As I studied 1 Peter, a structure of the Old Testament quotations stuck out to me. I am not educated in Greek and Hebrew enough to know if there is any significant merit to my observation. If per chance there was a scholar educated in this topic who happens across this blog, I would be interested in your humble and gentle (Matt. 11:29) critique.
My observation is that in each of the four chapters of the body of the letter (chapters 1 through 4, omitting chapter 5 as a final farewell) Peter uses a direct Old Testament quotation. It then seems that after each one there is one sentence and then the text moves on to a new thought. It seems to me that the sentence following each OT quotation is a summary of not only the quotation, but possibly pointing out His main theme of the chapter, then echoed in the “summary statement” after the quotation in chapter 4.
Our Sunday school class’s outline structure, Grudem’s break down and my ESV bible has chapters 1, 2, & 4 with a sentence after the quotations and then starts a new paragraph or chapter. However, in chapter 3 it seems the common break down is before verse 13. Verse 13 seems to be used as the start of a new thought. Now I am not claiming to divine authority on this matter, but if the other three chapters have this one sentence afterward that seems to highlight the theme of those quotations or even the whole preceding chapter, when one chapter differs, it makes me ask, “Why?” and “Maybe it shouldn’t break there before the verse?”
So, this is my best attempt at unpacking my thoughts in written form, whereas verbal explanation might be more concise or “smooth.” The words used in the OT quotations are highlighted in yellow and then the corresponding words of the “summary sentence” are then highlighted in green with my explanation following in red.
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
One theme of chapter one is Peter establishing the imperishable word of God as the foundation to build one’s hope and life on. So he uses an OT quotation to emphasize that and summarizes the quotation and chapter with that theme.
6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,” [fn1]
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
The quotation of verse 6 seems to be summarized by highlighting the honor (no shame) being the one who believes the chosen cornerstone (who is the WORD (cf. 1:25) of God, Jesus).
The quotation of verse 7, in contrast, describes the one who rejects the cornerstone as the one who disobeys the word. Thus, this disobeyer will not be honored and by inference “be put to shame” and therefore the one who believes the word should obey the word. (cf. James 2:19).
So, thus far Peter has established and highlighted – believe and obey the imperishable Word of God, Jesus!
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?
It seems this question may be bringing up the idea that suffering causes harm – what harm will you really suffer if God’s eyes are on you and His ears open to your prayers and His face being against those evil doers who are trying to cause you harm you with suffering?
“Now” seems to be an acceptable follow-up word to this paragraph and not necessarily a word that starts a new thought. One may argue that verse 14 starts with “but” and therefore would be a conjunction with verse 13 rather than starting a new thought. However, the new paragraphs succeeding the quotations of chapter 1, 2, & 4 start with the words “so”, “but”, and “so” respectively, so verse 14 starting the new thought with “but” after the OT quotation and potential summary statement would even mirror the other transitions.
So as a summary thus far we would have something like: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God to do good, for none can harm you as you suffer
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” [fn3]
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
“Righteous” reiterates “doing good/right” (which is portrayed in the context especially of suffering) and “saved” underscores “salvation”. And thus the summary statement that summarizes the summary statements essentially says: Believe and obey (entrust; cf. Ch. 2:6-8 – believe, not reject/disobey) God’s will (His imperishable Word, Jesus; cf. Ch. 1:24,25) to do good in the midst of your suffering unto salvation (cf. Ch. 3:10-13; 4:18,19 - “saved”, “souls”).
And to tie it with the previous summary statement we were building: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God to do good, for none can harm you as you suffer unto salvation.
And with one side note (because detail oriented people can rarely be briefJ) to include the phrase “God’s will”: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God: (which is God’s will, which is to be like Jesus, the Word of God who did good while suffering unjustly) do good, for none can harm you as you suffer unto salvation.
Unpacked and repacked for your summary pleasure. I still like my original overview based on the “calls” of 1 Peter ("Be holy while you suffer and bless with the hope of eternal glory!"), but they complement each other, so I’ll “proclaim” them both!