You might be familiar with Tom Schreiner’s first edition in the NAC series. That series has been revamped into the Christian Standard Commentary (CSC) series. Some of these volumes are only lightly updated (if at all), but Schreiner has made the effort to revise his volume for the series update. He writes that he read widely on recent research and “rethought every line written and made quite a few changes” (xiii). While he’s added new material and nuance to his previous argument, he hasn’t changed his mind on any significant issues (unlike in his updated Romans commentary).
To give an example, Schreiner states that he interacted with feminist thought to help him think more clearly about Peter’s words to wives in 1 Peter 3:1–6. This section has certainly been revised and rewritten. New paragraphs have been added (p176), and the argument of the text has been reshaped. Schreiner is a complementarian, and here pace other commentators, wives were not to submit to their husbands as a way to accommodate to the ancient culture. Schreiner writes, “The submission of wives to husbands mirrors the church’s submission to Christ, and thus it should be accepted as a norm that transcends the culture of the first century” (168). In fact, these Christian wives would submit to their non-Christian husbands “whenever possible,” for by attending Christian meetings they would also choose to neglect their cult duties, departing from the religion of their husband, the head of the household (170).
That said, Schreiner also notes in 3:5 that wives submit and obey in a different way than children “since the relationship [between husband and wife] is between two adults” (175). There is more to a marriage relationship that merely submissions, but “the responsibility of wives to follow their husband’s leadership”cannot be “washed away,” which would be the easy thing to do (175). Schreiner quotes from Karen Jobes’ commentary on 1 Peter on how social expectations have changed from those of 2,000 years ago. Submission today looks different today than it did back then. As Jobes writes, “For instance, spousal abuse, infidelity, or malicious neglect violates both biblical standards and the higher ideals of social expectations” (179).
In 2 Peter 2:12, Peter compares the false teachers to animals. Schreiner adds a paragraph on two credible allusions in Psalm 49. Psalm 49:12 says, “Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish” (see also verse 20). Schreiner writes, “The fate of the hunted animals is a picture of the fate of the wicked” (419). He shows the ultimate contrast between true believers and the false teachers by cross-referencing what Peter wrote earlier in his letter. It is believers who “share in the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4) and who will gain eternal life, “but the opponents will face the same fate as animals” (419).
Schreiner believes that there are not enough arguments to deny Petrine authorship, so that Peter is the author of both 1 Peter (written from Rome) and 2 Peter, and Jude wrote the letter of Jude. Schreiner touches on the relationship between Jude and 2 Peter, believing that one of the authors based his work on the others (so perhaps Peter wrote 2 Peter with a copy of Jude close at hand or something). However, it is possible both Peter and Jude shared a similar oral source. Regardless, Schriener writes that “inspiration does not rule out the use of sources as if only direct messages from God are inspired” (503). Peter used Jude’s letter to help him make his own arguments to his audience.
Schreiner could be placed within the “new covenant theology”/”progressive covenantalism” label. He sees the church of Christ as fulfilling 1 Peter 2:9–10, meaning that “God’s elected people are no longer coterminous with Israel but are those who trust in Jesus Christ, and this this new people is composed of both Jews and Gentiles” (120–121). It is the church of Jesus Christ who mediates “God’s blessings to the nations as it proclaims the gospel” (121). 1 Peter 2:10 alludes to Hosea 2:23. Whereas apostate Jews have been cut off from God’s people, Gentiles have been included into God’s people through his great mercy.
The “judgment” that “begins with us,” the church, in 1 Peter 4:17, refers to the suffering that believers experience in the present age. As we endure suffering and remain faithful to Christ, we are purified from sin. Schreiner writes that Peter is arguing from the lesser to the greater, “If even those who are going to be saved are purified and judged by suffering, then the ‘outcome’ (telos), i.e., the punishment, for those who reject the gospel will surely be greater” (263).
Why should you buy Schreiner’s commentary? I own quite a few of his commentaries and other books, and Schreiner is a clear writer. He shows the biblical author’s train of thought so that you always know the point of what they are saying, even if you might disagree on the small details. He pulls on the threads from across the Bible, showing you the larger picture. Where there is a debate over an issue, Schreiner clearly lays out the various arguments and opts for the solution he believes to be the best. Being a pastoral, semi-academic commentary, there is little Greek used in the commentary. There isn’t much application in the commentary, but Schreiner’s theology is excellent and his arguments are tight. Any pastor would benefit greatly from using this commentary.
- Author: Thomas R. Schreiner
- Paperback: 645 pages
- Publisher: B&H Academic (November 1, 2020)
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