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14. At the time of the Reformation, the doubts which once prevailed concerning the Epistle, were again revived. Erasmus, Cardinal Cajetan, Luther, Grotius, Wetstein, shared more or less in these doubts: and their example has been followed by several of the modern Commentators, e. g. Schleiermacher, De Wette, Reuss, Baur, Schwegler, Ritschl. The opinions of all these and their grounds will be found fairly set forth in Davidson's Introduction to the New Test., vol. iii. pp. 339–345.
15. On the whole, on any intelligible principles of canonical reception of early writings, we cannot refuse this Epistle a place in the canon. That that place was given it from the first in some part of the church ; that, in spite of many adverse circumstances, it gradually won that place in other parts; that when thoroughly considered, it is so consistent with and worthy of his character and standing whose name it bears ; that it is marked off by so strong a line of distinction from the writings and Epistles which have not attained a place in the canon: all these are considerations which, though they do not in this, any more than in other cases, amount to demonstration, yet furnish when combined a proof hardly to be resisted, that the place where we now find it in the New Test. canon is that which it ought to have, and which God in His Providence has guided His Church to assign to it.
THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER.
1. The First Epistle of St. Peter was universally acknowledged by the ancient church as a part of the Christian Scriptures. The earliest testimony in its favour is found in the Second Epistle of Peter (iii. 1), a document which, even if we were to concede its spuriousness as an Apostolic Epistle, yet cannot be removed far in date from the age of the Apostles.
2. The second witness is POLYCARP: of whom Eusebius writes, “Polycarp, in the above-mentioned still current work of his to the Philippians, uses certain testimonies from the former Epistle of Peter.” These testimonies are too numerous to be cited at length. In ch. ii., he cites 1 Pet. i. 13, 21 ; iii. 9; in ch. v., 1 Pet. ii. 11; in ch. vi., 1 Pet. iv. 7; in ch. viii., 1 Pet. ii. 21-24 ; in ch. x., 1 Pet. ii. 17, 12. Eusebius also says of Papias, H. E. iii. 39, “ The same uses testimonies from the former Epistle of John, and that of Peter also."
3. None of the above testimonies from Polycarp mention the Epistle expressly; but IREN ÆUS does so, more than once: e.g.:
“ And Peter says in his Epistle : Whom not seeing ye love: in whom though ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy
unspeakable (1 Pet. i. 8). And again :
“ And for this reason Peter says, that we have not our liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but for proof and manifestation of our
faith'” (1 Pet. ii. 16). 4. CLEMENT of ALEXANDRIA also quotes it expressly :
“ Wherefore also the admirable Peter says, “ Beloved, I beseech you
as strangers,' &c.” (1 Pet. ii. 11 ff., 15 f.) And again : “And Peter in his Epistle says the like, 'So that your
faith and your hope,' &c." And similarly in several other places, given in the Prolegomena to my Greek Test.
5. Besides these express citations, he several times quotes without mentioning the name.
6. It is to be noted likewise that the heretic Theodotus, in the tract commonly printed among the works of Clement of Alexandria, twice expressly quotes our Epistle.
7. ORIGEN bears, expressly and often, the same testimony. In the passage on the canon, reported by Eusebius, he says:
“And Peter, on whom the church of Christ is built, over which the gates of hell shall not prevail, has left one universally received
Epistle: and perhaps a second; for it is doubted." Again:
“ Peter also sounded with the two trumpets of his Epistles.” And in many other places: see as above. 8. TERTULLIAN testifies to the same point:
“ Peter, writing to the inhabitants of Pontus, says, 'For what glory is it if when ye are punished [not] as delinquents, ye endure
it?' &c.” (1 Pet. ii. 20 f.) And again :
“For Peter had said that the king is to be honoured” (1 Pet. ii.
17). 9. The opinion of Eusebius, as gathered from those before him, is
“One Epistle of Peter, that called his first, is universally received : this Epistle the elders of old in their writings have used as
undoubted.” VOL. II. PART II.-231
10. This Epistle is also found in the Peschito or ancient Syriac version, which contains three only of the Catholic Epistles. It is true, it is not mentioned in the fragment on the canon known by the name of Mura
But the passage is not easily understood. The simplest interpretation of the sentence is, we receive also only the Apocalypses of John and Peter, which (latter) some of our brethren refuse to have read in the church."
11. It is inferred from a passage of Leontius of Byzantium (died about 610) that Theodore of Mopsuestia rejected the Epistle: but the inference is not a safe one, the words being too general to warrant it.
12. It is said, in a passage of Petrus Siculus, that the Paulicians rejected it:
“But the two Catholic Epistles of Peter the prince of the Apostles
they reject, being strongly set against him." 13. So that, with one or two insignificant exceptions, we have the united testimony of antiquity in its favour. It would be superfluous to go on citing later testimonies on the same side.
14. The first doubt in modern times was thrown on its authenticity by Cludius, on the ground that its thoughts and expressions are too like those of St. Paul, to have been written by the Apostle whose name it bears.
15. This was taken up by Eichhorn, and expanded into the hypothesis, that some one wrote the Epistle who had been long with St. Paul, and had adopted his ideas and phrases : and as this will not fit St. Peter, he supposes that St. Peter found the material, but it was worked up by John Mark. This hypothesis is rejected by Bertholdt, but taken up in another form : viz. by adopting the idea hinted at by Jerome and formally announced by Baronius, that the Epistle was originally written in Hebrew (so Baronius), or Aramaic, and rendered into Greek by Mark (so Baronius) or Silvanus. But, as Huther well remarks, this hypothesis is as arbitrary as the other: and the whole diction of the Epistle and its modes of citation protest against its being thought a translation.
16. De Wette finds reason to doubt the genuineness, but on grounds entirely derived from the Epistle itself. He thinks it too deficient in originality, and too much made up of reminiscences from other epistles. This ground of objection will be examined, and found untenable, in treating of the character and style of the Epistle.
17. It was to be supposed, that the Tübingen school, as represented by Baur and Schwegler, would repudiate this, as they have done so many other Epistles. The arguments on which the latter of these founds his rejection are worth enumerating, admitting as most of them do, of a ready and satisfactory answer. They are ", 1) the want of any
• I have taken this statement mainly from Huther.
definite external occasion, and the generality of the contents and purpose. But it may be replied, it is surely too much to expect that an Apostle should be confined to writing to those churches with which he has been externally connected, and in which an assignable cause for his writing has arisen: and besides, it will be found below, in treating on the occasion and object of the Epistle, that these, though of a general nature, are perfectly and satisfactorily assignable.
2) The want of a marked individual character both in composition and in theology. But on the one hand this is not conceded in toto, and on the other it is manifestly unreasonable to require that in one man's writing it should be so plainly notable as in that of another : in St. Peter, as in St. Paul and St. John.
3) The want of close connexion and evolution of thought. But, it may be answered, the purpose and character of the Epistle itself forbids us to require such a connexion : and we may notice that even in St. Paul's Epistles Schwegler professes not to be able to find it.
4) The impossibility that Peter, labouring in the far East, could have become acquainted with the later Epistles of St. Paul 80 soon (assuming their genuineness) after their composition. But, it is replied, there is no trace in our Epistle of acquaintance with the latest, viz. that to Titus and 2 Timothy. The only possible difficulty is the apparent (?) acquaintance with 1 Timothy: but this may have come to St. Peter through John Mark.
5) The impossibility, on the assumption of the Epistle being written in Babylon (see below, $ iv., on the time and place of writing), of bringing together the Neronian persecution which is alluded to in it, and the death of St. Peter by martyrdom during that very persecution. But it is a pure assumption that the persecution alluded to in the Epistle is that under Nero ; and another, that the Apostle suffered martyrdom under Nero at that time.
18. It is also not without interest, to discuss the reasons which Schwegler adduces for believing the Epistle to be a production of the post-apostolic age under Trajan. They are, 1) the tranquil unimpassioned tone of the Epistle, contrasted with the effect on the Christians of the Neronian persecution : 2) the circumstance that under the Neronian persecution the Christians were involved in a charge of a definite crime, viz. the setting fire to the city, whereas in our Epistle they suffer “as Christians," on account of the general suspicion of a bad life (as evil doers) : 3) the improbability that the Neronian persecution extended beyond Rome: 4) the assumption in the Epistle of regular legal processes, whereas the persecution under Nero was more of a tumultuary act: 5) the state of Christianity in Asia Minor as depicted
$ See on this below, § vi. par. 9.
by the Epistle, answering to that which we find in the letter of Pliny to Trajan.
19. But to these reasons it has been well replied by Huther, 1) that the tranquillity of tone is no less remarkable, as under the later persecution, than under the earlier, and that any other tone would have been unworthy of an Apostle : 2) the suffering of Christians, as Christians, did not begin in Trajan's persecution, but was common to the earlier ones likewise: 3) even if the Neronian persecution did not extend beyond Rome, the Christians in the provinces were always liable to be persecuted owing to the same popular hatred: 4) there is in reality no trace of judicial proceedings in our Epistle: 5) the features of persecution in the Epistle do not agree with those in Pliny's letter : there, the Christians are formally put to death as such : here, we have no trace of such a sentence being carried out against them.
20. The hypothesis of Schwegler, that the purpose of the Epistle is to be detected in ch. v. 12, as one of reconciliation of the teachings of St. Peter and St. Paul by some disciple of the former who was inclined also to the latter, is well treated by Huther as entirely destitute of foundation.
21. So that, whether we consider external evidence, or the futility of internal objections, we can have no hesitation in accepting the Epistle as the undoubted work of the Apostle whose name it bears.
1. The Apostle Peter, properly called Simon or Simeon (Acts xv. 14, 2 Pet. i. 1), was born at Bethsaida on the sea of Galilee (John i. 45), the son of one Jonas (Matt. xvi. 17) or John (John i. 43, xxi. 15), with whom, and with his brother Andrew, he carried on the trade of a fisherman at Capernaum, where he afterwards lived (Matt. viii. 14, iv. 18, and parallels, Luke v. 3), with his wife's mother, being a married man (1 Cor. ix. 5).
2. He became very early a disciple of our Lord, being brought to Him by his brother Andrew, who was a disciple of John the Baptist, and had followed Jesus on hearing him designated by his master as the
6 His wife is variously named Concordia or Perpetua by the legends. Clement of Alexandria relates, “ They say that St. Peter, beholding his wife led out to death, was rejoiced at her calling of the Lord, and her reception to her heavenly home, and cried out encouragingly and exhortingly, addressing her by name: 0 thou, remember the Lord.” And elsewhere he says, “ Peter and Philip were fathers of families.” On the question whether Mark was his son, see note on 1 Pet. v. 13.