1th Kefa Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. In the same way, wives, submit to your husbands; so that even if some of them do not believe the Word, they will be won over by your conduct, without your saying anything,
2. as they see your respectful and pure behavior.
In the same way as citizens with their government (2:13-17) and slaves with their masters (2:18-25), believing wives should exemplify the principle of 2:12 with their husbands by submitting to them. Compare 1С 7:12-16, Ep 5:22-24, Co 3:18, 1 Ti 2:9-15.
Don't be a noodge or a nudnik (Yiddish for "nag" and "bore") - For they will be won over to being curious about the Yeshua they already know you believe in, not by your preachments, but by your conduct, without your saying a word, as they see your respectful and pure behavior. Then, when you have an interested audience, you can speak! This is equally true for husbands. But there is no guarantee here of a spouse's salvation; compare 1С 7:16.
3. Your beauty should not consist in externals such as fancy hairstyles, gold jewelry or what you wear;
4. rather, let it be the inner character of your heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight this is of great value.
5. This is how the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves and submit to their husbands,
6. the way Sarah obeyed Avraham, honoring him as her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not succumb to fear.
Honoring him as her lord. Midrash Tanchuma on the Torah portion, Chayyey-Sarah, 29a:
"Abraham's wife honored him and called him 'lord,' for it is written that Sarah said, 'My lord is old' (Genesis 18:12). But, conversely, God commanded Abraham to honor his wife by calling her 'princess'; for that is the meaning of her Hebrew name 'Sarah' (Genesis 17:15)."
You are her daughters. As Abraham is the father of all believers (Ya 2:21-23; Ro 4:12,16; Ga 3:7-9,29), his wife Sarah is appropriately singled out as the mother of believing women, in that she is an example for them, just as Abraham is for all believers. In Hebrew being a "daughter of " or a "son of " someone or something implies having that person or thing's qualities (see Mt 1:IN on "son of). This is expressed by the prayer a father recites over his daughter before the Erev-Shabbat (Friday evening) meal, "May God make you like Sarah, Rivkah, Leah and Rachel," the four Mothers of Israel; he then blesses her with the Aaronic benediction (Numbers 6:24-26).
Do not succumb to fear. This is a call to give up neurotic anxiety. The anxious feelings may not go away, but one can gain a right perspective on them, not by suppressing them and denying their existence, but by acknowledging them while at the same time experiencing that God's peace, his shalom, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ga 5:22), is stronger; as is God's power, love and self-control (1 Ti 1:7). Seek God's rulership instead of dwelling on anxious thoughts and worries (Mt 6:25-26, 33). The basic fear is of death, but Yeshua has abolished death (2 Ti 1:10) and set believers free from this fear (MJ 2:15).
7. You husbands, likewise, conduct your married lives with understanding. Although your wife may be weaker physically, you should respect her as a fellow-heir of the gift of Life. If you don’t, your prayers will be blocked.
Husbands, conduct your married lives (the term includes the sexual aspect but is not limited to it) with understanding. This fits with Co 3:19 ("Husbands, love your wives, and don't treat them harshly") and Ep 5:25-33.
Respect her as a fellow-heir of the gift of life; compare Ep 5:21.
If you don't, your prayers will be blocked. This is a portentous warning. A man who does not respect his wife might try to retreat into prayer; but he will be unable to have a good spiritual life so long as he does not love, understand and honor his wife. Any husband who has attempted to pray privately while in the midst of a fight with his wife should agree.
8. Finally, all of you, be one in mind and feeling; love as brothers; and be compassionate and humble-minded,
9. not repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, but, on the contrary, with blessing. For it is to this that you have been called, so that you may receive a blessing.
10. For "Whoever wants to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit,
11. turn from evil and do good, seek peace and chase after it.
12. For Adonai keeps his eyes on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of Adonai is against those who do evil things.” (Psalm 34:13-17(12-16)).
13. For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good?
14. But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don’t fear what they fear or be disturbed,
Even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Compare Mt 5:10-12.
15. but treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts (Isaiah 8:12-13); while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you — yet with humility and fear,
16. keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah may be put to shame.
These verses tell when, how, and to whom a believer should proclaim the Gospel.
Compare this advice from the Mishna:
"Rabbi El'azar said, 'Be diligent to learn Torah, and know what to answer a skeptic [Hebrew apikoros, transliterating the Greek word for "follower of the philosopher Epicurus"].'"(Avot 2:14)
(1) When should you proclaim the Gospel — and when not? Although you should be always ready to give a reasoned answer, you normally need to speak only when someone asks you to explain the hope you have in you. Not everyone asks. Believers who feel compelled to introduce the topic of their faith into every conversation with an unbeliever can relax!
On the other hand, if someone wants to hear about the faith, a believer should not remain silent or avoid the subject. "But my life is my testimony, I don't need words." No, the relationship between words and deeds in witnessing to your faith is that your actions, attitudes and lifestyle are to show unbelievers that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life (2:12, 3:1), so that they begin to ask questions: "Why don't you get angry when people mistreat you?" "Everyone else cheats; how come you don't?" "What is it that makes you so happy all the time?" or, paraphrasing v. 15, "The world is such a difficult and depressing place, and you have had your share of misfortunes, yet you retain hope. Why?"<>
When they ask such questions, you should be ready to give a reasoned answer. You cannot carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19-20) without both aspects of witness — words and deeds. Words without deeds are empty and hypocritical, as Kefa recognizes when he writes that we must keep a clear conscience and display good behavior. But deeds without words do not explain what people need to know about Yeshua in order to be saved. As Sha'ul put it, "How can they trust in someone if they haven't heard about him? And how can they hear about someone if no one is proclaiming him?... Trust comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through a word proclaimed about the Messiah" (Ro 10:14,17).
There are times when one should not wait to be asked. Sometimes it may be necessary to proclaim the Gospel to people who do not want to hear it. There may be no possibility of delay, the urgency of the situation may compel witness.
'There is a point when deference, that is, respect for a person's wish to be left alone and not evangelized, must defer to decisive action. Precisely what is that point? It is when we are dealing with a matter of life and death. Suppose you claim you can fly without wings. So long as we are merely discussing flying, I'll respect your point of view. But the moment you step out the window onto the ledge, believe me, true respect — respect for your life — demands my resolute conviction to get you back inside! Why can't we believers keep our views to ourselves? Why can't we mind our own business? Because we're dealing with a matter of life and death." (Adapted from Avi Snyder, "With All Due Respect," in Jews for Jesus Newsletter, Volume 6 (1983)).
(2) How should you proclaim the Gospel to those who want to know? With a reasoned answer. A reasoned answer draws on objective evidence and uses rational arguments. More than that, a reasoned answer about Messianic faith must be consistent with Scripture; and, in my opinion, it should actively make use of Scripture — even when addressed to people who do not believe the Bible to be inspired by God; for the Word of God has power of its own (MJ 1:2,4:12). Moreover, when you anchor your message in your own reasoning, it's your word against his; but if you quote the Bible, whose text is the same for him as for you, then he has to take his case to God (to whom he must turn anyway, sooner or later). Also you, no longer under pressure to defend yourself, can turn your energy to defending God and what he has done through Yeshua.
A reasoned answer may include such subjective aspects of your personal testimony as how much better you feel since knowing Yeshua, or ways in which God has blessed you, for these things are facts concerning you. But it must deal primarily with the facts that concern everyone, including your questioner — God exists, God made us, we sinned, we are under sentence of death, God sent Yeshua to atone for our sin, God resurrected him, he is coming back, we must trust in God and in his Messiah in order to be saved and have eternal life, Israel's national salvation comes only through Yeshua the Messiah.
Kefa says more about how to proclaim the Gospel. You should do it with humility and fear, keeping a clear conscience. How tempting it is when engaging in evangelism to set humility aside! After all, aren't your answers right and theirs wrong? (It is tempting to think so.) Therefore you must be better than they are! No, you are not better. But you are saved "by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God's gift...; therefore no one should boast" (Ep 2:8-9). One reason for being humble is that you should be embarrassed by the fact that the lives of even the most saintly believers fall short of their preaching, let alone the lives of the worst! We preach a Gospel of perfection, and none of us is perfect. Therefore, if we are without humility, we contradict our own message. See also v. 8,5:5-6.
And fear. The fear we should have is not that the person we are talking to will react negatively to our message or to us. Our job is to proclaim the truth of the Gospel; whether he receives it or not is his responsibility (Ezekiel 33:7-9). Nor are we to fear persecution, as Kefa reiterates throughout this letter (1:6; 2:12, 19-25; 3:14,17; 4:12-19; 5:9-10). Rather, we are to fear God, who holds us to account for both our words and our deeds (compare Ro 11:17-24).
Keeping a clear conscience. You keep your conscience clear by displaying only the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah. As noted, this is the "deeds" side of your witness. See Ac 24:16&N.
(3) To whom should you proclaim the Gospel! To anyone who asks you about the hope you have in you. Jew or Gentile, young or old, poor or rich, since everyone needs salvation (Ro 3:23) and no one comes to the Father except through Yeshua (Yn 14:6).
But not everyone who raises a question about your faith is asking about the hope you have in you. "Are savages who have never even heard of the Bible going to go to hell because they don't believe in Jesus?" "You don't really believe that Mary was a virgin, do you?" These are not questions about the hope you have in you. You are not being invited to share the source of your purposefulness and joy. Yeshua cautioned, "Don't give to dogs what is holy, and don't throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you" (Mt 7:6).
What kind of answer should you give to questions like these? It depends. Discernment, the ability to judge between spirits, is a gift of the Ruach HaKodesh (1С 12:8-1 O&N) which helps you know how to respond to different questioners; pray for the gift of discernment (Lk 11:13, 1С 12:31). Sometimes people who are nearly ready to receive the Gospel raise a few such questions as a sort of "last fling" against it before capitulating to God. They should be given the "reasoned answer" Kefa recommends, such as: "God, the Righteous Judge, will determine fairly the fate of everyone, including the savages, on the basis of the way they responded to the truth they understood. But your fate will be detennined by how you respond to the Gospel preached to you." (For more on this, see Ro 2:11-16&NN.) "Yes, 1 believe in the virgin birth; let us study the Bible together and see why." You would then turn to the opening chapters of Mattityahu and Luke; and your questioner, who 1 have assumed to be open to a reasoned answer, would study with you.
But other people asking the same questions have hardened hearts (see Ro 9:17-21&NN), are resisting the Gospel with all their might, have no intention of accepting it, and are not interested in reasoned answers. They fall in a different category, one the Tanakh calls "fool." Concerning them. Proverbs 26:4-5 offers this seemingly contradictory advice:
"Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you become like him yourself.
"Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes."
The former verse means that you should not let yourself be dragged down to his emotional and spiritual level by engaging in heated but fruitless debate. The latter tells you that even though an opinionated person is not open to changing his mind, he should be shown that his ideas are not as unassailable as he thinks. Moreover, both verses taken together also imply that when reasoned argument is of no avail ("My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts"), you should confront the objector or heckler in a different manner altogether.
In such a case you might answer his question with one of your own. In response to the question about savages going to hell, you could ask, "Do you believe in hell?" If he answers that he doesn't, you add. "Then why ask a question about something that doesn't exist? Are you just baiting me?" Or suppose the question about the virgin birth came from someone who you know is a married man with a mistress. Under some not-too-difficult-to-imagine circumstances you might be able to say something like this: "You are not really concerned with how the Messiah was born but with justifying your own unbelief, and the real reason you won't trust in Yeshua for salvation is that you don't want to give up your sin of adultery." A man like this is hardened against the Gospel because he has a vested interest in continuing to engage in his sin; but there is always the possibility that a strong answer like this will break him. so that he will see himself for what he really is and begin to recognize his need for a Savior. But remember that when you speak such penetrating truth, do so in love (Ep 4:15). Live righteously, and pray for such people, that they will be no longer "fools" but wise with the wisdom of God (1С 1:17-31); for "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (Ya 5:16).
There are many books on "how to witness," some specifically on "how to witness to the Jews." Some are written well, some offensively; some of the material offered is good, some irrelevant. "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). We might sum up the subject of witnessing much as did the writer of Ecclesiastes did in his book: "The end of the matter, when all is said and done: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or bad" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). So I advise all believers to live a Messianic life, know the truth, speak in love and humility, discern who is open, and trust the Lord to work in people's hearts, including yours.
17. For if God has in fact willed that you should suffer, it is better that you suffer for doing what is good than for doing what is evil.
18. For the Messiah himself died for sins, once and for all, a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people, so that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit;
19. and in this form he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits,
20. to those who were disobedient long ago, in the days of Noach, when God waited patiently during the building of the ark, in which a few people — to be specific, eight — were delivered by means of water.
21. This also prefigures what delivers us now, the water of immersion, which is not the removal of dirt from the body, but one’s pledge to keep a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah.
22. He has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1), with angels, authorities and powers subject to him.
Instead of trying to weigh critically the many interpretations of this difficult passage, I present one approach. The imprisoned spirits are the "angels who sinned" (2 Ke 2:4) and "abandoned their proper sphere" (Yd 6). That is, they are the b'nei-ha 'elohim ("sons of God" or "sons of the angels"), also called nefllim ("fallen ones"), who fell to earth from their proper sphere, heaven, and "came in to the daughters of men" in the days of Noach (Genesis 6:2-4).
When Yeshua went and made a proclamation to them, he was doing what the rabbinic midrashim say Enoch did after he "walked with ha-elohim" which means that he walked either with "God" or with "the angels" (Genesis 5:24).
Interpreters who believe the imprisoned spirits were the souls of human beings who died before Yeshua came (see 4:6&N) usually regard this proclamation as a salvation message, the implication being that dead people (or some of them) have (or once had) the possibility of being saved. But if the proclamation was to angels, it was not a salvation message, for these angels God has "kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day" (Yd 6). Rather, the proclamation must have been Yeshua's announcement that, "Stripping the [evil angelic] rulers and authorities [that is, the ones still at large] of their power, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by means of the stake" (Co 2:15&N).
In the days of Noach, the water of the Flood which drowned most of humanity was the means (inasmuch as the ark floated on it) by which a few people — to be specific, eight (Noah, his three sons, and the wives) — were delivered. This water also prefigures what delivers us now, the water of immersion (or "baptism," Hebrew t'vilah; see Mt 3: IN). The water of the Red Sea was similarly understood by Sha'ul to prefigure immersion (1С 10:1-13&NN). Kefa points out that the essence of immersion is not the physical removal of dirt from the body, but the spiritual transaction which accompanies the physical event, one's pledge to keep a good conscience (v. 16) toward God. Believers have the power to keep such a pledge only through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah, for this is what made it possible for him to send the Holy Spirit to them (Yn 14:16, 16:7; Ac 1:8), after going into heaven to intercede for them (MJ 7:25) at the right hand of God (see Mt 22:42N, Ac 7:55-56&N).
Thus Kefa compares the believers with Noah and his family, both being righteous minorities persecuted by wicked neighbors, and both being delivered from the forces of darkness through trusting God and obeying him.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5