I. Works on the Theology of the whole New Testament.
August Neander (d. 1850): Geschichte der Pflanzung und Leitung der christl. Kirche durch die Apostel. Hamburg, 1832; 4th ed., 1847, 2 vols. (in the second vol.); Engl. transl. by J. A. Ryland, Edinb., 1842; revised and corrected by E. G. Robinson, New York, 1865. Neander and Schmid take the lead in a historical analysis of the different types of Apostolic doctrine (James, Peter, Paul, John).
Sam. Lutz: Biblische Dogmatik, herausgeg. von R. R'fcetschi. Pforzheim, 1847.
Christ. Friedr. Schmidt (an independent co-laborer of Neander, d. 1852): Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments. Ed. by Weizs'e4cker. Stuttg., 1853, 2d ed. 1859. 2 vols. (The Engl. translation by G. H. Venables, Edinb., 1870, is merely an abridgment.)
Edward Reuss (Prof. in Strassburg): Histoire de la th'e9ologie ch'e9tienne au si'e9cle apostolique. Strassb., 1852. 3d ed., Paris, 1864. 2 vols. English translation from the third French ed. by Annie Harwood. London, 1872. 2 vols.
Lutterbeck (a liberal Rom. Cath.): Die N. T. lichen Lehrbegriffe, oder Untersuchungen 'fcber das Zeitalter der Religionswende. Mainz, 1852. 2 vols.
G. L. Hahn: Die Theologie des Neuen Testaments. Bd. I. Leipzig, 1854.
H. Messner: Die Lehre der Apostel. Leipz., 1856. Follows in the path of Neander.
P. Chr. Baur (d. 1860): Vorlesungen 'fcber neutestamentliche Theologie. Leipz., 1864. Published after his death, by his son. Sums up the bold critical speculations of the founder of the T'fcbingen School. The most important part is the section on the system of Paul.
W. Beyschlag: Die Christologie des Neuen Testaments. Berlin, 1866 (260 pages).
Thomas Dehaney Bernard: Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament. Lectures on the Bampton Foundation. London and Boston, 1867.
H. Ewald: Die Lehre der Bibel von Gott oder die Theologie des alten und neuen Bundes. Leipzig, 1871-76. 4 vols. (More important for the Old Test. than for the New.)
A. Immer: Theologie des neuen Testaments. Bern, 1877.
J. J. van Oosterzee: Biblische Theol. des N. T. (translated from the Dutch). Elberf., 1868. Engl. transl. by Prof. G. E. Day. New Haven, 1870. Another English translation by Maurice J. Evans: The Theology of the New Test., etc. London, 1870.
Bernh. Weiss: Bibl. Theologie des Neuen Testaments. Berlin, 1868; 4th ed., 1884. Engl. translation, Edinb., 1883, 2 vols.
II. Separate works on the doctrinal types of the several apostles, by W. G. Schmidt, and Beyerschlag, on James; by Mayerhoff, Weiss, and Morich, on Peter; by Usteri, Pfleiderer, Holsten, Leathes, Irons, on Paul; by Reihm, on Hebrews; by Frommann, K'f6stlin, Weiss, Leathes, on John - quoted in previous sections.
III. The doctrinal sections in the Histories of the Apostolic Church by Lange, Lechler, Thiersch, Stanley, and Schaff (pp. 614-679), besides Neander already mentioned. Comp. also Charles A. Briggs: The idea, history and importance of Biblical Theology, in the “Presbyterian Review,” New York, July, 1882.
IV. For the contrast between the apostolic and the rabbinical theology, see Ferd. Weber (a missionary among the Jews, d. 1879): System der altsynagogalen palt'e4stinsichen Theologie, aus Targum, Midrasch, und Talmud dargestellt. Nach des Verf. Tode herausgeg. von Frz. Delitzsch und G. Schnedermann. Leipz., 1880.
67. Unity of Apostolic Teaching
Christianity is primarily not merely doctrine, but life, a new moral creation, a saving fact, first personally embodied in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, the God-man, to spread from him and embrace gradually the whole body of the race, and bring it into saving fellowship with God. The same is true of Christianity as it exists subjectively in single individuals. It begins not with religious views and notions simply; though it includes these, at least in germ. It comes as a new life; as regeneration, conversion, and sanctification; as a creative fact in experience, taking up the whole man with all his faculties and capacities, releasing him from the guilt and the power of sin, and reconciling him with God, restoring harmony and peace to the soul, and at last glorifying the body itself. Thus, the life of Christ is mirrored in his people, rising gradually, through the use of the means of grace and the continued exercise of faith and love to its maturity in the resurrection.
But the new life necessarily contains the element of doctrine, or knowledge of the truth. Christ calls himself “the way, the truth, and the life.” He is himself the personal revelation of saving truth, and of the normal relation of man to God. Yet this element of doctrine itself appears in the New Testament, not in the form of an abstract theory, the product of speculation, a scientific system of ideas subject to logical and mathematical demonstration; but as the fresh, immediate utterance of the supernatural, divine life, a life-giving power, equally practical and theoretical, coming with divine authority to the heart, the will, and the conscience, as well as to the mind, and irresistibly drawing them to itself. The knowledge of God in Christ, as it meets us here, is at the same time eternal life. (Joh_17:3) We must not confound truth with dogma. Truth is the divine substance, doctrine or dogma is the human apprehension and statement of it; truth is a living and life-giving power, dogma a logical formula; truth is infinite, unchanging, and eternal; dogma is finite, changeable, and perfectible.
The Bible, therefore, is not only, nor principally, a book for the learned, but a book of life for every one, an epistle written by the Holy Spirit to mankind. In the words of Christ and his apostles there breathes the highest and holiest spiritual power, the vivifying breath of God, piercing bone and marrow, thrilling through the heart and conscience, and quickening the dead. The life, the eternal life, which was from the beginning with the Father, and is manifested to us, there comes upon us, as it were, sensibly, now as the mighty tornado, now as the gentle zephyr; now overwhelming and casting us down in the dust of humility and penitence, now reviving and raising us to the joy of faith and peace; but always bringing forth a new creature, like the word of power, which said at the first creation. “Let there be light!” Here verily is holy ground. Here is the door of eternity, the true ladder to heaven, on which the angels of God are ascending and descending in unbroken line. No number of systems of Christian faith and morals, therefore, indispensable as they are to the scientific purposes of the church and of theology, can ever fill the place of the Bible, whose words are spirit and life.
When we say the New Testament is no logically arranged system of doctrines and precepts, we are far from meaning that it has no internal order and consistency. On the contrary, it exhibits the most beautiful harmony, like the external creation, and like a true work of art. It is the very task of the historian, and especially of the theologian, to bring this hidden living order to view, and present it in logical and scientific forms. For this work Paul, the only one of the apostles who received a learned education, himself furnishes the first fruitful suggestions, especially in his epistle to the Romans. This epistle follows a logical arrangement even in form, and approaches as nearly to a scientific treatise as it could consistently with the fervent, direct, practical, popular spirit and style essential to the Holy Scriptures and inseparable from their great mission for all Christendom.
The substance of all the apostolic teaching is the witness of Christ, the gospel, and the free message of that divine love and salvation, which appeared in the person of Christ, was secured to mankind by his work, is gradually realized in the kingdom of God on earth, and will be completed with the second coming of Christ in glory. This salvation also comes in close connection with Judaism, as the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, the substance of all the Old Testament types and shadows. The several doctrines entering essentially into this apostolic preaching are most beautifully and simply arranged and presented in what is called the Apostles’ Creed, which, though not in its precise form, yet, as regards its matter, certainly dates from the primitive age of Christianity. On all the leading points, the person of Jesus as the promised Messiah, his holy life, his atoning death, his triumphant resurrection and exaltation at the right hand of God, and his second coming to judge the world, the establishment of the church as a divine institution, the communion of believers, the word of God, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, the work of the Holy Spirit, the necessity of repentance and conversion, of regeneration and sanctification, the final completion of salvation in the day of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting - on all these points the apostles are perfectly unanimous, so far as their writings have come down to us.
The apostles all drew their doctrine in common from personal contact with the divine-human history of the crucified and risen Saviour, and from the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit, revealing the person and the work of Christ in them, and opening to them the understanding of his words and acts. This divine enlightenment is inspiration, governing not only the composition of the sacred writings, but also the oral instructions of their authors; not merely an act, but a permanent state. The apostles lived and moved continually in the element of truth. They spoke, wrote, and acted from the spirit of truth; and this, not as passive instruments, but as conscious and free organs. For the Holy Spirit does not supersede the gifts and peculiarities of nature, which are ordained by God; it sanctifies them to the service of his kingdom. Inspiration, however, is concerned only with moral and religious truths, and the communication of what is necessary to salvation. Incidental matters of geography, history, archeology, and of mere personal interest, can be regarded as directed by inspiration only so far as they really affect religious truth.
The revelation of the body of Christian truth essential to salvation coincides in extent with the received canon of the New Testament. There is indeed constant growth and development in the Christian church, which progresses outwardly and inwardly in proportion to the degree of its vitality and zeal, but it is a progress of apprehension and appropriation by man, not of communication or revelation by God. We may speak of a secondary inspiration of extraordinary men whom God raises from time to time, but their writings must be measured by the only infallible standard, the teaching of Christ and his apostles. Every true advance in Christian knowledge and life is conditioned by a deeper descent into the mind and spirit of Christ, who declared the whole counsel of God and the way of salvation, first in person, and then through his apostles.
The New Testament is thus but one book, the teaching of one mind, the mind of Christ. He gave to his disciples the words of life which the Father gave him, and inspired them with the spirit of truth to reveal his glory to them. Herein consists the unity and harmony of the twenty-seven writings which constitute the New Testament, for all emergencies and for perpetual use, until the written and printed word shall be superseded by the reappearance of the personal Word, and the beatific vision of saints in light.
68. Different Types of Apostolic Teaching
With all this harmony, the Christian doctrine appears in the New Testament in different forms according to the peculiar character, education, and sphere of the several sacred writers. The truth of the gospel, in itself infinite, can adapt itself to every class, to every temperament, every order of talent, and every habit of thought. Like the light of the sun, it breaks into various colors according to the nature of the bodies on which it falls; like the jewel, it emits a new radiance at every turn.
Irenaeus speaks of a fourfold “Gospel.” In like manner we may distinguish a fourfold “Apostle,” or four corresponding types of apostolic doctrine. The Epistle of James corresponds to the Gospel of Matthew; the Epistles of Peter and his addresses in the Acts to that of Mark; the Epistles of Paul to the Gospel of Luke and his Acts; and the Epistles of John to the Gospel of the same apostle.
This division, however, both as regards the Gospels and the Epistles, is subordinate to a broader difference between Jewish and Gentile Christianity, which runs through the entire history of the apostolic period and affects even the doctrine, the polity, the worship, and the practical life of the church. The difference rests on the great religious division of the world, before and at the time of Christ, and continued until a native Christian race took the place of the first generation of converts. The Jews naturally took the Christian faith into intimate association with the divinely revealed religion of the old covenant, and adhered as far as possible to their sacred institutions and rites; while the heathen converts, not having known the law of Moses, passed at once from the state of nature to the state of grace. The former represented the historical, traditional, conservative principle; the latter, the principle of freedom, independence, and progress.
Accordingly we have two classes of teachers: apostles of the Jews or of the circumcision, and apostles of the Gentiles or of the uncircumcision. That this distinction extends farther than the mere missionary field, and enters into all the doctrinal views and practical life of the parties, we see from the accounts of the apostolic council which was held for the express purpose of adjusting the difference respecting the authority of the Mosaic law.
But the opposition was only relative, though it caused collisions at times, and even temporary alienation, as between Paul and Peter at Antioch. As the two forms of Christianity had a common root in the full life of Christ, the Saviour of both Gentiles and Jews, so they gradually grew together into the unity of the catholic church. And as Peter represents the Jewish church, and Paul the Gentile, so John, at the close of the apostolic age, embodies the higher union of the two.
With this difference of standpoint are connected subordinate differences, as of temperament, style, method. James has been distinguished as the apostle of the law or of works; Peter, as the apostle of hope; Paul, as the apostle of faith; and John, as the apostle of love. To the first has been assigned the phlegmatic (?) temperament, in its sanctified Christian state, to the second the sanguine, to the third the choleric, and to the fourth the melancholic; a distribution, however, only admissible in a very limited sense. The four gospels also present similar differences; the first having close affinity to the position of James, the second to that of Peter, the third to that of Paul, and the fourth representing in its doctrinal element the spirit of John.
If we make the difference between Jewish and Gentile Christianity the basis of classification, we may reduce the books of the New Testament to three types of doctrine: the Jewish Christian, the Gentile Christian, and the ideal or unionistic Christian. The first is chiefly represented by Peter, the second by Paul, the third by John. As to James, he must be ranked under the first type as the local head of the Jerusalem wing of the conservative school, while Peter war, the ecumenical head of the whole church of the circumcision.
69. The Jewish Christian Theology - I. James and the Gospel of Law
(Comp. 'a7 27, and the Lit. given there.)
The Jewish Christian type embraces the Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and to some extent the Revelation of John; for John is placed by Paul among the “pillars” of the church of the circumcision, though in his later writings he took an independent position above the distinction of Jew and Gentile. In these books, originally designed mainly, though not exclusively, for Jewish Christian readers, Christianity is exhibited in its unity with the Old Testament, as the fulfilment of the same. They unfold the fundamental idea of the Sermon on the Mount (Mat_5:17), that Christ did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to “fulfil.” The Gospels, especially that of Matthew, show historically that Jesus is the Messiah, the lawgiver, the prophet, priest, and king of Israel.
On this historical basis James and Peter build their practical exhortations, with this difference, that the former shows chiefly the agreement of the gospel with the law, the latter with the prophets.
James, the brother of the Lord, in keeping with his life-long labors in Jerusalem, his speech at the Council, and the letter of the Council - which he probably wrote himself - holds most closely to the Mosaic religion, and represents the gospel itself as law, yet as the “perfect law of liberty.” Herein lies the difference as well as the unity of the two dispensations. The “law” points to the harmony, the qualifying “perfect” and “liberty” to the superiority of Christianity, and intimates that Judaism was imperfect and a law of bondage, from which Christ has set us free. Paul, on the contrary, distinguishes the gospel as freedom from the law, as a system of slavery; (Gal_5:1; 2Co_3:6) but he re-establishes the law on the basis of freedom, and sums up the whole Christian life in the fulfilment of the law of love to God and to our neighbor; therein meeting James from the opposite starting-point.
James, the Christian legalist, lays great stress on good works which the law requires, but he demands works which are the fruit of faith in Him, whom he, as his servant, reverently calls “the Lord of glory,” and whose words as reported by Matthew are the basis of his exhortations. Such faith, moreover, is the result of it new birth, which he traces to “the will of God” through the agency of “the word of truth,” that is, the gospel. As to the relation between faith and works and their connection with justification at the tribunal of God, he seems to teach the doctrine of justification by faith and works; while Paul teaches the doctrine of justification by faith alone, to be followed by good works, as the necessary evidence of faith. The two views as thus stated are embodied in the Roman Catholic and the evangelical Protestant confessions, and form one of the chief topics of controversy. But the contradiction between James and Paul is verbal rather than logical and doctrinal, and admits of a reconciliation which lies in the inseparable connection of a living faith and good works, or of justification and sanctification, so that they supplement and confirm each other, the one laying the true foundation in character, the other insisting on the practical manifestation. James wrote probably long before he had seen any of Paul’s Epistles, certainly with no view to refute his doctrine or even to guard it against antinomian abuse; for this was quite unnecessary, as Paul did it clearly enough himself, and it would have been quite useless for Jewish Christian readers who were exposed to the danger of a barren legalism, but not of a pseudo-Pauline liberalism and antinomianism. They cannot, indeed, be made to say precisely the same thing, only using one or more of the three terms, “to justify,” “faith,” “works” in different senses; but they wrote from different standpoints and opposed different errors, and thus presented two distinct aspects of the same truth. James says: Faith is dead without works. Paul says: Works are dead without faith. The one insists on a working faith, the other on faithful works. Both are right: James in opposition to the dead Jewish orthodoxy, Paul in opposition to self-righteous legalism. James does not demand works without faith, but works prompted by faith; While Paul, on the other hand, likewise declares a faith worthless which is without love, though it remove mountains, (1Co_13:2) and would never have attributed a justifying power to the mere belief in the existence of God, which James calls the trembling faith of demons. (Jam_2:19) But James mainly looks at the fruit, Paul at the root; the one is concerned for the evidence, the other for the principle; the one takes the practical and experimental view, and reasons from the effect to the cause, the other goes deeper to the inmost springs of action, but comes to the same result: a holy life of love and obedience as the necessary evidence of true faith. And this, after all, is the ultimate standard of judgment according to Paul as well as James. Paul puts the solution of the difficulty in one sentence: “faith working through love.” This is the Irenicon of contending apostles and contending churches.
The Epistle of James stands at the head of the Catholic Epistles, so called, and represents the first and lowest stage of Christian knowledge. It is doctrinally very meager, but eminently practical and popular. It enjoins a simple, earnest, and devout style of piety that visits the orphans and widows, and keeps itself unspotted from the world.
The close connection between the Epistle of James and the Gospel of Matthew arises naturally from their common Jewish Christian and Palestinian origin.
I. James and Paul.. The apparent contradiction in the doctrine of justification appears in Jam_2:14-26, as compared with Rom_3:20 sqq.; Rom_4:1 sqq.; Gal_2:16 sqq. Paul says (Rom_3:28): “Man is justified by faith apart from works of law” ('f0'e9́'f3'f4'e5'e9 'f7'f9'f1'e9̀'f2 'e5̓́'f1'e3'f9'ed 'ed'ef́'ec'ef'f5), comp. Gal_2:16 ('ef'f5̓ 'e4'e9'ea'e1'e9'ef'f5͂'f4'e1'e9 'e1̓́'ed'e8'f1'f9'f0'ef'f2 'e5̓'ee 'e5̓́'f1'e3'f9'ed 'ed'ef́'ec'ef'f5 'e5̓'e1̀'ed 'ec'e7̀ 'e4'e9'e1̀ 'f0'e9́'f3'f4'e5'f9'f2 'd7'f1'e9'f3'f4'ef'f5͂ 'c9̓'e7'f3'ef'f5͂), and appeals to the example of Abraham, who was justified by faith before he was circumcised (Gen_17:10). Jam_2:24 says: “By works a man is justified, and not only by faith” ('e5̓'ee 'e5̓́'f1'e3'f9'ed 'e4'e9'ea'e1'e9'ef'f5͂'f4'e1'e9, 'e1̓́'ed'e8'f1'f9'f0'ef'f2 'ea'e1'e9̀ 'ef'f5̓'ea 'e5̓'ea 'f0'e9́'f3'f4'e5'f9'f2 'ec'ef'ed'ef'ed), and appeals to the example of the same Abraham who showed his true faith in God by offering up his son Isaac upon the altar (Gen_22:9, Gen_22:12). Luther makes the contradiction worse by unnecessarily inserting the word allein (sola fide) in Rom_3:28, though not without precedent (see my note on the passage in the Am. ed. of Lange on Romans, p. 136). The great Reformer could not reconcile the two apostles, and rashly called the Epistle of James an “epistle of straw” (eine recht str'f6herne Epistel, Pref. to the New Test., 1524).
Baur, from a purely critical point of view, comes to the same conclusion; he regards the Epistle of James as a direct attack upon the very heart of the doctrine of Paul, and treats all attempts at reconciliation as vain. (Vorles. 'fcber neutestam. Theol., p. 277). So also Renan and Weiffenbach. Renan (St. Paul, ch. 10) asserts without proof that James organized a Jewish counter-mission to undermine Paul. But in this case, James, as a sensible and practical man, ought to have written to Gentile Christians, not to “the twelve tribes,” who needed no warning against Paul and his doctrine. His Epistle represents simply an earlier and lower form of Christianity ignorant of the higher, yet preparatory to it, as the preaching of John the Baptist prepared the way for that of Christ. It was written without any reference to Paul, probably before the Council of Jerusalem and before the circumcision controversy, in the earliest stage of the apostolic church as it is described in the first chapters of the Acts, when the Christians were not yet clearly distinguished and finally separated from the Jews. This view of the early origin of the Epistle is maintained by some of the ablest historians and commentators, as Neander, Schneckenburger, Theile, Thiersch, Beyschlag, Alford, Basset, Plumptre, Stanley. Weiss also says very confidently (Bibl. Theol. 3d ed., p. 120): “Der Brief geh'f6rt der vorpaulinischen Zeit an und steht jedenfalls zeitlich wie inhaltlich dem ersten Brief Petri am n'e4chsten.” He therefore treats both James and Peter on their own merits, without regard to Paul’s teaching. Comp. his Einleitung in d. N. T. (1886), p. 400.
II. James and Matthew. The correspondence has often been fully pointed out by Theile and other commentators. James contains more reminiscences of the words of Christ than any other Epistle, especially from the Sermon on the Mount. Comp. Jam_1:2 with Mat_5:10-12; Jam_1:4 with Mat_5:48; Jam_1:17 with Mat_7:11; Jam_1:20 with Mat_5:22; Jam_1:22 sqq. with Mat_7:21 sq.; Jam_1:23 with Mat_7:26; Jam_2:13 with Mat_6:14 sq.; Jam_2:14 with Mat_7:21-23; Jam_3:2 with Mat_12:36, Mat_12:37; Jam_3:17, Jam_3:18 with Mat_5:9; Jam_4:3 with Mat_7:7; Jam_4:4 with Mat_6:24; Jam_5:12 with Mat_5:34. According to a notice in the pseudo-Athanasian Synopsis, James “the Bishop of Jerusalem” translated the Gospel of Matthew from the Aramaic into the Greek. But there are also parallelisms between James and the first Epistle of Peter, and even between James and the apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon. See Plumptre, Com. on James, pp. 32 sq.
70. II Peter and the Gospel of Hope
(Comp. the Lit. in 'a7 25 and 'a7 26.)
Peter stands between James and Paul, and forms the transition from the extreme conservatism of the one to the progressive liberalism of the other. The germ of his doctrinal system is contained in his great confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. (Mat_16:16; comp. Joh_6:68, Joh_6:69) A short creed indeed, with only one article, but a fundamental and all-comprehensive article, the corner-stone of the Christian church. His system, therefore, is Christological, and supplements the anthropological type of James. His addresses in the Acts and his Epistles are full of the fresh impressions which the personal intercourse with Christ made upon his noble, enthusiastic, and impulsive nature. Christianity is the fulfilment of all the Messianic prophecies; but it is at the same time itself a prophecy of the glorious return of the Lord. This future glorious manifestation is so certain that it is already anticipated here in blessed joy by a lively hope which stimulates to a holy life of preparation for the end. Hence, Peter eminently deserves to be called “the Apostle of hope.”
I. Peter began his testimony with the announcement of the historical facts of the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and represents these facts as the divine seal of his Messiahship, according to the prophets of old, who bear witness to him that through his name every one that believes shall receive remission of sins. The same Jesus whom God raised from the dead and exalted to his right hand as Lord and Saviour, will come again to judge his people and to bring in seasons of refreshing from his presence and the apokatastasis or restitution of all things to their normal and perfect state, thus completely fulfilling the Messianic prophecies. There is no salvation out of the Lord Jesus Christ. The condition of this salvation is the acknowledgment of his Messiahship and the change of mind and conduct from the service of sin to holiness.
These views are so simple, primitive, and appropriate that we cannot conceive how Peter could have preached differently and more effectively in that early stage of Christianity. We need not wonder at the conversion of three thousand souls in consequence of his, pentecostal sermon. His knowledge gradually widened and deepened with the expansion of Christianity and the conversion of Cornelius. A special revelation enlightened him on the question of circumcision and brought him to the conviction that “in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness, is acceptable to him,” and that Jews and Gentiles are saved alike by the grace of Christ through faith, without the unbearable yoke of the ceremonial law. (Act_10:35; Act_15:7-11)
II. The Epistles of Peter represent this riper stage of knowledge. They agree substantially with the teaching of Paul. The leading idea is the same as that presented in his addresses in the Acts: Christ the fulfiller of the Messianic prophecies, and the hope of the Christian. Peter’s christology is free of all speculative elements, and simply derived from the impression of the historical and risen Jesus. He emphasizes in the first Epistle, as in his earlier addresses, the resurrection whereby God “begat us again unto a lively hope, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven,” when “the chief shepherd shall be manifested,” and we “shall receive the crown of glory.” And in the second Epistle he points forward to “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (1Pe_1:3-5; 1Pe_5:4; 2Pe_3:13) He thus connects the resurrection of Christ with the final consummation of which it is the sure pledge. But, besides the resurrection, he brings out also the atoning efficacy of the death of Christ almost as strongly and clearly as Paul. Christ “suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God;” he himself “bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness;” he redeemed us “with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1Pe_1:18 sqq.; 1Pe_2:24; 1Pe_3:18 sqq.) Christ is to him the only Saviour, the Lord, the Prince of life, the Judge of the world. He assigns him a majestic position far above all other men, and brings him into the closest contact with the eternal Jehovah, though in subordination to him. The doctrine of the pre-existence seems to be intimated and implied, if not expressly stated, when Christ is spoken of as being “foreknown before the foundation of the world” and “manifested at the end of the time,” and his Spirit as dwelling in the prophets of old and pointing them to his future sufferings and glory.
III. Peter extends the preaching, judging, and saving activity of Christ to the realm of the departed spirits in Hades during the mysterious triduum between the crucifixion and the resurrection. The descent into Hades is also taught by Paul (Eph_4:9, Eph_4:10).
IV. With this theory correspond the practical exhortations. Subjective Christianity is represented as faith in the historical Christ and as a lively hope in his, glorious reappearance, which should make the Christians rejoice even amidst trials and persecution, after the example of their Lord and Saviour.