For the average Bible reader, the authorship of 1 Peter seems easy enough. The letter opens saying it’s from “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ”.
However, some critics have said that it was impossible that Peter actually wrote 1-2 Peter and that this error of authorship undermines the credibility of these books of the Bible. We will now discuss then debunk each of their common criticisms.
One, critics say that Peter could not have written these letters because he was a common fisherman long ago. This is not only wrong, but also proud for many reasons. Just because someone lived a long time ago does not mean that they were dumb and we are smart. If anything, it seems like today we have an epidemic increase in foolishness, often starting on college campuses where people get degrees but not wisdom. Furthermore, just because you fish does not mean that you are a bumbling backwoods dolt. Ernest Hemingway is perhaps the most famous fisherman of all time, for example.
The fishing business that Peter helped run prior to ministry also seems to be a large company with many employees, boats, and perhaps a significant revenue stream. Boats were incredibly expensive, yet his company had many. If he was a wealthy businessman working in a diverse area with multiple languages it is entirely possible that he was like most successful business owners and rather smart and competent.
Two, critics of Peter writing the letter bearing his name are prone to argue that he could not have written the letter based on Acts 4:13, which says that Peter was not formally educated. However, this charge is not credible.
The New Bible Commentary explains that Peter’s critics in Acts 4:13 attack him for being uneducated, or unschooled, which then bolsters their point that 1-2 Peter were written by someone beyond Peter’s education level thereby disproving his authorship. It goes on to explain that since Peter quotes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint or LXX) rather than the original Hebrew, it could not possibly be Peter writing because that would require someone well versed in multiple languages, something beyond an uneducated fisherman. The commentary goes on to explain, “The style is, however, not so ‘educated’ as some would like to make out and in places it is much more the language of ordinary people. There is evidence that in Peter’s time Greek, as well as Aramaic, was spoken in Galilee, and as a fisherman living in Capernaum on one of the great trade routes he would have had to speak Greek regularly. The fact that his own brother’s name, Andrew, is a Greek one suggests that from boyhood Peter would have grown up with this language. Some thirty years’ work of evangelism and teaching in a church which contained an increasing proportion of Gentiles would have made him more fluent in Greek…” (1)
Growing up and conducting business in an area where people from numerous cultures and languages converged, it would not be surprising that Peter was fluent in multiple languages. In the same way, we live and minister in Arizona which explains why our daughter is fluent and formally educated in English and Spanish, able to minister easily in both languages. She’s also picked up Portuguese as she has a knack for languages and love for people. This kind of thing is not without precedent and quite common in places where multiple cultures converge.
(1) David H. Wheaton, “1 Peter,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed., ed. D. A. Carson et al. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1369.
To download the free e-book ODD LIFE: Good God which is a study in 1 Peter for individuals, groups, and families from Pastor Mark click HERE. To listen to Pastor Mark’s 9 sermons on 1 Peter preached in the summer of 2020, click HERE. These and other resources are made possible by our ministry partners who support Real Faith as a Bible teaching ministry of Mark Driscoll Ministries to whom we say THANK YOU!