Showing forth the great works of God: the witness of the people of God in the socio-historic context of 1 Peter and its implication for the church today
Janse van Rensburg, D. B.
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Christian communities often refer to the book of Acts and the missionary preaching of the apostle Paul when they consider their witness to society. Missionary preaching is therefore often seen as the main mode for witness and little attention is given to the socio-historic context of the book and the social position of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul was an educated rabbi and Roman citizen and therefore well suited to engage in missionary preaching. The hearers of 1 Peter, on the other hand, were from a different social background. This study is focussed on the concept of witness in the letter and the modes of witness which the author encourages within the sociohistoric context of his hearers. Thus, the socio-historic context of the hearers of the letter in the Petrine provinces has been investigated and a comprehensive exegetical process has been applied to the unit 1 Peter 2:4-10 in order to understand the theological identity of the hearers and the witness motif in 1 Peter 2:5 and 9. Exegesis was done according to the traditional grammatical-historical method. Furthermore, traditional methodologies like structural, historical and grammatical analyses have been applied in investigating the Old Testament references, and literary concepts, like intertextuality, have been applied to further enhance the understanding. Further, through exegesis, the identity of the resident aliens, household servants and married women, and the modes of witness present in 1 Peter 2:11-3:6 were analysed in their particular socio-historic-context. One conclusion of this study is that two different modes of witness can be identified in the section 1 Peter 2:4-10. Furthermore, the author, in consideration of the social position of his hearers, chose a mode of witness that would have been most effective in that context. Thus, the letter of 1 Peter provides a biblical basis and mandate for Christian communities to consider their social context in order to identify suitable modes of witness that would be most effective in their particular situation.
- Theology