1th Kefa Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern

chapter 1
1. From: Kefa, an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah
To: God’s chosen people, living as aliens in the Diaspora — in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia —
2. chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obeying Yeshua the Messiah and for sprinkling with his blood:
Grace and shalom be yours in full measure.
Kefa is the name Yeshua gave Shim'on Bar-Yochanan when he called him to be his talmid (Yn 1:42&N, Mt 4:18N); in most English versions it is written, "Cephas," following the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word. Yeshua, upon Shim'on's being first to acknowledge him as the Messiah, revealed the significance of the name: "You are Kefa [which means 'Rock'], and on this rock I will build my Community, and the gates of Sh'ol will not overcome it"(Mt 16:17-18&NN). The New Testament emphasizes that significance by usually rendering the name in Greek as "Petros" ("rock"), normally transliterated "Peter" in English.

Emissary. Greek apostolos, usually transliterated "apostle," equivalent to Hebrew shaliach, "someone sent." See Mt 10:2- 4N. To: God's chosen people, literally, "God's elected ones," meaning Israel, living as aliens in the Diaspora. Kefa directs his letter primarily to Jewish believers (including Jewish proselytes who later accepted Yeshua), since he was "an emissary to the Circumcised" (Ga 2:7-8). However, the spiritual content of his Gospel, salvation by trust (vv. 3-9), was identical with that of Sha'ul, the "emissary to the Gentiles" (Ga 2.6-9&NN). However, Gentiles who have not converted to Judaism but have trusted in the Jewish Messiah and thrown in their lot with the Jewish believers are counted along with them, since by their trust such Gentiles have been grafted into Israel (Ro 11:17-24, Ep 2:11-16). What the phrase does not mean is simply "the Church," as opposed to "the Jews"; since the word "Diaspora" (Greek for "dispersion" from the Land of Israel) would then be inapplicable. Compare Ya'akov's similar greeting, "To: The Twelve Tribes in the Diaspora" (Ya 1:1 &N).

Living as aliens in the Diaspora. By using this phrase Kefa indirectly acknowledges that God has promised the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and will eventually accomplish kibbutz-hagaluyot, "the ingathering of the exiles" from the Diaspora to Eretz-Israel (see Mt 5:5N). This hope, now partly realized, has been kept alive in the eleventh blessing of the 'Amidah:

"Sound the great shofar for our freedom, raise a banner [or: "a miracle"] to gather our exiles and gather us together from the four comers of the earth. Blessed be you, Adonai, who gathers the dispersed of his people Israel."

Pontus, Galatia, etc. These places are all in present-day Turkey.

This verse names what Christian theology calls "the three persons of the Trinity"; and. even though non-Messianic Jews find it a stumblingblock, Messianic Judaism must not finesse the fact that God expresses distinct aspects of his absolute unity through the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Yeshua the Messiah. Here it is the Father who has chosen and exercised foreknowledge, the Holy Spirit who has set believers apart from sin, and Yeshua the Messiah who is to be the object of obedience and is the one whose blood is sprinkled.

Set apart by the Spirit for obedience to Yeshua the Messiah. Yechiel Lichtenstein writes,
"It also relates to the word 'chosen.' The meaning is that because they have trust, God helps them by his Holy Spirit, so that they will obey the Gospel and commit themselves to it with all their heart. Thus are they set apart from sin." {Commentary to the New Testament, ad loc.)

This is the "trust-grounded obedience" of Ro 1:5,16:26. Thus believers in Yeshua, like the Jewish people, were chosen to show God to the world.

Yeshua the Messiah and... sprinkling with his blood. Sprinkling is mentioned six times in the New Testament, the other five instances are in Messianic Jews 9-12. Under the Mosaic Covenant, blood represents both death and life, because "the life is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11). "According to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (MJ 9:22). The shed blood brings forgiveness, the sprinkled blood purifies. See MJ 9:11-23&NN.

Under the New Covenant, the significance of shedding and sprinkling blood is the same as in the Tanaklr, but instead of being literal, the sprinkling is accomplished inwardly through trust (Ro 3:25). Our hearts are "sprinkled clean from a bad conscience" (MJ 10:22, Ezekiel 36:25) with Yeshua the Messiah's "blood shed on behalf of many people, so that they may have their sins forgiven" (Mt 26:28), with his "blood, poured out for you" on the execution-stake (Lk 22:20) memorialized in the Communion service (1С 11:25-26). Through this heart sprinkling, "the blood... of... Yeshua purifies us from all sin" (1 Yn 1:7); so that "the sprinkled blood" of Yeshua, bringing life and forgiveness, "speaks better things than that of Hevel [Abel]," whose blood brought only death (MJ 12:24&N). 

3. Praised be God, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who, in keeping with his great mercy, has caused us, through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah from the dead, to be born again to a living hope,
4. to an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for you in heaven.
Praised be God, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who.... This is thc liturgical formula for commencing a b'rakhah (Jewish benediction); for similar formulas see 2C 1:3-4&N, Ep 1:3-14&N. For example, the initial b'rakhah of the 'Amidah begins, "Praised be you, Adonai, our God and God of our fathers...." The "who" in this formula signals a list of praiseworthy things God has done. In this case, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope, to an inheritance... kept safe for you in heaven. See Abraham Millgram, Jewish Worship (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1971), pp. 91-96. At 2:9 Kefa writes that the reason believers are "a chosen people" is so that they may declare the praises of God; here in vv. 1-4 he makes himself an example by doing exactly that — declaring the praises of God.

Bom again. See Yn 3:3N. Here the Greek word "anagennesas" can only mean "caused us to be born again"; at Yn 3:3 "gennethe anothen" can also be rendered "bom from above."

Through the resurrection of Yeshua you have been born again to a living hope.
At Ro 6:4-11,8:9-25 Sha'ul explains how it works. "Yeshua said..., 'I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?'"(Yn 11:25) Kefa did. An inheritance (see Ep 1:11N) that cannot decay, spoil or fade. Compare Mt 6:19-21, Ya 5:2-3. 

5. Meanwhile, through trusting, you are being protected by God’s power for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time.
Л deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time, when (he Messiah returns (v. 7).
See vv. 10-12N. 

6. Rejoice in this, even though for a little while you may have to experience grief in various trials.
7. Even gold is tested for genuineness by fire. The purpose of these trials is so that your trust’s genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of Yeshua the Messiah.
8. Without having seen him, you love him. Without seeing him now, but trusting in him, you continue to be full of joy that is glorious beyond words.
9. And you are receiving what your trust is aiming at, namely, your deliverance.
10. The prophets, who prophesied about this gift of deliverance that was meant for you, pondered and inquired diligently about it.
11. They were trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of the Messiah in them was referring in predicting the Messiah’s sufferings and the glorious things to follow.
The Spirit of the Messiah, present in the Prophets centuries before Yeshua was born, is the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh (compare Ro 8:9). 

12. It was revealed to them that their service when they spoke about these things was not for their own benefit, but for yours. And these same things have now been proclaimed to you by those who communicated the Good News to you through the Ruach HaKodesh sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things!
Not for their own benefit but for yours. Compare MJ 11:39-40&N.

There are scholars who hold that the prophets of the Tanakh spoke only to their own times, that they always understood the significance of what they said, and that their utterances contained only moral content and were never of predictive value or intent.

These verses contradict that opinion. So does Daniel, who reports that an angel told him about the future and then instructed, "But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book until the Time of the End." Daniel then declares, "1 heard, but I did not understand. So I said, 'O my lord, what will be the end of these things?' And he replied. Go on your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed until the Time of the End'"(Daniel 12:4, 8-9). Compare also Jeremiah 32. Therefore people seeking the truth, like the Jews of Berea who "checked the Tanakh every day to see if the things Sha'ul was saying were true" (Ac 17:11), should search the Tanakh to see if it points to Yeshua the Messiah. The Messianic prophecies already fulfilled by him show that it does (see Section VII of the Introduction to JNT, Mt 26:24N). 

13. Therefore, get your minds ready for work, keep yourselves under control, and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed.
14. As people who obey God, do not let yourselves be shaped by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant.
15. On the contrary, following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life;
16. since the Tanakh says, "You are to be holy because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7).
Get your minds ready for work (v. 13a). Be mentally prepared for opposition, distractions, temptations and unexpected setbacks. This, having a clear hope for future reward (v. 13b) and refusing to be shaped by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant of Yeshua the Messiah (v. 14) are necessary in order to heed Kefa's main exhortation, namely, to become holy yourselves in your entire way of life(v. 15). 

17. Also, if you are addressing as Father the one who judges impartially according to each person’s actions, you should live out your temporary stay on earth in fear.
The Father judges according to each person's actions, and not by "faith alone" (Ya 2:24), since "faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead" (Ya 2:17). See 1С 3:8-15&N, Ya 2:14-26&NN, Rv 20:12b&N.
Your temporary stay on earth. See MJ 11.9-10. 13-16&NN. 

18. You should be aware that the ransom paid to free you from the worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold;
The worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you. This is neither pagan idolatry nor the Mosaic Law as set forth in the Tanakh, but the perversion of the Torah into an oppressive, legalistic way of life which your fathers, the Jewish establishment, those guiding the direction of the Jewish lifestyle, passed on to you Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua the Messiah. (See Ro 3:20b&N, Ga 3:23b&N. This interpretation assumes that Kefa is addressing Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles identifying with them, rather than Gentiles retaining a pagan mindset, whose former "worthless way of life" would have consisted in idol-worship and gross immorality. See v. 1N above, on "God's chosen people.")

Kefa is repeating what he said to the legalizers at the Jerusalem Conference, "Why are you putting God to the test now by placing a yoke on the neck of the talmidim which neither our fathers nor we have had the strength to bear?" (Ac 15:10&N).

The ransom... did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold. Compare Isaiah 52:3, "You shall be redeemed without money"; also Ya 5:2-3&N. 

19. on the contrary, it was the costly bloody sacrificial death of the Messiah, as of a lamb without defect or spot.
Bloody sacrificial death, literally, "blood." See Yn 6:51-66&N, Ro 3:25bN.
A lamb without defect or spot. Starting with the lamb offered by each family at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12:5), all sacrifices had to be without blemish, Leviticus 22:18-25, MJ 9:11-15&N. Yochanan the Immerser calls Yeshua "God's lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world!" (Yn 1:29). Yeshua was a lamb offered as a sin offering to atone for our sins according to the Torah (Ro 3:25-26&NN, 8:3-4&N); he was also the final Passover lamb (Lk 22:7&N, 1С 5:6-8&N). In the past he died; in the present we share his life (Yn 6:51-66&N, 1С 11:23-26); and in the future he will return as "the slaughtered Lamb" (Rv 5:6&N; Isaiah 53:7, quoted at Ac 8:32) who, because he was without sin (Isaiah 53:9, quoted below at 2:22), is worthy to open the scroll with seven seals and to rule the Kingdom of God as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" (Rv 5:5&N). In him the Lamb and the Lion "lie down together" (Isaiah 11:6-7) by virtue of being one and the same person, Yeshua the Messiah. 

20. God knew him before the founding of the universe, but revealed him in the acharit-hayamim for your sakes.
God knew him, Yeshua the Messiah, before the founding of the universe This corresponds to the Jewish teaching that God created the Messiah before he created the world. For New Testament teaching on the Messiah's pre-existence, see Yn 1:1&N, 14; Ep 1:3-6; 3:11; Co 1:15-17&NN; MJ 1:1-3&NN; Rv 5:5-6&NN.

But revealed him in the acharit-hayamim ("the end of days") for your sakes, as Sha'ul said at Ep 1:8-10, 3:3-11. 

21. Through him you trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory; so that your trust and hope are in God.
22. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth, so that you have a sincere love for your brothers, love each other deeply, with all your heart.
Compare Yn 13:34-35. 

23. You have been born again not from some seed that will decay, but from one that cannot decay, through the living Word of God that lasts forever
24. For all humanity is like grass,
all its glory is like a wildflower —
the grass withers, and the flower falls off;

25. but the Word of Adonai lasts forever (Isaiah 40:6–8). Moreover, this Word is the Good News which has been proclaimed to you.
The preeminent Christian theologian of the twentieth century, Karl Barth, notes that the eternal Word comes to New Covenant believers in three forms:

(1) Yeshua the Messiah. You have been born again through... the living Word of God that lasts forever. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.... The Word became a human being and lived with us" (Yn 1:1-2, 14).

(2) Scripture, which Kefa quotes (Isaiah 40:6-8) as authenticating itself: The grass withers, and the flower falls off; but the Word of Adonai lasts forever. Compare MJ 4:12-13; Ya 1:10-11,4:14.

(3) The preachings of God's people, equated with the first two forms. Moreover, this "Word" is the Good News which has been proclaimed to you. Compare Ro 10:17.
See 2:1-3&N. 

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