“In heaven,” 1 Ptr 1:4

“Hallowed be Thy name,” 1 Ptr 1:15, 1 Ptr 1:16; 1 Ptr 3:15

“Thy kingdom come,” 1 Ptr 2:9

“Thy will be done,” 1 Ptr 2:15; 1 Ptr 3:17; 1 Ptr 4:2, 1 Ptr 4:19

“daily bread,” 1 Ptr 5:7

“forgiveness of sin,” 1 Ptr 4:8

“temptation,” 1 Ptr 4:12

“deliverance,” 1 Ptr 4:18

“According to His great mercy” – mercy is compassion. “Caused us to be born again” – begotten us again, regenerated us; the line can also be rendered as “caused us to be born from above.” The Greek for “caused us to be born again” is an-ag-en-nah’-o, and in the New Testament is only used by Peter, here, and in 1:23.

“To a living hope” – from Robertson’s Commentary, “The Pharisees cherished the hope of the resurrection (Act 23:6), but the resurrection of Jesus gave it proof and permanence (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17).” KJV words this phrase as “a lively hope.” Wuest says, “It is a lively hope, that is, not only living, but actively alive, an energizing principle of divine life in the believer, a Christian hopefulness and optimism produced in the believer yielded to the indwelling Holy Spirit… This lively hope is made possible by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in that it is through the believer’s identification with Him in the resurrection that he is given a new life in regeneration, and thus will also be able to enjoy the heavenly inheritance into which he has been born.”

“Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” – Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Can we answer, as Martha did, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” Do we want to live an eternal, blessed life? Then this answer must come from the depths of our heart.

1:4 – “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.” Inheritance-Read Romans 8:17; imperishable-read 1 Corinthians 15:52-54; undefiled-read Hebrews 7:26 (same Greek word); not fade away-read Isaiah 40:8. Reserved in Heaven for you – Wuest: “The word ‘reserved’ is the Greek tee-reo which means ‘to watch, to observe, to guard, protect, to reserve, set aside.’ Heaven is the safe-deposit box where God is guarding our inheritance for us under constant surveillance. The participle is in the perfect tense, speaking of a past completed action having present results. We could translate, ‘has been laid up and is now kept guarded in safe deposit.’”

The Message (1 Ptr 1:3-4) – What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!

1:5 – “who are protected (kept) by the power of God” – to guard or protect; the Greek is a present participle implying action constantly going on. “through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” – read 1 John 3:2; Job 19:25.

1:6 – “In this you greatly rejoice” – this promised inheritance, this salvation. We should never give up-Hebrews 2:3a says, “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” Neglect in Greek is ameleō, and means, “to be careless, pay no attention to, make light of.” Dare we pay little to no attention to this great salvation offered to us?

“even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” – most of us, if not all, have times and seasons of “if necessary.” Not always fun. Distressed-made sorrowful. Trials, in the Greek, refers mostly to tests. Same word as Matthew 6:13-Lead us not into temptation; better translated as Lead us not into trials, or, Lead us not into hard testings. Following that, our prayer should be, Deliver us from evil – that is, from hardships, perils, distresses. Vincent says that, “It means trial of any kind, without reference to its moral quality.” Testing is meant to strengthen us; it is not always through difficulty. In John 6:5-6 Jesus tested Philip. Paul speaks of testing ourselves in 2 Corinthians 13:5.

The Message (1 Ptr 1:5-6) – God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime.

1:7 – “so that the proof of your faith” – Proof=trustworthiness, genuineness. “More precious than perishable gold that is refined by fire.” “May be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”-read Revelation 5:11-14.

The Message (1 Ptr 1:7) – Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

1:8 – “and though you have not seen Him” – read Hebrews 11:1; John 20:29. “Greatly rejoice” in Greek is: ag-al-lee-ah’-o, “to jump for joy, that is, exult, rejoice exceedingly.” This same word is used in Luke 10:21. “Joy inexpressible” in Greek is: aneklalētos, “unspeakable; not spoken out, that is, unutterable.” Surviving trials, we can identify with the words of Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” “Full of glory” in the Amplified Bible reads: “glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy;” and in the Complete Jewish Bible: “joy that is glorious beyond words.”

1:9 – “obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” – outcome=Gr telos, “goal, conclusion, culmination.” We will one day join with the great ones, such as all of those listed in Hebrews 11:39-40. In the eyes of our God, we will be considered “great” also, if through faith we have endured to the end. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22, 24:13).

The Message (1 Ptr 1:8-9) – You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

1:10 – “the prophets prophesied about this grace, and searched and did know have the whole story revealed” – Daniel 12:4, 8-9 for example. Another picture is given in Acts 17:11 – here the Bereans searched the Tanakh, the Old Testament, to see if what Paul was preaching was true. (What we know as the Old Testament was the only Scripture at that time; the New Testament came about years later.)

1:11 – “what person or time” – Robertson says, “The prophets knew what they prophesied, but not at what time the Messianic prophecies would be fulfilled.” “The Spirit of Christ within them”-Robertson again: “Peter definitely asserts here that the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was in the Old Testament prophets, the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God, who spoke to the prophets as he would speak to the apostles.”

“The sufferings of Christ” – Hebraically, the sorrows of the Messiah. Psalm 22 is an example, also Isaiah 52-53. A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. The glories to follow-expressed by the joy of vs 8 above. Jump for joy, rejoice exceedingly.

The Message (1 Ptr 1:10-11) – The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. 

1:12 – “the prophets were not serving themselves,” but those who heard and later read their words. We should not neglect their words today, for they are still relevant. “Angels long to look” – Vincent: “A very graphic word, meaning to stoop sideways… it portrays one stooping and stretching the neck to gaze on some wonderful sight. It occurs in James 1:25, describing him who looks into the perfect law of liberty as looking into a mirror; and in Luke 24:12; John 20:5, 11 of Peter and John and Mary stooping and looking into the empty tomb.” Angels look at the work of salvation from without, as spectators and not as participants. Paul references this in Ephesians 3:8-12, vs 9-10 specifically, “to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the assembly, the church [ek-klay-see’-ah] to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

The Message (1 Ptr 1:12) – All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!

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