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‘Come, Follow Me’ for Nov. 20-26: What have Church leaders and scholars said about 1 and 2 Peter?

This week’s study guide includes the apostle Peter’s declaration that Church members are ‘a peculiar people’ (1 Peter 2:9)

The apostle Peter is depicted in the New Testament video series.

The apostle Peter is depicted in the New Testament video series.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

‘Come, Follow Me’ for Nov. 20-26: What have Church leaders and scholars said about 1 and 2 Peter?

This week’s study guide includes the apostle Peter’s declaration that Church members are ‘a peculiar people’ (1 Peter 2:9)

The apostle Peter is depicted in the New Testament video series.

The apostle Peter is depicted in the New Testament video series.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers 1 and 2 Peter, which includes the apostle Peter’s declaration that Church members are “a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

Church News recently searched the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders and scholars have said about these chapters.

Peter’s epistles

“Peter wrote his first New Testament epistle ‘at Babylon’ (1 Peter 5:13) in A.D. 63 or 64, near the time of the persecution of Christians under [Roman Emperor] Nero. Babylon was a name that Christian writers often used for Rome, so Peter’s phrase likely refers to that city. We know from 1 Peter 1:1 that the document was written to Church members in central and northern Asia Minor. 

“Peter mentions no serious defections or schisms in that area, but clearly the Christians there were enduring local persecution, which Peter encourages them to bear (See 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 4:12-14). …

“The first serious governmental persecution of the Christians occurred in Rome in A.D. 64. Though attacks on the Christians were limited to that city, its effects were felt throughout the entire Church.

“The outbreak of torture and murder under Nero stemmed from a fire that broke out in some shops in the southern part of the city. The fire burned out of control for six days and seven nights, sweeping generally northward, then broke out afresh on the estate of Tigellinus, Nero’s close friend. Because of this suspicious new fire and because Nero was reportedly delighted over the conflagration, Tacitus and Suetonius, two later Roman historians, accused Nero of starting the fire so that he could rebuild the crowded city according to a grander, more organized scheme. Nero himself placed the blame for the fire on the city’s Christians, a hated and misunderstood sect whom many considered to be apostate Jews.

“Tacitus condemned Nero for this injustice. He, along with the Christian writer Clement of Rome, described what they had learned of the Christians’ horrible suffering. Clement, writing some 30 years after Nero’s death, attributes the martyrdom of Peter and Paul to Nero’s persecution.”

— S. Kent Brown, Brigham Young University emeritus professor of ancient scripture, in the October 1988 Ensign article “Whither the Early Church?”

1 Peter 1

“Because we believe the accounts in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon about the literal Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we also believe the numerous scriptural teachings that a similar resurrection will come to all mortals who have ever lived upon this earth. That resurrection gives us what the Apostle Peter called ‘a lively hope’ (1 Peter 1:3). That lively hope is our conviction that death is not the conclusion of our identity but merely a necessary step in our Heavenly Father’s merciful plan for the salvation of His children.”

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, April 2018 general conference, “Small and Simple Things”

“Our tone, whether speaking or writing, should be respectful and civil, regardless of the response of others. We should be honest and open and try to be clear in what we say. We want to avoid arguing or becoming defensive in any way.

“The apostle Peter explained, ‘But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation’ (1 Peter 1:15).”

— Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2011 general conference, “Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear”

“Our sincere desire should be to have both clean hands and a pure heart — both a remission of sins from day to day and to walk guiltless before God. Clean hands alone will not be enough when we stand before Him who is pure and who, as ‘a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Peter 1:19), freely spilled His precious blood for us.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2007 general conference, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart”

A close-up of the statue of the apostle Peter’s hand holding two keys.

Bertel Thorvaldsen’s statue of Peter, one of the 12 apostles in the New Testament Gospels, holds keys, at the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The 12 apostles’ statues were carved out of Carrara marble between 1829 and 1848. Replicas of the statues are now on display in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Italy.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

1 Peter 2

“The Church of Jesus Christ is a church of priests, ‘a royal priesthood, an holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9).

“The restored Church gives to each home a priesthood holder with the power of God to bless. ... We don’t need to go out looking for someone having that power — it is among us. What a blessing to be able to teach this principle to our children. This is the only church upon the earth which offers such a blessing to families.”

— Elder Enrique R. Falabella, now an emeritus general authority, October 2007 general conference, “Why Are We Members of the Only True Church?”

“In a prophecy regarding us, the apostle Peter utilized uplifting terms. He declared that we ‘are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people’ (1 Peter 2:9). We recognize the adjectives ‘chosen,’ ‘royal’ and ‘holy’ as complimentary. But what about the term ‘peculiar’?

“I looked it up in a modern dictionary. It is currently defined as ‘unusual’ or ‘eccentric’; ‘strange,’ ‘queer,’ ‘odd’; ‘standing apart from others’; ‘exclusive’ or ‘unique.’ But the term peculiar as used in the scriptures means something quite different. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term from which ‘peculiar’ was translated is ‘cgullah,’ which means ‘valued property’ or ‘treasure.’ In the New Testament, the Greek term from which ‘peculiar’ was translated is ‘peripoiesis,’ which means ‘possession’ or ‘an obtaining.’

“With that understanding, we can see that the scriptural term ‘peculiar’ does not mean ‘queer’ or ‘odd’ at all. It signifies ‘valued treasure,’ ‘made’ or ‘selected by God.’ Thus, for us to be identified by servants of the Lord as his peculiar people is a compliment of the highest order.”

— Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson in the February 1997 Ensign article “A More Excellent Hope”

1 Peter 3

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ, hope is the desire of His followers to gain eternal salvation through the Atonement of the Savior.

“This is truly the hope we must all have. It is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. Peter admonished the early followers of Christ to ‘be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you; (1 Peter 3:15).

“Our hope in the Atonement empowers us with eternal perspective. Such perspective allows us to look beyond the here and now on into the promise of the eternities.”

— Elder Steven E. Snow, now an emeritus general authority, April 2011 general conference, “Hope”

“‘My soul is rent asunder. My heart is broken and flutters for life! O my sweet son, my joy, my hope! … O God, help me!’

“So President Joseph F. Smith wrote in his journal upon the death of his eldest son, Hyrum Mack Smith, the 45-year-old Apostle who succumbed in January 1918 to a ruptured appendix. Eight months later, on Sept. 24, Hyrum’s widow, Ida Bowman Smith, died of heart failure just a week after giving birth to a baby boy. The couple left behind five children. At the time, the First World War, which began in 1914 while Hyrum was presiding over the European Mission, was still raging. It ended with the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.

“Death and the war were certainly on President Smith’s mind that year. On Oct. 3, 1918, less than two weeks after the death of his daughter-in-law, he sat in his room ‘pondering over the scriptures; and reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world; and the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son’ (Doctrine and Covenants 138:1-3). His mind turned to the account in 1 Peter 3-4 of Christ’s preaching to the spirits in prison between the time of His Crucifixion and Resurrection. These chapters impressed President Smith as never before (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:6). He said, ‘As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great’ (Doctrine and Covenants 138:11).

“The vision that opened before him, which now comprises section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants, was one of consolation. Coming at a time of great worldwide and personal suffering, it testifies of Heavenly Father’s love and of the incomparable compassion and comfort offered by the Atonement for the living and the dead.”

— George S. Tate, former Brigham Young University professor of humanities and comparative literature, in the December 2009 Ensign article “I Saw the Hosts of the Dead”

A young woman in New Zealand reads the scriptures.

“Come, Follow Me” for Nov. 20-26 includes the apostle Peter’s declaration that Church members are “a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1 Peter 4

“Although the time of Peter’s own martyrdom was approaching, his words are not filled with fear or pessimism. …

“‘Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

“‘But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy’ (1 Peter 4:12-13). …

“Of course, it is easier to say these things when we are not in the midst of a storm than to live and apply them during the storm. But as your brother, I hope you can feel that I sincerely want to share with you how valuable it is to know that Jesus Christ and His Atonement are the refuge that we all need, regardless of the storms that are battering our lives.”

— Elder Ricardo P. Giménez, General Authority Seventy, April 2020 general conference, “Finding Refuge From the Storms of Life”

1 Peter 5

“As we all know, it is difficult enough to sort out the truth from our own experiences. To make matters worse, we have an adversary, ‘the devil, [who] as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). …

“The adversary has many cunning strategies for keeping mortals from the truth. He offers the belief that truth is relative; appealing to our sense of tolerance and fairness, he keeps the real truth hidden by claiming that one person’s ‘truth’ is as valid as any other.

“Some he entices to believe that there is an absolute truth out there somewhere but that it is impossible for anyone to know it.

“For those who already embrace the truth, his primary strategy is to spread the seeds of doubt. For example, he has caused many members of the Church to stumble when they discover information about the Church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously.

“If you experience such a moment, remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything, at any time and every place.”

— Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the August 2020 New Era article “Our Search for Truth”

2 Peter 1

“In [Peter’s] epistles he reflects on his personal witness of Christ’s sufferings and expresses his hope to be ‘a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed’ (1 Peter 5:1). Toward the end he resolutely acknowledges that he too must ‘shortly … put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me’ (2 Peter 1:14).

“In making this solemn observation, perhaps Peter was reflecting on the words Jesus spoke to him so many years earlier on the shores of Galilee. There, after commanding Peter to feed His sheep, the Savior declared, ‘When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not’ (John 21:18). As John explained, ‘This spake [Jesus], signifying by what death [Peter] should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto [Peter], Follow me’ (John 21:19). Surely in his old age as he contemplated death, Peter could find peace and joy in knowing that he had indeed followed Christ in life and was ready to follow Him in death.”

— Terry B. Ball, Brigham Young University emeritus professor of ancient scripture, in the February 2018 Ensign article “Whom Say Ye That I Am?”

A father helps his two daughters read from the scriptures.

“Come, Follow Me” for Nov. 20-26 includes the apostle Peter’s declaration that Church members are “a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

2 Peter 2

“One of Satan’s most effective tools is to clothe bondage in the costume of liberty. Peter warned the early Saints about individuals among them who would try to pull them away from the path of righteousness. He described these wicked individuals as ‘having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin. … They speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh. … While they promise … liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage’ (2 Peter 2:14, 18-19). …

“No matter our sins and weaknesses — dishonesty, pride, hypocrisy, laziness, greed, immorality, addictions, anger, Word of Wisdom problems — we can be freed from any degree of bondage. Each of us has experienced this as we have repented. We have felt true freedom as we have been forgiven and have jettisoned the behavior that tormented us.”

— Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy in the February 2019 Ensign article “Free To Choose”

“In some cases, temptation may have the added force of potential or actual addiction. I am grateful that for an increasing number of people the Church can provide therapeutic help of various kinds to aid them in avoiding or coping with addictions. Even so, while therapy can support a person’s will, it cannot substitute for it. Always and ever, there must be an exercise of discipline — moral discipline founded on faith in God the Father and the Son and what They can achieve with us through the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. In Peter’s words, ‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations’ (2 Peter 2:9).”

— Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2009 general conference, “Moral Discipline”

2 Peter 3

“The apostle Peter testified that ‘the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering’ toward us (2 Peter 3:9). In this age of one-hour dry cleaning and one-minute fast-food franchises, it may at times seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold or filed them under the wrong name. Such were the feelings of Rachel.

“But with the passage of time, we encounter four of the most beautiful words in holy writ: ‘And God remembered Rachel’ (Genesis 30:22). ...

“When heaven’s promises sometimes seem afar off, I pray that each of us will embrace these exceeding great and precious promises and never let go. And just as God remembered Rachel, God will remember you.”

— Elder Spencer J. Condie, now an emeritus general authority, October 2007 general conference, “Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises”

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