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An Introduction To The Book Of 2 John

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I. AUTHOR: Probably the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee.

A. Different Views: The different views of authorship of 2 John are as follows:

1. John the Elder

2. An unknown Elder

3. The apostle John, the son of Zebedee--the view of this writer for the following reasons:

B. External Evidence: This evidence is not as strong as that for First John, yet its brevity of the letter and the unlikelihood of it being quoted may account for some of this (as with 3 John)1

1. Cited or alluded to by Polycarp (c. 110-50)

2. Cited or alluded to by Irenaeus (c. 130-202)

3. Disputed by Origen (c. 185-254)

4. Named as authentic by Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-86)

5. Disputed by Eusebius (c. 325-40)

6. Named as authentic by Jerome (c. 340-420)

7. Named as authentic by Augustine (c. 400)

8. Named as authentic by all of the canons (Muratorian (c. 170), Barococcio (c. 206), Apostolic (c. 300), Athanasuis (c. 367) except the Marcion (c. 140) except for Cheltenham (c. 360) who disputed it

9. Named as authentic in the Old Latin (c. 200)

10. Named as authentic in all of the councils except for Nicea (c. 325-40) [ Hippo (392), Carthage (397) and Carthage (419)].

C. Internal Evidence:

1. The epistle’s own claims as the author describes himself as the Elder (2 Jn 1)2

2. The relationship of the letter to other Johannine writings (1 John, and the Gospel of John)3

a. Many phrases are in both 2 and 3 John are either identical or reminiscent of those in 1 John

b. and 3 John become more understandable in view of 1 John

c. All three books (1, 2, and 3 John) share common characteristics with the Gospel of John (see Introduction on 1 John).

II. DESTINATION:

A. “The Elder to the chosen lady and her children...”

B. Different Views:

1. An individual woman, her natural children and sister (1, 4, 13)

2. This is a figurative way of designating a particular church. Therefore “chosen sister” would refer to a different church and “children” would refer to spiritual children (parishioners) of the church. Support is as follows:

a. She is loved by all

b. The use of the second person plural after verse 5 and until verse 13 more naturally refers to a congregation rather than the woman and her children

c. The command to love one another (v. 5) fits a local church better than an individual family. But it could refer to a larger circle of Christians rather than an individual family

d. John provides a clear instance of the writer referring to an individual. Yet it could be argued that the cryptic reference is to protect the identity of the person from any persecution which might ensue from receiving the letter

3. Perhaps this is a both/and situation in that the church met at the home of the lady. Therefore, it could be to both of them4

III. DATE: Probably between AD 85-95

A. Internal evidence offers little evidence

B. It this epistle is linked with 1 John it must be supposed that it was written at about the same time or just afterward (AD 85-95)

IV. OCCASION AND PURPOSES:

A. Occasion: It seems that John is writing again to combat incipient Docetic Gnosticism (Christ was not really a divine person in human flesh (v 7).5 He was only a phantom playing the human role. He only appeared to have real humanity. Once again there is a dualism emphasizing that the physical is evil and the spiritual is good. The correlates with 1 John 2:18-27 and especially 4:1-6 (in particular 4:2).

B. Purpose: To warn believers of the perils of being indiscriminate in their interactions with those who teach lies about Jesus:

1. To defend the truth which is the unifying bond between believers (1-4)

2. To clarify love as obeying Christ and not being indiscriminate (and thus accepting) with the enemies of Christ (5-11)

3. To encourage faithfulness to doctrinal purity so that believers will not forfeit reward at the bema of Christ, but might experience the fullness of fellowship (8-9, 12 “that your joy may be full”).


1 Guthrie, NTI, 884-85. In addition Guthrie writes, “It is significant that the earlier writers appear to have less hesitation about apostolic authorship than the later, which is the reverse of what would be expected if the doubts were based on accurate tradition. It is just possible that the ascription to John the Elder caused more confusion at a later date because of the belief in some circles in a John the Elder distinct from John the apostle....On the whole, there are no conclusive external reasons for denying the authenticity of these Epistles” (Ibid., 886).

2 See Guthrie for a discussion about the identity of this title (NTI, 886-889).

3 Guthrie, NTI, 889-90.

4 For other arguments see Guthrie, NTI, 890-893.

5 The present tense is explained by Marshall as relating to an orthodox confession “[I believe that] Jesus Christ [is] coming in flesh.” Therefore the focus is on the present existence of Jesus in the flesh rather than the incarnation. Thus this has historical roots with Cerinthus who denied that Christ ever really was human. He simply came upon (and left) Jesus.

Another preferable option is to understand the present tense as being a timeless present (Lenski and Burdick, 425-26) for four reasons: (1) no know first century heresy denied Christ’s second coming in the flesh, (2) The Gnostics denied Christ’s first coming in the flesh, (3) the same phrase occurs in 1 John 4:2 where the perfect tense “having come” clearly refers to Christ’s first coming, and (4) flesh is more naturally used to refer to the present mortal body than to the immortal resurrection body.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Argument For The Book Of 2 John

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Message Statement:

John Writes To Encourage A Loving Church To Exercise Discrimination In The Support (Hospitality) Which They Show With Respect To False Teachers

I. SALUTATION: John the elder writes this letter to the church whom he and all who love the truth love and prays that grace and peace would be with them in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son  1-3

A. Author and Recipients: John the elder writes this letter to the church whom he and all who love the truth love in truth 1-2

1. Author: John the elder writes this letter

2. Recipients: John writes this letter to the church (the elect lady and her children)1 whom he and all who love the truth love in the truth

B. Greeting: John prays that grace and peace would be with them all (us) in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son 3

II. WARNING: John exhorts this loving church to exercise discrimination in their acceptance of those false teachers who are disobedient to Christ 4-11

A. John commends the church for walking in love 4

B. John cautions the church against showing indiscriminate love towards those who are being disobedient to Christ 5-11

1. John exhorts the church to love one another in terms of obeying Christ’s commandments 5-7

2. John warns the church about the perils of showing indiscriminate love towards the false teachers 8-11

a. John warns the church of the loss which they might experience by being persuaded by the lies of these false teachers 8-9

b. John warns the church against advancing their lies by entering into indiscriminate fellowship with the false teachers 10-11

III. CONCLUSION: John concludes his brief letter by presenting his intentions to come and encourage the church as well as with greetings from the church in Ephesus 12-13

A. John intends to come and personally encourage the church rather than write a lengthy letter 12

B. John sends the church greetings form the church in Ephesus 13


1 See the introduction for a discussion of the meaning of this phrase.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Introduction To The Book Of 1 John

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I. AUTHOR:

A. Various people have been proposed as the author of this epistle:1

1. A second John known as “John the Elder” in view of suggestions that he wrote 2 and 3 John and from Papias’ reference to John the Elder (but this need not be distinct from John the Apostle)

2. A disciple of the Evangelist

3. The Apostle John who wrote the fourth gospel

B. External Evidence: From the earliest times the epistle was not only treated as scripture, but as written by the Apostle John2

1. Cited or alluded to by Polycarp (c. 110-50)

2. Cited or alluded to by Hermas (c. 115-40)

3. Named as authentic by Irenaeus (c. 130-202)

4. Named as authentic by Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)

5. Cited or alluded to by Tertullian (c. 150-220)

6. Named as authentic by Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-86)

7. Named as authentic by Eusebius (c. 325-40)

8. Named as authentic by Jerome (c. 340-420)

9. Named as authentic by Augustine (c. 400)

10. Named as authentic by all of the canons (Muratorian (c. 170), Barococcio (c. 206), Apostolic (c. 300), Cheltenham (c. 360), Athanasuis (c. 367) except the Marcion (c. 140)

11. Named as authentic in the Old Latin (c. 200) and Old Syriac (c. 400) translations

12. Named as authentic in all of the councils (Nicea (c. 325-40), Hippo (392), Carthage (397) and Carthage (419).

C. Internal Evidence:

1. The writer claims to be an eyewitness to Christ (1:1-5)

2. The epistle contains the air of authority as he writes to “little children,” to be obeyed (4:6), in dogmatic terms

3. The relationship of this epistle to the fourth gospel in terms of thought, ideas, style, images, and expression identify its author as one and the same

II. OCCASION AND BACKGROUND:

A. This epistle may be tied to early (incipient) Gnosticism:

1. It was incipient because it was not really identifiable historically until the second century AD

2. It was a combination of Greek and Oriental (Judaism) thought--a dualism wherein the physical was bad and the spiritual was good

3. There were two possible types of incipient Gnosticism:

a. Docetic Gnosticism: Christ was not really a divine person in human flesh. He was only a phantom playing the human role. He only appeared to have real humanity

b. Cerinthian Gnosticism: The human Jesus was an ordinary man upon whom the λογος of God came at his baptism departing from him before the crucifixion. Only the human Jesus died upon the cross. The λογος was a kind of cape that the human Jesus wore during the period of public ministry. Cerinthus of Alexandria was linked by ancient tradition with John at Ephesus3 

B. Even if one cannot identify the specific heresy which was being propagated, false teachers who were once a part of the congregation were now involved in teaching the people error (cf. 4:1).

III. DATE:4 Though problematic, sometime between AD 85-95.

A. Gnosticism is incipient, but not yet fully developed. This would support a date towards the end of the first century

B. Similarity with the Gospel of John (c. AD 70) suggests a date during the same period, and may in fact follow it (depending upon the question of priority)

C. The upper limit is fixed by Ignatius’ letters.

IV. PURPOSES OF 1 JOHN:

A. To exhort the readers to obedience as opposed to disobedience

B. There are different views as to the purpose of 1 John in view of one’s understanding of the audience of the book:

1. Stott understands the audience to be mixed (believers and unbelievers), therefore, his stated purpose for the book is “to destroy the false assurance of the counterfeit as well as to confirm the right assurance of the genuine”5

2. Others understand the audience to be believers, therefore they identify the purpose around pastoral exhortation such as Henry Alford: “To certify believers of the truth and reality of the things in which they believe and to advance them in the carrying out of their practical consequences6

C. There is a pastoral and polemical design to the book.

D. My stated purpose would be: John writes (by guiding believers into a correct understanding and application of their relationship with God) to encourage fellowship with God and the saints so that the believer may have confidence and not shame when Christ returns


1 Guthrie, NTI, 867-69.

2 Guthrie, NTI, 864-65; Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, 193.

3 ZPEB, 648; Marshall, NICNT, 157-159, BKC, 881.

4 See Guthrie, 883-84; Barker, “1 John” EBC, 12:300-301. Burdick The Letters of John the Apostle, 38-44.

5 The Epistles of John, 52.

6 Henry Alford, 180.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Argument For The Book Of 1 John

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Message Statement:

John Writes To Explain To Believers That Fellowship With God And The Saints Is Contingent Upon Their Response To God And Their Love For One Another And Not Found In The Error Of The False Teachers

I. Prologue--Fellowship: John asserts that the Word of Life, Jesus, is being proclaimed that his readers may have fellowship with the Father and Son as the apostles do and thus fulfill their joy 1:1-4

II. Fellowship Explained--What It Is: John explains the concept of fellowship with God and the Saints in order that the believing readers might have a correct understanding of the nature of fellowship and the confidence it will bring when Christ returns 1:5--3:24

A. A Relationship: Generally speaking, John asserts that fellowship with God is a relationship 1:5--2:11

1. Walking in accordance with God’s Character: John describes fellowship as walking in accordance with God’s character 1:5-7

2. Cleansed from Sin: John describes fellowship as being cleansed from sin by God 1:8--2:2

3. Intimately Knowing God: John describes fellowship as being intimately knowing God 2:3-11

B. Applicable to All Believers: John affirms that fellowship with God and the saints is applicable to all believers who may be of differing levels of maturity 2:12-14

C. Continue in the Teaching of the Holy Spirit: John affirms that believers in fellowship with God and the saints are not turned by the world’s deception, but continue in the teaching of the Holy Spirit 2:15-27

D. Gives Confidence: John affirms that fellowship with God and the saints is that which gives the believer confidence when Christ returns to take the church 2:28

E. Righteousness: John affirms that righteousness and not sin is that which characterizes a person in fellowship with God and the saints 2:29--3:10

F. Love the Brethren: John affirms that believers in fellowship with God and the saints are those who sacrificially love and not hate their brothers 3:11-24

III. Provisions for Fellowship: John presents provisions for achieving fellowship with God and the saints in order that the believer might apply them and thereby not be misled by the error of the false teachers 4:1--5:17

A. Tests and Truths of Fellowship: John provides tests and truths which will enable the believer to not be turned by the world’s deceptions, but to continue in the truth 4:1-6

B. Motivation, Results and Tests of Love: John gives the motivation, results, and tests of love to enable the believer to love his brother 4:7--5:3

C. Power of God: John emphasizes the power of God in the believer’s life to enable the believer to practice love for his brother in prayer 5:4-17

IV. Exhortation: John exhorts his readers to guard themselves against sin in light of their unique position in Christ in order that they may have fellowship with God 5:18-21

A. Unique Position: John affirms that believers have a unique position in Christ 5:18-20

B. Guard Against Sin: John exhorts believers to guard against sin which will effect their fellowship with God 5:21

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Introduction To The Book Of 2 Peter

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1

I. THE AUTHORSHIP AND CANONICITY OF SECOND PETER:2

A. Second Peter is considered to be the most problematical of all the NT books because of the early doubts surrounding its authenticity and the internal evidence which is considered by many to substantiate those doubts3

B. There are three approaches to early evidence of canonicity or non-canonicity of NT writings; one need not be “either/or” in one’s use of the following; one may be “both/and”:4

1. A book was not canonical until after the date of its first citation

2. After giving citations a relative value, one can decide whether the authors who wrote prior to the first citation had any reason to quote the NT book in question since no-one was obligated to quote all parts of the NT

3. One can place the most emphasis upon the rejection of the early church

C. External Evidence:5 Although the external evidence is sparse, and not without doubts,6 it seems that the majority did accept this book as by Peter and canonical; this outweighs the minority who did not.

1. The Church Fathers:

a. Cited or alluded to by Pseudo-Barnabas (c. 70-130)7

b. Cited or alluded to by Clement of Rome (c. 95-96)8

c. Named as disputed by Origen (c. 185-254)9

d. Named as authentic by Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-86)

e. Named as disputed by Eusebius (c. 325-40)10

f. Named as authentic by Jerome (c. 340-420)11

g. Named as authentic by Augustine (c. 400)

2. Canons:

a. This epistle is omitted in the Muratorian Canon (AD 200) but it also omits 1 Peter and its present text is almost certainly incomplete12

b. Named as authentic by the Codex Barococcio (c. 206)

c. Named as authentic by Apostolic (c. 300)

d. Named as disputed by Cheltenham (c. 360)

e. Named as authentic by Athanasus (c. 367)

3. Translations: Second Peter was not included in the Tatian Diatessaron (c. 170), the Old Latin13 (c. 200) or the Old Syriac14 (c. 400) translations.

4. Councils:

a. Named as disputed by council of Nicea (c. 325-40)

b. Named as authentic by the council of Hippo (393)

c. Named as authentic by the council of Carthage (397)

d. Named as authentic by the council of Carthage (491)

D. Internal Evidence: Although not without problems, the internal evidence seems to best support the Apostle Peter as the author of 2 Peter.

1. Reasons Against Petrine Authorship:15

a. Different Style: Its style was different than that of 1 Peter which was strongly accepted by the church to be Petrine. But this may be explained by the use of different ammanuensis (cf. 1 Peter 5:12)16

b. Gnostic Literature: Peter’s name was used in connection with some Gnostic literature, but in spite of the circulation of these spurious works, 2 Peter was recognized as distinct17

c. Jude: Petrine authorship is forbidden by its literary dependence on Jude, but this is not conclusively settled as an issue; nevertheless, even if Peter did borrow from Jude (or similar material)18 this does not preclude against Petrine authorship any more than for the synoptic gospel writers to use similar (or identical) material

d. Too Hellenistic: The conceptual and rhetorical language is too Hellenistic for a Galilean Fisherman; but we do not know the extent of Hellenistic influence upon Peter19

e. The problem of the delay of the parousia is a second-century problem; but his is not exclusively true. It was clearly a first century issue as well (John 21:20-23; Acts 1:6-11 etc.; 2 Thess. 2:1-4; Heb. 9:28)

f. Pauline Collection: The collection of Pauline Letters referred to in 2 Peter 3:15-16 was made in the second century. While this could be true for the complete collection, this need not be speaking of a complete collection20

g. Early Catholicism: The letter sounds like “early Catholicism” (which emphasizes good works and orthodoxy) rather than first generation Christianity. But this assumes that Peter would not be concerned about the orthodox interpretation of Scripture and tradition which is not a given (cf. 1 Cor. 11:2; 15:3) and the emphasis upon good works is part of the earliest NT epistle written (James)

2. Reasons For Petrine Authorship:

a. The book claims to Petrine authorship (1:1; 14 16-18; 3:1, 15)21

b. The book claims to be Peter’s second epistle (3:1)22

c. The author claims that Paul is his beloved brother (3:15)

d. The letter gives no hints of a second-century environment or of issues related to the monarchical bishop, developed Gnosticism, or Montanism23

II. DATE: After 1 Peter and probably just before Peter’s death in AD 64-68.

A. After a Collection of the Pauline Epistles: Second Peter 3:15-16 affirms that this letter was probably written after a collection of some of Paul’s letters (perhaps during Paul’s first imprisonment in AD 60)

B. If Second Peter 3:1 refers to Peter’s first letter (and it probably does) then this letter was probably written after AD 62-64 (e.g., AD 63-64)

C. The letter seems to have been written shortly before Peter’s death (2 Peter 1:12-15) or AD 64-68.

III. PLACE OF ORIGIN: Although Rome is often mentioned, it is not possible to know the place of origin since Peter traveled widely (Palestine, Asia Minor, Corinth (?), Rome)

IV. DESTINATION: Although one may not be certain, this may well be written to the same audience as First Peter--those from northern Asia Minor

A. This letter is written to believers (2 Pet. 1:1)

B. If 2 Peter 3:1 refers to 1 Peter, than this letter was also written to those in Northern Asian Minor (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia

C. If 2 Peter 3:1 refers to a lost letter of Peter, this it is not possible to identify the destination of 2 Peter

V. THE RELATIONSHIP OF JUDE AND 2 PETER:

A. Its Nature: Similarities between the two works affirm some kind of literary relationship, while differences affirm individual emphases

1. Similarities affirm some kind of literary relationship:

a. Most of 2 Peter 2 is paralleled in Jude and there are parallels in the other chapters of 2 Peter

b. No less than 15 of the 25 verses in Jude appear in 2 Peter

c. Many identical ideas, words, and phrases are parallel to the two writings

2. Differences affirm individual emphases:

a. The common material focuses almost completely on the issue of false teachers

b. Peter emphasizes more positive teaching and Jude concentrates on denunciations

c. The two groups of false teachers are similar, but not identical

B. The Question of Priority: The arguments are not decisive for the priority of either book; the solution may best be found through the postulation of a common source, but even this is not certain.

1. The Options are for priority can be argued with some convincing evidence in each direction, but they are not determinative:

a. Jude is Prior: While there are several arguments24, the stronger ones are as follows:

1) Jude is shorter than 2 Peter so it may have preceded 2 Peter which was an enlargement of Jude (strong)

2) Jude approaches the problem of false teachers with greater spontaneity than 2 Peter which adds an introduction to the problem and does not seem to know the issue first hand (note the tenses of verbs; [not as strong])

3) Jude is harsher than 2 Peter who may have toned down his offensive (weak)

4) Jude uses apocryphal books and 2 Peter does not (perhaps because he has excluded the references because of their unorthodox character [cf. 2 Pet. 2:11; Jude 9])

b. Peter is Prior: Though weak, the arguments for the priority of 2 Peter are as follows:

1) Jude makes reference to 2 Peter in verse 4 and 17 (cf. 2 Peter 3:3)25

2) The use of the future tense in 2 Peter to discuss the false teachers and the present tense in Jude suggests the priority of 2 Peter in that Jude experienced what Peter foresaw, but Peter did not always use the future tense26

3) Jude’s borrowing from Peter (an apostle) is more understandable than for Peter to be borrowing from Jude (weak)

2. Both Jude and 2 Peter depended on a similar source:

a. This is not generally held to for the following reasons:

1) The similarities are considered to be too close to be accounted for in this way

2) The situation of both letters seems to be too concrete for such an explanation

b. If their was a general writing which Peter and Jude refer to, one wonders about its authority in view of Jude 17; if it was apostolic, why did it require its incorporation into these two letters to be preserved; but this is not determinative since there were clearly sources which were apostolic in the Gospel accounts which were not preserved beyond their inclusion in the Gospels

3. Conclusion: This problem cannot be definitively solved with the information which presently exists but the theory of a similar source seems most possible:

a. It is possible that a document like this did exist in the early church as a catechetical tract on false teaching27

b. This may well make all of Jude except the first three verse and verses 19-25 an expression of this tract, but Jude does express his intention to write on another subject, and then he changes due to the pressing nature of the circumstances (verse 3)

c. This may well explain the differences in styles as the two writers adapt the material for their own theological purpose28

VI. PURPOSES:

A. Peter writes because his time is short and he knows that God’s people are facing many dangers (1:13-14; 2:1-3)29

B. Peter writes to provide a reminder of the basis in Christian faith (1:12-13,16-21) and to instruct future generations of believers in the faith (1:15) by affirming its apostolic tradition30

C. Peter writes to warn his readers about the coming of false teachers (2:1-22)31 who deny the soon return of the Lord (3:3-4) and live immoral and greedy lives32


1 Sources employed in this study are: Louis A. Barbieri, First and Second Peter, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977), Richard J. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 50 (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publishers, 1983), Edwin A. Blum, “2 Peter,” in Expositors Bible Commentary 12:255-289, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1981), Brevard S. Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Box F. Downers Grove, Illinois:Inter-Varsity Press, 1970).

2 Although canonicity and authorship are not synonymous, there are often related since one of the main reasons for accepting a book in the early church was its apostolic authorship or authorization (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12 (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:257). It is possible for one to not hold to Petrine authorship of this Epistle and still hold to its canonical value (cf. J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and Jude (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 235; Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 158-162).

3 Guthrie, NTI, 814

4 Guthrie, NTI, 814.

5 Geisler, An Introduction to the New Testament, 189, 191, 193.

6 Blum notes, “Because of the letter’s brevity, governmental persecutions of the early churches, and communication problems in the ancient world, the lack of a long tradition for 2 Peter is hardly surprising. If the letter had been sent to an area not in the main travel routes or one that suffered sudden persecutions, normal circulation patterns may have been hindered” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12 (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 258).

7 Second Peter 3:8 is used in Pseudo-Barnabas 15:4.

8 Second Peter 2:6-9 is quoted in 1 Corinthians 11:1 by Clement of Rome.

9 Origen is usually the pivotal Church Father in this discussion because reviews of the evidence usually begin with the statement that “the Epistle was not certainly known until his time and the authenticity becomes immediately suspect, especially as he also mentions doubts held by some about it (Guthrie, NTI, 815). However, he cites the epistle six times and as Guthrie writes, “It is a fair assumption, therefore, that Origen saw no reason to treat these doubts as serious, and this would seem to imply that in his time the Epistle was widely regarded as canonical” (Ibid.)

Origen wrote, “Peter...has left one acknowledged epistle, and, it may be, a second also; for it is doubted” (Ecclesiastical History, 6.25.8).

10 He placed this epistle among the Antilegomena making clear that the majority accepted this epistle along with James and Jude, but that he has doubts about it because writers whom he respected did not regard it as canonical, and because it was not quoted (by name?) by the ‘ancient presbyters’ (cf. Ecclesiastical History, 3.3.1-4; 25.3-4).

11 He unreservedly accepted this epistle along with the other Catholic Epistles, but he notes that doubts about its authenticity do exist (Scriptorium Ecclesiasticorum 1, Letter to Hedibia (Epist. 120.11).

12 Guthrie, NTI, 816-17.

13 This also omits Hebrews, James and 1 Peter.

14 This also omits 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.

15 Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:158.

16 Blum writes, “If 1 Peter was written by Peter with the assistance of Silvanus, 2 Peter could either be in Peter’s own style or in his style with the assistance of a different amanuensis. Moreover, stylistic arguments are hard to evaluate because the criteria for the identify of distinctiveness of writes are not settled” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12 (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 258; Bruce, The Letters of Paul: An Expanded Paraphrase (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 10--11; Guthrie, NTI, 839).

17 Guthrie writes, “A mitigating factor, which has all too often been overlooked, is the influence of the pseudo-Petrine literature upon Church opinion. If Gnostic groups had used Peter’s name to drive home their own particular tenets, this fact would cause the orthodox Church to take particular care not to use any spurious Petrine Epistles. Some of the more nervous probably regarded 2 Peter suspiciously for this reason, but the fact that it ultimately gained acceptance in spite of the pseudo-Petrine literature is an evidence more favourable to its authenticity than against it, unless the orthodox Church Fathers had by this time become wholly undiscerning, which is not, however, borne out by the firm rejection of other works attributed to Peter” (Guthrie, NTI, 818).

18 See “The Relationship of Jude and 2 Peter” below.

19 Blum writes, “He lived about five miles from the region of the Greek league of ten cities known as Decapolis. We do not know whether he was bilingual or how much he learned between the Resurrection and his martyrdom. Nor do we know whether Peter has help in writing his letter. Just as today a high government official uses a speech writer, though the final product is the official’s responsibility, so 2 Peter may have been drafted by an amanuensis ...” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 259).

20 Blum writes, “The collecting of Paul’s letters would have begun as soon as a church or some influential person recognized their value. Paul’s instruction about exchanging letters (cf. Col. 4:16) and their public reading (1 Thess. 5:27) would have facilitated the collection of his letters. That Luke and Timothy were traveling companions of Paul makes them likely collectors of his writings” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 259).

21 Concerning the correlation of author and canonicity and those who choose to identify 2 Peter as pseudepigaphic and yet canonical, Blum writes, “If the book is unreliable in these statements, how can its teaching be accepted? Either 2 Peter is a genuine work of Simon Peter the apostle or it is an unreliable forgery” (Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12: 260). Continuing, “If epistolary pseudepigraphy was rejected by Christians [and it was], then who would have written this letter? Hardly a good man! If it had been a false teacher, what was his motivation? After all, the book does not seem to have any distinctive views that would require presentation under an assumed name” (Ibid., 261).

22 Most commentators agrees that the first epistle must be 1 Peter.

23 Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:261.

24 See Guthrie, NTI, pp. 921-922.

25 But “long before” of Jude 4 probably refers to the book of Enoch as in verses 14-15, and in verse 17 one would expect Peter to be mentioned by name as James was in 1:1. Also verse 17 may have reference to sayings which the apostles endorsed (Guthrie, NTI, p. 923).

26 The present tense is used to describe false teachers in 2 Peter 2:10,17,18; 3:5.

27 See Green, Jude, pp. 54-55.

28 See Green Jude, pp. 53-54.

29 More technically, this is a “farewell address” (cf. Acts 20:17-38; 2 Timothy). Therefore, Peter seeks to remind his readers of the apostolic tradition (1:13) and to warning them about coming heretics (2:1-3) whose error is a sing of the last days (3:1ff). Peter desires to extend the apostolic tradition beyond his lifetime.

30 Peter is the epitome of apostolic authority as the “servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” who was at the mount of transfiguration (1:17) and received a revelation from Christ about his own personal death (1:14; cf. Jn. 21:18). Childs writes, “Peter is not just a figure of the past, but he now functions as a vehicle for extending the apostolic tradition, of which he is the chief representative, into the future” (The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, 470). Elsewhere Childs writes, “The function of Peter as the primary representative of the apostolic tradition is to extend this apostolic authority to the next generation after the apostle’s death. The apostle sets down in writing the authoritative tradition in order that his letter may continually ‘at any time’ remind the church of its message (1.15)” (Ibid., 471).

31 Guthrie writes, “since the future tense is mainly used, it must further be supposed that this Epistle is intended to have a preventative effect. The author wishes to strengthen these Christians in faith and practice so that they will be in a position to resist the ungodliness of these threatening false teachers. In this respect the occasion of 2 Peter differs from that of Jude, where the author is obliged to deal with the situation which has already arisen” (Guthrie, NTI, 850).

32 Blum, “2 Peter,” EBC, 12:263.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Argument Of The Book Of 2 Peter

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Message Statement:

Peter Writes To Exhort His Readers Not To Be Influenced By The Coming False Teachers Who Deny That The Lord Will Return To Judge Those Who Do Evil But To Grow In God’s Provision And The Apostolic Truth Of Jesus Christ’s Future Coming

I. INTRODUCTION--SALUTATION AND PRAYER: Simeon Peter, the apostle and servant of Jesus Christ, writes to fellow believers and prays that they may receive grace and peace in the knowledge of God and of Jesus their Lord seeing that God has provided them everything pertaining to life and godliness through knowledge of Christ by His greatness and excellence 1:1-4

A. Address and Salutation: This letter is written by Simeon Peter, an apostle and servant of Jesus Christ, to fellow believers 1:1-2

1. Author: This letter is written from Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ 1:1a

2. Recipients: This letter was written by Simeon Peter to fellow believers (those who have a faith which through the justice of their God and Saviour Jesus Christ is of equal privilege with Peter’s and those with him)1 1:1b

B. Blessing/Theme--God Has Provided for Life: Peter prays that his readers may receive grace and peace in the knowledge of God and of Jesus their Lord seeing that God has provided them everything pertaining to life and godliness through knowledge of Christ by His greatness and excellence 1:2-4

1. Prayer: Peter prays that his readers may receive grace and peace in the knowledge2 of God and of Jesus their Lord 3:2

2. Theme--God Has Provided Everything For Life: Peter affirms that God has granted his readers everything pertaining to life and godliness through knowledge of Christ by His greatness and excellence 3:3-4

a. Seeing God’s Provision for Life: Peter prays that grace and peace might be multiplied to his readers in the knowledge of God as they see that his divine power has granted to them everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge ( ἐπιγνώσεως ) of Him who called them by His own glory and excellence 1:3

b. Promises--To Partake in Life: By God’s glory and excellence He has granted to believers His precious and magnificent promises in order that ( ἵνα ) believers might become partakers of life (the divine nature) having escaped death (the corruption that is in the world by Lust 1:4

II. EXHORTATION:3 In view of God’s provision of everything for life Peter urges, and will continue to urge, his readers to supplement their faith with diligent growth in the apostolic truth and refutes the objections to their teaching concerning the Lord’s return by false teachers because he and the other apostles did not follow myths but were eye witnesses of that future coming and hold to the prophetic word which is Spirit inspired and thus authoritative 1:5-21

A. Summary Exhortation: In view of God’s provision of everything for life Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith with diligent growth because this will prevent them from experiencing spiritual loss and enable them to have spiritual success in their lives 1:5-11

1. Supplement One’s Faith: Because God has provided everything for life, Peter urges his readers to apply all diligence in their faith to supplement it with the following characteristics (moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love): 1:5-7

a. Exhortation: Because ( καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δέ ) God has provided everything for life (vv. 3-4 above), Peter urges his readers to apply all diligence in their faith to supplement it 1:5a

b. Moral Excellence: Peter urges his readers to supply (ἐπιχορηγήσατε )4 moral excellence ( τὴν ἀρετήν ) 1:5b

c. Knowledge: Peter urges his readers to supply to their moral excellence knowledge ( γνῶσιν ) 1:5c

d. Self-Control: Peter urges his readers to supply to their knowledge self-control ( ἐγκράτειαν ) 1:6a

e. Perseverance: Peter urges readers to supply to their self-control perseverance ( ὑπομονήν ) 1:6b

f. Godliness: Peter urges his readers to supply to their perseverance godliness ( εὑσέβειαν ) 1:6c

g. Brotherly Kindness: Peter urges his readers to supply to their godliness brotherly kindness ( φιλαδελφίαν ) 1:7a

h. Love: Peter urges his readers to supply to their brotherly kindness love ( τήν ἀγάπην ) 1:7b

2. Reason--Spiritual Success: The reason Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith with diligent growth is because this will prevent them from experiencing spiritual loss, and enable them to have spiritual success in their lives 1:8-11

a. Negatively: Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith because without such growth they will be useless, unfruitful, and blind with spiritual amnesia 1:8-9

1) Useless and Unfruitful: The reason Peter urges his readers to supplement their faith is because ( γὰρ ) without such growth they will be useless and unfruitful in the “true knowledge” ( ἐπιγνωσιν ) of God 1:8

2) Blind and with Spiritual Amnesia: The reason urges his readers to supplement their faith is because without such growth they will be blinded with spiritual amnesia 1:9

b. Positively: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore pursue their spiritual growth as he has described above because this will provide spiritual assurance of their relationship with God, this will keep them from stumbling in their daily lives, and this will enable them to be triumphantly received by God into their future home--the Kingdom 1:10-11

1) Assurance: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore ( διὸ ) pursue their spiritual growth, as he has described above, because this will provide experiential assurance concerning their relationship with God 1:10a

2) Not Stumble: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore pursue their spiritual growth as he has described above because this growth will keep them from stumbling in their daily lives 1:10b

3) Triumphantly Received by God: Peter concludes that his readers should therefore pursue their spiritual growth as he has described above because with such growth they will be triumphantly received by God into their future home--the Kingdom 1:11

B. Occasion--Peter’s Testament:5 Because of the benefits connected with the readers supplementing their faith with diligent growth, Peter affirms that he is going to continually arouse them with a reminder of the truth, even though he will soon die, and that he will do his best to see that after his death his readers will be able to recall these things at all times 1:12-15

1. A Present Reminder: Because ( Διὸ ) of the benefits connected with supplementing their faith with diligent growth (1:3-11) Peter affirms that he is going to continually arouse his readers with a reminder of the (apostolic) truth which they already are established in knowing that he will soon die as their Lord Jesus Christ informed him6 1:12-14

2. A Future Reminder: Peter also affirms that he will continue to do his best to see that after his death ( ε῎χοδον )7 his readers will be able to recall these things (truths) at all times8 1:15

C. Replies to Two Objections:9 Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow myths about the Lord’s return but were eye witnesses of that future coming, and hold to the prophetic word which is Spirit inspired and thus authoritative 1:16-21

1. Replies to Objection-I about the Lord’s Future Return: Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the future coming of the Lord Jesus in Power but were eye witnesses of that future coming on the Mount of Transfiguration and hold to the prophetic word as the readers also should 1:16-19

a. First Reply to Objection I--Apostolic Eyewitness: Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the future coming of the Lord Jesus in Power but were eye witnesses of that future coming on the Mount of Transfiguration 1:16-18

1) The Future Coming of Jesus Is Not a Myth: Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the coming of their Lord Jesus Christ in Power 1:16a

2) The Apostles Saw His Future Coming:10 In contrast to a myth about the future coming of the Lord Jesus Peter explains they the apostles (we)11 were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ majesty when the Father bestowed honor and glory upon Him and they heard the Father’s voice on the Mount (of Transfiguration)12 when He proclaimed Jesus to be His Son (Davidic)13 with Whom He was well pleased (Servant)14 1:16b-18

b. Second Reply to Objection I--The Value of OT Prophesy: In addition Peter explains that he and the other apostles did not follow cleverly concocted myths when they made known to the readers the coming of their Lord Jesus Christ in Power because they place firm reliance on the prophetic word which he also urges the readers to attend to as they would to a lamp shining in a murky place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in their hearts15 1:19

2. Replies to Objection II--The Inspiration of OT Prophecy: Peter argues against those who would deny the Lord’s coming on the basis of the lack of prophetic authority by affirming that his readers need to understand that no prophecy of Scripture was derived from the prophet’s own interpretation because prophecy never came by the will of man, but by men impelled by the Holy Spirit 1:20-21

a. No Prophecy Was the Prophet’s Interpretation:16 Arguing against those who would deny the Lord’s coming on the basis of prophecy because some would reject its authority, Peter affirms that above all his readers must understand that no prophecy of Scripture derives from the prophet’s (one’s own) interpretation17 1:20

b. Reason--Prophets Were Spirit Enabled: The reason Peter affirms that no prophecy of Scripture derives from the prophets own interpretation is because ( γὰρ ) prophecy never came by the impulse (will) of man, but men impelled by the Holy Spirit ( ὐπὸ πνεύματος ἀγίου φερόμενοι ) spoke from God 1:21

III. WARNINGS AGAINST FALSE TEACHERS:18 Peter predicts that just as there were false teachers during the time of the OT prophets, there will be false teachers in the future who will initiate evil like denying the certainty of a future judgment, but Peter affirms that a future judgment will certainly come and that the false teachers will be judged at that time for their evil 2:1-22

A. Peter’s Prediction of False Teachers:19 Peter predicts that just as there were false teachers during the time of the prophets so will their be false teachers in the future who will initiate evil and effect many others with their evil 2:1-3a

1. False Teachers in the Past: Peter affirms that there were false teachers among the people (during the times of the prophets, [1:20 above]) 2:1a

2. False Teachers in the Future: Peter predicts that false teachers will be among his readers who will initiate evil (insinuate heresies, deny the master who bought them, and bring swift destruction upon themselves) and will bring about evil (many will follow their dissolute practices, the truth will be maligned, and many of the readers will be exploited)

a. False Teachers Will Be Among the Readers:Peter affirms that just as false teachers existed in the OT so is it that they will be ( ε῎σονται ) among the readers 2:1b

b. The Evil of the False Teachers: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will insinuate heresies, deny the Master who bought them, and bring swift destruction upon themselves 2:1c-e

1) Insinuate Heresies: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will insinuate heresies that lead to destruction 2:1c

2) Deny the Master: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will deny the Master who bought them ( τόν αγοράσαντα αὐτοὺς δεσπότην)20 2:1d

3) Bring Self-Destruction: Peter affirms that the false teachers who will be among his readers will bring swift destruction upon themselves 2:1e

c. The Effects of the False Teachers: Peter affirms that the effects of the false teachers will be that many will follow their dissolute practices, the truth will be maligned, and that many of the readers will be exploited 2:2-3

1) Many Will Follow: Peter affirms that many will follow the dissolute practices (sensuality) of the false teachers 2:2a

2) The Truth Will Be Maligned: Peter affirms that the way of truth will be maligned (βλασφημηθήσεται) because of the false teachers 2:2b

3) Exploit the Readers: Peter affirms that in their greed the false teachers will exploit the readers with fabricated arguments 2:3

B. Reply to an Objection--The Certainty of Judgment:21 Denying the assertion of the false teachers that there will not be an eschatological judgment, Peter affirms that God is not idle, asserts a basis for future judgment in the patterns of His judgment upon the angels, the ancient world and Sodom & Gomorrah, and concludes that He is well able to rescue the godly from trial and yet to keep the wicked to be punished at the day of judgment 2:3b-10a

1. A Denial That No Eschatological Judgment Is Coming: Denying the assertion of the false teachers that there will not be an eschatological judgment,22 Peter affirms that the condemnation pronounced on them long ago is not idle and that their destruction is not asleep23 2:3b

2. Basis for the Denial:24 Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of angels, the ancient world, and Sodom and Gomorrah for their evil 2:4-8

a. The Judgment of Angels: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of the angles when they sin in that he cast them into hell and committed them to fetters of nether darkness25 to be kept until the (eschatological)26 judgment 2:4

b. The Judgment of the Ancient World: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of the ancient world27 when He brought the deluge on the world of ungodly people only to preserve Noah, the eighth person28--a preacher of righteousness29 2:5

c. The Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment and of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as his rescue of the righteous Lot who was daily tormented by the evil behavior of the lawless 2:6-8

1) God Judged and Condemned Sodom and Gomorrah As An Example: Peter provides a basis for future judgment in the example of God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes30 and his condemnation of them to extinction making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly 2:6

2) God Delivered Righteous Lot: Peter notes that God did rescue the righteous man Lot31 who was daily distressed by the dissolute, unlawful behavior of the lawless 2:7-8

3. Conclusion--Future Judgment: Peter affirms that if God was able to bring about judgment upon angels, the ancient world, and Sodom & Gomorrah, then He is well able to rescue the godly from trial and yet to keep the wicked to be punished at the day of judgment--especially those who in polluting lust indulge the flesh and flout the authority of the Lord32 2:9-10a

C. Denunciation of False Teachers: Peter denounces the false teachers as being fearless in their renunciation of angelic majesties, as being like unreasoning animals who will perish, and as being deceptive and disappointing to their followers causing the darkness of judgment to await them 2:10b-22

1. Revile Angelic Majesties: Peter affirms that these false teachers are reckless and headstrong people who are not afraid to insult (βλασφημοῦντες ) the glorious ones33 where as angles, although they are greater in strength and power (than the false teachers), do not use insults when pronouncing judgment on them from the Lord 2:10b-11

2. Like Unreasoning Animals: Peter proclaims that these false teachers are like animals of mere instinct who are ignorant of those whom they insult and will perish, when the evil angels are destroyed, as they suffer harm in reward for the harm they have done 2:12-16

a. Animals of Mere Instinct: Peter proclaims that in contrast to angels ( δὲ ) these false teachers are like unreasoning animals which are born of mere instinct to be caught and destroyed 2:12a

b. Ignorant: Peter proclaims that the false teachers are like animals in that they are ignorant of those whom they insult 2:12b

c. Will Perish: Peter proclaims that when the evil angels are destroyed the false teachers themselves will also perish in the same destruction as they suffer harm in reward for the harm (below) they have done (self-indulgence, pollute worship, adulterous lust, ensnare people, follow the way of Balaam) 2:12c-15

1) Statement: Peter proclaims that when they evil angels (wild animals)34 are destroyed the false teachers themselves will also perish in the same destruction as they suffer harm in reward for the harm they had done 2:12c-13a

2) Reason I--Open Self-Indulgence:35 Peter explains these false teachers will suffer harm because their idea of enjoyment is self-indulgence in broad daylight36 2:13b

3) Reason II--Pollute Worship: Peter explains that these false teachers will suffer harm because they are spots and blemishes37 indulging in their deceitful pleasures while they feast with the readers38 2:13c

4) Reason III--Full of Adulterous Lust: Peter explains that these false teachers will suffer harm because their eyes are full of adulterous lust and are always on the lookout for sin39 2:14a

5) Reason IV--Ensnare People: Peter explains that these false teachers will suffer harm because they ensnare40 unstable people41 and have hearts well trained in greed42 2:14b

6) Reaffirmation of Judgment: Peter reaffirms that these false teachers are always under God’s curse (children of a curse) 2:14c

7) Reason V--Followed the Way of Balaam:43 Peter explains that these false teachers will suffer harm because they have left the straight way44 and followed the way of Balaam the son of Basor45 who loved wrong doing but was rebuked for his offense by a dumb ass who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness46 2:15-16

3. Deceptive and Disappointing for Whom Darkness Awaits: Peter describes these false teachers as deceptive and disappointing (as those who offer life to their followers) and darkness has been reserved for them because they enslave new believers with false promises of no future judgment 2:17-22

a. Deceptive and Disappointing As Life-Givers: Peter describes these false teachers as deceptive and disappointing as givers of life (wells without water,47 mists driven by a squall48) 2:17

b. They Ensnare New Believers with Lies: Peter affirms that the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for the false teachers because they ensnare new believers promising them freedom from future judgment even though they do not have freedom from judgment because they are in a worse state through their rejection of the gospel than before they heard the gospel

1) Statement--Darkness is Reserved for Them: Peter affirms that the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for the false teachers 2:17b

2) Reason--They Ensnare People: Peter explains that the reason darkness has been reserved for the false teachers is because they ensnare new believers promising them freedom from future judgment even though they do not have freedom from judgment because they are in a worse state through their rejection of the gospel than before they heard the gospel 2:18-21

a) They Ensnare People: The reason ( γὰρ ) darkness has been reserved for the false teachers is because they ensnare people who are only just escaping from those who live in error49 by their high-flown empty talk with lusts of the flesh and dissolute practices50 2:18

b) Promise Freedom, But Do Not Have It: Peter affirms that the false teachers promise their victims freedom (from judgment),51 but they themselves are slaves of corruption (judgment)52 because “a man becomes the slave of him who overpowers him”53 2:19

c) Reason--They Are In a Worse State: Peter explains ( γὰρ ) that the false teachers do not have freedom from future judgment because “their final state has become worse than their first”54 since they once escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but are again entangled in them and overpowered by them55 2:20

d) Reason--Turned Away from the Way of Righteousness: Peter explains ( γὰρ ) that they are in a worse state than at first because it would have been better for them never to have come to know the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to have turned away from it (the holy commandment56 which was delivered to them) 2:21

e) Explanation--Return to What They Have Rejected: Peter explains that the false teachers have demonstrated their nature in that they have returned to what was rejected as in the proverbs, “a dog which returns to its vomit”57 and “a sow which after washing returns to wallow in the mire”58 2:22

IV. REMINDERS: Peter reminds his readers to hold to the prophetic/apostolic truth concerning the coming of the Lord in judgment and His ethics and he urges them to understand that although scoffers will question this in the last days, they overlook his previous sovereign intervention through His word and they forget to look from God’s perspective where his apparent delay is forbearance 3:1-10

A. Peter’s Prediction of Scoffers: Peter reminds his readers to hold to the prophetic/apostolic truth concerning the coming of the Lord and His ethics, and to understand that in the last days scoffers will question the promise of the Lord’s return since everything seems to be following a normal pattern in life 3:1-4

1. Another Reminder to Hold to the Truth: Peter writes to his readers as loved ones ( ἀγαπητοί ) stating that this is his second letter to them wherein he is arousing their sincere understanding with a reminder that they should remember the predictions (words spoken beforehand) of the holy prophets (concerning the Lord’s return)59 and the (ethical) commandment60 of the Lord and Saviour through their apostles 3:1-2

2. An Objection--The Lord Is Not Coming; God Does Not Intervene in the World: Peter exhorts his readers above all to understand that in the last days61 scoffers62 will come, scoffing, following their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers63 fell asleep, everything remains just as it has been since the beginning of the world”64 3:3-4

B. Two Replies to an Objection: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook his previous sovereign intervention through his word (which he will do again), and they forget to look from God’s perspective where his apparent delay is forbearance, but he will sovereignly intervene with a cosmic judgment of fire 3:5-10

1. Reply to an Objection---The Sovereignty of God’s Word: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that God intervened by commanding the creation of the earth, intervened by commanding the deluge, and will intervene by commanding future judgment of the ungodly 3:5-7

a. God Intervened By Commanding the Creation of the Earth: Peter explains ( γὰρ ) that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that long ago there were heavens and an earth created by the word of God out of water and by means of water65 3:5

b. God Intervened by Commanding the Deluge: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that by these (the water and God’s word) the world of that time was deluged with water and destroyed 3:6

c. God Will Intervene with Judgment: Peter explains that when the false teachers maintain that the Lord is not coming to intervene in judgment they overlook the fact that by the same word (of God) the heavens and earth which now exist have been held in store for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly people 3:7

2. Reply II to an Objection--The Forbearance of the Lord: Peter urges his dear readers not to forget (as the false teachers do) that the Lord has a broader perspective than they, that His apparent delay is actually forbearance so that all might be saved, and that He will bring about a cosmic judgment with fire 3:8-10

a. Don’t Forget God’s Time Perspective: Peter urges his dear readers ( ἀγαπητοί )66 not to forget67 the Lord’s time perspective which is broader than theirs, namely, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as one day68 3:8

b. God’s Apparent Delay is Actually Forbearance: Peter explains that the Lord is not late in fulfilling the promise according to some people’s idea of lateness,69 but He is forbearing towards mankind (you) because He does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance70 3:9

c. God’s Cosmic Judgment Will Come: In contrast to God’s forbearance ( δὲ ) Peter affirms that the day of the Lord (judgment) will come like a thief (unexpectantly) and that on that day there will be a cosmic judgment of fire (the heavens will pass away with a roar,71 the heavenly bodies72 will be dissolved in the heat, and the earth and the works in it will be burned up 3:10

V. EXHORTATIONS: In view of the coming eschatological events (judgment and recreation) Peter exhorts his readers to righteous living as they strive to be ready for the Lord’s return and to regard his forbearance as salvation as Paul also affirms in his letters (even though some distort them) 3:11-16

A. Consider Righteous Living: In view of the coming judgment Peter exhorts his readers to consider righteous living which will hasten the coming of the day of judgment even though they are waiting for the new righteous creation 3:11-13

1. Exhortation to Righteous Living: In view of the coming judgment Peter exhorts his readers to consider that they need to be holy, godly in all their conduct, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God which will bring about the judgment by fire 3:11-12

2. Waiting for New Creation: In contrast to the coming judgment Peter affirms that he and his readers (we) are waiting for the new heavens and earth in which righteousness is at home73 3:13

B. Strive to be Ready for the Lord’s Return and Regard His Forbearance as Salvation: Since Peter’s readers are waiting for the eschatological hope, he exhorts them to strive to be pure and at peace when He comes and to regard God’s forbearance as salvation as Paul also affirms even though some distort his writings 3:14-16

1. Strive to Be Pure and at Peace at His Coming: Since Peter’s readers are waiting for the eschatological hope (future judgment and righteous new creation), he exhorts them to strive to be without any spot or blemish in His sight (at his coming) and to be at peace 3:14

2. Regard God’s Forbearance as Salvation: Peter exhorts his readers to regard the forbearance of their Lord as bringing about salvation 3:15a

3. Paul Also Affirms This: Peter affirms that Paul also wrote to his readers to regard God’s forbearance as bringing about salvation in accordance with the wisdom that God gave him as he does in all his letters when he speaks of these matters 3:15b-16a

4. Others Distort Paul: Peter affirms that his letters contain some things that are hard to understand which the uninstructed and unstable distort as they do with other scriptures so as to bring about their own destruction 3:16b

VI. CONCLUSION/DOXOLOGY: Peter concludes his letter by exhorting his readers to be on guard not to be influenced by these coming false teachers but to grow in grace and the knowledge of their Saviour Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory both now and on the day of eternity 3:17-18

A. Be On Guard: Peter concludes therefore ( ου῏ν ) that since his readers know this (about the coming false teachers) they should be on their guard 3:17a

B. Purpose--Not to Fall: Peter urges his readers to be on guard against the coming false teachers in order that ( ι῞να ) they may not be carried away by the error74 of these lawless people and fall from their stable position 3:17b

C. Grow in Grace and Knowledge: In contrast to falling away under the influence of the false teachers ( δὲ ) Peter urges his readers to grow in grace (from Jesus Christ) and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 3:18a

D. Doxology--Glory to Christ: Peter proclaims that the glory belongs to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ both now and on the day of eternity75 3:18b


1 This could be referring to the Jewish-Gentile issue (if Peter is writing primarily to Gentiles as in 1 Peter) of comparing the apostles and the readers. The latter may be more probable since the Jewish-Gentile issue does not show itself in the rest of the letter.

2 This term, ἐπιγνώσει, probably foreshadows the issue of the entire letter. Peter wants to emphasize the apostolic knowledge (or even tradition) of the Lord which the false teachers are going to attack and he prays that they will have a full, heart felt knowledge of it.

3 Beginning with this portion of the book, the structure is chiastic:

     A Exhortations (1:5-21)

        B Warnings (2:1-22)

        C Reminders (warnings) (3:1-11)

     A’ Exhortations (3:12-17)

4 This term is used again in 1:11 where Christ will then supply entrance into the eternal kingdom for believers.

5 Bauckham writes concerning this portion of the letter that, “its position in the letter at this point is no doubt determined by its function as a transition from the positive summary for Peter’s teaching in 1:3-11, to the apologetic defense of this teaching against objections in the rest of the letter. By introducing the idea that the letter, as a testament, is intended for the period after Peter’s death, the author is able to begin dealing with objections which are being raised in his own time” (Jude, 2 Peter, 194).

6 See John 21:18ff.

7 This is the term that Luke used to describe Jesus’ death on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:31).

8 This will be done through the letter which he is writing (cf. Jude 3).

9 The sense that this is a reply to an objection is in the grammatical structure οὐ...ἀλλά or “not...but” in verse 16 (cf. also 1:21 and 3:9). While this could be rhetorical (2:4-5; 3:9b), it seems more probable that Peter is refuting the arguments of the false teachers (cf. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 204-205).

10 Peter treats the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration as an eschatological foreshadowing of the Lord’s return in His glory. This correlates well with the way in which the event is set up on the gospels when for instances Matthew has Jesus state, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (16:28). The next event is then the revelation on the Mount.

11 More specifically Peter, James and John.

12 Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36.

13 Second Samuel 7; Psalm 2:7.

14 Isaiah 42:1

15 This is no doubt an allusion to Numbers 24:17 “a star shall rise out of Jacob” which had a Messianic interpretation in Judaism (see also Mal. 4:2; Matt. 4:16; Luke 1:78; Rev. 2:28; 22:16). This star is a symbol for the coming of Christ which inaugurates the eschatological age.

Concerning the phrase “in your hearts” Bauckham writes, “The phrase ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν (‘in your hearts’) no longer appears surprising, once it is realized that only one specific aspect of the Parousia is being discussed, namely the Parousia as the full revelation of God to Christian believers .... The only point being made is that prophecy, as a partial revelation pointing forward to the full eschatological revelation, will become superfluous when the full revelation arrives. Naturally it will be ‘in their hearts’ that Christian believers will receive and perceive this revelation” (Jude, 2 Peter, 226). Later he adds, “He takes the opportunity briefly to indicate the value of such prophecy for his Christian readers. The lamp of prophecy lights up the darkness of this present world’s hopeless ignorance with a bright beam of hope. But just as a lamp is used during the night but becomes superfluous when dawn comes, so prophecy’s role is to give partial illumination to those whom it enables to hope for the full eschatological revelation of God. When Christians experience that full revelation at the Parousia of Jesus Christ, it will be like the daylight which dispels all the darkness of the night, and Jesus Christ himself will be like the morning star whose rising signals the dawn” (Ibid., 227).

16 There are traditionally two different ways of understanding this passage: (1) it speaks of the interpretation of prophecy in the present, or (2) it speaks of the interpretation of prophecy in the future. While both are possible, the evidence seems to lean towards the second view. While Peter could be arguing that Scriptural prophecy is not a matter of the false teachers’ interpretation, but must be in line with the meaning God intended (view one; see Blum, “2 Peter’ in EBC 12:275), it seems more probable that Peter is affirming that the prophets’ dreams and visions were not only by God but their interpretation of them was too. Bauckham writes, “This conforms to a widely accepted view of the nature of prophecy, according to which the prophet is given a sign (e.g., Amos 7:1; Jer. 1:11, 13) a dream (e.g., Zech 1:8; Dan. 7:2) or a vision (e.g., Dan 8:1), and then its interpretation. In true prophecy this interpretation is not the prophet’s own explanation of his vision, but an inspired, God-given interpretation. This it is possible that 2 Pet 1:20 counters a view which held that the prophets may have received visions, but that their prophecies, found in the OT, are only their own interpretation of the visions, mere human guesswork. This was one way of denying the divine origin of scriptural prophecy” (Jude, 2 Peter, 231; for a full discussion of the textual and contextual defense see 229-235).

17 Perhaps the false teachers are even accusing Peter and the apostles of making up their own interpretation of the events on the Mount of Transfiguration (cf. 1:16-18 above).

18 Some, such as Bauckham, affirms that Peter now depends heavily upon Jude for this portion of the letter (Jude, 2 Peter, 236-37), but this is not a necessary conclusion. Both Jude and Peter may be relying upon a similar source (see this writer’s introduction to either Jude or 2 Peter). One thing is certain, both authors speak in very similar terms and concepts, but they are crafted into their own thoughts. In addition this unit includes the predictions of the last times which is common with a final testimony (cf. Acts 20:29--30; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:3-4).

19 When this unit is tied to its immediate context one finds a chiastic structure which provides a correlation and contrast between the apostles (whom Peter wants his readers to follow) and the false teachers (who will try to mislead his readers):

     A Apostles (1:16-18)

       B OT prophets (1:19-21)

       B’ OT False prophets (2:1a)

     A’ False teachers (2:1b-3)

Peter makes a smooth transition from OT prophecy to false prophets of OT time. This is a movement from his defense against the opponents charges to an offense where he will make charges against the false teachers (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 236).

20 Bauckham understands this description to mean that these false teachers are Christians, “2 Peter does not deny that the false teachers are Christians, but sees them as apostate Christians who have disowned their Master” (Jude, 2 Peter, 240). But this is not a necessary conclusion. This may well be a description of an unlimited atonement without also concluding that these false teachers are Christians. Christ died for them, but they have denied Him (either with respect to Christology or practical immorality. Blum writes, “In my judgment, v. 2 asserts that Christ ‘bought’ the false teachers; but this does not necessarily mean that they were saved. Salvation in the NT sense does not occur till the benefits of Christ’s work are applied to the individual by the regeneration of the Spirit and belief in the truth. To put it in other words, Christ crucified is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Yet the wrath of God is on all sinners--elect and nonelect (John 3:36; Eph 2:3)--till the work of the Cross is applied to those who believe.

‘Bringing swift destruction on themselves’ is ‘not a simple extinction of existence...but an everlasting state of torment and death’ (TDNT, 1:397). It will be ‘swift’ because it will descend on them suddenly either at their death or at the return of the Lord” (“James” in EBC, 12:276-77).

21 Although this unit is closely tied to the previous (“on whom”), the change from the future tense to the present tense probably indicates that this is part of a new unit where Peter is describing false teachers as his own opponents in the present (cf. 3:3, 5 where this occurs in the switch to another objection; Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 245).

22 For a similar pattern see 3:9a.

23 These terms were often used to describe the inactivity of the gods (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 148).

24 Bauckham writes, “the OT examples are more than instances which establish the general rule (v 9b) that God punishes the wicked. They are also typological prophecies of the eschatological judgment. They foreshadow the doom of the wicked of the last days, among whom the false teachers and their followers are numbered, and so in their judgment certain. If the false teachers doubt the verbal prophecies of judgment, they should consider that there have also been acted prophecies.

The details of the references to the three examples in vv 4-6 bring out their typological character. The angels are detained in Tartarus awaiting condemnation and punishment at the final universal assize--which is to be the day of reckoning for all the wicked (cf. v 9b). The flood destroyed a whole world of ungodly people, thus prefiguring the only other universal judgment which the world is to suffer, the coming eschatological judgment (cf. 3:6-7). The burning of Sodom and Gomorrah was a warning example of the fate in store for the wicked in the future, especially of the cosmic conflagration in store for the wicked which threatens the ungodly of the last days (cf. 3:7) (Jude, 2 Peter, 256).

25 It is difficult to specifically identify Peter’s reference in this statement. It may be alluding to one of the following, or to all of the following:

(1) The original fall of angels form their exalted positions (cf. Deut. 32:8; Isa. 15:12; 24:21ff; Rev. 12:3-4,9)

(2) Allusions to 1 Enoch 6--19; esp. 10:5,6,15,16; 12:4; 16:1; 22:4,10,11; 97:5; 103:8

(3) An historical reference to the demonized despots in Genesis 6:1-4 (cf. 1 Enoch 7; 9:8; 10:11; 12:4).

These were all expressions of pride and arrogance.

26 See 2:9, 17; 3:7.

27 Peter is describing a universal scope to his judgment and implying that the coming judgment will also be universal (cf. 3:6-7).

28 This is an idiom which means “along with seven others” which include Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives (Gen. 8:18; Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 250).

29 See the Sibylline Oracles 1:148-98 where his sermon is supposedly recorded. Noah exhorted his contemporaries with to righteous living in contrast to their ungodliness.

30 This is a pattern for the future judgment (cf. 3:7).

31 See Abraham’s plea for the righteous in Genesis 18:23-32.

32 As Bauckham writes, “The reference will be to practical disregard for divine authority by ethical misconduct. Those who subject themselves to the flesh cannot be subject to the Lord. Thus v 10a specifies the same two sins as in vv 1-2 (‘deny the Master,’ ‘dissolute practices’)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 255).

33 These are probably angles as in Jude 8. In addition these are probably evil angels since good angels are contrasted with them in 2 Peter 2:11. Bauckham writes, “It is not likely that the false teachers slandered the angelic guardians of the Law (as Jude’s opponents did) or that, as Gnostics, they reviled the demiurge and his angels. In these cases the author of 2 Peter would have regarded the δόξαι (“glorious ones”) as good angels, whereas in fact he seems to share his opponents’ view of them as evil angels. The most plausible view is that in their confident immorality the false teachers were contemptuous of the demonic powers. When they were rebuked for their immoral behavior and warned of the danger of falling into the power of the devil and sharing his condemnation, they laughed at the idea, denying that the devil could have any power over them and speaking of the powers of evil in skeptical, mocking terms. They may have doubted the very existence of supernatural powers of evil” (Jude, 2 Peter, 262).

34 There are several options with respect to the referent of “they.” Bauckham writes, “οι῏ς is the nearest antecedent for αὐτῶν and so, if it is correct to take οι῏ς as masculine, referring to the evil angels (see above), this interpretation becomes the most natural. The false teachers will share the fate of the powers of evil who will be eliminated at the day of judgment. The objection that this interpretation destroys the connection between the first φθορά, “destruction,” in this v (that of the animals) and the second (Mayor) is not valid. The comparison of the false teachers’ fate with that of the animals has already been made in the first part of the v and does not need to be repeated in the phrase ἐν τῇ φθορᾷ αὐτῶν “(Jude, 2 Peter, 264).

35 The participles which follow are probably loosely dependent on “they will perish” explaining the harm they have done for which they will be destroyed (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 258).

36 This was a mark of degeneracy (see Ecclesiasties 10:16; Isaiah 5:11).

37 The church was to be spotless and without blemish at the Lord’s coming (cf. 3:14). Bauckham writes, “Like the blemishes on an animal not fit for sacrifice (Lev 1:3) or on a man not fit for priestly service (Lev 21:21), these immoral people were frustrating the church’s aim of holiness and could make the church unfit to be presented as a sacrifice to God” (Jude, 2 Peter, 266).

38 Perhaps this is parallel to the kind of activity that Paul had to deal with in Corinth (1 Cor 11).

39 Bauckham suggests that this means that “their eyes are always looking for a woman with whom to commit adultery” (Jude, 2 Peter, 266).

40 As with bait when one fishes.

41 Those not grounded in Christian teaching who are easily led astray. This is often the case with cults today.

42 They are trained like an athlete would be trained. They are experts in greed and make a profit out of their disciples.

43 See Numbers 22:21-35. “The false teachers are Balaam’s followers on the road of disobedience to God for the sake of financial profit” (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 267).

44 See Deuteronomy 11:28 (LXX); Proverbs 2:13; 21:16.

45 Bosor ( βοσόρ ) is clearly the best attested textual reading. Nevertheless, since this form of the name of Balaam’s father was not found elsewhere in the Scriptures, it was corrected to the LXX form βεωρ “Beor,” in a few MSS and versions. Green suggests that Bosor may represent ‘the Galilean mispronunciation of the guttural in the Hebrew name” (Peter and Jude, 113). Bauckham retorts, “A more plausible suggestion is that the form reflects a Jewish tradition of a play on the name and the word בשׂר (‘flesh’)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 267).

46 The prophet who should know God’s will was unable to perceive it, while a mere donkey uttered a prophetic rebuke--irony. Bauckham writes, “Why did our author include v 16...? Probably because he saw the opportunity of taking up a theme already mentioned in v 12: the false teachers are like α῎λογα ζῷα (‘unreasoning animals’). The same point is now make with humorous emphasis, but comparing them to Balaam, whose irrational behavior...was rebuked by an unreasoning animal speaking in rational speech.... He was so carried away by his cupidity that even a donkey knew better than he. Similarly the false teachers. That the author intended the donkey to represent his simple Christian readers (Reicke) is less certain” (Jude, 2 Peter, 269).

47 A dried up well is a discouragement for the traveler who is thirsty or the farmer who is trying to work the land.

48 Bauckham writes, “Instead of the damp mists which refresh the countryside in hot weather... ὁμίχλαι (“mists”) are the haze which heralds dry weather...and is quickly dispersed by a gust of wind...” (Jude, 2 Peter, 274).

49 These are probably new believers who are not established in the faith (1:12) and thus run the risk of slipping back into their former pagan ways.

50 Bauckham writes, “By removing the sanction of eschatological judgment the false teachers were encouraging their followers to return to the morally lax ways of pagan society” (Jude, 2 Peter, 274).

51 From the moral law? Or perhaps better “from the fear of eschatological judgment at Christ’s coming. The false teachers offer their followers freedom of from moral accountability and punishment.

52 This corruption is probably the consequence of their evil which ends in eschatological judgment (cf. 1:4; 2:12). This may well be a parallel from Romans 8:21.

53 This seems to be a common proverb (see also Rom. 6:16; John 8:34).

54 This is probably an allusion to Jesus’ discussion of resistant Israel to his teaching (Matt 12:45 = Luke 11:26).

55 Although some consider this to be a discussion concerning Christians (see Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 277), Blum seems to be more correct in his evaluation: “In my opinion, it refers basically to false teachers because (1) proximity makes the false teachers (spoken of in v. 19) the normal antecedent of ‘they,’ (2) the conjunction gar (untranslated in NIV) in v. 20 (ei gar, ‘for if’) logically connects v. 20 with v. 19, (3) ‘mastered’ (hettetai) in v. 19 is verbally linked to ‘overcome’ (hettotai) v. 20, and (4) the teachers are the main subject of the whole chapter....

Verse 20 mentions the possibility of reverting to the old paganism after having ‘escaped the corruptions of the world’ through knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Is it possible, then, for Christians to lose their salvation? Many would answer affirmatively on the basis of this and similar texts (e.g., Heb 6:4-6; 10:26). But this verse asserts only that false teachers, who have for a time escaped from worldly faith are worse off than they were before knowing Christ. It uses no terminology affirming that they were Christians in reality (e.g., ‘sons of God,’ ‘children,’ ‘born again,’ ‘regenerate,’ ‘redeemed’). The NT makes a distinction between those who are in the churches and those who are regenerate (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Tim 2: 18-19; 1 John 3:7-8; 2:19: ‘They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us...but their going showed that none of them belonged to us’). So when Peter says, ‘They are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning,’ the reference is to a lost apostate” (“James,” in EBC, 12:282).

56 This is describing Christianity as a “body of ethical teaching” (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 278; 1 Tim 6:14).

57 Proverbs 26:11.

58 Bauckham writes, “This verse is the author’s final extension of his comparison of the false teachers with α῎λογα ζῷα (‘unreasoning animals,’ 2:12, cf. 16). He sees them now as unclean animals, dogs and pigs, which to the Jewish mind symbolized the immorality of Gentile life (cf. Rev 22:15)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 280).

59 These are no doubt the predictions with respect to the Lord’s return as in 1:16-21 above.

60 As in 2:21, this commandment probably has reference to the ethical aspect of the Christian message.

61 See the LXX Gen 49:1; Jer 37:24; Ezek 38 16; Dan 2:28; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1.

62 The term is ἐμπαῖκται describing those who scorn and despise God’s moral and prophetic revelation.

63 Although some identify the “fathers” as referring to first-generation Christians who are referred to by forger (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 291-93), it is more probably that this refers to OT fathers (cf. John 6:31; Acts 3:13; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:1).

64 Bauckham writes, “It may be that the scoffers are portrayed in vv 3-4 in deliberate antithesis to v 2. Whereas the readers are to remember the predictions of the prophets and the apostolic commandment, the scoffers reject the commandment by following their own lusts (v 3), and the predictions of the prophets by mocking the Parousia hope (v 4)” (Jude, 2 Peter, 289).

The rhetorical question is a standard OT form for enemies who taunt when God does not intervene to rescue (LXX Ps 41:4, 11; 78:10; 113:10; Joel 2:17; Mic 7:10; Mal 2:17; Jer. 17:15)

65 Bauckham writes, “the writer means that the water was, in a loose sense, the instrument of creation, since it was by separating and gathering the waters that God created the world. This also provides a good parallel with the next v, which states that by means of water he afterward destroyed the world” (Jude, 2 Peter, 297-98).

66 This corresponds with verse 5 and thus marks off another argument against the scoffers’ objection in v 4.

67 This is what the scoffers do in verse 5 ( λανθανέτω ).

68 This is derived from Ps. 90:4 (LXX 89:4). Its meaning is probably that in God’s eyes a long period may appear short. Peter is contrasting man’s perspective with God’s perspective. God’s perspective is not limited by the span of man, but extends over ages in accordance with His purposes. Therefore, one should not measure what He will do in terms of their own timetable. Nevertheless, one may still expect Him to act at any time with the understanding that what would appear to be a delay is really part of God’s total perspective on the course of history (see Bauckham’s discussion Jude, 2 Peter, 309-311).

69 Perhaps some Christians were beginning to consider the delay in the coming of the Lord as slowness on His behalf.

70 Bauckham understands this to be a possible reference to the false teachers and a probable reference to Peter’s readers who have been influenced by the false teachers and thus need to repent (Jude, 2 Peter, 313), but this is probably saying too much since the option to not repenting in this verse is experiencing the judgment of God. But the righteous will be delivered from judgment (cf. 2:7-8).

This verse has been a problem for many interpreters over the ages--especially those who are Calvinists who argue that the “you” is speaking to the church and therefore, affirms that the you is speaking to the “elect” and not every man. But this is saying more than the text seems to be affirming. The people of the church were once people of the world and thus demonstrate the effect of God’s gracious delay of judgment.

71 This is an onomatopoeic word ( ῥοιζηδόν ) meant to describe the effects of fire (hissing, rushing, whizzing, crackling).

72 This term, στοιχεῖα , may refer to the elements, the heavenly body, angelic powers or even all of the above.

73 See Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 32:16.

74 See 2:7.

75 This probably refers to the day which will dawn the Parousia and last forever.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Introduction To The Book Of 1 Peter

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I. AUTHORSHIP: That Peter, the head of the twelve, was the author of this letter is not only strongly supported by the external and internal evidence, but is more logical than any of the objections raised against it

A. Identification: The NT had four different names for this individual:

1. Simeon (the Hebrew for Peter’s original name) (Acts 15:14; cf. v. 7; see also 2 Pet. 1:1)

2. Simon (the Greek name for Simeon applied 49 times in the NT)

3. Cephas (a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word for rock [ כֵּיפָא Κηφᾶς ]; this is used to play off of πέτρᾳ)

4. Peter (Πέτρος) the leader and spokesman for the early disciples. This is how he is addressed in the greeting emphasizing his authority to speak

B. External Evidence:1 The early Church regarded the letter as Petrine

1. Clear parallels exist in Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians (c. 96)

2. Traces of the epistle may be in Ignatius, Barnabas and Hermas

3. Polycarp (c 70-150/166) has definite citations form the epistle (but he does not cite it as Peter’s or mention Peter’s name)2

4. Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria all quote this epistle as Petrine

5. Theophilus of Antioch cites this letter as Petrine

6. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 265-339) places it among the books that were accepted by the church without any doubt (homologoumena) and says that Papias (c. 60-130) used witnesses from 1 Peter3

7. The author of the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lugdunum (Lyons) cites this letter as Petrine

8. It is not in Marcion’s canon, but he only mentioned Pauline letters

9. The Muratorian Fragment omits both 1 and 2 Peter (but the text of the fragment is open to doubt in its corrupted state)4

C. Internal Evidence:5

1. The Self-witness of the book: This offers a very strong case for Petrine authorship:

a. The letter claims to be from “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1)

b. The writer claims to be the readers “fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed” (5:1)

c. The writer identifies “Silas” (Silvanus) as one who helped him to write the letter (5:12; cf. Acts 15:22; 1 Thess. 1:1)

d. The writer also sends greetings from Mark (5:13; cf. Acts 12:12)

2. Objections to Petrine Authorship:

a. Linguistic and stylistic objections: Because the epistle has a good Greek style and has been influenced by the Greek of the LXX it is argued that Peter, a Galilean fisherman, was unable to write the letter:

1) But it is possible that Peter could have achieved fluency in the Greek language since it was wide spread throughout the Middle East and more than 30 years separate Peter the fisherman and Peter the writer

2) Since Peter was addressing Gentile converts, it is natural for him to employ the LXX

3) Also the book itself states that Peter used Silas as his secretary (5:12); this may account for its style

b. Historical Objections:

1) Persecution: Because of the persecution which these readers are facing (1:6; 2:12, 15; 4:12, 14-16; 5:8-9) it assumed that this letter must have been written at a time when Christianity has become illegal. Since the Neronian persecutions in Rome never spread to the provinces to which this letter is addressed (i.e., Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; cf. 1:1) then it must be dated during either the Domitianic or Trajanic persecutions which preclude Peter who was supposedly martyred by Nero6

a) But little evidence exists about the early persecutions

b) The assumption of general provincial persecution against Christians is not without problems--especially during Domitian7

c) While it is possible that the situation under Trajan may be reflected, the name ‘Christian’ (4:14) is not limited to that time (cf. Mk. 13:13; Lk. 21:12), the persecution identified with Pliny was not necessary world-wide (1 Pet. 4:12).

d) Although the Neronian persecution was not beyond Rome, “Peter may well have imagined an extension of the attack and wished to warn the Asian Christians of what was in store for them”8

2) Travels: There are no known travels of Peter among the Asian churches who are addressed, but it would not have been unnatural for the leading Apostle to send a message of encouragement to Gentile Christians.

3) Eye-witness: Although Peter claims to be an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ (5:1), he was not present during the entire passion. But this does not prevent him from calling himself a witness!

c. Doctrinal: There is too much affinity of thought between this letter and the Pauline epistles and nothing very original, but Paul and Peter did share the same heritage of oral teaching, and, “even if Peter did utilize Paul’s wisdom, this is no strong argument against Peter’s authorship of 1 Peter. Paul’s gifts were well known in the church (Acts 15:1-2; Gal 2:11-24). A good shepherd like Peter would give his sheep the best spiritual food”9

II. DATE: Although it is not possible to be certain, this letter was probably written before or during the Neronian persecution (AD 62-64)

A. There are three main views to dating this letter depending upon which persecution one understands to be the focus of the letter:

1. Trajan’s (AD 111)

2. Domitian’s (AD 90-100)

3. Nero’s (AD 62-64)

The first two are not necessary conclusions and the third is most probable in view of the above discussion (“Historical Objections”)

B. Tradition understands that Paul and Peter were victims of persecution under Nero at Rome after the disastrous fire in the city of Rome on 19 July 6410

1. The death of Paul is considered to be before Peter’s

2. The timing of Paul’s death does not really affect the date of 1 Peter

C. The letter was written from “Babylon” (5:13) which was probably a cryptic title for Rome--the head of the then pagan, anti-God world (cf. Rev. 14:8; 17:5, 18)

D. Some considerations favor the Neronian persecution:

1. The doctrine and ecclesiastical organization may be early and favor a date not much after AD 60

2. The title of “elect sojourners” (1:1) may be descriptive of the scattering which occurred after the martyrdom of James, the Lord’s brother, at the hands of the Jews making the breach between the Christians and the Jews public (Acts 12)

3. Peter regards the state in a conciliatory way (1 Pet. 2:13-17) which would have been more difficult (but not impossible) at a later date (e.g., after AD 64)

III. RECIPIENTS: The readers were probably a mixed group of Jews and Gentile believers who were scattered throughout the northern regions of Asia Minor:

A. This is a circular (or general) letter, but unlike the others, it identifies its recipients:

B. The letter is addressed to those who are chosen (1:1)

1. This could refer to either Jews or Gentiles who are now a part of the people of God

2. This could refer to both believing Jews and Gentiles who make up the people of God

a. The LXX is used in OT referrals thus supporting a Gentile orientation

b. The terms “elected aliens of the Diaspora” all have a Jewish element to them

c. The former lives of the readers supports a Gentile audience:

1) Previous vain way of life (1:18)

2) Former lusts in ignorance (1:14)

3) The have done what Gentiles do (4:3, 4)

4) They were once a ‘no people’ but were called out of darkness (2:9, 11)

C. The letter is addressed to those who are from places in northern Asia Minor or modern Turkey (1:1):11

1. Pontus

2. Galatia12

3. Cappadocia

4. Asia

5. Bithynia

D. The Letter is written to those aliens residing in northern Asia Minor

E. The letter was written to those of mixed social status (slaves, 2:18-25 and free men, 2:11-17)

F. The letter was written to those who had not physically seen Jesus (1:8) and who were probably new converts (1:22; 2:2)

IV. LITERARY FORM / UNITY: An Epistle

A. Peter is a letter written in normal epistle form

B. The rhetorical and didactic nature of the letter may mean that it was intended to be read aloud to the congregations13

C. While Peter may have used material that existed in others forms (past teaching and preaching, hymns, catechesis, homilies), he now forms a letter which has meaning apart from the previously existing forms

D. Because of the doxology in 1 Peter 4:11 some have questioned the unity of the book:

1. Moule suggested that two letters were written by Peter at the same time and then were united in transmission (1:1--4:1 plus conclusion, and 1:1--2:10; 4:12--5:14), but it lacks any textual support14

2. Some understand Peter to have written a letter with a postscript for a particular church. While this is more likely than the former because it preserves the essential unity of the letter, the evidence does not demand such a conclusion since 4:12--5:11 would be generally relevant to all the churches addressed15

3. It is best to see this letter as a circular type of letter in its present form which was directed to all the churches in the areas mentioned in northern Asia minor.16 The doxology in 4:11 could be there for a number of reasons:

a. Perhaps Peter intended to end at 4:11, but further developments prompted him to add some more material before the conclusion

b. Perhaps in 4:12ff Peter is giving a brief practical summary of the theological points already mentioned

c. It is an appropriate place in the letter to glorify God who gives spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Timothy 1:17 where Paul does a similar thing); this solution seems best to this writer.

V. PURPOSES OF 1 PETER:

A. Although 1 Peter does bare the form of a letter, the tone is that of a homiletical, paraenetic sermon designed to provide direction for believers under persecution; at times it also includes theological considerations which support the ethical exhortations.

B. To emphasize for his readers the indissoluble link between doctrine and practice (5:12)

C. To exhort his readers under persecution to follow the example of Christ whose life was characterized by patient suffering (cf. 2:21ff)

D. To exhort his readers to live in the world in accordance with their high calling by maintaining a good report with the Gentile world (2:12ff) and by sustaining the unity of the community of faith (2:18ff)

E. To exhort his readers who are under the pressure of persecution to look to Christ with an eschatological hope of deliverance and blessing for faithfulness (1:3-12)

F. To exhort his readers who are living in a time which will provide increasing conflict to help and love one another or else the community will suffer injury (4:7-18; 5:1-2)


1 Guthrie writes, “So strong is the evidence for the use of this Epistle in the early Church that C. Bigg regarded it as proved and maintained that is was considered to be canonical as early as the word had a meaning” (NTI, 771). Continuing, “The very great weight of patristic evidence in favour of Petrine authorship and the absence of any dissentient voice raises so strong a presupposition in favour of the correctness of the claims of the Epistle to be Peter’s own work that it is surprising that this has been questioned (Ibid., 773).

2 But he would not have done so unless there was some special reason.

3 Ecclesiastical History 3.25.2.

4 Guthrie writes, “Although it may not have been used as freely in the West as in the East, there is no evidence that it was ever disputed (NTI, 773). Blum affirms that 1 Peter is reflected in the Gospel of Truth which seems to use the books regarded as authoritative in Rome (c. AD 140) (“1 Peter,” EBC, 12:215).

5 The strong internal evidence led to the universal acceptance of this letter as from Peter until recent years (Edwin Blum, “1 Peter,” in EBC, 12:210).

6 Guthrie, NTI, 775.

7 See Guthrie, NTI, 781-782.

8 Guthrie, NTI, 783. Childs writes, “Not only is it explicitly a circular letter, addressed to Christians at large, but its teachings are directed to faithful Christians living in the light of perennial threats to the faith” (The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, 457).

9 Blum, “1 Peter,” EBC, 12:211.

10 First Clement 5:4-7; cf The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible 3:755.

11 This order is either: (1) lacking order, (2) relating to the governorship of Pliny over the joint province of Pontus and Bithynia, (3) dictated by rhythmical considerations, or (4) the itinerary of the bearer of the letter who landed at a port of Pontus, visited the churches in the districts named in that order and then returned to Bithynia.

12 It seems that this is addressed to those who live in northern Galatia rather than those in southern Galatia who received Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Guthrie writes, “This conclusion is supported by the fact that Pontus and Bithynia, which formed one administrative Roman province, are yet not only mentioned separately, but one comes first and the other last” (NTI, 793). These would be areas where Paul did not really preach.

13 See Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27 and Revelation 1:3 for confirmation of this practice.

14 See Guthrie, NTI, 799.

15 Guthrie, NTI, 800.

16 Childs writes, Its canonical shape which renders its message accessible to future generations of Christians is not the result of a secondary redactional process which modified its original, highly specific reference (contra Moule). Rather, like the letter to the Ephesians, its catholic quality lies firmly embedded in the original form of the epistle (The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, 457).

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Argument Of The Book Of 1 Peter

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Message Statement:

In The Midst Of Severe Suffering Peter Exhorts His Readers To Rejoice, Grow, Remain Engaged (Submissive) To One Another, Do What Is Right And Entrust Themselves To God So That They May Bring Glory To God, Reach Others For God, And Receive Honor Upon Christ’s Return

I. SALVATION LEADS TO SANCTIFICATION--EXHORTATIONS TO REJOICE AND GROW: In spite of the readers hardships, trials, and uncertainties of faith, Peter exhorts them to be people who can rejoice in their certain future provisions for life and who will grow through God’s word to bring others to Himself since they are His messengers 1:1--2:10

A. Exhortation to Rejoice in Certain Future: Although his believing audience faces hardship, trials and uncertainties of faith, Peter exhorts them to rejoice in the certain provisions of God for their future--grace, peace, an inheritance and salvation 1:1-12

1. Introductory Greeting: Peter writes to believers who are chosen by the Triune God unto salvation and are scattered throughout northern Asia Minor praying that they would receive God’s full grace and peace 1:1-2

a. Address--Peter to Sojourners: Peter, the apostle, writes to those who live out of their homeland being scattered throughout northern Asia Minor 1:1

b. Nature of Recipients: Peter writes to those who are chosen unto salvation by the Triune God (Father, Spirit and Christ) 1:2a

c. Prayer: Peter prays that his recipients may receive the fullest measure of God’s grace and peace 1:2b

2. The Ability to Rejoice Under Pressure: Peter affirms that although his readers present circumstances may be difficult and the object of their faith may be invisible, they are able to rejoice because of the great provisions God has made for their future 1:3-12

a. God is Blessed for His Future Provision: Peter enriches God the Father’s character because He has caused believers to be born again unto a certain inheritance in the future 1:3-5

1) Born Again Unto a Certain Inheritance: Peter honors God because He has caused believers to be born again unto the hope of a certain inheritance 1:3b

2) According to Mercy: Peter affirms that God has done His work according to His mercy 1:3b

3) Future Inheritance Is Certain: Peter affirms that the believer’s future inheritance is certain 1:4-5

b. Rejoicing in One’s Certain Future: Peter affirms that believers rejoice in their certain future even though their present circumstances are uncertain in that they have trials and cannot see the object of their faith, namely Jesus 1:6-9

1) Rejoice in Future Inheritance: Peter affirms that believers rejoice in their future inheritance even through they face necessary (δει) trails which distress them, yet are designed (ἱνα) to bring praise, glory and honor at the future revelation of Jesus 1:6-7

2) Rejoice in Future Salvation: Peter affirms that believers rejoice greatly (δεδοζασμενῃ) in their future salvation even through their love and faith must now be in Him whom they have not, and do not, see 1:8-9

c. Salvation--A Prophetic Fulfillment: Peter affirms that the salvation which encourages believers today is very significant in that it is the same one which prophets (who wrote) and angels (who looked) desired to understand 1:10-12

1) The Prophets Sought This Salvation: Peter affirms that the salvation of believers is the same salvation that prophets diligently sought to pinpoint in terms of its person and time as they wrote 1:10-11

2) The Prophets Wrote for a Future Generation: Peter affirms that the salvation of believers was revealed to the prophets who searched for its exact fulfillment in their writings which were not for themselves but for a future generation 1:12a

3) Angels Longed to Understand: Peter affirms that the salvation of believers was something that angels longed to understand 1:12b

B. Penetrate The World As God’s Messengers: In view of their certain future Peter exhorts his readers not to alienate others, but to penetrate their world for God by adhering to His word for growth because they are God’s messengers of grace to their world 1:13--2:10

1. Penetrate and Love Others: Because of God’s future provisions for the life of the believer and the certain rebirth which a believer has received from God’s word, Peter exhorts them to penetrate their world and to love others 1:13--21

a. Be Involved in the World: Because of God’s certain provisions for the future, believers are therefore (διὸ) urged to be people of involvement in the world today 1:13-21

1) Prepare Your Mind: Peter urges believers to prepare their minds for action 1:13a

2) Inner Control: Peter urges to be in inner self-control 1:13b

3) Fix Hope: Peter urges believers to fix their hope completely on the grace which God will provide for them in the future 1:13c

4) Separate from Evil: Rather than being pressed into the mold of their former appetites, Peter urges believers to be like God and to separate themselves from evil 1:14-16

5) Live Properly Under Christ: Peter urges his readers to live properly because God will hold them accountable for their works and because God paid a great price to make them His own 1:17-21

a) Conduct Yourselves Properly in View of Christ as Judge: Peter urges his readers to conduct themselves properly because God will address their works as Judge 1:17

b) Conduct Yourselves Properly in View of Christ’s Sacrifice: Peter urges his readers to conduct themselves properly because God paid a great price to make them His own and to encourage them in their faith and hope 1:18-21

(1) Priceless Death of Christ: Peter reminds his readers that they were not redeemed with perishable things but with the priceless death of Christ 1:18-19

(2) The Death Occurred: Peter affirms that although the death of Christ was foreknown, it occurred in space and time to encourage believer’s faith and hope in God 1:20-21

b. Love One Another: Peter affirms that since believers are clean so that they might love other believer, they should love one another from the heart 1:22-25

1) Statement: Since the readers have purified their lives for a sincere brotherly love (φιλαδελφίαν), Peter exhorts them to constantly love one another from the heart1 1:22

2) Reason: The reason believers should love one another from the heart is because the word of God which is eternal has enabled believers to be born again 1:23-25

2. Build One’s Self on God’s Word as a Messenger of Grace: Peter urges believers not to be destructive of other to build up themselves, but to adhere to God’s word for growth because they are now His messengers of grace to the world 2:7-9

a. Put Aside Self-Serving Destructive Behavior: Peter urges his readers to put aside all of the characteristics which are destructive of others but are designed to build themselves up 2:1

b. Long for God’s Word: Peter urges his readers to long for God’s word which will enable them to grow in their salvation 2:2-3

c. Christ is Building Believers to Be Effective for Him: Peter explains that because believers have received Christ, who has been rejected by others, He is building them up around Him to be effective for Him 2:4-9

1) Statement: Peter explains that because believers have been receptive of Christ, He is building them up to be effective for Him 2:4-7a

2) Negative: Peter affirms that those who reject Christ and His word will stumble 2:7b-8

3) Positive: Peter affirms that believers are the ones through whom God is now working in His grace2 2:9-10

II. SANCTIFICATION THROUGH SUBMISSION: Peter exhorts his readers to be submissive in all of their relationships, even if they are wronged, because their good behavior will bring greatness to God, reflect God’s character to others, bring about a change in heart, and ultimately bring reward to themselves 2:11--3:12

A. General Introduction to Excellent Behavior: In a general way Peter exhorts believers not to respond in a natural way towards difficulties, but to be of excellent behavior so that the godless will exalt God 2:11-12

1. Abstain from Natural Desires: Peter warns believers to abstain from natural desires which war against their life even while they are in an estranged state 2:11

2. Be of Excellent Behavior: Peter exhorts his readers to be of excellent behavior among the godless in order that God, when He returns, may be seen to be great by the godless in the very areas in which believers were criticized because of their good works 2:12

B. Specific Exhortation to Submit to Governmental Authorities: Although believers are free, Peter exhorts them not to use their freedom as an excuse for doing evil, but to see themselves as servants of God who will submit to human governmental authorities 2:13-17

1. Submit to Every Human Institution to Silence Foolish Men: Peter exhorts believers to submit themselves, for the sake of the Lord to every human institution so that they may silence foolish men by doing what is right 2:13-15

a. Submit to Every Human Institution: Peter exhorts his readers to submit themselves to every human institution for the Lord’s sake 2:13-14

1) Kings: Peter exhorts his readers to submit themselves to kings as to those who are in authority 2:13

2) Governors: Peter exhorts his readers to submit themselves to governors as to those who are to punish those who do what is evil and praise those who do what is right 2:14

b. Submit to Authorities: Peter proclaims that it is God’s will that his readers submit themselves to the authorities over them so that they might silence ignorant accusations 2:15

2. Exhortation to Use Freedom to Serve: Although believers live as free men, Peter exhorts his readers not to use their freedom to make excuses for doing evil, but to live as free servants of God who function properly within an ordered society 2:16-17

a. Live as Free: Peter affirms that believers are to live as free people 2:16a

b. Not Free for Evil: Peter warns his readers not to use their freedom to permit evil (as a covering or veil for evil) 2:16b

c. Free to Serve God: Peter urges his readers to use their freedom to live as servants of God 2:16c

d. Live Responsibility within Life’s Hierarchy: Peter urges his readers to live responsibly within the hierarchy of their world 2:17

1) Honor People: Peter urges believers to treat all people as having worth 2:17a

2) Love the Brethren: Peter urges his readers to love the brethren (ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε) 2:17b

3) Fear God: Peter urges his readers to fear God (τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε ) 2:17c

4) Honor Those in Authority: Peter urges his readers to honor those in authority over them 2:17d

C. Specific Exhortations for Servants to Submit to Those Directly Over Them: Peter exhorts his readers to be submissive to those directly over them, even if they are unreasonable, so that they might reflect Jesus Christ who Himself submitted to evil for the sake of them 2:18-25

1. Exhortation to Servants: Peter exhorts servants to be submissive to those who are over them--even if they are unreasonable (or crooked, σκολιοῖς ) 2:18

2. Reason--They Reflect Christ: Peter explains to his readers that they should be submissive to those who are over them--especially (only) when they have been treated unjustly--because then they reflect Jesus Christ who Himself submitted to injustice for their sakes 2:19-25

a. God Is Pleased with Unjust Suffering: Peter affirms that God is pleased only when believers bear up under unjust suffering 2:19-20

b. Reason--The Reflect Christ: Peter explains that the reason God is please when believers suffer unjustly is because He has called them to represent Him Who suffered unjustly for the sake of them all 2:21-25

1) Called to Unjust Suffering: Peter explains that believers have been called to suffer unjustly 2:21a

2) Reason--Believers Reflect Christ: The reason believers have been called to suffer unjustly is because they reflect Jesus who suffered unjustly for their good 2:21b-25

a) Christ Suffered for Believers: Peter proclaims that Christ suffered for believers 2:21b

b) Reason: Peter explains that the reason Christ suffered was so that they might also do what is right 2:21c-25

(1) Christ Did No Wrong: Peter affirms that Christ did nothing that was wrong 2:21c-22

(2) Christ Entrusted Himself to God: Peter affirms that Christ did not counter any suffering placed upon Him but entrusted Himself (gave Himself over, παρεδίδου ) to God 2:23

(3) Christ Suffered for the Sake of Believers: Peter affirms that Christ bore the consequence for the sins of believers in order to enable them to be free from evil’s dominion and able to live uprightly 2:24-25

D. Specific Exhortation for Wives to Submit Themselves to Their Husbands: Peter exhorts wives to submit themselves to their husbands especially when they are not obeying God’s word so that they might correct their husbands; and husbands have a responsibility to honor their wives 3:1-7

1. Wives Are to Submit Themselves to Their Husbands--Even If Disobedient: Peter exhorts wives to submit themselves to their husbands even if they are not following the word of God so that they may change them with their lives 3:1-2

a. Statement: As with servants above, Peter exhorts wives to submit themselves to their own husband so that if any of them are disobedient to the word they may be won without a word by their pure and innocent lifestyle 3:1-2

b. Explanation: Peter explains that they way to be submissive is not by being primarily interested in external matters of purity but by being internally pure with thoughtful acts of considerateness and inner peace 3:3-4

c. An Example--Sarah: Peter provides Sarah as an example to follow because she obeyed Abraham by trusting in God even when he was wrong 3:5-6

2. Husbands Are to Honor Wives: As with wives, Peter exhorts husbands to live in an understanding way and to honor their wife so that their prayers will not be hindered before God 3:7

E. General Conclusion--Care for and Honor Each Other: Peter exhorts believers to show care and honor for each other especially when someone does wrong to them because God sees all and will deal with all at his return 3:8-12

1. Live in Harmony: Peter urges his readers to all live in a reciprocal, harmonious relationship with one another 3:8

2. Not Retribution but Blessing: Peter urges his readers not to show retribution in their relationships but to enrich those who do evil to them 3:9a

3. Reason--God will Judge All:3 Peter explains that believers are to do good in the face of evil because they might themselves receive a blessing (good words, εύλογοῦντες ) from God who sees all (good and evil) and will deal with all (good and evil) at his return 3:9b-12

III. SANCTIFICATION THROUGH SUFFERING: When believers are suffering Peter exhorts them to hold to God’s perspective and do what is right, to think accurately and entrust themselves to God, and to place themselves under God’s direction because these things will expose evil, bring others to Christ, not be sin, and yield a reward when He returns 3:13--5:11

A. Hold To God’s Perspective and Do Right: Peter exhorts believers under the burden of suffering to hold to God’s perspective and to do what is right as Jesus did because that will expose evil, bring others to God and is God’s design for them as they live free from the rule of sin 3:13--4:6

1. Look from God’s Perspective: As believers face the difficulties of suffering, Peter exhorts them to look at their circumstances from God’s perspective so that they do not do evil but good so as to expose evil and bring others to God 4:13-22

a. Believers Cannot Be Harmed:4 Peter affirms that no one is able to harm his readers if they are zealous for what is good 3:13

b. Suffering Righteousness is an Enrichment: Peter proclaims that suffering for doing what is right is an enrichment ( μακάριοι ) 3:14a

c. Do Not Fear People--Serve God: Peter urges his readers not to fear people but to serve God and gently explain to people their actions 3:14b-15

d. Obey God in Trials: Peter exhorts his readers to be people who do what God asks of them in trials because God will use their obedience to expose the evil of wrong doers and to bring others to God as Christ has done for them 3:16-22

1) Exhortation--Keep a Good Conscience: Peter exhorts his readers to keep a good conscience 3:16a

2) Purpose--Put the Critics to Shame: Peter explains that the purpose in having a good conscience is in order that ( ἵνα ) the critics of their good behavior may be put to shame 3:16b

3) Reason--Better to Suffer for Doing Right: The reason Peter exhorts his readers to keep a good conscience is because it is better for them to suffer for doing what is right, as Christ did for them, than for doing what is wrong 3:17-22

a) Statement: Peter explains that his readers should keep a good conscience because (γὰρ) it is better for them to suffer for doing what is right, if it should possibly be God’s will,5 than for doing what is wrong 3:17

b) Reason--Christ’s Example: Peter explains that the reason it is better to suffer for doing what is right is because ( ὅτι ) Christ, the Just One, died for the sins of all the unjust6 in order to bring people to God 3:18a-22

(1) Statement: Peter explains that the reason it is better to suffer for doing what is right is because Christ died (suffered, ἔπαωεν ) in behalf of sins once for all, the Just in the place of (ὑπὲρ) the unjust 3:18a

(2) Purpose--Bring Believers To God: Peter explains that the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection was in order to ( ἵνα ) bring believers to God just as His spirit has brought others to God before7 3:18b-22

2. Do What Is Right: Peter exhorts believers to do what is right even when suffering under the attacks of the godless because the gospel and God’s design are for them to live free from sin within themselves 4:1-6

a. Prepare to Suffer: Peter concludes that because Christ suffered physically for the readers ultimate deliverance, therefore ( ου῏ν ) they should prepare8 themselves to do the same 4:1a

b. Reason--They Are Free to Do God’s Will: The reason Peter urges his readers to arm themselves with the same purpose as Christ is because their freedom from sin’s domain is to do the will of God rather than to satisfy their own lusts as they did in the past 4:1b-3

1) Statement: The reason Peter urges his readers to arm themselves with the same purpose as Christ is because ( ὅτι ) the one who suffers in the flesh has ceased with reference to sin so as to live with reference to the will of God 4:1b-2

2) The reason Peter urges his readers to arm themselves with the same purpose as Christ is because ( γὰρ ) they had time enough before Christ to carry out their natural (Gentile) desires 4:3

c. Warning of Being Maligned: Peter warns that as they do what is right, those who are continually trapped in their lusts will malign (or defame) them in the present, but that they will also give personal account before God for this 4:4-5

d. The Design of the Gospel--to Change: Peter explains that the reason his readers should arm themselves with the purpose of suffering for good is because ( γὰρ ) the design of the gospel was to change those who are physically judged to live for God within 4:6

B. Think Accurately and Entrust Yourself to God: Peter exhorts his readers in their experience of suffering to accurately think that God’s light, purifying hand is molding them and to entrust themselves to Him as they support one another so that they will not sin 4:7-19

1. Think Accurately and Live Supportingly: Because Christ’s coming is near, Peter exhorts his readers to be people who think accurately and live supportingly so that they do not sin, but bring honor to God 4:7-11

a. Be Clear in Discerning and Aware Spiritually: Because the end is near9 Peter exhorts his readers to be clear in discerning10 and aware spiritually11 in order to depend upon God rather then themselves (for the purpose of prayer) 4:7

b. Be Committed to One Another: Because the end is near Peter urges his readers to be committed to one another through hospitality and spiritual gifts so that they will not sin 4:8-11

1) Be Diligent in Love: Peter urges his readers to be diligent in their lover for one another because love prevents12 many sins 4:8

2) Be Hospitable: Peter urges his readers to willingly be hospitable ( φιλόξενοι ) to one another 4:9

3) Exercise Gifts: Peter urges his readers to exercise their God given abilities in service to one another in order that they might demonstrate God’s great provisions for life 4:10-11

a) Serve One Another with Grace Gifts: Peter urges his readers to serve one another with their God given abilities (grace gifts)13 4:10

b) Peter explains that their service demonstrates God’s provisions for them be it encouragement through speech or helping others14 4:10b-11a

c) Peter explains that the purpose of using these God given abilities is in order to ( ἵνα ) demonstrate how great God is who rules in life 4:11b

2. Suffering is God’s Purifying Hand: Peter urges his readers to view suffering as God’s light, purifying hand upon them and to entrust themselves to His faithful care 4:12-19

a. View Suffering As God’s Good Purifying Hand: Rather than being surprised by suffering for their faith, Peter urges his readers to view it as God’s good purifying hand which is upon them and is much lighter than that awaiting unbelievers 4:12-18

1) Don’t Be Taken Back by Difficulties: Peter urges his readers not to be taken back15 that difficulties would occur in their lives to make them stronger 4:12

2) Rejoice--A Time of Vindication Awaits: Peter urges his readers to be glad for the pain which occurs for identifying with Christ because there is a great time of vindication ahead for them when Christ appears (*pokal*jei) 4:13

3) The Good of Suffering for Christ: Peter explains that, while suffering for evil is wrong, it is not shameful, but enriching, to suffer because of one’s identification with Christ, and that the readers present purifying is nothing compared with the punishment before rebellious unbelievers 4:14-18

b. Entrust Your Lives into God’s Care: Peter urges his readers to entrust their lives into God’s good and faithful care when they suffer in accordance with God’s desire 4:19

C. Place Yourselves Under God’s Direction: Whether believers are leading or simply interacting with one another Peter exhorts them to place themselves under God’s direction rather than letting the enemy destroy them through rebellion and God will reward their efforts 5:1-11

1. Leaders Are To Care for Those Entrusted to Them: As a fellow leader, apostle, and believer, Peter exhorts leaders to care for those entrusted to them rather than being self-serving and they will be rewarded when Christ returns 5:1-4

a. Exhortation by Peter: Peter exhorts leaders as a fellow leader, an apostle and a fellow believer 5:1

b. Leaders are to Care for Believer: Peter exhorts leaders to care for believers who are entrusted to them by not being self-serving but serving them 5:2-3

1) Shepherd the Flock of God: Peter exhorts leaders to shepherd the flock of God which is given into their care 5:2a

2) Care for Their Needs: Peter exhorts leaders not to care for others out of a motivation of their own needs, but out of a motivation of their people’s needs 5:2b-3

a) Because Leaders Want To: Peter urges leaders not to care for others because they have to but because they want to as God has given to them direction 5:2b

b) A Desire to Serve: Peter urges leaders not to care for what they can receive but with a desire to serve 5:2c

c) As Examples of Godliness: Peter urges his leaders not to lead as hard taskmasters but as examples in godliness 5:3

c. Reward for Faithful Service: Peter affirms that the Chief Shepherd, Christ, will reward the faithful service of leaders of the church 5:4

2. Submit to Each Other and Stand Against the Enemy: Peter urges his readers to submit themselves to each other, especially as under God’s caring hand, and to stand against the enemy who desires to destroy them knowing that God will deliver and restore them in time 5:5-11

a. Young Men Are to Subject Themselves to Leadership: Just as elders are to lead well under God, Peter exhorts young men to subject themselves to their leadership 5:5a

b. Everyone Is to Be Humble: Since God opposes the proud but gives support to the humble, Peter exhorts all of his readers to be humble with each other 5:5b

c. Everyone Is to Bow Under God’s Hand: Peter exhorts all of his readers to bow under the hand of God who cares for them and will exalt them at a later time 5:6-7

1) Statement: Peter exhorts his readers to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God 5:6a

2) Purpose: Peter explains that the purpose in his readers humbling themselves under the mighty hand of God is in order that ( ἵνα ) God may exalt them at a later time 5:6b

3) Explanation: Peter explains that the way his readers are to humble themselves under the hand of God is by depending on His care for them 5:7

d. Be Alert: Peter urges his readers to try to be alert so as to stand against the Devil who is trying to destroy them 5:8-9

1) Be Sober and On the Alert: Peter urges his readers to be sober in their spirit and on the alert 5:8a

2) Reason--The Enemy Is Trying to Destroy Them: The reason Peter urges his readers to be so keenly aware is because the Enemy is actively trying to destroy them 5:8b

3) Resist the Devil: Peter exhorts his readers to resist the devil by remaining firm in their trust of God and by being aware that they share their affliction with other believers 5:9

e. God Will Deliver: Peter affirms that after his readers have suffered their gracious God who has set them aside for Himself will deliver and make them whole in His eternal reign 5:10-11

IV. CONCLUSION--BE COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER: Encouraging his readers to continue following God, Peter sends greetings from those who have suffered and remained faithful and exhorts them to be committed to each other under God’s care 5:12-14

A. Silas’ Role in Writing the Letter: Peter mentions Silvanus who is known for his journeys with Paul as support for this brief but weighty letter proclaiming that they should trust in what God is now doing 5:12

B. The Greeting from Rome: Peter encourages his readers to do what is right through greetings from the church in Rome which is suffering and from John Mark who (has returned to faithful service) 5:13

C. A Final Exhortation and Prayerful Wish: Peter once again encourages his readers by exhorting that they be committed to each other and by mentioning God’s care in their lives 5:14


1 Literally it reads, “eVk kardiva” aVllhvlou” ajgaphvsate ejktenw’” “

2 Peter is playing off of the OT understanding of Israel (Isa. 9:2; 43:20-21; Ex. 19:6; Hos. 2:23). The church is now the people of God. Nevertheless, Israel is still a people of promise.

3 Peter makes allusion to Psalm 34:12-16; cf. also Psalm 11.

4 This is stated in a hypothetical third class condition for the sake of argument.

5 This verb is in the optative mood of possibility ( εί θέλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ ).

6 More literally, “once for all” (cf. Heb. 9:26).

7 The progression of this unit is as follows: (1) Christ was put to death physically but was made alive in His spirit 3:18, (2) In the spirit Christ made proclamation ( ἐκήρυξεν ) to people in Noah’s day but they refused and are now in prison 3:19-20a, (3) Those in Noah’s day who responded (eight in all) were brought safely by God through the waters of judgment upon the world 3:20b, (4) As in Noah’s day so is it now that believers will be delivered by God if they identify (are baptized) with Him; and this identification is not to be simply external but internal by appealing to God to enable them to do what is right in trials based upon His victory and rulership over all spiritual powers (angels, authorities, and powers) 3:21-22.

8 The term is ὁπλιζω with the sense of preparing a meal, getting chariot horses ready, or a soldier training, arming, equipping, and exercising. Peter is exhorting his readers to be ready for war, but their readiness is not to beat the living daylight out of them so much as to be willing to suffer out of commitment to them to bring them to the Lord.

9 Peter is describing the end of a cosmic drama. Literally the tense is perfect ( ἤγγικεν ) meaning that the end has approached with Christ and is continuing to approach since Christ. Jesus marks the beginning of the end times.

10 The term has the sense of being reasonable, sensible, keeping one’s head, temperate, moderate, self-controlled.

11 More literally the sense is to be sober---free from mental and spiritual drunkenness where one loses self control (cf. 1:13).

12 The term is καλύπτει meaning to bury, or cover so a heart does not see (cf. Luke 24:32). Perhaps this means that love buries or covers so that they do not come out. An idiomatic paraphrase may be, “love puts a lid on our sin.”

13 The term being played upon here is grace ( χάρισμα ).

14 When Peter writes, “let him do so as by the strength which God supplies” the term for “supplies” is χορηγεῖ which describes special strength to work in ways which are not normally available (e.g., “to pay the expenses for training a chorus”).

15 More literally the sense of the term ζενίζεσθε has the sense of being alienated, or being estranged.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Introduction To The Book Of James

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I. AUTHORSHIP: Most probably James, the Lord’s half-brother

A. External Evidence: Though not decisive, there is good evidence for the epistle of James:

1. James is the first of the “Catholic” or “general” epistles which gain their name because they lack any specific address

2. Except for 1 Peter and 1 John the Catholic epistles have played more of a part in molding the Christian church than Paul’s letters

3. Some question whether Origen doubted the authenticity of James,1 but his abundant references to James as Scripture override this concern2

4. It is not mentioned in the Muratorian Canon, but this may have been to the corrupt state of this cannon (Hebrews and the Petrine Epistles are also missing).

5. Eusebius cites James among his disputed books (Antilegomena), but he refers to it as if it were genuine3

6. M. Mayor claims to find quotations or allusions to James in Didache, Barnabas, The Testaments of the Xii Patriarchs, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermes and some later second-century Fathers4

7. Guthrie writes, “On the whole it is not altogether surprising that this brief Epistle of James was not much quoted in the earliest period, for it did not possess such wide appeal as the more dynamic Epistles of Paul. It is the kind of letter which could easily be neglected as, in fact, the treatment of it in the modern Church abundantly shows and, once neglected, a fertile soil was provided for future doubts, especially at the time when spurious productions were being attributed to apostolic names”5

B. Internal Evidence: Though one cannot not be dogmatic, it seems reasonable to identify the author of this letter with James, the Lord’s half-brother.

1. The author identifies himself as James 1:1

a. Only two (2) NT people6 could fulfill this title of James and the half-brother of the Lord Jesus is the more reasonable choice:

1) James, the son of Zebedee, of the Twelve Apostles--but he is most probably ruled out since he was martyred in AD 44 by Herod, and the epistle seems to have been written after that

2) James, the half-brother of Jesus, who became the leader of the Jerusalem church

a) This is support by the simplicity of the description (e.g., a well known James)

b) In Church history it seems to have the Lord’s half-brother James who made a significant impact on the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 15; 21).

3) Some believe that the name is only a pseudonym attached to the letter to add authority and others see the salutation as a later addition, but these are not necessary conclusions7

2. If the half-brother of the Lord is the more reasonable of the two possible choices, than other internal evidence supports this conclusion:

a. The author has a Jewish background:

1) He draws upon the Hebrew Scriptures (1:2; 2:8, 11, 23, 25; 3:9; 4:6; 5:2, 11, 17, 18)

2) He employs Hebrew Idioms and style behind the Greek

3) He is concerned with the Jewish Diaspora and uses Jewish terms (cf. 5:4--”Lord of Sabaoth”)

b. There are similarities between James and the speech and letter attributed to James in Acts 158

c. There are similarities with James and the teaching of Jesus. Guthrie writes, “there are more parallels in this Epistle than in any other New Testament book to the teaching of our Lord in the Gospels”9

d. The rest of the NT supports James as a prominent figure who could have written this letter with authority:10

1) Yes, he was an unbeliever in the Gospels (Mr. 3:21; Jn. 7:5)

2) But James is among the brethren in Acts (1:14)

3) James was specially singled out for a resurrection appearance (1 Cor. 15:7)

4) James was the leader whom Paul met in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:19)

5) James held a authoritative position in the church at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:13ff)

6) James spoke with Paul on his return to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey and Paul agrees to James’ request (Acts 21)

e. The community appears to belong to the period before the fall of Jerusalem:

1) Rich land owners who preyed upon the needy was the case before the fall of the Jerusalem11

2) Guthrie writes, “In fact, in addition to the social surroundings of the community, the internal conditions of quarrelsomeness among the Christians may well point to an early stage in the history of the community before much maturity had been reached”12

3) The reference to ‘wars and fightings’ in 4:1 may have a context before the siege of Jerusalem by Titus

4) The “thoroughly Jewish background of the letter is evidenced by the absence of any allusion to masters and slaves and by the omission of any denunciation of idolatry, both of which would have been inappropriate in an epistle attributed to such a devoted Jewish Christian as James”13

II. DATE: Most likely c. AD 45-4914

A. As an ending date Josephus15 states that James was martyred in AD 62

B. There is no mention of the fall of Jerusalem16

C. There is no mention of the Jewish-Gentile controversy which arose in AD 49-50 with the Jerusalem council

D. The primitive character of church order17 suggests an early date

E. This letter was not mentioned in the Jerusalem Council (AD 50?) where James played a prominent role

F. Therefore, it may be appropriate to date this letter shortly before the Jerusalem Council (e.g., AD 45-49). This would make James the first NT book which was written.

III. RECIPIENTS OF JAMES: Probably Christian Jews who fled Jerusalem during the persecution of Stephen in Acts 7--8

A. James identifies his audience as the “twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (1:1)

1. The designation “twelve tribes” suggests a Jewish audience

a. This could be unconverted Jews

b. This could be Christian Jews

c. This could be Hellenistic Jews

d. This could even be Christians generally (both Jews and Gentiles--if one understands the church to replace Israel [which this writer does not])18

2. The following evidence suggests limiting the audience to Christian Jews:

a. The congregation’s meeting is a synagogue (2:2)

b. The Hebrew title “Lord Sabaoth” ( κυρίου Σαβαὼθ ) is Jewish (5:4)

c. The author identifies his readers as Christians (2:1; 5:7,8)

3. It is difficult to identify the exact location of these recipients:

a. The fact that they are “dispersed abroad” implies that they are not in one location

b. One possible reconstruction is that these believers fled during the persecution which came upon the heals of Stephen’s death in Acts 7--8.19

1) Acts reports that the Jewish Christians spread out over Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1), Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:19) as a result of the persecution of Stephen

2) If this is the case, than James would have felt responsible as their former pastor to offer instruction to them at this time

IV. THE THEOLOGY OF JAMES:

A. The character of the Lord is sovereign and good:

1. The Lord is the Sovereign of James (1:1)

2. The Lord cannot be tempted with evil or tempt anyone to do evil; He is holy (1:14)

3. The Lord is righteous (1:20)

4. God’s name is “fair” (2:7)

5. The Lord is the consistent source of every good thing in life with out variation in accordance with His will(1:17-18)

6. God is not partial in His judgments against the poor (2:1,5)

7. God is one (2:19)

8. God is to be blessed by men (3:9a)

9. God has made men in his own image (3:9b)

10. God is the Lord of Hosts who fights for those oppressed by others (5:4)

11. The Lord is coming full of mercy and compassion for those who patiently endure hardship (5:11)

12. The Lord will heal suffering that has come due to sin, when his people repent (5:13-16, 20)

B. The Lord acts on behalf of his people for good when they trust and obey Him:

1. The Lord tries men (1:2-3, 13)

2. The Lord gives men wisdom under trials (1:5-7)

3. The Lord will reward those who persevere under trials (1:12)

4. The Lord has implanted His word of deliverance in believers to preserve the lives of believers (1:21).

5. The Lord bless those who obey His word (1:25)

6. The Lord delights in the works of help and purity by his people (1:27)

7. God’s friends are those who obey Him (2:23)

8. God is the source of all wisdom for those who make peace (3:18)

9. As God’s people submit and draw near to Him, He comes to help them (4:7-10, 15a)

C. The Lord will not give wisdom to his people who do evil, but will pursue them with discipline and judge their evil works:

1. The Lord does not give wisdom to those who doubt in their asking (1:6-7)

2. The Lord will judge us in accordance with the mercy we show to others (2:12-13; He will judge teachers more strictly 3:1; He is the Lawgiver who judges 4:12)

3. The Lord does not give wisdom to men who only ask from God with wrong motives (4:2b-3)

4. God’s people become His enemies when they identify with the world against Him (4:4, 6b)

5. The Lord pursues His people, even when they are in rebellion (4:5-6a)

6. God is able to save and destroy (4:12)

7. God is the Lord of Hosts who fights for those oppressed by others (5:4)

8. The Lord is coming to judge those who are oppressive (5:7-9)

V. PURPOSES OF JAMES:

A. To unfold New Testament wisdom for living and not doctrinal issues so much20

B. The epistle is practical and designed to correct certain known tendencies in behavior21

C. James exhorts in a reasoned, cause and effect pastoral, manner his readers who are under trials to continue in obedient faith before the Lord so that they might receive blessing and help from Him rather than discipline in their disobedience


1 See his commentary on the Gospel of John 19:6 which mentions James with the following formula: “ὡς ἐν τῃ φερομένη ᾿Ιακώβου ἐπιστολῆ ἀνέγνωμεν.”

2 Cf. Ad Rom. 4:1; Hom. in Lev. 2:4; Hom. in Josh. 7:1.

3 See Guthrie, NTI, 737.

4 Guthrie, NTI, 738.

5 Guthrie, NTI, 739.

6 Although the NT makes mention of James, the son of Alphaeus (Mk. 3:18), and James, the father of Judas (not Iscariot; Lk. 6:16), neither have been historically considered as a possible author.

7 See Guthrie, NTI, 740, 753ff.

8 See Guthrie, NTI, 742-743.

9 Guthrie, NTI, 743-44. This may suggest that James is producing reminiscences of oral teaching which he previously heard for himself.

10 Burdick writes, “The authoritative tone of the epistle (forty-six imperatives) agrees well with the authority exercised by James in Acts 15:13ff.; 21:18” (“James,” in EBC, 12:161).

11 Guthrie, NTI, 746.

12 Guthrie, NTI, 746; cf. Acts 6?

13 Guthrie, NTI, 747.

14 Those who hold to the traditional view of authorship are split in their dating of this epistle. They either hold to an early date (before AD 50) or a date closer to the end of James’ life (e.g., AD 62). Those who do not hold to the traditional view of authorship date the epistle about AD 125.

15 Antiquities 20.9.1. Hegesippus states James death to have occurred in AD 68, but this is less probable (Eusebius, HE 2.23.28).

16 This would of been of particular interest to a Jewish-Christian audience. The social conditions of the letter also reflect a date prior to the fall of Jerusalem after which landowning Palestinian Jews ceased to exist (Guthrie, NTI, 763).

17 Elders are referred to (5:14, 16) as well as teachers (3:1) and the regular meeting-place of those addressed is identified as a “synagogue” (2:2).

18 See 1 Peter 1:1 where the term διασπορᾶς is also used. There it probably refers to both Jews and Gentiles. But James identifies those who have been scattered as “the twelve tribes” unlike Peter.

19 See Burdick, “James,” EBC, 12:162-163; Doerksen, James, EBC, 13-14.

20 Actually James has much in common with Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (cf. James 5:12 with Matthew 5:34-37; James 3:10-12 with Matthew 7:16-20; James 3:18 with Matthew 5:9; James 2:5 with Luke 6:20). It also has some in common with wisdom literature (cf. James 1:5 with Prov. 2:6; 1:19 with Prov 29:20; 3:18 with Prov 11:30; 4:13-16 with Prov 27:1; 5:20 with Prov 10:12).

21 Guthrie, NTI, 764.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

An Argument Of The Book Of James

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Message Statement:

When Believers Are Under Trials, An Obedient And Faithful Response (Quick To Hear, Slow To Speak, Slow To Anger) Toward The Lord And Other Believers Will Move The Lord In His Goodness To Provide Wisdom And Blessing For Their Needs Rather Than Necessary Discipline For Their Evil

I. An Introduction of Greeting: James1 as a servant ( δοῦλος ) of God and the Lord Jesus Christ sends greetings to the twelve tribes2 who are scattered among the nations3 (1:1)

II. An Exhortation to Face Trials in a Godly Way: James urges his readers to adopt a good attitude toward trials and not to incriminate God but to recognize themselves as the fountain of death because He is separate from evil and only gives forth life (1:2-18)

A. A Good Response to Trials: James encourages those under trials to be joyful with the knowledge that the testing of their faith produces endurance, to let endurance have its perfecting work in them, and to ask God for wisdom in faith, because they will be rewarded by Christ for their perseverance 1:2-12

1. Be Joyful: James encourages his readers to be joyful when they encounter trials with the knowledge that the testing of their faith produces endurance 1:2-3

a. Exhortation--Consider Trials Joy: James urges his readers, as his brethren, to consider it all joy ( Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ) when they encounter various trials 1:2

b. Reason--Testing Produces Endurance: The reason his readers should consider their trials to be joy is because they know that ( γινώσκοντες ο῞τι ) the testing of their faith produces endurance ( ὑπομονήν ) 1:3

2. Let Endurance Work: James affirms that his readers ought to let endurance have its perfect work in them in order that they may be mature and lacking in nothing 1:4

a. Exhortation--Let Endurance Have Its Perfect Work: James urges his readers to let endurance have its perfect result (work) 1:4a

b. Purpose--That They May Be Mature: The purpose of letting endurance have its perfect work is in order that (ι῞να ) the readers might be mature (perfect) and complete, lacking in nothing 1:4b

3. Ask God for Wisdom with Faith: The writer urges his readers to ask for wisdom from God when facing trials and He will give it to those who believe that He will help them as they do not doubt but reflect on the spiritual perspective of persecution in their lives 1:5-11

a. Ask God for Wisdom and He Will Give It: James urges any of his readers who lack wisdom (when faced with trials) to ask for it from God--who gives it to all men generously and without reproach--and God will give it to him 1:5

b. Ask In Faith without Doubting: James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without doubting because those who doubt are unstable and will not receive wisdom from God 1:6-7

1) Exhortation--Ask for Wisdom In Faith without Doubting: James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without any doubting4 1:6a

2) Reason I--The Doubting Man is Unstable: The reason that James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without doubting is because the one who doubts is unstable (like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind) 1:6b

3) Reason II--The Doubting Man Will Not Receive Wisdom: The reason that James urges his readers who ask for wisdom to ask for it in faith without doubting (that He will help) is because the one who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord because he is double minded and unstable ways 1:7-8

c. The Spiritual Perspective of Persecution:5 In contrast to doubting that God will help the one who asks for wisdom, James urges his readers to reflect accurately on the spiritual perspective of persecution in their life 1:9-11

1) The Perspective of Persecution for the Poor: In contrast to doubting that God will help the one who asks for wisdom, James urges his readers to let the brother of humble circumstances (poor) glory in his high position (before God)6 1:9

2) The Perspective of Persecution for the Rich:7 In contrast to doubting that God will help the one who asks for wisdom, James urges his readers to let the rich man glory in his humiliation8 because he like the flowering grass will pass away in the midst of his pursuits9 1:10-11

4. He One Who Perseveres Will Be Honored: James proclaims that the one who perseveres under trail is blessed he will be rewarded by the Lord as He promised 1:12

a. One Who Perseveres Is Blessed: James proclaims that the one who perseveres under trail is blessed 1:12a

b. Reason--He Will Be Rewarded: The reason that James proclaims that the one who perseveres under trail is blessed is because (*ti) once he is approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him 1:12b

B. Impute Yourself and Not God: James urges those being tempted to recognize themselves as the fountain of death rather than God who is separate from evil and only gives forth life 1:13-18

1. Do Not Accuse God: James affirms that no one should accuse God of tempting them with evil when they are tempted with evil 1:13a

2. Reasons Temptation Does Not Come from God: James affirms that temptation does not come from God who is completely separate from evil and only gives good gifts, but comes from ourselves 1:13b-18

a. Reason I--God Is Not Tempted Nor Tempts with Evil: The reason God should not be accused of tempting the readers is because He cannot be tempted by evil, let alone tempt others (with evil)10 1:13b

b. Reason II--Temptation Comes from Ourselves Not God: James affirms that the reason God should not be accused of tempting the readers is because temptation which leads to death comes from ourselves rather than from our good and consistent God who gives us life 1:14-18

1) Temptation from Self: James affirms that each one is tempted when he is enticed by his own desires which lead to sin and which ends in death11 1:14-15

2) Don’t Be Deceived, Be Confirmed in God’s Goodness: James affirms that rather than being deceived the readers should be confirmed in knowing that God in His consistency only gives good things concerning which our salvation is proof 1:16-18

a) Exhortation--Stop Being Deceived: James affirms that his readers are to stop being deceived12 1:16

b) Giver of Good Gifts: James affirms that (instead of sending temptation) every good and perfect gift comes from our consistently good Father13 1:17

c) An Example: James affirms that his readers (us) existence as born-again believers is an example of God being the enlightening source of good14 1:18

III. A Summary Exhortation to Action for Those Under Trials:15 In view of God’s regenerative work through His word, believers under trials are exhorted to receive without opposition God’s sanctifying word (be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger) 1:19-20

A. Readers Know of the Work of God’s Word: James affirms that his dear brethren know this (the regenerating work of the Word in their lives)16 1:19a

B. Readers Are Exhorted to Respond Well to God’s Word: James urges everyone to receive God’s sanctifying word (be quick to hear) and not to oppose it (be slow to speak, and slow to anger) when in trials 1:19b-20

1. Be Quick to Hear: James urges everyone to be quick to hear (the word when in trials)

2. Be Slow to Speak: James urges everyone to be slow to speak (when in trials)

3. Be Slow to Anger: James urges everyone to be slow to anger (when in trials) because ( γὰρ ) the anger of man does not achieve the uprightness of God 1:19b-20

IV. Obedience to the Word of God Yields an Experience of Salvation:17 James affirms that believers who are under trials need to remain obedient to the word of God in order to experience salvation in their lives by being quick to obey God’s word, by being wise in their speech, and by asking God to help them with their struggles rather than becoming angry and lashing out (1:21--5:12)

A. QUICK TO HEAR--James urges his readers to be quick to hear through obeying the inner witness of the word, not showing favoritism, and expressing their faith through good works which are helpful to others 1:21--2:26

1. Hearing Through Obeying the Inner Witness of the Word: When a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he obeys the inner witness of the word in the realms of guarding his heart, service and personal purity all of which yield blessing in life (1:21-27)

a. Receive the Inner Witness of the Word of God: When under trials, believers are to put aside all filthiness and wickedness18 and to receive the word of God which is active within them, and which will lead to present deliverance in life19 (1:21)

b. Do Not Forgetfully Neglect the Word of God: When under trials, one is quick to hear when he does not respond to the word of God with forgetful neglect but with obedience leading to the blessing of salvation in life (1:22-25)

1) Exhortation to Do the Word: James urges his readers to be doers of what the word says and not only hearers of the word who delude themselves (by false reasoning)20 1:22

2) Reason I--Not Doing the Word Is Inconsistent: The reason James urges his readers to do what the word says is because ( ο῞τι ) to not do so is to be inconsistent like someone who would forget who he is after looking in a mirror21 1:23-24

3) Reason II--Doing the Words Brings Blessing: The reason James urges his readers to do what the word says (the perfect law, the law of liberty)22 is because this is how they will be enriched (blessed) in what they do23 1:25

c. Examples--Valuable Religious Activity: When under trials, one is quick to hear when his religious activity is of value--as he guards his heart (controls his own tongue which leads his heart astray) and serves those in need with personal purity (1:26-27)

1) Fruitless Religious Activity: James describes as fruitless the religion of one who thinks himself to be religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, but misleads his own heart 1:26

2) Fruitful Religious Activity: James describes pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father as to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world 1:27

2. Hearing Through Not Showing Favoritism: When a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he does not show favoritism toward the wealthy in order to prosper, but is committed to all people as the Lord was toward him (us) (2:1-13)

a. Prohibition Stated--Stop Showing Favoritism: James urges his readers stop holding their faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of favoritism24 (2:1)

b. Hypothetical Illustration that Partiality is Evil: James illustrates his prohibition against showing favoritism by affirming through a hypothetical situation that to show partiality to those who are rich (and may thus benefit the church) against those who are poor is to do what is evil (judge with evil motives) 2:2-4

c. Favoritism is Contrary to The Work of Christ: To show partiality toward the rich is wrong because it is contrary to the work of Christ toward men, it dishonors the poor man, and it honors those who are opposed to the Lord (2:5-7)

1) Favoritism Is Against the Work of Christ: James affirms that favoritism is wrong because it is contrary to the work of Christ toward men who honored the poor in that he chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him 2:5

2) Favoritism Dishonors the Poor: James affirms that favoritism is wrong because it dishonors the poor man 2:6a

3) Favoritism Honors the Rich Man Who Is Opposed to the Lord: James affirms that favoritism is wrong because it honors the rich man who opposes them, personally drags them into court, and blasphemes the fair name of Christ by which they have been called 2:6b-7

d. Favoritism Will Lead to Judgment: James explains that for his readers to show partiality is for them to transgress against the ethical Law of the Lord which will result in future judgment [at the Judgment Seat of Christ] (2:8-13)

1) It is Well to Love: James proclaims that if his readers are fulfilling the Royal Law of Love,25 then they are doing well 2:8

2) Favoritism is Sin: James proclaims that if his readers are showing favoritism they are committing sin and are convicted by the Law as transgressors 2:9

3) Explanation: The reason those who show favoritism are convicted by the Law is because (γὰρ) one is guilty of all of the Law even if he keeps the whole Law and stumbles in only one point because it all comes from the same God26 2:10-11

4) Act As Those to Be Judged: James exhorts his readers to so speak and to so act27 as those who are to be judged28 by the Law of liberty because judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy, and mercy triumphs over judgment 2:12-13

3. Hearing Through Good Works: When a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26)

a. The Effect of Faith Without Good Works: James affirms that faith which is not expressed in good works will not bring about deliverance in life29 (2:14)

b. The Uselessness of Faith Without Good Works:30 For James the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17)

c. An Objection:31 One objects that there is no necessary connection between good works and faith (2:18-19)

d. An Answer to the Objection:32 James answers this objection, by demonstrating that there is a connection between good works and faith in that together they benefit other men in life (2:20-26)

1) There Is a Connection Between Faith and Good Works: James responds that there is a connection between faith and good works if one is willing to recognize it, namely, that personal faith is useless to other men if it is not expressed in good works (2:20)

2) Illustration I--Abraham:33 Abraham demonstrated to himself and before men that he had faith in the Lord when he offered Isaac on the alter (2:21-24)

3) Illustration II--Rahab: Rahab demonstrated before men that she had faith in the Lord when she received and delivered the spies out of Jericho (2:25)

4) Illustration III--The Body: The connection between faith and works is that works make one’s faith useful just as a spirit makes one’s body useful in life (2:26)

B. SLOW TO SPEAK--Hearing Through Wise Speech: Those under trials (especially teachers) need to be wise in their speech so that they do not destroy others with their words in an expression of natural wisdom, but so that they sow the seeds of life with inner purity and the external deeds of love in accordance with God’s wisdom (3:1-18)

1. Not Many Should Be Teachers: James instructs his readers that not many should be teachers because of everyone’s tendency to stumble in their speech which affects their whole lives and because only the mature are able to control their speech 3:1-5a

a. Exhortation: James exhorts his readers, as brethren, that not many of them should become teachers because they know that as teachers they shall incur a stricter judgment 3:1

b. Reason--All Stumble: The reason James exhorts not many of his readers to be teachers is because they all stumble (sin)34 in many ways 3:2a

c. Affirmation--The One Who Does Not Stumble Is Mature: James affirms that one who does not stumble in what he says is mature (perfect) and is able to control all of his life (body)35 3:2b

d. Support: Through the analogy of horses and ships James supports his thesis that one who controls a small part (his tongue) is able to control his whole body 3:3-5a

2. Tongue is destructive: James affirms that the tongue is destructive like fire because it cannot be tamed, but this should not be the case 3:5b-12

a. The Tongue Is Like a Destructive Fire: James notes that just as a great forest is set aflame by a small fire, so is it that the tongue is a fire--the very world of iniquity--which is set among the body parts defiling the whole person and setting the course of one’s life on fire by hell (the devil) 3:5b-6

b. Reason--It Cannot Be Tamed: The reason the tongue is like a destructive fire is because it, unlike beasts, birds, reptiles and sea creatures, cannot be tamed since we use it to bless God on one hand and to curse men who are made in God’s image on the other hand 3:7-9

c. Conclusion: James concludes that the same mouth should not bring forth both blessing and cursing because this is unnatural (as with water from a fountain, figs from a fig tree and salt water) 3:10-12

3. Speak in Wisdom: James urges those who are teachers (wise and understanding) to demonstrate this by their good behavior and their deeds in the self-control of God’s wisdom which is not characterized by bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, but is characterized by an internal purity which manifests itself in acts of love which sow the seed of righteousness in peace 3:13-18

a. Exhortation--Demonstrate Wisdom: James urges those who are wise and understanding36 to demonstrate this by their good behavior and their deeds in the gentleness37 of wisdom 3:13

b. Not False Wisdom: James exhorts those who have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their heart not to be arrogant and thus lie against the truth because this kind of wisdom is not from God, but is earthly, natural and demonic 3:14-16

1) Do Not Be Arrogant: James exhorts those who have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their heart38 to stop being arrogant and thus lying against the truth39 3:14

2) Reason--Not From God: James explains that harboring jealousy and selfish ambition is arrogant because this wisdom is not that which comes from the Lord (above),40 but is that which is earthy, natural and demonic because wherever jealousy and selfish ambition exist there is disorder and every evil thing41 3:15-16

c. True Wisdom: In contrast to false wisdom James affirms that the wisdom from God is characterized by inner purity which flows into external manifestations of love because the seed of righteousness is sown by peacemakers 3:17-18

1) Characteristics of Wisdom from God: In contrast to false wisdom ( δὲ ) James affirms that the wisdom from God (above) is characterized by purity which flows out into external manifestations of love--it is:

a) Internal Characteristic: first pure ( ἀγνή )42

b) External Characteristics which are expressions of love:

(1) then peaceable ( ε῞πειτα εἰρηνική )

(2) gentle ( ἐπιεικής )

(3) reasonable ( εὐπειθής )

(4) full of mercy and good fruits ( μεστὴ ἐλέους καὶ καρπῶν ἀγαθῶν )

(5) unwavering ( ἀδιάκριτος )

(6) without hypocrisy ( ἀνυπόκριτος) 3:17

2) Seed of Righteousness Is Sown by Peacemakers: James also proclaims that the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace43 3:18

C. SLOW TO ANGER--Hearing Through Remaining in Relationship with God: James exhorts those who are under trials to become slow to anger by ask God to help them with their desires, and patiently waiting for future judgment upon evil doers rather than seeking illegitimate resolutions like becoming angry and lashing out at one another (4:1--5:12)

1. Resolve Struggle: James explains that the source of quarrels and conflicts among his readers is in their attempts to resolve their desires in illegitimate, godless, external ways rather than repenting of their sinful responses and submitting themselves to God’s work in their lives 4:1-17

a. The Source of Struggle: James explains that the source of quarrels and conflicts among his readers is their desires (lust, passions)44 which wage war ( στρατευομένων ) in their members 4:1

b. The Lack of Resolution--An External Focus: James explains that his readers lack true resolution to their struggles because they attempt to resolve them through external efforts, approaching God with wrong motives, and committing spiritual adultery by becoming friends with the world, but God is graceful to the humble 4:2-6

1) An Attempt to Resolve the Internal through the External: James explains that his readers try to resolve their inner struggle through external quarrels and conflicts against one another rather than asking God for help: 4:2

a) Lust: They lust and do not have so they commit murder45 4:2a

b) Envious: They are envious and cannot obtain so they fight and quarrel 4:2b

c) They Do Not Ask: James explains that they do not have because they do not ask (God for what they need)46 4:2c

2) They Do Not Receive Because of Wrong Motives: James explains that his readers ask for help from God but they do not receive from Him because they are asking with the wrong motives--that they may spend it on their pleasures 4:3

3) Their Pursuit of the World Alienates Them From God, But He Is Graceful: James explains that as his readers have sought after their desires by making friendship with the world they have committed spiritual adultery against God who is jealous for their love and will give grace to those who are humble 4:4-6

a) Friend of the World/Enemy with God: James identifies his readers as being spiritually unfaithful (adulteresses)47 since their desire for friendship with the world makes them an enemy of God 4:4

b) God’s Jealous Longing: In view of the spiritual adultery which the readers are committing James explains that Scripture speaks with a purpose when it states that God jealously longs for his people’s love48 4:5

c) God Gives More Grace: James explains that even though God jealously longs for his people’s love He gives more grace (than his longing deserves) as one who is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble49 4:6

c. Resolution to Struggle: James announces that the resolution to struggle is in his readers deeply repenting and submitting themselves to God’s work in their lives and not in constantly denying their real need through focusing on externals like judging others or arrogant self-planning 4:7-17

1) Moving toward God and Away from Illegitimate Demonic Satisfaction: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by moving toward God with repentance and resisting the devil 4:7-10

a) Submit to God: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by submitting to God50 4:7a

b) Resist the Devil: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by resisting (standing against) the devil with the promise that he will flee from them51 4:7b

c) Draw Near to God: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by drawing near to God whereupon He will draw near to them 4:8a

d) Become Pure:52 James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by ceasing from doing evil (cleansing their hands) and plotting evil (purifying their hearts as double minded (double-lifed, δίψυχοι ) people 4:8b

e) Repent: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by repenting of their evil:

(1) Be miserable and mourn and weep 4:9a

(2) Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy be turned into gloom 4:9b

f) Humble Yourselves: James urges his readers to find resolution to their struggles by humbling themselves53 in the presence of the Lord whereupon He will exalt them 4:10

2) Do Not Focus on Externals: James urges his readers not to illegitimately meet their desires (4:1) by focusing on external things like exalting themselves as God and judge over others or proclaiming positive, arrogant self-planning rather than dealing with their own sin and dependence upon God 4:11-17

a) Do Not Exalt Yourselves Over Others: James urges his readers not to illegitimately meet their desires (4:1) by exalting themselves as God and judge over others rather than dealing with their own lives as sinners 4:11-12

(1) Do Not Speak Against One Another: James urges his readers to stop speaking against one another54 4:11a

(2) The reason James urges his readers not to speak against one another is because by doing so they are speaking against the Law55 and are setting themselves up inappropriately as God and judge and there is only one Law Giver and Judge (e.g., the One who is able to save and destroy--the Lord) 4:11b-12

b) Do Not Proclaim Positive, Arrogant Self-Planning: James urges his readers not to illegitimately meet their desires (4:1) by proclaiming positive, arrogant self-planning rather than dealing with their dependence upon God 4:13-16

(1) Stop the Arrogant Self-Planning: James urges those who proclaim positive, arrogant self-sufficiency to not do this because they do not know what their life will even be like tomorrow 4:14a

(2) You Are Finite: James reminds his readers that they are finite (just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away) 4:14b

(3) Recognize Your Dependence Upon the Lord: James instructs his readers that in stead of their arrogant self-planning they should recognize their dependence upon the Lord's will in their life as they plan56 4:15

(4) Arrogant Boasting is Evil: James informs his readers that they are presently boasting in arrogance which is evil 4:16

3) To Deal with Desires Externally Rather than Internally with God is Sin: James concludes (ου῏ν) that if his readers know the right thing to do (do not deal with desires externally but with God [4:1-16])57 and do not do it, then they are sinning58 4:17

2. Wait Patiently and Do Not Attack One Another: Because God will one day hold the rich accountable for their evil to Christians, James exhorts hurting believers to wait patiently and not to attack one another because they will be held accountable 5:1-12

a. The Rich Will Be Held Accountable for their Evil:59 James tells the rich to mourn greatly because they will be held accountable for the evil which they have done to others in obtaining their temporal things 5:1-6

1) Greatly Mourn: James tells the rich to greatly mourn because their perception of that which endures is wrong since material things will disappear (corrode) and even testify against them in the last days when eternal things will be weighed60 5:1-3

2) Reason to Mourn--Their Evil is Waiting to Testify Against Them: The reason James tells the rich to mourn is because their evil toward others (such as not paying workers, living luxuriously on the loss of others, and using their authority to kill upright people who do not resist them) will be stored up and waiting for them 5:4-6

b. Persecuted Believers Should Wait Patiently Upon God: (Through the technique of interchange,) James exhorts persecuted believers to wait patiently upon God’s timing and not to attack one another because they will be held accountable 5:7-12

1) Wait As A Farmer: Because the rich are going to be held accountable when the Lord returns for the evil they do, James exhorts persecuted believers to wait patiently (strengthen your hearts) just at a farmer waits for the seasonal rains61 5:7-8

2) Don’t Attack One Another: James exhorts persecuted believers to stop attacking62 each other since they will be held accountable at Christ’s coming63 5:9

3) Endure Evil as The Prophets Did: James exhorts persecuted believers to endure evil for good just as the prophets64 and Job65 did to later receive reward 5:10-11

4) Don’t Manipulate by Lying:66 James exhorts believers not to manipulate by lying because they will be held accountable 5:12

V. Restoration Through the Community: In order to continue under sever trials, James exhorts believers to express their hearts to God and each other, always with the stronger helping the weak with sin so that life may be preserved (5:13-20)

A. Express Your Hearts: James exhorts each person to express their hearts to God and to each other in order to continue under severe trials 5:13-15

1. The Suffering Should Pray: James exhorts those who are suffering to pray67 5:13a

2. The Courageous Should Sing: James exhorts those who are courageous to sing praises 5:13b

3. The Spiritually Sick Should Seek Intervention:68 James exhorts those who are spiritually sick to seek intercession by the elders 5:14-15a

a. Call for the Elders: James exhorts the one who is spiritually weak to call for the elders 5:14a

b. Pray Over the Spiritually Sick: James exhorts the elders to pray over the one who is spiritually sick 5:14b

c. Anoint the Spiritually Sick: James exhorts the elders to anoint the one who is spiritually sick with oil signifying God’s blessing 5:15a

4. Results in Restoration and Forgiveness: James notes that the results of the prayer for the spiritually sick are restoration and forgiveness of sins 5:15b

B. Prayer Can Bring About Healing and Preservation: James instructs his readers that when they are involved in helping one another with sin in their lives through prayer, they can bring about healing and preserve others’ lives 5:16-20

1. Confess Your Sins to One Another: James exhorts his readers to confess their sins to one another in order to be healed 5:16a

2. James instructs his readers that prayer by upright people can do much as is illustrated by Elijah’s prayers 5:16b-18

3. James explains to his readers that their involvement with one another when they help one another with sin preserves life and covers over sins 5:19-20


1 See the introduction on his identity. He was the half brother of Jesus and a leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13ff; 21:18).

2 This description identifies the readers as Jewish.

3 These readers do not seem to be residents of Palestine but a scattered people. In view of 2:1, “believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” it seems that this audience is limited in its reference to believing Jews. Perhaps they were members of the Jerusalem church who were driven out of Jerusalem at the time of Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 8:1, 4; 11:19-20). If this is correct, then James was once their spiritual leader (Acts 15) and now he writes with spiritual authority and knowledge of their needs.

4 The doubting not only relates to the existence of God, but to His willingness to help in our need. Doerksen writes, “It is a deep conviction that God’ is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him’ (Heb. 11:6), coupled with an acknowledgment of our need for help. We must believe not only in God’s ability to respond to our petition, but also His willingness to do so in conformity to His nature and will” (James, Everyman’s Bible Commentary, 21). Later he says, “‘Doubting’ speaks not of uncertainty but of internal indecision. It is wavering between two competing desires: self-interests and God’s interests. That doubting suggests a reluctance to commit oneself wholly to God’s care.... One may doubt because his is not fully assured that God will respond, or because he is not sure he wants God to answer (Ibid.).

5 James Burdick writes, “These are sobering thoughts that tend to reduce the rich to the level of men in general, just as the privilege of suffering for Christ lifts the poor man to a new plane of dignity and worth” (“James,” in Expositors Bible Commentary, 12:170).

6 This high position relates to his position in Christ and possibly the honor which he will receive for suffering for the name of Christ (cf. Acts 5:41).

7 Donald Burdick writes concerning the persecution being described here, “The very same treatment that exalts the poor man and gives him a new sense of worth also humbles the rich man. Suffering shows him that, instead of having a lasting lease on life, his life on this earth is no more permanent that ‘a wild flower’ (cf. Isa 40:6-8)” (“James” in EBC, 12:170).

8 Perhaps this humiliation relates to the trials which he is experiencing.

9 James makes allusion here to Isaiah 40:6-7; see also Psalm 102:4, 11; 1 Peter 1:24.

10 Burdick writes, “That is, he cannot be successfully tempted. His omnipotent, holy will fully resists any invitation to sin. Furthermore, in him there is not the slightest moral depravity to which temptation may appeal. Therefore, it is inconsistent to think that God could be the author of temptation” (“James,” EBC, 12:172)

As Doerksen says, “There are certain passages that speak of God’s testing. He tested Abraham (Gen. 22:1) and Israel (Ex. 16:4; Judg. 2:22), but that was to build character, not to solicit evil” (James, EBC, 30).

11 Burdick writes, “A chronological order is suggested by the words ‘then’ and ‘after.’ First, temptation comes (v. 14); then desire, like a human mother, conceives and ‘gives birth to sin.’ In this graphic manner the author portrays the experience of yielding to temptation. Than sin, the child of evil desire, develops till it ‘is full-grown’ and ready to produce offspring. When it conceives, it ‘gives birth to death.’ James is not suggesting that only when sin has reached its full development does it result in death. The details of the illustration must not be pressed too far. The author’s intention is simply to trace the results of temptation when one yields to it. The order is evil desire, sin, death” (“James,” EBC, 12:172).

12 The construction is a prohibition with a present tense imperative ( Μὴ πλανᾶσθε ) which has the sense of stopping what you are doing (Dana and Mantey, § 290).

13 Burdick writes, “The context seems to indicate that the lights referred to are the stars and planets. ‘Father’ probably has the twofold significance, pointing on the one hand to the creation of the lights and on the other to God’s continuing sovereignty over them.

Unlike the ‘shifting shadows’ that are caused by the sun, moon, and stars, God ‘does not change’” (“James,” EBC, 12:173).

14 This birth is said to come “through the word of truth” and therefore, probably refers to spiritual birth rather than physical birth. This was accomplished by his choice ( βουληθεὶς ). These early Christians were to be the first portion of the harvest (firstfruits) of the many people (his creatures) who would believe in later centuries.

15 Doerksen writes, “The mention of regeneration through the Word (v. 18) fittingly introduces new thoughts concerning the Word. As the Word produces regeneration, so it is also a means of sanctification. After writing of the experience of the new birth, James continues with the challenge to live out the new life by means of the word” (James, EBC, 39).

Perhaps what follows is the “wisdom of God” offered in 1:6 for dealing with trials! These two verse seem to be programmatic for the next major unit of this book. The outline of the passage is given in 1:19-20. Then the next major section unfolds as follows: (1) Those under trials need to remain obedient to the Word for true life [1:21--2:26], (2) Those under trials need to be wise in their speech to give life [3:1-18], and (3) Those under trials need to ask God to help them with their inner struggles rather than becoming angry and lashing out [4:1--5:12].

The larger structure of this book may be as follows: (1) Introduction to People with Problems [1:1], (2) Basis for trusting God with Problems [1:2-18], (3) How to Go on with Your Faith in the Midst of Problems [1:19--5:12], and (4) People Helping People for Restoration in Life [5:13-20].

16 This is translating the term for “know” ( ῎Ιστε from οἰδε ) as an indicative rather than an imperative. If it is an imperative it refers to what follows (‘My dear brothers, take note of this:’) but if it is an indicative it refers to what has just preceded it.

17 James now unfolds his exhortation above in 1:19-20 in the context of particular issues which his readers are experiencing. His thesis is that by obeying God’s word when they are under pressure, they will experience salvation in their daily lives. God’s word not only offers salvation from the penalty of sin, but salvation from the effects of sin in this life. The tone of what follows is very similar to wisdom literature. By heeding the advise of James, the readers will find skill for living a more profitable life.

18 The readers are to strip off this moral filth like dirty clothes in preparation for the word (cf. Hebrews 12:1).

19 Burdick writes, “That the Word is described a ‘planted in you’ suggests the readers were believers who already possessed the truth. The phrase ‘which can save you’ simply describes the truth as saving truth. James is not calling for an initial acceptance of that message, but for a full and intelligent appropriation of the truth as the Christian grows in spiritual understanding” (“James” in EBC, 12:175).

Doerksen understands “saved” in the final eschatological sense (James, EBC, 44). One wonders, however, why this conclusion is drawn. It seems that the context emphasizes the present aspect of salvation rather than the past or future. They are experiencing trials and James is writing to offer help in this present situation.

20 See Colossians 2:4 ( παραλογιζόμενοι ). James is exhorting his readers to put into practice what the word says to them and thus what they profess to believe.

21 James does not want them to forget who they are (firstfruits for all that God has created [1:18]). Any failure to respond cannot be blamed on lack of understanding because this look is described as an intense observation.

22 This law is probably the ethic of the Mosaic law (cf. James 2:8, 12) where “law” is also used.

23 Could this be parallel to the wisdom of Psalm 1 (a wisdom/Torah psalm).

24 Literally this reads, “μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαιας ε῎χετε τὴν πίστιν ....” “Stop having the faith in favoritism ....” Burdick writes, “To say that practicing favoritism contradicts one’s profession of faith is another way of saying that one’s action does not measure up to the truth he professes to believe” (“James” in EBC, 12:177).

25 Again, this Law is the ethical code of Moses (Exodus 10; Deuteronomy 5 cf. w/ Leviticus 19:18; see also Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14). It is the law to love one another--all men be they rich or poor.

26 This may support the concept that the ethical Law is a reflection of the very character of God. Therefore to break any of the commandments is to rebel against God in his very person. To not commit adultery, but to commit murder is to not love one made in the image of God and thus to not love God Himself! What we do to one another we do to God (Psalm 51).

27 This is a literal rendering of the Greek which reads, “Ου῞τως λαλεῖτε καὶ ου῞τως ποιεῖτε.”

28 Since this audience is identified as being believers (see above), then this judgment must be referring to the Judgment Seat of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Luke 19:11-27).

29 A major theological issue in James is the meaning of this verse. One may work with the problem in the following logical manner:

The field of meaning of the term for “save” ( σῴζω) is as follows: (1) To “preserve or rescue fr. natural dangers and afflictions” as in from death, mortal danger, disease, ill condition, (2) To “save or preserve from eternal death” and (3) One and two above at the same time (BAG, p. 798-799):

If the message of this unit is that when a believer is under trials, he hears the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26) ...,then the “force or sense” of this question is in reference to the first denotation of σῴζω : “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers” and not those senses of two and three above. This meaning is further supported by the contextual placement of this unit: This statement falls in a unit addressed to believers--”my beloved brethren” (1:19), exhortations in 1:19 outline this unit for believers under trials, “the word implanted” is a new covenant description (1:21 cf. Jer. 31:33), reception of the word implanted is able to save the lives of those who are already brethren (1:19-21). Therefore, since they are already brethren (1:19), the eternal aspect of σῴζω is no longer an issue.

The analogy which follows (of words and food to a hungry man as faith and words is to deliverance) is temporal. A man is born once physically but is sustained by daily food. A man is born once spiritually but must be sustained by works.

One might illustrate James teaching in the following way: A car going down the street is about to hit you. You say to the Apostle Paul, “Faith will deliver me right?” Paul says, “Yes, you will go to heaven.” But James says, “Faith and works will let you live and have a productive life now--sooo get out of the street!”

Faith alone will not win approval at the judgment seat of Christ where our works are judged (1 Cor.3; Luke 19:11-27).

30 The example is designed to illustrate the proposition in 2:14 that faith which is not expressed in good works will not bring about deliverance in life (2:14).Therefore, the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17). The words are words of ‘faith,’-- “go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” --but the actions of “not giving them what is necessary for their bodies” are in no way useful for their needs. Therefore, the example demonstrates that faith which is not expressed in good works is useless since it does not bring about deliverance in life (σῴζω ).

Another important question is what is meant by the statement “faith by itself, ... is dead”? 2:17

The field of meaning of the important terms is as follows--for the term “πιστίς:” (1) That which causes trust and faith, (2) Trust, confidence, faith in the active sense = believing, and (3) That which is believed, body of faith or belief, doctrine: (BAG, pp. 662-664).

For the term “νεκρά “ (1) Dead as in living persons falling dead, lifeless, morally depraved, separated, useless, and (2) The dead person (BAG, pp. 534-535)

If the message of this unit is that the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17) ...,then the faith described is an active sense of believing and not a body of faith or belief. Likewise if the message of this unit is that the uselessness of faith which is not expressed in good works is demonstrated in the one who speaks encouraging words to another in physical need, but does not act to relieve their distress (2:15-17)..., then “dead” is descriptive of a separation which is lifeless, or useless. Therefore, the sense of “faith by itself, ... is dead” is not that of “a body of doctrine which is not sufficient for eternal life,” but that “it is the act of believing which is useless in that it does not preserve life in the present as in 1:21.”To only express one’s faith without the necessary accompanying good works to help someone in their distress, is to express a faith which is not helpful to others; it is separated from life in its effects.

31 One might ask, “what is the meaning of the objector in 2:18-19?” It seems that he is arguing that there is no necessary connection between faith and good works:

“you have faith

and I have works

You show me your faith apart from works

and I will show you my faith by my works

You believe that God is one. You do what is right.

Demons also believe and shudder.”

The objection is that faith and good works need not be correlated with one another since they can be demonstrated to exist apart from one another. This misses James’ point concerning the profit of faith when expressed alone as opposed to with good works.

Therefore, the objector is arguing that faith must not necessarily be correlated with works to prove its existence, but James is arguing concerning the necessary correlation of faith with works in order for there to be any present benefit in the trials of life.

32 James offers evidence for the profit of combining works with faith through two illustrations: (1) the father of faith--Abraham, and (2) the epitome of a Gentile who had faith--Rahab.

Abraham’s good works of obeying God as he offered up his son who was to fulfill the promise already given to him, demonstrated to himself and others the justifying faith of the patriarch with God. Abraham’s works demonstrated the growth of Abraham’s faith to himself (2:22) as well as the truth of God’s earlier declaration of righteousness (2:23a). Abraham’s works demonstrated to others that he was God’s friend (2:23b).

Rahab the harlot’s faith also demonstrated to others that she had expressed believing faith in the Lord when she received the messengers of the Lord and then delivered them from her people who were under the judgment of God by sending them out another way (2:25).

In both cases, the works of the one who had faith in the Lord was a profit in present life trials. This fits well with the message for this unit: “when one is under trials, one hears the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26)”

33 One might ask, “how do we harmonize James’ ‘justified by what he does and not by faith alone’ (2:24) with Paul in Romans 4:1-3?

It seems that the harmonization lies in the emphasis of the two passages. In Romans the emphasis is “before God” where in James the emphasis is “before men.” For Paul, justification is to declare a sinner righteous in the sight of God: “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about: but not before God.” (Rom. 4:2). For James, justification is to vindicate or show that a person is righteous before men. In Genesis 22, Abraham demonstrates the reality of Genesis 15:6 (cf. also 2 Chronicles 20:7 where Abraham is called by men, “Thy friend forever;” Isa. 41:8; and John 15:14 where the disciples are told that they will be Jesus’ friends if they do what he commands them to do).This distinction of “before God” and “before men” is consistent with the message of James 2:14-26 where the emphasis is that: When one is under trials, one is a hearer of the word of God when he expresses his faith through good works to bring about deliverance in life for others (2:14-26). When faith is combined with good works, it brings about deliverance for others, and thus leads them to declare that one is righteous before God.

34 This term does not merely describe “mistakes” so much as acts of sin (cf. 2:10).

35 Burdick writes, “If anyone could be found who never sins with his tongue, he would never sin in any other way, either. Since sins of the tongue are hardest to avoid, anyone who could control his tongue would surely be able to ‘keep his whole body in check’ --keep it from being used as an instrument of sin” (“James” in EBC, 12:187)

36 In other words, those who are teachers among the Jews--the scribe and the rabbi (TDNT 7:505).

37 The term is πραῦτητι describes a strength under control. This is the gentleness which comes from wisdom.

38 This is a first class condition which assumes that this is true.

39 The prohibitions are both in the present tense with μὴ thus demanding the activity to cease.

Burdick writes, “James’s readers may have been priding themselves in their partisan defense of the truth--a defense that was to their own advantage and advancement. Through such bitter and partisan defense, they were in reality denying the very truth they were attempting to defend” (“James,” EBC, 12:190).

40 See John 3:3, 7.

41 Braudick writes, “James is no doubt speaking of disturbance and turmoil in the church. The ‘evil practice’ refers specifically to worthless activity, to deeds that are bad because they are good for nothing and cannot produce any real benefit...” (“James,” EBC, 12:191).

Doerksen suggests that these may be false teachers, “‘Truth’ may refer to the facts in a case, the truth; or it may speak of the truth of the gospel. If the second meaning is the case, the so-called wise teachers were actually living a lie against the gospel” (James, 88).

42 This is the absence of sinful attitudes and motives (in contrast to the self-seeking motives mentioned in 3:14-16).

43 Burdick writes, “James concludes his discussion of ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven’ by reiterating the second quality listed in v. 17. To ‘raise a harvest of righteousness’ demands a certain kind of climate. A crop of righteousness cannot be produced in the climate of bitterness and self-seeking. Righteousness will grow only in a climate of peace. And it must be sown and cultivated by the ‘peacemakers.’ Such persons not only love peace and live in peace but also strive to create conditions of peace” (“James,” EBC, 12:191-92).

44 The term is ἡδονῶν meaning pleasures from which we get the term “hedonism.” Burdick writes, “Pleasure is the overriding desire of their lives. Nothing will be allowed to stand in the way of its realization” (“James,” EBC, 12:192).

45 Burdick appropriately writes, “Some, insisting that the word must be taken literally, say that James is not referring to any specific occurrences but is indicating what happens when men desire pleasure rather than God (Ropes, p. 255). This interpretation, however, does not do justice to the pointed accusation ‘You Kill.’ In the context of forceful words such as polemoi (‘wars’) and machai (‘battles’), it seems better to take phoneuete (‘you kill’) as hyperbole for hatred” (“James,” EBC, 12:193). See also Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15 where hatred is identified with murder.

46 Question--is what they are asking for what it is that they need? Or are they asking for symptoms of the deeper issues? Are the real issues tied to the original sins of lust and their envy? And are lust and envy the core issue? They are expressions of the heart’s longing which is met illegitimately (cf. 1:14-15). James will move in this direction with the next verses.

47 See Jeremiah 31:32; Hosea 2:2-5; 3:1-5; 9:1; Ezekiel 16.

48 This is probably the gist of passages like Exodus 20:5 and 34:14.

49 The last part of this verse comes form Proverbs 3:34. Burdick writes, “The reference to the gift of grace looks back to God’s demand for loyalty (vv. 4-5). God in grace gives his people the help they need to resist the appeal of the world and to remain loyal to him. The reference to ‘the humble’ constitutes the theme for vv. 7-10, where James pleads for submission to God. ‘The humble’ are the people who willingly submit to God’s desire for them rather than proudly insisting on satisfying their own desires for pleasure (cf. vv. 1-3) (“James,” EBC, 12:194).

Therefore, the difficulty which these readers may be finding themselves as God does not answer their prayers is in part due to his resisting the proud!

50 The term is ὑποτάγητε and is the logical response to 4:6 so that they might receive grace rather than God’s resistance. The writer is urging his readers to not flee from God under the fuel of their desires, but to remain in relationship to Him (submit).

51 The term for resisting describes a face to face confrontation ( ἀντίστητε ) as in Paul’s face to face confrontation of Peter in Galatians 2:11. Perhaps the Devil is brought in at this point because it is his “world system” which the readers are going toward as they seek resolution of their desires apart from God (cf. 4:4).

52 These words describe ceremonial cleansing as in Psalm 51:7-9; 16-17.

53 This is again an allusion to Proverbs 3:34 cited above in verse 6. Burdick writes, “Here the specific form of humbling is that of repentance for the sin of transferring affections from God to pleasures of the world” (“James,” EBC, 12:195). See also Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 5:6).

54 This is another prohibition with the present imperative with the sense that they are already doing this.

James does not seem to be speaking against evaluating whether someone is murdering or doing evil in this exhortation. We are supposed to do such things (cf. 1 Cor. 5; Luke 6:32). Rather, it seems that he is addressing those areas which are “questionable” (cf. Rom. 14) wherein people place themselves up as God instead of really dealing with their own sin!

55 Again this is probably the ethic of the Moral Law (cf. Lev. 19:18 “Love your neighbor as yourself”).

56 See Paul’s use of this phrase in Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19; but note that he does not use it mechanically (Acts 19:21; Romans 15:28; 1 Corinthians 16:5, 8). Whether stated or not, Paul knew his life and plans were conditioned upon the will of God.

57 It seems that the right thing to do was explicitly stated as repentance in 4:7-10. James is exhorting his readers not to ignore their desires by doing evil (pointing their fingers at others and proclaiming arrogant autonomy). Positive thinking is not the button which moves God to resolve our lusts during hard times. God desires for us to be in touch with our real needs and to ask Him for help rather than just our wants.

58 Burdick writes, “It is like saying, ‘Now that I have pointed the matter out to you you have no excuse.’ Knowing what should be done obligates a person to do it” (“James,” EBC, 12:198).

59 “There is good reason to believe that the persons referred to in this section are not believers. It might be argued that they are personally addressed in the same way other groups are addressed in previous sections (3:1; 4:13). Since the epistle in general is written to Christians, it might be assumed that the rich of 5:1-6 are Christians just as the rich of 1:9-11 are. However, there are significant differences between 5:1-6 and the rest of the epistle. These individuals are not addressed as ‘brothers’ (cf. 1:2, 16, 19; 2:1, 5, 14, 3:1, 10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12). Furthermore, they are not called on to repent and change their ways but only to ‘weep and wail’ because of the judgment they are going to undergo. It is, therefore, more reasonable to understand the section as similar to OT prophetic declarations of coming judgment against pagan nations. It will be noted that the latter also are interspersed among sections addressed to God’s people (e.g., Isa 13-21, 23; Ezek 25-32)” (Burdick, “James,” EBC, 12:199).

These are those who are probably persecuting the readers. James is encouraging his readers that God will one day deal with the evil of these men by judging them.

60 Burdick writes, “The tarnish was indication of how long the hoarded wealth had lain idle. He warns the rich, ‘their corrosion will testify against you’” (“James,” EBC, 12:199).

61 Burdick writes, “In Palestine the early rains came in October and November soon after the grain was sown, and the latter rains came in April and May as the grain was maturing. Both rainy seasons were necessary for a successful crop. Knowing this, the farmer was willing to wait patiently until both rains came and provided the needed moisture” (“James,” EBC, 12:201).

62 A prohibition with the present imperative.

63 Burdick writes, “And the Judge is represented as ‘standing at the door,’ as if his hand is on the latch, ready to enter at any time” (“James,” EBC, 12:202).

64 Probably Jeremiah is an outstanding example of this--He was put in stocks (Jer. 20:2), throne into prison (Jer. 32:2), lowered into a cistern (Jer. 38:6).

65 See Job 1:21-22; 2:10; 13:15; 19:25-27; 42:10-17.

66 See Matthew 5:34-37.

67 The term for suffering ( κακοπαθεῖ ) was used above (v. 10) in its noun form for the prophets.

68 The purpose of this passage does not seem to be to give the reader a formula or pattern to follow when he or another believer is sick in a physical way. This view has been a traditional interpretation of the passage by evangelicals such as Doerksen (James, EBC, 13:29-134), Tasker (The General Epistle of James, INTC, 129) and Burdick (“James,” EBC, 12:203-204).

However, Daniel Hayden notes that, “If James 5:13-18 is a reference to special healing of physical illness, then it is totally unique to the teaching of the New Testament Epistles and disruptive to the argument of the Book of James” (“Calling the Elders to Pray” Bibliotheca Sacra 138:551 [July-September 1981]:258). He goes on to point out that nowhere else in the Epistles is there a special divine healing of the sick through the ministry of the elders. Timothy was told to take wine for his stomach (1 Tim. 5:23), Trophimus was left sick in Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20), Paul’s infirmity was the work of God (2 Cor. 12:7-10), believers are encouraged to view physical distresses as working toward a spiritual benefit (Rom. 8:18-25; 2 Cor. 4:16-18) and as completing and perfecting them (James 1:4) (Ibid., 259). This segment, if on physical healing, also does not seem to fit into the flow of the preceding context concerning injustice (5:1-12) or the confession of sin following it (5:15ff). Therefore it seems that a different design must be sought which takes into consideration all of the elements of the text. True this could be the only text which addresses this doctrine of healing but a better explanation is possible.

It seems that the design of James 5:13-20 is to encourage his Christian readers, who are suffering persecution, to support and restore one another through the ministry of the strong praying for the weak.

This design can be supported through the specifics of the text as follows: (1) James has been arguing that trials and temptations are going to come and how the believer reacts to them is important (1:2-18). Then in 1:19--5:12 James shows how faith should respond to such trials. Finally, in 5:13-20 James provides specific instructions on how to restore those who are or have not reacted well and thus are discouraged. Therefore, this unit can and does fit well into the logic of the book.

(2) Two groups are addressed in summary form in verse 12 who will be developed throughout this segment. Those who are suffering from the hardship of persecution, not sickness (cf. κακοπαθεω, 2 Tim. 2:9; 4:5) and those who are able to keep up their courage during these persecutions (cf. ευθυμεω, Acts 27:22, 25). The latter will need to strengthen the former.

(3) Although some terms allow for a lexical meaning of ‘sick,’ they also allow for meanings which better fit into the context of the book, (e.g., ‘sick’ in 5:14 (ἀσθενεω). This term generally means weak and is used to describe a weakness due to persecutions, convictions, insults, and distress (cf. 2 Cor. 12:10; Rom. 14:2; 1 Cor. 8:11). To anoint (ἀλειφω) with oil has many expressions with those not physically sick (Lk. 7:38, 46; Jn. 12:3; 11:2; Mk. 16:1) and although Mark 6:13 could be used to support the traditional view, it seems that the concept of anointing the head with oil as a sign of blessing and refreshment from God better fits the passage in light of eastern, Old Testament culture (cf. Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam. 12:20; 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 45:7; 92:10; Amos 6:6; Matt. 6:17). The term in verse 15 for ‘the one who is sick’ ( καμω) specifically is used to describe one who is weary of enduring trials which God has set before him in Hebrews 12:3. The term ‘restore’ in verse 15 (ἐγειρω) does not necessitate physical healing (Matt 12:11) and may be a figurative way of describing the restoration of one discouraged. Also the term for ‘healed’ (ιἀομαι) clearly can have the sense of spiritual healing as in Hebrews 12:12-13 where those who are spiritually weak (weak hands and feeble knees) are said to be healed from their struggle with sin (cf. Heb 12:3-4).

(4) The movement from the work of the elders (v. 14) to the forgiveness and confession of sin (vv. 15, 16) is light of the above design is logically relating sin to one who is not persevering during persecution and the spiritual healing which comes from confession which enables the believer to then live a Spirit enabled life.

(5) the illustration of Elijah (vv. 17-18) is an appropriate one because Elijah demonstrated the possibility of effective prayer (1 Ki. 17:1; 18) even through he became discouraged under persecution (1 Ki. 19). It is also interesting to note that if prayer for physical sickness were in view, James could have used Elijah’s prayer for healing of the widow’s son (1 Ki. 17:17-24).

(6) The concluding verse of the book (5:19-20) are an encouragement for believers to minister restoration to one another for their physical and spiritual prosperity.

In light of the above the passage should probably not be used to support an obligation on God’s behalf to heal a believer who is physically sick because the doctors have applied medicine or the elders have applied oil and prayed. This passage does not support the Catholic doctrines of ‘extreme unction’ or ‘confession of sins to priests.’

Rather this passage is very similar in application to Galatians 6:1; John 13; and Hebrews 10:24-25. It is the responsibility of those who are strong in their Christian faith (e.g., elders) to support and encourage those weak believers who during difficult times become weary and are willing to apostasize in the sense of Hebrews. The weak believer has the responsibility to confess these types of sins (discouragement in their Christian faith etc) to those who seem to be doing well, and the strong have the responsibility to uphold the weak through the ministry of intercessory prayer. The Christian life is not to be that of independence but interdependence. The body of Christ is to care for itself. When believers are discouraged, they are to be encouraged. When there is sin in a believer’s life, there is to be restoration through confession and prayer.

This passage does not necessarily teach that there should be public confession of sin because in such a confession the weak would be present with the strong (which violates the set pattern) and because the purpose is for the strong to pray for the needs of the weak--not just to ventilate. However, there is to be a sharing of areas of sin and personal need for the purpose of a stronger brother to help (v. 19) and pray for the weaker.

God desires the body of Christ to work towards strengthening, restoring, and rejuvenating the spiritually weak. Perhaps oil might be placed upon the head of one who is physically sick because of sin (1 Cor. 11), but the oil was actually a sign of the ending of mourning and the entrance into life and festivity.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

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