A Historical Introduction to the Study of the Books of the New Testament

By George Salmon

Chapter 22


Next after the Pauline Epistles I take St. Peter's First Epistle, the only document among those ranked in the early Church as uncontroverted which I have not yet discussed. At the end of the second century there was such general agreement between Christians all over the world as to the bulk of the books which they venerated as sacred, that in the preceding lectures I have had very little occasion to cite authorities later than the very beginning of the third century. On this account I have not hitherto quoted the passage in which Eusebius (iii. 25) sums up his views as to the New Testament books; but though it is somewhat later than most of the other testimonies with which we have to deal, the opinion of one of the most influential critics at the beginning of the fourth century is too important to be passed over in silence. You will find the passage translated and discussed in Westcott's N. T. Canon, p. 414. Suffice it here to say that Eusebius makes three classes of Ecclesiastical books: (1) The Generally Accepted Books (ὁμολογούμενα), of which he enumerates the four Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles of Paul (and it appears from another passage [iii. 3] that he counts the Hebrews in the number), the former Epistle of John and that of Peter: to these is to be added, if at least it should so appear (εἴγε φανείη), the Apocalypse; (2) The Disputed Books (ἀντιλεγόμενα), which, however, are well known and recognized by most (γνωρίμων ὅμως τοῖς πολλοῖς), viz. that which is called James s, that of Jude, the Second Epistle of Peter, and that called the Second and Third of John, whether they belong to the Evangelist himself or to a namesake of his; (3) The Spurious or Rejected Books (νόθα), viz. the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd, the Revelation of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas, the so-called Teachings of the Apostles, and if it should so appear (ει ̓φανείη), the Revelation of John, which some reject, others count among the ὁμολογούμενα. Some also count with these the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Both these last two classes Eusebius includes under the general title of Disputed Books. He is clearly speaking only of books in use among orthodox Churchmen; for he goes on to speak of such works as the Gospels of Peter, Thomas, and Matthias, the Acts of Andrew, John, and the other Apostles, which he condemns as heretical forgeries, and as not deserving to count even among the νόθα. The odd thing in this classification is, that he mentions difference of opinion as to the Revelation of St. John; but instead of then, as we should expect, classifying this among the disputed books, he gives his readers the choice whether to place it among the accepted* or the spurious, himself showing a leaning to the latter verdict. I imagine that the first class includes the books which were generally accepted in Churches without any feeling of doubt; the second class those concerning which doubts were entertained; and the third class those which generally were not admitted to have pretensions to Apostolic authority. I take it that the Apocalypse was received without hesitation by so many Churches that Eusebius felt himself bound to report its claims to the first rank; but that he himself, following the opinion of Dionysius of Alexandria and other divines whom he respected, was disposed to place it in the third class. We are a little surprised to find no mention made of Clement's Epistle, since we know (Euseb. iii. 16) that it was included in the public reading of many Churches, as its place in the Alexandrian MS. testifies. There is no very apparent reason why it did not deserve to be mentioned as well as the Shepherd of Hermas or the Epistle of Barnabas; so that I feel by no means sure that the omission was not mere inadvertence. If not, the best explanation we can give is that Clement's Epistle did not claim to proceed from an Apostle, like one of the two books I have named, or to contain a prophetic revelation like the other.

I have found it convenient to speak here about this list of Eusebius; but we are not immediately concerned with the questions I have touched on concerning his principles of classification; for Peter's Epistle is placed by him unequivocally in the first rank. And certainly the testimony in its favour is of the highest character; indeed, I do not know that any New Testament Book is better attested. The latest witnesses with whom I have usually begun, Irenaeus, Clement, and Tertullian,1 all employ it. It is quoted also in the Epistle of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons. It was included in the Syriac and in the old Latin versions. Eusebius (iv. 14) has taken notice of the use made of this letter in the Epistle of Polycarp; and this Epistle being extant enables us to verify the accuracy of the report, the quotations from Peter being extremely numerous; and his Epistle being more frequently employed by Polycarp than any other New Testament Book. Clement of Alexandria (Strom, iv. 12) quotes a passage from the heretic Basilides, in which the influence of Peter's Epistle is distinctly marked. I have already (p. 92) spoken of the use made of the Epistle by Papias, and shall presently have a few words more to say on the same subject. There are several resemblances to First Peter both in Clement of Rome and in Hermas, and at least in the former case I think they deserve to be regarded as quotations. I myself believe that the stories concerning the Redeemer's liberation of souls from Hades which early acquired so great currency2 were suggested by 1 Peter iii. 19; but no doubt this is only matter of opinion. However, the earliest attestation to Peter's First Epistle is that given in the Second (iii. 1); for those who deny this Second Epistle to be the work of Peter acknowledge that it is a very early document; and if it be a forgery, it is nevertheless clear that there was at the time when it was written, an Epistle already in circulation, which the author believed to be Peter s, on the level of which he aspired to place the second letter.

The external attestation to the Epistle being so strong, I attribute no importance to the only point in which it is defective, viz. that the Muratorian Fragment mentions neither Epistle of Peter. I myself believe that fragment to be later than Irenaeus; but, grant it the greatest antiquity that has been claimed for it, and we have older testimony that the First Epistle was then in circulation. I cannot but think, therefore, that anyone professing to give a list of New Testament books would have been sure to name this Epistle, if not for approval, at least for rejection. Now, Westcott (N. T. Canon, Appendix C.) has pointed out that other work done by the scribe to whom we owe the preservation of this fragment is disfigured by hasty errors of omission. It seems to me therefore probable that a sentence has been accidentally left out, in which the Petrine Epistles were spoken of. The omission is to be regretted, not as regards the First Epistle, concerning which we have other abundant evidence, but as depriving us of some important guidance in our judgment about the Second. For the omission of mention of it in that fragment is a fact which has no weight, when the First Epistle also is not noticed.

I come now to the internal difficulties which have been alleged to warrant the rejection of so much external evidence. And first we must notice the indication of advanced date afforded by the fact that, when this Epistle was written, the Christians as such were subject to legal penalties. When Paul wrote to the Romans, he could tell them (xiii. 3) that rulers were not a terror to good works, but to the evil; that they need not be afraid of the power; for if they did that which was good they should have praise of the same, for he is the minister of God to thee for good. Paul's own experience, when brought before Gallic (Acts xviii. 14), had taught him that a man, against whom no charge of wrong or wicked villany could be laid, would be protected by the Roman magistrate against an attempt to punish him merely on account of his religious opinions. But Peter's Epistle contemplates a state of things when innocence was no protection, when a man might do well and suffer for it (ii. 20). The name Christian had become a title of accusation (iv. 16); and a main object with the writer is to animate his disciples courage to endure a fiery trial coming on them solely on account of their religion. It has been assumed that it was the Emperor Trajan's rescript in answer to Pliny which first made the profession of Christianity illegal, and so, that Peter's Epistle cannot be dated earlier than that emperor's reign. But Trajan did no more than sanction the line of action Pliny had taken before he consulted him; and it is plain from Pliny's letter that the state of things he found existing when he entered upon office was that Christians as such were liable to be punished. Pliny states that he had never been present at trials of Christians, and consequently was puzzled how to conduct them. He was himself desirous to take a merciful view; and as he could find no evidence that Christians had been guilty of any immorality, he wished that men should not be punished for the past offence of having belonged to the prohibited sect, provided they were willing to withdraw from connexion with it in the future. But he had no doubt of the propriety of punishing those who contumaciously refused to abandon their Christian profession. It is therefore quite clear that, if we wish to name the time when Christianity became a prohibited religion, we must assign an earlier date than Trajan's reign. To me it seems that the most probable date is 64, the year of Nero's persecution; and therefore, though I see nothing inconsistent with Petrine authorship in the fact that when the Epistle was written Christians were liable to be punished as such, I think that this fact forbids us to date the letter earlier in Peter's life than the year of the burning of Rome.3

I have already more than once had occasion to mention the chief cause of opposition to Peter's Epistle. Those who, with Baur, accept the Clementine Homilies as revealing the true history of the early Church, learn to think of Peter as an Ebionite in doctrine, and as permanently in antagonism to Paul. But the Peter of this Epistle teaches doctrine which has the closest affinity with that of Paul, and even adopts a good deal of that Apostle's language. I will not repeat the arguments I have already used to show the Clementines to be wholly undeserving of the credence Baur has given to their representations, and it is the less needful to do so because there are manifest indications that Baur's theory is dying out. In Germany, scholars who would think it an affront to be classed as apologists, such as Pfleiderer, Weizsacker, Keim, retreat from his extreme positions. Renan accepts Peter's Epistle, refusing to count its conciliatory tendencies as a decisive objection, and says (L' Anttckrist p. ix.): If the hatred between the two parties of primitive Christianity had been so profound as the school of Baur believes, the reconciliation could never have been made.

One who, as Renan does, accepts the tradition that the letter was written from Rome, cannot reasonably be surprised at its Paulinism. Peter was not one of those rugged characters whom it costs nothing to be out of harmony with their surroundings; who, living much in their own thoughts, arrive at conclusions which they hold so strongly as to have power to force them on unwilling ears. Peter, on the contrary, possessed an eminently sympathetic nature. He was one who received impressions easily, and could not, without an effort, avoid reflecting the tone of the company in which he lived. I need only remind you of what the Epistle to the Galatians tells of Peter's conduct at Antioch; how readily he conformed to the usage of the Pauline Christians of that city, but, on the arrival of visitors from Palestine, fell back into the Jewish practice. What business should Peter have at Rome if in his mind Christianity were still but a re formed sect of Judaism, and if he had not risen to the conception of a universal Church? And how could he live in a Church, so many of whose members owed their know ledge of the Gospel to Paul's preaching, without sympathizing with the honour in which the work of the Apostle of the Gentiles was held? Was the man who did not hold aloof from Paul's company at Antioch, when the idea of the ad mission of Gentiles to equal privileges was still a novelty offensive to Jewish minds, likely to play the part of a separatist at Rome, after Gentile Christianity had established its full rights not only there but in so many cities of the Empire?

There has, indeed, been a good deal of controversy as to the place of composition of the Epistle. I need hardly re mind you that at the close (v. 13) a salutation is sent from the Church that is at Babylon, elected together with you. The early Church generally understood that Babylon here was a mystical name for Rome; but many moderns take the word in its literal and obvious sense as denoting Babylon on the Euphrates, a place which was the centre of a considerable Jewish population, as Josephus and Philo bear witness.4 I will not trouble myself to discuss a third theory which finds an Egyptian Babylon. The connexion of Peter with Rome has been so much insisted on by Roman Catholics, that Protestants have thought it a duty to deny it; and thus there is a certain number of commentators whose views have been so biassed, one way or other, by the effect their decision may have on modern controversies, that their opinion deserves to go for nothing. For my part, I so utterly disbelieve in any connexion between Peter and Leo XIII., that I count a man as only half a Protestant if he troubles his head about the Romish controversy when he is discussing the personal history of Peter. One might expect to find un prejudiced judges in men so advanced in their opinions that they ought to be sublimely indifferent to controversies between one sect of Christians and another. Yet it is curious how the scent of the roses will cling to the fragments of the shattered vase. Thus, Comte's Positive Religion, though not Christian, or even Theistic, retains a strong Roman Catholic complexion. Accordingly, on the present question Renan adheres to the view in which he had been brought up, and takes Babylon to mean Rome; while Lipsius, and other German divines, who hold the opposite opinion, appear to me not free from anti-Romish bias. I think that any critic who puts the Epistle down to the reign of Trajan ought to feel no difficulty in taking Babylon to mean Rome: for by the time of that Emperor's reign the Apocalypse must have had large circulation, and might well have influenced Christian phraseology; and in that book Babylon unquestionably denotes Rome. But for us who maintain an earlier date for the Epistle, the question is not so easy of decision. For then we must hold that it was St. Peter who set the first example of this way of speaking; and as his letter is not a mystical book like the Apocalypse, it is natural for us to ask, If the Apostle meant Rome, why did he not say Rome? On the other hand, the evidence that Babylon was the centre of a large Jewish population relates to a date somewhat earlier than the time of this Epistle. For Josephus relates (Antt. xviii. 9) that in the reign of Caligula, the Jews, partly on account of persecutions from their neighbours, partly on account of a pestilence, removed in great numbers from Babylon to the new and rising city of Seleucia, about forty miles distant. And there new quarrels arose, in which the greater part of the Jews, to the number of 50,000 were slain. Thus it would appear that at the date of the Epistle there was no Jewish colony in Babylon; and so Peter's journey to that city, which in any case would be a little surprising, becomes quite unaccountable.

The most trustworthy tradition makes the West, not the East, the scene of Peter's labours. The passage in which Eusebius speaks (ii. 15) of the verse about Babylon is worth attention on account of the two earlier writers whom he cites. Eusebius tells that Peter's hearers had begged his disciple Mark to give them a written record of the Apostle's teaching, and that in compliance with this request the Gospel according to St. Mark was composed. And he goes on, It is said (φασί) that when the Apostle knew what had been done (for the Spirit revealed it to him), he was pleased by the eager zeal of the men, and gave his sanction to the writing for use in the Churches (Clement has recorded the story in the 6th book of his Hypotyposeis, and Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, gives like testimony); and that Peter makes mention of Mark in his First Epistle, which it is also said that he composed in Rome, and that he himself intimates this, by giving the city the metaphorical name of Babylon. Now, Eusebius elsewhere (vi. 14) quotes the passage from the Hypotyposeis, telling the same story as to the origin of St. Mark's Gospel; but with this difference, that when Peter heard what had been done, he neither approved nor disapproved. It is natural to suspect that the parts in the passage I have just cited which do not appear to rest on Clement's authority were derived by Eusebius from the other writer whom he cites, Papias. Now, the words, as I said, in the passage of Papias cited, p. 92, show that there was a previous passage in which he had spoken of the relations between Peter and Mark. And as Eusebius further states that Papias quoted the First Epistle of Peter, the probability rises very high that the passage quoted was the verse (v. 13) which in the above extract Eusebius brings into such close connexion with the name of Papias. If this be so, we could not have higher authority for interpreting Babylon in that verse to mean Rome; both because Papias lived before the invention of the Clementine legend, and because his authority, John the Elder, was one likely to be well in formed.

It must be added, that if the scene of Peter's activity were on the Euphrates at so late a period as that which I have assigned to his Epistle, it is unlikely that he should be found so soon afterwards suffering martyrdom at Rome. But the Roman martyrdom of Peter is very well attested. We gather from John (xxi. 12) that Peter did suffer martyrdom; and no other city claims to have been the place. At the beginning of the third century, Tertullian (De Praescrip. 36, Scorp. 15), and Caius (Euseb. ii. 25) have no doubt that it was at Rome he suffered. And Caius (see p. 377) states further that there were trophies, by which, I suppose, we are to understand tombs or memorial churches, marking the spots sacred to the memory of the Apostles. Now it is reasonable to think that these could not have been of very recent erection when Caius wrote. The testimony of Dionysius of Corinth, also quoted by Eusebius in the chapter just cited, gives us reason to believe that some time before the end of the second century the Christian world generally acknowledged the Roman martyrdom.

If we are to understand that Peter gave to Rome the name of Babylon, we have an additional reason for assigning to the Epistle a late date in Peter's life. Such a name would not be given until Rome had, by its persecution of the Church, come to be regarded by Christians as the true successor of the tyrant city which oppressed the Church of the elder dispensation.

The question next comes under consideration, For what readers was the Epistle intended? The opening address recalls the Epistle of James, a document which I shall presently give reasons to think was known to Peter. The letter of James is addressed to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion (ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ), a phrase by which we readily understand Jews living outside the limits of the Holy Land. St. Peter's Epistle is addressed to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς); but on examination we find that in this case the Dispersion does not consist exclusively, or even principally, of Jews. The persons addressed had been called out of darkness into God's marvellous light: in times past they had not been a people, but were now the people of God (ii. 9, 10). In this verse a passage of Hosea is made use of which Paul had employed (Rom. ix. 25) with reference to the calling of the Gentiles. The unconverted days of those addressed had been days of ignorance (i. 14), days when they had wrought the will of the Gentiles (iv. 3). It may be inferred from these expressions that the persons addressed are not Jews; and yet are not permanent residents in the countries ad dressed, but for some reason dispersed among them. I do not lay stress upon the word παρεπιδήμοις as proving that those addressed were but temporary sojourners where they dwelt; for the thought was constantly present to the minds of Christians that they were but strangers and pilgrims upon earth (ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδμοις, Heb. xi. 13: see also Lightfoot's note on the address of the Epistle of Clement of Rome). It is possible that the word διαπορά may also be used here in a metaphorical sense, the Christians scattered among the world of heathen being regarded as a spiritual Israel dispersed among the Gentiles. But I feel much inclined to take the word literally, and to believe that Peter's letter was written to members of the Roman Church whom Nero's persecution had dispersed to seek safety in the provinces, Asia Minor being by no means an unlikely place for them to flee to.5

I have already had occasion to express my opinion that the Paulinism of Peter's Epistle proceeds beyond identity of doctrine, and is such as to show that Peter had read some of Paul's letters. In particular, the proofs of his acquaintance with the Epistle to the Romans are so numerous and striking as to leave no doubt on my mind. I have just referred to the use in both Epistles of the same verse from Hosea; so, in like manner, both combine in the same way the verses, Isaiah viii. 14, and xxviii. 16, Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence, and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed (Rom. ix. 33, i Pet. ii. 6-8). There are many passages where there are distinct verbal coincidences, and especially in the directions to obedience to the civil rulers.6

There are isolated coincidences with other Pauline Epistles (compare, for instance, ii. 16, with Gal. v. 13; v. 8, with 1 Thess. v. 6; v. 14, with i Cor. xvi. 20). But it is with the Epistle to the Ephesians that the affinity is closest. A great many critics Holtzmann, Seufert, Renan have convinced themselves that it is such as to prove that Peter must have used that Epistle, and I had myself accepted that conclusion. I still hold it: though now that I come to lay the proofs before you, I have to own that they are by no means so demonstrative as I count them to be in the case of the Epistle to the Romans. There are several passages in Peter's Epistle which so strongly remind us of passages in the Epistle to the Ephesians, that the simplest explanation of their origin is that they were suggested to the writer by his knowledge of Paul's Epistle. But the resemblance is often merely in the thoughts, or in the general plan, without any exact reproduction of the words. We might conjecturally explain this difference by supposing the Epistle to the Romans to have been so long known to St. Peter that he had had time to become familiar with its language, while his acquaintance with the Ephesian Epistle was more recent.

Comparing, then, Peter's Epistle with that to the Ephesians, we find that after the address, both begin with Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; but the fact that this is also the commencement of 2 Cor. weakens the force of this coincidence, and the continuation in Eph. and 1 Pet. is quite different ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς in the one case, ὁ ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς in the other. Again, in the opening of Peter's Epistle we have ἐκλεκτοῖς . . . κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ πατρὸς ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος εἰς . . . ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος Ι. Χ. In that of Ephesians καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς . . . εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους . . . ἐν ᾦ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ. There is here considerable resemblance in the thoughts; but when the passages are compared in full there is found to be a good deal of diversity in the language. The style of the opening of the two Epistles is much alike. Each begins with a very long sentence, Eph. i. 3-14, i Pet. i. 3-12, the clauses being connected alternately by participles and relative pronouns.

If we compare 1 Pet. i. 20, 10-12, with Eph. i. 4, iii. 9-11, we have the same doctrine of a mystery ordained of God πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, kept secret from former generations but now fully revealed, and exciting the interest even of the angelic host. Christ's exaltation above the angels is spoken of 1 Pet. iii. 22, Eph. i. 20-22. Both Epistles contain practical ad monitions to Christians as to their duties in the several relations of life; but except in the directions to wives to be subject to their husbands, and slaves to their masters, there is very little similarity between those parts of the two Epistles. In both 1 Pet. ii. 4-7 and Eph. ii. 20-22, we have the comparison of the Christian society to a building of which each individual member is a living stone and Christ the chief corner-stone: but St. Peter is citing Ps. cxviii. 22, and Isaiah xxviii. 16; and the former passage may have suggested to Paul also the comparison of the corner-stone. It is to be noted that this passage from the Psalms had been applied by our Lord to Himself (Matt. xxi. 42), and is similarly cited by St. Peter (Acts iv. 11 ). Other coincidences are the κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος (1 Pet. iii. 4) with the ἔσω ἄνθρωπος (Eph. iii. 16); ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάγῃ τῷ θεῷ (1 Pet. iii. 1 8) with δι ̓αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (Eph. ii. I 8); and the passage about Christ's descent to hell (1 Pet. iii. 19, 20) with Eph. iv. 8-10. The coincidences I have described have been accepted by many critics as proofs that the one Epistle was used by the writer of the other; Hilgenfeld, however, maintaining that it is Ephesians which is indebted to i Peter. Numerous and striking as these coincidences are, still when they are compared with those between i Peter and the Epistle to the Romans, the verbal agreement in the latter case is found to be so much closer that a good deal of doubt is cast upon the assertion that the former case is one of literary obligation. Lately Seufert (Hilgenfeld's Zcitschnft, 1881, p. 179) has offered a new and rather startling explanation. He accounts for the similarity between i Peter and Ephesians as we account for that between Ephesians and Colossians, viz. that one document was not copied from the other, but that both had the same author; and of course in this case that author could be neither Peter nor Paul. I could point out a very formidable array of difficulties in the way of this hypothesis; but I will not spend time in refuting a theory which has not as yet gained adherents, and probably will never do so. The resemblances between 1 Peter and Ephesians are very much less numerous and less striking than those between Ephesians and Colossians; but in order to establish Seufert's theory they ought to be very much stronger: for we clearly can more readily recognize resemblances as tokens of common authorship in the case of two documents which purport to come from the same author, and which from the very earliest times have been accepted as so coming, than when the case is just the reverse. So Seufert chiefly aims at establishing his theory by showing that the resemblances between the two Epistles cannot be accounted for either by accident, or by the hypothesis that one writer borrowed from the other. But there is a third explanation which in my opinion ought not to be left wholly out of account. Peter may have arrived at Rome before Paul quitted it, in which case there would be a good deal of viva voce intercourse between the Apostles, as there had been in former times. The doctrines taught by Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians would also naturally be the subject of his discourses to the Christians at Rome: and these dis courses may have been heard by Peter. Having this explanation to fall back upon, if Peter's direct use of the Epistle to the Ephesians were disproved, I find little to tempt me in Seufert's hypothesis.

I have still to mention another fact establishing how completely this Epistle ignores all dissensions between Pauline and Jewish Christianity. This writer, who shows such strong tokens of the influence of Paul, equally exhibits traces of the influence of the Epistle of James. This phenomenon presents no difficulty to one who has accepted the Church tradition that Peter was the writer, and that Peter was on terms of close intimacy and friendship both with the head of the Church of Jerusalem and with the Apostle of the Gentiles. But on Baur's theory it is difficult to believe that a Roman Paulinist of the age of Trajan would have been a diligent student and admirer of the specially Jewish Epistle. The proofs of the use by Peter of the Epistle of James are sufficiently decisive. The phrases πειρασμοῖς ποικίλοις and τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως (James i. 3, 4) are repeated in 1 Pet. i. 7. The quotation from Prov. iii. 34, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble is made in James iv. 6 and 1 Pet. v. 5 with the same variation from the text of the LXX. (θεός instead of κύριος), and is followed in both places by the same exhortation, Humble yourselves therefore that God may exalt you. Another citation from Prov. x. 12, shall cover a multitude of sins, is also common to the two Epistles; and the phrase of Isaiah (xi. 7), ἐξηράνθη ὁ χόρτος καὶ τὸ ἄνθος ἐξέπεσε, quoted by Peter, is used by James (i. 11). I have already said that the address of Peter's Epistle seems to have been suggested by that of James.

It has been asserted that Peter also made use of the Epistle to the Hebrews; but this appears to me more than doubtful. One of the closest of the coincidences, viz. the use of ἅπαξ with respect to the offering of Christ (Heb. ix. 28, 1 Pet. iii. 18), is accounted for by the ἐφάπαξ of Rom. vi. 10. I have already (see p. 347) said something about the coincidences between Peter's Epistle and Peter's speeches recorded in the Acts.7

However much Peter may have availed himself of the writings of other members of the Apostolic company, he had so incorporated with his own mind whatever he had imbibed from them, that his letter, notwithstanding its borrowings, bears a distinct stamp of originality and individuality. We cannot read it without feeling that this is not the work of a literary artist, whose only aim is to make a clever imitation of the previously known Apostolic Epistles; but that, on the contrary, the writer's object is entirely practical. His mind is full of the condition of disciples who had already had to endure much suffering on behalf of their faith, and on whom he sees coming a still more fiery trial of persecution. His great object is to bring before their minds such thoughts as shall keep them steadfast under temptation, and give them patience and even cheerfulness amid their tribulations. In particular, he dwells on the thoughts (i. 6) that their trials are only if need be, and only for a season. In other words, he tells them that their sufferings will be found to constitute a salutary discipline, out of which their faith will come purified like gold from the furnace, and that after a while their brief period of trial will be succeeded by eternal glory. He dwells so much on this promise of future glory, that he has been called by some critics the Apostle of Hope.

I have already remarked that, if we compare passages in this Epistle with passages in former Epistles which may seem to have suggested them for example, the exhortation to wives in this Epistle with St. Paul's instructions to wives in the Epistle to the Ephesians we find here so completely new a choice of topics as fully to justify our assertion of the writer's originality. Other points peculiar to this Epistle are the prominence given to baptism (iii. 21) and the new birth (i. 3, 23); the doctrine of Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison (iii. 19); the interest taken by the angelic host in the Christian scheme (i. 12); the designation of Christ as the Chief Shepherd; and a whole series of topics calculated to raise the courage of sufferers for the faith (ii. 20, &c., iv. 12, v. 9). It may be added that a forger would have been likely to give to Peter some less modest title than συμπρεσβύτερος, and that we have an indication of early date, if not in the use of the word ἐπισκοποῦντες (v. 2) to describe the work of the presbyters (the reading here being doubtful, and the argument in any case not cogent), at least in the use (v. 2) with respect to their flocks of the phrase τῶν κλήρων, a term which came in very early times to be appropriated to the clergy.



1) Iren. IV. ix. 2, xvi. 5; Clem. Alex. Strom, iv. 7; Paed. i. 6; Hypotyp. p. 1006, Potter; see also Euseb. vi. 14. Tert. Scorp. 12, 14; De Orat. 20; Adv. Jud. 10.

2) See note, p. 365. In some of the Gnostic systems this liberation of souls from Hades is made to be the great object of the Redeemer's death. Hades is deceived into regarding the Redeemer as one of the ordinary dead, and so admitting the Spoiler who was to depopulate his kingdom. This was the theory of the Marcionites, described by Eznig (see Smith's Diet, of Christ. Biog. iii. 822), and of the Sethites of Hippolytus (v. 19, p. 142, Miller). Several orthodox fathers adopted the theory of a deception suffered by the devil in consequence of our Lord's humiliation; whereby he was tempted into a conflict in which he was sure to be worsted. The theory perhaps, presents itself in its most curious form in Macarius Magnes (see p. 163), who says that our Lord ensnared the devil by baiting the hook of his divinity with the worm of his humanity; and thus expounds the text (Ps. xxii. 6), I am a worm and no man. But in this exposition Macarius is not original; for, on comparing what he says with Origen's Commentary on the same text, it becomes apparent that Macarius is drawing from Origen, who no doubt served as an authority to other succeeding fathers.

On the other hand, it is fair to mention the curious fact, which illustrates the precarious character of the argument from silence (see p. 159), that Irenaeus, who elsewhere shows that he was acquainted with Peter's Epistle, does not quote it in connexion with the doctrine of our Lord's descent to hell. His chief proof of that doctrine is founded on a supposed Old Testament passage, which he cites four times (ill. xx. 3; IV. xxxiii. I, 12; V. xxxi. i), The Lord God the Holy One of Israel hath remembered his dead which lay in the earth of the grave, and he descended to them that he might proclaim to them his salvation. This passage had also been cited by Justin Martyr (Trypho, 72), who attributes it to Jeremiah, and accuses the Jews of having cut it out of their copies. This interpolation has close affinity with 2 Esdras ii. 31. The other passages which Irenaeus (v. xxxi.) cites in proof of the doctrine are Matt. xii. 40, Eph. iv. 9, Pss. Ixxxvi. 13, xxiii. 4. Tertullian also (De Anima, 55) omits to cite I Peter; but it is easy to see that in this place he is following Irenseus. The passage of Peter is used by Clement Alex. (Strom, vi. 6). Hermas (Sim. ix. 16) has a notion peculiar to himself, that the Apostles descending to Hades not only preached to those who had died before them, but there baptized those so evangelized. On this subject may further be consulted Lightfoot's note (p. 131) on Ignat. ad Magn. 9.

3) Lightfoot remarks (Ignat. i. 11) that it was not necessary that any formal edict against the Christians should have been issued. The mere negative fact that their religion had not been recognized as lawful would have been ample justification for proceeding against them as soon as it was recognized that Christianity was something distinct from Judaism.

4) Joseph. Antt. xv. 3, I; Philo, De legat. ad Caiutn t p. 1023.

5) An interesting paper, taking this view, was published by Dr. Quarry in the Journal of Sacred Literature, Jan. 1861. The use made by Peter of the Epistle to the Romans is dwelt on in the same paper.


ὑποτάγητε βασιλεῖ ὣς ὑπερέχοντι (1 Pet. ii. 13);

πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω (Rom. xiii. 1).

εἷς ἐκδίκησιν κακοποιῶν (1 Pet. ii. 14);

ἔκδικος εἷς ὖμγὴν τῷ τὸ κακον πράσσοντι (Rom. xiii. 4).

ἔπαινον δὲ ἀγαθοποιῶν (1 Pet. ii. 14);

τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει καὶ ἔξω· ἔπαινον (Rom. xiii. 3).

1 Pet. iii. 8, 9, is an abridgment of Rom. xii 10, 13-16.

πάντες ὁμόφρονες, ταπεινόφρονες, φιλάδελφοι, μὴ ἀποδιδόντες κακον ἀντὶ κακοῦ, τούναντίον δὲ εὐλογοῦντες (1 Pet.);

τὸ αὐτὸ εἷς ἂλλήλονς φρονοῦντες, μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες ἀλλὰ τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι, τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ εἷς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι, μηδενὶ κακὸν ἀντὶ κακοῦ ἀποδιδόντες, εὐλογεῖτε καὶ ,ιιῆ καταρᾶσθε (Rom.).

(Compare also Rom. xii. 6, 7, with 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11. Observe how the συνσχηματίζεσθε of Rom. iii. 2 is reproduced in 1 Pet. i. 14 (the word not occurring elsewhere in the N. T.); and note the similarity of the thoughts, Rom. xii. 1, 1 Pet. ii. 5.

ὁ παθὼν ἐν σαρκὶ πέπὲυται ἁμαρτίας (1 Pet. iv. 1);

ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ιἰπδ τῆς ἁμαρτίας (Rom. iv. 7).

καθὸ κοινωνεῖτε τοῖς τοῦ χριστοῦ παθήμασιν, χαίρετε ἵνα καὶ ἐν τῇ ἄποκιι λύψει τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ χαρῆτε (1 Pet. iv. 13);

χριστοῦ, εἴπερ σνμπάσχομεν ἵνα καὶ συνδοξασθῶμεν (Rom. vii. 17).

μάρτυς τῶν τοῦ χριστοῦ παθημάτων, ὁ καὶ τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης κοινωνός (1 Pet. v. 1);

τὰ παθήματα τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ πρὸς τὴνμέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι εἷς ἡμᾶς (Rom. viii. 18).

These are only a few of the more striking coincidences, but the list might be greatly enlarged if we included several where the same thoughts are expressed with variations of language. See Seufert in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschrift, 1874, p. 360.


7) In addition to the examples given (p. 347), there have been cited the use of τὸ ξύλον for the cross (1 Pet. ii. 24, Acts v. 30, x. 39), but see Deut. xxi. 23, and Gal. iii. 13; the claim to be a witness to Christ (Acts ii. 32, iii. 15, 1 Pet. v. 1); the appeal to the O. T. prophets (Acts iii. 18, x. 43, 1 Pet. i. 10; and the phrase to judge the quick and the dead (Acts x. 42, 1 Pet. iv. 5, elsewhere only 2 Tim. iv. I).