Peter's Household Teaching
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Conventional Literary Devices 108

Household Code

Household CodeNew Testament writers adopted a number of conventional literary devices to aid them in the teaching of ethics. One significant device is referred to in Peter's household teaching as a household code. This term is 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 members of a household.✞

New Testament Letters

TaxesA number of sections in the New Testament letters have been classified in this way 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, [alternately "parents"] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Related and similar teachings occur 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 to the Authorities

Peter's household teaching in 1 Peter 2.13-17 calls 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 include 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 is similar in tone and would be 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 is that the civil government had been ordained by God and that such behavior will disprove the false accusations of outsiders who have 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's Household Teaching"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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