The Argument of 1 Peter

Of the penman of this Epistle there is no doubt; and of the time of his writing it, no certainty, whether about the year of our Lord 45, or rather 65.  The occasion of it may (not improbably) be thought to be the same that was of James’s writing his, viz. the folly and perverseness of some in those times, and among the Jewish Christians to whom he wrote, in separating faith from holiness, and their doubting whether Peter and Paul taught the same doctrine.  His scope therefore is, partly to confirm these saints in the belief of the gospel, and to testify that the doctrine of the grace of God through Jesus Christ, which they had embraced and did profess, was indeed infallibly true, 1 Peter 5:12, being the same that had been preached by the prophets to the fathers of the Old Testament, 1 Peter 1:10-12; fairly implying it to be the same that Paul preached, by his sending this Epistle to them that were of the circumcision, by Silvanus, a minister of the uncircumcision, and Paul’s ordinary companion in the work of the gospel; as likewise he doth by that ample testimony he gives to Paul and his writings, 2 Peter 3:15, 16.  And partly to exhort them to the practice of godliness, and a conversation suitable to the gospel:  and that he doth, both as to the general duties incumbent on all believers, 1 Peter 1:13-2:12; and as to the particular duties which concerned them in their several relations, subjects to magistrates, servants to masters, husbands and wives mutually to each other, ministers to people, younger people to their elders, and especially sufferers towards their oppressors and persecutors; but withal intermixing several general duties, and of concernment to all, and concluding all with prayer and salutation.

Prolegomena to 1 Peter

The time of the writing of this Epistle is uncertain, neither is it of much importance to know (Vorstius[1]).  It is customary to assign it to the year of our Lord 44 (Hammond[2]), or, 45 (Baronius[3] in Gerhard[4]), by which reckoning it would be the most ancient of all the Apostolic Epistles (Gerhard); or 65, as it might be gathered from the approaching Judgment of God against the Jews,[5] concerning which see 1 Peter 4:7, 12, 17 (Lightfoot’s[6] Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 147).  The occasion for writing was the coming of Silvanus or Silas[7] to Peter[8] (Gerhard out of Lyra[9]), and the uncertainty of many whether Peter was teaching the same things as Paul and Silas (Gerhard), and the opinion of Simon Magus,[10] Nicolas,[11] and other, who were preaching faith without works (Augustine in Gerhard).  The scope and argument was that he was testifying that to be the true doctrine which they had embraced concerning the grace of God through Christ, as it might be gathered from 1 Peter 5:12 (Piscator,[12] similarly Gerhard), and that he was exhorting them, both unto perseverance in this faith (Piscator), and unto the study of good works (Gerhard).  This Epistle has τὸ σφοδρὸν, the fervor, or vehemence, one might expect of the Prince of the Apostles (Grotius[13]).



[1] Conradus Vorstius (1569-1622) was a Dutch Arminian, condemned by the Synod of Dort and banished.  It is reported that he openly embraced Socinianism at the end of his life.  He wrote Commentarius in Omnes Epistolas Apostolicas, Exceptis Secunda ad Timotheum, ad Titum, ad Philemonem et ad Hebræos.

[2] Henry Hammond (1605-1660), a learned divine, served the Church of England as Rector of Penshurst, Kent (1633), Archdeacon of Chichester (1643), Canon of Christ Church, Oxford (1645), and Sub-dean (1648).  He was invited to sit in the Assembly at Westminister, but he participated instead in the rising at Tunbridge and other efforts in support of Charles I.  He remained a loyal Royalist and Anglican until the day of his death.  He wrote A Paraphrase and Annotations upon the New Testament, briefly Explaining All the Difficult Parts Thereof.

[3] Cæsar Baronius (1538-1607) was an Italian cardinal and church historian.  He wrote a twelve-volume history of the Church up to the year 1198, entitled Annales Ecclesiastici a Christo Nato ad Annum 1198.

[4] John Gerhard (1582-1637) was an eminent Lutheran divine.  He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Jena (1616), and he was four times the Rector of the same.  He wrote Commentarius super Priorem Divini Petri Epistolam and super Posteriorem Divini Petri Epistolam.

[5] The Jews rebelled against Rome in 66.  The strength of the rebellion was largely broken in 70, when Titus took Jerusalem, and the Roman army destroyed the Temple.

[6] John Lightfoot (1602-1675) was a minister and divine of such distinction and learning that he was invited to sit as a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster.  He specialized in Rabbinic learning and lore.  He brought that learning to bear in his defense of Erastianism in the Assembly, and in his comments upon Holy Scripture.

[7] Silas was a Prophet, and he accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey.  See Acts 15-17.

[8] 1 Peter 5:12.

[9] Nicholas de Lyra (1270-1340) was born to Jewish parents, but he converted to Christianity.  He entered the Franciscan Order and became a teacher of some repute in Paris.  His Postilla in Vetus et Novum Testamentum demonstrate remarkable ability and a commitment to the literal sense of the Scripture.

[10] Simon Magus was a Samaritan magician, converted to Christianity by Philip, but discovered by Peter to be a false professor (Acts 8).  Later church historians remember him as the source of all heresies.

[11] The Nicolaitans, Revelation 2:6, 15, were the disciples of Nicolas (perhaps the Nicolas mentioned in Acts 6:5); they taught the lawfulness of eating things offered to idols and a community of wives.

[12] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine.  He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584).  His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther.  Through the course of his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians.  He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator.  He wrote Commentarii in Omnes Libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti.

[13] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many fields of learning, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis.  His exegetical talents are displayed in his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum.  His dual interest in international law and theology caused him to run afoul of civil authorities:  Embracing Arminian doctrine, he was imprisoned from 1618-1621 after the Synod of Dort declared against the position.

Directions for Use

Each of the volumes in this series, The Exegetical Labors of the Reverend Matthew Poole is actually composed of two separate works:  A Synopsis of Interpreters, Both Critical and Otherwise, of the Sacred Scriptures (known by its Latin title, Synopsis Criticorum, the translated text of which is printed in this regular type) and Annotations upon the Holy Bible (the text of which is printed in bold type).  In the Synopsis, written primarily for students, ministers, and scholars, Poole presents something of a verse-by-verse history of interpretation, setting forth the most important interpreters and interpretative positions.  The Annotations, on the other hand, are written for the use of the common man, giving a summary of the most important interpretive issues and Poole’s own, most mature (being written in the years immediately prior to his death), judgment.  In these volumes, the Annotations have been interspliced into the translation of the Synopsis, creating an omnibus ofPoole’s exegetical efforts.

It may already be apparent from this brief description of these volumes that they are intended for study; they are certainly not a light read.  So that every reader, from the unlearned to the scholar, might get the most profit from these volumes, these directions are proffered:

 

1.  Read and study the prefatory material, especially the “Preface to the Synopsis:  Romans-Revelation.”[1]

 

In the “Preface to the Synopsis:  Romans-Revelation,” the reader is introduced to the interpreters, writing on these Books of the Bible, who, in Poole’s judgment, are of the greatest significance.  Because the Synopsis is primarily about the history of interpretation, an acquaintance with the interpreters is of the utmost importance.  The translator has provided additional information about these men in the footnotes to aid the reader.  Paul taught the Ephesian Christians that the ascended Lord Jesus provides teachers for the edification of His Church in all ages;[2] this is a synopsis of their teaching and testimony, a thing of surpassing value.

 

2.  Note that a brief summary of each book and an outline of each chapter has been provided.[3]

 

This will help the reader get and keep the entire context in view as he studies particular verses.

 

3.  Study the cross-references.

 

The Authorized Version of the text has been provided at the beginning of each verse.  In the Annotations, Poole provided a great many cross-references in the printing of the verse itself.[4]  These should not be neglected; they are of great value in gaining an understanding of the verse being studied, and it will be found that the verse being studied has implications for the right interpretation of other texts.[5]  Furthermore, the reader will find the verses, referenced in the Synopsis portion for the illustration of grammatical principles, to be of great help and use.  When the reason for the citation of a particular verse is not clear in English, the translator has provided annotations in the footnotes to aid understanding.

 

4.  Begin the study of the commentary portion under each verse with the Annotations portion (printed in bold).

 

Remember that the Annotations were written for the common man, and in them Poole, or the divines who completed the Annotations after Poole’s death,[6] summarizes and gives an evaluation of the most important matters.  Reading the Annotations portion will frequently shed much light upon the mass of raw exegetical material in the Synopsis portion.

 

5.  Note that Poole often presents a wide variety of interpretive positions in a short space.

 

In the Synopsis portion, contradictory positions can be presented without any transition.  The intepreters who held a certain view are usually given in parentheses after the presentation of the interpretive position, and this is frequently all that the reader is given with respect to a transition from one position to another.

 

6.  Make use of the Index as needed.

 

            An index of relatively obscure people and places has been included for the help of the reader.  The index refers the reader back to the page upon which the person or place was first mentioned and footnoted.

 

7.  Be patient and persevere.

 

Solomon the Wise teaches in the Proverbs that in some things knowledge and wisdom come only with effort,[7] and penetrating beyond a superficial understanding of the Scriptures will require hard work; but let the Christian give himself to this labor in the assurance of faith, that Jesus Christ is speaking to him through the Word,[8] and that in this study he will taste of the Lord that He is good.[9]



[1] The prefatory material can be found in The Exegetical Labors of the Reverend Matthew Poole:  Volume 80:  Revelation 1-7.

[2] Ephesians 4:11-13.

[3] Poole composed the book outlines from Genesis to Isaiah, but the chapter outlines were not added until the third edition of the Annotations, 1696, by Samuel Clarke and Edward Veale.  Samuel Clarke (1626-1701), one of the ejected ministers under the Act of Uniformity, was well-qualified for this editorial work, having composed his own The Old and New Testament, with Annotations and Parallel Scriptures (1690) and A Survey of the Bible; or, an Analytical Account of the Holy Scriptures, Containing the Division of Every Book and Chapter, thereby Shewing the Frame and Contexture of the Whole (1693).  Edward Veale was one of the divines called upon to complete Poole’s Annotations, writing the portions on Ephesians, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude.  He will be discussed at greater length in conjunction with those portions.

[4] Samuel Clarke and Edward Veale appear to be responsible for supplemental cross-references, added toPoole’s own.  All of the cross-references have been provided in this text.

[5]Westminster Confession of Faith 1:9:  “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself:  and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”

[6] Edward Veale provided the comments on 1 and 2 Peter in Poole’s Annotations.  Veale (d. 1708) labored in the work of the ministry in both England and Ireland, having been ordained in 1657.  He later served as a senior fellow at Trinity College in Dublin, until he was deprived for nonconformity.  After his deprivation, he ministered as chaplain to Sir William Waller, and then as a pastor at Wapping.  He edited and published, with Richard Adams, Stephen Charnock’s Discourse on Divine Providence (1680), and, of course, with Samuel Clarke, the third edition of Matthew Poole’s Annotations (1696).

[7] Proverbs 2:1-5.

[8] 1 Peter 1:11.

[9] 1 Peter 2:3.

Title Page

The

 

Exegetical Labors

 

of the

 

Reverend Matthew Poole

 

 

 

Translated by Dr. Steven Dilday

Edited by April M. McLeod

 

 

Volume 78:  1 and 2 Peter

 

Containing:

 

I.  A Synopsis of Interpreters, Both Critical and Otherwise, of the Sacred Scripture

 

II.  Annotations upon the Holy Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culpeper, Virginia

Master Poole Publishing

2013

A New Beginning…

If you have been considering studying the Scriptures with Matthew Poole, now is a good time to begin.  I am going to begin blogging through 1 and 2 Peter, two precious books of holy writ, and yet somewhat neglected.  May the Lord bless our studies together, so that we might know Christ, the fellowship of His sufferings, and the power of His resurrection.

–Dr. Dilday