Today, our reading stretches to 2 chapters, as I try to shoe-horn these 10 books into our Epiphany season. Sorry if it chokes you, particularly with the proof-text beloved by patriarchal misogynists in every century. Recall the context we began yesterday, about how to cope within a penultimate social order, even if we are slaves with jerks for masters?
What can I contribute as a male reading this with you? I cannot escape my complicity, for the community has always included women and men, culturally captive, socially situated, learning about our intersectional identities and privilege as not only resident aliens, but among sisters and brothers with more or less privilege and power than we enjoy. There’s always some boss bigger than any and all of us, ready to haul us up, ‘stop and frisk’ us, and try to find fault with us to embarrass and defame the whole community. Don’t give it to them, by your own petty abuses to justify their greater ones.
Chapter 3 pulls back the virtual camera to a big picture panorama for context for our small differences. Noah’s flood is connected to baptism, and we are assured of a promise vindicated for a small minority in the end, in a cosmic vision of Jesus the Suffering Servant presiding among all the angels and principalities and powers, shown in his ultimate place.
Chapter 4 spins out encouragement about how to live in the meanwhile, for the time being, in this age, before the age to come. Some of you already tell me you can’t tune out the voice in your head scolding about who goes to heaven and who is damned to hell. Hart’s translation is a helpful counter to that construction, with strong philological roots resisting either medieval 3-tier universe, or predestinarian fatalism. It simply admits that there are choices available, some of which we have made in our own past, and are tempted to revisit in our future, which make some kind of sense in a penultimate cultural context of maximizing personal pleasures in the short term.
This is moral counsel about the ‘tragic moral choices: between good and better, or bad and worse’. This is acknowledgement of competing authorities and sources of moral guidance, and alternative criteria for making decisions. Let’s not reduce it to rule-bound authoritarianism because of our religious history of such leadership, echoing between our ears, but not reflected here on the page.
We often advise litigants that the courts won’t give them truth or justice, but merely certainty of outcome so that we can all move on. You will in the end pay some taxes, fines, settlements, and certainly some fees – but let’s not make it worse than it has to be. Also, let’s not let that verdict define us. Perhaps it can instruct our own further choices, and those of others watching us bear the consequences of our own partially faithful efforts at faithful living.
Anyhow, that’s my word limit for a long day!
1 Peter 3
1 Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct,
2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
3Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing;
4rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.
5It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands.
6Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you.
7 Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honour to the woman as the weaker sex, since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life— so that nothing may hinder your prayers.
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
9Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called— that you might inherit a blessing.
10For ‘Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit;
11 let them turn away from evil and do good; let them 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 will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?
14But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated,
15but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you;
16yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.
17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,
19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison,
20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water.
21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you— not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
1 Peter 4
Download audio of Hart translation
1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin),
2so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.
3You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.
4They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme.
5But they will have to give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.
6For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.
7 The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.
8Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
9Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
10Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
11Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
13But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you
15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief-maker.
16Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.
17For the time has come for judgement to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18And ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?’
19Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.