The Authorship of Peter's Epistles
1 PETER 1 First and Second Peter both claim authorship by Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1Pe 1:1; 2Pe 1:1,17-18) and 4 fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed" (1 Pe 5:1).The early church v unhesitatingly received 1 Peter as authentic. Some examples:
• Papias (A.o.60— 135) noted that"Mark is mentioned by Peter pj in his first epistle" (Eusebius,History,2.15).
• Clement of Rome (A.D.30 —101); The Didache (an anonymous, tf early-second-century A.D. work dealing with a variety of
doctrinal and practical matters of import to the early Christian church); and Polycarp (A.D. 69-156) all quoted from 1 Peter.
• lrenaeus (A.D. 130-200) cited 1 Peter, using the apostle's name (Against Heresies, 4.9.2; 4.16.5).
• Eusebius summarized the canonical' discussion by placing letters in four categories (History, 3.25):
- those recognized as genuine by all Christians (e.g., 1Pe);
- those that, though disputed, were still recognized as authentic by the church as a whole and were familiar to most
Christians (e.g., 2Pe);
- spurious, noncanonical works that were yet familiar;
- and those that were generally acknowledged as outright heretical.
Despite strong historical evidence supporting Peter as the author of the two letters that bear his name, some commentators hesitate to accept Petrine authorship for several reasons:
• Nero's persecution of Christians in Rome (Tacitus,Annals,15.44) set a precedent for Roman officials in all the provinces to consider Christians as criminals.' First Peter includes several references to the persecution of Christians outside Rome (1:6; 2:15;3:15-16; 4:12-13; 5:8-9). Since all scholars agree that Peter died during Nero's reign (A.D. 64-68', cf. Eusebius, History, 2.25),and since persecution outside of Rome began after Nero's reign,' many New Testament commentators hold that both 1 and 2 Peter are pseudonymous works (falsely attributed to Peter). Their language, however, does not necessarily refer to a large-scale, official persecution and thus does not demand a date subsequent to Nero's reign.The suffering Peter referred to was local and sporadic rather than universal and under imperial mandate. Indeed, Peter spoke more of Christians suffering verbal abuse and social ostracism than he did of martyrdom.
• The enormous geographical area represented by the audience addressed in 1 Peter 1:1 (i.e., believers in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia) suggests to many scholars that these epistles were not composed until well after the 60s. They argue that enough time would have had to elapse after Paul's missionary journeys to allow for the growth of Christianity in these areas (especially since we have no record that Paul even visited Pontus, Cappadocia or Bithynia). As reflected in the book of Acts and in Paul's letters, however, Christian churches were often founded in short periods of time, and Peter may have first met some of his readers when they came to Jerusalem at Pentecost (Ac 2:9-10).
• First and Second Peter demonstrate a refined vocabulary and rich literary style. Since Peter and John are called "unschooled, ordinary men" in Acts 4:13, many think it unlikely that Peter would have possessed the skill to write these epistles. However, the Greek word used in Acts 4:13 (agrammatos) most likely means something like "without an advanced education" rather than"illiterate."The Jews prided themselves upon the education of their children (cf. Josephus, Against Apion,1.12; 2.26). Peter evidently lacked the Talmud or"college" level of training. However,as a businessman in the fishing industry, he would have had to know how to read and probably would have been fluent in Greek, the language of common, public discourse.The picture of Peter that is frequently put forth today in popular expositions of Scripture—the notion that he was something of a buffoon—is most certainly invalid.ln addition, 1 Peter 5:12 tells us that Silas assisted in the writing of the letter, indicating that Peter was not above seeking to make certain his letters read well.
The weight of evidence is in favor of the authenticity of these two letters. In addition, the early church did not on principle approve of books written under false names. For example, the church father Tertullian (On Baptism,17) indicated that the elder who wrote the pseudonymous Acts of Paul in order to augment "Paul's fame" was defrocked, and the so-called Gospel of Peter was criticized as false (Eusebius, History, 6.12). Moreover, pseudonymous materials tend to be drastically different from 1 and 2 Peter.
The Demeanor of Wives
1 PETER 3 First Peter 3:1-7 develops the theme that Christians are to conduct themselves honorably among the Gentiles by being submissive to human institutions, so that Gentiles may observe Christian behavior, be converted and glorify God. A woman who was married to an unbelieving husband was to use her Christian demeanor to win over her husband to Christ. Peter specifically exhorted women to a beauty that exuded from the heart rather than one based solely upon external appearance. Verse 3 may be translated simply as"gold-braided hair" rather than"braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry." Women in Peter's day would often braid their hair, interweaving into it golden spangles and threads that glittered and twinkled with every movement of the head. One ancient writer, Xenophon of Ephesus, described women with hair braided in such a way in a procession for the goddess Artemis as erotically attractive.' This was not to be the way of Christian women.
The theme of Christian conduct continues as the discussion turns to Sarah,"who obeyed Abraham and called him her master" (v. 6). The same word rendered here as "master" is translated in John 12:21 as "sir," a common, deferential mode of address. Husbands were likewise expected to demonstrate respect for their wives (1Pe 3:7).
Wine and Alcoholic Beverages in the Ancient World
1 PETER 4 Wine, the most widely used fermented drink in the ancient world, was present at religious rituals, in festive celebrations and in everyday life in Mediterranean culture. It was, in fact, celebrated in pagan culture. Libations of wine were commonly poured out to gods, and deities such as Dionysus (the god of wine) had many followers.' Even in Israel, however, wine was used in religious rituals (Nu 15:7), and viticulture (the cultivation of grapes for wine making) continues to be a significant agricultural industry for the modern nation of Israel.
Then as now, there were many varieties of wine, including red, white and mixed wines.The Old Testament employs a number of words for different kinds of wine. Precise translations for the Hebrew words are elusive since we do not know exactly how they differ from each other, but translators regularly use terms such as "wine," "new wine," "spiced wine" and "sweet wine." Passages such as Hosea 4:11 make clear that these wines were alcoholic and intoxicating; there is no basis for suggesting that either the Greek or the Hebrew terms for wine refer to unfermented grape juice.
The production of wine, of course, required vineyards. Watchtowers were constructed to protect the vines (Isa 5:1-2; Mk 12:1); of particular concern were foxes, who were prone to eat the grapes (SS 2:15). In the Greek world boys would hunt foxes to keep them from the vineyards. After the grapes had been harvested, the must (grape juice for fermenting) would be produced by treading out the grapes in a vat. The must would be strained and the fermentation process begun. The mixed wines were created by combining the fermented juice of the grape with other elements, including other wines, spices, honey or strong drink created from other fruits or grains. Wine diluted with water was obviously considered to be of inferior quality (Isa 1:22), although the Greeks, considering the drinking of pure wine to be an excess, routinely diluted their wine. Mixed wines served in a number of applications: Wine mixed with barley made good vinegar and, when blended with myrrh, served as an anesthetic. This last type was offered to Jesus on the cross (Mk 15:23).
Priests were not to drink wine while ministering at the sanctuary (Lev 10:9), and ordinary people were to avoid wine and grape products in any form while under the restrictions of a Nazirite vow (Nu 6:4). Other than these few exceptions, however, Biblical references make it clear that wine was a common, everyday part of a regular diet (Ge 14:18; 1Sa 16:20). Scripture, however, repeatedly emphasizes moderation and the dangers of excess (Pr 20:1; 23:20; Isa 5:11).