Monthly Archives: September 2021

Peter’s First Letter–1

Once a week, we a small ekklesia, are looking at an amazing scriptural letter by Peter who described himself as an apostle (a sent messenger) of Jesus Christ. He wrote to people he describes as aliens, strangers, they don’t belong here. How can that be?

He wanted to encourage them, to prepare them, for a most important, earth-shattering event was soon to take place. Terrible judgment was about to come on many back in Jerusalem and Judea. The temple and the Jewish religion as known for centuries, Judaism, would be destroyed and replaced by a new creation. This would also seriously impact them and many traditional Jews where they lived.

We read they were in various places, scattered throughout Pontos, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These were real places in the Ancient World. It’s interesting if you check Acts chapter 2 you find those same places mentioned among the many other regions, from which people had come to Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Acts 2 describes how on that day the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them.

So Peter was addressing some of those same people who had heard him proclaiming on that day some 25 or 30 years previously. These would have gone back to their homelands and no doubt bore witnesses for Jesus by the power of the Spirit where they lived.

Peter calls them chosen by God the Father, sanctified by the Holy Spirit and sprinkled with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was amazing thinking for a man who was still ‘Jewish’ (as most early believers were) to put Jesus alongside the Holy Spirit and the eternal living Lord God, the Father. One God.

Here we see a a typical salutation of a letter in the Ancient World.

Peter then reminded them about the living hope that they had through Christ’s resurrection. The resurrection is the basis of the way, the truth and the great story of Jesus. Without the resurrection there would be no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There would be no Christians.

They had been truly reborn through God’s great mercy! We are all utterly dependent on his mercy. Born again to a living hope through Jesus’ resurrection of Jesus. Remember that happened only 25 or 30 years previous to his writing!

For us, it’s now 2000 years ago. That time lapse makes it harder for us but for these people it was fresh in their memory.  Just think, you can remember so many things clearly that happened 25 or 30 years ago in your life.

Jesus had been killed and then came alive!

Peter’s readers are described as a possessing an inheritance that is reserved safely in heaven for them. They were already enjoying that sure hope! They were strangers and aliens here on Earth, like we are today but there’s an inheritance waiting for us who believe that’s reserved for us in heaven too! What a fabulous investment.

In the meantime, these aliens were protected by the power of God through faith for a full salvation he says is ‘ready to be revealed in the last time’.  They believed they were in the ‘last days’ when their salvation would be revealed.

Peter mentioned this idea of the ‘last time’ several times in his writings. This salvation ready to be revealed the original word is apocalypse. That brings to mind the time of the end. Peter saw his writing as fitting into that period. His readers could greatly rejoice in this understanding, even though now for a ‘little while’, short time—not a long, long time.

A little while and then things will radically change for them. If this mighty change was in a little while for them, how can it be soon for us today?

For a short time they will have various trials. Difficulties will prove the genuineness of their faith. Really it’s when we are subject to trials that our faith is is proven, tried out.

That experience, that assurance is much more precious than gold which is perishable. Peter reminded them that the testing by fire would be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation (apocalypse) of Jesus Christ.

 His appearing, his coming and Peter goes on to say that although you have not seen him you love him and though you do not see him now you believe in him and you greatly rejoice with joy in express expressible and full of glory.

He went on to talk more about this wondrous salvation now experienced by God’s people.  All those OT prophets prophesied of the grace that would come. They tried to work out this mystery. We had studied them together—how they accurately foretold the coming of the messiah and the suffering that he would experience.

They never experienced what these Peter wrote to had experienced. Even the angels in heaven were ignorant of what those early believers understood. So us also today!

In view of what will take place ‘in a little while’, Peter goes on to appeal to them to modify their behaviour, to prepare themselves for action, and fix their hope completely on the grace about to be brought to you at the revelation (apocalypse) of Jesus Christ.

Clearly they were expecting the coming, the revealing, of Jesus within their lifetime.  They must not be conformed to the former life which they had in their ignorance. and so they needed to conduct themselves appropriately during the (very short) time of their stay on the Earth.

Today we too must be prepared. We too must live appropriately. We also are not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from a futile way of life inherited from our forebears. We too have just a little while! The Father will impartially judge according to each person’s work, Peter reminds us.    For “all flesh is as grass and withers. But the word of the Lord abides forever.”

What does ‘This Generation’ mean?

Jesus said: Assuredly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Jesus prophesied these unforgettable words to four of his disciples on the Mountt of Olives as recorded in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:30.

It is critical to understand which generation Jesus meant. Taking the plain meaning without any bias, Jesus was referring to his generation.

But some scholars say Jesus must have meant a future generation. 

Some insist Jesus meant the word “race”,  i.e., the Hebrew race. They reason that because the Hebrew race remains today, the coming of Jesus has not taken place, putting his coming far into the unknown future.

These scholars avoid the obvious meaning in the context of the gospel, dogmatically committed to a future return of Jesus, instead of simply accepting that Jesus spoke of the closeness of His coming.

Jesus prophesied to those disciples on the Mount of Olives, that He would return before His hearers’ generation had passed away. Yet the same people accept that Jesus spoke literally about the coming fall of the Jerusalem temple among other events. So then there is no logical reason to exclude the coming of Jesus.

There is no doubt the disciples took Jesus’ words “this generation” to mean soon, at the door, at hand. They knew His coming was imminent, perhaps even in their lifetime. We see it in their writings.

Their letters in the N.T. frequently reflect their expectancy of a soon coming, though the hour and day were unknown. We read of their warnings, their urgency to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God and their urgings to live righteously.

They knew Jesus warned them to get the Kingdom of God proclaimed in the towns of Judea before His coming (Matthew 10:23).

Check these references out for yourself: Rom 13:11-13, 1 Cor 10:11, Phil 1:6,10, 1 Thes 1:10, 4:17; 2 Thes 1:7; 2 Tim 3:1; Heb 1:2, 9:28, 10:29; Jas 5:3; 1 Pet 1:5, 7-9, 13, 17, 20; 2 Pet 3:3; Jude 19).

Now let’s look at some instances of Jesus’ phrase this generation in the gospels, paying close attention to the context of each. You will see they consistently refer to the people alive then as Jesus spoke (and this list is not exhaustive):

Mat 12:45. . . the last of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Mat 12:41-42. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented. . . The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment. . .

Mark 8:12. Why does this generation seek . . sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.

Mark 8:38 : “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels”.

Here Jesus warned people in that crowd that some of them, this generation, will be alive ‘when He comes in glory!

Luke 17:25. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

Mat 17:17. O faithless generation, how long shall I bear with you . .  the crowd who had no faith to heal

Mat 23:35-36. Assuredly, I say unto you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Jesus’ phrase all these things is repeated in Mat 24:34, Mark 31:30, and Luke 21:30.

Mat 24:34f, Mk 13:30f, Lu 21:30f. NKJV. Assuredly, I say to you,this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

All three synoptic gospels! And all three carry the word assuredly! (Grk amen) and the affirmation that though heaven and earth could pass away, his words stand forever!

So who would dare to change his plain words?

In Mat 23 we read Jesus’ savage attacks on the Jewish ruling elites of that current generation: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  Then after the 7 woes, we read verses 31-36:

Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Further, this particular generation was condemned to such a great extent, that Jesus warned those weeping women as He was led to the cross saying: Weep not for me but for yourselves and your children . . . as he knew what terrible times they would face (Luke 23:28).

Conclusion

In the Olivet discourse of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the generation named by Jesus can only mean the generation of people Jesus was addressing.

We can see that this is consistent with the other numerous references of his using the phrase this generation.

There is no logical or hermeneutical reason why we should not believe and accept that Jesus spoke literally about “all these things will come upon this generation.” (Mat 24:34).