I wanted to include some thoughts from the New Testament. I haven’t done the Gospels yet however, I do have notes on some of the letters that were written. I’m going to start with Peter. As you read these letters, remember they are short. There will be many topics covered. Each epistle will only be a few posts.
The first general epistle of the apostle Peter. As always, before I start, I like to do a little background on the author and book.
Peter the Man
This comes from the Bible dictionary entry on Peter. His name means rock and he was the brother of Andrew and son of Jonah. Also known as Simeon and Simon. Originally, a fisherman of Bethsaida. He was called by Jesus to be a disciple. At the time of his calling, he was living in Capernaum with his wife and mother-in-law.
He worked in Babylon (which may be the city on the Euphrates, but also a disguised name for Rome. Why would they disguise the name?) His companions were Mark and Silas (or Silvanus). Under the direction of Peter, Mark wrote his Gospel. It is believed that Peter suffered martyrdom in Rome in either 64 or 65 A.D.
He was a great man. One of the greatest actually. The New Testament talks of weaknesses but those were overcome and he was made strong in the faith. He was the chief apostle. After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Peter called the church and acted as its head. Through Peter, the gospel was opened to the Gentiles.
The Background on the Epistles of Peter
Again, this is from the Bible dictionary. The first epistle was written from “Babylon” (i.e. probably Rome) soon after the Neronian persecution in A.D. 64 and is addressed to Christians in various parts of Asia Minor. The object of these is to encourage people in danger of being scared into denying the faith. It also contains valuable scriptures on the incarnation, Atonement, and the doctrine of regeneration. I’ll talk about the second epistle when I get there.
Joseph Smith said that Peter penned the most sublime language of any apostle. I like that!
Let’s jump in.
The Trials of Your Faith
The trial of your faith is more precious than gold (verses 7-9). Though it be tried by fire, it might be found unto praise and glory and honor when Jesus comes. This is one of many references to fire and metal. Peter will talk more about this in the second epistle. Cherish your trials. As Peter says, they are more precious than gold. This is because we are refining ourselves, not metal. Trials make us or break us. Don’t let them break you. For you receive no witness after a trial of your faith. In hindsight, I’m grateful for my trials. They have helped me grow as a person, made me better emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
When talking about Jesus Christ, he says that they haven’t seen Him but love. Yet the saints believe and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The people of Malaysia come to mind when I read this scripture.
None of us have seen Jesus Christ and therefore, this scripture applies to all of us. I think the people of Malaysia are a real example of believing. There are a lot of challenges encountered in learning the gospel, yet, these people put forth their faith and believe. They trust in the Savior and that knowledge and understanding come with time.
Peter writes to be holy because Christ, who called you, is holy. In all manner of conversation. Because Christ loves you, he wants you to return to live with Heavenly Father. Because of that, he will help you in any way possible. He knows the path, Jesus has experienced what you experienced. You don’t have to go through anything in life alone.
The Foreordination of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world, even though you haven’t known of it until recently. How do you think this happened? Foreordination I mean. It has the word “ordination” in it. Was it similar to ordaining people to offices in the priesthood and church callings? By the laying on of hands? After the plans at the grand council in Heaven were presented, was Christ called to come forward after he was chosen? Did Heavenly Father call Christ to be the Savior or did he volunteer? After that, did Jesus receive a blessing ordaining him as the Savior and Redeemer of this world? Just some questions to think about.
I have more questions. Did we all receive ordination blessings (if they occurred)? I know we were all foreordained to do certain things in life but did Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ give those blessings individually? If so, that would have taken a long time. I don’t know. Just some more things to think about.
Babes in the Gospel
Converts are newborn babes in Christ (see chapter heading). He says that just as newborn babies desire milk, new converts desire the word of God so that they can grow. Cross reference Hebrews 5:13-14. It is the meat vs. milk analogy. When you are a new convert, you are unskilled in the gospel, so you must “drink milk” so that you can grow in strength. Grow in testimony, knowledge, and faith. Like a babe, you are new to this world so you need to be nourished. Once you have “grown up” a little, then you can start eating the “meat” of the gospel. It’s a good analogy because once babies get teeth they can start eating meat. Granted, not much, but little bits at a time. At times you may still need milk, but hey, you are making progress.
Also, cross reference 1 Corinthians 3:2-3. The flip side of this. The wicked are babies drinking milk. Like I already said, they are unskilled in the gospel. But unlike recent converts, they aren’t “growing up” or “growing teeth” to eat the meat of the gospel. They just want to be doing wickedness–drinking milk all the time. If you solely drink milk, you will die. It cannot keep you alive.
Christ is the Chief Cornerstone
Christ is the chief cornerstone. He that believeth on him will not be ashamed or disappointed (see Greek translation for verse 6 of chapter 2). Christ is the center of everything we do. He is at the center of the church name, he is the center of our message as a missionary and he should be the center of our lives. Cross reference 2 Nephi 25:26. We talk of Christ, we believe in Christ, we rejoice in Christ. We do all things relating to Christ so that our children may know to whom they must turn to for a remission of their sins. I used this scripture in my farewell talk. We do this as missionaries. This is the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. There is no other entrance or means that man can achieve eternal life without turning to Christ.
We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, and shew forth the praises of him that have called us out of darkness into the marvelous light. It’s Chapter 2 verse 9. Great verse. I paraphrased it a bit. I especially love the “Shew forth praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Beautiful part. And it’s true. God really has called us into his light from the shadows. We’ve all been to the dark side at some point in our lives. When we come back, how much joy we have and gratitude and appreciation for those people and things which we have.
Verse 10 is also great! In the past, we were not a people, but now we are a people of God! And that is who God wants us to be. This in order to fulfill our divine potential. Through God, we become everything that he wants us to be. And as we draw closer to him, and align our will with his, we discover that his will is what we want and need in our lives. The plan for us is specifically tailored to give us maximum joy, happiness, experience, and growth.
Government and the Gospel
Verse 13 and 14 talks about government. It is pretty much what the twelfth article of faith says. We believe in being subject to rulers and obeying and sustaining the law. This one is a balancing act. Balancing your obedience to the laws of the land with obedience to the laws of God. Notice that “laws” is a general word. Doesn’t specify which laws, just the laws of the ruler. Turns out, every one of those descriptions of rulers can be applied to Christ. What do you do when the law of the land no longer is in harmony with God’s law? The answer to that depends on where you live and under what type of government you live.
When God’s Law and the Laws of the Land Collide
Since I live in America, I’ll try and answer that question from my piece of the Earthly pie. We do have freedom of speech. Actually, I guess my answer to the question is to lift where you stand. But how can you lift where you stand if you don’t know where to stand? My first step would be to know the topics that are being discussed. Foreign policy and economy are usually hot topics. Find out what is going on there.
Research both sides of a topic. Formulate your own opinion. Remember it doesn’t have to be one side or the other, it is YOUR opinion. Make sure you are comfortable with it. After you know the topic, know your opinion and know what has or is being done, you are making progress.
Let’s say that whatever you researched is not being dealt with in a way that is in harmony with what you deem right. What are you going to do about it? One of my mottos is, “What is the point of doing something if you aren’t going to change the world?” How can you make the world a better place based on the knowledge and skill sets you have? In this case, it may be writing a local representative and talking to him about the issue. Not in a mean or degrading manner but in civilized discussion. I’m sure representatives get enough hate mail. You could make sure and go out to vote, just don’t do nothing. At the very least, know what’s going on in the world and have an opinion based on research. If you do that, you have already done more than most people. I have talked to too many people who don’t care about current events and what is going on in government. It’s sad to me they don’t want to know. It’s their government too! You say your vote doesn’t mean anything but that doesn’t mean you stop voting!
The next thing Peter says is that if a man with a conscience towards God suffers wrongly, it will be well with him. He then compares that to Jesus and his life. Jesus was perfect, did nothing wrong, and yet suffered for it. This would be hard for me to do. If someone wronged me and I’m suffering for something this person does, I’m going to do everything in my power to make it stop! I think any sensible person would. But I don’t think the scripture is addressing that issue.
I think it is saying, after all, you can do, if you are suffering because of someone else’s wrongs, you are justified. You are well with God. Using Christ is a good example because his calling was higher than the trials he was going through. Our calling is higher than our trials.
Peter on Marriage
Chapter three is partially on marriage. I’m having a difficult time understanding the first few verses. Verse one I feel like it’s not as bad as it sounds. Maybe it’s saying something along the lines of honor your husband and his righteous directions. That way, people will know you by your actions and not necessarily by word of mouth?
Verse two I feel like is saying to be chaste in conduct. Both for men and women. But why would chaste conduct behold by fear? Maybe scary to the wicked because the chaste walk about with the cloak of God’s power wrapped about them? Verse 3 footnote A pretty much says to be modest. When both genders are modest, they are able to enjoy each others’ company without being distracted.
Verse 4 continues this theme. Rather, let your beauty be inward. A gentle, mild, forgiving, and quiet spirit. This is, in the sight of God, a great thing of price. Verse five reinforces what 4 says. This is how women of old adorned themselves. With inward beauty.
One thing the scriptures keep saying is being in meek and humble subjugation to your husbands. I’d like to jump a little deeper into that. I definitely do not think this means that wives are slaves to their husbands. They are equal partners who ought to honor each other. I think what is meant by subjection is hearkening to righteous counsel and sustaining the husband as the patriarch of the family. Men are also to do likewise. Cross reference The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Men and women both have divine roles different from each other but are to work as a team. Different beings but one in purpose.
The men aren’t exempt from the scriptures either. To men, he says to be nice to the women. Go on dates with them (continuing courtship in marriage as the footnote says.) Be heirs together though a Celestial marriage and pray together.
I wonder if they dated back in the day?
Finally, be one in mind, have compassion on one another, love one another, be pitiful and courteous. Don’t do the opposite of those. Evil for evil. Y’all are supposed to inherit blessings. Work with me!
In review, here is what Peter said to men and women:
As you can see, men and women have an equal share in the workload. All different from each other but same in purpose. Marriage is a glorious institution and the building block for society. There would be nothing good in the world without marriages.