This lesson will cover 1st Peter in this segment, and 2nd Peter in the next segment. Both parts will be released this week.
This General Epistle was written from Rome around AD 64. 1 Peter 1:1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers (believers who are exiles from society) scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (all in modern-day Turkey).”
The next verse is one that the LDS often refer to in conjunction with the doctrine of foreordination – meaning to them – that certain people have been chosen and foreordained in the preexistence or the pre-mortal life, to come to earth and carry out certain responsibilities in the Lord’s work here. Joseph Smith taught, “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365).
1 Peter 1:2 “Elect (chosen) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (not from a pre-mortal life), through sanctification (made holy) of the Spirit, unto obedience (to the Royal Law of faith and love) and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (referring to the high priest sprinkling of blood on the mercy seat): Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” What this means is – that God planned beforehand in His mind – and predetermined each Christian’s salvation. It is the Holy Spirit who makes God’s chosen sanctified – by setting them apart from sin and unbelief to faith and righteousness. True salvation produces obedience to Christ. The word for “foreknowledge” here in the Greek is “proginosko” – meaning – to know beforehand what will happen. Peter tells us in Verse 2 that God has elected them based on his prog ginosko or prognostication – on His knowledge of things before they ever happen. God is omniscient and knows every outcome. He knew those who would believe on His Son and accept salvation – these were His elect. Obviously, unlike Christ – we weren’t this way from birth.
Speaking of Jesus 1 Peter 1:19-21 “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb (sacrificial lamb) without blemish and without spot (who was perfect): Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. Who by him (Christ) do believe in God (the Father), that raised him up from the dead, and gave him (Christ) glory; that your faith and hope might be in God (the Father).” In other words, Jesus came to you and was glorified by the Father so that you could have truth and a correct understanding about God. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, who was raised and glorified, we are able to have faith in God.
Verses 22-23 “Seeing ye have purified (been saved) your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) unto unfeigned (genuine) love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently (deeply). Being born again (spiritually regenerated), not of corruptible seed (not by mortal parents), but of incorruptible (by the Holy Spirit), by the word of God (who was Jesus), which liveth and abideth for ever.”
In Chapter 2, Peter will tell those saints who are born again – that as newborn babes they should, Verse 2 “desire the sincere milk of the word (the basic understanding of the gospel), that ye may grow thereby (become more spiritually mature).” Those who do not nurture themselves with the word of God – reading the Bible often – will become malnourished and will weaken in their faith.
Peter will now compare Christ to a large, solid rock, or foundation upon which we can safely build. Verse 4 “To whom coming (as you come to Christ), as unto a living stone (Christ the Rock of our Salvation – the chief cornerstone), disallowed indeed of men (who was rejected by the world), but chosen of God (God’s chosen Son), and precious.” Verse 5 “Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Here, Peter is including us – as believers and followers of Christ – as part of the same building, the new temple of God. Peter is comparing the former temple with its priests and animal sacrifices which was about to be leveled in AD 70 – in describing the spiritual temple of God – where the cornerstone is living and the stones that follow thereafter as being described as lively. Believers, having been cleansed by the blood of Christ and following Him -become a new body of priests who are now offering up – what Peter calls, spiritual sacrifices. The former priesthood – relegated to only certain men of a certain tribe was now open to all people – men and women, bond and free – with Christ Jesus as our only High Priest. This is a temple where we, like Christ, are living stones – a place where God dwells on earth within each of us. The edifice that believers form together is a living and spiritual building, a spiritual house of God. Besides Christ – none bear the office of High Priest – but like bricks in the same wall – we all extend off the chief cornerstone and help bear the load. Bear the load of what? Sacrifices! I am talking about the sacrifices we render to others in the name of God as freely led by the Spirit in love. We sacrifice our desires and our lives to serving God and others. Not out of duty, but out of gratitude and love.
Verse 8 “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient (unbelieving): whereunto they were appointed (or destined).” Christ being the “the word” is the “stone.” We fall down upon the stone and we are broken and humbled. We realize we are nothing when we repent and believe on Him. Then He heals us and makes us whole. The unbelievers will also experience Him – the stone – the Rock – ultimately by it or, Him falling upon them and grinding them to powder. By that I mean – they will be ground or rubbed-down like as – a touchstone applied to their rebellious souls. Verse 9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises (the virtues) of him (God) who hath called you out of darkness (spiritual darkness, ignorance) into his marvelous light (see 2 Corinthians 4:3-6).” In the Old Testament – Israel was asked by God to be a holy nation and a peculiar people (see Exodus 19:5-6). But they were cast off when they rejected the promised Messiah. And, so in Verse 9, Peter is appealing in the exact same language to those who are God’s – not by lineage this time – but by faith in His Son – the Body of believers in Christ. I know the LDS love to quote this verse – applying it to themselves. But, the Greek word for “peculiar” means “something acquired.” Best put – believers are a nation or group made up of individuals who God has acquired for Himself – secured by Christ’s shed blood as a possession (see Titus 2:14). The LDS attribute a “royal priesthood” to their Mormon Melchizedek priesthood. But that would be a misappropriation. In the New Covenant of Christ – all men and women who are born again through faith in Christ – become priests themselves in a spiritual sense as a royal priesthood. They have been given the right to directly approach the throne of God – as the ancient Levitical priests did in the temple. It doesn’t require a special priesthood ordination of man.
Now Peter sets a high mark for us to pursue – to respond and walk as Jesus walked and responded. Verse 21 “For even hereunto were ye called (called to suffer): because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example (a pattern), that ye should follow his steps:” He is calling us to suffer in the face of persecution and to die to ourselves. Verse 22 “Who (Christ) did no sin, neither was guile (deception) found in his mouth.” Verse 23 “who when he was reviled (mocked and insulted), reviled not again (didn’t retaliate); when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him (the Father) that judgeth righteously:” Then speaking of Jesus, Peter says, Verse 24 “Who his own self (all alone) bare (took) our sins in his own body (our sins upon Himself) on the tree (on the cross), that we, being dead to sins (when we are born again), should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes (his physical punishment before he was crucified) ye were healed (through the Atonement).” This is an important passage for the LDS who believe He bore our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, His chief apostle Peter tells us right here where the bearing of sins was done – on the cross. The Greek meaning of “dead to sins” means “to be absent from sin.” Christ made us righteous by redeeming us with His blood. This is the great doctrine of substitutionary atonement which is the heart of the gospel.
Now in 1 Peter 3:15 we read a familiar passage about defending one’s beliefs. “But sanctify (reverence) the Lord God (make Him top priority) in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man (or woman) that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (or awe).” The Greek word for “answer” is “apologia” or apologetics. It means defending one’s beliefs – its’ a form of reasoning from evidence. Why do we believe what we believe? The believer should understand what he or she believes – and why he or she is a Christian. And then be able to articulate their beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically.
Next, Peter uses the Savior as the supreme example of one who suffered for doing good. But then the LDS teach from this example – the doctrine about work for the dead. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins (sufficient sacrifice for all), the just for the unjust (the Perfectly Righteous One suffered for all of us guilty ones), that he (Christ) might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh (by crucifixion), but quickened by the Spirit (His own spirit deity was alive):” Verse 19-20 “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” Those in the spirit prison included those who had been wicked in the days of Noah who were drowned in the flood.
The LDS take great liberties with the text and teach that the inauguration of work for the dead – began at this time when Christ ministered to the spirits in prison. But we must interpret passages like this according to other passages of Scripture. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that immediately following death comes our judgment. Luke 16:19-31 teaches there is no possibility of redemption beyond death. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, now is the day of our salvation. We can say with certainty, then, that 1 Peter 3:18-19 doesn’t suggest people can respond to the gospel after they die.
The Greek word for “preach” is “kerusso” in this passage and is not used for preaching the gospel, but rather, refers to a proclamation – as in a proclamation of victory. Between His death and resurrection, Jesus went to the place of the dead and preached or proclaimed victory of His finished work on the cross to the wicked contemporaries of Noah. The LDS even go so far as to interpret “eight souls were saved by water” to mean – the number 8 is the age of accountability whereunto even baptism (or water) now saves US. The interpretation of these verses we just read are good examples of what is called Eisegesis – the process of interpreting biblical text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas, and biases. Mormonism imposes its interpretation into the text. Exegesis is drawing out – the text’s meaning in accordance with the author’s intention.
We will conclude today with a look at one more verse that the LDS uses out of context in an attempt to tie it back to Chapter 3 verses 18-20. In Chapter 4 of 1 Peter, we read in Verse 6 “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” This is not speaking of the Good News being preached to those in the spirit prison. Peter was simply referring to those dead at that time of his writing who had heard and accepted the gospel.
And this concludes our study of the 1st Peter. Don’t forget we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and check out our website at Talking to Mormons. com.
Learn more in the links below. Included are the lesson notes.
Until next time, God Bless!