Strangers And Aliens (19a): The End Of All Things

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

7The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:11whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7–11; ESV)

v.7: Apocalyptic And 1 Peter

It is an article of faith among a certain school of critics of the New Testament that Jesus and his apostles had an apocalyptic eschatology, which believed that the end of all things was immanent. In this paradigm, Jesus is seen as a disappointed, failed, apocalyptic preacher. According to this view apocalypticism makes a sharp dualism between this age and the age to come. According to G. E. Ladd, this “age will finally come to its end, and God will inaugurate the new age of righteousness. However, this final redemptive act has no bearing upon the present” (G. E. Ladd, “Apocalyptic Literature,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–88), s.v., “Apocalyptic Literature.” Because of this disjunction and the loss of confidence in the divine work in history Jewish apocalyptic was pessimistic. According to Ladd, for these apocalyptic writers also see the course of this age as determined to fixed periods, which leads to what he calls “ethical passivity.”

There are ways in which eschatological NT discourses and language bear a certain formal similarity to Jewish apocalyptic. There are significant ways in which the NT (e.g., the Olivet Discourse) and 1 Peter’s eschatology in particular are distinct from Jewish apocalyptic. First, though Peter, like Paul, did distinguish between this age and the age to come but for Peter there is an intimate connection between the age to come and this age. The age to come has already broken in. It has been inaugurated but it has not been consummated. For Peter, as for Jesus and the apostles, we live in the present in light of the future. Peter’s was entirely confident in God’s saving acts in history. That is why he appealed to the analogy of Noah so strongly and frequently throughout this epistle and the next (2 Peter). Certainly Peter does not urge ethical passivity. Indeed, as we shall see, the Peter’s eschatology leads to the exact opposite conclusion.


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