1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage -- By: David A. deSilva

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 32:0 (NA 2000)
Article: 1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage
Author: David A. deSilva

1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage

David A. deSilva

David deSilva (M.Div., Princeton; Ph.D., Emery) is Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek at ATS.


The pastoral counselor, as I understand the vocation, differs from the secular analyst in that he or she draws upon the resources of Christian spirituality, and, in particular, the resources of Scripture as a means of facilitating the healing and wholeness of the client. It is out of this conviction that a seminary will require the pastoral counselor, like the pastor-in-training, to take courses in Hermeneutics, Old Testament Introduction, and New Testament Introduction, and to be exposed, at least in a preliminary way, to the art of exegesis. The close, careful investigation of Scripture proves to be most fruitful to the counselor’s task, if he or she pursues it with rigor, applying the tools she or he learns in those foundational courses and continuing to seek out books that open up Scripture from those angles. On the one hand, the counselor can then identify and deconstruct unhealthful applications of Scripture in the counsellee’s situation or background — misreadings that conduce to psychic disease rather than wholeness. On the other hand, she or he is less likely to use Scripture in a superficial and inauthentic manner. Instead, the counselor who “does his or her homework,” as it were, in Biblical study as well as the study of psychological and relational dysfunctions and their treatment will be able skillfully to identify metaphors and images from the Scriptures that will be heathful for clients and redemptive for their situations. The purpose of this article is to provide some indication of the fruitfulness of deep exegetical study of one particular text, 1 Peter, for the counselor’s task, and thus to motivate the counselor to integrate ever more completely the study of Scripture with the study of souls.

Setting of 1 Peter

The Greco-Roman world was filled with temples, shrines, and altars to various divinities. Piety was a primary component of the virtue of “justice,” and people sought to give the gods their due in order to sustain divine favor toward their family, city and empire. Religion was not compartmentalized in this world, but entered into political meetings, convocations of trade guilds, private dinner parties, public festivals, and family meals. It sheltered all aspects of life like a great canopy. Participation in these religious rituals was a sign of

solidarity with one’s fellows, a token of one’s commitment to do one’s part for the well-being of the group and to sustain the domestic and public order, the stability of which was regard...

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