19 Jun WERE PETER AND THE DISCIPLES REALLY BUMBLING COUNTRY BUMPKINS? A Study in 1 Peter
At some point, every Christian is told that Jesus’ twelve disciples were uneducated simpletons, basically bumbling country bumpkins. It has been said so many times that hardly anyone seems to even question it anymore.
The entire charge that Peter was uneducated hangs precariously on one verse of Scripture. It is helpful to note that the charge there is made by critics. Acts 4:13 says, “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
For context, Peter and John are on trial before a council investigating their message and ministry. Perhaps the disciples were not formally trained in the same kind of religious training that their interrogators were, but this does not mean that they were bumbling backwater hillbillies. Somehow, their critics overlooked three continuous years of formal and informal training with Jesus Christ, which apparently only qualified for them as being “uneducated”. As we know all too well in our day of political and media spin, opponents are also prone to lie.
The claim that Peter was “uneducated” may have been simply ancient fake news seeking to destroy his credibility as a public leader for Christ, which would be nothing new. In the same way, Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest Bible teachers in the history of the church, was not formally theologically educated, and would therefore not pass the ordination requirements in most denominations that share his Reformed theological convictions. Funny enough, he is often quoted and read in theology schools where he would also not qualify as a professor because he was “uneducated” and “common”. Yet, he is one of the greatest Bible teachers in world history.
We simply do not know about Peter’s education. Even if he was not formally educated, it does not logically follow that he was unintelligent. After all, the Wright brothers who brought us the plane, author Mark Twain, primatologist Jane Goodall, legendary scientist Michael Faraday, microbiology founder Anton Van Leeuwenhoek, Declaration of Independence co- author Benjamin Franklin, automobile inventor Henry Ford, slave educator Frederick Douglas, genetics pioneer Gregor Mendel, discipline changing mathematician Srinivas Ramanujan, businessman John Rockefeller, astronaut John Glenn, along with computer innovator Bill Gates, and Jesus Christ who formally taught Peter for three years all had one thing in common – they never graduated from college. Mass murderer Ted Bundy did graduate college with distinction, however, and went on to law school. The point is that you can be intelligent even if you don’t go to college, and if you do go to college it doesn’t guarantee you are intelligent.
1 Peter 5:12 reveals something very important to understanding the authorship of that book, “By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.” We are not told exactly what part Silvanus played in the writing or editing of the letter, but the fact he is mentioned reveals that at the very least, Paul was not writing completely alone. In Acts 15:22, Silvanus (also called Silas) is chosen for significant public ministry as one of the most trusted men in the early church. In 2 Corinthians 1:19, Paul also mentions Silvanus along with Timothy as his leadership team. In 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1, Paul mentions Silvanus along with Timothy yet again as editors and/or co-authors of that book of the Bible. Like Michael Jordan, perhaps Peter succeeded in his writing and ministry because he had surrounded himself with an incredible team to complement and complete him?
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!