The first recipients and keepers of God’s Promises were Adam and Eve. God, we are told, carved out a garden for them and their family. He put the man in charge; but the man allowed the woman and a snake to rob him and his family of their opportunity to capitalize on God’s Promises. Ever since that fatal act of disobedience, Adam's descendants have sought alternate ways to recapture the Promises. Unfortunately, there are no alternate routes outside the Conditions that retain and secure the Promises of God. The period of history that stretches between Adam and Noah is called antediluvian. According to the Bible, this is when time began and when man appeared at the hands of Elohim. Man is depicted as Elohim’s special project and represented the crown of creation. More than that, man was to be the link between creation and Elohim or The Us. His physical components were of the earth and his breath of life from The Us (Gen. 2:7). In the Hebrew text, "adam" means "red" and "adama" "earth." Hence, the word "adam" is not a name, but a term for the human species.
The Election is God’s greatest Promise of Grace bestowed on man in Christ Jesus. God, in His infinite wisdom and foreknowledge of man’s fall before the world was created, designed “Predestination” as a way of salvation through Promises and Conditions man can follow. Long before the incarnation of Christ and His death on the Cross God’s Son had already been chosen as the way through whom the world could be saved. As a human being, Jesus proved that man could live by God’s Conditions and attain the Promises.
"Let us make man in our own image, ...let them rule over...all the earth" (Gen. 1:26). “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:22). “Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (Ja. 1:17). “The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Rev. 12:9). “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” (Rev. 12:12).
John, the author has been a mystery, nevertheless he was accurate in assessing Peter as Jesus choice to take over after him. The author’s friendship with Jesus and Peter does point to John Zebedee. John endeared himself to Jesus and Peter needed him to stay informed what Jesus was about. There are few references about Peter, but with profound implications and most of them have to do while Jesus was in Jerusalem. We shall begin with John 13. At the Last Supper, when Jesus began to hint at his betrayal, “Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.” That disciple did ask and Jesus did not hesitate and said, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it into the dish.” Peter saw Jesus give it to Judas Iscariot and he knew instantly that Satan had taken control of Judas (Jn. 13:18-27). He saw Judas leave and betray or hand over their Lord to the enemies; but he failed to face the danger of denying his Lord himself. Could it have been that he was too preoccupied with Judas rather than with his own weakness? Jesus had to tell Peter to his face that he too would deny him, not once but three times. The writer linked the two events together. The more faults we find with others, the less we see our own, especially when we are ashamed to identify with those that believe in Jesus. Peter found it difficult to cope with that mistake.
The Gospel according to Matthew is the most complete of Jesus life and ministry from a Jewish perspective and for Jewish Christians. At least four minds with different sources went into the compilation of the Gospel and placing it into the hands of Levi, a teacher and minister of the Levitical order. It is not just about the Holy One or Son of God but the teacher of all teachers – none like any other. Jesus is the Messiah according to God’s promises to Abraham’s seed. From start to finish, Jesus had come to restore the will and purpose of God for Israel in the creation of a new kingdom (Mt. 5:17-20).
Peter believed that “the end of all things was near,” and that Christ was outside the door ready to surprise the world. Their suffering itself was evidence that judgment had begun at the family of God and was being purified to face the Judge of the saved and the unsaved. The saved were the reborn or newly born in the spirit called the living and the dead were the unconverted. On judgment day, the saved shall be rewarded or claim their inheritance and the unsaved shall be punished, or give an account of what they had done (I Pe. 1:4; 4:5). The highest goal of the saved will be the salvation of their souls (I Pe. 1:9). Peter did not expect large numbers to survive. He based it on the idea of being saved by water - very much like the judgment during the flood in the days of Noah when only eight people were saved by water. His analysis of baptism played a similar role. He gave this reason: “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God” (I Pe. 3:21). Water united the believer with the risen Christ symbolically and secured his salvation.
Peter does not have an organized section on Jesus’ return like he has on The Day of the Lord or Judgment Day (II Pe. 3). Instead, he refers to Jesus’ return frequently as it relates to their daily living and struggling for their faith in Christ. The return was immanent and essential proof of the believer’s reward (I Pe. 1:5,7). The final bestowal of grace would take place when Jesus Christ was revealed (apokalupsei), (I Pe. 1:13). Jesus’ delay led to speculation and confusion. The language Peter used hints at his acquaintance with John Zebedee, Luke and Paul. He endorsed Paul as one of God’s bright recipients of special insight (II Pe. 3:15-16). “Bear in mind that the Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of the same matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
The Epistles of Peter are called the letters of hope. Theologians and ministers have a field day with the concept “hope.” It is easy to project hope from behind a desk and a pulpit. Suppose one is persecuted and hides every night, in hope that one will see the sun rise once more. I remember my mother praying and pleading for delivery, but we had to use our feet to go and hide somewhere else every night for three weeks. Hope as a subject in one thing and hope in trouble is quite another. It is through the eyes of one that suffered persecution and feared death that one must look at hope. Peter had denied his Lord when it was most crucial to stand by Him and left Jerusalem before Herod had a chance to decapitate him, like he did James Zebedee. Peter wrote to people that suffered (I Pe. 5:10), and he expected to lose his life any time (II Pe. 1:14). His hope and faith were not just live a few days longer but to live in such a way that his soul could reach eternity. Peter did not have salvation in his pocket. The hardest stretch was still ahead. His spirit was willing but his flesh had caved in (Mk. 14:38). It does not end until the Lord shall say to Peter: “Well done thou good and faithful servant”(Lk. 12:41-43).