Peter Household Teaching
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Peter Household Teaching
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Conventional Literary Devices

Household CodeNew Testament writers adopted a number of conventional literary devices to aid them in the teaching of ethics. One significant device in the Peter household teaching was described as a "household code." This term was a translation of the German term "house table," which the great German reformer Martin Luther (1485-1546 AD) originally coined and which was taken up to describe the extended passages in the NT that address various ethics for members of a household.✞

New Testament Letters

TaxesA number of sections in the New Testament letters have been classified in this way as literary devices for example Colossians 3.18-4.1, "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, (or "parents") do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Related and similar teachings occurred in the writings of the late first and second century apostolic fathers such as in Ephesians 5.22-33, 1 Timothy 2.8-15, Titus 2.1-3:8 and 1 Peter 2.13-3.7 according to editors Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids in the "Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Development."

Submission Authorities

The Peter household teaching in 1 Peter 2.13-17 called for submission to the government authorities, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor." This would have included a general attitude of respect toward those in authority as found in Titus 3.1, "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good" Romans 13.1-4 was similar in tone and was demonstrated according to Romans 13.6-7 in the act of paying taxes and offering prayers on behalf of civil leaders. The rationale of Peter's household teaching was that the civil government had been ordained by God and that such behavior would disprove the false accusations of outsiders who had slandered Christian households as being disloyal to the city state. Apparently, this kind of accusation was a current problem, the implication from the letter is that even exemplary behavior in this regard might not stop the abuse from unbelievers.✞

"Peter Household Teaching"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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