1st and 2nd Peter
1st and 2nd Peter The Christians around the time I Peter was written were undergoing some intense persecution. Socially they were shunned, abused, insulted and ridiculed, and Peter realized that the circumstances were getting worse. Nero was Emperor of Rome during the time I Peter was written.
He oversaw the persecutions of Christians. Peter wrote this letter to offer encouragement to Christians suffering this persecution. (I Peter 2:18-20) As a result the church in Jerusalem was being scattered throughout Asia Minor.
Some of the ways Christians were being persecution during Nero’s time were, being nailed to crosses or sewn up in the skins of wild beasts and left in the sun to die a horrible and painful death. They were used as torches to illumine Nero’s parties. Through this time it was Peter who reminded them that Jesus has set an example for everyone and that although there is much suffering on Earth, they are promised an imperishable inheritance in heaven. It states in I Peter 2:21-23 that “this suffering is all part of what God has called to you. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example.
Follow in his steps. He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. ” That is what the letter rejoices. Although the Christians wanted so bad to get even with Emperor Nero and his people, they stayed humble, and pulled through their suffering (I Peter 3:9). The author calls Christians to be holy as God is holy, for they are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s chosen people.
In the Bible it does state that as a Christian you have decided to not go back to the evil desires such as immorality and lust, feasting and drinking and wild parties and worshipping other idols, but you will be anxious to do the will of God (I Peter 4:2-3). The Bible says that there will be people who are surprised that you don’t participate in their wicked ways and they will say evil things about you and torture you (I Peter 4:4-5). This is much like the Christians during the time of Nero.
Nero didn’t understand why Christians didn’t believe and worshiped like his people did, therefore he completely rejected their ideas and put them through a lot of torment. One reason for their persecution was their life-style as aliens and foreigners in the heathen culture. Peter wanted Christians to know that, yes, we as Christians are aliens and foreigners not only to Rome but also to this world. We are only visitors here, and in our short time we have here we must live and glorify God in everyway possible (I Peter 1:17 & 1Peter2:11).
Nero is described to be fair- haired, with weak blue eyes, a rather large neck, and a potbelly. He came off to have a very strange mixture of absurdity. Nero was artistic, weak, sensual, bi-sexual, aggressive, extravagant, and later in life rather disturbed. Early on in his ruling, Nero came across as very a civilized person. He gave the senate more freedom and considered ending the murder of criminals and gladiators in the arenas, he made city wide reforms and was very upset that the law required him to put 300 slaves to death over the fact that their master, a powerful senator, was poisoned by them.
Many historians report that he was very reluctant to do it. Later on in his ruling he became absolutely obsessed with the arts, recreation, and sexual desires. He had many affairs and began to go about his evil ways once his mother began spreading rumors. The main reason Nero persecuted the Christians was because of something that happened during the burning of his city. It was around 64 A. D. when the Great Fire of Rome took place. Rome had 14 different districts and only 4 of them remained untouched.
The fire burned for a total of 6 days and 6 nights. At that time, people started a lot of rumors about Nero, saying that he “fiddled while Rome burned” and this rumor spread throughout Rome, creating other rumors. People believed that Nero was the one who started the fire so that he could totally wipe out Rome and start a new city named after him in its place, also that he could build a better palace. Nero didn’t like the fact that people were spreading rumors about him so he decided he needed a scapegoat to blame the fire on.
He chose the Christians. Nero’s attempt to use them to take all of the blame off of him failed. Everyone turned against him after this tragic event and the senate decided that he should be flogged to death. But instead of going through this humiliation, he made the decision to commit suicide. He died in 68 A. D. and during his 14 years he managed to establish a bloody reign of terror and to the world he will always be remembered as an insane tyrant. The culture around the time of Nero was rather interesting.
Much of the furniture they used was couches, not too many chairs, and they almost always reclined even at the dinner table. The most popular room was the lavatory were there were rows of toilets with arm rests were people would sit and talk for an hour or more. Baths were equivalent to that of a modern day athletic club. There were several rooms including the sweat room and the warm room where sweat was scraped off by slaves because soap was unknown.
Foot races, boxing, and wrestling were minor sports in this era but chariot racing and gladiator contests where the most amusing to watch. These events tie in to the persecution theme of I Peter. When Emperor Nero decided to blame the Christians for the burning, he threw them in to the arena and made them face gladiators and wild animals, killing them. Peter says that we should expect ridicule, rejection and suffering and that persecution makes us stronger because it refines our faith (I Peter 2:21-25).
Nero completely rejected the idea of family. After his stepfather adopted him, he was engaged to his stepsister Octavia, and after awhile he became involved with a woman named Acte. As he became even more lustful, he began having an affair with another woman and his mother got enraged and sided with Octavia. He then attempted to kill his mother, more than once it was said. He tried poisoning her 3 times, he also tried to murder her by loosening her ceiling on a boat and almost drowning her but she managed to escape.
After his failing attempts, he then hired an assassin who clubbed and stabbed her to her death in 59 A. D. Peter truly encouraged the idea of family life in the fact that he urged all family members to treat other with sympathy, love, tenderness and humility (I Peter Chapter 3). Finally, the theme that is found mostly in II Peter is the false teachings. One of the reasons that Nero persecuted almost all the Christians was that fact that they didn’t conform to the heathen culture that he encouraged during his reign.
Heathen culture emphasize the importance of relationships with gods and goddesses, ancestors, spirits of the land, and other’s in the community. Since the Christians living in Rome at the time believed in the one true God they were mocked and tortured, but in no way did they give into the false teachings that were in their surroundings ( II Peter chapter 2) Works Cited Nosotro, Rit. “Nero. ” 13. 05. 2007. 13. 05. 07 . Christian, Imanual. “bible. org. ” I Peter: how should we live in a Pagan Culture. 13 May 2007 .