This article is copyright ?? 2008 by Alex S. Leung. All rights reserved.
It is very interesting to consider the arguments for and against Peter???s ability to write in the way he does in 1 Peter???a language that seems very advanced in its Greek, with good rhetoric and prose.?? Could Peter, a lowly fisherman, have known and used Greek in such an advanced fashion??? Is it possible that Peter wrote such beautiful Greek as a Galilean??? The reference to Acts 4:13 is baffling: ???Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.????? Recalling this verse, it is surprising that Peter could possibly write in the way he does in 1 Peter.?? How did his language get to the way it was in 1 Peter??? For the people of the Pentecost who saw and heard the preaching of Peter knew that he was unschooled and uneducated.???? Schreiner???s commentary and footnoted sources calls us to conclude that yes, it was very likely that Peter was able to speak and write in koine Greek, in a manner that showed that he was well versed in the language of Hellenistic Galilee.?? Peter being ???uneducated??? is a matter of interpretation ??? he was certainly not intimately known by the synagogue and untrained rabbinically.?? Schreiner argues for this interpretation and I believe he is correct here.?? Just because Peter was not trained as a Rabbit does not necessarily mean that he was not trained in the common language of the area of that time ??? Greek.?? Because he was a fisherman by trade, it was a requirement and a bonus for him to be able to know his Greek well. His success as a businessman required that he be able to communicate effectively with other fisherman, traders, and customers.?? Thus, it should be no wonder that Peter was well versed in his Greek and in his rhetorical ability; such was a great aid to him as a preacher of God???s word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is certainly peculiar that 1 Peter has many themes that is common to Paul???s writings: salvation and the last things; the suffering of Christians for their faith; the need for disciples to live holy lives; the centrality of Christ as God???s cornerstone; submission to government; the relationship of wives to husbands (and vice versa); the superiority of Christ over all things; the nearness of the eschaton.?? But despite the commonality of these topics in both the writings of Paul and Peter, we ought to recall the disagreement in Galatians 2 between the two men.?? Schreiner rightly calls to attention that the behavior of Peter (Cephas) was due to his fearful and hypocritical inclination and not his convicted beliefs.?? In the simplest of the sense, Peter just reacted and didn???t think twice when the circumcision party confronted him.So in spite of the disagreement in Galatians between Paul and Peter, the Pauline character of Peter???s writings should not refute him as the author.?? On the contrary, we ought to see a Petrine interpretation of these popular New Testament topics and seek to understand the uniqueness of Peter???s contribution to the Bible.?? His care and concern for the Jewish community is something to learn from, especially in terms of relating the Jewish dispersion to Gentiles who have not experienced the same physical exile.?? In this sense, Peter brings to the Christian community a unique kind of inter-ethnic unity that Gentile Christians and Jews that Paul did not express.
Discrimination, mistreatment and verbal abuse from former colleagues and friends are specific examples of persecution in 1 Peter, and a reminder of the similar trials that Christians face today.?? Back in the day of Peter, Christians were attacked because of their exclusivism, and so we are today: we suffer persecution from within and outside of the church for our belief in such fundamentals: that Christ is the one and only way to salvation, that it was only through the atoning work of Christ that we could be saved and persevere in this evil age.?? Such is certainly where any and all division within and without the church should exist ??? on the primary issues of the gospel.