A Fresh Exegesis of 1 Peter 2:18-251
Jarvis J. Williams
This article argues that Maccabean Martyr Theology (Martyr Theology) and Isaiah 53 shaped Peter’s conception and presentation of Jesus’ death in 1 Peter 2:19-24.2 My thesis is that Peter urges Christians in this letter to imitate Jesus’ example of suffering by presenting him as a Martyr-Servant. In order to be faithful to Peter’s argument in 2:19- 24, I defend my thesis by means of an exegesis of 2:18-25 since the latter comprises a single literary unit.
Christian Slaves must submit with all Fear to Good and Evil Masters
1 Peter 2:18-3:7 begins with a series of household instructions.3 The words “beloved ones” in 2:11 suggest that Peter addresses a broad audience of believers.4 That is, he urges slave, free, male, and female to obey Jesus in all of their endeavors. The phrase “house servants” in 2:18, however, specifically addresses slaves in the regions of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (cf. 1:1).5
Peter commands in 2:18 all slaves to submit to their masters “by means of all fear.” The Greek verb hupotassō (“to submit”)6 in 2:18 suggests that Christian slaves should place themselves under the authority of both good and evil masters, for this verb consistently in the New Testament means to place under the authority of someone (cf. 1 Pet 3:1, 5; Eph 5:21; Col 3:18; Titus 2:5, 9).7 The phrase “by means of all fear” expresses the means by which Christian slaves should submit to their masters. The phrase also demonstrates the first connection between Peter and Martyr Theology.8
The “apocryphal” books of 1, 2, and 4 Maccabees record that Antiochus Epiphanes IV (ca. 175-164 BC) (henceforth Antiochus) threatened to kill many Jews during the Second Temple period unless they yielded to his Hellenistic reforms (cf. 1 Macc 1). Certain Jews forsook the religion of their fathers by adopting both the cultural and religious practices of the Gentiles before Antiochus’ reforms (1 Macc 1:11-15), but he nevertheless required that all Jews should conform to a Gentile/Hellenistic way of life (1 Macc 1:20-24, 29-50). He wrote letters and dispatched them throughout his entire kingdom (1 Macc 1:41), which consisted of both Jewish and Gentile territories (1 Macc 1:16- 19, 41-42).
In these letters, Antiochus declared that Jews and Gentiles should become one people and surrender their individual laws and customs (1 Macc 1:41-42). This meant that the Jews had to adopt “other laws” besides the Torah (1 Macc 1:44). For example, Antiochus’ letters stated that he prohibited Jews from offering sacrifices and from keeping the Sabbath (1 Macc 1:44). He demanded the Jews to defile both the temple’s holy place and its priests by building altars for other gods besides Yahweh (1 Macc 1:45-47). He gave orders that Jews could no longer circumcise their children, and he commanded them to forget everything that the Torah prescribed for their lives (1 Macc 1:48-49). Antiochus essentially instructed that the Jews could no longer be Jewish. To ensure full devotion to his demands, Antiochus concluded his letters by asserting that he would kill anyone who did not obey him (1 Macc 1:50).9
Many Jews yielded to Antiochus’ edicts and forsook their religion and their God (cf. 1 Macc 1:52). However, other Jews disobeyed Antiochus and remained faithful to their religious customs (cf. 1 Macc 1:62-2:28). According to 2 and 4 Maccabees, Eleazar was one of those Jews who disobeyed Antiochus and remained faithful to God. He was a prominent scribe (2 Macc 6:18) from a priestly family (4 Macc 5:4, 35), and an expert in the Torah (4 Macc 5:4, 35). Antiochus threatened to torture and kill Eleazar unless he forsook the Torah and the Jewish way of life (4 Macc 5:1-13). Eleazar told Antiochus that he would suffer excruciating pain and death rather than forsake his religion and the traditions of his fathers (2 Macc 6:18-30; 4 Macc 4:16-6:30). As he suffered and faced death, Eleazar uttered that he endured terrible sufferings in his body because he feared God (2 Macc 6:30).
The author of 2 Maccabees 6:30 uses the term “fear” (phobos) in a context where he expresses that the martyrs’ fear for God motivated them to endure their suffering and to remain faithful to their God as they suffered for their faith, and Peter likewise uses the term fear to express that his audience’s fear for God should motivate them to endure their suffering and to remain faithful to their God as they suffer for their faith in Christ (cf. Septuagint [LXX] Gen 31:42; Exo 20:20; Eph 5:21). Obviously, the above texts from 1, 2, and 4 Maccabees strongly differ from 1 Peter 2:18 on a fundamental point: viz., the martyrs disobeyed the evil king’s edict, whereas Peter urges his audience to obey their good and evil masters. Nevertheless, a connection between Martyr Theology and 1 Peter is still evident, for Peter exhorts Christian slaves to be faithful to God and to endure all forms of suffering because of their fear for God in a context wherein he states that Jesus’ death was both an example for his disciples and an atoning sacrifice for their sin (cf. 1 Pet 2:18-24, esp. 2:19-24). Likewise, 2 and 4 Maccabees suggest that the martyrs suffered and died both as examples for Israel (2 Macc 6:28) and as sacrifices of atonement for the nation’s sin because the martyrs feared God (2 Macc 6:30; 7:32-38; 4 Macc 6:28-29; 17:21-23).10 Peter’s point in 2:18 is that the “fear” that Christian slaves have for God should motivate them to be faithful to him by submitting to their masters, just as the Jewish martyrs’ fear for God motivated them to endure their suffering and to remain faithful to their God.
One could argue that a connection between Martyr Theology and 1 Peter 2:18 is unlikely since the phrase “by means of all fear” occurs in 2:18. This phrase is more emphatic than the occurrence of the term “fear” by itself in 2 Maccabees 6:30 since Peter modifies “fear” with the adjective “all.” Thus, the phrase “by means of all fear” accentuates the attitude with which Christian slaves should submit to their masters.11 Furthermore, one could also argue against a connection between Martyr Theology and 1 Peter 2:18 since 2 Maccabees 6:30 clearly states that the martyrs suffered because they feared God, but 1 Peter 2:18 simply states that Christian slaves should submit to their masters by means of fear. Peter could be simply suggesting that Christian slaves should exhibit fear toward their masters.
Notwithstanding the preceding, since Peter states elsewhere in the letter that Christians should not fear men (1 Pet 3:6, 14; cf. Matt 10:28, 31), but should fear God (1 Pet 1:17; 2:17; 3:2, 16), the object of fear in 2:18 is God instead of humans (as in 2 Macc 6:30).12 This reading contextually fits with the reason that Peter states that slaves should endure suffering: viz., because they were conscious of God (1 Pet 2:19). Just as the Jewish martyrs’ fear for God propelled them to be faithful to him even as they suffered torture and death, Peter urges Christian slaves that their fear for God should motivate them to remain faithful to Christ by submitting to good and evil masters.
God grants Honor to Christians who endure Unjust Suffering
As he continues to urge his audience in 1 Peter 2:19-24 to honor God as they suffer, Peter speaks of Jesus’ suffering and death in a similar manner as the authors of 2 and 4 Maccabees speak of the suffering and deaths of Jewish martyrs. Peter expresses in 2:19 the reason for which slaves should submit to their masters: “for this [is] grace.” The word “this” in 2:19 is a kataphoric use of the Greek demonstrative pronoun touto. That is, the pronoun touto “this”) points to the discussion that follows the pronoun instead of what precedes it. Charis (“grace”) in 2:19 does not refer to the grace that God gives to Christians to aid them in their endurance of suffering. Rather, it refers to favor with God, for Peter does not state in 2:19 that charis is the means by which one endures unjust suffering, but that charis is the Christian’s reward when he endures it.13 Charis (“grace”), then, should be translated in 2:19 as “honor” or “favor,” because the term refers to the salvation that Christians will receive on the day of judgment as a result of their obedience to the gospel. The preceding interpretation of 2:19 suggests that one way that Christians demonstrate obedience to Christ is by a willingness to remain faithful to him as they suffer for their faith at the hands of their persecutors (cf. 1 Pet 1:3-9, 13; 3:9; 4:12-5:4; Matt 5:1-7:27). Therefore, Peter states in 2:19 that when Christians endure suffering and persecution for their faith, God will give them divine “favor” (i.e., salvation) in the judgment. God will give this “favor” only to those who persevere in their faith even as they suffer for it (cf. 1 Pet 4:12-16).
In other words, if these Christian slaves denied Christ when and because they suffered for their faith in him or because their masters mistreated them, then they would not be saved from God’s wrath on the day of judgment (1 Pet 3:8-4:19; cf. 1 Cor 15:2; Heb 6:1-8). Thus, Peter does not simply exhort Christian slaves to toughen up and to suffer in an honorable manner.14 Rather, in light of the entire letter, he urges all Christians to remain faithful to Christ when they suffer verbal abuses, threats, insults, and social taboos on account of their faith in him, because their salvation from God’s wrath on the day of judgment depends in part on how they respond to suffering in the society in which they lived (1 Pet 3:9, 13-14, 16-17; 4:14-19; 5:1; cf. Matt 5:11-12).15
Peter’s question in 2:20 supports the above understanding of 2:19: “For what sort of honor [will you receive] if you endure when you sin and [then] are harassed?” The noun kleos (“honor”) occurs only once in the New Testament. In extrabiblical Greek, the term belongs to the semantic family of words for “honor, good report, fame, and praise” (1 Clement 5:6; cf. Job 28:22; 30:8). Here kleos (“honor”) joins with charis (“favor”) and with the phrase “favor with God” to denote that the one who endures unjust suffering will receive a divine reward from God (1 Pet 2:19- 20; cf. 3:9).16 Furthermore, since the statement “this is favor” (touto charis) in 1 Peter 2:19 and the statement “this is favor from God” (touto charis para theō) in 2:20c surround 2:20a-b (“For what sort of honor [will you receive] if you endure when you sin and [then] are harassed?”), the latter verse should be understood as an inclusio. This means that Peter’s statements in 2:19 and in 2:20c explain 2:20 a-b: viz., God will give eternal life to Christians who faithfully endure suffering for their faith (2:18-4:19).
Regarding Martyr Theology’s influence on Peter, 2:19-24 reveals another connection between the two traditions. Martyr Theology presents the suffering and deaths of Jewish martyrs both as examples that should be imitated by fellow-Jews (2 Macc 6:30) and as sacrifices of atonement for Israel’s sin (2 Macc 7:32-38; 4 Macc 6:28-29; 17:21-22). Peter likewise presents in 2:19-24 that Jesus died both as an example for his disciples (1 Pet 2:21) and as a sacrifice of atonement for their sin (1 Pet 2:21-24).17 The concepts of honor (2:19-20), endurance (2:19), exemplary suffering (2:20-21, 23), persecution (2:20-21), sin (2:22), resolute trust in God (2:23), and vicarious death for sin (2:24) support a connection in 2:19-24 between Martyr Theology and Peter.18
For example, 1 Peter 2:19-21 suggests that Christians should imitate Christ’s example by enduring unjust suffering. If they do so, they will receive a reward from God in the judgment (1:3-9; 4:12-5:4; cf. Matt 5:12). 2 and 4 Maccabees likewise teach that devout Jews who endured unjust suffering would receive honor from God in the judgment (2 Macc 6:27-7:14; 4 Macc 18:3, 23; cf. Martyrdom of Isaiah 1:13). In 2 and 4 Maccabees and in 1 Peter, honor refers to salvation from God’s future judgment. The martyrs expected to be rewarded with honor and an everlasting name because they endured the suffering that they received for their faith in God (1 Macc 2:51; cf. 5:57, 67; 2:64; 2 Macc 7:9, 13; cf. Martyrdom of Isaiah. 1:13). The author of 2 Maccabees describes Eleazar’s martyrdom as honorable (2 Macc 6:27-31), because Eleazar remained faithful to God while he suffered torture and died for his faith (2 Macc 6:1-30).19 Peter expressed earlier in 1 Peter 1:3-7 that a future inheritance awaits Christians in heaven and that this inheritance is salvation. Peter states in 1:8 that before Christians inherit this salvation, they will suffer. In light of 1 Peter 3:8-4:19, the suffering mentioned in 1:8 would include the suffering that a Christian experiences for his faith.
1 Peter 2:21-24 further elucidates Martyr Theology’s influence on Peter’s conception and presentation of Jesus’ death. He asserts in 2:21-24 that Jesus’ death was both an example and an atoning sacrifice.20 In 2:21, he mentions a couple of reasons that his readers should remain faithful to Jesus as they suffer for their faith in him: “for you were called for this reason, because even Christ suffered for you in order to leave for you an example, so that you would follow in his footsteps.” In 2:21, the phrase “for this reason” refers to the act of enduring unjust suffering, because Peter connects this statement with the suffering that Jesus endured for others. The statement “you were called” in 2:21 refers both to God’s effectual calling of believers to faith (1:15; 2:9-10; 3:9; 5:10; cf. Rom 4:17; 8:30; 9:12) and to the invitation to follow Jesus in the path of suffering (cf. Matt 5:1ff; 10:16-42; Mark 2:13-17) since the Spirit’s call to salvation is a call to suffer with Christ (cf. Rom 8:12-17).
Peter’s appeal in 2:21 to his audience to follow Jesus’ example is an exhortation that likewise occurs in Martyr Theology.21 The Jewish martyrs’ suffering and deaths were exemplary for fellow-Jews (2 Macc 6:28).22 2 and 4 Maccabees state that Eleazar (2 Macc 6:28, 31), Razis (2 Macc 14:42-43), an unknown mother, and her seven sons died because many Jews yielded to Antiochus’ threats and stopped serving their God (2 Macc 7:1-38). The Jews who disobeyed Antiochus faithfully served God even as they suffered for their faith, and they eventually died as martyrs (4 Macc 5:4; 6:12, 30; 7:12; 8:8-12).23 The martyrs appealed to those who witnessed their suffering to follow their example of nobility (2 Macc 6:27-7:38; 4 Macc 16:18-22; cf. 17:23-24). In fact, the authors of 2 and 4 Maccabees assert that the martyrs’ deaths were examples of nobility for the Jewish people (2 Macc 6:28, 31; 4 Macc 6:19; 17:23).24
Isaiah 53, Martyr Theology, and 1 Peter 2:22-25
Peter informs his audience in 2:22-24 that Jesus’ death was not only exemplary for his followers, but it was also a sacrifice of atonement for their sin. Peter argues the preceding points by borrowing from selected portions of Isaiah 53.25 Thus, in addition to borrowing from Martyr Theology, Peter reveals in 2:22-24 that Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song was also informative for his conception and presentation of Jesus’ death.26
The author states in Isaiah 53 that the Servant “will sprinkle many nations” (Isa 52:15).27 I understand this statement together with Isaiah 53:2-12 as a reference to the Servant’s vicarious death for the sins of both Israel and the nations (cf. Testament of Benjamin 3:8).28 The Servant’s death was necessary to accomplish Israel’s salvation since the nation’s sin was about to take the people into exile when the author penned Isaiah 53 (cf. Isaiah 1-2; 42-53). Isaiah 53:1 states that the nations did not believe the prophet’s report about the Servant. This report likely refers to the prophet’s proclamation of Yahweh’s salvation through his Servant (cf. Romans 10), for the author mentions the “arm of Yahweh” in Isaiah 53:1a. Yahweh’s arm relates to his power to save/deliver his people (Psalm 71:18; 77:16; 88:22; 98:1) and to judge/crush his enemies in the Old Testament (Psalm 79:11). According to Isaiah 53, Yahweh would provide salvation for Israel and the nations and he would crush his enemies through his Servant.
The author states that many rejected the report about Yahweh’s Servant. Isaiah 53:2b-12 suggests that the report many failed to believe was that the Servant would vicariously die as an atoning sacrifice for both the sins of Israel and the nations. The following arguments support this premise: (1) the author speaks of the shameful appearance of the Servant (53:2). (2) He states that the Servant will “bear our sins” (53:4, 12). (3) He states that the Servant will “carry our sorrows” (53:4). (4) He states that the Servant would be “stricken by God” (53:4, 10). (5) He states that the Servant would be “wounded for our transgressions” (53:5). (6) He states that the Servant would be “crushed for our iniquities” (53:5). (7) He states that Yahweh would cause “the iniquity of us all” to fall on his Servant (53:6, 11). (8) He states that the Servant would be judged for the transgressions of others (53:7-8; cf. Testament of Benjamin 3:8).
Peter reveals a connection with Martyr Theology and Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song with five relative clauses in the Greek text. Each clause supports that Jesus’ death was not only exemplary for his followers, but it was also a vicarious sacrifice of atonement for their sin. Each clause in 2:22-24 suggests that when Peter borrows from Isaiah 53, he either directly quotes or alludes to this text.29 Except for Peter’s addition of the relative pronoun “who” (hos) and except for his substitution of “sin” (hamartian) for “lawlessness” (anomian) in 2:22, Peter’s first relative clause (“who did not commit sin”) in 2:22a closely follows the Septuagint (LXX) of Isaiah 53:9. The second and third relative clauses in 1 Peter 2:23 (“who [Jesus] did not revile although he was reviled [and] who was not offering threats while he suffered”) further explain 2:22 (“who did not commit sin, and deceit was neither found in his mouth).”30 Peter’s statements in 2:23 vaguely allude to Isaiah 53:7 and Isaiah 53:9. Peter’s allusions to these texts, however, neither reflect the Hebrew text (the Masoretic Text) nor the LXX.31
The fourth relative clause occurs in 1 Peter 2:24a, and it emphatically states that Jesus vicariously died for the sins of others: “who himself bore our sins in his body upon the tree.”32 Peter expresses that Jesus’ death was an atoning sacrifice when he asserts that Jesus “bore sins” in his body, for this statement suggests that Jesus’ death paid a penalty for the sins of others. Except for the phrases “in his body” and “upon the tree” and except for the purpose clause (“so that we would live with respect to righteousness having no part with sin”), Peter conflates LXX Isaiah 53:4 and 53:12 into one statement.
The phrases “in his body” and “on the tree” refer to Jesus’ death on the cross. His cross should not be understood as analogous to the Old Testament’s sacrificial altar since such an analogy does not appear elsewhere in Jewish Literature or the New Testament.33 Rather, Peter’s comments about the cross echo Deuteronomy 21:23 where the author states that those who hang upon a tree are cursed by God (cf. Gal 3:10-13).34 The fifth relative clause (“by whose wounds you were healed”) in 1 Peter 2:24 vaguely echoes LXX Isaiah 53:5. 1 Peter 2:24 refers to the salvation that Jesus has provided by his exemplary and vicarious death for others, for Peter connects his death for others with freedom from sin. Accordingly, 1 Peter 2:19-24 affirms that Jesus’ death was both an example to follow and a vicarious sacrifice of atonement for those whom he died, just as the Jewish martyrs died both as examples and as atoning sacrifices for those whom they died. This twofold presentation of Jesus’ death in 1 Peter supports that in addition to Isaiah 53, Martyr Theology also shaped his conception and presentation of Jesus’ death.
As I expressed earlier, the Jewish martyrs viewed their deaths both as examples for the nation (2 Macc 6:28) and as vicarious sacrifices of atonement for the nation’s sin (Song of the Three Children 1:14-16; 2 Macc 7:32; 4 Macc 6:28-29). Regarding the latter, the martyrs prayed that God would be reconciled to the nation once again through their deaths for the nation (2 Macc 7:32-38). Before Eleazar died, he prayed that God would receive his death as the means by which he would provide mercy (4 Macc 6:28), satisfaction (4 Macc 6:28), and purification for the nation (4 Macc 6:29). Fourth Maccabees 17:21-22 states that God saved Israel, forgave the nation’s sin, and ended his wrath against the people because the martyrs died as a ransom for the nation. Peter, thus, borrowed from both Martyr Theology and Isaiah 53 to present Jesus as the Martyr-Servant who died both as an example and as an atoning sacrifice for sin. This twofold presentation of Jesus’ death would serve as a means of encouraging Peter’s Hellenistic-Jewish audience in the Diaspora to remain faithful to Christ as they suffered for their faith (cf. 1 Pet 1:1), just as Jesus faithfully trusted in God as he bore their sins in death (1 Pet 2:24).
Peter’s appeal in 2:22-24 to Isaiah 53, however, does not diminish my thesis that Martyr Theology shaped his understanding of Jesus’ death in the unit of 2:19-24, for I have not argued that Martyr Theology was the only tradition behind Peter’s conception and presentation of Jesus’ death in 2:19-24.35 Rather, I have been arguing that both Martyr Theology and Isaiah 53 shaped his conception and presentation of Jesus’ suffering and death in 2:19-24. Peter’s appeal to Isaiah 53 could also suggest that he believed that Jesus was the Suffering Servant.36 His allusions to Isaiah could also demonstrate that he conflated concepts from Martyr Theology with various stanzas from Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song. Isaiah 53 does not assert that the Servant was an example for others but that he would die for sin. Martyr Theology, however, teaches that the Jewish martyrs both died as examples and as atoning sacrifices for sin, and 1 Peter 2:21-24 suggests that Jesus died both as an example and as an atoning sacrifice for sin.
Finally, 1 Peter 2:25 is a rough conflation of Isaiah 40:10-11, 53:6, and Ezekiel 34:5-6. Peter in 2:25 provides a reason for his statements in 2:21-24. He does this by comparing his readers to scattered sheep. He contrasts this statement by reminding his audience that they were once scattered as sheep before their conversion, but they have been converted to the shepherd and overseer of their souls. Peter, then, urges his audience to remain faithful to Christ when they suffer for their faith in him. He expects them to respond to unjust suffering for their faith in Christ the same as Jesus responded to his persecutors: viz., with absolute trust in God (cf. 2:23).37
This article has attempted to offer a fresh exegesis of 1 Peter 2:18-25. I have argued that in addition to Isaiah 53, Martyr Theology shaped Peter’s conception and presentation of Jesus’ exemplary suffering and death in 1 Peter 2:19-24. I have attempted to show the plausibility of this thesis by an exegesis of 1 Peter 2:18-25, by a concise exegesis of selected texts from 1, 2, and 4 Maccabees, by a concise exegesis of Isaiah 53, and by a brief comparison of the results from the exegesis of these texts. The conclusions that I have reached are that Peter borrowed from the ideas of Martyr Theology and he conflates these ideas with selected portions of Isaiah 53 to urge those Christians in the Diaspora who were suffering for their faith to imitate Jesus’ example and to remain faithful to him as they suffer for their faith in him. If interpreters read 1 Peter 2:18-25 through the lens of Martyr Theology and not only in light of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, then it becomes more evident why Peter asserts in 2:21 that Jesus’ death was an example when in fact Isaiah 53 says nothing about the exemplary nature of the Servant’s suffering.
1 I offer thanks to Drs. Simon Gathercole (University of Cambridge), Karen H. Jobes (Wheaton College), Wesley Roberts (Campbellsville University), and my Doctorvater, Thomas R. Schreiner (Southern Seminary) for carefully reading an earlier draft of this article and offering suggestions. All mistakes and conclusions in this final form are my own.
2 Some scholars deny that Peter wrote this lett They have argued instead for pseudonymity (i.e., the belief that the author falsely ascribed the name of a prominent apostle to the letter so that it would be received by the community). For arguments in favor of pseudonymity and a list of scholars who affirm it, see John H. Eilliott, 1 Peter (New York: Doubleday, 2000), pp. 126-30. For arguments against pseudonymity, see Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), pp. 5-8.
3 The German word Haustafel (“household table”) has become the technical term in New Testament scholarship to refer to the exhortations to the slave-master, wife-husband, and child-parent combinations in both Hellenistic and New Testament lit This term does not occur in any of the ancient texts wherein these combinations appear, but in Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible. He labeled Ephesians 5:21-6:9 and Colossians 3:18-4:1 as the Haustafel. Prominent German New Testament scholars (e.g., A. Seeberg , Martin Debilius , and, his pupil, K. Weidinger ) developed the Haustafel theory. They employed Luther’s term to represent their view. Their theory contends that similarities between Hellenistic, Stoic, and New Testament texts suggest that there were certain patterns of instruction in Greco-Roman society. See Jobes, 1 Peter, p. 182, n1; Elliott, 1 Peter, pp. 504-505; Madelyn Jones-Haldemann, “The Function of Christ’s Suffering in 1 Peter 2:21” (Ph.D. diss., Andrews University: Seventh Day Adventist Theological Seminary, 1988), p. 63; Betsy J. Bauman-Martin, “Intertextuality and the Haustafel in 1 Peter” (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Irvine, 1997); idem, “Women on the Edge: New Perspectives on Women in the PetrineHaustafel,” Journal of Biblical Literature 123 (2004): pp. 253-79.
4 Unless otherwise indicated, all translations of ancient texts are mine.
5 Similarly Brox, Der erste Petrusbrief (Zurich: Benziger, 1979), 128; L. Thurén, Argument and Theology in 1 Peter: Origins of Christian Paranesis (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), p. 140; Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Nashville: Broadman & Holmann, 2003), p. 134. Slavery in the Greco-Roman world was in some respects similar to the practice of slavery in the United States: some masters treated their slaves as chattel. Yet, there was also a fundamental difference: slavery in the Greco-Roman world was not predicated upon race. Cf. Scott Bartchy, First-Century Slavery and the Interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:21 (Missoula: University of Montana, 1973), pp. 37, 40.
6 Since this article is for an interdisciplinary audience, I transliterate Greek words throughout.
7 See also LXX 1 Kings 10:15; Psalm 17:48; Wisdom of Solomon 18:22; 2 Maccabees 9:12; 13:23; Luke 2:51; Romans 8:20; 13:1; 14:34; 1 Corinthians 15: 27-28; Hebrews 2:8; James 4:7.
8 Some scholars would dismiss my thesis since many have argued that 4 Maccabees was written in the late 2nd Century of the Christian For a late dating of 4 Maccabees, see Douglas A. Campbell, The Rhetoric of Righteousness in Romans 3:21-26 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1992), pp. 219-28; J. W. van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours of the Jewish People: A Study of 2 and 4 Maccabees (Leiden: Brill, 1997), pp. 73-78.
9 Antiochus did many other offensive acts in Judah. He offered an unwarranted sacrifice on the altar in the temple; he burned the books of the Torah; subjected to death those Jews who had copies of the Torah, and hung the infants of those Jews who did not obey his reforms (1 Macc 1:54-61).
10 Scholars fiercely debate whether the martyrs’ deaths should be interpreted as atoning sacrifices. For examples of this debate, see Sam K. Williams, Jesus’ Death as a Saving Event: The Background and Origin of a Concept (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975); David Seeley, The Noble-Death: Greco- Roman Martyrology and Paul’s Concept of Salvation (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990); Stephen Finlan, The Background and Content of Paul’s Cultic Atonement Metaphors (Atlanta: SBL, 2004), pp. 197-204; and Jarvis Williams, Maccabean Martyr Traditions in Paul’s Theology of Atonement: Did Martyr Theology Shape Paul’s Conception of Jesus’ Death? (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, Forthcoming 2009).
11 Cf. Ephesians 6:5 and Didachē 4:11.
12 See Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of S Peter and St. Jude (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1901; Reprinted in 1978), 142; Jobes, 1 Peter, 190.
13 Bigg (1 Peter, 144) prefers the translation “goodwill.”
14 The act of suffering injustice as opposed to the act of doing injustice was an important concept in Greco-Roman culture (e.g., Aristotle, Rhetoric 9.29-33).
15 For this trend in recent Petrine scholarship, see Steven Richard Bechtler, Following in His Steps: Suffering, Community, and Christology in 1 Peter (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998), pp. 1-22. Contra Werner Georg Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, 17th edition, trans. Howard Clark Lee (Nashville: Abingdon, 1973), p.
16 Cf. 1 Clement 5:6; 54:3; Schreiner, 1 Peter, p. 140.
17 Jobes (1 Peter, 194) acknowledges that Jesus’ silence before his accusers (Mark 14:61; 15:5; 1 Pet 2:23) can be compared with the loud threats of the Jewish martyrs toward their persecutors (2 Macc 7:17, 19, 31, 35; 4 Macc 10:1-3), but I have not found any commentaries, monographs, essays, dissertations, or articles that explicitly argue that Martyr Theology informed Peter’s understanding of the exemplary sufferings of Chris For examples of this neglect in a few significant works on 1 Peter, see Gordon E. Kirk, “Endurance in 1 Peter,” Biblica Sacra 138-139 (1981-1982): pp. 46-56; T. P. Osborne, “Guide Lines for Christian Suffering: A Source-Critical and Theological Study of 1 Peter 2:21-25,” Biblica 64 (1983): pp. 381-408; Eugene Boring, “First Peter in Recent Study,” Word & World 24 (2004): pp. 387-94. However, Klaus Berger (Formgeschicte des Neuen Testaments [Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer, 1984], pp. 145-47) at least acknowledges the presence of a martyrdom exhortation (Martyriumparänese) in 1 Peter 3:14-4:19; the same paranesis Berger suggests appears in 4 Maccabees 13:13-15. Achtemeier (1 Peter, 196-197) recently hints at the possibly that Martyr Theology is present in 1 Peter.
18 Peter introduces the above concepts by the following: “honor” (2:19, kleos), “grief” (2:19, lūpē), “to beat” (2:20, kolaphizō), “to do good” (2:20, agathopoieō), “to endure” (2:20, hupopherō), “to suffer unjustly” (2:19, 23, paschō adikōs), “leaving an example” (2:21, hupolimanō), “to sin” (2:22, hamartanō), “to trust himself to the one who judges rightly” (2:23), and “to bear sins” in death (2:22, 24, hamartias).
19 Peter Scaer (The Lukan Passion and The Praiseworthy Death, ed. Stanley E. Porter [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2005]) has recently argued that Eleazar’s death is similar to the death of Socrates. He argues that the latter is programmatic for Luke’s portrayal of Jesus’ death. For a more detailed description of Maccabean Martyr Theology and its influence on the New Testament authors, see Williams, Martyr Theology, op. cit.
20 Some scholars have suggested that an early Christian hymn appears in 2:21- See Sharon Clark Pearson, The Christological and Rhetorical Properties of 1 Peter (New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2001), p. 127, n2.
21 In light of 2:22-24 and other references to Jesus’ suffering in 1 Peter (1:11, 18-19; 3:18; 4:1, 13), I understand the verb “to suffer” (paschō) in 2:21 as a reference to Jesus’ death. Pace Ramsey Michaels, “St. Peter’s Passion: The Passion Narrative in 1 Peter,” Word & World 24 (2004): 390.
22 Martin Hengel (The Atonement: A Study of the Origins of the Doctrine in the New Testament [London: SCM Press, 1981]) has shown that the voluntary sacrifice of a human for the benefit of others had its inception in Greek culture.
23 The above statements are from the authors’ perspectives of 2 and 4 Maccabees.
24 Cf. van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs, pp. 211-13, esp. 211.
25 Many biblical scholars commonly reject that Isaiah the prophet wrote Isaiah 53.
26 See Best, 1 Peter, pp. 120-22. He suggests that Peter is solely dependent upon Old Testament sacrificial lan Yet, Best cites 2 Maccabees 7:32-38 and 4 Maccabees 6:28-29, 17:22, and 18:4 to support that the vicarious suffering of a human was prevalent in the Second Temple period [emphasis mine].
27 For a thorough analysis of Isaiah 53, see J. Alan Groves, “Atonement in Isaiah 53,” in The Glory of the Atonement, eds. Charles E. Hill & Frank A. James III (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), pp. 61-89.
28 Much of the scholarly discussion regarding Jesus’ death previously focused on whether Jesus’ death expiated (cleansed) sin or propitiated (satisfied) God’s wrath: e.g., H. Dodd, “HILASKESTHAI, Its Cognates, Derivatives, and Synonyms in the Septuagint,” Journal of Theological Studies 32 (1931): pp. 352-60; idem, “HILASTHRION, Its Cognates, Derivatives, and Synonyms in the Septuagint,” Journal of Theological Studies 32 (1930-1931): pp. 352-60; idem, The Bible and the Greeks, 1st edition (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1934); Roger Nicole, “C. H. Dodd and the Doctrine of Propitiation,” Westminster Theological Journal 17 (1954-1955): pp. 117-57; Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 1st edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1955); idem, The Cross in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965). Some recent contributions consider whether Jesus’ death was a penal substitute for sin: e.g., Joel B. Green & Mark D. Baker, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament & Contemporary Contexts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000); Simon J. Gathercole, “The Cross and Substitutionary Atonement,” Scottish BBulletin of Evangelical Theology 21 (2003): pp. 152-65; Jarvis J. Williams, “Penal Substitution in Romans 3:25-26?” The Princeton Theological Review 13 (2007): pp. 73-81.
29 Most scholars agree that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is a uni I refer to Isaiah 53 to include the entire unit throughout this section of the article.
30 Jesus’ innocence in the New Testament is incontrovertible (Matthew 26-27).
31 Hermann Patsch (“Zum alttestamentlichen Hintergrund von Römer 4:25 und I Petrus 2:24,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 3-4 : pp. 273-79) argues that the entirety of 1 Peter 2:21-24 echoes Isaiah He especially notes that variations from the MT occur in Qumran texts and in Targum Pseudo- Jonathan. Patsch compares these variations to Peter’s dissention from the MT and the LXX. He concludes that Peter may have used the LXX, but that this is not perfectly clear since the features of Isaiah 53 can be found in both Palestinian Hebrew and in Aramaic traditions.
32 1 Peter 2:24-25 echoes 1:3-5, 18-21, 23-25; 2:9-10, and anticipates 3:18-22.
33 See Thomas Knöppler, Sühne im Neuen Testament (Neukirchener: Verlag, 2001), p. The above is contrary to Bigg (1 Peter, 147).
34 Eduard Schweitzer (Der erste Petrusbrief [Zurich: Verlag, 1998], 59) suggests that the citation in 2:24 was a current designation for the cross when the author wrote 1 Peter (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23 with Dead Sea Scroll [DSS] 11QT 64:11ff). However, Schweitzer does not think that Paul’s idea that Jesus was accursed of God is present in 1 Peter 2:24 ( Gal 3:10-13).
35 Marinus de Jonge suggests that some Second Temple Jews understood Isaiah 53 in light of the Jewish martyrs. He notes the connection between Yahweh’s faithful servants and suffering in Second Temple literature (e.g., 2 and 4 Maccabees). See his Christology in Context: The Earliest Response to Jesus (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988), pp. 175-84; idem, Jesus, The Servant-Messiah (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), pp. 37-48.
36 Many scholars do not view the Servant as a reference to Jesus: Morna Hooker, Jesus and the Servant (London: SPCK, 1959); H. N. Snaith, “Studies on the Second Part of Isaiah,” in Studies on the Second Part of the Book of Isaiah, eds. H. N. Snaith (Leiden: Brill, 1967), pp. 135-264. Several scholars have argued to the contrary: cf. Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972); (recently) John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 4-66 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998). Darrell D. Hannah (“Isaiah within Judaism of the Second Temple Period,” in Isaiah in the New Testament, eds. Steve Moyise and Maarten J. J. Menken [London: T & T Clark International, 2005], pp. 7-33; esp. 27-33) suggests that there is evidence in Second Temple Jewish literature that some Jews understood the Servant of Isaiah 53 to refer either to Israel or to the righteous within Israel (Wisdom of Solomon 1-6), while others understood the text as a reference to the Messiah (1 Enoch 62-63; Targum of Isaiah 52:13-53:12). For the influence of Isaiah 53 on biblical and extrabiblical literature in the Second Temple period, see Martin Hengel, “The Effective History of Isaiah 53 in the Pre-Christian Period,” in The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 in Jewish and Christian Sources, eds. Bernd Janowski and Peter Stuhlmacher, trans. Daniel P. Bailey (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), pp. 76-146.
37 For this specific point, see also Schreiner, 1 Peter, p. 142. On the other hand, Reinhard Feldmeier highlights the exemplary nature of Jesus’ death in 2:21-24, but undermines the sacrificial nature of his death. See his Der erste Brief des Petrus (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlgasanstalt, 2005), pp. 117-18.