Sunday, October 28, 2018


Peter, the Author

This book is an epistle, a letter. It begins with the name of the author: Peter, further identified as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

Peter, the leader of the Twelve, has been considered the author of the epistle. The fact that he says in 5:1 that he was “a witness of the suffering of Christ” lends credence to this position. The early church fathers accepted Peter as the author. The picture above is of a painting by Rembrandt. He came along much later than Peter so it is just his imagination of what Peter looked like.

He identified himself that way so that people would know exactly who the letter came from. He also identified himself that way so that people would know that he spoke with authority.

Recent critics claim that the Greek of the epistle is too refined for a Galilean fisherman. Although he was a fisherman, he was a fisherman with his own business. He may well have known Greek. However, Peter had not been a fisherman for several decades at this point. The book was likely written around 62 A.D. He had had almost three decades to learn and polish his Greek as he left Jerusalem and ministered in different places. There are probably many things you do better now than you did 30 years ago, including speak and write.

Peter, who was once brash and often foolish, has matured in Christ, taught by the Holy Spirit. He is fulfilling Jesus’ command to him to “feed my sheep”. (John 21:15-17) He has become the rock, Peter, and is no longer just Simon, his birth name. He has been changed from impulsive fisherman, to evangelist, leader, and apostle. He was sent by Jesus, and this letter is not just his thoughts, but the word of God.

The Recipients

The recipients of the epistles were believers in Asia (northern Turkey), many of which were evangelized by Paul. They were in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Peter gives a interesting description of the people. First, he calls them “elect exiles of the dispersion”. There is an allusion to the Old Testament here. When the Jews were conquered by Babylon, they were taken into exile, removed from their land and taken to another land and dispersed.

But, Peter was not writing to Jews in Babylon, but to Christians in Northern Turkey. So, he does not mean they are in exile in the sense of being removed from the country they were born in. But all believers are exiles in the sense that their true home is with Christ, first in heaven, then ultimately in the New Earth. (The NIV wording is “strangers in the world” captures the concept of this not being our home, but does not point out the Old Testament allusion.) Their home is not this fallen world of sin. Since it is not, they will suffer in this life, this exile, as Israel suffered in exile in Babylon. Suffering is an important theme in the epistle.

An American country singer sang a song called “This World Is Not My Home”, one stanza of which said:

This world is not my home
I'm just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.  

The song was written by guy named J. B. Baxter. He was saying earth is not my home, heaven is. The complete picture would have included the New Earth, but he may not have known that.

The purpose of the letter is to encourage believers to stand firm in suffering. The could stand firm because of the future glory awaiting them.

The recipients of the letter were also likely Gentile believers. Peter exhorted them not to be conformed to the passions of their former ignorance. (1:14) Since Jews would have known the law, the would not have been in ignorance.

But the Gentiles did not have the law, worshipped idols, and found many sexually immoral practices acceptable in their cultures. Also, Peter later says they were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers. (1:18) Again, he would not likely say that to Jews. And if it were to Jews, he would have said “our forefathers”.  Finally, Peter wrote they had spent enough time doing what pagans choose to do, and listed several sins, including idolatry. Peter would not write that to Jews.

These believers are not just exiles, but “elect” exiles. “Elect” means chosen. Here it specifically means “chosen by God”. Israel was often referred to as God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. For example, Moses wrote “because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them…” (Deuteronomy 4:37) He also wrote “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)

Since ethnic Israel was the chosen people of God in Old Testament times, and Peter was applying this same language to the church we see that Peter was saying that the church is the Israel of God. It is his chosen people. Peter reiterates this in 2:9, calling the church a chosen race, a holy nation, and a people for his own possession, the very language God used for Israel in the Old Testament.

Peter said they were the elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God. (2) (The NIV says “who have been chosen”, but those words are interpretive; they are not in the Greek text). “Foreknowledge” means more than knowledge of someone, it means to be the recipient of his favor and love, his choosing. For example, in Romans 8:28, Paul refers to “those whom he foreknew”.

There are some who say that it only means that God foresaw who would be his elect or chosen. The early church father, Origen, held to this view. A number of Baptists hold to this view as well. This view does not, however, take into account the covenantal aspect of the word “know”. In the Old Testament, if often refers to God’s covenantal love bestowed upon his people.

So, when Peter said believers were foreknown by God, he was emphasizing God’s sovereignty in salvation. Believers are foreknown and elect because God set his covenantal love upon them. “According to” is used to mean “cause.

For example, when God commissioned Jeremiah to be his prophet, he said “before I formed you in the womb I knew you”. (Jeremiah 1:5) God’s plan, or will, was to set Jeremiah apart from the rest of Israel for the purpose of delivering God’s word to Israel. In Amos 3:2, God said “you only have I known of all the families of the earth”. God knew about every family on earth. He knows everything. But only Israel was chosen by God and God set his affection only on Israel.

Next, Paul describes these believers as being “in the sanctification of the Spirit”. (2) They have been set apart, sanctified, by the Holy Spirit. These believers were taken out of a pagan, immoral people world, and placed in the people of God, who are to live holy lives. Believers are to be conformed to the image of Christ. Paul said those whom God foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. There are many different analogies to this used in the New Testament, but the idea is always that believers leave the world of sin for the world of holiness when they are converted.

Therefore, believers set apart for obedience to Christ. We commit to obey Christ when we convert (when we are saved). Repentance means we turn away from our life of sin and turn to Christ. Jesus, in fact, said “if you love me, keep my commandments”. (John 14:15) Jesus also said Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

The recipients of the letter are also “for sprinkling with his (Christ’s) blood. (2) These believers have been cleansed of their sins by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 1:7 says “In him (Jesus) we have redemption through is blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (sins)….

Why did Peter use the term “sprinkling with his blood”? It again is a covenantal reference. The people of Israel pledged to obey the covenant. Then Moses sprinkled the people with the blood of the sacrifice, saying “this is the blood of the covenant the the LORD has made with you”. (Exodus 24:8) The blood signified the cleansing of sin needed to stand in right relationship with God.

Similarly, we enter into the New Covenant by an obedient response to the gospel and cleansing from sin through the blood of Christ.

“Sprinkling” is a metaphor for this cleansing. We are not literally sprinkled with blood, but are cleansed of sin because Jesus shed his blood (died) for us.

So, the conclusion is that the foreknowing work of the Father and the sanctifying action of the Spirit result in human obedience and to Christ’s work of cleansing from sin (sprinkling of the blood).

Conversion, then, or getting saved, is not just a get out of hell free card. It is a commitment to follow Jesus in obedience.

The Trinity is in sight here. The Father foreknows, the Spirit sanctifies, and the Son cleanses.

All of the things Peter says about these Asian believers applies to you as well. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Author and sustainer,
source of life and breath;
you for our salvation
trod the path of death:
Jesus Christ is living,
God for evermore!,
Now let all creation
hail him and adore. 

From Welcome, Happy Morning! 

By Fortunatus 

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Safe on Malta

Everyone on board survived the shipwreck and managed to get to shore on the island of Malta. As Paul had prophesied, no one was killed, but the ship was lost.

The people of the island were kind. they built a fire to keep the wet survivors warm. Paul worked with them gathering wood. He was bitten by a viper that was in the wood. The islanders, who were pagans, first believed that Paul was a murderer , and the goddess Justice had arranged to kill him when the sea did not. However, when Paul did not die, they changed their minds and claimed he was a god.

God did not let a shipwreck stop his plan.
God did not let a snake bite stop his plan.

The ruler of the island, called the chief man or chief official, also treated the survivors kindly, providing for them for three days. (7) This man’s father was very sick, so Paul went to him, prayed, laid hands on him, and healed him. (8) When this became known, the people brought all of their sick to Paul and all were healed. (9) This is  similar to the event when Jesus healed the mother in law of Peter, resulting in the whole town bringing their sick to Jesus to be healed. (Luke 4) The people were very grateful, and gave Paul and his friends provisions for the rest of the journey.

From Malta to Rome

After three months, winter passed and it was safe to sail again. It was probably in March of A.D. 60. The centurion found another ship that had stayed the winter in the harbor of Malta, and put Paul and his companions on it. It was another ship from Alexandria, so was likely another grain ship. Luke described it as having the twin gods as a figurehead.

A figurehead is a carved decoration at the front, or prow, of a ship. It was believed to protect the ship and its sailors. The twin gods were Castor and Pollux, who were the protectors of sailors. The constellation Gemini was believed to be the twins after death. Again we see great detail in Luke’s historical account. We can also see that Luke expected Romans and Greeks to read his book, because he did not see the need to name the "twin gods", assuming his readers would know who he meant.

The ship traveled from Malta to Syracuse, a port on the eastern side of Sicily. From Syracuse, they sailed north to Rhegium on the extreme southern tip of Italy. Then they made their way north along the western coast of Italy to Puteoli. There were Christians there and they hosted Paul and his friends for seven days.

At the end of the seven days, they traveled overland to Rome. A few miles from Puteoli, they were able to get on the Appian Way, one of the great Roman roads.  As they made their way toward Rome, Christians from Rome came to greet them and accompany them into Rome. This welcome from believers gave Paul courage and he thanked God for it. (15)

When Paul came into Rome, he entered through the Porta Capena, the gate that marked the entrance onto the Appian Way.
Paul was allowed to stay on his own in Rome instead of in prison. This shows the regard the Romans had developed for him. These Christian friends likely provided for his needs while he was there.

Speaking to the Jews

Paul did not waste much time before beginning a new ministry. He began as always, speaking first to the Jews. He could not go to the synagogues, though, because he was a prisoner. So, he called the local leaders, probably elders, to come and see him.

Paul explained to them how he got to Rome, being wrongfully accused and appealing to Caesar to prevent bad treatment at the hand of the Jews. He emphasized that he, on the other hand, did not make a charge against the Jews. (19)

Finally, Paul said he was in chains because of the hope of Israel, the Messiah. (20) These Jews were fair minded and stated their willingness to hear his views even though people spoke against “this sect”, or Christianity. (22)

The Jews came back, and brought others with them, and Paul spoke to them all day. He used both the Pentateuch (law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible) and the Prophets. As he had done in the synagogues, he used scripture to argue that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and that they should believe in him. (23)

Luke wrote that Paul spoke of the kingdom of God, meaning he believed the first coming of Jesus was the coming of the kingdom.

Some, in fact, did believe. (24)  Others rejected Paul’s message.

As they left, Paul gave them a scriptural condemnation, quoting Isaiah 6:9-10. Isaiah 6 records the event where Isaiah saw the Lord in the temple and was commissioned to go and speak for the LORD. The message Isaiah was to speak was that the Jews would not accept God’s word of coming judgment.

Jesus applied this scripture to his teaching in parables, saying the secrets of the kingdom were given to the disciples but not to the Jews at large. (Matthew 13) Jesus said the Jews rejection of his proclamation of the kingdom was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. In our text, Paul did the same thing, applying the words of Isaiah to the Roman Jews rejection of his message. (26-27)

And, as Paul had done before, he said this message of salvation had gone to the Gentiles who would listen.

Paul lived two years in Rome. He was under guard, but able to see guests and preach and teach to them. He had to provide his own food and necessities, likely with the help of local believers. But God provided for him to preach boldly without hinderance from the Roman government. Paul wrote “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known through the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” (Philippians 1:12)

That is the end of Luke’s story. We do not know why he did not write more. Although some believe this imprisonment ended in Paul’s death, history indicates otherwise.

Evidently, Paul was freed at some point, possibly after a hearing before the emperor. He may have made it to Spain as he desired. (Romans 15:24) Clement wrote that Paul preached to the limits of the west. (1 Clement 5:7). Eusebius (circa 325) wrote that Paul was released and ministered until he was again arrested and executed.
Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon during this first imprisonment. He wrote 1 Timothy and Titus after his release, then wrote 2 Timothy during his second imprisonment.

Writing to Timothy, during the last imprisonment, Paul said “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing”. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Paul is a great example to us of the believer who was faithful to the end, regardless of circumstances.
The Book of Acts shows us that God had and has a plan for the gospel to be preached all over the world and he cannot be stopped.


Sunday, October 14, 2018


Acts 27
Starting For Rome

Once Agrippa was finished hearing Paul, Festus had the praetorian guards deliver Paul to a Roman centurion for the voyage to Rome. This centurion, named Julius, found a ship in Caesarea heading back to the port of Adramyttium in Asia. It was the type of ship that stayed close to the coast rather than sail in open seas.

Luke was with Paul, as seen by the use of “we” in verse 3.

Also with Paul was Aristarchus, who was from the church in Thessalonica. (1) There are several mentions of him in connection with Paul. Aristarchus had been seized by the mob at Ephesus and taken into the theater (Acts 19:29). He returned with Paul from Greece to Asia (Acts 20:4). Paul later wrote that Aristarchus was Paul's fellow prisoner and fellow laborer. (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24)

The ship sailed north from Caesarea to Sidon in Lebanon and stopped there. Julius allowed Paul to leave the ship to see believers in Sidon and be cared for. (3) They may have given Paul food for the journey in addition to friendship.

Leaving Sidon, things got difficult as the winds turned agains them. They sailed “under the lee” of Cyprus, meaning on the side that protected them from the wind. From Cyprus, the sailed across a stretch of open sea to reach Myra, a port on the south side of what was then known as Lycia, and now as southern Turkey. (5)

At Myra, Julius the centurion found a ship from Alexandria sailing for Italy. This was likely a grain ship. Egypt grew most of the wheat for Rome and shipped it via the sea.

Julius got Paul, his friends, and Julius’ soldiers on board. There were other prisoners on board also, as we see later in the text. (6)

The wind continued to be a problem for the trip, blowing hard from the northeast and slowing the progress of the ship until they finally reached Cnidus. There they could not continue to sail northwest toward Italy because the wind was so strong. Therefore, they let the wind take them southwest to Crete, again sailing around the lee side of the island for protection. They made it to the port of Fair Havens on the outside of the island. (8)

Because the wind had made them travel slowly, it was too late in the year for safe travel across the sea to Italy. Luke wrote that the “Fast” was already over. He referred to the Day of Atonement. This would occur in September or October of the year, when storms were common on the Mediterranean Sea.

Because of this danger, Paul; advised staying in port rather than sail and risk destruction. The ship’s owner and pilot, however, wanted to press on because the harbor at Fair Havens was not good for spending the winter. They did not want to try and reach Italy, but did want to try and reach Phoenix on the western tip of the island. (12) Phoenix had a better port for spending the winter.

So they took off, staying as close to shore as possible. The plan did not work, however, for a storm from the northeast (a northeaster) drove them out to sea. They began to worry that the ship would fall apart in the rough seas. They pulled the ship’s boat (used to take passengers from the ship to land) up onto the deck and secured it. They also pulled cables around the ship to help hold it together. (17)
The storm continued to drive them west and, they feared, south. They worried about being driven onto the coast of Africa (Sirtis) and run aground, destroying the ship. (17) They were driven at the mercy of the wind. They began to jettison the cargo, likely barrels of wheat. They even threw equipment over to lighten the ship and come into ground riding as high as possible. As the storm raged on, they finally gave up all hope. (20)

At this low point, Paul again inserted himself into the situation. He inserted a “I told you so”, saying they should have listened to him.(21-22)

 But, he wanted them to take heart because an angel of the Lord had told him he would survive, along with all the people on board, even though the ship would be destroyed. (21) The angel told Paul he would stand before Caesar in Rome.

He urged them to run the ship aground on some island. On the 14th night of this stormy journey, the sailers began to think they were nearing some land. The water got more shallow. They did want to run aground in the dark, so they dropped anchors hoping to hold out until daylight. (29)

At this point, the sailors attempted to desert the ship. They lowered the ship’s boat into the sea, thinking they were close enough to land to make it if they were not hindered by passengers or soldiers. (30)

Paul alerted the centurion and his soldiers. Without the sailors, they would not survive. (31) The soldiers took drastic action, cutting the ropes and letting the boat go.

Paul encouraged the whole group to eat so they wold have strength for the remainder of the ordeal. he promised them they would not die. (34) To set an example, he took bread, gave thanks, and began to eat. The others followed his example. When they were all full, they threw the remainder of the wheat overboard to lighten the ship. (38)

At daylight, they saw land, a bay with a beach. They planned to run the ship aground on the beach. They removed the anchors, unhooked the rudder, then hoisted the foresail to propel them to the beach. The foresail is a small sail at the front of the ship.

They didn’t make it, though, and grounded on a reef. The ship began to break up. It was clear they would end up in the sea.

When you think all is lost, despite God's promise, do you take matters into your own hands? Or do you continue to trust God?

The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners so they would not escape. They did not want to be punished for letting the prisoners escape. The centurion prevented that because he wanted to save Paul. He was grateful for all Paul had done. So, he sent everyone into the water, swimmers first, then non-swimmers holding on to whatever would float. And all of them made it to the land. (44)

The word of the Lord, spoken by an angel, and repeated by Paul, was completely fulfilled. The ship and the cargo were lost, but every person on board was saved.

Luke recorded this adventure in incredible detail. He wanted to show that God’s purpose of sending Paul to Rome must be fulfilled despite all of the circumstances that made it seem impossible.

As Daniel 4:35 says, “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as noting, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitant of the earth, and none can stay his hand…”

God will accomplish his will in your life, also. Nothing can prevent that. Your job is to trust him even when the future looks bleak, and to be faithful to him.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


Paul Before Agrippa
Acts 26

Festus presented Paul to to Agrippa, stating that he found nothing worthy of death in Paul’s behavior and that Paul had appealed to Caesar.

Paul’s defense began with flattery, a common way to present an argument in the Greek world. the Flattery (1-3) His defense was similar to that he gave before. After the flattery, Paul described his life as a Jew (4-5). He was raised in the Jewish tradition and was a faithful Jew. In fact, Paul said, he believed what all Jews have always believed (6-8)
Paul was such a good Jew that he persecuted believers (9-11). But then he had the encounter with Jesus (12-18), as we studied in chapter 9. After his conversion, Paul was arrested for preaching (19-23).

After Paul spoke of the resurrection, Festus erupted. Festus thought Paul was crazy. All of his learning had made him made. The reason for this is that Romans did not believe in resurrection. They believed the soul endured for eternity, but the body was left behind to perish.

Paul denied being crazy and asserted that  king Agrippa knew of these things. Agrippa was a Gentile, but had learned about Judaism and Christianity. Agrippa was likely pleased that Paul recognized his knowledge until the next thing happened. Paul asked if Agrippa believed the prophets. He was trying to get an opportunity to share the gospel. Amazingly, he was not solely focused on his criminal defense, but also on bringing souls to salvation.

Agrippa recognized this and cut Paul off. But, all agreed Paul was innocent. Nonetheless, since Paul had appealed to Caesar, he must go to him.

The Lord continued to accomplish his will, propelling Paul toward Rome, protecting him from murderous plots and working his way through the Roman judicial system. The Lord said Paul would witness to the emperor, and he made it happen.