oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - 'Resist him' (1 Pet 5:9) : holiness and non-retaliatory responses to unjust suffering as 'holy war' in 1 Peter
1 Peter exhorts readers to respond to unjust suffering with non-retaliatory righteous behaviour, while looking forward to vindication at the Lord's return. Although several literary-theological and sociological approaches to the epistle have shed considerable light on this exhortation, a number of interpreters maintain that ultimately, the epistle engenders a paralyzing sense of passive victimhood in believers. This article examines the theological significance of several military metaphors throughout the epistle, to show that the exhortation to resist the devil in the final chapter is a climax to a consistent theme in the epistle, aimed at galvanizing spiritual warriors whose weapons are peaceful non-retaliation, hope, and holiness through Christ's redemptive work. It also argues that Peter's approach is in line with the New Testament's transformation of the holy war motif of the Old Testament. Rather than being paralyzed into helplessness, the first readers of the epistle would have been emboldened by the call to holy resistance.
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