Lesson Six – Spiritual Growth
Well class it has been quite the journey the past six weeks, hasn’t it? We have gone through a lot of material in Peter. And you have been an excellent class. Thanks you for your enthusiasm. In today’s lesson we will look back at Simon Peter briefly to see what spiritual shape he was in when he began his walk with the Lord. Then we will compare that shape to what kind of spiritual maturity we see that he is in near the end of his life by examining his letters and sermon.
I will discuss on some liberal theories that are amiss in our culture recently about these writings of Peter. Then we will finish this lesson and this series with Peter’s death. If we run out of time today then Peter’s death is yours to take home with you and to study on your own time.
Let me read to you Matthew 4: 17-20, this is the calling of Jesus’ disciples:From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He *said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Mat 4:17-20 NASB)
We see from the beginning that Peter was loyal. We see that right away he knew Jesus was worth pursuing. We see that Peter was just an average fisherman, with some education. He was trained by John the Baptist and knew of a coming Messiah. And right away he knew the Messiah was Jesus. We know he had faith. But we will see how he grows in not only divine faith but also in understanding and knowledge of our Lord as he matures in faith.
Please turn to Act 2:14-41 NASB. _____, would you read the first section? We will split this into three parts: 14-22. 23-36, 37-41:But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says, 'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. 'AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 'THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. 'AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'
Here we see Peter has grown in his faith and maturity. First we see that he is willing to be used by the Holy Sprit. Second we see that he sees that faith is not just about him, but loving and telling others the good news. Peter becomes one of the first evangelists. And definitely he was one of the first evangelists to the Gentiles, although was a Jew and focused more on the Jews, in general. Also we see that Peter is quoting Old Testament Material here. This tells me that Peter has not only matured spiritually but has grown in his academic and Greek abilities. Picturing Peter preaching this sermon, we see a completely new and different Peter than we have seen in the Gospels. The Peter who seemed undisciplined, ignorant, and impulsive is now training others in deliberate discourse! Talk about maturity!
_______ Okay, will you take the next section?
"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. "For David says of Him, 'I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. 'THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. 'YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.' "Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. "And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. "For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."' "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."
Thanks, I will read the last part here:
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
(Act 2:14-41 NASB)
One thing that really impresses me about Peter’s sermon and in his writings is that he refers back to the Old Testament quite a bit. In fact, “probably no other letter is said to rely so much on traditional material” as 1st Peter. 37 We see is 1 Peter chapter two verse seven, Peter not only quotes OT but refers t o a passage he heard Jesus himself teach on that we looked at earlier.
1Pe 2:7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,"
It is really cool, because we see that Peter made connection. He finally understands what Jesus was talking about. He realizes that Christ is the cornerstone, not him. This is one mark of spiritual maturity.
Finally, we learn that God blesses those who do the work of evangelism. That day, about three thousand were added to the kingdom that day. This is not to say that Peter felt prideful and was looking for this kind of success, but rather that the Lord glorified this occasion. Peter had submitted to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit did all the work. Peter was just the vessel that he Holy Sprit worked through, yet God still glorified the occasion by adding three thousand to his number that day.
As a writer, Peter is thought to be involved in the writings of the two Peter letters (1st and 2nd) and as we discussed in an earlier session scholars believe that Peter was involved in the writing of the Gospel of Mark, because mark was a close disciple of Peter and wrote down the stories he told him. But of course there are several liberal theories about his writings and I want to know about some of them.
Some contemporary scholars question if 1st Peter was written by Peter because Peter does not mention certain information about Paul and “Paul’s territory.” Also the theology in 1st Peter seems to be “too much like Paul.” Also Peter’s education level and knowledge and skill of writing Greek is put into question. This is particularly questioned in the writing of 2nd Peter.
All of these arguments put together still are not strong and very inconclusive. The truth is Peter and Paul’s issues of conflict are exaggerated. Peter and Paul were actually “beloved friends” despite the fact they did not always understand each other or agree with everything. It is very likely that they worked the same territory, Peter with the Jews and Paul with the Gentiles. Peter’s writing skills along with more advanced theology could be explained with two possible theories. Possibly Peter had an amanuensis (skilled slave used for hand writing)38. Or slightly less likely but a possibility nonetheless, Peter increased in his knowledge and skill of Greek during the thirty years between Christ’s resurrection and his own death.
While, according to Carson, 1st Peter has some of the strongest external evidence for authorship of Peter, 2nd peter on the other hand, has some of the strongest claims against Peter authorship!39 2nd Peter is overwhelmingly thought to be pseudonymous, that is falsely written in Peter’s name, by someone else. Still all of their arguments, which I do not have time here to get into can be refuted or at least denied full authority. The best conclusion is a quote from L.R. Doneslson, “No one ever seems to have accepted a document as religiously and philosophically prescriptive which was known to be forged. I do not know of a single instance.”40 In other words, we can and should trust and have faith in the early church, as they carefully chose 2nd Peter as canonical material.
Leading up to Peter’s death, there is speculation as to how exactly Peter makes it to Rome, but we do know that Peter died in Rome under Nero. He was martyred on a cross upside-down at the same time Paul also was martyred. The interesting fact is that we do not hear of Peter’s being in Rome, except once, in 1 Peter 5:13, “Babylon.” Even this reference is questionable. Most scholars do believe that this is in fact Rome, not actually Babylon.41
If so why didn’t Peter mention that he was near Paul? One theory is that Peter’s disciple and writing of the Gospel (Mark), John Mark lived in Rome. Therefore Peter spent at least some time in Rome with John Mark.
There is further speculation about Peter in Rome, evolves around Paul. Paul probably left Rome for mission trips from 60-62 AD. This would have given Peter ample time to come into the city and writ 1st Peter. And this might actually explain why Peter’s writing seems so much like Paul’s Romans letter. As Peter might have become more acquainted with the letter during his stay in Rome. In the end Peter and Paul end up together in Rome sometime around 64-65AD and both die there under Nero.42 Between 62-64, leaves Peter some time to write 2nd Peter.
Class, I thank you for your time, effort, and participation. It has been a pleasure teaching you about Simon Peter. I hope you learned a lot. I did. Thank you!
Lesson Six – Spiritual Growth
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