The opening of 1 Peter

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sat May 18 06:58:45 EDT 2002

At 8:44 PM -0400 5/17/02, Mike Sangrey wrote:
> about a totally different way of looking at it?  Allow me
>to think out loud, sort of green lighting here.  What if we think of the
>opening of the letter like this:
>    From:    Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ;
>    To:      The elect, the strangers--the ones scattered in Pontus,
>             Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia;
>    Subject: What God the Father knew beforehand specifically about
>             the Spirit's sanctifying power and how that concerns
>             our obedience and the sprinkling of (ie. purification by)
>             the blood (ie the death) of Jesus Christ.
>    Salutation:  May grace and peace increase for you.
>In other words, to answer your question about what the prepositions
>modify:  they state (modify?) the subject of the letter.

This rather bizarre jeu d'esprit has drawn no comments thus far, which
makes me hesitate to touch it with a long stirring-fork, but I'd hate to
think that some novices in Greek might take seriously the proposition that
the prepositional phrases in question are syntactically independent, more
or less, from the sentence structure within which they appear.

>A couple of notes regarding the freely rendered prepositions (if there
>is anything that does NOT map one-for-one between languages, it's the
>prepositions!): ...

While there's unquestionably some truth in this, I don't that quite
constitutes a license to go fishing.

>So, the topic is about God's foreknowledge as it specifically relates to
>sanctification, but the key piece of information, the point the reader
>needs to get to is an understanding of how Jesus' death relates to this.
>Now, note the following points somewhat in parallel to the above three
>        * 1 Pet. 1:3-12--it is about what God has done and that he told
>          the prophets about it.  So then, it's God who did it and he
>          knew about it before hand and indeed, purposed to carry out
>          exactly what he determined to do.  This matches up with
>          PROGNOSIS.
>        * 1 Pet. 1:13-2:10--Starts with DIO (cf L&N, 89.47, "relatively
>          emphatic marker of result, usually denoting the fact that the
>          inference is self-evident") so (and for other reasons, too)
>          this is a fairly large sectional break.  What's this section
>          about?  If you do a quick read through it I think you'll
>          notice that there's a fair amount of emphasis on the believer
>          being purified by God.  It ends with Peter saying that we've
>          become a royal priesthood.  In other words, it syncs with
>          sanctification in the sense of our being "set apart for a holy
>          use."
>        * 1 Pet. 2:11-4:11.  I can't develop such a large section in
>          just one bullet point; however, note the twin topics of
>          obedience in specific social roles and how the death of Jesus
>          is absolutely vital for this obedience to occur.  Otherwise we
>          won't be able to deal successfully with the SARC.  It's
>          interesting to me how the explanation of the death of the
>          Christ is intimately woven into very practical instruction
>          regarding certain social roles.  This i mirrored in the way
>          the opening statement is worded:  EIS hUPAKOHN KAI hRANTISMON
>Also, note that there isn't a nice neat, strictly developed point 1,
>point 2, point 3.  There's some cyclic or iterative development of the
>points.  This makes sense to me since the topic really needs to hang
>together as a unit.

Ordinarily we don't do exegesis or general Biblical discussion in this
forum but try to elucidate the Greek text as such. But this purports to be
a (relatively) serious proposition about the function of the prepositional
phrases in 1 Peter 1. While the rubrics indicated by Mike are, to be sure,
to be discerned "in cyclic or iterative development" in this letter, it
seems to me that they are also to be discerned, more or less, in just about
all GNT letters. And that makes me dubious about the usefulness of these

>Well, just thinking outside the box.  Read through 1 Peter a few times
>with the above topic in mind (or something similar) and see what you

Alternatively,"read through" the rest of the NT letters "with the above
topic in mind (or something similar) and see what you think."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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