Lectionary Year B
March 12, 2000
I Peter 3:18-22

Step III: Immediate Context


(ME) At first glance it is hard to decide how far on either side of the pericope to go to establish immediate context. As a minimum: 3:13-17 and 4:1-6. At the front is the context, therefore, of a kind of "inner strength" with a theological content when facing opposition for living on behalf of righteousness and "the good." The "syneidesis" word (v. 16) is again key here - "appropriate awareness"? Is this connected to the "sanctifying the Lord Christ in your 'hearts'" v. 15)? At the back end then 4:1-6 pulls together from both previous parts elements of each (note: the three uses of the "in which" or "in whom" prepositional phrase in vv. 3:16, 19, and 4:4): the life of conflict for those "armed with the same 'perception' [like "syneidesis?] as that of the suffering Christ! (4:1).

(JA) Is this a midrashic extension of the parenetic center of the letter focused on the "upside down" household code in 2:18-3:7?

Some see the structure of the overall letter as similar to the Pauline letter format, i.e, greeting (1:1-2), introduction (1:3-9), body (1:10-2:10), exhortation (2:11-5:11), and closing (5:12-14), but I Peter's style of interweaving parenetic exhortation and theological/historical recollection throughout the letter make it difficult to compare the two.

On authorship: most like was an "elder" ("presbuteros") in Rome ("Babylon"), but probably not Peter directly since the conditions alluded to in the letter around Asia Minor were within the context of the late First Century. Whoever, this person had a wonderful vision of the household of God. The writing itself is skillfully crafted almost as though it were built from the center (household code) out in both directions.



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