Lectionary Year A
April 11, 1999
1 Peter 1:3-9

Step I: Initial Acquaintance/Rough Translation


The New American Standard Bible has, at the end of verse 2, "in the fullest measure". This translation might be an exaggeration of the text, yet it surely amplifies the term toward its intended breadth. At the end of verse 4, NASB translates, "reserved in heaven for you". That image sounds like "living hope" is set apart from or kept away from any whose new life from God's great mercy is yet to avail itself to the believers; can believers receive their inheritance only after they pass the age of accountability or maturity? This text lays no such conditions on the recipients of this message. NASB reads the first verb in verse 6 in the present active indicative. I read it as an imperative, though not overly forcefully so. NASB, furthermore in verse 6, reads, "if necessary, you have been distressed", almost as rough a translation as an original. NASB's verse 8 is somewhat more readable than a rough first draft translation. There we read, "though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory". Here the NASB is a little more hearer friendly, yet at the expense of some accuracy of translation. NASB seems more poetic, almost using parallelisms to convey what is meant to be, surely, more dynamic than poetic. In verse 9, NASB refers to, "the outcome of your faith". That word choice sounds too final, too completed. Growing in faith is a process.

The New International Version calls God's gift in verse 3, "new birth". The NASB called it, "to be born again". Both idioms are popular. However, the gift is certainly more than can be contained in a smoothly read almost faddish or, at least, fashionable phrase. In verse 5, the NIV has God's power "shielding" the recipient "until the coming of salvation to be revealed in the last time". Verse 9, in NIV's translation, speaks of "the goal of your faith". Many hearers will resonate with this term. It is popular in the workplace.


1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the select temporary residents of the dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2according to the foreknowledge of God our Father whose Spirit sanctified (us) to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with His blood, grace to you and peace be multiplied. 3 Blessed (be) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whose plentiful mercy He gives new life to us unto a hope living through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death, 4 into an inheritance imperishable and undefiled and unfading, and being maintained in heaven for you, 5 who in the power of God are being protected through faith in salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you are to rejoice if briefly at the present time you must become distressed in various kinds of testing, 7 so that the means of testing your faith more precious than gold tested by fire is demonstrated with approval and glory and honor in a revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 whom not have you seen (though) you love, concerning whom now you do not recognize yet you are believing and are being made to rejoice joyfully inexpressibly and praiseworthily 9 You are receiving the end of your salvation for your inmost being.

A Contributor's Response:
(JEA) Thank you for the rough translation of 1 Peter 1. I have a question about v. 7 as regards the rendering of "dokimion" as "means of testing" and "peirasmois" in v. 6 as "testing". While I appreciated the way you avoided the mistake most translations promote, namely the mistaken notion that the thing more precious than gold, etc. is "faith" rather than the testing itself (cf. the grammatical agreement of the "polutimoteron"), I still am not clear why you introduce the added terms "means of". Could one not simply work with the options of "testing" or "proving" or "provenness" or "reliability" or some such? This is merely a question for which I'd like a little help because I, too, have wrestled with this step one task here on occasion.

Also, in v. 8 you translate: "concerning whom now you do not recognize yet you are believing and are being made to rejoice joyfully inexpressibly and praiseworthily" and I wonder how you arrived at "recognize" for "horao," how the two participles ("seeing" and "believing") function in relationship to the main verb "you all exult or are exulting" (present indicative or imperative), and then since the dative of means or respect with "chara" is used to modify the action and links the two adjectives "unutterable" and "having been glorified" to the "joy", why do you translate them adverbially? I think you had a good reason for doing such and it might help the others of us to know how you thought things through as translator. This work with the original text is both a joy and a challenge for many of us so maybe you can help us look over your shoulder as you work. Thanks for the help.

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