Notes on the Daily Readings - December 11-15

December 11th – 1 Peter 1

The spirit of Christ: Whilst it is a fact that the important Greek manuscript, called the Codex Vaticanus, omits the word “of Christ” so that verses 10 and 11 read, …“the prophets have enquired…what manner of time the spirit which was in them did signify…”, and therefore allows no implication of the pre-existence of Christ, the phrase can be understood as in harmony with the scriptural teaching of the birth of Christ, as given in Luke 1 and Galations  4.

In Peter’s second epistle ch. 1 v 21 we have a further reference to this testimony of the prophets.  Peter teaches that they spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  By this power “they testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” (Isaiah 53).  Now John testifies that to Jesus this spirit was given without measure (ch. 3:34), and by this Jesus was not only able to be the great prophet (Luke 21 and Rev. 1-21), but to work miracles and declare God’s plan of redemption.  Thus the same spirit was in Christ and the prophets, as Paul testifies, “there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit” (1 Cor. 12:4).  And when writing to the Philippians he says that the work of preaching “shall turn to my salvation, through your prayer and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ” (ch. 1:19).

That spirit, then, which received its fullest manifestation in Jesus, was also the spirit which gave the prophets of old, and the apostles, their power and authority of utterance.


December 12th – 1 Peter  2

A living stone Jesus was, of course, this living stone upon whom the living temple of chosen ones will be built.

Conversation: As this word occurs eight times in the two epistles of Peter it is well to point out that every time it means behaviour or manner of life.

The Shepherd and Bishop of your souls”: This, of course, does not mean the shepherd and overseer of immortal souls.  Paul clearly testifies that our “life is hid with Christ in God”, and, “When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3,4).  Since, then, our eternal life will be bestowed upon us – “our house which is from heaven” – by Christ when he returns, he can most fittingly be called the Shepherd (or feeder) and Bishop (or overseer) of our lives (soul here, as so often, means animal life).

It is an interesting point that Christ is spoken of as a sheep in the prophets (Isaiah 53:7), as a lamb in the Gospels (John 1:29) and finally as the good shepherd in the Gospels (John 10:14) and the Epistles (1 Peter 2:25).  This change from sheep to shepherds has also been promised to Christ’s true disciples.  In the Gospel they are sheep of one fold under the good shepherd, in this Epistle (ch. 5) they are spoken of as feeders or shepherds who, when Christ comes, will receive the honour of being Kings and Priests, the chief Shepherds of the age to come.


December 13th – 1 Peter 3,4 and 5

“The spirits in prison” In ch. 3:18-20 Peter says that Jesus by the spirit went and preached unto disobedient spirits, and he links this disobedience with the days of Noah.

Who were these disobedient spirits?  The Scriptures never refer to disembodied spirits;  it refers to the angels as spirits, and to men as spirits.  In 1 John 4:1 John tells the believers to try the spirits because false prophets were in the world.  Here, clearly, is a reference to teachers of wrong doctrine or “seducing spirits” (1 Tim. 4:1).

Now such were both disobedient and in prison (or in bondage to sin [Romans 6:16]) just as all in Adam are in the “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) and “through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15).

Christ came to “preach deliverance to the camptives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).  Not, of course, to enter into prisons and release malefactors and evildoers, but to bring salvation from sin and release from death.  Did Christ do this in Noah’s day?  Christ did not exist then, except in the purpose of God, nor does Peter say that he did.  Peter says, “By the spirit Christ preached”.  Since Christ could not personally preach to disobedient men of Noah’s day, either during his ministry, nor during his three days in the heart of the earth, nor after his ascension, there must be an analogy between Christ’s preaching and Noah’s preaching.

Noah preached, but his generation were disobedient spirits and perished in the flood.  Christ preached and his generation were mainly disobedient – they were scattered, sold as slaves, and finally died an eternal death.  The same spirit was the witness to the disobedient in both ages.

“The devil…walketh about” :There will be no need to say what the devil of the Bible is, except to show what particular adversary the false accuser was in this case.  It is explained in ch.5 verse 9, for Peter makes reference to “the same afflictions are accomplished (or experienced) in your brethren that are in the world”, i.e. in the Roman world or empire.  This referred to the persecution of the early Christians by the Roman authorities (especially under the Emperor Nero) which sought to “devour them”.


December 14th – 2 Peter 1 & 2

“More sure word of prophecy”: In Matthew 17 reference was made to the transfiguration of Christ as a foretaste of the majesty of Christ in his Kingdom.  To this Peter refers in verses 16-18 of ch. 1, and then he adds, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy”.  Certain as he was of the vision which he had seen, and the words which had been spoken, he says that the prophetic word is even more confirmed or “made sure”.  It was Amos who wrote, “The Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (ch. 3:7).  This word of prophecy we know.

The angels that sinned The angels in heaven cannot sin, they are God’s ministers that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word (Psalm 103:20).  These angels that sinned must therefore be human agents, or messengers, who failed in their mission.  Who were these?  An almost parallel passage in Jude vs. 5 & 6 helps us.  In verse 5 we have a reference to Israel being delivered from Egypt and of many who afterwards “believed not”.  There is a record of many who murmured, many princes who were disobedient, some who rebelled against Moses and kept not their first estate, or principality, and were allowed to perish in the wilderness. It would seem that Peter refers to the same, and then gives further examples – Noah and his generation, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah and Israel and Balaam.


December 15th – 2 Peter 3

The heavens and the earth: We have the use of the words heaven, earth and world in a figurative sense in many places in the New Testament, e.g. Gal. 4, Col. 2, Heb  2.  In this chapter we have a full example.  There are those in Christendom who believe that this earth will eventually be burnt up and destroyed, and they refer to the last part of verse 10 – but not to the first part, which speaks of the heavens passing away; for this proves too much for their doctrine of heaven as the everlasting abode of the righteous.  The whole passage shows clearly the figurative use of these words.

The Patriarchal constitution – “the world that then was being overflowed with water perished” (vs. 5 & 6), but the earth was not destroyed, for “the earth abideth for ever” (Ecc. 1:4).  The Mosaic world, again made up of heavens (or rulers) and earth (or ruled ones) as is shown in Isaiah 1:2, “waxed old” and was “ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13).  Peter probably was speaking of this in v 7 – for the end of the Mosaic world was the violent overthrow of Jerusalem and the scattering of Israel by the Romans.

Then in verse 10 he speaks of the political heavens and earth in existence when Christ returns and this is certainly the Gentile world – the ruling powers of which will be cast from their seats, and the works of the people will be destroyed.  The fervent heat and burning of which he speaks is Armageddon.  The “day of the Lord that burneth as an oven” (Mal. 4:1).  Then will come the new heavens (Christ and the saints) and the new earth (obedient people - Isaiah 2:2-4) wherein will dwell righteousness.

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