Obedience And Blood-Sprinkling In 1 Peter 1:2 -- By: Sydney H. T. Page

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 72:2 (Fall 2010)
Article: Obedience And Blood-Sprinkling In 1 Peter 1:2
Author: Sydney H. T. Page

Obedience And Blood-Sprinkling In 1 Peter 1:2

Sydney H. T. Page

Sydney H. T Page is Professor of Mew Testament at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

In 1983, Francis Agnew published an article in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly in which he proposed a fresh understanding of the phrase εἰς ὑπακοὴν καὶ ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood” [NETBible]) in 1 Pet 1:2.1 This phrase is one of three phrases that qualify the word ἐκλεκτοῖς (“chosen”) in the preceding verse.2 The author describes his readers as those who have been chosen by God (1) “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” (2) “by being set apart by the Spirit,” and (3) “for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood.” The first two phrases are relatively straightforward, but the third is problematic. Most English translations assume that it describes the purpose and/or result of divine election, namely that the elect would come to obey Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood. So, for example, the NRSV renders the third phrase “to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood.” This translation, however, assumes that ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ is an objective genitive in relation to ὑπακοήν but a possessive genitive in relation to αἵματος, which would be, as Achtemeier puts it, “something of a grammatical monstrosity”3 Agnew proposed a creative solution to this problem. He suggested that εἰς be understood as having a causal force rather than a telic force and that the obedience be seen as the obedience rendered by Christ rather than the obedience of believers to Christ.

Most of the commentators who have considered Agnew’s proposal have not found the case for it to be compelling, but it was endorsed by John H. Elliott in his magisterial commentary on 1 Peter in the Anchor Bible series and by Earl J. Richard in a commentary published the same year as Elliott’s. It can now claim the support of Joel B. Green in his commentary in the Two Horizons series.4 In view of this recent endorsement, Agnew’s suggestion deserves a more thorough

assessment than it has yet received. Th...

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