1 Peter, Familial Language, and Cultic Imagery

The following is running “thought-process” as I’ve taken a short break from Patristic literature to study 1 Peter 1. In a way, I’m thinking out loud on patterns that caught my eye.

* * * * *

Similar language of family, child, newborn, birth, rebirth, etc. are only found in 1 Pet 1.3–2.10 within his two epistles. Why? Peter uses imagery of kindred and familial language to describe the new people of God. The following is a progressive reading and noting its surrounding ideas.

  1. 1.3—Readers bless God for their “rebirth”
  2. 1.14—Readers are called “obedient children” not necessarily to emphasize their moral obedience, but their new moral desires.
  3. 1.17—Readers now can call upon God as Father, who judges impartially throughout their exile.
  4. 1.23—Retelling your spiritual rebirth by means of a “seed”. The seed is closely connected to the “abiding word of God.”
  5. 2.2—Desire to be like new born babies feasting upon pure milk leading to spiritual maturation
  6. 2.5—Stones are brought together to form a new spiritual house. There is familial language being mixed with cultic imagery, so that the household becomes the temple
  7. 2.9–10—The maturation of spiritual men and women come together to form a new race, a new nation, a new covenant community.

Topics of study from these observations

  1. How are the images of children and baby relating to the covenant?
  2. How are family and cultic/temple imagery interrelated throughout biblical theology?
  3. Is there any connection between Israel being seen as a child, son, or infant and Peter combing both a betting anew (1.3) and capping the section off with a covenant language (2.9–10)?
  4. Is 1.23 and the “seed” related at all to the OT covenant? If so, how is Peter using it influence and inform the reader?
  5. What is the relationship between familial and covenant language?
  6. Why is the collective idea of people (i.e. household) postponed from an overt emphasis on the individual?

From these basic and general observations (meaning this is not fully developed and not carefully articulated), I do find it note worthy to ask the question why no other family-based language is brought up (besides the household code in ch.3) in 1–2 Peter. It is only found in 1 Pet 1.3–2.10. The progressive reading pushes the culminating reactions of covenant and cultic implications. Peter’s interplay with temple and household leave me thinking the “rebirth” can be related to cultic and covenantal imagery.

Tentative thesis, based on these observations: The rebirth and other familial language is a recapitulating story of the new people of God growing into the household/temple of God’s eschatological, covenantal people.

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2 thoughts on “1 Peter, Familial Language, and Cultic Imagery

  1. Shawn, My 1 Peter paper is going interact with the origin of these ideas in 1 Pet. 1:22-25. I could summarize it and write a follow-up post to some of these questions if you’d like. My tentative thesis is that these ideas (sanctified) and (re-born/new children) come from the OT and are also applied to Gentile converts to Judaism in the Second temple period.

    • That’ll be great Trey. When I’m researching I try to keep a running list of research questions to help others in identifying other research questions. Someone modeled for me what I try to model for others, when I can.

      Are you answering all of them? Each question could probably be an entire paper. Which ones are you answering and how are you answering them?

      Looking forward to hearing about the final product!

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