Peter, Apostle by Patrick Henry Reardon

AS IT IS WRITTEN . . .

Peter, Apostle

Peter's name, which is the first word in the longer of his two epistles, is immediately qualified by the noun "apostle." The absence of the definite article with this noun prompts most English translations to insert the indefinite article, "an apostle," indicating that Peter was one of a group.

While this is grammatically correct—nor, given the difficulty of translating from one idiom to another, can I think of an obvious alternative—this rendering can be misleading. Although it is true that Peter was one of a group, the absence of the definite article in that first verse implies something more and a tad subtle: the noun "apostle" here, used without the article, points to the quality of Peter's testimony, the proper note of the authority with which he writes; it modifies Peter, making his apostleship the foundation of the pastoral concern he expresses in this letter. As he begins to dictate to Silvanus (cf. 5:12), Peter formally and explicitly puts on his apostle-hat, as it were, and he wears it throughout the ensuing message. He is not sending his readers his good advice; he is speaking on behalf of God's Son.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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