Archive for the ‘1 Peter’ Category



This particular chiasmus comes from here.  The attribution at the bottom of the page is to:  Craig S. Keener, the IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament, Intervarsity Press, Downes Grove, I, Illinois, 1993.

The book can be found here at Google books, and here at Amazon.

I like the theme of salvation at the center.  It makes the center strong.

I think D/D’ is interesting.  It seems one of the purposes of Jesus’ ‘making proclamation to the spirits in prison’ (D) may have been to have ‘angels, authorities, and powers’ subjected to Himself (D’).  I also like the implied match between Hades below and Heaven above.

There’s a lot of concepts packed in here: judgment, our suffering/witness, Jesus’ suffering, Hades/Heaven, ordering of power, salvation … .  Plenty to contemplate.  Nice.

Here’s the summary from the book:


 1 Peter 3.16 4.5



(A?)    13  Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?  14  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,  15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;   

A    16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered,  /  those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 

B    17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer  /  for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 

C    18  For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death  /  in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 

D    [Me: Jesus goes to Hades]  19  in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison

E    20  who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 

E’   21  Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 

D’   22  who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him

C’   4:1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered  in the flesh,

B’   arm yourselves also with the same purpose – because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,  2  so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God

A’   3  or the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.  4  In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;  /  but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. 


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A    17  Honor all men;

B    love the brotherhood,

B’   fear God,

A’   honor the king.

This is a simple chiasmus.  A and A’ are statements about honoring the ‘secular’ world.  A asks us to honor all men, while A’ asks us to honor the king (for us today, the authorities).  Honor is used in both A and A’.  In the center we find B/B’.  These statements are about the ‘christian’ world.  We are to love our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord (B), and we are to fear God (B’).  The ‘christian’ world is in the center of the chiasmus – the place of honor in a chiasmus.  The higher position.

There’s also a 1/2 and 1/2 structure here (sometimes chiasmus have a 1/2 and 1/2 structure, or a shift in the center).  In the first half we have the masses:  all men, and the brotherhood.  In the second half we have individuals:  God, and king.

You can tell this is a chiasmus because of the odd order of these 4 sayings.  Normally you would expect a list like this to either ascend or descend in order of importance.  In other words, you would either expect the order to be something like:  all men, the brotherhood, king, God (ascending) – or God, king, brotherhood, all men (descending).  You would expect God, the greatest of the four, to either head the list, with the list descending from there, or you would expect the list to ascend to God in the final position.  But that doesn’t happen here.  God for some odd reason is 3rd, with the king being 4th.  …  Wierd.

But not wierd if this is a chiasmus.  If it’s a chiasmus, God is placed in the center, and in fact, the final position (on the right) in the center!  Cool.

The list has actually been organized helically (with the expectation that we ‘read’ it by matches, in the following order:  A → A’ → B → B’).  Read helically the list becomes:  Honor all men, honor the king, love the brotherhood, fear God.  The list is now ascending appropriately, with God at the end.  Very Good!  The text has fallen into place.   🙂

Seeing something as a chiasmus – and knowing how chiasmi can work – can make all the difference in our understanding of a text.  Even a short one like this.


Going further, I really like this little chiasmus.  One reason chiasmi were used was that it made it easier to remember something – which was helpful in an oral society.  By placing these items in a chiasmus, the items simply became more memorable.  

And it was a good thing to remember.  Here we have a nice little short-hand way of remembering how we are to treat other people – and God.  Honor those outside the faith (all people and the authorities), love those within the faith, fear God.

It shows the good nature of Christianity.  Christianity desires to get along with others.  We are a loving people.  A peaceful people.

…  A nice little chiasmus.

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