This is the fifth article in my series on the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Click here to view an introductory article to this series.
Let’s take a look at the following two passages from 1 Peter. The echoes from several Old Testament texts are visible in them, and it is interesting to note that Paul similarly seems to combine ideas from these same texts in Romans 9:31-33 and 10:9-13. Again, we will see that the apostle is applying to Christ the types of Old Testament themes that in their original context talk of God.
1 Peter 2:4-9
“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men , but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. ” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone ,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE “; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
1 Peter 3:14-16
“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED , but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts , always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame .”
Now, with these texts in mind, let’s compare them with the following passages from the Old Testament.
“”You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. “It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over , And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. “Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught.””
(Isaiah 8:12-15, NASB)
“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. “
(Isaiah 28:16, NASB)
“Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame . It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy,Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. “The (BR)sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls .”
(Joel 2:27-3:5, NASB)
“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.”
(Psalm 118:22, NASB)
Though it seems that Peter is combining themes perhaps from all of these passages, the passages from Isaiah 8 and Joel are especially interesting. From Isaiah, we learn that it is the Lord, God himself, who is called a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over . But Peter applies these themes to Christ. And with regard to the passage from Joel, Peter seems to make the same application as Paul did in Romans 10, namely, that to confess Jesus as Lord and believe in him is to call upon the name of the Lord.
2 Peter 1:1 — Our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ
“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ “
(2 Peter 1:1, NASB)
By the most obvious reading, in this passage, Peter calls Jesus God and Savior. Some translators have chosen to render the passage so that “God” and “Savior” refer to different persons (only the latter one to Jesus). But there is a well-established grammatical rule called Granville Sharp’s Rule (see the articles here and here ), which counts heavily against these translations. The rule is properly stated as follows:
“When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case [viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill,] if the article ho, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e., it denotes a farther description of the first named person.”
When the rule is correctly stated, it is very difficult to find exceptions to it from the New Testament, and to even find relevant cases of exception from the literature outside of the New Testament is not very easy. This makes the rule very well established, since normally, even few clear cases of exceptions do not threaten the value of a rule as a useful generalization (it should be kept in mind, after all, that rules of this kind are based on later scholarly scrutiny of the texts — the original writers themselves were not consciously following them).
It is informative to compare 2 Peter 1:1 with 2 Peter 1:11 in the original Greek form:
2 Peter 1:1
tou theou hemon kai soteros iesou christou
2 Peter 1:11
tou kuriou hemon kai soteros iesou christou
These passages are grammatically identical. The fact that 2 Peter 1:11 is always translated in such a way that both kuriou (Lord) and soteros (Savior) refer to Jesus, should give us a clear indication that on grammatical grounds, the same conclusion should be made with regard to 1:1.
But neither is 1:11 the only place in 2 Peter where such comparison can be made. The Granville Sharp construction appears in three other places in the same epistle, and again, these provide evidence for the same conclusion. Therefore, the evidence does strongly support the conclusion that Peter is referring to Jesus as God in 1:1.
Next Article in the Series:
The Book of Revelation Teaches the Full Divinity of Jesus (the article coming soon)